She's not quite sure what she's expecting when she goes to answer the knock at her door, but it certainly isn't Derek, standing there, hands shoved in his pockets, his eyes rimmed in red.
"You look terrible." He grimaces. There is a steady ache in his head and he can't really stand to look up at her. "Why're you here, princess?"
When he doesn't answer she starts to become uneasy. Derek wouldn't just come here. Everyone knows that he doesn't like her, hates her even. It wasn't until after the divorce that he even showed her the slightest bit of civility. So there's no way he would come here unless he had to, and that thought made her stomach drop.
Without saying a word, Derek extended the grungy slip of faded yellow paper.
She stares at it for a second—she half knows what it is, and half doesn't want to believe it. There seems to be a lead weight around her wrist, keeping her hand tied to her side, dragging her to the floor. Everything inside of her tells her to close the door, turn around and go the fuck back to bed.
After a few moments of heavy silence, she finally reaches forward and takes the note.
His goodbye is short, forced, and filled with bravado acting as a shield. She can feel it, dripping through the cracks in his words, the sloppy misspellings that Blake, under normal circumstances, would've never allowed.
Derek stood in front of her, having passed her the grungy paper with the last words of her ex husband, scrawled half heartedly into it. He looks terribly wrong standing there, on her stoop. But then, what about this isn't wrong?
For a moment, her throat feels tight, the words blurring.
There is no anger, as she should've felt, reading those words. The cruel ones that teased and poked-belittled her and make her seem a fool; there was only a deep sense of calm. No sadness, only the faint echo of his scent still clinging to the paper.
Pushing back her hair, she swallows past the pain in her throat, leaning against her doorway still clad in her sleep shorts and baggy T-shirt. Derek looks uncomfortable, like he's seeing too much, or maybe too little, as though he's expecting her to laugh, or maybe cry. She can't bring herself to care.
"Well." She breathes out, her face scrunching. He winces—because of course he knew about the other women. Of course. And though maybe he didn't like her, he felt bad, because he knew now that she was more grown up, genuine, real and tangible and feeling the loss just as he was.
"I should've told you."
"I don't mind that you didn't."
He tilts his head, his black hair falling across his forehead. "Why not?" She gazes up, past his left ear, out into the Manhattan sky, contemplating how to answer that question, because why didn't she mind? She should've. She should be yelling and screaming, throwing him off her stoop, cursing him and his bastard dead friend for all they were worth—but she can't bring herself to see it that way.
"Because," She could taste the words on her tongue. "Because none of us were perfect. That's just the way it is. He liked to break hearts, it made him feel better. I had to be loved, and you were a hypocrite." He doesn't argue, just nods sullenly, staring at the purple polish on her toes.
Her words felt as though they'd been drained out of her, as though everything has been drained out of her, and her fingers itched for a cigarette.
"You know," Derek pauses, looking up into her eyes. They're greener than he remembered. She was beautiful; he belatedly realized, even like this, her nails painted a chipping black, her hair mussed from sleeping, lips bitten and chapped—her eyes shiny with tears that didn't seem to want to fall. "He did love you. In fact," He laughed, his hand coming up to rest on her shoulder, "You might've been the only one."
Her eyes glimmer, and he realizes that maybe she knew that already.
He leans forward, presses his lips against her forehead, breathing in the scent of ink and cold tea. When he pulls away, she's as beautiful as ever—her lips twitched up in an elfin smile.
He turns and heads down the stairs, shoving his hands in his pockets, feeling a weight lifting off his shoulders as he hears her door shut, and Blake's face, never quite clear enough to catch, breathes its last, and vanishes like vapor in the sun.