He stops again and despite the temptation to run after Alex, I stay where I am, focussing my thoughts on what I should be saying.
"Can- can I borrow your phone?"
"You've got your own, don't you?"
"I don't really have the time to fuck around looking through my suitcase for it, Caleb, can I please just borrow yours?" He hands it over and with a muttered "thanks" I dial Pete's number from memory, clenching and unclenching my fist impatiently.
"Hello?" Pete finally answers.
"Hi. Umm, I think Alex might be on his way to see you. He's not thinking straight, so if he says he wants to accept that fight in Bahia, don't let him."
"You two had a fight?" he laughs, and then coughs. I roll my eyes, waiting for the coughing fit to pass before replying.
"No, we haven't, but it's really important you don't let him accept it, at least not yet." I glance up as Caleb crosses his arms, looking thoroughly unimpressed.
"Or what?" he laughs again.
"Or I'll have your favourite fighter locked up for being involved in illegal cage fighting!" I say, exasperated that it hadn't even crossed his mind that someone might do that. There's a long pause in which I hear him grunt and light a cigarette. I wonder if he's trying to figure out if I'm serious or not.
"Fine," he says reluctantly and I breathe a sigh of relief, leaning back on the railings.
"Thank you," I hang up and hand the phone back to Caleb. He puts it in his pocket and crosses his arms again. My mind goes blank as I try to think of what to say to persuade him to stop Alex from doing something suicidally stupid. So I start rambling. I use the word sorry more times than I care to count and feel myself getting more stressed as he just stands there with his arms crossed.
"Maxxie, shut up." My mouth snaps shut and the words stop. He clenches his jaw. I still can't think of anything coherent to say, so I bite my lip, trying to keep my breathing steady. I realise vaguely that he's trying to stop crying, so I try again.
"Alex was considering giving up his career for you yesterday," I mumble.
"That's stupid," he says, wiping his eyes.
"No, it's not. Not when his career could easily kill him."
"Jeez, is he in the FBI or something?" Okay, I didn't mean to make it sound so over dramatic. I laugh slightly and shake my head.
"He's a cage fighter, remember?"
"So he prefers the illegal kind of cage fighting. No rules, y'see. He's never liked rules, or the glamorization of the professional fighting." He says nothing. I sigh. "His manager offered him one last fight yesterday. It'd be a spring board into professional fighting, but it's far more likely to get him killed than anything else. You're the only one that can persuade him not to take the offer." A frown creases his brow and I expect something stinging to come out of his mouth.
"I'm sure you could persuade him." I grit my teeth.
"Last night meant nothing more to him than keeping an old friend happy, as much as it pains me to say that." It's true, I realised it when he was trying to get Caleb to come out of his room. He's moved on and last night was nothing more than sex for the sake of sex. At least, it was to him. All it proved to me is that I'm really, really shit at moving on.
Caleb gives me this look that says he's still not convinced. "Look, in his head, he's not asked you out yet, he has no obligation to fuck you and only you. He's been thinking about asking you out though. C'mon, he's willing to quit the underground fights for your sake and no one else's, doesn't that say something?" He opens his mouth slightly and closes it again. Hello? Anyone in that ginger little head of yours? Am I getting through to anyone? "If you're gonna forgive him, I suggest you let him know before his manager caves into his greed."
Still he says nothing and I feel the temptation to slap him rise sharply. "Well?"
"What do you want me to say? That I can just forget all this and act like everything's fucking fine?" he shouts and I find myself yelling right back at him.
"No! I don't fucking expect you to just get over it, but if you don't at least accept his apology and then deal with it, he's going to go ahead and get himself killed." It might also be a good idea to consider the fact that you let me fuck you as well, you stupid little ginger twat.
"You don't know that..." Are you fucking retarded or something?
"I do know that, Caleb, I've known him since I was fourteen." and then proceeded to spend a disproportionate amount of the eleven years between then and now being with him.
He laughs a little in disbelief, "So you'd rather I lied to him?"
"Fine. Maybe I'll see you in Bahia before he gets his head caved in by the new guy."
"I'm gonna pretend I even know where that is." Does it even matter?
"Brazil," I say irritably, "the last two guys Alex was put up against from Brazil both hospitalised him."
"...Shit." Are you getting it now, Caleb? Is this going in anywhere? I grit my teeth again. "What makes you so sure he'd even listen to me?"
"Because it was you he was considering giving this up for!" I try not to shout, but my voice strains slightly. He bites his lip and it takes a lot of effort not to slam my head into the wall opposite me.
"Well what am I s'posed to do about it?" Oh dear god.
"Let me think. Oh I dunno, maybe accept his apology?"
"Wow, I'd never have guessed that." Why did you ask me, then? I take a breath and a moment to calm down and make bitch Max go away and stop making things worse before replying.
"Well, if you think you can deal with accepting his apology, he'll probably be at his manager's office by now."
"I don't know if I can," he says quietly, wiping his eyes again. I pause. And then I take a step away.
"Sure. Well, I'll go see if I can stop your future boyfriend from making a really stupid decision by myself then." I start to walk away but when he bites his lip again and tells me "wait", I turn around, stopping halfway between him and the stairwell.
"I... We... What if..."
"You said he'd be at his manager's by now, right?" I nod, wondering where he's going with this. Are ya gonna help me or not, ginger? "So how do you know he hasn't already agreed to go?"
"I borrowed your phone to tell his manager he's not in any state to decide," I shrug, "probably about half an hour before he decides he doesn't care." He's silent for a while and I start feeling bitchy again, impatient.
"You're sure he'd listen to me?" I nod again. "Then why are we stood here?"
"Because you took a long time to convince." A very long time. An unnecessarily long time.
"I'm only doing this so he doesn't get his head kicked in."
"It's good enough for me. I'm driving," I say, not waiting for him to catch up before I start walking again.