'And then he saw her fall…'
The only thought that was in his mind was that he needed to catch her, and he did so but just barely. He pulled up and into her chest while she cried uncontrollably on his shirt soaking it, his arms wrapped around her and he hummed softly – doing anything to block out the heart wrenching sobs. He rubbed her back comfortingly wondering what had caused such a reaction, when the tears had lessened in strength Oscar attempted to pull away- until he realised that Rose was leaning on him.
"Rose, are you alright... can you stand?" The shaking of her head in his chest answered both his questions as well as indicating that she couldn't speak either. So with careful concentration Oscar slowly lifted Rose off the ground and carried her to the bed, putting her in as little discomfort as she could be considering her predicament. Kneeling over one side of the bed he placed her gently on her side, but as he pulled away he realised that she still hadn't let go of him- and with the grip that she had on his shirt, he had a feeling she wouldn't be letting go any time soon. "Rose, you gotta let go now, it's time for me to leave now." He pleaded, knowing it would be to no avail and so he tried to physically pry her hands off his shirt and pull her head out of chest. She just clung all the harder, but the emotions that had drained her energy moments before still hadn't returned and so with a forceful thrust he pulled her off him and left her laying entangled on the bed. He began to walk away, but his resolution crumbled as he heard her sniffle. "Rose, I really need to leave. It isn't proper for me to be here this late." But as he said that he turned around and started to walk to her.
"Please, don't leave me." It was barely a whisper but Oscar heard it. And he knew she wasn't just talking about here and now. That was the only reason why he was currently sitting on her bed –wearing just a singlet (the wet shirt discarded somewhere on the floor)-with Rose cuddled in his side. They remained that way for a period of time that would be impossible to calculate – feeling as if it were both hours and seconds.
"Rose" sighed Oscar, calmly breaking the silence. He was running his fingers through her hair staring adoringly at the girl who he had cared about for. "I care about you. A lot. But I cannot stay here, if Christine follows her usual pattern she will come here to check on you. And if she sees me here, on your bed, who knows what she will think- and I do not want you to leave. Especially since you just arrived." Oscar realised that he slowly stopped thinking about the physical sense, he knew what Christine –and he, himself- thought about people that would be in that position- context aside.
"Do you want to touch it?" Oscar was expecting pleas and soft crying – anything but that. Rose was looking at him so intently that he struggled to respond.
"But... you need time to heal...physically, emotionally." Rose continued to look at him unwavering in her non-verbal command. Oscar exhaled deeply before admitting the real reason. "Rose, I don't want to hurt you. Not now, not ever. And if I touch you I know I will, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself." He looked down, almost embarrassed to have that fear. He was so engrossed in his feelings that he didn't realise that Rose had sat up- it was only when he felt her soft hand caress his cheek did he look up into her caring face.
"Oscar, you could never hurt me. No, that's not true- you are the only one that can hurt me. But I trust you and gave you that power. I care about you too much to not take that risk anyway." The piercing look that she gave let him know that it came from the depths of her soul. He was struck dumb with that honest comment and never had such an urging to kiss the girl in front of him. Her outline, which was illuminated with the moonlight, only heightened that feeling- especially since she had never been closer to him than at that moment. But he didn't, she was in a vulnerable state and was very emotional- he didn't want to abuse the state that she was in. That did not mean that it was any more tempting. In fact it was more so.
Oscar lifted up his left hand and held the hand that was still stroking his face and after a few seconds pulled it away from him. Her face was the embodiment of rejection and she pulled her hand away from his own. "Rose-"
"No, Oscar it's fine. I shouldn't have forced you to stay. You can leave- in fact I'd prefer it." For the second time in a matter of minutes Oscar was shocked silent. Rose had slid down by that time and was silently crying herself to sleep- facing the opposite direction of Oscar so that he wouldn't see her face. She was not going to be his charity case. He was not going to back down.
"Okay then." He leaned over to kiss her temple, but as he pulled away he saw the small trickle of tears roll down her nose. He made a resolution to himself that he was not going to become the thing that he had feared for so long, and so he decided to try something he'd never tried before. "That's such a shame though" he said leaning forward towards her ear- all the while lightly grazing her arms with his fingertips. He could feel goose bumps growing on her arms and that gave him the confidence to continue, his mouth a few millimetres away from her ears "because I really don't want to leave you." He felt her shiver against his body and so he removed his hand from her arm to her face- he brushed her fringe away from her face but it fell promptly back. He smiled at that and was thankful that every time the orphanage watched a movie they were dominated by women or in some cases- woman. All those chick-flicks were finally paying off. "Rose look at me." He decided to stop beating around the bush and just know why. She refused too but he continued anyway. "You made a promise to me that if you were allowed to stay here that you would answer every question I had. Well, I am asking them now and I want honest answers." His voice calmed down at this stage, almost to the point of pleading for answers. "Why did you pull away? Why won't you look at me? What did I do wrong? Why won't you answer me Rose? Do you truly like me or am I just misconstruing your reactions?" Rose made no attempt to answer his questions, to look at him or to even acknowledge the fact she heard it. Had it not been for her breathing patterns Oscar would just have assumed she went to sleep. After a while he gave up and went for the door. At the entrance he turned around forlornly and whispered "goodnight Rose." And that's when he heard it. He would have brushed it aside as nothing but his heart hoped to dream. He walked to the other side of the bed, so that he was in between Rose and the window- but more importantly so that Rose was facing him. "What did you say?"
"I thought you didn't reciprocate my feelings." It was barely a whisper but it spoke volumes to Oscar.
"What on earth gave you that impression?" Rose looked sheepish at this stage, colour rising to her cheeks.
"You pulled me away. I thought that meant you didn't like it therefore not liking me in that way." Oscar was in a word was mirthful. The ecstasy that filled him was hard to describe- and hard to contain. Soft laughter erupted from his mouth and it turned into a smile.
"There is no chance of that ever happening. You hear me. Ever." He tickled her and she giggled in response. After the laughter died down and the tickling stopped there was a comfortable silence in the room, but the elephant was still in the room. "Rose, you need to talk to me. I will always be here… but you need to trust me. You do trust me right?"
"Hold me?" She may have answered his question with a question, but that spoke volumes. "Please Oscar. Just hold me." The pleading look she gave crumbled any resistance he may have had, and at the back of his mind he wondered if he would ever be strong against his girl.
Christine was walking, doing her usual rounds when she walked into Oscar's unusually empty room. Curious to this irregularity she walked into Rose's where she saw him sitting on her bed with Rose cuddled into his chest. She stood at the door and watched, a little hesitant to interrupt the couple.
"Rose, you gotta talk to me. Explain it to me. Cause I'm struggling to understand how anyone could do that… especially to you." Although Rose may not have noticed it, Christine's years of expertise had trained her to detect the small break in Oscar's voice. Realising that this was the closest Rose would get to bearing her soul for a long long time, she quietly walked away –avoiding the creaking floorboards- and snuck away, not wanting to disturb the couple.
"So," said Oscar "when did all..." he paused temporarily, trying to find a word that would adequately describe the atrocities that her mother did to her, but none came to mind so he continued with "this start to happen?"
"You don't want to know." Rose shook her head in his chest nuzzling it between the crook of his neck and shoulder, as if it would emphasise her point. Needless to say it didn't.
"Rose, you need to get this off your chest now, before it burdens your life."
"What about you? We still only know a fragment of your problems; as much as you try to hide it I know you are still hurting. Why don't you unburden yourself?" Rose's fiery nature sprung forth at that moment.
"It is too late for me." Oscar sighed and rested his head upon the wall behind him. "It's not worth it. I'm not worth it." Rose by that time was fully sitting up.
"You'll always be worth it, especially to me." Rose tentatively slipped left hand into his right, worrying that she might have taken things too far again, but that worry vanished as Oscar gave her hand a squeeze. Content with that she returned to her original position, breathing in Oscar's scent to give her extra comfort. He looked down to her and smiled at the sight, resisting the urge to let go of her hand and slide it around her waist to pull her closer.
"Maybe someday Rose, but right now is dedicated to you." Rose shuffled closer to him and started to talk in what she hoped was a carefree voice.
"I don't really remember when... no that's a lie. Do you remember the language exam- the one where I can second?" Oscar smiled at that memory; he had prided that first for weeks rubbing it playfully in her face. He dimly remembered her behaviour surrounding that loss; his agitation grew as he recalled that it wasn't very bright.
"What about it?" he asked warily, not wanting to know the answer.
"That is when I first got physically hit, it was only small but I knew it was coming there had been signs and things really hadn't been the same since..." Rose drifted off into silence, the happy façade slowly slipping off her face.
"Since when?" Oscar slowly prodded her, determined to hear the end of it.
"Since I came home one day. It started normally with my mum asking how my day was. But when I told her about this amazing boy who can fluently speak 14 languages and has a thorough knowledge of history she got worried. She had told me not to speak to him and befriend him because he will only ruin my future and break my heart." Rose took a deep breath before continuing "it would have been fine had I not laughed. It would have been impossible to do that and avoid him but she couldn't know why. The look on her face told me things had changed. I don't think I had ever seen her so angry, disappointed or heartbroken. She shook her head at me and said that if anything happened the only person that she could punish is me because I had voluntarily put myself in that position. Then when she found out I came second to that boy she snapped. I had never come second in my life and now I was going to reap my rewards." Tears pricked the corner of Oscar's eyes, but he couldn't cry as Rose was so easily doing, he had to remain strong for both of them. So he just lifted their interlaced hands to his mouth and kissed her knuckles.
"I am so sorry Rose, I didn't know. This had been going on for two years and you never said a word, and I was such an awful friend that I never noticed. Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"I ... I ... I tried to. But it just never happened."
"You remember the time when Agent X came to take you away."
"Yeah" was Oscar's cautious reply.
"And you remember how none of us knew that Della was Agent X and when you saw her with Donovan and Davina and you went to go and get them out of the school. And you remember the talk that you gave the group, saying how none of us understood what you were going through. Well I was going to say it then, but you cut me off. And then I realised something, I didn't want to burden anyone with my problems- we should be focussing on you. Because I... you... you deserve it so much more than me."
"So, do you mean that if I wasn't a selfish jerk-"
"You never were."
"-This would never have happened."
"You know what. It doesn't really matter anymore. It's over, "what's done is done" now all I want to do is move forward in the future."
"And you will, with me right beside you." Oscar had stopped holding her hand and was drawing intricate patterns on them. Rose started to laugh at the tickling feeling that he was produced, but stopped midway with a yawn. "You need to sleep." Rose opened her mouth to say something but Oscar cut her off "I'll stay until you do." Rose smiled, content with the compromise and snuggled under the sheets. Oscar-who was sitting on top of the sheet- pulled her as close as she could humanely get. He lay on his back, reflecting on the day that had past, the revelations, the life changing decisions. Had he known what would happen that morning he would have laughed but now it had occurred, and he had the girl of his dreams slowly drifting off into sleep, resting her head on his chest, placing her right hand on his heart. She didn't need to put it there however, he knew it was already hers.
Christine smiled as she slowly lowered herself into her bed, she trusted Oscar more than she trusted herself and she knew the morals that she instilled in the boy in the few years that she knew were strong and would last. She couldn't help but think about when she was in his position all those years ago...although she didn't go about it with the same elegance that he did, she knew that the decisions changed her life. Forever.
In summary, Christine was not a happy girl. She was late to class and on top of that the resident school 'jock' Troy decided that he needed to hit on a new girl. Despite the fact that she probably wasn't that good looking, he still walked next to her, acting like they were best friends. After 3o seconds of that torture, she snapped.
'Stop talking to me. Are you not understanding the fact that I am IGNORING you? Or is that a concept that can't penetrate that thick skull of yours.'
'Sheesh, what is with everyone telling me that.' He grimaced slightly, running his hands through his short blonde hair. The problem with that however is that his shirt rose slightly, showing a purple bruise that was developing near his hip. While an ordinary person might not have noticed, Christine- a very reluctant spy in training- did. And the horrified gasp that left her mouth alerted Troy to that fact.
'What on earth is that?' A look of confusion passed across his face until he realised she was talking about the bruise.
'Oh, that. It's nothing, something I got from my football game last week. I'm surprised anyone noticed.' Although it was whispered to himself, she heard it anyway.
'Why wouldn't people notice, you're like the most popular kid around.' She rolled her eyes as if it were the most obvious fact.
'Just because I'm known, it doesn't mean I'm understood. Just because I'm liked, it doesn't mean I'm cared about.' Christine stopped walking and stared at him for a minute. 'Don't we have Math to go to?' He looked at her confused and she smiled.
'Sure, aren't we gonna hang out during our break.' A mega-watt smile broke out on his face.
It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
The next day a slightly disturbed Troy met Christine. Without even pausing to say hi he asked her a question 'do you think I'm an idiot?'
Honestly, Christine's first response was yes, but thinking about their conversation yesterday, she realised she had turned 180 degree's.
'No, I think that under that lock of blond hair there is a genius.' All of a sudden his report card was underneath her nose.
'My dad doesn't think so.' Looking through it she couldn't help but be impressed, had she been a betting person she would earn a lot of money on "who would be that year's dux."
'But it is amazing!'
'Yeah, well he has the ability to make me feel like an idiot. Like yesterday when he was hitting me once he saw-' as soon as the words were out of his mouth he knew she knew.
'The bruise. It was from him.' It was a statement not a question.
'Yeah, I hadn't gotten a bruise like that from football in a long time.' The depressed look in his eyes made her cold heart melt.
'I care about you.'
'Yesterday, the "I'm liked but I'm not cared about" speech, I want you to know that if you ever feel like that, there's me.' The first smile that graced his face in 24 hours was caused in 24 words.
'I'll remember that.'
They spent the next few weeks together, the entire school was confused with why Troy would spend his time with her and why she left her life of voluntary alienation for him. The teachers on the other hand, they were elated over the fact that Christine's results were improving, they didn't know she was capable of achieving a B+, but Troy helped prove that theory wrong. But the couple had now reached the breaking point in their lives, Christine was struggling to keep her identity a secret and Troy was getting attacked more frequently, and not necessarily for his grades – it was predominately for his football skills – it seemed the best was never good enough for his father. Then it finally snapped with Christine.
She didn't know why her real identity was so important anyway.
'Hoi. I'm home.' Once the caretaker opened the door Christine barged in, dragging Troy in with her.
'Does he know?' The caretaker and Christine never had a good relationship, and were well past the stage of fake pleasantries.
'Oh do you mean have I told him that we are spies. No.' The exaggerated look on her face showed that she was enjoying this more than she should. 'Oh, oops. Well he knows now and I guess there is nothing we can do. Unless you want to risk him exposing us, and we wouldn't want that now would we?' She put on a magnificent display and the fake pout at the end was the last straw for the caretaker.
'Don't call me that. 'Her eyes flashed with anger. 'The female parental unit calls me that, therefore I despise the name. Almost as much as I despise her and her "I-need-to-save-the-world-so-much-that- I-don't-know-my-daughter's-name–and-I-will-not-tell-her-I'm-in-the-country-during-my-VACATION" butt, however I don't know if that's possible.' Her attention left the caretaker and focussed on Troy. 'Come on, you can crash my room.' It was mumbled and barely understandable, but the pulling of his hand towards the sleeping area made her intentions very clear. He was very hesitant in moving and when he didn't Christine turned to him, hurt and rejection pouring out from her eyes.
'Naww, Chris don't look at me like that, it's well... that lady could kill me thirty different ways if she wanted to, I don't think I should get on her bad side.'
'But if you don't stay here, where will you go?'
'I can always go home, my dad might not have noticed I ran away yet.'
'You can't go home to that monster, he will do worse than what that old potato sack can do.'
'Watch your language missy. I am the adu-'
'Do you want to send him back, huh, to the monster that did this?' Within a second she had pulled his shirt off his head and left his bruises for the caretaker to see. 'Do you want to send him back to the piece of trash that did this to him every day. The one who would bash him up and then expect him to win the football game the next day. And if he didn't...'Christine let out a low whistle before going on 'do you want to send back one of the funniest, nicest, smartest, strongest Britons in England, the guy would make a better spy than half the kids here, and you know it. You've hacked the school's data more than I have – you KNOW he's one of the best. So are you just gonna let him walk away? Is that what you want?' By now Christine was like a train building up strength and energy, waiting to push down any reason that the caretaker had for not allowing him to stay.
'He was always going stay; I just wish you would treat me with some respect.'
'Oh.' The energy had left Christine, and seemed to be transferred to Troy whose exuberance seemed like a dim glow surrounding him.
'I can stay? I CAN STAY!' With that he ran up to Christine and hugged her. She was stiff and rigid but she still awkwardly tried to hug him back. She had never gotten affection, and tried to push away anyone who attempted to display it to her, but Troy – he was the only exception. But what she didn't expect was him to kiss her forehead and whisper so softly that only she could hear: 'Thank you, I owe you, even if I need to spend my entire life trying to make you happy, I will.'
He had kept that promise to the very end, and she knew that if the caretaker hadn't been so kind, she would not have ended up the way she was. And so, logically thinking, she became a caretaker herself willing to do whatever it takes for the kids that were under her wing, And when she saw Rose that afternoon, she knew it all had been worth it.
"Goodnight Troy, I still miss you." It was whispered into thin air, but it held so much emotion for Christine. The weariness of the day was catching up with her and so she wriggled down further into her blankets and drifted off to sleep with a cool breeze blowing around her, one that smelt distinctly of Troy's favourite aftershave.
When he first awoke, it was not because of a soft, calming wind blowing on him and Rose, but rather because the latter had shivered, was snuggling up to his chest and he felt a sudden warmth go through him.
When he first awoke, he saw her and thought it was a dream. But he knew that his dreams could not compare to this reality. The events of the day came flooding back to him and he couldn't help but smile. He knew that things could only get better, and that he would help heal her shattered heart – even if it involved taking every individual piece and keeping them in place with just his love.
But, first he had to go to his room.
Anyways, I am rather innocent minded so if anything is interpreted wrongly in this story I'm sorry. 'Twas not my intention and I still remain oblivious. Though I'm still not happy with it. It's improved... but still. not my best.
The irony of this is that instead of doing my assignment on 'Women and Domestic Violence' I was writing this :) The sad thing… its been sitting on my computer since '11
P.S It really was 24 words
P.s.s. Firstly, i am sorry for the non-update of it. you have to people to thank 'TheEyeOfThePheonix' who recently wrote a story that was .good. and 'WIP- writer in progress' who reviewed it, and reminded me that i still needed to upload it. and fix it.
p.s.s.s if you think I say 'love' a lot in my fics. I do agree with you, but you also need to keep in mind that they have their friendship 'love,' and that's one of the strongest things that exist (even stronger than super glue).
p.s.s.s.s. I love super glue… and reviews.