Soulmates - (4/?)
Summary: You asked Jeff, a senior you barely knew, for a ride home while he was going on the beer run.
Warnings: Read part 1, 2 and 3 on my page! Swearing. Angst. It’s kind of sad. Also it’s a little different from the show. It will have a continuation. Don’t give up on it just yet, it will be a nice story.
Whatever was it that you guys were painting, it was looking great. It was an explosion of colors. You added the details and painted things with an actual shape, like people and objects, carefully avoiding too much realism so it could match Jeff’s part. His stuff were more abstract, some mixed colors and patterns with an outcome surprisingly beautiful for someone who never painted anything before.
“So… what are you gonna do with your life once you wake up?” Jeff asked.
“I’m not sure” you answered.
“Well… what do you like?”
“Arts. Theater, music, painting, drawing, dancing… But it’s all out of my reach” you pretended to be indifferent, but thinking about that actually hurt you a lot.
“I’m a bad actress. My singing is nothing out of the ordinary, and so is my painting and drawing. And the dancing… well, I’m a terrible dancer”
Jeff wiped the paint from his fingers in his shirt and walked towards you.
“What are you doing?” you asked, as he took you by the waist and held one of your hands. You realized what he was doing and laughed. “I don’t mean that kind of dance”
“I know” he said, but started dancing anyway. There were music playing somewhere, in another room or outside on the street. Some slow song. Barely audible, but it was enough for you to keep up with. “See? You’re good at it. We only tripped twice and it was my fault”
“Like I said, it’s not that kind of dance” still, neither of you stopped dancing.
“Which kind is it?”
“Ballet. Contemporary. Jazz” you explained.
“I think you can do anything you put your mind to. It doesn’t matter if it’s dancing, painting, becoming president or developing a cure for cancer” he said, in all seriousness. You let out a nervous laugh.
“I think you overestimate my capacities”
“I don’t” he shook his head. “I’m just telling you the truth”
“You’re wrong” you reaffirmed.
“You want to go down that road, fine. Why?”
“Why do you think you can’t do whatever you want?” he asked, patiently.
“It demands hard work, Jeff. Talent. I’m not a hard worker and I’m not talented either. Most of the time I’m just too tired to do anything. Tired of what, you might ask? Breathing, probably. Because that’s all I do. Breath, eat and sleep”
“That’s all fear of exposure. You involuntarily keep yourself from trying because you’re afraid of what people, or even yourself, will think if you fail” he said, looking deeply into your eyes.
“I don’t fear failure. I anticipate failure. That’s different” you tried to argument.
“How can you be so sure you would fail if you never even tried?”
“I tried, Jeff. And I wasn’t good enough. End of story”
“That’s it? You give up? Perfection is not the goal, (Y/N). It’s just a concept that, for whatever reason, motivates people to improve themselves. Think about those people you told me about on the car…”
“Picasso and Da Vinci” you reminded him.
“Take Da Vinci. What do you think would have happened if he reached the so called perfection? If he looked at his first work and thought: ‘That’s it! That’s good enough’? He would never grow, never shoot for the stars. He wouldn’t be known and admired until nowadays, almost five hundred years after his death” he was almost whispering, with a low and sweet voice.
“I get your point” you nodded, but not completely convinced yet.
“But see, the world is a hard place. Even the most competent people struggle to find the place where they belong. Some don’t find it at all. So if they can’t, how can I?”
“The world is a huge place, filled with opportunities, options and places where you can belong. You, an artist, should have that perspective. We are raised to believe there’s only one way to succeed in life, and that success means money, a nice partner, two plain and boring kids and a dog. Do you think that’s all there is?”
“So don’t you think you’re being small minded by saying some people don’t ever find where they belong?”
Jeff left out a sigh. He softly tightened the grip on your waist and pulled you closer. He leaned his head on your shoulder, his face resting on your hair.
“Whatever you decide to do… You don’t have to be the best at it, (Y/N). You just have to do it”
After that, you just danced around in complete silence. His breath against your neck gave you chills. His hands didn’t leave yours for what seemed like hours. It was perfect.
A week went by and nothing changed. You and Jeff grew closer and closer. You did lots of other things together, such as going to the arcade, watching some movies at the Crestmont (Hannah and Clay being nowhere to be found), visiting museums, animal shelters and parks, and in one particular afternoon Jeff even taught you some baseball moves.
“I miss my family” you said one day, while you two were about to go to sleep at an empty hotel room. It was one of the rare occasions he took his cap off. You admired his dark messy hair. You got so distracted by it that you let that confession slip off your mouth, like a secret revealed by accident. You did miss your family and friends, but wanted to avoid the subject so you wouldn’t hurt Jeff. Too late for that.
His voice sounded weak when he responded.
“Me too” Jeff looked up to the lightbulb on the ceiling. You realized he was trying to hold back his tears.
“Oh god. I’m sorry, Jeff. I didn’t mean to make you cry” you apologized and climbed into his bed. He was sitting by it’s edge, so you hugged him by his side.
“It’s okay. I just…” his blue eyes met yours, and he seemed so utterly hurt that your heart broke. He blinked a few times and shook his head. “I mean, nevermind”
“No, tell me” you held his hand. It was ice cold.
“It’s just that nothing will ever be the same, that’s all. No more baseball, no more anything” he bit the inside of his cheek and his jaw clenched. He wanted to cry so badly.
“It’s okay if you want to cry, Jeff” you said, gently. “I’m here for you”
That triggered something in him. He turned around angrily, not at you, but the situation. Jeff had been suffocating on his thoughts every since the accident and he was finally letting it out.
“These last few days… I wish it could have happened differently. I wish we had met before, and went on all those adventures on real life. I wish I could introduce you to my friends and family, have you cheering for me at my games, cheer for you at your recitals and plays and everything else you’re great at without even knowing. But you know what? I can’t. That night took everything away from me and I’m not ready to lose it all! I’m seventeen, damn it! My life barely began and it’s already slipping through my fingers!” tears now rolled down his face freely, and he was sobbing. “I’ll never get to go to college. I’ll never-”
“Jeff, stop it right now!” you interrupted him and cupped his face with your hands. “Listen, baseball is not the only way to get in college! Weren’t you the one who told me life is full of opportunities and different ways to succeed?”
“I don’t have a life anymore!” he shouted.
“Yes you do! We’ve been through hell and we still have a lot of crap to deal with when we wake up, especially you, but we’re alive! I can survive whatever sequels I get. You can survive with one leg and one hand. It’s not ideal but we can do it!”
He shook his head.
“You don’t get it”
“Maybe I don’t. I don’t know how it feels to lose a passion like yours. But I do know there are thousands of other things out there to be passionate about!”
“(Y/N)! I’m trying to make you understand, but you’re missing the point! I’m telling you I can’t do anything anymore! I can’t just wake up, get up from wherever they put me and do as I please! I can never do the things I could before the accident. I can never do something like this”
Without any kind of warning, Jeff turned around and kissed you. Your chest was about to burst, it felt amazing, but also horrible. He kissed you like it was the first and last time. He broke the kiss after a minute, and pulled away from you.
“Jeff…” you started, after gasping for air.
“Don’t” he asked.
“We can make it work”
“I can’t be with you, (Y/N). What I lost at the accident-”
“Jeff, I don’t care! Okay? I don’t care if you’re missing a leg, a hand, if you’re paraplegic, tetraplegic, brain damaged or whatever! I still want to be with you! I want to support you and help you, be there for you!” You yelled, frustrated.
“I don’t want you to!” he yelled back. You moved away a few inches.
“What do you mean?”
He pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Maybe we should go to sleep now” he mumbled.
“I asked you a question”
“And I don’t want to answer”
You closed your eyes, all the frustration from the last days accumulating. You clenched your jaw and took a deep breath. It made sense. Jeff never said he was upset for being unable to kiss you. He was upset for being unable to kiss, period. That kiss between you two was just an impulse from a guy who believed that once he woke up, no one would want him anymore. He didn’t have feelings for you. He was just angry.
When you opened your eyes again, Jeff was looking at you with a deep concern. He seemed to be holding back the urge to touch you. You shook that thought away. He didn’t care. He didn’t want you.
“I’m going home. I’ll crash there. Then I’ll spend the morning watching over my parents. You should go home and do the same. If you feel like it” you emphasized the 'feel like it’, angrily. “you can meet me at noon at Monet’s”
You got up from the bed. Jeff reached for your hand.
You walked away.