A/N: Here's my first attempt at writing for Skins. As you can probably guess, I don't own Skins. The title of this story is taken from Andrew Belle's "Static Waves" featuring Katie Herzig.
He loves her. He loves her too much. Sure, he supposes that he is a tad homesick, but New York isn't so bad, with all its bright lights and busy people and constant bustle. (New York has something Bristol doesn't. New York has Cassie.)
So even if a grand total of three strangers spill their scalding hot coffee on him when he goes to buy some breakfast, he doesn't mind. He knows Cassie is waiting for him back at the apartment, and that's more than enough for him.
He wakes up alone in the middle of the night. (It will happen more and more often, and then once again for good measure, but he doesn't know that yet.) The sheets are cold next to him and he closes his eyes, trying to recall a late shift at the diner that she might have told him about. The clock says it's half past three in the morning, way past any reasonable hour for a diner to be open, but he ignores it. He and Cassie, they're happy now.
She returns just before six in the morning, smelling of stale cigarettes, vanilla, and sweat. He sits up when she enters the room and sets her crossbody bag on the floor.
"Where you've been, Cass?" he asks, trying to keep his voice even. His voice has the rough, textured quality of someone who has spent all night with a full mind and yet has nothing to show for it. "It's really bloody late."
Cassie glances at the clock on the bedside table, chocolate eyes widening. "Oh wow," she says carelessly. "I didn't notice... Although I really think it's earlier than it is late, wouldn't you say?" A smile lights up her face, illustrating her pride at her correction.
He sighs, not in the mood. "Just let me know when you'll be out, won't you? I was worried."
Before he can blink, she is sitting Indian style on the bed beside him, her expression earnest and open. "I love you, Sid," she promises, and he thinks that everything is fine.
He is taking a shower when the water cuts off on him. Swearing, he grabs his towel and wraps it around his body, flecks of shampoo still decorating his hair. Yesterday it was the heater, today it is the water, tomorrow it will probably be the power.
Her job at the diner and his jobs at the coffee shop and the convenience store aren't enough to continue to pay for a New York apartment like the one that Cassie's waiter friend left her. He knows that Cassie has always been close mates with spontaneity, that she has never been a girl with a backup plan, and he admires her for that, but at the same time, he wishes she would tell him exactly how long she wants to insist on playing dress up. Sooner or later, they are going to have to go back home. But every time he tries to broach the subject, she freezes up and locks herself away, so he stops mentioning it and obediently settles into the role that she wants him to play.
Sometimes it feels like they don't have anything figured out. It's only recently, though, that it has started to bother him. When he first fell in love with her, it was part of her charm. But now, stuck in the realm of reality, he has learned the hard way that recklessness can grow old quickly.
She is standing in the kitchen, arranging cookie dough into various shapes at her leisure. He realises, neither for the first nor the last time, that she is truly beautiful, probably one of the most beautiful girls he has ever met and will ever meet. (One day he'll find out that he is right.) It's hard to say if he loves her because she is beautiful or if she is beautiful because he loves her or if it's both. All he knows is that sometimes it hurts to look at her, but it's a pain he isn't sure how to live without.
He clears his throat, "They've cut the water off, Cass."
She smiles at the sight of him standing in the doorway, dripping wet, in nothing but a towel. He knows she finds the view endearing, and if there's anything he likes, it's making her happy. So he lets his speech about Bristol and home and reality and the future die in his throat, and he lets her kiss him, and that night, they have sex in every single room in the apartment.
And it feels good and he's satisfied even though he isn't, and he is more certain than he has ever been about anything that he loves her, for better or for worse.
She finishes the last of his cereal without asking, and they fight about it because it's the most convenient outlet for his developing feeling of aggravation. But the fight turns into something else entirely and before he knows it, the argument has spiralled out of control and they aren't talking about cereal anymore.
Cassie is holding back tears, playing with the navy blue ribbon in her hand like it can carry her far away from him and his sullenness. "I thought we were happy, Sid," she says, and there is a pleading quality to her trembling voice. He knows what she wants him to say, what she is asking of him. Any other time, he would have let her have her way and they would fuck their disagreements away, a string of I'm sorry and I love you tangled into the air as they make each other come.
He is sharply aware of the anger settling in his chest, in his heart, in his mind. He hates himself for ruining a perfectly lovely evening, he hates her for being so inconsistent, and he hates them for being so fucking fragile, all the fucking time. It's strange how he gives her what she wants, against his better judgment, because he loves her, but fueled by hate, he tells her the truth."We can't be happy like this forever. This kind of happy... It doesn't last forever."
"Why not?" she demands, petulant and childish, and it doesn't escape him that she is matching his resentment syllable by syllable.
"Because it doesn't, Cassie," he replies flatly. He pushes his glasses further up his nose, exhausted with New York and with all of the chasing and the dreaming and with her. He just wants her to understand him, just this once, and he doesn't understand why she has to keep making everything so sodding difficult.
She lets the ribbon fall to the floor. They both watch it spiral downwards, painfully slowly. "If you're not happy, leave," she threatens, her tiny fists clenched. He doesn't say anything, and his silence only seems to stiffen her resolve. "Just leave, Sid. I didn't ask you to come here."
"I'm not going to leave you," he mumbles, and he wonders which one of them he needs to convince more.
"Aren't you? Because I'd let you." Cassie still refuses to cry, but he thinks this coldness just might be worse.
Later, they sleep on opposite ends of the bed, and when he wakes up, he is alone again.
If love was only about happiness, he would have everything he ever needed in Cassie. But it's not, and he doesn't.
Cassie, he knows, is terrified of commitment. This fear is the reason that he wakes up alone sometimes, with no letter and no call to steady his concern. It explains why she is always running without a destination or a purpose or a map. She will probably never change, and he loves that best about her.
But they are alike in all the wrong ways and too different in all the ways that matter, because Sid is a person who needs a destination, a purpose, and a map. So one night, when he can't fall asleep, he knows what he is going to do before he even resigns himself to it.
He knows what will happen. For the first time since he found her in New York, she will be the one who wakes up alone. It won't take her too long to realise what has happened, and she'll cry and she'll hurt and she'll feel like her heart has been ripped into pieces. (Just like he will. This will break him too.) But then she'll be okay again, and maybe she'll move into a flat that she can actually afford, or maybe she'll pack up all her things and disappear again to another place, so that nobody can find her for a while. Maybe she'll even return to Bristol, and he'll see her on the street and it will take him a mere second to grasp that she isn't just another stranger.
He thinks he will always love Cassie. He worries he'll never be able to shake the feeling of her body next to his, her lips dancing across his cheek, or her unwavering gaze when he actually manages to hold her attention. He hopes the ache will lessen eventually, for both of them. And he is going to choose to believe that she really does love him, after all this time.
(I'll love you forever, Sid.
Yes. That's the problem.
It goes both ways.)
A/N: Reviews would certainly be appreciated. Cheers xx