She was leaving him now though, leaving him to the cameras and the flashing lights. She was leaving him to the life he had asked for, to the world he had abandoned himself to. He loved it, he couldn’t deny that but there were moments when the cold loneliness that it brought was too much even for him to take. There was a certain kind of isolation that fame brought. You were no longer like everyone else, you weren’t who you once were. The only way to allow your old life, your past soul to appear, to come to view was through whatever art you sent out. Anyone could find him lost somewhere between written lyrics and played out notes and melodies. But that was the only place that he existed and only tonight did he actually realize that.
Finally the bike came to a stop and he got off. It was quiet but the event down a few blocks startled the silence. It awoke the streets, sent life through the city’s graying Winter. That was where he was supposed to belong, that was where he would thrive, where the past memories and misery would be stifled and pushed to the back of his mind. He didn’t need to linger in the past, not anymore. Not when he had tried and strived for so long to escape it. There was only so much fighting one soul could take and sometimes, like now, he felt like he could throw off the gloves and abandon himself to the feeling of defeat.
She got off as well, the engine dying away with the whispering wind. Her fingers tucked her mussed hair behind her ear as her eyes finally caught his. There was sorrow there in them, sorrow and pain that he couldn’t miss. Why was she hurting so much? What were the burdens that she was also pushing away? Was it ridiculous of him to think that he could perhaps help her past those demons that seemed to cling so violently to her? Could he even make an attempt when he too was plagued by things he couldn’t bear to reveal?
Things happened to people. That’s the way life was.
“Guess I leave you here then?” She said, eyes lowering to the ground, that dirtied and cracked pavement that made things seem much more dismal than they really were. Life was cracked, people were broken. That’s the way life played out. It was simple once you were able to embrace that. Had he been able to? Or was he letting himself linger on the cusp of acceptance and denial? The feeling of loss echoed behind the urge to grasp it. Everyone had to once in their lives.
“I suppose.” He replied, eyes remaining on her as he took a step closer to her. He wanted her in his arms again, wanted that sweet and gentle peace that had fled him once she had pulled from him. Didn’t she realize the effect that she had on him? Would she even care if he were to let her know? He wanted to feel the caress of her lips, wanted those whispered words he had dreamed up on that makeshift bed in that rundown building. He wanted everything and anything that she had to offer. He felt like this was walking away though, felt like this was some sort of goodbye. Why was he feeling that? Was that what she wanted him to think? Was that what she wanted?
“Jared don’t.” She whispered and it sounded more like a warning to herself. A warning that if he were to come any closer than she would lose herself again like she had in her place. She couldn’t allow herself to do that, wouldn’t allow herself to. He could see in her eyes that she had been alone so long she wasn’t sure how to act around him, how not to fall into someone else. He needed her to fall apart for him, give him the chance to piece something back together again. He couldn’t force it though. No one liked being exposed, no one liked to be broken.
He nodded, stopping immediately but keeping his eyes solely on her. The glimmering lights of the city couldn’t distract him. The pressing Winter couldn’t take his attention, the cracked ground, the sounds from the event behind him. She would have all of him while he still could give it. There was a plea in his eyes that he let remain there. He wouldn’t stop looking at her any differently, there was no way to. She had shown him something about living and although it was a rather bitter truth he couldn’t turn his back on it and deny it. She would have it until she truly walked away, until she took every part of her that she had offered over and simply faded from him.
He was sure he was thinking crazy. He didn’t know her. And maybe this was all some desperate attempt at this sudden point in his life to live differently. She was a stranger. She didn’t actually know him and he really didn’t know her. He needed someone to tell him he was acting foolish. He needed to talk to someone about this, needed someone to listen and then help him to laugh it off. That someone was inside, no doubt worried sick about him, waiting for him. Shannon would tell him to forget all this, it was just a moment thing and just like that it would fade. Nothing would linger or emanate behind, it would be a memory that he laughed about whenever he looked back.
“Bye.” He whispered, taking a step backwards instead of towards her, denying himself the want that he had inside of him. He needed to control his own thinking. If he continued this way he was going to lose that part of him that he had exercised control over for such a long time. He was an ordered person, everything had its place, everything had its time. This right here wasn’t a time for anything, this wasn’t a moment for anything. He would realize that soon enough.
He saw her visibly swallow down, some kind of nerves echoing inside of her eyes. But she turned from him despite it and got back on her bike. She didn’t dare a glance back at him, didn’t offer him a single look. She only started up the engine and drove off, the wind taking the strands of her hair with it. In a mere moment she was nothing but a fading figure, a ghost disappearing down the streets. They were all ghosts, ghosts of their emotions, of the city they lived in.
He let out a slow breath that he hadn’t known he had been holding and buried his hands into the pockets of his coat. The cold was numbing his face but he didn’t think about that, couldn’t even bring himself to think about that. He was tired and there was a small part of him that was scared. Afraid for whatever would happen after this, he’d laid himself open and had been turned away. He hadn’t ripped himself apart from the restraints he’d locked on himself in forever, he wasn’t even sure if he ever had. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d been afraid.
The red carpet wasn’t buzzing anymore, everyone had gone inside. He stood outside the theatre for the longest time, staring up at the lit up sign that read 30 Seconds to Mars. His life, his entire world was built up into that name. He had to go in there, had to turn his back on whatever he’d just experienced and face himself, face the world that expected him.
Jared walked forward, his eyes clearing, testing a smile on his lips as he pushed open the doors and stepped inside. The gathered crowd turned and he found his brother’s worried eyes through the boisterousness. When he lifted his hand to wave, breaking the silence that his being late had caused, the crowd began its noise and he smiled, making his way to the stage where the film was to be shown.