Breakfast at Bonnie’s

We walked a few blocks to Bonnie’s little diner across from the AU building. It was a quiet walk, both of us in our own minds, or Alex in mine. I didn’t know. I just hoped he didn’t get on to me about being a mess again. I could do my best to not show him how fucked up I was. But I hated being fake.

As we walked and my thoughts spiraled into descent Alex took my hand. “Do you want me to stop reading you? Not that I think I can, but I could try.”

I shook my head. “No. But remember my thoughts are my own. If they bother you, you don’t have to read them.”

Alex nodded, “Maybe I should just go, leave you to your thoughts.”

I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, we’d almost made it to Bonnie’s without a fight. “I don’t want you to go. I just don’t want you to get mad at me because my thoughts are a mess.” I sighed, but turned and walked towards the diner pulling my hand free. “But you do what you want, obviously I’m selfish.”

Alex grabbed my arm, “Fuck Nox. Can’t we just have breakfast without fighting.”

“I’d like to.” I said and pulled my arm from his grip, I pulled my shields up tight around me and I heard Alex groan as he caught up to me.

“You didn’t have to do that.” He said.

“I did. You don’t want to see my selfish thoughts, so now you get to see what everyone else does.” I sighed as I opened the door and stepped inside the small diner across the street.

Bonnie greeted us, “Hey Nox. Alex.” She sounded surprised to see us both together.

Alex took a seat in a booth in the middle of the room and I slid in across from him. I looked back at the place I usually sat and felt uncomfortable, but I put on a smile and took a deep breath.

Bonnie came to our table and smiled, she gave me a look of concern but started rattling off today’s specials. “Your usuals boys?” She asked.

I nodded. Alex looked at me, “Yes please.”

Bonnie took our orders and left us alone with a glass of water a peice and the growing gap between us. “You come here often?” Alex asked.

“I used to come here everyday when I was younger. It was an easy respite from the chaos that is the dorms so I could study without someone trying to make trouble.” I said. “How long you been coming here?” I asked.

He smiled. “For as long as I’ve been following you.”

“Oh.” I said. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

“Nox…” Alex said.

“I don’t want to talk about it Alex. I don’t want to fight.” I looked at him with a smile, “Why do you have two apartments? I mean, do you rent them both, or have you lived in New York long?”

“I told you one’s a business one.”

“Right, but why don’t you just have one? Seems like a lot of wasted money to me.” I said.

“I have money to waste. But I only pay for one, the other is bought and paid for. I haven’t been in New York long. Only since December.”

“And you already bought a house? Must really like it here.” I said.

Alex shook his head, “Actually I hate this city.”

I frowned. “I’m sorry.”

“I’d say it’s not your fault, but it’s part of the reason.” Alex said.

“And the other part?” I asked, trying to ignore the lingering tension that had risen between us at the admission.

Bonnie brought us our coffee and set down a pot for us to refill with at need. “Your food will be ready soon darlings.”

“Thank you Bonnie.” Alex said as she left. “Uh. A woman I was seeing died here.”

“I’m sorry.” I said. “Were you close?”

“What’s will all the questions, Nox?” Alex asked.

I took a deep breath and sighed. “You say I never ask, so I’m asking.”

“Shit! Well don’t, Nox. I don’t want to talk about me.”

I nodded. “Which is why I never asked.” I stood up, pulled my wallet out and dropped cash on the table. “We’ll try this again some other time. Enjoy breakfast. I’ll call you later.” I said as I walked out the door so close to fucking tears it wasn’t even funny. I didn’t wait for traffic to lull as I pulled a veil around me and walked across the street avoiding the cars on a lane by lane basis. No one even knew i was there. I could have stood there all day and unless someone tried to change lanes at the precise place I was standing I was perfectly fine. But I had a job to do and I needed to go do it.

What About Me?

I was almost to the door when Alex yelled from the doorway of his room, “For someone who talks all the fucking time you have nothing to say now?

“What do you expect me to say?” I ran my fingers through my hair snagging on a knot and frowned at the reminder of the night before with Alex’s hands all through my hair, over my body. “Thanks for ripping my heart out? You want confirmation that you paid me back before I go?” I snapped at him.

“No I want you to give a damn about me for a change. It’s always about you and your feelings and your anxiety and your schedule. How about you show some interest in me! Do you even care why I told you everything or are you too busy thinking poor Nox, fucked over again, everyone uses me and he’s no different.”

I stared at him and said the first thing that came to my mind. “You are no different standing there on your high horse.” My body was in shock. He’d called me selfish. Basically told me my shit was just that shit and that I was just being all woe is me. I never wanted him to think I was selfish.

Alex’s words drew me from my own thoughts. “Do you know how many times I talked you out of doing something stupid? Every fucking October would roll around and I’d look forward to seeing you, and every October you were a mess. Or how many times I had to refrain from being angry at you because I only got a little bit of time with you before the fucking darkness took you away from me. Or the fucking scars I had to hide because whatever the fuck takes you tore into me when I tried to stop it.” I wanted to collapse. It wasn’t my fault I didn’t remember any of those things. I wanted to remember him. I fucking wanted to remember him. I wanted to but I didn’t, each new thing he said crushed me further. I couldn’t breath, though I think I muttered, “I don’t remember those things.”

“Wouldn’t matter anyway Nox. You never asked anything. Not even when my fucking birthday was. It’s always about you.”

I blurted out. “You’re birthday is on Halloween.” I don’t know how I knew that.

“So you remember things off the wall things, like my name, or my birthday. Nox. Always at your convenience. How the fuck do I know you even cared. You used me to get that thing off your back.”

“I would never use you.” I said on the brink of tears. I felt the tears falling but I was fighting not to show Alex anymore weakness. It wasn’t all about my anxiety. I…

Alex left the room and I felt the world collapse in on itself. I started trying to calm down. 5 things I could see. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I didn’t want to look around. The coffee pot, the leftovers, the stools we sat at. Everything was Alex’s and it was hardly calming I couldn’t finish. I couldn’t do the four things I could hear, all I heard was Alex changing the sheets in his room. The place I had just left, had the best fucking sex in forever and blood all over his sheets. Three things I could touch. I couldn’t do it. Everything here was Alex’s.

I tried to get through the whole mantra and failed. I felt like shit but I got up. I stood in the door of his bed room. “I’m sorry. I have no excuses to offer that can explain why I treated you in a way that made you feel I didn’t care. I know I don’t remember all those things you do. And I don’t ask questions. I don’t want to pry, but it’s no excuse for my behavior.”

“Fuck, Nox.” He turned and glared at me, “You are always such a pity party.”

“I’m sorry.” My gaze dropped to the floor.

Alex stepped over to me and pushed me. “Stand up for your fucking self.” I stumbled back startled.

He shoved me again, “Why do you let people push you around?” I was getting angry.

He shoved me again, “Why do you let me push you around?” My anger pushed its limits and I had Alex on the ground gasping for air before he could even finish his sentence.

I fell backwards out of my own control. I was hurting him. I didn’t want to do that anymore than I wanted it to be about me. I started crying again, the tears falling down. I was helpless. Alex growled at me, “You really are a piece of work, Nox.”

He looked at me and then snapped, “I thought dating a guy would have so much less fucking crying. I guess I was wrong.”

“Fuck you, Alex.” I stood up and spoke in a white heat of anger, “I’m sorry I didn’t remember you all those years, but getting fucking beaten every fucking night since I was six year old seems to have stuck in my head instead of all those good memories. I’m so fucking sorry that I you get pissed at me for being submissive. Here let me stand up for myself.” I was done. I headed for the door.

Alex reached the door first and stood between me and it, “No, you don’t get to leave like this.”

“How would you like me to leave Alex?”

“Honestly?” he asked.

“Always, honestly, but I know that’s kinda hard for you.” I snarked at him.

He confessed. “I don’t want you to leave at all.” I started at him while he continued, “I want you to ask me why I don’t think I can do it anymore, or what it is. I want you pretend you care, Nox.”

I did care. I fucking loved him, but that was too much for him. “What can’t you do anymore?” I decided to ask instead of focusing on the negative. I couldn’t look at him. I was waiting for the complete rejection that I felt coming.

“I can’t keep lying to you. I can’t pretend that I don’t care about you. I can’t keep lying to myself about wanting more. If it means it’s over Nox, that’s fine. But you have to know why before I’ll let you leave.”

I didn’t know what to say or how to think or even what was wrong with us, why the fuck was this so fucking hard. It should be easy. We wanted the same fucking thing. But he wanted to hurt me too…

“What about your revenge?” I asked.

“I don’t know Nox. I might go back to hating you again tomorrow. But last night reminded me how fucking much I wanted this to work. And it wasn’t the sex. Though, that was amazing.”

I couldn’t help grinning at him as he continued, “We have issues. Both of us. We hurt each other. I’m hoping that now that we both know we can mend some of those hurts. But we can’t do that if you walk out the door.”

Alex’s stomach rumbled again. He was always hungry, I dropped my eyes to the floor and asked, “What if we both walked out together and we went to get something to eat?”

“Yeah, pretty boy. I think we can do that.” This small agreement only helped so much but I needed to be away from him and I suspected Alex wanted me out of his space too. Maybe we could fix this, and I hoped but I wasn’t sure it would happen. We were so much alike and so very different. No wonder we clashed all the time.

The Next Morning

Sleep took me. And I dreamed. A real dream – no nightmares, just a dream. A dream I’d had thousands of times before. Me a kid, five or so, playing in a room I once used while waiting for Margo. There were blocks. I built towers with them, and then I’d smash them down like Godzilla coming through town after some other creature. Except I was the big bad monster wreaking havoc on the city. I was the monster dressed in full costume.

But it wasn’t the same dream I’d dreamt those times, the man from my dreams never showed up. He wasn’t a child, he wasn’t the teenage boy who sometimes visited and he wasn’t the man that I’d spent months loving. He never came.

When my alarm went off I rolled away from Alex and tapped the screen to shut the alarm off. I didn’t want to wake Alex, but I’d promised. I rolled back on to my side and watched Alex sleep. He was so at peace, his eye lashes splayed across his cheeks, his slightly open mouth I just wanted to kiss. He was perfect. I sighed as I shook him gently.

Alex groaned and I shook again and whispered, “Alex?”

He didn’t open his eyes, “What?” he said groggily.

“I’m going into your living room gonna do some yoga and grab a shower, then I’ll make you breakfast.”

“I don’t have anything for you to make.” He said rolling over to his back and blinked sleepily at me.

“Then I’ll go for a run and get stuff and I’ll cook for you again.”

Alex grabbed my arm and pulled me on top of him. “Stay with me. You can make be breakfast when the sun comes up.”

I pressed a kiss to his forehead. “If I stay in bed I’m going to lose it later.” I said in a quiet voice.

Alex just rolled us to the side and wrapped one arm around me and the other he ran down my cheek and smiled, “Sleep baby.” I felt that little nudge inside. I don’t know if he’d done it on purpose or if it was my imagination but I stopped fighting him and I went back to sleep. I’d fallen asleep to his blue eyes. Just me and him again. Images of the night before played in my head and then there was darkness. And there was no warning as the first lash fell on my back. I yelped and heard the demon cackle behind me. “Mine.” It whispered and the blows fell, each one worse than the last.

Something shook me. No someone, and my eyes popped open just as a razor sharp lash landed against my skin. “Fuck Nox.” His hand came away from my back blood smeared. “I was gone like 2 minutes.”

I got up out of bed slowly and tried not to make his bed any worse than it already was. I had already started the healing process. Alex stared at me. “You okay?”

I nodded. I couldn’t speak. I don’t know what happened. I hadn’t had a nightmare the whole night but in the morning? That only happened when I thought about him. Alex reminded me so much of him. “I’m going to take a shower.” I said as I walked out of his room and to the bathroom down the way. I closed the door behind me and took in the clean scent that was Alex. I hadn’t brought any clothes with me to Alex’s apartment or to the bathroom. It didn’t really matter either way. I could go home in what I had been wearing and change when I got there. Though I wasn’t sure I’d manage that much once I got into the safety of my own place.

My head was pounding as I stepped under the scalding hot water. Alex knocked on the door, “Can I come in?”

“It’s your bathroom.” I sounded distant, so far from reality. Why had I dreamed of the little boy and his blocks. Why hadn’t he come? But then I remembered he hadn’t come in years. He was just a distant memory. The man standing outside the shower was real. He was worth forgetting him, except when I thought about Alex the same fucking thing happened.

Alex stood outside of the glass wall of the shower, “You okay?”

“Fine.”

“You don’t sound fine.”

“I told you I would lose it later. This is me at the beginning of losing it.” I said as I held my face up to the hot water and let it drain down my body as I held my breath.

“I’m sorry I made you sleep again.”

I smirked. “I’m not mad at you Alex.”

“You’re mad at who then?” He asked. “I can see it in the way you move and I can hear your thoughts.”

“I’m mad at myself. Because I let you manipulate me.”

“I…” Alex couldn’t say he didn’t, he’d just apologized for it, he was struck with silence as he watched me through the shower door.

“I’m okay with it Alex. With all of it. The lies and the secrets. I’m okay with it all. But I shouldn’t let you manipulate me when I know what’s best for me.”

I turned and looked at him through the glass. “Spending the night was always going to be rough on me. Waking up in a strange place, with strange smells and patterns. Yoga would have helped me cope with that change, kept me balanced. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to leave you, I should have. I should have been stronger.”

“Can I join you?” He asked quietly.

“It’s your shower.”

“Nox.”

“Yes, Alex, you can join me. I’m not mad at you. Nothing about this is anything you can do anything about.” I said.

He stepped into the shower and wrapped his arms around me from behind, pressed his face into my neck and kissed the spot he’d been paying special attention to, “Your back is already healed why isn’t this.” He asked.

“Because I’m fighting my body.”

“You want to wear my mark.”

“Always have, Alex.” i said.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know. Just a gut feeling. Something inside saying you’d be happy to see the mark still on me when we woke up.” I sighed, “Just like I know deep down inside you are keeping something from me, something that will rip my heart out when I know it.”

Alex stepped away from me even as I continued. “I can see it every time I look at you. The lies and secrets. The aliases, the client who thinks she’s your friend, the case itself where you are helping someone find something you don’t want. I don’t know what it is, but I feel it, Alex. Just as you feel safe, and like home. I know that when I find out it’s going to hurt.” I was glad we were in the shower, so the tears would be washed away in the water.

Alex was still behind me. I didn’t turn around to look at him when he started speaking, his voice low and careful. “I don’t think I can keep doing this, Nox.”

“Doing what?” I asked glancing over my shoulder to see him standing there staring at my back. I swallowed hard.

“I already ripped your heart out. Just like you ripped mine out.”

I turned around and stared at him. “What?”

“Five years ago, almost, in a few days anyway, you asked me to show you the real me. You wanted to touch the real me, promised darkness and the real us. No games, just us.” I stood staring at Alex. I remembered that dream – that’s all it was though – a dream. It had been on my birthday I’d fallen asleep in my bed reading a book.

I shook my head. Alex kept going regardless of my denial. “It was a perfect. Just like last night. You never remember me. And I was okay with that. Until I found a book, one my dad wrote me before I was ever born. It made me think you were the one. So I tried everything again to get you to remember me. And then your mom died, and you were a mess. I’d seen you so many times before that high or drunk and completely broken, but this time, this time was different. I told you about my box of things and I made you wake up. If you woke up before the black whisked you away you remembered me. I didn’t know why I hadn’t seen it before, the nights you remembered me. You found it and we spent months falling in love, planning to meet. And then the weeks before you were gone. I couldn’t find you.”

“It was the vampire magic.” I said. “I didn’t know it at the time. But Ant and Ryan’s taught ability to keep dreamwalkers from their sleep protects those around them, and I had been staying with Cari and her power encompasses the entire house. And it’s a large house.”

I shook my head. “I’m sorry.” I turned back around and turned the water off and grabbed two towels and handed one to Alex.

He took it and wrapped it around his waist and I did the same after drying off. Alex watched me for a few more minutes. “And then came the day and you didn’t show up. You sent your fucking friend to tell me you weren’t interested.” I started to interrupt but Alex held up his finger and glared at me, “I knew it was a lie, i heard the truth of it but I figured I’d just see you in the dream and we’d meet up later.”

“You never came back to the dream after that.” I said.

Alex laughed, “I could never find you. You’d been calling me every night since this power manifested. Last night you called to me again. But I didn’t come.”

“I know. I didn’t have a nightmare last night.”

“What do you call what happened just then?” He pointed back to his room.

“You left me. And I… I don’t know. But that was because I fell asleep thinking about you. It’s what happens when I think about him. About you. How long have you known?” I asked.

Alex shook his head, “Since the beginning. I only took this job so I could hurt you the way you hurt me.”

And there it was. I could almost hear the slurping sound as he ripped my heart out. Alex added, “Funny thing is that I already ripped your heart out. And I’d been too blind to see it. Ignoring things because I was trying to stay away from you, I didn’t want you to lure me in.”

I nodded. “So now what? What are you going to tell your master?” I said as I stalked out of the room to find my clothes.

“Same thing I told you. I can’t do this anymore.” He called after me.

I nearly gagged on my own tears as I stepped into his room. The smell of him and lingering sex slammed into me like a wall. I pulled on my clothes hastily and left Alex in the bathroom. I didn’t even say goodbye. Funny thing was, I still wasn’t mad at him. I was furious with myself.