It’s not built to be fair, Kenn! That’s the whole point of history… isn’t it? You get the shit, you gotta deal with the shit, roll with the punches, you know? Am I even making sense? I’m not making sense, but I don’t care, you made your bed, you gotta lie in it. Holy shit… I’m not?! And all this time I thought I was special and unique! Actually, it’s only the vibrant ginger part that gets to me cause I’m pretty sure I can rock a seashell bra if I ever needed to. I’m pretty sure about that too, yeah, but one day it’s going to happen for you and when it does, you’re going to regret not crying for so long, it’s really cathartic. It really, really was. I was conflicted between how wrong it is that I’m just letting her get away with what she did, but on the other hand, she is pretty so when you think about it, was it really that bad? [He shrugged his shoulders, honestly not at all worried or burdened by the whole thing. His relationship with Autumn happened and ended, they were still friends and now his relationship with Kennedy was happened. Telling her that he didn’t want them to be friends would be nothing short of shooting himself in the foot. He didn’t see the need to delve into it further so he dropped the topic altogether, feeling that it had ended on the point that it should: not interested.] When you say things like that, I sort of feel like I have to keep doing it now. Not that I’m against it, no, don’t get met wrong. I mean, it appeals to the masochistic sadist side of me that I’ve never dared to tap into until now, so thank you. [He gave her arms a squeeze as some form of comfort he was hoping to give. He wasn’t sure if the gesture was the right way to go about it, probably an embrace would be better, but he wasn’t sure just where their line was when it came to being public about their affection. Still, his hands found their way to her waist, fingers surreptitiously digging at her skin against the fabric of her shirt as he looked her in the eyes.] You don’t mean that, I didn’t have to lower shit cause there’s really nothing to lower. What fucking standards are we even talking about, where the hell did you even get that idea? You make it sound like I just randomly pointed at you in a crowd and decided to get with you just for the hell of it. There were absolutely no lowered or raised or whatever standards at all, we just… work, you know? And you were sort of… adorable but in like a, uh… feisty way when I went over to your house, and you offered me pasta that turned into pasta so… where am I even going with this, I honestly… don’t know anymore… [He clamped his lips shut, both to stop from embarrassing himself further by rambling on and from possibility shifting into something that could be worse. The conversation had taken such a swift turn, he couldn’t even tell anymore if he was the primary cause of it or if this was an inevitability. As if he didn’t already have a variety of emotions bubbling in his stomach, guilt now also found its way into the race and had easily taken the lead after what she had to say. He was a dick, he really was such a dick and he was blowing this, he was already blowing this just when it was showing signs of being more than he’d dared himself to hope. It was as though he could see her peeling away her own layers in front of him just so she can bare her raw emotions to him… and he could only picture it because he was familiar with the sensation. He shuddered at the thought that he was having her pull down her walls for him when he wasn’t sure yet if he was worth the risk for her. He sighed, a hand flying to his face and pinching at the bridge of his nose while the other stayed on her waist, refusing to leave lest she do the same herself once the point of contact between them was lost] Fuck, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… I didn’t mean to pressure you, I don’t want to pressure you at all, that’s the last things I wanted. I don’t want you to start questioning everything about you based on what you think should happen or how this should go… I mean, let’s face it, we’re nowhere near following the conventional path, we took a detour at right after the starting line, it’s fucking ridiculous. Don’t worry about saying anything offensive, I just… I’ve got temper issues, it comes and goes, it’s irrational because I’m stupid and god, it doesn’t matter, okay? Don’t pay attention to it. I’m assuming here that you won’t say something really, really offensive intentionally to get me to leave you alone because, I’m assuming again… that you don’t want me to leave you? Because I won’t. I won’t leave, trust me. Throw me all the shit, I’m damn sure I’ve had worse. You’re gonna have to copy what everyone else I’ve ever known did and do the leaving yourself if you want to get out of this hell hole you’ve signed up for, alright? I’ve gotten really comfortable on being the one who gets left behind, don’t try to steal my thunder, Kenn.
But this rule book pertains to me! I’m just going to make my own rule book and if you don’t like it, then just remember this conversation when you wouldn’t share the actual established rules with me. We are way, way past the point of sense. I’ll lie in my bed if you join me. Nope, sorry. Just an average person with legs like the rest of us. If you’re gonna make a claim like that, I’m gonna need you to deliver and let me see you in a seashell bra. It’s not like I’ve done it on purpose. It just never happened. Should I ever cry, I’ll be sure to immediately report back on my experience. You brave, brave soldier. [She smiled again, albeit briefly. Something about this conversation weighed so heavily on her heart, perhaps because it’d been a long time since she’d allowed anything to weight on it at all.] You’re completely obligated, I’m glad you’re aware of that. I must say, I’m pretty damn proud if I brought that particular side out. Torturing you with kisses, just doing my part. [Kennedy allowed herself to relax a little, only because his touch reminded her that he really was physically there. She would never be able to prove if he was there mentally, or emotionally; that was left entirely up to trust. But the gentle pressure of his fingertips reminded her that goddamit, he wanted to be standing there and that made her slowly increasing heart rate settle a bit.] I don’t know, doesn’t everyone have them? I know it’s that simple, I honestly do, but I freak myself out anyway because I feel like I’m just going to do everything wrong because I’m not… really much of a typical teenage girl but again that seems to be why you like me so. Have I mentioned I’m not as smart as people give me credit for? No, no, I don’t care where you’re going with it, it makes sense anyway and that was also very cute. [There was a reason Kennedy didn’t talk about her feelings and this was exactly it. She didn’t have the vocabulary for the way she felt when he looked at her, or the fear that gripped her like a vice when she let herself get lost in her own thoughts that this could all go horribly wrong at any moment.] No don’t— please. Don’t apologize. I’m already breaking that promise I made to you. [She hoped he knew which one she meant, when they were in her kitchen the first time. They were tiptoeing around the subject that for some reason they’d discovered this strange connection between them, and she kept worrying about it, and she did it again, just now. She’d promised she wouldn’t, and she was doing it anyway.] I’ve never had to keep promises before. I’ll get it, I swear. I was questioning everything about me long before you, now I just have more of a reason to want to… figure out the fucking answers. God, no. Not in the slightest. [She covered his hand that he’d, thankfully, kept on on her waist.] That’s the very last thing I want is for you to go anywhere. I didn’t sign up for a hell hole, I signed up for something… much bigger than what I anticipated and honestly it scares the hell out of me, but I can’t imagine not having this now. I’m no stranger to people leaving me either, though they didn’t physically leave. So if we’re both so opposed to being the one who leaves, that means we’re okay, right? I don’t mean to do this, to unload shit on you all the time but it’s like you’re the only person who can handle it and the only person who cares and that’s probably what makes me so… freaked. About everything. I can’t fuck this up for myself, because now that you’re here, I don’t think I can go back to being lonely. [Exhaling slowly, she closed her eyes for a moment before looking at him again, something unreadable in her eyes.] So…. should I avoid pasta being on the menu so as to avoid innuendos?
Let me think about it…. no. If you don’t know about the rule book by now, then that just means you won’t know about the rule book ever. I am someone without their own voice. Isn’t that the plot in Little Mermaid? Chick who loses her voice? If there isn’t going to be any equality in this relationship, then why do I even bother? I always figured we cry because it’s in us to do it. Like instinct. I think I’ve only cried a total of handful in my life, but I could be forgetting some moments. No, I don’t like her. At all. To tell you the truth, she held me at gun point and told me to date her, it was very traumatizing, I still have nightmares about it. [he refused the shiver that wanted to run down his spine at the mention of nightmares, a little appalled with himself that he couldn’t bring to mention it before but was now joking about it so casually] No, no, it’s fine. I mean, as long as you two don’t gossip about me or compare notes, then I’ll take it. [he placed both his hands on her upper arms, rubbing up and down them as he did before closing the small distance between them and placing a kiss on her forehead] It is a huge burden. It’s obvious how much I don’t like it at all, really. But I still keep doing it. Yeah? No, what is it? What were you gonna say? [he wanted to drop the subject, he could see that she clearly didn’t want to dive any deeper into it when she cut herself off, but that ‘i’m not sure what made you’ lingered too much for him. and it could be continued with so many things, he knew he’d hate himself for not finding out which one of many possibilities was behind the lucky door] Don’t send them to me! Then I’d feel weird like I have to measure up to what you write and it’ll be awkward and… you know, there’s already a fair amount of, uh… want between us so we don’t really need the encouragement. [the way that she recoiled from him dwelt on his mind just as much as own surprise at how attuned he was to the distance between them and the smallest changes in it did. he felt as though he didn’t really know how close they were until she’d made a move back, and however subtle it was, he still caught it. and that change in the atmosphere was almost palpable, he wanted to curse at himself for the way it changed instantly. still, he didn’t like it; didn’t like the way that she moved away like he’d just grown a third eye on his forehead or had said something incredibly wrong or worse, was on the verge of doing something dangerous to her. surely he wasn’t that bad? he was bad, true, but not on the level that would scare her too… or maybe he’d just been hoping that was the case but was now finally being proven wrong. he shrugged his shoulders, trying to put on a nonchalant expression now but failing terribly] I mean it makes sense because if you had, then maybe you wouldn’t be here with me anymore. I’m not exactly picturing that the moment I asked you to be my girlfriend, you ran to his study and told him about it, this isn’t middle school. No, no, we have to do it now… or would you rather he just not know at all then, I don’t know, he’d catch me one day making out with you in your kitchen and suddenly I’m being shoved out the door? I’m not upset. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not upset.
That’s not fair! I’m new to this whole girlfriend thing, nobody initiated me or anything. I demand to be given equal treatment as girlfriends of the past. Yes, essentially, though in the actual book it’s not quite as happy go lucky. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not a vibrant ginger with a fishtail and seashell bra. I know it must be shocking. There’s plenty of equality in reality but when I’m taunting you, now, that wouldn’t work. I’m sure you’ve had more reason to cry than I have anyway. Perhaps I’ve had a few things to cry over but maybe I’m too stubborn even for my own tear ducts. I’m sure that’s exactly what happened. Really, it must have been an incredibly trying time for you, I apologize for not being more understanding. [So this wasn’t so bad, not yet at least. It felt like they were sliding into a rhythm with each other, and minus a few upsets along the way, she really did feel optimistic that maybe this was the thing in her life that could just… work. For once.] I have no interest in that. I’m not jealous or anything and I don’t feel weird when I’m around her, but that’s because it’s kept… vague. I’m not interested in anything about you two. [Kennedy closed her eyes as he leaned in close, smiling softly, a smile that she was finding was reserved for only him. Nobody else had managed to pull that sort of gentle contentment out of her yet.] I can tell. You’ll keep doing it, right? Even if it makes your life so much more difficult and you clearly hate it. It’s nothing, really, I just— I was just going to say that I’m not sure what made you lower your standards, but I’m glad you did. Is all. Yeah. [Did they have to get into this? She didn’t want to combat her low self-esteem, because she generally tended to not acknowledge that it was low in the first place. She had years of practice in carrying out her confidence, her sureness in herself a creation of her own will because she needed something to be sure about in the first place.] It’s not like that, oh my God just. Why did we get on this topic? Let’s pretend I don’t write starting now. [She listened to him, then let silence fall for a long moment. It was ridiculous how… easily she reacted to him, let her instincts take over when she relied on logic pretty much all the time. She hadn’t wanted to step away, but she did anyway, wanting to step back from what she’d managed to convince herself to be a demolition, something crumbling to the ground. She knew it wouldn’t benefit them if she remained this terrified of doing the tiniest thing to drive him away, but it was so hard to fight it.] Sorry, I— fuck. I don’t know how to do any of this and before you tell me I’m overthinking, because trust me I’m aware, you just need to understand that while this [she gestured between them] isn’t hard for me, this [she gestured to her head now, indicating her flurry of thoughts] is. I want to do everything about us right, but I don’t know what right is. And I have faith in you, and us, I really do, but me separately, not so much. It’s stupid, God, I know it’s so stupid, but everything about our conversations is so out of the comfort zone I’ve been hanging out in for the past… three or four years. And I love it, but I’m also wondering if I’m going to end up saying something really, really offensive because that’s what I do, I offend people so they leave me alone, and then you’re gone and I…? I’m not sure what I’d do actually. So I guess I just wanted my dad to find out on his own so that when the dinner time comes, he can spend his time being angry at me for lying, and not you for just existing in general. And what it all boils down to is that I really want to make sure I’m worth the shit he’s going to give you.
I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to call yourself a great girlfriend, I think it says somewhere in the rule book that that’s a line that’s gotta come from me to you. But hey, thanks for the help… I guess. Don’t… Why? Why are you allowed to rain on my parades but I’m not allowed to rain on yours, huh? Where’s the justice, Kenn? Where? You mean, why do we cry at all or why do we cry in terms of this relationship? You… like Autumn… and you’re friends with her… did I really hear those words come out of your mouth or am I hallucinating? We’re talking about the same Autumn, right? [looks awkward for a moment but quickly recovers] Well… nothing wrong with a guy’s girlfriend being friends with his ex. That’s definitely not at all awkward or weird for me in any way whatsoever, I’m definitely not uncomfortable with that in any capacity. [yelps in pain, an audible ‘ow!’ before his hand instinctively flies to his ear, rubbing at it furiously with a scowl on his lips] What the hell? Fine, deny them then, we’ll see who lasts longer. I can do with the break anyway, my back’s screaming bloody murder on me. Fair point, yeah, but… yeah, good point. [he almost wanted to go on and say that it was different, that this was different from anything before but saying something without really knowing why or how didn’t feel like it’ll mean anything - he just felt that it was, like gut instinct; this was kennedy after all, and explanations always had to be a thing or else it didn’t really seem to stand. or at least that’s how he perceived her to be.] “Not all of it is like that.” I’ve heard all I need to hear, you don’t have to explain any further, I am satisfied with your answer. Metaphors are weird though. If you got something important to say, just get straight to the point, don’t drag it out and make it complicated. [all of a sudden he felt himself deflate, his smile disappearing fast and he knew it was because of what she said next; he was well aware of the nervousness he felt at the idea of meeting with her parents and while he didn’t like it, he wasn’t against it either because he knew it was necessary - if his own were still alive, he’d have done the same, he was sure. he already was worried, but her words made it feel like the worry was getting forcefully shoved down his throat. harmless, sure, but her father being a dick - about him, about them - made him worry that he’d be the one who wasn’t harmless at all. it wasn’t as though he was well known for his patience and good temper either. he swallowed hard in the hopes that it’ll take his worries down with it and bury it deep inside him, but already there was a hint of confusion and panic and anger and something close to hurt in his features, his words coming out slightly cold and cutting.] You… haven’t told him we’re dating. Makes sense. And he’s a dick. But he’s harmless. I haven’t seen someone who’s a dick be harmless so that should be fun to witness.
I knew there was a rule book! I told Autumn that I thought there was a rule book that someone wasn’t telling me about and I was right and I demand to be shown these aforementioned rules. There is no justice here unless it’s the kind I blog about and since you’re not an oppressed woman, member of the LGBT community, or just someone without their own voice, you’re shit outta luck. At all. I haven’t cried because of you…. yet. So that’s not really on the forefront of my mind. Yes, we’re talking about the same Autumn. Clearly you like her too, or you would have never dated her, so you can’t fool me. [she grins mischievously, tempted to wink but resisting the urge] I’m sure you’re fine. Wait— are you actually uncomfortable though? Because that’s pretty much the opposite of anything I want you to ever feel because of me. [she pretended to pout, crossing her arms over her chest] You act like kissing me is this huge burden. You know, I can’t help how tall I am. Or short. I only make good points. I’m not sure what made you— you know what, never mind. I’ve done enough self deprecating for today. [She’d meant to say that she wasn’t sure what made him lower his standards but they didn’t need to get into that particular debate. Not right now.] I’m just telling you the truth! I could send you some of the more… R rated stuff but then I feel like it would escalate into something way past writing. Which actually might not be a bad thing. I’m feeling a lot of things I don’t know how to identify with simple words, though. Give me time and I’m sure it’ll be less complicated. [She had said something really, really wrong, and somewhere along the line he’d gotten… angry? No, maybe not angry. But his face wasn’t soft anymore, instead hardened, like whatever she’d said wrong to hurt him was chiseled directly into the skin. When he spoke, his tone was almost harsh, and though she thought she only mentally retreated, she caught herself taking a step backwards as well.] You say makes sense like I haven’t out of some… embarrassment. I just don’t talk to him, is all. We never see each other and I’m not really interested in sharing my life with him. If you don’t want to do it, then you don’t have to I was just trying to— I don’t know. Just forget it, okay? It doesn’t matter if it’s just going to upset you.
What, me? No, I’m an angel. That’s flattering, I think. But I’m glad you like me because it would be awkward liking you if you didn’t like me.
Oh, really?? That’s so cute! He was one of my first, too, so it’s a miracle he didn’t turn me off from dating…kidding, but you two seem so good together, which we clearly weren’t. There’s not much learning to do, I’m sure you’re already a wonderful girlfriend.
I don’t believe in angels. It is. I guess I just give people a chance more easily than in the past, or whatever.
Cute is one word for it, I suppose. This is quite possibly the strangest conversation I’ve ever had but oh well. Thank you, I appreciate that. I just feel like there’s this secret rule book I don’t know about.
It’s a talent I only recently discovered, okay? Let me milk it for a while longer, don’t rain on my parade, Kenn. Yeah, I mean… there’s more to crying than just sadness. Maybe I make you cry out of sheer, unadulterated happiness, have you thought of that? Disregarding the fact that that’s probably improbable but… it’s there. Don’t listen to anything that Autumn says or if you do, listen to it and do the exact opposite of what she’s saying. Don’t trust her. At all. Ever. With anything. Kisses are good, we’re agreed on that, loyalty though…[pretend to think about it, pausing for a while] it’s debatable. We’ll discuss it later. [grins to show that he’s joking… or is he] You ever figured we’d be the kind of people in this position? You know, just… this. [gestures with his hand between them] The smiling and the jokes and… I dunno, this feels weird but it also feels not weird. What kind of things about me that don’t fit into “ordinary conversation”? I’m not saying my mind went to a place that it shouldn’t but… [grin gets wider as he held back his laughter] It works for you, sure, but your parents… I mean, maybe a year ago or so, I wouldn’t be worried but now…
… no? Is that a word that just got invented? Because it’s not in my dictionary last time I checked.
See, I’m already such a great girlfriend! I’m helping you discover hidden talents. I’ll rain on your parade with my nonexistent tears all I want, thank you very much. I don’t understand crying of happiness either. Why do we even cry? Is there an actual point to it? But this, I’m curious about. I’ll be waiting patiently for when you make me cry out of pure happiness. But I like Autumn, which is incredibly unusual for me because she basically embodies everything I hate about public school but…. here I am, somehow making friends with her. With my boyfriend’s ex, for that matter. Nothing about any of this is normal, so I’m just obviously trying to make it even weirder. [rolls her eyes at him, reaching up to flick his ear] Watch it, you. I can totally deny kisses, I have that power. Don’t doubt my… might. I never saw myself as the type of person to be in this position, so no. You, you’ve dated people before so i guess I didn’t even really think about it. I guess what surprises me more is that… you actually want to be in this position with me, of all people. [shrugs, before her cheeks flush] Not all of it is like that! I mean, some of it is, but I don’t generally speak in poetry so that’s more what I meant. Like metaphors and stuff like that. Listen, I’m not going to lie to you, Dad is the one you have to worry about more than mom but he’s… harmless. He’s a dick, but harmless. He’ll act all high and mighty but he knows he can’t control me. It’s just the fact that he’s going to find out on his own since I kind of… haven’t told him that we’re dating?
You are a bully and prejudiced toward short people and I will not stand for it.
I’ll keep that in mind!
Oh. Ha, please, no, I’m sure he never worries about that. That’s because it is. I wish more people were.
….you’re terrifying, you know that, right? Mainly because I actually like you and I normally wouldn’t.
Well like I said, I don’t know how any of this works. I think he knows, but in case you don’t, he’s my first boyfriend ever. So… kind of learning the ropes here.
You say that like it’s a goddamn surprise, Kenn. It’s not. I felt tempted to say ‘just wait till I make you cry, then you’ll eat your words’ but… that’s not really… ideal, is it? Is that possible? Well, I’m not sure if I’m inclined to encourage you to keep on hoping further, that would mean that I’m sure of my standing and… I can’t promise that. I can’t promise anything. Yeah, is it weird? Oh, so you’re a diary keeper, huh? I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m over and you’re out of the room, I’d love to read what you write about me when you’re alone. [He instinctively toned down his smile to a serious face, nodding once to acknowledge the difficulty of the topic that she was breaching. He did his best to keep his reactions at bay, but his eyebrows had already twitched before he could make sure of it. Meeting her mom. A meeting specifically set on her introducing him to her parents. Well…….. he saw no reason whatsoever to worry about that, no. It’s not like he’s a borderline alcoholic with pent up anger, baggage to weigh down a plane and had next to zero plans for his future, no.] She would? Are you sure about that because… I’m no poster boy for a daughter’s ideal boyfriend, you know. [nods smugly] Definitely, definitely better. Good, so a bitch and a dick in a relationship, that only has the makings of working out with no hitches. You will. And when you do, I’m gonna say I told you so.
History. In the past, Kenn. Everyone’s tall now, get with the times, damn.
And there you go, acting like you have me all figured out again. Which you probably do. Ah yes, I’m sure that wouldn’t sound strange at all for my boyfriend to promise to make me cry. Possibly. I’d rather not go through any medical processes to find out. Your standing as my boyfriend or…? Your standing as trustworthy in my eyes? Autumn’s been threatening me with human sacrifice if I’m not more optimistic so I figure you would be a good start at least. You don’t have to promise me anything except maybe kisses and loyalty. No, it’s not weird. It’s nice. A confirmation that I’m not the only one who spends a large amount of time thinking about the other. I’d call them journals more than diary entries. I don’t… gush in them. I just write things I feel about you that don’t fit into ordinary conversation, and…. well, okay, I write poetry, too. But never tell anyone that ever. Good luck with that. My journals are locked away somewhere very safe. [Kennedy was aware of the fact that though he didn’t really care about anything going on in her life, her father still kept tabs on her to ensure that for the most part, she was maintaining a standard of living that he deemed appropriate. It wouldn’t be too long before he was knocking on her bedroom door to tell her when the dinner he would require to meet Xavier would be. But she knew that things could go horribly wrong, horribly fast, and if Xavier had at least agreed to attempt to meet her mom, she could suggest maybe her dad next.] I don’t see what makes an ideal boyfriend. You like me, and I like you, and you’re good to me and really, that’s enough for my mom. At least that’s what she told me years ago, back before everything. Obviously everything will go completely smoothly. And I will fight that I told you so and the cycle will begin again.
Haven’t you ever heard of tradition?
Well actually I planned on sacrificing you if you didn’t so!
Probably. There’s not much to know, really. Good, don’t! It’s not like their opinions matter, anyways
That’s somehow only a little disturbing. You’re so nice I feel like I wouldn’t even be all that angry if you tried to sacrifice me.
Good. I don’t really know how to do any of this at all so I’m just sort of winging it but I don’t want Xavier to ever worry that I’m wary of you or whatever. Seems silly. Oh, I’m well aware of that.
You wound me, K. Just trying to keep things light.
It’s Kennedy. Sure, sure. I just don’t find the thought of you shirtless to be appealing… at all. No offense.