“Please don’t leave me here.” The quiver in his voice matches the stream of tears running down his face as he stares at the entrance of the rehab center he’s being admitted to. “I’ll do anything, but please don’t leave me here.”
I don’t know what hurts more. How we got here or that it’s the first time in a long time I’ve seen any true and honest emotion on his face. He’s always so blissed out with a needle in his arm, or powder up his nose, it’s hard to imagine he’s actually capable of feeling anything at all.
“I love you,” he cries and the words make my blood boil. “I love you so much. You can’t leave me here.”
Thing is, I know he loves me, and God knows I love him too. I have loved Arlo longer than I’ve loved myself, but the three words, right now, in this moment, are not the words I needed to hear. He was throwing them out like a lifeline, but this time they weren’t going to save him.
This time I wasn’t going to save him.
Love didn’t conquer all. If anybody knew that, it was Arlo and I, and especially not this time.
We may love one another, but we loved very differently. Through the drugs and the overdoses, the debt and the death; my heart burst and bled for him. Through all of it.
But that’s not how it worked for Arlo, his heart didn’t love like mine.
His heart had hardened so much at such a young age, that you could be convinced he was made out of stone. He knew how to hate you and hurt you. He knew how to fight, his tongue as sharp as a knife, his fists as hard as steel when they touched you.
He kept those three words close to his chest. Used them like a weapon whenever he could.
He didn’t feel for just anyone.
There were a selected few and that love and emotion came with conditions and ultimatums.
Especially for me.
He used our past to torture me. He used our loyalty to manipulate me, and he loved nothing more than to fill me with so much guilt, I couldn’t walk away.
And this time was no different.
It’s not like I wanted to walk away, I just didn’t have a choice.
This wasn’t just about me and him anymore. There were people we needed to take care of. People who depended on us and I was sick of waiting around for him to finally wake up and step up.
And it clearly wasn’t happening any time soon.
I didn’t want this to be my life. I didn’t want this to be his life, and I sure as hell didn’t want it to be our life.
I was finally ready to grow up and heal and Arlo was insistent too busy deflecting the blame and passing on the hurt.
It was time to admit for the first time ever, we were in two very different places.
“You don’t love me,” I tell him coldly, keeping every sliver of emotion I have for him out of my voice. “You love the idea of me. You love how I don’t turn down the high, and how I don’t turn away from the rush. You love the way we fuck. You love the money we make off this shit, you love the power it gives you. And you love that even when you treat me like nothing more than the dirt on the bottom of your shoes, I come running back to you every fucking time.”
I take a deep breath, my chest aching, despite the ice in my voice. “But you. Don’t. Love. Me.”
He reaches for my shirt, fisting the material in his hands trying and failing to drag me to him. “Frankie,” he grits out.After everything he’d put himself and his body through, he was a shell of himself.
There was no bravado, no usual swagger, no confidence.
He was empty.
Too weak for me to feel the frustration in his touch. Too weak for me to hear the anger in his voice.
I stand still and determined using my own anger and frustration to my advantage. When it finally registers that I’m not moving, he throws his body at me, his arms around my neck, his legs practically climbing me, his mouth aggressively pressing against mine.
“Kiss me,” he says through a muffled sob. “Kiss me.”
Tears land on my lips, and the salty taste of his pain pours over me; like blistering, hot water, being poured over ice. My heart cracks, in just enough places to shatter.
He kisses me harder, desperate for a reaction and I give it to him.
Stupidly, foolishly, selfishly, I melt.
Hooking my hands underneath his thighs, I take his weight and carry him. I turn us both and push him up against the car, allowing his legs to wrap around me.
He’s always been bigger than me. Despite how I eventually filled out my lanky, teenage frame, he was always taller and wider and stronger. But in my arms his once built and sculpted body is nothing more than a bag of bones.
My hold on him may be weary and gentle, but my mouth no longer has any restraint.
I succumb to the kiss.
Our teeth clash, our tongues lashing out in anger and pain and dominance. Our mouths move against one another; talking, fighting, feeling.
Arlo whimpers and my cock thickens against him. His body doesn’t respond. It can’t, not after the way he’s treated it, but I feel his need all the same.
Fueled by hate and hurt, we ravage each other, our tongues dueling, like we’re both trying to get in the last word.
“Please, baby,” he murmurs against my mouth. Arlo begins shaking in my arms, and I feel the fear finally settling in. “Please don’t leave me here.”
“I have to,” I whisper. “I can’t keep doing this with you anymore.”
“I’ll be better,” he promises. “I love you, I’ll do anything you want me to.”
“This,” I say forcefully, rearing my head back. “This is what I want you to do. Get better. Be better.”
Unsure where he finds the strength, Arlo begins to frantically pound at my chest. “Fuck you. Fuck you. They can’t keep me here.”
Carefully I loosen my hold on him, and force him to stand on his own, but the hits keep coming. My chest. My shoulders. My face. And I don’t stop him.
“Fuck you,” he seethes. “Fuck you.”
He screams the words at me. On repeat. Over and over.
His anger rises. And rises. And rises, till there’s nowhere left for it to go. And that’s when it happens. The adrenaline is nowhere to be found, and Arlo’s body loses the fight. He’s all tears and saliva and desolation.
He sways on his feet, and I stretch my arms out for him. Even bruised, and bleeding, I catch him when he falls.
I hold his rattling body against me, my own tears finally starting to fall.
“You’re going to be okay,” I whisper through them, into his hair. “I promise you’re going to be okay.”