~The Halo Effect~ 6
Fifteen messages, you sighed as you pocketed your phone. You had a feeling Mathias would try to call you and find out where you were so you had switched your phone to its silent mode when you drove to Allistor’s bar just the night before.
“Are you going to reply?” Allistor asked noticing your conflicted expression.
“I don’t know,” you said. “Well, I’m going to talk to him either way, but I don’t feel that doing it over the phone is the best method.”
Your friend’s emerald eyes narrowed. “______________, remember what I said—”
“I know, I know,” you interrupted him. “I might say something different the moment I look at him, is that right?”
“It’s not just that,” Allistor added. “Who knows what his mental state is like after knowing you left him?” He paused. “You never did tell me what happened.”
You rubbed your neck. The mark was still there—as was the pain.
“I didn’t want to talk about it.”
“Didn’t?” Allistor repeated.
You nodded. “Yeah, I think now, I can…” Your voice trailed off. While you wouldn’t have hesitated to call Allistor your friend, you wouldn’t have referred to him as that kind of friend, the kind of the friend that you could share all of your deepest secrets with and know you could trust him to keep them to himself—not to mention if something or someone pressed Allistor’s wrong buttons, they were in for one hell of a storm.
“______________?” your friend said interrupting your thoughts.
“S-Sorry, Allistor,” you apologized. “I actually don’t know if I should tell you.”
“And why would you be so reluctant to tell me?” he asked.
“I don’t know how you’d react.”
“Well, it has to be bad, aye? You’d never hide it if it was harmless.”
You chuckled. “You have a point.”
“Tell you what,” Allistor said, “I promise that if it has anything to do with Mathias, I won’t do anything to him.”
Unconvinced, you raised an eyebrow. “You really promise?”
“Aye, I promise,” Allistor replied without blinking an eye.
“Mm, alright, then,” you sighed and curled up on his sofa. Once you were all set with your friend sitting across from you, you began to tell him about last night’s events.
When you finished, Allistor was quiet. He had been quiet throughout your entire story, but you had expected him to explode and tell you to dump that son of a bitch or some other crude insult. Then again, Allistor was hard to read.
“Allistor…?” you quietly said. “You’re not mad, are you?”
Allistor still didn’t make an effort to respond. His hands were crossed over his legs, and he wore a solemn expression as though he was in deep thought. Finally, without saying so much as a word, he got up and walked to the balcony.
“Allistor?” You got up and went after him. “Hey, where are you go—Oh.”
Immediately after you saw what your friend was doing, your worried look changed into a disapproving frown. Allistor was smoking again.
“Just for the record, I’m not mad,” he said after taking his first few puffs. “Not at you, anyway.”
You let out a heavy sigh and crossed your arms. “I really thought you were going to give me that usual bartender talk and say what I should do.”
“If I did, that would be going against my promise,” your friend casually said.
“Can I see it again?”
“The bite mark he gave you.” Allistor rolled his eyes. “Don’t worry, I won’t do anything.”
You grimaced and tugged your top down just enough to reveal the burning red mark your boyfriend had given you. Like the other mark on your neck, it wasn’t bleeding anymore, but it served as a bitter reminder of what type of person he could be in his other state. To be blunt, you didn’t like it as much as you had thought you did.
“It’s pretty bad,” he said. “Did you disinfect it?”
“You really think I had time to disinfect it when trying to get out of my apartment?”
“Er, no,” Allistor sheepishly answered and began to play with his cigarette in his mouth. “Hang on. When I’m done with this, I’ll find something for you.”
“I have an idea: how about instead of finishing it, you just stop it altogether?” you suggested.
“I’ll listen to you if you listen to me.”
“I said I’d think about it.”
“Did you now? I don’t remember.”
“Allistor,” you growled.
“Sorry, _____________,” your friend apologized and put out his cigarette. “I should have something in my medicine cabinet.”
“I appreciate it, Allistor,” you smiled.
Mathias cursed. _____________ still hadn’t returned any of his calls. He was a mess. The memories were fuzzy, but he remembered going out with his coworkers last night for a few rounds. Had he really gone overboard? Hell, he must have. He didn’t remember half the shit that happened last night, but what he did remember was the aching pain in his lower regions.
“Shit,” Mathias groaned and rubbed his aching head. “I really screwed up this time.”
Mathias was the type of person who was always able to get what he wanted. All he had to do was pull a few strings, say the right things, and put on a good smile and like magic, things would go his way. Last night, anything but that happened. He couldn’t believe he almost did that to his own girlfriend. She had forgiven him before, but this time, he knew he had gone too far. He didn’t even need Allistor to tell him that.
Thinking about Allistor…
If anyone knew him, Allistor was the closest thing Mathias had to a real friend. He wasn’t swayed by his charisma in the same way as the others. Sure, the guy had a sharp tongue, but it wasn’t like that bothered Mathias. What did irk him a little was the way Allistor could hold himself together. He never had to worry about being someone he wasn’t because he was himself all of the time. Mathias, on the other hand, always had to constantly put on a fake mask and pretend to be the people person. It was getting exhausting, and the little things that made him continue to move forward were starting to drift farther away from him. He really should have watched himself last night.
Maybe Allistor knows where ___________ is, he thought and began to search through his contact information for his friend’s number.
“Hey,” you looked over at Allistor, “your phone’s ringing.”
“Don’t tell me it’s my brother,” he sighed and picked up his phone. As he looked at the contact information, his eyes began to narrow.
“It’s Mathias,” he said.
Your stomach turned a little. Had Mathias figured out where you were? Wait, no, that couldn’t be it. You remembered Mathias had Allistor personal number at all times. Instead of directly calling the bar, he always had a habit of calling his friend’s personal phone. He was still looking for you.
Allistor answered the phone. “Something up, Mathias?”
A pause. His emerald eyes remained on you at all times like he was worried you might walk away if he didn’t continue to stare at you. Meanwhile, you rubbed the sore spot Mathias had bitten. It stung even more after Allistor applied the hydrogen peroxide, but at least the wounds were disinfected now.
“_____________?” Allistor suddenly said. You nearly jumped. Then, he pointed to the phone and silently mouthed some words. You assumed he was asking if you wanted him to tell Mathias if you were here or not.
No point in making him worry, you thought and began to walk towards the phone. Then, before Allistor could give Mathias a reply, you went over and snatched the phone out of his hand.
“H-Hello?” It was Mathias’ voice. “Allistor, you still there?”
“Mathias, it’s me,” you said. Allistor rolled his eyes.
“____________!” Your boyfriend’s voice sounded surprised. “Shit, look, I’m really— ”
“Save it,” you interrupted him. “I think I should talk to you face-to-face.”
“Y-Yeah,” Mathias agreed. “So where are you right now?”
“Allistor’s apartment,” you answered without any hesitation. Allistor face-palmed. Apparently he didn’t want to get mixed up in any of this. You couldn’t blame him. He always preferred to stay in the background unless he needed to be involved.
“What? So that’s where you went?”
You gritted your teeth. There was so much you wanted to say. It was pissing you off. Just hearing Mathias’ voice alone was enough to ignite a burning fire in your stomach, but it didn’t do any good if it was only over the phone. You needed to talk to him in person. If you continued on the phone any longer, everything that you had been holding in would be all for nothing.
“Mathias,” you said in a slow pace, “can we meet somewhere? Like at the park? I really don’t think it’s best if we talk over the phone like this.”
“S-Sure,” your boyfriend replied. “You mean right now?”
“Yes,” you answered.
“Yeah, I can do that,” he said. “Then I’ll see you in a few minutes?”
“Goodbye,” you replied and hung up the phone. Right after you did that, Allistor snatched his phone back.
“There was no point in telling me you were here,” he said.
“I wasn’t thinking,” you guiltily admitted.
“Well, I hope you’re happy because he might get the wrong idea,” your friend huffed.
“Nothing happened between us so it’s fine,” you simply said and began to gather your belongings. By now, your clothes were clean and ready to be put on. The smell of cigarette smoke would still be clinging to your hair and skin, though.
“______________, when you see him, what do you plan on saying?” Allistor asked.
“What I really feel about him.”
“And what would that be?”
You threw him a defiant look. “I don’t need to tell you. You said it yourself: you don’t want to get involved. You even made a promise that you wouldn’t do anything do Mathias if it involved him.”
“Then why the fuck would you bring me up?”
“Just being honest.”
Allistor sighed. “You’re so reckless, you know that?”
You pressed your lips together and looked your friend in the eyes. “You worry about me too much, Allistor. Why do you do this to yourself?”
“Even though you know what’s going on, why do you constantly endure all of this shit for me? Why are you always willing to set yourself up for heartbreak?”
“Because I know better!” Allistor suddenly snapped. There was a glimmer of what looked like regret in his eyes for startling you like that, but it was gone before you were sure it was there at all.
“_____________, you deserve so much better—much better than what I can offer you. You really think you’d be happy with someone like me? Of course not! Unlike a certain asshole, I know you. Not to mention, no matter what I say, no matter what I do, I’d never win against Mathias. That’s something I accepted a long, long time ago.”
Your friend cursed and angrily rubbed his forehead. “____________, I love you, but no matter how true that fact remains, the bottom line is, you don’t deserve me. I will hurt you in ways that you couldn’t even dream of, and I don’t want that. I’m sure you don’t, either.”
“You selfish, reversely arrogant idiot!” you shouted. “You really think you know everything about me?! I can’t believe you’d put yourself down like that just because you think I deserve better! Why don’t you think about someone besides yourself?!”
“How the hell am I thinking about myself?” Allistor asked.
“You say it’s because you’re doing it for my sake, but you’re actually doing it for you, aren’t you?” you responded jabbing a finger at his chest. It was surprisingly hard.
“You’re just afraid of hurting yourself so you constantly put yourself down and prepare for the worst, don’t you? Did you ever think that maybe I didn’t care about those things? Allistor I don’t care if you were the poorest bartender in the world—and I know you’re not—but the point is I would still love you.”
Then you held your tongue.
“Shit, I shouldn’t have said that,” you grumbled feeling regretful.
“I agree,” Allistor grimaced. “I still have to drive you back to get your car.”
You slapped your hand over your face. “Dammit, you’re right. It’s going to be an awkward car ride.”
“You can say that again,” your friend sighed.