Allison pulls the sheet up over her to cover herself, turning to face John in the bed. A small smile graces her features as she stares up at him. Against his chest, she felt like nothing could possibly go wrong. In this tiny apartment where they could barely cover the rent and keep the lights on, she felt safer than she had anywhere else. It was a strange feeling, but maybe this was what feeling content felt like.
"Things seem so clear now," she murmurs. "It's like…" she gestures vaguely. "Like the mist has finally lifted and I can see straight for the first time in a long time."
"Man," John says, dragging his fingers through his hair. "You got all that from this?" He gestures down to himself. "I have been called a Greek god, but…"
"Shut up," she giggles, rolling her eyes. She hits him in the chest softly and laughed easily. "I just meant…" she sighs deeply. "I just meant things are finally how they're supposed to be. And it feels right, you know? It feels really right."
"Yeah," he says, closing his eyes. "I guess it does."
He knew what she meant and he felt it too. Through his whole life, nothing had ever come easy. But this - Allison, and everything she represented - had come easier than anything in his life ever had. Maybe it was because he cared, and although that fact scared him - because anything you care about, you can lose - but this was worth fighting for. Each day when he went to work and completed the daily grind, he thought about what was waiting for him at home. Home! Even the word sounded foreign to him but he was sure that's how he felt with her. At home.
She springs from the bed, wrapping the sheet around herself like a toga, and pulls him up with her. "You know," Allison says, leaning back against John and closing her eyes, "I think we'll be okay."
"I never doubted it," John replies in an instant. It was a lie, but looking back, he did wonder how he ever doubted their future. It was all he could think about now. If it wasn't for that detention, for that awful night...he shakes his head. The thought of missing out on all of this wasn't something he wanted to dwell on.
"Liar," Allison says, and she rolls her eyes. It was a sweet thought, but he didn't really think they'd make it back then. If he had, then he might have been crazy. He still might be, the jury was still out on that - but now it felt like it was gonna last. And it felt good. It felt foreign and strange, but good.
"Maybe," he admits, tipping his head to move the hair from his eyes. A sparkle twinkles in his eye. "But I don't anymore."
As she throws on one of his shirts that came down to the middle of her thighs, she says, "Let's finish painting the kitchen."
He looks up at her, his eyes tired but sparkling. "It's 11PM." He facepalms as soon as the words leave his mouth. "I sound like I'm forty."
Allison laughs. "Yep, you do," she says, attempting to pull him up off the bed. "Anyway, is there a curfew on painting?"
"Not for you," John says, rolling his eyes. He rolls out of bed, throws on a pair of pajama bottoms and pulls her into the kitchen.
As she pulls the tin of paint from where it was being stored on top of their small refrigerator, holding it to her chest. It was heavier than she remembers - or maybe she was just more tired by this time. She rocks on her heels.
"You don't have to stay up," she says, raising her eyebrows. "I can finish this off. I know you've got work. You must be tired."
"I am tired," he agrees, shrugging. "But I don't wanna miss this."
"You don't wanna miss painting a kitchen?" she asks teasingly. She looks down as Midnight rubs herself over her legs, purring happily as Allison bends to scratch her behind the ears. Their little family felt so much warmer than she'd ever had before. She never felt like she was on the outside looking in now. John finally had something he wanted to keep. He had something to work hard for.
"Me either." Allison spins round. "Maybe…" she stops, her teeth clamping over her lip self consciously, and didn't finish the thought. She drops to her knees and wrenches open the tin, swirling the yellow paint around haphazardly. "You know, maybe yellow isn't the best color…"
"What were you gonna say?" he asks, unable to resist.
She shook her head, eyes blurring as she stared into the sunny paint. "Oh, nothing. What did you think about yellow?"
"I think we already bought yellow so it's gonna be yellow," he says with an easy laugh. He didn't really care what color the walls were. His bedroom back at home had been three different colors and chipping everywhere. Anything was better than that. If she wanted a yellow kitchen, that was fine by him.
Dropping down to her level on the floor, he raises his eyebrows, gently tipping her chin up. She blinks up at him, fighting a smile. "Now maybe what?"
"No," she says, her nose wrinkling. She pushes her hair back out of her eyes, scrunching up her nose. "It's a stupid thought. You'll laugh at me."
He snorts a laugh. "If people stopped saying stupid things the world would be a pretty quiet place."
Allison let herself smile. "Maybe...maybe when you grow up, your heart doesn't die," she murmurs. It was a dangerous thing to let herself think; that maybe, just maybe, the world wasn't such a terrible place. But it seemed like at every corner, life tried to shatter every illusion you dared to have. Maybe this one wasn't such a terrible idea to let go of. Maybe she had held onto it for so long because she was afraid of life being so good for once, for fear of it being ripped away again.
John hides a smile himself. He, too, wanted to let himself believe that. With her, it was easier to. Everything was.
"Maybe that was our parents. That was them and this," she gestures between them, sandwiching herself up against him and sighing contentedly. "This is us."
"Us sounds pretty good," he says, resting his chin on the top of her head. "I could live in a world where 'us' exists," he admits. "Maybe we ought to stay that way."
"Let's just stay that way forever, then," she says softly. He nods against her. "Us…just us."
"Forever," he agrees.
Finally finished this one! It has been forever since I updated and for that I am sorry. People are still favoriting and following so I hope it isn't a lost cause. Someone actually did this week. I've had this chapter in my docs for a little while now and that prompted me to finally finish it and post. I hope you're all keeping well at the moment. I know it's a difficult and scary time. Thank you for reading and thank you to the people who have stuck around for years waiting for this fic to be finished. I hope you're satisfied with the ending. Please let me know what you thought.