This is (obviously) a one-shot about Skye from, you guessed it, the story Skye. It follows that story, so if you haven't read it this might spoil the ending for you. I'm not exactly sure how well I did telling a story from Skye's POV, and it's pretty short, but I hope you like it:)
One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love.
After months of having the same nightmares, I suppose I grew too used to them to really think much of them anymore. They would have disappeared eventually on their own, I'm sure, but something about being with Gage seemed to make them go away. So when I was in the midst of a particularly horrid dream, finding myself being shaken awake by Gage came as something of a surprise. I rarely had any nightmares when I was with him, and I'd never woken him with them before.
"Skye?" he whispered hesitantly when I could only stare blankly at him. He brushed my hair back from my sweaty face, face filled with concern. I forced a smile with an ease that came with lots of practice.
"I'm fine. I just had a nightmare, Gage, nothing to worry over. Go back to sleep," I said softly. Gage didn't move from his position, leaning over with me. He looked almost confused now, his soft brown eyes glinting in the moonlight that shown through the window beside his bed. He trailed a finger over my lips, carefully holding my gaze.
"Why don't you trust me?" he asked. I frowned without meaning to.
"I do trust you," I said, automatically shifting my face into a reassuring smile. Gage pressed his hand gently over my mouth.
"Don't smile when you don't mean it, Skye," he murmured before rolling away and sliding off the bed, pulling on his boxers before disappearing out the door. I closed my eyes and sighed, allowing myself a few calming seconds to push away the lingering effects of my nightmare.
I didn't understand why it had come back again. I'd let my guard down, I suppose, relaxing because I'd known Gage would be there. He'd burnt popcorn the night before when he'd grown…distracted. It had reminded me of that night, with Nathan. I didn't want to remember, but God, how was I supposed to forget?
It seemed like I'd always known Nathan. We weren't really friends, not at first, but we knew each other through mutual acquaintances. Then we'd both gone to a party where neither of us had any drinks, me because I hated the way it made me feel and Nathan because he'd been nominated designated driver for the night. We'd spent most of the night in each others company, forming a bond that came with being the only two sober people in a crowd of drunks. We'd laughed at our friends, and I'd come to the conclusion that Nathan was definitely hot, though I didn't quite have enough courage to tell him that. I wasn't exactly hiding my sexuality, but I didn't wear a sign on my forehead, either.
After the party, we started hanging out more. Nathan liked video games, so I acquired a sudden interest in them and read countless advice on improving game play on the internet. One night, we were at his house when his parents were out of town. I'd let him talk me into a couple of drinks, and I was feeling quite brave suddenly. He put some popcorn in the microwave and then got lost in some video game, forgetting about it until the smell hit us. We threw the popcorn outside, but couldn't get rid of the stench. We opened all the windows and moved upstairs to the den, the room least affected by the smell.
There was a small couch that rested against a window and we took refuge on it. Nathan had trouble getting one of the windows to open all the way and in his attempt to move it, he lost his balance and fell against me. He was laughing at first, but then he must have seen the look on my face because he stopped laughing suddenly and went very still, staring intently at me. I took his face in my hands and pulled him in to kiss him, and he only hesitated a second before he kissed me back.
I was in love with him, or I thought I was, at least. I'd only ever had a few awkward kissed before, but I gave myself to Nathan that night. I guess I thought it was right because I loved him and I believed he loved me too. It makes me flinch now, to remember how stupid and naïve I was then.
Sighing again, I forced myself to climb off Gage's bed and slipped back into the silky blue pajama pants I'd started the night in. I was careful to keep my footsteps light, since Gage shared his small house with his cousin, who I was fairly certain was still sleeping. I found Gage on the back patio, sitting on a bench and staring blankly at the stars. I shivered when the night air hit my bare skin, but Gage didn't seem to notice. I stepped behind him and placed my hands on his shoulders. He glanced back at me once but didn't say anything.
"Gage." I leaned to rest my face against his short hair. He still didn't say anything, but he lifted one of his hands to cover mine. I kissed his hair and wrapped my arms around his chest. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" he asked quietly.
"Everything," I said. Gage's face broke into a reluctant smile.
"Way to evade, Skye," he muttered.
"Well, it was a silly question." I pulled away from Gage to hop over the back of the bench, shifting immediately upon landing so that my head rested in his lap and my feet hung over the armrest on the opposite side of the bench. That move earned me another small smile.
"No, it wasn't," Gage said after a moment, fingers idly detangling my sleep-mussed hair. "What are you sorry for Skye? The fact that you lied, or the fact that I caught you at it?"
"I didn't lie."
"Pretending to be fine, forcing that completely phony smile of yours, is the same thing as lying, Skye." Gage pressed his hands against his eyes and let out a frustrated moan. "God, Skye, why can't you trust me?"
"It's not as easy as that," I said softly, reaching up to brush my hand over his cheek. "I do trust you, Gage, but it's a hard habit to break."
"Why do you do it?"
"You know why." I let my hand fall back to my side and shifted so that I was facing away from him.
"I know you had a boyfriend named Nathan and that he hurt you, but I don't know why you feel the need to always pretend you're perfectly happy." I could tell from Gage's voice that he was trying very hard not to lose patience with me. I sat up and pulled my knees against my chest.
"It's a defense mechanism I suppose," I said in a carefully calm voice. "Nathan broke my heart and laughed with his friends about it, spreading rumors about me all over our school until I couldn't go anywhere without hearing someone whispering about me behind my back. If I hadn't learned to pretend to be fine, I never would have survived."
"What happened, Skye?" Gage asked quietly. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. Gage deserved to know everything, so that maybe he could understand me better. I knew that it hurt him, believing I didn't really trust him, and I wanted to keep that from him.
"Nathan was my first real boyfriend, my first real love. I trusted him implicitly. He wanted to keep everything quiet. I knew his parents would never approve of us, so I let it be. He didn't tell any of his friends either, but I understood that he was afraid of being rejected, and I loved him enough to allow that too. Then one night we were lying on his bed with the radio turned on really loud, so that we didn't hear the doorbell ring. His friends walked in on us. He shoved me off him and told them I'd come on to him, that he'd been too drunk to know what he was doing." Gage reached out a hand and I flinched away from the touch, moving to stand at the edge of the patio, leaning heavily against the side of the house. I would never be able to tell this story without breaking into tears if Gage was touching me.
"I knew from the beginning that it would end that way. I knew, deep down, that Nathan was never going to willingly tell anyone about us, but I always made excuses for him." I had to pause, to give myself a few seconds break before I continued. "I guess I didn't have any real friends at school, and Nathan had too many. No one would speak to me, and they were always saying awful things about me. It was easier just to pretend I didn't care.
"Then one day, Nathan and a few of his friends found me outside the school on my way home. Nathan – " My voice broke and I had to pause again, for longer this time, before I continued in a mostly steady voice. "Nathan didn't help them, but he watched. He didn't say a word, he just stood there."
"Did they hurt you?" Gage's voice was a quiet growl. It made me smile a little.
"Yes," I answered honestly. "I don't remember much, really. One of my teachers was driving past us on her way home, and she called the police. Some of them got away, and I hadn't seen enough to know who everyone was, but most of them were caught, I think. We had to stay for the trials, but not long after that my parents decided we needed to move."
"When did that happen, Skye?" I couldn't tell by Gage's voice what he was thinking, so I risked glancing back at him. His eyes were wide and horrified, and his hands were folded in his lap, in a painfully tight grip of each other. His whole body was tense, as though he was ready to spring into action.
"Ninth grade," I answered, and Gage's body jerked, as though he'd been hit. He lunged to his feet and practically sprinted the few feet between us, yanking me into his arms and pulling me against him.
"Oh, Skye." His voice, filled with fury and a dull pain that I knew was meant for me, made my whole body ache. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and pressed my face into his neck, struggling against the tears that were threatening to leak free.
"I'm fine," I said, but my voice shook. Gage stroked my back with one hand, the other brushing my hair away from my face.
"Liar," he said softly. I managed a trembling laugh.
"Maybe," I admitted quietly. "But I will be."
"Yes," Gage agreed, pulling me even closer. He held me for a long time while I let a few of my tears escape. I don't know what it is about him, but just being around Gage makes me almost forget everything but now. It scared me at first, that I found it so easy to relax around him, to trust him. I remember feeling complete panic when I realized how easy it would be for me to fall in love with him, and knowing I had to end it before that happened. I wasn't thinking clearly at the time, I suppose, though thankfully I had real friends here who helped me out.
"You haven't asked why I broke up with you before," I said when I was certain my voice would be steady. Gage tensed for a second, hand freezing on my back, before he slowly relaxed.
"I don't have to Skye," he said softly. "You came back. That's all that matters."
The next afternoon we met some friends at a Chinese restaurant for lunch. Graham brought his new girlfriend, Laurie, who had shockingly bright orange hair and kept scowling at Jason. Jason had explained to me a few days earlier that she thought he wasn't good enough for Simon, which had made me laugh. I honestly haven't seen anyone who looks at another person the way Simon looks at Jason, like he can't decide whether he'd rather stare dopily at him or ravish him on the spot.
"You're disgusting," Graham remarked cheerfully. Today, apparently, Simon was more in a ravishing mood. Jason lifted one hand to flick him off but didn't bother removing his lips from Simon's.
"Simon," Laurie growled. When that had no effect, she reached forward and yanked on his hair. He tilted his head back, smirking at Laurie as Jason rested his head against Simon's chest. He blinked a couple of times as he took in his surroundings, and then quickly shifted off Simon's lap, blushing. Graham was grinning widely.
"Aww, Jason, it's so cute how you forget everything else around you when Simon's nearby," he cooed. Michael sighed, frowning disapprovingly at Graham, who ignored him.
"Strange friends," Gage murmured in my ear, as he always did when I convinced him to hang out with them. I smiled at him, and he smiled back.
"So, Skye, did you do something new to your hair?" Graham's eyes were roaming along my face. I felt Gage tense next to me and almost smiled before I caught myself.
"Yes," I said, though the answer was rather obvious. "I dyed it blue."
"It's hot," Graham told me.
"Thank you," I said as Gage let out a low noise that may or may not have been a growl.
"Of course, any hair color looks hot on you," Graham added. I couldn't hold back my smile that time, even as Gage stood up suddenly, nearly knocking the table over. I grabbed his arm and pulled him back down before he could attempt to disembowel Graham.
"He's only teasing, Gage," I said calmly. He didn't look convinced, but settled for glaring at Graham instead of causing any bodily harm. I saw Graham start to open his mouth to say something, but Michael inconspicuously dropped an ice cube down his shirt before he could and I felt somewhat grateful. I don't know why Graham enjoys teasing people so much.
"So, Simon," Graham said once Laurie had helpfully stuck her hand up his shirt and removed the ice. "Have I ever told you how sexy I think eyebrow piercings are."
"Yes," Simon said, smirking. "Quite a few times, in fact."
"Well, it's still true," Graham said. I rolled my eyes at Jason, who managed a faint smile. He never rose to Graham's bait as easily as Gage, but he still squirmed in his seat every time anyone made an inappropriate comment to Simon.
"Good to know." Simon glanced at Jason, who was determinedly eyeing the ceiling, before grinning at Graham. "You know, Jason told me you said I was hot once."
"It's true," Graham agreed even as Jason's head jerked and he turned wide eyes on Simon. He glared at Graham before sliding onto Simon's lap, giving him a rather thorough kiss - which had Michael looking away uncomfortably - before settling his head against Simon's shoulder. He missed the wink Graham exchanged with Simon.
"Very strange friends," Gage murmured once we'd finished eating and climbed back into his tiny truck. I scooted into the middle seat to be closer to him, even though I had to twist my legs uncomfortably to the side to avoid bumping into the gearshift.
"I know. But their good friends," I said. Gage smiled at me and slid an arm around my shoulders, kissing the top of my head.
"I know. I suppose we can keep them." He paused for a moment before adding, "Except for Graham."
"He's just joking," I said. Gage sighed and I burrowed my face into his chest. "Besides, I love you." Gage tensed for a moment before grabbing my face and yanking it up so he could see me better. His eyes were wide, studying my face with what almost seemed like desperation. I hadn't said the words to him before, afraid that they would only hurt me, but I couldn't hold them back any longer. "Gage?" I whispered. He kissed me softly, tongue barely gliding over mine before he was pulling away.
"I love you, too, Skye," he said before kissing me again, and we didn't pull apart again until Graham threw a rock at the window.