Tim had always felt guilty about dating Roxanne. Yeah, he was extremely lucky; he'd never been asked out by a somewhat pretty girl, and never one who was as drop-dead gorgeous as his current. But, yet, even though she was amazing and they could have conversations that he never could have with anyone else, he wasn't in love with her.
And it was all because of stupid Rose, standing in his way.
After months of plotting, Tim had hoped that the date would go perfectly. Not only was Roxanne obsessed with being in the water; she also adored being high up. He didn't understand why she loved them so much, but she was on top of the world whenever she was leaning on the edge of a high building, looking over the edge at the bustling city below.
Even though Tim wasn't terrified of heights, he still wished he could lean over as eagerly as she. Her lack of fear was making him jealous.
So, the two of them planned a date. There was a World War I museum that had sounded interesting to both of them, especially when Roxanne discovered the tall tower that it featured. It wasn't too far away, only a little expensive, so Tim made sure it happened. He took into account every single potential flaw in his plan, and compensated for that. In his mind, he was going to make the event perfect for Roxanne.
However, there was one little thing that he hadn't taken into account: that he would have a panic attack when they reached the top.
It all happened so suddenly, not a warning in sight. The trip up to the top had been fine; the jostling elevator was a little unnerving, but Roxanne had held his hand the whole entire time, keeping him strong enough to make it to the top. Even the first few minutes were fine; he laughed at her delighted expression as she pointed at buildings, guessing what kind of purpose they had (apparently one really tall building pretended to be a bank, but secretly housed a prostitution service).
But, at one moment, he looked over at her, and was reminded of how much he wanted to love her. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't, though. Just thinking about how he was keeping her from finding someone who would love her, he began to panic. And that's when the shaking and nausea had started.
At first, Roxanne hadn't noticed how Tim had paled considerably. She was too preoccupied with moving around the tower, leaning over and laughing and studying the buildings to heart's content. But then, by the time she had circled around, she knew something was badly wrong with her boyfriend.
"Tim?" she asked, softly, as if she didn't want to startle him. "Is something the matter?" The way she moved over slowly, gently, made Tim close his eyes, wishing that Rose could do that to him right now. No matter how much he fought his attraction to her, he couldn't keep it at bay. Instead, he had Roxanne, his best friend and girlfriend.
It wasn't like Rose was prettier than Roxanne; in fact, Rose was plain in a beautiful way. Freckles, red hair, short stature. In contrast, Roxanne was practically a goddess, with her exotic-looking face and light brown hair, which was fond of cascading around her neck like a waterfall. Even the way she talked to him—treating him as if he was her equal, as if there was nobody as important as him in the world—made him wonder why he couldn't be in love with her. Why he couldn't convince his heart that he was better off with Roxanne.
Instead, his every thought was of Rose, making his heart break painfully.
Now Roxanne was standing directly next to him, her elbows propped up on the wall and her chin resting in her hands. Giving him a genuinely concerned look, she observed, "You seem kind of upset. Wanna talk about it?" And then she gave him the look, the one that would make him give in to her, no matter his protests.
At first, all Tim did was sigh. Loudly, to express his disliking of that look. Then, he turned his eyes towards the ground, studying the buildings far below. He simply couldn't understand what entranced Roxanne so much; just looking so far down caused him to have a dizzying sensation. Or maybe it was all a part of the shaky hands and the upset stomach. Finally, as he continued to stare at the ground—even though he really wanted to look away, but not into her eyes—he admitted, "Roxanne, we need to talk."
Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see Roxanne smiling at him as she bumped her hip against his, forcing him to look at her in annoyance. "Well, of course," she said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the whole world. "That's what I asked for us to do. What's up?"
Tim sighed again, rubbing his fingers at the bridge of his nose, pinching slightly. Now he was beginning to get a headache, but it was possibly from the stress of what he was about to say. He'd never been good at these kinds of things, since—in the few scenarios where it was even possible—he was usually the one to implement it.
"Roxanne… umm…" He could barely find the voice to say it, but he finally did. "I think we need to break up."
He expected for her to turn into a huge, dramatic thing, like how they did on television shows and movies. Maybe start screaming at him, accusing him of being selfish and rude and complaining about how much dedication she had put into the relationship.
Instead, all she did was turn around, resting her back against the wall as she tipped her head over the edge, letting her hair hit a breeze and blow in the wind. She stood there a few minutes before acting like she finally heard him, turning to look at him. "And why is that, writer boy?" she asked, batting her eyelashes in a teasing manner. "Am I not pretty enough for you?"
Tim gave a scoffing look to her, completely in disbelief that she was being flirtatious while he was trying to break up with her. Without even deciding how he was going to play it, he exclaimed, "God, no! You're way too pretty for me, Roxanne. I don't even get why you keep going out with me." He shifted his body, so he was looking away from her and leaning up against the wall. If she was going to make things difficult, he didn't want to play along. He was determined to be serious about the whole matter.
"Well, that's simple," Roxanne answered. "I think you're cute. I find myself comfortable around you, like I can tell you anything about my day and not have to worry about you choosing football over me. That's probably because you hate football, but it's still sweet." Tim was unable to keep in one sharp bark of laughter, before going back to his serious façade.
The brunette woman turned around, practically mimicking him in the way he leaned against the wall. He could practically feel her staring at him, but he continued to refuse to look at her. Finally, she broke the silence by saying, "Honey, I think anyone would be an idiot not to date you. I'm just the lucky one who realized it first." There was silence for a moment, and he could tell that she was hesitating. "Is it possibly because you don't feel as comfortable around me?"
The way he shook his head was insistent of his comfort level around her. "No. You're my best friend, other than Rose. You make me laugh, and I feel happy around you. But, like I said, it's more like you're my best friend." He paused, taking his lip between his teeth as he thought for a moment. "Not my girlfriend. A best friend who kisses me from time to time." Now he was sighing again. "I love you, Roxanne, but I really don't think you're the one. You know?" Finally, he had enough courage to look at her, to read her expression as she gave her answer.
He didn't expect for her to chuckle, and to give him a soft, understanding look. But, he was even more surprised when she slid a step closer, their sides now touching.
"No, I totally get what you mean." Tim blinked.
"Why are you acting so… okay with this?" 'Okay' sounded stupid, but he uttered it for lack of a better word.
Shrugging, she responded, "No offence, but I don't think you're the one either." Tim blinked again, tilting his head to the side, confused, but oddly content with her answer. "I'm with you on the best friend thing, though," she reassured him. "If you want to break up and remain friends, I'm totally cool with that."
There was a moment of thought that followed, a pause in the conversation. Immediately before his eyes raised a mental image of his redheaded roommate, and the way she was constantly smiling at him. Then there was pain, as he remembered the first time she had walked in with her boyfriend. It made the shivering worsen, and he wondered, not for the first time, if he was going to become sick.
But, then, something dark twisted in his stomach, and he nearly lurched forward this time. It was a new fear, one that shook him to the core.
What if his love for Rose was platonic, an obsession that has convinced him that his love is reality? God, what a horrible thought. He shuddered, and he saw Roxanne throw him a concerned look.
Knowing that she was expecting an answer—even if she wouldn't say it out loud—Tim bit his lip and confessed, "It's just… I'm afraid I'm never going to meet her, Roxanne." Because, if Rose wasn't the one, there was a good chance he would never find her.
Roxanne shifted away from the wall, completely disregarding a woman walking by as she reached over and began to rub his shoulder sympathetically. Some of his panic faded away, but it was still there, thriving.
"I feel that way sometimes, Tim," she also confessed. "But I know you will. If there is truly a god, he would be a cruel god for not giving someone as amazing as you a chance to be with your soul mate." A sad smile graced her lips, and he noticed her eyes were beginning to sparkle a little bit, from unshed tears that she was fighting back. "And, one day, you will find her, and fall so happily in love, you will forget everything else. And you will be happy."
Tim couldn't help but smile at this miraculous woman, and wonder desperately how it could not be her. "Do you believe that, Roxanne?" he asked softly, his voice weak.
Her nod was large, as was her sad smile. "I do."
Sighing, he looked off into the distance, suddenly realizing that his panic attack was nearly gone. But, still, it was slightly there. Deciding to voice something he refused to talk about under normal circumstances, he admitted, "I just… I hate being so lonely. You know? Rose is always working, and a cat isn't enough."
Now Roxanne was teasing, the tears gone from her eyes, if only for a moment. "Even if it's as cute as Isabel?"
Laughing softly, he replied, "Even then." But, his laughter was quickly gone, replaced by a sigh. "I just hate the emptiness of the house, almost as much as I hate going to a party and being in a crowd of people. I enjoy having company of one or two people." As if his hands had suddenly become interesting, he stared down at them, adding, "But I don't even have that anymore."
A hand was on his shoulder, rubbing it softly. And then, a hand on the side of his face, turning him so that the two brunettes could look each other in the eyes. In one of the most beautiful, most loving tones he had ever heard, she murmured, "You have me, Tim."
That much was true. "Thanks," he said, feeling bashful. "I just… I want to find her. More than anything." I want it to be Rose. I want for her to love me. I want-
And then, his thought process was cut off as Roxanne stepped as close as physically possible, their bodies pressed together. "Well then," she said, tilting her head to study his face at a different angle, "I'll keep you company until you do." And then, she was leaning in, pressing their lips together in the saddest, most heartbreaking kiss either of them had ever experienced. Even the other people in the tower could feel the darkened, depressed air that surrounded the couple as they both let tears spill down their cheeks.
Tim was the one to end the kiss, leaning his forehead closer to rest it against hers. Closing his eyes, all he could think was, God, why can't it be her. I just want it to be her! But she wasn't his, and he knew it.
"So," Tim asked, hesitant, "you would date me even if you knew I wasn't in love with you?"
All he got in response was a nod before she was kissing him again, this one as sweet as the last. When she broke it this time, she said, "I hate to see you so depressed, Tim. You're my best friend."
Tim suddenly didn't care that they were crying in a public place, that panic was twisting in his gut, that they were up so high. All he could think about was this amazing friend before him, one that would give up her chance to find her one true love just to keep him happy.
Still so close, their foreheads pressed together, Tim asked, "So are we in agreement?"
This time, Tim initiated the kiss, this one deeper. Full of heartbreak, want, and depression. It lasted slightly longer, but not long enough for them to begin to get looks. After all, the wind was beginning to pick up, sending icy cold air towards the two of them. Shuddering into his coat and pulling it closer around him, Tim said, "Let's get out of here, Roxanne. I don't want you to catch a cold."
Roxanne broke the tension with a laugh. "Amen. Let's go see all the cool war stuff."
Their moment was done. Or so Tim thought. But, as they began to head towards the rickety elevator, she reached over and took his hand, intertwining their fingers together. The moment definitely wasn't near ending.
Maybe this could work.