“Wow!”, her eyes and mouth opened wide. He was definitely stunned. He was observing her features in the shadows created by the faint lights on the inside of the observatory and the moonlight shining in the night sky, “This is amazing, Andy!”. Sharon’s face was one huge grin. Her eyes were sparkling, those beautiful emerald green eyes of hers and he couldn’t get enough of it. Of those eyes, of her.
“I knew you’d like it”. Andy walked towards her and put his arms around her waist from behind. A few seconds passed before he said, "You know I love you, right?!” He was holding on to her a little tighter and Sharon could feel it.
She smiled to herself, “Andy, of course I do," and turned around in his arms. Then her expression changed and she frowned, “I love you, too, but what’s gotten into you? Are you okay? You’ve been strange the entire day and I’m worried about you.“
“I... No, Sharon, I’m fine. I just, uh, ”Andy stammered but when he saw the worried look on her face, he knew he couldn’t make this about himself. She was so happy just a few minutes ago, so he continued, “I‘ve got a surprise for you.“
Sharon was confused. He could see it. Her head changed position and she leaned back from him, "Andy, this was already a great surprise and I loved it. I always wanted to visit an observatory and watch the stars. Did you even look through that telescope?” Sharon said, pointing at it. "It’s just amazingly beautiful how clearly you can see the stars," her face started to light up again and those eyes of hers began to sparkle once more while she was talking so eagerly about what she just saw, "It’s like they are right in front of you!”
Andy had to smile. She was just so adorable when she was excited about something. He cupped her cheeks with both hands and kissed her gently, "Then you’ll love what will come next even more," he told her, their faces where only inches apart now, "Just close your eyes and trust me.”
Without another word Sharon closed her eyes and held on tightly to Andy’s hand and left arm as he let his hands slip from her cheeks down to his sides.
He lightly pulled her with him as he started walking towards their destination.
Not long after, Sharon broke the silence, "Where are we going?"
"You’ll see. We are almost there. Juuust wait...," Andy said, before continuing “aaaand, here we are.”
Sharon wanted to say something but before she could, Andy added, "Keep your eyes closed.”
He led her a few more steps ahead and told her to sit down and lie back.
"Andy what are we doing?” she asked, with a little uncertainty in her voice. Man, if she didn’t love that man so much. But she did love him and trust him with everything she had and so she did what she was told. It felt like she was lying on a lounger, not an overly comfortable one because it was hard but at least there was a small pillow placed under her head.
She felt Andy move, presumably lying down beside her but she couldn’t be sure because next thing she knew, she felt his hands gently cupping her face again.
She loved when he did that.
He pressed a light kiss on her lips and whispered, "You can open your eyes now, beautiful.”
The first thing she saw was Andy’s handsome face with that typical Andy Flynn smirk on it but as he slowly moved to his side again and away from her line of view, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Never in her entire life had she felt so overwhelmed and awestruck by nature. And never had she felt so much love and gratitude for a man before. Andy presented her the stars. Her man brought her the stars. She never thought, she’d say that one day. As he cleared her line of vision, a huge glass ceiling came into view with millions of stars in the dark night sky above it.
Sharon took a quick breath, "Oh my..." her hands flew over her mouth and Sharon sighed, "Andy... what in the world, I mean, how...?" she was at a loss of words.
All this time Andy observed her reaction and couldn’t quite grasp how he deserved this woman. "You deserve all the stars in the whole wide universe, Sharon, and more."
Sharon’s hands slowly left their place over her mouth and her right hand fell over Andy’s left one and she squeezed it. She turned her head to the right and looked at him, "I don’t know what to say...I just...this is so...you are..."
"You don’t have to say anything," he interrupted her.
"No, Andy, I do because this is amazing! And I know, I’ve been saying this a lot today but this day, here, with you, It‘s just...what you did. It’s the most beautiful, romantic and thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me and I don’t know how I deserve you but I’m endlessly grateful to have you in my life. I just love you so much, Andy Flynn."
Andy could see tears glistening in her eyes and he didn’t know how much longer until he his own eyes would glaze over, so he kissed her with more intensity and pressure than before. While their lips locked, his right hand found its way to her cheek and into her hair again.
When Sharon pulled him just a little bit closer, nothing else mattered anymore, except the two of them under a sky full of stars.
"Do you know that when I was little, I’d always sleep with my window open. No matter what season, no matter how cold," Sharon started. She lay with her head on Andy’s shoulder, his left arm around her back and stroking her arm gently. They were gazing up at the glass ceiling, observing the stars.
Andy frowned a little, not sure where she was going with this but all the more interested to learn something about her childhood. About a life before him, before they met, about a time where she was still a little girl and not that strong and independent woman she is today.
He looked down slightly but she never turned her gaze away from the stars.
"I had this room with the window right beside my bed and when I’d lie down I had this perfect view of the night sky. So when I couldn’t sleep I’d open the window and observe the stars, the sparkling and wandering lights that airplanes create and sometimes even the moon. This and the fresh night air lulled me to sleep all the time, when nothing else would," she paused and then continued, "Somehow, they never fail to calm me down and get my mind off of things.".
When she felt Andy’s fingers had stopped moving up and down her arm, she turned slightly to look up at his face. When his eyes stayed fixed in the stars over their heads she prodded gently, "Andy?"
His face still didn’t move, so her left hand cupped his right cheek and turned his head to her slightly, "Hey," she whispered, "are you still with me?"
Then his eyes suddenly focused on her and he seemed back in reality. "Yes, yes, of course. I... what, why did...," Andy wanted to ask but Sharon interrupted him because he still seemed a little out of it, "Honey, where did you just go?"
"I don’t know. I guess I was just lost in thought."
"Yeah, I could see that," Sharon smiled slightly and stroked her thumb gently over his cheek.
They looked at each other when Andy suddenly asked, "Why did they calm you down? The stars, I mean."
She looked at him a little while longer and pressed a short kiss to his lips, "Let’s go home and I‘ll tell you there."
She turned to stand up and heard a soft, "Okay, " then she felt him stand up too.
She didn’t know what was going on with him but something was definitely not right. He seemed kind of sad and she was going to find out what it was, but she needed to be at home with him to accomplish anything and for him to open up.
She looked up at the glass ceiling again and the millions of stars above and then back to Andy and hugged him. "I had the most beautiful day today," she murmured in his shoulder, "Thank you."
Back home, Sharon was sitting on the balcony with a steaming mug of tea in hand, looking out over the city and waiting for Andy to come out of the shower. It was a particularly quiet night, not a lot of sirens, no honking of cars whose drivers weren’t patient enough for Los Angeles’ traffic.
She loved that view and she loved the sounds, even on not so quiet nights because she loved this city. She had liked the city from the day she moved there but she came to really love and appreciate this city on her first evening on this balcony. That’s when it clicked. She and this city just connected. To that day she couldn’t pin point what it was exactly and she stopped guessing and started to just take in and appreciate.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Andy speaking up, "Now I know why you’re always out here," he was leaning on the doorframe of the sliding glass door.
"It’s the stars," Andy started moving towards her, "You are sitting out here all the time watching the stars, because they calm you."
She chuckled lightly and looked up at him, moving towards her, "How long have you been standing there?"
He smirked, "A while."
A moment passed before he gave her shoulder a gentle nudge and slid in behind her, between the back of the lounge chair and her. He pulled her back against his chest, his legs next to hers.
He slung his arms around her, careful of the mug in her hand, and breathed in deeply with his nose nestled in the crook of her neck, right behind her ear.
He waited a few moments until he felt her relax against him and then asked, "Will you tell me now?"
It seemed like she was pondering his question, "Tell you what?"
"Why the stars calmed you down as a kid and still do now."
"Oh, right. Well," she moved, put the mug down and snuggled more firmly into Andy. He tightened his hold just a little bit and started caressing her arm with his fingertips.
"You might not think so but I wasn’t always going to school with a happy face as a teenager and I didn’t always pull through so smoothly. In my final year I was impatient. I didn’t want to put up with teachers and other students anymore, I was sick of smiling and being nice to everybody when I just felt so empty and exhausted inside. Basically, anyone annoyed me at the time. And now you might say that’s sounds just like a classic teenager," Sharon waited for Andy to say something or to at least react in any way but when nothing came, she continued, " but it wasn’t like that. I knew that wasn’t me, I didn’t like me that way. At least not all of it. I knew something had to change," she took a deep breath, "Anyway as it all weighed down on me and life added more and more, I couldn’t sleep well and I found myself opening up my window for fresh air before sleep and I saw those beautiful stars shining right outside my room. It looked so wonderful. It was like magic and it mesmerized me, I just kept staring at them and all the other lights on the clear night sky. I kept observing them and just forget about all that other stuff. The imagination that the sky, the universe, is able to create such lights, made me realize that we are so small. This world is so small and the sky with the moon and these millions of stars are so big and the real deal. It was just so fascinating to think that there might be more out there, up there. More beautiful and magical things like stars. And I believe in life after death, so these stars have to mean something. At least they do to me."
Sharon finished talking and after a moment she realized she had just kept talking and talking and Andy hadn’t said a word. Right, Sharon, the reason why stars calm you down and not because of how miserable your life was at 17. Gosh, get a grip. What’s wrong with you? He’s probably bored out of his mind, she thought.
"But you didn’t want to know all of this," Sharon lifted her head from his chest and looked up at him, "You just asked why they still calm me down. I’m sorry," she smiled sheepishly and started to push away from Andy to sit up properly. Putting a little distance between them, "I just kept on rambling. You must be bored out of your mind."
Andy didn’t say anything and just stared at her, so she slowly stood up from the lounge chair, "Anyway, um...it’s late, so we should go to bed. I’ll just go now. Good night, Andy." She felt a little weird and maybe a little disappointed. Why wasn’t he saying anything?
Sharon was opening the door when Andy finally snapped out of his daze and grabbed her wrist, "Sharon! Wait, no please. I’m sorry. I’m not bored. Of course I’m not. I... please sit back down," he was pleading her with his eyes and if she had to be honest, she was curious to hear what he had to say, so she sat back down again, leaving more distance between them.
He seemed to understand that she needed a little space but he still wanted to feel her close so he settled for talking her hand in both of his. He looked down at them and watched his thumbs stroking over her hand slowly and gently.
"Sharon, I listened to what you said," his head moved up and he looked at her, "Just a few minutes ago and ever since I‘ve known you. I listened to you, to every story, to every word you’ve said, because I wanna hear you. I wanna understand you and get to know you, get to know your story," his hands squeezed hers just a little tighter, "and every day I realize that there is still so much that I don’t know about you, about your life, about your story, Sharon," Andy’s eyes bored into hers, "whenever I think 'I know her', whenever I think I’m a step closer to you, I discover something unknown, something that was covered until now," he lowered his head again slowly, "and even though I‘m grateful for every little detail I’m allowed to discover," he paused and took a deep, shaky breath, "It also terrifies me because…" when she got a look at his eyes again, she saw tears in them, threatening to spill out and it broke her heart to see him like this but she let him continue, "...because I’m afraid that one day you might realize that I don’t deserve you and that I’m not worthy of you, that I’m not the right man for you and that you will leave me," a sniffle that was more like a sob wracked Andy’s body and the tears in his eyes were suddenly running down his cheeks in streams.
Sharon didn’t know what was happening and her heart shattered in a million pieces when she saw him breaking down right in front of her, so utterly terrified to lose her.
She pulled her hand from his grasp and cradled his face in her hands, "Andy, I’m here. I’m not leaving you," she looked him in the eye but she was sure, he couldn’t see anything because of all those tears. He just wouldn’t stop shaking, so she pulled his head to her chest, right under her chin and wound her arms around him, squeezing tightly, letting him know, she was there.
The only thing that came from him were pained whimpers. He clung to her and his fingers grasped the back of her shirt so tight that she feared he might hurt himself.
"Andy, I’m here," she was stroking his back and moved her hand in his hair, massaging him in a soothing manner. Wanting to calm him down. "Shhhhh, I’ve got you," she whispered in his hair, "I’ve got you." She pressed kisses to his head and told him over and over that she was there and they’d be alright. That she loved him so much.
_ _ _
It took some time but his grip on her loosened a little and he calmed down. His breathing evened out and he felt heavier against her.
She let him rest a few more minutes against her chest before she stroked his cheek with her left hand and told him they should get up, "Andy, honey, come on, let’s get into bed."
He was slow, visibly exhausted from his break down but he followed her to bed.
She covered him with a blanket after he fell onto the mattress and got in beside him.
She turned to switch off the beside lamp when she felt a hand reach out for her and a faint but worried, "Babe?" came from behind her.
She turned to him after switching off the lamp, covering his hand with hers and snuggling up to him, "I’m here, honey. I’m right here and I’m not leaving."
When they were lying there like that, snuggled up so close, her arms around him, stroking his back and caressing his head, his right arm around her back, holding her close and not letting her leave, his head nestled against her chest, turned upwards into her neck, when they were lying there like that, everything clicked into place for her. Why he seemed so sad from time to time today and now that she thought about it, more times in the last few days or even weeks and why he hadn’t said anything on the balcony before, when she’d rambled on about her teenage troubles. It was one of those moments again, where he learned something new about her but it terrified him and when he couldn’t take it anymore, he broke down.
She was sure they’d talk about it again soon, maybe even the next day, but that night, with his weight on her and his deep breathing against her neck, that night she was just glad that he was there in her arms.