599. - Lucien
The first night, I became with a migraine more intense than I've ever had before. I threw up until nothing but bile came out, and then still it wouldn't stop. Every bit of light would bring that feeling back. No matter how still I lay, no matter how dark it was, my head felt like it had split open and spilled its contents on my pillow.
Of all people, it was Gabriel who was there to catch me after the fall that was Emma leaving the apartment. I'm not sure how he got word of it - maybe through Kenna, maybe instinct, but the second night he stood on the doorstep with two bottles of my favourite whiskey, a bag of my favourite pastries from a bakery all the way in Glasgow, and his Prison Break DVD's, the first show we bonded over when we first met in real life. He didn't say anything, just poured us two glasses of the amber liquid, and sat me down on the couch.
He doesn't leave until the third day. We don't really talk in that time, because he knows that's not what I do. We just watch Prison Break, he plays with Frank and I sit behind the piano without playing. I don't have the energy, or the mental capacity, or the will.
Et quand le monde devenait trop, il y avait de la musique.
I haven't touched the keys in weeks. I try, now that Emma's gone, because at least I know I won't be bothering her. But I never play a single note.
It's where I am again when I hear the door open. I watch Frank sprint down. In my bones, I know it's Emma. Gabriel or Matthew would have messaged me. I'm trying to determine how I'm feeling that she's home. There should be relief, and I think there is some, but not enough. If anything, there's that immediate wall going up again. I feel it rising around me, hiding me in the shadows.
In the end, this still isn't about me.
Emma would disagree.
She's been disagreeing about a lot of the things I've said to her. The one thing we could rely on was our communication. It feels like that, like everything else, has been ripped away from us. In the past few days, where I was no longer occupied with taking care of her, the thought of us going our separate ways snuck its way into my head and made it its place to stay. I don't want that. The thought of losing Emma makes me sick to my stomach. I want us to make it through, to find a way to solve this.
There is just some serious doubt that we can.
I don't know if we can overcome this. A week apart isn't enough. Because that slight sliver of relief I felt when hearing the door was immediately overpowered by resentment. I don't want to go back to how it was before she left. The way she made me break made it impossible to go back to faking. And me faking it, I honestly believe, is the only reason we've even made it this far. I know better than to let my emotions get the best of me, and that only got proven when we stood there screaming at each other.
My feet have carried to the hallway, where Emma's greeted me.
And I fall right back into the habits I developed before she left. Only now she knows more of what goes hidden behind it."
I smile at her. "Hey. Welcome back. I'll make tea." I reach past her, taking note that I don't touch her, to grab her bags. She watches me do it with a slight furrow in her brow.
"Do you realise you're doing it?" She asks quietly. I could play dumb and pretend I don't know what she means. She'd see right through me.
I shrug, and head towards the bedroom. "It's just good manners."
"But that's not why you do it." Not a question, just a statement. I wonder if she'll ever trust any of my actions again, or if she's now always going to think I do things because I see her as 'broken'. I want to roll my eyes and make a snarky comment, but I bite it back. No need to make it worse than it already is. I toss the bags on the bed, then head towards the kitchen. She follows me on a short distance. From the way she bites her lip, I know there's so much she wants to say, but she's not sure how to. She's clutching something to her chest that I can't quite make out.
"What kind of tea do you want?"
"I'll make it. You can sit down." She puts her piece on the dining table, where I sit down, and goes about making tea. It's more than I've seen her do for weeks. I pick up the jar she just put down to inspect it more closely. There's a handful of pennies rattling together against the glass. A miniature version of her first birthday gift to me, now part of the decorations in the guest room. An apology, maybe, or a way to get us talking without actual questions being asked. Emma rounds the table, placing two mugs and the teapot in the middle of it, before sitting across of me. Her eyes follow the jar still in my hands, as I turn it over and over to keep myself busy.
I'm still not quite sure how I feel about her being back at the apartment. There was a part of me that hoped it would maybe make it feel more like home again, but I don't think it has felt like home since I got home from the hospital that day. The sound of Emma pouring us both tea is the only sound between us, and then the soft knock on wood when I put the jar down. Emma leans over to slide it back to her. I watch her every move.
"A penny for your thoughts?" She asks without looking at me. Will she ever look at me again?
"No." I say, much too quickly. I see the look of hurt cross her face. "A penny for my thoughts, a nickel not to tell them. Not before I've heard yours."
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