She shows up at his doorstep from time to time, and they don't say a single word to each other. But he notices the scars. He notices the bruises, and the scratches. She pretends to ignore the sad look in his eyes when he does. It hurts a little more every time she leaves his apartment.
Somewhere in the back of his mind he knows she wouldn't return if he said anything.
But when she shows up with a fractured wrist, he decides to break the fragile silence they've built together.
"Why do you stay with him?"
She looks up at him and blinks a few times, her eyes wide. Then she shakes her head slowly and shrugs. He nods.
They don't say anything for the rest of the night, but as she's leaving he mutters something under his breath. She pauses in the doorway and turns to him, her head tilted in curiosity.
"Come here," he says a little louder. She takes a deep breath and smiles sadly.
But she doesn't move.
So he walks over to her and kisses her, and suddenly she's floating. No longer is she the heavy stone that sinks to the floor every time her boyfriend touches her. She's a feather. She's his princess. And she wraps her arms around his neck and tugs him closer.
She wakes up in an unfamiliar bed. The body next to her is warm, and she notices that she's naked. So is he. The events of last night fly back to her at warp speed and she shivers, snuggling closer to him and laying a gentle kiss on his chest. She trails her fingers across his abs and leans up to kiss the tiny dip behind his ear. He stirs and she smiles.
The tugging feeling in her stomach is ignored when his eyes flutter open and he smiles at her.
She's sitting on his doorstep and crying when he comes home that night. He sighs a little and kneels down in front of her. She frantically wipes away her tears with the hand that isn't covered in a cast and tries to smile for him but he takes her hand and kisses her forehead, then rests his own against it.
"He was in our bed," she whispers. He bites the inside of his bottom lip to keep from wincing. "He was in our bed…with her." Her voice breaks a little and he kisses her gently.
"And then?" he asks, stroking her palm with his thumb. She draws in a sharp breath and laughs bitterly.
"I left." He nods and stands up, pulling her with him.
Her cell phone rings as he's unlocking the door and she answers it, sending an apologetic glance at him as they enter his apartment.
He ignores the scared tone of voice she suddenly has as she speaks to the person on the other end of the receiver.
"I have to go," she whispers when she hangs up. He's standing in the kitchen, leaning against the counter and staring out the window. He doesn't turn around but he feels her approach him and lay a gentle kiss on the back of his neck. A moment later the front door slams and he bites his lip again.
A week later he comes home from work and checks his answering machine.
Her voice fills the line.
"Seth? Um…it's me. I…I'm sorry. I didn't mean to…I'm coming over tonight."
He deletes the message and gets a glass of water. She knocks on the door and he answers it, his eyes snapping shut when he notices the large purple bruise surrounding her eye and the cut on her forehead.
But he doesn't say anything. And neither does she. He simply gets an ice pack and points to the couch before walking down the short hall and grabbing the first aid kit from under the sink.
When he returns to her she's nibbling her bottom lip and holding the ice pack to her swollen eye, ignoring the blood that's trickling down the side of her face in a steady stream. He cleans her up and puts a bandage on her forehead, kissing her skin gently.
She brings her lips to his and they eventually find their way to his bedroom.
Afterward, she lies in his arms and he traces the lines that criss-cross her back. When he lets his fingers glide over the large bruise on her side she winces and he moves his hand before she can say anything.
"I love you," she whispers one night. His grip on her considerably tightens and she panics for a moment.
"Then why won't you leave him?"
She doesn't answer. She doesn't know.
A week after her confession she doesn't show up. Or the next night, or the next, and he worries a little.
His phone rings as he lies in bed one morning and he picks up, hoping to hear her voice but expecting something worse.
He lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding.
"Can you come get me?"
He asks her where she is and she gives him directions to her apartment. A moment later he hangs up and traces the cracks in his ceiling, wondering what happens now.
He shows up and finds the door to their apartment open. He gently pushes the door and steps inside. Her clothes are strewn all over the living room and he picks up random articles as he walks down the hall to the only closed door he can see.
She's lying on the bed staring at the ceiling and crying, a suitcase next to her.
He gently cradles her in his arms, grabs the suitcase, and takes them both with him.
"I'm sorry," she says softly when they lay in bed that night. He nods into her hair and kisses her forehead.
"I love you," he whispers. She smiles sadly and nods.
"Yeah. Me too."
He wakes up to the sound of the shower and smiles to himself.
When she gets out, they eat breakfast together and he promises to take her shopping.
Their new arrangement doesn't seem to need a discussion. He wonders why silence has never been this comfortable with her. Then he remembers all the other times they've been silent.
But maybe it's ok. Maybe this is how it's supposed to be.
She smiles at him over the rim of her coffee cup and he returns the gesture.
Yeah. It's ok.
-- -- --
A/N: Leaving this as a oneshot. Reviews are love.