To Be Blind
Dennis cleared his throat. "Sun, I was an asshole, I know, and I really am sorry for . . . being an asshole." Pause. "It wasn't your fault, I'm just . . ."
An asshole. Dennis groaned, pressing the heel of his hand against his eye so hard that he saw stars.
This was not going well. Sun always had the ability to reduce him speechless, but this was ridiculous. She wasn't even here. It was a good idea he decided to practice because he doubted she'd even give him so much of a glance with this fumbling.
Dennis threw himself on his couch. "Fuck!"
By the time he managed to gather his courage, another week had passed and he figured – or hoped – that her signature cold anger would have thawed at least a little by now. Diffused anger he could handle. But when she acted like he didn't exist, it was a whole different game he couldn't handle to play.
He decided to attack after work, when she was tired, cranky, and overall defenseless in her weak state. When it came to Sun's good graces, he didn't care about playing fair.
He spotted her just as she was leaving the retail store she worked at, yawning widely behind her hand. For a moment he just gazed at her, drinking in the sight of her. Then his heart capitulated when her eyes landed on him and her face shuttered.
Shit. He tried not to trip on his way to her, but the way she was boring holes into his skull wasn't reassuring in the slightest.
"Hi. Hey, um . . ." No smile. No flicker of emotion. "I'm guessing you're still mad."
She sidestepped him and began to walk. "That wasn't an apology."
He whirled around. "Wait! I'm sorry – I was a complete asshole, and I hope you can find it in your big, generous heart to forgive me." He caught the slight quirk of her lips, and hope rekindled, he went on. "I took my shitty mood out on you and said a lot of things I didn't mean. You didn't deserve it, Sun." He grabbed her hands in his and pulled her close to his chest. "I'm sorry."
She gazed into his eyes for long moments, and he looked back, almost not blinking. Dennis had looked at Sun more times than he can count, but the weird sensation spreading across his chest at that moment made him acutely aware of just how beautiful his best friend was.
"I do have a generous heart," she said finally, and then cracked a grin. Relief crashed into him like waves and he circled his arms around her. "You really were an asshole."
"I know," he said with his chin resting on her head. "Don't ask me why either. I still don't know."
He was glad she couldn't see his face because he didn't know if he successfully dampened the look of disbelief on his face. For one second, bathed in the feeling of overwhelming relief, he realized just how deeply he felt about the girl in his arms. It reminded him of the same panic and exhilaration he felt at the mall on the day of their argument, but this time, more committed and permanent.
"I know exactly how you can make it up to me," Sun said calmly, unbeknownst to his vertigo experience.
His throat worked as he swallowed. "Yeah?"
Sun grinned. "Sleep over!"
Dennis groaned automatically at the sound. Normal girls watched romantic comedy and ate junk food. But whenever he was involved, she got him doing all sorts of outlandish things. Last time he slept over she managed to coerce him into cleaning her storage and bedroom closet. Another time he distinctly remembered putting together the desk in her room while she nagged him over his shoulder.
"Are you going to disinfect your kitchen today?" he said sarcastically, but smiled down at her anyway. It was hard to be unwilling when she looked at him so enthusiastically like that.
"No. We're going to put together wedding souvenirs with your mom."
Dennis groaned again. "Oh god, I can already hear her . . ."
"She knows about our fight too. Be warned."
The heel of Dennis' hand hit his forehead. "Woman, you're not letting me off easy, are you?"
"The kitchen idea was good too. Thanks for volunteering."
Instead of groaning for the third time (like he wanted to), he squeezed Sun to his side tightly as they began to walk. It was cliché even as he thought it, but the way her smaller body fit against his larger frame felt just right. Instead of shoving her away in fright at the thought, he wanted to pull her closer, as if sink into her skin.
But at that thought, he jerked slightly. Sun gave him a puzzled look, halting her rant about a customer earlier that day.
"What's up?" she said.
"Nothing." He cleared his throat. "Twitch," he said lamely, and she raised both eyebrows skeptically but disregarded it.
Predictably, when his mother arrived at Sun's apartment a few hours later, he received an earful for his actions. There were no barriers between his family and Sun, and she stood right behind his mother, as he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. He deserved it, and more, so he took the verbal lashing with grace. It wasn't the first time Sun witnessed such an act, but instead of looking smug as she always did, her eyes were thoughtful when he glanced at her.
She smiled. "I think he's learned his lesson, Eleanor."
The older woman huffed. "We'll see," she said ominously. "You don't live under my roof, Dennis Hudson, but that doesn't mean you go off acting crazy," she continued to rant, even as she stepped away towards the living room. "And to Sun, no less!"
"I've put up with worse," she called cheekily, and Dennis pretended to give her a glare. She smirked. "Cheer up, Dennis, at least Brooke isn't here."
Brooke wasn't always Sun's fan, but she believed in women sticking together. If she were there, Dennis wouldn't hesitate running for the hills.
"Did I tell you I'm very sorry?" he started, searching her eyes sincerely. His tone was teasing but he wanted to know if she really forgave him. Fights with Sun were things he would never get used to.
"We'll see," she said nonchalantly. He smiled slightly at the mischievous look on her face, shaking his head. But there was nowhere else he'd rather be.
Sun was roused awake by a strong odor. Through her bleary vision she saw that it was just past eight in the morning, and the last thing she remembered was telling Dennis to wake her in an hour when Eleanor left late in the evening.
She stumbled towards the kitchen and found the source of the smell, with Dennis with yellow rubber gloves and all, cleaning her oven. Her pots and pans were on the small table and even her dishes were put away.
"Pick up that jaw, princess."
Sun tightened the blanket hanging over her shoulders around her. "Did you take my jeans off?" She'd asked, but her voice was already accusing.
Dennis glanced over his shoulder. "Actually, you did yourself, right after you told me to leave you alone when I tried to wake you."
At his words, a vague memory arose of her icy, biting words and her struggle with removing the material around her legs before she collapsed back on the couch.
"Oh, well," she said pleasantly. "Good. Thanks for . . ." she gestured to the kitchen with a small grin. "I was pretty sure I had to convince you. It was a good idea."
Dennis put the rag he was holding and walked towards Sun with a small frown on his face. They'd had plenty of fights before, but this one got under her skin more than it should—probably because of what he said. She knew he realized this too, so she stood her ground, face passive, as she watched him approach.
"I don't like fighting," he said, almost as if he were forcing the words out of his throat. Sun knew it wasn't easy for him—he generally avoided confrontations, and being his best friend didn't change this. But still, she appreciated that he made the effort.
Sun smiled. "I know you're sorry. Water under the bridge, right?"
"Yeah, I am—but I mean—" His eyes darted above her head, over her shoulder, off to the side. "I know you're really into this guy and I don't want it to seem like I'm against it," he managed to say, all the while looking like he swallowed a bitter pill. Dennis muttered incoherently under his breath, but Sun caught the words, "At least not obviously."
She rolled her eyes. "It's okay," she said dryly. "I'm not too worried about it."
"I still think he's an idiot."
She smirked, shaking her head. "Be nice," she scolded. "If anything, you'll love him the most."
His look was one of complete disbelief, but he chose to return to his task rather than reply.
Sun's morning was efficient. With Dennis offering to do her weekly apartment chores, Sun was free to tackle her assignments that accumulated over the week. She knew she shouldn't take advantage of Dennis' obvious groveling, but his accusations had hurt more than it should, and maybe she needed a little more reassuring that he hasn't completely gotten tired of her.
She didn't know how much longer she could hold this in.
Dennis, for the most part, acted normally around Sun. But he couldn't ignore his growing jealousy over the unknown male variable in his best friend's life she refused to speak about. It had annoyed him before, but the feeling had evolved into an emotion that held hostility and unwarranted resentment. Such feelings led him to outside sources, something he'd never have previously done.
Amelia looked puzzled from over her coffee cup. They sat in their favourite campus café, regular study schedule, but Amelia had abandoned all acts related to academia when he casually said, "So do you know how Sun met this—or her—I mean . . . that guy? The one she likes, I mean." He felt awkward, but not as awkward as he did when Amelia replied with "You mean Sun hasn't told you?"
She looked hesitant, and Dennis forced himself to maintain a neutral—bordering disinterested—expression. "I don't know the details. All I know is that she's known him for years. I mean . . . if it weren't for you, he would probably be her best friend."
He was obviously more oblivious than he'd ever considered, because no one came to mind.
"You have no idea who it is, do you?" Amelia sounded amused, but more sympathetic. "If it makes you feel any better, he's a very nice person. Completely oblivious, though I blame Sun more than I do him."
Dennis downed his coffee. "Gee, that does make me feel loads better," he grumbled. "I just don't see why I can't even meet him. I mean, knowing Sun, they will end up in some . . . relationship." Either the words tasted bitter, or maybe it was his cold coffee. His grumbling turned offended. "I'm curious, not threatening." Well, maybe a little of both.
"What makes you think there will be a relationship?"
"Come on, Amelia. It's Sun. How can you not fall in love with her?"
For some reason, Amelia looked delighted, even placing her chin in her palm to gaze at him across the table. "Go on," she encouraged, when he furrowed his eyebrow in his pause.
"But nothing," he said haltingly. "Sooner or later he's going to realize how much he's in love with her. Not to be cliché, but she is perfect." He paused again, then added thoughtfully. "For a girlfriend, I mean. I've seen the way she treats her boyfriends." And because the topic made him feel unbearably awkward, he changed the subject.
Still, that didn't keep his mind from wandering, though.
When Sun opened the door, Dennis was the in the middle of trying to balance the loaded brown paper bag with another filled grocery bag in one arm, as he fished for his keys with his other hand.
"Need help?" Sun said breezily, and without another word, grabbed the grocery bag from him.
Dennis gaped as he trailed after her after he shut the door. "Not to be rude, but don't you have a date?"
He rolled his eyes. He placed the brown paper bag on the counter and leaned against the sink to watch his best friend rifle through his groceries. She placed them on the table mechanically, and only when the bag was empty did she look over his purchases curiously before placing the items in their designated area in his kitchen.
"If you bought groceries, why did you order take-out?"
"Didn't feel like cooking," he replied. He let the silence stretch for a few more moments before he opened his mouth again. "Good thing I bought for two," he quipped.
"You're expecting someone?"
"Yet you asked why I was here."
"I was going to call you over," he shrugged and pushed himself off the counter. "Haven't seen you in a while." Two weeks. Not that he was keeping track; he just happened to notice. "How have you been?"
"Good. I've been good." The cabinet shut soundly when she placed the last of cans in its place. "Brooke's bachelorette party is in a few days. Lord help my soul."
Dennis finally cracked a smile. She grinned back, almost hesitantly it looked like, but her eyes were the same warm brown he'd always loved.
"I saw Amelia a few days ago. She told me Harvey had someone else," he said offhandedly. "Did you stand him up?"
Sun gave him a look. "No, actually. We met for coffee, since Harvey has a big fat mouth and roped the poor guy in before he even told me. He was nice."
Dennis made a noncommittal sound as he grabbed two water bottles from the counter. Tacitly, the living room was chosen as location to eat. Dennis seemed to enjoy his meal more than he expected, but he didn't know whether to chalk it up to hunger or nerves. Probably both.
Dennis looked up from his food. "What?"
"You're very . . . quiet." Sun had her eyes narrowed, and he bet she didn't notice the pieces of rice stuck at the corner of her lip. Almost as soon as the words left her mouth, she raised both hands in front of her. "But if this is related to whatever touchy mysterious subject I hit on at the mall, just me know now and I'll shut up. This is too soon for a fight."
Dennis could tell she was joking, could even read the concern in her eyes, but he only managed a slight smile to humour her. She was right, but she didn't know he figured out what he hadn't back then. "Sun. You worry too much. Thanks, but if I wanted to talk to someone, you'll be the first."
"That didn't answer my question," she said, but didn't press.
In a lull of the show they were semi-watching, Sun bemoaned to him about her dread with the upcoming party with people she only liked sometimes. Her eyes flickered with life, her face live with emotions, and he had to dig his hand to his side to keep himself from reaching forward to brush her hair from her face.
"Do you have a date yet?" he asked.
She looked puzzled. "For Brooke's wedding?" and at his nod, she frowned. "Oh, I assumed we were going together—please don't tell me you're bringing your candy girl . . . people . . . person." She waved a hand at his bark of laugh.
"No," he smiled at her, thoroughly charmed at the small scowl on her face. "I'd love to be your date."
She blinked slowly at him, face expressionless, and nodded jerkily. "Okay, then," she muttered lowly and turned to stare avidly at the screen. The longer he stared, the more intense her face became, and the more obvious it was that she was pointedly ignoring him. He raised his eyebrows.
"You okay?" he ventured eventually.
"Yes, of course," she frowned, as if she was offended that he even had to ask.
The silence that followed was an odd one. He felt compelled to ask her what was on her mind, but he could barely grapple with his revelation. Dennis could literally feel the sappy look hovering underneath the mask of indifference he forced to keep on his face. He grimaced.
"What is it?" Sun muttered from her side of the couch twenty or so minutes later. She was now half slumped on the couch, her head propped by a throw pillow, but away from him. He had clear view of her profile, but her eyes were still studiously on the screen. "You've been staring. If you're wondering if that's a pimple on my head, it is, but you don't have to be obvious about it."
Dennis smirked. "I was just thinking."
Sun straightened from her position and immediately scooted towards him. "Has anything happened these two weeks?" she asked seriously. Her face was close, framed by her long, currently disheveled hair.
He tried to subtly inch back as her scent invaded his mind. "Nope, nothing that comes to mind. So, uh, how's your boy toy?"
"Boy toy?" She looked momentarily confused, and then she shook her head. "Just fine," she said impatiently. "Really, Dennis, at least be more obvious about it. If you don't want to talk, just say so." And so, instead of pressing him, she grabbed her throw pillow and made herself comfortable next to him. She made a move to turn back to watch the screen.
Oh, God. He had no idea how he was going to go through with this and come out with his sanity in tact. Had it always been like this between them? He couldn't help himself as he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close. He'd done this plenty of times before, but never had he been so acutely aware of her body against his. How soft her skin felt, how comfortable it was to touch her.
The last thing he remembered was Sun placing a blanket over him before she left his apartment.
And there went his heart.
"You should dance with Seth," Brooke said, obviously in a not so subtle way since said person was standing right in front of them. Sun looked at Brooke and blinked slowly, taking in her expectant look. She'd just been making small talk with Seth (someone she bumped into on her way to the bar) when Brooke descending on them in all her white, horrifying glory.
Only because it was her wedding day . . . "Sure," Sun said. Not that she completely minded; he seemed very nice, but she learned from past experiences that anything related to Brooke should be dealt with cautiously.
But maybe she was overthinking it.
"That was random," Sun commented as she stepped into his arms.
"Saved me the trouble of asking you myself," he shrugged, but his eyes were on hers intently. Sun flushed, but gave his smile a knowing look.
"You don't miss a beat," she said.
She was flattered, but she wasn't entirely in the best of moods to be flirting. Sun usually enjoyed laid-back conversations where both parties were comfortably playful, but she could still see Dennis from the corner of her eye, flirting with yet another girl. No sooner when they arrived at the reception did giggling females descend on him.
"So tell me," Seth said as he twirled them both deeper into the dance floor, and unwittingly closer to Dennis and one particular bombshell, "what put you in such a mood that you need alcohol to deal with it?"
Startled, she met his eyes. "Come again?"
"You were stomping to the bar," he said, "with a huge scowl on your face."
"Maybe that's my default expression," she suggested. Normally she'd be annoyed at this line of questioning by a stranger, but he spoke with such genuine sincerity that she could only smile. "Scowl as I walk down the street alone."
Seth grinned. "You'd be doing the world a disservice if you keep your smile all to yourself."
Sun's eyebrows rose. "You really are a smooth talker, aren't you?"
Seth only laughed. "I've had my fair share of practice."
"Oh, never mind," she said dryly. "Is this the part where I find out you're also a womanizer?"
"You misunderstand," Seth said. "I grew up with two girls as close friends. Let's just say they taught me well." His eyebrow went up. "And what do you mean by also?"
Damn, almost gave herself away. She was slipping. "Nothing at all. I was speaking in general terms. You know, the stereotype that all men are pigs."
"Oh, of course. How could I ever forget that one?"
Sun couldn't help but grin. Seth had such an easy presence, nothing she expected, but was pleasantly surprised to discover. If she ever had to endure another night watching girls throw themselves at her best friend's feet, she didn't mind spending it with him.
"Besides, I know all the hallmarks of falling for your best friend."
Sun immediately stiffened. Her instincts made her pull away, but Seth held on fast. Even though the song was too fast paced for their proximity, he kept her swaying with him. Sun's face darkened as she looked up at him, heart pounding, mind racing . . .
"Whoa, don't be angry," he said, almost hastily, and then confessed sheepishly: "Brooke told me."
Confusion made her stiffen more, but she didn't completely pull away. "What?"
"I just met you," Seth said pointedly. "Do you really think I would know you're in love with—"
"Shh!" she hissed, slapping a hand over his mouth. She didn't bother glancing around, but she was on edge. She hoped like hell Dennis wasn't anywhere near them. She opted for shifting closer and hissing in his ear. "Who are you?"
"I'm friends with Lance," he said, referring to Brooke's new husband. "Brooke told me all about her brother and his best friend."
"Oh my god." Did Brooke know? What was that crazy, meddling . . . "What else?"
"Nothing else I can say."
Sun gave him a murderous look, completely uncharacteristic since he was still a stranger, and Sun was generally an even-tempered person. But this wasn't just another one of Brooke's annoying moments. This was a serious breach, and a completely out of line. Sun almost felt like throwing up, but she focused on the anger to keep herself from feeling the fear.
Did Brooke tell Dennis? Was that why he was surrounding himself with all those girls, even when she was his date? Because he was repulsed by the thought?
Sun quickly schooled her expression to a generous smile. A wary look flickered across Seth's face, but he didn't pull away, even when she grabbed his hand and yanked him off the dance floor and towards a more secluded area in the hall.
She backed him up against the wall, mustering every authoritative cell in her body for this moment. It was difficult, because she felt like she was trembling. A hundred thoughts raced through her mind.
"Start talking," she ordered. "Why would she tell a complete stranger and have him dance with me?" How did she find out? Only two people in the world know, and they've never seen Brooke! She swallowed hard, trying to keep herself in the moment instead of panicking like she felt like doing.
"She didn't tell me with a . . . malicious intent in mind," Seth said slowly, calmly, as if to pacify her. "To be honest, it slipped casually into the conversation."
"How could 'My little brother's best friend is in love with him!' possibly casually slip into your conversation?!" She was moments away from a full-fledged meltdown. Seth seemed to have sensed it too, because he put both hands on her shoulders and ducked his head to meet her eyes.
"Relax, Sun," he said firmly, but gently, and one hand rubbed the top of her back soothingly. She vaguely acknowledged how bright his blue eyes were. "It's nothing bad, okay? Please, calm down and I'll tell you."
Sun nodded jerkily, already feeling foolish from even considering the thought of screaming at him like a banshee. But the fear of losing Dennis was paralyzing, and she didn't want to dwell on that.
"We were talking about how Lance and Brooke met," he said, "and she asked me if I had a girlfriend. I didn't, but she asked me if I loved anyone. I don't have to tell you how persistent she is if you've known her for a long time," he said dryly, "and eventually she found out about—"
"About?" Sun said when he didn't speak up from his pause.
"This girl," he said vaguely. "From high school. She was my best friend . . . and I was ridiculously in love with her." His cheeks were tinged pink, and he looked vaguely uncomfortable saying the words. Not that she blamed him since they were pretty intimate words, considering she was also a stranger. Not that it came close with what he blurted to her, though. "Then she mentioned her brother and you, and how tiring it was to watch you two tip-toe around each other."
Sun's mouth dropped in indignation. "Tiring— she said— Wait until I get my hands on her!" Sun rounded, with intent to blast Brooke into the ground, but Seth kept her in place. "Excuse me, Seth, you have been very helpful but I need to take care of someone's big fat mouth."
Seth looked amused. "She didn't mean to, remember? Besides, she figured with my charming disposition, I would be a good distractor to keep you from murdering her brother. She didn't want to deal with that on her wedding day."
Sun's shoulders slumped and she groaned. "She is impossible. I swear."
"She's quite the character," Seth laughed.
"That's just a nice way of saying she's annoying as hell," Sun grumbled. Then, she chanced a look at him. "Did she tell him?" she said lowly.
"As far as I know, no."
His words only gave her a small measure of comfort.
Seth put a companionable arm around her and pulled her to his side. "Terrible, this love business, isn't it?"
"You don't have to tell me twice." She looked at him questioningly then. "Was in love?" she asked, referring to his earlier confession.
Seth's open expression shuttered, and her heart sank. How could being in love put such an abysmal expression on someone's face? "It was a long time ago," was all he said.
What happened? Were they together? Did it work out? Suddenly she was desperate to know. "But—"
Both Sun and Seth turned in synchrony to the new voice. Dennis stood there, face neutral, but for the first time since she saw him that evening, completely alone. Her nerves were still raw from her conversation with Seth, and she only managed a weak grin at her best friend.
"Hey, there. I haven't seen you all night."
He gave a short nod. "Yeah, I've been looking for you to collect that dance you promised." His gaze flickered to Seth.
"Seth, this is Dennis," Sun said, and gritted her teeth at the smile Seth gave her at the unnecessary introduction. "Dennis, this is Seth."
"Hey," they said in unison, and Sun had to turn her head to keep them from seeing her eyes roll. Typical male greeting.
Then she realized Dennis was standing there—he'd willingly approached her. Did that mean he . . . didn't know? How could she find out for sure? She couldn't be on edge like this for the rest of their relationship. Oh, God, the stress alone from this night was going to kill her.
"Sun?" Seth said promptly, with barely disguised humour. She shot him a withering glare.
"Can you give me a second, Dennis?" she said to him sweetly. Her best friend's face smoothed into an expressionless face, but she had no time to ponder the implications. She grabbed Seth again, no patience to wait for Dennis to move away from earshot. "Listen, you know I don't have to tell you to control yourself! This is a secret, okay, and as a fellow member in this crappy love club, you're an ally."
Seth burst out laughing. "Love club?"
Her face went red. "You know what I mean. Just stop acting like you know something—he'll ask me about it, and I hate lying as it is."
Seth tried to control his snickers. "Yeah, no problem. It was nice meeting you."
Sun's face softened. "Even though you almost set off a panic attack, I'd have to agree." She turned to walk, but she hesitated. She had to know. "Did you . . . end up telling her?" she said quietly. She watched the grin on his face die to a small smile.
"The greatest person you can give your heart to is your best friend," Seth said. "That's what I would have told myself, eight years ago when I realized how important she was to me."
The ends of her lips twitched. "That doesn't answer my question."
A knowing smirk appeared on his face. "But it did answer the most important question."
"And there's that smile."
Sun laughed softly, and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. "Thank you." The words slipped out without thought. She didn't know exactly what she was thanking him for, just that he was exactly what she needed tonight.
Dennis' eyes were fixated over her head at Seth when she approached him. Sun offered a smile, but his remained expressionless, even when his hands enclosed over hers as they walked to the dance floor.
"So," he said, and now that they were alone, he looked more relaxed. "How's your evening?"
"Not too bad," she replied, "at least, for Brooke's special day." Besides her sticking her nose where it didn't belong, she added silently.
"Well? Aren't you going to ask me about my night?" he prodded, amused.
"I'm fairly sure I know," Sun said wryly, barely managing to keep herself from rolling her eyes. "I saw all the girls flock to you."
"Like moths to a flame," he said breezily, but his words were strange coupled with the fond, yet intense look on his face as he gazed down at her. Sun had to force herself not to pull back. She felt like she didn't have enough time to build back her walls and every secret was on her face for him to read. "Thanks for rescuing me, by the way."
"Since when did you ever need rescuing?"
"Hey, I thought I was your date?" Dennis said.
"You are, but you aren't mine," she said almost too tersely. Okay. She needed to escape him for a while because, obviously, she was not on top of her control. "You know, like girlfriend," she added lamely, and immediately wanted to slap her forehead. Way to not give her thoughts away. "Have you had a drink? I was on my way to grab one when I ran into Seth."
"No, I haven't. Did you know he was going to be here?"
She was puzzled. "No."
"He should've been your date," Dennis said.
It looked like it was taking great strength to speak, judging by his expression. "We didn't have to come together, you know. If you wanted to take him, then I would've been okay with that."
Sun's eyes darted from left to right. "What are you talking about?"
"My . . ." Realization dawned. "Seth? No, he's not . . . him," she said. "I just met Seth."
Dennis looked perplexed, if not slightly relieved. "Are you sure? Because you two looked fairly close to have just met."
"We clicked, that's all." Nothing like unrequited love to bond with a stranger.
Dennis was silent only for another minute. "You should've brought him."
Sun gave him an exasperated look. "Hudson, how could I have brought him if I just met—"
"Not him. I meant what I said, I wouldn't have minded. In fact, don't you think it's time we meet? I know you said you wanted to get over him, but come on, Sun. You haven't even tried to tell him. Do you know how lucky this son of a bitch is to have you in his life? Obviously he doesn't, if you're torturing yourself trying to move on. But if you give him a chance, then I know he'll love you just as much as you obviously love him." Dennis didn't look the least embarrassed at professing something so intimate. If anything he looked irritated, but the sincerity in his voice was real.
"It's not that simple, Dennis."
Dennis heard the words, but he wouldn't accept them.
"It's just that simple, Sun," Dennis argued. "You talk about how you've loved him first as a friend. Don't you think he deserves some kind of say in this?" What was he doing? he asked himself. What was he doing?
"For weeks you could hardly acknowledge him, and now you're his champion?" Sun asked in disbelief. As he expected, because wasn't it true? Didn't the thought of this important person in her life make him feel like he was at his absolute low? But this guy was someone she kept so close to her that Dennis hasn't even met him. He knew how Sun valued his opinion, and the realization that she purposely kept him out of this important aspect in her life made his heart ache. He didn't want her to choose.
"Yours," Dennis corrected quietly. "Always yours."
He gazed into her eyes and smiled slightly. Was it possible to feel like he lost something when it was never truly his to begin with? These feelings have burned so long inside his soul that the warmth of his love just became apart of him.
"Why are you saying this?" she asked almost inaudibly.
Dennis shrugged, feigning boredom that was so far from what he felt. It took a lot to stay away from her most of the evening, mostly because the atmosphere of this particular night was charged with a different kind of energy. Lounging around in their best-friend routine was familiar, so he was able to control his words and behaviour. But, just this one night, watching her fluid grace in action under the magic of this extraordinary day meant for true love was too much for him to handle.
"So you're okay with it?" Sun asked.
Dennis tensed against the wave of jealousy, pain and resentment. He'd been preparing for this moment for a few weeks now and all he could do was nod.
"Okay," Sun sighed in his arms, tightening her hold as she laid her head against his shoulder. "That's great."
Dennis smiled halfheartedly over her head. "I already know what I'm going to say to him," Dennis said after a few moments. Sun made a noncommittal sound but didn't lift her head. Frankly, it was easier for Dennis to speak this way without having her look at his face. He didn't know how well he was hiding his emotions, so his words came out sharper than he wanted them to. "The most important question, how could you have ever been so blind?"
Suddenly, Sun stilled, and pulled away. A strange expression was on her face.
"Important question," she echoed slowly.
Dennis' resentment bled into his words. "He better have a good answer, too." He was getting into a state just thinking about this hypothetical encounter. Sun smiling at this guy, looking at him like he's all she's ever wanted. Her whole countenance would change whenever he was brought up. And the whole time, Dennis pretending everything was dandy when it obviously fucking wasn't. Lots of fun.
"So do you?"
"Do I what?"
"Have a good answer."
Dennis frowned. Sun looked expectant, but there was an unreadable look in her eyes, and her jaw was set stubbornly. "What? Answer?" Then her words penetrated. And just as unsure as he was one second, the clarity that came in the following second was just as potent. Several heartbeats passed by as they stared at each other. Dennis felt like it was an out-of-body experience, but he was pretty sure his mouth was hanging open.
"You don't," Sun said decisively. "How would this work then, if it's you who had to suffer all your threats? How does it feel to finally know?" Her words had an edge; her voice was derisive. "For weeks you brushed him—you—off, all but suggesting I didn't need him in my life. Then tonight you do a one-eighty, saying that he deserves to know because—because what? Because he'll give me a chance? Because you'll give me a chance?" Sun cut herself off, breathing hard, a suspicious sheen in her eyes. "It doesn't work like that. I won't beg, and I know where I stand with you. It's no loss, really, because it's just like you said. Facing reality is the first step to moving on."
Sun looked at him, and let out a long, steady sigh.
Finally he found his voice. "It's me?" he heard himself croak, and immediately wanted to knock his head. But this was Sun. Sun who's witnessed his transition through puberty. Sun who laughed at him when she caught him practicing his one-liners in front of the mirror in the early years of high school. Sun who was there through his many phases of break-ups and make-ups.
But Sun only nodded distractedly, eyes already averted. She looked vaguely sick and pale as she said, "I need to talk to Seth. I—I'll see you later then," she said hurriedly, and just like that, he was alone.
What the hell? He whirled to the direction she disappeared to, shocked, although a steady thrum of anger was making itself known. She was off to see Seth? Someone she claimed to have just met?
He practically sprinted in order to catch up to her, and managed to maneuver himself right in front of her.
Sun reared back abruptly. "What are you doing?" she demanded. "You almost knocked me to my face!"
"Yeah, well, you almost knocked me to mine with that confession," he retorted. "We're even." Dennis watched pink diffuse across her face, before it went pale again. "I thought you said you just met Seth."
"I did," she replied. "I see him, actually so—"
"Is this actually happening?" Dennis demanded, this time reaching forward to lock her wrists in his hands. "Are you actually running away after I finally discovered who your damn boy-toy is, after all these years?"
She gaped. "It's you!"
Dennis' anger had already calmed, and tendrils of ecstasy were expanding in his chest. "Oh, now you have no qualms about letting me know."
Fury suddenly bled into her face as she yanked her hands away from him. "This—isn't—a—joke!" She punctuated each word with a jab on his chest. "I know you think being a smartass about it will make it less awkward, but guess what!" she shouted. "It's awkward and horrible and it isn't something I'm going to let you rub in my face!"
Wide-eyed, Dennis tried to wrap an arm around her. "Whoa, Sun, hold on, I didn't—"
She whirled around. Dennis supposed he could sweep her into his arms and stalk away from their growing audience, but he also knew the extent of her wrath, so he opted for trailing after her. He tried to keep the grin off his face—at least until it was physically safe for him in this precarious situation.
"Sun," Dennis tried. She shot him a venomous glare. "Sun, I can be a jerk at times, but you know I'll never do anything to purposely hurt you."
She had turned her head, but she stopped abruptly. He felt his heart pounding in his chest and he clenched his hands at his sides to keep from touching her.
"I know," she said quietly. "So you understand that we need to stay away. I meant what I said: I do believe we can still be friends."
"Well, I don't."
Sun stiffened, and since it looked like she was able to turn her heel, he stood right in front of her. Slowly, Dennis tilted her chin so he could meet her eyes. The stubborn clench of her jaw was there, even when he saw a world of heartbreak in her eyes.
"I don't just want to be friends, Sun," Dennis said quietly.
"Dennis! Sun!" A screech broke the somber mood quickly, which was coupled with Brooke's vicious glare. She was holding the skirt part of her dress, and judging from the murderous intent in her eyes, it looked like she stomped her way over. Sure enough, he saw Lance jogging behind her.
"Oh God," Sun moaned.
Dennis made an impatient gesture. "Brooke, we're having a conversation—"
"Excuse me, hold on. Who practically made a spectacle in the middle of the dance floor? And on whose special day?" Brooke narrowed her eyes, and Dennis promptly snapped his jaw shut. "Plus, it's time for the girls to change for their performance."
"Oh God," Sun said again, and this time her moan had a longer duration.
Dennis gave Sun a startled look. "Performance?"
But Brooke was already dragging her away.
Dennis groaned. What impeccable timing. "If it wasn't her wedding day . . ."
"So?" Lance said expectantly. Dennis blinked, suddenly realizing that Randy and Don were also staring at him rather intensely. "Well?"
Don turned to the two other guys. "It was Sun, I'm telling you. I mean, grade-A example of how oblivious he is right now."
"No, I don't think he's that stupid. And because she kept it in this long, by the time he noticed it should be him to say something," Randy argued.
"I'm half-half," Lance said. "But Brooke says it's Sun, no question."
Dennis gaped. "What the hell?"
Lance gave him an assessing look. "So who confessed first?"
Dennis' blank look shifted into one of disbelief. "You knew?"
"Of course we knew," Lance drawled.
"I knew the first time I saw you two together," Randy said.
Obviously he was a little denser than he thought.
Dennis grumbled as he stalked away from the men. The next thirty minutes consisted of a performance by the bridesmaids, and Dennis was anxious and impatient to finish their conversation, but not so much that he couldn't admire Sun's fluid grace and energy on the floor.
It was obvious, however, that she was bent on avoiding him, for whatever reason. As soon as she re-entered the hall in her dress, she made a beeline toward a group of adults, including his parents. His parents never passed up the opportunity to converse with his best friend, and even from where he was standing he could see the smiles on their faces as Sun chatted with them.
"Oh, Dennis," Sun said in false surprise, "there you are!"
"Dennis," his mom said with a wide smile. "We were just telling Sun how much we liked the performance."
"If I tried dancing like that I'd throw my hip," his dad agreed in his usual wry fashion. Sun laughed.
"Trust me, it took me weeks to learn the routine. Brooke's friends just about took my head off."
Dennis forced a smile, but he knew that his eyes were a different story. "I'd love to tell her how much I enjoyed watching her," Dennis said, completely aware of Sun's sudden flush despite her sudden stoic expression, "but it seems that she's avoiding me."
Sun's stoic look snapped into one of shock, clearly at the gall of how low he'd go to get her to talk to him. He met her eyes challengingly. He wasn't about to play fair, not after something that important. Not after the way she brushed it off as if it meant nothing to her.
"I'm not avoiding you," Sun said. His parents watched on curiously. Her plan to use his parents as a shield had backfired. "What makes you say that? I saw your parents and wanted to talk to them. That's not a crime is it?" she said, her tone towards the end of her sentence more derisive and challenging than he expected from the moment. And then he realized that he'd backed her into a corner, and when that happened, Sun came at you full swing.
"What did you do, Dennis?" his mother immediately demanded. Even his father looked at him with expectant eyes.
"What? Why do you think it's my fault?" he said, but shook his head. "No. Sun, I know what you're doing. Please, I want to talk to you." He looked at her intently, pleadingly, completely uncharacteristic. But nothing about their situation was seemingly normal, both crossing boundaries that would never have been imaginable years before.
It was obvious that she wanted to say no, but just as obvious that she didn't want to have an all-out shouting match in front of his parents. He turned to lead the way, knowing she was right behind him.
"A bit uncharacteristic, Sun, avoiding the obvious don't you think?" Dennis couldn't help but say once they were once again alone.
Sun lifted her jaw. "Dennis, I've been avoiding the obvious for longer than you can imagine."
Dennis leveled his gaze with hers. "So I guess I'll have to make up the lost years."
Sun stared, obviously uncomprehending his words, and this time he felt the first sliver of nervousness.
"I have . . . been oblivious," he said, forcing the words out, and almost immediately he saw the shift in her face at his words. "Because it's taken me over ten years to realize what I have right in front of me."
"You have," Sun agreed, voice devoid of all emotions.
Seconds ticked by. He felt his hands start to clam.
"And I've thought about all those threats I had for your boy-toy."
This time, he saw the tilt at the end of her lips.
"Firstly," he said, "I wanted to apologize for thinking that he was too ugly for my dazzling best friend. I know when to admit when I'm wrong, but it's obvious he's as gorgeous as her, if not more." His own lips tugged into a smirk when Sun's eyes brightened. Warmth began to unfurl in his chest. "Since I'm big enough when to admit mistakes, I also know to say that it was wrong to tell you to stop being his friend. What I'm not sorry for is changing my mind, because even though I'm obliviously dense, I'm not oblivious enough to not realize that I really wanted you to tell him." Dennis felt himself stumbling his words, and the unfamiliar urge to turn and walk away clawed his back. "Not for me—or him, what I previously thought—but because you were so… so…"
Dennis made a helpless gesture. Beautiful. Luminescent. Ethereal.
His initial thoughtful speech was suddenly crumbling at his feet and he felt raw and bare, and he knew this moment would mark him for the rest of his life.
His eyes lowered, unable to handle the force of her stare. "Because you would light up," he said lowly, resignedly. "You would just glow when you did talk about him—and I knew that if you loved him, half as much as I loved you, then I would support you, no matter who he was."
It felt like eternities passed by as he waited for a response.
"Are you speaking to me or my left ear, Hudson?"
Dennis' eyes snapped to hers as his eyebrows rose at her tone. For a moment he searched her eyes.
"You're going to make me suffer, aren't you," he said, but the delight was already spreading in his chest.
"Every moment," Sun agreed.
They stared at each other.
"Well." Sun gave him a purposeful once-over, and he was already reaching for her, but then her next words were, "I'm going to talk to Seth. I love you." She pecked his cheek and ducked away before he could touch her.
Dennis was left gaping after her back, but when his sister found him a minute later asking if he grew a spine, he was still laughing.
"So?" Don asked, hours later when the last of the guests were giving their final farewells. "What happened?"
Dennis shot him an amused look. "Did you guys really have a bet?"
"You don't want to know how much was put into this," Don replied.
"Dennis fell at my feet," Sun said as she neared them. "He told me he couldn't live without me, and if I could find it in my generous heart to give him a chance. Naturally—as I have a big heart—I agreed."
Dennis knew he would walk on needles with bare feet if she asked him to. Even if he didn't feel the way he did, he knew he would still nod along. "Naturally."
Sun grabbed his hand and twirled herself into his arms. His body moved with her with effortless familiarity, and a moment later her body was plastered against his. "And since Dennis is all for grand gestures, he said he'd get a tattoo on his right butt cheek with my name in a heart, along with the time he announced his everlasting affections."
"8:43 PM," Dennis agreed.
She turned her head to face his, and his gaze locked with her hooded brown eyes. "And when I want a date to watch musicals, Dennis said he'd be the perfect gentleman." He knew he was being played, and that they were putting on a show, but he still felt like he was falling off the edge of a cliff.
Don was snickering at his befuddled expression, and judging by Sun's smirk, she knew exactly what she was doing. Dennis had enough presence of mind to take advantage of the moment and pressed his lips against hers in a brief, hard kiss.
"I can't promise to be a gentleman all night, Sun," Dennis said lowly into her ear, and had the pleasure of feeling her tense against him. He smirked. "Careful when playing with fire."
"I'll leave you two lovebirds alone," Don chuckled as he walked away.
Dennis knew that his parents would hone in on them soon, especially with Don heading in their direction, if not for their proximity. He needed to be quick.
"What do you really think about what I said?" Dennis asked. Sun's practiced look of nonchalance melted and she smiled.
"I thought, 'No wonder he doesn't do confrontations. He looks like he's about to pass out.'"
Dennis groaned. Trust her to milk this for all it was worth—not that he blamed her, either. "Sun."
"What do you think? I still don't believe it."
Dennis looked at her with narrowed eyes. "You're not going to run from this, are you?"
"No," she said, but in a vague tone where he knew she'd probably considered the idea. He tightened his grip. "What? I'm in a love with you; you're in love with me. What next? You haven't been in a real committed relationship, and I've been in love with you for years. Dennis. If this goes up in flames, our friendship will never be the same."
Dennis only gave her a tolerant look. Didn't Sun know that they were already in a committed relationship? Nothing was ever going to change the way he felt about her; it was only going to grow. "We'll start slow. I'll take you out for dinner, after we watch a romantic comedy of your choice. On our next date, I'll take you to a beach, and we'll have dinner as we watch the sun set. For our third date we'll go to the aquarium or zoo. Our fourth date isn't going to go as planned, and I'll end up crashing at your place. I'll rub your feet and you'll play with my hair and you'll fall asleep in my arms…"
"Okay, stop, I get the picture," she said, but her face was red and she was smiling. His own smile fell and all he could do was stare into her eyes. Just gazing into her eyes with her skin against his…
"Okay, we really need to know," Lance popped from behind Sun, causing her to jump and pull away, but he only pulled her closer.
"Dennis?" his father looked at him expectantly.
Dennis glanced at Sun, who shrugged as if to say 'what can we do?'
Sun smiled sweetly. "Sorry, fellas. It was me. Let's be real, Dennis isn't too emotionally intuitive."
"I can be," Dennis objected.
"I'm pretty sure it's been ten years," Brooke pointed out as she drew into the conversation with his mother in tow.
Dennis felt like he was punched in the gut. "Ten?" he said incredulously, looking down at Sun.
She looked unimpressed. "Like I said: oblivious."
"Talk about being blind," his father muttered under his breath. Dennis shot him a scandalized look. "I lost two-hundred dollars, son. If anything I should be pouting."
"You are, Dad," Brooke said, as she held her hand out expectantly.
All around them, grumbles and gleeful exclamations met their ears as money was exchanged. Dennis could only watch, stunned, but Sun was happily encouraging their behaviour.
"Don't you feel—I don't know—used?" Dennis hissed.
"Used? Not really. Besides, that's your ego talking."
"Not to mention I promised her dinner for our despicable behaviour," Don said.
"He did," Sun chimed.
"I'm guessing that invitation doesn't extend to me?" Dennis crossed his arms and glowered at Don.
"Sorry, Sun promised it'd only be the two of us."
"I did," Sun said, only slightly apologetically. He noticed the mischievous glint in her eye and he sighed.
"Did I ever thank you for not giving up on me?" Dennis said. He didn't wait for her to answer, but instead pulled her in for a soul-searching kiss among the presence of their family and friends. Sometimes she forgets that he played the game just as often as she did, but he had a feeling he was going to enjoy them even more in the upcoming years.
He was smirking when he pulled away. Her face was furious and red, and she grabbed his arm, no doubt ready to blow up. He could already hear her shouting at him about propriety in public. Even so, Dennis couldn't help but grin at the memory of her lips as he was pulled away.
It was worth every second.
Author's note: I have been writing this since December 8, 2012 believe it or not (so apparently it takes me a year to write a whole one shot…). Glad to be finished! Took a while for Sun and Dennis there to settle down, I had to re-write the last few pages a couple of times. Pretty sure my writing has changed a bit. Let me know. Either way, I'd like to hear from you guys!
I have an usually addressing FAQs (i.e., where on earth am I/why haven't I updated) in case you were wondering (under my profile). But that's about it! See you in my next update xo