Traci went to get me some ice while I cleaned up my tear and blood stained face. Facial cuts tend to bleed a lot, so based on the amount of blood, I was afraid of what I was going to see. But it actually wasn't bad at all. The swelling was ugly, though. It finally stopped bleeding after I held the ice on it for a few minutes.
Michael let me know when they were back, and asked if we were going to hang out. I told him we'd be up in a few minutes. I bet that had been an interesting ride back with him and Ashton in the same vehicle.
I told Traci to go on and I'd be there shortly. I had some business to take care of.
"The fuck you do. You're not going to see Ashton by yourself."
"Oh, come on, T. It's fine, I promise. He didn't mean to hit me. I was in the way."
She gave me one of her "seriously?" looks. "Says every abused woman ever."
I rolled my eyes at her. "For real, it was an accident. I think you know me well enough to know that I'd never knowingly put myself in a dangerous situation."
She considered it for a moment and said, "Okay, you're right. I'm just so mad at Ashton right now. I don't understand why he lost his shit like that."
I thought it was as good of a time as ever to let her know everything I hadn't told her. So I gave her a quick run down.
"Why didn't you tell me these things before, Bree?"
I felt ashamed, though I knew there was no reason to be. "You know me. I sometimes turn a blind eye to the bad in people. I've put Ashton up on a pedestal and I guess I just keep thinking it'll get better. I mean, none of it's that bad, really. So I just deal with it."
"You shouldn't have to 'deal with' anything in a relationship. You know this. You're the most sensible person in the world. I know it's difficult to accept that even Ashton Irwin has flaws, but obviously he does. And not just minor ones. The way he acted back there, that was serious, Bree."
I was crying again. "I know. That's why I have to go talk to him."
"Okay, but if you're not at Michael's room in 15 minutes, I'm coming after you. I'm pretty sure I can take Ashton."
I laughed and shook my head at her threat. "Thirty minutes. Give me half an hour."
"Twenty. Final answer. And I'm serious. I'll be knocking down the door."
"Okay, 20 minutes. I swear it'll be fine."
All this time Ashton had been trying to get a hold of me. I didn't even bother reading the messages or listening to the voicemails.
Corey was sitting in a chair outside of Ashton's room, apparently making sure he didn't leave. He asked if I was okay. I told him I was fine, just a little shaken up. He told me Ashton was, too, and he hadn't realized he'd hit me until Calum told him in the car. He became very upset and kept asking to see me, but they wouldn't let him. They told him that I'd come to him if and when I was ready. I thanked him and knocked on the door.
Ashton looked awful. But he was calm, and didn't say a word, even when he looked at the damage he'd done to my lip. He winced, and looked down in shame. He seemed to know to keep his distance, inviting me in without hugging me as he normally would. But to be honest, I needed a hug from him more than ever then. It took all I had to restrain myself.
I sat down on the couch and tried to think of a way to start the conversation. I had hoped to remain calm, and my goal was to not cry in front of him. But I completely failed at both.
I started by asking the worst question possible, "Why were you going through my contacts?"
He paced as he answered, "I just had a feeling. So I checked, and that pretty much confirmed it."
"That's the lamest shit I've ever heard, Ashton. So if I have a guy's phone number, I'm automatically fucking him or something?"
He held out his arms, neither confirming nor denying that I was correct.
"Okay, I see how it is. Well tell me then, exactly how many groupies' numbers do you have? And what about Brandi? I bet you still have her number, too. So, going by your brilliant theory, you're cheating on me. Right?"
"Whatever. You know I'd never cheat on you."
"Exactly! Because I trust you. How many times have you told me that you trust me? I honestly couldn't even guess, because it's been so many. If you truly trust me, then you know that I'd never cheat on you. Can we please be finished with this bullshit once and for all? I can't go on like this this, Ashton. This isn't healthy for a relationship. And the way you treated Michael, goddamn. That was so uncalled for, and you know it."
"Then why the fuck do you have his number?!"
I slowed my speech, trying to calm down. "When I had my surgery, he was concerned because of the way you were acting. And he knew better than to ask you about me directly, because of this shit that we're dealing with right here. So he followed me on Twitter long enough to make sure I wasn't fucking dying, and to tell me how you were worried. Then he gave me his number in case I ever needed it. That's all."
"Why would you ever need it?"
"Hmm, I don't know. Maybe like when you went AWOL on my birthday and he was afraid something had happened to you? No, correction, when we were all afraid something had happened to you."
"You're not bringing that up again."
"Damn skippy I'm not. As a matter of fact, I can see we're getting nowhere, so I'm going to leave." I rose and he grabbed my arm, trying to stop me. I held up my hands, warning that he needed to let go.
He stepped back and said, "I'm not going to hurt you, Aubree. I'm sorry I did that earlier, but it was an accident. You have no idea how much I hate myself right now."
"Yeah, well, not to sound unsympathetic, but you should hate yourself right now. Not because of this," I pointed to my lip, "But because of what you did to Michael. You lost your fucking mind. Have you always been like this with girlfriends, or is it just me?"
He looked defeated, and sat down on the couch. "Just you, I guess."
"You guess, or is that a fact?"
He shrugged. "It's a fact. I don't know why. I told you, I've never loved someone like this. The thought of losing you tears me apart."
He looked so sad and desperate. I sat down beside him, but still keeping my distance. I knew if I touched him, I'd lose every bit of fight I had in me. "Then stop thinking about it, because if you don't, it's going to tear us apart. I want us to work more than anything, but you've changed, Ashton. You've made us too complicated."
He looked at me with tear filled eyes. I actually had to sit on my hands to keep from putting my arms around him. He said, "I know I've changed. And not necessarily for the better. But in some ways I'm a better person, because of you. I've realized that there are more important things in life than being with three other guys 24/7 who don't take their jobs seriously half the time. I know that I want to live a normal life, with normal people, specifically you and little Ashton and Molly. I want... I want out, Aubree. I want out so I can be with you."
Just when I thought he was being sensible he threw that nonsense out there. "You're talking crazy shit right now. Your band, your music, your friends... they mean everything to you, and you know it. I know you don't actually want to quit the band."
He said, "You don't know how I feel. You don't know how exhausting this life is, and how depressing it is when you can't be with the person you love but once every couple of months."
"Actually, I'm well aware of how that last part feels. It sucks ass. And I'm sure you must be exhausted beyond belief at times. But I'm not going to let you quit this band. I'll quit you first."