Cautiously, I took a step towards him. Jack wasn’t mad at me in particular, but he felt kinda mad at the world. He stood in the middle of the living room. Ezra and Mae were in the living room doorway, and Mae started crying. Milo had smartly decided to stay behind in Mae’s room to hide.
Somehow, Milo’s pep talk had turned into this, and I felt sorry for him. He probably didn’t feel any better about his situation when he saw Jack reacting this way.
In fairness, I don’t think Jack was that upset about what happened. Or at least, he would’ve gotten over it a long time ago. He just didn’t like knowing he had been lied to about something that was such a major event in his life.
“Jack, you know they love you,” I said, and he looked at me uneasily.
“How do I know that? How do I know anything they ever said was true?” Jack asked me honestly.
“You know how much you mean to us!” Mae insisted. “Look at everything we’ve done for you and tried to do!”
“You know what? I really don’t wanna hear from you right now,” Jack snapped at her. He turned and headed for the stairs. “I don’t wanna hear from anybody!”
When he ran up to his room, I followed him. He had no reason to be mad at me, but he didn’t really feel like he wanted me around. He paced in his room, and I stood awkwardly in the open doorway, so I wouldn’t be intruding on his space quite so much.
“Why would they all lie about this?” Jack ran his hand through his hair. “Why couldn’t they just tell me the truth? Is it really that hard?”
“Kinda. I’m sure Mae was really ashamed of what happened, and you didn’t remember,” I said. “They probably just thought it would be easier for everyone.”
“I could’ve died!” He stopped pacing so he could look at me. “Mae almost killed me, and she never thought it was the right thing to tell me? And I don’t get why I don’t remember. Everyone else remembers when they turned so vividly. Why can’t I? Did she do something to me?”
“You died, that’s why,” Peter said, startling me.
He must’ve been in his room when he heard Jack yelling, and we had been too distracted to notice him coming out into the hall. I glanced back at him, then crossed my arms firmly over my chest and moved closer to the wall, away from him.
“You were dead for almost five minutes,” Peter said. “We weren’t even sure the transformation would take, but you’ve always had a strong heart.”
“Well, thank you so very much,” Jack said, his voice heavy with sarcasm.
“I know you’re upset, but you’re making too much of this.” Peter sounded almost weary.
He walked into Jack’s room, moving much closer to me than I would’ve liked. He barely looked at me, but I stared down at the ground. Supposedly, Peter was trying to comfort Jack, and that made me uncomfortable. Being around Peter and Jack together made me feel guilty.
If I had been able to think clearly or actually speak, I would’ve been wondering when Peter started caring about Jack’s well-being. I know that they had once been very close, but I had never seen Peter ever say anything encouraging to Jack. Today, at this moment, Peter suddenly decided to repair their relationship.
“Peter, I really don’t need your shit right now,” Jack said. “You’re no better than anybody else.”
“Really? Because it was my decision to save your life.” Peter looked at him, and Jack lowered his eyes to the floor. “But that’s not the point. Mae was a wreck about what happened to you, and we did everything in our power to save you and take care of you. So don’t act like we don’t care.”
“Out of guilt!” Jack shook his head. “And it doesn’t matter! I just can’t believe that you’d all lie to me all this time!” He sighed. “But I guess I shouldn’t have expected much different from you. You’re the most self-serving person I’ve ever met.”
“What does that mean?” Peter narrowed his eyes at him.
“You are so selfish! You never think about anybody else!” Jack shouted at him. “You guys didn’t want to tell me because you thought I’d be upset!”
“You sure proved us wrong,” Peter replied dryly and crossed his arms over his chest.
“I never lie to you guys! Not ever! And I can’t believe that you would all conspire to lie to me about something so big!” Jack yelled, and the knot in the pit of my stomach only tightened. “It’s so weak, and even though you’re a massive dick, I never thought you were a coward.”
“I saved your life! And I have sacrificed so much of my own happiness for you!” Peter growled at him. “And that makes me a dick and a coward?”
“If you had to lie to do it, then yeah, it does!” Jack stared directly at Peter, and something flashed in Peter’s eyes.
“Hey, you know what? I think that, um, we should just take a breather,” I stammered.
“So you don’t want me to ever lie to you? About anything?” Peter had a bitter smile on his lips, and it confused Jack. “That’s the only way that I can overcome being this selfish asshole who has stupidly put your wants in front of my own for the past sixteen years?”
“I hardly think you’ve done that, but yeah.” Jack didn’t know what he was getting at, but it made him nervous.
“Peter, I think that Jack doesn’t know what he’s saying,” I interjected breathlessly. Jack’s eyes flitted over to me for just a second, but by then, it was too late. As soon as I said Peter’s name, Jack realized something was up.
“I know exactly what I’m saying,” Jack glared at Peter.
“Yeah? Well, then, just so I can absolve myself from all the sins I’ve done against you, like saving your life and running away to Finland so you could live in peace, I’m gonna tell you the truth.” Peter leaned in a little bit closer to Jack and lowered his voice. “I kissed Alice. Three days ago.”
“Peter!” I shouted because that was the only defense I had.
We both suspected some kind of reaction out of Jack, but for a minute, there was nothing. A weird buzzing feeling engulfed his emotions, and I couldn’t get a read on any of them. His face was blank, and then finally, he turned to me. That’s when I felt how much it hurt him, and it was like being punched in the gut.
“Jack,” I said lamely.