At once, the air in his lungs became heavy. It felt like he was breathing but it wasn't air he was taking in. Cement blocks were being thrown down his throat, making it hard to swallow. It was one thing for him to confess his own troubles but to hear troubles coming from someone else, someone he was beginning to care insanely deeply for, it was difficult.
When Charlie first began to speak, he was worried. He hadn't been aware that he had come off so ... guarded to her. It was part of his nature, part of the animal that was a part of him, to always be cautious and, well, afraid of others. His trust in humans and his own kind were not rooted deep. Hell, he had more faith and trust in vampires. At least he knew where he stood with them. There was never any pretense or feigned civility.
It was a sad statement of things in the world when a vampire could be trusted more than a werewolf. Perhaps it was just in his world. He couldn't say that every damn werewolf that he had ever met had proven untrustworthy. There were his own parents and, naturally, Rosemary's own uncles. So their taste and definition of 'friends' was (largely) skewed. He knew he could still rely on them. Just not enough to keep him and Rosey safe. More so Rosey than him.
But that was a long and complicated story better saved for never, he hoped.
The longer Charlie talked, the more his smile turned. Where worry over himself had been, worry for her was starting to take over. He had never pried into her past. When he did, he had been sure to make it clear that she was under no obligation to tell him anything and was free to keep her secrets. He couldn't keep a lid on his own stories and then expect her life to be an open-book. But he hadn't expected her life before New Hope to be so grim. Whether she meant it to come out that way or not, that was how he was hearing it. Maybe it had been about him when she started. As she went on though, it sounded like she was including herself.
She hadn't been happy. Wherever she had been, whatever family she had grown up with ... she hadn't been happy. Did that mean that she hadn't been loved? Royce had never imagined a family that couldn't love Charlie. She was too sweet and nice NOT to love. She had that smile was could only be found in old English poems, a smile so dazzling that it made the moon jealous. To think that here in this town was better than what she had before? It was damn shocking.
He could understand it though. What she was saying. It wasn't that he wasn't happy with Rosemary. Quite the opposite. Without the short spaz of a sister, his life would have been miserable in comparison. He was happy with her, yes but his life? The majority of it? There wasn't enough happiness to fill a teaspoon. Life was life. There was no joy at waking up in the morning. There was just relief from at least having someone like Rosey around to make life a little bit better than the suck hole that it was. But that was it.
And she was right. He had always been waiting for something bad to happen because in most cases, something bad always did. Being around Charlie though, it was changing the way he saw things. Changing the way he woke up in the morning, so eager to get up and see her that it felt like it would take forever to fall asleep. The reason he was so happy (and not to sound like some cheesy romantic movie) was this beautiful girl in front of him.
Or below him, technically.
His smile returned and he carefully set her back up-right again, the bottom of the chair making a happy sound as it touched the floor with all of its wobbly legs. "Sorry then, I'll leave you to study."
Predictably, he didn't actually leave. He really was about to but his hands were still stuck to the back of her chair. "Are you happy, Charlie?" Yeah, he got that she had changed the subject but she had brought it up. At least he had been gracious enough to stare at the back of her head and not made her look at him.