He isn't sure where it comes from, or what so provokes Finn, but he thinks he may, potentially, black out a little as he stumbles backwards.
Rachel is by his side in no time, her interest suddenly fixed on him. Puck is busy rushing Finn outside whilst he tries valiantly to resist, shouting apologies to the brunette star, but none to the man he hit. In return he receives an angry glare before Rachel focuses her all of her attention on Jesse, who is trying, and failing to regain his bearings, groping for a chair to drag himself up on.
She doesn't really know what just happened, she doesn't know if Finn was being a jerk or was goaded, but she doesn't really care. She felt a sort of physical pain when she saw Jesse go down, and she doesn't understand what that means, only that she hates that he got hurt, and she's pretty sure it was because, or over, her.
Because she isn't blind, and she isn't dumb, and she knows that Finn has divided his time equally between trying to woo her and kill Jesse with his eyes all evening. And similarly, she knows that Jesse still has residual feelings for her, mainly because she knows she has residual feelings for him too. Nevertheless, high school was a long time ago, even if she's still trying to move past it.
And this love triangle, or whatever it is, doesn't impress her, and Finn doesn't impress her, and really, she's so over this drama. At one point in her life she thrived on it, and two boys so openly fighting over her in high school might have made her world a little bit, but she isn't in high school anymore, and neither are they, and this jealousy thing is so played out that she's surprised it has managed to manifest itself again. Surely things like this don't happen in reality. People don't get knocked out over feelings that were just left over from a bygone age unless they're on television.
She strokes the hair that falls over Jesse's brow out of his eyes, as she helps him pull himself up onto a chair. She can see the manager looking at them worriedly and the bar is buzzing with gossip and pointed stares, the general public flocking to the scene of aggression, revelling in the discomfort of others and feeding off of their experiences. She thinks, perhaps, she should blame him a little for being famous enough to provoke a myriad of whisperings about the Jesse St James being decked by another man, but she can't even imagine bringing herself to be irrationally mad at him right now.
She doesn't realise her eyes are welling up with tears until she registers the concern in his orbs and his thumb strokes away the droplet that begins to roll down her cheek.
She isn't convinced she knows what to say in this sort of situation. She's prepared lines for nuclear holocausts and acts of God, but she isn't primed for this eventuality, so she smiles, embarrassed somewhat by her display of emotion and by his response. Instead of speaking she elects to wait for him to lead the conversation, but he just looks at her in a way that she hasn't really caught him doing all that much before. He's shot her looks of awe and admiration, and maybe of lust and perhaps even of love at times in their history, but he's never really looked at her so unabashedly and unapologetically, with his gaze making her feel a million different things at once. He's never been so pure and dangerous all at the same time.
Then he laughs, just a little, and takes his hand off of her cheek to rub his jaw, which cries with a pain he doesn't want her to try and share. He attempts to reassure her silently, but still, she breaks the quiet with an unnecessary apology.
"I'm so sorry." She isn't sure if he knows quite how she's reacting. She suspects he probably does.
"You don't have to worry about it." He tells her, but it doesn't assuage her train of feeling. He licks the corner of his mouth and tastes the metallic sting of his blood. He didn't mean for her to take it as a sign that this is her fault, or more than it is, but she does.
"Shit, Jesse." She begins, and he shakes his head, opening his mouth to cut her off, but she won't let him. She's in one of her I'm-Rachel-Barbara-Berry-And-I-Have-To-Get-This-Out modes, so he could shout at the top of her lungs and she'd still start.
"I knew he'd do this, I saw him hesitate when I said you had to come to drinks with us. And then all of the looks that he was giving you. Why the hell did we leave you in here with him? Unsupervised? We should have known better, I should have known better. Quinn always tells me about how Finn isn't doing so well, and about his run-ins with alcohol, and then I let him drink, and look at me like he was looking at me, and look at you like he was looking and you, and...God...I practically let him punch you. Even in high school...he was always the most aggressive towards you, but I thought he would have gotten over his adolescent...crush by now, really."
And despite his best attempts, he can't interrupt as she continues, ranting about her fault. He can't stop her pacing and worrying, orating her thoughts, even as everyone except Finn and Puck come back in to say goodbye.
He wants to tell her that she isn't to blame for the other man's actions, and he's ok, really, and he isn't all that mad at Finn for hitting him either, because he knows better than anyone that you don't really just get over Rachel Berry and the crushes she incites. If the man threw a few punches, then he was probably heading in the right direction.
It takes him trying (and failing) to stand to pull her out of her tirade. He hopes to calm her, place a reassuring hand on her shoulder and slow her down. Unfortunately, his encounter with Finn's fist has shaken him enough to throw his balancing skills as he stumbles up, and then promptly down again. Like a flash she is once more studying him in silence, concerned for a moment with his anguish and not with her guilt.
"Ok." She resolves, settling on a course of action. "We need to get you out of here. It's loud and it's dark and that can't be conducive to..."
"Rachel." He interrupts, before she can start again, and he draws her eyes to him. She takes a deep breath as she grins unconvincingly, and he knows that whilst physically he's going to bear the brunt of the damage, she's emotionally reacting to this fight more than he's planned on doing. "Let's just go."
"Your apartment is closer. It'll be easier to get you sorted out there." She states, with no room for argument, so he just nods and takes her palm in his; once again internally remarking at how well it fits.
And it makes him smile, just a little, to see how the tables have turned. It used to be him that guided and coerced her, manipulating her into his corner before she had a chance to realise that she wasn't just fighting for herself anymore. Now she quite literally leads him by the hand, and he doesn't resist her direction.
In high school, he had loved her in his way, and she in hers, but their relationship was never one of equals.
And despite the fact that it took a smack to the face to make him see it, he loves that they're on the same level now. It makes him want to aspire and reach and do all those things he once preached about, and he doesn't just want to do it for himself anymore.
Come to think of it, he starts to consider thanking Finn for providing him with a free epiphany.
They catch a cab once they can hail one, and when they reach his apartment he tries to pay, but she insists that it's her treat, and his wallet is a lot more difficult to manoeuvre than he remembers. Similarly, he hands her the keys to his place, accepting that he's feeling a little off kilter and it'll just be quicker this way.
Once they get inside his penthouse she immediately heads to try and find him aspirin and an ice pack, whilst he lies himself out on the couch. He doesn't even register that this is a milestone in their relationship; she hasn't been in his apartment until now. What he doesn't know is that in the elevator ride up it was all she could think about, (well, that and the fact that her ex-boyfriend had just hit her ex-ex-boyfriend). She had tried not to fantasize about the way his apartment would feel, or what them reaching this stage might mean, but, as always, her mind ran riot.
Some things never change, she supposes.
She thinks, as she searches for an ice pack in the fridge somewhere, that this place suits him, and it feels like him. It's sleek and stylish, with very few personal photographs or effects (although she noticed how proudly he'd placed the picture of him with his parents at the Emmys, and she can't say she disapproves of the lack of Vocal Adrenaline paraphernalia), but there is an element of it that just seems to be like home, despite the impersonality of it all.
Maybe it has something to do with its location; a beautiful penthouse closer to Broadway than she could have imagined, with views that bombard and seduce her all at once.
Or, maybe, it has something to do with the person who lives in it.
But that's a dangerous thought; her and him and things feeling like home, so she tries to shun it as soon as she thinks (dreams) of it.
She picks out a packet of frozen peas from his freezer (although she'll have to rebuke him later for not having easily accessible ice packs despite the nature of his profession) and goes back out to join him as he pushes himself up on the pillows. She settles right next to him and gently turns his face so that they are merely centimetres apart, before she softly places the bag of frozen peas on his jaw.
"I'm fine, Rach." He reassures her tenderly, gazing piercingly into her eyes, trying to placate the worry that he finds there. His heart rate spikes as he breaths in her air. It's all he wants to do to make her feel better. He thinks maybe, what with her caring for him in the way she is, that it's all that she wants to make him feel the same. "It's nothing that rest and a bit of makeup won't sort out. Nobody in the audience will have any idea come tomorrow night."
He registers her face dropping in horror at that last comment, though he isn't wholly sure what he's said wrong. He thinks she's going to say something, anything, but instead she just replaces her hand with his so that the peas stay in place, and then gets up, walking towards the window, staring out at the bright lights.
He misses her being right there as she puts what seems to him to be miles of distance between them, and he misses her delicate touch that appears so far away.
"Rach? You OK?" He asks, worried about her sudden change in demeanour.
"You'll be fine for the audience?" She retorts, quietly but with aggression, and maybe a little bit of bitterness. He still isn't quite sure he gets what she's trying to fight with him about, so he continues to just stare at her dumbly, imploring her to continue. He knows that she will, because it's who she is, and she can't resist making the most of her diva moments.
"I cannot believe I thought you'd really gone and changed on me! But no, you're still the same old Jesse who thinks about the job first and the people later." She began to really trust him, and really build an affinity towards him, and now she can't stand that he seems to care more about repercussions on the stage, rather than off it. (And maybe she knows that she's taking things way out of context, but it's been a long evening, and he knows that the emotional damage of her worry is manifesting itself in this overreaction).
"I have changed." He replies to her in soft, resolute tones. He won't rise because he's not sure how well he'd hold up, and he knows that what she's spouting is complete bullshit; he's confident enough to keep his cool.
"Then why are you caring about covering everything up for the next performance? That isn't normal Jesse. Most people would think about the fact that they just got hit! Most people would care why, and what it all means personally." She regards him, and he looks a little taken aback by her accusations. Still, he's not mad at her, she knows that, and somewhere, deep down, she knows that maybe she isn't all that mad at him either.
"Rachel." He answers, standing slowly and carefully from his position. He's not quite as dizzy when he rises this time, and he keeps his actions soft and cautious. "Since when have I ever been most people."
In most situations she would reply Never, and even as she thinks about it in her head, she imagines a smile gracing her features and her running towards him, into his embrace, an apology for her amateur dramatics gracing her lips.
But she's far too stubborn, and something about his preoccupation with his work hits a little too close to home and resonates a little too much with their history, whether purposeful or not.
So she stands there, scowling, as he glides gradually towards her.
"That isn't what I meant" she says in a defiant tone, but in a way he's just given a pretty ideal response.
He lets out a sigh; it really is too late for this, and she really should understand that he's relating their personal lives back to work because it's too treacherous an area for them to traverse at this stage in their relationship. He doesn't want to ruin what they've got with a big, pink elephant in the room, which at the moment is quite successfully masquerading as a tiny, grey mouse at best.
He doesn't want to get in the way of his own happiness again, or of hers.
"I know," He replies, and he stands close to her, both of them framed by the window that they stand in. It's all he can do not to take her in his arms, and capture her lips, and she's looking at him like perhaps if he says the right words, she might just have to resist the same thing. "But Rachel, Finn hit me, and I think you know why, and I don't want that to ruin whatever it is that we're building here with that."
She mulls over what he says for a moment, trying to piece together the best reaction, the reaction that is best for both of them. On the one hand, of course she knows what he's talking about, and she understands him protecting what they have, but on the other hand, his avoidance is merely restricting what they can be, and she's mad at him for doing that, for building a glass ceiling that they're just going to hit.
But he cuts her off, because he doesn't need her to speak to know what she's going to say. He can read her like a book in these instances, when she's too conflicted to only display her emotions internally.
"I'm not trying to box us in, but...remember when you told me that you'd die, figuratively, if I broke your heart?" She nods, confused a little by where he was going with this, "Well, I get that now, and I get it with you. Rachel, I need you to trust me, and I'm not really sure that you do." She begins to protest vehemently to his accusations, but he doesn't let her rebuke him, "Rachel, it's ok. I get that our past defines who we are now, and you're focussed on your career, and so am I. I'd just rather have what we have now, as opposed to nothing."
Tears once more filter through into her eyes as she looks up at him. Jesse St James is not renowned for being exposed and sentimental without an agenda, but he's speaking from the heart to her now in a way that she's not seen him do before. She feels the swell of her own heart and realises that she's right back on that Carmel High stage, melodrama, love and all. In many ways, with him, she always has been.
"Is that what you think?" She asks him sadly, "That it's this or nothing?"
He looks at her in answer, and he isn't ashamed of his semi-confession. For what may be the first time he isn't scared of his vulnerability, instead he embraces it. Tonight she's sung with him, talked with him, laughed and loved with him, looked after him, lived with him.
For once in his life he refuses to apologise for his humanity.
And he's asking her a silent question (because a verbal one is a step too far at this point), imploring her to tell him that he's wrong, that what happened in the past defines nothing anymore, that they've both become better versions of themselves, that there is something there worth risking it all for. He didn't mean to take her down this road, but now that they're there, he can't stop and turn around without a reaction.
And she isn't really sure she can comprehensively answer him without rambling on for a hell of a long time, before he finally finds a way to silence her, or just boots her out the door. She wants to tell him that she's ready, ready to accept who he is now without who he was then, ready to tell him that those feelings that she's harbouring are more serious than she's been letting on to anyone, including herself.
But she isn't convinced that she can pour her thoughts into words, not in a way that feels right. Not without fear, and doubt, and trepidation.
So instead she just tells him the mantra that she's had for years now, always giving her a justification for the isolation she so often felt.
"I just...I always thought that it was...that it is...lonely...at the top"
"Doesn't have to be"
He replies quickly to her assertion, as if he's been expecting her to say it and he knows exactly how to knock her hypothesis on its ass whilst he sweeps her off her feet.
If ever there was a perfect answer, he just said it.
And the way that he's looking at her, the way he was looking at her earlier, it's so new and yet so familiar, and she thinks that that look might just say all that needs to be said. She hopes he sees it on her face too, as she smiles coyly and blushes just a little, because, even if she can't say it, she wants him to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she's feeling it.
He's holding back from her though. Sure, he's saying all the right lines, and he's giving off all the right signals, but he is yet to break the physical boundary that she's set. She can see his lips twitch slightly, and he's resisting pushing a lock of her hair behind her ear. He knows that they can still recover from this, he can say he was dazed and she can laugh and nod, but as soon as something physical, something tangible, happens, then they are stuck, and that's where he stops being so sure.
Because maybe they'll get stuck in a place where they'll find incomprehensible happiness, and they'll find it together, (and yes, he knows how clichéd that is, but he's open to the possibility), but maybe they'll just get stuck in a sort of limbo, reaching for something that isn't quite friendship, but can't really be anything else.
He isn't sure which thought scares him more.
She's a little thrown off balance by this side of Jesse, this sweet, insecure version that she wasn't sure existed under his layers and layers of show faces and bravado, and she's thrown a little more by quite how much it intensifies what she's feeling. In light of this, this new facet of the only boy who she's ever found to be her professional (and personal) equal, everything, since the time that they first met at the music store, seems to be shrouded in a new light.
Because the more she thinks about it, the more she believes that ever since Jesse St James has been a part of her life, she's always been thinking of him, if only on a subconscious level. He's tainted her history, her present and most probably her future.
Even her relationship with Finn is feeling more and more like a response to the heartbreak he inflicted, and very little else; just something she was a part of to spite Jesse. Every moment since she's met him, all the great and the small, all the ones that he was there for and all the ones that he wasn't, seem half defined by him, and half by her. She thinks that that's the way that it should be when you really find somebody; that they should give to you, and take a part of you, and you both coexist half way between.
She's coming to realise that he permeates her life in a way that she has never let anything before.
And she finds herself really wishing that he'd just kiss her already.
Because everything - her singing, her acting, her city, her life - is starting to seem too small for her, like maybe it isn't quite enough to have everything she'd ever dreamed of since she was a little girl. She's coming to find that she can be great without him, but even greatness has a limit. Onstage she's known it all along, but now, in her personal life, she's feeling it too, feeling that with him by her side she isn't quantified in terms like "great" or "breath-taking", but instead can't be quantified at all.
When she's with him, she's infinite, and now nothing else seems big enough.
But he's not going to make the move, because he still doesn't have faith that he's paid a proper penance for his sins. And maybe he hasn't, maybe he's still got more to prove to her, but now she's sure that he'll prove it when the opportunity arises. Had she been asked for that conviction, that belief in him, at the beginning of the evening, she may have not felt it like she does now, but this evening has been one of the longest of her life. The rise and fall of the curtain seems like another lifetime ago, not just a few hours. She didn't know time had the capacity to stretch like this, with every minute being full of emotion and action.
But something, over the course of it all, has fundamentally changed within her.
It's something that he cottoned onto a while ago, and whilst he isn't exactly writing down how much he loves Rachel in some diary, he has been functioning with an awareness of his feelings towards her for a while, maybe even since he lost her the first time. She's only now accepting that she's been feeling it too.
And so, as he's about to say something that feels a lot like an "It's getting late", she grabs his hand. There's a moment, a spark, that ignites something within them, and they both know that there is no going back from this, no pretending anymore. She's broken that invisible barrier that they'd set up, and now their unrequited subtext is not subtext anymore.
He doesn't know quite how it happens, whether her touch gives him the confidence to lean down, or she's had some sort of revelation that's prompting her to lean up, but somehow their lips just meet in the middle. The kiss is soft and tenuous at first, with their hands still intertwined in each other, but as they sidle closer to each other he deepens the kiss, reaching his hands up into her hair whilst she runs one hand up and down his back and uses the other to grasp onto his neck as they stand there, the bright lights of Broadway behind them, the perfect and only conceivable setting for their reconciliation.
Somewhere amongst it all words are mumbled and exchanged, and mixed up with the soft moans of names come the intimate rumbles of "I love you"s. They aren't defined, and neither knows who said it first; it doesn't really matter anyway, as long as they both feel it.
She starts to pull him by the shirt towards his bedroom, all thoughts of concussion far from his mind (although that isn't to say he doesn't feel light headed-it's just a different kind of light headed). It isn't until he's laying her down on his bead that he realises that they've gone from 0 to 60 in a matter of moments, and they're already reaching a stage which they've never traversed before.
"How did we get here?" He asks her, smiling down at her rumpled form that lies stretched on his bed, "You were just biting my head off a couple of seconds ago."
She's tempted to rebuke him for ruining the mood, but he doesn't really (nothing can), and she can't say she blames him for slowing them down a little, and gaining a bit of perspective. He's consciously trying not to push her like he used to, and she loves him for the thought.
So she answers him simply, "You were right." She props her arms up on the pillows as he stands, gazing at her from the foot of the bed.
"Well there's something I like to hear." He replies cheekily, with a smirk gracing his features.
"This is a dangerous step." She continues, ignoring him, "But, you were wrong about it being that or nothing. We were never nothing, Jesse."
"I know that." He replies strongly to her assertion, and she although she loves that she's seen a new side of him tonight, she can't help but love this confident version of him just as much, "I was just waiting for you to catch up."
"I'm caught up." She confirms, and it's all he needs to be right there with her, in control, kissing her like it's all he can do.
This night, this rollercoaster, is culminating in a way that he would have never dreamed (and that he was trying to deny even thinking about not all that long ago), but now that they are here, finally, after years apart, tears shed and blood spilled, something about it all just makes sense.
In this they are both right and wrong, both the most dangerous and safest thing to each other, both hopelessly human and totally divine.
They are both perfect and imperfect all at the same time.
But all of it fades into a background of paradoxes and emotion, becoming secondary to their union and integral to it all at the same time.
Because all that really matters is each other.
They are their own.
They are one.
When he wakes in the morning, he's surprised by how refreshed he feels in spite of his lack of sleep. He's never been a morning person, but he slowly begins to comprehend his surroundings as his senses start to turn on.
The sun that seeps through the blinds casts a light shadow over the room. He feels a dull throb in his chin, a reminder of an epiphany he had.
But he feels the lack of another warm body in his bed far more acutely.
He stumbles out of bed, putting on some boxers as he goes, and slowly opens the door into the living room. She's standing there, in the early glow of the morning, with no makeup and bed head, the low sun providing a backlight which illuminates her. She holds a white sheet around her torso, grasping the folds of it tightly to her chest, but letting it drop on her back, exposing her flesh.
He's never been privy to her looking so low-maintenance. The sight of it takes his breath away.
She's staring out of the window, deep in thought, which sort of worries him, because he's scared that she's going to turn around and say that last night was a mistake, that it shouldn't have happened, despite all of her previous reassurances.
He coughs gently, making her aware of his presents, and she turns to face him with an expression he can't quite read.
"Good morning." He smirks gently at her and she returns a soft smile and an innocent blush.
"Morning." Her tones are tender and contemplative, as he walks over to her and places a sweet kiss on her lips, before he drinks in the sights of the city below and the girl right next to him. If ever there was an inevitability, he thinks that this might be it for both of them.
"Last night was..." He trails off as he catches her eyes, so full of something he can't quite put his finger on.
"I know." She answers, because she really does. She knows that there are no words, nothing tangible with which they can mark themselves anymore. They're beyond that.
"So what's wrong?" He asks, because if this is it he really wants to know. She's being distant and thoughtful, and he's taking the approach that ripping the band aid off quickly is less painful than peeling it off slowly.
She smiles a little at his question, because he knows her so well, and he knows that something is on her mind, even if it's stupid.
"Do you regret what happened?" His question interrupts her thoughts and she's quick to look up at him, in dismay that he'd assume that.
"Oh my god, no, Jesse, of course not." She reassures him, and he finally feels like he can maybe take a breath.
"Ok then. Good to know. Then what?"
"Promise me that you won't hate me for saying this. I'm just thinking out loud here, and it can sometimes...come out wrong." She says.
"I promise." Because he knows that she's wound up about something, and over-thinking it all. If she's considering getting out, then he isn't going to give her reasons to stay, he's done that already. And if she's just being a drama queen over something menial, then he's going to laugh and placate her. No anger, no over-excessive drama (on his part at least).
"I just, I love my job, and you love yours." So, he figures, this is about work, not play, perhaps about how work will affect play or vice versa.
"I won't ask you to put me first, and you won't ask me." She tells him, because she can't quite make sense of it all in her head, so instead she puts it out in the open, and she puts it to him, "But don't we both need somebody who will do that? I mean, we're both Type A, melodramatic, career minded divas." He lets out a little laugh at that, and its implications, mainly because he knows it's true, "And, don't we need a check on that, somebody to balance us out? Somebody who isn't going to have a meltdown at the same time as us?"
"I just need you." He says with his trademark smirk as he leans down, pressing his lips to hers in another chaste kiss.
"Cheesy, St James. Very cheesy." She speaks into his lips and she can feel him smile against her as he pulls her into his arms.
"See? Simultaneous meltdown averted. Easy."
"Don't get any ideas. Next time I may not be so consolable. You've been warned." She pulls away from him slightly, and reaches up to stroke the dim, purple bruise that is present. She laughs a little, at how that act of violence really prompted them moving towards each other and getting it together.
"I cannot believe Finn hit you." She giggles, and he squints his eyes at him, playing at being hurt.
"I can!" He exclaims, "That guy was always an ass! Singing Jessie's Girl to you when I was out of town? Total douche move." She shakes her head playfully at him, and he grins at her like a Cheshire cat, looking sweet, but suspiciously innocent.
"Anyway, I think I had it coming. Puck hit me nine years ago, Finn was just a little slow on the uptake." Rachel's mouth drops at that revelation, but Jesse continues to look happy and jovial, letting her know not to get into any fights over bygones.
She hears the kettle she put on brewing in the kitchen, so, with a final kiss, she turns in his arms, moving, albeit reluctantly, from his embrace, the sheet she clutches to her chest trailing behind her and hanging loosely down her back.
And he watches her go, smiling to himself, and thanking his lucky stars that he's getting a second go at this. All he genuinely wants is her, and he won't jeopardise that for anything. He needs her to know that.
"Hey, Rach." He calls out to her from across the room and she turns back around to face him, "It isn't going to be easy."
"But that doesn't mean it isn't going to be perfect."
She contemplates running into his arms and jumping him right there and then, or she thinks maybe she could get away with using that whole 'cheesy' thing again, but something about what he says, and how he says it, lets her know that he's not just trying to get some, and he's not just being a clichéd.
He's being genuine.
And he loves her; really, truly loves her.
And she feels exactly the same way.
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am home again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am whole again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am young again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am fun again
However far away I will always love you
However long I stay I will always love you
Whatever words I say I will always love you
I will always love you
-The Cure-Love Song-
A/N: So, so sorry for the wait! I've had exams etc, so am pretty busy at the moment.
This is the third and final part of my St Berry fic! I hope that you have all really enjoyed it. I cannot thank you guys enough for the support that you've given me over this! I genuinely can't put into words what it means to have such a positive response. So thank you all so much for reading and reviewing. I hope you continue to do so!
And, as a bit of a thank you, for both your patience with me and your reviews, for your entertainment, this is a sneak peek of a new concept for another St Berry. It isn't written yet, but let me know if it sufficiently piques your interests!
"And so they are outcast people in a society obsessed with perfection and normalcy. She has never known it before, what it feels like to genuinely not care about status or garnering admiration, and something in her tells her it is new to him too.
But if they were going to be pariahs, at least they'd do it together."
Once again, thanks so much and don't forget to review!