Chapter ten: Love

I did say love.

No, I didn't say it, I thought it.

Close enough for me.

I love Marie, I find that I have mixed reactions to this idea, strangely enough. I like it, it is a good idea, I like it and it is certainly true. But the other side of that is that I am completely and inexplicably panicked about the idea.

I cannot say why it is that I am panicked, so it is inexplicable.

I can't think of a reason for this panic, so it is also unreasonable.

I don't like it being inexplicable, nor do I like it being unreasonable. But since I can think of neither reason nor explanation for it, it will remain so. I groan and roll over, staring at the wall. I want the wall to tell me what to do.

But it doesn't, they never do.

I can't say I have ever been disappointed by walls' inability to tell me what to do, but I am often frustrated by it. Or as often as I wish they would tell me what to do. But that gets to be less often as my age, and hopefully wisdom, increase.

I have to say that I forgive the wall for not telling me what to do, but that isn't really relevant.

Marie enters. "Done my homework," she tells me. "How was your private talk with Jennifer?"

"Tiring," I tell her. "Issues arose, they were dealt with. Don't worry about her, she is over it."

"What issues?" Marie asks me, sitting down on my bed.

I sit down next to her. "If I were you," I start. "I wouldn't worry about it."

"But you're not me," she says. "So are you worried?"

"No," I tell her. "And nor should you be."

"Hmm," she says.

We lie down. "I should probably do my homework," I tell her.

She wraps her arms around me. "Hmm," she says again, preventing me from getting up.

"I really should do my homework," I repeat, not actually trying to get up.

"I'll let you up if you tell me what Jennifer's issues were," she says, tightening her grip.

I sit up regardless and she comes up with me. "I reckon I don't actually need to tell you to get up," I say.

She lets go before I try standing. Which is probably a good idea considering that had I stood up I probably would have lost my balance and fallen over on her. While that might not be too bad in the right situation the right situation is not now.

I sit down at my desk and start on my homework.

"You can't do your homework while I am sitting here on your bed," Marie complains.

"If you weren't here it wouldn't be an issue," I tell her. "You could help if you feel left out."

"I don't," she assures me. "Do you need help."

"I don't," I assure her.

I hear her lie back on my bed. "I guess I will have to entertain myself then," she says.

"If you want to do that then do it in your own bed," I tell her.

She laughs.

I get back to it.

I manage to finish fairly quickly, despite, or possible because of, Marie's suggestive comments from behind me while I work. I put all my books in a neat pile on my desk and fairly tackle Marie down onto my bed.

I kiss her until she is hard of breath.

"What was that for?" she asks me.

"For all the teasing," I tell her. I realise it isn't actually truthful to say that that is all there is to it, but that is all that I am willing to say that there is to it.

She rolls us over and kisses me back. "That was for all the abstinence," she tells me.

I raise an eyebrow. "There has been a lot of abstinence in my life," I say. "I'm not completely sure that that really makes up for it."

"Alright," she sighs. "I lied, it was just for ignoring me for half an hour."

"That seems more reasonable," I tell her.

"Though I guess I could…" she starts, but I cut her off.

"Maybe we shouldn't go there quite yet," I say, hurriedly.

She gives me a look, not of disagreement, just wondering at my hurriedness. But she refrains from commenting. I kind of wonder what expression I have on me, but only because I don't want to have to think about why I was so hurried to get that out.

She rolls over me on the bed, so that she is propped up above me. "What's up?" she asks me, so close that I can feel her breath. It smells like mint and it makes me regret my words of a moment ago, but only a little bit.

"Um…" I find that I don't want to talk about it.

I guess it is that paranoia again, what if she doesn't say it back to me, what if she doesn't feel the same way I do. I really thought we were over this stuff by this point, but we are not. For some reason I am starting to think it is not something you get over in a relationship.

She leans down and kisses me. "If you don't want to talk about it, you can just say so," she tells me.

"I guess I don't want to talk about it," I reply, grateful to her for giving me an out.

"Too bad," she says, with a smile. "Talk about it."

I can't help but smile at the girl, I never really can. But I really don't want to talk about it, nor am I a very good liar. Well, I am a good liar, in my experience, but I can't lie to Marie. I don't want to badly enough that if I try to then it never works.

"I would," I tell her. "But I don't know that I can."

She raises an eyebrow at me.

"It isn't straight in my head," I tell her.

Her eyebrow stays raised.

I can only shrug, I did my best to use the truth there and it was mostly truthful, it is indeed all messed up in my head. But I could talk about it if I wanted to, I do not want to talk about it. I know that Marie will listen and I even know that talking about it would be the best course of action.

She gets up. "I'm going to go," she tells me. I don't like her expression, but I can pin down exactly it is about her expression that I don't like. Possibly everything. She is looking at me like she may have misjudged me, which is never good. She is looking like she is disappointed, but maybe not with me, possibly she is just disappointed that it didn't work out the way she planned.

But she also looks at me like she is upset that I don't trust her. Her look tells me that she is not happy with me, she isn't happy with this situation, or this scenario. She isn't happy that I am refusing to talk to her and it is messing her up.

I don't like this look but I can say nothing to her, I have nothing I am willing to say that will make her feel better. I just cannot bring myself to tell her the truth, but I don't have a good reason for this, I am just paranoid that she will reject me.

I don't think I am rightly paranoid about it. I don't think that if she would reject me for it then she is really worth it. But these are just thoughts, they are rational and so have no bearing on this situation, being rational and being in love aren't related as far as I can tell.

But when I'm not rational I don't seem to be as good at talking as usual, and that isn't good either. But I don't think it is worse, I think that her being a little angry with me is better than her being freaked out by me and running away, or just being amused by it and turning away.

I don't want to put myself somewhere where I will not be able to save myself if needed. I don't if it will be needed but I am deathly afraid that it will be. I don't want to put myself on the line for no reason without some guarantee.

I have no guarantee and I don't like it.

But she just looked so disappointed. I try to smother myself with my pillow but it doesn't really have any effect. I lie on my bed with the pillow over my face and try really damn hard to justify what I just did to Marie.

I cannot.

I get up and try to talk myself into going down to dinner. It doesn't work, not even a little bit. I lie back down and continue trying to smother myself. It continues to not work. Maybe I should try to work out an excuse or something.

I had a headache, that'll definitely work.

I groan and continue trying to smother myself.

I don't know how, but I manage to fall asleep, and once asleep it takes me a long time to wake again. It is almost noon, and today is Monday. I don't know whether to panic or just stay in bed. I decide to stay in bed, no one came to get me so maybe I am not needed.

There is a soft knock on my door.

"Leave me alone," I tell them.

"No," Karla, the nun's sister, replies.

I get up and put on enough clothes to be comfortable with having someone else enter the room. I open the door to her and she comes in. "I think that you should probably be in school," she tells me.

"I'm sure that if you really wanted me to be there someone would have come and got me," I reply, sitting down on my bed.

"It doesn't really work like that, but probably," she says. "But Francesca was busy so I thought I'd come and find out what the problem is."

"Is Francesca the councillor or something?" I ask her.

"Yeah," she tells me. "She is talking to Marie, which is why no one has come to get you."

"Hmm," is my reply.

"What the hell friend?" she asks.

"That was direct," I comment.

"I'm not my sister," she says. "I am direct."

"I think she's upset that I wouldn't talk to her," I tell her.

"Why wouldn't you talk to her?" she asks me. "You guys are like the most solid couple I've ever seen here. We get a few couples here, but most realise their mistake."

She realises this was the wrong thing to say.

"All I mean I that you two seem to be an actual couple," she says. "Not like the pairs here who seem to wish that there were boys here and try to compensate."

"I get it," I tell her.

"So what were you not talking to her about?" she asks me.

"I may or may not have realised that I may or may not be in love," I tell her, if she had been drinking something it would now be all over me. "And as such I was acting a bit weird, but I am also paranoid about it, so I didn't want to say anything."

"Damn it girl," she exclaims. "What do you have to be paranoid about?"

"Absolutely nothing," I tell her. "But otherwise it wouldn't be paranoia."

She shrugs.

"The least you have to do is apologise to the girl," she tells me. "Marie was in tears."

"Tears?" I ask her, it seem to me to be a bit of an over-reaction.

"Tears," she confirms. "She thinks you don't like her, and it is messing her up."

"But…" I don't even know what to say to that.

It just makes me want to cry, I made her cry, how could I do that? I don't want her to be sad because of me. I did this so I have to fix it. I have to fix it regardless. I love Marie I can't just leave her alone is she is sad and I couldn't live with myself if I made her cry and didn't fix it.

"Where is she?" I ask Karla.

"Nurse's office," Karla says. "Do you know where that is?"

"I think so," I tell her.

"I'll take you," she says. "And that way I can get my sister out as well."

"Thank you," I reply.

We leave for the nurse's office in something of a hurry. It is on the third floor, in the opposite direction I remember the photography room being. Vivian is outside, she gives me a very dark look but I brush past her before she could say anything.

She just stands there, Karla stops her from saying anything, and gestures Francesca out of the room.

Marie is sitting on the bed closest to the door, her eyes are red but she isn't crying anymore. There are five beds in the room, they all have curtains around them. It actually looks like a little piece of a hospital, and I would know, I have been in a lot of hospitals.

"What are you doing here?" she asks me, standing up and wiping at her face with a sleeve.

"Karla came and got me," I tell her.

Tears start again. "You made me cry," she says, with a watery smile.

"I'm so sorry," I tell her, taking a step forward.

I hesitate, not sure that she really wants me to come any closer. She steps forward herself and presses her face into my shoulder. I wrap my arms around her and hold her while she cries into my shoulder.

"I'm so sorry," I tell her again.

"You make me so paranoid," she manages to say, into my shoulder.

I laugh at that. "You do the same to me," I tell her. "That's why I was being weird."

"That can't be all of the reason," she says, leaning back to look at my face. She has stopped crying. "You were good at talking about it last time you were paranoid."

"As were you," I reply.

"It was getting paranoid that made me leave," she tells me. "I didn't have time to talk about it before I left."

"I'm sorry I didn't just talk about it," I tell her. "It was my fault."

She hits me playfully. "It certainly was," she says, sniffling.

I smile at her. "But you forgive me, right?" I ask.

"I'll forgive you when you talk about it," she tells me.

I smile and sit us down on the bed.

"The thing is that I…" I hesitate, not because I am rethinking my position, but because of the way she is staring at me, wide eyed and apprehensive.

I hesitate too long. "You what?" she asks me.

"I…" I hesitate again. Just say it! "I think I love you."

She is speechless, I think she was half expecting that but it doesn't mean that she was ready for it, she sits there and stares at me. She kisses me, I was expecting it but I guess I wasn't really ready for it, I almost melt into her.

"I love you," she tells me.

I just sit and stare at her. She isn't the girl of my dreams but I don't think there have ever been any girls in my dreams. She is the girl I love and that is more than enough for me. I kiss her this time and I can feel her hands finding the bottom of my shirt.

I pull away.

Her expression makes me regret it, but I don't regret it enough to not say what I think needs saying. "Just something that concerns me a little bit," I say. "Your sister is just outside, with Karla and Francesca, do you think we should move?"

She fairly tackles me onto the bed.

I guess I don't much care either, I don't care what people think of me but I can what people think of her. I pick her up and carry her to the door, which she kindly opens for me. We go back to my room, which is something of a strain on me, since I have to carry her down the stairs before she is willing to walk for herself.

"I really love you," I tell her, pushing her down onto the bed.

"I love you too," she replies, flipping us so that she is propped up above me.

She kisses me furiously and I can only kiss her back.

I don't much care what the future brings, I have to say. Maybe that is my age talking or the girl who seems to be trying to get my t-shirt off with her teeth. But I think that the present could easily be enough for me if I let it.

I will try my hardest.

A/N: This is the end, and for that I apologise, mostly to myself. I know that there is barely any story in it and I feel like it has the potential to be more. But this is the end because I never really could think of a story or a plot for it.