Shawn closes the window behind him, and then he sits back against the sill and waits for me to say something.
“Were we really together?” I ask in a moment of forced courage. I’m terrified of his answer, but I need to know it, even if it twists the knife in my chest. “After Van’s party . . . the roof . . . ” I wipe what I tell myself are raindrops from my cheeks. “What was I to you, Shawn?”
He considers his reply before saying, “Do you really think I wanted to keep you a secret?” When I say nothing, he sighs. “Kit, there isn’t a man alive who would want to keep you a secret. You’re . . . ” He shakes his head to himself. “You’re everything I never knew I wanted. I didn’t realize what perfect was until I got to know you, and then I thought you were finally mine, and . . . I just didn’t want the other guys making it impossible for us to get any privacy for those last two days. They would have been such assholes about it. I wanted you to myself.”
Resisting the urge to go into his arms, to make myself his, I say, “Why did you act like you hated me when I first joined the band?”
“I didn’t trust you,” he explains. “I didn’t realize you actually cared about the music. I thought you were only there to get even with me or something.”
“What about when I kissed you in Mayhem? Before the tour?” He pretended like he didn’t remember taking me to the bus, lying me down on a bench, or making out with me—right before I had to run to the bathroom to throw up.
“You were drunk,” he says sadly. “I was so wrapped up in finally getting to touch you, I didn’t even realize it . . . I felt like an asshole for taking it so far. And then . . . I thought you just wanted to forget.”
Because I lied. That morning, I was the first one to pretend nothing happened. Shawn only followed my lead.
“And on the roof of Van’s hotel? I told you about my crush on you in high school. I wanted you to remember.”
“I know,” he says, his expression hopeless before he drops it to the floor. “I know, but everything was going so perfectly, I didn’t want to ruin it.”
“I even tried to get you to remember on the bus after I found out. But you just kept lying . . . ”
Shawn shakes his head at the floorboards beneath his feet. “I didn’t want to lose you.”
But he did lose me . . . And now, I’m just lost.
“And six years ago?” I finally ask. The words come out strong and confident, betraying the doubt, the hurt, the brokenness inside me. “What about then?”
Shawn sinks heavier against the sill on a defeated sigh. “This is the part where I don’t know what to say.” He hesitates before lifting his gaze back up to mine. “I wasn’t a good guy six years ago. I’m sorry you thought I was, but I wasn’t.”
“Kale told me what he said to you,” I say. “After that night, when we . . . ” I trail off, unwilling to give life to the ghost of a memory, but understanding is clear in Shawn’s eyes.
“Do you think that’s why I didn’t call?” he asks after a while, and I don’t know if I truly want the answer to what I ask next.
“Kit,” he says, like the words coming out of his mouth are hurting him to say. “What happened wasn’t your brother’s fault. I could have called.”
My voice threatens to crack when I ask, “Why didn’t you?”
Shawn’s eyes close for a moment, holding mine when they reopen. “I didn’t know you six years ago. You were just a hot girl I met at a party.”
Tears scald my face, and Shawn crosses the room to wipe them away. His thumb brushes lightly across my cheek when he says, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were fifteen, and if I had known it was your first time . . . ”
“You never would have done it,” I answer for him, my voice holding years of knowing those words to be true. What happened between us was as much my fault as it was his.
“I wouldn’t have,” he agrees sincerely. “I fucked up with you, Kit, and I’m sorry.”
“Did you ever even think of me?”
His palm is still cupping my face when he says, “At first . . . once in a while. But it’s not like I’ve spent the past six years thinking about you. I didn’t know what I lost when I let you go. You need to know that.” Both calloused hands thread into my hair to gently hold my face in place. “I wasn’t the guy you wished I was. I did forget about you up until you walked into that audition. I had no idea what I’d walked away from.”
“What about now?” The words push free in a moment of desperation I wish I could take back. But with my face in his hands—with my heart in his hands—I have nothing left to lose.
“Now?” he asks, never breaking his eyes from mine. I’m drowning in them when he says, “Now I think I know the answer to what you asked me out on your roof.” When I just stare at him, he says, “You asked me if I was half a person, and I asked you how I’d know.” His thumb grazes my cheek, his eyes clinging to mine. “You. You’re how I know.”
I close my eyes and let his words consume me, remembering that day on the roof so many weeks ago. He said it was like no one ever realized Joel was half a person until Dee came around, and when I asked him if he was half a person, he asked me how he’d know. Neither of us had an answer. Now, he says he does.