Once Charles Wallace found his way back to sleep, Meg decided to venture from his side of the couch out to the sunroom with her blanket wrapped around her frigid form. Though this fall had been arguably perfect weather-wise, today the atmosphere seemed to congregate and decide that raining all day long sounded like a delightful idea. Meg was less than impressed with the taunting precipitate, but no matter. The downpour was beginning to ease up, and as she settled onto the small daybed she looked up to see the full moon showcasing its brilliance just for her. She had discovered a newfound appreciation for the lunar beauty after her tessering travels. Most people sleep from sunset to sunrise. Then there are those who don't even take a moment to acknowledge the moon, as if she's unnoticeable and inconsequential, they all but shun the moon. While the sad, little, interstellar rock doesn't always get much recognition, she showcases her radiance and her glorious guiding light on nights where she feels like she's living up to her fullest potential. The moon shines on whether her beauty and glory is recognized or not.
As Meg continued on her path to loving herself, she liked to think that she was like the moon. She may not think of herself as a great beauty, or someone people should follow like disciples, but she’d grown to like her hair, and she enjoyed making her teachers remember how smart she was so that was a start. As she yelled to The It possessed Charles Wallace, she deserved to be loved, and that began with learning self love. The moon was content in its role and one day Meg would be too. If only she could grasp onto the sleep that eluded her, she'd really love that.
As her eyes wandered to the tree where her little brother tessered for the first time, she noticed something hovering by her fence … or maybe that was someone? Meg was set to retreat back inside until the headlights of a bypassing car allowed her to see the perimeter lurker. Was that really who she thought it was? If so she certainly hoped this wasn't another feeling of his.
“Calvin,” she questioned as she popped her head out of the door to the yard. “Is that you?”
“Meg? You're awake?” What sense did it make that Calvin O’Keefe was lingering on the other side of her fence and he was questioning her? Meg was underwhelmed. “I'm really sorry. I know this looks horrible and I didn't mean to frighten you. I was just taking a walk.”
“In the middle of the night?” As Meg’s skeptical brow rose toward her hairline, Calvin grew bashful, which pulled some sympathy out of her tired body. With an exasperated huff, she left the security of the sunroom and came to the fence’s gate, opening it to welcome the wanderer into her domain. “C'mon, no sense in yelling across the yard and waking everybody up. Charles Wallace just went back to sleep.”
“I'm really sorry Meg.” The sympathetic wince on Calvin's face was doing things to her chest. She wasn't sure she liked it. “You’re gonna get all wet.” He glanced at her crown of curls and she fought off a shy smile as she shook her head.
“The rain’s not too bad, I'll be okay … let's get back inside.” She had pondered this suggestion for a moment but ultimately considered it better than standing out in the slowly drizzling rain with the taller boy. Calvin stifled a smile and gave a small nod before following his bespectacled friend back into the sunroom.
Once inside, Meg sat back on the daybed, determined to return to her idle thoughts. Calvin weighed the pros and cons of sitting with her until she glanced up at him and he quickly decided that he wanted to be close to the residual warmth of her blanket cocoon. Awkward silence swam around them like a hoard of sharks circling a diver’s cage, until Calvin decided he should probably speak up.
“I'm really sorry about this Meg. I promise I wasn't trying to be creepy or scare you.” He felt ashamed, Meg could see it in his drawn in shoulders, and the way he kept his eyes focused on his lap where his fingers fidgeted. “I just really needed to get out of the house … this was the first place I could think to come.”
“It's okay Calvin.” He picked his head up a little at the sound of genuine sympathy in her voice. “I don't really mind now that I know it was just you. I'll admit a call or text would've been nice though … I thought we were doing that now.”
It was Meg’s turn to fixate on her lap now. Calvin smiled as he saw those full cheeks of hers take on a dusty rose tinge. His blue eyes took note of her blanketed hand settled on the thin mattress and, feeling emboldened, he inched his right hand towards it until his pinky bumped hers.
“I didn't want to wake you,” he admitted, “I assumed you were asleep.” Meg’s blush deepened but he felt her pinky nudge against his own, causing his heart to do a small somersault.
“I couldn't sleep.” She paused, considering the merits of offering up personal information, until her brain decided that she didn't mind if he knew. “I've been awake for almost two hours now.”
“I'm sorry,” Calvin said, giving her pinkie a small nudge as well. Meg shrugged and ducked her head a little.
“It's not your fault. It happens sometimes.” Why was she admitting these things to him so easily?
“Have you ever talked to your family about it?” Meg sighed at his question and found herself overcome with a sudden urge to entwine her fingers with Calvin’s. So that's exactly what she did, and she pretended that she didn't feel his eyes staring at their clasped hands. They'd held hands before, this was normal for them, even if her heart felt like it was going to leap out of her chest.
She had to think before she responded to the currently lovestruck boy next to her. Meg counted Calvin as her friend, someone she could trust, but the newfound reasons for her insomnia weren't part of the details she was ready to share with him just yet. Though she felt slightly compelled to open up, her heart decided that now wasn't the time.
“Hey Calvin? Can we … let's not talk about that right now.” Her deep mahogany eyes met his in a silent plea and there was no way he could deny her request. He'd bring her the sun if she asked for it in that moment.
“Of course,” Calvin answered once he returned to reality, “we don't have to talk about anything you don't want to. Sorry if I made you uncomfortable.” His soul shrieked in protest as she turned her attention from him back to her free hand in her lap.
“You didn't know, it's fine. I know conversations with me can be weird sometimes,” she supplied with absolutely no evidence to support such an outrageous claim.
“I like talking to you.” Calvin could never allow anyone to disrespect Meg. Not even the celestial warrior herself was safe against his Meg Murry defense tactics. “You're a really good listener Meg … I don't get that a lot.”
Meg’s focus returned to her dejected friend, mouth slightly agape as empathy for his situation overcame her. How on earth could she forget what she'd seen of Calvin's home life when they visited Happy Medium for answers? Was Calvin having issues with his father at home again? The very idea set her soul on fire in the worst way.
“Are things alright at home?” She dared to ask.
“Things are… things I guess,” the bothered blonde admitted, worriedly biting his lip as he looked down at his feet. “I talked to my dad once we got back but we're supposed to get our first quarter grades back soon and well… I'm just a little nervous.”
“Calvin,” Meg pulled herself closer, leaning into his side just like she had when defending him against The It. His heart swelled and he peeked down at the top of her head while counting every blessing that led him to this moment. “You're absolutely brilliant in every way and if your dad can't see that then he doesn't deserve the mental energy you're exhausting on him.”
Calvin paused for a moment, just soaking in her words. Though she'd come such a long way, it still shocked him when Meg gave gave such simple, yet monumental advice to others, but rarely ever applied for herself. He supposed it would come once she made it around her little learning curve.
“I wish you thought you were as encouraging as I do. You have a way of saying exactly what people need to hear exactly when they need to hear it. I love that.” He gently rested his chin on top of her head with that small addition, not noticing as Meg slightly stilled at the mention of the “L” word. She remembered how to breathe again as she felt Calvin's thumb lightly caressing the back of her hand.
“I'm not so sure you'd feel that way if we hadn't traveled across the universe and back together,” she offered as a deflection for his unwarranted admiration. Meg had learned that as a side effect of his home life, Calvin was generously genuine with everyone he came across in life, which most would count as a blessing, but she often considered it a curse.
“Maybe,” he acquiesced with a small shrug, “but I wake up grateful everyday that we did.”
That was it! She was just a small girl and she could only take so much tooth rooting affection at a time. Meg tried to seem nonchalant as she slipped her hand out of Calvin's grip, deciding instead to move her hands up towards her mane of curls. She shoved the slight ache her heart felt way down into her soul as Calvin's hand initially attempted to follow her retreating one, but once he saw that her hands were newly preoccupied he relaxed again. She was just about to spout out a half baked response when the prompt behind her current distraction broke the silence first.
“What are you doing to your hair?” He turned toward her, bringing his legs up on the daybed with his knees against his chest as he watched her with rapt attention. When on earth had he taken his shoes off? Wait, that wasn't important, what was Meg doing to her hair? Oh right.
“I'm just twisting it,” she supplied, halfway done with the first of many more twists to come. “It just helps to keep the curl in longer.” Nice save Meg!
“And you're supposed to do that all over your head?” By the look on his face he seemed amazed at the notion.
“Well yeah.” Meg clearly didn't understand what the issue was. As she finished the first twist she moved onto the next and he seemed no less shocked than before.
“That's a lot of hair Meg,” Calvin provided, as if she wasn't already aware. The corner of his mouth quirked in a slight smile as a soft chuckle escaped her lips. Any notion of happiness he received from Meg brought sunshine to his life.
“I know Calvin, it grows out of my head after all.” There was no bite to her words and the small smile and subtle side eye she graced him with almost made him swoon.
“I could help you if you want,” the blushing boy humbly offered his services in hopes that they'd be well received.
“Oh.” The offer gave Meg pause for a moment. She had never really had anyone but her mother do her hair if she weren't doing it herself. Did Calvin actually want to help her? “This isn't just an excuse to touch my hair is it?” Now it was Calvin's turn to take pause as he picked up the hint of agitation in her voice.
“I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to touch your hair. You already know that I'm kind of fascinated with it.” This was indeed a fact that Meg knew very well. “So even though this is a prime opportunity for me, I really do want to help you. Even if you can't sleep, I know you're tired and I feel like this is going to take you a long time. I'm just saying if you want a helping hand I'm more than happy to give it.”
Meg didn't think Calvin realized how generous of an offer he was making. Most of the time twisting her lengthy, thick locks took her two hours, splitting the work would definitely speed up the process. Maybe she could find sleep if she got done quickly enough, and besides that, even if Calvin coming by was unexpected, she didn't necessarily want him to leave.
“Are you really sure you want to help me?”
“If you'll let me, yeah.” He smiled like she had just told him they were going out for his favorite dessert. She did what she could to distract him before he took note of her pinkening cheeks.
“Alright, first you watch me, then I'll let you try okay?” Calvin nodded, then Meg began twisting a new section of deeply bronzed fluff. He was sure that she didn't think of this as a very intricate process since she seemed to manipulate her hair this way all the time, but if he was going to help her he was determined to do this right. He watched her lithe hands closely as they worked and almost as quickly as she began, the bouncy little twist was done, hanging adorably in front of her face.
“You think you got it?” She was answered by yet another nod and smile. Bless this boy, his radiance would be her demise. “Still wanna give it a go?”
“Yeah, if you don't mind,” he responded, looking a little nervous in his eagerness to please.
“Well let's see how you do and we'll move from there.” She smiled at him before finger parting another section of hair near her face for him to work on. Hesitantly, she turned completely toward him, legs folded criss-cross as she sat in front of him. “I… I kinda need to get closer.”
“O-oh! Right, um…” He moved his knees apart, creating a perfectly Meg-sized gap for her between his legs. “Does this work?”
Meg was nodding so fast she must have looked like a bobblehead, but she was beyond nervous to be this close to Calvin without impending peril being the reason for it. Despite her nerves, she made her way into the space her helper had made for her, offering him the tuft of hair she had carefully sectioned off for his test drive. Meg chanced a glance at Calvin's face and saw that he looked just as shaken as she did, which helped to ease her nerves. Their hands brushed as he reached for her hair and she gave him a soft smile.
“Go ahead,” she encouraged and he returned her smile before he began the twisting process, face scrunching in concentration as he tried to do it exactly how Meg had shown him.
Watching Calvin focus so hard was endearing, especially knowing all his focus was dedicated to pleasing her with his work. She knew she was staring and she really wasn't trying to, but Calvin was a gorgeous boy, a gorgeous boy with a heart of gold, and he voluntarily came in to endure her surly attitude and help her struggle with her wild natural hair. Meg wouldn't exactly say she was in love, that was definitely a stretch, but spending a large chunk of her free time with the incredibly sweet and smart Calvin O’keefe was definitely an appealing thought as far as she was concerned. When his eyes caught hers he smiled at the expression on her face. She made a half-hearted attempt to cover her mouth as a bashful chuckle escaped her lips. He had seen her having a Calvin moment, but she didn't really mind too much, not with that dazzling smile trained on her.
“Care to check my work Ms. Murry?” He dangled the finished product in her face, waiting for her critique. She huffed in faux exasperation before taking the twist in her hand to inspect his handiwork. This was actually an excellent first attempt, she should have had more faith in him.
“Perfect,” she said, letting go and smiling as they both watched the twist bounce in front of her face.
“As it should be, to match the rest of you.” Calvin reached out and stroked Meg’s cheek like she was the most precious thing in the universe to him. She just sat there with wide eyes and her mouth slightly agape. As his fingers reached her chin she swore he was starting to lean in, but before she could be sure the ugliest, most embarrassing nervous laugh snuck past her lips and out into the space between them. She quickly turned away before she could take in Calvin's confused expression, back turned to him as she took a moment to hate that offensive laugh with every fiber of her being. This is how she was going to die, from compliment induced embarrassment at the hands of Calvin O’keefe.
“Okay! Great! Super cool! So if you want to start on the back, I'll finish the front so it'll be like we have a whole little system going.” The torrent of nervous rambling rips itself from her throat before she can even process the words in her head. Thankfully Calvin has a beautiful soul and he doesn't even acknowledge the word vomit.
“Okay,” he simply replies, dutifully devoting himself to the task at hand. Happy to fixate on something other than her embarrassment, Meg resumes her work on the front of her head and they fall into companionable silence as they work together.
“I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable Meg,” Calvin says after a while.
“Oh no! I’m not uncomfortable. It's fine really, I just… it might sound dumb but I forget we're actually friends sometimes. Well in the sense that you choose to hang out with me, and you're you and all. You're super likeable and I'm just now getting okay, we don't exactly mesh y'know?” There's a lot to sift through but Calvin can understand what she's trying to get at.
“Do you think we don't mesh well Meg?”
“I just feel like people think that way about us,” she admits, ducking her head a bit.
“Maybe they do, but is that how you feel?” There was a pause and Meg could tell he was looking at her, probably trying to see her face. “Because I never have.”
Well that was quite the admission. Meg had to steel her nerves and give serious thought to what she wanted to say before she gave Calvin a response.
“I used to, back when we only knew each other from a distance and I thought you'd never want to talk to me. Lying about that would be stupid, but that was before I even cared about myself. Now I know us both better,” her words acquire a soft tone as she peeks back at him over her shoulder, “and I think we mesh pretty well.”
That's when the unthinkable happens. As he sits, frozen in place by this revelation, Calvin breaks out into a full body blush. Meg is about to ask if he's okay until she feels the flustered boy grab her arms near her shoulders and bury his face as far into the back of her neck as possible. It is now his turn to descend into an abashed, groaning goo pile, and when he does, Meg erupts into a laughing fit.
“Calvin! You're tickling me,” she exclaims, barely able to get her words out past the giggles. He questions her with a confused hmm only to receive more laughter. It's a beautiful sound that he suddenly finds himself needing more of in his life.
“I don't know what you're talking about Meg Murry.” He makes sure to rub the tip of his nose against her neck as the vibrations from his voice draw more giggles out of her.
“Q-quit before someone c-comes down here.” She curls in on herself, falling back against his chest as the chuckles slowly begin to subside. A fond smile makes its was to Calvin's lips as he cuddles his amused space princess from behind.
“You know at this rate we're never gonna finish your hair Giggles,” he reminded Meg, cheek gently pressed to hers.
“Don't call me Giggles,” she commanded with another chuckle, “and because you sneak attacked me, you have to do two more twists before I start helping you again. So get to it Cal.”
"Cal huh?” This new term of endearment was all Calvin needed to get back to work. He could tell his smug tone wiped the triumphant smirk right off Meg’s face as she started sputtering. Ever chivalrous, the small gentleman decided to save her before she could drown in her own shame. “Y'know, I just might like that Meglet.”
That snark earned him a groan and a punishing elbow to the knee, but Calvin just laughed it off, happy to hear that Meg was laughing with him.
“Alright, two done. Where are those helping hands you promised me?” He poked her forehead twice to regain her attention, receiving a half-hearted slap on the back of his hand for the offense. Calvin smiled and poked Meg’s palm before they revived their hair twisting system.
With the two of them working it didn't take much longer to finish Meg’s hair, and being used to managing it herself, she was very grateful for the shortened length of time. When their hands met in the middle of her nest of tamed locks, Calvin wove their fingers together. Of course, Meg initially blushed, but then she brought their intertwined hands down to relax around her waist as the smaller girl let herself fully lean against the surprised boy behind her. She felt a shift behind her and before she knew it, Calvin had sank down so low his head was resting on the small headboard, and Meg was thoroughly cuddled up against him.
“Is this okay,” Calvin inquired, always concerned for Meg’s comfort level. Did she mind being this close to Calvin? Not at all, but did this feel like entirely new territory for them? Yes, it certainly did. This was fine though right? As long as she didn't make a big deal out of it, this was a fine, normal thing.
“Yeah, I don't mind,” she reassured.
“Let me know if you need anything okay?” Meg gave a small nod. She couldn't imagine Calvin doing anything to make her uncomfortable, but she understood his request and if she felt like she needed space Meg would let him know.
They took a moment just to appreciate the warm embrace before they began to fill the sunroom with quiet conversation. The conversation topics were kept light for the sake of the late hour, and so that neither of them had to dwell on the thoughts they weren't ready to share with each other yet. Recent happenings at school were safe, their time on Uriel was safe, memes and Charles Wallace were all safe and they tried not to venture far from these talking points. Fathers however were off limits. Even if Meg became reluctant to share her woes with him earlier, Calvin could sense that her father was most likely the root of her worries, so he chose not to press her.
As they lazily continued their safe conversations, one thing Meg said caught Calvin off guard.
“You want to be a mathematician?” He had to make sure he had heard her correctly.
“Yeah,” she supplied.
“What makes you want to do that?” Calvin had to know.
“Well what makes you ask that?” There was slight offense in Meg’s tone and Calvin immediately knew he was well on his way to messing this up.
“Nothing really, I just don't think I've ever known someone who wanted to be a mathematician.” His words fell quickly from his mouth as he tried to salvage the bubble of solace they had created. This response seemed to calm Meg and he couldn't have been more relieved.
“Have you ever heard of Katherine Johnson,” Meg asked him.
“That's that lady that helped NASA successfully launch the first manned spacecraft from that movie we watched in science isn't it?” Meg smiled and nodded, happy that Calvin had remembered Hidden Figures instead of taking the opportunity to sleep like the rest of her class.
“That's her,” Meg confirmed for him, “she's a huge inspiration for me.”
“That's pretty cool Meg, I could definitely see you doing something like that.” He gently squeezed her middle from behind as he smiled.
“What do you wanna do once you head off to college?” She returned his question from earlier.
“I've always been interested in marine biology. The ocean's like a whole other world and we've barely explored half of it. I want to see what's out there.” His expression became wistful as he lost himself in his explanation. He peeked down at Meg as he heard a light chuckle escape her.
“Maybe one day when everything falls into place, I'll help you find a way to discover sea life no one's ever seen before,” she offers with a small quirk of her lips.
“As long as things fall into place so we're together, I think I'll be more than fine with that.” Calvin couldn't contain himself anymore. He sweetly kissed her temple as he gently stroked her twisted strands. Meg was truly precious to him, and even if he didn't fully know how to express that to her in words, he hoped his actions got his point across to her.
With a sigh that's equal parts blissful and overwhelmed in the best possible way, Meg reaches up and caresses Calvin's cheek, pulling his lips into a pleased smile against the side of her head. Once his lips leave her skin, Meg turns more onto her side, cheek pressed to his chest as she cuddles him more thoroughly. They let time pass swaddled in each other's warmth, at peace in the quiet comfort of the sunroom. Before either of them could drift too far for groggy immobility to set in, Calvin felt Meg shift, arms slipping from her waist as she propped herself up over him. He was about to protest until she lifted her head and looked down at him, effectively stealing his breath away as his vision was filled with nothing but the glory of Meg Murry and her ethereal presence.
“Y-you're going?” He managed once he forced air back into his lungs.
“Yeah, if my parents catch us out here I can't imagine they'd be too happy about it." She blessed him with a sheepish smile after her bashful admission, causing his cheeks to flush furiously.
“You're probably right,” Calvin agreed.
“I usually am.” The tweens shared a chuckle before a slightly awkward silence cropped up between them. “You'll be fine at home tomorrow?”
“After tonight? I genuinely think I will.” Calvin reached out and gently stroked Meg’s arm as he smiled up at her. “Thanks to you Meg.”
She tried her best to hide her pinkening cheeks and timid smile, but without her lush mane of curls there was no veil of protection from her charmer.
“Well if you need anything just call me okay?” There was an implied demand in her request that Calvin knew he could not ignore, and he wouldn't.
“I will, I promise.” He hoped that his affirmative answer would please this tiny goddess.
Seeming satisfied, Meg rose from the daybed. She almost turned to leave, but then paused as if she thought better of it. Just as Calvin’s brow knit in confusion, he felt a gentle hand cradle his left cheek and his eyes widened as he saw Meg’s face approaching his own. His soul left his body as he felt soft lips bless his right cheek, dangerously close to the corner of his mouth. The tender kiss lingered and the longer it did the hotter his face became. As Meg pulled back he already knew that he was looking at her in complete reverie. When he felt her thumb gently stroking the apple of his cheek, he knew he was cursed to love her for the rest of his life.
Meg bit her lip to try and keep from smiling, but she herself was in disbelief at her own boldness. She had just basically kissed Calvin O’Keefe, and he let her! So very courageous Meglet. Eventually, Meg figured out how to speak again.
“Goodnight Calvin.” She turned to leave once again, but not before hearing a small objection.
“Um … Y-you can call me Cal, if you want of course,” the newly mousey blonde stammered out. That earned him a lighthearted chuckle from the girl of his dreams.
“Goodnight Cal,” Meg obliged.
“Goodnight gorgeous.” It took all of Calvin’s remaining brain power, but he managed to pull out what he prayed was an acceptable compliment for the amazing, semi-celestial entity before him. By the high pitched squeal, intense flush, and double face hiding hands he had earned, Calvin assumed he made a good judgment call.
He quietly laughed to himself as he watched Meg retreat back inside the house. Calvin pulled the blanket all the way up to his chin and basked in the lingering warmth left behind by Meg’s lips from just a moment ago. A goofy smile plastered itself across his face as he tried to settle down to sleep. Though he probably wouldn't be able to wind down for a while, he did hope that Meg had made it back to her room by now and that she'd get a good night's rest.
Unbeknownst to Calvin, Meg was currently self destructing on the other side of the sunroom door. That boy was just so precious to her, and she couldn't believe that he felt the same about her. Even if she managed to fall asleep again, she knew there'd be little to no rest for her overexcited heart.