objectively i understand that one day i will feel better, that this is how depression works, it hangs and it hangs and it hangs, but in the meantime i am buzzing around, trying to find a place to land that feels Good, becoming more & more frantic every time i can’t call up even the echo of enjoying myself. i want to text everyone i’ve seen in the last month and say sorry for not being any fun at parties yet.
it helps to hear other people say it, though. “i feel bad.” friends & former coworkers & podcast hosts & you all. it helps! it’s not just my hellish maze brain! we are all waiting and angry and sad!
here is one good thing: i love new york so much it stretches me taller. it’s not a cycle, either: every day i wake up and love new york. every time i leave i come back and love new york. i love bodega coffee & the grimy yellow line in subway stations & the clang of the gate outside my apartment even though it makes the dog bark, her ears up in warning & that i can walk down any street performing to myself or crying and no one will spare me a second glance & the christmas lights in the business districts i’m sorry i know new york is for me, young and free and privileged, but does it help if i know that loving new york is a privilege that i am lucky to have?
the particular dark of new york, the sky grey with lamps in windows and streetlights and those horrible NYPD LED anti-crime lights, it never quite gets black and you can never see the stars but that’s ok, you know they’re out there just the same – these days the only time i feel like maybe i could one day write again is when i’m tugging and rewrapping a scarf around me, waiting on the corner for the bus in that dark glow and crisp christmas cold.
we’ll never forget that something went wrong and this is not the world we should be living in, not like this, but maybe we could enjoy it sometimes. i cleaned the bathroom and called my mom and ate a bagel with the dog asleep on my sock feet & i don’t feel good yet but i’m trying, i’m trying!
Getting off the quinjet, you rolled your shoulders slightly to relieve the dull ache that had begun to throb there. “Hello Y/N.” Wanda greeted, her dark dress flowing in the breeze. “Hey Wan.” You smiled wearily, accepting her hug gratefully, “Where’s your brother? He’s usually buzzing round me like a fly when I return from a mission?” You asked, the joke falling flat as concern seeped into your tone. “Oh Pietro, he has been on bedrest all day. Dr Banner says he has some advanced flu, caused by his above average metabolism or something.” Wanda murmured, making vague hand gestures as she talked. “Oh.” You mumbled, eyebrows creasing in concern. “You can go an see him if you are worried.” Wanda said, a smirk pulling at the corner of her lips. “Uh yeah I might do that… where is he?” You asked, trying to sound nonchalant. “Med room 105.” Wanda said, laughing as you teleported away as soon as the words left her mouth.
“Pietro?” You whispered, brushing a strand of hair out of his eyes as he slept peacefully. Sighing, you pulled the chair up to his bedside, linking your hand with his as you curled up. “You really can’t look after yourself can you? I leave for one week and here you are.” You sighed, tracing patterns on the back of his hand. “What am I gonna do with you eh?” You murmured, “I can’t have you getting sick on me, you’re the strong one…” You whispered, leaning over to kiss his cheek. However, at the last moment he turned his head and kissed you square on the mouth. “You’re so cute prinţesă.” He croaked, chuckling as your cheeks flushed crimson.” I missed you.” You smiled, leaning your forehead against his.
Dean is blushing. And I don’t just mean the kind of blush that blooms over your cheeks like a million little thunder bolts of pink when you feel shy or embarrassed– I mean, he’s been flushing red and stammering every time your paths cross around the bunker.
This morning when you went to go throw your clothes into the dryer, you found Dean standing in front of the washer, tapping a tinny beat on the aluminum surface and nodding his head in mindless movement. When he realized you’d come in, the tapping stopped, the tips of his ears turned maroon, and he couldn’t fill the empty air with anything more than uhh, I– uh, yeah, um...
You shrugged it off and told him to go grab a burger with a clap on his shoulder.
When you saw him later on, tinkering in the hood of the Impala with the garage door open, cool snow swirling in onto the concrete floor, you found his eyes looking at the engine without looking at the engine. He was somewhere far beyond the confines of the bunker. And when you spoke up to ask him if he wanted to kick back for a few beers, he slammed his head on the Impala’s raised hood, sputtered something about needing to drink water to stay healthy, and, mysteriously and bewilderingly, wandered out into the snow with a wrench still clasp tightly in his fist.
You stood there, wide-eyed, and watched as he awkwardly scooped, with one hand, all of the fallen snow from the petunia planters Castiel had placed at the edges of the driveway a few days before. It was another minute before you went inside, popped open a beer, and peeked out at him from the window, the crisp beer kissing your lips like the cold snow.
Then, when dessert was finished that night (apple pie and cheesecake, compliments of a certain Angel of Thursday), and Sam was putting away leftovers, and Castiel was in the kitchen cleaning up the dishes, you found yourself alone with Dean again, sitting two chairs apart, both of you with eyes shifting around the room like following a wayward fly.
It was you who broke the silence.
He responded so quickly, and so clipped, that a small shock of adrenaline shot through your head.
“I–uh–,” you started. “How are you doing?”
Dean fidgeted in his chair before turning his head to look at you. It looked so robotic, like he was telling himself in his head, turn your head thirty degrees, look her in the eyes, fold your hands in your lap.
“I have something for you,” he said, getting up and immediately walking over the bookcase to fish something out from behind a small stack of books.
Before you knew it, Dean was before you, holding out a small box tied with a ribbon on it.
You knew it was Christmas time, but all of you had already decided to skip it this year. No presents, no decorations, no false cheer, was the agreement. So to see Dean obliterating the rule he had so vehemently pressed into you before caused confusion to spread over your face.
“But we said–”
“I know, I know,” he said with exasperation. “Who actually follows rules anyway? I mean, come on.”
You kept your eyes on his face while you slowly took the box from him. His cheeks were so flushed that his freckles started to fade into his blush, making his complexion ruddy and pinched.
You looked down, and opened the box.
A small silver and rose gold pin in the shape of calla-lily stood displayed on green velvet backing. It was startlingly beautiful, and it gleamed and glinted in the light from lamps on the end tables.
“I fixed a car,” Dean blurted out.
His confession-like words shocked you out of your admiration and you met his eyes.
“Excuse me?” you said.
“I fixed a car. Buddy’s. Timing belt needed to be replaced, so, you know. I mean, heh, you know me. Mr. Fixit, right? Well, with cars. Not with… not with other things. So, Buddy’s Ford is in tip-top shape now. All fixed up.”
His rambling was paired with a look of self-satisfaction that confused you as much as it did make a smirk bloom on your face.
“I bought it.”
And suddenly you realized what he meant, and your own blush crept over your cheekbones.
“I bought it from what I got fixin’ the car. I know you don’t like me stealing and stuff. And I mean, it’s not really stealing,” he continued, hands gesturing in the air like a panicked boy. “I mean, it’s hustling. It’s just playing pool really well. And maybe the card swiping is a little underhanded, but–”
Just as quick. Just as clipped.
He was pink from head to toe.
“Beautiful. And I love it,” you said, making sure to say it into his shimmering emerald eyes.
“I–” he started, nodding and stammering, “I’m glad.”
You smiled, as you glanced back down to the pin.
“Oh, and the pin,” you resumed, making sure to catch Dean’s reaction, “the pin is beautiful, too. And I love it.”
Before he could catch on, you reached up to put a hand on his jaw, and kissed him. His face was hot, like a fever, but his mouth was pliant and understanding. And when you pulled away, you couldn’t wipe the smile from your face.
Dean was still pink, still stuttering, but a goofy, child-like smile was plastered over his fair-skinned face.
“And I didn’t even need a mistletoe to get what I wanted for Christmas.” you said with a smirk on your reddened lips.
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