Oscar remembered vacation fondly. Sure, he'd had Jared and everything he'd done hanging over him, but the sun and the sand and the sex had forced it mostly out of his head, and he'd been able to really fucking enjoy himself.
And then Jared had gone and fucked up the one thing that had made the few weeks after his fuckup tolerable for him. Fucking Lydia, what the fuck was she thinking? Did she really expect that she was going to come out of this thing whole and unharmed? Highly fucking unlikely; Jared was a fucking disaster who left nothing safe. Lydia would hardly be the exception.
But in true Lydia form, she had worn him down, until he was too fucking tired to do anything but relent to her, and if he was being honest, he did fucking miss her, and maybe things COULD one day be okay between them. After all, he'd tried to push her away more times than he could count by now (most of those since the relapse), and she continually flat out refused to let him.
Oscar was sleeping when the hard, insistent knocking began. He'd been sleeping a lot since coming back from vacation. Whether it was because his body wanted to finally catch up on the sleep he'd missed because of the relapse and vacation or because he wanted to avoid his fucking feelings, he wasn't sure. But he was fucking sleeping finally, and he wasn't about to complain about that.
He rubbed his eyes blearily and climbed sleepily out of bed, barely remembering to pull on a pair of underwear before stumbling half blind towards the door, pulling it open to reveal a harried looking Lydia. As soon as he saw it was her, he let it close.
Lydia blinked at the closed door, her blood stilling in her veins.
She knew he was still mad. She knew his concession to try was tentative, and probably more to shut her up than anything.
Dirty looks she had been prepared for. Tense remarks, sure. Yelling, absolutely.
She didn't know what to do, and a jiggle of the knob found the door locked. She couldn't just very well leave, not after all this, so she slid slowly down the door and sat.
She could feel him behind the closed door. Could feel him standing there, waiting for her to go away, to leave.
"Everyone else always leaves," he had said. She could not prove him right.
"I'll just wait here, then," she called loudly, and leaned her head back.
Of course. Of fucking course Lydia would sit there and wait because that was what Lydia fucking did, because she was probably the best friend he could ask for aside from her tendency to date people Oscar did not like. But he was stubborn too, and he had a lot more to entertain him in the apartment than Lydia did on the other side of the door.
But for some reason he didn't go back to bed. He didn't go to his room or turn on the TV or get something to drink or even look out the fucking window. Instead, he sat next to the door, feeling Lydia's presence on the other side of the wall. He could wait just as long as Lydia could.
He lasted about fifteen minutes, but he was sure it was about fourteen longer than she would have thought, so it was still some sort of victory. He opened the door to find her still there, just like he'd expected. "You can come in," he told her, "But only because I don't like the idea of you sitting out here by yourself."
Lydia almost toppled over when he opened the door, and she was so relieved that he wasn't still sitting silent that she had to suppress a grin. This did not, not at all, feel like the time to be grinning, but her relief at that door opening after fifteen minutes of silence, silence in which she could feel him sitting against the other side of the door, imagined she could feel his body heat seeping through the thick wood...her relief was such that she could almost not hide the smile.
"Thanks," she said, and when he did not move to help her get up, she scrambled to her feet, hoisting her bag and her phone into her hands, and walked past him. She dumped her bag unceremoniously on the floor and tossed her phone on top of it. She would not need either.
"Oscar, I--" she started, and suddenly didn't know what to say. I'm sorry I'm with him? She wasn't. I'm sorry I love him? She wasn't. "I'm so sorry," she said, because she was--sorry for hurting him, sorry that she had made him feel like he meant nothing, sorry that she had him worried and scared and disappointed, sorry that everything was a mess with them when this mess was the last one she would have ever wanted to create.
Suddenly, all she wanted was to throw herself into his arms and sob, because Jared was in rehab, and she was scared, and she missed him, and she was so, so proud of him for going she almost couldn't stand it, but the missing, Jesus, it was terrible, and because she loved Jared Sloane, she could not even tuck herself innocently into Oscar, though Jared himself had said, when they’d talked about how of course this would happen, that he wouldn’t stop them, wouldn’t take away something that made them happy, and it had made her happy, cuddling Oscar way back before it had turned into something else, and all she wanted was to go back to that.
But she couldn't, so she just stood there, awkward and tense.
Lydia was staring at him, and Oscar felt awkward and exposed under her eyes, like she was seeing right through him, which, to be fair, she probably was.
He cleared his throat and when he spoke his voice sounded strange and unsure. "So. You know where shit is. Help yourself to whatever. Mush should probably be home soon."
And then he meant to go back to his bed or his room or the window or SOMETHING, but for some reason he didn't move from that spot and stared at Lydia staring at him.
Lydia was trying not to be pushy, trying not to force anything from him, would have been willing to sit with him in silence, or sit without him in silence, as long as he didn't kick her out, but he wasn't moving, didn't seem to be breathing or blinking, and she gazed at him for a moment.
She would never, she knew, wish to take back what they had done in those weeks when they were both so fragile and broken. They had been perfect, and special, and something she couldn't even explain, and even though she had finally gotten Jared, had finally gotten everything she had wanted for three goddamned years, she missed Oscar. Not the sex, though it had been, honestly, great.
She missed him. Missed talking to him, and playing with him, and drinking, and laughing, and how she could curl up in his arms and feel content, safe, and she missed the days when that had been innocent and harmless.
She took a breath, went to speak, faltered, fell silent. There were so many things she could say, so many things she could use to break the ice, so many tiny, meaningless comments, and all she could seem to actually say was, "I love you."
Oscar sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly, his resolve faltering slightly. Because she'd been telling him that all day, but hearing it come from her lips was different than a text or fifty thousand pictures, and fuck if he didn't love her too. And wasn't that the problem? Because otherwise he'd have no problem telling her to leave and never speak to him again.
They stayed silent, staring at each other from across the foyer for a few more tense seconds. "I still don't like it," Oscar said finally.
Her pent-up breath escaped her, and she took a step forward. "I know that," she said softly. "I know you don't, and you don't have to, I just--"
She couldn't seem to go on, because this was so terrible, this tension, and it quite literally hurt her heart that they should be this way, should have something other than the absolutely perfect friendship that they used to have, because that's what it had been.
When they had both needed someone to laugh with, someone with whom to fuck with innocent bystanders with, that's who they had been.
When they had needed someone to safely curl up with, that's who they had been.
When they had both needed someone to break through the ice, to dull or numb, or even, possibly, fix the pain they had been in, someone to touch and kiss and feel, someone real and beautiful and THERE, that's who they had been.
And now? Now she was lonely. Now she missed Jared. She was scared and, except for Lucy, who was wonderful and amazing, she was all alone, and she needed someone to be there.
Fuck everything, she needed someone to goddamned hug her.
She needed Oscar. And he was right in front of her, but so fucking far away.
"Oscar..." she managed, and couldn't speak anymore, because her eyes had filled and her throat had closed, and she clenched her hands at her own collarbone.
Oscar had no idea what to do when people cried, especially not when he was the reason they were crying. He knew he should probably go over to her and hug her and tell her it was okay, and they were okay, but he wasn't sure if that was the truth.
So he settled for standing there awkwardly, fidgeting with his hands. "Lydia..." he answered her eventually, "Please... just please don't cry." She looked right at him with her tear filled eyes and sniffled slightly, and he felt himself weaken just a little more. Before he realized what the was doing, he had taken a small step in her direction.
He wasn't hugging her, wasn't giving her what she wanted, and really, why should he? What right did she even have to be here? What right did she have to stomp all over him and then come demanding comfort?
She blinked, and a tear splashed to her cheek, rolling into her lip before she could wipe it away, and she licked away the salt, taking in a deep breath and shaking her head as though to clear something away.
She had no right to be here. She had no right to demand he talk to her. She had no right to him at all.
"I'm sorry," she murmured. "I'm so sorry I hurt you, and I'm so sorry I came here."
She ran a hand through her hair and crouched to gather her things, but once she had sank to the floor, she couldn't seem to move, and her hand rested in the folds of her purse. "Fuck," she whispered. "I--fuck."
Oscar exhaled loudly and moved towards her. "Come on," he said, reaching down and grasping her elbow, pulling her to her feet. "You... you don't have to go," he told her awkwardly, letting go of her and collapsing on the couch. "I'm, shit, I guess I'm sorry too," he stared down at his hands and didn't look up, even when he felt the cushions shift under him, signaling her sitting next to him. "I know you're trying to make it better. And I guess I'm just trying to make it worse."
He was staring at his hands, and she stared at them, too, not knowing what to say, but intensely grateful that he hadn't let or made her leave.
She curled her legs up, criss-crossing them, and ran a finger over her own knee.
Watching their own body parts. Awkwardly fixated on hands and knees instead of each other. This is what it had come to.
"Can it even get worse?" she asked finally, still not looking at him. She had missed a spot shaving on her knee. "I don't--I don't know how to make this okay," she admitted, because she would not give Jared up, would not let him go, and so what else could she do but sit there and play with the stupid random stubble on her knee?
"It can always get worse," he raised his eyes to hers and shrugged his shoulders before dropping his gaze back down to his hands. "Listen, Lydia, I needed space, okay? When I left, you were just as mad at him as I am, so coming back to the two of you together? It was kind of a huge fucking shock." He interlaced his fingers, focused intently on how the muscles in his hands moved, "I still think it's a fucking bad idea and that you're going to get hurt. That's not going to change, and that's the last thing I want to see happen to you. But," he shrugged again, "I also know that you're not going to let this go until I say we're okay."
She suddenly realized how fucked up that sounded. "I don't want you to say it, Oscar," she said. "I want it to be TRUE."
She licked her lips and leaned back against the cushions. "I know how you feel about Jared. Please believe me when I say that I understand what he did to you. I am not excusing him," she said, and it was true, but she could see it from his point of view: didn't being with Jared kind of automatically say she forgave him everything?
But it wasn't like that. It had never been like that with them. He didn't need to be perfect, and neither of them had to be right. It just WAS, and she didn't know how to explain that without rubbing salt in Oscar's wounds.
"He is trying so hard, Oscar," she said finally. "But this isn't about Jared. This is about us. I don't--I don't need you to agree. I just need you to not walk away."
She paused. "I need you to believe me when I tell that you matter."
"I know I fucking matter," Oscar shot back, resisting the urge to roll his eyes because sometimes Lydia could be so fucking... he didn't even know the word. "I just don't think you fucking get it, okay?" he said, turning to look at her again, "In one fucking week, you went from being my... my fucking rock, to being with him. And that kind of sucks, because it's like you did turn your back on me and like you'll just keep defending him and..."
The look on her face made him stop and he sighed, raking a hand through his hair, "We'll be okay, okay?" he said with finality, "I'm not saying shit will go back to the way it was today, or tomorrow, but we'll be okay." He reached a hand out tentatively towards her, and hesitated slightly before wrapping it around her and pulling her into him. "I promise," he whispered into her hair.
"Turned your back on me," he was saying, and her heart fell, because though she wanted nothing more than to be there for him, she could not be there in the same way she had, that deep, connected, physical way, and she hated herself for taking that away from him, taking it from them.
But he was holding her to him, and she nodded at his promise, wishing it didn't have to be back to before someday, that it could be now, but she had to, at this point, take what she could get.
"I'm just so sorry that something that makes me so--" Ecstatic. Joyous. Fucking ridiculously thrilled. "--so happy has so much collateral damage. You, and--and Adam, and Seth. I hate it," she said, and pressed her face to his bare chest, exhaling shakily.
"That't the other thing," Oscar said, leaning back on the couch but not taking his arm off of her shoulder. "We were just... I mean, it wasn't like... you know, but Seth? How could you do that to him, Lydia? I know we've never been each other's biggest fan or anything, but I know you know what happened to him and... it's just really shitty. Especially now."
Seth. Jesus, she should not have said his name. After what she had done with Oscar, what HE had done--Jesus, it still didn't seem fucking possible--after she and Jared had finally stopped goddamned pretending that what they were wasn't something real, after Seth had finally come back, and everything had come out, every action, every word, every terrible and shocking betrayal, she had left him in the house, and he had packed. Had left.
She had not seen him since, and though she didn't think she wanted to, didn't think she could stand to have to look him in the eye and know what they had done to each other, it scared her to have no idea where he was.
"He shut me out after Jared relapsed," she said finally, needing to get this poisonous story out of her fucking body. "It was like he was TRYING to wreck us, like he--everything he said was so fucking mean, and I kept trying, and then he just stopped talking at all, stopped coming home."
She looked at Oscar, imploring him to not find her the villain, though she wasn't sure there was one, not in this clusterfuck of a story.
"I tried so hard to help him. I knew he was fucked up, but I can't--I couldn't do anything when he wouldn't even come home. I couldn't even FIND him."
She leaned into him, just a little. "It's why I came to you. I was pretty fucked up over this relapse too, and I needed someone, and everyone was fucking gone, and I just wanted--I just--I just wanted to curl up with you like we always did," she said, feeling a sting of bittersweet nostalgia for when it had been simple.
"And then we happened, and it was just--it was everything I needed, and you were so perfect, and I just--I just wanted us to help each other."
She took a deep breath, her heart hammering now, because how the fuck had this happened?
“When Jared and I got in that fight about you? It was the last time I talked to him until the night after I came home to find a note from Seth, and all it said was that he was in Brooklyn. Jared came over, and I let him in because it was pouring, and he was so--anyway, he came in. And he told me he pulled a knife on Seth. He SHOWED it to me. He said he fought him, and pulled the knife.”
She was speaking into silence, and her words were coming faster, wildly. "I asked him what the fuck Seth could have done to him that he hadn't already done to Seth, and then he told me--he said that--and I didn't--but he was telling the truth, and Seth fucking confirmed it when I ended it with him, and he--"
She was breathing hard now, her heart trying to escape from her chest, and she spoke to the wall, unable to look even at Oscar. "When he came to the house, and we broke up, officially, and he left, he was covered in cuts and gashes and shit, and most of them weren’t from Jared. They were because he and Adam almost fucking killed each other when they--"
Now. Now. Say it now. It would still be true whether she said it or not. "Seth fucked Adam in a goddamned dugout."
Oscar stared at her, unblinking and motionless for several long seconds. And then he snorted, a short laugh that quickly became giggling, which then moved to loud, raucous laughter. Because what the fuck, the image of that was so absurd and just fucking hilarious. "Alright, Lyds," he choked out, "That's... fuck, okay, good one. Guess you can still make me laugh no matter how angry I am at you." Still chuckling, he squeezed her shoulder and offered her a grin.
Lydia felt like she had just run a marathon through goddamned bullets, and he was laughing. Fucking laughing like some idiot schoolgirl, and she shoved him off her, her hands slapping on his bare skin, and stood, her chest heaving, skin hot, and her eyes were dry and burning in their sockets.
"Do I motherfucking look like this is a goddamned joke, Oscar?!" she shouted, and she ran a hand over her chest, feeling her heart hammering away in there.
Oscar's laughter diminished and he stared up at her confused, not quite sure how the tables had turned and why she was not mad at him. "You have to be joking," he said slowly, flatly, "Because there is no fucking way in hell that that is true. I mean, what the fuck? Seth and Adam?" He shook his head and laughed again, sharply. "Too fucking weird."
"Look at my face, Oscar," she snapped. "Look at me. Do I look like I'm fucking around? I know it's too weird!"
She motioned at her own face. "That is why my fucking face looks like this!" she exclaimed, and could feel her eyes, wide in her face, her neck straining and her jaw tight.
"You're serious?" Oscar asked, the smile dropping completely from his face, "You're fucking serious. Mr. I'm-so-fucking-Macho-even-though-I'm-fuc
king-short and that nerdy kid that takes Jared on nature walks, like, that's real?" He stared at her for a few more seconds, trying to comprehend what she was telling him, "How the... how the shit did that happen?"
Lydia pulled at her hair and sat back down, elbows on knees. "I don't--I don't fucking know. Seth, he--" she closed her eyes, remembering how he had looked at her like she was pond scum when she had told him about Jared, how she had, just wanting to lay some blame on him, too, had shot at him that she knew about him and Adam, and she cleared her throat. "Seth just said he flipped his shit, and then he punched Adam, and some-fucking-how, that led to Seth fucking Adam and both of them like, fucking biting chunks out of--I don't fucking know," she told her knees. "I don't motherfucking know."
She looked up. "Do you see now why it's not just what I did to Seth? It's what we did to each other. You, and Adam, and it was fucking broken before Jared and I even happened."
Oscar wrinkled his nose, but didn't stop staring at her. "Chunks?" he asked, disgusted, "What the fuck, are they fucking zombies now? Even fucking Blink isn't that violent and he still has a tendency to try and punch me."
She sat up and stared at him. "It--you--I don't fucking know, Oscar!" she said. "I tried not to ask a lot of goddamned questions."
She shoved at him. "You fixate on like, the totally wrong things," she said, "I don't think the style of fuck is really the point!" she cried, slapping at his chest with the back of her hand, and something weird was happening to her face.
Was she smiling?
"What?" Oscar protested, a smile spreading across his own face, "It's a valid fucking question! You're not supposed to like, bite chunks of skin off the person you're fucking, that's just gross." He nudged her, "Now I think we" he gestured between them, "got angry sex right. You know?"
There was no question. She was grinning. She had shared with him something terrible, and he had reacted completely inappropriately, and somehow, just like they used to, they were teasing, laughing.
"I'd say we did angry sex like professionals," she said, pushed him away gently, fingertips on his jaw, smirking.
She stared at him for a moment, her smile fading. "Thank you," she said, and wasn't sure what she was thanking him for: the angry sex, how completely he had saved her; for letting her into his apartment; for making her laugh; for remembering how to tease her.
All of it, she supposed.
"For what?" he asked, pushing himself up off the couch and padding barefoot over to the fridge, pulling out two beers and tossing her one. "For talking to you again? You're welcome, but don't think I'm not still pissed. Just a little less. Mostly because I'm more grossed out by the idea of fucking cannibal sex."
"You can be pissed," she said, tapping her nails on the neck of the beer to avoid an explosion.
She unscrewed the top and took a swig, leaning back on the arm of the couch and pulling her feet up, kicking off her sandals.
"I don't like you being pissed," she said as he sat, and she nudged him with her toe. "But as long as I know I can distract you with cannibalism, I can deal, I guess."
She took another drink and tried for a cheeky grin.
"Not to give away all my secrets," Oscar said, leaning in conspiratorially and tapping the neck of his beer to hers, "But I can always be distracted by talking about cannibalism."
He had leaned in, and her leg, still outstretched to him, was now bent, and she rested her arm on it for a moment before setting her beer on the end table, assuming an expression of utmost seriousness. "Oscar," she said, and hesitated, sighing and taking his beer from him to place it next to hers.
"In that case--" she said, and lunged at him, sinking teeth into his shoulder as they toppled over.
"I said talking!" Oscar yelped as they rolled off the couch together laughing. They landed with him on top of her, in a position he'd gotten extremely comfortable in over the past several weeks. They stopped laughing and she took her mouth from his shoulder as they stared at each other, as time suddenly halted to a standstill and they both seemed to stop breathing. Wordlessly, he rolled off of her and grabbed his beer, busying himself with taking a long drink.
It wasn't hard for her heart and mind to know that she should not have him, but her body seemed to be taking a little more time to not jump, especially when he had somehow landed on top of her, and she let out a breath when he stood, because it had just become so commonplace, so natural, that position, and her body had to relearn how to interact with his.
She sat up and leaned against the couch. "How do we get back to when cuddles meant cuddles, not sex?"
"I don't know," Oscar answered honestly, sitting back down on the couch, "I don't know if we can. I mean, we're different than we were when this whole thing started. Our friendship is different. And I'd be lying if I told you I didn't want to fuck you right now."
Lydia sucked in a breath at his words, because even though she knew that sex with him would be on the table should she want it, it made her heart clench to hear him say it anyway, because it was impossible. Because for the first time, she couldn't even idly entertain the idea of sex with someone else.
But she would be lying to say that she would not, at least in some small part of her, miss the way it had felt.
She laid her head on his knee, thinking that this at least could not possibly be too much too fast. "Listen. I have a lot more faith in my relationship than you do, but if this ever goes south, you can fuck me on the quad in front of the whole school."
Oscar raised an eyebrow at her and grinned. "Yeah?" he said, burying his free hand absently in her hair, "You know I'm fucking holding you to that, Broette."
"I would expect no less of you, Broscar," she said, and hooked her arm around his calf, her fingers curling on his ankle, and she closed her eyes at his hand in her hair, flashing back to when Jared Sloane himself had walked in on them doing an altered version of this very thing, had been shocked and stammering and fumbling, clutching a tiny pig and a little dog to him as though to make sure that the world were still real.
She remembered the cuddles, and the non-stop texting, and all the crazy, weird, hilarious things she and Oscar had done together, and she wished that she could bring herself to want to take it back, what they had done: the sleeping together, the sex, the...the whatever it had been. But she couldn't want that. Could not, for all that it had only complicated things further, wish that it hadn't happened.
"For what it's worth," she said, her cheek pressed to his knee, "I wouldn't take anything we did back."
Oscar smirked down at her, as his fingers continued to tangle in her hair, twirling the individual locks. "I wouldn't either," he said simply, because he wouldn't. Because if Lydia hadn't been there to pull him out his bottle and his work, he'd probably still be there avoiding everything that mattered just like he'd done six years ago. And even though this way hurt more sometimes, it was a better way to live.
"C'mere," he muttered, reaching down to grab her arm and pull her back up to the couch. He wrapped himself around her, and even though he did still want to kiss her and fuck her, just holding each other was nice enough that maybe he wouldn't mind going back to it.
His face was in her neck, and she wrapped her arms around him, pulling up her legs to place them in his lap, and she leaned back, pulling them both down, and she leaned against the arm of the couch, his head on her shoulder, arms tangled, the press of him on her torso, and sighed contentedly.
Part of it felt strange, an odd sense that the next logical step would be to move this forward, a kind of muscle memory, but Jared, Jared in her mind and her ridiculous heart, and this: comforting, warm arms and the familiar scent of his skin, it was enough.
She closed her eyes and pressed her cheek to his dark hair, and her hand trailed up his ribs to find purchase and squeeze him to her. "Love your stupid face," she murmured.
"Yours is stupider," he said into her neck, "But yeah, love it too."
Lydia smiled against his hair and pressed a kiss into it. "If you promise to come straight back," she said, "Can you put 'Mean Girls' on?"