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Perceive This

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This is so strange. I want to wish for something new.  This is the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

          Leaving blink-182 was the scariest thing Tom Delonge had ever done.  It meant his whole life was changing. It meant he was alone.  It meant he was without Mark.  He had been with Mark since he was 16, how the fuck was he supposed to act like this was okay?
          These wonderful pills and alcohol.  That’s how.  Two Vicoden absorbed into his sytem, maybe now he could get through this.  He felt so fucking weak, relying on these pills to get through the day.
          ”Keep going forward, don’t look back,” everyone would say.  That’s all fine and dandy, sure, but what did he have to look forward to anymore?  Every morning, he had to wake up and face the reality that Mark was gone.  Mark was in the past, and that’s where Tom wanted to be.  Right back with Mark, playing blink-182 songs with that goofy smile stuck to his face.
          Why was this so hard?  Tom was the one that left, after all.  He had this whole new life ahead of him, a life where he could start over, and he didn’t want a single part of it.

Everyone, everyone will listen, even if it hurts sometimes.  If you will, come and hear the message.

          ”You better fucking listen to this album, Hoppus.  I swear, it’s such a dick move if you don’t.”  It wasn’t uncommon for Tom to talk to himself these days.
          Truth is, Tom was writing this album for Mark.  He was reaching out, looking desperately for some strand of hope to grasp on to.  This album would mean nothing if Mark never heard it.  He wanted nothing more than to beg and plead with him, please, just fucking listen to it, just hear what I have to say, please.
          If Tom knew Mark at all, which he was fairly certain he did after spending half his life with the man, he knew Mark would listen to this album.  If for no other reason than curiosity, just to see what Tom gave up blink for.
          What Tom gave up Mark for.

Everyone wants to learn to love again, open up and come alive.  Do you think that you have that in you?

          Of course that’s how Mark saw it.  Mark saw it as Tom leaving him to start Angels and Airwaves.  He saw it as Tom leaving him to find love elsewhere, to have a life without him.  Why shouldn’t he see it that way?  That’s how it appeared to everyone; all the kids, the fans they’d worked so hard for and loved for years.
          None of them knew what went on behind closed doors.  None of them knew how emotionally invested in this they were.  None of them knew how much Tom was hurting.
          And none of them knew that Tom had lost his desire to love anything.  That desire was left behind when he destroyed everyone’s lives.

Leave your pain on the bedroom floor again. Bring a smile to survive.  Do you think that you have that in you?

          He was okay with leaving everyone else in the dark.  They didn’t need to know how fucked up his head was now.  They didn’t need to know he’d lost his will to live.  To the public, he was sure of himself.  He was confident, smiling, able to move forward with ease.
          All thanks to these pills, these lovely little blocks of personality that he would take and transform into a different person.
          Tom stared down at the pills in his hand.  Three more should do it for now.  You know, the pills weren’t small at all.  They were actually rather large and uncomfortable to swallow.  After doing it enough, though, he’d gotten the hang of it.  They weren’t always white, either.  This particular bottle was green.  Generic.
          Didn’t matter, they did the trick.  The cracks in his fake smile were being masked by the minute.

Got a lot, oh a hell of a lot to say, even if it hurts sometimes.

          That fake smile was something Tom had practiced, perfected, even before the end of blink.  It frustrated him that he even had a fake smile, what the fuck had his life turned into?  Everything was all a big charade anymore.  It made Tom sick to his stomach.
          Or maybe that was just the alcohol not sitting well with the pills he’d just thrown into his system.  He shrugged it off.  Not like it mattered anyway.
          At the end, Mark had stopped listening, completely shut Tom out.  Why?  They were always able to tell each other anything, they were able to be open and honest and true.  So why did Mark feel like he couldn’t come to Tom if he was hurting?  When Tom tried to get him to open up, he would put up that fucking wall of silence, that unbreakable defensive bullshit he’d built.. the same wall he put up whenever Tom tried to get him to listen to what he had to say.
          It hurt.  It hurt so fucking bad when Mark would shrug off what Tom was saying, and eventually that pain made Tom give up trying.
          Mark couldn’t shut him up this time.  Sure, he could ignore the album, but Tom couldn’t let himself entertain that thought.  No, these were all things Mark needed to hear, all things that Tom had been trying to get him to talk about when they were together.  So what if it fucking hurt, Tom was hurt, he was destroyed, he needed Mark to listen to the pieces he had left.

A perfect life for a perfect brand new day, and we’re the next in line.  Do you think that you have that in you?

          That’s what Mark thought this was about, surely.  Tom’s “perfect life” with his “perfect family.”  No relationship to bother hiding anymore.  No more secrets.
          It was never that.  Okay, yeah, maybe it was bothersome to always hide how much he loved Mark.  Maybe he’d wanted to go public with it a few times, and Mark didn’t.  There were times when Mark thought it was a good idea to come out about it, too, and Tom didn’t.
          Honestly, Tom was the one that wanted a perfect family?  Fuck no, he wasn’t.  He just wanted to be there for his daughter.  Why wouldn't Mark let that happen?  It all just got too big, and their relationship took the fall for it.
          Regardless, at the end of the day, he didn’t care about the secrets.  As long as he had Mark.  That’s all he truly cared about.  Just Mark.

Take a chance ‘cause I know you want to.

          Hot.  Sunny and fucking hot.  That’s all there really was to say about this day.  Then again, that was typical weather for southern California, and Tom had grown accustomed to it.  In fact, he welcomed it.  He missed it when he was away for too long.
          He smirked.  Whoo’da thunk it?  Missing this shithole.  It was home, though, so fucking sue him.
          Out of nowhere, a ball of paper smacked him square in the face.
          ”What the fuck?  Hey, look here, asswipe, my face is not a target.”  The piece of paper went flying back across the room towards Mark’s head, where the blue eyed bassist sat with a stupid smile on his face.
          That stupid fucking smile, Tom thought.  He loved it, really, he was a total and complete slave to Mark when he smiled like that.
          ”Whatcha writin’ over there, Tommyboy?”  Mark crawled over and laid in front of him on the floor, snatching the paper and reading over it.  Tom couldn’t even stop him, fuck, why did Mark do that?!  Maybe that was a private fucking thing he wrote, maybe he was writing a love letter, maybe it was a fucked up sexual fantasy involving a donkey in Hong Kong, maybe it was a picture of tits!  Ha, who was he kidding, he would’ve shown Mark if it was any one of those things, or if it was anything else.
          ”..Wow, dude, I don’t even.. this is beautiful,” he said when he finished, looking up at Tom with a serious look in those beautiful blue eyes.
          If he only knew.  If he only fucking knew that every sappy love song he wrote was about him.  Tom felt himself blushing, time to make a joke.
          ”Yeah, I just couldn’t stop thinking of your dad and how awesome he was last night, that’s all.  That man is a natural in bed, too bad you didn’t take after him.”  Nice save, Delonge.
          ”Fuuuck you.  Seriously, this song, Tom, this fucking song..  Dude, the way you write blows me away sometimes.”

          A sigh escaped his lips, and he rested his face in his hands.  Mark had always loved the way Tom said things, the way he wrote certain feelings into words.  He wrote with so much emotion, Mark said once that he could crush someone’s entire soul in one line.  Bet he never thought that one day, he would be on the receiving end of that line.
          Mark.  This album would hurt him, and that’s really the last thing Tom wanted.  He couldn’t help it, though.  These things needed to be said, they needed to be heard.  He needed Mark to hear all of it.  Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad in the end.  Maybe, if he actually listened to the whole album, Mark would hear what he needed, too.
          Even if it took time, even if he wasn’t able to listen to it all at once, Tom knew Mark well enough to know that his curiosity always got the best of him.  He had to keep thinking that, for his own sake.  Whether it was the part about his curiosity, or the part about knowing Mark so well, he didn’t know.  All he knew was that thought brought him a bit of comfort.

If only you’ll hold on, just hold on.  I’m here, and I’m with you.  I’m here, too.  I feel you.  We’ll get through.  I know this, I’ve seen it a hundred times, a thousand times.

          All in all, he knew he’d hurt Mark.  All the years they spend together, all the bullshit they’d gone through.. all the trust, all the whispers and hushed conversations and secrets and feelings and fuck, why did he leave again?
          ”Two more shots down the hatch, you can fucking do this.”
          Mark was always stronger than Tom.  He knew that Mark wasn’t sitting around drinking and getting high to deal with his thoughts.  No, Mark was out being productive, caring for his family, having his friends, making new music.  Music without Tom.
          That’s how Tom always dealt with pain.  Music.  That’s what this album would do for him.  He hoped, at least.  He hoped that with the completion of this album, it wouldn’t hurt as much anymore.  This could be his way of letting the pain go - of letting Mark go.
          This album would be his goodbye.

Just one more time with you and I.  I’ll hold you close, and then we’ll say goodbye.

          Goodbye to the life he used to know.  Goodbye to the times when he was truly happy.  Goodbye to the person he used to be.  Goodbye to blink-182.
          Goodbye to Mark.