Summary: She doesn't blush anymore. Matt, Introspection. OneShot.
Warning: Not as happy and fluffy as it could be. Last chance to run.
Set: During Vol2
Disclaimer: I don't own Dramacon. Yes, actually I do, but merely as the omnibus collection.
Christie doesn't blush anymore in his presence.
Matt doesn't know when he realizes it.
Probably when they meet again the second year and, at her sight, he feels all the feelings he thought he had buried bubbling up inside of him. Not only buried, but ripped out of him, burned, scattered the ashes and cleaned away thoroughly, but yet there they are, fresh and raw and painful and exhilarating. She's standing there, right next to Emily, and in the way her shoulders are set he sees exactly what she is feeling and thinking. When Emily calls him over, he notices her flinch, knowing she's fighting flight instincts. Strangely, he feels the opposite: he wants to look at her, again and again, without averting his eyes ever once. But Emily introduces them as if they were total strangers and she talks about how she has to return to her table in order to bridge the awkward silence coming up. Sandra and Greta look at her worriedly and he gives her a piercing look. She startles, but she doesn't blush at the intensity in his eyes. Instead, she quickly excuses herself and barely manages not to start running when she finally leaves them. But she hasn´t ever once blushed at his sight.
He could have sworn he'd always inspire that reaction from her.
(Though why he thought she'd keep up this habit even though he obviously was going out with Emily he didn't know. Matt felt like he hadn't been able to tell who he was for the last few months. She hadn't called – but he never had given her his number. Maybe she didn't want to. Maybe she didn't care. Maybe, she had lost Sandra's note. There were rational excuses enough. There were explanations why she hadn't reacted the way he had expected her to. They hadn't seen each other for the entire year, after all. Still, he was surprised how much it hurt to not see her react to his presence the way she always had reacted. No, not always. The way she had reacted last year.)
He doesn't notice while they sit in the courtyard of the Convention Centre. The way they talk – it feels like they haven't been apart at all. She's still a good listener and she takes most of the baits he throws out on instinct in order to either annoy her or shock her. He still likes her voice, the way it rises and falls, the soft cadences that change so drastically as soon as she tells him about their nasty neighbor on the artist's mile. She makes him tell her things he hasn't told anyone before and he is surprised and amused at the same time. She hasn't changed much, still is the weird person with the split personality. She doesn't feel awkward in his presence, obviously, so they talk and he smiles and laughs at her jokes and even feels a tiny pang of happiness when she tells him he's a nice person, even though it obviously is a lie. He doesn't realize she doesn't blush anymore, because this time, she does blush. Her tongue slips as she tells him the reason why no relationship of hers has been working out – "They're not you" – and he feels heat rising in his cheeks as well as he can see her turning bright red on the spot.
Later, he realizes she only blushed because they were talking about her.
Probably, he realizes when they stand in the line at Taco Bell's, waiting for Emily to order. He tries to look at her from the corner of his sunglasses and, for once, is thankful because the blackened glass means she cannot see his eyes. She cannot see him watching him. It's a technique he has employed often enough. But then, she turns her head slightly and he realizes she knows he's staring at her. And Christie doesn't blush. She just continues to look at him until he turns away and feels the familiar, unwelcome warmth flood his face. This is not right, he thinks, but he can't properly define what he means by that. So far apart, he can read in her eyes, but there's nothing he can add that wouldn't add to their obvious misery. So he turns away and wonders why she doesn't blush anymore.
The short lunch-break ends in a catastrophe. Matt spills coke over some random cosplayer's costume, Emily exhibits him like an animal in the zoo and when Christie follows him, he snaps at her rudely and continues on without looking back. He knows looking back would immediately make him feel sorry. This way, he is rather ineffectively delaying the blame for two minutes and thirty-nine seconds.
Instead of making her blush, he makes her cry and that's something he cannot forgive himself.
It's in his character to feel like he has to atone for every second he made her unhappy. He has hurt other people, has made fun of them, has ignored them or even dumped them rudely. But every time he tries to treat her like he treats everyone else, it feels wrong. Entirely wrong. He causes her unhappiness and because her unhappiness makes him unhappy, as well, their misery is doubled. If not tripled. When he searches for her later, he doesn't find her and the fan-girls coming at him don't lift his mood. During the J-Pop party, he catches himself looking out for her and finally spots her, already on her way back to the hotel.
No, he definitely doesn't make her blush this year.
She shouts at him, and cries, and he apologizes but there's nothing they can say or do to make an entire year undone. She doesn't even blush when he tries to kiss her, tempted by her closeness and her soft lips and the sadness and defeat in her shoulders. She stops him. It's not right, Matt. He can't object, because she is right. But he wants her to be wrong so desperately his entire body feels like screaming out. She leaves him standing in the rain and he returns to the Convention Centre where Emily already is waiting for him.
He hasn't made her blush. She doesn't blush anymore.
Instead, she has been surprised, and sad, and desperate, and willing to put all the things that happened behind her to talk to him even when he outright refuses to talk. He has made her cry so many times he feels like the worst person in the world. And it is entirely his own fault. What happened with Christie is his fault – he has been an idiot, a complete and absolute idiot last year to let her go – and now he's hurting Emily, as well. Suddenly he realizes he hasn't been able to do anything right. He hasn't only made himself miserable. He has failed both Christie and Emily and he has hurt two women badly.
He fell in love with Christie when he saw her in the elevator, safely encaged in his arms, a blush he had induced creeping up her cheeks.
He fell in love when she stood before him in the hotel corridor, crying silently.
He fell in love when he held her hand, warm and soft, and fell asleep again.
He fell in love with her every time he teased her and she blushed, a shadow of red creeping into her face, making her look even more beautiful than before.
The fact that she doesn't blush anymore in his presence is proof that he has messed up. That he has finally lost her.
He has been an utter idiot and now he's paying the price.