She finally understands the meaning of the phrase: take my breath away.
Literally straining for air in a moment that forces it all out of one’s body.
The feeling of being sucker punched in the gut, but in the best way possible.
Being stopped in her tracks, left staring, trying to comprehend the sight in front of her eyes.
She finally understood why there’s so many songs about the phenomenon. The way it’s so often depicted in television or movies with a slow-motion effect.
Because the moment feels exactly like that-the world coming to an almost complete standstill, yet the energy buzzing frantically, radiating from every limb. The slow blur of everything around her except the one crystal clear image of the specific detail that set the whole craze in motion.
She finally gets it.
The sight of Fatin has always made Leah feel some type of way. From general jealousy at her beauty when they were mere strangers, to comfort as they became close friends, all the way to butterflies when she finally recognized her true feelings for her-Fatin’s beauty once again sparking the reaction.
This time was different.
And completely knocked off balance.
Returning to her room to find Fatin nestled against the headboard of the bed, wearing one of Leah’s favorite sweatshirts, and sporting a bright smile, nearly made Leah drop the drinks she left the room to retrieve in the first place.
It wasn’t a particularly new sight to behold. They have had regular movie nights since returning home, and Fatin always started the evening propped up like so. The main difference this time was the sweatshirt she was wearing-Leah’s sweatshirt. There was something so disorienting about seeing Fatin 1-dressed down as much as she was (even when she would change into pajamas or something comfortable, she always looked like she came straight off the runway. Matching silk sets in rich beautiful colors.) 2-seeing her in Leah’s own clothing.
It was a curious choice that made Leah’s head spin. The butterflies that fluttered in her stomach raged with the utmost ferocity. All the air pushed from her lungs, her throat drying instantly.
“Leah?” Fatin inquires with a furrowed brow and a gentle tone.
And just like that the moment is gone, fleeting despite the way everything felt stagnant. The air reinflates her body, lifting her back into motion, one foot in front of the other till she’s entering the empty space underneath the covers next to Fatin. “Is that my sweatshirt?” Still astonished at the sight, it’s hard for her to let it go, she feels silly for asking a question she absolutely knows the answer to, but the reasoning behind the choice is all she can think about. Why wear Leah’s clothes when Fatin brought her usual overnight bag? Did she not bring anything to cover up with? (Some of Fatin’s silk sets did consist of skimpy shorts and camisole tank tops, but she usually always brought a matching robe thing those nights.) And why did she choose that particular one?
“Oh so you can wear all my shit, but I can’t cop a sweater? Seems selfish Leah.” Fatin jokes wholeheartedly, referring to their time on the island. The crewneck is large on her, comically so. It’s large on Leah, but Fatin swims in its arms. Her hands fully inside the sleeves, she wraps the limbs around her body in a show she’s not taking it off.
Leah doesn’t know how to respond. Fatin’s playful grin melts her heart. The butterflies rage once again. It is amusing to see Fatin wearing someone else’s clothes for a change. When they were on the island, all eight of them rotated Fatin’s wardrobe, but that was out of necessity. Back home, Fatin had all the access in the world to her own stuff, and to any new things she’d ever want to buy! Seeing her actively choose to wear someone else’s clothes when there was no need to do so was exceptional, it felt significant.
Always haunted by her feelings, Leah understands the trope of sharing clothes with your significant other. The way girls often stole their boyfriend’s hoodies, and the way they’d typically shrug it off because they secretly loved seeing their girls in them. Seeing Fatin in her sweatshirt felt like that. She felt the elation, the rapture, the yearning urge.
“What’s mine is yours.” Leah affirms, secretly hoping this choice becomes just as regular as the movie nights themselves.
Fatin looks very pleased by the answer as she turns her attention to the computer on her lap. Her fingers make quick work of navigating the proper streaming service to find the entertainment for the evening. When she presses play and falls back against the headboard, she scoots closer to Leah, ever so slightly.
Cuddling was another regular occurrence during these nights, though usually starting later into the movie, sometimes even into the second before a head comes to rest on the other’s shoulder. The opening credits aren’t even through before Fatin’s nuzzles in close, wrapping her arms around Leah’s waist. Mindlessly Leah moves her arm to drape over Fatin’s shoulders, the other cradling the arm around her abdomen. Leah hyper fixates on the small hole she knows is in the arm of her sweater. She sticks her finger through it and draws little patterns over Fatin’s skin.
Not suspecting the touch Fatin shivers and giggles at the tickling sensation. “How are-” she looks down and sees the hole, stopping herself, question answered.
“Not my fault you picked the tattered one.” Leah cheekily grins. Her finger continues to lazily draw circles, and squiggles, and a number of other shapes (including a random heart here and there, her own beating heavily each time she does.)
“But I had to, it’s your favorite.” Fatin muses humming in content, turning her attention back to the screen in front of them.
She’s caught off guard again. The comment stilling her abruptly. “Wait how did you-”
Fatin cuts her off before she gets the chance to finish. “You wear it almost every movie night.” She straightens up and pulls at the fabric to look at the print on the chest-a very faded image of a long neck dinosaur. (Leah was obsessed with The Land Before Time movies as a child, and thus a somewhat secret love for dinosaurs began.
Also, tree stars made leaves look tasty, they aren’t) “I wanted to see if it’s as great as you seem to think it is.” She laughs and hugs herself, holding the article of clothing tight to her chest.
“And is it?” Leah questions nervously. Fatin was right, she did wear that sweatshirt a lot, though never in public. It was strictly an at home lounge shirt. It was comfortable, a dark emerald green color (one of her favorites), and despite its worn out look and holey seams, Leah couldn’t bare the thought of getting rid of it.
A coy smile creeps across Fatin’s face and she returns to her previous cuddle position against Leah’s side. Squeezing tightly, “definitely, it smells like you.” She nuzzles further into the crook of Leah’s neck, if it’s even possible, and once again Leah is stunned.
The admission is so soft and quiet, for a minute Leah wonders if she imagined it. When Fatin’s nose tickles her neck, she knows it’s true. Fatin’s breath tickles against Leah’s skin, but despite the shivers that run down her spine, she’s suddenly way too warm for the even the mere t-shirt she’s currently wearing.
“You uh-you can keep it if you want. I mean borrow it you know, if that uh-if that makes sense.” Leah stammers, unable to keep her composure. Between the warmth of Fatin’s weight against her side, and the cool prickling feeling of her breath against her neck, Leah can’t think straight. She doesn’t really understand what exactly she’s saying. She just knows how much she loves the sight of Fatin wearing it, and how much she wants to see it again.
Fatin slowly pulls away, her eyes trained on Leah’s face. There’s a quizzical yet hopeful gleam behind her eyes, shining bright even in the dim light. Her hands stay fixed to Leah’s waist, but her torso arcs away putting a gap between them. Fatin squints her eyes as she continues to stare into Leah’s almost as if she’s searching for something in them, an emotion, a motive, anything specific.
Leah squirms under the gaze and her pained smile does a poor job covering up the nervous energy she so strongly feels in this moment. She breaths in deep, filling her lungs with air. The room stops spinning and the details come back into focus. Fatin bites her bottom lip like she’s debating on something to say. Leah finds herself staring.
“You know that’s like a thing that couples do?” Fatin’s voice is wavering, unsure. Completely devoid of its usual warm teasing tone. Vulnerable and gentle, as if she’s afraid of scaring Leah away.
Leah instinctively rubs the back of her neck, working at the tension that has built. She clears her throat and tries to speak with a steadiness she’s unsure she’s capable of, “Yes.”
It’s all she can say.
Fatin continuously nods her head, her bottom lip trapped between her teeth again. Eyes downcast, focused on the dinosaur.
“Umm-it doesn’t have to be like that, but if you’re not opposed…” Leah lets it linger in the space between them. It’s implied, but she hopes it’s enough.
Fatin’s head shoots up, and similarly her eyebrows and the corners of her mouth do too. Her grin grows wide, white teeth glinting in the dim light. “Leah Rilke, are you asking me to be your girlfriend when you haven’t even taken me on a proper date?” The return of that warm teasing tone that sounds like music to Leah’s ears.
Leah laughs, genuinely laughs, the air escaping and refilling her lungs over and over like it had all night, in rapid succession. “I mean, if you count these movie nights as dates, we’ve already been on at least twenty.” It’s only partially a joke. Yes, she would love to take Fatin on a proper date, outside the house, but in a lot of respects, it feels like they’ve been dating for months.
“Consider me yours then.” Fatin coos before placing a quick kiss to Leah’s forehead. “This sweatshirt though-it’s definitely mine now.”
It all finally makes sense.
Watchin', I keep waiting, still anticipating love
Never hesitatin' to become the fated ones
Turning and returning to some secret place to hide
Watchin' in slow motion as you turn to me and say, my love
Take my breath away