These accidents of faith, they tend to stick.
When he thinks about it, he thinks he missed the grand epiphany along the road somewhere. Maybe it was over the sound of him kissing her best friend while she got back together with the guy who'd broken her in six different ways. Or maybe he crashed somewhere into it in the middle, and it broke over him, unheard above one of their very important, useless fights.
He only feels a vague ache and doesn't know its origin and this impression of having passed by something important. Like, if he'd only been listening harder he might have heard something other than "same difference". Like maybe if he'd looked harder, there would've been more than just a bare kitchen, a single light bulb and the sound of something breaking. And he'd always sworn he didn't have any breakable parts, so obviously the whole scene was a big 'fuck you' from fate.
But maybe that's not the important thing here. Maybe the real thing is that he's eighteen and young and unattached and there's this girl who comes everyday to the café down the road from his dorm and stares at him a lot more than she does at the menu.
Or maybe the truth is he's eighteen and young and unattached and there's this girl with these mind-fucking blue eyes whom he's in love with and she's his stepsister.
There is something that he's learned in the past four years.
He's an idiot.
He sometimes thinks he might believe in God. Not a whole lot but just enough to relegate the blame squarely on His shoulders when he fails a test. Or when his mother packs her bags and decides a life with fishes would be a whole lot more interesting than having to look at his face every day.
But it's when she's in his room, ranting about the failed test, and trying to keep a straight face at his ridiculous answers and failing miserably that he thinks that his belief in God may hang by a thread of questionability, but he sure as hell believes a whole lot more when she laughs like that.
(He always needs her when he's hurt).
That's a secret.
It's not really, because she knows him better than…well…a whole lot of people know him, like his mother, and his father and the world, and she can tell. It's the only reason she doesn't push him off and leave like she should. Like Donna left him, or maybe it was Joanna this time, and that's important because it makes her look at him with these huge blue eyes which are connected to this invisible thread around his chest, so every time she blinks it's difficult for him to breathe.
And he's shouting at her because she can respond more than the mirror does. And it's satisfying to hold her and shake her like it's all her fault because that's all he's learned in four years anyway. That and that he likes it when she wears his shirts and that it's stupid but he still hides her clothes whenever he can. But he's looking at her and she doesn't say anything because she's always known more about heartbreak than he has, so she lets him shout at her. And then kiss her when his throat dries up into incoherent sounds and he starts staring at her lips like he's done every day for the past four years at the breakfast table.
His dorm room's too small and it's too cold and she knows he knows it's a pity fuck, all that he's come down to in her life. And maybe if her skin wasn't so soft under his searching hands, he could have brought himself to care. Anyway, pity, it's akin to love, everybody knows that. And it's not like he's going to get anything else.
It goes a lot like this.
"Stay the night," he doesn't say. Or maybe he does. Because he's not good with words, he's never been. And he can't write poetry and love songs because he's not that guy. So he substitutes those three words for three other, easier ones and hopes they say something between the lines because that's the guy he is.
The excuses aren't all that original.
He doesn't really know why he bothers to invent then when she sees right through him anyway, except it feels a lot easier. It's practice; there's a reason he's the Lord of the Lies. The night always ends the same way; too fast. Where every moment she doesn't look at him lasts a few eternities. She pretends like it never happened and he pretends like he doesn't care that it did.
The grand finale is the biggest cliché possible; it finishes with a guy who doesn't know she wears blue eye-shadow to impress and that she falls a lot when she crushes on someone. Who doesn't know that she has a pair of huge, ugly bunny slippers and that she dressed up as his wife for an English project that one time.
But that guy does know what it feels like to touch her when she wants to touch back and that's something that he'll never know.
Sometimes he has this tendency to over-estimate. Like the time he jumped in the water when he couldn't swim because it hadn't filtered through his seven-year-old brain that his superman dad might not be able to swim either. Dads were supposed to know everything.
But he doesn't over-estimate her because he knows she stands for hours in front of the mirror and wears too-short skirts for guys and she thinks that if she doesn't have her grades then there's nothing she'll be worth liking for. He knows this and he knows she'll come.
And it's funny how he never really realized he was lost till she found him.
"You," she says, her whole face splitting into fractions of semi-pain that sting a little more than the bruises on his body, "you absolute moron. What the hell do you think you were doing, challenging the captain of the Gaels to a grudge match?"
His head is in her lap and he thinks that maybe it means something that she's wearing her new skirt and sitting in mud at the side of the rink for him. Maybe locked doors and hula-hoops and wimpy tag teams always did mean something.
"Nobody else cares." He informs her.
It hurts when she touches him, because his skin is black and blue, but it hurts a whole lot more when she doesn't touch him. She doesn't ask him what he means and he's glad because he's not sure he knows what he means either. Except that maybe they aren't as important as he'd always thought and that nobody really gives a fuck that he's lying there bleeding, and that she's the one beside him and not Donna or Joanna. And maybe she cares just enough for it to be more than pity. Maybe it's just a way of getting through existence, thinking he's important, when the truth is that he's a sodding fool and he's in love with her and the world just keeps on turning anyway.
"Say it," she says, quietly, and she's moving a lot and it takes a while for him to realize that he feels weird because his centre of gravity shifts every time she does. And he's never been one for those big, soul-destroying moments that make you vulnerable and stay in the corner of minds without photographs for remembrance. She hums a little as she bandages his forehead. He doesn't know the song but maybe it doesn't matter a whole lot, maybe they don't matter a whole lot in the universe, not like terrorism and politics and global warming. So he says it.
"I love you."
Sometimes it is that easy.