Title: A Word Away
Author's Note: Big thanks to shealynn88 for inspiring me to write and to Caalan for beta-reading the damn thing!
I kinda' love you.
"Kinda'" like I kinda' love the way you speak. The way you cup your hand behind your ear and say, "Què?" in that playful tone. Sharp and sweet and bitter like vodka. Yeah... kinda' like that.
And the way you come barging into my house after school when you need help with a case. You don't even have to knock anymore. You just lift the latch from the gate and kiss my grandma hello with a tiny greeting of "Hola, Mami" sliding so easily from your lips. It's kinda' like you live here already. Kinda' like family. That's how much I love you. Kinda'...
"Kinda'" like I kinda' love making you coffee even though you work at a coffee shop. Like how you let me rub your shoulders when you're tired and you start to moan a little bit -- your mind drifting into ease... shooting back into alertness when I say, "Wake up, bitch! I'm charging for my services."
Yeah, I kinda' like the way you laugh at that. The way you raise your eyebrows at my razorblade comments. Cupping your hand behind your ear and saying, "Què?" in that playful tone. It kinda' makes me want to smile, but I don't quite get there. I'm not sure if I should. That's why I only kinda' love you.
And you sit there on my porch at night -- in your pajamas sometimes -- because you can't sleep. You slam the door to your car and casually walk up to my doorstep because you know I'd be waiting for you. And then we'd sit there 'til 1:00 a.m. shooting innuendos back and forth like two little punks with nothing better to do. You say, "I'm getting sleepy." I say, "My bed's pretty big." Then you say, "Oh really, vato? Cause your Power Ranger sheets get me so hot..."
I kinda' love how you laugh at my dirty jokes. I like that they never offend you. Kinda'.
"Kinda'" like I kinda' love how you feel safe in the ghetto at night because you say there are a lot more stars in the sky. You don't even flinch when you hear the police siren. You just look at me teasingly and say, "I think they're looking for you." Then you glance at your watch and start dusting yourself because it's 1:00 a.m. and you need to go. It kinda' breaks my heart when you do that. Kinda'...
"Kinda'" like I kinda' feel guilty when I hide your keys. Then we spend 30 more minutes looking for them even though you already know they're in my pocket. You push me towards the railing, wrestle with me for a while, and then capture me in a tight bear hug until you finally pull the key ring from my jacket. Sometimes you don't even let go. Sometimes you just let your arms drape over my shoulders.
And I bury my face in your hair because you let me. We stay on the porch just like that until your dad finally calls your phone and you answer it with no hesitation because he's your father and you respect him. I kinda' love that about you... the way you reassure him with "I love you, Dad" and, "I'll be home soon" because you DO intend to leave my house at some point. I kinda' love that you're a good girl. Kinda'.
"Kinda'" like I kinda love the way you look at me before you leave. The way you whisper, "I feel safe in the ghetto," not because of the stars but because you're with me. I love that you let me kiss your cheek after you say goodbye. I love that this is not awkward.
And at noon when I see you at school, you wave me over to your table. Ever since that shit with Thumper went down you never let me eat lunch alone. You let me hang with Wallace. You force me into going to his basketball games. And I kinda' like it because I feel like I belong somewhere. Kinda' like you and me sitting on that porch at night... sitting on the same steps, being on the same level where I'm not a loser and you're not a reject...
Being on that same level where we see each other eye-to-eye. A place where I kinda' like you and you kinda' like me and we don't say a thing about it because there ain't nothin' to complain about.
A place where a single smile pushes me to the edge… kinda' making me want to erase that "kinda'" altogether because I love you.