The Brooklyn Lodging House was empty except for me and Spot. The others were outside in the alley, recovering from their injuries and debating what we were going to do now that Jack was back in the Refuge. The rally had been a disaster and the trial after would have been almost as bad—if not worse—if Denton hadn't come to the rescue…again. And then for him to leave, just as we were coming off of our hardest defeat yet—nobody much felt like talking about Denton right now, even if he had bailed us out. What we were really trying to do now was distract ourselves until Jack got back. Because there had never been a question about that: Jack would escape again, and he'd be telling us we'd been lazy in his absence. But right now, we concentrated on getting better—the rally had hurt.
Spot was sitting on his lower bunk, leaning back against the wall, reading yesterday's paper. I was lying on the floor next to him, my feet propped up on the bedpost, a western dime novel cracking its spine where it lay open on my stomach when I'd given up reading it.
"I ache," I muttered sullenly, gently feeling my face to see if the swelling around my left eye had receded any. I thought I heard Spot laugh, but when I looked up, his usual mask of indifference was back in place.
"Why don't you ever smile?" I asked, grumbling. "It puts me in a bad mood."
"Emotions cause trouble… and aches." He glanced down at me before flexing the wrist he had sprained saving me from deep shit at the rally. He quickly looked back at his paper—the paper we should have been in. "I try to have as few as possible. Get into less trouble that way." There was a small silence.
"I think I understand you, Spot Conlon," I said. "You think emotions like anger and fear and sadness—you think those are bad emotions, and I guess they are. You feel like crap, and I guess they do cause trouble or pain or whatever. But… what about happiness? What trouble did a smile ever cause? What about hope? I guess it could let you down, but that's the point, you keep getting back up, you keep hoping again. What about…" I stopped.
"Happiness invariably leads to anger in some form or another. Has no one ever asked you what you were smiling about, what was so funny? I've been punched in the mouth because some idiot thought I was laughing at him. Hope—hope's just mean. Hope leaves you hanging one too many times, you get afraid to hope." Spot's voice was flat and he wouldn't look at me. "I think you had one more?" he asked coolly.
"What about love?" I whispered.
The newspaper rustled as Spot turned the page. Silence stretched between us, taut and thick. I swung my legs down so I was sitting upright, chewing my lip. I was afraid I'd pushed him too far, or that he was ignoring me. I waited.
"Love causes the most trouble of all," he said finally, folding the paper and standing up. He threw the Sun violently down on the end of the bed, his eyes burning fiercely. "All you get from love is sadness when it's gone. It hurts… so bad… I've seen more broken hearts than—" He paused, running his fingers feverishly through his hair. "No. Love is the emotion I got rid of first, and I'm trying as hard as I can, using up any goddamn shred of hope I have left praying it doesn't come back."
And he went downstairs. I heard the door slam shut and knew he was out in the rain, letting it cool his temper. Each drop that slid down his face would solidify that emotionless mask that didn't believe in love.
But he did believe in love. He believed in it fervently, and hoped with every fiber of his being that it would find him again someday. But he couldn't admit it to himself because somewhere in the desperate reaches of his heart, he doubted that anyone would want him. He thought he was incapable of love. And he was scared.
It felt like hours later when I realised I was crying. I hadn't cried in a long time, but now I couldn't stop. The tears kept coming because I had slipped behind the mask. I had seen his heart, seen the hurts caused by the emotions he so desperately tried to wash away in the rain. I cried because I had seen that all the emotions he pushed aside, buried deep down, left a gaping hole filled only with bitterness and sorrow.
And worst of all, he believed that no one could ever help him.
A/N: The "I" can be anyone you want it to be. I never had anyone specific in mind, so whoever you want to be having this coversation with Spot can be having this conversation with Spot. Leave me a review if you want, and let me know who you think it is, or if i can improve the ending.
I'm working on another Spot fic, so watch for it coming soon (hopefully :D). Thank you for reading.