A/N: This Friday, the 8th of May, marks the ending of Cultivating Youth Subsistences, which took me way too long to complete, but was worth every second that I put into it.
Thanks to Kitschisme as always for being an awesome Beta and lovely friend. And of course Mary and Sarah who always supply me with lively conversation. All my lovely reviewers who made my head spin with their kind words and incredible ideas. Also, the anonymous reviewers who I would love to hug and get them an account.
The song for this is Superstar by Sonic Youth. Very eerie and beautiful.
Three years later.
Since that night Bella and I had spent in the hotel, and then proceeded to stay for another extended week, things between us had changed; changed in ways that were both good and bad.
We fought… a lot.
I tried to do the whole therapy thing and come up with some valid excuse that would placate our almost violent fights. But hell, we were a teenage couple. And according to almost everyone, our fights were pretty tame. They weren't on the receiving end of them, though.
My weak excuse was that we were best friends, and maintaining that along with a romantic relationship... kind of pushed certain expectations out of the way.
We were more like a married couple at this point.
We would fight about the most unbelievable things - college, for example. I had every intention to go to Seattle, she had every intention of going to Seattle, so what was the big deal? Oh, she thought we'd be spending too much time together and then we'd end up arguing all the time.
Needless to say, we both went to Seattle. We both had our respective majors, a job, and a dorm across from campus since coed was already too full.
Things weren't all bad. Far from it, in fact.
Fights sucked, but they were pretty rare. Bella and I spent every waking moment together. Like before, we were attached at the hip. But now we were also attached at the heart.
Fast forward through all the stupid high school drama that had Bella crying and suspended for two days for punching some poor unnamed girl who completely deserved it. S'not like Lauren didn't see it coming or anything….
Fast forward through the lame graduation ceremony that Esme memorialized on the fireplace in the living room. Neon yellow graduation gowns aren't very fashion forward.
Fast forward through all the tears that my mom and Bella's mom shed when their kids were leaving for college, even though we were two and half, maybe two on a good day, hours away.
And once all that fast forwarding gets done, there's the present... and the present is phenomenal.
Phenomenal except for the raging butterflies that have been clawing at my ribs and stomach and consuming my lungs for the last four hours.
Physics 101 isn't the epitome of a great time.
Sophomore year of college was almost done, and nearly everyone was just too antsy to sit through another boring lecture from the same textbook we'd been using all year.
Yeah, I was almost a junior, another step closer to being a college grad and carrying that title under my belt. But that's not why I was so anxious and sweating like a pig. My shirt was probably completely soaked through.
Three more fucking minutes and he can't let out class? This is so stupid. Oh God, I'm so stupid.
I dug my nails into my wrist for the fiftieth time in the last two hours. My right hand was buried in my pocket and gripping the stupid fucking little velvet box that was starting to sear my palm.
Do it, do it, do it…
"I guess class is done then—" Professor Willkie didn't have time to finish as I shot of the room and sprinted down the hall.
My feet were cement under me and when the sun hit my face as I left the building I broke out into a cold sweat.
"Jesus Christ," I muttered and took off across campus down to where my dorm was. God knows I needed a change of clothing.
The stairs flew under my heavy legs, pulling me closer to my destination. The keys in my fingers jingled and clattered to the floor a couple times before I finally jammed it in and pushed the door open.
My breath caught at the scene inside, exactly the same as I had left it.
Once I had the oxygen back in my lungs I started to pant. Aw, fuck, man! What's gotten into you?
I grabbed a grey shirt from the floor in the corner and removed my nasty one. I left my jeans because my hand wasn't coming out.
Working up my nerves, I turned to the bed. Besides the rush of blood to my pelvis, there was nothing too abnormal about my body functions. Sweating cut off, the butterflies stopped biting me and my feet, though heavy, moved me forward without thought.
I guess Bella could just do that to me.
She was still in my bed, back turned to the wall and her hair a horrible mess around my pillow. Her lips were puffy and a little wet, and her eyelids were still but twitched every once in a while.
I crouched down silently beside the bed, watching the pale skin of her throat expand with each relaxed breath. God, she was just so beautiful right then, and it wasn't like we were going anywhere for the rest the day anyway.
I crawled into my bed and kicked off my jeans finally, hand firmly wrapped around the hot velvet. When I pushed a hand under her hip to pull her closer she groaned and opened an eye.
"Hey," I whispered.
"What?" she mumbled and pushed some of her hair from her eyes.
I laughed a little. "Nothing, go back to sleep."
"I was planning on it." Her eyes closed and she rolled closer to me.
"I love you," I said.
Within five minutes she was snoring lightly and her body was limp in my arms. Maybe she wasn't graceful or perfect, but she was smart, beautiful, articulate and all I could ever want in a girl. In a woman.
My hand finally let go of its death grip and opened the box.
Inside was a small diamond ring that I had saved for seven months to get. It probably wasn't big on regular standards, but the diamonds weren't what attracted me to the ring.
The diamonds were framed around a bright blue sapphire that was polished and glimmering with all the majestic wonder it could conjure up. Good job little guy.
I pried Bella's hand from my shirt and slid the ring on to see if I was competent enough to the get the ring size right, and when it slipped on easily without looking too loose I sighed out a big breath.
Just when I was taking it off, Bella retracted her hand back and brought it to her throat. And it just looked so… perfect.
All the elaborate plans I had for dinner tonight went out the window and I decided I'd ask her when she woke up.
Ask her to be mine, for forever and onwards.
"You make me crazy," I mumbled into her hair. "You make me crazy and I love you for it."
I drifted off soon afterwards, and I knew when I woke up there would probably be no going back. And for the first time maybe ever, that didn't bother me at all. I was more than willing and ready to take the final plunge.