At Last Ch. 04

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“You said that a month ago, Li. And the month before that, and the month-“

“I know, I know.” Li said in mock annoyance. Li was telling her best friend once again that she thought she should end the relationship with BJ. “This time, it’s different. Things… are progressively… weirder.”

“Weirder how?” Tori asked. “I mean, it’s you, so things have to be weird, right? You know, it IS normal to argue or find little things about somebody that annoy you. I know with David, everything was great and then suddenly really horrible. Most relationships don’t just flip like that, Li. I promise.”

“Yea.” Li replied, trying to think of how to explain, where to start. “I mean, you know. The responsibility of having somebody love you… it’s just so much.”

“You’re the only person I know who sees Love the way you do, but I know what you mean.” Tori said. “Wait, does BJ love you?”

“No, that isn’t what I’m saying.” Li sighed. “It’s just that I got into this thing that I didn’t want. Even before David, I didn’t want a relationship. Then he came along and by the time we were done, I didn’t even want to be friends with most people. Then, BJ came into my life. He was… is… so many good things. And the things that most people think of as bad, like the way he’s so OCD. That’s even good, most of the time. It makes him more… reliable? No. Predictable. No surprises. I’ve had too many damned surprises. I mean, there’s still always something new to learn about him, and I’m sure he can be spontaneous. Just, you know.”

“No surprise women crawling out of the woodwork with surprise babies, like with David,” Tori filled in the blank.

“Or surprise cold sores.”

“Or random mood swings, or weird video game personalities popping out at you in the middle of arguments.” Tori was very angry with David on Li’s behalf. She would have kept going, but she didn’t want to get Li sidetracked. “Anyway… you were saying?”

“I like the way BJ actually TALKS to me. About everything. With David, it was like pulling teeth to get anything, but BJ will tell me even the tiniest little thing about his day without complaining about it. I don’t feel lonely with him. And the way he reads me comic books if I ask. He’s pretty content to share anything I want.”

“Sharing is good,” Tori muttered. “What about the religion thing, though?”

“He’s not Christian, and that used to bother me, but it doesn’t anymore. You know, he actually volunteered to pray with me and go to church if I really wanted him to. The cool thing, though, is that it gives me the advantage of knowing that he’s not a good guy because it’s going to get him into Heaven. It’s just who he is. BJ’s actually just a decent person, in general. He makes me feel nice about myself, too. That’s a little weird for me, and I haven’t decided that I like it.”

“Why are you wanting to break up with him again?” Tori asked. “It sounds like he’s great. He sounds like just want I’d want for you.”

“Well, there’s the whole… Me being in a relationship thing. It’s so hard. It’s just so hard. Sometimes, I don’t answer the phone when he calls because I just don’t want to deal with anybody. Then, I feel guilty and call him, and that puts me in a crappy mood. I’m mad because I still don’t want to deal with anybody, mad because I talk to him during that time, mad because I felt guilty, mad because even during that time… I miss him. How do you miss somebody and want to not talk to him at the same time? It’s just weird and stupid, and I’m pretty sure that’s just a me being me thing.”

“I get like that sometimes, Li. I think most people miss people, even if they want to be alone sometimes.”

“But I ALWAYS want to be alone. You know how I am. Sometimes, I don’t call you for over a month.”

“Yea, but I still know you care about me, and I bet he would, too. You told me you told him about that.”

“I did.”

“And you said he was kind of like that, too.”

“He is.”


“Our needs don’t always coincide.”

“But doesn’t he kind of fly under the radar with you, anyway? Like Katie?”

“It doesn’t make me especially want to deal with him. I don’t always want to deal with Katie, either. And he’s still a thousand miles away! What if we get married, like we’ve been talking about? If we’re living in the same house, I won’t be able to escape! He doesn’t even want me to get my own house, the way I’ve been wanting to do. He says it’s weird.”

“It is, a little, but I’ve heard of it before. You two could buy a duplex, and then you’d be right next door to each other.”

“I’ve thought of that. I suggested different houses at first. Then, he could buy the condo he wants, I could buy my house. We could spend part of the time at his house, and part at mine. He said it was too weird. I said we could buy a duplex and live right next door. Heck, we could even put in a door between the units so it would be more like one big house with walls down the middle. He said it was too weird. I’m weird, Tori. I know I am. Most people don’t canlı bahis need this much space and privacy. Most people don’t need so much time alone, and control over their living space. And all of this just makes me feel… more alien.”

“Yea… I can see that.” Tori said quietly. She knew there was more coming. Li wasn’t the kind of person who would let something like this end things. Li would suck it up and live in the same house and find some other way to make it work.

“Then, there’s the way he needs to control things. I mean, he doesn’t try to tell me what to do or anything. But, you know, from your husband. The OCD patterns and rituals. The other day, BJ was all messed up because he had to stop by the post office on his way to work.”

“What happened at the post office?”

“Nothing. It’s just that he had to stop by on his way to work! It interrupted the regular flow of his life!” Li said in an exasperated tone. “How can he be in a relationship with me when he can’t even stop at the post office? I mean, most relationships involve some changes, but me? My whole life is chaos. I’m spontaneous and eccentric, and I’ve got a kid. She comes with her own schedule. How do we fit into BJ’s tidy little world? We don’t. So then, I’d have to either change for him, or force him to change for us. Either way, it’s a lot of stress.”

“But no matter who BJ was with, he’d have to make some changes for that kind of thing. And what if he had a kid?”

“He doesn’t want children.” Li said. “He was fine with my thought of getting my tubes tied.”


Li laughed, a sort of hollow and bitter laugh. “The other day, I told him that maybe we shouldn’t be together, because I still kind of wanted another child.”

“You do?”

“In a way, maybe. Though BJ couldn’t give me the experience I’d like. I want to know what it’s like to be with a guy, having a baby we both actually want.” Tori had just gone through that with her husband, so she knew what Li meant. He’d been reluctant to have a baby, but once she was pregnant, everything had changed. Every night, he would kiss and talk to her belly. When the baby was born, he’d been so sweet and tender with his wife and child. Allen, her first daughter’s father had been pretty good through everything, too. He hadn’t turned into a jerk until a while after Hope was born. Li’s experiences had been nightmares, things most people never had to face. She could understand why Li would want to see what a happy pregnancy was like.

“If I got pregnant, it would be… acceptable. I think BJ would be a decent father. I could adjust to having another child, preferably a son. Really, though, I don’t want another kid. It would require a lot of my time and attention, and I don’t know. I kind of like being able to give Katie everything I’ve got. You know why I said it to him? I was hoping he’d refuse. Then, we could break up.”

“You were hoping he’d refuse?” Tori was a little confused.

“I know he really doesn’t want a child. The way our conversations regarding that topic were going, it started feeling like,” Li sighed. What she was about to say sounded kind of dumb to her. “Well, it sounded like he was going to deny me permission or something. Like I wasn’t allowed to have a baby. So even though I ultimately would rather not have one, it made me want to fight harder for the ability to have one. I want it to be my choice.”

“What did he say?”

“He said ok. We started talking about baby names.”

“You don’t sound happy about that.”

“I wanted it to break us up!”

“Why do you want to break up? It sounds like he’s willing to give you whatever you want.”

“I don’t know! It just feels… I don’t know. I’m not happy.” Li shook her head. “Maybe I’m just so used to being incredibly miserable that I don’t know what to do or how to feel. No, that’s not it, either. I hate fighting. But while he doesn’t try to control what I do… I don’t feel like BJ is actually a part of it. It’s like he’s just… coming along for the ride. I can’t stop thinking he’s just with me because he doesn’t want to be alone.”

“Well that sucks,” Tori replied. “And at least I understand that part. A lot of people are okay with settling for less than they want in a relationship, but nobody really thinks about how it would feel on the other end of that.”

“It does suck. I could be wrong about this, and maybe he actually wants me for me. It felt like that before, but now… I don’t know. I know that the exciting swept up in emotions, giggly romance movie thing doesn’t last forever. It fades to something calmer and more permanent. The thing is… we never even reached that point. We were never in love, we just liked each other a lot, and it’s fading. I want to be in love with some guy, and for the guy to be in love with me.”

“Well, you should have that. You deserve it.” Tori said quietly. She often felt sad and angry for Li, who never managed to get a break in life. “So what did you say to BJ?”

“What could I say?” Li sighed. “He… he wants me bahis siteleri to meet his supportive mother, who would fill the void my own mother left. He wants to heal the damage David did. He wants to give me a son, to distract me from the one I lost.”

“That’s sweet.”

“Yea, it is.” Li grumbled. “How can somebody be so close to what I want but still so far?”

“It doesn’t sound like he’s as far as you feel like he is.”

“I dunno. He, well, those little things that are good about him are also bad, some of the time. Like, his OCD thing is pretty much guaranteed to drive me bonkers. Especially because it makes him need to control everything. I mean, you know I’m… well. You know about my other issues. Regarding control.”

“I try not to spend a lot of time thinking about you in black leather cat suits, with torture implements in your hands.” Tori said in a teasing tone.

“Hey!” Li giggled. “That’s so not what I meant. But, you know. I really need to have my way-“

“Which it sounds like he’s ready to give.”

“But that’s the thing. He isn’t! He is, about some stuff, but then there are some things that will be issues. I’d be okay about a lot of things that would be absolute limits for him, but it kind of feels like… like he’s really the one with the ultimate say in things? Like he isn’t submissive, he’s just passive. And when it comes to certain aspects of our relationships,”

“Aspects involving cat suits and whips?” Tori couldn’t help it.

“I don’t use whips, and I don’t own cat suits!” Li laughed. “But yea, that type of area. He, well. He tries to control how I control him? He’s not submissive, he’s… a bottom. “

“Uhm. I don’t really know what that means?”

“A submissive person surrenders to the will of another person. BJ wants me to do rather specific things, from the way I touch him to the things I say to him. Other stuff… well, he’ll go along with some of it, but he won’t really like it. He might even resent it. And this isn’t just sexual. It’s the way things are in other parts of our potential future life.”

“Ah,” Tori replied. This, she understood. “What are you going to do?”

“Wait… that’s all I can do. I made a promise,” Li said. “When I wanted to break up before, he asked me to give us until he goes home after Halloween. So I’m going to wait and see what happens.”

“Oh, yea. Halloween. Will he, I mean, do you think you… what’s the plan for him on Halloween? I know last year, you said you were thinking of asking him to stay with you all night, but you didn’t.”

“I don’t know, but I think maybe. I mean, each time I bring the idea of us maybe breaking up into the conversation, he seems so hurt, even now while it’s been getting weird. I don’t want to hurt him, but I don’t feel… well, you know how I am.”

“I know how you are.”

“You know how hard it is for me to drop my emotional barriers and how I feel about being close and the L word.” Li smiled when Tori laughed.

“So, you don’t know?”

“I’m leaning toward yes,” Li replied. “Maybe that would be the thing to make me finally stop being so crazy and detached. I mean, despite the stuff I say, I’m still in Like with him.”

“In Like with him,” Tori chuckled. “It’s like when kids say, ‘Do you like him like him or just like him?’. So funny!”

“I know, I know. But I’m very aware that I don’t love him. Because as scared as I am of the idea of it, I keep wishing I’d fall in love with BJ. He’s a good guy, and I know he’d take care of me. And if I just… fell in love with him, I’d stop being as scared of loving him.”

“Yea, you’d be too busy giggling like a school girl.”

“Like I was about David for about five hours. How does a guy break your heart in less than a day?”

“By being David. I think every time a guy manages to be a complete ass, we should call it, ‘pulling a David’.”

“What if… BJ pulls a David?”

“He’s not going to pull a David!” Tori chortled. “From everything you’ve told me, he sounds like a good guy. You just have to stop waiting for that other shoe to drop.”

“It’s going to be a heavy shoe.”

“Oh, geeze. I’m going to bed. Keep me posted,” Tori ordered.

“Good night.”

“Good night. Get some sleep,” Tori added, in a motherly tone. “and give Katie a hug for me.”

“Will do.” They hung up. Li held the cell phone on her stomach as she stared at the ceiling. She rolled off of the bed and went to watch Katie sleep a few minutes. She gave her a gentle hug and a soft kiss on the forehead. “This I can do, but getting some sleep will be hard.”

She put her phone on silent so it wouldn’t make a sound until her alarm went off in the morning. BJ would probably call soon, but she didn’t think it would be a good idea to talk to him. She got into her bed and curled up under the blanket. Closing her eyes, she determinedly tried to fall asleep.

A thousand miles away, BJ was at his computer, clicking buttons and battling his enemies on the screen. “No, no… yes!”

The final one bahis şirketleri fell, and BJ stretched as he savored his victory. His gaze fell on the time and he saw he was late calling Li. He grimaced. That was one thing that certainly took the fun out of relationships. Not that he minded talking to her, but just the fact that he was obligated to call. In some way, he was responsible for the emotional welfare of another person. The things he did, such as enjoying his game, could make somebody else unhappy. Of course, Li wouldn’t mind that he was playing a game, but it did interfere with his ability to call her. He plucked up the phone and called Li, preparing to tell her about his day at work. She didn’t answer. “Ah.”

That gave him some mixed emotions. He was hopeful it meant she was asleep, because he realized she didn’t sleep enough. He was somewhat relieved that he wouldn’t have to think up ways to entertain her, though she generally seemed satisfied with just hearing about his day. Then, there was the slight irritation that he’d felt originally about the obligation to call, followed by annoyance at her failure to answer when he did call. Also, it was kind of nice, at the end of the day, to hear her voice, so he was mildly disappointed.

He set the phone down and contemplated another game. First, he was hungry. He passed his calendar on the way to the kitchen. There were a lot of things to be done in the near future, and passing it reminded him. He normally kept his schedule and routine rather simple, only doing those things he needed to do, and then taking some time to enjoy himself.

There was the big trip he’d been planning for so long. He felt a little guilty leaving, because things had been a little weird with Li. They wouldn’t be able to talk at all while he was gone. Then, he’d be home for kind of a short while before the next thing.

He had promised a friend that he would go on a trip with him and his girlfriend. It would have been better if the girlfriend wouldn’t be there. It wasn’t that he especially disliked her, but BJ tended not to extend his friendship to the friends and families of his circle. These people obviously existed, and he was fine with the occasional interaction. The problem was that the three of them would spend a week together, in somewhat close quarters. He wouldn’t be able to talk to Li during that, either.

Then, he was going to spend some time with his family, once again in somewhat close quarters. Every year, his mother had their family get together for a little vacation. It wasn’t unpleasant, in general, but following so close on the heels of the first trip, it would be a bit annoying. Being away from home meant that he would not only have to deal with his family, but there would also be time spent with strangers. Eating out, going to attractions. While he wouldn’t be talking to Li, he would at least be able to send a quick email here and there.

Of course, he was going to visit Li for Halloween. He had hoped, during his last visit, that she would be more open to him. They’d done more in certain areas than he’d dared to hope for, but it wasn’t what he’d really wanted on another level. His first visit had been carefully timed to coincide with something.

Shortly before they’d decided to be a couple, Li had told him about some of the horrible events of her life. She’d done it with the purpose of chasing him off. He’d listened, rather stunned, as a torrent of emotion and horrible stories came spilling out of this normally calm and reserved woman, and had been more flabbergasted when she’d finished by explaining that this was the reason they couldn’t be together. Over time, he learned there was more. Some stories she told in tears. Some were flat and cold. The strangest to him were the stories she told with laughter. Nothing about her past was comical to him.

The things that she described enraged him, not only because he cared about her… but because most of the monsters who had been in her life hadn’t been punished in any way. They were still out there, probably repeating the same actions, and not receiving any sort of consequence. That infuriated him.

He’d expressed this, and his confusion about her laughter. “I have to laugh,” Li had explained. “I have to laugh, and to find the brightest possible side of it. If I stop laughing, I’ll start screaming again. Somewhere deep inside of me, I’m still screaming, BJ. I’m always screaming, and it never stops. I have to laugh, or the pain will take over. It will consume me.”

When he really thought about it, it was kind of interesting the way Li had managed to partition it for so long. Most people probably couldn’t deliberately block out memories in the way she had, but those who had done it subconsciously were typically better able to completely forget. Because life doesn’t simply stop, and we cannot put time on pause, and because Li was unwilling to miss out on any moment of potential happiness, she had decided to stash every sorrow and angry thought into some forgotten recess of her mind. She’d shoved so many horrible memories into what she called her little black box that they couldn’t fit anymore. They’d started taking over her personality, and she’d found herself becoming increasingly darker, more bitter, angry.

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