Conversation

It isn't great – it's nervous and awkward, neither of them knowing exactly what they're doing. He's never been so self-conscious about his leg before, not even during that first swim practice. She's never been so terrified about her extreme emotions, wondering what will happen after and unable, for the moment, to live in the present. But in the end... it's good. Good to know that they fit together, good to know that if they tweak a few things, it has the potential to be fantastic.

So now they're lying together, not quite exhausted enough to fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon. He starts.

"What exactly did Tay-Roy say to you?"

She shifts, pulling herself up until her eyes meet his and she can wind her fingers into his soft hair.

"He just called to talk. I was the one to ask if he had a twin I didn't know about."

"Why did you trust me, then? I lied to you."

She snorts, shaking her head.

"It's the Internet – and I lied to you, too, remember?"

He can't help but grin.

"Sky has nothing on you. Well, maybe better clothes," he amends. "But that's it." He pauses, wondering why he's pushing it so much, but ultimately decides that the reasons aren't important – she'll stop him if he's being too invasive. "What else did Tay-Roy say?"

She laughs. "Well, he told me that he sold some pictures to a guy on his swim team. Said that he personally thought the guy was a little weird – there was something about a rain cloud above his head – but mostly he thought you were okay. Good for me." Her mouth twitches down for a moment as suppressed memories try to claw their way up into her consciousness. The scar on her leg burns and her breathing escalates.

He rolls over, readjusting his body over hers. "It's okay," he whispers into her ear, his American accent so different from the one running through her head. "He's gone. If he comes back, I'll beat him with my leg while you call the cops."

She tries to smile, the image calming her. When they'd first met (in person) three and a half years ago, it has been his guarantee to his old swim team. "If anyone from the Wolverines Too tries to mess you up, call me and I'll go beat them with my leg." It was probably a good threat – the prosthesis was heavy and looked like it was made out of some kind of metal. Of course, it'd taken a trust fund for him to get that leg, so she didn't know how he'd be able to get a replacement or fix it.

"He was right, though, wasn't he?" she asks, going back to their conversation. "Being with you has been the better than all of that therapy."

He laughs low in his throat. "Hanging out with a psychopath with one leg makes you feel better about being saved by Team Badass before it happened to you?" Neither of them really knew who Team Badass was – that was just what she called the police who'd saved her.

"You're not a psychopath," she says.

"I threw my leg at the cheerleaders during graduation. I almost didn't get my diploma."

Somehow, she manages to say, "You're 'socially challenged' with a straight, disapproving face. But when he starts, she joins in, laughing until every part of her body hurts. They only stop when her roommate comes in, lest the woman come in to see what's so funny and finds them naked on the bed, the sheets no longer in touching distance, probably having fallen off a side. Luckily, she only stays a while and leaves quickly.

"I'm really glad you helped me get here," she says once the apartment is quiet again.

"I'm sure it's not that hard to strip and get into bed," he says. Her ribs hurt too much to laugh, so she simply sighs.

"Not talking about this," she says, nuzzling into him. "I'm talking about the whole college thing." The math department had given her a (relatively small, but insanely helpful all the same) scholarship because she was able to make an equation that told him how many points he should get on an assignment in order to stay exactly one percentage point above failing, which all-or-nothing assignments to skip and which to get done. It hadn't been that hard, and most of the credit should have gone to him – he was the one who actually used it for all of his senior year of high school.

"You're welcome for that, too," he said.

Clouds roll in and block out the sun, darkening the room considerably. And suddenly the weight of everything – the emotional drama of the day, all their fears, all of the joys – comes crashing down on them like a physical weight. He drops off first, and she soon after, but not before she can whisper in his ear.

"I love you, Andy."