the sun also rises. jake/brett. 1480 words. r. "you can be a bit rough, can't you?" her mother had sounded concerned as she'd said it. brett had laughed. i am not even going to apologize for this. if you have issues with it, take them up with kateinslacks because this is entirely her fault and she ought to be deeply ashamed of herself. i really do not know if this in character or anything, it just is. so.
if your heart could never yield to me,
then i'd rather have nothing at all.
(all or nothing at all) billie holiday.
She came to see him after the wedding.
This was the third one maybe (he stopped keeping count: at her last wedding which he went to for some reason, he'd sat next to a man with a walrus mustache that smelled of whiskey, who had said "she likes doing this, doesn't she? getting married?" It was a terribly rude thing to say but Jake had laughed. His sense of humor, he thought, was something to be thankful for, it had kept him out of a couple of tough spots in the past.) It was Mike Campbell this time, Mike, who was a damned good fellow and who Jake rather liked or pretended to and no one can really tell the difference anymore, not even Brett. Actually, especially not Brett. Perhaps he is only pretending to like her.
"You didn't come to the wedding."
She was standing in the door with a white hat on and when she took it off, her curls were wet, stamped flat against her skull or some of them stood up in a funny way. It was much shorter than it used to be now, her hair. He found rather liked it.
"I was occupied at the time."
"I was sick."
She didn't ask after that. Probably didn't care.
"So, how's married life?"
"Oh, I don't know. Same as ever, I guess. One husband isn't too different from another."
"That's not too complimentary to Mike."
"I like Mike," she said automatically, as she ought.
"Everyone does," he responded.
He did not mean to sound so dull but it was difficult sometimes, with her standing in his door or smoking on his window sill, with her legs crossed like a boys, stubbing out the cigarette on a pair of his pants with a sort of careless cruelty that used to make him sad (sometimes it still does) and often, just very angry. Irritated.
"I say, Jake," she asked suddenly, "Are you ever coming back to Paris?"
He laughed. "You didn't really come out here all this way to ask me that?"
Funny thing is, she did. Oh, well.
She wasn't ever the type of girl who felt bad about things, it wasn't her way - oh, all right, sometimes she did. She tried not to make a habit of it though. It could be so unbecoming.
It was during a conversation, with her mother or maybe someone else (she's got a terrible memory with these things) and they were talking about men. Funny how they all still considered her quite something on the town, she knew she was getting on actually. Not too much, of course, but she wasn't twenty five anymore, she'll put it that way. Nonsense, her mother had laughed it off, but she would, wouldn't she, it's a reflection on her?
The mirror turned her face over the tea cups. She guessed she'd kept her looks.
"You can be a bit rough, can't you?" her mother had sounded concerned as she said it.
Brett had laughed.
"I suppose we all can," her mother had continued, not really waiting for an answer, tapping her fingers against the table, "Just make sure you know which ones can take it."
They could take it, all of them and if they couldn't she didn't care. She's not cruel, only careless.
(The only person she hurts to mean it is Jake, actually, if you wanted to know. And she'd got a damn good reason because she hated him, more than she loved him, she hated him, because when he touched her - just a finger on her wrist, and that slow smile, nothing more.
When he touched her, everything caught fire and she hated that he couldn't put it out, he couldn't do a thing and what she hated even more was that he couldn't feel it, anymore, she guessed.
She burned alone with Jake and it was bloody weak.)
Jake could take it, too.
They were in a taxi, back in Paris, street lights flooding the backseat, "I'm a little tight," he said, when she kissed him.
"Maybe, I shouldn't do that, then."
"No, no maybe you shouldn't," but she did, her knees dug into his thighs and she was all bones and flesh against him.
When they stopped at the bar, his hand was up her skirt and she got out anyway, just pulled right away from him. She slapped him on the street that night, what a dramatic thing to do, like their in the movies and she'd laughed about it later, "i'm terribly sorry, darling, i don't know what came over me."
She slapped him and she didn't tell him she loved him, but she did, she did love him.
They had kept a safe distance for a while, which was either very wise or incurably foolish; "I don't want to get too attached," she rationalized, but only with herself. What a fool, she was already, attached, that is. (Again: who the hell really knows what Jake was thinking?)
It all goes to hell eventually, what doesn't, after all she is actually rather fond of the fatalistic (oh, red cloth whipping around and sand, blood) and her knuckles clench white against the sink, the skin stretched out so tight that she thought she'd burst, slip out through the seams, Lady Brett Ashley spilt all over the bathroom floor and his fingers worked inside her, one or two or three, what did it matter, anyway, how many? She was sobbing into his collar, dry sobs, mouth slick against his neck and they rose higher and higher till she came, finally, still clinging to the sink, her blouse undone and her eyes big and wild.
She ran off right after that, back to the party, with everything in place.
When he looked in the mirror, there was bright stain of her lips against his throat.
"How long are we going to do this, kid?"
It was interesting because she always used to say to people "oh, Jake's not a jealous chap," and she was always right about that, actually. Which is not say, he didn't often feel the sensation - she guesses he might have - but he was never like the others with their fists, he never acted upon. She could never decide if she liked that. It was never that she thought it made him less of a man - she was capable of appreciating level headedness - but she could never be quite sure if that is what it was or if he was just a bit colder than the rest, or if it was something -
She raised up her eyes.
"That's a good answer," she drawled.
"I don't know if I have an answer," she'd said, twirled her ring around her finger. It was early in the morning, her eyes were still swollen up and she shivered a bit under the sweater.
"What do you want?" she'd asked him once and he hadn't known what to say, so he'd shrugged and that was it, she never really could figure out what he wanted.
He shrugged now, just a little bit and a laugh. "Okay. Okay, that's fine."
It wasn't though. It wasn't about fidelity - he'd never expected that and it wasn't about definitiveness, either. Or at least not entirely.
"You're leaving soon," she asked but it wasn't a question. He'd had his bags done for a while.
"I am," he acknowledged.
He'd go away and he'd miss her, probably, maybe he'd write something about it because god knows, he loved her.
"You can't hurt me," she didn't say and she sat there at his table smoking and she did not tell him that he couldn't hurt her, that she had a husband, she had ten lovers, all of Paris at her feet, she had so much and he wasn't even a man, not really. She didn't say anything.
She didn't need to.
(Once she'd told him, they could have a good time together, she's not always sure about that - maybe they'd have killed each other, actually.
She did think about it sometimes, if she's honest.)
"Have a nice trip, Jake," she said, kissing his cheek, like he was going for a week or a year.
He wasn't going for a year.
"Take care of yourself," he'd said and then she'd left and god, she could never see him again, she could -
In the street, outside, warm French summer, a beggar asked her for money and Brett turned out the empty pockets of her jacket and shook her head at him before getting into the cab. He called her mean.
"I'm not mean, darling, I'm just misunderstood."
playlist, if you are so inclined.
"the cruel one" - gold motel.
"i'm waking up to us" - belle & sebastian.
"please please please let me get what i want" - the smiths.
"don't forget to breathe" - bitter:sweet.
"all or nothing at all" - billie holiday.