You try to say, “I’m sorry you had to ditch your date just to deal with my shit,” but somehow it just comes out as a series of sobbed “it’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair”s.
“Shhhhhhh,” Dirk mumbles, rubbing small, comforting circles on your back. “I know. It will be alright.”
You’re curled up on your bed, and he’s curled around you, your head tucked under his chin as he holds you and you hold yourself, like maybe if you both hang on tightly enough you won’t fall apart at the seams. There are a lot of things that aren’t fair. It’s not fair that he took the risk and came out safe with boyfriend in tow. It’s not fair that he’s such a fucking fantastic friend that he really did, in fact, cancel a date with said boyfriend to help you in your attempts to piece yourself back together. It’s not fair that you can’t even drink to get through this, because somehow that would make this worse.
It’s not fair that when you took the risk, she loved someone else.
“She still--,” you warble, high and hiccuping, into his collarbone. “She-- she loves--”
“Shhhhhhh,” he croons again. “Shhhh, Ro-Lal. I’ve got you.”
He’s like a nice, solid wall, something in the back of your mind notes distractedly, wrapped around you to protect you from the pain of the world outside. He’s not as muscled as Jake, with all his wrestling, but he’s strong enough to punch the lights out of anyone who looks at you wrong, and he would. He has. Only for you and Jake will he be this soft and sweet and protective. And not for the first time in your life, and certainly not for the first time tonight, you think with despair, why the hell couldn’t I have fallen for him?
Your name is Roxy Lalonde and you are not in love with your best friend. You are in love with Jane Crocker, who you suppose is also your best friend now that you think about it, but that’s beside the point.
Tucked in Dirk’s arms, you can remember a time where it was a girl tangling her limbs with yours as you hiccuped yourself to sleep; only then, you were drunk, hiccuping with giggles instead of sobs. Jane had this way of knowing precisely when you would be at your worst, and showing up at your doorstep with her overnight bag and a container of advil. You have both learned that you are easy to coax away from liquor when promised cuddles. She used to press you to her, your legs tangled with hers as you shamelessly buried your face in her chest, softness and warmth cradling you on every side in preparation for the nasty hangover you would be dealing with the next morning. You loved the feeling of her fingers dragging through your hair as you breathed in a smell that was uniquely Jane, cake mix and autumn leaves even in the dead of winter. You loved that she was there for you despite her distaste for you alcoholic tendencies. You loved her. You love her.
She loves Jake English.
A week ago was Valentine’s Day, and you suppose you conveniently forgot that fact when you swore up and down that if Dirk didn’t confess to Jake himself, you would hack his computer and send Jake every embarrassing file-diary he’d ever written. The fact that such a threat worked will probably intrigue you at a later time (tomorrow, perhaps) because you were joking, but now you know Dirk Strider has embarrassing file-diaries written on the subject of his burning passion for Jake English and that is just about the best thing you’ve learned all month. Aside from, of course, when Dirk called you after school that afternoon to say that he was not adverse to coming to the diner with you as planned but you might feel a tad awkward as the third wheel. You squealed, Dirk swore and you heard Jake laugh in the background, and you were very happy your best friends were in love with each other.
You’re not sure what possessed you to do what you did this morning, but it might have been Dirk’s brilliant luck with his man that convinced you that you had the faintest of chances with your lady. You and Jane had been sitting alone in a shaded corner of the courtyard, anyway, giving Dirk and Jake a little space, and you thought, why the hell not?
So the next time she turned towards you, blue eyes smiling along with her shell-pink lips, you just leaned right in and kissed her.
She froze, and you pulled back a little anxiously. Wide, wide eyes stared into yours.
“Roxy,” she started, then swallowed hard, heat rising to her cheeks, and continued, “Roxy, a-are you drunk?”
You stomach sunk, and you whispered, “no.”
“Oh,” she mumbled back. You watched her with an increasing sense of dread, until your ears registered a small, timid, “I’m sorry.”
You both sat awkwardly, until finally you couldn’t take the tension anymore, because oh God how were you so stupid as to let yourself hope? You scrambled to your feet, grabbing your lunchbox with shaking fingers when she caught your wrist.
“I love you,” she squeaked, her voice high and sad and desperate. “I love you, Ro, I always have and I always will, even-- even if it’s not the way you want me to, okay? You-- you know that, don’t you?”
“Sure, Janey,” you mumbled, tugging your arm back so you could cradle it to your chest, as though she’d hurt you. “I know.”
And then you ran faster then you’d ever been in your life, and you think it is the sweetest fucking thing that when you threw yourself on Dirk, neither he nor Jake uttered a word of complaint or skipped even half a beat; you were immediately wrapped in a fortress of arms and teenage boys who love you, the same way Jane does which is not the way you want her to, except you think they might even love you a little more in this respect because Jake didn’t even know why you were crying but let you interrupt his time with his boyfriend so they could both hold you, doing their best to comfort you as you bawled your goddamn heart out. Dirk-- well, you can’t even explain what Dirk is to you. He’s like your soulmate, but as a brother and a friend instead of a lover. You feel like there is a word for this, some faint, nagging thing in the back of your head, but you are done listening to the voiceless urges in your head for now. Look where it got you, after all. Curled into a ball, sobbing and pathetic, as your soulmate-brother-friend puts his love life on hold in a desperate bid to save the remains of yours.
“Why doesn’t she love me?” you whimper into Dirk’s shirt, terrified of how tiny and broken your own voice sounds.
“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Lalonde, I don’t know,” he breathes into your hair, all irony and pretenses dropped at the door just for you. “I know she’s missin’ out, though.”
You start crying again, at the reminder of the fact that she is, in fact, missing out, because she rejected your advances. You continue crying because you don’t know if you can even be her friend anymore, now that she knows. You have lost more than a possibility. You have lost just about a third of your life. Dirk curses, probably under the impression that your renewed bout of tears is his fault (which it is, kind of, but he’s already doing so much for you why is he even worrying about it?).
You love Dirk, but not the way you love Jane.
Jane loves you, but not the way you want her to.
It’s not fair.