His boots sounded harsh on the concrete floor as he walked into the small room. Everything was cold, hard and gray, much like he felt at the moment. She was already seated in a chair, her gray-green jumpsuit matching the dank nature of the room. Her head was bowed, causing her dreadlocks to obscure her face. Tommy Quincy could only imagine what her face looked like at this very moment when she was trapped in this tiny meeting room in the local jail.
It was hard to believe he had been married to this woman at one point. That this hunched, gray woman had ever been the vibrant girl he'd foolishly married. He might never have actually loved her but he had wanted to in their youth. Portia had been a ball of energy and a light when he first caught sight of her when she came to visit Darius and the band and when she'd lit up as they had sung and danced, eyes on him, he'd wanted her.
It was even more exciting that she was the boss' baby sister. Little Tommy Q had always had the reputation of pushing the envelope, at going for a challenge. The light, bubbly, chocolate little sister of the man who had crafted Boyz Attack and made him a name on the map, had been utterly irresistible.
Now, six years later, he could barely see the two carefree teenagers in either of them.
He lowered his form into the hard, metal chair across the table from Portia and pursed his lips into a thin line. He should, he supposed he should feel something at this moment. "I honestly have no idea what to say to you."
Her head raised and there was pain and desolation in her eyes. For the first time in his life he honestly felt no sympathy or guilt at the sight of it. "Tommy," she breathed, a small hint of hope in her voice.
"You…" he trailed off, finding that there was some emotion underneath it all. Anger had still managed to hold on. "How do you live with that for five years? I barely held it together thinking she'd driven herself into a tree in her upset because I stayed with you to save my career. I never guessed that anyone had tampered with the car, least of all you. If I'd known…"
He didn't have an answer for that. Maybe it wouldn't have eaten him up inside so much if he'd known that it wasn't entirely his fault.
"Tommy! You…you loved me…you said…you left her for me!" Portia screeched at him from across the table, fully hysterical.
There was no trace of the young girl he'd known. How long had this hysterical, jealous individual rested inside of her? How had he never noticed it before? How had no one ever noticed it before?
But seeing her like this, as this person he hardly knew but had been shared so many experiences with, he had no trouble saying to her what he should have said a long time ago. "I don't know if I ever really loved you."
"You're a bastard."
He flashed Portia his usual grin, with the sharp, cold edge he often carried. "That I've never lied about honey."
Her head fell again and he sat there staring at her, trying to put all of the night into focus. He'd tossed Jude aside for this past he'd felt he couldn't outrun. He had lived the past few years haunted by his own guilt and failures. The two people who had been closest to him, outside of Kwest, had spent the past five years lying to him about the one incident that had defined his life more than anything.
So he has to ask, "Why?"
"I told you. I didn't want you to leave me. I never wanted you to leave me. I loved you so much and you…you fucked her."
His eyes narrowed into dangerous slits as she spat out that last bit. "I loved her," he ground out at her through clenched teeth.
"Shut up!" she screeched back.
"I loved her and you…" he trailed off, still horrified by the reality of the situation that they'd been left in. He looked down at the stark metal table.
"I'm sorry," she said softly.
He narrowed his eyes on her once again, bent head that seemed to be examining her feet. "But you didn't mean to kill her."
"I didn't mean to hurt anyone," she interjected, cutting him off. Her hands, chained together by shiny metal cuffs reached across the table for his hands.
He scooted his own chair back in disgust. "Please. You cut the lines on my Porsche, Portia. You knew how I drove that thing, everyone did. I've never been the kind of guy who drives slow or takes curves likely. You knew I would have to use the breaks, that I would go off of the road, that I'd likely end up dead. You knew that."
"I…" she floundered, the handcuffs scraping against the table as she slowly
"You would have killed me rather than have me leave you."
The words hung between them in the room, a dark, heavy curtain. Everything seemed to be different now that the words had been said out loud. It was the one point that had been nagging at him since she had clawed at him in
"She shouldn't have had you!" There was a dark fierceness in his voice that terrified him. Her eyes were cold, harsh, as if she'd gone back to those days when she'd confronted him about the affair. "I wasn't going to let her."
"That wasn't your call! We got married at 19 Portia, both of us drunk off of our asses because we couldn't get enough of each other and it sounded like a good idea at the time. After it happened and we sobered up…"
It was hard, admitting his own failures and problems, and talking to her as he had never talked to her before. Honestly, he'd never wanted to hurt her and had been terrified what Darius would think if he hurt Portia more than he had. Terrified of what it would cost his life and his career. The thing Tommy had been most guilty of was never really thinking of Portia in the general outline of it. It had all bee connected to him in some way.
"It was wrong of me, to sleep with her, to do it when we were married but we weren't happy. I wasn't happy," he corrected himself. "And I didn't mean to hurt you…but…that doesn't make what you did okay. You tried to kill someone and even though the wrong person died Portia, that doesn't change things. You had to take the time to learn how to cut the breaks, drain the fluid and then you waited…waited for me to leave with the car. Waited when I came and told you that I'd left her, that she'd taken my car, still knowing."
"I know it sounds bad…"
"It sounds hideous. And then after the crash, you kept silent and begged Darius to cover up your mistakes, knowing he would do anything for you. You didn't just kill Angie and attempt to kill me but you put Darius on the line. He compromised himself for you because that's how much he loves you and you knew that."
"Five years of lies has cost all of us too much. And I wonder, if you were so desperate to keep anyone else from me that you'd kill me, what have you been doing behind my back these five years?"
"You're good enough at ruining your own relationships Tommy; you've never needed my help."
That, he supposed, was entirely accurate. No one was better at shooting themselves in the foot than him. "If I'd known the truth things would have been different," he reminded her. But they weren't and they couldn't go back and change that. "I may not have loved you Portia, but I liked you, I cared about you and I never wanted to hurt you. I don't even see that girl anymore."
They sat in silence a few moments more, just watching each other. There really was nothing more to say to this woman he didn't know. Thankfully, he was saved by the door opening, and the guard that had lead him to the room poking his head inside the room. "Sir, your time is up."
"Thanks," Tommy said, the chair scraping against the floor as he pushed back and stood.
"Good luck with your soul, Portia." He said, without looking behind him. The guard closed the heavy, barred door behind him. A part of his life seemed to have left behind the door, some of the weight that had burdened him all of this time.
Vestiges of the party that had occurred earlier that evening still hung in the main room. There were appetizers left hanging around along with some empty champagne glasses. The microphone still stood on the stage. He could almost imagine Jude still standing up there, talking with the crowd.
Tommy moved through the studio silently. This building had been his home for the past four years and now it was hollow and empty. The leftover party decorations and the lights extinguished in the booths made the place depressing. A once lively place left desolate and silent. It wasn't supposed to be this silent.
He knew the path to the back office well enough that he could have done it in his sleep. Darius was sitting at his desk, staring at the walls of his imposing office. Gold records and various extravagant art pieces hung from the walls, showing off the importance of the man in the desk. The broad, textured gold wall behind him was like the back of a throne. They had all come here to honor the tall, impressive man that was sitting there, looking far more like someone who had lost everything in one fell swoop.
Tommy slowly shut the door and leaned up against the doorframe waiting for Darius to at least look his way. "You lied to me," Tommy said, sounding akin to a petulant five year old. Or at least more like the sulky teen he'd been when he'd met Darius all of those years ago.
The truth of the matter was there were few people he had ever respected quite the way he respected Darius. The man had oozed importance ever since Tommy had first met him. He had been the perfect image of success and all that Tommy had inspired to be and they had managed a friendship even repaired it after everything that had happened.
It all took on a different light now. Everything that he had known and believed that morning had been turned on its head.
"I was protecting my sister," Darius said, plainly.
"She's crazy Darius, she needed help."
Tommy cut him off, not wanting to hear a defense of Portia at the moment. "I went to see her D." And she'd sure as hell been crazy.
D was almost out of his seat. "Why?" he asked, anger blooming on his face.
Tommy felt himself getting angry and pushed away from the wall. "She was my wife once," Tommy shot back. He had a right. It may have been a shitty marriage but once upon a time they'd made each other vows and even if he never could have kept them, they still left an impact on him.
"You didn't love her."
D still had the read on him that Tommy often didn't have on himself. "No, but we shared a lot and I needed to talk to her, for my own sanity. Five years," he said quietly, "I thought it was all me."
Darius settled back into his overly large, leather chair. His brows were still drawn together, the line of his mouth still tight. "You started this whole thing in motion."
"Yeah and I'm sorry I hurt her but damn it, D, the response isn't to go and kill someone, especially the way she did. She was waiting for it to happen."
The anger drained away and it just left D looking sad and guilty. "Look, I know it's messed up but when she came to me, what the hell else was I supposed to do?"
"I don't know," he answered, wishing he did. He waited a moment before turning the conversation to something far easier to discuss, business. "What's going to happen now?"
"They're shutting down the company and the Instant Star franchise for right now while they investigate me. You pay off a few cops and they need to investigate everything," D commented sardonically. "I hate to say that you're out of a job right now."
"I was leaving anyways. I needed to get away from all of this"
"I think we could all use it. For what it's worth," Darius said, sounding far older than Tommy knew he could. "I'm sorry. I hated that it tortured you but I couldn't have left her to flounder alone and it was always going to be her over you. She's my baby sister."
Darius rubbed his hands over his face. "I couldn't protect her," he said, his voice breaking.
Seeing Darius hurt, broken, hit Tommy harder than he had thought it would. D wasn't supposed to look hurt like that, or smaller than a real person. Especially not when Tommy knew, for D, there had been no other options.
He pushed himself away from the wall and took a step closer. "You did. She decided not to lie anymore. I don't know what pushed her over the edge, save maybe our recent fun with Tyler. I honestly can't say. I don't have a read on her Darius," Tommy admitted. "It's like I never knew her at all."
"You should probably go. They're going to come by soon to talk to me. I would rather be alone."
Tommy nodded, and moved towards the door. His hand closed on the handle but he turned back to look at his former boss. "For what it's worth D, I don't blame you."
Tommy sent him a nod. "I'll see ya."
He opened the door and slipped back out. He maneuvered his way through the debris, through the building which had helped him rebuild his life into something that mattered, that he could be proud of. The old chains had been broken and the cage door was open but getting out from under all of the guilt that had bound him to trying to wreck any goodness in his life wasn't going to be as easy as walking out of the studio.
But things had shifted tonight and there were still some things left to do. It was, at the very least, a start.