Chapter 1 : A Love
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A hesitant stare.
It skips over his form, which is thinner than I remember it, as he stands hunched in the doorway. His hair is shaggy, his jacket moth-eaten, almost to a point where there are obvious holes around his elbows. Sorrow courses through me, bursts of it shrieking through my veins. Have I done this to him? Is it I who has let him look this way?
A step closer.
It resounds around the room, echoing as my foot makes contact with the dusty floor. He doesn't turn around, but his shoulders shudder. I stop. I pause. His shaking does not cease. "Ted?" I venture. It is the only word that forms on my lips, the only word I dare utter in his presence.
A faltering voice.
"Go away, Dominique." He uses my full name. This hurts. He knows it will sting, which is why I suppose he decides to use it. I will not give him the satisfaction of showing him the pain now etched across my face, and so I turn away.
He knows I have not left. He knows that I will not be leaving. He knows that that is not the kind of person I find myself to be. I see his form wilting, sagging even more on the doorway he is supported by. His face is hidden, shadows of the room cast too far over his features to reveal his expression. Please, oh please, Ted, look up so I can see you.
He startles me with a sharp intake of breath. I jerk around, reacting suddenly as I see his figure falling, as if in slow motion, toward the floor. My feet are moving before I realize it, and I catch him underneath the arms before I know what I've done. I've touched him. Something I swore to him I'd never do. Something dangerous, but addicting. Even with my support we topple to the ground, and I suddenly find myself on top of him. He lies beneath me, flinching only slightly as we hit the dusty floor.
A shake of the shoulders.
"You caught me," he is whispering, so close to me now that I can feel his warm breath on my cheek. "You caught me, Dom." His body quakes as if he is heaving with silent sobs, convulsing as his shoulders rest in my lap. "You caught me," he repeats, louder now. "You caught me." I am afraid of this Ted, the side of this man that I have never seen before. He frightens me with his yelping. He frightens me with his shaking.
And then he is crying, the tears creating tracks down the filth caked on his face. "Ted," I say softly, bringing my finger up to catch a droplet as it rolls down his cheek, "what have you done to yourself?" The dirt on his features is evidence of what I had been expecting: complete disregard for his well-being. "What have you done while I've been gone?" The holes in his jacket, the knotted hair, the inability to even lean against the wall, all send the pity and sorrow coursing through my form. "What have you done, Ted? What have you done?"
A space of silence.
He doesn't respond to me, which scares me even more. He just lies there, shaking, tears meandering down his cheeks and nose. I notice for the first time that his eyes are squeezed shut, as if in an effort to not look at my face hovering above him. "I missed you." His teeth are clenched, his eyes remain closed, as he finally utters those three words. That phrase, that dear, tiny little phrase, sends icicles through my heart. How could I have left him? How could I have possibly broken from his side?
"I'm so sorry," I breath, bending down to lay my lips on his forehead. I let them rest there for only a split second, fearing that any longer would trigger something deep inside that I've tried to hide ever since I've been gone. My skin comes up dirtied, the filth on his flesh springing to greet my own as I near him, but I pay it no mind.
"Don't," he breaths, so quietly I almost cannot begin to make it out. "Do it right." Before I know it, his hand has reached to touch my face. It pulls me down slowly, slowly, slowly. I melt into him before I can stop myself, before the tiny voice in the back of my head that knows this is so entirely, utterly wrong starts screaming at me.
I find myself with skin against skin, lip against lip. He is weak, his mouth moving only slightly to encompass mine, but he kisses me anyway. And Merlin, does it feel good. The tears continuing to trickle down his face bother me only slightly as they collide with my mouth. They taste salty and bitter, reminding me of what he has suffered through without me.
"I'm so sorry, Ted," I'm whispering against his lips, breaking our kiss for only just a moment before Teddy starts it again. But I pull away, insisting to myself that I must speak to him before this can continue any longer. "Ted, I'm so, so sorry." I brush against him as the words pass through me, and he opens his eyes slowly so that he can look at me.
A heartfelt question.
He is silent for a moment, gazing into my eyes for what seems like an eternity. I could die inside them, the dark pools of his irises boring into what seems to be my very soul. "You promise you won't leave?" The skin on his face stretches over what little muscle he has left as his voice strains against words that betray him. He has said them before, many times, and yet he chooses to utter them again. I have ignored them, always ignored them, but this time... this time I must promise myself that I will not. "You promise you won't ever leave me?"
"I swear," I breath, dipping back down to loose myself in his mouth, "I won't ever leave again." And then, we are together once more, sharing something I have tried countless times to find in other people. I always come back, stumbling into his flat like I'm coming home to my own, hating myself all the while for torturing him like I know I do.
We are lying on the floor, so wrapped in the other's embrace that the thought of getting dust on our clothes doesn't even cross our minds. We are melting, dissolving, loosing each other in a kiss that could last a lifetime and neither of us would care. I am complete, finding myself in a bond that I keep crawling back to, even when I have rejected it time after time after time. It is perfect, this moment, as I lie so near to the man I have promised to never, ever, leave again.