to be adored.
His eyes meet hers, and for once she isn't afraid of the emotion there.
Once upon a time, all she found there was an inconvenience. Feelings she didn't want him to have for her. His gaze would bore right through her. She would avoid his eyes, then, because she didn't want to encourage him.
How long did that go on? Even she wasn't sure. He would look at her less and less, which both delighted and depressed her. He was her best friend, she didn't want him to be hurt by feelings she'd never return (and she was so positive in that, back then). But at the same time, she missed feeling pretty, elegant, perfect, lovely, and all the other things he'd said more with his eyes than his lips (though both had declared her beauty).
She hadn't loved him, but she had come to love his love for her.
Eventually, he had nearly stopped looking at her in that heart-stopping, nerve-wracking way. He looked more at other girls, but never in that same way. She noticed. And every once in a while, when he thought she wasn't paying attention, he would send her that look again and her day would be brightened at once. She still occupied a certain place in his heart, and though girlfriends came and went, he didn't look at any of them like he looked at her, those times.
He never said their names that way, either. "Carly," he would say, especially back then. He'd pronounce it slowly, carefully, gently. He treated it like a precious object. "Sabrina" he said without a second thought, not carelessly but not carefully, either. "Patrice". "Sam".
She hated to look at them together, not because of their happiness (because when her two best friends were happy, how could she not feel the same?) but because she was afraid to see him looking at Sam. Still, she looked, because it was better to know and accept it.
Acceptance never had to come. She always waited, but his looks never quite reached that standard. She began to wonder if he'd simply forgotten how to do that moonstruck gaze, if it wasn't a lack of feelings but simply a changed Freddie at the heart of the problem that was only in her eyes. She doubted that he knew.
When they finally ended their trainwreck of a relationship, it was like she was letting out a breath. Suddenly, her claim to Freddie, whatever that claim was, seemed legitimate again. She felt secure, once more the most important person in his life.
But there was more than that. She hadn't admitted it to herself when they were together, couldn't bear to, but when they broke her feelings came pouring out like a dam had broken inside her. She had to buy a notebook to scribble down all these confusing emotions she hated to name. Anger. Bitterness. Jealousy.
Sometimes, then, she'd dream about brown eyes and the feel of his lips and that would scare her more than anything.
He began to look at her again, not as much as before, and much more subtly, but she saw it. In class, she'd see him in the corner of her eye and her breath would catch and time would stop.
Maybe now she loved more than just his love.
And today, for once, his gaze doesn't scare her. He is looking at her with all the emotion that can possibly fit into a single expression and she doesn't mind. She wonders when she started looking back. It was before today, she thinks, but she can't pinpoint when exactly.
He smiles, and she reddens. Nothing will be said today, she's too embarrassed and he's too unsure. But maybe tomorrow.