Part III: Price to be Paid
As I slowly walked home, all I could feel was pain and emptiness. It was my fault Roxanne was still stuck with the organization, she wouldn’t have been if I had waited for her, but I’d been too scared. Instead I’d abandoned the closest thing to a friend I had ever had… I was about halfway to the house when Mace came toward me.
“Hey.” He said. “Are you alright?”
“Yes.” I said flatly.
“Jaime, you don’t have to lie to me.”
“I can see you’re upset, you can talk to me.” I stayed quiet. “That girl, she isn’t your cousin is she?”
“Who is she?”
“She used to be my girlfriend.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you were gay…”
“I’m not. I’m pretty sure I’m not into girls. She was just there when I needed someone and she was attracted to me… I didn’t want to risk losing her so I said yes.”
“I don’t regret it.” I shrugged. “Why do you care?”
“I care because I do care about you Jaime.”
I laughed dryly. “So you want to fuck me. Fat chance.”
He sighed loudly. “No that’s not it! I thought we had something…”
“You helped me, I had to repay you, that was it.”
From the fingerless gloves he wore on his hands I felt his fists clench. “Is that really all you think of me? That I did what I did just so I could use you?”
“It’s what everyone does. Nobody does anything if it doesn’t benefit them, even if it’s just to make themselves feel better about themselves.” I said. “Wait… Does that mean you remember?”
“I’m starting to, at least some parts of that summer.”
“We have to get Roxanne back.”
“Sorry, but I don’t think I can do it again.”
“There’s a price to my powers, Jaime.” He said flatly. “One I can’t make myself pay again. I’ve already sold too much of myself.”
“You’re going to be petty like that just because I’m not going to let you fuck me?” I turned around but he grabbed me by the arm.
“It’s not like that! Believe it or not but I don’t expect anything of you except for you to be my friend, but I guess that’s too much to ask for. I don’t have anything left to give away; I already lost my name, my identity and my past. I sold my right to lie to save your life, what else am I supposed to give away for others?”
I just froze under his verbal onslaught. In all the time I’d known Mace, he’d never been this strong and vocal.
“Your right to lie?”
“I can’t lie anymore, everything I say has to be true as far as I know, although it can be a partial truth, but I can’t say anything false, hell I can’t even do theater because it’s false…”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“We come from different worlds Jaime, sure the same Earth but there’s a secret world hidden from most people. Magic is real, demons, goblins and everything that goes bump in the right are all real. It’s how I got my powers, by consorting with these creatures, how I got Laevatein too. Everything I have comes with a price, and they don’t take money. They want to be real so what they ask of you is part of yourself. I sold my name for Laevatein, I sold my memories for freedom… When you were dying from that shit, I sold away my right to lie so you could live.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“I’d like to say that I don’t care what you think, but that would be a lie. You don’t have to believe me and I do wish helping your friend was that easy, I’d do it in a heartbeat, but I—” The word seemed struck in his throat. “But I don’t want to pay that price again, I’ve lost too much of myself already. You can call me selfish if you want, but now I know how you feel about me, I’m not sure if I should really care anymore…”
To my surprise, tears started pouring out of his eyes and running down his face.
“Just what the hell do you want from me?” He screamed. “One moment you hate me and want me to fuck off and the next you come back to me because you need support. Is that all I am to you? Some fucking tool to use and discard as you please? Do you really think I did all I did; saving you, protecting you, going to the doctor with you, keeping your secrets and giving you company was all just so I could put my dick in you? Is that really what you think of me? That I’m just some fuckboy douche?”
I didn’t answer.
“I guess that time you apologize to me was just more bullshit.” He looked away. “You must think I’m a moron for falling for it.”
“Mace it w—”
“Stop, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t believe a word you say anymore. I wish you well, but don’t come and talk to me again.” He turned around and walked off. “I don’t want to hear from you, not until you’re ready to stop pushing people away.”
I tried to catch up to him but the pain in my damaged legs was too strong. I tried to call out to him but he didn’t listen. I just collapsed on the paved path and let out a scream. What the fuck was wrong with me? Why did I have to lash out at anyone trying to help me?
“Jaime?” Doc Venus called, coming out of her office.
“Yeah, I’m here.” I got up and went into the office with her.
“I see your friend Mace isn’t with you today.” She noted out loud.
“We’re not really talking right now.”
He had ignored me all night and morning. He was definitely intent on not getting involved with me again.
“That’s a shame. What can I do for you today?”
“Just the usual transfusion therapy.” I said with a shrug.
She guided me to the usual room and I lied down on the medical bed, removing my shirt and exposing the transfusion port. She hooked me up and began treatment. I must have dozed off from the lack of sleep the night before because the next moment she was tapping my wrist.
“You’re all done.” She said. “Is there anything else you need?”
I looked out the frosted window and by the darkness I could tell that it was already past sunset. I put my shirt back on and slipped off the bed, repressing a grunt of pain as my knees groaned from the sudden change in weight.
“Actually, I could use some help with the pain…” I sighed.
“I think I have just the right thing. Wait here.”
She left the room and came back a second later. Except instead of pills or medicine, she carried a metal walking stick.
“You’re kidding.” I snarled. “Do I look like a cripple?”
“I know you’re struggling to accept your new condition, but you are disabled Jaime and soon enough you’ll have to make lifestyle changes or you’ll risk worsening your condition in the long term. This is just a cane, it’ll help lessen the weight you put in your legs, it’ll help ease the pain and let you be more mobile, you don’t have to use it all the time, just when you feel you need an extra bit of help.”
I wanted to tell her to shove it up her cloacal, but Mace’s words came back to mind; I don’t want to hear from you, not until you’re ready to stop pushing people away
“Fine…” I sighed. “I’ll take it.”
The doc grinned wide. “I’m glad to hear it. This is just a temporary one, we can look up for a more personal one if you’d like. Custom fit and decorated just for you.”
“Maybe another time?”
She gave me the stupid cane and I took my first step, with her instructing me on how to properly use it.