Categories > Celebrities > Panic! At The Disco > Starving for Attention

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide From Yourself

by drowsygrrl 3 Reviews

"I've never wanted to talk about my life before coming here to live with you. I know I've never been very open with you about it, never told you much besides the fact that I hated my life in Martha...

Category: Panic! At The Disco - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters:  - Published: 2007/04/22 - Updated: 2007/04/22 - 6220 words

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Chapter Eleven: You Can Run, But You Can't Hide From Yourself

Eleven am the next sunrise found me suited up in my work out clothes, sitting on the edge of the foot of my bed and staring at the open door that lead out to the living room. From my seat I could see the closed front door. Somehow staring at that door was keeping me paralyzed, unable to move.

Everything in me wanted to just lay down on the comforter, cool from the air conditioner being on high, and curl up into the fetal position. I wanted to close my eyes and just be okay with myself. I was so ready to just give up and be happy with the way I looked. But I had to do this. Somehow I had to force myself to get up from sitting. Somehow I had to push myself through another five miles of hell.

I remembered yesterday. The headache that had made itself a permanent structure in my skull. The way my muscles had given out and still felt weak this morning since I hadn't eaten anything since the previous day. I hadn't been able to stomach the idea of eating, and I wouldn't have been able to stomach the food itself anyway. The queasy feeling still very much alive in my stomach told me what I was about to do was potentially very dangerous.

But I was armed with sheer determination. For as long as I had been alive, I had proactively attacked whatever made me unhappy. I'd moved out to Vegas to get away from my parents, I'd abandoned the popular crowd and journalism possibilities at college for a webzine, and I was going to get through a battle against my body again. I was going to get through it sane and perfectly fine. Sure, it was hell right now. But as soon as I could fit those size four jeans I was going to be fine. I would be able to relax, I would be able to just be happy with myself. Because I honestly believed that if I could just get skinny, all my problems would go away.

My feet found the floor and I stood. I had to do this. When I opened the door to go outside I could feel the heat hit me in waves. Beating down from the sky, radiating up off the pavement, glaring off of cars and house windows.

The moment I began to jog I could feel my body tugging at my mind to turn around. Pain splintered my shin bones, clawed at my stomach, ripped up my throat, burned through my lungs. However, the heat on my skin overpowered all of these. After yesterday I had learned my lesson and begun to break out the sunscreen, but I wasn't using a whole lot because I knew the reason this form of working out was so potent was because of the sun itself. You can't possibly work up the kind of sweat an L.V. summer would offer you in an air conditioned gym. It was a double sided fence that liked to mock you with barbed wire trimming.

The problem I was having though had nothing to do with burning skin or aching bones. No, my biggest, fastest mounting problem was the exhaustion that was breaking me like bread at communion in The Vatican.

Closing my eyes for a moment in determination I forced myself to keep going. But I realized I needed reinforcement. More leverage.

Everything came crashing down on me then and somehow I found a way to run faster, pain shooting up my thighs as my feet hit the pavement harder. Images flashed through my mind like the houses ripping by me in a dizzying blur.

Las Vegas at night. All the girls in clubs I'd ever sized up in mouthwatering envy. Becky and the sounds I'd heard coming from the bathroom after dinner and lunch, the sounds of her wretching up whatever she'd just eaten. The memory hit a chord with my mind, causing my lungs to hitch and the muscles beneath my eyes to contract.

It also triggered more memories.

/"Are you doing alright in Las Vegas? You look like you've put on weight." /my brother's voice.

/"I guess the freshman fifteen isn't just a myth, huh?" /and my feeble response. This time I couldn't stop the sob that shattered the walls I had tried to fortify around myself. My throat felt tight and now I was having even more difficulty breathing than I'd had to begin with.

But I forced myself to keep going, clenching my teeth together and fighting off the animalistic sounds threatening to rip from my vocal chords. The childish cries of a little girl. And more of her memories.

Brendon's kohl-lined eyes across the indoor river at The Venetian. His slender hips beneath mine at the basketball court, our breathing uneven, ragged from our crude play and unspoken rage.

"You're not fat, ya know." his voice echoed in my thoughts and I could feel myself more at the mercy of my tears than ever. I could also feel my legs growing unsteady, wobbling under the heat and my exhaustion. But the memories kept coming in a flood over my senses.

"You're a size nine now!?" My sister's voice was the breaking point my sobs needed to break free. Suddenly I was crying harder and more savagely than I had ever even known was humanly possible. Looking back I can remember those moments more like screams than actual crying. Exerting such large amounts of energy was starting to make me feel very, very dizzy. As though my brain had been filled with the static on a tv channel coming in not-so-clear.

The problem was, the memory of my sister's shock triggered a whole new wave of disapproving comments and disgusted faces.

"What do you mean he doesn't eat meat?"

"You are not spending the rest of your life with that...boy."

"Aren't you just wasting your time out there?"


The weight of their voices finally caught up to me and I came crashing down, landing on all fours. My palms caught most of the fall, skidding along the baking pavement, earning fresh badges made of bloody scrapes and scratches. I stayed like that for a few minutes, the heat seemingly kicking me while I was down as I howled on like a dying animal. Every memory that came back was like having my lungs rung out and beaten.

Eventually I didn't even have the strength to keep myself that supported and I fell over, lying in the middle of the road, sobbing. And as an inky blackness seemed to spill over the sun above me all I could think was "No matter what I do, it'll never be enough..."

~~~

Heavy, bright white light. And different kinds of pain sinking into every bone, muscle and skin tissue I had. My lungs felt raw and too big for my chest. I blinked my way through the light, wincing at how stark it was, how unforgiving it seemed to be as it glared straight down into my eyes.

But as the room became less blurry-blue-white-mass and assembled itself into more familiar shapes like humans and heart monitors I realized that the glare from the lights above me was nothing compared to the soft brown burn of Brendon's eyes as he hung over me like an angel, with the same look of disappointment Michael must have had when Adam & Eve failed God's test and were kicked out of Eden for bad behavior.

The back of my throat contracted again and I could barely breathe as the tears welled up once more. Brendon's eyes sparked to life at once, but the bitter negativity remained steadfast.

"I'm so sorry." I whispered through my tears, "I'm so sorry." His own eyes were shining with salt water now and I could feel his hand gripping mine despite layers of bandages covering my palms. His head arched closer to mine as tears stained his cheeks.

"Why did you do this to yourself, Bails? Why?" it was all he could say through the tears, through the anguish that was tearing his insides apart.

Our moment was shattered by Ryan and Brent rushing between us, so desperate to make sure I was alright that they weren't really thinking about giving Brendon and me our space.

"Bailey! What happened?"

"What were you thinking Bails!" I guess what goes around comes around because as soon as they got to my bedside the pair of them were pushed aside by a nurse who rushed to start checking my vitals, Spencer just behind her.

"Excuse me," she mumbled impatiently as she got between me and my friends. Spencer's face was filled with so much conflict, I felt my heart sag heavily in my chest. I could tell he wanted to help. But he could tell his hands were helpless in situations like these. The fact that I was the one making him feel this way only made me feel that much worse.

"How is she doing?" Brendon murmured to the nurse. His voice was so heavy, so tired. I wondered how long he'd been by my bedside. The nurse took her time in answering him, writing down everything her clipboard told her was necessary before turning to look my boyfriend in the eyes. I realized then that she hadn't once looked at /me/.

"Not good, but a little better than before." I couldn't stop staring at her scrubs. A nondescript, purple top and pink bottoms made distant memories float to the surface of my mind like the flotsam of a shipwreck after a storm. A pink bathing suit I'd tried on once at Macy's and never let myself buy because I didn't think I was thin enough for it. Watching my sister apply violet eye shadow in her bathroom when I was younger and wishing so much to be just like her.

The nurse's voice floated back to me and I was sucked back into reality. "Dr. Harris should be in shortly. Thank you for coming and getting me." With a nod to Spencer, the nurse started out. However, she stopped and turned just as she passed my bed. "You're a very lucky girl to have such dedicated friends in your life. Don't take it for granted." And with that, she left.

I turned to Brendon, "What happened?" the croakiness of my own voice surprised me.

He looked down at me with sad eyes, leaning over me once more. I felt his hand come to rest on my cheek, his thumb gently wiping away the traces of my tears, which had since died away. The coolness of his hand felt really nice, but the contact of skin on skin stung for some reason. But it didn't matter. I held his hand in place with my own, never wanting him to leave me again.

"Our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Bradley, found you lying in the middle of the road about two miles from the house. You were passed out and barely breathing. They brought you here and called us almost immediately. We came as soon as we could."

Water welled up in my eyes again and my throat tightened painfully. But no tears spilled.

"I'm so sorry." I whispered again, turning my gaze upward to the ceiling. My eyes squeezed shut and I bit my lip, trying to fight off the sobs that wanted to rack through my body. It seemed all I wanted to do was cry. Like my brain couldn't function properly until it flushed out all the stress I'd put it through in the form of tears.

It was then that the doctor came in. Brendon squeezed my hand again, "We'll talk about it later, I promise."

"Bailey Lennox?" the doctor asked, flipping through his charts. Swallowing my emotions with my tears, I nodded. The doctor offered a sympathetic smile before extending his hand for me to shake. My small, bandaged hand looked ridiculous just laying in his large, strong one, lacking the strength to really squeeze or shake.

"Hi Bailey, I'm Dr. Harris. It seems you took quite a fall the other day,"-

"The other day?" I looked between him and my friends, startled.

"You were admitted four days ago."

I just stared at him in shock, my mouth falling slightly open.

"I'm afraid after you passed out your body went into shock. It's not surprising since you came in heavily dehydrated and somewhat malnourished. You had second degree burns on your arms and legs, your muscles were weak and your nerves just couldn't handle whatever stress you'd been putting them through. I have to tell you Bailey, it's pretty obvious that your body couldn't have found itself in such bad condition after one day. This had to have built up over time."

My eyes left his face, dropping in guilt.

"Now, we talked to your boyfriend and your other friends, trying to get an understanding of the situation so we could help you. They said you had been obsessively dieting and exercising for a few months, is that true?"

I took a deep breath and shook my head no, staring at the pockets on his white coat. He was silent, waiting for an explanation. Finally my eyes rose to meet his once more.

"I was just trying to lose some weight. To get healthier. Why does everyone keep acting like that's a bad thing?"

Brendon looked up to the doctor helplessly, as if saying 'See what I mean,' with his eyes. Dr. Harris returned his look for a moment before taking a seat beside my bed, now across from Brendon.

"Bailey, I'm sure you're familiar with the term anorexia. Now there are there are two distinct types of anorexia. Most people know about anorexia nervosa, which is when a person becomes obsessed with the amount of food that goes into their stomach. But there's another kind as well, anorexia athletica. That occurs when a person becomes obsessed with exercise. It's pretty easy to identify, classic signs include working out for more than two hours a day when you don't find it at all enjoyable, exercising even when you're injured, and constant thought of nothing but working out. That's when it can become hazardous to your health, as apposed to beneficiary. Now, obviously I can't officially diagnose you with either of these conditions yet, but you have to know Bailey, we're considering it a strong possibility. And I know your first instinct is to reject what I'm telling you but please remember, you didn't end up with an I.V. in your arm for no reason. Now, my advice for right now is to get some rest and drink as much as water as you can. I'll be back later to check on you."

~~~

I stayed for two more nights before finally being allowed to leave. The staff told me I was lucky, that they had seen cases much worse. Girls on the brink of death because they had wasted themselves so thin, their bones protruding like spider webs.

The doctors and nurses however weren't my friends. My friends who were used to size 9 Bailey. Care free Bailey. Make you laugh when you wanna cry and make you cry over nothing Bailey. Even though the days I spent in the hospital were blurry because of all the sedatives they had me on I still clearly remember everyone's initial shock when they saw me lying there in that hospital bed, my body bruised and broken.

After I woke up, all the boys except Brendon went home and crashed. They'd been spending every possible moment with me for four days straight and they needed a break. Brendon stayed, but we didn't talk much. This was more due to me drifting in and out of consciousness and him not being able to fight off sleep after the four days he had also spent awake, than anything else.

As soon as they heard I was awake, Maitland and Davey had come rushing. Funnily enough they ended up walking into my hospital room one right after the other. This was the first time they'd been in the same room with one another for a long time and I was glad my mistakes could at least force them together. Trying to balance a sticky tight rope of ignoring one another while showering me with very unwanted attention, they asked me the usual questions, made the customary comments without so much as glancing at each other.

"Are you alright?"

"I had no idea anything was wrong."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I would have helped you."

"How did all of this start?"

"Why did you feel that way?!"

"Bailey, we all think you're beautiful."

I got sick of talking about it pretty fast and gave them the excuse that I needed more sleep. I closed my eyes but curiously enough, they stayed. After a few moments of letting the heart monitor take up the responsibility of keeping silence at bay, the girls both started talking softly to one another. I can't quite recall what they said, heavily drugged as I was. But I know that by the time I was out of the hospital, they were thick as thieves again.

The day I left the hospital they prescribed me, what else, but therapy and pills.

"Get plenty of rest and drink as much water as you can. You got lucky Bailey, a heat stroke as serious as yours could have cost you your life. Next time, you might not wake up so I'm insisting that you don't let there /be/ a next time. Hurting yourself like this is more detrimental to your health than you can imagine." Dr. Harris pleaded with me. Though my (conscious) time in the hospital had been short, I had come to trust Dr. Harris and didn't brush his words away as I might have before my blind date with death. Thankfully, death hadn't made an appearance this time. But he'd definitely left a very clear sticky-note.

Walking out of the hospital was harder than I thought it would be. My muscles were still really stiff and infused with ridiculous amounts of hardened hemoglobin. As soon as we got home all I wanted to do was sleep. Nobody was going to stop me since they were all asleep as well, hanging off of couches, the floor and their beds like the melting clocks in Salvador Dali's painting.

With a heavy heart and circles under his eyes darker than an a crying mascara model, Brendon curled up in bed beside me and, without even saying a word, we slept our way through the sunny hours of that day together.

When I woke up, I still felt tired, weak, my skin hot and cold at the same time. My legs still felt like heavy blocks of cement, stiff with pain and bruised nerve cells. However, any physical pain I felt took an immediate backseat when I realized I was lying in bed alone. Ignoring the protest that shot up my spine in the form of backbreaking pain, I looked around for Brendon.

The bathroom door was open, and beyond the threshold of the door it lay empty, dark with night. The only light in our bedroom was coming from Brendon's night side table, but I was too out of it to rationally process this fact. Normally, I would have realized that he must have been planning on coming right back or he wouldn't have left his light on. If I hadn't been so delirious, I would have gotten up and started looking for him myself. If I hadn't felt so alone and lost and scared, I probably wouldn't have started crying. But at the point, I felt like that was all I could do. Sleep, and listen and cry.

For the first time in a long time exercise wasn't on my mind. In fact, I was making it my personal mission to see that nothing was on my mind. I needed a clean slate and a mind empty of all reasoning, empty of words, empty of what ifs and maybes. Empty of the past, in denial of the future, and numb to the present.

But little things, like Brendon being inexplicably gone, could easily trip the switches in my brain and let me freak out. I didn't even know why I felt like I needed him there, but then again I wasn't exactly bothering to look for answers. Like I said, I didn't want to think. I just wanted to fall asleep and I knew I couldn't do that alone.

If I was alone I couldn't block out my wandering thoughts with things like the temperature of his skin. The way he was holding me. The sound of his breathing. The way his hair felt in my hands. The lines on his palm. Without him, the words and the memories and the trauma came flying back and seeping into every pore of my skin and I just couldn't go there right then. I couldn't handle it.

I didn't hear him come in, I was trying so hard to remember the paleness of his skin. The way our hands fits together seamlessly. Our legs stretched out and curled up, intertwining around each other like vines. I only know I stopped crying almost immediately when he wrapped his arms around me and cradled me against his chest. I know I clung to him desperately and whispered, "Please don't leave me again." Not even caring where he'd been or what he'd been doing.

The problem was, now that I had gotten some proper sleep, I was starting to grow more accustomed to being awake. My body was starting to feel a little more balanced, even if that balance was backwards, since it was around 2 am. My mind started threatening to spill over in reminiscence that cut like a razor beneath my skin.

"I'm right here." he whispered, firmly pressing his full lips to my forehead. "I'm not going anywhere, I promise. I'm right here."

After a few moments of trying to fight my thoughts off with the mere scent of him, the feel of his body against mine, I decided I needed more distraction for my plan of defense to work properly.

I scooted back a little, just enough so that I could study his eyes. The beautiful brown burn of his iris, the black depth of his pupils. The whites of his eyes, tainted red with veins that had flared up like bloody cracks in a glass window pane. As I leaned forward, his top and bottom lashes fluttered together and I placed a gentle kiss on each eyelid.

Leaning back again, his eyelids opened back up like white lilies in bloom and my own gaze moved south to study his nose. Brendon had a really funny nose. I loved his nose because it gave him so much character. It seemed to be one of those defining factors that really set him a part from other people. Placing a small peck of a kiss on the side of his nose, I moved on.

His skin was really beautiful. There were a few freckles, a few imperfections here and there. But he just had the most level, fluid, beautiful complexion. I kissed each of his cheeks, taking my time with both and savoring the feel of his soft skin beneath my lips.

The definition in his jaw line was flawless, though I could tell he hadn't shaved in a few days because he was getting stubble all over the place. I kinda liked it though, it was different. But more than that, it was a mark of how focused he'd been on staying by my side and caring for me. How dedicated he was to me.

Kissing the top of his jaw line gingerly, I kept pressing my mouth all the way down to his chin. Once there, I didn't even bother studying his lips. I knew those lips way too well, there would be no point in trying to appreciate them anymore than I already did. When I kissed his mouth, I felt him respond without delay. He brought one hand up to cradle my cheek, the other still wrapped under my head and around my back.

Our kisses never bothered to open up and deepen, which was unusual for us. I guess we just needed the feeling of each other there right then. After all, it's hard to question someone's presence when their lips are pressed that perfectly against your own.

After a few minutes of soaking up and assuring ourselves of one another's presence, our kisses started tapering off, growing shorter and softer. It reminded me of the way the sun's rays danced gently over the last bits of anything it could reach on its way down at night. The way it seemed to sigh as it took its time falling from the sky. With my mind weighed down with pills and trauma, that's kind of how I felt too. A burnt out star that had burned a little too brightly, a little too hard. So one day God had just decided to cut me clear out of the sky and, still burning, I had landed in a charred heap among Brendon's arms and sheets.

We laid there in silence, just watching one another, blinking occasionally. Feeling our lungs expand and contact. Appreciating the steady rush of warm, thick blood in our veins. Basking in the simplicity of our current lack of responsibilities. The distance of the real world.

I'm not sure how long we stayed like that, silent, unmoving, soaking each other up with our eyes. I'm also not sure what made me get enough of a grip on my feelings to be able to organize the words into a recognizable series of events. And I'm really not sure what made me start letting my heart spill from my lips. But out the words came and for the first time in a long time, I felt connected to Brendon again. I felt real again. I felt like /myself/.

"I've never wanted to talk about my life before coming here to live with you. I know I've never been very open with you about it, never told you much besides the fact that I hated my life in Martha'a Vineyard. But we both know there's a reason for everything. And after what I've put you through, after all the moments in which you refused to give up on me, I think I owe you my reasons."

He studied me for a moment, stroking his thumb over my cheek as his hand continued to seep warmth into the skin there. A small nod from my intimate audience of one was my signal to continue, so on I trekked.

"There's a lot too this. It isn't a neat and tidy, one reason answer. It's kind of like a spider web, interconnected, layered and sticky. So, just be warned that this may take a while."

"We've got time." he murmured and I nodded. Usually I'd be stuttering and stumbling over a story like this. A story with so many domino affects, so many details that could easily get scattered and lost like the glitter in an open canister when it's accidentally been knocked from a shelf. But I'd had so many months to let this eat away at me. So many years to let the layers cake on my soul like mud. So damn long to let the story wear a path out in the forest of my mind that there was no way I could screw this up. I knew it too well, because it wasn't just a part of me, it was me.

"I'm sure you remember my midnight phone calls, my tears over the phone. The way I'd beg you to just talk to me, sing to me, play your keyboard for me. Anything to block out the reality around me. But I never really told you why I called you. Why there were tears in the first place."

I paused.

"It's hard for me to say it out loud...I've known and accepted it personally for so long, but it's hard to give it up to someone else. To give them a chance to accept it too. I guess it just makes it more real..."

I paused again, this time heavily. Brendon didn't rush me or urge me on. The look on his face didn't even waiver. He just lay there, breathing and waiting with unshakable patience. I realized it would be better if I approached the subject by explaining one of my many odd actions as of late by incorporating my past.

"Do you remember that fight we had in the park? How bad I freaked out when you pushed me?"

"Of course I do." his eyes seemed to flash with hurt at the idea that he would have forgotten such an incident and his hand left my cheek, reaching down to hold my (still bruised, but no longer bandaged) hand in his own.

"Well, I'm not sure I would have freaked out so badly, had it not triggered so many hurtful memories for me. See, my parents fight a lot, I'm sure yours do too, everybody's parents fight. But my parents really get into it with one another. Now my dad grew up in a household where everything was handed to him on a silver platter and he had no idea how to command the respect he thought he deserved from his wife. Naturally, he started hitting her. And when he realized that she was going to let him. That she would justify his behavior, that she wasn't going to leave him, that she was going to be the perfect little housewife and sweep it under the rug with make up and fake smiles, when he realized all that, it just enabled him more. And he never stopped. And she never left. Almost every night I went to sleep in tears, listening to her screams. Listening to her beg him to stop. I swore to myself I'd never let that happen to me, that I'd be so much better than her mistakes. But in order to keep that promise, I needed something to white it all out, make me numb to it while I lived under their roof."

Taking note of the way Brendon's eyes were now shimmering with salt water, I continued on, scared that if I stopped I might never get the strength or the will to start back up again.

"God, Brendon she made me so mad/. The fact that every morning she could still stay so loyal to him and pretend like everything was fine. I just wanted to scream, to explode, to rip into something with everything I had. I needed to throw all of my energy into something and I was desperate for anything. Coincidentally, I grew up in an image obsessed community. Money breeds insatiability, I guess. My sister cared for nothing but what she looked like and even though I wasn't necessarily hoping to end up like her, I still followed her actions. She was my older sister and quite honestly, my only form of guidance in any form. So, without even realizing it, I followed her lead. And it was like a drug. A beautiful, painful, mind consuming drug, that let me concentrate on /myself and not my parents. It let me be selfish and the best part was, no one around me /cared/. Everyone in my community expects every girl to be flawless anyway. We were all familiar with things like eating disorders, image problems. Every girl had them and if she didn't, she was just weird. We accepted those things, shoved them under our beds and never discussed them. Never bothered to help each other.

"I never wanted to go to Las Vegas in the first place, you know that. By then I had been too wrapped up in my own world for too long to think I would ever find anything worthwhile out in the desert. But when I found you, everything changed, and not just because I fell in love with you. It was because you didn't come from the world that I did, that world where image was everything. With you, I was immersed in a world that had soul, and the forced me to have soul too. I felt shaken awake, like I was finally in the real world. I guess I'd found a new addiction, something to replace the image complex with, you know? My dreams of living in Vegas, our late night phone calls and a fresh interest in the music scene because of you and the boys became my new drug. And for a while there it was good for me. It gave me something constructive to play with, a few goals to work towards and someone other than myself to depend on. Just for the record, you're very easy to depend on. You've never let me down, not once. And you can't imagine how much that has always meant to me. I love you so, so much for that alone." Overwhelmed with reasons why I, literally, owed my life to this boy, I wrapped my arms around his neck once more and held him close. He meant so much to me, it was indescribable.

Brendon held me close as well, nuzzling his cheek and nose into the crook of my neck and shoulder. Lightly kissing my cheek, he pulled back, looking me in the eyes.

"So, what changed? Did you not know how to handle me being on tour or what? I just don't understand where things went wrong. I mean, things were perfect. They've always been perfect. Or at least, I thought they were."

A sad smile decorated my mouth and I took a deep breath, rearranging his bangs and attempting to brush them away from his face, or at least, out of his eyes.

"They are. Things between you and me were always perfect. The tour never changed anything for me. I mean, yah, it was really hard not seeing you. But I had done it before and hell, I woke up every morning, ya know? I dealt with the days one by one, I got through it. You're worth all of that and more to me.

"No, my problem was that when you met me, I was much more active and much stricter about what I ate. After I moved out here I let myself get drunk every weekend, I ate fried food whenever you guys did, and the only exercise I got was sex with you. Granted, it was very arduous, very sweaty sex." I smirked.

He chuckled, "Naturally."

I just rolled my eyes and continued, "Basically I let myself go and when I gained all that extra weight, I just wasn't used to not looking perfect, ya know? I wasn't used to having pudge, or thick thighs, or love handles instead of hip bones."

"You did not have love handles." he protested childishly.

"I certainly didn't have hipbones." I reminded him. He just sighed, giving up and letting me continue. "The point is, this is built into me. It's a part of me now, just like my writing or you. It didn't happen over night and it isn't going away over night. And I'm sorry I never told you, because I should have. But I guess I turned out more like my mom than I realized, sweeping things under the rug and all." I shrugged, feeling a little empty after regurgitating all those emotions. My gaze slipped south a little, but he wasn't having it. He laid a finger under my chin and tilted it upwards so I was forced to look him in the eyes.

"Hey, listen to me: you are /not/ your mom. You left, she stayed. You know how to help yourself Bails, and you know how to look outside of the norm for answers. You've got so much more going for you than your entire family does. And more than anything you've got your friends. You've got us Bailey and no matter how hard you try to push us away, we're not going anywhere. We're in your life to stay, so you better get used to us. Cause we kinda love you and we're going to fight for you no matter what. Even if it makes you hate me, I'm gunna do whatever I have to to keep you safe, to keep you healthy. And I'm sorry if you don't like it, but I can't lose you Bails. I need you in my life. Call me spoiled, but I refuse to live without you."

Not being able to repress my wide smile, I leaned forward and pressed my mouth to his, taking his hand in mine as well, entwining out fingers.

"So, I guess what we have here is a mutual addiction." I smirked.

"I'll be your hero, if you be my heroine." he murmured playfully and I grinned back, squeezing his hand in my own.

"Darling, you have yourself a deal."

~~~

Epilogue sooooon! Hopefully...lol
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