Irish: Teach an Seachtú Nóiméad
“Larsa,” I grumbled as I got out of the bed. Why did he have to interrupt everything I did? I liked it better when he was in Sweden and not here, trying to control my relationships.
“Stefan, it’s okay,” Leila said with a giggle.
“No it isn’t,” I replied as I crossed the room.
Larsa was still practically pounding on the door, and he would have hit me when I opened it if I hadn’t stepped aside.
“This better be good,” I snarled at him. “What world-ending event has you bothering us right now? You knew we were going to have a serious conversation.”
“Well, this is related to that,” Larsa said, way more cheerfully than I thought he should have. “Where’s Leila?” He tried looking over my shoulder and around my sides; it was a good thing she was still dressed.
“No,” I insisted, blocking his view. “You wanted me to talk to her, now I’m talking to her. What do you need?”
“Really Stefan,” Leila said, also getting out of the bed and coming over to the door. “I don’t know what you’re so cranky about.”
“It’s about something Leila asked me for,” Larsa said.
“Why didn’t you just come out and say that in the first place?”
Leila’s expression brightened. “Oh, did you find any?”
Larsa’s expression changed to one of disappointment and defeat.
“What did you ask him for?”
“I looked everywhere, and Killian help me look too,” Larsa said, “but we really don’t have any anymore. I think Stefan gave us his last couple a long time ago, and we either used them or gave them away to someone who needed them more.”
“Okay,” Leila said, “thanks for checking.”
“Wait, wait,” I said, “what did you send Larsa to try to find?”
“What do you think, silly?” she giggled. “Condoms, of course.”
“And you thought Larsa could help with that?”
“Why wouldn’t he be able to?” she replied; she wasn’t looking very happy at that moment. “You act like he’s all fun and games, but he knows how to be safe and responsible when it comes down to it.”
“Yeah,” Larsa added. “Killian and I used them all the time until we got really close in our relationship– and we got tested.”
“Are you still grumpy that he came by?” Leila asked, looking up at me. Her expression was a mix of ‘I told you so’ and… well, something else.
“Maybe not as grumpy, I admitted, “but it would be even better if he actually had anything for us, rather than pounding on the door empty-handed.”
Larsa gave me a sheepish grin and rubbed the back of his head. “Well,” he said, “I figured you guys were probably making out or undressing each other, so I wanted to stop you guys before you got carried away and did anything risky.”
I could feel my scowl getting worse and worse the more he spoke. Leila, meanwhile, was looking more and more amused. I looked between the two of them.
“So basically, you came up here intent on interrupting us?”
“Of course I did!” Larsa replied, as though doing so was actually doing us a favor. “Look, you and I both know how much tension you’ve been building up over the past year and a half– or however long you’ve been in love with her– and there’s one best way to relieve that tension, and–“
“And you thought I was going to take a risk with her? Or that she’d let me?”
Larsa gave me a look that meant ‘yes,’ but that he was afraid to say it out loud.
Leila put a hand on my arm. “The way we were making out this morning, can we really blame him?” she pointed out, always the practical one. Then she told Larsa, “I appreciate you being concerned about us. We weren’t that close to needing you to step in, though. Stefan really need to talk about a lot of things before we end up…” she paused and blushed.
“Making love?” Larsa suggested, wiggling his eyebrows at us.
Leila giggled, and I raised an eyebrow at her.
“Oh my gosh, don’t mind me,” she said. “I think, between you nearly drowning last night and me being so excited, I’m just not my usual easy-going self.”
“Heh, so I noticed. Okay Larsa, that’s your cue to go so we can talk.”
“No, it’s about dinner! Killian wants to drive down the mountain and pick up food and, uh… other stuff.”
“So he told you to come interrupt us to ask about that?”
“Not exactly, but I figured while I was up here I would ask if you wanted pizza or gyros or Chinese food, or– or something else.”
“Pizza and wings would be great actually,” Leila said. “Do you want me to give you some money to help pay for it?”
“No, don’t worry about it,” Larsa insisted. “It’s our treat. You two focus on having a good time together; we’ll see you later tonight.”
It was a relief when Larsa actually let me close the door and I could hear his footsteps fading away. As I locked it and turned around to go back to the bed, I saw that Leila was staring at me with a serious expression. I realized then that she actually was mad.
“Come on,” she said, grabbing my hand and escorting me over to the bed. We have a few things to sort out.”
I wasn’t about to argue with her about that; I couldn’t deny knowing what she was probably irritated about. I climbed back onto the bed and sat beside her, leaning back on the pillows. She turned her body to face me a little bit, then sighed heavily.
“All right stefan,” she said, “we’re going to start off being open and clear with each other. Got it?”
“Good. And with you no longer talking, it seems like you know I mean business right now. I don’t mean it lightly when I say I love you, Stefan, and really, that’s why I’m willing to cut you some slack and give this a real try. I want to be with you and see where this leads us.”
“I do too,” I agreed, my throat starting to feel dry, making it difficult to get the words out.
“And I believe you. You want it so bad that you’ve been really uptight about it, and I realize now that the reason you’ve been so irritable with Larsa is that he kept almost telling me what you weren’t ready to say.”
“You’re right about that actually,” I agreed.
“Go on,” she said when I stopped talking. “Say what you need to say.”
She really didn’t want anything left unsaid. “Well, if he had told you that I was in love with you, and you weren’t interested in being more than friends, or– I don’t know what else, but I didn’t want you to be upset or stop spending time with me because of my feelings.”
“Or?” she said, clearly wanting me to be thorough.
“What if you knowing that I was in love with you, but you didn’t feel the same way, made you stop trusting me?”
“That would be a pretty terrible thing to lose,” she said. “All those sleepovers we had over the years…”
I nodded. “Yeah. What if knowing how I felt about you tainted all those memories, even the times when we were with other people? I would hate it if you started second-guessing everything we’ve been through together.”
Leila scooted closer to me, so that our sides were touching, and laid her head on my shoulder. “I would hate that too,” she agreed. “can you imagine, all those years of being friends, and then I tell you that I love you, and you think I’m just confused, or choosing whoever’s most convenient? I mean, I know you know I’m not just another shallow girl, but I was afraid you would think something like that if I told you how I really felt.”
“Like how in so many movies or TV shows, the male and female lead characters bicker and fight, but then suddenly end up together, as though they couldn’t even bother to do any better?”
“Some kind of trope like that,” she said with a nervous laugh. “People who don’t seem at all right for each other, but who get together because it’s convenient. But with you, Stefan, the only convenient aspect of me loving you is that I couldn’t find anybody else like you even if I searched all over the planet.”
“Not even one or two people?” I asked teasingly.
“I should have known you’d take my hyperbole literally,” she laughed back. “Yeah, it would be really hard to find somebody else like you, and if it’s someone like you that I want, why shouldn’t it be you?”
“You like me all that much huh?” I started running my fingers through her long curls of copper hair.
“My big strong bear of a viking? You better believe it.”
“Bear?” I feigned being affronted.
“Okay, I get it– wolf,” she teased. “Fenrir tattoo and all.”
I gave her an endearing smile. “Well, Leila, your wolf thinks you’re just as rare and special, and wants to remind you of that every day.”
And I hoped she would let me. I knew I hadn’t been myself for a while– months, if I was being honest. Not only that, but if anyone else had acted the way I had around her, my advice would have been for her to not date them. Part of me tried suggesting that I was different, the exception to the rules because I knew my own good intentions, but another part said not to make excuses. Regardless of her saying that she loved me, was I really good enough to be hers?