Author's Note: This is what happens when I should be studying. Just a quick something for you guys to look at while I'm busy with finals and packing to go home for the summer. Look! Tom thoughts! All for you!

It's strange. Sitting here in the darkness, watching in the dark like some kind of animal. I suppose I should be used to spending my time watching in the darkness, but it's still bizarre no matter how much I try to convince myself that it isn't. Sitting awake in bed watching Jac sleep feels like some kind of weirdo blasphemy, and that's the strange part. You'd think that after over a year of…whatever this has been, is, that I'd be used to it, but I'm not. I'm not used to having someone where there used to be no one. It's really nice though. Don't misunderstand me. I like the closeness, almost crave it sometimes. Fuck, I do crave attention. The physical and the emotional closeness. So close that I could reach out and touch it. And I really could too. If I really wanted to.

She's sleeping on her back, and I like that a lot. A whole lot. I know it's strange, but I just really like it. I like the trust in me it implies, and the view isn't bad either. Her stomach up to the sky, the city lights through the window making intricate shadows on her face, stomach, and breasts as if I were in some noir film…I reach out my hand to touch, but she stirs, and I think better of it, pulling my hand back to my body.

But why? I'm allowed to do that aren't I? I'm allowed to touch, to investigate. Physical attraction is one thing, but being able act on it is another thing entirely. Something I'm still so peculiar about. Yeah, I like her boobs, her hair, her eyes, the way she kisses me on the cheek when I'm fussing over nothing and tells me that I'm being stupid. I am. But I suppose that last one can't exactly be called a purely physical thing can it?

Weird things turn me on these days, and that's fucking frustrating. Reminds me of being a teenager, and just the thought of girls was enough to make me red in the face and awkward, but I guess I never completely grew out of that phase.

Hell, I remember that stupid wedding that I met her at. A few jokes, some dancing, and a pretty face. Simple stimulation and nothing else. A purely physical reaction to a stimulus. The same thing you get from staring at the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated for long enough. If you're not careful you're gonna have to change your shorts. Even when I was a kid I didn't like the idea of that all too much. Maybe I was just weird. Maybe that's not even a "maybe statement". I really didn't like the damn thing even if it was attached to me. Unless I was taking a piss I'd ignore it as best I could, and I was mortified any time it decided to go against my wishes and revealed feelings I felt like hiding. It's no wonder I still get nervous about it.

The evening I met her I had thoroughly convinced myself that it had been nothing but a Sports Illustrated reaction to the way she dressed and called me cute. Of course I had already beaten it into my brain with the assistance of society and medication that any such reaction to people on my part was something that my poor, frazzled, mind couldn't handle. The last time I'd felt the Sports Illustrated effect things had not panned out nearly as well as I'd hoped they would have. Feelings of that nature were far out of my favor, out of my depth. I'd wanted to stuff those feelings into a dark corner somewhere, and just forget about them. Convince myself that they didn't exist. I wasn't supposed to have them, see them, or experience them. I wasn't ready for so much stimulation, and there was always this ever-looming shame.

The fear that I'll end up doing something I'll regret.

The shame and the uncertainty persist even now…has it been almost three years since that night? Maybe less, but definitely more than two. The night I am obligated by society never to forget. Never to live past. Never to be forgiven for. Never to be seen as a person of value because of it.

Even before then the idea of sex and sexuality had made me uncomfortable. I didn't even like my own dick as I've mentioned. How was I supposed to handle the fact that other people had similar urges and wants that I felt so strange about? Everyone was so in charge of it, and then there was me and my confusion. What was I going to do? Ask someone? Seek guidance? Of course not. How could I say anything? I was already different. Why should I have given anyone another reason to label me as odd?

My obvious discomfort regarding such matters was something Jac used to tease me about, as nicely as one can be teased. It happens with much less frequency these days.

She's so patient with me, and I can't imagine why. Dealing with my mood swings and my insecurities about just about everything in existence. My constant need to be reassured of my own worth. I always get so paranoid. Like I'm going to suddenly wake from a dream, or even worse that I'll do something that will make her turn away from me, hate me if she doesn't already. To have had something and to have done something stupid enough to lose it. I can feel my stomach tightening up at just the thought of it.

I'm also paranoid because…well, to be completely honest I do have some strange scrap of vanity in me, but I do think my worries are warranted. Sometimes I just look like plain shit, and I know my attitude doesn't help. I'm skinny, pasty, sharp-toothed, and a little bit furry. And of course there's the one-eyed thing that is paired up with my occasionally lacking depth perception. Why would anyone go for that unless they were just humoring me?

But of course she's always ready and strangely willing to tell me again and again that I stress and fixate far too much and that she really does think that I'm "cute", but I don't know. I wouldn't call whatever this look I have going as "cute". I think I scowl a bit too much for that, but perhaps that's just the misplaced and confused masculinity talking.

My "learning curve", and Jac so nicely put it, when it came to sex also took a rather uncomfortable toll on my already unstable view of myself not only as a man, but also as a person of a certain age. My anxiety toward the act was yet another unfortunate remnant of my teenage awkwardness that had decided to tag along with me into adulthood. I just can't understand Jac's willingness to stick around as well and her ability to be so patient. I cannot force myself to comprehend the fact that she thinks that I'm…that I'm what? That I'm worth it? That I'm not a hopeless cause? A waste of time?

I can't imagine what it's like to have to, to choose to, deal with me, so convinced of my own worthlessness. That and I have enough self-awareness to know that my first few attempts at sex were lackluster at best. Not exactly anything that would likely entice a potential partner into staying around unless they had a thing for disappointment, pain, and apologies.

So many fucking apologies.

I always come back to that element. The sexual one. My inability to think of it as what it is without having to have to keep myself from blushing and fumbling over my words is a testament to my immaturity and potentially my naivety. I have improved though, at least I think so anyway. Jac tells me that I have, and I have no reason to doubt what she tells me, and I would like to think I have a pretty good idea of what she thinks of my…abilities or whatever based on my own observations. I'm nervous but not unobservant. Still, my paranoia is consistent in its persistence. What if she is just humoring me? I mean…I like it. Hell, it's fucking fantastic on my end, but I don't know.

I guess I just wish I was more romantic or more charming or something like that. Like in books. I'm terrified of my ideas of just what romantic is though. What I find to be good in theory and noble is never as good, if good at all, in practice. And don't even get me started on noble…I found that out in the hardest of ways. I do try to change things up from time to time, but apart from different locations I'm kind of a one trick pony. I want to be better. I want to be better because I know she puts up with me, and I just don't know what to do to show her I appreciate that.

It makes my head spin. All these thoughts and insecurities brought on by a single person. A single person who is sleeping soundly as I sit here and try to unscramble the shit that occupies the empty spaces of my mind. Trying to make them coherent and sensible, assuming that it's even possible. Jackie is just sleeping, and man, I just want to touch her. I want to touch something solid so that I know this is real. I can analyze and speculate all I want, but what point is there to any of this if all of these feelings and thoughts are nothing but a stupid fantasy I've conjured up in my twisted head.

I reach out my hand again, carefully, keeping it just above her skin so that I can feel the warmth that she's giving off, but I hover so that I don't touch the source. I am just so very afraid of shattering it because if it is a dream I'd like to keep on dreaming, at least for a little bit longer. It is one of the nicest dreams I've had in a very long time.

Slowly I move my hand. Up her stomach, over her breasts, my hand hangs in the air, so close, and I can feel my face and ears warm up from nerves and a primitive need to touch that's rooted deep within my mind. So very, very close, and as my hand reaches her face my fingers graze her cheek, and I can't tell if it's accidental or affectionate. Accidentally affectionate? That'd be an accurate description if nothing else. Either way it felt nice, and I can see that she felt it, her eyes opening slowly. She's awake now, but I leave my hand where it is.

"Can't sleep?" she asks, sleepily bringing her hand to touch mine lightly. I shake my head and mumble something, and she smiles up at me, rubbing her thumb across the back of my hand. "You know, I think it'd be easier if you tried lying down. Just a thought." I try to frown, but it's no use. I'm not upset, just exhausted, and her advice is genuine. So I slide down until my head hits the pillow, and it's cool and smooth, and I feel my mind starting to become cloudy. "Better?" she asks.

I nod as I stare up at the ceiling. "Yeah, I was just sitting up and wondering about things. That's all really."

"Whenever you think it's never a 'that's all' situation," she yawns as she rolls over, resting her head on my chest, and there's something comforting in the weight I feel. Dreams don't have weight. They can't have weight because they aren't real.

"I know, but I mean it. Just couldn't sleep, promise."

"Alright, if you say so," she replies. She must be tired. That's what I figure anyway. Normally she wouldn't let me off the hook so easily. Then again, maybe she just trusts me enough. Maybe. Her fingers are tapping my stomach idly, and though it kind of tickles it feels nice. Skin to skin. Simple stimulation. Basic physical contact. Jac's soon back to sleep, breath warm and even against my skin, hand now limp on top of me. Comforting weight.

My limbs feel leaden, and my mind seems quieter than it was before, but sleep still does not come despite how badly I want it to. The anxiety from before has started to dissipate though, much more subdued. No matter how much I agonize and ponder and be a general pain in the ass I still have someone here. I'm not perfect by any means, pretty fucked up really, but even so I managed to find someone who wants me in the way my young mind had fantasized about back in the days of fairytales and their stories of good, sir, knights and their fair maidens.

The again, I realize that I must ask if it was I who did the finding or if the fact of the matter was that it was me that was found.

I was not looking for anything, avoiding it to be completely honest. I had whole-heartedly accepted that I would never again be seen as a human being. I had given up that right the moment I had taken it away from others. I thought there was some kind of horrible mark on me almost like there had been on Cain. An off-putting stink that would warn others to "keep away". "That thing is dangerous". I thought that anyone would be able to sense it as keenly as I could. It was just a fact.

And yet she hadn't taken heed of this obvious warning to the entire world. This horrible stink that no one could ignore. I was afraid that she couldn't possibly have noticed, that something had prevented her from noticing my mark. Who would have come to me willingly?

Apparently there are just a few people in this world that would.

Maybe I'm thinking too hard. Maybe Jac's right when she tells that I think too much. Maybe I should just count myself as extremely lucky that regardless of who found who, of what lead to all of this, that I have someone to rest her head on my chest, kiss my cheek, and to say my name in a million different ways. Isn't that really all I wanted to begin with? To feel wanted?

I guess so, but the way all of this came to pass isn't at all what I had imaged back when I would lay on my back and daydream as the clouds floated overhead. It is nothing like the ideas I'd fancied when I still lived in the land of sunshine, vineyards, and discomfort. There is no white picket fence for me. There is no yard with a neat, little, house with flower boxes. No kids and a dog and a friendly mailman, but I really don't want to complain. I'm really not complaining. I don't even know if I want those things anymore. I merely think that it's interesting. That's all. The difference between my fantasies and my realities, something I've never been very good with.

I pinch my arm just to be safe, and to my relief nothing changes save for a new soreness from having intentionally hurt myself. I'm here. This is real. Jac's real too, and she's sleeping so soundly, and that…that's just fantastic. I still can't say it's perfect, but shit, it's fantastic to have something in a space that once had nothing. Filled with words, actions, and reactions. I don't know what it is I'm trying to say. Assigning words to something that I've never had to describe.

I guess I could say that I'm happy.