"So, now what?" Asked Gili to Fay on the phone.
Since the school dance many things had changed but the pink haired girl was just glad everything seemed to be getting better.
"Now…nothing. We go back to normal." Fay answered while she packed her school bag for the next day. It had been a good week and there wasn't really much to expect. Her life as it had been for almost a year was about to change, but she had the feeling that this time everything was going to be fine. Still, she felt the need to talk to someone.
Gili was by far her most trustworthy person. She was a girl, she was really understanding, and more importantly, she didn't take things too seriously, and Fay really appreciated that, because otherwise it would scare her, and she already had enough of that by herself.
Firstly, they had to talk about the new relationship. Gili had finally made it. Surprisingly enough she was the one to take the first step with Cody. It wasn't an exciting new, it was more like something so expected that everyone got tired of waiting, and when it finally happened, only Fay's eyes seemed to glow in excitement.
They also talked about how Fay wasn't going to leave with Filip. Gili didn't think she was too sure about that decision, even though she was happy her friend was going to stay. Fay surely didn't want to be apart, but she didn't want to chase after him either. He was deciding his life and she too, had to decide. She have never done something like that, something that seemed so hard, so she preferred not thinking about it and just let it happen.
The true was that the seemingly weak and shy red haired girl was a pretty independent person, and it all changed when she was around Filip but it was still who she truly was. However, the issue that was troubling her, was the talk she had with Mr. Lumpkin.
He had called her, to talk about Filip, and about the plans she had, straightforwardly asking her what she wanted to do. She told him the truth and he said he was glad. Basically he talked about being worried, and about how they needed to have some boundaries, and some time apart would be good for both of them. She felt it as though he had already made all the decisions for her. It didn't upset her, but it felt weird.
He also said that Filip had never learnt how to depend on someone, so being with Fay could become difficult, for both of them. And up to that point it was pretty clear for Fay that he had no idea how to depend on someone, and it was the same for her, they just had very different ways of dealing with it. He being possessive, and she being needy. It confused her, making her think she was bad for him, harmful even. Thinking there's actually a correct way of loving someone made her feel clueless. Gili stayed unusually quiet during the whole conversation, she was just as inexperienced and confused as her friend so there wasn't any real help she could provide. She too, struggled for a long while, being so cowardly afraid of losing the person she loved the most, to the point of denying her own feelings and even hurting his.
Fay was okay with that, she wasn't asking for answers, she never expected to find them easily, she just needed to talk to someone about it. Because she surely wouldn't mention it to Filip, even though his uncle's call hadn't had anything to do with her decision, she just felt he was better off not knowing.
"Fine…I get it, okay?" Said the girl a bit irritated.
The scene was not at all unusual. Just the two of them sitting in an empty classroom. This time however, was slightly different. This time he did the talking and she couldn't do anything about it. She was ready for it. It was meant to happen.
"It's not like I hate her or something." Lannie added in a softer tone. "I just thought…you were too far away. I'm the only one…who's still stuck in here..." Her voice faded into a whisper and she sighed. "What a bummer."
Filip looked at her from the teacher's desk. They talked about Fay, even though he didn't actually consider it to be necessary. It was probably just a way of saying good-bye. But he knew, or at least he thought he understood. That Lannie simply liked to be around him, because she believed they were equally lost. She was wrong. She was just stubborn and over dramatic. But it finally seemed like there was a spark of honesty in her.
"It's not like it wasn't going to end soon anyway." He said. "Our time left in this school is not long after all. And you feel alone…because of your stupid pride."
"I don't want to be preached by you." She rolled her eyes. Filip usually acted disinterested, which was somehow annoying, but she hated when he probed that he knew her well. "Anyway…I do care about you. I just never allowed myself to fall for you. I knew you wouldn't…well, I am no good for you. And you would never take me seriously anyway." She stated in a curtly manner, but it was just her way of concealing her feelings. It was already bad enough having that conversation with him.
He smiled at her effort for keeping in character. So conceited all the time. And the fact that she thought she wasn't good enough for him was even hilarious. "You're just such a spoiled brat. You are used to getting everything you want, and when it doesn't happen, you become that evil bitch that everyone hates." He laughed.
"Okay, stop it already. I'm not liking this anymore."
He raised his eyebrows but kept quiet.
"It was actually kind of hard to dislike her though." She continued. She didn't want it to end with resentment or anything like that between them, since there was enough of that already around her, and she didn't want to make a big deal out of it either. It was better to keep a light mood and make it like it was any other day. "You should give me credit for that."
"Of course Lannie, thank you for bullying my girlfriend." He stated sarcastically.
She looked up from her perfectly manicured nails at Filip, who didn't seem the slightest bit mad and it was definitely not what she was expecting. "It took you quite some time though. I always thought you were going to go berserk on me anytime soon because of her."
"I honestly thought you wouldn't bother her if she was with me and not with…you know…"
She glared at him, clearly infuriated. "No, I don't."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." He said nonchalantly while looking away. She was so easy to read. "Besides, I can't keep myself from enjoying her troubled expressions." He said finally, an ecstatic smirk on his face.
Lannie frowned at him, bemused, but she couldn't avoid laughing. "Poor girl…such a sadistic bastard as a boyfriend."
Filip glanced at her with a serious expression. He knew she was joking, he just wondered if she thought he was making a joke too.
"I said I can't actually hate her…that doesn't mean I like her, okay?"
"I couldn't care less if you like her or not."
"Yeah…" She shrugged. "…I'm gonna miss you though."
Her eyes shot back at him wide. She couldn't believe it even if he said it.
The girl laughed out loud and he just smiled. He had always told her she was crazy, and Lannie didn't seem to be bothered about it, maybe she thought it too, but when she behaved nicely she was a good friend, the only friend he had at school actually, so it was not a lie that he could miss her. He just found it hard to care about the people around him, just recently finding out that it was actually possible.
Lannie didn't think it was too painful, just the usual nostalgia that you feel while saying good bye to a person who occupied an important span of time in your life.
There were almost two weeks left until the end of school. Spencer was almost ready to leave all of that school life behind and celebrate graduation. His grades were pretty good so there was no struggling in that matter, unlike some of his classmates. The last class of the day was Calculus and the teacher was busy helping those who needed a bit of extra credit.
He couldn't tell in all honesty if the way Lannie approached him that day was a pleasant or an unpleasant surprise. He would say that just the word 'surprise' was enough to describe it. Because when you have a good friend, a truly good friend, the kind of person who have heard all your secrets and who knows you even better than yourself; then no matter how much time passes, no matter how many people you've known, you can sit with that one friend to talk and the conversation will flow with such simplicity that nobody would believe you when you say you're not friends anymore.
She sat next to him with a simple 'Hi'.
He greeted her with an equally casual attitude and smiled like he would do with anybody else. The hostility between the two was always triggered by her, just the way she looked at him, as if she hated him, made it impossible for him to treat her nicely again.
"Are you feeling nostalgic already?" Asked the girl as she placed her books on the desk, unnecessarily aligning them perfectly in front of her.
"Not really. Why?" He stopped the pen drumming against the table. The situation promised to get interesting, so he focused his full attention on her. He was just curious of knowing what was going through her mind that made her talk to him again.
"It's just strange seeing you on your own, quiet and all…"
"I'm actually excited. All these was fun, but I'm really looking forward to what's coming next."
"That's so like you."
"It's just…I don't even know if you ever get sad. I don't know. It's like you don't have any weakness."
He stifled his smile and looked at her. It was so weird yet so familiar that he actually started to feel that nostalgia they were talking about, though only for her. Her hair was longer than before and she was even prettier than before, she started wearing makeup and the way she dressed also changed, but her voice, her eyes, and the way she moved were the same. So it was a bit confusing, but it felt nice, it felt like old times.
"That's nice though." She spoke again, being completely unaware of the way some people started to whisper while staring at them.
"It's been a while since we talk like this." He finally said.
"Yeah…" She looked down, feeling somehow afraid that he would say he wanted nothing to do with her anymore, but inside she knew very well he wouldn't say something like that, and not even because it was about her, it was just the way he was. "Remember when we started high school? I was really nervous."
"Of course I remember. You were usually bad at meeting new people, but that time it seemed like it was going to be too much for you."
"Then you told me…that you were going to be with me always. And then I felt better."
"Yeah, I was so cute, right?"
"That's not funny, you toyed with my feelings of dreamy little girl. I truly believed you back then. You know you were everything to me."
It was even hard for her to believe that her life was like that. Her whole world really revolved around him and him alone. Spencer was always cheery and friendly, but no matter what he would always go back to her. He was the one who treated her nicely, and the one who understood her no matter how selfish she behaved. He never betrayed her and he never talked bad about her behind her back, so he became indispensable and she wallowed herself in the thought that she didn't need anyone else in her life.
"I'm sorry…but it was the same for me."
Lannie felt the blush on her cheeks and it made her feel uncomfortable. She didn't even remember the last time she blushed, it was probably in front of Filip, in one of those rare moments when he behaved surprisingly nice. But it was not the moment to be thinking about him. Her eyes raised to see Spencer's cocky smile and she didn't know if it made her want to smile back or to punch him in the face to erase that silly expression.
"Well, you totally blew it." Said the purple haired girl, raising an eyebrow and pursing her lips.
"Me? I think you were the one who stopped talking to me. That was awful, you know?"
He said jokingly, but it actually hurt him in the past. The way she started to ignore him and looking at him as if she hated him was probably the most difficult thing he went through.
"You messed up first." She said in a whisper, and it didn't sound like she was joking anymore. "You even kissed me... "
"A bit late for that, isn't it?"
"It wasn't about the kiss. It was about the way you behaved. You were the same with me, but you acted as if I didn't exist when we were in public. Talking with other girls all the time. Saying I was just your friend…that was awful for me."
He suddenly felt uncomfortable. It had become a habit to avoid thinking about those days when any memory popped up in his mind, so he didn't really remember very well anymore. What was clear was the way she said she hated him, without giving him any reasons. He tried to help her make friends, but maybe for Lannie it didn't seem that way. He just didn't realize how he unwillingly hurt her. But if she was trying to be honest, maybe it was time for him to try it too.
"I…don't know what happened…You looked so happy when you started making new friends. Before, you were so bad at relating with other girls, you didn't like them because you felt insecure around them, and they didn't like you because for them it looked like you thought you were better. And you felt so sad when something bad happened, when you weren't able to get along with someone. Until you gave up and made it seem like I was enough. But I still thought you were feeling lonely, so I wanted to make you happy."
"That didn't make me happy at all."
"You made that pretty clear."
"That was just…so stupid."
"You acted stupid too."
"Why did you come to talk to me again?"
"I just found out today we are going to be together in college…again." She took the admission letter from her notebook, the one she had proudly kept near her since receiving it, and held it in the air for him to see it. "I didn't want it to keep like this between us."
It had been a total coincidence, but it made him really happy. One summer day, years ago, when they were only ten, they had sat under his porch and had planned a whole life together. The middle school papers were already done so the first step was just about to begin. They both lived near Happy Tree High so that was an easy decision too. They had thought about universities, and careers, and a way to make choices that didn't let them be apart for a long time, even if they didn't know yet what they wanted to do in life or what it meant. And at that age, university felt too far away, so that's how far they got. It seemed like enough planning for a lifetime. But the moment had come and it hit him that maybe it wasn't a coincidence at all. Probably they remembered to keep the promise even if unconsciously. His eyes shined in surprise and excitement.
"So you want to continue from that kiss?" He asked with a smirk on his face and without shame. The same smirk he had used hundreds of times before with other girls.
"Of course not, dumbass. It's not the same anymore." She denied with her head but couldn't avoid laughing at his carefreeness.
"Yeah…we already ruined it. But I guess we can start over from being friends again."
She shrugged. Just then realizing her heart was unusually uneasy.
"Sure. You've changed. I think it'll be nice to meet you again."
"Unfortunately, you haven't changed at all."
He laughed and Lannie felt so much lighter. It still made her feel calmer when she was with Spencer. She was glad to find out the effect hadn't vanished completely after all that time.
Five months later.
Fay was late already. It was 6:00 p.m., it was hot, and it had been a long day. They were meeting with Filip's friends. Sneaky and Ka-boom. The boys had complained for a while about his friend abandoning them until Fay insisted on going out for dinner with them.
She looked down at her clock, forgetting once again that it was broken. There probably would be at least a little bit of scolding.
When Filip moved for college he left her with his apartment and car keys. She didn't like it. There had been even a little fight over it. And she still refused to use the car or to go into his place when he was away.
She hurried in front of the door, digging in her bag for a pair of keys that were going to be used for the first time. She finally got them but they slipped from her hands, falling soundlessly on the floor. Even thought it was impossible for them to not make any sound, given that it was metal against a wooden surface. It tangled her for a moment, but it was probably only prove of how agitated she was after all the running. When she kneeled down to get them, the door opened.
Filip crouched in front her, seeing how she was so out of breath and flustered to even pronounce a word or to move. He reached his hand to gently brush her hair off her face.
"You okay?" He asked.
"Yeah…" Fay said a bit perplexed. Her breathing was so heavy that the lack of air was making her dizzy. Probably she had never run so much in her life, and she didn't think of repeating it either. "Yes." She added while laughing. "Are you…going somewhere?"
"No. Just opening the door for you." He answered casually.
"How did you know?"
He smiled at her expression of confusion. "I heard you of course."
"Oh…" She laughed again while looking down, feeling light headed.
"We don't have to do this. You're obviously too tired"
"No, I-I'm okay. Just give me a minute and a cold glass of water, and I'm ready to go"
He stood up and 20 seconds later walked back to the door, seeing how she didn't have any intention of standing up yet.
The girl had made herself comfortable, sitting against the door frame, with her head tilted back and holding her bag between her legs. Filip decided to join her and sat on the floor next to her.
"Why are you trying so hard?" He asked while she drank the water.
"Hard?" She questioned as if she didn't understand. "I don't think I'm trying hard…I just want to do things with you…besides, you are really busy recently so I think it's good to make different things once in a while. Don't you think so?"
He looked into her deep amber eyes. The way they gave him that wide innocent stare every time, made him think there was definitely nothing brighter than her.
"I only need you." He said, gazing at her intently. His voice was serious but gentle.
She glanced up and down, back at the empty glass between her hands.
"I just want to make things easy…for you."
"The best you can do for me is to promise me that you won't ever leave me."
She smiled widely at him and nodded.
"Never, ever leave me."
The red haired girl carefully placed the glass on the floor, kneeling up and then crawling the short distance between them to place a kiss on his lips and hug him tightly around his neck.
She smiled shyly while sitting back and feeling a bit awkward. He stared at her, maybe for a little too long.
"Why are you looking at me that way?" She felt suddenly like asking. It had been bothering her for some time but she had decided to ignore it. Actually, until that very moment, she had not realized how much it troubled her.
"As if…you don't know me."
He denied with his head but didn't manage to voice an answer.
"It kind of makes me uneasy. Because…" She laced her fingers together and sighed. "So-sometimes it feels like you are somewhere else. Like your eyes are on me but you are not."
He dragged her closer, surrounding her with his arms.
"That is not possible." He spoke softly against her hair. "You are everything I ever see. And I can't stop feeling this way about you, so that's never going to change."
They stayed there, for a minute or two. Thinking, quietly trying to figure out the best way of being together, of making things easy for both of them, but without sharing their thoughts. Before she spoke again.
"We're already late…"
Two months later.
The green haired boy sat across the man, a glass of water in front of him. He stared at his uncle's cup of coffee. One hour had passed since he left the airport, and he was feeling really tired, although lately it wasn't an unusual state.
The meeting was necessary, not that he wanted to be there, it would obviously be better to have a nice one or two hours of sleep, drink a cup of coffee and meet Fay again. It had been two weeks since the last time he traveled, and he was way too tired already.
"A coffee would be nice." He implied softly, half begging for it, maybe it would help with his headache too. But he already knew what to expect from his uncle when being treated like a patient, as least stimulation as possible, and that included a completely silent office, and definitely not coffee.
"I think you're fine with water."
Filip pursed his lips but said no more.
"But tell me. What is going on?" Asked the blue haired man seeing at his nephew. He couldn't say he hadn't seen that spent look on the face of the young boy, because unfortunately he had. He worried him too much. He loved him, because he was like the child he never had.
"It is not working." Said the boy. His hand shook a little while reaching for the glass of water to take a drink.
"What is it that is not working?"
"Everything. Nothing. Nothing is working."
"Be more specific. You're rambling."
"My life…in general, it's like…nothing is working."
"You told me you're doing well on your studies."
"Yeah, but it's getting difficult…it used to be easy."
"That's pretty normal when you start college. We all go through that difficult stage. It's not high school anymore, a lot of people who do great at school get pretty disappointed at not being able to keep their level. But you'll definitely get used to it."
If that was all, it would be pretty simple, nothing much to worry. But looking at the boy's bloodshot eyes and pale skin wasn't really encouraging.
"That's not it. It's because I can't focus. At the beginning it was fine. But it's getting harder and harder. Like when there is so much noise that you can't even hear your own thoughts."
"And what do you think is causing this state of uneasiness?"
Filip rubbed his hands together and then placed them at his sides. He looked anxious, like he didn't know what to do. And it was rare, because he was usually so collected. Sometimes too much for a boy his age and with his past. It made people think he could handle everything, it made them forget he was just a kid. They all were so wrong.
"She is. I don't like this arrangement we made."
"We have already talked about it. You cannot let a relationship become an obsession. And you can't put the weight of everything that happens on your life on her. It's not good for her and it's definitely not good for you."
"I tried…I'm trying…"
"You can always take a rest…there is no hurry. We could work on it, here, together."
"No, I don't want to drop my studies. I know how it's gonna look. I don't want to…" He looked down as he sat up on the chair. "I don't want to scare her…or make her worry. And I definitely don't want to draw his attention to my problems."
They both knew how to keep the unpleasant attention of Filip's father away, and it wasn't dropping the school he was paying for. As long as his son achieved a degree that could lead him to a good job with the help of his influences, something which he could blatantly talk about in social gatherings so everybody knew the family was still in a favorable position, they wouldn't have to hear about him.
"Then what is it that you want?"
"I want to be able to sleep a whole night again. I'm at that point again. And you know it's caused me a lot of troubles…if I'm not at peace, I can't focus, and if I can't focus I'll start to hear things, and see things again too…and then, I'll ruin everything…again."
"The nightmares…are they back?"
"Yes, I told you."
"Are you taking your medicine?"
"Are you, really?"
"I told you already!" He raised his voice and the regret was immediately shown in his disturbed eyes. He was so scared, he could barely handle it. "You know now is different…"
The blue haired man narrowed his eyes, giving him a side look. "You are not taking any other things aside from the medicine I give you, are you?"
Filip breathed in deeply. He needed help, he had to nod and answers all the questions, no matter what. They were common suspicions, he couldn't take it personal…since he really needed help. "No, I'm not."
"I believe you. I just have to ask."
The boy nodded, he understood, his mind was just a bit too tired and that lead to being irritable, more than usual.
"Now, what do you think will happen? Do you think she will fall for someone else? Is that what doesn't let your mind to be at ease?"
"That's not it. I trust her. I just can't be at ease…if I'm not with her. But then, when we're together…I don't think I can make good things for her…"
The man avoided to sigh. He had honestly thought they had been able to go past that compulsive behavior. He was becoming so infatuated with the girl, to the point where her happiness became his sadness, because he only wanted her to look at him, but she has a life, family, and friends. And he was being too selfish.
"And what about you? Have you perhaps found another girl that you find interesting? Or is there something you made, something you thought and you believe it will jeopardize your current relationship?"
"No." He looked at the man, skeptical, finding the question to be strange. "Nothing like that had happened."
"You have to understand that Fay is not a cure for your problems. And she's not something you can possess. She's another individual just like yourself, who is capable to love you and to let you love her back, nothing else. Don't ask more from her."
"If this keeps up…I'm scared I might hurt her." He suddenly burst out, in a way that even took Mr. Lumpkin off guard.
"Would you hurt her?"
"No…no. I don't want that to happen."
"Some…times, I just have these thoughts, this craving…it's so sick."
"What are those thoughts about?"
"I…" He couldn't say it, it would make it too real.
The desire of making her cry. Her pretty, innocent face stained with tears. Her petite figure shaking in fear as she sobbed uncontrollably. It all made his heart race in emotion more than once, and he didn't want to admit it.
"They are more like, flashes of…images, delusions."
"Well…" There was a pause before Mr. Lumpkin continued, as he observed Filip's behavior. He looked so anxious, so unable to settle. Kind of like a person with withdrawal symptoms. "Since a while ago you had developed certain desire to harm others. The intrusive thoughts aren't new either. It was just more directed towards a masochistic impulse to numb your own feelings. Finding fun on hurting other people, and even relief if you got hurt too. But it's been controllable, when you commit yourself to it. Do you think this time is different?"
Filip nodded. The most obvious reason was that this time it was about a person he actually cared about. They both already knew that, but there had to be something else.
"Tell me, I'm here to listen. Not to judge."
He looked at his uncle and back down.
"I had never feel that intense need…to see someone crying. I hate it so much, it makes me hate myself…it's like a twisted trick from life to make me wish to harm the person I love the most. But I know it's only my fault."
"It's not necessarily that way. Have you hurt her before?"
"Yes." He clenched his teeth. It was true, very hard to admit, but true nonetheless, both physically and mentally, he had done it, more than once, even though it had been long since last time.
The affirmation made Mr. Lumpkin feel fear for the girl. She usually looked so fragile that he didn't even want to imagine what he could have done to Fay. He only found comfort on the thought that Filip couldn't have done anything too bad, at least nothing that required medical treatment, because in that case, he was almost sure he would had told him. He knew how much Filip cared about her, and he knew how much he could blame himself, and in such times of desperation he always looked for his help.
"Those times…when you accomplished what you wanted, how did that made you feel?"
"It made me feel…I wanted her more than ever…then, there was regret…unbearable."
"I don't think you would hurt her."
"How do you know?"
"I didn't say I know it." The man say and then kept silent for a moment, while thinking. It was true that he legitimately thought Filip wouldn't be able to seriously hurt Fay because of the way he tried to protect her even from himself. But he couldn't avoid the fact that Filip had to handle his impulses because they both knew he was potentially dangerous, and if anything were to happen to Fay the consequences would be appalling. That fact alone would destroy the boy, but at that point, his uncle would find himself obliged to keep him away from her, and that's when things would go downhill. And he too, wanted to protect the girl, because she was a marvelous kid with a great heart that didn't deserve anything bad happening to her. So he had to find a solution.
"For now, I want you to take therapy with another doctor. I already know someone who would be perfect."
"Why? I don't want to…"
"Filip. Let's be real. You had never taken therapy with me seriously. You only talk to me seriously when you are at your limit. Like today. But now you'll do it for her. Am I right?" The man talked seriously, using a severe tone that was really rare on him.
"Good. Now, you use to focus yourself in your studies when you are distressed to keep occupied, and that's fine to some extent, but I don't want you to stress over it, take a moment for yourself."
There was no answer but he knew Filip was listening, he was just trying to take everything in.
"About Fay…How do you think she's doing? Do you want me to talk to her?"
"I don't know…I don't think that's necessary." He breathed in deeply and then continued. "She just look so happy every time I see her, it's like she even shines. It makes me feel weird…somehow uneasy. Like she's gonna blind me…"
"Don't overthink it. You're just being selfish. If she looks so happy it's because she misses you. So don't try to pull her down, instead make her shine even more. You're both too young. Stop thinking like you don't have more time left. You think you're such a grown up and you think you're so independent, but you can't just go and do whatever you want, and you can't handle everything on your own. So take it slow and try to enjoy what you have, you'll see that's better than binding her to you. Do you understand?"
"I know you do."
I had to cut it here because it was already too long. Also, I didn't have the time to edit as much as I wanted, maybe later, but I updated anyway since it's been so long. Thanks for reading! :3