Sorry I haven't updated as quickly as I usually do guys! The dreaded writers-block struck me over the head with a sledge hammer D:
Hope you enjoy this half filler-half discovery/feelings chapter of Gratitude! :D
Disclaimer: Do I really still have to do this? Don't own anything, 'cept my own chars.
Light itself seemed to flow through the air, filling the world with delicious warmth. Laughter echoed around the void, but the girl could see no people. Only the faintest of shadows, with no features whatsoever. Just their laughing voices.
She stared around, wondrous delight bestowed on her features at the marvel of it all. It was as though a huge portion of herself was so content, filled up to the brim with a warm glow that seemed to shine from her every orifice.
She turned around at the sound of her pet name and saw one of the shadows becoming clearer and clearer as it walked towards her, finally dispelling the mist and revealing the familiar figure of Toby, hands in his pockets once again.
…Although, he looked different somehow. The scar on his head didn't exist, and it was as if he had never seen a fight in his life, let alone been in one. His skin seemed to glow and the white-toothed smile he showed made it even better. He held out a hand.
"Aren't you coming?" he asked.
Hesitantly, she looked at his hand. The laughter still went on, but it was as though she and Toby were apart from it, in their own little bubble. The voices were muffled, as though they had been taken outside from a huge party.
"Lou," he repeated and she looked up at his eyes, hand still held out. It was so easy to get lost in those green orbs of his. "I can help you."
She wanted to reply with an "I know." But her voice seemed to be non-existent in this void. It seemed the only way to join those laughing voices was to trust Toby.
Take his hand, her mind whispered, take his hand and everything will be alright.
And, for once, she let her free side take over. Her hand reached out and held his own. His smile brightened, and he pulled her forwards as the laughter became loud once again, and the entire place was filled with a bright light, making even the shadows vanish.
The last thing she heard was Toby's voice, whispering in to the light.
"I can help you."
It was so warm… so cosy… she didn't want to get up…
A half-hearted yawn escaped her lips and her eyes fluttered open. She soon realised she was led on her side, leaning against something warm and… moving?
Her drowsy demeanour vanished completely as her head jerked up. She knew for a fact that her bed would be warm, but it should definitely not be moving. She looked at her would-be 'bed cover' and almost toppled out off of the mattress at what she saw.
With his tanned arms around her waist, Toby lay there, head half buried in the quilt, snoring away with his mouth wide open, unruly hair even more messed up than usual. And with an even bigger jolt, she realised he was shirtless. In her bed. At nine o'clock in the morning.
It seemed she had been resting her head against his chest, which was she had felt something moving against her head.
And then it all came flooding back to her. How she had had that nightmare again, woken up screaming and Toby had come to comfort her.
And she had said… oh no…
What did I think I was doing? Saying things like that… It's suicide!
As gently as she possibly could, she began to unlatch Toby's arms from her waist (being irresistibly reminded of the coffee incident), but she saw his eyelids flicker and immediately pretended to be asleep again. Flopping back down like a ragdoll, she slowed her breathing and waited. She heard the covers rustle and the creak of bedsprings as he finally let go of her. From the way the mattress tilted, it seemed he had edged over and slipped off the bed, making the floorboards creak as he tried to quietly exit the room, failing miserably.
When she was sure he had gone, her eyes opened once again. Sure enough, the bedroom was empty, sunlight shining innocently through the window, where the curtains had been drawn the previous night.
Blatantly, Toby didn't want her to know he had been there; the covers which he had laid on top of had been smoothed out and the door been closed behind him, to make it look like nothing odd had happened at all. Maybe he just didn't want to deal with the awkwardness of the situation, but something told her that his intention was just to let her sleep peacefully and not be freaked out when she woke up…
Or maybe he hoped she wouldn't remember… Yes, that was probably it. He didn't want her to remember what she had said; perhaps he was even thinking that it had been sleep-induced talk; in other words, utter nonsense.
But she knew it wasn't. Truth had been evident in those seven words she had muttered, even if she had been half-asleep at the time. Only now was the girl realising this as she stared at the spiral patterns on her bedroom ceiling, trying to find some sort of meaning or answer in them. Of course, none came to her.
She even remembered the exact moment she had fallen for him. As soon as he had caught her around the waist in that coffee shop, she had been taken. Taken in to his life, taken in to his heart, and him to her own. A quiet giggle escaped her lips as she recounted the memory. He had been so adorable… heck, he still was. Not to mention he had such a great sense of humour too. But it wasn't just that… He had proved yesterday he was caring, proved weeks ago that he was protective of her. Brave as well, even though most didn't see it…
These feelings… they had been lying dormant in her chest for weeks. How had she not realised when he had saved her life on that stormy night a month ago…? How were these emotions only just awakening now, asking all these stupidly obvious questions?
And why didn't Toby want to believe that her words had been true?
An insane thought popped in to her mind, but she immediately shooed it away. How could he possibly…? But of course not! She was stupid to even think things like that!
Maybe I should confront him about it, she thought to herself, then we could clear everything up…
But then her voice of reason kicked in. Imagine how freaked out he would be if what she thought wasn't true! He'd probably never want to see her again. And she didn't ever, ever want that to happen…
No, she would act how he wanted her to act: like she didn't remember anything at all.
Deciding this was the right way to go about things, she flung the covers off herself and leapt out of bed, landing on the laminated flooring like a cat; soundless and agile. She hurried over to her closet and dressed as quickly as her hands would allow.
She pulled on a black turtleneck crop-top she found at the back and white jeans, before running a brush through her wild mane of hair. Deciding she looked presentable, she walked to her bedroom door.
Her body stopped itself at the frame, her teeth biting in to her lip; was ignoring it really the right thing to do?
Yes, a voice said in the back of her head, it is.
But as she began to walk downstairs, she couldn't but wonder what would happen if she didn't listen to that voice.