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FINAL VOICE
A sequel to My Name Is Mathilda

by Krista C. (kabanas)
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DISCLAIMER: This is the sequel to My Name Is Mathilda, which can be found here: http://fanfiction.net/read.php?storyid=488106. With the exception of Craig, Columbia Tri-Star and Luc Besson own The Professional and all corresponding characters. Comments can be sent to Bohemian_Kris@yahoo.com.




My name is Mathilda. I was in love once. I used to believe that I could find goodness in people if only I was in the right place at the right time. These past few years, I've tried finding myself through getting an education. I went back to school because I made to promise to someone that I would be okay.

I thought making friends at the Spencer School for Girls would fill that empty something inside of me. But soon I found out that attending an all-girls private school wouldn't exactly allow me to experience the world in full. I wasn't what they were looking for, you know? I wasn't smart. I didn't contribute to discussions or answered any of the teacher's questions. I failed exams. But I tried, you know. I tried fitting in. I tried harder than anybody at that school not to be pill to the administrators. I tried to fit into normal society, eat healthy, have late night drinks, donate to charity, buy music. But I scarcely received goodbyes when I left the place. It was then that I realized "finding myself" was going to be harder than I thought. It meant I'd have to stop relying on other people to get me places. I would have to start looking out for me.

So I looked for a way to start over.

When I was finally on my own, I tried telling myself that I would forget about my old life if only I waited patiently enough and long enough. I tried keeping my mind on work. But not once since I left Leon have I stopped regretting that I even left that fucking hotel room in the first place. Not once.

The few weeks I was with him, I was happy. Really, truly, innocently happy. You don't just walk down a street and find happiness like that in some random person these days, you know. Leon meant everything to me. What he did meant everything to me. And having shown me what true happiness can really be like, I know it's going to take Mother Teresa rising up from the grave and giving me a hug in order to make me feel happy again. Because I've known happiness. I knew what it was like when I was with Leon. And if I knew only thing at this moment, it's this: I've never been happy since.

I'm beginning to hate myself, okay? The way my life has progressed nowhere even with a man in my life and an apartment to call my own. I'm twenty years old and still stupid. Still smoking. Still a liar. Still trying to find some semblance of Leon's goodness in other people.

My first relationship with another man and to this day I have no idea what I've gotten myself into.

Craig is fun, I won't lie. He's the one I've been telling myself all these months whom I'm finally meant to be with. But that's where the honesty stops. Craig, I know deep down, is not who I want him to be. Not Leon. For one, he talks too much in bed. At night, he likes resting his head atop my shoulder while I stare at the ceiling and tells me about his day like we're already married. For another, he lets me do whatever the hell I want. He's afraid of me. I know he thinks that trying to straighten me out will only make him look like the bad guy. Like I'm beyond his help or something. He's so damn careful with my feelings that I have to yell at him sometimes to be more inconsiderate about pulling open doors for me in public.

"I hate that," I tell him. "I hate when you treat me like I'm eleven."

Fortunately, Craig has never asked why I get so upset whenever some person tries to put me up on a pedestal. And he'll never know. I don't intend on telling him that I couldn't bear it having anyone helping me ever again.

"Why," he asks me, "are you the only one who's got a right to be upset around here? I care about you, Mathilda. I worry about you. I know you don't want anything from me, but that absolutely means nothing because everything that you are makes me happy. I love you. And that's honestly more than anyone else you know in this whole damn city can say. I love you, Mathilda. Are you listening? I love you."

Craig isn't trying to replace Leon. How could he? He never knew the guy. And I won't let him. I couldn't stand anyone trying to replace Leon. Despite Craig's shortcomings, however, I don't mind it so much when I can lie atop him each night. He doesn't get so offended when I smoke in the morning. He actually likes the way I dress. And no matter how hot his temper gets, Craig has never laid a finger on me. But maybe it's because I've promised myself I'd never allow anyone to hurt me ever again. That, and I know the ring trick. I can fucking take care of myself.

How could Craig possibly hurt me? Stick a knife in my throat? I don't mind pain anymore. I'm sort of oblivious to it. When you've suffered long enough, and everything of yours has been taken away from you, you reach a point where nothing anyone does will even matter. It's because of Stansfield that I can watch a car accident down the street and feel absolutely nothing for the woman dying on the ground. It's because of Stansfield that I can stare at a wall for hours and not feel time. It's because of him that I can allow myself to love Craig only half as much as I want to.

Craig is thirty-six, is that surprising? He found me while I was out having a bagel at Noah's on Main Street. Said I had the best pissed off expression he ever saw on a woman even after I told him to fuck off. I know I don't need him for the money. I know I don't love him because he feels sorry for me. So why, then, is he still living with me? Why do I still have him around? Why do I hate it when he asks me to pull out a gun in broad daylight and show him how to kill pigeons from the windowsill? He knows I fucking hate people who have no respect for life.

And then it hit me one night. I was smoking in front of the TV during a re-run of Captain Planet. He came around, hugged me from behind, and left. If one thing feels good in my life right now, it's hugging Craig. It's having someone to come home to and slink into bed with. It's being allowed to hold that person, and feel safe, and knowing that they aren't going anywhere. Even Leon wouldn't have disapproved a luxury like that.

I've grown plants in my apartment like you wouldn't believe. They wrap around every sunny inch of the wall of my bedroom facing the Hudson. They make my place smell nice. Along with the open window, they get rid of Craig's scent in the high heat of noon. When I'm alone, I get that weird feeling of nostalgia like I really was still with Leon. I get reminded of my kid brother. I get reminded of eating junk food in front of the TV. I get reminded of being a kid again. My plants remind me of the afternoons when I used to fall asleep in Leon's kitchen, my nose half buried under the leaves of his plant, wanting to drift off smelling flowers in my dreams.

I miss Leon badly. I think about him all the time, even when I'm not even realizing it. And even though I've yet to find love in Craig, I know I can be content with him. He's all I got. But even before I lost my childhood, I never had much. That's why I hold on so desperately to what I have been given. Some days I'll look at Craig and see Leon. Some days, I'll look at myself in the mirror and see me at eleven. However way I look at things, I know where my place is now. To not have Leon is to be alone.

Yesterday, I found Craig finishing the last milk in his cereal bowl without a spoon. I hugged him from behind like he did to me that one night. I told him I loved him. But even though it was the first time I had said it, it didn't feel like a lie. He was so surprised that he turned around and asked if something was the matter. I guess I only had one answer in mind.

"I'm okay, Craig," I told him. "I'll be okay."















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Dear Leon,

Do you remember when I first told you I loved you? We were in a restaurant.
We were drunk, and you didn't believe me. I made you uncomfortable because
I was only a kid. But you were a good guy, Leon. You understood. You've always
been a good person. But you were so serious, I never got a chance to tell you
that I was being serious, too.

I sometimes forget that you were just a little kid yourself when we met. But you
also taught me something important about life. You made me realize that it's never
too late to have a childhood. I wish you were still here so I could tell you you're
welcome. We were lucky to find each other. Maybe even destined. You're not the
only one who was lonely, Leon. You taught me how to be happy, too, and have
roots. I guess, bottom line is that I miss you. I think about you all the time and I
really wish you were here.

You were the best friend I ever had, Leon. I'm trying the best I can to be happy
for you. I love you, Leon. Thank you a million times over.

Mathilda