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She was so done with Noah. So done with his immaturity, with the way he talked and his silly teenager jokes. She had seen him fill his head with dope and get drunk before tests, throw away all his opportunities for his stupidity. He was spilling all his life away like an overflowing sink and she didn’t do anything but look and try to fix him, over and over again. And oh, she hated it so much.

But all that frustration went away as she remembered why she stayed in that relationship, and why she would stay for as long as she could.

Negan.

Everything about him made her see everything in colors. His hair, his smile, the way he spoke, the way he smelt. He was the only man in the world that could make her squirm when she saw him. She just needed him, at least to see him, to hear his jokes, his laugh, and the way he always gave her advice on their careers. So that’s why she stayed in a relationship with his son for, now, a little less than a year.

It hadn’t been intentional. Damn it, she did like Noah the first months. She even tried to understand all the crap he had in his mind and when she first heard him talk about his dad, blaming him on all the troubles in his household, she thought he was a complete idiot, having cheated on his mother for so long, she could somehow understand why Noah was so fucked up.

When he invited her to dinner with his parents, hell, she knew things were getting serious. But she stayed and faced it, thinking that relationships were like this, that it was normal that so many things about him disgusted her.

From the day she met him, Negan was her muse. She was an artist, a painter. Fun enough she had never felt or seen colors outside of a paper... till she met him. When she saw him there, black leather jacket as he arrived to the dinner a little late from 'work', she swore she could feel sparks flying all around him, her mind forgetting about all the crap Noah had told her about his behavior. He was everything she had always dreamed about, and so painfully close.

She would never act on it, she couldn’t. She conformed by being able to look at him, to hear his voice, the touch of his wandering hands when she greeted him with a kiss on his cheek.


She could only go day by day hoping, dreaming that one day, he would see her. In the meantime, she painted him. Over and over again, perfecting the hairs of his beard, the wrinkles on his cheeks, sighing as she finished one painting after the other and hid them under her bed, praying that one day, all of that necessity she felt would go away.

Every time Noah called her, she was painting. He made a joke about her ‘probably painting him, since she loved him so much’, and she could only laugh it off. She felt bad, yes, she did. Noah wasn’t bad. He just wasn’t what she wanted.

But it was the only way, he was the only way.

She made a few paintings and drawings of Noah, facing the inevitable day that he would ask to see one. She tried really hard to capture his everything, but every single one of those drawings came the same way: in grayscale. But she still showed them to him and he showed them off as if they were her best art pieces ever.

And of course, he showed his parents.

“Oh! Darling, I saw that amazing painting you did of Noah. It was so good! Are you planning on going to art school?” Noah’s mom, Lucille, asked while on a saturday dinner.

She bit her lip, pouring two spoonfuls of sugar in her cup of tea. Some lemon, too. “Uhm, yes. Probably, yes… I just want it to be near here” she smiled softly, her eyes going to Negan after that. Lucille chuckled.

“Of course, she would miss him too much” Negan spoke and nudged Noah, who was by his side. He went back to look at her, and she felt her heart skip a bit. “But yeah, hun, your paintings are very good.” He complimented her.


How could he make her feel so much by only the use of less than 10 words?

She swore a galaxy was already appearing around him.

She wasn’t obsessed, and she tried to convince herself that using Negan as a model was nothing more than that. But she knew, deep inside, that it wasn’t the truth. She shut herself down to everyone about it. No one could ever know that she was dying to kiss him.


There came the time, the glorious time, when she had to go home and it was way too late. Noah had an important exam the next morning, and couldn’t go out. Then Negan offered to take her home. She didn’t say anything. Actually, it was Lucille who was the happiest with that idea and sent them off with a tupperware of food for her mother back home.

Negan opened the door for her and as she went into the car, she smelt the leather and the smoke. Her fingers tightened on the front seat.

“Hey, doll, put the seat belt on. Don’t want you flying out the car if we crash” he joked. She did as she was told, still nervous, her fingers going way slower than they normally would. “Here. I will do it” he said impatient and took the seat belt from her hands, brushing her fingers while doing so. ‘Blue’, it was all she could think about. It felt blue. He was blue. He was a galaxy full of blue stars in that moment.

Once he was done he winked at her with a little grin and started driving.

“Do you mind if I smoke?” he asked after a few minutes on the road. She moved her head no, trying not to make it too obvious that she was paying attention at all his movements, the littlest of flinches; she could see it. “Could you hand me my lighter?” he asked, eyes still on the road.

“Yeah. Where is it?” she asked trying to keep her composure. He moved his head, signaling to the glove compartment in front of her. She opened it and searched for it, in the meantime, finding a group of pictures inside. She curiously looked at them and smiled softly. They were all pictures of her with Noah in different spaces and times. She shut it again, not paying more attention to it since she knew it was Noah who took those polaroids. Was about to hand Negan the lighter, when he handed her a cigarette. She looked up at him not knowing what that meant.

“Oh. You’ve never…?” he asked, and she felt like a kid. She furrowed her eyebrows and took the damn cigarette from his fingers. Instantly she started trying to light it up.

Negan chuckled a little in tenderness. Stopped the car on the side of the road.

“Here” He said grabbing the cigarette back from her fingers and took it to her lips. She opened them and let him rest the object between her teeth. “You must place it in here. And then,” he lit the lighter. “…you put it right in here…” he brought the flame towards the object. “…and now, inhale.” He gave her a side smile. She did as told to, even though her breath was unsteady because of his proximity.

Then she instantly started coughing.

Negan laughed a little at her and took the cigarette from her lips, putting it now on his. She felt her heart stop, but couldn’t savor that moment because her throat was sore.

“Sorry. I don’t have water here. Just try to take deep breaths, alright?” he said, hand on her shoulder. Again, she couldn’t savor it as much as she wanted it. She nodded.

He turned on the car again and continued their way to her house. The whole rest of the trip had been a torture for her. She couldn’t turn to look at him, she didn’t think about anything smart enough to say. She was a mess. He was still smoking when they arrived.

“Thank you a lot for driving me here, Mr. Negan” she said, taking off her seat belt. He smiled to her politely, cigarette still between his teeth. He took it out and spoke.

“My pleasure, doll. Now get inside. Your mom must be worried.” He said. She wanted to stay, to just look at him for a few more minutes. “Also, call me Negan. I am not that old” he winked at her and her heart stopped again.

She smiled softly and nodded. “Sorry, Negan.” She chuckled. Felt weird on her tongue to say his name like that. “Have a good night” she got out, and walked to her house, the urge of looking back making her legs tremble, but she didn't.


Then life went by as normal. She would go to Noah’s house at least two times a week. She would be far much more interested on visiting him on the weekends, when Negan was there. Negan treated her as he normally would, the car thing never being repeated, no part of it. Her head was all filled with the colors he made her feel, again.

It was when her mother died later that summer, sitting all alone in her bed after her funeral, that she realized that she did not only need to see him. She needed him, close, talking to her alone again. At least for him to give her a smile, a wink, to dedicate to her at least one breath.

So right then and there, she dried her tears and grabbed the first taxi she saw. Noah texted her, he was already coming back from New York and would arrive in three hours. He had gone there to try and get to NYU, but she hadn’t been surprised when she learned that he wasn’t admitted. Sure, he was very good at taking photos. But he didn’t have the discipline. And he probably would never have it. Noah could do nothing but blame his father, and could only push him away.

She found herself standing outside of the house, the hot rain wetting her hair much sooner than she expected. When Negan opened the door, he yanked her in, her forearm taken by far more force than he probably intended to.

“Are you okay, doll?” he asked clearly worried. He knew about her mother. She didn’t answer.

He went to the bathroom and came back with a bunch of towels.

“Noah isn’t here yet” he informed her. She nodded as she brought a towel up and dried her hair with it. Negan took another one, and let it rest on her shoulders, patting them softly as he did. “Want a cup of tea?” he asked, and she simply nodded. She looked like she was lost, and fuck, she was. She started feeling everything in grayscale again and the only thing making her feel a little bit of saturation was him and his soothing voice.

He went to the kitchen, leaving her there. She sighed and after not more than a minute, followed him there.

Negan was just going out and when their bodies collided, the cup fell to the ground, breaking to pieces. Thank God it was empty.

She didn’t move. And he didn’t, either. He just looked at her, trying to understand what was going on inside her mind.

“I am sorry” she murmured, about the cup. “I am a mess” she whispered, but now it was more to herself than to him. She had just lost her mother. How could she feel any better?

You are a masterpiece” he smiled softly to her. Then leaned down a little and whispered as if it was a secret: “Masterpieces are supposed to be ripped in every edge.” His voice had a comical trail that made a little smile appear on her lips, instantly.

 

Chapter Text

"You really think so?" Her eyes were watering and he instantly pulled her into his chest, in a tight hug that meant to make her feel safe. And she most certainly did. She rested her head against his body and let the tears come out, taking in his perfume as she breathed, her hands holding onto his shirt.

"Of course I do, hun." He caressed her upper back softly. "My son really got lucky with you" he chuckled softly trying to light up the mood. She didn't smile. Instead, her eyes watered more. She just wanted him. Her grip tightened. "We all did." He murmured on a low pitch.

A few seconds later she separated slowly, didn't want to but she was trying not to be weird. "I p-probably should go home" she sniffed.

"You can stay here if you want" he said truly worried, titling his head to the side. "Keep me some company. Will ya?"

She looked at him for a second, thinking. Then nodded, slowly. "O-Okay" she nodded, hugging her body with her arms around her torso. Negan smiled to her. "Go to the living room. Let me clean this mess. I'll be there in a minute'' he gave her a sweet, sad smile.

She did as told to, trying not to look at him for too long. Her head was hurting, and she was for sure all red and ugly. She sighed and sat on the sofa, elbow pressed on the sofa's arm as she spaced out. Her heart was broken. She didn't know she could feel so sad, so lost. Her mom was everything she had. What now? Was she supposed to live with Aunt Lily in Wisconsin? Hell no.

Negan cleaned up the floor and poured her another cup of tea, full this time. He poured two spoonfuls of sugar and some lemon, hoping it would make her feel better. When he walked into the living room he side smiled, and left the cup on the coffee table.

He crouched in front of her. Looked at her for a few seconds. She had fallen asleep, nose all red and puffy as her lips. The tears had dried up on her cheeks.

"Doll?" He said, putting one hand on her shoulder. He tried to wake her up, but she didn't, her eyes only tightened on an intend to not being disrupted. Negan took a deep breath, his hand going moving down all through her arm to her hand, lingering, barely touching her skin.

She didn't know when did she fall asleep, but for the first time in two days she could finally sleep tight, no nightmares yet, so she let herself be. She felt her body being moved in her sleep, the smell of Negan's perfume invading her dreams. She opened her eyes a little, and found herself on Negan's arms as he carried her upstairs.

"Hey" he whispered as he saw her eyes open. She didn't answer, too shook as his arms held her, bridal style. "I just thought you'd feel more comfortable upstairs. Just get some sleep. You deserve it" he said in one of the tones in which you would talk to children. She nodded softly, but didn't stop looking at him. He was looking up to the hallway, and opened the door to the guest's room with a silent push from his right foot, while she was studying his neck, his jawline, how his eyebrows were only a little bit furrowed and the way his chest went up and down as he breathed. He was so handsome, so appealing, so calming.

She didn't stop looking at him and he didn't notice, not until he placed her on the bed and she held to his shirt tightly, not letting him go.

Negan looked down at her, still leaning over the bed. He looked confused. His arms still didn't leave her body, one under her knees, and the other one under her torso.

"I am sorry... I just..." She whispered, voice broken. Negan kept quiet over her.

"Everything will be okay" he whispered back, thinking this was about her mother. He pulled his arms away from her softly, but she still didn't let go of his shirt. He sighed. "Won't let me go?" He asked raising an eyebrow.

She just looked at him, eyes watering again. He breathed out heavily and nodded, as if he understood. He moved slowly, trying not to scare her off and sat beside her, resting his elbow on the bed and supporting his head on his hand. He looked at her curiously. Her chest went up and down slowly, her hands still on his shirt urgently. "Nothing's going to happen to you, honey. Is that what scares you?" He asked, caressing her forearm trying to make her loosen her grip on him.

She just moved her head no.

"I just don't want to be far from-" she whispered.

"You don't have to worry about that. I am sure that now that you are already 18 you and Noah-" he had cut her words before, but now she did.

"From you." She whispered.

He went totally silent and stopped caressing her skin. His expression changed to distress and his eyes were set on hers, hoping it was a joke, a very, very dark joke.

But she didn't say anything, either did she laugh.

He slowly tightened his hand on her forearm, the kind of touch that threatened if she didn't let go. She finally did let go of his shirt, and he looked at her as if he didn't know her anymore.

"I am sorry" she whispered, starting to cry and hiding her face in her hands. She was such an idiot. Why did she say that?  "I am so sorry" she repeated with a broken voice.

Negan stayed there. He didn't know what to do.

"Since when?" He simply asked in a murmur. Her crying got heavier with that question. She tried to calm herself, and forced herself to calm her own breathing.

''Five months'' she answered in a barely audible sob. She was lying. It had been much more time than that. She started crying heavily again, and something inside of Negan broke.

He put his arm around her and pulled her close to his chest. He didn't say anything, but rubbed her back letting her know that she would be okay. That everything would be okay.

"It's been three months for me" he whispered out of nowhere.

Her breathing, as her crying, stopped right there in shock. She gasped, but didn't dare to look up to him.

"W-what?'' She mumbled. She couldn't have heard right. She must be too tired, or still dreaming.

"You heard me" he whispered back. Then pulled a away from her a little bit, making her look up to him, eyes swollen. He stayed there looking at her in silence again. Her chest was going up and down in nervousness, jumping every five seconds in spams because of all the crying. "You should get some sleep" he gave her a side smile, but her eyes said otherwise. Their proximity was killing her but she couldn't bring herself to act on it. She simply nodded a little.

Negan finally pulled away completely and got up from the bed. Looked at her from there, for only a couple of seconds, and she did the same from her spot on the bed. Shit. "I will let you know when Noah is here" he mumbled, forcing himself to look away and walk out.

Once he shut the door close, she looked up to the ceiling. She wanted to scream.

 

Negan didn't go back. The next time the door opened, it was Noah who stormed in.

"Baby" he whispered. He placed a cup of tea on the bedside table and looked at her in worry.

She had never gotten back to sleep. How could she? So when he came in she quickly sat on the bed.

Noah hugged her, and she hugged back, eyes closed and oblivious of Negan, on the hallway, looking at her.

When she opened her eyelids, their eyes met. Noah was saying something to her probably trying to calm her and give her support, but she didn't hear. Everything blurred out and ran out of tone, but Negan.

"Okay?" Noah asked, pulling away from the hug softly.

"Huh?" She asked, moving her head trying to concentrate on him. Negan walked away.

"I was saying that you can stay here tonight if you want." He smiled softly to her. Grabbed the cup of tea and gave it to her, who smiled in a 'thank you'. When she drank it she made a face of disgust.

"Noah, it doesn't have sugar" she complained. "Or lemon" she added.

Noah chuckled. "Sorry, baby. I can make another if you want" he nodded, taking the cup from her hands and leaving it on the table again. She just sighed and hugged him, putting her head on his shoulder, searching for comfort where she knew she wouldn't find it.

Negan was downstairs, pretending to be looking at the football match. But he had spaced out. He was thinking, his head going crazy. What was going on?

Her tea was still there, untouched. Two of sugar, half of lemon. He knew.

"Hey, honey" Lucille greeted him as she came in, market bags on her hands. Negan just moved her hand, greeting back, eyes not leaving the TV.

She had seeing him act weirdly, cold and by now she was sure he was cheating again.

Again, time went by as if nothing ever happened. And well, nothing truly happened. As days went by she tried to put herself together. School was soon to be over, and she tried to set her mind on college. She needed it.

Negan tried to not look at her, to not talk to her and to not be alone with her. He thought it was fine, for her to be in his house some days, mostly on the weekends. And he could see Noah being as supportive as he could manage to.

But it wasn't enough and they both knew it. They both knew about the rush on their spines when they looked at each other for a split seconds during dinners, and the feeling of the air running out when they sat behind each other on the sofa for movie nights.

It was one of those movie nights, when it finally happened.
Negan was sitting beside her. Their knees barely touching but it being enough to wake something up in themselves. Still, they wouldn't look at each other.

Lucille had fallen asleep first, and later on excused herself to bed. Then, Noah, who was laying on the sofa's arm, fell asleep. His girlfriend chuckled softly when she saw him drooling.

But then they noticed they were practically alone, in the dark. It was perfect, right? Well, somehow.

She gave him a side eye, Negan did too.

"So..." He murmured, low, scratchy voice that could make her wet. "...We probably should go to sleep" he added.

She turned to look at him, a strand of hair falling from behind her ear. She felt her stomach turn in nervousness.

"Yeah. We should." she answered but either of them both moved. She was looking at him as if she was about to be killed.

"Yeah" Negan repeated and looked at her the same way.

Without knowing how, they both started leaning in, closer to each other, slowly. She felt her breathing get faster, his eyes going from her lips to her eyes and vice versa.

"Doll..." He mumbled when they were just an inch away. "What the fuck are we doing?" He asked as his hand went up, moving the strand of hair back again, letting him see her beautiful eyes.

"I don't know" she whispered back. It hurt. To be so close and not being brave enough to do anything.

Negan suddenly snapped out of it. He sighed and stood up, trying not to make too much noise. "I should go to sleep. It's late" he nodded.

She stood up too, right after him. Her hands were trembling a little bit. "Yeah. Me too" she mumbled. She grabbed the remote control and turned off the TV, now only being able to hear their breathings and Noah's.

He walked out first, didn't way anything else. She sighed, and stood there, feeling alone again. She turned to see Noah and leaned down, kissing his cheek. She knew there was no way to get him to go upstairs after falling asleep, so she just walked upstairs, quietly.

She opened the door to the guest's room, and gasped.

Negan was there, sitting on the edge of the bed. He grinned to her, his dimples appearing. That was enough.

She walked in and closed the door slowly, feeling her heartbeat in her ears. "Negan..." She started, as she walked closed towards him.

"I can't anymore" he said and stood up, walking closer to her. "Maybe just... Once" he said in a low tone.

She was going crazy. Her skin ached for her to fucking do something. "Are you sure?" She mumbled, scared for his answer.

He leaned in and before she knew it, his lips were on hers. Surprisingly soft, he kissed her with a needing pace, quickly wrapping his arms around her, tightly.

She gasped first, eyes open in surprise. But then they closed, giving in. She tangled her arms on his neck, and kissed him back as her mind started filling again: colors. So many colors.

He separated, both of their chests going up and down in a fast pace. He put his forehead against hers, and chuckled softly.

"That answers your question?"

It all went to oblivion from there.
'Just once' became the everyday.

They'd wait. Wait for Lucille to go to shop, to the spa, to her friend's houses. Waited for Noah to go to soccer practice. Waited for her to be able to get out of the school, waited for him to get out of his work. Waited, waited, waited.

And when they finally were together, it all exploded.

In red, as their lips turned after kissing for hours. Red as his favourite underwear on her. Red as the hickeys he left where no one could see.

Red as how dangerous it felt. Red as the marks he left when his grip on her tights was too hard. Red like her neck after he yanked her back and fucked her senseless.

"She's gone?" She asked as soon as he entered the room. She was ready for him, said she wasn't feeling alright to go to school and Lucille, being the angel she was, let her stay. While inside, she was changing into the black underwear he had bought for her last week.

"Long gone, baby" he smiled cockily to her as he hurriedly closed the door, going to the bed, crawling on top of her and kissing her lips as if he hadn't in years.

She smiled into the kiss, her hands all over his back. She was living the dream in the most marvelous ways.

He took his shirt off, hands later caressing her naked tights, her hips, squeezing her breasts over the fabric, just feeling her skin enough to drive him crazy.

"I've missed you so" she moaned between kisses, taking off his belt as her lips longed for more. "So much"

"Me too, doll" he groaned, taking his pants off, now kissing her neck. "Me too" he left a hickey, and moaned as she moved her hips against his and her nails sank on his back.

"What the fuck!?"

They both gasped in horror, pulling away. She covered her body with the sheets. Fuck. Shit. She looked at Negan in panic.

"I- son, it's not-" Negan spoke, but Noah seemed like he was about to puke, his grip on the handle turning his knuckles white.

"It's not what it looks like!?"

Noah turned around and walked out, yelling incomprehensible things. She was already crying, holding onto the sheets and onto him, scared.

It felt like the ink was falling to the ground now.