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Kaelyn Paddock

You were my last young renegade heartache

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Kaelyn Paddock

In all the time that she’d known Toby, which was years longer than she had anybody else at the school, other than Linus of course, Kaelyn couldn’t remember ever being as mad at the Ravenclaw as she was right now.  Not even the fight they’d gotten into in fourth year could compare to the horrible rift that had formed between them after Kaelyn found out he’d asked out Irene in a duel.

 

Admittedly, there had been nothing wrong with the actual asking-a-girl-out aspect of the situation.  Kaelyn and Toby had broken up; she’d been talking to Zachary almost every night through her multi-way mirror.  But she had still loved him, and he’d known it, and the way it had all gone done - in public, with the whole school watching, and with Irene, her friend, and someone she’d long convinced herself meant nothing more to Toby than any other classmate would… it was more than she could take.  It still hurt to think about.

 

A week had gone by - one hellishly long week - and in it Kaelyn had said not even two words to Toby.  They’d turn up in the same class, and she’d make a point of sitting away from him, most times simply looking right through him if he were in the vacinity, as if he wasn’t even there at all.  Then Friday came rolling along, and Friday was their patrol day.  Kaelyn didn’t want to show up, but perhaps the thought of having to endure another week like the one they’d just had was too much.  Whatever her grievances with her ex-boyfriend, whatever stupid things he did sometimes, she knew in her heart of hearts that Toby did care for her.  And so, she had to find out why?  How long?  What else had she not known? 

 

When Toby turned up at their usual meeting spot that evening, Kaelyn was actually there, perched sideways on a window ledge with her feet tucked beneath her, freshly bathed in lavender and moonlight.  She turned when she heard him arrive, looking right at him for what must have been the first time that week.

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Tobias Winchester

In all the time that he'd known Kaelyn, Toby didn't think that he'd ever done something like this before, putting their whole relationship in jeopardy to the point where she wouldn't even look at him. 

 

The worst thing, of course, was that he knew he had done wrong. He'd thought of plenty of ways to apologise, of course, but none of them were going to work, none of them were going to make things any better. None of them changed what had happened - what he'd done - and in the end, that was the thing she was the most upset by. 

 

So he'd let her have her space, sitting on the opposite side of the classroom from her, keeping his distance, not talking to her or striking up conversation. He'd tried not looking too, but that was harder. When he was bored in class (as was often the case) his gaze drifted, and it was hard not to look at Kaelyn, who shined like the sun even on the gloomiest of days. He sat with his chin resting on his arms, which were folded on top of his desk, and thought about how much she mattered to him.

 

When it came to their Prefect patrol, he fully expected her to not turn up. Afterall, Darcy hadn't - though the situations were not exactly the same. 

 

He was startled, then, to find that she had not only turned up for their patrol, but that she was ready and waiting for him, sat on the window ledge looking like something out of all those magazines. In the evening moonlight Kaelyn's beauty was heart-stopping. What caught his breath was when she turned and finally met his eyes. A week. That's how long it had been. A week since she'd last looked at him. 

 

Toby stood with his hands in his trouser pockets, tie-unslung around his neck and shirt untucked; messy, chaotic -- a mess. It was a physical effort to keep looking back at her, to not bow his head and look down at the ground, ashamed. 

 

He waited for her to speak first.

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Kaelyn Paddock

If only the silence that flooded the room could take the space of all her anger, Kaelyn thought as she sat there, simply looking Toby in the eyes as her emotions weighed on her again.  There was a big part of her that wanted to stay mad at him, feeling like he deserved it after everything they’d been through together, but a bigger part of her couldn’t handle those feelings any longer.  They were just… too much.

 

Her arms, which were wrapped around her knees, tightened as she looked at him, looking at her, neither of them saying anything at first.  She knew by the way he stood slightly hunch, hands in his pockets, that he actually felt bad about what had happened.

 

Well, good, she thought, and moved her arms, her hands come to a rest on either side of her as she pivoted slightly in her seat, lowering her legs so that they dangled off the ledge of the window.

 

“I’m still mad at you,” she told him when she finally spoke.  “I wasn't even going to come... I just... I guess I have to ask...” She broke off suddenly then, throwing an angry look to the side as her jaw tensed, remembering the way it all felt when she first found out.  

 

“Did you even think?  About me?  At all?”

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Tobias Winchester

"Yes." That much he was honest about, at least. 

 

He forced the next words out: "Afterwards. When she'd said yes. I realised how bad it was, and I tried to confuse her to maybe get away with pretending it hadn't happened, but it had, and I can't take that back."

 

His neck was starting to ache with the effort of keeping his head up. She looked so angry. Furious in a way she hadn't been with him before that he could remember, not even when they were little and he used to wind her up for fun and make her mad because then she'd chase him around yelling (she was funny when she was mad, her little face all screwed up and puffy and red). 

 

"That's what I'm sorry for," he said, after a pause. "Hurting you."

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Kaelyn Paddock

Afterwards.  Of course, this was Toby.  He could be heading straight down a road with warning lights on all sides and still gleefully continue on, not at all heeding the consequences until it was too late - sometimes not stopping because of the consequences.  But… how could he not have figured it out before?  Kaelyn had said and done plenty of stupid things before too, but she couldn’t remember ever doing anything like what Toby had done to her.  She quietly took in the bit he said about trying to confuse Irene, but it didn’t make sense with the other conclusions she had drawn since the incident.

 

“Well, good.  You should be sorry,” she told him stubbornly.  “It did hurt.”  Admitting that out loud somehow made things feel a little better, for the first time that week.  She clung to that feeling as she continued on.

 

“It was like… I didn’t even matter.  And the things that happened between us… they didn’t matter either.  You made it, didn’t you?  The necklace she’s been wearing?”  It was hard to keep the hurt from crawling into her voice as she forced out the question that had been haunting her all week.  “You broke up with me because of her.”

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Tobias Winchester

"What? No. I mean, yes, I did make the necklace for her but no, I didn't break up with you for her."

 

He hadn't even realised that he liked Irene until the party when he'd given her the necklace, and everything had sort of clicked into place with an oh. They had probably been around for a while, these feelings, but he literally hadn't known until that moment. It all made sense now, so much of it, why he'd always been jealous of Silas and why he couldn't leave Irene alone, no matter how frustrating she was. 

 

His feelings for Irene were separate to the ones for Kaelyn, however. The two things weren't linked. 

 

"I know that..." he took a breath, thought it through. "I know that it might seem like the things between us didn't matter, but I wasn't exactly thinking. It wasn't like I woke up that morning and said to myself, 'Oh hey, today's the day, time to ask Irene out!' and decided that I should do it in the middle of the dueling chamber for extra effect. It wasn't planned. It was impulsive, I wasn't thinking. She didn't want to lose the duel and wanted me to throw it for her and said she'd do anything and I dunno, that's what came to mind. It wasn't like I thought she'd say yes."

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Kaelyn Paddock

So… he had asked out Irene, but he hadn’t expected her to say yes.  He’d made the necklace, but Irene wasn’t the reason why they’d broken up?  The pieces just weren’t fully coming together in Kaelyn’s mind.  In her mind, this had been an ongoing thing that she’d ignored because she’d just loved Toby so damn much, and it wasn’t until now, when it had already culminated in this highly embarrassing situation she’d never wanted to be a part of, that Kaelyn was finally taking a step back to realize what she’d been pretending wasn’t really there.

 

“But… you like her,” she pressed.  “You still want to go out with her.”

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Tobias Winchester

Toby finally broke Kaelyn's gaze, looking up at the ceiling instead, lifting one hand to run through the hair at the back of his head. 

 

"I thought I did." It was easier to say it when he wasn't looking at her. "But I don't know. I don't think so. That whole duel, it was just a mess, and it made me... It made me mad, I guess, more than anything. Mad at myself for thinking there was something there. Mad because I'd done something stupid and hurt you in the process. Mad because it wasn't even worth it. She just wanted to use me."

 

That bit stung. Saying it out loud stung. "I thought I'd done a lot over the last few years, you know, to try and be a better friend to get on with her. After her mum died, trying to make her happy, you know. But I don't think it meant anything to her, I don't think her opinion of me really changed. I'm not sure she even likes me as a person, really. She just wanted me to throw the duel so she could feel good about herself and get a trophy."

 

Now he didn't even know what he wanted. The feelings were still there, but he wasn't sure he wanted to act on them again or see where they might lead. What would be the point? Irene seemed to be stuck in a place where he couldn't reach, and didn't seem to want to take his hand. 

 

"I don't think she cared about what I thought or felt or wanted. I don't think she ever has."

 

He dropped his gaze back down then, his hand now curled around the back of his neck. He was almost afraid of what he might see in Kaelyn's eyes, but they had always promised to be honest with one another. 

 

 

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Kaelyn Paddock

I thought I did.  I don’t think so.  Their conversation was bringing to mind the time Kaelyn asked Toby if he really loved her, and he said he thought he did.  Hearing him more or less say the same thing about Irene made her hands curl in frustration.

 

“I don’t care what Irene wants,” she told him pointedly.  “I just want to know what you want - and what you would have wanted, even if you hadn’t felt like she was using you to win.  Because I feel like a right idiot right now, Toby, you know that?  All that time we were together, you just wanted her, didn’t you?  That’s why you got so upset when you thought someone else was pretending to be her.  And then there was the time you didn’t even show up for class, because you were with her, and - and then, when we broke up, that day you made her flowers.”  She spat the final word out bitterly and turned her gaze away again, arms wrapping around her shoulders defensively.

 

“The things you gave me last Christmas… they don’t even matter anymore.  I can’t believe I thought - I thought they were so special, when you could just as easily make a necklace for some other girl.”

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Tobias Winchester

"I feel like a right idiot right now, Toby, you know that?"

 

"--You're not an idiot, Christ--"

 

"All that time we were together, you just wanted her, didn’t you?"

 

"--No I didn't, bloody hell--"

 

"That’s why you got so upset when you thought someone else was pretending to be her.  And then there was the time you didn’t even show up for class, because you were with her, and - and then, when we broke up, that day you made her flowers.” 

 

Kaelyn spat the word out bitterly, arms wrapping around her shoulders defensively, as Toby stood there with his mouth open, staring at her.

 

“The things you gave me last Christmas… they don’t even matter anymore.  I can’t believe I thought - I thought they were so special, when you could just as easily make a necklace for some other girl.”

 

"I make things for people all the time!" He took a step towards her, hands outstretched, palm up, in the physical embodiment of 'agh'. "Making something doesn't mean anything, it's the meaning behind the thing, why it was made, what it represents. The things I made you... Jesus, Kae, do you know how much it hurt to have them thrown back at me? You broke the sodding jar of fireworks." His voice caught. He turned over his hands, digging his nails into his palms instead. "Fireworks were our thing, they've always been our thing, and you just... you threw them away like they meant nothing."

 

He still had the jar, cracked and splintered, on the table next to his bed in the dorm. Fireworks no longer exploded inside; what was there instead was the heart necklace he'd bought for her when he told her he loved her. She was the only girl he'd ever said that to, the only person he had ever opened himself up for. Why couldn't she see that? Why did she have to think that it was all a lie and that it didn't mean anything any more? Like it was that easy to just throw away everything when he still looked at her sometimes and it was a pain, sharp, between his ribs. 

 

It wasn't fair. She wasn't being fair. 

 

"I made her flowers because her mum died, Kaelyn. Because I've spent every day since summer trying to cheer her up and make her happy, and I'd do the same for you - and the same for Silas - and the same for Addison and Abby and Gary and hell, maybe even Luke now, because it turns out he's kind of alright, and people don't deserve to be sad and miserable and alone. They deserve to feel happy and like someone's there for them and I'm sorry that your feelings were hurt because I didn't turn up to class because I was helping someone who went and got her hand cursed because her life was falling apart around her and I'm sorry  I made flowers for another girl but my god, Kaelyn, can you just, for once, try and see something from someone else's point of view?"

 

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Kaelyn Paddock

“Oh?  I hurt you now, did I?” Kaelyn trilled derisively as she hopped off the ledge to stand, still glaring, with her arms angrily crossed.

 

“… you threw them away like they meant nothing.”

 

“Well, they don’t! They don’t mean anything anymore!”

 

And he was right; through her hurt, Kaelyn wasn’t able to see the situation outside her own perspective.  In her mind there just couldn’t be anyone else with a necklace from Toby, if the necklace he’d given her was supposed to have symbolized so much.  The same boy who once trapped fireworks in a jar for her couldn’t do the same for anybody else, even if it wasn’t fireworks this time but a storm that twisted and raged within the glass orb with which it was trapped, because that cheapened his gift for her, in her mind.

 

Kaelyn’s expression was still stubbornly set when he went on to say that he would’ve done the same thing for so many other people, including her.  All she could hear was the words ‘every day since summer’, and it brought on another wave of resentment.  Everything she was saying now had been things held too tightly for too long.

 

“You spent summer with her, when you could’ve been spending it with me. Damn it, Toby,” she stomped her foot angrily.  “Don’t you get it? I needed you, and you weren’t there.  I wanted you, and you just… you just let me go, and you… you so easily replaced me, with someone else.    Like- like I was nothing to you.  So don’t make me laugh saying you’d do the same for me, because you could’ve - you could’ve this whole time - and you didn’t.” 

Edited by Kaelyn Paddock

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Tobias Winchester

"Her mother died!"

 

He yelled it, loud enough that the portraits in the corridor where they were stopped what they were doing suddenly and turned to look at them all curiously. A few even shhhh-ed them. 

 

His hurt and frustration was starting to turn into something else, an anger he hadn't before felt with her. He wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her until she saw sense, until she stopped being angry at him for something - he thought - she had no reason to be mad at him for. It was as if she was so wrapped up in her view of things that she didn't even want to listen to what he was saying. 

 

"I never replaced you and I never will replace you, and if you think there will ever be anyone in my life who could then you are an idiot, Kaelyn Paddock." There was no one like her in the world, and he wouldn't swap her for anyone else. He didn't want to replace her and he didn't want someone else to take her spot. He wanted Kaelyn as she was, the girl who had always been there, a part of his life who he couldn't imagine being without. 

 

This whole... this thing with Irene, this sudden decision that he had never felt anything for her and hadn't actually ever liked her, it was beyond ridiculous. It was as if she was discarding everything that had come before, every conversation they'd had, every moment they'd shared, like they suddenly no longer mattered to her, like they weren't real. 

 

"And don't -- don't act like you weren't involved either. I suggested a break, I said maybe we just needed time. You were the one who said no, we had to end it, who wanted to call everything off. So, what, you want to break up with me but then you want to get mad when I spend time with other girls? You're not my girlfriend, Kae. You broke up with me. You don't get to then go around getting mad about the things that I do and making out like our relationship was nothing. Maybe to you it wasn't, maybe you're fine just deciding it never happened and it didn't mean anything, but I'm not. Whatever you say, whatever you think, I know it was real. I know what I felt. You're the one who's erasing all of it and throwing it all away."

 

Again, he thought of the glass jar of fireworks. Was he stupid for keeping it by his bedside? Probably. Kaelyn seemed determined to clear him from her life completely. 

 

He turned his body as if he was going to leave, and then some of her earlier words came back to him and his resolve hardened, his shoulders squaring as he turned instead to look at her straight on. "And don't you dare say that I haven't been there for you. I have been there for you throughout absolutely everything in your life, everything that has ever gone wrong and all the good things too, the times when you just needed someone to be there and when you needed a friend. I don't know what self-sabotaging trip you're on right now, but you can leave our friendship out of it. I have always been there for you, and I always will."

 

Millie, he imagined, would have added, 'so there' on to the end of that particular rant. Toby settled for a glare before turning his back on her, ready to start the patrol. He was getting flashbacks to his patrol with Luke. There had been a lot of yelling there too. And more slammed doors. It hadn't ended well. 

 

But, hey, look at them now. Almost-bros.

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Kaelyn Paddock

“Her mother died!” Toby yelled, and Kaelyn actually jumped back at this, as if she’d been slapped.  Yes, Irene’s mother had died, and in all the time that had passed since she first heard about the incident, Kaelyn hadn’t known even two words she could say to her friend other than “I’m sorry”.  Toby, it seemed, had been the better friend of the two of them, actually taking physical steps to try and make someone happy again. 

 

This realization didn’t make Kaelyn feel better, though.

 

Her shoulders drooped a bit in defeat as he continued on, berating her for thinking he could ever replace her, and pointing out that she’d been the one to end things completely.  He was right, in many way, but it didn’t make anything better.  It didn’t take away the hurt she still felt thinking she hadn’t been enough, thinking somebody else could so easily take the place she once held in his heart.  Her whole being had wanted them to work out - she realized now she’d never wanted something so much before - but they hadn’t.  Kaelyn didn’t know how to explain it to him, but breaking things off completely had been the right decision, even if she’d regretted it almost every day since.

 

The blonde stood quietly for a moment as Toby finished and turned away, half-expecting him to storm back to his room. Instead he remained just inside the doorway and she hesitated, voice catching in her throat when she spoke again.

 

“I- I don’t want to throw our friendship away, but… I don’t know how to deal with any of this anymore.  I don’t want you to be with anyone else, but I didn’t want to be with you either if… if it’s just going to be like before, where I- I felt like… like I wasn’t important anymore, you know?  Like… you didn’t actually want to be with me.

 

Her voice cracked a bit and she drew a shaky breath.  “I feel like… like unless I had some awful reason for needing you… you’re not going to choose me.  And I- I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that.”

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Tobias Winchester

Toby's face was so :angry:

 

But when Kaelyn's shoulders drooped a little and she stumbled over her words, it went a little bit more like this :(

 

It felt good to know that she didn't want to throw away their friendship either, even though she was also clearly feeling overwhelmed by their breakup and was struggling to find a way to act and deal with her emotions. As frustrating as it was for her to not want him to be with anyone else but also be the person who had called time on their relationship, he understood. This was Kaelyn, she had always been this way. Jealous, protective, at times obsessive - that was just who she was. 

 

He walked over to her as she spoke, feeling now like they were on the same page. He took her hands in his, like he hadn't done in so long, and pulled them up towards his chest, holding them close. "You are important to me."

 

The idea that he wouldn't choose her was ludicrous, but she clearly felt it was true. It was frustrating to deal with her jealousy, but he knew that it wasn't from a selfish place where she wanted to control his life. Kaelyn was just, at her core, deeply insecure, and worried that she wasn't good enough and never would be. Toby had known that all his life, but for most of his life he hadn't had to prove it to her, because it was something that she just knew. 

 

"I can't promise that I'll always choose you, because sometimes I will choose other people. I mean, what would Millie say?" he attempted a half smile, ducking his head to look her in the eyes, "But I can promise that I will always be there for you, when you need me. I have always been here for you. We're still Toby and Kae. You're still my best friend, forever."

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Kaelyn Paddock

Now that they’d stopped yelling, and it felt like their battle was coming to an end, the vortex of emotions that had been swirling around inside of her ever since she heard the news about Toby and Irene was finally settling down.  In the calm, Kaelyn could hear Toby telling her that she was important to him, and believed it.  She felt his fingers holding hers against his chest as he laid it all out for her again, and all that she could think was how much she’d missed him.

 

It was really hard for her to be just friends with Toby again, after they’d been more for so long, even though she knew their friendship was worth at least that.  Most days she told herself that they’d done the right thing, but then sometimes she thought about their life continuing the same way, and she didn’t know if she was even happy anymore.

 

Third year wasn’t so far gone that she couldn’t still remember the long months she’d spent not talking to Luke that year, after they had a rough time trying to stay friends post break up.  The thought of the same thing happening with Toby was unbearable, maybe even more so than the thought of continuing along as they’d been doing since October.

 

For a moment Kaelyn just stood quietly, not moving her hands, and not saying anything either, only nodding here and there at the things he told her.  While normally she might say them back, today she found she couldn’t reciprocate those sentiments, not after the emotional rollercoaster she was still recovering from.

 

A tiny, outward sigh escaped her and she gave his hands a squeeze.  “Did I really break the jar of fireworks?” she asked instead.

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Tobias Winchester

"Yes, and it made me really sad, you don't even know."

 

His thumbs, which had been running lazy circles over the backs of her hands, went still. His brows drew together in a slight frown. 

 

"I felt like you were throwing away our whole history."

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Kaelyn Paddock

“I’m sorry,” Kaelyn whispered quietly, and she was, now that she wasn’t busy blowing a fuse and wanting to cover Toby in cat litter.  The idea of their fireworks gone dim, of that seemingly-empty jar she used to shake every time she needed to be reminded how much she meant to him sitting plain empty, made her feel hollow in a way she couldn’t remember feeling since the day of their break up.

 

“I just… lost it, you know?  Thinking you were ready to move on when I wasn’t.  I think… I know I broke things off for us completely, but like… I think part of me kept hoping… maybe you’d just come back to me.  But… you didn’t.”

 

Another tiny sigh escaped her.  “I know I said I don’t regret anything that happened between us, but sometimes I wonder… if maybe it might’ve just been easier, if we’d just… stayed friends, you know?”

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Tobias Winchester

“If you weren’t ready to move on, then why did you break up with me? Why’d you let me walk away and not tell me I was being a prat?” He knew it was a stupid argument, but he still found it difficult to accept that Kaelyn was so mad and obviously hurt by what had happened with Irene even though they were no longer together. He knew she was, but he didn’t understand it.

 

As for coming back to her... would he? He didn’t know. 

 

But then, he didn’t know a lot of things he would do until he actually did them. He was like a ball of chaos, oscillating wildly, never really stopping to consider the impact of his actions until it was too late.

 

It was, without doubt, his fault that Kaelyn felt he way that she did, that she was so upset and hurt. He had hurt her, first by breaking up with her and then by asking Irene out fourth months later. Ironic: he’d broken up with her to avoid the possibility of hurting her and then ended up doing it anyway, what a mess.

 

Would it have been easier if they were just friends? A selfish part of him thought that if they had, then she would have dated Silas instead, and he knew that he wouldn’t have been able to handle that.

 

Or maybe they wouldn’t have been able to be friends, as they’d been on the edge before finally admitting their feelings, Toby convinced that he was about to lose her — in a moment of insight, he wondered, was that how she felt now? He remembered the emptiness of his chest, the hollow feeling inside when he’d thought she was gone somewhere else with someone else. He hadn’t been able to cope with that so well, had made some stupid choices with his life, and it was only thanks to Kaelyn he’d been able to come out the other side. 

 

“Maybe...” he said, “Maybe we did, make a mistake that is. Maybe we should have just been friends. Maybe we shouldn’t have broken up. I don’t know. Do you think it gets easier?” He wasn’t sure he’d ever know if he made the right choice. He didn’t feel the same intense longing and love he once had for her, but maybe that was normal, maybe every burning flame of a relationship turned into embers.

 

He’d broken up with her because he didn’t know what was out there, because he was worried he was missing out, and he didn’t like feeling tied down for the rest of his life. He still felt that way, but there was also the thought in the back of his mind that he had walked away from the best thing he’d ever had.

 

However the most important thing, right now, was how Kaelyn felt, not his justifications for his actions or his own worries and insecurities.

 

So, again, he said, “I am really sorry, you know. For hurting you. I didn’t mean to and I know I can’t take it back, but that’s what an apology should be, right? Admitting you did something wrong.” 

 

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Kaelyn Paddock

“If you weren’t ready to move on, then why did you break up with me? Why’d you let me walk away and not tell me I was being a prat?” 

 

Her eyes met his then, searching them for some kind of explanation, some sign that maybe that was what he had wanted her to do, but there was no connection between this statement and all the ones he’d made to her when they’d broken up in her mind.  Toby lived his life in the grays of the world, and perhaps for him it would be entirely possible to stay in a relationship he didn’t feel prioritized in, but Kaelyn lived in the extremes: bright shades, or morbidly dark strokes of colour.  For her, there was only Toby or no Toby.  And she couldn’t just sit on the sidelines waiting for him to decide which it should be.

 

“It just… seemed best, letting you go.  You said yourself you were feeling tied down and I guess… I couldn’t stand the thought of doing that to you, but I also couldn’t stand the thought of… waiting, to see if you might want me later, or whatever.  If it was going to be over, it needed to just be over, and if it wasn’t over… then I guess I would’ve known, if you’d come back to me.”

 

Nothing that she felt or tried to convince herself of could rectify the situation for her.  For Kaelyn, Toby either loved her or he didn’t.  He either wanted her, or someone else.  There couldn’t be both in her mind.

 

Her hands squeezed his harder as he asked her if it gets any easier, and she wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about: staying in a relationship without feeling tied down, or moving on.  Either way, her answer was the same: “I don’t know.”

 

The only solace she could find in this moment was in knowing for certain that Toby had never meant to hurt her, and it was only after that that Kaelyn finally let go of his hands and stepped into his arms, wrapping herself into that hug she so desperately needed.

 

“I know,” she said.  “I just.. I guess I’m disappointed.  Not just in you, but in myself too.”

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Tobias Winchester

They were different in that, Toby thought. Kaelyn couldn't stand the thought of waiting, to see if this was the real thing, whilst to Toby it was exactly what was needed. A break was different to breaking up. If they were on a break he could see what life was like without her and talk to others but then view everything through the lens of Kaelyn waiting for him; if she was waiting for him, would any choice he made be worth throwing that away? If they were broken up, then he knew she wasn't waiting for him and he could do anything, see anyone, because Kaelyn wasn't waiting for him. 

 

There were no absolutes for him. He still loved her, but it was different for him now. He didn't stop loving her just because they were no longer together. It wasn't like his feelings could just be turned off one day and that was it. 

 

She squeezed his hands and her I don't know was a relief, because it was exactly how he felt too. 

 

When she said she was disappointed in herself, he frowned. "Why? Because you let someone as amazing as me go?" he tried to crack a joke, smiling, not sure how it would land. "We're both disappointments. We're kids. We're going to look back on this in a few years and think we made the biggest mistake of our lives but that doesn't... Kae, if I want to get back with you, I'm not - I'm not going to just because breaking up sucks and we're both sad. That's not a reason to get back together."

 

He'd not thought too closely about getting back together because she'd made it so clear that if they broke up, that was it. She had put an ultimatum on their relationship, a definite end point. It had seemed pointless to think about getting back together then because it wasn't a possibility, but how she was reacting now made him think that it wasn't as definite as she had made it seem. 

 

"If I want to get back with you, it's because I think I can be the kind of guy you deserve, Kae, because I know that you're the only girl in the world for me and that I can make you happy. Otherwise, what's the point?"

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Kaelyn Paddock

Toby’s joke earned him a little punch in the gut, but she was happy, too, that they were joking.  It beat feeling all sorts of angry at him for being so (in her eyes) betrayed.  

 

The other things he said only kick-started the thoughts she’d been having lately - utterly confusing and mostly conflicting thoughts about whether she had made a mistake, or if this had been the right decision after all.  She still loved him, and if there was some way for her to make that part of herself stop working she probably would, just to make things easier for the both of them. 

 

“Stop saying that,” she told him.  “That… rubbish about not being the kind of guy I deserve - you did make me happy.  And I thought we were happy until… until you started pulling away and… anyway.  It doesn’t even matter anymore, because clearly you want to move on now.”  And here, some of her previous anger was returning.  Maybe this was just how it was going to be from now on: her cycling between trying to understand where Toby was coming from, and getting mad at him all over again for giving up on them.  Would he try harder with Irene, she wondered briefly before immediately chasing that thought away.  She still wasn’t ready to think about him with Irene, or anyone else for that matter.

 

“Breaking up does suck, and I am sad, and… yeah, you’re right, that’s not a reason to get back together, but… I don’t know what to do anymore.  I keep trying to get over you, but I’m just… stuck in this stupid bubble of not being able to move one way or another, and you’re ready to move on and…”

 

Her hands, which had still been clenching his this whole time, finally balled themselves into fists as she crossed her arms over her chest defensively again.  “What’s the point?  What’s the point, you ask?  Maybe the point is I love you and I want you back, and I’m mad at you for ever letting me feel this way when clearly you’d just rather be with someone else.  Because if you wanted to be with me, we would still be together, and you never would’ve let me be away from you for this long.  So just say it, Toby.  Just say it so I can get over you and move on with my life.  Tell me you don’t love me anymore and don’t want to be with me.  Tell me this was all just a big mistake in the first place.”

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Tobias Winchester

His joke earned him a punch in the gut, which of course he over-exaggerated and stepped back a little to make it seem like he was in pain. 

 

Then Kaelyn's anger seemed to resurface as she crossed her arms over her chest defensively again. He felt as if they were just going around in circles, their conversation going nowhere, unable to reach any sort of resolution. They'd been so close to some sort of understanding and then...

 

He was mad at himself for making her feel that way too, just as he was mad at her for being unable to deal with it the way that he was, a selfish desire he knew wasn't a good thought to have. She was the one who had brought this to a head by confronting him and then she was the one who had decided to break up with him, rather than getting some distance, and now she was the one who couldn't handle how she felt after the decisions she had made. If she'd just... at any point... If she'd just not

 

"I'm not going to lie to make you feel better, Kae. I love you, I always will. I don't regret dating you and I won't ever think of what we had as a mistake. But I can't - I can't make this okay for you. You have to work this out yourself, you have to find some way to get past it. I don't - I don't want to get back with you. Not right now. I still need space, I need a break and I can't - I can't keep watching my every move because you might get upset about it. You have to let me go, Kae."

 

And trust that, if he was going to return to her, he would. It wasn't something that could be forced, he knew that. It would be far too easy to get back with her now, to apologise for what he had done and take the easy route and take her in his arms, but he knew if he did that he wouldn't be happy, he would be just as worried that he would make a mistake at any moment. If he was going to come back to her, it had to be on his own terms, at the right time, regardless of how she felt right now. 

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Kaelyn Paddock

All this time Kaelyn had been grasping at straws for any reasonable explanation - anything at all - as to why Toby let her end things in the first place.  The one thing she’d kept coming back to was what she’d just tried to get him to admit: that he’d stopped loving her.  She’d asked him in the forest if he did, and his answer (I think I love you) was laced with just the right amount of hesitation for her to decide his feelings must’ve changed from the day he’d given her the jar of fireworks and the necklace.  But now she was asking, practically begging, him to just straight-up admit this to make it easier for her to move on… and of course, he had to do the exact opposite.  

 

Typical Tobias.

 

If he’d stopped at those three little words, Kaelyn might’ve run back into his arms and told him that breaking up with him was the stupidest thing she’d ever done and they were going to work through this one way or another, but he kept going on, and… it didn’t make sense.  None of it made sense to her - how he could love her but not want to be with her.  How he didn’t regret their relationship but needed space away from it.

 

She was done with space, and done with a break.  For Kaelyn, the “space” between them hadn’t started when they broke up, but months prior, back in the summer when he first started pulling away.  It made her want to scream at him: Don’t you know what we had?  How could you turn you back on that?  On me?

 

“How am I supposed to do that when you can’t even tell me -“  She cut off angrily and let out a shaky breath.  “Then admit you just want to date other people, and that’s why you don’t want to be with me.  Tell me something!  Because, guess what?  I’m going to get upset, whether I’m your girlfriend or not.  I have feelings, whatever our relationship status is.  You can say what you want about me being the one to end things, but you had a choice too.  You could’ve told me I was being a prat too. You just… you just didn’t want to feel guilty.  Maybe… maybe this is what you wanted all along…”

 

She broke off again, glaring at the wall behind his head, knowing this conversation wasn’t going anywhere.  No matter how he put it, Kaelyn couldn’t help but feel betrayed, and nothing he said could change the fact that he didn’t want to be with her.

 

“Maybe you’re right,” she said, her voice dropping down to the icy-cold tones reserved for the times when she was being really guarded, “Maybe I deserve someone better.”

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Tobias Winchester

It was what he’d wanted, in those brief few months before they’d broken up. He’d wanted an end to things but he hadn’t wanted to end things, and so he’d pulled away but just not said anything. He’d spent last summer with Silas going out to gigs and house parties and days in London. He’d helped Ronnie find Riley with Titania and Delilah. He’d known then that he wasn’t treating Kae right but he hadn’t known what to do about it.

 

Then Kae had asked him to talk and it had come to a head; she didn’t want a break, she wanted to breakup because if he didn’t love her she didn’t want to keep thinking he did.

 

He’d thought the breakup would work and yet here she was, still sad and here he was, still not knowing what to do about it.

 

He knew if he got back with her that things would just be the same, and he wasn’t cruel enough to date someone knowing he didnt love them above all else. He was trying to do the right thing, breaking up with her for the right reasons and yet here she was, devastated by this too.

 

No matter what he did, Kae was going to be hurt by it. He couldn’t force her to get over him just like he couldn’t force himself to pretend everything was fine and date her again.

 

When her voice dropped into the icy cold tones, he flinched, but managed to cover it mostly. He looked down at the floor, then forced himself to look in her eyes.

 

”I don’t deserve you Kae, that’s the point. That’s what I’ve been saying. You need someone better than me, a better person than I’ll ever be. I’m not good enough for you - you’re...” He took a breath, “you’re the best girl I’ve ever known, you’re smart and you’re funny and you make me happier than anyone else in the world. I can’t imagine life without you; you make everything better just by being there. You deserve someone better than me, someone who doesn’t have doubts, who doesn’t push people away - I’m terrified, Kae, that I’ll do something stupid and hurt you if we’re together and you’ll never be in my life again. And you might say ‘well dont’ but this is me, I don’t think I can, I do stupid things, look what I’ve done already and we’ve only broken up for four months...”

 

Agh. This was so hard to say. He didn’t even know if it would make things better or worse., but at least it was honest.

 

”I’m not good enough for you Kae, you’re right. You deserve better.”

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Kaelyn Paddock

Her last words had been tossed out in anger, the same way she’d so carelessly thrown out her previous statements before about his gifts meaning nothing and their relationship being a lie.  The invisible walls that rose around her hardened everything from her heart to her expression, but she hated being behind them and felt the urge to fight against being suffocated by them as she had been so many times before.  Saying she deserved better had been the easy way out… but it wasn’t true.  Not for her.

 

Her arms remained crossed and her expression resolute as Toby went off on another spiel about why they couldn’t be together, still not able to simply tell her ‘you’re not the one I want’.  There was probably more confusion for her now, after this conversation, than there’d been before.

 

“Is that what you want?” she asked when he was done.  “Do you want me to find someone else?  Because this whole ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ thing… it doesn’t make any sense.  It really doesn’t.”

 

She thought about Zachary on the other side of her snapmirror, so sweet and so patient, so perfect in every way… and yet, sometimes when she was talking to him, she felt like there was something holding her back.  Would Toby want her to be with Zachary? 

 

Kaelyn uncrossed her arms and ran her slowly hands over her face as she let out a frustrated sigh.  If Toby was so determined that they were better apart, she didn’t know if she could do anything to stop him, but she also knew she couldn’t give up without a fight. 

 

“Look, if you don’t want to get back together, obviously I’m not going to make you - that’s not how I want our relationship to be either.  But… I’m not moving on yet, Toby. I can’t.  You keep saying you’re not good enough for me, but do you even know what I want?  Remember the time I went out with Merc?  He was, on paper, probably everything I could ask for in a guy, and you’d think we had a lot in common, but in the end it was like… like we didn’t even have a connection.  And yeah, I know you do stupid things and make stupid mistakes.  I remember what it was like when we first got together and we had to start off in secret, and all that stuff you told me.  But… I thought…” And here, her voice started to break, “I thought we had the kind of relationship where we could work through those things together, you know?  Not apart. And… it’s not like I don’t do stupid things sometimes.  Do you think I wanted to end our relationship?  Or break the jar of fireworks?”  She would take both those things back now if she could.

 

“If you can’t look me in the eye and say you don’t love me, that you regret our relationship, that I don’t make you happy… then what are we even doing? Like, yeah, the last four months have hurt more than anything, last week especially, but… I almost feel like part of that was my fault, for suggesting we break up in the first place.  Look at the year we were together, and how happy we were - well, for most of it, anyway.”  Admittedly the very last bit of their year together hadn’t been so grand.

 

Kaelyn didn’t know what else she could say to convince him, or even if she could - or should.  All she knew was that if she didn’t give this, the remains of their relationship, everything she had, one day she might wake up and find Toby with somebody else and regret not having done more.  She stepped forward and took his hands in hers, looking down at their linked hands sadly.  “I don’t want someone who’s perfect.  I want you.”

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