Hand over his, fireflies humming in front of her eyes, she finally says: "I don't love you."
And his hand curls into the wood and splinters crack underneath the nails and he promises he doesn't love her back, and they sit there, two people who swear they don't love each other, living in a reverse fairytale of whatever-the-fuck-this-is.
She thinks it's a tragedy.
He thinks it's beautiful.
That's where things went wrong.
It's after New York, when she begins to understand that no one will ever love her quite the way she wants to be loved, so she decides to settle.
He's sitting outside his house, on his porch, beer in hand, waiting for someone to come along and save him.
She ruins him instead.
She was always best at that, and in the darkness, yet still with the fireflies floating around them, she asks him, "Did you mean it?"
And he lies, "No," and they both flutter a little, like a relieved sigh.
He thinks his whole life was a lull.
She's the spark.
Distractions, he'll call it — his life was a distraction until she came and made it interesting. She made it worth it. She made everything different.
It's like he was never truly alive until that night she came undone beneath him, her curls splayed across her pillow, his name on her lips. It's like he never knew what it meant to fuck a woman until he made love to her.
Ask the world why they love horror films and they'll tell you it's because the fear is exciting, it's real, the race of the heart is the thrill of it all.
If anyone asks him, he'll tell them that's what it's like to love Quinn Fabray.
Like running away from some fucker in a mask.
They don't talk about the things that matter.
They pretend the world is black and white. It works for them.
She wraps her arms around his waist and presses her face into his chest and for a moment, she pretends she loves him. Like if they pretended, everything would be okay. They could pretend away the hurt.
His hand teases through her short hair and he mumbles, "I could change."
She feels like she'll cry (because no one has ever wanted to change for her). "No, you won't."
"I will. If you want me to —"
She holds his face in her hands as if it would break if she let it go. "I don't want you to change."
In the distance, thunder rumbles ominously, and the sky is about to shatter into a million pieces.
She holds on as if to protect herself from the shards.
It's two people who don't know what it's like to need anyone else.
It's the anomaly, the downfall. She'll push him away until he's gone forever and he'll keep leaving until one day, he might come back and she won't be waiting for him again.
It's two people who loved each other too much in all the wrong ways.
The song that's playing is old but she can't remember why it matters. His hands slide to her waist and her arms wrap tightly around his neck, her chin pulled to his shoulder as they pretend.
They sway gently in tune to the music and the lights around them flicker in the coming storm.
The static of the radio rings desperately in her ears and the time they've lost drips down her fingertips.
She whispers, "I swear I love you," and he pretends it's the booze.
It's two people who thought love was a fairytale.
(Beauty in all its tragedy.)