It had been an entire month since Justin and I had argued. 4 weeks. 30 days. And a lot of hours.
I had spent 10 out of those 30 days with Nate.
We had been to the zoo, the ice rink and the beach (many times). He took me on a picnic for our one month anniversary and it was the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me. We played stupid games and ate pizza and ice cream because those were our favorite foods. Lame, yes, but it was a really sweet gesture. We were your typical cliché high school couple.
The remainder of the 20 days when I wasn't with Nate however, were spent avoiding Justin. Every corner I turned, every hallway i walked down, i checked to make sure he wasn't around and I wouldn't bump into him. It was infuriating. I hadn't even seen Abby at all this week, purely because i didn't want to have to see Justin.
"CASSIDY! OPEN UP!" A loud banging on the front door accompanied my best friend's obnoxious yelling. I groaned. She was probably here to lecture me again like she did last week, but alas, I opened the door.
"You're coming with me." She grabbed my arm, pulling me out of my apartment.
"Excuse me? I didn't think that was up to you to decide." I stood my ground, not moving from the door.
"I'm serious. Lets go."
Let me just describe Abby for a second. She's the most stubborn person I know... You don't argue with Abby and make it out with your dignity or ego still intact. She dragged me through our building down into her apartment.
"What the hell? If you wanted to see me you could have just asked me, damn Abby."
"This isn't about seeing you. You need to speak to him."
She looked around before whispering it to me like it was a huge secret. "Justin." I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest.
"No way in hell. He told me he never wanted to see me again. And I have no problem with that." She gave me a look that showed total disbelief.
"I don't care. Both of you need to work out whatever happened between you."
I rolled my eyes. It was 7pm, I didn’t have time for this.
"Fine. Where is he?"
"In his room...the spare room."
I walked away from her, having no real intention to talk to Justin. I just figured it would be a lot easier to pretend I did and instead go and see Mitch.
"Please fix him Cassie." Abby mumbled from down the hall. Me? Wait a sec - fix him? What was wrong with him? He's not broken... He doesn't need fixing. Especially by me, he hates me?
Curious to know what was wrong with him, I end up standing outside his door.
"Don't make me regret this Abby" I mumbled to myself. I knocked twice and waited.
I slipped inside the door and was met with a completely dark room.
"Cassie?" His voice cracked, and it made him seem sort of human for once, instead of his usual puppy eating, happiness hater self. Through the darkness I could see an outline of a person lying on the bed, so I took it upon myself to sit with him.
"What's the matter with you?"
He didn't answer for a while. He just stared at the ceiling.
"You remind me of someone." I looked down at him, only to be met with his eyes staring back at me. I blushed and was suddenly really thankful for the dark room. "She was like you a bit, but different. I liked her more though." I rolled my eyes.
"I didn't come here to be insulted, Justin."
"Sorry." He mumbled. "Today isn't the best day for me."
"What's wrong with the 15th of August?"
"A lot of things."
We sat in silence for a while before he spoke again.
"If you found out something about me, would that change your view of me? Would you like me maybe?"
"There's not many things you could do to make me change my view of you Justin."
"What's your view of me then?"
I looked around his room, as if i was searching for an answer. I had slept in this room numerous times - it felt like he was stealing my room - but it looked different like this. It looked sad.
"Well... You don't like me very much, so I can't really give you an accurate view on you as i don't really know you -"
"Cass. I asked your view of me. Your view."
"You're heroic." I blurted out.
What the heck?
He sat up, looking right at me. Up this close to him I could see his smirk. Stupid moron.
"I don't know. You're sarcastic and kind of an asshole and really really irritating but when you're nice you're not too difficult to be around. My view of you couldn’t be changed to something positive because I don't not like you."
"Want to know my view on you cutie?"
His usual cocky voice was back.
Here we go with cutie again...
Do i really want to hear what he thinks?
I nodded, unfortunately. I wish i hadn’t.
"I think you're incredibly annoying because you're so naive. I think you could be a really nice person if you weren't such an uptight bitch-"
"Save it. I apologize for trying to be the bigger person and help you. I won't be so 'naive' next time. It won't happen again." I lifted myself off the bed, leaving him alone again.
I could see his face drop and his shoulders hunch back over as I slammed the door. So much for 'fixing' him.
I stormed out past Abby, slamming her front door too.
"JUSTIN DREW BIEBER WHAT DID YOU DO." I heard Abby screaming, even from outside her apartment. He was such an asshole, I didn't want anything to do with him. For real this time. How stupid was I? Actually thinking that maybe we could get along.
Every damn time. He set another trap and you got caught - again!
I stomped out of my building feeling like a little kid. I walked until I found a side street sat down on the side of the road, my thoughts too blurred with rage to have any logic.
Deep breaths, Cass. Deep breaths.
I closed my eyes and obliged. I couldn't keep letting him get to me like this. I had to find a way to calm down. Just as I began to control my breathing, it hitched and panic engulfed me. I could feel something – or someone - behind me. Someone was going to kidnap me or something. Why did I close my eyes? I opened my eyes and was faced with the familiar black, dirty old converse that belonged to Justin. I said nothing, not wanting to speak to him. He sat down next to me and we sat silently, listening to the sounds of the traffic in the streets beyond us. It wasn't too busy around here, and there was almost no one walking along the path.
"If you had of let me finish you would have known what I was going to say." He started calmly. I again, said nothing. Had he come to apologize? "You are all those things I said before, yes. But you're more than that. You’re smart and cute and you search for the good in everybody even when there’s none to see. You remind me of someone...her name was Emma."
"She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was innocent and pure, like you. She was too good to be true. Too good to be mine. She captured my heart upon the first glance but I had always assumed she was too good for me, that I could never deserve her love or affection. I crushed on her for ages and then… We went out for 2 years but eventually karma caught up to me. She - she was killed and I know it's all my fault. " His voice started to break. "I blame myself for her death everyday - and you remind me of her. I couldn't protect her, but maybe I can protect you. That's why I want you to stay away from Nate. He might seem good to you, but Emma thought I was good too...and look at her now. We might not be the best of friends but it doesn't mean I want you dead, cutie." He said all of this looking towards the gutter, never looking at me.
EMMA? The same name Nate shoved in Justin’s face?
I opened and closed my mouth like a goldfish as I looked at him, before his eyes met mine and he grinned. "Surprised?" The street lights made outlined our shadows on the road, making us look smaller than we actually were. I stared at them, trying to think of a reply.
I eventually shook my head. "No..."
He laughed, a cute small laugh before turning kind of serious. "You're the first person I've ever spoken about her to that didn't know her. I just thought - Abby as well - that you deserved an explanation for my actions. But I swear to god if you tell another living thing on this earth I'll -"
I laughed, interrupting him. "Aye, I thought I was getting an apology?"
"Sorry." A light pink brushed his cheeks but was gone as quick as it came. "I'm sorry for being a dick." He muttered. I grinned, and threw my arm over his shoulder, about to insult him before he cut me off.
"Uh uh. No. We aren't that close of friends." He grinned back, and lifted my arm, placing it back in my lap.
"So do you want to -"
"Cassidy?" Nate's voice scared the crap out of me, causing me to jump. "Bieber? You can't be serious." I stood up quickly and backed away from Justin. Of course he had to find me here with Justin.
"Hi Nate." I smiled as calmly as possible. He probably thought I was a cheating slut.
"Don't 'hi Nate' me. Are you alright? He's dangerous! Why are you with him?"
I frowned slightly. "I'm fine. Justin is my friend - am I not allowed to have friends?"
"Of course you are sweetie – just not him. You should leave.” Shock ran through me. How dare he?
“Why? Why do I have to leave? I’m not 3.”
He sighed as if he really was talking to a child. “Because Cassidy, Justin isn’t the sort of guy to just hang around with. Especially if you have a boyfriend. You never know what he could do.” With those words he looked straight to Justin, glaring holes in his head.
What did Justin do…
Justin’s directed his gaze to me, looking at me in the eyes. His eyes were honest and almost made me believe he was good. “Go cutie. I’ll be fine.”
“I thought I told you Bieber – she’s mine.” Growled Nate. Before I could take my next breathe Nate had stepped forward and punched Justin square in the jaw. I gasped and both my hands came up to my mouth. Anger burst inside of me, running through my veins. He stumbled backwards, before regaining his balance and spitting blood onto the pavement.
“Nate! Stop! He’s my friend!” I stepped in front of Justin, my uncontrollable anger burying my anxiety about being hit.
“I told you to leave.” He yelled at me. Memories from the movie theatre flashed in my mind when the security guy had said the exact same thing.
Justin grabbed my arm and roughly pulled me out of the way. “Stay out of this.” His eyes were dead again, but I could feel how angry he was.
His fist connected with Nate’s stomach. “Watch your mouth.” He snarled. I moved to stand between them again.
“Stop it! Whatever you have against each other shouldn’t be this bad! Nate!”
Justin shot me a warning look, which I ignored. He wasn't my father.
“Don’t be stupid Cassidy. Get – out of the way –“ Nate was cut off with another punch from Justin.
“How dare you call her stupid…” He trailed off, focusing on trying to hit Nate with as much force as possible. “You don’t deserve to have someone as good as her.”
“Me? What about you? Trying to steal my girlfriend yet again!”
“You and I both know I didn’t steal her!”
They were both screaming, a tiny crowd of people (most probably drug addicts and homeless people living in the side streets) had gathered around them and I was doing my best to get in between them.
“STOP IT! JUSTIN!” I screamed at him, trying to grab his hands and pin them to his side. He completely ignored my words, to intent on getting to Nate, and shrugged me off. “NATE! Please both of you stop it!”
They totally ignored me, throwing numerous insults, curses and punches at each other. I stopped in my place, frozen to the ground. I could hear sirens, most probably police sirens, getting closer. Red and blue lights flashed in the streets, amplifying themselves in the dark. The crowd quickly shuffled away, not wanting to be involved.
“Fuck.” Justin panted. Both boys stopped fighting, looking a lot worse for wear.
“We’re not done here. Take my threats seriously. Stay away from her. Got that?” Nate growled. With one last look at me, he sped off in the other direction. Justin looked anxious, his eyes frantically searching the street.
‘Thank-you. For pulling me away back there. I don’t need any more trouble.”
Justin’s words echoed around my mind. He would be arrested if they found us here. This was ‘more trouble’.
“You’re going to have to run really damn fast cutie, c’mon.”
He ran as fast as ever away from the scene. I quickly looked around and bolted after him. We ran for blocks and blocks until we couldn’t hear the sirens anymore. I was sweating and panting and probably looking like I was the one that fought Nate. Justin sat down on the grass hill, holding his chest, puffing irrepressibly. Through this however, he looked up and grinned at me. His eyes shining with amusement.
“A little running tire you out?” I asked. He ignored me.
“You kept up, I was surprised. Nerds these days can run?”
I glared at him. “Shut-up, loser.”
He chuckled. “I really am a bad influence on you. Getting thrown out of movie theatres and running from police? Is my little good girl going bad?” I rolled my eyes, but inwardly grinned slightly. I actually enjoyed the danger, the rush of adrenalin.
“You wish. I’m not ‘your’ anything. I must admit though – this was defiantly a more enjoyable night to what I had planned out.”
He cheekily grinned at me, baring his perfect teeth. “I told you danger was fun.” Darkness surrounded us so I sat down next to him, wanting to be able to see him better.
“Oh my god Justin, your face.” I gasped, horrified. I went to grab his face but he pulled away.
“Just a few bruises, don’t worry about it.”
“Justin, come here.” He looked back at me and then sighed, moving closer to me. I carefully examined his beautiful face. He had bloody lips and dried blood beside his pierced eyebrow. I grabbed his jaw carefully, and heard his breath hitch in pain. I guessed it was broken.
“Sorry.” I whispered. He just closed his eyes. I licked my finger and got of the blood from his face, but that was the extent of my first aid. I looked down his body, searching for any more noticeable injuries. I found his knuckles to be bruised and bloody but no signs of anything else. “We’re going to have to get you home. I can’t fix any of this, we need Abby.”
“It’s not that bad, I’ve had worse.” He muttered.
“Stop being a loser and get up. We need to get home – it's late and you need to be fixed.”
He rolled his eyes but took my hand and stood up. “Aw. Do you care for me?” He cooed, pinching my cheek.
“Stop.” I growled. He just smirked and started walking.
How come you’re holding hands again? Let go!
But I didn’t want to let go. It would be embarrassing for one, but Justin’s hand felt comforting – like I was safe with him.
“I really am sorry about today…and the other day. As it turns out, some of my best moments I’ve been here have been spent with you. I don’t hate you that much.” He smiled at me, swinging our hands back and forth.
“It’s alright. I don’t hate you that much either.” The street lights shadowed over his face, making him look sort of mysterious. The injuries on his face made him look dangerous. But the warmth and safety of his hand and his playful demeanor contradicted all of that. We walked in silence before the softest version of his voice I have ever heard spoke out.
“Do you believe me now? About Nate? About how Emma found the good in me and held onto that instead of seeing the overwhelming bad?”
I nodded, and thought silently for a while about my reply. “Everyone is bad. You can’t have good without bad Justin. Every hero lies and cheats and can be equally as bad as the villain, just like every villain can be a hero. It’s what you choose to be. You’ve been a hero. You’ve stood up for me numerous times now. It just depends on what you choose to portray yourself as.” I said all of this looking at my shoes as we walked. When he said nothing I kept going. “So yes, I believe Nate chooses to be bad sometimes, but he also chooses to be good.”
He sighed. “I guess so.” I could tell he didn’t believe me at all – that he thought I was just being ‘pure’ and ‘naïve’.
“How does Nate know about Emma?” I quietly asked. Part of me hoped he hadn’t heard me, but the rest of me was curious.
“I told you we used to get along. He knew her then and knew about her.. tragedy.”
“Yeah.” We finally reached our building, still holding hands.
He won’t walk the stairs with you. Just let go now.
But Justin walked right past the elevator, to the stairs. I gave him a bewildered look, wondering why he was taking the stairs.
“I remember the first day we met – we took the stairs because you’re afraid of elevators.” He said sheepishly. I blushed and held in a cheesy grin. He remembered.
I rolled my eyes. I cared, because maybe this was the night that would lead us into friendship. Maybe we wouldn’t have to fight like this all the time.
“Cutie? Are you listening?” Justin’s voice pulled me out of my thoughts as we climbed the stairs.
“What? Yeah of course.”
“Really? What was I talking about?"
“Um…” I was stuck there. I had no clue. He chuckled but then slightly winced at his jaw movement.
“It’s okay cutie. Don’t worry about it.” I shrugged and we arrived outside Abby’s apartment. Or his apartment. Whatever. He opened the door and walked inside.
“Oi! She’s out. She’ll be back later. What do you want?” Mitch yelled out.
Justin frantically looked at me, like he was searching me for answers.
“Nothing Mitch! I’ll see her tomorrow.” I called out.
Justin and I quickly exited the apartment. “What now? What do I do about my face?” He said, annoyance radiating off of him. “I’m not going to the hospital so don’t even suggest it.” He glared. I held up my hands in defense.
“Chill bud. My aunty can fix you, come on.” We hauled ourselves up another set of stairs and over to my apartment. I opened the door to my aunty sitting on the lounge, reading.
“Hi Cassie – oh. Who’s this?” she raised her eyebrow.
“Aunty Steph, this is Justin. Justin this is my aunty.” He carefully smiled, but I could see the pain it brought him.
“Oh honey come here what’s the matter?” She rushed over to Justin, seeing the state he was in.
“Um, he was hurt. A lot.” I admitted. She raised both her eyebrows at me but said nothing.
“I was not ‘hurt’. I did damage to him too.” He said cockily. I rolled me eyes at him.
“Nobody cares Justin.:
“Well I guess we’ll see the damage then?” My aunty cut in. He nodded and sat at our dining table. She did her procedures – I wasn’t really interested – but I did hear that his jaw wasn’t broken, just bruised or something. She fixed him up and cleaned the blood away from his mouth.
“There you go.” She smiled at him. They had barely spoken the whole time.
“Um thank you.” He awkwardly scratched the back of his head. “I better go. I have some things to sort out. Bye cu - Cassie. Thank you for all this.” He smiled before letting himself out.
“Care to explain?” My auntie’s usually welcoming face was now stern and serious.
‘Um he needed someone to fix him up.” I smiled nervously.
“No Cassie. Explain why you bring a guy home that may I add, you can’t stand and hide from everyday, and he looks like he’s just been boxing?” I sighed.
“For starters – I’ve never hidden from him.” I said, lying straight through my teeth. “And him and Nate had a fight. That’s all.”
She looked at me carefully. “Full story. Why did he fight Nate?” I sighed.
“They have history. They both want me to stay away from the other because he is dangerous. Nate is only dangerous when he’s around Justin and Justin is a jerk to me most of the time.”
“Then why don’t you stay away from him? Why do you continue to go back to him when you know all you do is fight?”
I shrugged. “I’m not sure. When we went to the movies he was cool until Nate showed up. Today we were mostly civil to each other and being completely honest I had a good time. I don’t know why.” I shook my head. “But I really like Nate. I’ve been with him for an entire month now and I can’t lose him. He means so much to me. He wants me to stay away from Justin and I know that if I don’t do what he says he’ll leave.”
“I think you need some danger in your life. A bit of excitement.” I opened my mouth to protest but she cut me off. “Hear me out. Which type of danger you want however, is up to you. I’ve met both Justin and Nate and although they were under completely different circumstances, I prefer Justin. I know you don’t, and so the choice is yours. Choose wisely Cassie, because not everyone is the same person they portray themselves as.” I looked at my feet. I honestly didn’t know what to say.
“Goodnight Aunty Steph. I honestly just need some rest.”
I dragged myself to my bedroom and shut the door. I’d go to Nate tomorrow and tell him I would stay as far away from Justin as I could. I wouldn’t lose him because of Justin. He meant too much to me. His flaws and the bad person he was around Justin didn’t matter. I got into bed and fell asleep, dreaming of the warmth, comfort and promises of forever that a boy with tattoos and no face brought to me.