He was beautiful.
Black hair and blue eyes, my personal favorite, with a sincere smile that you had to work out of him slowly, gradually. He liked comfort over fashion; I often caught him wearing the same sweater within the same week, something I would never have done in my glory days. He fed the alley cats, and they loved him for it, often congregating when he left the apartment building, it was like his own feline army.
I learned this all from the fire escape of my loft, watching as he entered and left the building nightly, doing who knows what. He could have been a prostitute for all I knew, but that didn't fit. His eyes were too gentle, his laugh not weighed down by the cruel realities of the world.
I liked camping out on the fire escape waiting for him, the teenage boy who lived in the apartment under mine. I wanted to talk to him. I was by no means unsociable, but I already knew what he'd say. He'd lived there for a while, meaning he'd overheard my past two relationships. He'd heard the door slams and the shouting and the rough sex, and I'd see it in those blue eyes the second he realized who I was. It was better to watch him from the fire escape then invite him into the studio full of walls covered in murals of my childhood. A set of parents, both dead, one by suicide, one by murder. Foster care. Art college, where I met the first true mistake of my life. I could still see Camille at my lowest points, lurking the shadows like a ghost, only she was long gone, bumming money from someone who was way richer than me.
I hear his laugh and lean out over the fire escape, watching as he approaches the main entrance, flanked by a girl and a boy. The girl is obviously his sister, different, but alike enough that it was easy to see. The blonde boy though, they were probably lovers, the way he smiled at him. The blonde looked normal though, if not a little cocky. I couldn't help but hate him a little. He got to bump shoulders with him, sling an arm around him and so many things I'd never get to do.
I'd never seen them make out, but he seemed modest, the kind to hide his blue eyes when you tried to kiss him in a public park, or blush when you told him all the things you had planned for the night. It was amazing that people like that still existed in this kind of world.
I settle back down on the fire escape when he disappears inside the building, too nervous to attempt to pass him by on a useless laundry run downstairs or a bit of shopping. It was the middle of the night anyways, it would seem weird if I ran into him now. If I ran into him ever.
I'm being selfish, I know, but I can't help but want to be reflected in those eyes. I know I won't ever have my own special smile, words of love or even that shy laugh he gives that blond-haired idiot that sometimes spends the nights. Better to let horror fill those eyes then disgust. Better to let my own eyes remain unseeing then to have to meet his. I'm sorry, love.
I left him something, a canvas, a painting. I wanted to paint him, but that'd be weird, wouldn't it? Instead I painted the New York skyline. I noticed him watching it one summer night a long time ago. It was the first time I saw him, the first and last time he'd come out to the fire escape. I was a mess that night, but I still remember those beautiful eyes staring up at me. I hate this feeling of longing, like a smoker hates smoking. You say you hate it and a part of you wants to stop, but a larger part wants you to keep going, until your lungs are ash and your throat crumbles with a touch.
I sit on the railing, my feet dangling over the edge. The metal is the cold, icy, and for a moment I don't know if it's that last shred of fear or the chill that freezes my body, but I think of him and I think of me, about how I'd never have a chance.
So I'll fall away into a land where we could have been together, where magic exists and I'm some impressive creature of the night that somehow charms you. Someone that can comfort all of your insecurities and save you instead of burdening you with my own twisted life.
"Alec," I sigh out the word, soft and cracked, but wonderful all the same, "I love you." I admit it aloud, feeling the freezing pain connecting me to the railing fade away. It felt surprisingly good.
"What?" I nearly fall forward, before turning around at the rapid steps of boots on metal. Alec appears, climbing the railing and staring at me with wide eyes. I think about falling, pushing myself off the railing so I don't have to look him at him, but I already am. I wait for the shock in his gaze to melt into disgust, maybe even a touch of pity, but all I see is concern as he steps forward, placing his hand over my own.
"Are you okay?" He asks, squeezing my hand tight, like he could yank me back if I tried to jump now.
"No," I couldn't lie to him, not when he was looking at me like that, like he actually cared.
"Oh..." He bit his lip, and everything in me tore in opposite directions. I wanted to jump. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to drag him into my bed and fuck him senseless. I wanted to crawl into his arms and stay there for a while, until everything that had coated me over the years like a layer of dirty ice melted away in the heat of his arms. "Did you want to talk about it? I can put some tea on." He offered, and I smiled.
I couldn't help it, not when he offered to make tea of all things. He should have been calling the cops, or backing away, because I was crazy as anything and had unknowingly professed my love to him. He cheeks flushed and my breath caught in my throat. He was so beautiful, it wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that he'd blown past my expectations, drawn by my limited imagination. He wasn't just beautiful, or lovely, or even angelic.
He was perfect, and he actually wanted to help me.
"I like tea." I said, because it was better than blurting out sentence upon sentence about how I liked him, how I loved him and I didn't even know him, how happy I was that he was even talking to me. A small whisper of doubt crawled through my mind, and I paused. "But I don't think your boyfriend would like me."
"Boyfriend?" Alec looked entirely confused. "I don't have a boyfriend." Confusion jingle in my head like coins in a glass jar.
"But, the blonde guy..."
"Jace?" Alec looked appalled, and mortification threw itself down on my shoulders. "He's my brother. Adopted, but still my brother."
"So...you're single?" I asked before I could help myself. I choked, realizing what I'd just said. I was literally going to die from embarrassment. With any luck, it'd leave less of a stain.
"Um, yeah." Alec answered, looking just as flustered. I can't believe it. I'm actually talking to him and I'm ruining it completely.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to freak you out." I apologized, because apologies usually work when not directed at an alcoholic stepfather.
"No, it's fine. I'm not freaked out at all." Alec answered, rubbing his free hand against his cheek. His other hand still held mine tightly.
"I was literally about to jump to my death and you're not freaking out?" I expected my coarseness to shock him, maybe even drive him away. I was terrified as to where this conversation was heading, but Alec didn't seem to mind at all. If anything his eyes filled with determination.
"No, because I've been there." He answered, and my mind went blank. He tugged up the sleeve of his sweater, he always wore long sleeves, revealing a long line of scars running up his forearm. I processed this slowly, even as Alec helped me off the ledge and down the fire escape to his landing. How could someone so perfect come from somewhere I was at? It didn't make sense.
"Are you okay?" I blurted out, just because I had to ask. No random alcoholic binges when I wasn't looking? No crying sprees in the middle of the night in his bed alone?
"I am now, because I talked to someone. Don't be afraid to talk to me." Alec answered, smiling at me. I felt my heart crack. My smile. I had my very own smile. "Now come on, it's cold out here." I watched as Alec climbed in through his window. He didn't understand how much a single smile meant to me. Or maybe he did, and that's why he did it.
If I went in there was a chance his kindness might turn into disgust and he would throw me back out. But there was also a chance that I'd get another smile, and something so little as that was enough to make me follow him into the warmth inside.
A/N: So I should be studying, but the Great Gatsby OST completely wrecked my feels and I've been binging on it into the night. Here's a little piece from overdosing on Out of Love by Florence & the Machine and Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Ray.
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