Weeks go by in relatively harmonious bliss. Helios works too much, you scold him for it as you bring him various kinds of sandwiches, his thank you always a teasing remark about how you should learn to actually cook. There are mornings you spend basking silently in the warm glow of the rising sun, pretending to be asleep as long as you could as you both lay in each other’s arms, desperate to hold onto the moment as long as possible. There are days you spend training together, his care for your safety obviously coating each insult to your knife wielding skills. There are nights you spend without having sex at all, Helios always letting you pick the movies you watched together despite his constant criticisms of their subject matter and quality, always carrying you to bed once you fell asleep with extreme care not to wake you.
Despite this bliss, you would have been blind not to notice the growing anxiety behind his eyes. The growing frequency of moments he spent running his hands through his hair and sighing in exhaustion. The growing lack of sleep he got, all the times you woke in the middle of the night from the frenzied pitter patter of his fingers over his keyboard.
Most notably, each time you had told him you loved him, whether it had been a passive good night or a sentimental moment; the conflict across his face grew more and more tense. After a week or so, you had decided to stop saying it in hopes of lifting a portion of the obvious weight from his shoulders. Yet his state of worry and attempted hidden emotional turmoil only grew worse. And despite your previous decision to no longer worry yourself over the man's feelings towards you, your most familiar demon of doubt had done its job in filling the gaps.
Tonight you were both lying in bed, still catching your breaths from hours of action of your carnal desires. His head was nuzzled into your neck as your fingers played with the strands of his hair, your usually calm-after-sex mind racing to find solutions to the growingly tense man beside you.
“Hmm?” He hummed as his grip around your waist tightened slightly, nuzzling his face deeper into your neck as if to say he wasn’t in the mood to speak.
“We’ve both been trapped in this apartment for a while now. Maybe it would be good for us to both get some fresh air sometime soon?”
“I have a balcony. Knock yourself out.” The words grumbled against your neck as he expectantly dismissed your offer.
“I mean, maybe we could go doing something together?”
Helios sighed as he pulled away from your neck, resting his cheek in his palm as he looked down at you with his usual expression of annoyed amusement.
“What, you want a date?”
“Is that so outlandish?” You earned an eye roll from the man, his mouth opening to speak before you cut him off to continue. “It could be good for you too, you know? To take a little break from your work, take your gal out on the town. Feel more like a normal couple.”
“A normal couple, huh?” A dark chuckle accompanied the question, the growingly familiar look of conflict spreading over his face.
“Well, other than the occasional knife throwing lessons, I’d say that’s not all that far from what we are.”
Helios sighed deeply, his sweet breath falling over your face before he fell back against his bed.
“Nothing about this is normal.”
“Well that’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?” He said nothing in response to you, his eyes scrunching shut as he rubbed his temples. “We watch movies on the couch at night, spoon in the morning, hell even the way we fight is pretty normal. Typical new relationship stuff, I’d say we’re even in a honeymoon phase right now.” The words spilled out of you uncontrollably, your growing anxiety fueled by the growing tension on his face as you spoke them. “Soon... who knows? Maybe I’ll learn how to actually cook. We’ll be having little Sunday dinners together, where I get mad at you for ignoring me while you read the newspaper. We’ll have a golden retriever napping in the corner. I’ll be dragging you to IKEA to help me pick out curtains for the living room, and you’ll complain the whole time about me taking too long. ‘Just pick something already, damnet! It doesnt fucking matter.’” You paused for a moment, swallowing the lump in your throat. “I bet that’s what you’d say.”
Helios dropped his hands, folding them together over his chest as he turned to face you. You both stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, captured within a painfully pivotal moment. The clasp to Pandora’s box undone, patiently waiting to be opened. Yet the longer you sat in that silence, the more sure you were that the cat had been dead all along. Your eyes began to water, your heart rate continuously escalating as the man you love finally opened his mouth to speak the truth you were terrified of.
“My boyfriend. I know. Trust me, I got the memo.” So you finished the statement for him, hoping it would hurt less. Hoping that if you convinced him you knew it from the start, you could convince yourself of the same lie. Yet his reaction wasn’t what you had expected, all of his tension melting into dull rage rather than relief.
“Always putting words in my mouth.” His words were carefully spoken, but the hurt behind them was still clear. He turned his head away from you, staring blankly at the ceiling as he poked the inside of his cheek with his tongue.
“Oh.” The word was more of a meek sound, barely escaping you as you sat in the awkward atmosphere. “I’m sorry, were you going to say something else?”
Helios only rolls away from you, swinging his feet over the side of the bed before reaching for his discarded clothes on the floor.
“Just forget about it.” He mumbled as he pulled the black t-shirt over his head, pulling his pants over each leg and rising slightly to pull them over his waist before sitting back down.
“What are you doing?” Your voice shook weakly as you spoke, an all new anxiety building in your chest.
“Getting dressed.” He barely speaks as he pulls his boots over his ankles, swiftly tying them both as you watched the muscles of his arms jerk harshly.
“Where are you going?”
“Out.” Both of his hands smack audibly against his thighs as he rises to stand, pulling a box of cigarettes out of the drawer of his night stand before turning to leave the room.
You pulled the sheets over your naked form as you rose to sit.
“Helios wait! I’m-“
“Sorry, I know. You’re always sorry. Trust me, I got the fucking memo.” He spoke bitterly as he paused at the doorway, turning to meet your gaze as his eyes dully fell over you. His expression was unreadable, reminding you painfully of the way he used to look at you when you had first moved in.
“Can’t we just talk for a second? I don’t understand why you’re so upset.” Tears brimmed at your eyes once more, the fear in your chest audibly spilling out over your words.
“I’m not upset. Don’t worry about it.”
Helios raised an eyebrow mockingly at you, waiting for the expected apology to fall out of your mouth. You bit down firmly on your bottom lip, a single tear falling down your cheek before he groaned and slammed the door behind him.
You sat there frozen and stunned for several minutes, the sound of his exit echoing in the silence of the room as well as the emptiness inside of you. Despite your attempt to soothe the obvious distress Helios had been dealing with, you had only seemed to make things worse. That’s what it always felt like these days, all of the days actually. Everything was fine, until you opened your mouth to speak.
His life was peaceful before, isn’t that what he said?
You chuckled bitterly at the thought, a new flood breaking past the dam at your eyes as you clutched his sheets tighter to your chest. You inhaled their scent deeply between your sobs. Every fight you’d had, they all seemed to start with you. You wanting more, needing more, asking for more. And in the end he always conceded to you, gave in to you. You had thought it was for the best, that you changing him was best for him. Best for you both. But asking a wolf to go against his nature, how could that ever be good for him? To domesticate something that had no wish to be domesticated.
I’ve just trapped him.
Eventually the tears faded as your resolve grew, quickly getting dressed before writing out a note on a stray piece of paper on his desk.
“I love you, asshole. I’m sorry for always being sorry. You deserve better.
You pulled your jacket tighter around you as you walked through the street. Originally you had planned to go home, but after thinking more into it you realized that would be the first place he would look. Of course, he would look. He would search everywhere for you. Just as he always had before. Eventually, you hoped that would fade. That his feeling of obligation to protect you would disappear, and that he would just go back to the peaceful life he once had. You decide to go to Kiki’s house, pulling out your phone to shoot her a call before you nearly ran into a strange body in front of you.
“Oh! Sorry I wasn’t paying attention.” You looked up to find a tall man peering down at you. There was a falsely pleasant smile on his face, a falsely comforting tone to his voice.
“No hard feelings here. It’s always a pleasure to be run into by such a lovely young lady. Wouldn’t you agree, Paul?”
The man you assumed to be Paul emerged from your peripheral, a less controlled sinister expression on his face as he nodded.
“I’d have to agree, I’m rather jealous now. Would you mind running into me as well?” He chuckled darkly as he took a step towards you, another equally devious laugh on your right side making you realize there were in fact three men present, practically surrounding you.
An all too knowing dread filled you as you stepped backwards, the men easily matching your slow strides. You feel your back eventually meet a firm figure behind you, the fearful cry catching in your throat. Yet the men in front of you didn’t continue to smile and approach you as their gaze met the persons behind you.
“Her ‘run ins’ with any of you are finished now. I’d take the opportunity to scamper off, before I lose my patience.” The familiar voice coated your body like warm honey, soothing every anxious fiber of your being as Helios’ arm circled your waist protectively.
The original man you ran into at the center of the group smirked dangerously.
“Pretty emo boy wants to play the hero now, does he?” The other two quickly joined him in laughing, stopping when he stopped. “What, did mommy never teach you to share? Must’ve been too busy buying you Marilyn Manson merch from Hot Topic.”
“You picked the wrong day to piss me off, Jackass.” His arm tightened around you as you saw his free hand raise before you both, holding a silver gun that shined threateningly under the street lights.
“Oh, you think you’re the only fellow that owns one of those?”
You hear a clicking sound, and when you turn to look at either side of you, both of his apparent henchmen now have guns pointed at the two of you. Irregular heartbeats pound in your ears, the thumb of the hand at your side gently massaging it in an attempt to calm you. At that moment, it was just you and him. Flashbacks of all of your time together fluttered across your eyes, all of your previous fear melting away as you realized you needed to act quickly, to protect him. Instinctively, you reach back for the knife you know will be at Helios’ waist, being careful to appear as though you’re clutching onto him for emotional support as you take firm hold of its handle.
“That’s my girl. Guy on the left.” Helios whispered affectionately into your ear, just loud enough for you to hear.
You nod before yanking the knife from its holster, Helios’ arm immediately leaving you as it reaches for his second gun at his ankle and aims them both at your attempted assaulters. Aiming for the man at your left as instructed, you heard the gunshots fire before you even had the chance to throw the blade, a firm hand immediately falling over your eyes so that your only confirmation that your target had been hit was a harsh and disturbing gurgling sound.
“Phenomenal shot, baby. I’m gonna pick you up now, but will you keep your eyes closed for me?” You barely manage to nod under his hold.
Helios leans down to pick you up, carrying you off several feet before he speaks again.
“I’m about to put you into my car, keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them.”
He buckled you in swiftly, waiting until several moments after the car had started driving to tell you you could open your eyes. When you did, you only stared in front of you, the shock from what had just happened leaving you paralyzed.
“You okay?” The warmth in his voice fell over you welcomely, thawing out your limbs and throat as you finally spoke.
“All things considered, yeah.”
“Good, cause you were a fucking legend back there. I’m proud.” The smile in his voice was audible as you turned to look at him, finding it there on his strangely happy face. After a minute or so of silence, he sighed as he reached for the Marlboro box in his shirt pocket, smacking it against his leg a few times before opening the lid with his thumb and removing one of the cigarettes with his lips.
“Can I have one?”
Helios' eyes widened slightly as he turned to look at you briefly.
“You a smoker all of a sudden?” His brows furrowed as the words mumbled around the cigarette between his lips.
“No, but I’d like one.”
He said nothing in response, instead pulling out another cigarette from the box and placing it next to the other between his lips. He tucked the box back into his pocket before pulling out his lighter from it, opening its top with a flick of his wrist before lighting both of the cancer sticks and handing one to you.
“Thank you.” You smiled meekly as you took it from him, using all of your strength not to cough as you took a small testing drag from it.
“Now, what was the reason for your little escapade tonight?” Helios spoke through the smoke as he released the drag of his own, his eyebrows raising in their usual teasing of your nonsensical actions.
“I… you’re the one that left first.” The words felt silly now, shamefully childlike as you sunk into his black leather seat.
“Did you think I was fucking dumping you or something?” He chuckled quietly, taking your silence as confirmation before continuing. “I was on the damn balcony. I just needed some air. Do you really think I’d break up with someone by leaving them in my own home?”
“I don’t know, you’re full of surprises.” You mumbled bitterly as you took another, longer drag, unsuccessfully suppressing the series of coughs it evoked from you.
“I should be the one saying that to you.” Another chuckle broke past his lips as you rolled your eyes at him, the both of you remaining silent for the rest of the drive home as your mind raced for a way to break up with someone so stubborn. With someone you didn’t even truly want to leave in the first place.
Helios sank beside you on the couch when you got home, eyeing you cautiously as he positioned himself to face you, yet he waited for you to speak first. Racking your mind for something to say, you eventually settled on bluntness.
“I’ll stay here tonight, but tomorrow I need to go home.”
“Go home? What are you on about now?” The man beside you groaned as he ran his fingers through his hair, scratching the back of his head as he stared at you impatiently.
“I meant what I said in that note, Helios.” Despite your efforts to keep your tone even and demanding, your own doubt still coated every syllable, your voice obviously shaking.
“Yeah I know. I’m not sure if you’re having amnesia from the trauma of what just happened, but you’ve already told me how madly in love with me you are.”
“I also meant what I said about it being goodbye.” Doing your best to ignore the playful teasing, and how it evoked butterflies in your stomach, you managed to keep your tone more confident than before.
Helios sighed deeply, taking a moment to consider his options before he finally spoke.
“Cause you think I deserve better, or something like that?”
“Yes but, I guess there’s more to it than that.” You paused for a moment, finally turning your head to look at him. There was no snarky comment awaiting you, he only nodded his head patiently for you to continue with a neutral expression placed over his features.
“I could tell, for a while now, that I seem to be putting an incredible amount of stress on you. I couldn’t figure out what it was, why you always seemed so anxious or conflicted. But now I guess I realized earlier that…” You took another pause as your voice broke, looking away from his emotionless stare and steadying your breathing. “... that it’s been me. I don’t want to keep doing this to you, keep pressuring you into being someone else or into being in a relationship you have no interest in.”
“Jesus Christ, what do I have to do to make it clear to you? Put a fucking ring on your finger? Cause if that’s the case I’ll strap that pretty little ass back into the Jeep right now and drive us both to vegas.” Helios’ voice rose as he rose from his seat, you barely managing to grab him by his arm before he had wandered off to wherever he was planning.
“I’m serious, babe. Let’s go, I’ll knock you up as soon as we get home.” Despite his chuckle, his eyes met yours with no humor. His face deadpan and serious.
“Can you come back to reality for a moment to listen to me?”
“No, you listen to me.” Helios sank onto his knee against the couch beside you, leaning over you so that his face was mere inches from yours. “You cut me off earlier. What I was going to say before you so rudely interrupted is that I’m not good at this type of thing. But I’m willing to try, I’m willing to do whatever I need to to make you understand.” Folding his knee beneath him as he sat beside you, he placed both of his hands firmly at either of your hot cheeks, staring intensely into your eyes as he spoke. “I’m fucking crazy about you. You’re my whole fucking world. I’m so fucking in love with you that I can barely see straight.”
“Helios…” Your head shakes as tears pool at your eyes, placing your own hands over his wrists and hopelessly attempting to pull them away.
His body pushes you backwards as he crawls on top of you, waiting until your back hits the couch and he is positioned tenderly above you before knocking your forehead gently with the back of his knuckles a few times.
“Hello? Earth to dumbass? I’m trying to tell you that I love you.”
“You’re being cruel.” Hot tears burst past your eyes as your voice broke, your resolve shattering along with it. “You’re just saying that now so I’ll stay, and then first thing tomorrow you’ll tell me not to read into it.”
Helios moaned at your depressed laughter, squishing your cheeks almost painfully with his palms as he pressed his forehead against yours, his eyes burning into yours.
“Read into it, for the love of god. Study every page, highlight the key words, make flash cards. I don’t give a damn just fucking understand it please. I loved you far before you ever moved in here, before you ever even stopped hating me. Everything I do is for you. Everything I am is for you. Everything, it’s all about you. You dense fucking idiot.”
Helios took a deep and shaky breath, his thumbs petting away your tears tenderly before he finally finished.
“I love you, _____.”
The world stilled as his lips crashed against yours, folding and unfurling tirelessly into your kiss as you melted into his embrace. Everything else vanished in that moment, all of your worries and doubts gone in a puff of smoke. You exhaled each one into him, Helios absorbing each one greedily. Willfully. Eventually you pulled back, staring at his beautiful and finally peaceful face as you giggled past your tears.
“I love you.”
“I know.” Helios matched your laughter in his response, leaning down to continue the kiss before pulling away again with a heart shatteringly happy sigh.
“So, Vegas then?” His eyebrows raise with their usual amusement, this time at his own nonsensical actions. Yet his face held that same seriousness from earlier.
“Maybe not tonight. But soon.” Your giggles continued as you raised your hand to caress his cheek, the truth in your own words surprising you.
“Promise?” Helios sighed as he placed his thumb over your bottom lip, tenderly rubbing across it to soothe its swelling.
The both of your wide grins collided once more, his arms encircling you effortlessly as you both fell headfirst into the start of your conjoined forever.
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