I knew, I knew without a doubt that I had met him before. Somewhere, sometime, in another life maybe. Every little thing about him triggered something inside of me, a memory. The things I linked him to couldn’t have been entirely positive for my stomach was constantly turning, I just couldn’t relax while he was there. I had to find out where our paths had crossed before. I needed to find out; the urge was growing stronger and stronger by the minute. My eyelids fluttered with the realization that – with just today, just a few hours – my chances to actually learn what there was to him were virtually zero.
“What is it?” His baby blues had averted from his book and were now looking at me. I couldn’t read anything inside of them, they were too deep.
I shrugged my shoulders, I didn’t know what he meant by that.
“You look somewhat unhappy. What is it?”
I could have asked him the exact same question.
“I’m just thinking,” I said.
“Thinking or over-thinking?” He gazed at me knowingly.
“Just thinking.” I drew in one shaky breath. I was positive that his voice was not one of the things I recognized. We couldn’t have talked. That made things more difficult to find out. A thought then struck my mind – was there a possibility that he recognized me, too? Was there? How would I know?
All of a sudden, I found it hard to breathe with him there. I was overly aware of his close proximity. I needed to get out. But I couldn’t just run away as that would result in a lot of questions. Jumping off the sofa, I put a few feet between us. He was still watching me in a serious way.
“Is there anything I can get you? It’s my job. So if you’re hungry or anything, just tell me,” I tried. That was about the best excuse to get the fuck away from him.
“It isn’t your job” was all he said. What?
“It is,” I said impatiently.
“I have a PA. If I want something, I tell her.”
“But she isn’t here, I am here. So?”
For a split second he closed his eyes before he reopened them again. As if he was struggling against something and it was taking all of his willpower not to let it show. He said nothing in response.
“Please,” I pleaded under my breath, confident that he wouldn’t hear. He did.
“Please?” His voice sounded a tiny bit strained, he pulled his brows together. I became aware of the vein at his neck that was pulsing in a steady, fast rhythm. If there was something wrong he really did well at hiding it. His body posture still appeared to be at ease.
“I’m not going to prevent you from leaving if you want to be alone,” he said in an almost whisper. I froze for a second, it was like he had looked right into my very soul to see what was bothering me. Trying not to dwell on it, I took him at his word, turned and left as fast as I could.
I was sitting on a bench with Jeff a few blocks away from the venue. It was lunch time, and this was our usual spot. From here, it took only a few minutes until you could breathe in the fresh air of the ocean, and that’s what we sometimes did. But not today. Reluctantly, I had told him about him and I – as far as a “him and I” existed. The air was fresh but warm and I was chewing on a chicken wrap I had bought at my favorite take-out place.
“He’s famous, you probably saw him somewhere on TV,” Jeff said as if he couldn’t trust my judgment. I groaned, swallowed and shook my head.
“No that’s not it. You know I rarely watch TV. It’s something about –”
“Or on the Internet or whatever. It’s nothing to ponder about, really.”
“Could you please stop interrupting me? I’m sure it aren’t his looks.”
“Not his looks? I even find him attractive and he’s not my type at all,” he laughed.
“I never really looked at him that way,” I admitted.
Jeff looked at me disbelievingly.
“Whatever,” I grumbled. I really didn’t know what it was and Jeff was not helping. The wind blew my hair into my face, momentarily shading my view with a tangled curtain of dark brown, before I tucked it back behind my ears. Of course it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
“Jeff, what’s his name,” I asked randomly, not even looking at him.
“Idiot, don’t play dumb,” I snapped.
“Whoa you’re really on edge today, Missy,” he remarked but I knew he wasn’t offended by my rough way of addressing him.
“What’s his name,” I repeated, my voice at once oddly calm.
“I think it’s Gerard Leto or something,” he answered uncertainly.
I forcefully shook my head. “No, no. Not Gerard, it’s Jared,” I said.
“Hey, why are you even asking if you know it better than me?”
“I didn’t know, but I know that it isn’t Gerard.”
“Right, that was Gerard Way… I mixed them up,” Jeff muttered.
“Probably,” I snorted.
“Jared Leto… hey!” Jeff turned his head to me with an expression as if he had just solved a puzzle. “Isn’t that dude an actor? That’s where you know him from!”
My expression fell. I honestly didn’t give a flying fuck if he was or not because that wasn’t where I knew him from. I was one hundred percent sure of that.
“Whatever you say, whatever you say.”
He ignored my reaction and changed the topic.
“So, you talked to him? What’s he like?”
I stared at him stubbornly. I honestly couldn’t believe him sometimes.
“He’s…” I stopped. I didn’t know.
“Yes? Is he nice, arrogant, flirty? What’s he like?”
“Why do you care so much?” I asked.
“Me? You’re the one imagining some sort of irrelevant connection between the two of you.”
I gasped. “My god,” I muttered. “He is – not very talkative. He seems intelligent. But I honestly can’t tell, we barely exchanged a word.”
Jeff gave me a funny look when I told him this. I straightened up and returned it. I didn’t know what he had wanted to hear but obviously this wasn’t it. After about one minute of staring each other to death I took up to paying attention to my half-eaten chicken wrap. Lunch time was almost over and I needed a full stomach if I wanted to survive the day. Happily chewing away on it, I did my best not to think about anything but its glorious, fresh taste.
But then again, Jeff hadn’t declared the topic Jared Leto to be over yet.
“You know,” he began, “I never thought someone like you would be interested in someone like him.”
I stopped mid-chew.
“Wut,” I said exasperated, my mouth full of chicken and salad.
He was looking at me melancholically. His hair had been ruffled by the wind.
“You heard me.”
“But –” I swallowed. “What the hell, Jeffry. I never said I was interested in him.”
“You obviously are. Why else would you spend our entire lunch break talking about him?”
I laughed humorlessly. “In case you forgot, you wanted me to tell you about him. Therefore you would be interested in him. – Wait a second, are you?” I gaped at my friend who looked at me like I had just lost my mind.
“For god’s sake, no. I’m just worrying about you.”
“Because you’ve been so unstable lately and he could really fuck you over,” he replied.
I shook my head, looking into space. He was really worrying about me. Maybe he had a reason to. And in a way, he was right. – No, he wasn’t. It was ridiculous. He was a musician, I was staff of Bright Way Concerts and I recognized him from somewhere. Soon, he was to walk out of my life again just as quickly as he had stumbled into it, most likely without giving me a clue as to where the fuck I had seen his face before.
Strangely, I had to frown at that thought. I really wanted to figure this out, didn’t I? But I doubted it to be healthy. If I couldn’t remember – maybe there was a reason for it. Maybe remaining oblivious was the best choice. Maybe.
“Your opening act just arrived. You should be the first to soundcheck in case they take too long,” I ranted, fidgeting nervously. Every face was turned to me. I concentrated mainly on Shannon and Tomo to avoid making a fool out of myself once again.
“First come, first serve,” I heard Jared’s voice say, followed by the room erupting in chuckles. My grin probably looked more like a grimace. When everyone was leaving the room, I noticed Tomo’s wife – her name had slipped my mind – pulling on Jared’s sleeve to get his attention, though he refused to turn. I had to repeat ‘it’s none of your business, none of your business’ in my mind like a mantra, but I couldn’t help but wonder. I had seen his body tensing up at her touch. The most ridiculous theories entered my mind; What had happened between them, or was he like that in general? Maybe they had cheated on Tomo and the guilt was eating him up? What the hell was I even thinking? It was none of my business and I was far too nosey. I went to the cupboard-sized bathroom a door lead to from the dressing room to give them privacy, reminding myself not to eavesdrop.
I locked the door. The room was somewhat sickly, the walls were a sanitary green and the mirror above the sink made my skin look cheesy. I sat down on the toilet seat and waited. Faint voices came through the door but I couldn’t understand what they were saying – which, basically, had been my goal. The female voice sounded pleading, while the male one barely said a thing. Had they even noticed that I was in here? Subconsciously, I moved closer to the door.
“Are you finished?” Jared’s voice snarled, low but coherently. I winced back a little.
“I know I hurt your ego but I’m apologizing! What do you want me to say?” she replied. A short silence followed.
“Don’t apologize for what you’re thinking, never do that.” He still sounded threatening, lethal. I looked down at my hands, feeling uncomfortable.
“But –” A door slammed close. I lifted my head. Had he left? Cautiously, I rose from the seat and put my hand on the door handle. Very gently, I pushed it down and emerged from the bathroom – and froze.
In the middle of the room stood Jared Leto. The girl had left, not him.
He was staring at me with narrowed eyes, he really was angry. I didn’t know if because of me or because of what had just happened between them. With his muscles tensed up like that, he looked taller than he had before. He was intimidating.
“Sorry,” I uttered stupidly, but didn’t move. I must have looked like a deer in headlights.
He sighed and looked away. Something flashed across his face and his eyes met mine again for a split second. Then he shrugged. “Soundcheck,” he mumbled and was out the door a second later, leaving me completely lost. The sudden emptiness of the room was crushing. My mind was silent – everything was silent. I balled my hands to fists.
That look. That look.
Eyes as blue and sad as skies. The underlying hurt. The denial. That one second when you could read a person like an opened book, when the barrier in their eyes came crumpling down, and you could see, really see, what was inside.
It was still haunting me hours later. I hadn’t watched the show – I never do that, I feel like if I want to watch a concert I should buy tickets for it and not just watch from the stage like some idle motherfucker. So I talked to my colleagues, which I rarely do even though most are friendly and kind. At least I attempted to, as the music was blasting through every hallway, every room, you could barely hear yourself think. What you couldn’t hear, for example, were the vocals and the melody. The drums and the bass were echoing everywhere, but for us, it weren’t songs. It was sound. From here, you couldn’t even tell whether they were good or not. The real thing was reserved for those who had bought their tickets months ago, who had waited in line the entire day.
“You look downcast,” someone called at the top of their lungs – I hardly understood them, though.
“Do I?” I called back, sarcastically. Not downcast but thoughtful. Whenever I closed my eyes, whenever I blinked, I could see the look in his eyes. And I felt like interrupting the show and forcing him to tell me what was the matter with him.
That was what bothered me the most when, after several hours and looking completely drained, the band returned. I only caught a glimpse of him, but he appeared… he appeared tired, but neutral. And I knew that all of his walls were back up again. I shook my head to get rid of the thought.