It had been a few weeks since Ace was released from the hospital. I hadn't been home since I left the note, and Ace snuck out after only one night out of the hospital. I met him at the dump.
"Are you okay?"
He looked around, and I just watched him.
Eventually, he spoke. "Why did you help me? Not just when I was about to die, but… the entire time."
I thought about it and, with my usual level of wit, replied " I don't know."
He shook his head. "Yes, you do. Tell me."
I looked down, embarrassed. "You were so... different. Real. I need reality." I need away from this happy little city and it's happy little citizens and my sister, who thought you were going to break up the Power Puff Girls, but in reality, I decided to leave a long time ago and it turned out I was just waiting on you." I hadn't meant to say all that. I felt myself blushing and glaring at the ground. I made myself plant my feet in the ground.
He had raised his eyebrows as all of this gushed out of me. He didn't move, though. He asked one question. "How was I gonna break up you guys?"
I debated for what seemed like years in my head about whether to tell the truth or not. In the end, I couldn't come up with an adequate lie.
Ace nervously started to back up, and I could tell he regretted getting that close. I pulled him back, and although I was late, and the timing was bad, I answered him.
"Because I love you." I knew it was crazy and that I couldn't possibly love him, and I know I definitely didn't love him at first, but now I did, and what difference did it make?
He looked at me, shocked for a moment, and it was my turn to pull back. He quickly stopped me, and just looked at me for a minute, making me feel self-conscious. He wildly backed up, and whispered, "I want to skip town with you. But we should stay here tonight."
He went into the makeshift hideout we made together. I shuffled toward the old car we built it beside. I nuzzled into the backseat, and put my headphones on. I let music drown out my thoughts.
I knew I couldn't possibly love her. I really had just met her. She was nothing like the kid that used to beat me up. She still had a wild streak, but it was a different kind. Less aggressive, and more... restless. I knew I loved her, but I also knew I couldn't love her. I kept myself from going outside to see if she was even still there. I wanted to go back in time, to say "I love you too," to just kiss her, to focus on the one good thing in my life. Well, until I managed to fuck that up as well.
I listened to myself breathing for a while. I was breathing. Grubber, Billy, and Snake weren't.
How lucky for them, I thought, and immediately hated myself again. I sat up from the mattress I took from a newer part of the dump.
What if Buttercup came back? I thought as I fell asleep. She should have a nicer mattress to sleep on…
All. She loves us all. I wasn't sure whether to gracefully accept that I had caused the very thing I was trying to prevent, or to continue down what seemed like a suddenly desperate and pointless course of action.
Even if Buttercup was being oblivious, I could see everything that had been happening. We all thought she was over him, but then he went missing and she sank into a moody and irritatingly decisive slump. I was fine with that. She was here, she did her duty, and most importantly, she was home.
As the Professor slowly started advancing on the multi-dimintional transporter, I was forced to mess with his equations, but never in noticeable ways. I never thought that the level headed, careful Professor would ever push buttons on impulse. I underestimated his emotional attachment to the failed experiment. Of course, exactly what I feared became reality. The gangster was back and oh-how-convenient, he was but a year older than Miss Buttercup Utonium. Then I had to call in a favor from Princess, in whom I have found an unlikely friend. She caught the criminal easily enough, but I once again underestimated the level of emotion involved from my family. I'm so used to Buttercup not caring about anything, I forgot she could feel that deeply about anything. I had to make a decision. I could either continue doing what I knew was in the best interest of my sisters, my family, and my town, or I could apologize, wait, and let the chips fall where they may.
I had no plan, no money and no gang. I was in the dump with a powerpuff who decided, after a few weeks of me being back, that she was in love with me. I thought I loved her, but I also knew that I wasn't in the best place, mentally. Maybe after hearing all that stuff from Arturo, I latched on to the closest female. But I still caught myself watching her through my sunglasses, sure she couldn't see me doing it.
I felt worse than I ever had in my life. Torn up and aching and longing and crushed all at the same time. I wish I didn't feel anything. I really just wanted to be alone, but I needed Buttercup to help me avoid her psychotic sister.
She was still at the dump when I woke up.
"Uh... Do we need to be doing something?"
Her eyes widened as she looked at me. "Oh. Well... we need to find a place to go. Find jobs. After we figure out a way to make Blossom deal with us," she turned pink. "I mean, with what happened. After that, we can both go our separate ways. We won't-"
She kept talking, and I realized that she wasn't mad, or tired or whatever.
She was embarrassed.
I blew her off less than a minute after she told me... what she told me.
She was still going. "-but it wouldn't have to-"
I interrupted, "I'm sorry." Instead of waiting for her response, I thought about what just came out of my mouth. I only said sorry to the gang, and only when I meant it. I'd never said it to a girl before. Girls were strange people that were easy to charm into what I wanted, which was mostly stuff to help the gang survive, or get power. I never let a girl get close to me. Not that I had them lining up. Studies have pretty much proved that being green is a giant turnoff.
I was an idiot. I lost just about everything, and boom. Something in my life goes right and I screw it all up.
Buttercup hadn't moved since I apologized. I decided to stop being such an emotional wreck. I walked over to her, and grabbed her shoulders.
As I leaned in, she put up her hand. I thought she was trying to stop me. I stepped back, looking down. But she stepped with me, her hand still reaching. In one swift movement, she took the shades off my face, grabbed my shirt, and pulled my face to hers.
I knew Buttercup was leaving eventually. I saw it coming when she insisted on not sharing a room anymore. I liked sharing a room, even if we had to share a bed. The sound of my sisters sleeping was comforting. Blossom's soft snore and Buttercup's drool were reminders of love when I woke up from nightmares. I cried about that for a long time before I saw what was really happening. Buttercup was convincing herself she didn't need us. She was drifting away, and the harder I tried to make her stay, the more her feet dug in with each step she took. But the good thing about her missing something, is that she'll realize she found it (they sort of found each other, actually) and that she can have that and her family at the same time. As long as she still has a family to come back to.
I had to talk to Blossom...