A/N: Yes, another one shot. I don't know where these ideas come from, but I am forced to write them once they're in my head. Enjoy.
"Babe," he pleaded desperately as he propped himself up on his elbows.
To say she was giving him the cold shoulder would be an understatement. It was more like ice, and it was much more than just her shoulder. He knew she loved him, of course, but he felt in certain moments - usually mere seconds - that she hated him. Whatever he had done, he felt it. It was fleeting, and those moments were few and far between, but every single time, it felt like his world had shattered around him. Those moments reminded him that he simply could not live without her.
And yet here he was, laying in a bed that was only half warm, as she walked out of the room and away from him. And then everything was too quiet; too still. He would have gladly traded this moment for any other one. He'd take yelling or shouting or cursing over this painful silence.
He glanced around their room. It had been his alone for so long, but now it was hard to remember a time when she wasn't sharing it with him. Her not-so-subtle taste had invaded the space in the most perfect ways. There were photographs of her and their friends that he'd never seen before. There was a record player and a stack of albums she kept in heavy rotation. Her sketch pad took up residence on his desk next to his laptop. He loved every nuance; every reminder that she was his.
And he physically ached without her next to him in the bed. His chest was tight and he felt as though the darkness might swallow him whole unless she was there with him. God, he loved her so much that he often wondered if she just couldn't comprehend.
He flopped back on the pillow, contemplating his next move, and believing an apology simply wouldn't be enough. She was nothing if not stubborn. His hand moved over the pillow she'd been clutching earlier and he felt it damp from tears he hadn't known she'd shed. The thought alone made his heart hurt.
He heard her walking through the house. It was the middle of the night and she wasn't next to him and it was entirely his fault. So he wracked his brain trying to pinpoint the moment that made her tear up in the first place.
He came up empty.
He knew better than to apologize just for the sake of apologizing, but he was going to do it anyway. Wasn't it more important to be sorry for hurting her at all, than it was to be sorry for one specific word or phrase? Surely, she'd understand.
Reluctantly, he pulled back the sheets that were keeping him warm and padded into the hallway, illuminated only by the night-light glowing in the bathroom. He looked left, then right, and there was no sight of her. Walking into the mostly dark kitchen, it was all he could do not to run to her and kiss her senseless. She was perched on the counter with her legs spread just enough that he knew his torso would fit perfectly between them if he stood in front of her.
And she was perfect. Everything about her. Even the tear stains he'd inadvertently put on her cheeks were gorgeous, in a tragic sort of way. She'd showered before bed and hadn't blown her hair dry, so it was draping over her shoulders in wild and unruly curls that he wanted to bury his hands in. Her - well, his - faded Tar Heels tee shirt was stretched at the neck just enough to reveal the curve of her collar bone, and the shorts she wore might have been the tiniest ones ever made, not that he was complaining.
She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
He stood in the doorway staring at her too long, apparently. Or so he was told by the snarky comment that tore him from his thoughts of her.
"Can I help you with something?" she bit out.
It was then that he realized just how mad she was. How was it that that somehow made her even sexier?
"Come back to bed," he said from his place, leaning against the door frame with his arms crossed.
"Why?" she asked with a raised brow.
Just looking at him, her resolve was wearing thin. Why did he have to be so hot? Surely, he could have put a shirt on. His plaid flannel pants hung low on his hips and it made her want to tug on the drawstring so she could see the rest of him. It would be easier to be mad if he hadn't grinned that fucking grin of his at her one-word question.
"It's cold," he pouted with a single shrug of his shoulders.
"Cute," she said sarcastically. She squinted as she spoke, but he thought better than to make a crack about how she was picking up some of his characteristics.
He made no move toward her and she wasn't sure if she loved or hated him for that. Part of her ached to have him stand in front of her and mumble an apology against her skin. But the distance was working, too. If he came within a foot of her, she'd surely forgive him instantly, and that would just be too simple.
"Come on," he pleaded. "You can yell at me tomorrow, OK? I can't sleep without you."
Dammit, she thought. He was good. Why did the boy have to be so good with words? But why hadn't he thought of that before he pissed her off in the first place? This was his fault.
"Really?" she inquired flatly. "What did you do before me?"
Of course, she'd take it that way. He hated when she did this; heard only what she wanted to hear instead of what he was saying. He wasn't a conceited man, but he knew the effect he had on her, so he walked a little closer. Well, 'a little' would be a lie. He took his place between her legs. His place. He ran his hands up the outside of her thighs, but the action did not evoke the shiver he'd hoped it would.
Because her willpower was stronger than she'd given it credit for. She was determined not to be the one to give in, and she had yet to hear the apology come from his mouth. But she could smell that unmistakable scent of his - her favourite cologne and just him - and she had to struggle to keep her breathing even.
"I was lost before you," he whispered. He said it as though it was the only truth he knew.
And it was true. He spent a lot of time running from what he was, or who he was capable of being, until she showed him that that person was perfect in her eyes. She showed him how to just be.
"Nice line," she said, rolling her eyes.
But it was a nice line. No, scratch that. It wasn't a line at all. She knew he meant it, but the stubborn bitch in her wanted to pretend he didn't.
"Luke..." she interrupted, her voice taking on a mocking tone.
It was all he could do not to grumble in frustration, but he knew she hated when he did that, so he choked back the sound before it had a chance to leave his mouth.
He stared into her eyes and wondered how they'd gotten there. Angry and bitter and sarcastic and both of them pretending they didn't want the other. But he always wanted her, and deep down, she knew that. She had always known that, even when they were apart. Those eyes of hers were a complete mystery to everyone but him. No one else ever understood her like he did. One look, and he could tell exactly what she was feeling. One look, and she'd know that he got it. Sometimes, they would go hours without speaking a single word, but still manage to carry on a full conversation.
She loved it when he did that; looked at her like that. She almost forgave him everything then and there. Hell, she almost apologized to him. She wondered how she could forgive him his flaws - actually, embrace his flaws - but not forgive him this. And then she remembered. She'd been understanding. She'd been forgiving and loving and patient and generous. She was allowed to be angry with him once in a while. It wouldn't make him love her less. It wouldn't make him leave her. She was sick of being so damn good to him every single second of every single day.
But didn't he deserve that? Didn't they both deserve the very best from each other? Didn't she deserve to be that good to him? It felt good to take care of him and be kind and gentle and understanding. But it also felt good to have him standing before her and essentially begging her to accept the apology that he didn't need to speak for her to hear. But she still wanted him to say it.
"I'm not good enough for you, you know that?" he asked, his eyes still locked on hers. She felt like he really believed that, and it broke her heart.
"Meh," she shrugged. "You'll do."
And that's when he knew he had her. She was joking, and not in the biting, sarcastic way she had every right to. Two words and one...sound? Whatever it was, he knew this fight would be over soon.
She ached for him to kiss her. Just kiss her already. But she wouldn't make that move, and she wouldn't even let him know that was what she wanted. The only thing that she wanted more than his lips on hers was ...
She smiled at those two words. She couldn't help it. It was all she wanted to do all night, but she'd refused to let herself do it until she heard those two little words. But his head was down and he didn't see her. He always did that. He'd bow his head like a little boy who'd been told to apologize. She loved it. She loved that she could sometimes see the little blonde boy that she never knew, in the man she wanted to know forever.
He felt her knees press against his sides momentarily before they relaxed again.
And there it was. It was over.
It was her way of saying the stand off was finished. Of course, she'd use her legs to get the point across. He looked up at her face and reached to tuck a stray curl behind her ear. He wanted to smile, but something wouldn't let him. Guilt? Relief? Maybe that overwhelming, heart-stopping love that he always felt for her in quiet moments like these. Whatever it was, he could only stare at her with a slight frown on his face. That look told her that he was ashamed of ever making her cry in the first place. She rarely liked to see him with his lips curled downward, but this look? This look she could handle.
He leaned forward and positioned his lips just above hers. He would make her come that extra distance. He needed to know that she still wanted him like he wanted her. He could have forced a harsh kiss to her lips - Lord knows he wanted to - but he needed the reassurance that she had actually forgiven him.
When she pulled away without kissing him, and gave him that smile, he knew. Her hands found the back of his neck and she shimmied closer to the edge of the counter to be closer to him. When she kissed him, they both forgot what they'd even been fighting about in the first place, and really, it didn't matter.
His arms slipped around her waist and he felt her right foot move up the back of his thigh slowly. She always knew how to tease them in the most perfectly torturous ways. He moaned into her kiss and it made her laugh into his. She loved him like this. Well, she always loved him. But knowing she had the upper hand was good.
"Take me back to bed," she whispered seductively as her lips grazed the shell of his ear.
She didn't need to repeat herself. She wrapped her legs around his torso and he lifted her off the counter, kissing her the entire way back to his room before laying her down. He took a moment just to look at her, then bent down for another kiss, the first of many that he knew were about to come.
They ended the night right back where they had started, and somewhere amid whispered 'I love you's' and gentle touches and bare skin sleeping against bare skin, she realized that there was nowhere in the world she felt safer and more at home than with him in that bed, and he realized that he'd do everything in his power to always have her there with him.