Harley had got off work early and decided to skip going home and just headed straight to Jay’s flat to wait for him to get back from the studio. Little did she know that he would come back in a foul mood with absolutely no desire to talk, let alone explain why? Within 10 minutes of walking through the door, he had already downed two beers and was well on his way to finishing his third.
He was slumped down on the floor in front of the couch, staring off into space with hazy eyes, but the way his jaw kept clenching told Harley that something was defiantly not right. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she sat on the couch behind him and placed her legs on either side of him before she began to massage his head, neck and shoulders, feeling him physically relax under her hands.
As soon as he slumped back against her and laid his head in her lap, she thought she would try again. “What’s wrong baby?”
But once again, Jay tensed up. “Nothing.” There was a definite edge to his voice that Harley had never heard before, and she decided that she really didn’t like it.
She sighed heavily, leaning forward to wrap her arms around his neck and kiss his cheek. “Jay please? Obviously something’s upset you. Did something happen at the studio?”
That clearly pressed a button, because as soon as she said it, Jay ripped her arms from round his neck and clumsily stood up, already feeling the effects of the beer. He ignored Harley’s question and marched to the kitchen, pulling another beer out of the fridge and gulping down half of it right there. Harley was still in shock at his reaction and took a few seconds to come to grips with what had just happened. But when she did, she had lost all sympathy for him, replacing it with frustration and anger.
She followed him into the kitchen, finding him opening yet another bottle of beer. “Jay, how many have you had?”
He just shrugged as he moved the rim of the bottle to his lips, keeping eye contact with Harley the entire time, as if to taunt her with it. “Does it matter? It’s not like you are likely to hang around long enough to find out.”
Harley shook her head at him in disbelief. That hurt. “What the hell is up with you? Have I done something wrong?” But Jay kept quiet, taking sips from his beer every now and then with a blank expression on his face. By now, all incentive was out the window. There was no stopping him and there defiantly was no reasoning with him. As soon as Harley saw the glazed over look of his eyes, she realized it. “You know what? Fuck you. When you grow up a bit, then we can talk.”
As quickly as she could, she collected her coat and keys before leaving, trying to get out before she completely broke down in tears. She didn’t know what hurt more, the fact that she didn’t know what she had done wrong to make Jay act like that, or that he hadn’t tried to stop her from leaving. The idea of going back to an empty flat only made the situation worse. Tom was her first choice, but he lived about a 20 minute walk away, and in this baltic weather, that wasn’t an option.
Flashbacks about the night that she had walked out of his flat when the memories had come back, rushed through her and for some reason she felt the urge to laugh. It just showed her lack of capability to deal with confrontation. Sure she could argue with her sister or her friends, but when it came to Jay it was completely different. Knowing someone on a new level, where everything is exposed to them makes arguments different. You can’t cover it up by excusing the fact that they don’t know everything about you, that they don’t understand the situation fully. Then it doesn’t just become a rejection of something that you have done or said, it becomes a rejection of you, your whole being. And Harley couldn’t deal with that.
After a few minutes, she found herself outside of Max’s flat, his being the closest to Jay’s. After knocking, she heard him fumbling around on the other side of the door, muttering quiet curse words and ‘hang on’s before flinging the front door open. And when he did, he wished he could just close it again.
“What the fuck happened to your face?” Harley gasped, skipping pleasantries as soon as she saw his bust lip and black eye. She took a step forward, instantly reaching her hand up to trace over the bruising around his eye.
Max couldn’t seem to look her in the eyes and backed away slightly before dropping his head. “What are you doing here Lee?”
Harley’s eyebrows furrowed together, this was the second person who was acting strangely towards her. She had a feeling that the two were one in the same, it couldn’t just be a coincidence. “Max. What happened?”
The confusion and hurt was clear on Harley’s face and Max instantly felt guilty, knowing that she obviously had no idea what had happened. He offered her an apologetic smile before nodding his head towards the living room, gesturing for her to go in before closing the door behind him. A small part of his brain was screaming at him not to do this, that it would just make the whole thing worse, but if anything, she deserved an explanation.
Harley took a seat at the edge of the couch, not willing to let herself get comfortable, sensing that what was about to be explained was not going to be something to take lightly. Max sat down on the coffee table opposite her, leaning his elbows forward on his knees that were touching Harley’s. He rung his hands together nervously, trying to work up the nerves to say the next words.
“Jay overheard a conversation between me, Tom and Siva at the studio today.” He paused to take a deep breath while Harley mirrored his posture, bringing their faces closer together. Sensing his hesitation, she placed her hand over his for encouragement. “He got mad…” He trailed off.
Harley’s jaw clenched in anticipation. “He was the one who hit you, wasn’t he?” Max’s head dipped, but he didn’t answer. “ Wasn’t he?” She repeated, more firmly this time.
Max nodded slowly. In all honesty, he was hoping that Jay would have told her, at least that way he would have been able to explain his point of view. He didn’t feel right telling Harley this. It made Jay look like the bad guy, and Max knew that wasn’t the case, at least not entirely. It would have been possible for Max to defend himself against Jay, but truthfully, he had just accepted it. He would have reacted in the same way if the roles were reversed.
He watched as Harley sat back on the couch and rubbed her hands over her face. “I can’t believe he did this.” She mumbled into her hands.
Max stood up and sat down next to her. “He had good reason to. Harley, he overheard me telling Tom and Siva that I’m in love with you.”
In movies, when some big news is revealed, sometimes time seems to slow down. Everything becomes slow and steady. Harley would have been one of the first people to say how unrealistic and cliché that was, but right now, she realized just how wrong she would have been. Everything around her became a mere blur, unnoticeable and irrelevant. It may have been because her mind was buzzing so fast that everything else was moving in slow motion compared tof it. But something in her told her to push past what Max had just said, because she sensed that there was something missing from the story.
“That’s not why he hit you though, is it?”
Max shook his head, hanging his head once again, this time because he was ashamed. “I told them that we nearly kissed that night that Jay came back from his parent’s house.”
Yup, that would do it. Surprisingly though, Harley wasn’t mad at him for that. She wasn’t naive to the fact that the boys shared everything with each other and it wasn’t like she hadn’t thought about talking to Abbey or Emma about the little moment that they had shared in her flat.
She let out a long breath. “He still shouldn’t have hit you Max.”
Max looked up in shock, expecting her to let rip about him divulging their personal and possibly relationship ruining information to one of the biggest loudmouths they knew and Siva. “You’re not mad?”
Harley just shook her head before smiling. “Have to admit, it’s a bit depressing having your boyfriend’s best friend tell you that they love you before you boyfriend does.” She joked, in an attempt to ease the tension.
And Max was grateful for it. He wasn’t expecting her to pour her heart out to him in the same way he just had, but he was thankful that she had no intention of letting it ruin the friendship they had come to have. He chuckled softly, but couldn’t bring himself to ignore the seriousness of the conversation. “You and Jay are ok right?”
He noticed how sad her smile looked as she proceeded to fiddle with the hem of her top. “Like I said before, whatever the reason, he shouldn’t have hit you. Plus when some things are said, it’s hard to overlook them.”
“Fuck Lee. What did he say?” Max shuffled closer to her and slung his arm around her shoulder.
“Probably nothing as bad as what you’re thinking right now. It’s just hard that I have given more to him than I have to anyone, and he still doubts me.” She lent into his side and rest her head on his shoulder before picking up the hand that was around her and bringing his fingers to the top of her ear.
Max smiled at it and began to rub the top of her ear between his fingers while she relaxed from the comforting feeling. “He was drinking wasn’t he?” He felt Harley nod against his shoulder and sighed. “He doesn’t mean it.”
“I hope so.”