"That was the first time I learned what it was like to almost die."
“Benjamin, why are you here?” Christian stepped outside, pulling the door closed behind her.
Benjamin was standing on the sidewalk, clutching a stack of paperwork. His dark hair was disheveled, as if he’d just woken. He was wearing jeans that hung off his body so deliciously, and a t-shirt that fit just right. Christian felt weak in the knees but those feelings dissolved as she thought of Jon.
“I came to see you.” Benjamin replied, stepping closer.
Christian took a step back, “Stay there.” She warned, voice shaking. “Stay where you are or I’ll scream.”
Benjamin sighed heavily, running his free hand through his hair, “Remember when I made you pancakes?” Benjamin asked softly, staring in to Christian’s eyes, “And how they were-“
“They weren’t cooked all the way.” Christian finished, voice breaking. “And you got angry, just like you always do- yeah, I remember.”
“If I remember correctly I didn’t get angry with you.” Benjamin said, “I got mad at the instructions I’d been following.”
“Then I laughed, and said it wasn’t that hard to make pancakes and you got angry at me. You nearly choked me to death. That was the first time I learned what it was like to almost die.” Tears soaked Christian’s cheeks, and she suddenly realized she was crying.
“I’m not perfect.” Benjamin frowned, “I never pretended to be Chris.”
“D-don’t call me that.” Christian pleaded, hating how he made her feel.
“Jon Walker isn’t perfect either.” Benjamin said, eyes narrowing. “Remember all the good times you had with me. They felt just like you feel with him now, I bet. That’s the point I’m trying to make to you right now.” Benjamin let the words sink in, “Things are always great in the beginning. It’s what happens later that matters. It’s staying that matters, working through all of the shit that tries to tear us apart.”
“No.” Christian shook her head, wiping away her tears. “Jon doesn’t make me cry. He doesn’t hit me. He doesn’t… He doesn’t hurt me.”
“Do you know anything about his Dad?” Benjamin asked, watching Christian’s reaction.
She just shrugged, “No, but I’ve met his Mother and she’s wonderful.”
Benjamin pulled out a piece of paper, “What about all of the anger management classes he’s taken?” He handed Christian the piece of paper but she didn’t look down at it.
“If he doesn’t want me to know then I don’t need to know. It’s none of my business.” Christian replied softly.
“He has a record.” Benjamin noted, glancing at a list of offenses. “Wanna know what he did?” He handed another paper to Christian but again she didn’t look at it.
“No.” Christian’s bottom lip was trembling though.
“Oh, it seems like Mr. Walker has a certain taste in porn too. A very… kinky taste.” Benjamin handed Christian another piece of paper.
She blinked in confusion but continued to gaze at Benjamin, “W-what do you mean?” She finally asked.
“Used and Abused.” Benjamin read off, “Seems he likes it rough- there is a lot of gang-banging too. I bet he’s introduced you to some friends already. Maybe those are the ones he wants to fuck you with.”
Christian felt cold, so very cold.
Jon had never even tried to get her to sleep with him though…
She shook her head, “No. It – It has to be a mistake. Jon is a very common name and um, you’re wrong.” Christian shoved the papers back to Benjamin, “You’re wrong about him.”
“I’m not Christian. It’s him. He has a subscription.” Benjamin handed Christian back the papers. “Look at them. Check for yourself. You know how much I love research.” He rolled his eyes, “I’m always thorough.”
Christian shook her head but still took the papers. She felt sick to her stomach.
“Oh, and ask him…” Benjamin had a sick smile on his face, “Ask him how many people he’s killed- it’s all there.” He pointed to the stack of paperwork. “If he’s honest then his death count will be higher than mine. Then you can tell me who is more dangerous- and which of us you should really be with.”
Christian couldn’t think.
She couldn’t breathe.
She could barely stay standing.
Then Benjamin sealed her destruction with a kiss.
She stood stunned as he pressed his lips against hers.
She refused to allow his tongue entrance but the taste of his lips still haunted her as he pulled away, smiling.
“I’ll be seeing you Chris. You have my number, and you’re always welcome home.”
She fell to the ground; the harsh cement none too welcoming. The papers fell from her hands and she looked down at the minor offenses scribbled on to the paper, explaining to her all of the more technical words that were printed out.
They were all charges from when he was a minor. Christian pulled another piece of paper to the front, guilt surging through her since she was shuffling through Jon’s life- on paper.
Used and Abused- Gang-bangs.His friends?Murder?
All of the ideas running through Christian’s head nearly made her sick.
She jumped as the front door opened, “In all fairness it’s been twenty minutes.” Jon called out, before glancing at where Christian was sitting, surprise instantly changing the features of his face, “Oh, you’re alone?”
“Jon, is there um,” Christian licked her lips, “Is there something you haven’t told me, something important?”
Jon’s eyes narrowed as he moved closer to Christian, sitting down beside her on the cold ground. “What is this?” He grabbed for a piece of paper, his eyes widening at whatever he’d read. “Have you been reading this shit? Benjamin got this? He’s been going through my whole fucking life.”
Christian swallowed hard, closing her eyes. “Is there anything you need to tell me?” She asked, her words begging him to be honest. “Something you’d prefer I didn’t read about?”
Jon glanced at Christian, “What did he tell you?”
Christian looked away quickly, “I’m asking you. I’m not going to listen to a single thing he has to say about you.”
“What did he tell you about me?” Jon repeated, anger building inside of him. “Just forget it. Just go inside Christian.”
“I don’t want to.” Christian replied, “I want to know what I don’t know, whatever has you so worried and has Benjamin so smug that I’ll go running back in to his arms.”
“I’m really upset Christian.” Jon’s words were almost a whisper, “Please go inside. The bedroom next to Bella’s is all made up for us. It’s Todd’s room. Just lay down, get some sleep. I’ll be in once I cool off.”
“Jon-“ Christian was worried now.
“For once just fucking listen Christian.” Jon snapped, and as she looked at him she found a deadly glare lying in wait.
He was really, really angry.
Christian turned towards the door but stopped as her phone vibrated. She searched for it, finding it in her pocket. The text was cold, almost as cold as she felt.
-It’s just like what we produced love. If he wasn’t bedding you, do you really think he’d act so disgusted by it? Why do you even think he really wanted you? It’s not because of how perfect you are.-
Christian dropped her phone to the ground, the clatter gaining Jon’s attention. She didn’t turn to face him though. Benjamin had to be wrong. She couldn’t believe that Jon was like him, in any way. “Jon, please.” She begged, her voice betraying her by showing just how weak she was.
She hated that about herself. She absolutely hated the weakness inside of her.
“Please Christian, I’m upset.” Jon sounded like he was pleading.
Pleading for her to let him leave? She wasn’t sure.
“I need you to stay.” Christian responded, hugging her arms around herself. She couldn’t turn to face Jon though; she couldn’t watch him walk away.
Christian jumped as Jon’s arms slowly wrapped around her, and then she felt his chest against her back. “These papers-“ Jon began, but Christian cut him off.
“I don’t care Jon. I don’t care what’s written here. I just care what you say.” Christian was crying, and Jon hated that he was the reason. He was never supposed to be the reason. So much for being a knight in shining armor. “I won’t read any of it.” Christian promised, leaning against Jon, “I’ll believe everything you say, and I’ll trust you to tell me the truth- whatever you think I need to know.”
Jon breathed out deeply, “It’s- It’s not going to be like that Christian.” He let go and Christian reluctantly turned to look at him. “I don’t want our rel- relationship to be like that. I won’t get mad at you for reading what’s obviously become public knowledge.” He gestured to the papers littering the ground, “You deserve to know more than anyone else when it comes to me.”
“I do?” Christian was surprised at that, her mind becoming numb at the use of the word relationship.
What relationship did they have?
“You do.” Jon replied, leaning closer. “I don’t kiss my friends the way I kiss you.” He said, a hint of a smile playing across his face- his eyes easily lit up, the anger leaving.
Christian couldn’t help but chuckle, “I don’t either. I mean, I don’t kiss your friends the way- or my friends, I don’t kiss.” She stopped, blushing furiously, “You know?” She ended while she was ahead, and Jon nodded- his lips now pulled up in to a smile.
Jon leaned his forehead against Christian’s, his lips were itching to press against her soft lips but he couldn’t do it yet. “What do you need to know baby? What did he tell you about me?”
Christian glanced around, pulling away from Jon. “Can we talk in- private?” She asked, feeling as if she were on display.
Jon nodded, gesturing towards the front door.
Christian started towards the papers instead and Jon helped her gather them. Neither read what was on the paperwork as they walked inside together, heading straight for the bedroom they were to sleep in. Jon’s Mom had gone to sleep, though Jon knew she would need the full story the next day. His Mom didn’t let things go easily but he didn’t blame her.
Once in Todd’s bedroom Christian dropped the stack of paperwork she had on to the bedside drawer and Jon dropped what he’d picked up on to her stack. Then Christian started playing with the fake ring, as she nervously looked anywhere but at Jon.
Jon didn’t push Christian to ask whatever question she was trying to ask him. He hadn’t read everything on the pieces of paper but he figured it wasn’t all good- his life hadn’t all been good. He just hoped against hope that she wouldn’t hold his past against him, the way that he did.
Finally Christian cleared her throat.
Jon struggled to stand still next to the door, his eyes glued to Christian.
“Did you like what you saw?” Christian timidly asked, “Me?”
“Of course I like what I see.” Jon softly replied, “You’re perfect Christian.”
“No.” Christian shut her eyes tightly, “The website, did you like that… what they did to me, and what I did with them?”
Jon felt as if he would be sick, “No.” He spit the word out, “I wish- I-“ He stopped, not completing his sentence.
“What?” Christian turned to look at Jon, eyes wide with confusion, “You wish what?”
Jon decided honesty would be the best policy when it came to Christian. He didn’t want to lie to her, no matter how bad the truth made him sound. “I wish I could kill them for what they did.” He stared directly in to Christian’s eyes, hiding nothing from her.
Christian’s breath caught as she thought over Benjamin’s earlier spoken words.
Ask him how many people he’s killed.
“Do you hate me for what I did with them?” Christian whispered, the question bugging her on a deeper level than she’d care to admit. She didn’t like to think of her past, but she needed to know if Jon thought ill of her because of it.
Jon frowned immediately, “No, -I-“ Jon shook his head, “I could never hate you Christian.”
Christian let out a pent up sob, “I know what I did was wrong.”
“Things are going to be better.” Jon took quick strides, placing himself in front of Christian. He stared at her with complete understanding and complete acceptance- something she wasn’t used to at all. “Things will be different now. We don’t have to look back at what has happened because we have so much more in front of us. I promise not to judge you for your past, but I want- I want-“ Jon paused, nervous beyond belief, “I wanted to talk to you about this at a better time, like at the restaurant but the talk didn’t go as I’d planned…” Jon licked his lips, and Christian watched him- unaware of what was coming. “I want to be a part of your future Christian. I want you to give me a chance.”
“A chance?” Christian whispered the words, her confusion shining through brightly.
Jon thought it was adorable.
“I want a chance with you.” Jon stared in to Christian’s eyes, letting the words sink in. “I want to show you that not all guys are like Benjamin. I’m not like him. I hope to God I’m not like him.” He glanced up, as if saying a silent prayer.
“I know you’re not.” Christian whispered, tears building in her eyes again.
“It’s not as romantic-“ Jon chuckled, but dropped to one knee again, as Bella had made him earlier. “But will you be my girlfriend, until you get sick of me?”
Christian laughed at the proposition.
Jon grinned, but became a little nervous. “I’m dead serious.”
Christian’s eyes widened and she wanted so badly to say yes but something held her back, “Have you ever killed anyone Jon?” She blurted the question out, watching as his playful smile melted away.
“I-“ Jon nervously ran his fingers through his hair, “What did he tell you?”
“He didn’t tell me anything.” Christian admitted, knowing that Jon could lie to her. She just hoped he wouldn’t. “He just dropped hints. I know you have some sort of record, I didn’t look through it-“ Christian gestured to the paperwork nervously, worried about the way Jon’s smile had melted away. “I know that you pay for some stupid porn site-“
“What?” Jon’s eyes widened, “Porn site?”
“Yeah.” Christian frowned, “But porn is normal Jon, I’m not going to hold that against you.”
“Christian, I don’t pay for any porn sites.” Jon said, standing quickly to go over to the paperwork. His eyes moved over each piece of paper as he shuffled through, looking for the right piece. “Oh. Used and Abused?” Christian nodded, but said nothing. “I paid for a month’s service and forgot about it.” Jon sounded annoyed, “It was a while ago and I was just trying to understand things- it was stupid. I swear that’s not the kind of stuff I like Christian. I’m not trying to trick you in to being with me so that you’re stuck in bed with some kinky bastard. I’m as normal as guys come, I think.” Jon was rambling and he sounded so confused. Christian would find it cute, if she didn’t know that he was trying to get her attention away from the real problem.
Porn she could forgive; murder not so much…
“Jon, you don’t have to tell me.” Christian whispered the words, nervously realizing that she wouldn’t pressure Jon to tell her about his past when hers was so broken. She could understand wanting to hide things, or wanting them to disappear.
Jon shook his head, and she was horrified to find that he had tears shining in his eyes. “I didn’t want to kill him, but I’m so glad he’s dead. I’m so glad that I killed him.”
Christian gasped at the hate she now saw so clearly in Jon’s beautiful eyes, confusing swirling around inside of her.
Jon took a step towards Christian and she stepped away instinctively. Immediately she regretted the move as pain flashed across Jon’s face. He stayed in place, gazing at the floor. “I killed my dad Christian. It was when I was a teenager, and he was beating on my mom- not the first time, but it was bad. He was getting worse. I thought he was going to kill her. I’ve gone through everything that happened that night a million times. I try to tell myself I’m not like him. I just did it to protect my mom but it doesn’t matter. The court ruled it as self-defense but the guilt inside of me will never go away. I hated him when he was alive. I always said I would never hurt another person. I always promised I would never be like him but then I- I killed him. I broke his neck. Do you know how much force it takes to break a grown man’s neck? Do you know how violent you have to be? I’m just like him.” And Jon was crying openly now, staring down at his hands as if they were foreign to him. “I’m just like him.”
Christian stepped forward, her fear evaporating. “You probably saved her life.”
Jon glanced at Christian in surprise, “I killed my own dad. Aren’t you going to tell me how screwed up I am?”
Christian took another step towards Jon, and she paused in front of him. He couldn’t quite make eye contact until she reached out and touched his hands with her own. His eyes snapped to hers and stayed, as he gazed at her in total confusion. Christian smiled. It was a small smile but it was all for Jon. “You saved your mom then just like you’re saving me now. You told me you weren’t a knight in shining armor but it seems like that’s the part you’ve been playing your whole life.”
Jon opened his mouth to argue but Christian cut him off with a shake of her head, “No, you don’t get to disagree. Knights don’t often go bragging about how amazing they are. They aren’t the people that save someone just for the bragging rights. That’s not you. You’re the type of person to save someone, just so that they’ll be okay. You saved me, and I don’t know the whole story but I’m sure you saved your mother. You were scared, and all you knew was violence. Am I right?” Christian gazed in to Jon’s eyes.
Jon nodded, unable to speak.
“You did the only thing you knew to do. Now you know more than violence though.” Christian took her hand from Jon’s hand and placed it against his chest, “Now you know a lot more.”
Jon let out a large sigh of relief as he relaxed against Christian’s touch. “Is this what you were afraid of?” Christian mumbled, still gazing in to Jon’s eyes. “This was why you thought you’d hurt me?”
Jon nodded slowly, trying to find his voice. It didn’t come easily. “It’s in my genes.”
“Your father might have had something to do with the color of your eyes, or the build of your body, and maybe even the color of your hair- though I think your nose is more like your mothers but above how you look your father doesn’t have control Jon. He showed you what violence can do. If anything he set an example for who you don’t want to be, but he can’t make you in to who you are. You did that all by yourself, and okay maybe there was a lot of influence from your mother but… when it comes down to it the choice is yours, and I don’t think you’d choose to be like a man that you hate… even though it’s okay to love him too.”
Jon’s eyes widened as he took in Christian’s words, “How are you so perfect?”
“You’re the only one that sees me perfectly.” Christian responded, a smile tugging at her lips.
Jon watched her in amazement, “I’m not perfect.”
Christian shook her head, leaning up on her toes. “I don’t care.” She whispered, pressing her lips against Jon’s.
He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him.
And he felt okay about his past, and what he’d done.
He wasn’t afraid of hurting Christian anymore because he knew he’d never do that.
Christian hadn’t ever been afraid of Jon though.
She knew better.
Now they both knew though.
Jon would never hurt Christian, and Christian would never hurt Jon.