What can I say. One-shots are a huge part of my life.
This has been building up for like two weeks so I really needed to get it out, or I think I might've broken down and written something into TVU that would've really messed up the plot. Sorry if it's weird. I was watching an old Alfred Hitchcock movie while I wrote the second half of this.
I really wanted this to tie into Physics, but I couldn't find a good physics term that would've served as a title for this story D: also it's not at all in the same universe as Physics, since it's another love confession story, and we already worked that out in Gravity.
A JSRF fanfiction by Bagatelle
I've done stupid shit in my life. I'll admit it. I'm enough of a man to 'fess up to my mistakes. I've been rude to nice people, been quiet when I should've spoken up, said things I didn't mean, tons of other shit. I have a horrible temper. I'll admit that, too. I get mad when I shouldn't. I yell a lot, at my best and only friend, and even I don't understand why most of the time. Thank God he's calm. Thank God he's gentle, and that he talks me down, softly, compassionately, until I'm back to my neutral low growl of a voice. If he weren't like that…I don't know where I would be right now. Friendless, most likely. Not in this gang, for damn sure.
Of course I got mad when he forgot, though.
Maybe it's a pretty easy thing to slip the mind. I don't know. I never forget it, but probably just because it's my own stupid problem. Still, though. It pissed me off. Cornelius Albert Pennington, the idiot, the stupid, dumb blonde best friend of mine…wrote me a letter. A huge, in-depth, heartfelt letter, full of fifty-dollar words and underlined sentences and weird loops at the ends of his paragraphs. He wanted to tell me something, he said, and he didn't think he could say it out loud precisely the way he meant it. So he had written it down, and he gave it to me, obviously in hopes of expressing himself. He gave me that stupid fucking fifteen-page, handwritten letter.
Completely disregarding the fact that I can barely read.
I tried. I tried for his sake to understand it. I knew it was important to him. I thanked him blandly when he gave it to me, and after that, I pored over it for days, barely discerning even ten percent of the words he had written, the rest of it remaining a complete mystery to me. I saw a few words I recognized. I, the, and, run, skate, friend, game, new, so, you, we. I knew nothing past simple things like that. I gave up after the fourth page or so: brought it back to him, angry, humiliated, and threw it in his face. He had the emptiest look I've ever seen in my life on his face for all of twelve seconds before I spoke up.
"…I can't read, you dumbass," I snarled, my voice trembling, cold, disgusted. Once it sank in, his face flashed deep red, and he recoiled, took his letter back and quietly murmured that he was sorry. He wasn't thinking, he told me. He hadn't been thinking. I screamed at him about how he damn well hadn't, and he stood there staring at me, like he couldn't believe what he was hearing. I shoved him. He tripped over himself and fell on his ass, and I yelled at him some more. How could you be so insensitive. I thought you knew me. I thought you really knew me, Corn. I thought you gave half a shit about me. He stared at me, and once I had slowed down, he asked me if I wanted him to read it to me. But that, I thought, was even more humiliating, and I snatched it back out of his hands and skated over to the edge of Rokkaku-Dai Heights where we were, tossing the whole stack out over the cliff and into the filthy ocean below.
Then I went back to the Garage. I left my best friend, who had tried so hard to tell me the most important thing in the world, alone in the Heights, staring out into the abyss after his lost words. And for the longest time, I didn't care. It was his fault. His fault.
Then I realized what a fucking asshole I was. And I was miserable. It sucked, it fucking sucked that I had done what I did. He never talked to me about the letter again, and I knew I would never know what had been in it, aching to ask but feeling like such a dickhole every time he looked at me. It wasn't his fault. He had written it in a fit of emotion: he didn't remember. He couldn't have remembered. God, it was fucking bitter irony of the worst sort, and I loathed every minute of it. I dreamed about that goddamn letter, staring at page after page of pointless scribbles and shapes without names. And I hated myself. I hated myself for forgetting how much he really meant to me. For being so fucking selfish.
He still put up with me, though. Dragged me around with him. Finally, about a month after I had thrown the letter away, we wound up back in Rokkaku-Dai Heights, and I followed him mindlessly into a little nook, where he stopped and sat against the rusted wall, staring straight ahead. My eyes followed his, and what I saw was an eruption of color against barn-colored siding: green-blue and deep orange, red and yellow and streaks of black and purple, shapes but not shapes, kanji but not. I looked at him. He looked at me. His eyes were so sad…
"…I meant to tell you a lot," he murmured weakly. "This is all I could fit here." I looked back at his mural. This time, I saw figures in the picture. Tired hands and twisted bodies: rollerblades and hair, maybe even blood. Yes. It was. A girl, I saw. Beautiful, maybe, but she looked bitter. Contorted in a blood-red hand, or perhaps a talon. And the blue-green, on the edge of her hair, drifting off and wrapped calmly around burnt orange, forming a strangely sensual union on the wall. Darker splotches of orange, and cooler blue, always ending coiled together, mellow, content. The darkest orange, almost black, touched the heels of the girl, and she looked sickened by it. A yellow moon was overhead, kissing a cityscape, and hands and bodies intertwined, streaked blue and green and pumpkin.
He was still staring at me when I glanced back at him, though he was shivering, this time. "...Was this alright…?" he asked frailly, swallowing hard. "Can you read it, now…?"
Oh, Corn. God, I felt like the biggest shithead on the planet. I tripped over to him and he held me, shaking, hiding his eyes behind his visor, like always. I clung to him, pressed my hands into his thin back, felt him hold something in. I grimaced, too. "…Yes," I murmured, and he touched my face with his gloved hands, his eyes finally looking back into mine, blue and soothing. "Yes, I can."
He nodded, obviously still terrified. "What's your opinion?"
I stared back at him. Never before had I seen him so nervous. Not even around Gum, back when they were still together. He had even told me about what it was like to fuck her without breaking a sweat. But he was so scared, right then. Like it was a life or death situation. I pulled my collar down and just sort of looked him over, taking it all in as he searched my eyes for anything. I could smell his breath, sour and warm from smoking a cigarette a little while ago. Mine probably smelled the same. But his mouth was softer than mine, his lips full and supple, trembling a little when I awkwardly pressed into him.
His hat fell off. That's the first thing that I remember about that moment. Then he shuddered and breathed, glad, so relieved. I kissed him again because it felt so good. It felt so fucking good. His hands ran up the back of my head, his thumbs massaging my temples, and tension bled out of me. I felt his chest press into mine, the odd, lean muscles pushing in past his tee shirt, and I ran my hands over his arms, touching the steel plates over his shoulders, feeling through the fabric to his bony collar and the tense muscles of his neck. His lips parted against mine, and I ran my tongue over his teeth, pulling his jaw into mine. His elbows locked around my neck, and we coiled around each other like the colors in his painting.
…God, I thought, he was so lovely…
…We spent long days in silence together, spending brief moments alone, taking awkward seconds to touch each other's bare hands and press our foreheads into one another. He stole every instant he could, pulling me aside when we were all out racing, pulling me into alleyways and leaning back against brick as I kissed him violently, his hands grasping at my jacket, breathing my name when I ran my tongue down his neck. Fleeting seconds spent as such, momentary passion, stifled and hidden when we knew everyone else would be suspicious of our absence. Sometimes we left early in the morning, like we used to each day, to watch the sun rise over the Skyscraper District, but then we began going to the Heights, leaning against the rusted wall and watching the light pour over his mural: his confession to me, the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen from him in my memory. He would press close to me, whisper into my ear: poetry, like I slowly realized had been in his letter. What is it about poetry…I've always thought of it as passionate, deep…the most sincere form of emotion. If I could read, it's all I would look at. Poetry. Corn's words, breathed against my neck, soft and genuine as I slid his jacket off, and he felt under mine.
Gum observed us from a distance, and I think that she knew. I think she could see it in his eyes: the way he would glance at me, the way he would touch my arm or hand me a cigarette. I recognized it, too. It was the way he had always been around her: trapped in a mellow daze of lust and compassion, the thing that I had always loathed about their relationship. He had been too kind to her: she wasn't deserving of his love, of his mind, his body. I remember hearing them together, almost two years ago: him groaning her name, aching all over, her whispering in ecstasy, and I saw them in my mind, hated it, burned with it, couldn't bear the thought of her being satisfied. It made me sick. She was trying to take him from me…and sometimes I would have horrible nightmares, seeing them older, laughing, wedding bands on their fingers, content and with children, all of his memories of me erased. I watched them like a ghost from overhead, forgotten, and neither of them cared or would even know who I was if I reached down and stopped them, like I didn't matter, like I had never mattered to him. I would wake up and vomit, my stomach coiling and twisting inside of me helplessly, and I couldn't do anything to block out those images.
But she left him. And I had him to myself.
It took so long. But then we were as they had been, and I had his soft eyes, his long hands, his thin frame to wrap around mine. I had his mouth, and his words. He had given up so much, forgotten the feeling of breasts and wide hips and long legs, to enjoy me, instead: to feel muscles and broad shoulders, big hands cupped awkwardly around him. Not once did he look at her with nostalgia, like he wanted to forget their relationship altogether. Like he couldn't stand the memory of being with her, so long as he was with me. He would run his hands over my bare back, trace my spine as far as he could, stroking my hips and kissing my neck. He gave me so much. Love and hunger, as I had never known it. And I loved him back in the same delicate way.
After a month's time, I became cold to Gum's eyes smoldering on my back, and she became frustrated with us ignoring her. The others started looking at us, curious, trying to find what she saw, and I think they slowly realized that she was telling the truth. They seemed nervous about it, confused, and we would leave more often to hide from them, to be alone, his face always yearning, lusting for me when we found solitary spots. I still remember being hesitant, at first, when he first wanted to move further with me, when he first suggested that he loved me completely. But I wanted it, too, maybe even more than he did, and maybe he saw that in me, or maybe he didn't. But whatever the reason, he asked me to make love to him, in those words. I had never expected to hear that from him. I had always thought it would just happen. But he was romantic, I guess: more than I had thought. He looked hard at me, like in an old movie, and he asked me as we were lying under the moon in filthy Rokkaku-Dai Heights to make love to him.
He had always referred to sex with Gum as "fucking". "Making love" …
I kissed him, I remember, like never before. And I obliged him as best I could. He knew that it was my first time. It didn't seem to bother him at all. He pulled me close and stammered Monty, oh, Monty…and I choked back, Cornelius, Cornelius…
I can't recall how long I had wanted to be so close to him. To be held so tenderly in his heart. But he told me, as we lay there afterward, on a blanket of our own clothes, that he was glad for all that had happened between us. I echoed his feelings, his hand resting on my stomach, mine wrapped around his shoulders, barely touching the top of his spine. And it struck me, then: a memory of my nightmare, the thought of him and Gum, married, with children. It was so horrifying to me…why…because I wanted it. I wanted that, with him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Maybe I even wanted to raise a child with him, once we were too old to be in a gang anymore. I wasn't sure about that. But I knew for certain that I didn't want anyone else to have that in their lives. I didn't want anyone else to feel him slide a ring onto their finger. Even if I couldn't have that.
For the first and only time in my life, I cursed being a man.
He was twenty-one, and I was nineteen, at the time. When I finally turned twenty, it went unnoticed. No one knew my birthday. Not even him. I had never told him. But a week later, he brought me back into the Heights, back to his old mural, and he showed me the wall adjacent to it. The colors continued, into soft blues and gentle pinks, a blur of happiness, of serenity, most unlike his first jumble of feelings. This was the rest of his letter, I thought. Contentment, peace at finally being able to tell me that he loved me. If I looked hard enough at it, I swore that I could see myself, gently wrapped in blue. My face flushed. He was truly a poet. A poet beyond words, into color and sound and texture. He laced his hand into mine and told me that he never wanted to forget these past few weeks. He never wanted to forget what true love really felt like. And I asked him what that meant.
Didn't you love Gum, I asked. He leaned into me and answered:
Not like this.
Sometimes I wonder what happened to his letter. If anyone ever found it, or if it just washed out to sea, eaten by polluted waves. Sometimes I wonder if we still would have become so intimate, if I hadn't thrown it out. Or if maybe it was my ignorance that saved us and allowed us to love each other. Some things can't be expressed in words.
I like to think that I knew that all along.