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Well, he couldn't say he'd expected that answer. He hadn't expected any answer in particular, so whatever she'd said, even nothing at all, would have caught him off guard. But realistically, this was pretty much exactly what he should've seen coming, and as he thought about her answer in the ensuing silence, that much became clear to him. They'd only been seeing each other - if you could even call it that - since February. Saturday, February 23rd, to be exact. He'd have laughed at that in any other situation. Remembering the anniversary of their first date, him, of all people, and she probably didn't think of them as dating. It'd been months and they'd never actually slept together, so maybe it was a fair assumption on her part. Still, he'd dated his share throughout high school, and this was the first time he'd said those words to anyone outside his family, insomuch as he could say them. Like he thought when they talked for the first time that day in the library, there was something special about her. Maybe this was it.

Whatever. He didn't need her to reciprocate. Just to know what he felt. He smiled back, albeit a bit weakly.

"That's fine. Just being able to tell you is all I need. That you'd stay is more than I could've hoped for."

There was a pause. He was avoiding the primary issue. Eva.

"There's something else, something you deserve to hear from me, rather than when it's announced in the morning. I owe you that much."
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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The Cries of the Voiceless · The Felled Forest: North