As a child, I always had questions, questions to simply go on for days and I never found the answers until I found the courage to ask Axel. He'd make it seem so simple, he'd give me the most useless of responses yet I'd find the answer to a question I hadn't even begun to contemplate. Axel would look at me with that smile, when at the tender age of seven, was missing a front tooth and I'd stare at him, not believing a word he said because that's how children are. They don't trust one another.
How do you know?
I'd ask and there it was, that smile that seemed to answer any question without words, that smile that responded the silent question floating around in my gray matter, the question I didn't even know existed. I'd smile back then, knowing now for some reason that whatever he said was the honest truth.
Even though I had asked him the over-rated question of why the sky was blue and he responded by telling me it was because it's just a pretty colour and people like looking at it, it matches with yellow and the sun is yellow.
Are you sure, how do you know?
I'd ask again and he'd huff, stomping his foot and crossing his arms over his chest before fixing me with a tiny glare.
"Because I'm me," and then he'd leave it at that, leave me there staring after him as he turned and hurried away, attention caught by something off in the distance, I'd stay behind though, watching as he simply brushed off my worry and concern for the world or whatever I was asking about. He'd turn back and roll his cat-like eyes, tell me to stop thinking so much because only adults did that and pull me off, take me somewhere I subconsciously was dying to be.
Why is my mom such a pain?
It was a rhetorical question, but by then, the age of 13, Axel was so used to answering my seemingly never ending flow of questions that he answered from his place on the bed.
"Because all mothers are like that. It's in their genes." He sounds so smart, like he has all the knowledge of the world in that small head of his and I look at him as he stares at the ceiling, like that's what gives him all his answers. He tilts his head and looks at me, his eyes shinning with happiness and his smile is just so bright, again I know that he's telling me the honest truth. Again that question which was still unbeknownst to me is answered, my brain saving it for another time, a time when I'd understand the question, because you can have an answer but not understand what was asked.
How do you know that?
By this point in our friendship (one that has been since the beginning of time or my time, because time has been around for millions upon millions of years and even if our friendship feels like it has, it's only been 13 years), asking that follow up question is only habit and I don't really expect an answer.
"Because I'm me," Axel gives me the same response every time, and I remember it, catalogue it in my mind and save it for when I look back on these moments in time, for when I'll look back many years from now and wonder, just why I always went to him with my questions.
I know the answer though.
Because you're you.
It's Axel's turn to ask me a question and I sit there with his head in my lap, feeling his tears seeping into my jeans as I run my fingers through his hair.
"Why would she do that to me?" He sobs and I sigh, trying to understand the rage welling up in my chest like the mercury inside of a thermometer. I'm not him though, so I don't have his bountiful wisdom, I don't know the answers to every question he could ask me, I simply don't know.
Because she's stupid.
I say and I realize that is the only correct answer I could have given. It is the only thing that makes sense in my mind because why would anyone hurt him? Why would anyone force him to shed tears and break his heart? My chest aches with the absence of his smile, that smile that could put Helen of Troy's beauty to shame, a smile that would make her seem like Cleopatra in comparison. Only an idiot would ever want to cause him such grief.
"How do you know?" our roles are reversed and I feel like laughing, but instead I turn his face and look down at him, peeling Axel away from my lap and making him sit up. He stares at me, looking like all the answers he once held in his mind were somehow transferred into my brain and he wants them back. Axel looks vulnerable without his wisdom and I feel like I can't handle it all. I smile at him; in that way he always did and hope it answers his question.
Because you're you.
And there it is, that smile, that slight upturn of his lips with just a hint of teeth showing. Axel throws his arms around me and his tears slowly dry, the only evidence of them having ever existed slowly fades from my blue denim pants.
Our exchange is finished after this, and he has all of his wisdom back and I'm left with more questions but not enough courage to ask them.
I'm left wondering and thinking about something new, something I'd probably never find the answer to if I didn't ask him.
I'd have to deal with never finding the answer though.
I hate him, I fucking hate him so much!
I'm screaming, pacing in Axel's room like a caged animal and he's simply watching me, legs folded as he sits on his crumpled sheets. My fist is throbbing from when I hit a hole through Axel's closet door, my hand feels broken but I don't care.
Why does he hate me?
I scream out to no one but Axel's there and deep down in know he'll have an answer, he always has an answer. Axel stands from the bed and comes over to me, not at all frightened by my enraged state or the murderous look in my eyes. He grips my broken hand firmly in between his and looks down at it. It hurts and Axel can tell but he doesn't let go.
"Because you're better than he'll ever be," He tells me easily and I feel my anger slowly ebbing away in steady waves. Simply having him near me like this calms me like a sedative, numbing the anger that's making me wear my teeth down with constant grinding, like Novocain.
I look at him through the swelling eye my father gave me and he shakes his head, leading me out towards his kitchen to get me an ice pack. The ritual of our questions leads me to ask the next one.
How do you know?
I ask and he turns to smile at me, and now I know whatever he says next will be the honest truth.
"Because I'm me." And I decide that's all I need and I let him fix my hand to the best of his abilities.
I come to a startling revelation one day, sitting alone while Axel's out with new friends, with a new girlfriend.
I sit here alone and realize that:
I love you.
I'm surprised I didn't have to ask him anything to find that out. I'm surprised I answered my own questions for once.
What do you think of gay people?
The question just leaves my mouth before I have a chance to stop it, my body so accustomed to simply asking Axel whatever comes to mind that I never stood a chance against it. He tilts his head at me and simply looks at my face, I don't know what he's going to say and it terrifies me. This is probably the most important question I have ever asked him, and he seems to actually be at a loss for words until that smile appears, and he shakes his head.
"What the fuck am I supposed to think? They're just people," I feel my heart hammering in my chest; pounding against my ribs so hard I'm sure he can hear it.
You don't care?
And now I realize that I've told him about my secret without even wanting to and he just tosses his head back and laughs before wrapping me up in a hug that makes my insides melt, it makes me feel ten years old again, it makes me think back to all those questions I asked and the security I felt when he'd answer them.
"No way," He's still holding me and I have to summon up enough strength to push him away before he can get suspicious. I look at him and smile.
I'm not sure what I mean by it but Axel doesn't hesitate to finish his side of the exchange like he's been doing for 16 years. Except this time, he changes it slightly, he changes it and it makes my heart feel like it's going to implode.
"Because you're you."
He's not Axel, but he'll have to do because I know I'll never be able to have Axel. His eyes aren't quite the same and his hair is never quite as soft in between my fingers but he fills the empty silences I've been living ever since Axel's gotten with that slut from our school. He fills the silence with his voice or sometimes with his moans and pants and for a slight moment I feel like I can grow to love him like I love Axel. I smile and breathe deeply as he pushes into me.
Why is the sky blue?
I ask and I know it's an odd time but I have to hear his answer. He pulls out and he looks at me curiously, looking at me like I've just asked him to jump off the building's roof.
"Because it's the reflection of the ocean," he answers differently, he doesn't smile at me to let me know he's telling me the truth and I bit my bottom lip, feeling any excitement melt away and leaving me feeling empty. It's a horrible feeling, realizing that he'll never be Axel and I will never love him.
How do you know?
I'm grasping at lose threads that can never be tied, I'm grasping at anything that will give me at least a thin sliver of hope of finding love besides Axel but he cuts the thread even shorter.
"My science teacher told me," and just like that he cuts off conversation, telling me to stop asking him questions because he isn't Steven Hawkins and he doesn't know this and that. He kisses me to make sure I stop talking, he pushes in deeper and I just decide to stop.
Because he'll never be him.
Life goes on and I've moved out of his apartment, Axel shares this new apartment with me but he's gotten another girlfriend so the times we have together are even shorter than before, leaving no time to ask him as many questions as I'd like. I have them building up inside me, living without answers and I feel them crushing my heart with their weight. I can almost hear them wailing at me, begging me to give their lives meaning, begging me to find them answers because they need it more than I could ever know. I feel the need to tell him just how much I hate watching him get hurt, I feel the need to tell him just how much I love him but I can never force it past my lips when he smiles at me because I just know that if I were to say anything, I'd never see it again. I know that without having to ask him.
Axel runs into the apartment, slamming the door and I jump. I've seen this so many times over the years I already know what to expect. He storms off into his room and I wait patiently for him to come crawling out. He does, two hours later and I'm sitting on the sofa waiting quietly, like Axel knew I would be.
"Why are girls such bitches?" he groans and I just laugh, shaking my head and telling him that I wouldn't know because I've never been with one and I never plan to. Axel just laughs and shakes his head, smiling at me and cutting my breath short.
I love you.
I don't say it but I wish I could, instead I suggest we watch some television, watch things blow up and he agrees, laughing and going to get us a few beers. Telling me how much of a bitch she was during commercials and I nod, listening with a secretive smile on my face.
I know I shouldn't enjoy it, but every single break up warms my heart and lifts the weight that settles there every time he introduces me to a new Betty or Veronica.
Deep down, I know I'll never have him and I'm sure it's for the best.
We are simply best friends.
It's tearing at my soul and he's noticed. He's noticed my dead eyes and my destructive relationships have only gotten worse, the beatings I've taken, the dark bruises from all the rough, one night stands. I stumble home with a bleeding nose and an eye so swollen it's shut. Axel slams the door behind me and the face he wears tells me he has questions and I just don't have the courage to answer them.
I don't have the guts to tell him that I've searched high and low for someone just like him, I've searched the entire globe or at least all the places I can reach yet there is no one that can answer my questions and make me believe them with a simple smile.
No one can be him and I realize this with a sickening feeling settling in my stomach.
"What's wrong with you?" He ask as I spit in the sink, blood is tinting my saliva red and making it thick and I realize I probably bit my tongue when that bastard upper cut me. I turn towards Axel and smile, my teeth red with blood and he cringes, walking over and tending to my wounds like he did all those years ago.
It's the biggest lie I've probably ever told him, and I know I've told him some horrendous lies through-out the course of our friendship and I'm not surprised when he just laughs and shakes his head, telling me to cut the crap.
How do you know I'm lying?
Axel looks up at me and wipes the corner of my mouth with a wet napkin, the gentle touch causes so many emotions to stir and in the end all I'm left with is this horrible hollow sensation that I've come to welcome during the cold nights.
"Because I'm me." His smile is just that, his, and no one on earth will ever have one of equal caliber.
I will never love any one else.
"I'm getting married!" Axel shouts at me, showing me his fiancée's hand (Larxene, I believe her name is)and I know she's a total bitch. Instead of telling Axel it's a mistake, instead of telling him that I love him and begging him not to marry her, I laugh, and congratulate them both. I give her a tense hug and then he envelopes me in his arms.
I notice the way she stares at me, I know she knows and she has known since she met me and I guess I can respect her for keeping quiet. When Axel pulls away, he's smiling and I feel like crying because for the first time in my life, that smile has actually hurt me.
Do I get to be your best man?
I'm smiling and he can't see the pain I'm feeling and I think it's better this way, I think it's better that he never even knew what I felt for him in the first place.
I could have never made him happy, I could have never been what she is to him and I know this because I'm me and he's him and he just could never love me like that.
"Of course!" Axel says and I feel an ounce of happiness because he's happy, but my own misery crushes it. I excuse my self early that night and I lay in bed, listening as he talks to her, listening as she laughs and I can picture him smiling at her. I feel the tears soaking my pillow, I feel them seeping into my hair but there's nothing I can do to stop them.
I'm standing on stage at Axel's wedding reception, giving the speech I had taken so much time to write and I can't stop staring at him as he laughs or nods along to whatever I'm saying. I see his parents there, smiling at me, their second child, as they so often called me and I smile at them. I smile at everyone even if on the inside I feel as capable of smiling as a corpse. I feel my eyes welling up with tears, tears that burn as they sit in my tear ducts but I couldn't dare let them out. He's holding his…wife's hand and I can honestly say he's never seemed happier.
I swallow my sadness, I swallow it all and realize that I'll have to start answering my own questions because soon enough he'll have children who will be asking him things, he'll have a family that will need his infinite wisdom.
I realize that my time with him is about to run out and that chokes me up and cuts my speech short.
I hurry off the stage and out of the reception hall. I stand outside and stare up at the indigo sky, watch the stars glitter and I hear Axel come out after me. I can feel him standing behind me and I turn to smile at him.
The sky isn't blue now.
I say with a smile and he laughs, walking to stand beside me and he looks up at the sky and nods his head.
"No, it's not…" he trails off and I laugh, I'm surprised I could and I'm also glad that I can still laugh. I wouldn't want him to worry about me, not on the happiest day of his life.
Guess you were wrong then.
He nods his head and I send him a teasing smile. We stand in silence and I just watch the stars wink at me and I turn to Axel, words caught in my throat when he looks at me and smiles. That slight upturn of his lips with just a hint of teeth showing. I wonder if she'll appreciate it like me, I wonder if she finds security in it, I wonder if she asks him questions and I wonder what he answers her if she does.
This is the last time I'll ever be able to ask him a question and I know it, because after tonight I'll never be able to be near him. She'll keep me away and I won't fight it. He'll probably wonder at first but as his new life slowly eats away the old one, I'll disappear, along with his memories of skateboarding down hill and breaking his wrist, along with the wisdom that he once held; it will all disappear and be replaced with new memories, new wisdom, new friends.
Tell me one more time…How you always knew?
Axel laughs and shakes his head, tossing an arm over my shoulders and I feel my soul shattering inside of me like crystal. I feel its splintered, jagged pieces digging into my vital organs and shredding me to pieces.
"Because I'm me." Axel responds just like I knew he would and I nod my head as he turns and tells me he'll be right back, he does, after all, have guests. I nod, and Axel doesn't know that I've already come to that conclusion for him. He has another life now, and I'll be left in the dust of it, because I'm still not over his old one, I'm still caught in it like a helpless fly in a tangled spider's web.
I watch the doors shut behind him and now my throat works up the strength to ask him a question, even if he isn't here to hear it.
Why did you make me fall in love with you?
The answer is simple and it frightens me that I could answer my own questions now. I seem to be getting better at doing that and it's only proof, evidence of the fact that I won't need to ask Axel things anymore, it's life's way of preparing me for the loss of Axel, it's life's way of easing the blow some what, it's life's way of saying: "You've lost him, I won't let you lose your sense of direction."
The answer is hidden between the lines of every single question I've ever asked him. It's the answer to that question I didn't even know existed all those years ago when I was seven. The answer to why, of all people, I had to fall in love with him and I answer it out loud to myself.
It's because you're you.
A/N: I just sort of felt like writing something sad.
I hope you all like it :]
Reviews are always welcome.