Appreciation

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. Yes, the love affair does not end. R/R if you like.

The door slams violently behind me. I'm not a violent person. I have to tell myself that a lot. I defend myself when I have to, sure, but I'm not a violent person. The problem is that when you need to defend yourself you can very easily turn into a violent person. Way too easily and way too fast in fact.

The burn marks will heal just like they always do when Wanda hexes me. I always tell myself that but it seems like I believe it less and less. I thought things between me and Wanda would change since we got together. Some things don't though. Some things don't magically go away just because you've found the love of your life. No matter how much you try to ignore it, some wounds go deeper than what love can heal. I guess it's mostly my fault. I'm a naïve kid, much more naïve than my upbringing would make you think.

Wanda and I just had a nice, long fight. It was the loud and ugly kind, the kind I remember my mom havin' with some of her boyfriends. I hate fights like those. I remember when I was little I swore I'd never do that. But like I said, sometimes I have to defend myself and it turns into violence. Oh sure it's not physical violence because God knows I could never do that to her even if I was totally outta my mind. But words can do a lot more damage than one of my kicks and I do have to defend myself.

I thought we were through with all this. It really irritates me. I love her so much. I've done everything for her. I've tried twice as hard as anyone else would try to be there for her and I've kept going twice as long even when a sane man would give up. I've done all this stuff because I care about her that much. I know the rest of the world thinks I don't matter. I'm the toad, the clown, the punching bag. I never used to mind because, hey, everyone's gotta be something. But then she came along and I wanted to matter. I wanted to count as a person, a friend, someone important. So I did everything I could, bent over backwards and sideways and every other way, for her even if it wasn't what she said she needed. I mean after all, the stuff we really need is never what we think it is, ya know?

Problems don't magically go away once you've found someone to love. It sucks when you think about that. No matter how much you care or how much you give, there are things wrong with the other person that you just can't fix. Sometimes it drives you insane and a little voice in your head tells you to quit. I remember hearin' that little voice a lot when I was trying to get her to go out with me. You'll never win. No matter how much you try, you can't help her because you don't count. You never mattered; you never will. It's times like these, when we've had a really nasty fight, that I start listenin' to that voice again. Maybe I really don't matter to her. Maybe I should just stop tryin' and stop expectin' her to be more open with me. Maybe we're just not as close as I think and I should just stop trying to get closer because it can't happen. Is this as good as it gets: waiting for the scorch marks to heal and knowing that chances are you won't get much of an apology from the person you love?

I turn from my seat on the windowsill and see her step into the room. It's sorta weird to watch her be timid. She never did it before we got together, probably 'cause she couldn't let herself care enough about someone else's feelings to. Maybe some things have changed.

"I don't expect one," I tell her simply as she comes over to me.

"I don't care," replies Wanda with a smirk, "You're getting one anyway whether you like it or not." I simply nod and wait for her to go on.

"You know about my temper," explains Wanda, "You know how it got there, you know what I can do, you know everything. You know me, Todd."

"Yeah, I do," I tell her. I do know this girl. I know her inside and outside. She's the most beautiful person I've ever seen but I always wonder if she knows me the same way. Sometimes I wonder if she even wants or cares to know me that way.

"That's no excuse for what I did," confesses Wanda, "I'm sorry I hurt you, Todd. You know how much I love you. I'd never intentionally hurt you."

"I know you wouldn't," I tell her as I lean over and kiss her on the cheek. I know this girl so well but sometimes it feels like I never knew her in the first place. It's times like those when I listen to the voice in my head that tells me I don't matter to her the way I should. But then there are other times, times like these when we can look at one another and see exactly what's inside the other.

"You wanna watch TV?" I ask her.

"Yeah," replies Wanda, "That'd be nice." I leave my seat and walk towards the door. I stop and notice that she lingers, her eyes fixed on the burn mark on my arm.

"We'll take care of that later," I assure her.

"Todd," she replies, "I . . . I'm really glad I have you. I mean I completely don't deserve you but . . . I'm really glad I have you anyway."

"I think the same thing every day about you," I reply with a smile as she comes over and takes my hand. Sometimes it's very easy to stop loving someone. Sometimes it's extremely easy to listen to that little voice in your head and think that you don't matter to the one you love. After all, how could you if you could do this kind of stuff to each other? But the second that little voice gets too loud and you really start believing what it says, something always pulls you back from the pit. Everyone needs to feel loved and appreciated. Everyone wants to be cared about. I'm really thankful for moments like that and even more thankful that I have someone now to help drown out the voice that tells me to quit.