Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon nor its characters. The Only Exception was written and performed by Paramore.

The Only Exception

When I was younger
I saw my daddy cry
And curse at the wind

I shiver as the wind runs through me, but even as I clench my teeth to keep them from chattering, I did have to smile. Had someone told me just the year before that I would be here for so long, I would've laughed. What reason was there to stay? This place is too closed in, and I know better than most when I'm not welcome.

Then why is it that I'm still here?

He broke his own heart,
And I watched as he tried to reassemble it.

The street is empty, but I don't mind. In a town like this, when the day ends, everything is quiet, and it's in these moments that I remember just why I was drawn here. I wanted that quiet, and now, after searching for so long, I've found peace of mind.

But not quite.

And my mama swore
That would never forget.

I still have my memories, of course. The whole reason I left home was to make them if only to find a way to erase the ones that came before. Problem is, the things we remember never really go away when we ask them to.

It's those we try so hard to keep that are the ones to drift away so easily.

And that was the day that I promised
I'd never sing of love
If it does not exist.

My fingers feel numb as I fumble to stuff them in my fur lined pockets, but it does little to warm them. The lights of the inn cast a warm glow on my face, though, and yet I don't want to step inside. Standing just outside the doors, I can hear the voices and the laughter, and when I breathe deep enough, I smell and even taste the mulled wine being served.

These are the moments that make it harder to leave it all behind.

But, darling, you are the only exception...
But you are the only exception...
But you are the only exception...
But you are the only exception.

Without warning, I hear the doors open, and there she is. She's smiling the same as always, and it only grows to see me. I catch the laughter in her blue eyes even though I can never tell whether she's laughing at me or the world.

"Do you want to come in, or are you just going to stand out here and freeze?"

Well, maybe I know somewhere
Deep in my soul
That love never lasts

I smile back and take her hand. Her fingers are warm and reassuring as they entwine with my own, rigid with cold. She calls to the others to let them know I've come, and the room grows quiet. She hesitates, and while I keep grinning, I feel guilty.

Just how can someone like her accept me when no one else can?

And we've got to find other ways
To make it alone
Or keep a straight face.

I want to tell her it's all right, but the words don't come. For the first time, I understand him- the one who went away. These faces that stare back at me aren't always as kind as they appear. There's something darker just beneath the surface.

After all, whether it's a smile or a bite, I still see teeth.

And I've always lived like this,
Keeping a comfortable distance
And up until now, I had sworn to myself

"He's no good," they say amongst themselves. "No good at all." I know she hears them, and she used to say the same. Even if she thinks I didn't hear, I never had to. Like them, it was always in her eyes.

"One of these things is not the same."

That I'm content with loneliness
Because none of it is worth the risk.

"Why are you looking so down?" she asks. I don't answer because there are just too many things to say. Her smile fades away, but she still keeps herself from frowning. I let go of her hand, having only just realized I hadn't, and then I swallow hard. "Are you still worried?"

I have nothing to say.

Well, you are the only exception...
Well, you are the only exception...
Well, you are the only exception...
Well, you are the only exception.

"There's nothing to be scared of," she reassures me. She tries to hold my hand once more, but I tuck them back in my cold pockets. I want to trust her because I know I can.

But believing is a very tiring things.

I've got a tight grip on reality,
But I can't let go of what's in front of me.

I walk away, my face now warm, but I wish I had something more. Her blue eyes watch me as I go, and I see the sadness there. I wonder if she knows. I wonder if she understands. Does she know what it's like being me?

Maybe, just maybe, she feels the same.

I know you're leaving in the morning when you wake up.
Leave me some kind of proof it's not a dream, oh..."

I run up the stairs, ashamed of myself, but I know she's not angry. Even when she calls after me, her voice is kind. I know the difference, and I know I'm not the only one who hears it. She's that way with everyone.

Then why is it that I don't stop?

You are the only exception...
You are the only exception...
You are the only exception...

You are the only exception.

There is someone in the room as I walk in, but after I do, he leaves. He will be back because he rarely stays away for long. He knows that I like to be alone, and he knows that I want to be alone. We're alike in that way which is why we've never talked.

"Can I come in?"

You are the only exception...
You are the only exception...
You are the only exception...
You are the only exception.

It's her, but at the same it, it isn't. Her smile is gone, and if it wasn't for her dirty overalls and bright red hair, I might think she was someone else. Just seeing her like this makes me shake, and although I know it makes her even sadder, I can't stop. She crosses the room, but she says nothing. She just holds me as I try my hardest not to cry.

"Cliff, it's all right. I know."

And I'm on my way to believing.
Oh, and I'm on my way to believing...

-/-

Author's Note: I swear I have a hundred and one ideas for this song. I find the words to be powerful and yet flexible at the same time, and it only became more apparent to me when I was writing this. At first this was going to be yet another Kai sticking around town for a single person, but it very quickly became a story about Cliff and social anxiety. All the same, I had fun writing this, and I hope it was enjoyable.

Until next time!