Chapter 30 – Beginnings

Frankie woke up the next morning feeling incredibly stupid for crying the night before, and also for making such an idiotic phone call. She decided to get up, put some clothing on, and march herself over to his house. So she did.

At eleven o'clock she was knocking on his door, her stomach tied in a knot and her hands shaking slightly. She wanted to think, 'Stop being so ridiculous,' but couldn't. All she could think was, 'What am I going to say?' He answered the door, still half asleep and clad only in a pair of pyjama pants.

"Yes?"

"Can I come in?"

"Depends. Why do you want to come in?"

"I want to talk, I guess."

"Fine," he said, walking away from the door and flopping on his couch. She took off her boots and shut the door gingerly. She then crossed the room and sat down in his overstuffed recliner. "What did you want to talk about?" he yawned.

"Things," she said while biting her nail. She wrapped her arms around herself and tried very hard to think of what to say. "I actually don't know what to say," she admitted, chewing on her lip and fidgeting with the hem of her shirt.

"I could use some more sleep, so if this is going no where, I'm going back to bed."

"Wes… I…"

"You what?"

"I…"

"You…?"

"I don't know."

"I could've guessed you'd say that."

"Look, I don't want to fight with you and start blaming you for everything."

"Oh really? You don't? That's astounding. I would've thought your next move would be to explode with some sort of tirade of nonsense, ending with you storming out and not speaking to me for a week."

"That's not fair…"

"No, do you know what's not fair? Having my heart broken every day. That's not fair. Yeah, I know, that was kind of lame, but it's true. You can't blame me for our relationship excelling to where it has. This has been a joint effort. Example: you were the straw that broke the camel's back in my relationship with Heather. Sure, she was suspicious, but there wasn't really anything there at that point, no matter what everyone else likes to believe. But your little debacle at dinner that one night made all her suspicions seem accurate, thus, she left me. Had that never happened, I might still be with her, and we might just be friends."

"That's entirely stupid, and not necessarily true."

"It isn't."

"It is! Augh, stop it! I don't want to bicker with you today! I just wanted to come over here and attempt to say something to fix the current wound I've created. I don't know what to say or what to do, I just want things to be better. I just want us to be like we were before."

"Well here's a newsflash, Frank. I am in love with you, and at this point in the game, I can't have you around me all the time if you don't feel the same way. I couldn't stand to see you fall in love with somebody else… even the thought – it kills me every time. And you're going to sit there and insist that it will never ever happen, that you don't want it to happen, but you thought no one would ever be in love with you, either, and clearly I am. So who's to say you won't be in love someday? I know you will be, and I'm not about to sit by and watch it be with somebody else." He rolled over so he wasn't facing her. She was still speechless.

"I'm sorry for not wanting to talk about this," she said after a very long time. "And I'm not going to repeat old speeches that you've already heard a zillion times. I know how you feel, that's extremely clear. What I don't know is how I feel." She paused. He waited for what felt like forever for her to say something else. "I know that I love you on some level, I just don't know what level that is. So I guess I'll go. I don't know what else to say. If you don't want to be around me that's fine," she finished, her voice cracking. She didn't want to cry again, mainly because she hated crying, but she especially didn't want to cry in front of him. She looked so incredibly pathetic when she cried – she knew she always looked wretched and unattractive. He knew this, from looking back in on her so many months ago, but she didn't know he'd seen.

She knew that she didn't want to never see him again, but she also didn't want to be in love. She didn't need her heart broken – even though at that moment it was being smashed – it wasn't nearly as painful as a break up or divorce would be.

She quietly started putting her boots on as hot tears fell down her cheeks and made them itch. She hiccoughed loudly before saying, "I'm leaving now." He didn't respond, which made her both very angry and very sad. "There is one thing I'm feeling right this moment," she said, taking a deep breath and trying to stop her tears.

"What's that?" he asked, his face hidden under a sofa cushion.

"I want to kiss you."

"That's nice." With that, she turned and left, making sure to slam the door on her way out.

Both felt physically ill for the few days, which quickly rolled into weeks. Wes felt incredible guilt for dismissing her like that. Frankie felt confused and upset, yet still just wanted to kiss him and hold him and smell his cologne. She missed his presence terribly and spoke hardly at all to anyone. Wes missed her a lot as well, and had to use every last ounce of willpower not to go and see her. He knew when he did that he would ultimately leave broken hearted once more. He found it somewhat amusing they had switched roles. He was purposefully being callous and withdrawn as a defence mechanism, to protect himself from being hurt. And Frankie was trying so hard to try and say something, to integrate herself into his life.

It was the end of January, and Wes realized that her birthday was in only a few days. He thought he ought to get her a card or a present or something, but didn't know if he should or shouldn't. Soon it was the twenty sixth, the day before her birthday. The day itself was mostly uneventful. Wes leafed through the want ads, looking for some sort of job. His funds were running low and soon he'd have to work for a living. He was almost regretting dropping all that money on her at Christmas, but knew deep down he actually wasn't. He went to bed early that night, but was very rudely awakened around midnight.

He heard a noise coming from somewhere, and fearing the rats had returned sat up rather abruptly, rubbing his eyes and searching for his clock to see the time. Before he was even half-awake, the window over top of his bed slid open and Frankie's slim body slipped in. She landed on his bed, standing behind him, and he twisted around to look at her. She slammed the window shut, but not before a good amount of snow fell in. She plopped down beside him so that she was facing him, and grinned. "Hey!" she shouted.

"Shut up," he said, clapping his hand over her mouth. "You'll wake up Mrs Tuttle."

"Sorry," she said, though her mouth was still covered.

"Are you drunk again?" he sighed.

"Only a tiny little bit," she whispered. "Dani and Celia took me out for drinks. So I'm only a little bit tipsy. I'm not really drunk."

"Well maybe I should take you home so you can sleep off your tipsiness."

"No, no!" she said, waving her arms as a look of alarm spread over her face. "No, no!" she repeated. "I want to spend my birthday with you!"

"Oh, right," he said, fully coming to and realizing what day it was. "Happy birthday."

She smiled and put her head on his shoulder. "It's not really super happy."

"It isn't?"

"Of course not. You hate me."

"Frankie," he sighed.

"Well you're mad at me. I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"For being mean. And indecisive. Hey let's lie down."

"We can't, you covered my pillow in snow."

"Then put your arms around me or something, I'm cold."

"Well it's no wonder," he said, putting his arms around her shoulders, "look what your wearing. Where's your coat?"

"I lost it," she shrugged.

"How long have you been outside in… whatever it is you're wearing?"

"It's a halter top. And I have jeans on."

"And sandals… in winter…"

"I wasn't outside long," she yawned. "I missed you a lot a bunch."

"A lot a bunch?"

"Mm hmm," she nodded. "Too much. It's all your stupid fault, too. Loving me and whatnot. What's the big idea? Falling in love with me. You jerk."

"Well, I'm terribly sorry about that."

"As you should be." She looked up at him; her eyes looked enormous from the angle. She smiled weakly, then put her head back on his shoulder and sat in his lap.

"Frankie…" he began, "you should really go home…"

"I don't want to," she pouted sleepily. "It's my birthday." He didn't know what to do, short of throwing her over his shoulder and forcibly taking her home. "Trust is something that I don't think many people have in each other."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I don't think anyone can trust someone one hundred percent. Not a smart person, anyway. Or maybe I'm just hyper-paranoid. For instance, I wouldn't even trust mother Theresa one hundred percent. You can't know what's going through a person's head. It could all just be an enormous act to screw you over, you know?"

"I think you're just paranoid."

"But also, someone could really believe they feel a certain way, but then later find out that they don't, and never really did. They just thought they did, right?"

"I guess…" He was completely lost at that point.

"I don't trust anyone one hundred percent. Anyone could be a liar."

"Okay…"

"I want to trust you really badly."

"So then, trust me."

"I can't. Let's go get cake!"

He was speechless. "What?"

"Come on, some place still has to be open. I want cake."

"Nothing's open that sells cake."

"That big mega grocery store is open twenty-four hours."

"But they put the cakes away at ten."

"How do you know that?"

"I just do."

"Well, a convenience store might have some cake."

"Doubtful, and if they do, I don't think we want it. Let's just get cake tomorrow."

"I go could for one of those McDonald's parfaits instead. Let's go get that."

"Frankie it's after midnight."

"Come on… It's my birthday!"

"You can't keep using that."

"What can I do to get you to take me out for parfait?" she said while clapping her hands.

"Not much… It's cold and late."

She suddenly sat up, held his face in her hands, and kissed him. He was completely thrown off. She kissed him for a long time, then sat back smiling, and said, "There! Let's go!" She scrambled off his bed and went out into the living area. "I'll wait out here while you get dressed," she whispered loudly. She closed his door rather vociferously and left him completely bewildered.

Roughly half an hour after she'd broken into his apartment, they were in his car driving to the nearest McDonald's. She had cranked the radio and was animatedly belting out the pop tune that was blaring. When the golden M came into view, she shut the radio off. "You're buying, right?"

"I guess so, 'cause 'it's your birthday'," he sighed, reaching for his wallet. "So what is it you want?"

"A McFlurry."

"I thought you wanted a parfait…?"

"Then why did you ask what I want? At any rate, I've changed my mind. I want a smartie McFlurry."

"Okay then." A few minutes later, they were driving again, but now with two smartie McFlurries in tow. "So we're taking you home now?"

"Sure, okay," she said quietly. "There's a park," she pointed out as they sped past the rusted swing set and slide.

"We're not going to a park in the middle of winter. Not even if it is your birthday. Sorry."

"Maybe we should just go home," she said sleepily, putting a hand on her forehead. "I'm getting a headache from this ice cream." There was silence then as she quietly ate her ice cream and he attempted to drive and eat at the same time. "Did you miss me?" she asked quietly, looking at him sideways.

"Of course I did."

"You never called or anything."

"And you should know why I didn't."

"I missed you so much. I missed you so much."

"You sound like a broken record."

"But it's so true. Really. Like, I was always so sad all the time. Well, most of the time. Surprising fact, this is the first time I've drinken alcohol since we… got mad."

"Well that is a little surprising. Are you trying to rid yourself of your drunkard alter-ego?"

"No. Well, not consciously." There was another pause in the conversation as she took another heaping spoonful. "Did you think about me?"

"Yes."

"All the time? Was your heart aching?"

"Yes, I did and yes, it was."

"Why do I mean so much to you? Do I mean so much to you?"

"I don't know why but yes you do. Sometimes, it's like things are supposed to happen and take place, like fate. And sometimes things happen completely randomly and could mean nothing or everything, you decide what to do with the outcome. Meeting you could've meant nothing, but because of everything that's happened, to me at this point, it means everything."

"I don't quite follow, but I think I get the gist."

"Good, because I confused myself a little bit somewhere in the middle. I guess I've been taking lessons from you in not conveying things well."

"I think the fact that it's one in the morning is partially accountable for your lack of eloquent-ness."

"That could be," he nodded, pulling into her driveway. "Do you need me to walk you to the door, or can you manage on your own?"

"I think I need an escort."

"All right." They both climbed out of the car and the moment they met in front of it she put her arm around his shoulders.

"I need someone to steady me," she explained.

"Okay." They walked to the front door, which was unlocked, and went inside.

"I can't possibly make it to my bed unescorted."

"Why doesn't this surprise me?" He walked her to her room and put her on her bed. She grabbed his hand before he could turn away.

"Please don't go," she whimpered.

"I hope you have a happy birthday, Frankie," he smiled. "But I have to go now."

"No I have things to say to you."

"Do you."

"Yes. Sit down." He sat on the edge of her bed. She took a deep breath but said nothing. In fact, she never let the breath out.

"Are you all right?"

"Yes," she said, the long breath escaping. "I don't know how to say this."

"Just, blurt it out."

"I can't do that, it'll be ruined if I do that."

"Well I'm not going to wait here all night while you continually take deep breaths yet say nothing."

She bit her lip and thought a moment. "I don't want this to seem stupid," she finally said, putting her face in her hands. "I think I'm too drunk to express this in a way that I will be happy about in years to come."

"So… what're you getting at here?"

"Can you stay the night?"

"Frank…"

"Please? Just… just stay with me and then tomorrow when I'm completely sober I will say what I've been thinking over this last little while. Please Wes? Please?" He wanted to tell her no, bid her goodbye and leave, but he couldn't.

"Fine," he said, acting as put-out as he possibly could. "Move over." She gladly did so and he lay down next to her.

"You can get under the covers this time… if you want," she added hastily. He gave her an odd look, but then, for the first time, actually got in bed with her. "Goodnight," she smiled contentedly, snuggling into her blankets.

"Goodnight," he replied. She fell asleep much quicker than he did. His mind was racing, and he thought to himself, 'This girl better have something extremely proactive to tell me…' He looked at her, or as much as he could see of her as it was very dark. He wanted so badly to say she was his. He eventually nodded off, his mind still aflutter.

She woke up before him. The first thing she did was go and brush her teeth. The last thing she wanted was to be breathing her horrible breath in his face first thing. She then shelved her pride and told herself that sometimes life had to sound corny, and when those moments were kept private, the corniness sort of went away. She nodded and thought to herself, 'At least I'm not in some romantic comedy where there's an entire audience watching me,' then went back to bed.

He woke up when she crawled back over him. "Morning," he yawned.

"Hi," she said in a very quiet voice.

"So," he said, after rubbing his eyes and sitting up. "Let's have it."

"Right off the bat?" she asked.

"Yep."

"Okay," she said. She took a deep breath and looked away, then began. "Everyone's telling me that I'm a fool to let you get away. My family, my friends, you of course, and even me. It took me a long time to figure out which side of the argument my heart was on. I didn't know if it was rallying in your favour or if my brain was. I think I can say with a certain amount of assurance, that it is my heart that doesn't want to let you slip by." She continued to stare at her hands.

"I've been awful to you this past year. Some of it you deserved. Well, most of it you deserved. No… that's a lie. You definitely deserved some of it, but a lot of it was error on my part, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I said horrible things to you, and accused you of being all these things you aren't. I'm sorry. I don't see how you can forgive me, just like that, so I'm not expecting you to. I just want you to know that I am sorry, and that I just sort of clued in to what a hypocrite I am. I put so much effort into protecting myself from being hurt, stating how much I hate it, but I'm sitting here constantly hurting you… If I really hated it so much, I wouldn't want to emulate it on others – especially those who obviously care for me so much.

"There's still a part of me that doesn't want to be a girlfriend, that's petrified of throwing myself into this relationship. But there's this new part of me, this sort of matured part of me, that's saying it'll be okay. Even if you chuck me away, it'll still be okay. I'll have Jess, who'll surely put me in a better mood, and hug me and tell me it'll all be okay; and I have Tom and Celia and Kristof – I'm beginning to realize that they aren't leaving me anytime soon… And I have my family, who I've sort of overlooked in the past. They've always stuck by me, so I've got them.

"But there's a new part of me. There's a part of me who's been watching other couples, deathly afraid that I'll turn into one of them. For instance, I don't want to be someone who makes out with their boyfriend in public, or heaven forbid at a family gathering, or any other sort of social affair. There are so many people that I'm looking at thinking, 'I don't want to be them.' But then I think that I'm not them, and you're not them, but it's still this new fear I have…

"Basically, from where I stand right now. I can honestly say that yes, Wes, I am in love with you. I love you so much. I can't picture waking up in the morning without you next to me, or without knowing that I'm going to see you at some point. Side note, I'm not a clingy girlfriend, I just like knowing that you're going to be there if I need you. I don't know if you still want me, because of all the grief I've put you through, and I understand if you need time to think about it or whatever… but here I am." She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I'm here now, and I'm just sorry it took me so long to put my inhibitions aside and just listen to my heart."

He was quiet for a second, and she squeezed her eyes shut, afraid to open them. "Can you just look at me for a sec?" he asked, titling her chin up with his finger.

"Um, no," she said.

"Frankie." She opened one eye, and then the other. He was trying to hide a smile. "You meant all that?"

"Yeah."

"For real? No backtracking? No excuses?" He was smiling broadly by now.

"No," she said, shaking her head slightly, her facial expression quite the opposite of his.

"Say it to my face, then."

She looked confused for a second. "All that?!"

He laughed. "No, just the love part."

She swallowed hard, swallowed her pride and said, "I love you."

"I love you too."

"So… now what?"

"So now I kiss you," he said, doing just that.

For the first time in a very long time, Frankie felt extremely happy inside, and safe. She didn't feel venerable or scared; she didn't feel as though she was doomed; she knew things would be all right. Wes knew he was kissing the girl he was going to marry someday, even if he had to drag her down the aisle by her hair, and get her drunk to say her vows.

He pulled back, and tucked some of her hair behind her ear. She looked around, a smile twitching on her lips. "So, um, now what?" she asked, the smile breaking free.

"Now I kiss you again!" he said. And the two of them knew that all the heartache, fights and drunken escapades were worth every minute, because at that moment both were happy, and knew they would be for a very, very long time.

THE END


Author's notes: It's over! It's really over! What do you all think? Did you love it? Did you cry? Laugh? Squee? Please share! One of my friends told me she cried! It's okay to tell me! I want to know! lol! I'd like to take this time to personally thank all the reviewers up to this point.

Thank you to surlymermaid for reviewing pretty much every single chapter, and with a long review each time! Thank you also to SweetKissofChaos for reviewing on a semi-regular basis. Thank you to muj as well for keeping me posted on your thoughts. Another thank you goes out to TaurusGirl7, who also reviewed a fair number of times. Thank you to Hannah (aka my hot lover, hottest summer love, lol etc. etc.) for reviewing even though I talk to you all the time :D (and all my other friends who saw me complaining in my livejournal and took the time to haul your butts to this site just to review even though you send me those fabulous emails!) Those are the five names that instantly popped into my brain, so you guys have left your mark! I'd also like to thank IceBreakersKiss, who has reviewed quite a few times I see! And I would like to thank GreenWhiteOrange, carmen, starburst19, some chick, SomethingsAmiss, Ginne (you reviewed a lot in the beginning, where'd you go!), holly, cooleoest, bogey, anonymous (I don't know who you are, but the conversation at the end totally made sense! Read it again!), Kazza2085, KaraAdar, SouledChampion, "Someone Who Doesn't Know Sarah" (who are you? REVEAL YOURSELF), and HauntedMisery - my very first reviewer!

Thank you everyone for enjoying my story. I hope it picked you up on a sour day and made you smile. Check my userinfo for information on my next story!