You jumped, Matthew's voice startling you from the scatter of thoughts occupying your mind. Your reaction caused the Canadian to flinch a bit in surprise, yelping out a small 'Maple!'.
"Sorry Mattie." You apologized with a self-conscious smile. "I got distracted for a sec."
Your friend hugged his bear closer to him and gave you a sheepish smile. "It's okay, ________. But..um, what was your answer for question 6?"
You and Matthew had been doing weekly study sessions for almost a month now. You had horrible grades in History, but scored excellently in Math. Vice versa, Matthew couldn't do math well, but scored very well in History. So you decided to help each other out once a week to hang out and to keep your grades from plunging. Yet recently, there had been some complications...
You looked down at your paper. Not one pen mark save for your name had touched the paper. The words of the questions swam before your eyes, jumbling together to make incoherible sentences.
A hand hesitantly touched your shoulder. "_______..." Matthew asked, his slightly purple eyes full of concern. "Are you alright?"
No, I'm not alright.
You nodded, putting on a cheerful smile. "Yeah Mattie, I'm okay. It's probably just a cold or something."
The Blonde looked less than convinced, yet he gave a tiny sigh "O-okay, if you say so." he turned to look back at his paper. You let out a silent sigh of relief. The last thing you needed to worry about was Matthew getting worried about you. He didn't need to know what was really going on.
About an hour later, you had both finished your homework, and began packing your bookbags.
"It's dark outside..." You muttered glancing out the window.
"D-do you want me to walk you home?" Matthew asked, a slight blush coloring his cheeks.
You flinched on instinct, the word itself making you want to scream. Home, where sadness and anger descended on you like a wild beast, the place you constantly tried to escape.
I don't want to go home.
"No..." You whispered with dread.
Matthew was waving his hands. "S-sorry! I just wanted to be polite, there might be...oh, I don't know..."
In his moment of panic, you managed to compose yourself, racking your brain desperately for a way out this. "It's okay" You told him with a smile. "I just remembered my parents aren't home tonight, and I forgot the key to the house." You rubbed your head sheepishly. "I'm locked out, I guess."
Matthew looked at you with surprise for a moment, this taking time to register in his brain.
"Oh! Well Alfred is out tonight, he's with friends you see. I guess...you could take his bedroom." He looked down at his shoes, trying to hide his scarlet cheeks.
You threw your arms around the Canadian, sending his glasses askew. "Thanks so much Mattie!" You cried, hugging him.
"Maple~!" Matthew yelped.
You released him. "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you."
Matthew fixed his glasses. "It's okay, um, why don't you take a shower, and I'll make some dinner."
You nodded eagerly. "What's for dinner?"
The Canadian grinned. "Pancakes."
Steam filled the bathroom, fogging the mirror and making the air opaque with water vapor. You stood with a towel wrapped around your mid-section, drying your hair. As you finished you wiped away to fog in the mirror to reveal your reflection.
And the scars.
Thin, healed over abrasions dotted your shoulders and arms, more trailing down the sides of your legs and your calves, a few just freshly healed over.
You absent-mindedly scratched at a few on your shoulder, distracted again by thoughts of home and depression.
A knock on the door startled you from your musings.
"_______, I thought you'd might like some night-clothes, so I brought you a T-shirt. It might be a little big, but it should work. Oh! There's a pair of sweatpants too."
You made to open the door and grab the clothes from Matthew, but stopped, remembering your bare arms.
"Uh, Thanks Mattie! You can just leave them there, I-I'll be out in a sec!"
'Oh, okay." The Canadian replied. You waited until his footsteps faded down the hall before daring to grab the clothes left outside the door.
You looked down at the clothes, the T-shirt printed with a large red maple leaf on the front.
"I'm sorry Matthew." You muttered, holding the clothes close to your face. "I'm sorry I can't tell you the truth."
"_______, pancakes are ready!" Matthew called, turning to see you at the doorway to the kitchen. "Oh good, you're already here."
You didn't move. Only your face and your hands peeped from the corner of the doorway.
You stepped into the doorway,wearing the sweatpants that covered your calves, and the T-shirt that did not hide your arms. You held your hands behind your back. Your hair hid your face as you looked down at your feet.
Matthew set down the platter of pancakes and walked over to you. "Is something wrong?" he asked in almost a whisper.
You shook your head, but also stepped backwards as he reached out a hand to touch you. "Don't." You whispered.
Yet the warm, gentle hands were there again, hesitantly, but firmly coaxing your arms forward, revealing the scars of memories long past.
The room was absolutely still. Matthew didn't move, and you remained completely still, awaiting the torrent and flood of questions that would inevitably come.
But it didn't.
Instead, Matthew gripping your hands firmly in his. "_______." he said sternly.
You looked up, eyes threatening to spill over with tears. All the shy bashfulness had vanished from Matthew's face, to be replaced by a look of concealed anger.
"Who did this?"
It started out as a sniffle, and then a choked sob. Soon you were trapped in Matthew's warm and comforting arms, crying and hiccupping into his chest. Matthew hugged you close and murmured soothing words in french, not bothering to try and get you to explain.
He led you over to the sofa and sat you down while you cried almost uncontrollably into your hands. Matthew held you and stroked your hair, wiping away the tears that continued to stream down your face.
"It was me." You finally choked out.
Matthew was still beside you, not a muscle moved. You swallowed your sobs and clenched your hands, half-expecting Matthew to stand up and leave you there without another word.
But, to your surprise, you found your face tilted upwards to meet a pair of lips that tasted faintly of Maple syrup. Your eyes widened in surprise, but hesitantly, you kissed him back.
After a few moment, Matthew pulled back, his hands coming to rest on either side of your face.
"_______." He whispered, thumb brushing away a tear. "I love you."
You blinked with confusion. Matthew? Sweet, innocent, shy Matthew, loved you?
Before you could respond, Matthew wrapped his arms around you again, comforting warmth and assurance embracing you. "I'm not sure what made you unhappy. I'm not sure what dark place you've been to, but I do know that I wont let you go back. OK?"
You stared over his shoulder with wide, unsure eyes. Yet at that moment, a tiny little prickle of warmth began to bloom inside your chest. Slowly, your hands reached out and clutched the fabric of Matthew's hoodie, and you buried your face into his chest. "Yes." You muttered.
"I love you too."