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You Make Me Betetr

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Kev’s never been the best at spelling. Or writing, for that matter. He can only write a few words before his hand starts to ache and the handwriting becomes increasingly messy, spiralling downwards on the page. The result is always spectacularly shitty, something that could be done better by one of the girls, even though they’ve only just learned to talk. It’s never been a need . He’s gotten just by without having to write long, boring sentences. He signs for the booze delivery in the Alibi, he signs his name on important stuff, he writes ‘happy birthday’ in cards. That’s all he’s ever had to do.

So, now, as he is sat over a piece of paper with a pen in his hand, Kev has never felt more inadequate.

The first words are To V , which have gone well so far. The letters are all the same size and his handwriting is coherent. But that’s only two words and they’re both very short. When he figures out what to write next, he’s sure it won’t go to plan.

Honestly, Kev doesn’t see the point in love letters. He can convey his feelings much easier through words – those don’t get muddled up, don’t get stuck in his mouth. But saying it out loud never has the same effect. He remembers when they would watch those shitty romantic comedies at Fiona’s house, there would always be some love letter, accompanied by some roses and chocolates. The girl always swoons at the gesture, spouting something about having the best boyfriend and feeling special .

And if there’s one thing V is, it’s special.

I love you, he decides on. It’s true, after all. She is his wife. Sort of. Not totally legally but still, they had a wedding, and she looked pretty damn nice in that dress.

Then, he thinks he’s about to write you are beautiful , until he realises that he has got no fucking idea how to spell that word. So he settles with pretty , taking a long time and adding a loop on the end letter, just to make it look posh. It doesn’t. Kev glares at the paper and screws up it up, throwing it into the ever-growing pile of failed attempts.

His first plan is to give up. Get a beer. Forget all about this idea.

His second plan is much better. Grabbing the pen and a fresh sheet of paper – he’s probably wasted around five now, and he can remember some of the charity kids chanting about saving the trees – Kev flings the front door open. It’s not quite running as he heads for the house next door, but he’s got a fast pace. This needs to be done soon.

Carl is sat on the steps outside the Gallagher house. He looks somewhat moody and Kev greets him by ruffling his hair, something which the kid doesn’t look too pleased with, trying to shake off his hand.

“Your sister in?”

“With a guy.”

Ah. Fuck. Fiona had been his only hope for words.

“What about Lip?”

“Nope.” Carl doesn’t provide an explanation as to where his older brother is. He probably doesn’t know.

“Ian?”

Another shrug. Kev sighs, thinking of who else in the Gallagher house is any good with words. There’s always Debbie. She seems to feel quite a few things. Maybe that’s why she’s always throwing tantrums.

Carl seems to read his mind, looking up at him with dark, dull green eyes, the same ones as Fiona. “Debbie’s with her whore friends."

He could always be a help. But Carl isn’t exactly academic, too busy running around with shady company to even pick up a book. And he doesn’t seem to feel much either -  he speaks in a disinterested tone most times Kev comes around, rarely looking anything other than glum.

“Alright, then. You any good with words?”

“Depends which words.” Carl’s mouth twists into a cheeky grin, not at all a kid which Kev would trust to do something for him. “I can tell you a few of my favourite curse words.”

“No. I need, like … words. Good words.” Kev sighs and runs a hand over his short hair, trying to gather all his thoughts. “You ever read a book?”

Carl snorts. “Do I look like I’ve ever read a fuckin’ book?”

“Fine, then.” He turns away with a scowl. “Whatever. V won’t be pleased.”

“Wait.” Carl’s voice is urgent, curious. Kev stops in his tracks. “It’s for Veronica?”

“Yeah. I’m trying to write her a love letter.”

Carl raises an eyebrow, but it’s not as mocking as before. “Sweet.”

“It is, right? But I need some words. Like, poetry or some shit. Something which really shows what I feel.”

“What do you feel?”

Kev searches, and comes back with one word. “Love.”

“What else?”

Huh. Maybe the kid is trying to help after all.

“I don’t know. I … think she’s hot.”

“Okay. Change ‘hot’ to ‘gorgeous’, and you’ve got yourself an opening line,” Carl says, amused.

“What? ‘I think you’re gorgeous’?”

“Yep. Works for most girls.” Carl snorts. “Hell, works for Ian, and he likes guys. People like being called pretty.”

“Okay. What else?”

“What do you feel when you see her?”

“Uh …” Kev’s honest first response is hard , but that’s not what he can put in this love letter. “Happy.”

“Then write that.”

“Okay, so far, I’ve got … ‘I think you’re gorgeous. You make me feel happy.’” Kev smiles slightly. “Sounds good, right? What else can I say?”

“Compliment her.”

“Good legs.”

“Something more like ‘pretty eyes’,” Carl says, rolling his eyes. “Compare them to the stars or something.”

“‘Your eyes are like the stars.’”

Carl smiles, looking satisfied. “You’ve got three lines now. Finish it off with something groundbreaking, like … you’re my soulmate .”

“Soulmate,” repeats Kev softly. “That’s some real romantic shit, Carl.”

“Yeah, well, Ian and Mickey are always around. I’m pretty used to it.” Carl says it bitterly, but Kev notices how his eyes don’t match his voice.

“Ian and Mickey are softies, huh?” he asks, jokingly. “Never would have thought it. Not for somebody like Mickey.”

“Yeah,” Carl agrees. “Guess Ian changes him. Makes him …”

“Better,” Kev finishes, and he knows exactly what to write in his love letter now.

To V,

I love you.

I think you’re gorgeous.

You make me happy.

Your eyes are like the stars.

You make me a better person.