Author's Note:

Damn John Knowles and his depressing book endings.

I don't own any of the characters.

AU where Phineas survives.


I couldn't believe that he'd accepted me again, after Brinker's little court game. When Finny had said he understood, after I snuck into the window of the infirmary and after he'd expressed so fully how much he wanted to hurt me for what I'd done, I came to a conclusion: There was a fine line that divided the human emotions of adoration and loathing – a line so fine, it was easy, if not inevitable, that you would cross it.

Even more than I hated him, and loved to hate him, I was in love with the man whose life was ruined by me.

"Finny?" My hip gently pushed against the door to the dorm we shared, a tray of breakfast balanced precariously in my hands. The doctor had agreed to let Finny stay at Devon as long as he remained in bed until the breaks had started to heal substantially. In all honesty, I couldn't see Finny doing it, going without social interaction for that long. "I brought you some food..."

Glancing up from the tray I took a good look at Finny. From the way his hair was pressed damply to his forehead and jaw, I assumed he'd just woken up. Scrubbing a hand over his face he released a drawn out breath and allowed his eyes to peek through his fingers at the doorway. The light in them seemed to dull as they fell on me.

I didn't blame him for being upset. No, I could never blame him for being upset with me. That still didn't make it hurt any less, though, especially now that I'd finally come to realize my feelings for him;

Love, with some insanely sadistic tendencies attached it seemed.

"I'm not hungry."

Absent, pulled away into my thoughts, I almost missed his words. There was no malice in his tone, yet it still stung me inside, a hot poker twisting in my gut. I hated loving Finny this much, so much that even when he wasn't speaking coldly, if he wasn't speaking absolutely positively, it still felt cruel and made me want to cry.

I wouldn't cry though, that would be unmanly.

I set the platter down on his desk, assuming that he'd want to eat it later. I let my chest expand with labored breaths, steadying my heart-rate. I had been honest with myself, and so far throughout our friendship I'd been fairly honest with Finny. Now it was time to prove that I was loyal, trustworthy even. That it had only been a lapse in judgment that had made me shake the branch. It was time to admit to Finny something I'd only admitted to myself so far.

It wasn't as if his life could get much worse.

Bending my fingers at awkward angles, I filled the room with popping noises as my knuckles cracked in nervousness. I walked to stand at the side of Finny's bed, ignoring the expectant look he gave me as I stood above him. He looked up at me, just staring, and I only spared one small moment of trepidation at his cautious glare and firmly closed lips. In seconds I was on the bed next to him, lying on my side to mind his leg that was elevated on a pillow. My heart was racing, and now at eye level with his neck, I could see Finny's carotid artery pumping at a high speed.

Originally, I had planned on just telling him, not climbing in bed with him. My own surprise was evident, as was Finny's as my arm wound around his waist and I felt his abdomen muscles tense up. I tightened my arm around him, my face pressed into the juncture of his shoulder and neck, my eyes closing slowly as I memorized his smell. Even though I'd never touched it before, the pink cotton shirt felt familiar against my cheek.

"Gene?"

My stomach dropped slightly at his tone. Finny wasn't upset, not even a small bit irate, just curious. He was still tense, though I had relaxed a small bit after getting on the bed, pressed against him.

"Phineas..." My voice was muffled against him and I made no effort to lift my face and enunciate. "I'm so sorry Finny..."

As I hugged against him a bit harder, my tone faltered. His hand found its way to my back and rubbed soothing patterns between my shoulder blades. I held back salty tears that brimmed in my eyes, my throat immediately swollen and sore. Somewhere along the line I should have realized that friends didn't behave this way, in this manner; but nothing was registering past the fact that I had to tell Finny.

"What's this about Gene?" The vibrations of his voice in his chest sounded so nice, and I swallowed hard, a few drops landing on the pink shirt and causing it to darken.

"Finny..." I began, lifting my chin up to rest on his chest, to attempt to meet his eyes. I took a breath and tried to calm myself – tried to remember to breathe in general. If I passed out on Finny, in his current state he wouldn't be able to do much of anything. "Finny, I-... I love you."

An awkward silence settled in the room; so quiet that I could hear the footsteps of our fellow students in the hallway. Finny's hand stopped moving on my back and I blanched, bile rising in my chest.

"You're so very stupid sometimes, Gene."

I flinched slightly at the words, though the hint of a smile on Finny's face made me smile back gently, content, if not overjoyed, with that answer for now. I didn't want to push anything. I was sure Finny still had to fight so many conflicting feelings about me. There was no way anyone couldn't be upset after all that, or get over it so quickly.

"Now get your hundred and forty pounds off of me and give me my breakfast."

I was all too happy to comply.