Chapter 7

Thomas has taken me in the corner of the courtyard. He lets go of me and makes sure I'm able to stand before completely taking his hands off me. He stays close to me, but he's not touching me anymore. I still see those bastards over there, already making a big fool out of me. Let's say you gave them a really good reason. Yeah, well, they don't need to be staring at me. And they certainly don't need to take care of her as if she were hit by a car. I barely chocked her. Thirty seconds and she would have dropped dead on the ground. You and I both know that. Then, I gave up too quickly. You always do.

"Would you care enough to tell me what the hell was that about?" His tone is hard but it feels like he's not being sincere. It's just I got that feeling about him and it doesn't seem to want to leave me anytime soon.

I shrug, waving my hand as if what happened was nothing. It was nothing, indeed. "I just lost it, okay? It happens sometimes and I'm truly sorry you were there when it happened."

"You just lost it? When I lose it, I don't go around chocking people to death."

If he goes on that way, I may lose it one more time. "I didn't choke her to death!" I protest. "She's not dead, she's still alive and very much alive."

He sighs and looks at me. "You know exactly what I mean." Yes, I know what he means, but I don't want to say I do. I thought this whole thing was behind me. It had been quite a while, several years actually, that I hadn't felt the urge to choke someone.

One thing about Thomas is weird. While everyone else seems to be scared of me, he doesn't. He's clearly not afraid of being around me which just looks bizarre. Even Isaac wouldn't dare to look at me after what I've done to his girl. I hate thinking she's his again. I hate thinking about them together.

"Jemma, look at me," Thomas orders. I do as he says and I look up. Our eyes meet and lock for more than a minute where he doesn't speak. His eyes … They seem so familiar to me. I just can't seem to remember where I've seen them because I already have. I'm sure of it.

"I know you don't know me and that you don't want to talk to me, but face it. You're having issues with anger or jealousy, I can't tell which one it is. If there's anything I need to know, you better tell me right now because I'm going to defend you. I'm on your side for this, so you just have to trust me," he says. Jealousy? I'm not jealous, is all I can think about.

"I don't trust anyone," I tell him. Why would he defend me? Why would he be on my side? I barely know him and he doesn't know me at all. He doesn't know anything about me and I'm sure he wouldn't want to know. Why is he being so nice to me? It's almost fake. It most likely is. Why would he pretend? He's new here, he doesn't have any interest in trying to destroy me or pleasing someone else. I mean, he kind of does because he told me that he wanted to have friends―the more I thought about it, the crazier it sounded. But that didn't imply that he had to have only one friend, meaning me. Between me and a bunch of cooler kids, the choice is easy.

"You should trust someone, at least one person," he argues. "It's better to know you can lean on someone than knowing you'll be all by yourself if the worse happens." It already happened.

"Well, I don't need anyone!" I groan. I take a step back, showing him he's pissing me off.

He slowly nods as if he understood something. There is nothing to understand. Things are just the way they are and no matter how hard you try, you can never change them. That's what life has taught me and I'm never going to forget that lesson.

"It's okay if you've been hurt. It's not okay if being hurt by one single person makes you not want to trust anyone else. There aren't only bad person in this world. There are also people worth your trust and your smile. You know you've got a beautiful one, don't you? I'd rather see you smile than see you with those crazy eyes you had when you walked to them." Why does he always find a way to compliment me? I don't deserve any of his compliments, especially not after what happened. I mean, I choked a girl! I wanted to kill her, I can't deny it. It's him, again. It's because of him if you didn't do it. He's still bringing out the best of you. Even if he is, he's not here anymore. That didn't stop him from keeping you from killing her. He might have been able to bring out the best of me at some point but let's not forget that he's gone. You mean you left. I mean I left because I had no other choice! I left because I … because I cared about him and because I didn't want to see him get hurt by anyone including me. I left because he was better off without me. You do know that it's all lies. He pushed you away. No, he didn't. I pushed him back. You're only lying to yourself because I know what happened, I was there. If he did it's because he wanted me to be safe. He knew I could never be safe anymore there. He let you go. Yes, he let me go. But you wish he hadn't. That's right. So right that I don't even want to bother answering to that little voice inside my head.

"Those crazy eyes you're talking about are part of me. You either take me all or not at all and they've decided they wouldn't anymore," I say, talking about everyone else in the school. They're never going to accept me the way I am. Not anymore. Maybe I used to be cool and popular, well all of that is gone now. I'm never going to get it back again. I mean, ever again. Lucky you decided to stay friend with Ariel. She's going to be your one and only … if she actually decides to stay.

"I'd take you all," he declares. I know he's not lying. I don't know how I can possibly be sure of it but I just am positive about it.

"Don't say that kind of stuff. You know you can tell them all the truth now. I'm not their 'it girl' anymore so having slept with me isn't doing you any good now. You can just tell them I threatened you and that you got scared of the freak I am so you just did it because you didn't see why it would be bad," I say.

He shakes his head. "No, I'd never take these words back, unless you want me to." Gosh, he's pissing me off right now. Can he stop saying all that shit? I deserve none of his sweet words. I don't want kind words.

"I want you to take them back. I don't want your reputation to be ruined on your second week because of me. You said you never got to have such friends. You're not going to move again somewhere else just so you can start all over again." Just keep calm, breathe, I keep telling myself.

"I thought about what you said about that kind of friend. You were right. I'd rather have real friends than fake ones who are only waiting for the good moment to backstab me. And you, even if you don't like me, you've been a better friend than any of them. You've told me the truth ever since I came here. You didn't mind telling me I was a jerk or messing around with me. You didn't care if I was hurt because you were sincere. They weren't honest with me." His whole speech sounds like a girly talk to me. It's been quite a while I haven't heard a guy talking about his feelings like this. I've never actually really heard one. They have, at some point. They just fucked me up, that's not the same thing, shut up now. The boys I meet every Friday and the boys I was in detention with before never spoke about how they felt. They were all that typical tough guy that doesn't care whether he could get hurt or not, he's just got to do it either way. But Thomas … I don't know if it's just because he's really sensitive or something but I mean, he's hiding something, I can't deny it anymore. It's like … It's like he knows what to tell me, as if he's already done it, as if he's already dealt with that sort of things. Maybe he has. You're probably not the only freak out there.

"You should know my honesty has a limit and so does my trust. You and I are not friends, let's be clear about that. You can't be friends with someone you've known for two days," I replicate coldly.

He shrugs. "Yeah, you can. You know it when it clicks, haven't you noticed?" he asks. I'd be lying if I said I haven't noticed, but it's not the same kind of "clicking" I'm used to. It was something else. Something much bigger. And I can't quite get what it was.

"If by 'clicking,' you mean arguing all the time and always being cocky or bitchy, then yes, I'm guessing we do 'click,'" I say, teasing him a little.

He notices it and smiles even though there's nothing to laugh at. I shall not forget what just happened. I'm going to be in trouble, in real trouble. It's as if I only realize what I have done. I look at Thomas and I can bet he's seen the panic in my eyes.

"What, what is it, baby?" he asks. I don't even bother groaning at him for calling me "baby."

"I … What I did … I … They're going to be so pissed at me, Thomas. They're going to send me back! I don't want to go back there! It's freaking Hell there, I swear, I didn't mean to do what I did. It just … I didn't mean to do it, I didn't want to hurt her!" I rush to tell him as I'm starting to lose it all over again.

He takes a step back quickly and he puts his hands on my shoulders. "No one's going to send you back, Jemma."

"You don't know them! You don't know what they've done!" I keep telling him. "You don't know what they'll do to me when they find out what just happened. I'm screwed either way. Gosh, they're never going to let this thing go. I'm fucked up, Thomas," I whisper as I let myself drift aimlessly on his torso and he wraps his arms around me. It's just weird. I don't know why I'm doing this, I don't know why I'm hugging Thomas right now, I just know that I feel like doing it. I can't explain why. It just felt like the most normal thing to do after all of this.

"No, you're not, babe," he murmurs in my ear.

"Why are you being so nice? I don't deserve it."

"I … I kind of lied to you―he suddenly seems to be a little bit uncomfortable―when you asked me why I was here. My parents sent me here because I had anger issues, just like you and they were sick of it. Took at least five months before I got to get out of the damn house. I know what it's like to just want to go around and beat the crap out of everyone that's crossing your path. I know what it feels like to think that you're so powerful that no one can stop you from doing what you want. I went through all that stuff. I remember when I used to be so violent that I just scared people away. And I had no one to help me," he tells me. I never thought he would have had that kind of issues. He just seems to be … too perfect. I don't know if I should be comforting him or not. But he goes on and I don't have time to do anything. "I know how you must feel every time it happens."

"Ashamed," I say.

He nods slowly. "Yeah, exactly. And you realize that you've turned your back on the people you trusted the most and that they don't want to be around you anymore once you've crossed their limit. I know all of that, okay? Been there, done that. Not saying I'm fully over it, not saying that I can control it when it shows up. I'm only saying that what you did wasn't right. I'll stand by your side because I get why you did it. I understand that you lost it. I just want you to know that you should get help. There are great people out there who are pretty amazing. I mean, look at me. You've given me tons of opportunities to just snap and I didn't."

I don't smile but inside, I kind of am. "If you would have snapped on me, I would have snapped harder."

He shakes his head, amused. "You know, I kind of noticed that when you talked to me for the first time at your door. You were being so rude and I understood when you hit me."

"Why didn't you stop me?" I ask.

He shrugs. "When the switch is flipped there is almost nothing that can flip it back." He's right. Not for you, though. There is one thing that can make the switch flip back. It stopped you today. It always stops me.

I hear someone walking toward us but before I can push back Thomas, a voice is heard, "Ahem, am I interrupting something here?" I instinctively recognize the voice and I take a step back, breaking Thomas's grip around me.

I turn to face him. I knew I had to do it and it better be now. "Can we talk?" Isaac asks. He seems shocked and I can't blame him for being shocked. I can't read what he's feeling anymore. It's like he's closed the book. He's unreadable.

I nod. "Yeah."

Isaac glances at Thomas. "Alone?" he adds.

I look at Thomas and he nods quietly. "I'll be around if you need me," he tells me and he walks away, still observing me over his shoulder and he gets to Ariel who's been alone since the … incident happened.

Isaac winces as he shoots a look at Thomas's back. "Does he think I'm going to hurt you?" It's not really a question, it's just something Isaac does when he finds something really stupid. And the way he emphasized the "I'm" … as if he thinks that I would most likely be the one to hurt him.

I shrug, pretending I haven't noticed what he truly meant. "I don't know. Are you going to?" I ask.

It's his turn to shrug. I notice he's standing far from me. Not too far but I can't call it close. It's like awkwardly far. As if he doesn't dare to come closer, as if he's scared of something but I know he's not afraid. He's just keeping his distances which I can perfectly understand but it hurts. Especially now.

"What happened to you?" he asks pointing at my wound over my eyebrow.

I shrug. It doesn't matter. I won't even bother answering. Besides, it's not like he really minds, does he? "I never meant to do what I did, you know," I tell him. My tone isn't especially sorry because I'm only half sorry. I mean, I'm sorry I scared the crap out of all of them but I'm not really sorry I scared the hell out of her. She deserved it. I'm not going to apologize for that. But I can already bet Isaac's going to ask for this and maybe more. It's written in the stars, there's no way out.

"How can you not mean to choke someone, Jemma, I'd like you to explain that to me because I really don't get it," he says. Noticing his tone, I can tell he's not even shocked. He's overwhelmed by everything that's happened. And there's nothing I can say that will prove him that I'm peaceful and that I mean no harm to anyone because that would be another lie and I'm not ready to lie to him again. I should, though.

"I … I saw her with you and I just lost it. I don't know what came onto me, but I swear I didn't mean to hurt her, I didn't want to … I … I don't know," I say, almost as confused as he is. I want him to forgive me but now there's absolutely no way he's going to. I can't even apologize for what I've done because I don't feel guilty about it. In a way, I know I never should have done it, but I wouldn't take it back if I had the choice to. Like you wouldn't take back what happened. At least, you're not living with regrets.

"You choked her, Jemma!" he repeats as he raises the tone. He makes me nervous when he's in that state of mind. "How can you not want to hurt her? I … I've always thought I knew you until now. I know you're jealous, you've always been, but … this, I wasn't expecting that at all. I am not even sure if I want to hear you out. Are you going to lie again? Are you going to make up some other story of yours? I don't know if you're worth my trust anymore."

I'm ready. I have to do it. There's no way I'm letting him go. There's no way I'm letting him think that I can't be trusted. Well, maybe you really can't be trusted. "You wanted to know the truth, Isaac, well here it is. I have a serious problem with anger! There, I said it," I tell him madly.

He doesn't take the time to hear what I said. He's all on attacking as if the only thing that counts for him right now is hurting me as badly as possible. "Not only with that. You've got one with jealousy as well as many others, don't you?" he mocks. He's not being nice at all. He's messing around with my head and I don't want him to mess around with my heart. No one's going to mess around with that part of my body anymore. I'm not going to let that happen, never again.

"Yes, I do," I admit.

Isaac looks shocked that I'm actually confessing. "Remember last Friday night? When you caught me thirty minutes from here? Well, I was meeting people with anger problem like mine. I … Let's say I just have to go there and there's a qualified person who's there to help us tame our anger and our other little problems. It's a psychiatric hospital, Isaac," I tell him.

He doesn't blink. Looks like your revelation just hit a rock. "I can read, you know. I saw what was written on the building you got out. I knew it, Jemma. I just wanted you to tell me yourself."

"Tell you myself that I was crazy? My entire life I always wanted what I had! I just wanted someone who would love me for who I am now, not for what I have been. And you were that someone. Well, I thought you were. Everything was just so perfect, I never meant to ruin it. I wanted to tell you. I really did but I just thought that you'd dump me and that I'd have to move out again because things would have got so messed up. I didn't want to lose you but I know I've made a mistake by not telling you. Because I have lost you now."

His expression changes and I don't know why. "You should have told me, Jemma. I could have helped you through this. You never told me anything about you."

"I never did because I didn't want you to find out what a freak I was." Before, he would have laughed but now he's barely smiling. There's this pity look in his eyes that I can't stand. Pity. I don't know who invented that feeling but that person should be burned alive. Pity, it's the worst thing ever. Especially when you know all people feel about you is sorry. They pity you. I've been pitied my entire life. And this was the one thing I couldn't stand in someone's look. Pity.

"Are you back on the track with her?" I ask him, breaking an awkward silence. I just have to know.

He looks at me, straight in the eyes and for a moment, he's gazing at me the way he used to before we got in all this dirty mess. Then, I see a sad smile distort his lips.

"No, we aren't back together. You know I never would have done such thing to you. I … You know, I've been driven crazy about our 'break up.' I thought about it all week-end. I wanted to call you on Saturday but saw you with that guy―he points out Thomas―and you seemed so … intimate with him, I guess I just felt jealous myself." If I had known. If I had only known, none of this would have happened and maybe I would be with him at this precise moment. By being with him, I mean as a couple, not as two strangers that are trying to figure out what the hell happened to them.

"So you went knocking on your ex's door, wondering if she'd take you back?" I snap.

He shakes his head, not aware―or pretending not to mind―of my current state of mind. "No, that's not what happened. She just called me, said she wanted to talk and I swear, I didn't want to go, but after seeing you so … good without me, I just felt like hearing her out for one last time. And we talked and … it was great, I mean, she's changed and she's nothing like the girl I fell out of love with."

"As in you can fall in love with her all over again?" I ask. I can't help it; my tone is ironical and mean. Isaac stares at me for a moment and I can't tell what he's seen behind all the mockery I'm putting up. I can't tell if he has seen the truth I've been trying to hide from him so much.

"I felt like I could, but on Sunday, I spent the entire day fixing my cell phone, wondering if I should give you a call, wondering if I should just drop by to tell you that I was sorry, that I didn't want to force you to tell me all those things you didn't want to talk about, that I'd be there when you'd be ready to." I know he's sincere. He's always been with me. He's never told me anything to make me doubt him. He's been honest while I played him.

"Then, what happened? Why didn't you call? I spent the entire day thinking about you," I reveal.

His smile is sad and so are his eyes. "If I had known, nothing of this would have happened." He slowly shakes his head as if he's taking the entire blame for the whole thing. He shouldn't so I wait for him to go on and he does. "I came here earlier, hoping I could get to talk to you. And you got here with this guy again, smiling as if we had never broken up. That's when she got next to me and she started flirting with me. She saw the way I was looking at you and said that we could make you jealous, that she knew exactly what to do to make you come back to me." I shoot a look at him. How could have he been so stupid? He catches my look. "Don't look at me like that. I was … Yes, I was desperate to get you back. I never should've said those things to you last Friday, I meant none of them. I was just being a jerk."

He takes a deep breath. "And I let her do what she did because I knew how jealous you'd get. And I knew that if you didn't do anything, it would mean that you never cared. But you did react." He lets out a dry laugh. "Not in the way I expected, though." I don't laugh; there's nothing to laugh about. I have always been possessive and jealous. Even if I try to hide it, it doesn't seem to be working at all.

"I … I didn't mean to do it. I just … I just saw red and I wasn't able to control myself anymore. I … I've never been good at the feelings stuff and you know it. But this, it was just too much. Do you know that I have spent the last night planning all of this? Ariel and I, we thought that you'd come back to me if you saw me with Thomas, that you'd get jealous and get back with me. I just wanted you back, Isaac. I never meant for all of this to happen, I never meant for you to feel like you had to do the same to me with her. I just … I just couldn't bear the thought of being without you." I know how cliché this sounds but it's the truth but now I know that it's not going to end up the way I wanted it to in the first place. He's not coming back to me, that's the only thing I can read in his eyes.

Isaac shakes his head. "Neither could I, my baby girl. But you didn't have to do all of this. All you had to do was just tell me. If you had told me all of that, we would still be together." Even if his words seem mostly positive for our relationship, his tone isn't. He takes a step closer and he kisses my lips softly. It's not a "we're getting back together" kiss. It's a "goodbye" kiss. I can recognize one when I'm given one.

I start shivering, knowing what's going to happen. "But … Please, tell me there is no 'but,' tell me we can just go back to the way we were and never think about this again. Pretty pretty please. I need it, Isaac. I need you." I'm lost without him, I truly am. See what happened today? Again, you're giving a guy so much power over you.

But when I see him shaking his head, I know it's over. I knew it before but still, there was that little part of me that was still hoping he'd get over it. You can't ask him to get over it. My eyes are already filled with tears but I make myself a duty to swallow them. There's no way I'm crying. I don't want to cry. I've already shown the world how weak and powerless I am. They don't need to see another pathetic and stupid part of me; the one that's ready to cry in that precise moment. I can't show any more fragility. If he wants it over, I am not going to drop dead on the ground. If he wants it over, I am not going to kill myself. If he wants it over, I will be all right. Who are you trying to convince? Because you're not convincing me at all.

"Jemma, you tried to choke my ex girlfriend to death. I don't think I can be with someone who's that violent, honestly. There were ten thousand other options you could have chosen, but you picked that one. I seriously don't want to hear any more of your lies and I'm sick of it. I already told you. But, this … I mean, clearly you're having way more issues than just anger issue."

It feels like he just slapped me in the face. "You flirted with all my buddies, don't think I haven't noticed, I have, I just never said anything because I loved you." His use of the past for the word "love" is probably the end of me. It's only because I'm so stubborn that I haven't already vanished. I need to hear everything he's got to say, I need to know everything he wants me to know. I need it so I won't spend any more time wondering what has got into his head. So I can get to move on quicker. And maybe get out of here, what do you think? What do I think? At this precise moment, I'd be willing to go anywhere but here.

"But this, this is more than I can handle. I could have handled you if you had screamed at us, cried, anything else but that."

"But, let me explain," I beg. By the look I see in his eyes, I know the sweet Isaac's gone. And the mean one has no intention of spearing me at all.

"There is nothing to explain! You're crazy, just get over it. Go mess around with someone else who's probably going to end up dumping you anyway because you're such a freak." His face is reddish as if he was going to explode in a minute. He really seems to be overwhelmed and I don't think I can make it go away. I don't know what came unto me but I am calm. It feels as if the pain is gone. It isn't gone, you just buried it somewhere like you always do. Do you want to know what's going to happen with it? Someday it's just going to blow up in your face and you will be the only one to blame for that. If I were you, I'd let it out right now so it won't be as violent the next time. I would be really sad if you messed up another time. The sarcasm and the irony in my inner voice make me want to tap my head on something, anything, until it stops talking.

I don't say anything and I let Isaac keep going. He goes on and on as if it's never going to stop. "Normal girls don't go around choking people to death if they see their ex boyfriend with another girl. Maybe you should write it down somewhere so you can discuss about it with your insane buddies from your psychiatrist hospital. If I had known what kind of girl you truly were, I never would have talked to you in the first place. Never would have looked at you, in fact. Though, I wouldn't mind getting laid." Now, he's playing the dirty Isaac. There is no doubt in my mind that he's talking about having sex with me in that dirty way that's so not him because of our last fight, the one where he almost accused me of being a prostitute. Because he is thinking of Jasper and of what this jerk told Isaac. Because he is convinced that I have cheated on him with Jasper. Because he thinks I have been cheating all along and not only with Jasper. Maybe he's going to suspect his closest buddies. I mentally shrug. I don't give a damn. He will never know the truth about Jasper and I'm glad he won't. He wouldn't get it anyway. I paid Jasper nicely enough for him―every damn week―to keep his damn mouth shut about who he is and about who I am.

He keeps on dagger my heart and it's probably bleeding so much that I don't feel it anymore. I only feel the cold and the hole his words have left. I shouldn't feel these things for him. It's … incredibly stupid. Stupid isn't even the right word. It's more than stupid. It's pathetic. Maybe this is why you need to stop falling. Stop falling for the wrong guys. Stop falling at all, wouldn't it be the greatest option? It is the best idea. I suddenly feel odd. I don't know why I'm being so … possessive over Isaac. He's just a guy and it's not like I haven't had dozens before him. He's no different than all of them. He's actually the same. Why would I worry so much about him? I shouldn't and I won't. Maybe I started the game by lying to him but … I am not going to let him end it by making a fool out of me. I have never quite liked it when people made fun of me. Never have, still don't and never will. And now, by insulting me, he just crossed the line I had drawn. He doesn't know me. He may think I'm going to run away crying all the teardrops of my entire body but I won't. I won't show any weakness or mercy. I owe him that. I'm not going to beg anyone anymore. Thought you were done with pleasing. I am. Starts now.

Then, I look back at Isaac who's still looking at me with this victorious look as if he has won ten thousand millions of dollars and I have won nothing―and lost everything. He doesn't know how easy his victory is to steal. "Fine," I tell him, taking control over my feelings as I always have. "How much are you willing to pay?" I ask him, frowning as if I were serious. He called me a prostitute first. I am not going to feel sorry for that or for anything else.

The look on his face … was definitely worth the call.