I'm very sorry for the really late update. I've been busy with school, and I'm happy to say that I've graduated from university! No more studying!
So now I'm looking for jobs and I don't know if can keep up with my fics. I will try my best, but with the demise of MCBC I have to say that my interest in the Mediator book has been waning. Though I really hope I can finish my stories, or at least, this one.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope this chapter is alright considering I haven't written anything in a long time and my characterization may be off.
I didn't know how long I just stood there and stared at him, until he asked if he could come in. I was tempted to say no, considering the look on his face and the fact that my apartment was pretty much in a mess.
But I stepped aside, and Dylan practically stomped in, his face like thunder.
I knew this must have something to do with Jesse, and my body quickly filled with cold dread.
"What the hell is going on?" he said all of a sudden, swerving to face me as I closed the door.
I narrowed my eyes. "Shouldn't I be the one to ask –"
"I mean, you and Jesse. What is going on? First you two are together, then you're breaking up, then you're together again and now you're not? Can't you two just make up your minds?" he stopped, looking hard at me.
Despite the truth in his words, I felt my blood simmer. I mean, who wanted to wake up on a Sunday morning to be shouted at by your ex-boyfriend's best friend?
"Dylan, I don't think it's any of your damn business," I snapped, crossing my arms and fixing him an equally hard look.
"Of course it's my business, when one half of this confusing couple is my best friend and I don't even know if I can call him my best friend anymore, since I could barely recognize him whenever I see him," he said, and started pacing around the living room.
I sighed. "Look, I don't know how much you know, but we decided that we weren't meant to be together, and that's it. We're just not together."
He stopped and glared at me again. "You mean, both of you decided or you decided?"
"What does it matter? It's over, okay. Now if you're here to yell at me-"
"Do you have any idea how bad he's feeling right now? Huh, Suze? Do you?"
I paused and without invitation, the sadness that was so obvious on Jesse's face the day I met him flashed into my mind. God only knew how much I understood that look, even on the day of my best friend's wedding.
"He's sad. I can understand. I feel the same way…but I know he will get over it," I said, even though part of me was hoping, selfishly, that he would never get over me.
Dylan scoffed. "You can understand. I see. It's so easy for you to understand when you're off with a new guy, starting a new relationship, not thinking twice about the fact you just dumped the man you're supposedly so in love with not two months ago. Yeah, Suze, I can see how you can understand."
My face heated at the sarcasm in his tone. I felt ashamed, not because that he thought I didn't understand but because in actual fact, there was no other man in my life.
I had told so many lies that it wasn't even hard for me to believe that there could actually be another man in my life. Otherwise, how could I have ended things with Jesse, right? What sane woman would?
"You don't understand," was all I could reply, and I knew I had said the wrong thing because he practically went ballistic the next second.
"You're right, Suze, I don't understand! I don't understand how someone like Jesse could change just because of something you did. God dammit, do you have any idea what happened to Jesse last night?"
My heart lurched before pounding like crazy, making my chest felt constricted.
"What happened to him?" I quickly asked, fearing the worst. Please don't tell me he was hurt, please don't…
Dylan stared at me, his voice filled with disgust. "I found him in a club, drunk out of his mind. So drunk that he could barely walk, and I had to freaking drive him home even though he was so out he didn't even know who the hell I was. And the worse part is, the night before he had done the exact same thing, only I wasn't there to drive him home. Someone else did."
I had to sit down, because my knees suddenly felt weak. The idea of Jesse drinking has never even crossed my mind, and if Dylan didn't look so serious, I had half a mind to ask him if he was joking.
"Is he alright?" I asked, not so sure that someone like Jesse, who had never drink for fun, would be alright consuming that much alcohol in that short of a time.
"Other than missing work this morning due to what I'm guessing a massive hangover, he's just peachy," he said sarcastically, and I had to look away, not being able to meet the cynical look in his eyes.
"Who was the person who drove him home the other night?" I asked, wondering if I should thank the person for bringing Jesse back safely – even though he apparently visited the club again, and drinking again…
Dylan was right. Even I didn't recognize Jesse now. And whose fault was that, exactly?
"One of my ex-girlfriends," he answered reluctantly and my head snapped up, my eyes searching his face.
"What do you mean your ex?" It didn't occur to me that a woman would be driving Jesse home.
Don't think that way, Suze. Just don't.
He sighed. "Her family owns a chain of night clubs in town, and from what I understand, she met him at the hospital and offered him to come to her club. For whatever reason he did, and the first night when he got drunk, she drove him home. Yesterday when I saw him outside the club with her, obviously I thought I had gone to another planet or something, so I asked her what happened since he wasn't exactly in the condition to talk and that's how I knew he had been there before."
I stared at him, but in a way I wasn't looking at him. I was in a daze, my mind racing to comprehend the fact that Jesse was out with another woman. And if I remembered correctly, Jesse said the woman Dylan dated weren't his type – translated: they were easy.
But how can you tell the difference when you're drunk?
"Did he…has he said anything about why he was there?" I asked, not sure if I wanted to know the answer.
Dylan shook his head. "Like I said, his communication skills had been temporarily numbed by the alcohol. I don't even remember what I said to him yesterday, I just remember yelling some crap about him drinking in the first place. I mean, there's nothing wrong with drinking but this is Jesse we're talking about here. I've never seen him that way before."
I swallowed, rationalizing that what Jesse chose to do, how he led his life was his business. It wasn't my fault.
So why did I feel this heaviness in my heart?
"Look, Suze, just tell me the truth. Did you lead Jesse on? Did you pretend to love him because you feel sorry that he loves you when in fact you're in love with someone else? And then when you couldn't keep up with the act anymore, you left him?"
I drew a sharp intake of breath, surprised by what he just said. I met his stare with my own and when I spoke, my voice shook because I was trying so hard to contain my anger.
"I had never pretended to love Jesse. I loved him with all my heart, and that was not an act. You can come in here and say anything to my face but don't you dare question my feelings for Jesse. I couldn't believe you would suggest something like that, after what you know Jesse and I had been through," I said harshly, and a tad defensively.
But he didn't look entirely convinced.
He gave me a stony look, before saying, "So why did you leave him? If you really," he started to mimic my tone, "love him with all your heart, then why? Is it his parents? You gave him up because of his parents?"
"What do you know about his parents?" I retorted, standing up so quickly from the sofa that my knee bumped the coffee table. Pain shot up my leg but I ignored it. "You don't know what it was like having to sneak around, acting like we were fugitives, like we were doing something wrong. We just had a relationship. We weren't hurting anybody!"
"Alright, then. So you left him because of his parents?" Dylan asked, his eyebrow raised.
"No! Well, yes…in a way. But also because of Oliver," I said quickly, realizing I almost gave myself out from what I just said.
He gave me a humorless smile. "So you left Jesse because you're in love with Oliver?"
I frowned, knowing what he was implying. If I said yes, it meant I had left Jesse for Oliver. On the other hand, if I said no, it meant I left Jesse because of his parents. Which is the truth. But I couldn't let him know that.
"Yes, of course," I lied yet again, hoping the lightning wouldn't strike me to the ground.
I remembered Father Dominic frowning on my behavior, saying that I shouldn't lie to my mom whenever I go out to fight ghosts and tell her the truth about what I was doing. I was never good with telling the truth.
Dylan looked at me for a second, then shrugged. "Okay. If you want to tell yourself that, go right ahead. Personally, I don't even think this Oliver exists."
"Of course he does!" I replied. That much was true.
"Whatever you say, Suze." He was heading towards the door, but he turned to look at me scornfully once again. "So why did you reacted so badly when I mentioned Jesse's parents? I struck a nerve, didn't I?"
"Yes, but that doesn't mean –"
"If you don't want to be with Jesse because you can't stand his parents, why didn't you just tell him the truth? Why make up some lame story about another man?"
I shook my head, even though he was so close to the truth, he could touch it. "You don't know what the hell you're talking about…"
He must have seen something in my eyes because instead of continuing to the door, he moved towards me.
"How could you, Suze? How could you lie right to his face – and to mine? You've fallen out of love with him because of his parents but you don't have the guts to tell him the truth. So you make up some lame-ass story about the notorious Oliver and poor Jesse ate it all up. Because he just wanted the best for you. But you've never even thought of what's best for him, the consequences of what you've done. You just want a way out!" He was on a roll, and I couldn't stop him. "Go on, Suze, tell me I'm wrong. Tell me that you really don't love him after all!"
"Shut up! You don't understand!" I yelled, my ears ringing with his accusations. "Why do you care so much, it's none of your business!"
"I care because he's my friend! Like I thought you'd care, the way you proclaimed your love for him!" he bellowed back in my face.
"I do care! That's why I left him, because that's best for him!"
"Are you insane? He's freaking in love with you, how can you leaving him be the best for him? Stop lying, Suze!"
"I'm not lying!" I cried, and that's when it all came tumbling out.
I dropped down onto the couch, sobbing like a burst water dam, and I told him everything. Jesse's parents, Oliver, Terry, the will, everything. I even told him about YLN though it really had no relevance to the subject at hand. But I just sat there and spilled all the secrets I'd been keeping this few weeks, talking non-stop through the tears and the sobs and the hiccups.
I didn't know if he understood what I had said. But when I was done, he came over and sat beside me.
I looked down to my lap, sniffling pathetically, not wanting to look at him. I was mighty embarrassed, but I also felt so relieved. I never knew how keeping so much inside of me was hurting me.
A bunch of tissue papers was handed to me, and I gratefully took them. He still hadn't said anything, and I took the opportunity to wipe my tear-stained face.
I just hoped he wouldn't ask me to repeat everything I just said. For some reason people always make me do that, repeating the things I just said.
Dylan exhaled loudly, and I finally looked at him. Despite his leather jacket and black jeans, he looked so serious I would have believed him if he said he was going to perform a surgery in the next few minutes. He ran his fingers through his dark hair and then he too, looked at me.
But the look in his eyes was no longer accusatory, just sorry. Perhaps even a little guilty.
Though I didn't really blame him for yelling at me. He had good reasons to do so.
"I'm sorry, Suze. I didn't know…" he appeared to be lost for words, and I felt braver all of a sudden, as if him knowing the truth gave me strength somehow. Because now I had an ally. Unintentionally, but still.
"It's okay. No one knew, that was how I wanted it to be," I said. My nose was stuffy, and I sounded weird. But I couldn't care less.
"All those things I said, I mean –"
"Dylan, I don't blame you for caring about Jesse. He's lucky to have you as a friend. And besides, this is all my fault. I lied and lied, and it's all just caught up with me…" I sighed, feeling so emotionally drained. "I just don't know what else to do. You're the first person to know everything."
"Yeah, I kinda guessed that," he said, smiling that half-smile of his. He looked at the floor as if he was thinking, before he said the one thing I didn't want to hear.
"Suze, you have to tell him the truth."
I looked at him, incredulous. "Did you even listen to what I said just now? The will, and Jesse's dad –"
"I know, I heard it all. But what you don't realize is the fact that you're the one making the decisions, not him. You're not giving Jesse the chance to choose for himself," he said, echoing what was on my mind whenever I thought about what I had done.
"But I'm doing him a favour. How can he choose between his family and me? It's not fair."
"If you ask me, his parents are the ones who's being unfair. That doesn't mean you have to do the same. Just tell him the truth and give him a chance to make his own choices," he said, gently.
I didn't know what to say, so I just kept quiet.
Dylan was right, but the idea of coming clean with Jesse was frightening. I knew he would be angry and he had the right to be, but that wasn't what scared me. It was the possibility that we could be together…and then torn apart again.
Sighing, I shook my head. "I don't know…I mean, I'm not ready."
"Then wait until you're ready. Just don't wait too long, I don't want to babysit him every night," he joked, though there was a serious implication in his words. Jesse, going out drinking again. I didn't want to the reason for him being an alcoholic, that was for sure.
I nodded, and he patted me on the arm before standing up. "I would love to stay and talk more but I'm really late for work."
I stood up too, wiping my face again. "I'm sorry I kept you –"
"No, it's alright, I wanted to come," he cut me off, waving away my apology. "And thanks, Suze, for being honest with me."
A rush of relief and gratitude surged over me, knowing that despite the unpleasant task I had to do, at least there's somebody who'll understand.
- 0 – 0 – 0 –
After Dylan left, there was no way I could go back to sleep so I took a shower, got dressed and had some breakfast.
I toyed with the idea of seeing Jesse, but I told myself that he probably need some rest since he had such a bad hangover and he didn't need me being all emotional on him.
Yeah, basically I was chickening out.
Never mind, I still had time. I decided that since I had nothing else to do, I could do some digging on the YLN issue. I haven't looked into it since my breakup with Jesse because I figured the ghost didn't come to me so it wasn't my deal to handle. But I had to admit the whole conspiracy theory thing was interesting, so I thought I'd looked into it.
I would start with Steven. I had no idea if he was still at the hospital, but I had to try. And since I knew Jesse was at home, there wouldn't be a chance of us bumping into each other.
On my way to the hospital, I checked my phone for messages. I had none.
I felt so unpopular.
When I reached the hospital, I checked the building directory for the wards. I remembered Jesse telling me the floor level, but he didn't tell me the room number.
I stopped at level 9 and walked to the nurses' station, my heart beating a little bit faster as I remembered that the last time I was here, I was a patient. I hoped I won't bump into Dylan since he did say he was heading to work. That would mean I have more explanations to give him, and I wasn't in the mood to do so.
The young blonde nurse at the counter looked up and smiled. "Hello, what can I do for you, miss?"
"Yeah, I want to visit a patient, but I don't know his room number. His name is Steven Stanley," I told her.
"Hold on, I'll check for you." She tapped something onto the computer, and then clicked the mouse a few times.
I watched her, which was why I knew something was wrong even before she told me. It was in her expression. Her smile disappeared and she looked troubled.
"What's wrong?" I asked, worried.
"I'm very sorry, miss," she said slowly, like she was reluctant to tell me the news. "Mr. Stanley passed away two days ago."
"What? How did he die?" I was shocked. I knew he had a heart problem but Jesse said it wasn't serious.
"It says here he had a heart attack. I'm really sorry."
I thanked the nurse and walked away, lost in thoughts. This was so strange. Heart attack, that sounded legit. But if YLN really was getting rid of everyone who opposed them, it didn't mean Steven's death wasn't man-made.
Then I had an idea.
Turning around, I walked back to the station.
"I'm sorry to bother you again, but if you don't mind, I need your help," I said to the same nurse.
She looked surprised, but said, "Sure. How can I help you?"
"Can you check and see who Steven Stanley's visitors were? The thing is, my brother said he'd come and visit him but I don't know if he was telling me the truth. We have a kinda complicated relationship," I bluffed. It sounded so bogus, but it just came to me and I figured I'll just take the chance.
"And what is your relation to Mr. Stanley?"
"Oh, he's our uncle. My brother and Uncle Steven had a disagreement a few years back, and I don't know if they patched things up. He's a real hothead. My brother, I mean."
I thought she didn't look entirely convinced, but then she reached out and pulled out a large book from under the counter. "Here, you can check it yourself."
Well, even better. "Thanks so much," I smiled, and opened the book.
I searched the pages to find the date to two days ago, and when I found it, I read the names one by one to see if anything suspicious popped up. I actually didn't know what I was looking for since how the heck would I know what fake name an YLN spy would put in.
Then I saw a name which made me stop. I didn't recognize it, but there was something off about the name. As if it was familiar, but fake at the same time.
Oh my God.
I know who the killer is.