Status: Updated unfrequently, but trying for frequent.

Slow Spinning Redemption

Chapter 11: Isolde Makes a Confession and Jussi Tells a Lie

Scrounging around the blankets, Jussi found his phone and saw Isolde’s name and face pop up on the screen. A picture of her with her camera to her face- he’d taken it during their get-together at Ville’s tower the day they’d met. He doubted she knew he’d taken it.

Speak - or think - of the devil, he thought with a wry smile before answering the call and putting the phone to his ear.

“Hey,” he said, a grin on his face.

“Hey back.”

“I’ve been contemplating calling you,” Jussi admitted.

“Why haven’t you? It’s not like I would have avoided the call.”

Jussi chuckled and shrugged. “Figured it’d be best to let you take the lead in whatever it is this is.”

“Waiting by the phone for my call, that’s sweet.”

He heard the teasing in her voice and couldn’t help but snort and lean back against his pillows. “I wouldn’t say I’m waiting by the phone, but I wouldn’t avoid your phone call either if you decided to call just to say ‘hi’

“Well hi, then.”

“Hi.” Jussi laughed. “Having fun in Prague?”

“Ah, no. I only lasted a week before leaving,” Isolde said, laughing softly.


“I got to see my mum and dad though. And Josef’s mum, who I’m pretty close to, so it was a successful trip.”

“Good to hear,” Jussi nodded. “So, where are you now?”

“New York. I’m visiting Josef for a bit. Well, really for as long as he’ll allow me to stay here.”

“I don’t think he’d kick you out,” Jussi said with a laugh.

Isolde snorted. “If he gets tired of me he will, or if I tire of him. Really, it’s whoever pulls hair out first.”

Jussi laughed. “I’m sure. Well if you’re there with Josef, then I should probably let you go.”

“Well for one, I called you. So unless you’re finished hearing my wonderful voice, I’m not letting you hang up quite yet. And Josef isn’t here; he had to go teach a class or something, won’t be back for a couple of hours yet.”

“Did you have any other reason for calling me other than saying ‘hello’?” Jussi asked.

“Do I have to have a reason?” Isolde asked. He could tell by the tone in her voice that she was starting to get a bit defensive, causing him to frown.

“No, but it’s not like you to go for idle chit-chat. And I fucking hate it, so I’m just surprised if that really is the reason you called.”

“Oh. Well, there is another reason, I just…”

“You just?” Jussi prompted.

He heard Isolde sigh. “You tend to make things better.”

Jussi frowned. “What do you mean?”

Isolde kept silent for a minute and Jussi waited patiently for her to speak, not wanting to interrupt her thought process. Finally she spoke. “Somehow, you make whatever thing I’m thinking better. So I want you to make this better.”

“I’m not your therapist,” Jussi teased.

“No, I pay that man good money for the more fucked up things I have going on,” Isolde teased back.

Jussi laughed. “All right, so what’s going on in that head of yours?”

Isolde sighed, “I feel…guilty.”

“Ok, now would probably be a good time to tell you I’m not a priest, either, nor am I a confessional.”

Isolde laughed quietly. “I’m pretty sure it’d be a sin for you to become a priest.”

“There is that, too,” Jussi chuckled. “So what are you feeling guilty about?”

“I did something. Something you sort of told me not to do.”

Jussi felt his brow furrow in confusion. “I wouldn’t tell you not to do anything, Isolde. And I don’t remember saying anything like that to you.”

“Technically, you said-”

“Isolde,” Jussi cut off. “How about you stop circling around the subject and just tell me what you feel guilty about.”

Isolde paused before sighing heavily. “I don’t even know why I feel like this,” she muttered.

“Well, let’s try and find out.”

“Why are you so nice?”

Jussi blinked. “I’m nice to all my friends.”

“Are you nice to all the women you fuck?”

Jussi smirked. “Depends on the woman.”

“I slept with Alex.”

Jussi blinked before looking down at his comforter with a frown. His gut tightened and dropped all the way down to his toes before shooting upwards and lodging into his throat. He knew he had no right to be upset, but he was.

He didn’t like the idea of someone else touching Isolde the way he had. He didn’t like the fact that someone else may have made her sigh the way he could, or made her toes curl. He didn’t like that someone else had found that sensitive spot behind her knee or traced her tattoos. He didn’t like the idea that she may have shared a bed with another man that wasn’t him.

Instead of voicing his hurt, he cleared his throat and nodded. “All right...”

“’All right?’”

“All right,” he repeated. “I don’t know what else you want me to say.”

“I thought you’d be upset.”

Jussi blinked. He was. “Well, I’m not.”

“You sound upset.”

“Isolde, I’m not upset,” he said, trying to get his voice to sound patient.


“Do you want me to be upset?”

“No!” Isolde said quickly. “No, I don’t! I just…” Isolde sighed. “I’m not sure what I wanted. I still feel this…ball of guilt in the pit of my stomach and I’m not sure why.”

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you.” Jussi shrugged. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep listening to Isolde talk about her night with Alex.

“I didn’t even want to,” Isolde muttered miserably. “But I was upset and I don’t know….it’s Alex,” she sighed, causing Jussi to wince.


“I remembered the conversation we had, where you didn’t want to be used for sex, and there I was, using Alex and it just-”

“Maybe that’s what you feel guilty about,” Jussi shrugged. “Using Alex.”

“No, because Alex and I talked about it this morning.”

Jussi blinked. “Wait, this happened today?”

“Well…last night. Alex and I woke up this morning and things felt… off. I mean, he’s in love with his nurse and I’m just…there. It’s not working anymore. And then there’s you, and I left the hotel just feeling horrible. Well I mean, I was mad and upset and an emotional wreak, really, but when I got back to my flat I was more upset about having slept with Alex after you told me not to use people for sex, and then I kept thinking about you and it’s just…I don’t know why I feel this way, even though I know I shouldn’t feel this way. Josef even sees that there’s something wrong with me, and I’m not sure if I just feel guilty because I slept with someone else or if it’s just a cluster fuck of emotions because of everything that’s happened in the last 48 hours. And maybe if we even the playing field and you sleep with someone else, things will just even out, and I won’t feel so horrible anymore, and I just can’t stand feeling like this anymore.”

Jussi blinked again, absorbing the information Isolde had ranted and felt his anger rise as he focused on one of the phrases she said. “I’m not here to make you feel better about yourself, Isolde.”

“See, I knew you were upset. I can hear it in your voice.”

Jussi shook his head. “Yes, I’m fucking upset.”

“I knew you would be,” She muttered.

“Fuck whoever you want, Isolde. That’s your right, that’s the relationship we have. I don’t care, but don’t call me, not even 24 hours later, telling me about your other relationships, Isolde. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want it shoved in my face. I’m not here to ease you out of some misplaced guilt you feel.”

“It’s not misplaced if you’re upset, though!”

“You’re using me as a scapegoat!” Jussi said firmly “And that’s not fair to me! How can you not see how stupid this is, Isolde?”

“I’m not stupid!”

“I’m not saying you are, I’m saying that your idea of assuaging your guilt is to even a playing field that I didn’t even know we were on! You keep changing the rules of whatever game we’re playing, and it’s impossible for me to keep up!”

“This isn’t a game!”

“Fuck that, of course it’s a game! Everything is a game to you, Isolde!”

“It is not!”

“Even the way we fuck! All of it is a game! I signed up for one, you gave me the rules and I added a couple of my own. And now you’re off switching up all the rules, and those rules mess with me, not with you! With me!”

“I’m not switching anything! I’m not playing a game! These are my feelings too, Jussi!”

Jussi blinked. That had been the first time Isolde had ever called him by his name while not inside the bedroom. He shoved that to the back of his mind, better not to focus on it when he was so angry. “You called because you felt guilty. You called because you didn’t want that on your shoulders. So instead of thinking it through, you called me and placed this guilt on my shoulders, where it doesn’t belong! I’m not going to go out and sleep with someone just so thatyou can feel better about yourself and I can feel like the asshole!”

“That’s not-”

“That’s exactly what you want me to do! You want me to go out find some random, sleep with them, and then even whatever playing field you’re on. That’s not fair, Isolde! That’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to the person I sleep with. But somehow, you end up in the clear! I’m left feeling like crap and you’re left feeling light as a feather. This is your guilt, and you can deal with it, because I don’t fucking want it.”

“I’m not asking you to burden yourself with my guilt!”

“Yes! Yes you are!” Jussi said, his voice laced with frustration. “You’re asking me to take this burden that you shouldn’t even be feeling in the first place and make it my problem when it’s not! Like I told you, I’m here to listen, Isolde, but I’m not here to be used.”

“I know that!”

“Obviously you don’t!” Jussi yelled, only to lower his voice when he became aware of the silence on the bus; his band mates were listening in, and he suddenly hated the lack of privacy that came with touring with his friends.

“I called because I didn’t want to hurt you. I called because I felt guilty and I wasn’t sure if it was because I had slept with Alex or because of the condition in which I slept with him. I wasn’t trying to transfer my guilt!”

“Yes, you are.”

“Don’t tell me what I’m thinking, Jussi! I know what I’m doing!”

“No, you don’t,” Jussi muttered. “If you did, you wouldn’t have called. If you did, you wouldn’t be calling me with the excuse that I make things better for you, because right now all its doing is making things worse. I’m upset, you’re upset, and neither one of us is going to admit that the other is right. You’re guilt is your own, Isolde; this isn’t a problem I can or want to deal with. This isn’t what I signed up for.”

“No, obviously you only signed up for the fucking.” Jussi heard the bitterness in her voice and he wasn’t sure where it was stemming from.

“No,” Jussi said, his voice holding in the patience he didn’t know he had. “No, I signed up to be your friend, Isolde. I signed up to be an equal in our sexual relationship. This isn’t a relationship where I give and you take; it should be one where it’s equal, or things get fucked up like they are now. I’m angry, Isolde. I’m angry because all of a sudden the status is shifted, the rules are changing, and you’re the one benefiting from it while I’m left wondering what the fuck is going on.”

“Nothing has changed!”

“Yes, it has Isolde. I don’t care if you don’t see it, but I do. You feel guilty. I feel like shit right now. So you know what, let’s just add on to it. Free yourself from your fucking guilt, Isolde, because I’ve also slept with someone. So there,” he said bitterly. “No need to feel guilty anymore.”

“You-” He heard Isolde’s sharp intake of breath before the phone clicked off and he heard the dial tone in his ear.

Jussi hung up his phone, rubbing his face tiredly. He leaned back against the pillows of his bunk and closed his eyes. He hoped they stopped soon, he thought, as he crossed his arms over his eyes. He needed fresh air, he needed to clear his head and think, he needed….

“Why did you lie?”

Jussi uncrossed his arms slowly, wincing slightly at the light that was seeping into his dark bunk as his curtain was pulled back. Timo-Timo settled himself down next to his outstretched legs.

“Why were you listening in?”

Timo-Timo smirked. “The downfalls of having top bunk; you started arguing with your girlfriend just as I was starting to fall asleep.”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Jussi muttered.

Timo-Timo snorted. “Well, you guys definitely argued like she was.”

“Isolde can be a bitch sometimes.”

Timo-Timo winced. “That’s not a very nice thing to say about your lady love, Jus.”

“She’s selfish, too.”

Timo-Timo nodded. “So I heard.”

Jussi sighed and looked at his friend. “Was I too harsh?”

“As I only heard your side and not hers, I can’t tell you if you were or not,” Timo-Timo said with a shrug. “I’m wondering why you lied, though.”

“What did I lie about?” Jussi asked with a raised eyebrow.

“About you sleeping with someone else; we’ve been busy since Isolde left. You’ve either been with us in the practice studio, or here on the bus or on stage. You really haven’t had the time to be with anyone.”

Jussi shrugged. “So I lied. It ended the argument, didn’t it?”

Timo-Timo stared at his friend for a bit before shaking his head. “That’s no way to deal with a relationship, Jus.”

“I’m not in a relationship,” Jussi said.

“Whether it’s just you two screwing each other, you two being friends, or you two dating, it’s a type of relationship, Jussi. And lying just to put an end to a conversation isn’t the way to deal with it.”

“She wasn’t listening to me.”

“Well, you wouldn’t let her. It sounded like you had quite a lot to say… and quite loudly, at that.”

Jussi shrugged. “Like you said, you didn’t hear her side. There was no way to get any type of point across, let it be mine or hers, without the situation getting worse.”

“And you don’t think you made it worse by telling her you slept with someone else? By the sounds of it, she feels like shit because she slept with someone.”

“Which she has every right to do.”

Timo-Timo nodded. “Sure, but you’re not making her feel any better by letting your ego get in the way of things. You’re hurt, Jussi.”

“I’m not.”

“You are,” Timo-Timo laughed. “You’re upset and you’re hurt and you threw the lie in Isolde’s face to hurt her.”

“She threw it into my face first.”

Timo-Timo nodded. “Sure, but you should have been the bigger man and not kicked her while she was down.”

“You don’t even know Isolde,” Jussi muttered.

“But I know you,” Timo-Timo said slowly. “I don’t need to know Isolde to know that what you did was wrong, Jus.”

Jussi sighed. “I’m not apologizing to her. She needs to figure out that I’m here to listen to her, but I’m not the one to fix her problems or cleanse her of some misplaced guilt she feels. I won’t be used like that.”

“But you’re okay with being used for sex.”

“That’s different; we’re on the same page when it comes to sex,” Jussi sighed, rubbing his face tiredly. “I want to be left alone right now, Timo-Timo.”

Timo-Timo chuckled. “You say that because you know I’m right; you let yourself get emotional and said things that you need to apologize for.”

“I think I have a right to be emotional.”

His friend nodded. “Of course. But like you said, Jussi, a relationship isn’t about someone just giving and someone taking; it’s about an equal say in things. From what I heard, Isolde is feeling guilty about something, something she shouldn’t feel guilty about. Maybe instead of getting pissed at her for being upset, you should have listened as you claim you want to do and find out why she feels the guilt.”

“She feels the guilt because-“

Timo-Timo raised an eyebrow. “Because…”

“She shouldn’t even feel it in the first place.” Jussi muttered.

“But she feels it, Jussi. She feels it, and she knows that you have some connection to it so she called you because she wanted to figure it out. I doubt she called to make you upset. From what you’ve told me about Isolde and from what Jyrki’s told me about her, she doesn’t seem like the type of person to rub something, like sleeping with another man, in your face. She’s trying to figure things out, Jussi.”

“You haven’t even met her.”

“I don’t have to,” Timo-Timo shrugged. “I know a thing or two about relationships.”

“I’m not in a relationship,” Jussi repeated.

Timo-Timo nodded. “So you’ve told me. Yet when you were yelling at Isolde, you even used the word.”

“Do you have a point to all of this?”

Timo-Timo chuckled as he stood. “You don’t have to call and apologize, Jussi, especially if you don’t think you have anything to apologize for. But just think about how she’s feeling. She was upset when she called, now she’s probably even more so.”

“It’s not my fault!”

“No, it may not be. But you like this woman, you enjoy her. You may want to think about the conversation a bit more so that you don’t lose your temper the next time she tells you she slept with someone.”

“That’s not the reason I was upset,” Jussi muttered.

Timo-Timo crouched down and met Jussi’s eyes. “Are you sure?”

“I’m not a child.”

“You’re acting like one.” Timo-Timo smirked. “Now are you sure that her sleeping with someone else doesn’t upset you?”

“Well, of course it’s upsetting,” Jussi admitted.

Timo-Timo nodded. “And say you didn’t know this. Say you slept with someone else while in this relationship with Isolde; would you feel like you’d done something wrong?”

Jussi sighed. “It’s different. You don’t get it.”

“Then explain it to me, Jus. Because right now you don’t get it. You would feel guilty if you’d slept with someone else. You’d feel it gnawing at you, you’d feel it fill your body and churn in your stomach. You’d feel that heavy burden, just as she’s feeling now. No, it’s not fair that she put that burden on you, but it’s not fair that you added a burden onto her. I’ll leave you be now, but at least I’ve left you something to think about.”

With that, Timo-Timo closed the curtain at Jussi’s bunk. Jussi heard him jump up onto the top bunk and settle down. Feeling childish, he kicked the top of the bunk, enjoying the grunt Timo-Timo emitted before he turned onto his side, plumped his pillow and closed his eyes.

Maybe he had been a bit quick on the anger, but Isolde still had crossed a line by asking him to even the playing field. It hadn’t been fair on her part to do that, to say that, to ask that of him. He sighed and rubbed his face against the pillow.

He hoped the next couple of days passed by quickly; with no show for the next few days, he would be lacking an outlet for his frustration. He couldn’t get to his drum kit to beat out his frustration, and the small makeshift one in the back of the bus just wouldn’t quite do with what he was feeling. Sighing once more, he closed his eyes tighter and willed himself to sleep. In the morning he’d feel better; in the morning he’d have a clear head.


Isolde stared at her phone, hearing Jussi’s voice echo in her mind. “So you know what, let’s just add on to it. Free yourself from your fucking guilt, Isolde, because I’ve also slept with someone. So there, no need to feel guilty anymore.”

Oh ho, that hurt, she thought, throwing her phone on the opposite end of the couch. That hurt more than she thought it would. She rubbed her hand over her thudding heart and blew out a slow breath. It wasn’t meant to hurt, she wasn’t meant to be upset about that. But she was.

She didn’t like the idea of some other woman touching Jussi the way she had, running her fingers down the contours of his chest; kissing that sensitive spot where his neck met his collar bone. And it wasn’t even someone else having sex with him that killed her, it was someone else teasing him, someone else laughing with him, someone else talking with him.

Sitting in a hotel room, sitting on his lap…she blinked and shook her head. Oh, she was in way to deep. Shoving herself off the couch, she paced in front of it, feeling her teeth gnaw at her lower lip, feeling herself pull at the skin until the taste of copper started to make its way into her mouth. She pulled her teeth away from her bleeding lip and closed her eyes.

“Shove it back,” she muttered to herself. “No need to get all worked up. Just shove it back.”

She tried putting the conversation in one of her mental boxes; tried shoving it to the back of her mind so that she could worry about it later, analyze it later, but Jussi’s words persisted in echoing around her mind.

“I’ve also slept with someone”

Said so angrily.

“I’ve also slept with someone,”

Not an ounce of guilt in his words.

“I’ve also slept with someone”

The words had slipped so easily from his lips.

While she had agonized over her night with Alex, Jussi sat on his tour bus easy as could be. He probably wouldn’t have even bothered telling her had she not admitted her own affair.

“Not an affair!” she told herself angrily. “An affair means you cheated. An affair means you were hiding it.”

And she wasn’t hiding anything! she thought to herself, running her fingers through her hair. With a huff, she glared at her feet before walking around the couch and grabbing her suitcase. She lugged the bag up the stairs, ready to get into her pajama’s, curl up on the couch and lose herself in whatever mindless show was on TV, hoping it would push the conversation with Jussi away from her mind.

“I’ve also slept with someone”

Said so angrily.

“I’ve also slept with someone,”

Not an ounce of guilt in his words.

“I’ve also slept with someone”

The words had slipped so easily from his lips.

She made her way up the landing to where she was pretty sure the guest room was. Opening the door, she blinked at the room.

Soya’s, she thought as she looked around. An iron-wrought bed sat on the right-hand side centered against the wall, an ivory comforter and matching frilly pillows were thrown onto the bed. The bed was flanked by two nightstands, cleared off of everything except for an alarm clock, a framed picture of Soya and a little girl, who Isolde remembered as Soya’s little sister, Aida, and a half-drunk water bottle that had probably been there a while.

There was a door to the left of the bed that was open, and Isolde could see the scarce amount of clothes that were still hung up. There was a window on the opposite side of the room, with a full-length mirror standing next it, a lone purse hanging off its stand. A lavender Victorian chair also sat in the corner, which housed a pile of folded clothes; either clothes Soya forgot to pack or clothes that Josef had laundered for her and placed in the room. Isolde assumed the latter; Soya seemed too organized to forget to pack something.

Opposite the bed was a desk which was also cleared off except for a couple of pictures of Soya with her sister and another with Soya with Josef. There was a cork board mounted on the wall with magazine cut-outs pinned to it, tickets of shows Soya had most likely gone to see, and pictures of Soya with girls from the company.

“It’s so empty.”

Isolde jumped, a squeak coming from her mouth. She turned and met Josef’s grinning face with a glare.

“Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Well, you did.”

“You must have been lost in thought then,” Josef shrugged. “Russell and I came in making all types of noise, and I even called your name.”


Josef shrugged. “It’s fine.”

“Soya’s room, I’m guessing,” Isolde said, pointing inside.

“Yeah,” Josef nodded as he walked into the room. “Girl might as well have just moved to Helsinki with the amount of shit she took from her room. She also had a list of things she needed me to send even after she had left. It’s so empty.”

Isolde raised an eyebrow. “Looks full to me.”

Josef shook his head. “Nah, Soya’s a slob when it comes to her bedroom.”

“That’s hard to believe,” Isolde said, giving a soft laugh. “I would think she’s organized.”

“With every other aspect she tends to be, but her bedroom is her sanctuary. It gets as cluttered and messy as her head does; clothing tends to litter the floor, books tend to overflow in piles by her bed. This is the cleanest I have ever seen this bedroom.”

Isolde smiled lightly. “You miss her.”

“Oddly enough I do, but we try and talk every week. She’s probably back in Helsinki now; she was in Spain having a mini-vacation with her boy.”

“She told me briefly about that.”

Josef nodded. “Were you looking for the guest room?”

“Just to put my shit away.”

Josef nodded, leading her out of Soya’s bedroom and closing the door behind him. He showed her to the bedroom at the end of the hallway and opened the door. The bedroom was empty; save for a dresser and a hard back chair that looked like an antique. Isolde pictured Josef and Soya going antiquing on their days off and gushing over authentic King George chairs.

“Food’s ready, for whenever you want to come back down; Russell’s eager to meet you.”

“Of course he is.”

Josef smiled at her, only to frown lightly. “You okay?”


“You look sadder.”


“Sadder, than from when I left. You look more upset.”

“I’m fine.”

“You’re lying,” Josef accused. “You never lie!”

“I’m not lying. A part of me is very much fine.”

“And a part of you isn’t.”

Isolde sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. “I really don’t want to talk about it right now.”

Josef nodded. “That I can respect, but don’t lie to me.”

“I wasn’t lying, but fine,” Isolde shrugged.

Josef sighed before kissing her forehead and leaving her in the room to change. He closed the door behind him, staring at the wood for a minute before and making his way downstairs.

“Everything okay?”

Josef looked at the base of the stairs where his boyfriend stood waiting and nodded slowly as he made the rest of the way down.

“Yeah, fine I think.” He patted Russell’s arm. “She’ll be down in a minute.”

Russell nodded. Josef felt the man follow him into the kitchen as he started unloading the bags. “Do you think she’ll like me?”

Josef chuckled. “Isolde’s never liked any of my boyfriends….or that one girlfriend I had.”

Russell laughed. “So she won’t like me on principle.”

Josef shrugged. “Isolde is…Isolde,” he said, waving his hand as if that alone were an explanation. “She doesn’t really like anyone until they’ve given her a good reason to.”

Russell nodded as he got out the plates. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Josef smiled lightly before looking towards the stairs and exhaled slowly. He was worried about his friend. Maybe he worried a bit too much, he thought. He was use to Isolde’s mood swings and knew that when she was upset, she tended to withdraw within herself for a couple of days to recoup before bouncing back. She was like Soya in that way, though Soya went above and beyond in internalizing her pain and problems. Isolde just tended to lash out at people, apologize for it and then live inside her head until the problem was either dealt with or ignored.

“All right, I’m hungry!” Isolde called as she stomped down the stairs.

Josef got her food and held it out for her just as she walked into the kitchen. “Before you ask, I got you a spider roll, along with your side of rice and miso. I also got the vegetable tempura. And because you’re a bottomless pit, I got you a beef teriyaki bowl that I’ll set aside in case you’re still hungry. And there’s some mochi as well.”

Isolde blinked as she accepted the plate Josef held out before smirking and raising an eyebrow. “Did you get extra soy sauce?”

“I’m not an idiot; there’s a bottle in the fridge.”

“I’ve trained you well,” Isolde said with a small laugh before grabbing the bottle from the fridge and putting it on her plate before leaving the kitchen.


“She takes some getting used to,” Josef said quickly, looking at his boyfriend. “She’s a lot to handle for someone not used to her.”

“I can see that,” Russell nodded. They gathered their food before moving to the living room, where Isolde sat on the couch, her bare feet propped up on the coffee table, which caused Josef to wince. She was in one of her many silk night gowns -pink with lace- Josef noted as he saw the hem that lay at her thigh. She covered herself with a black satin robe.

“Isolde, this is my boyfriend, Russell. Russell, this is my best friend, Isolde,” Josef introduced, sitting next to Isolde and kicking her feet off the table.

“I’m one of his best friends,” Isolde said, popping a piece of sushi into her mouth. Resisting the urge to wipe her fingers on her robe, she settled on licking them instead.

“Napkin, you pig,” Josef muttered, handing her one.

“Thanks,” Isolde said, taking the napkin and wiping her fingers as she tucked her legs underneath her. “Josef is proof that a person can apparently have more than one best friend.”

“As if you don’t have more than one.”

Isolde shrugged. “Not really. You’re enough work as my best friend; I really don’t want the added work of another. So Russell what do you do?”

“I own a security company.”

Isolde nodded slowly, looking at Josef, who smiled. “It’s how we met,” Josef explained. “Russell was setting up security for one of the shows.”

“You do security for a ballet show?”

Russell chuckled. “Not too often; we were actually contracted for a concert that was taking place after the company was done.”

HIM,” Josef said, looking at Isolde. “It’s how Soya reconnected with Ville; Russell helped me get her in.”

Isolde nodded. “So you’ve been dating what? Seven months?”

“About,” Josef nodded. “Russell’s working on getting some time off so he can come home with me and meet the parents.”

Isolde snorted. “That’ll be fun.”

Josef shrugged, sending a smile at Russell. “Mama and Papa are fine; they’re happy as long as I am. It’s the others I’m worried about.”

Isolde laughed. “At least I’m semi-nice to your boyfriends; the twins have no mercy.”

“The twins?”

Isolde blinked. “Has Josef not told you anything about his siblings?”

“I’ve been told a bit,” Russell admitted slowly.

“You really think I’m going to tell him the horror stories of my siblings?” Josef said to Isolde before turning to Russell. “I swear, they really aren’t that bad.”

Russell looked over at Isolde with a raised eyebrow, knowing she’d tell the truth.

“Be afraid,” she teased.

“We’re thinking of heading there towards Christmas; you’ll be there, won’t you?” Josef asked.

Isolde shrugged, “I’ll be there Christmas day, not sure how much sooner or how much later. But I’ll keep you posted.”

Josef nodded, before turning back to Russell. “Really, my siblings are nice to everyone but me.”

“It’s all in good fun,” Isolde said with a roll of her eyes.

“You just say that because you join in.”

“I do, don’t I?” Isolde laughed. “No really,” she said, her voice assuring at she turned back to Russell, “His siblings aren’t all that bad; just protective.”

“And you?” Russell asked.

Isolde shrugged. “Josef can take care of himself and he doesn’t need me to protect him. But you break his heart, and I will make your death look like an accident.”

“She can do it too,” Josef nodded. “She watches all types of murder shows.”

Isolde nodded. “I do.”

“And knowing her, she probably has friends at the police station.”

“In almost every single country,” Isolde said with a grin.

“I will definitely make note of that,” Russell laughed, just as the tinkling ring of a phone sounded through the living room.

“What’s up with the wimpy ring tone, Josef? I thought I’d changed it last time I saw you.”

Josef laughed as he put his plate on the table. “Not all of us want to wake up to the sound of the fucking TARDIS in our ear, Isolde.”

“Beautiful sound and you’re disparaging it!”

Josef shrugged as he got up to get his phone from his gym bag by the door. “Do you watch Doctor Who, Russell?” Isolde asked.

“Doctor what?”

“Who,” Isolde said with a grin.

“No idea what it is.”

Isolde gasped, causing Josef to wince as he came back to the couch with his ringing phone in his hand. “I need to make you a list of things never to say to Isolde; if you don’t know what she’s talking about, pretend you do and look it up later,” Josef advised, patting his boyfriend’s hand before answering his phone. “Hello?”

Isolde looked at Josef as he grinned at whoever was on the other end. “Haven’t heard from you in a while!” Josef nodded at whatever the other person said before laughing. “Are you really? Oddly enough, Isolde’s also made New York her home for who knows how long….uh huh…No, of course I’m free tomorrow afternoon! Isolde too, and I’m sure she’d love to see you guys…uh huh…”

Josef laughed. “No, no, not this time around…all right…are you sure you two don’t just want to stay here for the night? I’m closer to the airport than your hotel. Isolde’s sleeping on the couch, and I have Soya’s room free, along with an air mattress in the guest room…” Another laugh. “What was I thinking?! Of course your back isn’t suitable for an air mattress….All right then, I’ll see you both tomorrow. Call me when you’re ready. And I mean ready, not ‘pants still need to be put on, hair still needs to be fixed,’ ready; I mean ‘pants on, foot out the door ready,’ and we’ll meet you wherever.” Isolde watched Josef roll his eyes before nodding. “Yes, yes, I know. All right, bye.”

Josef hung up the phone and turned to Isolde with a grin. “Ben and Alisha are in town.”

“They are not!” Isolde grinned excitedly.

“Just landed; they’re here for about a week. They have some shoots to do for the magazine. Ben said he had something to talk to me about, so we’re having lunch tomorrow.” Josef turned to Russell. “Would you like to come?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Russell shrugged.

“Oh come on!” Josef said with a laugh. “I’ve met all your friends, and the one time a miracle happens and all of my friends just happen to be in town, you don’t want to meet them.”

“It’ll be fun,” Isolde teased. “Ben won’t like you, but Alisha is amazing.”

Russell blinked. “What?”

“Oh, well…Ben’s in love with me,” Josef grinned. “Nicest man, but somewhat in love with me.”

Isolde laughed. “So he won’t like you on principle. But Alisha is kindest woman ever, though I’m pretty sure Soya has her beat.”

“Oh, Soya has everyone beat.”

“But very nice. You should come, Russell. Alisha and Ben never make it to this side of the pond.”

“Yeah, all right,” Russell nodded.

“Good man!” Josef laughed. “Now let’s finish dinner and get to bed. It’ll be a long day tomorrow.”

Isolde smiled as she leaned back against the couch, her stomach happily full as she slid her empty plate onto the coffee table. She shifted on so she could lay her head on Josef’s lap as he ate. She stretched her feet out, only to look at the end of the couch when her foot hit something cold and hard.

Her phone, she thought as she saw the blue cover.

“I’ve also slept with someone”

Said so angrily.

“I’ve also slept with someone,”

Not an ounce of guilt in his words.

“I’ve also slept with someone”

The words had slipped so easily from his lips.

She blew out a breath and closed her eyes, smiling lightly when Josef started running his fingers through her blonde locks, curling her stripe of orange around his fingers as he continued his conversation with Russell. She could hear the laughter between them; Josef’s deep and rich laugh that filled Isolde with comfort, and Russell’s lighthearted unfamiliar one that seemed to echo around the living room. She felt her eyes close as she curled closer to Josef, the day’s events taking their toll on her.

The conversation with Alex in the morning, the run-in with Richard and Morgan right after; running to New York; her argument with Jussi. She felt herself melt into the comfort of the sofa, felt the tension seep out of her at the movements of Josef’s fingers on her head, and felt the colors and light that were still behind her closed eyelids fade away into black as she fell asleep.

When she opened her eyes next, she was greeted by the darkness of the room and the flickering lights of the TV. Her head no longer rested on the hard thigh of her best friend, but on a soft down pillow. Her body was no longer curled into itself for warmth, but underneath a soft blanket that had been thrown over her body.

Oh, Josef knew her well, She thought as she sat up slowly, blinking away the sleep. She rubbed her eyes and smiled when she saw that Josef had left the TV on BBCA for her. Yes, he knew her well. Leaning back against the couch, she brought her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and sighing. She watched the TV for a minute, focusing on the show, figuring out quickly that it was Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, before resting her chin on her knees and closing her eyes again.

She heard a small beep and opened an eye to see her phone’s screen lit up with a new message. Reaching over, she picked it up and unlocked the screen, eyes fully opening and wide as she saw the name and the message.

Refuse to apologize, but we need to talk –Vuori

Isolde felt her throat working, and threw her phone back onto the couch, and took the blanket off of her before she stood up and slowly paced the length of the couch.

All right, so he started the talking first. Which meant….something. Isolde groaned as she fell back on the couch, her face covering her hands. The fact that she was so frustrated with something….someone…that was just supposed to be a casual fuck was the reason she never entered into relationship. It was the reason she pulled herself away from people the minute she caught a whiff of the word relationship forming in their mind. She hated the frustration that came with it, the, at times, unknown factors. The fights, she thought with a hiss in her mind.

She didn’t know how to handle it. She was sure that she didn’t have the mental capacity to handle it. She needed….she sighed. She hated it, but she needed Josef. Rolling off the couch, she padded to the stairs, contemplating her decision before muttering a ‘fuck it,’ and jogged up the stairs. She didn’t bother knocking on the door, as she knew Josef would most likely be asleep. Instead, she opened the door quietly in case his boyfriend was in the room with him.

Which was the case, she observed, as she saw a sleeping Russell on the side of the bed closest to the door. The couple was back to back; Josef faced the window, and the two were inched towards the edge of the mattress, bodies not touching. Telling, Isolde thought as she snuck around the bed to Josef’s side. But Josef’s love life was his own; he enjoyed doling advice for others, but liked his own to be private.

Crouching down, she placed a hand on Josef’s shoulder and shook, causing his eyes to crack open and groan when he focused on her.

“Didn’t I tuck you in?”

“I woke up.”

“Is someone breaking into the house?” he asked, closing his eyes again.


‘Then leave me the hell alone,” Josef groaned, starting to bury himself deeper into the covers.


“Isolde,” he groaned, opening his eyes again.

“I want to talk now,” she whispered, biting her lower lip.

Josef sighed, looked up at the clock and cursed. “I fucking hate being your friend.”

“You love it, so put on pants and meet me downstairs.”

“Tea,” he muttered as he sat up in bed, running a hand through his hair and leaving it up in spikes. Nothing on Jussi’s, though.

“I’ve also slept with someone”

Said so angrily.

“I’ve also slept with someone,”

Not an ounce of guilt in his words.

“I’ve also slept with someone”

The words had slipped so easily from his lips.

Isolde bit her lip, hard, and left the room, leaving Josef to find his pants. Going downstairs and into the kitchen, she found the kettle and put the water on for tea. She started looking through the cabinets for the tea packets, only for Josef to come into the kitchen scratching his flat belly, and reached over her to get the green tea that was just above her reach.


“Mmhmm,” Josef nodded, grabbing the mugs and placing them in front of her. “Should I get popcorn too? I have a feeling this is going to be entertaining.”

Isolde gave him a weary smile. “Possibly.”

Josef chuckled and rubbed his face. “So start talking.”

Isolde shook her head. “You should be comfortable.”

“Meaning it’s going to be a long talk and you want to be comfortable,” Josef sighed. “I’ll be on the couch, then.”

Isolde smiled after him as he pushed off the counter he was leaning on and made his way towards the living room. Minutes later the kettle was whistling at her. Pouring the water into the mugs, she walked carefully into the living room where Josef was sitting, with his head leaning back against the back of the couch and his eyes closed.

“Take it before I dump it on you.”

“Thanks,” Josef said with a roll of his eyes as he looked up at her and accepted the mug she held out for him. She took a seat next to him, tucking her legs underneath her body.

“So…” Josef prompted, leaning over and turning off the TV, leaving them sitting with only the soft light of the lamp that sat next to the entertainment center.

“I don’t know where to start,” Isolde admitted with a sigh. “So much…crap happened that I just-”

“Why don’t you start from the beginning, and go from there?” Josef said patiently as he took a sip of his tea. “I’ll just sit here and listen while you talk.”

Isolde chewed on her lip, letting it go slowly before taking a sip of her tea and setting the mug on onto the front of her robe, feeling the warmth of the mug seep into her skin and warm her veins. Blowing out a breath, she nodded and started speaking.

She told Josef of Richard and the run-in with him at the party. She told him of her decision to sleep with Alex, though she knew it was a bad idea. She spoke about her conversation with Alex that morning and how their ‘relationship’ had ended. She stumbled over her guilt, still not sure why she felt the way she felt, just knowing she still felt it. She told him about her second run in with Richard and Morgan. She spoke of her argument with Jussi, trying to keep the anger out of her voice, as well as the pain of knowing he slept with someone else.

When she finished Josef just stared at her, his mouth open and his eyes blinking, disbelief and confusion written all over his face.

“Well?” she muttered, taking a sip of her now cooled tea.

“I’m trying not to fucking throttle you!” Josef spluttered as he set his empty tea cup on the table.


“You heard me, you giant idiot! God I wish, I wish Ben and Alisha were here right now to fucking yell at you! You stupid, stupid girl!”

“Hey! I didn’t wake you up to call me names!”

“Then you shouldn’t have woken me up at all!” Josef yelled, standing up and pacing the couch. “How…I know…” Josef gave an aggravated groan and glared at her. “Let’s start with Alex.”

“I’m done with it,” Isolde shrugged.

“But I’m not!” Josef growled. “This poor man has been half in love with you since high school, Isolde! You knew that going into the relationship with him! How could you string him along for so fucking long?! That man has been with you through thick and thin, almost as much as I have, and yet you hold onto him like a child does a security blanket!”

“I didn’t mean too! I didn’t know that’s what I was doing! Alex-”

“Has always been a friend!” Josef yelled at her.

“I know!”

“Then why would you keep sleeping with him if you knew he was starting to fall for someone else?! The first time, Isolde, the very first time he mentioned his nurse, you should have fucking ended it! Instead, you held on so fucking tight you nearly ruined your friendship with that man. Do you know how much Alex loves you?”

“Yes, of course I do.”

“Obviously you don’t,” Josef said, shaking his head. “Alex has always pined for you, Iz. Always, even after he got you.” He ran a hand through his hair, his head still shaking looking like a bobble head. “I can’t….I fucking hate being out of the loop,” he muttered. “I can’t believe this went on for so long.”

“You’re acting like my fucking parent.”

“No, I’m acting like your friend. You may have been screwing around with Alex, but he’s still my friend too, Isolde.”

“I know.”

“I’m glad you guys ended it the way you did,” he gritted out. “I am. I’m glad that you guys will still remain friends and that there are no hard feelings; I’m angry that it took this long and that Alex had to take the step instead of you. You started this fuck up, you should have ended it.”

“I know.”

“Stop! Just stop saying ‘I know,’ Iz, because obviously you don’t. You’ve screwed up your own life and now you’re screwing everyone else’s up.”

“Thanks,” She muttered, staring at the bottom of her now empty mug, only the tea bag remaining.

“Isolde,” Josef sighed, sitting next to her. “I love you. You’re like my fucking sister. And it’s why I take the liberties to talk this way to you, but you need to fucking wake up.”

She bit her lip, her tongue already forming the words ‘I know’. She did know, she did. She knew that she needed to shake the way she thought and reshape it. It was just so hard.

Josef rubbed her back a small pitying noise escaping his lips, causing her to wince; she hated that noise. “I know Richard-”

She cut him off. “I’m done with it,” she admitted. “I’m over him. I’m done; it just still hurts.”

“I know.” Josef sighed.

“No…” she said with a shake of her head. “You don’t.”

“I’ve been broken up with too.”

Isolde shook her head. “It wasn’t just the break up, Josef. I knew, even if I didn’t admit it, that it would be coming. Whether it was us breaking our engagement or us divorcing, I knew it would come. It’s the cheating that hurts. It’s the fact that while he was in London he had this whole other life that didn’t include me, and it was obvious he was happier with it. It hurts that no matter what I do, I’m always the in-between for men. The push men need to get their acts together and find the one they think is worth loving.”

“You’re worth loving,” Josef argued.

“Sure to you, maybe. To Ben yeah, certainly to Alisha; to friends I consider family. But not to men.” She swallowed. “I could have loved Alex, you know.”

“No you couldn’t have; if it didn’t happen in four years, it wouldn’t have happened. Love shouldn’t be something that’s forced or eventually learned, Iz. It’s something that you should just…feel and know. You enjoyed Alex, yes. You love Alex as a friend, yes. But if you didn’t trust him enough to let him into your flat, then no Iz, you couldn’t have loved him more than that.”

Isolde rubbed her face in agitation. “Well, Alex and I are over, so that’s old news.”

“No,” Josef said softly. “It’s still new, Isolde, and it still hurts you.”


“Yes,” Josef argued. “You’ve lost someone you consider close to you, so yes, it hurts you. Don’t tell me it doesn’t.”

Isolde looked over at him. “Alex and I weren’t meant to be.”

“I agree with that.”

“It doesn’t hurt; I was angry that I didn’t end it sooner, but it doesn’t hurt.”

“You’re argument with Jussi hurts, though.”

Isolde breathed in deeply and nodded. “Yes, it does.”


“I don’t know,” she groaned.

“You do.”

“I really don’t,” she admitted. “I feel guilty because I slept with Alex, and I told him that, and he got mad.”

Josef raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure that’s why he got upset?”

Isolde shrugged. “I don’t know, I just…” She groaned. “I’m so…lost when it comes to that man. I do casual relationships because they’re easy. But everything with Jussi is complicated and hard, and I have to think about things other than sex, and I’m actually jealous! And I hate this feeling, Josef, so much.”

Josef smirked. “And that’s only after what? 72 hours?”

“Give or take.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this, you know. Not even with Richard.”

“Jussi’s so intense,” she whispered. “He’s just this presence that even when he’s not around, he still lingers in the back of my mind. My first thought when I woke up the morning after I slept with Alex was, ‘oh shit, how is Jussi going to take this?’ I started comparing Alex to Jussi! My first thought when I was running from Prague was, ‘Is Jussi in Helsinki?’ He’s addicting and so terribly bad for me.”

“He’s good for you.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Best friend’s intuition,” Josef shrugged.

“Well then, your intuition is off; he slept with someone else.”

Josef blinked at her. “Isn’t that what you wanted though?”

“Yes. Well, I mean no, not really!”

“You can’t have it both ways, Isolde. And now that I have this piece of information, you’ve probably made him feel like shit for it, even though you feel like shit for sleeping with Alex. You can’t be mad at him for doing something you have done yourself.”

“I know! I’m just so-”

“You like him, Isolde. More than your regular boys, and that’s what scares you. Not the relationship thing; you’ve done relationships before. It’s the fact that you really like Jussi. You’re afraid of hurting him.”

“I don’t mean to.”

“I think you need to talk to him, Iz. Really talk to the man and just let him know that you’re sorry.”

“He said some pretty harsh things too, you know,” Isolde argued softly.

“Sure,” Josef nodded. “I’m very sure he did, but you added fuel to the fire. He may have shit to apologize for, Isolde, but you have to start that conversation.”

Isolde nodded slowly. “All right.”

“You know Ben and Ali will say the same thing.”


“And Ben will just call you worse names than I did,” Josef pointed out.

“This sucks,” Isolde groaned.

Josef chuckled. “Yes, it does.”

“Can you stay here until I fall asleep?” she asked quietly, hating the weakness in her voice.

Josef nodded and arranged himself on the couch so that he was lying on his back. Isolde curled herself up on top of him and pulled the blanket over their bodies.

“You know, it wouldn‘t be the most horrible thing in the world if you fell in love with Jussi.”

“I think it would be the worst thing in the world.”

Josef chuckled softly, leaning up to kiss the top of her head. “You would.”


Sunday November 7, 2010

“So where’s this boyfriend of yours?”

Josef looked up from his menu to smile widely at Benedict Knight. His orange hair was perfectly spiked, and was wearing a white shirt tight across his chest and jeans that fit the man perfectly. He was showing off and Josef loved the man for it. “He should be on his way,” he said, standing to hug Ben tightly. He grinned at Alisha, who was waiting her turn.

“Always a pleasure to see you, Josef.”

“I know,” Josef teased, kissing her cheek and hugging her just as tightly. “Come sit!”

“Where’s our girl?” Alisha asked, sitting across from Josef while Ben took one of the ends of the table to sit next to him.

“She’s been trying to make a phone call all day; I think she went to go make it.” Josef said, rolling his eyes when Ben grabbed his glass of iced tea and took a drink of it.

“Important?” Ben asked.

Josef shrugged as he lifted his menu back up. “Could be, it’s about her drummer.”

Alisha blinked. “She’s still with him?”

Josef shrugged again. “I think they are; they got into an argument last night, so who knows what’s going to happen if she gets a hold of him.”

“Apparently nothing,” Isolde said as she bent down to kiss Ben’s cheek. She sat down next to Alisha, half-hugging her friend. “He didn’t pick up and I had to leave a message, so hopefully he’ll call back. Now what in the world are you two doing in New York?”

“First let’s talk about that atrocious sweater your wearing,” Ben said with a frown. “Where in the world did you get that thing, and can I burn it? No wait, forget I asked. I will burn it.”

Isolde looked down at her sweater with a frown. It was an old Christmas sweater her grandmother had given her, the year before her death. Two stripes had reindeer on it while the rest of the sweater had dark red and orange geometrical designs on it. She’d paired it with a pair of black leggings and some light-brown riding boots; one of the rare pair of shoes she owned that weren’t heels.

“I think I look nice! And if you touch this sweater, I will kill you,” Isolde warned.

“But in the nicest way possible,” Josef assured, patting Ben’s hand. “Don’t touch the sweater, Ben, for all of our sanity.”

“Fine, the sweater lives. But I never want it near me again. It offends me.”

“Everything offends you,” Isolde shot back with a roll of her eyes. Alisha grabbed her attention by changing the subject.

“We’ve come to ask a favor from Josef,” Alisha said with a smile sent Josef’s way. “That’s why we’re in New York.”

“Really? You’ve come all the way from London just to see me? I know a lie when I hear one.”

“You’ve such a pretty face Josef,” Ben said, leaning over to pat Josef’s cheek.

“We had a few appointments here, some shoots and what-have-you, and we decided to see if you’ve be willing to squeeze in a favor for us, when you’re schedule isn’t insane. Isolde being here is just cherry on the black forest cake.”

Isolde snorted. “Well, isn’t that sweet.”

“What’s the favor?” Josef asked.

“First, where’s your boy?” Ben asked, setting Josef’s tea back in front of him.

Josef shrugged again. “I’m not his keeper, Ben. I told him where we were meeting and at what time; it’s up to him to show up.”

“Well then, add punctuality to his list of faults.”

“You were late,” Isolde pointed out.

“No, my dear, I was on time,” Ben said, looking over at her with a smirk.

“Oh yes, because time just stops for you,” Alisha said with a roll of her eyes.

“Time doesn’t work like that,” Isolde started, “It’s-”

“No! No Doctor Who references!” Alisha warned.

Isolde pouted. “Fine.”

“But really, Josef, it’s rude. Now we’re waiting on him to order,” Ben said with a pout of his own.

“Dear god, man, order if you want to, and stop drinking my goddamned iced tea.”

“But your cooties are oh so yummy.” Ben teased with a wink.

“Ew,” Isolde said, looking between the two men. “No flirting at the table.”

“Oh please, you’ve done worse on a table,” Josef said with a wink.

“Yes, yes I have,” Isolde nodded with a grin. “Much, much worse.”

“Maybe it’s a good thing Russell isn’t here; I don’t think he’d be able to handle you three together,” Alisha said, waving her hand over the three.

“Please, as if you’re any better,” Josef said, rolling his eyes, smacking Ben’s hand when he reached for the tea again. “Stop!”

“I can say with the utmost certainty that I’m the tame one in this group,” Alisha teased.

“For now,” Isolde snorted, picking up her own menu. “At least text him, Josef; I didn’t have breakfast this morning and you know how I get when I don’t eat.”

“She becomes a raging bitch, so please text the man,” Alisha begged.

Josef rolled his eyes and picked up his phone, doing as he was told and sending his boyfriend a text, only for the phone to buzz seconds later with a message reading ‘I’m here’. When Josef turned around he saw Russell heading towards the table, charcoal suit and matching tie hanging loosely around his neck.

“Well at least the man has style,” Ben muttered, stealing Josef’s tea while the man was distracted.

“Don’t think I didn’t see that,” Josef said, glaring at Ben, who shrugged as he drank the rest of the tea. Russell came to the table, leaning down to kiss Josef’s cheek.

“Sorry I’m late,” Russell said, sitting next to Josef. “My meeting ran late.”

“It’s fine,” Josef said with a smile, patting his boyfriend’s hand.

“No, it’s not,” Isolde said slowly, looking at Russell. “Manners dictates that it’s polite to at least send a text if you’re going to be late.”

Ben snorted. “And Isolde is getting bitchy.”

“She’s always bitchy,” Alisha pointed out.

“This is hungry bitchy,” Isolde argued.

“It’s also stressed bitchy,” Josef added, handing Russell a menu.

“You know what? I don’t think we should talk about this,” Isolde said. “I think you should introduce your boyfriend instead.”

“Right,” Josef nodded. “Russell, this Ben and Alisha, two of my closest friends.”

“Well, ‘close friend’ is a bit offending,” Ben muttered. “I’d like to say we’re ex- OW!” Ben cursed as Josef kicked his shin. “Close friends is fine.”

Isolde chuckled. “And of course you’ve already met me.”

“So what do you guys do?” Russell asked, putting his menu down.

“No, no, find something to eat first,” Josef said, turning and flagging down the waiter. “We’re all starving.”

“I can’t order anything; I have to leave in a bit, for a meeting,” Russell admitted.

Josef turned and looked at Russell with a raised eyebrow but shook his head and bit his tongue, not wanting to start an argument in front of his friends. Isolde raised an eyebrow at her friend; Josef wasn’t one to let things like that slide. He was more of the aggressor in any type of relationship. If he was wronged, he let you know. The passive silence Josef was exhibiting worried her. She turned over to Ben, who was frowning at Josef. Ben turned to catch Isolde’s eye. She gave a small shrug, letting him know she had no idea what was going on either.

“Fine, we’ll wave down the waiter,” Josef said, only for Ben to wave the comment away.

“Already done and on his way,” Ben assured.

The waiter came, taking down the group’s orders, refilling drinks and leaving the table again, allowing them to talk.

“So, what do you two do?” Russell repeated.

“Ben and I own and run a magazine. It’s mostly Europe-based, though.”

“We’re here in New York to see if we could possibly get some type of US representation so we can publish here.”

“That is amazing!” Isolde grinned.

“We’ve got some people interested, but we’re holding out for the prefect one,” Ben smiled.

“So what type of magazine?” Russell asked. “Fashion?”

“A bit,” Ben nodded. “It’s a bit of everything, from fashion to relationship advice; our audience is mostly girls with self-esteem issues, and we’re hoping to get their spirits high.”

“We’re a no-bullshit magazine,” Alisha said with a smile. “We use Photoshop to mess with lightening, but never our models; you see every perfect imperfection on my models, every curve and every blemish. I want girls and men -as we also try to target a male audience- to know that models are normal people who have acne problems too.”

“And that does well?” Russell asked.

“Very well,” Alisha said slowly.

“Sorry. It’s just hard to believe in today’s society that a magazine like that does well; people lean more towards perfectionism then imperfections.”

“I think today’s society needs a no-bullshit code, and I think that that’s why it does well. Also, because girls and boys who are looking up to models need people that are going to be true to themselves instead of depending on some computer program to put value on their self-worth,” Alisha said with a smile. “Our magazine does very well for itself. And it helps that I have this one taking pictures and writing articles,” she said, pointing to Isolde.

“Not really; Ali makes it work all on her own,” Isolde said with a grin, only for Ben to clear his throat. “Ah! And of course with Ben’s help!”

“And you all met through…Isolde?” Russell asked.

“We did,” Ben nodded. “I’m a big fan of Josef’s dancing. When I found out Isolde was his friend, I made her introduce us.”

“And I tagged along,” Alisha said with a smile. “Life hasn’t been the same since.”

“Well of course it hasn’t; it has me in it now!” Josef said, his voice haughty.

The group laughed, while Russell gave a smile. Isolde watched as her friends interacted, loud and boisterous; even neighboring tables were looking over at the group. Some were amused, others annoyed, but it was a given when going out together that they gained a lot of attention. The planets so very rarely aligned just right to get them in the same country, let alone the same state, let alone the same town at the same time. So when they did gather, it was loud and fast talking and lots of laughter and teasing, as they weren’t sure when they’d all see each other again.

It took people a lot of time to get use to them all together, especially if they were a quiet personality, much like Russell was, Isolde noted. He seemed to be watching Ben, Alisha and Josef with the same ‘what the fuck did I get myself into’ face that Richard had the one and only time he’d met her three friends… and even then, it had been towards the very end of their relationship. She’d known going into the dinner it wouldn’t work out; her friends would hate him -which they had- and he would hate them -which he did.

So she watched Russell and wondered if the man already disliked them for bringing out the loudness in Josef. She wondered how much Josef suppressed himself around the man. She also wondered if Russell had caught on to Ben’s comment, and knew that Josef and Ben were actually ex-lovers and not just close friends. Pity it hadn’t worked out, she thought, looking at the pair, who were laughing and reminiscing.

They hadn’t been in the same place in their lives, they’d said. They both wanted to travel for different reasons. Both were so career-centered and selfish when it came to relationships, willing to take but never to give, never finding a reason to share their lives with anyone.

Both had grown in the last few years and had learned what they enjoyed in their men, what they liked and disliked in relationships. Both had learned to share and open up to their partners, trying to look towards a future with the patterns they had picked, but never quite finding it. Both were also so family-and friend-oriented; Ben was as close to his large family as Josef was his, and had a close group of friends he considered extensions to that family, just like Josef.

She wondered when their lives would mesh again, when they would decide they were in the same place emotionally to give their relationship another go. She looked back at Russell; he was a nice enough guy but she could see Josef changing bit by bit for the man, and that she didn’t like.

“…phone is ringing.”

Isolde blinked and looked over at Alisha. “What?”

“Your phone is ringing,” Alisha repeated with a kind smile.

Isolde looked over at her purse where she heard the sounds of the TARDIS whooshing, and dug it out, only to see Jussi’s name on the caller ID. She answered quickly not wanting him to hang up.



“You called back.”

“I didn’t think you would even call,” Jussi said softly. “I couldn’t get to my phone earlier; I had to go out for a bit with Jyrki and didn’t take it with me.”

“It’s fine; I’m at lunch with some friends. But let me go out to Josef’s car real quick so we can talk,” she said, wiggling her fingers over at Josef. He rolled his eyes and handed her his keys, allowing her to leave the restaurant.

“I can call back if you’re busy.”

“No, no, it’s fine. Ben and Alisha are here for the rest of the week; I’m already bored of them,” she said with a small strained laugh as she headed towards the car, unlocking it to slide into the passenger seat, and closed the door behind her. “Okay.”

“I…” Jussi sighed.

Isolde smiled at the small sigh and leaned her head back against the head rest. “Should I start talking?”

“No, I probably should.”

“I fucked this up, so I’ll talk first.” Isolde sighed. “You should know that I very rarely apologize. I never really feel the need to, you know? But for our fight, I am sorry.”

“Do you know what you’re sorry for?” Jussi asked.

Isolde frowned. “For making you upset. I didn’t mean to make you upset.”

“All right,” Jussi said slowly. “Let me rephrase then: do you know why I was upset?”

Isolde blinked. “Because I slept with Alex.”



“Isolde, sleep with who you want. That’s what our relationship is, isn’t it? Causal? For the sole reason that you don’t like having one partner.”

“It’s not that I don’t like having just one…” she muttered. “Causal just means I don’t want you telling people I’m your girlfriend, as I’m not.”

“And I realize that,” Jussi said slowly. “I’m not upset you slept with Alex. I’m a bit hurt that you decided to share that with me, as I wasn’t aware that that was part of our relationship.”

“It’s really not.”

“I’m upset that you told me to go sleep with someone else in order to help you with your guilt,” Jussi told her. “Guilt that you had no reason to feel.”

Isolde blinked. “I didn’t…”

“You didn’t what?”

“I hadn’t even realized I’d said that, and I’m sorry I did,” she admitted. “I never meant it that way,” she sighed, running a hand through her hair. “You make me feel like such a mess.”

“How is this my fault?”

“It’s not!” Isolde said quickly, trying to diffuse a fight that she could feel starting to happen. They were already on shaky ground; one wrong thing said from either of them and everything would tumble. “It’s not. It’s just how you make me feel,” she admitted. “I’m usually much more put together than this,” she admitted. “I like to think I’m not such a fuck-up with guys.”

“You’re not a fuck-up,” Jussi told her.

“Are you sure? Because I’m feeling like one,” Isolde admitted with a sigh. “It’s why I was so tentative to start anything with you, Vuori. You’re such a nice guy and my biggest fear is to hurt those I start this kind of thing with. It would kill me if I hurt you. I don’t know why, but it would.”

“Isolde,” Jussi sighed.

“I didn’t mean to make you feel guilty or like you had to assuage my guilt. I just needed to get it out of me. For some reason, being with Alex made me feel guilty on so many levels and I needed to talk, and you were the one I chose. I’m sorry if it felt like I wanted you to solve my problems. That wasn’t it at all, I just-”

“Wanted to talk, I know.”

“You do?”

“Well you said it about fifty times, already,” Jussi teased lightly. “And Timo-Timo had a nice long talk to me after we argued last night and pointed it out to me. I feel like utter shit for getting angry at you when all you wanted was for me to listen. So I’m sorry for that.”

“You said you weren’t going to apologize.”

“Yeah, well you apologized, so it’s fair that I apologize for something I fucked up on.”

“Are we good now?”

“Not…really?” Jussi sighed. “I know you’re sorry and all but…my argument still stands, Isolde.”

“What argument?”

“That you continually change the rules when it comes to us. We haven’t been at this for very long, Isolde. I mean…technically we’ve only been together for a weekend, and then our fight. And that’s one extreme to another, especially if this is just…you know…casual.”

“I know,” she winced as the words left her mouth, knowing that if Josef were there he would have smacked her for the words.

“I think we need to at least set some type of ground rules, Isolde.”

“Really?” Isolde asked with a whine. She hated rules, especially in a causal relationship.

“If we don’t, then I can’t keep doing this,” Jussi admitted. “I’m not…I just can’t, Isolde.”

“I understand,” Isolde nodded. And she did.

“Look, I don’t want to hear about who you sleep with,” Jussi said.

“Understandable,” Isolde nodded. “I’ll rant to Josef from now on.”

“I don’t mind your ranting, Isolde. I enjoy that you’re able to talk to me, and that’s fine. I’d just prefer not hearing about or talking about your other lovers.”

“All right.”

“All right,” Jussi repeated.


“No next, that’s my only rule,” Jussi said.

Isolde laughed. “All right, then how about I set one myself?”

“All right.”

“We talk, at least once a week.”

There was silence. She heard the shifting of a seat before Jussi spoke again. “Really?”

“Really,” she nodded. “This may not be a serious thing with us, but I mean…we like talking to each other, right? It isn’t just sex, is it?”

“Not just sex,” Jussi agreed. “No, it’s not.”

“Then I’d like for us to talk a bit more. I mean…you should know the person you’re fucking.”

Jussi chuckled, the sound filling her. “Yes, I guess you should.”

“Then once a week.”

“Once a week,” Jussi agreed.

“Glad that’s settled. Now are we okay?”

“We’re getting there,” Jussi admitted. “I think the talking will help a bit.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Yeah, I do...” Jussi said softly.

“You have something else to say.”

“Yeah, I do,” he repeated with a sigh, “I guess with this whole talking has the implied rule of honesty, right?”

“I would think so,” Isolde shrugged. “I don’t lie, so it doesn’t really apply to me.”

“But I do.”

“What do you mean?”

There was silence on the other end, followed by what she could assume was Jussi muttering to himself, before he spoke again. “I didn’t sleep with anyone else.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Isolde's Outfit

Okay, so, first of thank you so so so much for waiting and understanding you guys! Life has been so hectic but I think it's a bit back to normal!

Now I will say I write with a purpose lol. I write Jussi the way I do for a reason and I write Isolde like i do for a reason. I'm not sure what you're guy's reactions or thoughts about Jussi's lack of realtionship control will be (and I want to know too!!!) but i do write him like that for a reason I promise it gets told semi-soon too! lol.

Next chapter skips a few weeks so big warning on that lol.

Again thank you guys so much for waiting so patiently and not sending out the mobs! Can't wait to see what you all thought!!!