✿l u k e✿

We were still driving down town, and eventually, we came upon a road surrounded by trees with fairy lights spiralled around their sturdy trunks. I kept nudging Eleanor and showing her one message I've been shoving in her face for ten minutes: where are we going????? to which she replies to with a shrug.

I've never been to this part of town, and if only I knew this existed; I could've been coming here every day. The place is so serene, so quiet, with only the songs of the hidden birds in the treetops to be heard. Eleanor changed the CD of her stereo a few minutes ago to a much more calming tune with a lot of The Fray songs. She's humming quietly along to the lyrics and she's softly tapping her fingers on the steering wheel along to the beat.

Finally, she swerves right and kills the engine. Beside us is a visible trail leading into the forest. It's lit up by the light coming from the fairy lights, and to me, it seemed magical. It almost seemed like I'm Oz and Eleanor's Dorothy, and we're on our way down the yellow brick road. Eleanor is the first to exit the car and I follow suit with the bags of McDonald's in my hands. She retrieves something from the trunk of her car—what seemed like a kerosene lamp. She starts it up, and with a smile on her face, she begins to walk towards the belly of the forest.

"I could've brought a flashlight, but kerosene lamps make a point; that we're headed to somewhere fantastic," she whispers enthusiastically, although I don't know why she's whispering. "Listen. It's so amazing here."

I nod and look around. There are big circular lamps attached to the trunk of the trees now. Eleanor's smiling so wide, it's almost as if her face is about to rip. The only thing I could do is admire the beauty—the beauty of this incredibly inspiring forest and the beauty of Eleanor herself.

Eleanor begins to trudge away from the lit pat, so I unsurely follow behind her. What we're walking through now is close to being dark with only the illumination of a few nearby lamps to offer us more light than the one her kerosene lamp is projecting. After a while of Eleanor talking about the randomest things, we finally come upon a small clearing. The treetops were still covering the sky, but in the middle, I could faintly see some form of structure. Eleanor walks ahead and begins to pat around the structure, and after a while, I hear a soft click, then as if this forest couldn't get any better, a string of lights come to life around the tree house. It's carelessly wrapped around the whole structure like vines. Eleanor turns off her lamp and looks at me expectantly.

I didn't even realize that my jaw was hanging low in awe. Oh my god, I mouth. "Well c'mon, let's go in my lair."

She begins to climb up the nailed planks on the tree trunk while I slowly follow. I curl my finger around the string of lights. "Battery-powered. I don't come here often as much as I did before, so yeah, it still has some juice."

I nod meekly and climb up the makeshift ladder. The inside of the tree house was what you'd expect in one. Leaves and vines are curling up inside from the windows as if nature is trying to swallow the house in, or protect it. It's smaller than my room, but spacious enough to shelter two people and some diy'ed furniture. There's a small wooden chair pushed against the corner and a small table facing the window. A few posters are hung on one wall, and those are the only signs of a frequent visit.

"Ashton and I built this in the eighth grade. We skipped school that day, and we drove around town the whole day until I decided to go to a forest. We ended up here (a/n: wink wink) before there were any fairy lights or lamps in the area. We just walked, and then we found an almost-invisible trail, then we saw this clearing. This tree house was already there, and it only needed a few tweaks and repairs and that's how we made our personal haven. We like to go here a lot whenever we feel too cramped anywhere else. But now, not so much. With Ashton busy with his job at the music store and all; we never have a chance to visit here anymore."

I type a reply and hand her my phone. Im currently trying to find words on how to describe how beautiful this place is. And how beautiful you are, I mentally add.

I hear Eleanor chuckle behind me. I study the posters hung on the wall and see various band posters, some clip-outs from magazines and some papers with words written on them. "That's our sort-of shrine. Those band posters have no more room in my place, so I decided to bring them here. It brings some sort of soul to this tree house, you know?"

I smile at her and sit down on the chair. If only I could fucking talk, I'd tell her everything I needed to right now. This place is so overwhelmingly comfortable and personal—just like the way I love Eleanor. Effortless and completely beautiful.

Eleanor sits on the floor so I sit there too. She snatches the bag from my hands and begins to fish her order out from it. She hands it back to me so I do the same. We eat in silence for two minutes until Eleanor started talking with that mesmerizing voice of hers.

"Can you still be cured?" she asks. It's an ambiguous question, but I instantly know what she's referring to.

I was diagnosed with elective mutism after the accident. The doctors said I could undergo psychiatric medication, but the cons of that are extremely high too. They've prescribed anxiety pills but it could only make the problem worse if i accidentally take in too much. I'm too scared to heal myself, because i always think about how it'll only make me worse than cured and plus, people with cases like me who underwent this kind of stuff haven't been cured yet. It'll take years, they said.

Eleanor's reading my text as I typed it, and once she finished, she looked at me and dropped her platter. "Someday, you'll have enough courage to do so. I'm not pressuring you into doing what you don't want to, but I want you to know that if you do, I'll be right there beside you every step of the way."

And then all at once, this foreign sensation takes over my body. All my emotions—good and bad—begin to rush around my mind and my gut simultaneously at her words. The way she's staring at me right now is one I've never seen before. It's not pity; it's blatantly far from that. I try to decipher what her words meant and what her eyes are telling me at the same time. Earlier, she told me that it's okay. Right now is okay. Tomorrow is okay. I'm okay. After a few breaths, I finally come to a conclusion: she cares for me.

And then all at once, every ounce of emotion that's swimming through my mind begins to fade away as I lean down to kiss her.

a/n:

kudos to bridge to terebethia for inspiring this scene.

so anYWAY the #eluknor ship has finally sailed, ev eryone. And now im gonna cry in my blankets bc eleanor's having a better life than i am *sobs*

and bc i ended this with a 'lean down to kiss her,' i didnt make it clear if it'll happen or not bc u know. luke's the type of guy who misses while trying to kiss a girl amirite

AND GUYS HOLY CRAP I GOT A JOB AS AN EDITOR/ANIMATOR AT THIS STUDIO AND IM GONNA BEGIN THIS MONDAY IM SO HAPPY ILL FINALLY BE PRODUCTIVE THIS SUMMER YAY

ANYWAYYSSSS, thanks to everyone who's supporting this story, i love each and every one of you and id like to say that you're beautiful in case nobody has told you today yet. lub u -angelika

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