A/N: Really random. Casino Night, Stamford, etc.: Never happened.
People like the feeling of air against their skin.
So when he finds that this is what her smile feels like, he thinks he's onto something.
He used to fall out of trees when he was younger. Not on purpose, but he liked climbing trees even though he wasn't any good at it. And there's a moment he can recognize now that occurs just when you start to fall, before you can register the fact that you're going to hit the ground hard, and you feel free in a way. In this split second, you feel as if nothing could touch you. Then you body meets the ground with a snap of bone or a thud of your head and you realize you aren't invincible or free.
Falling out of a tree. This is what her laugh feels like.
He thinks he breaks about five bones a day and has more concussions than he can count. But he's trying to collect those seconds to see if he can just store them and string them all in a row and always feel free and light.
So far it hasn't been working. Those seconds disappear before he has time to grab them and lock them away. And then he's hitting the ground.
He spends three years falling out of trees and then she doesn't get married.
It happens somewhere near the end of May when he's halfway up another tree, because she's been helping her mother work on her yard and the sun is making her hair lighter every week.
She isn't lonelier now. Her finger's just bare and she has to start over completely.
He stops climbing and lets himself slide slowly back to the ground.
The smile she gives him when he agrees to let her stay at his house for a few days while she moves out doesn't feel like air against his skin at all.
He gives her Mark's room and makes Mark clean and agree to stay at his girlfriend's for at least a week. He tries to make her feel at home, but he can tell by the way she looks around the room that that's going to be near impossible.
She smells like apples and something warm when she gets out of the shower at night. He's trying not to notice the way water drips from her hair and down her skin, but after two days, he gives up and sometimes she smiles at him on her way back to her room.
He starts climbing trees again.
On her fourth night, he hears the floor creaking at three. Then the sound of skin against cotton. He feels the smooth skin of her legs against his and tries to pretend that he's still sleeping.
He turns on his side so he's facing her. "Pam."
In the dark, all he can see is the shine of her eyes and the outline of her body. He closes his eyes and moves a little closer to her.
"I, uh, can't sleep without- It's just been almost five years since I've slept alone and the walls in that room don't look like mine and-"
He thinks about what her tears look like on his pillowcase. He reaches out and finds one of her hands. "Whatever you need."
She kisses the corner of his mouth and her head sinks into the pillow next to his.
He's on his way back to sleep when she says his name again. It makes his skin hum to hear it coming out from between her lips and into the darkness of his bedroom.
He opens his eyes and the moon is shining in on her hair and parts of her face.
He reaches the top of the tree and feels his grip on the branch loosening.
Her fingers reach out and run along his jaw. "You're my best friend."
The ground is softer when he lands this time.