Tuesday, February 9, 2010

36.) Growing Pains

Soundtrack Song - Michelle Branch, All You Wanted

“Okay.” I didn't even know what I was saying as the words left my mouth; I wasn't sure exactly to what I was agreeing or to what he thought I was agreeing. The pleading and desperation in his voice was enough to make want to say “yes” to anything, even though I didn't think about it before I said it. As shitty as I was feeling, physically, and as much as I was trying to process, mentally, it was nothing compared to the emotional heartbreak I felt for Kris as I saw him get so upset. To hear his words waver in the air, his face contort with anguish.... And to know that I was the one who had caused that pain....

I hated myself for that. I wanted to do whatever I possibly could to take away that hurting and make him all better. I would have promised him the world—told him anything he wanted to hear in order to give him a reason to smile again. I had said what I said because I needed to ease his mind, and I had said it without thinking about what that would mean for me or what I would have to do to hold up my end of the bargain.

He seemed appeased with my answer. More than just appeased, in fact; Kris covered my lips with his in a hot, searing kiss that would have made my knees give out if I wasn't already lying in bed. I felt it all the way down in my toes, which flexed and curled in response. My pulse immediately quickened, and I felt a little dizzy.

His lips were salty. I felt his hand on my stomach, trailing down to reach under the hem of his hoodie I was wearing. I placed my own hand over his, stopping its progress under my clothes and toward my chest. As much as that kiss blew my mind, I couldn’t let him continue. “Not now, Kris. I'm not in the mood.”

“I don't care,” he said, pressing his forehead against mine, his lips still so close to my mouth. “Ugh, no, that didn’t come out how I wanted it. I do care, but it’s okay if you don’t want to make love yet. I know you don't feel well.”

“Thank you,” I whispered, glad that I didn’t have to offer an explanation, mostly because my reasons differed greatly from his perceived understanding of my motives and rationale. I looked at him as he peered down at me. His eyes were red and wet. God, it killed me to see that. I ran the back of my fingers against his cheek.

“Of course. You don’t even have to say that.” He clasped my hand, placing kisses in my palm before he laid his head against my chest, his ear resting right over my heart. I wasn’t sure if he did that on purpose, like he was trying to listen to it beat. “I’m just so relieved, Jo. I didn’t think you’d even hear me out. I’m glad you listened. I’m glad I said something, and I’m glad you really listened. I feel so much better now.”

My fingers naturally curled around the hair by his ear. It was an automatic response for me to run my hands through his deliciously soft hair when he was stressed and needed to calm down. But I didn’t say anything to him. There wasn’t anything else for me to tell him. When I couldn’t bare the closeness any longer, I fidgeted, needing some space and some room to breathe.

“I probably smell,” I said quietly, segueing into a lighter topic. “Is it, um, okay if I take a shower here?”

“Yeah, sure,” he answered, pushing himself off me so he was resting back on his knees. He reached for my hands and I willingly gave them to him, and he pulled me into a sitting position. I felt the room spin around me again, so I slumped forward and tried to take a few deep breaths to quell the nausea. “Are you okay?”

“I will be. I’ll feel better after I wash off, get clean again. I just feel kinda gross and greasy,” I sighed. I swung my feet over the bed, testing my legs before I stood. Kris was right there, the whole time, not touching me but staying right there just in case I need to lean and rely on him.

He followed me into the bathroom, doing what he could for me. Kris grabbed a bath set out of the closet. “There’s shampoo, conditioner, and soap there in the shower, and here’s some towels and a washcloth. Is there anything else you need?”

I pulled his hoodie over my head. “Not unless you’ve got a spare pair of women’s underwear lying around,” I quipped, then watching as his face reddened.

“Only if you’ve conveniently left any here.” I shook my head at his comment. “I can put in a load of wash, if you want?”

I shook my head again. “I’ll hand wash them. Thanks though.” He nodded, our gestures contradicting each other. I didn’t bother with removing the rest of my clothes with him standing there. Kris kept watching me, and I tilted my head in a curious observation. “Can a girl get some privacy?”

He smirked. “Since when have you been modest?”

“Since I feel like crap. I don’t exactly feel sexy right now.”

“Okay,” he said, leaning in to gently brush his lips against my forehead. “Just holler if you need anything. And I mean it. If you feel weak, or if there’s something you want, you let me know.”

Kris pulled the door shut behind him, and I finished peeling off the rest of my clothes. I washed my underwear in the sink and then wrapped them up in a towel to dry them. I pulled back the shower curtain, turned on the water, and waited for the temperature to increase.

In the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror over the sink. I stood on my toes and reread the words on my side for the billionth time since my birthday.

Nothing's forever
Forever's a lie
All we have is between
Hello and goodbye

I sighed and then removed the locket around my neck, placing it safely on Kris’s clothes on the floor that I would slip back into afterwards. That way, nothing would happen to it. I glanced at myself one more time as I headed for the shower. I looked like a frightful mess—pink and black hair knotted and disheveled, worn face, tired eyes. At first, I didn’t even recognize myself. I draped the spare towel over the mirror so I wouldn’t have to see myself again.

The hot water felt good as it beat against my skin. It felt good to lather up and wipe off the grime that had built up in my pores and somewhat tame my hair. Just like I would feel better after showering when I was sick and slept on the couch for a day straight, I felt better now, too.

Showering gave me time to think, now that I was alone. I was still mad at myself—and sad at the same time—for what I did to Kris. He cared about me, and I felt like I had let him down. He had placed so much trust in me to keep his best interests at heart, and I didn’t do that.

I had done what I wanted to do for no other reason than I had wanted to; we were supposed to go out and spend some time with his friends, and I didn’t think I could handle that sober. I was nervous about it. And then I wanted to boost my fun, because I had been concerned about how I would handle the situation with his teammates and their catty girlfriends.

But that wasn’t what happened at all. At all. First of all, it wasn’t that bad. His teammates were typical jocks, but nice guys underneath that façade, and Kelsey and Heather were wonderful. I didn’t remember much else about them from the night except for sharing a dance floor and laughing, but they were so nice today. They went above and beyond what they needed to when they stopped over. And then Kelsey had said, “What are friends for?” I thought that was the sweetest thing she could have said.

So, I screwed it up. I wrecked the night. I had embarrassed myself by letting someone take advantage of me, and then apparently I had mortified Kris, too. I still didn’t know what I had done, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to know either. Maybe blacking out was a good thing as far as that aspect was concerned.

Even though I realized that last night shouldn’t have happened that way, I wasn’t sure that I was ready to give up the things that I liked to do. Smoking weed and drinking beer was fun and relaxing. It took the edge off whenever I was feeling overwhelmed with life—which was, let’s face it, happening more and more as I started to take on the responsibilities of adulthood again. And as I continued to get closer to heading into my first semester at Carnegie Mellon, and Tubby was going to be leaving... I could only imagine how that was going to wear on me.

I wasn’t addicted. And I could give it all up if I wanted. The problem was I really didn’t want to. But when it came down to deciding between lighting up again or having another drink, versus hurting Kris again, well, there really wasn’t a decision to be made.

I wasn’t first in my life anymore. It was no longer all about me.

Kris had blown into my world with gale force winds, and I cared for him a great deal. He had turned things upside-down for me for a while and was a bit of a pain. Okay, more than a bit. I had opened up to him in a way that I had never done to anyone else. It was therapeutic to talk to someone who actually understood what it was like to lose someone. Tubby and James had been friends, although they were nowhere near as close as either me and Tubby or me and James; the counselor at my school was clueless and no help at all. Even my parents couldn’t help me in the way I needed them to.

My dad had never cried—not even after he had seen James pass away during his game. I think that’s what had unnerved me so much about Kris’s reaction. He really let loose with his emotions. I thought hockey players were supposed to be tough; especially a hockey player like Kristopher Letang. But he was a sweetheart underneath that tough exterior and all those muscles. He was the fabled sensitive, nice guy that starred in plenty of cheesy romantic comedies but no girl really ever seemed able to find in real life. I liked that about him, because he was just as open as I was. I needed someone who could speak his mind and not get offended when I did the same.

No, I had to give it up if it meant he would stick around. He needed that much from me, and if that’s all he needed from me, well, that much I could certainly supply. It had been a long time since just being myself had been enough for someone else. It was a strange feeling, but one that I could get used to easily. I had no idea how he had come to rely on me so much, but who was I to question that?

And it’s not like I needed weed. I didn’t need alcohol. I had never touched the stuff in high school. It wasn’t that I had ever looked down my nose at partying, but I had been focused on different things, like grades and classes and academics. Once I didn’t care about those things anymore, it was an easy transition to hang out with the other kids that didn’t care, either, and do the things they did.

I guess that I was turning back into that old person that I used to be. That geeky girl that signed up for rocket club and talked to my teachers after class. Well, I don’t suppose I could ever go back to being her. Too much had changed for me to ever go back. Maybe I was becoming another brand-new person, and what I was feeling right now could all be chalked up to growing pains.

“Silly girl,” I heard from beside me, shocking me out of my thoughts. “Aren’t you clean yet? Or did you fall asleep while standing up?”

I pulled back the curtain and found him looking sheepish as he stood in the doorway, like he knew he was intruding on my solitude and privacy, yet he just couldn’t stay away. “You’re going to let all the hot air out.”

“Just wanted to make sure you were still all right.”

“Well, maybe I could use a hand,” I mused aloud, watching for his reaction.

“Yeah?” he asked, raising an eyebrow as I pointed at him and then curled my finger toward me in a come-hither motion.

“Don’t make me ask twice,” I said, ducking back behind the curtain and slowly counting. I didn’t even reach five-Mississippi before he was naked and joining me underneath the spray.


  1. First off "woot first comment!!"

    second- gorgeous song. And I blame you when my Visa bill is atrocious with Itunes bills. :P

    third - I love Kris more and more with every passing chapter! And I love that Jo's fallen as hard as she has. So cute Jay.

    Keep them coming!

  2. "He was the fabled sensitive, nice guy that starred in plenty of cheesy romantic comedies but no girl really ever seemed able to find in real life."
    A-friggen-men. I want a Kris Letang, and I am totally willing to put up with the bullshit for the character he has developped into.

    "Maybe I was becoming another brand-new person, and what I was feeling right now could all be chalked up to growing pains."
    God, what a brilliant line. Seriously, fantastic.

    Kris Letang - showering after all the brilliant ramble in her head about him.

    Ah, love it.

  3. hahahah that was a greatttt chapter :)

  4. "I wasn’t first in my life anymore. It was no longer all about me."

    - Loved it!

  5. One thing I can always count on is never getting sick of this story and never facing disappoint because an update didn't live up to my standards. Good job. :)

  6. Now that was so awesome and introspective on Jo's part, realizing that she is growing up - loved it, and loved this chapter.

  7. wow.
    this was a deep chapter, but i'm glad Jo finally realized she doesn't need that stuff in her life.
    "But when it came down to deciding between lighting up again or having another drink, versus hurting Kris again, well, there really wasn’t a decision to be made."

    so perfect.

    haha and then the ending... =]

  8. Beautiful chapter! I love the whole thing but my favorites,
    "But when it came down to deciding between lighting up again or having another drink, versus hurting Kris again, well, there really wasn’t a decision to be made."

    "... I didn’t even reach five-Mississippi before he was naked and joining me underneath the spray." That's some fast undressing!:-)

  9. This chapter really put a smile on my face. (: It was so good to see that, while Jo isn't willing to completely give up her old life, she's realizing that Kris' feelings are going to play a major part in the decisions she makes! Yay for Jo seeing the light!!

    Also, the dynamic between Jo and Kris is outstanding! It's adorable to see how they've fallen for eachother so completely that they're willing to change certain aspects of their life. I love them!<3

    "I didn’t even reach five-Mississippi before he was naked and joining me underneath the spray."
    ^^I still need a Kris. Still. Need. A Kris. :D

  10. UGHHHH Ok... I'm all giggly now lol.

    Alright, so I love that they're both 'ok', with what happened... or at least, ok with each other.
    I didn't really blame either one of them, or feel angry towards either one of them, but I did feel worried that they'd blow up hard core, of they wouldn't be able to work things out right away...

    and let's face it... I don't like when they're mad at each other...

    I loved Jo's whole thing in the shower, when she's going from... 'I could stop if I wanted to', until she reaches the 'I'd give up anything for Kris' part.
    It's not I think she should have to completely change for him, but, a few 'sacrifices' here and there doesn't seem like the worst idea... especially when bad things happen because of these things.

    I'm not really sure if that made a whole lot of sense or if it was a total, random, rant... but just in case it doesn't... this one made me super happy!
    The writing was superb, and the content was top-notch...

    Also... mmmm naked, wet, Kris... oops, did I actually just type that?? Yep, looks like it...