I had never been really philosophical. That was always more Sebastian's territory. I actually wasn't very fond of reading period, while Valmont had never let a spare moment pass without burying his golden head into a large book. They were usually massive volumes, musty and yellowing, and I could never see the appeal. I actually told him that once. He had looked up at me impassively, but I was already learning how to read him. The shine off his beautiful blue eyes had turned to a little twinkle, the tiny lines surrounding them crinkled upwards slightly. I wasn't sure why he was doing that, but I decided then and there that I loved it. I would go on to spend a great deal of my time discovering what other expressions he took on, what else he could feel. You would think that it wouldn't be much, judging from his stone cold expression of the indifferent ice in those eyes that so many adored. You'd be wrong, naturally. That's the thing about people like Sebastian and I. We feel so much—we feel too much—so we opt not to feel at all. It's a delicate state, the freezing numbness that engulfs both of our souls, but it was one that we'd do anything to maintain. But there were differences between Sebastian and I, though we'd come to uphold that we were two of a kind. Beyond the layers of snow, his beat a heart of fire, mine contained more ice.
The two of us make a lovely pair. I can already see the psychiatrists all over the world, drooling over the chance to analyze this. Well, sorry doc, but you don't need a degree to see what's wrong with our "family dynamics". Fucked up doesn't even begin to cover it when the couple isn't in love, but their children are. Not that Sebastian and I are in love. Honestly, there aren't two people in the entire world who are in love. Love is a thing full of anxious fears, of fake promises and real tears, phony sentiments and crushed feelings. The genuine emotion behind it lies not in the Hallmark card he sends you for Valentine's Day, but in the tear-stained letter that sits on your bedside table for months, the one in which he tells you everything you've never wanted to hear. No one can put up with what being "in love" really entails, and so they fake it like they do. When one is in love, they begin by deceiving themselves, and end by tricking others. This is what the world calls a grand romance, "true love", what we're all supposedly searching for. No one wants to admit that the 'love of their life' is just the cutest guy that she feels safe with.
Sebastian would never sleep much at nights. He would roam the halls restlessly, aimlessly, searching for the truth in a house that contained nothing but shadowy secrets. That's another difference between Sebastian and me. He believed in the meaning of life, the purpose of deeper thought, the make up of a human's soul, the search for something more. He wondered about the origin of evil, whereas I just accepted that it existed whether you accepted it or not. He briefly mused on how a person became the way they did, while I just knew that they were who they were, who gave a fuck how they got that way. Sometimes I want to ask him how people like us are formed, what has shaped us and molded us into what we've become, just to see what he would say. Just to see what expression his face would take on then. But I always bite my tongue at the last second. It's much better not to know. I wouldn't say that he's the cutest boy I feel safe with, because there is no safety with Sebastian. It's all sharp edges and clean lines, stirring truths with lies so thoroughly covered that you can't tell where they ended and those truths began. I didn't mind this much, because I was the same way. I wouldn't say I loved Sebastian, not even in the Hallmark kind of way. But I couldn't help the way my eyes lingered on him a little longer than any other boy…
In a way, this undying sense of loyalty I have towards him is because he made me feel like it was okay to be myself. Don't give him so much credit; it wasn't Sebastian Valmont who made me realize that I was beautiful and intelligent, though he reinforces it at every point. He made me see that I wasn't evil or heartless or alone, or maybe I was, but that was okay because I wasn't the only one. I began to wonder how many others there truly were, innocent children with the bad seed implanted deeply within them. You would joke that it was the green in my eyes, the Merteuil in my blood that made it so easy for me to seek out the truth in other people. Sebastian looked, but I zeroed in. The gigantic, ugly truths that people tucked as deep as they could dig inside themselves and covered with the perfect shell was what I fed myself on, starving for more information, more leverage, more power, that I would crack more and more shells, shatter more and more lives.
It was in English class when I finally realized that there was so much more to the sort of people that Sebastian and I were than manipulators.
When they dived low and missed, they crashed, bruised and broken, on the ground.
The line was in one of the world's most overrated short stories that I've ever read, in my humble opinion. But as the teacher asked me to continue reading out loud, I couldn't. Something in me was frozen to that spot, my sharp eyes zooming in on the text until it became nothing but the blur of black ink and white paper that it was. I had one of those moments of intense clarity, the painful kind that I'm almost sure Sebastian experiences when his own eyes take on that soft, fuzzy look.
This was it! something in my mind cheered. This is your answer, Kathryn! And it was. This simple statement summed up my entire being, Sebastian's too, and any other being like us that wandered the earth. The reason why we were so calculating, so cruel, so cold, so precise in our missions was because there is no margin for error. If we fail, we fall. If we fall, we bruise. If we bruise, we break. If we feel the consequences of our actions, the disastrous cycle begins, tearing apart the very fibers of our beings until we're reduced to those weak forms that blubber about, those people that we so despise. We are those birds, Sebastian and I. We plot and we hurt and we go in for the kill, to avoid being hurt and killed ourselves. We were fighting an enemy we could never quite pin down, waging a war with no possible outcome. We fly high above our prey, perched precariously on our pedestals, leaving them all to wonder if we'll triumph or fall. The answer is triumph, it must always be triumph, or we'll crash.
To love someone with your whole heart is to break it to pieces and hand it over, bit by bit. You slowly surrender your entire being, retreating inch by inch. You hand over the jagged edges, cutting you both, leaving the union soiled with blood and pain and tears. You'll just be emptier, I've always thought. It's common sense, really. And now I'm awake at five o'clock in the morning, gripping my Egyptian cotton sheets with a cold sheen of sweat drenching my body. We are those birds, Sebastian, and we've dove too low. Half my heart is in your hands, and it's bleeding us both dry.
In one of those old musty books he read to me from, trying to prod me into seeing to joys of finding meaning in another, he had chuckled over this. "When a man has once loved a woman, he will do anything for her except continue to love her." In an eerie way, I can still hear his dulcet tones echoing around my bedroom in the wee hours of the morning, the peel of laughter you let out at this statement. He shook his golden head at its truth, the corners of his eyes crinkling in that familiar way. So this is how I know that it's time to push him away, that it's gotten too close, that we're about to crash. There's no other option but to end this most dangerous game before we're both bruised and broken and there's nothing left to salvage. If we judge "love" by its results, you're more likely to find hatred than friendship, and no matter how much I protest, I'll never hate him. This strained thread, the hazardous link between us must remain intact, this alliance must never break. These birds must continue to fly. Birds of a feather flock together, and there are only two of this kind.
Okay, so I'm like beyond self-conscious about this story, so please review and let me know what you thought. It's Kathryn's thoughts, obviously lol. It could technically take place whenever you want it to, either pre-Cruel Intentions or pre-the declaration of war between them. Anyway…. Thanks for reading!