Title: Learning Curve
Author: smitha-r
Rating: PG
Fandom(s): Bollywood - Jab We Met
Pairing(s): Aditya/Geet.
Summary: There was magic before and there is magic after, but in between there was more than enough confusion and pain for the two of them.
Notes: Thanks to silver-p on LJ for the beta! You're my muse and partner in crime. :)

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In her times of solitude, she replays those heady first days of romance over and over again in her head. The hustle and bustle of the Mumbai crowds, being surrounded by a gaggle of giggling friends, late nights spent cramming for exams while stuffing her face with bhel puri, her best friend Kiran deciding that enough was enough and that they were taking the weekend off from their endless studies. Kiran explained that her older brother Mohan played in a local cricket league, and that his team was playing in the championship match this Saturday. The match was being played at a small stadium on the other side of the city and Geet was more than happy to go; it sounded like an adventure. So, bright and early on Saturday morning, Mohan ((and his friend from Manali)) came to the hostel to pick them up.

And that's how she met Anshuman.

It's hard to encapsulate just what happened when they met. There was a spark, a mutual recognition between them. ((this was it this was the one)) She remembers the way his eyes lit up when he saw her, the way she couldn't stop laughing at his jokes on the bus. She sat next to him in the stands and noticed that she was smiling, really smiling, in a way that was somehow different from any other smiles she'd ever made. And then when Mohan's team won the match, they all went to a posh restaurant to celebrate, where she and Anshuman talked for hours. He was strong, handsome, funny, and kind. He told her she was the most interesting girl he had ever met. It was easy to see why she fell for him.

The next day he called her, having pestered Mohan to give him her phone number. Things moved quickly after that; he asked her to be his girlfriend and she agreed. He was only going to be in Mumbai for a few more months before he headed back to Manali to start up his business. Those few months went by so fast, between the flowers he brought her whenever he and Mohan dropped by, and the coffee shops and movies they went to. They didn't have much time together, but what little time they had was magical.

When he left, he mentioned that he didn't think his parents would approve of her, that marriage would not work. Geet knew her family wouldn't approve of the match either. But she felt, deep within her heart, that love conquered all. Once she and Anshuman were together again, they would be able to overcome any challenge that came their way. They would get married, and everything would be alright. [in a house with a balcony and flowers and two daughters Life would be wonderful.

At least, that's what she had thought. Back then.

Simla is quiet, nothing like Bhatinda and nothing like Mumbai; there is a lot of time to think. It seems that lately, all she ever does is think. The Sisters at the women's hostel don't say anything, but she knows they watch her carefully. The other teachers don't say much either, preferring to let her be when she wants to be alone. She's not very good at making conversation these days. The days stretch out with endless monotony; all she knows is her classroom and the bed where she sleeps. What would she even talk about, aside from the one thing [person that's always on her mind?

Every day, every night, all she can think about is Anshuman. What did I do wrong? Why won't he marry me? How can I change his mind? She wracks her brain trying to answer these questions, until she gives in to mental exhaustion and shuffles into bed. Even in her dreams, she can't seem to escape him... she can see him sitting in his seat by the window, but her legs are not fast enough to catch that train. It barrels into the night, leaving her alone on the platform with her tears.

She tries not to think about the day he sent her away from his house, like she was some kind of filthy beggar looking for alms, and how she mindlessly wandered through the forests before boarding a random bus to... somewhere. Anywhere.

One time, she's writing an English sentence on the blackboard, and instead of writing 'ash' she begins to write down his name. She quickly erases her mistake, knowing the students won't catch or even understand her error. His name is constantly on her mind. She keeps wondering and wondering, searching for that one thing she can say that will make him change his mind, the words that will bring him back to her. But as hard as she thinks, nothing comes to her. She's at a loss, forever stumbling into dead ends that won't bring her the one thing she needs. It hurts to be without him. It hurts that he doesn't want to be with her.

As the days turn into months, she stops wondering what she can do to make Anshuman take her back. She gives up, settles into the routine of her life. There doesn't seem to be any other option. She's trapped inside the web she has woven for herself, bottled inside her own misery.

---

Aditya doesn't believe his eyes when he sees Geet. But he gets out of his car anyway.

She doesn't even notice him as she walks by. His feet move on their own, following her silently. He's in denial for a moment, that this is the same pagali girl who inspired him, made him look at life in a brilliant new way. But it is her. Her hair is pulled back in a somber ponytail and her eyes are downcast, looking but not seeing, devoid of that spark he automatically associates with Geet. There is a vagueness in her gait, her footsteps lacking purpose as she strolls through the streets of Simla. She doesn't talk much to any of the other teachers, but simply passes through the day like a ghost. Aditya swallows the lump in his throat as he watches her eat without enthusiasm or joy, his thoughts a whirlwind of anger and sadness and regret. It hurts him so much to see her like this; the pain is overwhelming. It isn't fair that her life has turned out this way. It isn't right that she let her life become what it is. And it isn't okay that she's doing this all on her own.

As she leaves the school, she does not notice him for the second time. Getting in his car, Aditya knows what he has to do. Not once this entire day has he seen her smile.

He needs to see her smile again.

---

Geet may have argued more for sharing such a huge room if... that hadn't happened. In the end, Aditya gets his way and sleeps in the room next to hers. It's for the best, since all she wants to do now is be alone with her jumbled thoughts. One second she was screaming at Anshuman over the phone and the next second she was leaning into Aditya's warm embrace. She could feel the heat from his hands ((like there was a fire inside him)) as he held her, could hear the sound of his heart beating. It was a moment of thoughtless emotion that she can't comprehend. She's thankful for everything he's done for her, she was just trying to show him how much she appreciates him. Yes, that has to be it. What else could it be?

---

It's not like he has a broken heart. That's not how it works, not this time and not with this girl. Aditya carries her in his heart like a secret flame, the fuel to his newfound optimism and carefree mentality. He knows she doesn't love him and he can live with that. Because above all, he wants Geet to be happy. Wants her to be loved and in love. She deserves that and so much more. She deserves to be with Anshuman, so that her life is full of nothing but joy.

It's not like he has a broken heart. But it still hurts, and he can't help shed a few tears when no one is looking.

---

She thinks about it later and realizes what happened... when a man breaks your heart and shatters your dreams, it doesn't matter how much you love him or how much he loves you; something is irreversibly changed in the relationship, and things can never be the same again. Feelings are missing, broken, altered.

A familiar thought comes to Geet, while they're lying in bed. Her arms are wrapped around Aditya's shoulders and her face is pressed against the crook of his neck, so that every time she exhales her breath drifts across his skin. His arms are around her waist and his legs are tangled up with hers, eyes closed with a happy look on his face. She kisses him softly and tells him again, just how grateful she is that he brought Anshuman back in her life.

He doesn't open his eyes but his voice is teasing. "Besharam, talking about another man while in bed with your husband?"

She laughs at his comment. And then she kisses him again, on his cheek and neck and lips, anywhere she can. She's always kissing him, it seems. Like she's making up for lost time and lost moments. She wishes she had figured it out sooner. ((but she didn't, bewakoof)) She spent so many hours analyzing her thoughts, trying to make sense of her confusion and her emotions. Even then, it took her so very long to figure out that she loved Aditya, so long to hear what her own heart was telling her.

But now she has him and she will never let go.

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