Yuichen (cutler_legacy) wrote,

Generation Two | Part Seventeen

Holy shit it lives! That's right, a Cutler update... kind of!

I don't know how many of you follow me on tumblr, but those who don't wouldn't know all the bullshit I've had to endure for I don't even know how long, trying to get the game and computer to work properly. As such, I've come to the point where I'm sick of fighting them, and can't see the possbility of rebuilding "Pleasantview" any time soon, much less film scenes. However, I'm tired of putting things off (it has been eight bloody years after all!), so for now, I'm offering a text-only update. When things cooperate and continue to, I'll get to work on everything. I just need to get this damn thing out there before I lose my mind. If I haven't already.

Warning: language

A Short Recap

Drake enlisted the help of a private investigator to locate a man who may be Aimee's biological father, after stumbling upon some letters and photographs tucked away in Julia's basement. Following her death, Aimee and Sloane were reunited thanks to the quick actions of her friends and former lover, and eventually despite all the awkward moments, spent time together. Per the usual, Sloane made a series of bad decisions, allowing herself to be seduced by Jesse, who later discovered the body of spunky landlord and friend, Veronica, in the apartment's laundry facilities. If that were not enough, Sloane learned she was pregnant and shattered Dave's heart when it was revealed the baby can only be Jesse's. Despite this, they remained together--at least until Sloane screwed up again, sleeping with Jesse on her birthday. Dave caught them and the world of Live Journal gasped when loveable Van was revealed to be bisexual. Meanwhile, Drake nearly soiled his pants after spotting Kennedy in a gas station.

Four Months Later | December, 2010

Before I could blink the summer had ended. The stately two story building in which I attended school called us back to Pleasantview, the promise of piles of homework and seeing crazy Lacey doing little to lift my spirits on the matter. On the other hand, Becca had moved into a little apartment in town to attend Sim State, so I had that to look forward to. Okay, so it was the only reason I wanted to go back.

Our last days on the island were downers. Mom moped around whenever Sloane wasn't around, knowing soon enough she would have to say goodbye. When the moment came she bawled more than I had anticipated, my sister struggling to hold her own emotions together on top of what she was already dealing with in her personal life. Mom clutched her with white knuckles, shoulders gently bouncing as the tears poured from sticky wet lashes, muttering about lost time and hoping for a better future. We departed with a promise for a visit soon, though my mother didn't seem terribly convinced. I suppose when you miss twenty years of someone's life and get a glimpse of it, you feel like it's gone forever the moment you turn your back.

I fell back into a routine fairly easily. I had breakfast with mom (though it was more accurate to say with a zombie) and left for school where I was tailed by a persistent Lacey. Despite having left on a sour note it was as though she'd forgotten all about it, instead wanting to know what happened to me over the summer, and who the girl was I kept talking about. After school I caught the bus to meet Becca after a class and hung out at her place. Mom was a little leery about that fact for a while. We had The Talk more times than I cared to count.

And what was there to say about Becca? Well, she was officially my girlfriend, for starters! Suddenly having a girlfriend in college made me seem more appealing to the girls in my own school. I was a senior, which evidently made me awesome by default, considered mysterious because I mostly kept to myself, and dating this amazing chick in Sim State that no one knew anything about. Rumors spread like wildfire that she was some rich girl from the east coast with ties to the royal family (the most ridiculous yet amusing thing I'd heard all year), or that her dad was a famous blues musician who tragically died in a plane crash leaving her millions. She laughed whenever I told her the latest gossip, covering her mouth with those little hands, her eyes alight and tugging at the corners with her smile. I didn't care what they thought or said. She was perfect.

Before long Sloane had given up on life on the island and moved to Pleasantview looking to start anew. She sold Julia's house for a pretty penny and was looking for her own piece of property, and springing back from her funk like nothing had ever happened, mom was all too pleased to help her out. They spent countless hours combing the area for the right place, all while I was spending as much time as I could with Becca. By then mom was too busy to notice my increased absence, or the spring in my step from a new level of love I had been quite happy to receive. What she didn't know wouldn't hurt her, I figured. I was a man now and there was nothing she could do. At least we were always safe.

Amid all my happiness and my mom and sister's hysteria, I had nearly forgotten all about Henry and his investigation. I received an email about a month after settling in that he thought he may have narrowed it down to half a dozen names. All men were from New York, most of them around the big city, but he felt four of them were more promising. Of these four, three had a tie to California. The other had a tie to Oregon. His reasoning was that perhaps the cousin mentioned in the letter was not originally from the island.

"After all, your grandmother's family did not come from the island," Henry had said. This was news to me. Enquiring to this statement I was told Julia was born on the island, but both her parents were born and raised less than an hour north of New York City.

I sent the simple message, "Do you think their families had been friendly?" His quick response confirmed it was a good possibility. With that I was left to wonder.

The gears in Becca's head began to turn. "We should go out there!" wide eyes peered over the collar of her shirt as she pulled it on. "Sure there's no definite name yet, but once there is, we should fly out there to talk to the guy."

I leaned back on my elbows, the cool fall air tickling goose bumps across my bare chest. She stopped and stared, cocking her head to the side. Ah, she sensed my reluctance.

"Don't you want to meet him?" she asked softly, crawling up the bed and nuzzling in beside me. Her narrow arm curled around mine, toes burying themselves beneath my legs for warmth. I sighed, uneasy.

"He might not even be her dad," I reasoned, narrowing my eyes. Becca frowned but held quiet. "What would I achieve in going there anyway? If he fathered her, then I guess... he fathered her. You know, what if my mom wouldn't want to know? Julia already lied about so many things. Why add to the pain?"

I realized then maybe I shouldn't have pursued the idea in the first place.

"But that's just it, Drake. Think of all the things or people she might be missing out on because her mother was incapable of being honest. She didn't know what happened to her daughter, or that her mother knew where she was all along and secretly watched over her... Aimee could have done something much sooner! And now she might have a different father. A father who wanted her, by the sounds of it. We could bring them together."

My stomach wasn't so confident and remained so for a couple weeks. Things only got worse when Becca let things slip while out shopping with my sister. I caught hell the moment I walked in the door.

Sloane sprang from the couch before the door was closed, coming up the stairs to meet me in the entry. Her eyes told me it would be best to run, but I stayed, wondering what could have pushed her into such a state. Granted, her hormones had her all over the place so it didn't take a lot. Merely breathing was a great offense, at times.

"Why the hell didn't you tell me?!" she cried, crossing her arms defiantly above her swollen middle. A part of me felt bad for the impending doom the kid would have to face later when it got into trouble. Being Jesse's spawn I had a feeling it would be often.

I removed my coat with furrowed brows, dropping it onto the backless couch along the wall. Sloane wasn't willing to wait for my response.

"Every damn time I think I know who I am, something else comes up. Aren't you at all curious about this man? Why are you being so passive about it?"

She followed me to the kitchen and watched expectantly as I opened a can of soda and washed it down my throat.

"I don't feel the need to repeat myself; obviously you’ve been talking to Becca."

"But he could be your grandfather! Our mother could know the man who wanted to raise her, who wanted to love her."

I set the can down and leaned on the counter. "There's no evidence that the man she believed was her father didn't do those things himself. I mean, I was too little to remember him, but she never implied there was a problem." I sighed with a shrug. "But look, I get it. You want her to have someone, a biological someone, because you weren't that lucky, and as it looks, nor will your child. But, Sloane, you have to realize she is an adult. Anything that comes up may not change things at all."

She stared coldly at me and swallowed the harsh words that certainly burned her tongue. "Which is why I think maybe we should stop this wild goose chase. What difference is it going to make in the end?"

"You're an idiot," she uttered a low growl and stormed for the front door. Before she opened it, she turned and scowled at me. "Maybe it won't change anything but she still deserves to know. And I don't know about you, but personally, I'm not comfortable with keeping the secret until the day we put her in the ground!"

Before I could open my mouth to retort she was gone.

Even today I still fought with the decision. No new information had come from Henry to direct me on either path, but I felt like any day something would arrive in my inbox and I'd have to sit down and decide. The girls would no doubt gang up on me to trap me into something, but in the end it came down to the fact that I alone had started it. I alone should decide how to proceed with the information.

"Earth to Drake," Becca's voice cut into my head like a drinking glass shattering to pieces on a stone floor. I focused my eyes on hers and she laughed. "Did you hear me? I said we better head out so I can get to work on time."

The restaurant was busy with the breakfast rush, young and old couples alike seated at a smattering of tables with the morning paper and cups of coffee, the sweet aroma of muffins and bacon filling the room. Children squawked and giggled over their waffles and fruit, coloring crayons strewn about the table and floor as their parents and older siblings chatted idly about the weather and upcoming holiday plans. The elementary school was having a concert the middle of the next week complete with silly elf costumes, apparently. I didn't miss that at all.

Becca coughed into her glove and shifted the collar of her ridiculously light jacket. She had a way of underestimating the weather, and was never keen to grant a couple minutes to the local weather man on the morning news. Such stubbornness often left her sick, and though I spent too much on sweaters and thick vests for her to bulk up with, she still insisted on her silly lined fleece jacket and long sleeved tee. Of course, it wouldn't be a problem if she would take the warm bus like normal people. Becca insisted on walking everywhere instead.

"It's good for the body," she had once said, pulling on a second pair of socks before slipping into her flat leather boots. "Too many people rely on vehicles to get them everywhere, but by walking they could get more exercise and cut risk of heart disease in half."

I offered my best crooked smile. "Not if they freeze to death braving the harsh winter." This comment garnered a playful swat, of course.

She stepped onto the curb outside Cover To Cover, the little privately owned bookstore in which she made her miniscule living. It didn't get as much business as the chain store closer to the University, but some people had been coming for generations and much preferred it's small town charm. Becca called it home away from home. My pretty little bookworm.

"Don't forget, my mom invited you for dinner tonight," I reminded her with a peck on the lips. She squeezed my shoulders one last time and stepped towards the door. "And please ride the bus this time, Becca. It's cold at night and one of these days you will catch your death."

"Alright, I will," she smiled.

I knew better, however. "Promise me."

She rolled her eyes and laughed. "I promise, Drake," she insisted, opening the door. A chime rang inside the threshold. "Thanks for breakfast; I'll see you tonight."

I watched her greet the tiny wife of the owner with a hug and make her way behind the counter were she dropped her jacket and purse. Sitting down, she smiled and waved, watching me as I finally turned to go.

I had absolutely no idea how I was going to spend my day. The hard life of a teenager, I tell you. I don't know how we even survive.

Heels clicked on the tiles as she walked through the aisle. Basket in hand, she carried the jars of sauce and boxes of pasta along with a random bag of marshmallows and frozen peas. They left little room for the hamburger, peppers and onions, and soon she was chastising herself for not grabbing a cart at the front of the store. She would make do; laziness was in full swing today.

She stifled a yawn and slowly made her way to the deli. Ignoring the cold cuts and colorful arrangement of salads, she focused on the selection of fresh meats. Ground beef was on sale, much to her delight, but she couldn't deny how delicious a cut of rib-eye looked just down the walk. Her brow quirked with interest and she made a mental note to take home a couple of them as well. The tall woman behind the counter politely took her order and bustled about in her white uniform and little hat, nodding at an older couple who appeared shortly after with an eye for Greek pasta salad and a pound of both honey ham and cajun turkey.

She had been zoning out as she waited when a hand touched her shoulder. Startled, she gasped softly and turned to its owner. A smile swept across her face.

"Darren," she greeted softly, squeezing his hand in her own. "How are you? I don't think I've seen you in... well, years!"

Not since I broke your heart, she thought sadly.

In an instant they were back in the star-lit gardens on that July night, the warm air pressing lightweight clothes to their skin like the embrace of a lover. She followed him through the stony path between daylilies and gladiolus, daisies and creeping phlox, hand in hand, breathing in the sweet scents the garden had to offer. They came to a cold granite bench carved in Roman style nestled between two antique lanterns, and there he sat her down with a soft kiss. She breathed in the scent of him; a scent she had associated with him ever since.

She was too busy marveling at the beauty of the labrynthian gardens to notice he had bent to his knee before her. He took her hand, kissing it lightly. His whiskers tickled.

"I have known no greater happiness than these last two years with you," he said, warm smile aglow on his lips. Aimee's cheeks flashed red and she laughed softly. "I met you at a time in my life when I had no direction, no ambitions to call my own. My days were like overcast winter nights, an insufferable never-ending emptiness. And then it happened. You bumped into me at the grocery store with your silly box of fruit roll-ups and rye bread, blushing madly just as you are now."

Darren shifted on the sharp stones cutting into his knee, though he showed little notice. He squeezed her hand and tilted his head to the side. Aimee was at a loss for words.

"I never dreamed you would come to love me as you do, and tonight, from the bottom of my scarred heart, I come to you with love; with a promise." Her eyes rounded and she sucked her mouth closed, nibbling on the bottom lip. "By the stars and the moon, I ask you to be my wife. To witness my triumphs and failure, to love me as both your best friend and husband; be mine until the end of days, and I will be yours until your very last breath."

She choked on a sob and closed her eyes, a tear rolling down her flushed cheeks. At once Darren swept in with a deep kiss, and she clutched the hand at her face until her knuckles flashed white.

"I love you so much," he whispered. He lay his forehead against hers. He missed the frown, the hard swallow. She was collecting every last bit of her nerve, and it hurt. You are exactly what I needed, she thought. But it's not fair. It has to stop.

"I love you too," she offered a shaky reply, blinking away the tears. "But... I can't marry you, Darren. I'm so sorry."

He lifted his eyes, dumbfounded. She left little room for a response; Aimee bolted from the bench and ran from the gardens without looking back.

Darren smiled warmly and bowed his head. "Yes, it has been some time. I'm well, thank you."

An awkward silence ensued, and they looked at each other for a long moment. Aimee noted he had abandoned the rough beard and his thick framed glasses, seeming at least a decade younger. He was healthy and happy, in better shape than she remembered, and apparently holding no grudge for stomping all over his heart that night. Or at least he was too kind to show it. She couldn't be sure.

"Listen, Aim," he started, looking her right in the eye. It had been a long time since she'd been called that. "I don't want to frighten you, but the reason I came to speak to you is that someone has been following you all over the store."

The lines of her face deepened and she hugged herself tighter. "What?"

He leaned in closer and lowered his voice. His scent enraptured her; for a moment she forgot herself.

"An older man with graying hair," he whispered, touching her shoulder. He did not want to make the man suspicious. Was Aimee in danger or was he simply misreading? "He came into the store behind you and has been tailing ever since. I can't say what he wants, but there isn't a move you make he doesn't mirror." Aimee swallowed. Her knees wobbled beneath her fitted jeans and she clutched his arm for stability.

"I am going to kiss your cheek," he said matter-of-factly. Aimee stiffened and ignored the rolling of her gut. "Hug me and laugh as though I've said something amusing. We'll have to pray he assumes it is no more than a casual exchange."

She embraced him and laughed as convincingly as she could muster. Darren's lips were warm on her flesh, smooth and inviting, unlike the last time. Scruff was attractive on a man, but it was rather painful at times. She was grateful she would go home without a rash.

Home, she thought. I can't go home if he follows me.

"What am I supposed to do now?" He released her and smiled for show. "I'm not going to lead him right to my house so he can murder me while I sleep."

"Of course not," he agreed, flicking his eyes over her shoulder. The man browsed the variety of boxed crackers at the end of a nearby aisle, frowning at the nutritional values marking the side. "Follow me to my house. I'll park in the garage, and if he follows, we can hide you in my car. I'll drive you home myself."

She nodded. It wasn't the most comforting idea to be spending time in his house again, but it was the best option she had at the moment. He still cared enough to warn her, so he must care enough to protect her if need be.

Whatever you do, don't show your fear.

I often lost time thinking. Blacked out while the visions ran through my head like a film reel, playing both the good and bad times in full color. It didn't seem to matter where I was or what I was doing. One thought sent me back there and I waded through the fallen tears of my youth, of the ill will towards a certain redhead, no matter how beautiful he was, until I climbed out of that black hole hours later red-eyed and shaken. In the park. On a bus to god knows where. A bath tub of cold water.

In time he would become a ghost. A hazy form against the sea sparkling like diamonds, a breath of stale air caught in the forgotten rooms of our doomed relationship. I tried to hold onto the sound of his laugh, to remember his voice blending seamlessly with the guitar, painted fingers plucking the strings in flickering light. Harder still was the taste of his lips on mine, his scent on the pillow. The harder I fought the more I seemed to lose. The hole in my heart grew larger with each lost fragment, as though he pried them from my chest, one by one, to hoard in a dirty old box at the back of the closet. Just because he could.

Dr. Carson had once said we were a force of nature. A beautiful disaster. Like a spinning funnel cloud we were a dance of emotion—a toxic mix of adoration, lust, anger, and distrust—turning and twisting until all we loved was reduced to rubble. Our friends had paid the price of our madness, our unnecessary chaos, over and over. The skies would clear and the birds would sing, darting across a cerulean sky showering our weathered skin with warm light. But it was never for long. Again the clouds would darken. Again they would gather and form a wrecking ball of wind and lightning, ready to destroy all that had been rebuilt.

I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to believe anything she said. For months I fought every idea. She sat there on her stuffy old green arm chair with hard eyes, clearly over yet another tantrum, waiting for the moment that light bulb would go on in my head. The moment I'd finally, for the love of fucking god, get it. But I didn't want to. While she poked and prodded at my brain I employed an armed guard to stand watch over the light switch. 'Cause there would be no ah ha moment. There would be no revelations until I was goddamned good and ready. And clearly I wasn't. I'd become far too comfortable hating him with every fiber of my being. He deserved no forgiveness. I wanted him to suffer. In hindsight it was ridiculous; as if he gave a shit it was over. He dodged a bullet, after all. As far as he was concerned, he was golden.

But of course she pushed back even harder. Pushed so hard that the wall I'd built around myself crumbled in on itself, leaving me exposed and frightened by the rush of feelings. I cried. I screamed. I hurtled her World's Greatest Mom coffee mug across the room and rained glass on the fallen leaves outside the window it sailed through. I said so many awful, hateful things to her, and yet she continued to see me. She believed in what I could not.

Although, I could not attribute all of my meager progress solely to her.

Despite all the melancholia and nine month condition that heightened every emotion, I had managed to secure a nice little group of friends. They were a strange sort with a dry sense of humor and varying personalities, and all were so extremely talented that at first glance Pleasantview seemed a land of prodigies. Although we didn't always see eye to eye on things (note to self: never debate the best Brat Pack movie with Dominic again!), we usually got along well enough to make it through an entire game of pool without killing each other, and that was perfectly fine with me. In all seriousness, they made my transition to Washington a hell of a lot easier. Were there no smart-assed Lilith, I have no idea who I would be right now, and I would certainly miss Desmond's bear hugs and Dominic's frequent nerdgasms. They were far more entertaining than anything on television these days.

Of course things weren't perfect. I still had days where I hated the world and everything in it. Days I stayed behind locked doors with the curtains drawn, sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn bigger than my head watching stupid cartoons or cooking shows I could never hope to mimic. But most often I wasn't alone on those dark days. Lilith would show up with heaps of junk food and her gaming console tucked under her arms, the latest release shoved haphazardly in her mouth while she kicked the door to be let in. I had never been much for spending countless hours playing with pixel people, but sometimes it sure was nice to splatter blood all over the screen while Kratos annihilated every enemy with Athena's flaming blades, or on the days I was feeling particularly pissy, we shot up the whores walking the streets in Grand Theft Auto. Telling Drake this bit of information rewarded me a proud grin.

Tonight, however, I was alone.

Surrounded by boxes I neatly filed my memories by color and texture. Unnecessary summer clothes met their heavier autumn counterparts smelling of apple and mango detergent, a scent that reminded me too much of Gushers candy. Nearby stacks of CDs stood in rows of varying genres and waning interest; I couldn't bear to face the memories each would conjure up. Notebooks intended for writing that never saw a pen were piled in the same box, a pouch of fancy erasable gel pens and cheap mechanical pencils filling the last bit of space beneath the hastily taped lid.

Against the cold frosty windows sat a lonely double-taped box. The red lid mismatched the navy blue body and advertised a handsome sports shoe, size eleven and a half—Van's boat feet—carelessly dented and sun faded. Along the top a generous scrawl announced the contents: Photos. My Pandora's Box; the cinderblock tethered to my ankle at the bottom of the lake. Instinctively I inhaled a breath. I felt no better.

No, I wasn't going to open it. The smoothie would continue to occupy my hands, as cold as they were, until it was time to collect the last of the books in the bedroom. There I would call it a day and haul my round self out into the country to eat ramen and watch TV until I passed out. There was nothing good to come from that box. None.

So leave it alone, I thought. You have enough problems as it is.

Yet I wanted to memorize the exact shade of green and flecks of gold that were his eyes, shrouded with deliciously long lashes as soft as down feathers. They used to tickle my skin as he traveled from knee to thigh, to hip, teasing goosebumps from their slumber across my ribs as he went. The moment they thought they could rest, his hands would ignite another flash, and soon they would spread like fire across my skin to meet his lips. And those eyes. Those eyes when they met mine again, lip quirking devilishly at the corner.

Those eyes are for someone else now. Probably many someones.

A computerized sci-fi tone blipped from the kitchen island and I darted across the room and snatched the phone from the cold surface. I couldn't move quite like I used to. Who knew a few months of carrying a kid around could make you move like an old woman?

"Either you're having more fun than I am right now or you forgot to keep the phone on you again," Lilith teased. "You sound like you ran a marathon." I could imagine the crooked smile on her pasty skin of pale freckles, one brow cocked in amusement.

"Oh, no," I offered a labored breath, "No man here, sadly. I'm afraid my fat ass can't run even ten feet anymore without the risk of sounding like a heavy smoker."

"Aww, that's too bad. I was hoping you'd have some juicy details for me," the redhead snickered. "We can fix that, though! I'm over at The Lion and the Rose with the guys. You should come out."

I glanced at the ragged box over my shoulder. Unseen fingers writhed in the air above it, beckoning, seducing. A man's voice whispered sweet nothings, laughing softly, and after searching my mind I came to the realization that it was Jesse. Clearly I was losing my marbles.

"A couple games of pool, some decent music... a little bit of booze for moi," Lilith went on, oblivious. "What do you say?"

I turned back to the empty kitchen. "Throw in some gummi bears and I'm in."

Lilith chuckled, "Deal," and hung up. The apartment sank into crushing silence once more.

It was dark. Dust had settled on the bookshelf and television set, the dirty dishes left in the sink covered in sporadic patterns of fuzz. Behind the screen the bed was made and looked much the norm, Sloane's make-up mirror and random items still scattered across the beat up desk as though she would return to use them at any time. Her posters remained on the adjacent walls, and upon inspection, the wardrobe contained a small collection of her ensemble. He resisted the urge to touch them.

Dave swallowed and dropped his bag on the floor, pushing open the curtains of the patio door. He stood silently in the moonlight staring at the back yard but saw none of it. He felt no warmth, no refreshment coming through the open door; the apartment was as cold and stagnant as when he arrived. It was no longer home.

As though they had been waiting for this moment, his emotions exploded.

He remembered her in the shower with bruises. He remembered rolling around on the bed, legs entwined beneath the tangle of sheets. Three words chimed again and again; empty words, the promises he had longed to hear. Heaviest were the memories of that night. Flesh on flesh emblazoned with pink of delicate flower; she clung to Jesse with a weak smile on her lips. And she cried. Not for him, not because she was losing something with real potential. No, she cried for Jesse.

She was sorry. The words felt hollow in the air despite the watery eyes. She hadn't meant to hurt him, things just happened, she insisted. Jesse had sat quietly at the foot of the bed in unbuttoned jeans, watching it all fall apart. Dave was angry, throwing his arms up as he paced, delivering round after round of ugly insults, all of which he felt she fully deserved. Whore, slut, the whole works. Sloane hadn't denied the allegations, though Jesse growled a warning a time or two. She tried to justify her infidelity.

It was his fault that she cheated. Damn him for being boring, clingy and suffocative; she felt like an old maid trapped in the house. She wanted to have fun, to feel young. Dave had become all about mortgage rates and babies, and with him she no longer knew who she was. Momma's boy entered the argument, and without thinking, he struck her across the face. In a moment's time he was on the floor beneath Jesse's weight, flesh broken and beaten down in a lesson he wouldn't soon forget. Sloane struggled to break them up. Death threats were tossed around, the redhead snarling like a wild dog.

"So I guess you've made your decision," He sneered at Jesse, wiping at the blood oozing from his nose. The redhead narrowed his eyes but said nothing.

He knew the chances of Jesse knowing the baby's paternity were slim. After all, he was still hanging around. That guy would never settle down for anyone, or anything. Let her see how wonderful her lover really is, he thought.

"David, please," she pleaded, wrapping her arms around herself as if for protection. "I didn't want it to be this way."

"And I didn't want to find you fucking him, either! Kharma's a bitch!" he snapped, throwing her a hateful glare. Sloane squeezed her eyes closed.

"Will somebody tell me what the hell is going on?" Jesse growled, anxiously eyeing the two of them. Dave smiled menacingly. Chew on this, he thought. Better yet, choke on it.

“Well, Jesse boy, it would seem she’s your whore and bastard all wrapped up in one pretty package!” Dave blurted bitterly. "Congrats!"

Saying the words made it real. The strings tugged in his chest, twisting and tumbling around the massive twitching organ until it squeezed so tightly he thought it might simply stop. Choking on his emotions, swallowing the tears before they could even appear. The end. The end had finally come, and though he had expected it somewhere deep in his stomach, he hadn't expected it now. Not like this.

Nor had Jesse, apparently.

In one short breath, and a fairly painful one it was fair to say, Jesse launched from the bed and scrambled for his keys in a panic. Sloane followed him around the room wailing but he made no effort to listen. Indeed, he told her to shut up on numerous occasions and swatted any attempt of contact away like a nuisance fly buzzing about. "Don't fucking touch me," he'd hiss through clenched teeth, shoving aside another item.

At last Jesse located the keys in a heap just under the bed, likely jostled from the pocket in the mad dash to shed themselves of the confines of cotton and lace. He darted for the door. She ran after him at once. As usual, Dave was immediately forgotten.

The words that traveled through the open door from time to time were quite ugly. The sounds she made were far uglier. He had once been a good man with little ill thoughts towards another human being, but tonight they were coming in like the tide and he enjoyed them. Even more so when she returned to the room alone in a daze, small box in hand. Momentarily he saw himself consumed by the flames of hell, and just as quickly he extinguished them. Later he would get his due consisting of bitter loneliness and heartbreak. Surely that was a fair trade-off.

It was the last time he saw her. Dave crashed at his sister's place and chose not to return to the apartment. He wasn't ready; he would see them on the bed, on the couch, maybe even in the shower. Somewhere along the way he convinced himself they'd been messing around for a while, and everywhere. He didn't want to sit in a room and imagine all the disgusting things that went on. And people always talk. He heard stories that he'd caught her in a threesome with Jesse and a random man they picked up, and that Dave was some kind of asshole who beat her up now and then. They liked to ask their questions and it was clear these people made their mind up long before they ever spoke. He gave up trying to explain. After all, what difference did it make? It was over. Over forever.

Today he was all too aware of that fact. Angie kicked him out of the house for being a 'mopey cunt' for almost four months, saying he needed to grow a pair and move on with his life. As much as he hated the thought of returning, he understood where she was coming from. She had her own depression to deal with after losing the baby and the last thing she needed was her baby brother behaving exactly that.

Dave sighed and opened the medicine cabinet. He sorted through the advil and forgotten lotions, dental floss and feminine antiperspirant before locating the translucent orange bottle in the back. Closing the door he looked at his reflection. More sleep was probably the last thing he needed. The dark circles were much more prominent these days, his eyes sunken like highway potholes in the moonlight. But he liked to sleep. It had a way of wiping the memory clean for a little while.

Yes, sleep.

Dave shuffled out of his jeans and slipped beneath the covers. No feminine scent to greet him, no lingering black or magenta hairs on the pillow. He was thankful for that. If only the rest of her things had disappeared. In time it could be as though she'd never existed.

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