I told my body to sit up and waited for it to get back to me. The message got lost on the way, but I wasn't worried about it. Even after however long I had slept, every nerve ending was alive and sparking. I knew exactly where every inch of my skin met Van'shis hand on my collarbone, fingers stretching over my chest where his cheek lay. Van never drooled in his sleep, which was just unfair. Even if he had, I wouldn't have cared.
I grinned at the ceiling, waggling my eyebrows at the cracks. But
it had been a while. I could already feel bruises from miscalculated movements and harsh meetings with a door here and there. Van was careful but
eheh. I hadn't been. At all.
Except to stumble back to the bedroom and get some e-extra...eh-hrm. I managed to sit up and then regretted it. I hurt like hell. Van rolled over to his side of the bed, mumbling something in his sleep and letting the blankets slide off of him. His bare back glared up at me, covered in old scars and new marks. I reached over and stroked his shoulders, letting my mind wander.
Where it was wandering was starting to make my eye twitch. Part of me wanted to dwell on everything, the same part that wanted to pull Van back towards me and wake him up in the most creative way possible. The other part was hiding in a very dark place and refusing to come out.
I jumped. Van had turned over to face me, a light pink blush dusting his cheeks, left over from last night. And a lot of yesterday. The look in his eyes made me shiver. "Y-yeah?"
"You look kind of sick."
He didn't look convinced. He sat up and pushed his hair out of his face, then yawned. The subsequent stretch ended with him sprawled on the bed, under me. I couldn't help it, I just
had to spread myself over him, and I did it.
Van definitely didn't seem to mind. I'd never actually heard him giggle, but he was doing it now, just a little. Very softly. It was
amazing and scary to see him look so relaxed and happy. And it was for me. B-because of me. He loved me.
A lump started to form in my throat, growing too fast to keep up with. I swallowed it back, but it was still too hard to talk. He loved me. He'd said it more than once, and twice we hadn't even been touching each other. I'd been sitting on the counter watching him make dinner, and he'd just looked up, smiled, and said it again.
I was still trying to figure out if I'd said it for the right reasons.
Now he was looking worried again, his hand resting on my cheek, thumb pressed gently under my eye. "You're leaving me behind, lovely
My breath caught. "I-I-I don't mmmean to
Then he pulled me down and just hugged me, which was not as tame as it would have been if either of us had been remotely dressed. But he kept his hands more to himself than I usually wanted them to be. And I was frozen. This was real, wasn't it? Real and true and lasting. We'd had s-sex all over the damn apartment, and after the first time, he hadn't hesitated even once, not for a second. He loved me.
"I love you," I whispered, grabbing onto the feeling and shaking it by the metaphysical shoulders. I wasn't just saying it, II meant it. So much that it really hurt, like surgery without anesthetic. It was all I could do not to gasp.
His reply was lost in the roaring that assaulted my ears. I knew what it was anyway. He loved me too. We'd leapt a hurdle, and now I had no idea what to do next. "Do you have work today?"
He groaned and let his body sink back into the mattress, slightly away from me. "God. Yeah, I do." Then he craned his neck to see the clock on the nightstand. "Damn. I've gotta get dressed and go."
I rolled over to let him get up, then stared at the ceiling again, listening to the rustling and grunting while he got dressed. Soft cursing as he struggled with the belt
I sat up in time to see him begin negotiation with his buttons.
A fluttery sigh escaped me without anything like permission. He was mine. Standing there slumping just barely, his sleepy face turned to try and rest on his own shoulder, lips parted slightly, eyes half-shut
I shook myself. Other people saw him every day, and I'd seen men and women both try to win him over. So why was he with me? He was
gorgeous. Slender but not skinny, round in all the best places, and so damn smart it made my brain hurt to listen to him talk sometimes.
And what was I? A gangly pile of chicken bones with most of the meat picked off. A pasty, dumbass trouble magnet without any sense at all, not even fashion sense. Van wore clothes that had brands on them. After Aud had left, I just wore what I found on the floor or in the closet, depending on what was closer
Now that I was with Van, he laid out clothes for me in the morninghe was doing it right nowand he did whatever laundry I left laying around the apartment. I hadn't been home in days. We were practically living together
! So why did I feel like any moment he was going to stop smiling and ask me to leave?
I jumped again. "Gnyeah?" Ugh, what a glowing vocabulary I had. Let's show that off some more, shall we?
"The other day, I had a key made for you. It's on the table, so you can lock up if you want to go anywhere." He was still smiling, looking a little moony-eyed. "You could go see your dad, let him know you haven't disappeared." Even with the moony face, he looked concerned, cautious. "I don't want to
to be a problem between you two."
I wished he hadn't brought it up, but I knew he was right. I'd been
avoiding. Everything. My dad, Al, even the house. Anything that would try to tell me that what I was doing wasn't right, was something I had to stop doing.
Because I didn't fucking want to stop any of it. I leapt off the bed and swept Van up in a long, deep kiss that sent us to the floor in a slow spiral. He clutched at me, automatically reaching forand then he stopped, panting and gently moving my hands away from his buttons.
"W-work," he breathed, his voice low and so inviting that I kissed him again. He kissed me back, but he still held my hands, keeping me from removing his clothes. "I want
god you know I wanna stay, but I have
I could have whined or argued, but this was more effective. Maybe it was because we were new at this, in our own differing ways, but it was intoxicating and stopping hurt. Stopping meant I had to think and I didn't want to, dammit! I sat up and scrubbed dryly at my hair, trying not to look at Van, trying not to take in the mussed hair and newly-rumpled, half-open shirt. He was breathing in short jerks, but he was grinning at me, as if I hadn't just done something obnoxious and selfish.
He crawled over and kissed my cheek, then stood up and composed himself. "I promise, I'll come home as soon as I can. And I'll have something special for you, love."
To my utter shame, I bounced. But I did not ask what, and I didn't try to pull him back down to me again. And I didn't get up off the floor and get dressed until I heard the door shut and lock. He'd left.
Something was wrong, my face hurt and my eyes itched. I rubbed them and my hands came away wet. He'd lefthe would come back in a few hours, you idiot, stop weeping!! I growled at myself and kicked the bed. Nothing happened, not to the bed, and not even to my foot. I hadn't kicked it very hard.
I forced myself to breathe normally and wandered into the kitchen. There was a key on the table, just like Van had said. It was shinier than his key, and it was attached to a keyring with
with my name on it. Not in a fancy way, just a simple reminder of who it belonged to. I picked it up and rubbed it between my thumb and forefinger. It was my key. I belonged here. With Van.
He wasn't going to leave me.
He had left.
For work, you dumbshit, to fucking go to WORK.
I sat on the floor and held my head in my hands. We'd been sharing a bed for weeks, and I hadn't gotten bent out of shape over it, not like this. Yeah, it was different to do a little more in the bedand in the hallway
and the couch
But the feelings were the same as before we'd slept together in the less than literal sense.
"You must be doing well for yourself. This is a grand little box home. Have you married a turtle?"
My head jerked up so fast I heard my neck pop. Robin was standing on the breakfast bar, nudging the bowl of fruit with his foot. The cheerful disdain on his face annoyed me, but not enough to straighten out my mind. "What do you want?" I asked, wary of how the answer might come.
He contrived to look hurt, every bit of him glowing dully with injured pride. "Only to see the circumstances to which you have become accustomed. I must say, you've finally made an acceptable decision regarding whom you bed."
My cheeks flared red; I flew to my feet and nearly attacked him. "Don't you dare compare them!! Aud Rose was not better or worse than Van! They're different people!"
Robin flicked an imaginary bit of dust off his shoulder, then rolled his eyes. "You do carry on as though it matters. Speaking of such things, why did I find you sobbing at the floor? Did it hurt your feelings?"
The red graduated to purple. "None of your business."
And suddenly he was very literally in my face, just long enough to say, "It's all my business." Then he was back where he had been. "What could be troubling you that much? Afraid the boy will leave you as well?"
My chest tightened. "No," I growled, knowing it was a lie.
Robin clucked and shook his head. "Your poor doting paramour surely deserves better than this behavior. But then, what commitments has he given you? A key? Meaningless bauble. Unquestioning adoration? Insignificant. His virginity?"
If he hadn't stopped there, I would have screamed.
Oh. He'd only stopped there because I had screamed. Damn. I covered my mouth and just stared ahead, horrified at myself. But Robin just continued to grin, although possibly wider.
"Yet you still fear abandonment. Curious."
I backed into the table, knocking over the napkin stand. "He loves me."
"Yes, and you love him. It's all bubbly and beautiful, but you want more than that. You want
I shook my head, but
it was true.
"What an interesting conundrum."
And then he was gone, the room twice as empty as it had seemed before. I hugged myself, then looked down at the key. I had to go see my dad.