The first time he saw her, she was just some girl that had taken his table. From that night forward, she had usurped his spot each and every night, and he was forced to sit at another table in the cafe. He did miss his street-lamp, but he didn't mind seeing her under it's soft, late-night glow.
About a month after seeing her for the first time, he spoke to her for the first time. He wouldn't normally have done anything of that sort, but each night she'd been at the cafe, he noticed that she would read, have tea, and maybe even have a few cookies. But he knew that something was wrong as he entered his nightly haunt; the girl he'd avidly observed, but tried his hardest not to, was without her book and had a plate of macarons that she was making patterns out of. He felt that she needed to talk to someone, that she hadn't said a thing to anyone, and that he was the one she would talk to.
He walked nervously up to the table that had once been so familiar to him and cleared his throat. The girl's strawberry-blonde head snapped up, her grey-green eyes meeting his chocolate brown ones. Her eyes were wide, her cherry-red lips slightly open, and surprise was written plainly upon her face.
"Hello," he began, "may I, uh, may I sit here?"
"Oh!" she breathed, startled. "Of course!''
He sat down, both hands wrapped around his coffee cup, his eyes falling warmly on hers. He gave her a small smile before taking a steadying breath and carrying on with his original thought, "So, I've seen you here before, a lot actually, and I just finally got up the nerve to talk to you."
She beamed at the boy, "I've seen you here too. I just moved here a month ago, and I don't really know anyone."
"Now you know me," he grinned, his cheeks turning pink. He didn't understand why he was acting like such a lovesick child. He stared down at her hands as she went back to making shapes with the multi-colored cookies on her plate. All six were still there and not a crumb marred the plate.
"Are you all right?" he asked. After a pause he added, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be so nosy. You just seem a little upset or off...maybe sad?"
"No, just a little lost. This mood will pass, it always does," she leaned back, folded her hands in her lap, and gave the boy a tremulous smile.
"Do you move often?"
"Yes, but it's by personal choice. I like to keep moving around...for variety I suppose."
He looked at her for a moment, "I really need to get going, but I'll see you here tomorrow evening right?"
She let out a bubble of laughter before saying that she considered it to be the afternoon.
They would sit and talk for a couple of hours each night, and got to know each other very well. After the third month of their friendship, they had each other's phone numbers, keys to the opposite's apartment, work numbers. They also knew everything there was to know about each other, even their favorite color, weather, article of clothing, movie. He was twenty six, she was twenty two. He was still very naive, almost as oblivious to the world's darkness as she was. The list was endless, and so were the nights they spent together.
One night in June, he met her at the cafe, only to find her anxious once more, but this time she had a letter. When looked at more closely, it could be seen that it was typed, and if one knew her as he did, one could tell that her main source of stress at that moment was due entirely to that typed epistle.
He sat down across from her, took the letter, had her cookies boxed, stuffed the two items in his bag, and proceeded to pull her close to himself. He hated seeing her upset, he wanted to make everything better, but he knew he couldn't do that in the middle of a coffeeshop, so he convinced her to go back to his apartment and then she could tell him what was wrong.
When they arrived at his fifth floor apartment, he took her into his kitchenette and sat the cookies on a new plate and allowed her to eat the green and blue ones before asking once more what was bothering her.
"Oh," she breathed, trying to dismiss it. "It's nothing. Just someone I knew in high school. Finally telling me something that would have helped back then, and certainly has made things worse now."
Without thinking, he pulled her close and pressed his lips gently to hers, shocking her into stillness. She quickly responded, however, running her hands through his hair, letting him kiss her more deeply and hungrily. He directed them to his bedroom, and she was placed on his king-sized bed without any protestation.
Sun shone in through the window, the city's sound muffled by the distance between the streets and the apartment. The boy had woke up, gradually gaining conciousness as the level of brightness increased. He had slept so well after the previous night's events, absolutely content with the world he found himself in. The painting above his television seemed more sharp and meaningful, the sound of Frank Sinatra's voice floated in quietly through the cracked bedroom door. And then his eyes fell upon his friend.
She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. Her thick golden hair was mussed and frizzy against the plaid, flannel pillowcase, her face a mask of serenity. Her lips were curved slightly, a perpetual sigh seemed to be just inside her mouth waiting to escape. Her legs were tangled in the soft, green sheets, and wound around his own. One of her hands had a limp hold on his hip and the other bent delicately against her collarbone. She was gorgeous, not in a classic or modern way, but in a way that was all her own; she had the figure of Athena, her wrists and neck looked as if they had been painted by a great renaissance artist.
He allowed her to sleep for a while longer, not being able to help himself as he stared at her. He knew that she didn't sleep well regularly and knew that if she didn't trust him wholly, she wouldn't continue to sleep as she did now. He wanted to have breakfast ready for her when she woke up, but he couldn't bear to move for fear of waking her.
She snuggled closely to him, yawning, then blinking her eyes open. The blinking became almost rapid and she rolled to the very edge of the bed, taking the sheet with her, trying to keep as covered as possible.
"Oh no," she squeaked.
Hurt and confused, he shook his head, "What?"
"Well, we...and I've only known you for...you must think - but I never have actually done anything so impulsively as that - I'm so sorry - " she stumbled over words, searching his face, but deciding that was the last place she should be looking and settled on the alarm clock; she noticed that it said eleven thirty a.m.
He slowly, deliberately encircled her waist and pulled her, sheets and all, to him. He wanted to let her know that it was okay. That what she did was something he needed, and so did she whether she knew it or not.
"I know you don't. You aren't that sort of person, just flinging yourself at people all willy-nilly. You hardly let me know you before you knew a sufficient amount about me. I wanted to, you didn't make me do anything, and you wanted to."
"...Needed to," she whispered into his neck. "I feel like I have known you since the beginning of time. Of everything."
"I feel like I've been missing a huge part of myself. Or at least I did feel like that, and I had that sense of incompleteness for years. And now, I feel like I've fixed myself entirely."
He felt something warm and wet sliding down his neck and shoulder; he wrapped her tightly in the sheets and laid her down with him, kissing the top of her messy blonde hair, letting the tears come as fast as they needed. He didn't understand what was going on inside her mind, but he knew that he couldn't help her now.
"I slept so long," she breathed, her mouth so close to his ear.
"That's all right, I was awake yes, but you're so lovely when you're asleep. I couldn't wake you up. And I loved that you were comfortable with me enough that you would sleep for eight hours straight in a strange place."
He felt her smile against him, encouraging him, making the question fight its way to the surface, "What's bothering you Aiva?"
"Everytime I get close to someone, they usually leave. And this usually doesn't bother me - at least it doesn't anymore. But that letter made me insecure all over again...I just don't know how to take it...I really like you...but at the same time - "
He cut her off, kissing her gently, almost as if imploring her to understand that he wanted her to believe him when he said he wouldn't leave her. However, he knew she didn't want to hear any protestation, and his action only reinforced that which couldn't be described in words.
She reluctantly broke away from him, wrapping the sheet ever more tightly around her, self-concious for the first time in years. She was afraid that he would laugh at her, though she knew there was no reason he would; she looked frantically about for an article of clothing, anything to cover herself up more securely. He understood her need to clothe herself, but he wanted to make sure she knew that she had no need to be embarassed when in fact, she shouldn't feel any need to cover up in front of him at all.
He gently tugged the sheet away from her, "You're wonderful, you know that right? After all of this...I just wouldn't change a thing, okay?"
She nodded and let the sheet slip away entirely as she got up and pulled on the nearest button down shirt she found, not worrying if it were his or hers, and her underwear. Without waiting for him, she found her way back into the kitchenette and opened the door to the refridgerator. She got them each a bowl of cereal, and met him on the couch, where he was watching cartoons.
She sat and stared back at her adolescence in the screen, willing the younger version of herself to keep believing that some boy, sometime, somewhere, would love cartoons as much as she does, and would watch them with her and eat lucky charms.
"Is it too early to say I love you?" he asked quietly.
"I love you too," she whispered back.