Can we ask about your post? I’m just dying to the the context. Feel free to ignore I’m just curious
Amber Heard has previously claimed that the only time she was ever violent with Johnny Depp was when she was defending her sister. Turns out, that was a lie. A big fucking lie. There’s an audiotape released by the Daily Mail where Amber admits to being the perpetrator of violence in their marriage and admits/alludes to numerous incidents of abuse that she started (meaning she was the perpetrator not the victim; if someone you are hitting pushes back it’s self-defence). Amber has previously made a big deal of how scared she was of Johnny and recounted numerous incidents of violence on his part (without providing much evidence), but in this audiotape, recorded only a few months before they spilt, she is only mad about him “splitting” (leaving) every time they have a fight.
Here’s the article but it’s daily mail so proceed with caution: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7947733/Amber-Heard-admits-hitting-ex-husband-Johnny-Depp-pelting-pots-pans-tape.html
Here’s longer audio since Daily Mail only posted parts of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aca0KWoHtqQ&t=428s
And here are two Twitter threads of court-submitted evidence if want to look into the evidence against her more: https://twitter.com/queenbpip/status/1157749223288463360
Transcript (of the most relevant parts):
AH: I told you- I- what I needed. You said we should- *inaudible* you don’t- *silence* We are seeing the counsellors not to just- stop what we are doing. It’s not alone enough. We gotta change how we do things. And I wanna trust you and I feel like all the trust is gone- all the fucking trust is gone in a relationship because you keep splitting.
JD: I’m not going be in a physical f**king altercation with you.
AH: Don’t. Then don’t.
JD: You f**king hit me last night. You f**king…
(from the details of this fight it appears they are talking about this incident:)
AH: What about all the other times you split? C'mon you cannot act like that’s about that.
JD: Well on a plane, I can’t split.
AH: No, and you hit back. So don’t act like you don’t f**king participate.
JD: I pushed you. (he has admitted to this on a different occasion to get away from her when she was being violent with him)
AH: I’m not going to get into the details of that fight. You and I both know that you split when there is no physical violence involved and that you do it… like at the very beginning of fights these days. And if you split and you go into a different room and you don’t actually leave that house, it does nothing but perpetuate the fight and you don’t actually do it respectfully. (ie you don’t respectfully run away from me when I get abusive.)
AH: Really, when you split on me- how do you feel when I leave you? I’ve left you before.
JD: When I spilt- when I go into another room you said.
AH: And, giving me a room- I mean, getting another room at the hotels, is just the same thing.
JD: When did I get another room at a hotel?
AH: You text Steven or- or Nathan and try to get you another room. It’s chronic and it’s all the time, and if you do it to go into another room- you do it and get dressed-
JD: You were f**king screaming at me.
AH: I’m not going to validate my actions last night. I feel very bad about what I did.
JD: No, I’m talking about Toronto. (ie this happens regularly)
JD: I need the same things but when you start flipping out, and I can’t get a word in, and it’s manic and angry, what the f**k Amber?
AH: I get angry. I’m human. This is the kind of situation when one gets angry.
JD: Just try. Let’s both try. If there’s anger, if there’s something really, really poking us in the a** let’s try not to f**king fight. Try to address it without jumping down each other’s throats because all that’s gonna do is build a mountain of f**king, uh, resentment, some species of f**king hatred within the love and- and- uh- uh- totally fucking mistrust- because you said, you don’t trust me, you don’t trust me- I get it, okay? I’m flaking with this and with that. Alright?
AH: I didn’t say as a person. I was speaking to you about this. I don’t trust the marriage. I don’t trust you. I don’t feel safe because you always fucking bail on it.
JD: Well, then-
AH: That’s sick.
JD: I don’t know- you know-
AH: We want the trust back. I don’t- you can deflect all you want- say it’s my fault- say how dare I get angry at you ever- whatever- I’m telling you.
JD: I’m telling you.
AH: I don’t know how-
JD: I don’t know-
AH: I don’t know what your thing is
JD: Sometimes I don’t. I don’t wanna fucking be there and go through this shit. I don’t, man. I don’t .
AH: I know.
JD: I don’t wanna- because I don’t wanna- fucking- fight.
AH: It doesn’t have to be one. It’s not like I’m saying ‘hey, choose fight’.
JD: You just said, ‘I get mad, I’m gonna scream’
AH: No. I didn’t say that that is always the case. Yea, I’m mad. It happens.
JD: Yes, I know, it happens often.
AH: You take me for granted.
JD: It’s not true. It’s not true. I’m not the one who throws pots and whatever the f**king else at me.
AH: That’s different. That’s different. One does not negate the other. That’s irrelevant. That’s a complete non sequitur. Just because I’ve thrown pots and pans does not mean you cannot come and knock on my door.
JD: Vases and f**king…
AH: Just because there are vases does not mean that you come and knock on the door.
JD: Really, I should just let you throw?
AH: No, I’m not saying that. You’re saying that. You’re putting words in my mouth.
JD: The only time I ever threw anything at you was when you f**king threw the cans at me in Australia.
(referring to the incident where Amber threw a vodka bottle at him and it shattered the bones of his finger and cut off the tip of it.)
AH: Why are you trying to justify who throws things based on whether or not you come knocking on the door? I don’t get why one informs the other.
JD: Because that is a f**king irrational and violent f**king maneuver. So a man would want to get out of that area so that he doesn’t get so f**king angry that he actually does pop the f**king wife.
JD: You’re just afraid that the truth will come out.
AH: What truth?
JD: That you lied. No, I said to you, tell Travis what you just did, did you punch me in the f**king jaw.
AH: What are you f**king talking about? I didn’t f**king even have a f**king thing to lie about. What are you f**king talking to? Every f**king fight. There’s a new thing that you’ve convinced yourself there’s a lie.
JD: No, I said to you, Amber, tell Travis what you just did. Did you just f**king did you punch me in the f**king jaw? Did you f**king kick? Did you? Did you? And you wouldn’t say a f**king, you said I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never f**king, it never f**king happened.
AH: I see the lie. I see the lie. You should really run with this. In fact maybe you and Travis can like, go and like do a tell about a, you know an investigative study.
JD: Listen, I was not high. You lied your a** off.
AH: You’re f**king full of s**t.
JD: You lied your a** off.
AH: What conversation did I have with Travis, big, big investigative study you’ve done. I’m not sitting here fighting with you about the fight that we had last night.
JD: No I was in a situation with you. After you physically f**king got violent with me, I texted Travis, I said come up here, because I didn’t want anything to happen.
AH: I know, come and save me.
JD: Come and what, save me?
AH: No go ahead, continue, Travis to the rescue.
JD: And that you that you punched me in the f**king thing.
AH: You’re right! You figured it all out!
JD: In the face. And you said, no I f**king didn’t. What the f**k are you talking about?’ And I watched you lie.
AH: I didn’t punch you. I didn’t punch you, by the way.
JD: You punched me.
AH: I’m sorry that I didn’t, uh, uh, hit you across the face in a proper slap, but I was hitting you, it was not punching you. Babe, you’re not punched.
JD: Don’t tell me what it feels like to be punched!
AH: I know, you’ve been in a lot of fights, been around a long time. I know, I know. Yeah.
JD: No! When you have a f**king closed fist.
AH: You didn’t get punched. You got hit. I’m sorry I hit you like this. But I did not punch you. I did not f**king deck you. I f**king was hitting you.
JD: You can’t deck me.
AH: I don’t know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you’re fine, I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you.
AH: That’s the difference between me and you, you’re a f**king baby.
JD: Because you start physical fights?
AH: You are such a baby! Grow the f**k up Johnny!
JD: Because you start physical fights?
AH: I did start a physical fight, because-
JD: Yeah, you did. So I had to get the f**k out of there.
AH: Yes, you did. So you did the right thing. The big thing- the- you know what? You are admirable. Every single time- what’s your excuse when there’s not physical fight. Then what’s the excuse then? You are still being admirable, right? Just be- running away? And you get to sit here and call me names, but you get called a name, what do you do? That’s the last insult! You’re a baby. You are a hypocrite. You don’t do anything that you actually do. You expect from people what you can’t give them.
JD: What are you doing with this?
AH: I’m giving you a Xanax. I think you could use it.
JD: No, thank you.
AH: It feels like it has worn off??
JD: Yeah, it probably has.
AH: I haven’t been able to have, like a fight with you beyond- in any room- in talking kind of- speaking context for so long. Any time anything goes wrong you split. Fuck, it’s your first thing. It’s unnecessary. It’s not always you’re splitting because there are blows or because yelling or anything- You split many- most times when I’m still speaking in this volume. And nothing has been thrown or hit or anything. I know that I can change certain things that are- hurting you. But I can’t blame myself entirely for going straight tothe fucking finish line the first sign of- stress yesterday. Because of how- it’sbeen lately. You know, since Australia? And I’ve been on the road with you, Ihaven’t been working- I don’t know what else I could fucking do.
JD: Since Australia, we’ve gone on our honeymoon and we had a great time- other than the fact that we had a fight in the train, which was physical. But- then we had a fight in San Francisco, but I thought everything else was great. You seemed to really be wondering this since Australia
(Here’s a picture of them in the train, it’s pretty shit quality but you can see the discolouration under his eye)
JD: You threw me out of the bedrooms-
AH: Why wouldn’t I when I know you’re about to split-
JD: I wasn’t about to split.
AH: You always split! So that’s- why would- I mean I do blame myself for my actions yesterday but-
JD: I was laying in bed watching television, man.
JD: I was laying in bed watching television.
AH: I fucked up last night. I’m not going to defend myself. But I also can’t blame me going to the finish line when that’s always where you drive it.
AH: I have always allowed you to fuck up and be human. I’ve always been able to have a communication with you. You- the differences- you make it so we cannot even communicate at all if it’s anything negative. You go- you take off on a train and don’t get off. You don’t come back around, you don’t honour when you say ‘I just wanna stay up a few minutes or I wanna little time but I’ll be back’. You don’t- uh-uh- assuage the anxiety and the stress that gives me and makes it worse with me by saying ‘Hey, I will- we will- ‘remember when it was like you have to say ‘I will be back in this amount of time more or less’ and then actually honour- you have to come back- so, I said if he could do that that would be great. And you never do it. You know, you don’t ever honour that- you leave me with way more anxiety and stress, anger and resentment. But in Australia for a few months, you were so-
JD: So were you. It makes a difference.
JD: I wasn’t being attacked
AH: I’m not- I have not attacked you any different. I haven’t changed. I’m not attacked you any different. I’ve never attacked you. I never attack you. (this is the woman who has so far admitted to hitting him and throwing pans at him) Just because I have a complaint with something you did, it’s not an attack, baby.
JD: It becomes verbally insulting, it becomes all kinds of shit.
JD: It becomes, right at the gate to, yeah.
AH: See, that’s the problem. If you see any criticism as a verbal assault, of course we have this problem we are gonna have it the next time you do- God forbid I have a problem with something you do. We are gonna be in this situation-
JD: Say it nice.
AH: are you ready for it [?]
JD: Say it nice, now.
AH: What if I’m hurt? Am I not allowed to be hurt and be human? That’s the thing- you are not allowing me to be human then. You take my humanity-
JD: We are talking about-
AH: -by telling me I’m not allowed to feel things-
JD: You are talking ab-
AH: And I’m not allowed to react. To protect you.
JD: Last night- happened because I was at Isaac’s for too long. Next door.
AH: It happened because we could not communicate.
JD: And for what? For what? What did we gain from this fight- from me just- from the horrible fucking act of me being over at Isaac’s for just too long for you.
AH: I did not cause this because you were at Isaac’s. That’s- I mean you lie to yourself- go ahead, you are just lying to-
JD: Then what- why were you upset last night?
AH: This did not happen cos of Isaac’s. This happened because we are fighting. This is not about Isaac’s. We actually didn’t even really talk about that- we spent two seconds on it because it’s- you know it’s not about that, you know it’s bigger than that. The point is I voiced a complaint. It could be anything, you could say- ‘Baby, you did something to hurt me.’ Which you did, and you admitted-
JD: Why don’t you say that?
AH: You admitted that you would feel that way too-
AH: And you said sorry for it. That- would have been great. But I could not feel safe saying that to you, because I knew that your reaction would very likely be a defensive explosion and then attack and freak out and get up and walk away, and all this stuff and I wanted to avoid it, so I took an ambient to try and go to sleep without even having to speak to you about it because I was really hurt that you fucking left me stranded and you didn’t think about me, didn’t text me- all the things that you apologised for.
(so let me recap for you, Johnny admitted that he would also feel hurt and apologised but Amber still went after him in the bathroom and clocked him in the face. Amazing.)
AH: You already apologised for it. Can you do me one-
JD: [audibly exhales]
AH: -small favour and not take it back?
JD: I ain’t taking it back.
AH: Thank you. It’s not defending your face. You already apologised for it. It meant a lot to me. Do me one favour today. Don’t take that back. [inaudible]
AH: This isn’t about Isaac, you know? It is about us not allowing-
JD: Is it about me showering?
AH: No, it’s- it’s about you not allowing me to have any problems with you, be upset at you or mad at you, or even hurt by it at all. You’re not allowing-
JD: If you could have just said it in a kinder way, a nicer way, like ‘Listen, I feel fucked over by what you fucking just did.’
AH: You wouldn’t freak out?
JD: No, I would say, fucking ‘What is it, like what- fucking too long at Isaac’s, you said you wouldn’t be that long’ or whatever, you shouldn’t- ‘I feel stranded, I felt fucking left’ whatev- What am I gonna fight with that, why would I get mad at that?
AH: My God, the first thing you do- ‘I don’t have to text you’, I mean you just be- it would be a shame if we fight, it would be terrible-
JD: You- you- it was a fight.
AH: Yeah, it was.
JD: It was a fight. And-
JD: And, it shouldn’t have been, and- and- and- the Isaac thing was the impetus because you were- that was- a lot of what you said today, isn’t it?
AH: It was the impetus, but it’s just a small example of a bigger thing, you know it is- (meaning she was mad about that and she was just lying that it wasn’t, amazing)
JD: So, okay, it’s a bigger thing, it’s coming from- back in Australia.
AH: No, it’s like Australia, we were allowed to have fights. You can’t sit here and tell me- I can’t feel things, I can’t voice them to you. If we say to each other you can’t get mad, you can’t be hurt by the other, then we live in a motherfucking fairy tale.¨
(you put him in a hospital!!!!)
AH: You are never the one coming to me and saying let’s not fight anymore. You are never the one saying just come on, let’s just get into bed, let’s not get into bed mad like that- On the plane, it was me. In Toronto, it was me. It’s always me!
JD: On the plane here- from Per- from Rio-
AH: You don’t wanna admit it.
JD: -you were-
AH: Think about it.
JD: - you were losing your marbles
AH: Think about it.
JD: I’m the one who came to you and said, ‘Let’s calmdown, please calm down.’ And you were blaming me-
AH: Think about it.
JD: [coughs] because your flight was gonna get in late. And you wouldn’t be able to-
AH: Think about it.
JD: -have time before your thing
(gaslighting 101, ladies and gents and others)
AH: You ditched me last night and I understand- I understand… how shitty… that got. And I understand my part in it. I’m not- I need to know what we do different. I need to know.
JD: It’s gotta be done with your mind and your heart.
AH: What do we do different if I- if I have a problem.
JD: You tell me.
AH: You need to tell me how to tell you different-
JD: Tell me.
AH: -if I’m hurting you- you need to let me be able to be mad. Sometimes you are gonna make me mad. I’m a human. I cannot live where it’s like-
JD: Well, the same thing goes for me then. You’re gonna have to allow me to get mad.
AH: Yes! Exactly! I-
JD: Okay, but when I get mad then you start fucking yelling.
AH: Uh-uh-I-I- I don’t have to start yelling. I think I start yelling when it gets fucking heightened. I’ve gotten a lot better about that. It’s just only-
JD: No- no-
AH: -when I start yelling it’s fucking hour eleven andwe’re really in it.
JD: You- you haven’t gotten better about that. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had three physical fights in the last month and a half- two months.
AH: It’s- sorry again about the yelling.
JD: Let’s both pay attention to how we talk to eachother.
JD: To respect each other.
AH: Ah, you know, I’m not gonna do that all the time, sometimes I’m gonna be shitty or whatever-
JD: Of course not.
AH: But, we make a promise to each other to- about the reason we divorce-
JD: We’re in this, no divorce.
AH: We promise each other-
AH: The reason, I want so bad to feel like, the marriage that I-
JD: I promise.
AH: -worked so hard to make happen, is like meaningful.
JD: Don’t talk about making the marriage happen. Talk about the four years we’ve spent together, please.
AH: Yes, but I wanna make- I have those years no matter what, but- I fought for that wedding- we had that wedding- beautiful- for what? If we don’t- I want it to like mean something, that there’s some-
JD: Yeah. It did mean something and it does mean something. And I didn’t get married to your for fucking- just fucking- you know- seventeen more fights and it’s fucking over with. We got married, I knew the fucking fights weren’t going to stop. But I thought- maybe- it would curb them a little.
AH: I wanted the security- that- I freak out. I freak out and cannot make normal decisions, calm decisions or the ones from the heart where I’m thinking of you more than me when I feel like you’re splitting on me all the time. Our marriage is on the rocks. I make the same mistake about throwing our marriage around. I won’t do it again. I’m not gonna do it again, okay?
AH: I’m not. I promise. But- there’s so- there’s something so- anxiety-provoking and scary and malicious and really just- turns everything over when we split all the time. Please, if you really don’t wanna fight and you’re not just trying to hurt me with some things that- if you really, really, you really love me and you don’t- do care about this, please find a good way to do it, one that’s respectful.
AH: You can tell me that you are- you can- I need to know that we will be able to talk about it because the problem I have is when you don’t communicate. It comes into me, builds up in me and becomes cancer in me. It got worse every day when we were back from Toronto, a bit worse every single day. Not better. Worse. Till we spoke about it, until [unintelligible]’s birthday, when you talked about- then it was okay, but I need that- I don’t wanna resent you.
JD: I don’t wanna resent you. I don’t wanna- I don’t wanna- not trust-
AH: But you can.
AH: You know how many times I’ve chased you out of the elevator in the hall? Let’s stop doing that. I’m not nit-picking, I don’t mean to be focusing on something- but if it’s a major thing to me and it is major-
JD: If things get physical- we have to separate.
AH: No, we don’t.
JD: We have to be apart- from one another. Whether it’s for fucking hour or ten hours or fucking- a day. We must. There can be no physical violence.
AH: I can’t promise that it will all be perfect. I can’t promise you I won’t get physical again. God I fucking sometimes- I get so mad I lose it. I can fucking promise you I will do everything to change. You didn’t come home last night, I feel like I’ve got nothing to hang on to. It’s so- our marriage, our commitment, our stability. I don’t know- I could just get up and walk away and spend the night somewhere else.
JD: Obviously, you can.
AH: Yeah, but- we-we- I believe it’s done if we do that- that- that’s- it’s not marriage.
JD: You’ve talked about it. You know why I left.
AH: I do know why you left. [silence] You-
JD: I’m saying now that I won’t do the same thing. I mean- I will not do that- I will not fucking leave until- until some rational decision is made. If it’s the end, it’s the end. If it’s the fucking- we can keep going- we’ll keep going, but yeah.
JD: Promise. I promise. I’ll promise you. I hope you can trust me.
AH: I don’t want any loopholes, any, ‘Oh, it’s okay to leave, it’s acceptable to do this or it’s acceptable to say this’ -about like splitting or breaking up or leaving. I- that’s- we-we should- we should fall asleep together every night. Ideally, never mad. Ideally, never mad. I would love to say-
JD: Of course.
AH: -I can promise that. But I don’t know if it’s possible, I would love to strive for it.
JD: Yeah, you weren’t ready for that last night, for sure.
AH: I fucked up last night, I’m really sorry. It’s not been just affecting me, it’s affecting our marriage. It’s affecting how I trust, how I resent- how I like you without the fighting happening-
JD: No, I know, but when you-
AH: I’m not trying to rub your nose into it, I’m just- I feel like sometimes you omit something- you acknowledge it will be beautiful and then you go back on it and then you’ll write like the vocabulary after- And I’m like, ‘Wait a second is he taking it back?’ You know what I mean?
JD: I do know what you mean, but like I said before- there’s not- I would- I don’t- I haven’t cornered the market on that. You know, when you start the fucking yelling- there’s [mic crackles] you know- it-it-fucking- gets crazy [mic crackles] you know, it gets fucking- [mic crackles] it gets fucking crazy, you know? And that- that makes me not feel- uh- for the lack of a better word- safe within the relationship.
JD: You know, understanding of, ‘Oh, well, it’s just nothing’, cos if it keeps going- if it’s always sort of there- then yeah, I worry, I fucking worry about the marriage. I worry how much longer can I deal with this, how much longer can she deal with this? Fuck, man. So, I’ve- I’ve had the same trust issues, I’ve had the same- uh-uh disappointments, I’ve had the same, you know? Maybe not to the degree you have, I’m assuming, so- But, yeah, man, when you start fucking honking, you know what I mean? It’s-
AH: Help me.
JD: It’s pretty-
AH: Call me-
JD: It’s pretty-
AH: Call it out- call me out on it and help me-
JD: I will- I will try.
AH: Help me, please. I might not even realise I’m doing it, but you gotta help me.
JD: I will try.
AH: But it can’t be an excuse to leave.
JD: I will try to help you. If I try to help you- then I can help you- why the fuck would I leave? But I try to help you, and I can’t help you? That’s it, baby, I’m taking an hour in my fucking office.
AH: It’s- yes-
JD: If you wanna talk, you can come get me. Otherwise, I’m gonna check on you within an hour.
AH: That- that would be really helpful.
AH: I promise you I’ll leave you alone for that hour. I promise you, I’m not gonna freak out.
JD: Just- I just want you to have- your time to be able to calm down or my time to be able to calm down.
AH: It really helps if you give it time- not just -
JD: I said an hour.
AH: If you just say- you know- I promise it will resume this- I just need to know that when we talk about otherwise and do me cancer- doing something that just festers and it’s worse and worse, so you have to realise- you know- in that kind of situation a few minutes is fine, but after a certain point, it becomes way worse and I become way harder to reason, to rationalise with- I become- that- Kipper can tell you, he says he’s the same way. I just- we have to talk- we work a very different way. Meet me in the middle, you know?
JD: I-I- yeah. I do understand, I do- I do understand all that. But I- I also want you to understand that- you know, there were great moments, there were high hopes it was just all cool, and then, you know- whatever happens, this happens, that happens- fucking- we have a spat or a fight or a- fucking blow-up. I- just want you to know, that the way you’re feeling about- being unsure of- of us- of the marriage- of this- if you are working- can you trust me to be this whether you know, I can do the same. I feel very much the same.
AH: At least you have the added luxury that you take for granted- no offence-
JD: What do I take for granted?
AH: That you have the added luxury of knowing that I’m there and that I mean it forever and then I- cos I show up- I’m com- I’m knocking. I’m the one who asks to calm down-
AH: I’m the one who comes to get you on the plane. I’m the one that comes and knocks on the bathroom door. I’m the one that comes into the house that you’ve run away to. I’m the one that comes to you and say, ‘This isn’t working, let’s figure this- ‘ or whatever- I’m- I- you have the added luxury of you just- taking me for granted in such a big way. You don’t know how much that means.
JD: [unintelligible].We are screwed. You can’t live like this.
AH: I’m sorry for doing that again- again and again.
JD: Well, like I said, like you said, we walk out the door, we walk out the door, that is the same as rings off, it’s the same thing as mentioning a divorce. Cos no talking, unless we just try to be civil with one another, as fucking people who are married, and I hate to talk like- I hate even saying that kind of shit but yeah- if I walk out again, I’m walking out. I’ll know that and you’ll know that. You do that, same deal.
AH: I promise I won’t explode if we just do the things a little different- in the fight- you know like- Don’t walk away from me! Do it in a different way. And I promise I won’t resort to the same shit. I promise, okay?
JD: Thank you.
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Post Series: Carlo and Erik Holstrom get a coffee
Content warning: past child abuse, slavery, human trafficking, neglect, gaslighting, mention of torture/neglect, lasting injury. Erik is not apologetic, this is not that.
Carlo is still stockholmy at times. This is something I really wanted to write but it's not particularly whumpy, I just wanted to explore it. (What else is new)
Erik lets Carlo order for himself, but pays for both of them. They wait for their drinks together and take a seat in the back of the cafe. Carlo has the fleeting, powerful impression he should not have put himself between Erik Holstrom and a wall. But he sits straight, doesn’t put his elbows on the table.
"So. Do you like your gift? Is it wearing well?"
He frowns and Erik smiles like a statesman.
Carlo remembers how badly he used to crave this man's touch. His warm, heavy hand in a loving caress instead of a backhand, a soft tsk that meant he was in a sentimental mood. Now, the thought of it makes him queasy.
The cafe is busy. Busy enough no one is going to clearly overhear anyone else's conversation. Busy enough he doesn't feel entirely stupid for allowing this meeting to happen.
"You didn't give me anything." He says calmly. "Max did."
Erik raises his eyebrows, deepening the lines across his forehead. "Oh, little dove. If you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you."
He reaches for his coffee on the small table and Carlo flinches almost imperceptibly, giving his old Master pause. He acknowledges it by giving Carlo a once-over, and picks up the cup.
"He handed your freedom to you alright, but a man like Max doesn't have the connections to get paperwork like that worked up. I have those connections. I have that ability."
"Connections." Carlo muses innocently. "Is that why you went to prison?" He would never be so insolent if they were not in public. Even here, his palms are starting to sweat. He sips his cappuccino.
Erik just laughs, crossing one leg over the other and sitting back in his chair.
"What a sharp tongue! Now, that I cannot take credit for. That's new. Is that your Max's doing, too then? Does he let you speak to him like that?"
Carlo feels a bit like the insect frozen in amber on Erik's desk in his estate. It had caught his attention the day he interviewed Keith, back when Carlo had still only been chest-height to Erik and his Master had seemed so large, so untouchable and formidable.
"You look older." Carlo says, tilting his head.
"As do you, little Pet."
"It's only been two years. Your hair's gone gray."
Erik sighs. Carlo's insults are nothing to him but pebbles from a child's slingshot. "It's been a long two years. I won't bore you with the details, but there were times I missed your company. I found myself dropping my hand to the side of my chair to pet your sweet head and there was nothing there. And Max wouldn't let me see you unless I dangled those papers like a carrot."
Carlo's chest rises and falls a little faster at Erik's words, the way he pressed the air beside his chair to mime how he used to stroke him.
"You didn't want me to testify. You knew I knew things… names and faces. Your phone conversations."
Erik shrugs. "I didn't want you to take the stand, that's right. But not out of fear of your testimony. I'm not sure you ever understood much of what you heard. It would have been circumstantial and not terribly credible— no offense. Those sharks...and they were sharks, Pet, that prosecution, miserable sonsofbitches...they wouldn't have gotten anything useful from you even if you'd tried." His eyes soften, voice lowering to a purr. "Yes, I wanted to keep you off the stand. Out of the eye of the press. You were too shy for that. Too sweet."
Carlo teeters between shaking anger and an urge to fall to his knees in front of all these people and take his place at Holstrom's feet.
"Not too sweet for Keith, though. For the warehouse."
Eriks face doesn't change. He taps his finger on the side of his cup. "No. I suppose not. I could've left you locked in a room instead, you know. Or your cage. I could've cut off your access to my library and left you nothing to do but stare at a white wall until you forgot how to speak. Would that have been preferable?"
One one hand, no, sorry Master, is on the tip of his tongue. On the other he wishes he could muster something like Max would say to Erik, something cutting to turn that question on its head. But he himself doesn't have the words. What comes out of his mouth is some mixture of the two. Accusing, but ringing of self pity.
"I wanted to be good for you. It was all I wanted, for a very long time."
Erik tugs up his sleeve to check his watch. "You think I don't know that? As if I hadn't trained you that way? I raise hounds, child. If there's one thing I know how to get, it's loyalty." He seems to think of something further along that train of thought and spreads his hands. "Even Keith, who you seem to think so little of. He stood up to a lot of heat from the DA. All my men did. I never spoke to you about that, though. I wouldn't expect your loyalty to extend so far."
Carlo is somehow taken back. He opens his mouth to speak, hesitates.
"I… I would've stayed quiet if you asked...but. You gave me away. You didn't even tell me why. I thought I did something wrong. I didn't know what happened."
"And now you're free." Erik reminds him. "And so am I. So let's let it rest, shall we? Don't look so unhappy. If you need my forgiveness, you have it. What does he call you? Carlo?"
Your forgiveness? What about mine?
Carlo can't imagine a more disorienting thing than Erik calling him by his name, another one of the things Max has given him. The two eras in his life are fairly distinct.
"Did your hands heal well? Let me see." Erik extends his hand across the table for Carlo to give him his.
Carlo twitches in instinct to rush to his Master's touch, but keeps them in his lap. "Peripheral neuropathy." He says. "Worse in my left."
For a moment he thinks Erik is going to apologize, to ask to see his hands again and Carlo knows he might not be able to resist a second time. He thinks of resting the back of his long, knobby-knuckled hand in his Master's large square one, of Erik's other hand tracing gently over the white scars from the last time they'd met.
His cup shakes visibly when he tilts it to his mouth.
Erik retracts his hand. "Well. At least it's your left. Not like you play pro tennis anyway, right? Hell, it'd probably get you out of a draft if you played your cards right. So would being a Pet, though." He cocks his head. "So if you're ever looking for a place to keep a very low profile for any reason … we can always un-work up those papers."
Carlo takes a steadying breath. The barista keeps glancing at him when she sets finished drinks on the counter. It took him a few times to realize it's because she thinks he's cute, not because she can tell he's a fraud, an ex Pet, that there's an invisible muzzle on his face. Elle helped him unearth that phenomenon when they were out somewhere together. She was flirting with you, doofus, she'll tell him matter of factly as she reads the Times and picks at a croissant.
Erik's words seem half joke, half offer.
"If I ever wanted.. or needed to…lay low, what makes you think I would choose you and not Max? Why in a million years would I choose you?"
Erik narrows his eyes. "You're sitting here. That's why."
"Because-" Carlo blurts hotly, then lowers his voice, glancing around. "Because I wanted to ask you why."
"Why everything! Why you got rid of me. Why you couldn't…" he sits back, gritting his teeth so he will not tear up in this crowded, sunny cafe.
"Why I couldn't what, boy? Go on."
Erik sounds sincere, but Carlo knows him well enough to know when he's being toyed with.
Why you couldn't just love me. Just a little. Just enough.
It may be the last chance he ever gets, but he cannot bring himself to ask. It would be a vulnerability he hasn't tasted in years and the odds of being kicked while he's down are too great. He's played this game with this man his whole life. It would be handing him a scalpel.
Erik checks his watch again. "Well. I'd love to switch this coffee for bourbon and keep this lovely chat going, but I've got a meeting." He fishes his wallet from his pocket and sets a crisp fifty on the table between them. "Buy yourself some lunch, Carlo."
Erik stands, tugging his sleeves to smooth creases from the elbows. He nods in farewell, walks out the glass doors with the chime of a bell and is gone.
Carlo finishes his lukewarm cappuccino alone. He picks up the fifty dollar bill, giving the barista a smile as he drops it in her tip jar on his way out.
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