Marshmallows
by daneorange

She smelled like marshmallows.

"Like marshmallows," I whispered into her nape, pulling her tighter against myself, as I hugged her from behind. "You smell like marshmallows..."

She giggled as she raked her nails teasingly over my arm, wrapped around her tightly, over by her waist, and I let out a little whine. "Marshmallows, mmm..." she just replied, rather sleepily.

I found myself smiling, as I slipped a hand underneath her shirt, if only to lightly graze my fingertips over her bare stomach, and I heard her, I swear I did she stifled a gasp. My smile turned into soft laughter. "Yes, soft..." I paused, pressing into her stomach lightly with a finger. My smile widened as I heard her giggle softly. "Soft marshmallows..." I just said, finally a complete thought. Like a prayer brushing against the side of her neck, I whispered.

And I swear, I felt her shudder beneath me. I moved slightly to hold her tighter.

And for several silent minutes, it was just like that her, me, bed, moonlight, warmth. The curtain danced slightly as the night wind brushed past it slightly every so often, and in my arms, every now and then, I would hear her sigh. I had no way of knowing whether she was awake, or if it had been a dream. I myself wasn't so sure of my own disposition even frankly, I did not know of my own situation.

Holding her against me in a moment such as this sure felt like something at the borders of dream and reality.

She moved slightly to shift our positions, I let her guide me, and soon, I found myself on my back. Then her head was on my shoulder, and her arm was across my stomach, and our fingers were intertwined.

Burying myself in the scent of her shampoo, I planted a kiss on the top of her head, and I then heaved a sigh, quite absently, actually. Careless.

For two people who were friends, and just friends, this was sure... wayyy... out of any league.

Or, at least, mine. She was out of my league, I knew.

But I love her, you know?

"Love you..." I mumbled against her hair, and I felt her smile against my neck. I meant it, she knew I meant it... but I guess, she thought, not just that way. Never that way.

For all I know, she'd probably never considered anything like this her whole life, and maybe, just maybe, this was just me feeling a little bit overwhelmed, but just a little bit, and probably... probably I shouldn't be even thinking about it.

And then, she lifted her head from my shoulder, meeting my eyes in the darkness with a soft, "What's wrong?" rolling out of her lips slowly, smoothly, as her finger suddenly comes up to trace the side of my face.

And really, it half-amazes me everytime she pulls a stunt like that the mind-reading part. Half. The other half of me's just... scared, I guess.

Scared that when I close my eyes tonight, perhaps, when I wake up she's not there anymore, and this, this perfect moment, with her face inches apart from mine, and her finger absently tracing up and down the side of my face... gone. But a dream.

This has got to be a dream, because if it weren't, I couldn't think of any other explanation as to how I got... I got so goddamned lucky.

"What are you thinking?" I was forced out of my reverie when she broke in with her question, and I just had to force a smile on my face.

"Random," I whispered, shaking my head slightly. "Sorry, did I wake you?"

She shook her head, and with the little light the moon gave through the curtains, I could make out a grin on her face. "Not really," she replied. Her finger stopped tracing, if only to tuck stray strands of hair at the back of my ear. "Want to talk about random?"

Random. You're asking me if I want to talk about random? If I want to talk about you and me, if I want to talk about just what all this means? You're asking me if I want to talk about how much I enjoy being with you, how I miss you when you're out of sight for even just five seconds, how I think about you all the time?

You're asking me if I want to talk about how much I love you?

You're. Asking. Me?

"Hey..." she whispered again, leaning in tentatively to plant a kiss on my cheek, and then pulling right back, face hovering probably just mere centimeters over mine, so close I could hear her breathing oh so clearly. "Let me in," she chided gently.

There was so much she did not know. Not yet. I wanted to tell her so much, but then again, it was so much, I didn't know where to start, or just what to make of everything.

How could I tell her about something like this? How could I tell her I love her, and it's not just that way, and that all this means something else to me, and that it hurts me to know it means something else to her?

How could I ever take a risk that big? She's too special.

Just too special to ever risk losing.

"I don't want to lose you..." I just found myself whispering. "Oh god."

"You won't," she soothed. "If I could promise anything, it would be that."

I found myself smiling, but to be honest... I wasn't quite finished. That `oh god' right there was a substitute phrase for... for the things I could never get myself to say. Not now. And, as I fear, I believe not ever.

And this, this surely hurt because I could hold her this close, because I could have her this way, and tell her that I love her, over and over and godfreaking over...

But it all feels like I'm betraying her. This all... feels wrong. Like I'm taking advantage of her, of her ignorance of what's really brewing in me... what I really feel.

"Let me in..." I heard her whisper again.

And when I came back to my senses, she was still there, face but centimeters away, sparkling green eyes and all, unbelievable. It felt like she was trying to see right through me, deconstruct me and my thoughts... and my feelings.

It scared me. The what-ifs. What if she saw right through it all? What if she freaks? What if she moves? What if...

"I don't want to close my eyes," I just caught myself saying. I was close to being delirious, I knew, but I meant that. I really did. How I did not want to close my eyes. How I wanted to burn this her, me, bed, moonlight, warmth carefully, clearly, vividly... in my mind, in my memory, forever.

Forever, I repeated to myself.

This life, the next, the one after that. Remember and never forget. Her marshmallow scent and strawberry shampoo. Just a few things I shall always remember... gladly.

And then, on her lips, slowly, a frown formed, her brows knitting slightly, slowly, too, and swear, it was something I did not want to see again. I hated myself for being the only person who could love her this much but hurt her in even worse ways...

Just how many times had I put her life in danger? Made her choose between me and the better things in her life? I could not count now, simply because the counting hurts though I knew, deep inside me, that if I really intended to, I had to start as soon as possible if I wanted to finish in this lifetime.

"What's the matter..." she asked, and suddenly, there was this sadness, reflecting from her eyes. This was something I'd noticed about her that regardless of whatever emotion she could be feeling at any given moment, may it be fear, panic, sadness, happiness, or whatever... there was always, always, a distinct sparkle, right there, and somehow, I'd know. I'd know what it was. "Is it... Angel?"

I told you, I'd know just like the way I knew that was coming. The Angel part. I shook my head slowly, letting my forefinger brush against the tip of her nose, slightly. "No," I just replied, trying to smile.

This wasn't about Angel. I wished I could tell her. Come to think of it, I could... but on second thoughts, I'd rather not. Too scared of the follow-up question, I guess.

What is it about then, I'd already imagined her asking next. Or rather, should this be, whom is this about? And I could already see her lighting up, smiling widely, just as she always had whenever she teases me about something, or someone, and then, it was as if I could hear her laughing. Laughing out really loud, or maybe, I could call that giggling instead. Yes, giggling, and highly infectious too.

And I imagined myself staring silently, wordlessly, as my mind threatens collapse, my heart threatens disintegration into miniscule particles, just like dust. My thoughts would then fall apart, or so I had imagined, because I wouldn't know what to say.

Could I tell her just what this all was about, exactly? Could I? Could I take this risk?

It was something I could not understand, really. Every night of my life has been a risk, and everytime I go out of the house, it's just actually a new chance to get myself killed.

Every night, my life it's all a big risk. I couldn't understand why I couldn't take this one.

This one, I repeated in my head.

Each and every night, as I battle the darkness I had already claimed as my own, my own demons, and vampires it's like selling my soul to the devil, only I didn't, well, not technically. Sometimes, I'd just end up thinking, why couldn't I just be a normal, live-in-the- day, sleep-at-night kind of girl?

And then, just like all the other nights, I'd come home from slayage, and I'd find her still awake, waiting for me to come in, eyes never relieved of that certain sparkle of panic and fear until she'd seen me, and confirmed that I was there, and that I was well, and that I was alive... Right there and then, I'd know.

There's a reason for everything.

She's the reason.

She's everything.

And on her face, there was that smile again, however slight, and I swear, I could actually hear her laughing, however soft, however faint, like hearing something from a distance. Or maybe I just wanted to believe she could be laughing.

Maybe.

Tonight, just like the other nights, I'd come home only to find her still awake, sitting by the edge of our bed, that sparkle of fear and panic slowly fading as I came into the room, as I closed the door softly behind me.

I was there, I was well, and I was alive. And that made her very happy, to say the ultimate understatement.

There, well, and alive. And very much hers, only that part, she never really knew of...

"What is it about then?" she broke into our silence.

I sighed. "Random." Lie. I hated myself for having to lie now, just as I had lied a thousand lies to the people I loved the most, thinking that by doing so, I could actually save them. Keep them from harm. After all, what they didn't know couldn't hurt them... could they?

"Want to talk about random?" she asked again. Just as she had asked the first time.

Random.

Like how it was to fall in love with your best friend? Like how it was to feel like this, feel this way, and never, NEVER, having the chance to actually tell? Like how it was to bottle up all of this, this much, inside, without ever exploding, just because the whole fucking world depended on me, and there was practically no room for any of these?

For her and me. For me and her. For the two of us, for the issue to be resolved the world was so full of problems, and I needed to fix them. There was no way I could afford something like this.

Because I was the Slayer, and I had no right to fall in love. Because I had better things to do.

"We don't have to..." I just said. Which was true. We didn't. I didn't want to burden her. She'd always had this thing about going into all that mess and trouble with me, and this time, this was my mess, my trouble, my... my mistake, perhaps, and I couldn't bear the thought of... of hurting her.

Just one, simple, selfish mistake. Not this time.

"Talk to me," she pleaded. With eyes I couldn't possibly resist. "What's on your mind?"

I sighed. Again. Brushing stray strands of hair from her face, I lifted my head from my pillow slightly and kissed her on the forehead. "Nothing," I whispered against her forehead. "Go back to sleep, you must be tired..."

She yawned. "Not really," she murmured sleepily, before finally relenting and resting her head on my shoulder, nuzzling my neck lightly, her breath hot against my neck, and ironically, she made me shiver. I turned my head slightly to look at the curtain, now unbelievably still. The night wind had stopped brushing past it, and it was such an irony indeed how I could be shivering when it was not cold.

Around my waist, her hold tightened.

"I love you, Will," I murmured into her hair, as I kissed it one more time. It was one of my favorite Willow-things to do, kiss her hair, the familiar scent of strawberry washing over me all over again. Maybe it's because I'd always loved the scent of strawberries. Maybe it's because it's the farthest I could go. Maybe it's the farthest she'd let me go.

Maybe it's the farthest I'd let myself go.

"Mmhmm..." she just murmurs against my neck, and then, I'd understand.

Something which wasn't really what I wanted, but maybe something I could deal with. Something which wasn't really what I thought I deserved, but perhaps, just perhaps, something that would do.

Her, me, bed, moonlight, warmth. It didn't have to be about love, not at all. Or at least, not about her love for me. Because if there's one thing I know now, it's that some things could seem so perfect, but never be quite enough.

But who knows, maybe, my love would be enough for the both of us.

Perhaps.

 

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