Forces (of the Universe)

Nick and Rosie have known each other forever. They are opposites that somehow keep colliding. Between their sibbling's romance, Rosie's serious boyfriend, and living hundred of miles apart, it seems as though they'll never have the chance to be together. Fate and luck have other plans. *Yikes, sorry I can't get the spacing to work!

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3. Rule Versus Exception

She sees him. She sees him and she knows it isn't real because he isn't here. This is all she's thought about— him being here, somehow, somehow, and now he is and Rosie knows it's not real because him being here is all she's thought about, that and him not being here, and seeing him like this, standing in the doorway and smiling is all she has pictured in days, so much that it has taken over her mind and herself. It can't be real because nothing you ever hope for this bad is ever real, and it can't be real because she can't be happy because she's so incredibly happy and so incredibly confused and so incredibly mad and so all she is is standing with her mouth wide open, like a door with broken hinges, and she's not doing anything at all.   "Rosie," he shouts, and he laughs and he hugs her and one moment he's inside and the next moment he's seen her and he's there and his arms are around her and Rosie doesn't know how he's gotten there because she can't remember it, but he must have ran to hug her because that's what he's done every other year. And Rosie doesn't know if this is every other year or if it's something else entirely. So she does what's natural: she grabs him and hugs him and smiles until her teeth hurt. "Rosie," he says again, and this time she knows he's real.   Later, they talk on the swings in the backyard of the yellow house.   "I'm sorry," says Nick, and Rosie drags her boots through the snow. "I didn't tell anyone I was coming. Not Emmett, not you. I didn't know until two days ago. I thought you would be happy."   Their swings creak in a slow rhythm. She opens her mouth. "I am happy, Nick. Of course I'm happy. I'm just mad too, okay? Being here doesn't change the fact that you were so willing to miss this year." She's not looking at him. Her brown eyes are dark against the snow.   Nick bites down on his lip and stops swinging his feet. His body goes still. "I know," he says. "I'm sorry." It's all he can say, and it's not the least bit comforting.   The snow kisses their feet. The wind is mean and sudden. Rosie doesn't feel it. They press their feet down, and their boots make indents in the white. Rosie thinks they're ruining the night, that they don't belong in the wonderful snow. It's too beautiful, and they're not right now.   They swing, and neither of them talk for awhile. "I'm sorry," Nick says again, after what feels like minutes, hours, days, forever.   Rosie counts the seconds in her head because each one is a second she's here with him and not doing anything, and it's a second she won't ever get back. She hates herself, and maybe she should be hating him. "I don't know what to say," she says finally, dragging the toe of her boot across the snow in a curve.   He drops his hands to his sides and they thud. His jacket makes a poof sound. "I know it's not okay. And I know this isn't either, but please, can we just forget about it? I want to be here with you. I really, really want to be here with you and enjoy it." This was the wrong thing to say. Nick knows it. Rosie knows it.   "Yeah, okay," she says. Her fingertips begin to numb. "We'll forget it."   His head and his eyebrows snap up. His eyes are wide. He wants to say something. "I missed you," he says instead. He waits for her to look at him, but she turns farther away.   "I have to go inside," she says quickly. "I'm cold."   "Yeah," he says, and tries not to let the surprise on his face show. "Yeah, of course, let's go inside."   Rosie doesn't face him. "Just me," she says. "I mean, I'm going to bed now, I think."   "Okay." he's hurt. Rosie can feel it. She can feel him bite his lip a little on the side.   She gets up to leave, but turns back to look at him. "I meant it," she says, and they lock eyes. "We'll start over. Tomorrow will be good. It always is."   Nick doesn't know if she means the next day or the holidays or being with him, but it doesn't seem important. "Goodnight, Rosie," he says, and he smiles.   She smiles for the first time since she arrived that day, and looks him in the eye for one more second before turning and trudging away in the snow. It's a good second, a kind second. It's a second not wasted, and it's a second Rosie would never want back. She can see good guy Nick in him, a little.   And she can picture their tomorrow. She can picture waking up next to the bed that's ready for little Vic, showering and waiting for Nick to come into her room after she gets dressed for the day. She can picture them walking down the long stairs and laughing, the house dark in the morning but full of life and light and energy. She can picture Emmett's family's car pulling into the driveway of the yellow house, and running out to meet him and spinning, spinning, her and Nick and Emmett all together. She can picture falling asleep with a smile on her face.   She is utterly exhausted and utterly mixed up. Nick was a good guy, and he was her good guy. He said I miss you. He called first. He complimented her hair. He was everything a good guy should be until he wasn't.   For the first time in her life, Rosie doesn't know who Nick is anymore, and maybe Nick doesn't know who he is either.   But he's here now, where he's always been. Standing in the snow, looking back, Rosie can see through him like she can see through colored glass. Their eyes meet again — it's so rare that their eyes meet, because Nick is always looking down — and his eyes look warm to her, melting the windy air.   For better or worse, she will love him forever, just as much as he loves her and just as much as they are supposed to love each other. Sometimes a little bit more.   She looks at him, and she sees a dead ghost, but when she looks at him she also sees new life. She sees him, and she sees hope.

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