“Karen?” His voice was unsure, for once, and she dropped lightly to the ground, listening to the distinctive sounds that her boots made on the pavement.
“Good.” He breathed out, relaxing his grip on the railing. “I was worried...”
“Why?” She didn't mean to sound as startled as she did. “Did something happen?”
“Oh, no. Just something I heard on the bugs.”
“What?” She put a hand to his shoulder. “Tell me.”
“Oh, one of the delve guessed you were a girl.”
“What?” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “What did he say—should I do something?”
“It wasn't serious—I think he was drunk, actually.” Jay almost laughed. “Nobody took him seriously.”
“Heh.” She relaxed. “So only drunk people and blind men can tell I'm a girl.”
“Oh, I'm sure I could tell anyway.” The smugness crept back into Jay's voice. “Even if I could see you.”
“You sure?” Karen shook her head slowly. “People have made the mistake before...”
“No, really?” He turned towards her. “They can't have really...”
“They have!” she insisted. She expected him to make some comment on that, but he was silent for a moment, seemingly lost in thought.
“...Karen.” He finally spoke. “What do you look like?”
“Why?” She shifted nervously.
“Just curious.” He shrugged, turning away again. “I just don't know, is all.”
“I...” She hesitated. “I have brown hair and hazel eyes.”
“And... and I'm kinda pale and I'm shorter than you by about five inches and my dad says I'm too muscular for a girl.”
“I don't know,” she turned away. “What do you want me to tell you?”
“I don't know.”
There was a moment of silence between them, as Karen stared out at the winter skyline, and Jay listened to the dull roar of the monorail tracing it's way through the city.
Jay worked up his courage at last. “Can... can I touch you?”
“...What?” She took a step back. “Why?”
“It's... it's the only way I can tell what you look like. Just your face. I'll be gentle.”
“...Alright.” She swallowed hard. He held out a hand to her, and she very slowly guided his hand up to her face, and let him go. She shut her eyes.
“You're shaking.” His voice held something different in it now. “I don't have to...”
“No. No, go ahead.” She spoke quickly, trying not to turn away.
His fingertips rested lightly on her cheek for what felt like forever before they finally started to move. He traced the line of her jaw with four fingers, leading down towards her mouth. He brushed it lightly with his thumb, and moved upwards, gently running his fingers across her skin. She barely noticed that she was clenching her fists so hard that her short nails bit into her skin. His fingertips glided along her forehead, pausing for a second at the base of her hair, then down again, following the curves of her eyebrows and onto her eyes.
“Why are you crying?” His fingers stopped.
“I'm...” She started to deny it, but the crack in her voice defied her. “I didn't want you to...”
“I didn't have to, you could have said...” He sounded genuinely concerned. “I'm sorry.”
“I didn't want you to know...” She tried to keep from sobbing. “I didn't want you to know how ugly I am.”
There was a silence that felt like it lasted for forever, with his fingertips still resting on her face. Then Jay pulled away, for only half a second.
And then he embraced her.
She almost tried to struggle, but he didn't let her, strong arms holding her still against him. “Don't say that,” he whispered. “Don't.”
“You're beautiful, Karen. Who told you...”
“I'm not—I'm really..”
“Don't say that.” He cut her off again, pulling her closer. “You're beautiful,” he breathed into her ear. “I checked.”
Normally, I wouldn't post stuff this sappy on my blog, but hey, it's valentines day. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!