How We Love
I know this ship has sailed and sunk, but I'm getting back into these two all over again, so I hope there's a few holdouts that I can share this with!
That night after he broke up with Ian, Teddy punched a hole in his bedroom wall. It wasn't his finest hour, and he'd realize it in the morning, but then in that moment, he was so overwhelmed with pain that he had to loose it upon something. Thinking of Ian, thinking of the way he'd stood there like a child caught peering into the refrigerator in the early hours of the morning, he'd fallen to pieces on his bed. He only shed one tear, but it was the hardest tear he'd cried since his favorite Labrador had run away when he was seven years old. What had happened represented everything he hated about himself. He was a mess, too much for anyone, really. Even Ian, as kind as he had seemed, had run out of patience.
Sleep that night was nothing but tossing and turning and grappling at sheets that felt too little like another warm body.
It took three months before Teddy really picked himself up off the ground and began to not see Ian as the embodiment of his every insecurity. He still wanted to punch the other boy, which just left him feeling guilty for when he actually had, before Ian had deserved it. But aside from that, he was baffled by his feelings for Ian. He should hate him; he had every right to, after all. But sitting in Chemistry, catching Ian's eye, he didn't hate the other boy at all. He was hurt and mad still, sad and sort of dark, but he couldn't bring himself to hate Ian. Not with the way Ian looked at him now, so remorseful yet too frightened to actually do anything besides sit at his desk and try to transfer all of these feelings to Teddy, try to get him to understand everything he was feeling.
Of course Teddy didn't know any of this, not when he was sitting there trying to discern between emotions that felt so dissonant that they left him incapable of sorting out what anyone else could be trying to get him to see. So when the bell rang every day, Ian watched Teddy go, wanting to grab his arm and say he was sorry a million times and to plead with him to take him back. Instead, he watched him go before gathering himself up and continuing on with his day, distressed by his stagnation and yet incapable of getting the courage to do anything to change it.
It was six months before Teddy sorted out his feelings. It hit him the same way he imagined a bullet would feel hitting him in the shoulder. Except this alerted all of his senses and stole his breath from his chest as he stood there in the shower on a damp Sunday morning. His skin crawled, itching with the revelation, and he clawed shampoo from his hair and toweled off because he had to get out of here, had to do something with this newfound knowledge.
So that's how he found himself pounding on Ian's door, jacket pulled tight around him as wind made the rain dance around him. It took longer than one minute for Ian took open the door, long enough for Teddy to rethink his decision three times over before deciding to stay precisely where he was.
Ian's expression was decidedly shock mingled with something else Teddy couldn't distinguish, white t-shirt and sweats signaling the boy's decision against venturing outside that day.
"Teddy, what are you…"
"I love you." He proclaimed. He was sure he looked like a bent tree, shoulders fastened firm as if bolts held them in place, head down to avoid pelts of water in the face. He looked anything but a hero, but he felt like he'd just declared victory over Great Britain. He felt tall and strong and free, even if Ian looked pummeled by his words.
"What?" Ian's voice was like a whisper in the wind, carried away before it could really reach Teddy's ears.
"You hurt me and I was so mad at you for that. You should have been patient and you should have just given me time, but people make mistakes and I hurt you more than once so I'm good with calling it even, because people make mistakes and I know you're sorry. I see it every day at school and all I'm not apologizing but I wished I'd realized I loved you sooner, Ian."
And they stood there. Teddy had never spoken so many words at once in his life and all that they did was stand there. But he would stand there all night if it meant that Ian got to hear him say those words.
Ian grabbed his arm, pulling him inside and closing the door behind them. He stood there in the entryway of Ian's house, the sound of the rain a dull hum against the silence of the moment. Ian leaned against the door, looking at Teddy as he shed his jacket and put it on the coat rack, Ian's eyes running up and down once before sighing and coming undone. He didn't cry, but there was something in him that broke and it made Teddy close the space between them and hug Ian close to him. Ian just buried his face in Teddy's chest. He didn't return the hug. Teddy wasn't sure he could.
"You wanna say something?" Teddy asked after several moments passed and he felt Ian trying to gather himself together. Ian pulled out of his grasp and kept his head lowered.
"I didn't think you'd ever give me another chance." He said. Teddy was thrown by the words, because wasn't it him that should have been hurting for six months? He was the one who should've been in a thousand pieces on the floor and he was the one who should sound this messed up. Not Ian. Ian shouldn't be the one who sounds like he just got a breath of air after being underwater for thirty minutes.
"I love you, Ian." Teddy said. He would say it again and again if he needed to, because it was this concept that he hadn't understood all these years, jumping into bed with girls without really feeling much at all. It was this life-changing event and he felt like his life was changed forever, but Ian was still in pieces when he should be happy. After seeing Ian slowly ripping at the seams, all Teddy wanted was to see him smile.
"Teddy." Ian looked up, and Teddy didn't know what to feel, looking into his eyes. "I…I love you too. So much you don't even understand. But I hurt you, more than anyone should be allowed to hurt someone else."
"I hurt you too, though, Ian. I hurt you more than once, but you didn't give up on me. So I'm not going to give up on you."
He didn't know what else Ian needed to hear. It was ironic, really, with the tables turned and him being the one trying to force Ian back into his life when it was him that had jettisoned Ian from it in the first place.
"Teddy, I just…"
Teddy didn't really know what he was thinking. Maybe it was that he wasn't thinking at all. Really, showing up at Ian's house after not speaking to him for six months hadn't involved a ton of thinking as it was, so why start now? That's the conclusion he came to as he grabbed Ian and shoved him against the door, smashing their lips together. He had thought about things for half a year, for longer than that really, and he was done with it.
Ian's hands fastened to his arms and Teddy wondered briefly if Ian was trying to push him away, but then Ian's legs spread and Teddy fit a knee between them, one of Ian's hands running over the back of Teddy's shirt, fingers clutching fabric. Teddy kissed him harder, pushing his tongue into Ian's mouth and growling with satisfaction at the groan he elicited from the other boy.
It took ten minutes to shed their clothes and end up on the couch in Ian's living room. The other boy was like clay and water in Teddy's hands, moving beneath his touch but making him feel so much that he couldn't help but feel like there were things slipping between the cracks. The arch of Ian's back, his teeth scraping Teddy's shoulder, the way he let out a breath and said Teddy's name at the same time; it gave meaning to things that Teddy was resigned to never understanding.
He basked in the way Ian's fingers felt running over his chest as they laid there, a blanket pulled haphazardly over them. He tried to memorize it, the way it felt after so long of not knowing, not allowing himself to feel this much.
"Would you be pissed if I offered up another 'I'm sorry'?" Ian asked.
Teddy shrugged, closing his eyes and taking in the sound of a clap of thunder.
"You don't need to say it anymore. Consider it a past life."
Ian sighed, warm breath ghosting over Teddy's face as the other boy straddled him. Teddy opened his eyes and found Ian's face centimeters from his. He smiled and leaned up, kissing him, putting his hands on Ian's thighs beneath the blanket.
Ian pulled back and massaged Teddy's chest with his palms. Teddy fought the urge to flip them over and go another round.
"Is it really this easy? Picking up and moving on like everything is okay."
"Everything is okay. I know it has a reputation for being pretty shit, but sometimes I'd like to think love is easy." Teddy replied.
It took him a moment, but then Ian smiled, the way he used to smile when they had been able to be together. It made Teddy forget his thoughts, and then Ian lay down over Teddy, really only about half his size around. Teddy ran a hand through Ian's hair and closed his eyes, trying to memorize the way the rain sounded and the way Ian's heartbeat felt against his bare skin. He thought about it and yeah, maybe sometimes love wasn't so hard.