“I’d like to actually go somewhere and spend some time with you so that this visit isn’t a total waste,” Damien snapped at him the next morning. “My son would like to see the Mister Lee he loves as well.”
“I’m not mad at Track,” Levi snapped back, leaving the bedroom to go have a cheerful breakfast with Track, Levi’s sweetness with the toddler, his feeding him, his reading a story to him, all acting as additional irritants to Damien.
“Are we going anywhere?” Damien asked him, his tone drawing not just Levi’s steely gaze but Track’s confused one.
And that was one silent stare too many.
“Nanny!” Damien bellowed, summoning the frantically appearing young nanny from her suite in the adjoining set of rooms where she and Track slept. “Take Track for a walk. I need to have a chat with Mister Lee.”
“No!” Track shouted. “I want stay wid Mister Lee!”
“You will go with the nanny!”, Damien yelled, causing Track to burst into tears as the nanny tried to pick him up, his tiny hands clinging to Levi’s shirt.
“Mister Lee!”, Track cried, trying to appeal to him for help. “I want stay wid you Mister Lee!”
“It’s okay, Track. Just go with the nanny and I’ll play with you when you get back,” Levi cooed, playing good cop to Damien’s bad with a smile. But his smile did no good; Track was carried from the room bawling.
“You just made me yell at my child,” Damien said as evenly as possible after he angrily shut the door between the suites. “I’ll tell you this just once: Don’t ever do that again.”
Levi just stared at him as if to say, “I? I made you yell at your child? I leapt into your throat and bellowed? I?”
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Damien asked. “All I’m asking is that you talk to me. If I did something wrong, I can’t fix it if you don’t tell me.”
Tell him it’s not his fault. Tell him how you are so fucked up you are making him a scapegoat for the fact that you are angry for no reason because your mind has no reasoning to it.
Oh, fuck him. You can do without him. He’s an actor. You think you’re in love with him and he’s perfect but you know how actors are. Fuck. Him.
“What. . .is . . .wrong, Levi?”
Just stare at him. Show him how tough you are. That he’s not going to break you. He always wants to dominate. Show him. He wants you to talk? Don’t give him words. Let him squirm. He is hating this.
“Levi. . .I don’t know why you’re giving me the silent treatment. But it stops now. If you don’t say something, I’m getting your shit and I’m packing it up and driving you to the airport and you can stay out there in Hollywood until you can figure out why you’re mad at me. But you will not treat me like this. And you will not create a shit-storm environment for my child.”
Get up and pack your shit yourself. Oh, look at him. He’s following you and he is not happy. Go, grab your suitcase and throw your clothes from yesterday in it. Call his bluff. Let’s see him drive you to the airport. Good if he does. You’ll get home at a decent hour to get a full night’s sleep for a change.
“Are you serious right now?”
Levi shrugged his shoulders as if he thought it was obvious he was serious.
“You’re really gonna let me drive you to the airport? You’re going to disappoint Track? He’s expecting you to be here and play with him when he gets back, you know? I thought the three of us might be able to actually have a nice day. What the Hell has gotten into you?”
Levi turned a look of disgust at him.
“Why are you so determined to fuck this up?”
Levi stared at Damien, and, for a moment, as angry as Damien was, he felt a tiny bit of relief as Levi’s face softened, saddened. Maybe now the talking could begin and the silence end. But then an aguish came over Levi’s face. Not just fear of loss. But hatred. Not hatred of Damien, or hatred of some mysterious something Damien felt he must have unintentionally done. But hatred of himself. And his mood. And what he, Levi had done and what he, Levi, was doing.
Levi lowered his head and apologized. Ashamed. Embarassed. Humiliated and humbled.
He apologized for his moodiness and told him, “I’m not using it as an excuse. I won’t do that. I knew what I was doing. And I’m sorry. I knew I was making you angry. And I’m sorry.”
He wanted Damien to hug him and tell him everything was fine. But it wasn’t. Something definitely broke, he thought.
And Levi was the one who broke it.
If Damien hadn’t been watching him, he would have clawed his skin until his arms were bloody messes.
They had put on a happy face for Track, bringing him to the Atlanta Zoo in Grant Park, acting as if all was fine even though it wasn’t. If Track sensed a chill between them he did not show it; with both overacting, Track was the recipient of extra attention and care.
But when Track was back at the hotel for his bedtime and Damien drove Levi to the airport, the awkward air between them returned.
“I am sorry,” Levi said.
“I know, Lee. I know.” Damien sounded so tired. Not just tired. Drained. The tone made Levi fearful. “Look—I’ll see you next week and. . . everything will be fine by then.”
“Will we?” Levi asked. “See each other?”
“Yes,” Damien reminded him. “I’m coming to L.A. next week so you don’t have to make the trip. Remember?”
“But will you?” Levi asked. The fear in his voice shamed him but made Damien laugh gently at him.
“Yes, you fucking silly monkey.”
“To kick me out of your house?” Levi asked, tears in his eyes. He had really fucked this up.
“No,” Damien said. “But I do think. . .like you said. . .that it’s a good idea to keep your apartment.”
The panic that darkened Levi’s face threw Damien himself into an apologetic panic. “I don’t mean we don’t have a future. I mean for. . .he same reasons you mentioned before: when you have times like what you had this week? Lee, I can’t have Track around that.”
Damien glanced at Levi and saw a look of genuine horror as he started off toward the dashboard but to some awful image of the future gone wrong.
“Hey,” he said, stirring Levi from his reverie, “I love you. I fucking love you. I know this has been strange this week but. . . I just need some time to calm down. I was so looking forward to you being here and. . .well, honestly. . .you ruined what could have been two wonderful days.”
“I’m sorry,” Levi said. “I am sorry. I am. I really am, Damie.”
“I know. I believe you. I know you’re sorry. I am, too. So. . .look: You go home—to our home. Not the apartment. But when Track and I are back in L.A. . . .when a mood like that hits you. . .maybe you and I go to the apartment until it passes and we fight it out, if need be.”
“It won’t happen again,” Levi promised.
“We both know it will happen again. It happens every fucking week with my brother. It’s why he’s single.”
“Are you saying—I’m going to be single–”
Damien answered the question before it could be asked, exhausted and loudly.
“No, Levi. No.” He softened his tone but he was so exhausted his weariness pained all his words. “We are fine. Fine! Okay? Please stop. You’ve apologized. I’ve accepted the apology. It was a bad two days and we’re both aching inside. But we are fine. I. Love. You. See? I want you in my house. In my bed. In my life. In my son’s life. I. Love. You. I just don’t love you when you’re being a psychotic bitch. That’s all. Psycho bitch? He lives in the apartment off Fountain. My silly monkey? He lives in our house. My deeply sarcastic deep thinker? He lives in our house. My handsome guy with the sweet eyes and the thoughtful disposition? He lives in our house. The manic guy who likes to have sex twenty-four hours a day, again and again until I have to beg him to stop? He definitely lives in our house. But psycho bitch? He stays overnight every now and again in our apartment in Hollywood so my son doesn’t get effected by some up-and-down moodiness. Capiche?”
“Capiche?” Levi asked. “Since when are you Italian?”
“Smart-ass lives in our house,” Damien answered him, grinning.
“I understand, Damien. And I agree.” Levi told him. “I absolutely agree. And I love you, too. And Track. I will not put you through this again.”
Damien drew in a loud breath. “Let’s be realistic, Lee. You will put us through it again. Uh-uh-uh—let me finish. You will put us through this again so let’s not make a promise you can’t keep. Let’s instead promise each other that when you put us through this again. . .we will deal with it and we will make it through. I’d rather us be realistic. We have a lot of romance; a little reality isn’t going to kill us, hon.”