April and Beau are 21.
“No.” He sat down on the bed. “We should talk.”
“I don’t want to talk.”
“I want to talk.”
“Vicky? No, I don’t think so, she came home.”
“Good,” April said. “He looked like a douche. And is Summer out there too?”
“Are they fighting?”
“No, just talking.”
“Really? Like, they're being nice to each other?”
“Yeah, I guess. April, I didn’t come in here to talk about Vicky and Summer.” He scooted closer on the bed. She felt his legs stretch out long beside hers, his warmth. “Why haven’t you? I thought your doctor said two weeks, and it's been four months. Is everything okay? I mean, did it heal okay?”
“Oh my God!” She cringed. “We are not going to talk about the health status of my cervix.”
“I mean it though,” he said. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said. “It’s all healed.”
“Is it because you’re sad?”
April giggled and smacked him on the arm. “Me, a nun.” April laughed some more.
But he was right, and she had thought about this. She wasn't planning to become a nun or anything. It was more about realizing why she used to do it, so carelessly, than why she wasn’t doing it now. “Maybe I used to be sad, when I did it,” she said. “I thought it made me happy, but that wasn’t really happy. That was like, distracting myself from stuff. And it was always like that with guys, until I realized that... you’re actually the only person I’ve had ever sex with that...” She paused, feeling the heaviness of the word. It was stupidly obvious they loved each other though they'd never said it out loud. “...that I loved.”
He grinned like an idiot. She was so embarrassed, she tried to squirm away, but he only hugged her tighter.
"If you don't stop it, I'm gonna take it back," she said.
“You can't," he said. Even turned away from him, she could practically hear him grinning still. "But don’t you think you should talk to someone? Don’t you think you should tell someone what happened to you?”
"I told you."
“Okay.” He sighed into her hair, but he didn’t let go. She knew he wanted her to see a therapist, work through her issues and stuff. Talk to someone. He thought it was too big a thing to just work out on her own. Or at least that she should talk to his mom. But April wasn’t ready for it. Not yet. They’d make her talk and remember stuff. She didn’t want to remember stuff. She just wanted to move on. She didn’t know if she’d ever be ready for that, but she felt mostly okay. She thought she felt fine. She wanted to feel normal again. She wanted to have sex again, she really did.
But did he even want her? Did he find her disgusting, after everything? Too damaged? Too ruined? “Do you even like me like that anymore?”
"Don't you know that I'm in love with you? I always have been."
Then she was grinning, but he didn't ask her to stop. She’d always wanted for them to be "on again", underneath, despite everything else she’d been afraid of at the same time. She looked him in the eyes and told him, “I’ll probably only disappoint you.”
He didn’t say one thing or another, he just took a breath. And Beau had always understood all of what April was, for better and for worse. And she knew he’d felt it too, the ebb and flow of their togetherness, how fickle it was, but how unrelenting. Deep down, he knew he must have known it was more than possible she would disappoint him; it was likely. He knew it and he kissed her anyway.
"But wait," she said. “I’m not fragile. So if you’re going to do this, I want you to do it the way you used to before you knew. If you’re going to treat me like some damaged thing, then don’t even bother.”
And he did.
It was the fifth chapter of their togetherness, which would also be their longest. Longer than junior high makeout sessions behind the pool shed, longer than the summer they were seventeen and sex on the beach, longer than the time before Evie and longer than the time after. It lasted four years and five dimensions, before they finally fought and broke up and burnt everything in their wake, even their friendship for a time.
But they were friends again now, and that was what mattered.
April didn't want to remember her life before Beau, and she didn't want to know what life would become without him. If she had it her way, she would never lose him again, but there were so many ways to lose a person in this world. It seemed to April that losing Beau would only be a matter of time.