Chapter 50 - Something Worth Living For
The sun rose with an unkind brightness, rousing me from the fog of sleep. My head instantly pounded in protest, willing me to go back to sleep, but the swirling nausea in my stomach wouldn’t allow it. My arm was weighed down by a lightly snoring Johnny, whose face was still lined with the emotional conflict of last night. My chest felt heavy, like I was being weighed down by a suffocating anchor, probably thanks to my poor decision to continue smoking and drinking with Johnny into the early hours. I pulled the blanket up slightly, covering my chilled shoulders. What an odd night it had been… I wasn’t really sure where we stood now, though we seemed to have worked past his abhorrence of me. He’d spent much of the last hours before we’d fallen asleep talking about his daughters. I still wasn’t sure whether I liked like the guy much, but my heart had broken again and again as he’d spoken about them so forlornly. I understood now how it had shaped him into who he was, as I also reflected on my own journey. We’d both taken guilt and sorrow, and twisted it into hatred. He’d inflicted his upon the world and I’d inflicted mine upon myself, but we’d both had the same end goal of desperately trying to smother it. I guess neither of us were doing so well at that, given our current states.
Wait a minute, I don’t remember bringing a blanket out. Granted, I couldn’t remember some of last night, but surely I would have remembered that? I eased my arm out from underneath Johnny, managing not to wake him. The hammering in my head only became more voracious as I sat up, but I worked through it nonetheless. We’d left quite a mess; cigarette ends and empty cans littered the area around us, along with Johnny’s discarded knife. I shivered a little as I remembered the way he’d brought me out here with the intention of staining the tiles with my death. Fuck. How do you move forward from that? It’s not something you can laugh off. He’d had mercy last night, but what if the feeling came across him again? Next time, he might just go through with it. Do I tell anyone? Would he tell anyone? It would undoubtedly make waves, especially for Jimmy. I didn’t really fancy setting off another scuffle, it was the last thing anyone needed. Pulling myself away from my carousel of thoughts, I shakily got to my feet, leaving the blanket strewn over Johnny’s sleeping figure. My body inwardly groaned and creaked, clearly unimpressed with my night on the tiles, as it were. As I cracked open the patio door, the scent of coffee drifted out, enveloping me nauseatingly. The sensation reinforced that I’d really not done myself any favours last night, but hopefully I’d at least mended some bridges between myself and Johnny.
Zach looked up from the coffee maker as I lumbered through the doorway into the kitchen.
“You’re awake,” he smiled, as he shook an empty mug at me. “Coffee?”
I groaned and leaned against the counter, shaking my head as he smirked. I squeezed my eyes closed, my head wrapped in the fuzz of dizziness. Sensing I was in need of assistance, he set the mugs down on the counter and approached me.
He chided me, though his voice had a sympathetic edge, “Let’s get you to bed. You should be resting.”
I can’t have been asleep that long when I was woken with a start by a male voice.
My eyes cracked as the door of my room burst open. Jimmy practically flew in, his eyes dancing with sparks of anger. Even in my groggy state, I knew I’d better tread carefully. It wouldn’t take much to ignite a raging fire.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, tentatively, rubbing my eyes as I tried to wake up.
“What’s the matter?” he repeated, incredulously. “You’re supposed to be resting, not staying up all night fucking partying. What the hell were you even doing with Johnny? You guys don’t even like each other.”
“He… wanted to talk,” I shrugged feebly, trying to figure out how to defuse the situation.
“Don’t you think you should be staying in bed and healing instead of getting shit-faced and sleeping outside? And don’t get me started on the smoking. Are you trying to fuck yourself up? Don’t try and pretend that Johnny smoked all those by himself,” his eyebrows shot into his hairline as he looked at me in disbelief.
“How do you even know I was out there?” I asked, sitting up.
“Because I came looking for you when you weren’t in bed like you should have been and found you all fucking cuddled up outside,” he seethed. He looked away, pressing his lips together firmly, as if to stop himself from saying more.
“Uh-huh, so was it the drinking and smoking, or the ‘cuddling’ that bothered you?” I questioned, narrowing my eyes.
“Everything,” he bristled, holding himself stiffly. “It all bothered me.”
I bit my lip, trying to work out how to approach this. While I was racking my brain trying to find the words, Jimmy spoke again, evidently having found them first.
“I’m fucking worried,” he admitted, relaxing his shoulders slightly. He let out a sigh and came to sit at the edge of the bed. “Marina, as soon as you’ve healed, I don’t care if you stay up all night getting buzzed with the fucking Pope. Right now though, you’ve got to take it easy.”
“I know,” I acquiesced, chewing my lip. “I didn’t plan on it. Johnny just… needed someone to talk to.”
There was a silence as Jimmy digested this. Eventually he turned to me and spoke slowly.
“What about the knife?” he asked, his eyes boring into me.
“The knife?” I repeated, nervously. It was my turn to stiffen. I didn’t need him worrying even more than he was, which he would if he knew what had happened. “What about it?”
“Why was it out there?” he questioned, searching my face for sincerity as he awaited my answer. “What exactly happened?”
I squirmed awkwardly under his gaze, “Nothing happened, Jim. He was just upset and wanted to talk.”
“With a knife?” Jimmy persisted, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh, I don’t know, Jimmy. Why is this even important?” I asked, wearily. My head was still splitting with my hangover, and I was beginning to feel a little irritable.
“I just… It’s not. It’s not important,” he waved it off, though I could tell his mind was still whirring. “Go back to sleep. You need to build your strength, not obliterate it.”
I winced under the pointedness of his words as he stood.
“Are we okay?” I asked, watching him repeatedly clench his fists irately.
His eye fluttered closed for a second with exasperation, “Yeah, we’re okay.”
He stood rooted to the spot, waiting, perhaps for me to say something. I gritted my teeth, knowing we were about butt heads.
Heaving a sigh, I opened my mouth to utter the words, “We’re not okay though, are we?”
His fists balled up tightly as he whirled around to face me, taking the opportunity to air his frustration.
“Of course we’re not okay,” he scoffed. “How do you think it feels, after all this time, to walk outside and find you cosied up with someone else?”
“Okay,” I cut in, immediately feeling defensive, “firstly, I was not ‘cosied up’ with anyone. Secondly, I’m trying to get along with everyone for your benefit.”
“Oh, for my benefit?” he bit back. “You were cuddled up to Johnny for my benefit?”
“Don’t speak to me like that,” I narrowed my eyes, feeling a storm beginning to roar inside. “Yes, for your benefit, Jimmy. I’m trying to keep the damn peace because, apparently, you can’t. Last of all, what even is this thing between us? We’ve never defined it, there’s nothing official here. I don’t know what I am to you. Am I anything? Or is this just something to pass the time?”
Jimmy’s face contorted, whipping through a thousand emotions in just a couple of seconds, “I can’t believe you’re even asking that.”
“I’m sorry, did we have a conversation that I missed? Because as far as I’m aware, a couple of kisses here and there, and a quick fumble in the dark doesn’t make a fucking relationship. I don’t know where we’re at, Jimmy, and then next thing, you come barrelling in here, accusing me of cosying up to someone else, like you own me,” I snapped, staring him down.
“Well, you were looking pretty comfortable,” he insisted, glaring back at me. I bit my tongue to stop myself from exploding at him, as he looked down at me, unblinking, his fists stilled balled up and trembling slightly with his anger. We were clearly at an impasse here.
I took a deep breath, and tried again, “Nothing happened. We talked, he got upset, I consoled him, we fell asleep.”
“And the knife?” he pressed, topic hopping once again.
“That’s really not important right now, though, is it?” I countered. “Clearly we have something to work through here, because I’m still lost about it all.”
He pursed his lips for a moment, “Lost about what exactly, Marina? Everything that’s happened between us so far has you confused how?”
“Everything between us has been the result of being emotionally charged,” I countered. “I don’t know if there’s actually something there, or whether we’re just panicking because we keep nearly dying.”
His face stayed frozen in anger for a moment, before cracking. I blinked at him in disbelief as a smirk crept across his face, eventually rupturing into toothy grin as he started laughing.
“We do keep nearly dying,” he snickered, letting himself fall back into his place next to me. “This is so fucking stupid.”
“Are you trying to give me a headache?” I asked, exasperatedly, his emotional U-turn leaving me at a loss. He looked over at me, his eyes crinkling a little as they found mine. He still had a faint smile on his face.
“Why are we arguing?” he asked, searching my eyes as he waited for an answer. I could sense that he was trying to defuse the mounting tension between us, but my irritation was still buzzing.
“Because you don’t know what you want,” I answered, flatly, wiping his smile clean off. He pulled his gaze away, instead focussing on the floor.
“I do know what I want,” he insisted, picking at the skin around his nails.
“And what is that?” I persisted, needing to hear it in firm words. He brought his gaze back to me, his azure eyes burning into mine.
“I want you,” he admitted, sliding his hand onto my leg. “I want this thing between us to grow... I want you to recover from this,” his eyes slid down to the etching on my skin, “and I want you to be happy. I want you to feel the way you make me feel.”
“How do you feel?” I asked, becoming aware of my heart beginning to flutter. Even when I’m pissed with him, he’s still stirring up the butterflies. I must have it bad. Jimmy paused for a moment, trying to find the words.
“Electric,” he smiled, “Alive. Hopeful. Ready to take on the world. That’s what you give me, and it’s what I want to give back to you.”
We fell into a silence as I let his declaration sink in. It wasn’t an awkward silence, or an angry one, just thoughtful and searching.
“You want to do this?” I asked, eventually. “Even at a time like this, where one of us could go at any moment? In a world where we could lose everything in a matter of seconds?”
“It makes it a world where I have something worth living for,” he replied, finding my hand and lacing his fingers into mine. “This isn’t some fleeting phase or whirlwind romance for me. It’s so much more than that. I’ve got no intention of dipping out if you say you’re in. I… I fucking love everything about you and the way we come together. It just feels like we fit. I want to find my way in this bullshit world, and I want to do it with you by my side…”
He paused, his lips hanging open slightly, before nervously asking, “Is that what you want?”
I looked down at our entwined hands, letting my eyes wonder up his colourful arm. Of course I wanted that, but… No, no buts. I deserved some happiness, surely? I’ve done some shitty things, sure, but I’ve spent the last two years paying for it through misery and hurt until I’d met Jimmy. Jimmy, who’d brought a flicker of light to my decaying life. I was ready to let it ignite into a fountain of sparks, illuminating the parts of me I’d grown used to hiding away. I was ready to breathe life back into the dusty corners, to prune away the constricting tendrils of self-loathing and let something new grow. Something beautiful. A seed that had been planted by Jimmy’s own hands.
I brought my own sapphire eyes up to meet his, the look between us now one of pure dedication and loyalty, and I breathed life into my answer.
IN CELEBRATION OF 50 CHAPTERS!
FUCKING FINALLY. IT'S OFFICIAL. I REPEAT: REVRINA ARE OFFICIAL.