Joni parked his car in front of his parents’ house and for a while he just sat there feeling reluctant to get out. It was as if his body weighed a ton, requiring a huge boost of energy even for such simple movements as getting onto his feet, taking his bag and walking inside. He didn’t feel like he had this energy or the tools to acquire it. Yet he couldn’t stay seated in his car forever either now, could he?
There would be questions, they would want to know what had happened and Joni didn’t feel like telling them. He felt like a failure in so many ways. Misha who had agreed to care for him, more than just as a friend, now wanted to go back to being just that. Could he really blame the man for it? Still, it would have been fairer if such an agreement had never been made in the first place. It would have been easier if… Joni sighed, what was easy in this situation anyway? – Nothing.
Finally he mustered the necessary energy to step out and just as he did so, the front door opened and his father stepped onto the porch visibly surprised to see him.
“We weren’t expecting you, has something happened?” Asko asked with concern as he walked down the few steps. Joni’s expression spoke of misery, his eyes looked a little bit red and…
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Joni said and took his bag from the trunk avoiding his father’s eyes.
“What?!” The youth snapped. “Am I not allowed to come back home?”
“Of course you are,” Asko hurried to assure. “You’re always welcome; come, let me take your bag.” He added and reached to take his son’s carryings. Joni didn’t object, just walked towards the house with somewhat slow and awkward steps. The father felt uneasy for not knowing what exactly had happened, but knowing enough that whatever it was he didn’t like it and his first instinct was to blame the blond man for doing something to Joni. “Are you hungry? Would you like something?”
“No, I just want to sleep,” Joni informed him as they stepped inside. It was only half past 8 in the morning and the children and Katja were still sleeping.
“Did the man do something to you?” Asko couldn’t help but to ask.
“I said I don’t want to talk…” Joni snapped, kicked his shoes off and headed upstairs.
“We haven’t made your bed ready yet, wait and I’ll-“
“I’ll do it myself…” Joni sighed and climbed the stairs without a second look behind.
The room was different; his father had done the changes that he had talked about earlier. The walls had been repainted, the curtains changed, the bed was new and situated on the opposite side from where it had been before. Joni locked the door and smiled without joy, perhaps his father believed that this washed away the unpleasant memories that Chris had left behind. Joni wished it would be that simple, but it wasn’t, it never was. Though… he had to admit feeling some form of relief at not having to sleep on the same bed that Chris had… Sighing, Joni sat down on the edge of the bed, looking around still feeling exhausted, most of all it was mental exhaustion.
Time was a funny thing, it was less than two months since Chris had been there with him and now it really felt peculiar in someway that Chris would never again step inside this room. Chris would never call him to ask where he was or demand him to come home, though… Perhaps he should never say never in this case, Chris wasn’t dead and prison wouldn’t hold him forever, so the possibility of at least a phone call was actually pretty high.
Joni’s head started to ache. He was back where he had started, back at square one, everything had to be rebuilt, a new start, where to begin? His cell phone started to ring in his pocket and lazily he took it out staring numbly at Misha’s name on the screen. He didn’t think that the man could have anything new to say; perhaps he just wanted to make more excuses for his behaviour, to ease the guilt of his control loving mind. Well, Joni wouldn’t give him that and so he simply brought his finger on the little picture of a red phone before switching his cell off completely. He didn’t want to talk to anyone.
He just wanted to sleep and just… sleep and wake up and find that some miracle had made everything alright again. In the end he didn’t even have the energy to change the sheets. After drawing the curtains down Joni took a blanket and a pillow and curled onto the bed. If possible he wanted to sleep for a whole month without interruptions and nightmares.
Asko poured himself a cup of coffee glancing towards upstairs and trying to resist the urge to go and ask Joni to tell him what was wrong. He knew his son well enough by now and knew that when he was like this it was better to leave him alone until he was ready to talk. Still it wasn’t easy to fight the parent’s first instinct to solve and correct what was wrong so in the end he just felt uneasy and restless.
Twenty minutes later Katja walked downstairs and the house filled with laughter and running of the other three children as they hurried downstairs to watch cartoons.
“Good morning love,” Katja smiled as she entered the kitchen.
“Joni came home,” Asko told her and she could see how restless he was. Katja reached to take her coffee mug from the cabinet and filled it with the hot, dark liquid.
“When?” She asked.
“Half an hour ago,” Asko answered. “Something is wrong, I- He just went to his room, to sleep, he said.”
Katja sipped from her mug and glanced upstairs. “That’s strange…” She agreed. “Did he mention anything about Misha?”
Asko shook his head. “Lord help him if he’s done something to Joni, I warned him!” His voice took an edgy tone as his mind went through every possible scenario of what might have happened.
“Asko, calm down, I can’t imagine that Misha would do anything to harm Joni, not after everything, it’s been obvious how he cares for Joni.”
For a moment Asko was quiet. “Like we couldn’t imagine that Chris would…” He finally voiced his thoughts out loud and Katja gave him a sad look.
“I-“ Katja started but wasn’t sure how to argue with that. As much as she would have liked to say that she always knew Chris had been bad news, she couldn’t, as much as she hated the fact now, she had actually liked the man before knowing the secrets of the relationship. Chris had played the role of a caring and concerned boyfriend well; it was frightening how well he had played it. “Perhaps just an ordinary lovers’ quarrel, Joni’s in a very fragile state of mind after all, it can be something quite minor that has upset him.”
And just then Katja’s cell phone began to ring. “Speaking of the devil…” The woman joked and smiled as she saw who was calling.
“Give me that!” Asko demanded and tried to snatch the cell from her hands. Katja sighed smiling and gently pushed her husband back.
‘Be nice’ she mouthed silently before answering Misha’s call.
Misha moved around restlessly in the house, Joni wasn’t answering his phone and in the end the brat seemed to have turned the cell off completely. What if something bad had happened? What if he was in an accident and… Maybe he should drive to Joni’s parents to check? To try and explain himself once more? Why did it have to be so damn complicated with Joni? Foolish brat….
Finally Misha decided to call Joni’s stepmother. He had to know that Joni had at least safely arrived home if anything.
“Hello,” the woman answered sounding somewhat curious.
“Yes, hi, this is Misha… “ He started, clearing his throat as he paced back and forth in the living room.
“Yes, I saw it was you…” Katja answered with a gentle voice.
“Ah, yes of course… I’m just calling to check if… If Joni got there alright?”
“Yes, his father said he came home about an hour ago, he’s in his room, sleeping apparently. Care to tell me what happened?”
“Well… a little misunderstanding … Could you tell him I called when he wakes up? If he could call me back? I really need to talk with him, I can’t reach his cell.”
“Alright, I will let him know that you called,” Katja answered knowing that this was probably most that she could get out of Misha right now. She could only hope that Joni would explain everything once he would wake up.
“Thanks, bye then.”
“Bye,” Katja ended the call and lowered her phone on the kitchen counter.
“Well, what did he say?” Asko asked impatiently.
”Said that there was some misunderstanding between them. I guess we just have to wait till Joni tells us.”
“He better not have laid his finger on my son to harm him in any way,” Asko responded tightly.
“Darling, calm down, I’m sure it’s nothing bad,” Katja tried to reassure him. Asko nodded still feeling restless. After everything, he didn’t know if he could ever trust anyone that any of his children would decide to date.
It had been a long time since Ivo had felt such happiness as he did that day. He sang cheerfully while driving back home, his lips still burning after the kisses he had received that morning and just before leaving the apartment. He probably would have stayed longer if Jami’s mother hadn’t decided to call saying she’d visit.
Ivo felt giddy like a school boy, he felt so wonderfully ridiculous with warm thoughts and heart filled with hopes. He was completely smitten with his hairdresser. Jami was cute, funny, gentle, made an excellent omelette and he was just so adorable and sexy at the same time. Ivo hoped with all his heart that this relationship would work. Even just having left, he already wished he could return, he couldn’t wait to see the other again and drown him with more kisses.
Ivo didn’t really notice the fact that Joni’s car was missing on the driveway, too busy thinking of his newfound happiness to pay attention to details. He sang quietly to himself when entering the hall and kicking his shoes off. “I’m home!” He announced and headed towards the kitchen where he found Misha organising the kitchen cabinets. “Hi,” Ivo said when his brother didn’t seem to notice his arrival.
Misha glanced at him briefly and nodded, annoyed at seeing Ivo look so happy and cheerful, it only seemed to lower his own mood further. “How was the date?” He decided to ask regardlessly, not really wanting Ivo to start with questions of his own.
“It was wonderful, he is wonderful… amazing.” The older brother sighed and Misha rolled his eyes.
“Where is Joni?” Ivo then asked the question that Misha had dreaded. He continued to arrange the glasses mostly just wanting to keep himself busy instead of waiting by the phone like some sad idiot.
“He went home,” Misha answered as calmly as he could manage, trying to make it sound like it was a totally normal thing for Joni to do.
“Home?” Ivo wondered. “When will he be back then?” At this Misha shrugged.
“I don’t think he will come back.” Ivo stared at his little brother trying to understand what was going on, what had happened. Misha was cleaning so it meant that he was either nervous or upset.
“What did you do?” Ivo finally asked.
“Who says I did anything?” Misha got defensive. “Is it my fault that he likes to misunderstand everything I say or do?” Ivo frowned at his brother’s attitude.
“Misha, what the hell happened here?!” Ivo’s good mood seemed to vanish just like that. “What did you do?” He couldn’t think of any other reason for Joni’s sudden leaving than Misha having said something wrong to him in his usual pigheaded manner. Misha refused to answer at first; he gritted his teeth and looked like a little kid who had just been caught doing something wrong.
Misha had never felt so ashamed before and it irritated him, he didn’t like to admit how wrong he had been, but this time he knew that he was guilty about the previous night, he had done wrong. “We slept together…” He finally whispered not looking at Ivo, who of course would let him hear just how big of an asshole he had been.
Ivo was surprised to hear that, Misha still couldn’t even look at him. “Misha… “He started, honestly not sure how to respond to that. “Why?” It sounded such a silly thing to ask out loud, still it was the only thing he could ask. Misha wasn’t the type to take advantage, he wouldn’t hurt Joni or pressure him and now Ivo felt confused of how this could have happened so soon. It made no sense, not after what they knew.
“I didn’t force him if that’s what you are thinking!” Misha snapped out of anger and frustration. “It just happened, we drank and he… He acted so… He seemed like he wanted it…. Fuck! I know I did wrong! I am not making excuses I just… I didn’t mean for this to happen! And I told him we should just be friends so that it won’t happen again and he just… He didn’t hear me out, he refused to talk and he just left, you know how annoying he can be! How utterly frustrating and foolish and… I didn’t mean for this to happen!”
Ivo felt his head starting to ache, he shook his head, walked over to the kitchen table and sat down. How could his brother be this stupid? “Misha…” He started. “Let me get this right… You slept with Joni and then you told him you only wanted to be his friend?”
Misha glanced at him, his lips tightened looking guilty as hell and he didn’t respond. All that gave Ivo the answer. “You idiot!” Ivo groaned. “Can you honestly blame him for leaving after that?! Friends?! Sleeping with him was stupid, I agree, but this fucking ‘let’s be friends after all’ is even more stupid!”
“Well… I… it…” Misha stammered, it was quite rare to get him speechless. “I just… He’s not ready and… I … I don’t want to pressure him! It was too soon!”
“Damn right it was,” Ivo responded tightly and got up. “God! Why do you have to be such a bull headed moron!” He waved his hand in the air in frustration. “Breaking up with him after what you did?! For God’s sake Misha, take some responsibility for your actions! You better fix it, can’t you fucking get how that boy cares for you!! Talk to him for God’s sake, say that you’re sorry and let it be up to him what he wants to do. I don’t care if you have to crawl in front of his feet but you will apologise!”
“I don’t need you to tell me what to do Ivo, I know I did wrong on my own and I know what I need to do, so shut up…” Misha groaned not liking to be yelled at, by Ivo of all people! “I’m going to my room…” He grumbled after that and headed out of the kitchen towards the stairs. Ivo sighed.
“You can’t blame Joni for running off, when right now you are doing the same thing!” Ivo called after his brother who however didn’t respond and instead there was only a loud bang when he slammed his door shut upstairs. “Now who’s the brat?” Ivo grumbled to himself looking around in the kitchen before deciding to prepare himself some coffee and perhaps… Perhaps he would call Jami, just to hear the voice that he knew would calm his nerves instantly.
The bed looked so lonely and sad right then, when just few hours ago he had lain there next to Joni. Misha sat down in front of his desk and ran his fingers through his hair, he couldn’t escape his thoughts, couldn’t escape the memories of Joni, almost able to smell his lingering scent. Such a lovely scent it was… He got up, approached the bed and sat down, his fingers reaching out to touch the pillow that Joni had used. ‘You are such a sad creature, Misha’ he thought to himself smiling almost bitterly.
He glanced towards the nightstand remembering the day several years ago when Joni had found his dildo and how it had both annoyed and embarrassed him. The winter night they had slept together for the first time, how adorable and sexy Joni had looked beneath him…
Joni had been 15 when Misha had first met him. He had gone to the same junior high school as Dima, but been in a different grade, apparently their gym classes had been the same though and that’s how they had met. Dima didn’t invite home just anyone and later it had puzzled Misha endlessly of how his kid brother could be friends with such an airhead, such a vain and annoying brat.
If Misha was honest with himself, seeing Joni for the very first time had indeed brought dirty thoughts to his mind already, which had felt terribly improper to have of a 15 year old. And if he really started digging further into his mind, he had seen that the best cure to kill any impure thoughts was to simply hate the kid and everything he said or did. He hadn’t wanted to give Joni any chance to be anything other than annoying, stuck up and vain all the while dismissing the thought that something had to be good about him since Dima, his level headed and endlessly kind brother thought so highly of Joni.
Joni was still a brat, that hadn’t changed but Misha honestly wouldn’t have wanted him any other way and now he had also seen the other side, the gentle and vulnerable side that probably had always been there. Joni was everything he wanted; the need to protect him was strong, stronger than with anyone else. Perhaps it was because Joni seemed to possess the amazing talent to get into trouble so easily, acting so… carelessly. Yet, what had happened with Joni’s ex was solely the other man’s fault; nothing Joni had or hadn’t done could give an excuse to such a crime against him.
Misha knew he had to correct the situation somehow, but how could he do it if Joni wouldn’t even talk to him?
It was noon and Joni still hadn’t come out of his room, Asko’s worry grew, he had already been knocking on his son’s door a few times asking if he’d like to come downstairs to eat. Joni didn’t open the door, just answered with a fatigued voice that he didn’t need anything. But eating was important, Katja agreed with him and even she began to worry when it was already two in the afternoon. Trying to solve the situation they both in the end came to the same conclusion, if Joni didn’t open the door for them, perhaps he would do so for his little sister. And so half past 2pm, the little girl was sent upstairs with a box of cookies as an emergency solution.
Joni hadn’t really moved from his bed, he hadn’t really slept either, just laid there feeling completely out of energy. He sighed heavily when there was yet another knock on his door and just before he was about to give the same reply as the times before, ”not hungry”, he heard: “Joni, I’ve got cookies!” The enthusiastic voice of his little sister made him smile, just a little, not because of the cookies, no, Joni couldn’t have cared less about any food at the moment, but simply because he realised how much he had missed that cute voice.
He couldn’t really leave his sister disappointed, standing behind his door, so he made the effort to get up and open the door. Sini smiled brightly up at him, throwing her small arms around his waist to hug him tightly. “I missed you!” She announced and Joni smiled gently brushing her soft, long hair.
“I missed you too.”
“Can we watch Nemo?” She asked then and showed him the DVD and the box of cookies in her hands. Joni chuckled.
“Haven’t you seen it like hundreds of times already?”
“Yes, it is my favourite,” Sini nodded eagerly.
“Alright then, let’s watch Nemo,” Joni agreed.
“Just the two of us?” The girl asked hopefully.
“Just the two of us,” Joni smiled and went to put the DVD into the player. They sat on his bed with pillows and blankets, Sini curled beside him feeding him the cookies, stuffing them into his mouth so that Joni had no other choice but to eat.
“I’m glad you are home,” Sini said halfway through the movie and Joni smiled, pressing a gentle kiss on the crown of her head. “Glad that Clish isn’t, I don’t like Clish.” She added and Joni sighed, drifted his gaze to the screen where the cartoon was playing.
“I don’t like him either, anymore,” he whispered and Sini snuggled closer to his side, smiling contently as she had her big brother back, her beloved idol. Chris had been mean; speaking in an odd language, making Joni cry and once the man had rudely pushed her away when she had tried to sneak into their room in the middle of the night. She had been scared of Chris, who never wanted to play with her either. Yes, she hadn’t liked the man one bit.
Katja smiled gently when she carefully entered the room and saw the two sitting on the bed, side by side, an opened cookie box on Sini’s lap, watching Nemo. Joni, sensing her presence, turned his gaze to his stepmother.
“I was wondering if you’d like any real food yet?” She asked. “I could heat some up for you.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“You should still eat something.”
“I ate cookies.”
“That’s not real food.”
“Whatever, I am not hungry,” Joni replied somewhat rudely and turned his gaze back to the screen. “And I am a grown up so I can take care of my own eating thank you very much,” he added.
Katja sighed, at least Joni’s personality hadn’t gone through a drastic change, she tried to think positively. “Misha called, he hopes you’d call him back. He said he couldn’t reach your cell?”
“Tough luck,” came the short, cold reply.
“What happened between you two? I thought things were going well.”
“Not your business, now can you please go and let me watch Nemo with my sister? You’re distracting us.”
“Oh and if Misha calls again you can tell him I have no desire to speak with him, he already said all that is necessary for me to hear and I don’t need him to repeat it.”
Katja felt at a loss for words, she parted her lips to speak but could think of nothing to say. Joni again glanced at her. “Thank you, that is all.” He added with a fake smile.
Shaking her head, the woman turned from the room and closed the door after her. She thought it was best to call Misha back and ask him to tell what had upset Joni this way, before Asko would demand answers in his own overly drastic way.
“He said he doesn’t want to speak with you, that you’ve said everything he needs to hear…” Joni’s stepmother explained him on the phone, making Misha grit his teeth in frustration.
“It was a misunderstanding,” he sighed finally. “If he would just give me another chance to…”
“What did happen?” The woman interrupted him. “What did you say to him?”
“It’s… a long story, he just… got me all wrong. And he’s very sensitive, too sensitive…and…” Misha didn’t really want to tell her what had really happened, he was much too ashamed of it, plus these weren’t the types of things you wanted to talk to parents about. ‘Yes, I slept with your stepson last night and then in the morning told him we should just be friends’ It sounded so bad and wrong in his head now, how could he have been that stupid? “I made a mistake, can you tell him that? Tell him that I really, really need to talk with him, it’s important.”
“Well, give him a few days to calm down, I’ll try to talk with him and I’m sure that eventually he will agree to talk with you. You just need to be patient with him; this is a very stressful time for Joni, after all.”
“I know,” Misha sighed. “Okay, just… Well, I’ll call back later to check how he is?”
“Alright, bye then.”
“Bye…” Misha ended the call feeling somewhat depressed. A few days… Perhaps he could wait for a few days? Or… should he instead just go over there and make Joni talk to him? Misha wasn’t sure what to do, all he knew was that he didn’t need Joni to get more upset, or more disappointed in him than he was now. It had to be fixed, somehow.
A/N: Please review , either on shout box or the questbook where the review link leads to, it won’t take much of your time, but would mean a great deal to me! Reviews are the fuel to writing 🙂
Web published: November 27th, 2010.
My Secret Shore