Yeah. I’m fine I guess. Just…being a little kid seems easier.
Suppose for a lot of people it would have been. Seems to be something people say quite often.
Do you ever just really wish you could go back and be a little kid again?
Not even a little.
Today is just not one of those days.
Sorry to hear that…
He was fine. Right. She couldn’t help wondering if he really was but she couldn’t press it. How would that be fair after everything she’d said to him. Ruby wanted him to believe her… take her at her word that she was fine (even when she wasn’t) so she had to do the same for him. Even if she wasn’t sure she entirely bought it and he’d sort of gotten out of talking about anything real for the most part the last time she’d tried but.. still. He could be fine. Just like she thought she was… it was nice to actually mean it. At least sort of. Ruby knew she was still struggling but she had enough going on in her head to worry about things outside of herself. To not dwell completely on whether -A was right. Maybe she was just teasing him. They’d talked about it before but despite everything said still couldn’t shake the feeling she just kept leading him on. Making things more difficult. She couldn’t completely get rid of the things he’d said in February however much she tried to put it out of her head. It wasn’t that simple but then… nothing ever was. Especially not there and not with them. Ruby swallowed hard, forcing herself not to ask if he was sure. She still wanted to but she’d more or less convinced herself how wrong that’d be. She tried to feel less worried as they entered the flat and he smiled at her.
Ruby liked his smile so questioning whether it was genuine would be absurd and yet… ugh. She ran a hand through her hair, trying not to feel out of place the way she seemed to lately. Ruby didn’t like it but… it was like the place had gotten tangled up in all the things she wouldn’t say. All the things she didn’t want to think about and it was upsetting. It’d always been theirs.. an escape but she wasn’t sure how to feel about anything at the moment. Ruby forced those thoughts away, not sure why her thoughts had taken on such a gloomy tone when she was happy to be there. To get to see him. She didn’t bother responding to his question, figuring it was more to himself than anything but it didn’t take a genius to figure out why he’d be wondering. “Uh huh..” Ruby gave him a teasing look. “I’m sure between your other girlfriends you forgot all about me..” She pretended to pout, looking down for a moment. She didn’t know why her comfort zone always seemed to be joking around but it felt better. Less heavy and made it easier not to take things so seriously. “That’s okay..” She murmured, figuring she was too jittery for whatever reason to mess with it.
The joke made him smile again. A more genuine one this time because it was so familiar, so Ruby. He could remember her making jokes even back when he’d text her from Sophie’s phone that time and asked to meet at the park after kissing her in the kitchen. He could remember the anxious mess he’d started becoming then and how her joking had just made him feel different. A little lighter. Maybe she’d have been expecting him to lecture her on how inappropriate the things she said were but… how could he have after what he’d done? Anyway, who’d have thought they’d get from there to… here. Definitely not Charlie. He’d never have even dared to believe this could be possible. That he’d be at a place in his life when he could say she was his girlfriend. A place where he wasn’t married and could do as he pleased, be with who he liked without it being totally wrong. Why did he feel so spacey if he was happy to be here? “My other girlfriends aren’t as warm as you are.” He reminded her teasingly as he poured water into his cup. His head was cluttered with worries but it was also as if he couldn’t catch hold of just one and focus on it, work through it. It was almost as though they were spinning round too fast and he was overwhelmed to the point where half of him had just switched off. He didn’t think it was normal but he didn’t want to mention it in case she got worried. She worried enough as it was. The same could probably be said for him but when had he ever really been bothered about that?
He turned to her once he’d made his tea, leaning his hip against the side of the counter (trying not to remember their ‘break up’ kiss in the same spot), as he had a sip. He looked at her again. She looked different. Not generally, just… there was something tiny that he couldn’t put his finger on. Was she okay? He couldn’t ask, could he? She’d get frustrated with him. He didn’t want that. All he’d wanted was a to come here and spend a nice time with her and it suddenly felt like he was ruining it and he didn’t know why or how. Was it the flat in general? No… he felt relatively okay. A bit… awkward because there now wasn’t a lamp on the table after he’d broken it and he could remember (sort of) sleeping here and trying to drink Ruby away back in February. He wished he could stop feeling so horrible about it but if he did wouldn’t that be like acting it was okay? He didn’t know. Charlie sighed and raised an eyebrow at her. “You’re quiet.” He half teased because it was quite usual that she was quiet. He wasn’t sure what to say because he was getting some sort of vibe from somewhere and he didn’t quite know what it was. “Not a lot going on lately?” He asked, wondering what she’d been getting up to but the last time he’d asked it had just been work and her brother and the like. Another pause and he set his cup down. “Right.” He couldn’t take it much longer. “Does this feel weird or is it me?” He wasn’t sure why it would when last time he’d seen her things had been fine. Things were fine. Weren’t they?
It felt like all the thoughts she was trying not to think about were building up behind her eyes. It hurt.. or rather made her head feel like it might explode but that was slightly dramatic. She was fine.. she was. Ruby squeezed her eyes shut, letting out a deep breath before opening them. When she thought about it she actually thought she’d been managing fairly well recently.. for once. She hadn’t exactly given up her unhealthy habits which she was reminded of as she tugged on her jacket sleeve. It was ridiculous that just thinking about it could make her feel dirty, ashamed.. like she needed to hide. No one could see underneath so she was fine and for the most part she really thought she was. She had other things to focus on.. like her friends. Her worries for them didn’t seem to be going anywhere despite the fact that it didn’t seem like she’d gotten to talk to them much properly.. at least not in the last little while. For once she didn’t feel like that was all on her though.. they had things going on. Things they were dealing with and.. well, it’s not like she thought Sophie wanted anything to do with her but she worried about everything Charlie had said. Unfortunately that also made her feel like a traitor because Sophie had said she was fine and.. ugh. She wanted to believe it.. the same way she always wanted to believe it about herself.
She had enough to keep her distracted that she barely even registered the screen on her phone, even as she pushed buttons and it wasn’t until Charlie was right there that she’d realized he arrived. So much for keeping track of her surroundings as she worked up a smile, shaking her head at his apology. He didn’t need to be sorry.. it’s not like it was a big deal and.. anyway.. it was really no different than if he’d gotten there first. Not like it wouldn’t have still reminded her that she needed him in order to get in. She wasn’t planning on mentioning that as she murmured that it was fine. “Yeah.. of course.” She shoved her phone in her pocket, hoping he didn’t wonder what she’d been staring at. It wasn’t like she’d gone through and read all her texts from -A or anything but they’d been on her mind. Every single time she so much as looked at the stupid thing they all popped into her head. Taunting her. It was stupid.. she needed to stop being so sensitive but it was easier to tell herself that than actually do it. “Er, are you?” He seemed.. well she didn’t really know.. couldn’t put her finger on it but there was something about him that made her curious as they headed inside.
Charlie felt ill. He figured it would pass but it was very distracting. He felt.. distant. Not from Ruby, just from… the world. That didn’t make any sense. He looked at her over his shoulder. Was she okay? He smiled at her, not wanting to question it. He’d told himself he wouldn’t. He’d told her he wouldn’t, if he remembered correctly. The question of whether he was.. he had to think about. Work started in a few days. He was dreading it more than he was looking forward to it, not that he’d want to go back to the call centre because… that was hell on earth for someone like him. Still. He didn’t know, he just felt funny. “Yeah.” He said quietly. “I’m fine.” He tried to ignore his thoughts and the sick feeling in his stomach as he walked slowly up the stairs and over to their door, unlocking it with a sigh and stepping into the flat. He waited until she’d followed him in and then he shut the door, biting his lip. He stopped biting it when he turned around and threw her a smile. God, he’d been much happier last week, why couldn’t he just feel that way again? She’d probably think there was something wrong with him. “Is there any milk left over here?” He asked out loud as he wandered over to the kitchen. Obviously hoping he’d be able to make tea.
He wanted to say something else, as he busied himself with checking the date on the milk in the fridge and then carrying it over to the counter with a little bit of a spring in his step when he saw that it was still alright. He filled the kettle up and flicked the switch, pressing his lips together as he stared at the thing while it boiled. Then he turned around, gaze falling on Ruby. He tilted his head, regarding her curiously for a moment or two. Was she really okay? They rarely talked about.. things anymore and he knew there was a strong chance she didn’t want to talk about any of it but Charlie had meant it when he’d said he wanted her to talk to him about things if it got too much or he’d have to say something to her mother… just that she was struggling with anxieties and possibly depression and he was worried. Nothing about self harm or Tim… he wouldn’t do that, but… he really did worry about her. He liked it better when she was happy. She should be happy. Charlie should have punched Tim in the throat when he’d had the chance… “I missed you.” He said suddenly. Not that it was a long time ago he’d seen her last or anything… but he had. He’d been trying to sleep last night and he’d suddenly wished she was right there. There was a comfort in knowing Ruby was sleeping next to him that he never felt when he was by himself. He hated sleeping alone, actually. He was better at being by himself if Sophie wasn’t in… but sleeping? Terrible. “D’you want one?” He asked, turning back to the kettle.
It hadn’t completely escaped her how things had been when he’d tried talking about the new job and his guilt with Alicia but.. still. She didn’t think he’d seemed that open to actually talking about any of it. It was more like he’d just gotten it set in his head why he didn’t deserve to have another chance and that it was all his fault. That was something she could understand, there were things like that in her own head but if he wasn’t willing to budge even slightly or listen at all.. did it really make any difference to talk to her about it? She wasn’t sure.. and of course she wanted him to but it made her feel useless. Like there was nothing she could do and it was frustrating when she felt he was wrong but he wouldn’t even consider it. Maybe.. he had a point in a way but.. it felt like he was heaping more and more blame on him when he shouldn’t have been. She could understand him thinking that -A had killed Alicia because of him.. it made sense but that didn’t mean it was his fault. It was -A’s.. they’d been the one to do it and they twisted it up so that he thought it was his. They’d just wanted to hurt him but.. ugh. She pushed those thoughts out of her head, it wouldn’t do any good to dwell on them because there wasn’t anything she could say that would help any of it. She hated that.
It was likely similar to how Charlie felt with all of her.. issues. He couldn’t really change her mind about them but she tried to at least listen. To be.. open to what he said and part of her clung to what he said. Wanted to believe it wasn’t her fault. Not that she really did deep down because she knew it couldn’t be true when she hadn’t tried hard enough. She’d frozen.. she hadn’t felt like she could do anything at the time but now she just felt like she’d given up and that was pathetic. Ruby felt like she was making a pile of things she didn’t want to think about as she parked and got out of the car. She was glad to finally be there but she wasn’t sure whether Charlie was as she scanned the street before figuring she could always wait for him. It didn’t bother her exactly that she knew she couldn’t let herself in.. it was just a reminder of.. things. Part of her didn’t want the key back and she didn’t know why. Wouldn’t be able to explain the exact reason if asked because it was more of a feeling.. it just.. it brought up everything so it was better not to think about it. Not to have it weighing her down as she leaned against the wall, messing with her phone. She could practically picture the texts on there from -A but she didn’t click on inbox.
Charlie was eager to see Ruby. Something about being around her when he felt irritated or frustrated seemed to make him feel better. Except for those… other times. He didn’t want to think about it, he felt absolutely awful. He really was a horrible person and he wished he wasn’t but… it was useless to wish something that wouldn’t ever come true, wasn’t it? Charlie wanted to be better. Good. He wanted to be the person Ruby saw. Or.. had seen.. or.. ugh, it was all confused in his head because they hadn’t brought the topic up again and he was half grateful but also half worried about that. Did that mean she just wasn’t thinking about it when they were together, that it didn’t affect her… or did it mean that it did affect her and she was just avoiding telling him like she did with a few other things? He sighed as he got into his car and started the engine. He could see the two identical keys for the flat dangling next to his car keys and.. he’d feel really awkward giving it back to her after the way he’d demanded she hand it over. Thinking about it made him remember the way he’d almost demanded her necklace back too… which would have been awful. He was glad she still wore it. He liked seeing it round her neck. Liked knowing he could give her things and she could show them off. Sort of like she was carrying a little piece of him with her but.. was that silly?
By the time he turned down the street to the flat, he was determined not to be too much of a downer. He had too many things to worry about. Sophie. Ruby. His new job. -A. His friends. His reputation. His guilt. Everything had piled up and, happy as he felt he was, it was very hard to shake. Very hard to forget the feeling. Sometimes, Charlie wondered if he just no longer felt like himself unless he was… sad. Which was horrible. It was a horrible way to be. He didn’t want to miserable. Didn’t want to be one of those men who just sat around and complained about how shit their lives were. His life wasn’t shit. He had so many reasons, so many people, to be grateful for. Everything else… was all his fault anyway. He’d brought it on himself and there was no point being miserable about it. He quickly parked the car and jumped out, hurrying across the street and making a face. “Sorry…” He said, feeling awful that she’d been left standing outside. “Tried to be quick..” He added, making no mention of the key because… wouldn’t that bring it all up again? He swallowed nervously and pushed the thoughts away. “You alright?” He asked, glancing at her phone as he made for the door.
It might. But I’ve been dealing with this since I was kid. Pills or not.