Allana shrieked with laughter and arced away from the tickling, burying her head in her boyfriend’s arm and aiming a clumsy kick at his shins. It was strange sometimes, play-fighting like this when both of them were trained, quite literally, to kill, but it was nice too. It was a moment of normalcy, when the biggest threat was asphyxiating from giggling and it was perfectly acceptable to be clumsy and silly. She kneed him playfully in the side when he relented and shifted closer again, expression growing more serious as he voiced his doubts about Clark.
“Well,” she said, taking his hand and idly twining her fingers through his as she spoke, “I was homeschooled. So I always knew my teachers had lives outside the classroom. But you don’t have to worry about Clark. I don’t think I have ever met anyone less likely to just give up on his family. You didn’t see—“ what he was like when you died she’d started to say, but even after the space of a month or so that still hurt too much to talk about. “I mean, you haven’t stopped caring about family just because you’re dating me now, right? But it’s not stupid.”
She reached her free hand up and rested it on the back of his neck when he kissed her again, gently prolonging the kiss. It wasn’t an urgent kiss, the kind that would have been the prelude to abandoning their conversation entirely in favor of decidedly more nonverbal activity, it was just reassuring to have him close after remembering his death. She pulled back after a long moment and was about to change the subject when he said it.
”I love you”
She stilled as suddenly as if she’d been frozen in place and her eyes flew open. Don’t be surprised. You’ve been dating for a while now and you’ve been through a lot and don’t you…it isn’t as if… but she couldn’t help thinking about people disappearing through the seal every day, about the threats they faced daily. Jen had been the first best friend Allana had ever had and she was gone now, dead, and even if she came back she might not remember Allana at all. Rose didn’t, and although they’d become friends again it was still as if she’d lost a friend, because this Rose didn’t remember so much, smiled in a politely puzzled way at the old inside jokes when Allana slipped and mentioned one. Ava had slipped into addiction, Cade had been pushed over the edge and then disappeared back through the seal, and Kon had died. There was no such thing as permanence in Lawrence, not even if someone stayed. Isn’t falling in love here just asking to be hurt?
"I love the way your mind works."
Idiot, she thought bitterly as her heart sank at the correction. You can’t get that freaked out and then be disappointed when he only meant… “Yeah,” she said, voice a bit strained and eyes focused determinedly on the television, “my mind is great and don’t you forget it sidekick.”