Emily could barely feel her heart beating at the sight of the familiar boy before her, her eyes filling with tears. How could he be here? He was dead; killed. She and all of France knew it. How was it possible for her best friend to be sitting in front of her again. "Mattie?" She hesitantly sat herself up, her head shaking slightly. "What?" she whispered. "What are you doing here?"
The older boy smiled softly down to his friend. "Hey cuteness."
Emily's head shook, her hand coming up to cover her quivering lips. That had always been his nickname for her. "But you can't be here."
Matthew's brow furrowed. "I can't?"
The ebony haired girl stared at the older boy with confusion in her eyes. "You're dead," she stated quietly. Wasn't he? "I got that letter from you! I got a call from your dad telling me she was sorry that I wouldn't be able to make it to the funeral," she cried. "You're dead!"
Matthew let his hand brush delicately over the dark hair of his best friend, watching as those doe eyes that he had fallen in love with let their tears finally spill over. He knew she was feeling him. "That means I can't come visit you?"
Choking out a sob, the French girl threw herself into the older boy's arms, getting up onto her knees just as he did so she could feel his chest against hers. She cried into his shoulder as he hugged her as tight as he could, their bodies shaking against one another as Emily's sobs wracked through her, her hot tears cascading down her ivory cheeks and falling into the neckline of her friend's shirt.
He had come to see her.
To make sure she was ok.
"I can't believe you're here," she chuckled, keeping her arms tight around his neck. "I've missed you so much."
Matthew smiled into the younger girl's hair, rubbing his hand down her back. "Really?" He pulled back just enough to look into those big brown eyes. "You seem to be having a lot of fun over here," he smirked, nodding over to the sleeping girl on the other side of the bed.
Emily felt her cheeks redden. "Yeah," she nodded meekly, letting her arms unhook from around his neck before lying her hands on his strong shoulders. "That's Jennifer."
The brunette teen brushed his friend's tears away with a quick swipe of his thumb. "I know, I've been watching you. I can tell that you guys are really good together."
Matthew nodded his head. "There have been a couple fights here and there, but you definitely make a good pair." He leaned forward and winked at the younger girl, needing to get a smile out of the French girl. "Just so you're aware, I did look away when you and that blond of yours were finally getting to know each other the other day."
Tilting her head, Emily took a moment to understand what the French boy was saying before her face flushed completely, a laugh bursting out of her mouth. "Right, that." She quickly shook her head, holding a hand over her mouth to try and silence her laughs so she wouldn't wake her sleeping girlfriend. "That was a really good night."
Matthew let the corners of his mouth turn upward at the look of happiness on the girl's beautiful face, and he nodded to himself. His best friend was happy. "I've never seen you smile as much as you do with her."
Emily immediately felt her heart break at the small look of sorrow in the older boy's eyes. "Mattie," she whimpered, taking his face between her two warm palms. "I had so much fun with you. You were the first one to ever tell me that I was better than what others said and that I could do something with my life, and that made you the first one to ever really love me," she nodded, bringing their faces closer together so the tip of her nose could brush his. "You made me better than I thought I could be. You're the one who made me realize that being myself wasn't something bad."
The older boy didn't get the chance to respond to the French girl as a cry left her mouth. "Em, I-"
"You," she stated firmly, "are the one who loved me and taught me how to treat others, to help those who needed it and to stand by someone's side when you know they're not at their best. You did that," she whispered, a smile spreading over her face. "And that's why I know that I've never smiled more with anyone else but you." Her shoulders shrugged gently, those chocolate doe eyes staring straight into his. "You made me become me, you know?"
Matthew leaned in and pressed his lips to the corner of the brunette girl's soft mouth, knowing how much it meant to her that he had become a part of her life. "I am so sorry I left you."
Emily forced herself to stop her tears before shaking her head, her hands still cupping the older boy's cheeks. "Don't you dare apologize for that, Matt. This was not your fault."
"No," he agreed, "I know it wasn't, but because it happened, I'm not here with you anymore."
Feeling her eyes stinging, her vision getting clouded with those all too familiar salty drops, Emily shook her head. "No," she whispered. "You're not down here, but you're up there. And you're watching me just like I knew you would be." Pulling him closer to her, she let out a watery smile. "You're still my Mattie."