The argument was horribly clear in her memory. I think it's for the best that we can't really-- she'd said, as if it was the proximity of their lips that made them a couple, and not the way that hearing his voice felt like coming home.
She remembered saying those awful things. And then Gansey's arms around her as she cried, Gansey's solid chest soaking up the tears she cried for Persephone.
A person could be taken from her in an instant, Blue knew that now. Anyone could be, but him more than others. Gansey would be taken from her. The knowledge was a knife to her chest.
She picked up the phone.
It had been weeks since she'd done this, sitting in the dark and clutching the receiver, but he answered on the first ring. As if he'd been waiting for her all that time.
"Did we have a fight, before?" She twisted the cord around her finger, a perfect spiral. "Do I owe you an apology?"
"You don't owe me anything." If only he knew. Blue owed him the truth at minimum, but that was one thing she probably would never be able to give.
"Can I see you?" she asked, wanting. "Can we go somewhere?"
She could hear his breath across the line for a moment before he spoke. "Yeah. I'll be right over."
"I was wrong." The engine roared as he downshifted and the bucket seat vibrated through her legs and up to her teeth. "I don't think it's for the best, I don't even know why I said that, I just--"
He reached out and pressed his hand to her knee for a moment, before returning it to the gearshift, and she fell silent.
She watched Gansey's profile while he drove, illuminated only by the moon and stars overhead, and tried not to think about how many more months or weeks or moonlit drives he had left. How many they had left together.
Gansey turned off the highway and then up a series of smaller and smaller roads until he was steering the Pig up a narrow dirt path. When he stopped, it was under a spreading oak tree in a little valley. There was no illumination but the moon and stars and the headlights.
The Pig shuddered quiet when Gansey turned the key, the roar of the engine replaced by the quiet tick-tick-tick as it cooled. Gansey kept his hands on the wheel and looked out through the window. "I don't need an apology," he said, his voice soft and even. "Just tell me that this -- that what we have is something."
Blue remembered him saying And now it's all off because-- and her saying it was never on. The words were so untrue she had trouble even thinking about them now. It was like denying the ocean.
She could have stayed with Adam, could have kissed his mouth, his hands, his cheek, his hair whenever she wanted without fear of hurting him. Even aside from his being dead, her kisses would never harm Noah. But Gansey? No, with Gansey she never could. Because she knew he was the one in the prophecies she'd heard all her life. He was her true love.
She nodded and reached across the gear box to wrap one hand around his.
He turned toward her slowly, his face half-shadowed in the darkened car, and she raised her eyes to his.
"I hate this," Blue said, her words muffled against the skin of Gansey's neck.
He let out an unhappy noise and pulled back. "We can stop, Jane. I don't want to do anything that makes you uncomf--"
"It's never enough." She buried her face in his hideously orange sweater, the curving planes of his chest pressing against her cheek in a way that was much less calming than it should have been. "I want to, but then it only makes me--"
This not-kissing Gansey was like scratching an itch that she could never quite reach, and every time she tried, it left her red and raw and irritated, regretful and ready to try again at once.
"Oh, Jane," he said, wrapping his arms around her, solid and knowing and only making it worse. "I know."
Burrowing closer, she listened to the hectic beat of his heart in counterpoint with hers. It was her own fault, and she knew it. She was the one who had said before, just as she said now, "I want more."
Gansey was very quiet, and then his voice was a whisper. "Are you sure?"
A bolt of terror shot through her chest, and she tilted her head up, insistent. "We can't," she said. "You promised, no--"
"No kissing," he finished for her, smoothing her hair away from her forehead. His hair was rumpled and his eyes were wild, and his face was so close to hers that she could feel his breath thrilling across her skin. "Something else?"
It was a bad idea, perhaps the worst idea of all, and yet it was irresistible. Blue was a sensible girl, who did sensible things and made sensible choices and this was a very bad idea. She teetered on the brink of it for a long moment, and then she met Gansey's dark eyes and nodded.
"Let's--" He had to stop and clear his throat. "Let's get in the backseat."
Gansey's hands were big, bigger than her own, and they were capable and surprisingly callused. His fingertips traced the line of her throat and undid the line of buttons down her chest and slipped beneath her bra. Blue arched her back and looked up at the starry sky through the Pig's back window.
He pressed his forehead against her collarbone. "I won't kiss you," he said, and she could feel the words racing hot across her skin. "But I want to, Jane. I want to all the time." The naked desperation in his words made her strong and sure, despite her newness.
"You'll just have to be more creative," she suggested tartly, right before Gansey --Gansey!-- turned his head and bit her lightly on the shoulder.
Blue clutched tightly at the fabric covering Gansey's knee, his thigh, his stomach. If she could think clearly at all, she might have been worried about tearing the material. She could see the bulge in his pants, knew she ought to reciprocate but oh--
Gansey ground down with the heel of his hand just as his long fingers reached all the way inside her body, sliding in to touch a spot that she'd always thought was a myth, before. Blue arched her hips up off the seat and shocks flew through her as if the car had been struck by lightning.
When she could breathe again, she looked up and his face was smiling very close to hers -- so close that it would have been the easiest thing in the world to lean in and press their lips together. Instead, she rested her head on his shoulder and reached for him with slightly shaking hands.