"Riles?" Maya asked.
Riley stood, staring at a crumpled up piece of paper under Farkle's desk. She hadn't meant to pick it up, but she had heard Farkle scribbling furiously as her father went on and on about the history of Valentines Day.
She wasn't with Lucas anymore, and Maya and Lucas had begun a relationship. It was an easier transition for Riley than she expected, and she was happy for both of her friends. It was Farkle she was worried about. Once he and Smackle broke up, a month ago, she knew Farkle hadn't been the same.
It was hard not to notice his fidgeting while they were in class. She sat next to him after all, but his behavior in class was even more strange lately. He had scribbled and scribbled all during class, and her father hadn't even called on him once to answer a question.
When the bell rang, Farkle hurried out the door, and a piece of paper fell from the desk.
Riley waited until the class had cleared out before she bent down to pick up the crumbled piece of paper.
It reminded her of a day, not too long ago when her father had encouraged them to write something impossible on a piece of paper, and then crumple it up and take a shot at throwing the very idea that it was impossible away.
It was a day that she would never forget. She wanted a Cory and Topanga story. Farkle had wanted to be an athlete, but what did Farkle want now?
Her heart pounded as she slowly opened the paper. She stood and smoothed the wrinkles out across his desk.
It was a poem. She read it quietly:
"Every day I look and see
A beautiful girl who sits next to me
This girl will always have my heart
Because she is pretty...
and very smart."
The last two lines were scribbled out, but she noticed her name at the end
Farkle loved her?
"Oh, Maya, sorry. I was, distracted."
"By this?" Maya asked. She snatched the page out of Riley's hand with a grin, but when she read the words, her grin faded.
"Farkle wrote this?" Maya asked.
"And it looks like it's about you..." Maya said.
"But that's just not possible." Riley said, shaking her head. "Because he loved Smackle."
Maya looked at her.
"It's very possible Riley. In fact, it makes a lot of sense."
"No it doesn't," Riley said.
"It does," Maya says, "Because I've seen the way he looks at you. Even Lucas mentioned it the other day."
"That's crazy!" Riley said.
"What's crazy about it?" Maya asked, folding her arms and arching a brow.
"Well, Farkle and I, we've been friends for a long time. And he promised, when we met him. He loves us both the same."
"Yet my name isn't in this poem," Maya said pointedly.
"That's not the point," Riley told her.
"Okay then," Maya asked, "What is the point?"
"The point is he can't know I found this."
"Well, it is Valentine's Day," Maya said with a smirk.
"You don't think-" Riley said.
"I do think this is related to Valentine's Day," Maya said, "Why wouldn't it be? Anyway, that's not the point. The point is, how do you feel about Farkle, Riley?"
Riley blushed. But no words came out of her mouth. How did she feel about him? It was difficult to grasp.
She cared for him, a lot. She knew that. From the moment she saw him hiding in the janitor's closet to the time she learned the truth about Farkle's ancestry, Riley could barely control her heart when she was around him. She just knew when he needed her. And she would be there.
When Riley was upset, Farkle just knew, and he would be there, climbing through the bay window for a long talk about... everything. There was something there. Was it love?
"I'm going to the library for a while," Riley told Maya, "I'll catch up with you later."
"Try not to think too much about it, Riles," Maya said.
"I'll try," Riley said, "I just want to be alone for now."
"Okay," Maya said.
She handed Riley the poem and started to walk away.
"Maya!" Riley said.
Maya turned to face her.
"Please don't tell Farkle, about any of this,"
"I won't," Maya said. "This is something for you two to figure out,"
"You remember Science class?" Maya asked, "When you two passed and we all failed?"
"Yeah," Riley said, her heart pounding.
"I think it happened for a reason," Maya said, "Just something to keep in mind."
As Maya walked out, Riley grabbed her back pack and stuffed the paper inside it. She headed toward the library, her mind reeling with questions.
How long? How was it possible? Had Farkle learned to understand love? Why was she so afraid? Was he afraid too?
She set her bag down and pulled out a blank notebook.
How did she feel about Farkle? How would she know her own heart?
She pulled out a pen, opened the notebook to a blank sheet, and wrote Farkle's name on the top of the paper.
What did that name mean to her? The words felt heavy as she wrote them. They had history. From the moment Farkle saved her life, when they were young, to the day he discovered he might have Autism. She would never forget his words, "Please don't let me not understand love."
His words echoed in her mind. When she had first heard such a thing, it confused her. Hadn't Farkle always claimed to love her and Maya? He was the sweetest boy she had ever known, the most kind and caring guy she knew. She remembered the slight pang in her chest when Farkle and Smackle shared a hug at the Bay Window. Farkle had told Riley that she would love again, and Riley had thought that was true, but the truth turned out to be something more strange and confusing. She had never stopped loving Farkle.
She thought back to the argument they had on New Years. Farkle knew that Riley was covering up her own feelings. How? But her feelings weren't what Farkle claimed them to be. She could never reveal that, not when Farkle had appeared to be happy with Smackle.
So she loved Farkle, but was she in love with him?
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
She could never hurt Farkle, she had told him that, after their play of Romeo and Juliet, which became something else; Romeo and Juliet and Farkle.
She had cheered him on. She would always cheer him on. She still did.
She opened her eyes, and thought of the poem.
"This girl will always have my heart"
Hadn't Farkle told her, several times that he would always be there for her? Hadn't he claimed that he truly would take her side no matter what she was fighting for?
She thought back to the science experiment that only she and Farkle understood, because they were able to work together, despite their different views.
They worked well together. They always had.
Riley sighed. What if she wrote back? Maybe by writing her own poem, she could understand just exactly what Farkle meant to her.
How did Farkle's poem start again?
"Every day I look and see"
What did she see? What was Farkle Minkus to Riley Matthews?
She started to write:
"Every day I seem to find
A special boy in the back of my mind."
She thought about him a lot. More than she ever thought about anyone in her life. Farkle was special to her. She had known that, even when he wasn't able to see it himself.
Farkle had said always. Always. Was that how she felt too?
Yes. Riley cared for him, and she would always be there for him.
"This boy will always have my heart."
It was true. She had never stopped caring for Farkle, and even when he made her mad, she never wanted anything bad to happen to him.
"Because he is sweet and very smart."
Both were true. Farkle was there when she needed him, and he was a genius.
"When he takes over the world," He still wanted to, after he learned who he was.
"I'll stand by him, as his girl."
She put the pen down and read the words she had just written. Each word was true, and as she stared at that truth, her mind and heart spoke. Head and heart. Sense and Sensibility. Her mind and her heart agreed. It was Farkle. It had always been Farkle.
She couldn't deny that anymore.
She looked up. There was Farkle, books of poetry in his hands.
She closed the notebook.
"Farkle? What are you doing here?"
"Well, it's Valentines Day. I thought I'd practice writing poetry." He said.
Riley knew her cheeks were flushing. If he found that poem, she was done for.
"I didn't know you were interested in poetry," Riley said as Farkle set the books down and joined her at the study table.
"Well, I want to tell someone how I feel, and according to history and literature, the best way is writing a poem."
"I was working on a poem too," Riley said.
"You were?" Farkle asked.
"Yes," she said, smiling at him.
"Who's it for?"
Riley's heart pounded, but she opened the notebook and turned it to face him.
"Maybe you can figure it out," Riley said, "Because I need to know what you think of it."
Farkle's eyes went wide as he read her words.
"Riley," he said, "This sounds like-"
Riley blushed as she handed him the crumpled piece of paper.
"I'd like to know what you wrote here," she said, pointing at the dark scribbles over the last two lines.
"Riley," Farkle said, "Where did you find this?"
"It was under your desk," Riley said.
Farkle's eyes met hers.
"Riley are you serious?" Farkle asked, "Because if this is a trick,"
"It's not," Riley said. "What did you think of my poem?"
"Your poem was very... nice, Riley. I never knew you, uh, well,"
"I'm glad you liked it, Farkle," Riley said, "I'd like to know the ending of your poem."
She handed him the pen, and pointed at the page.
"Would you mind writing it down?" She asked.
"I will," Farkle said, "But it's not Shakespeare."
"It doesn't need to be," she said.
The library was quiet as Farkle wrote the poem down. Riley could hear the scratch of the pen on the page.
When Farkle put the pen down, his eyes met hers, and he slid the notebook back across the table.
"I wrote this poem in seventh grade," Farkle told her. "I was trying to change it, but honestly, it's still true."
"My poem is also true, Farkle. It's always been true," Riley said.
Farkle smiled, and Riley blushed.
Farkle stood up.
"Come with me," he said.
Riley stood. Their hands were still linked over the table. Farkle guided her across the way, so they wouldn't have to let go. Riley didn't want to let go.
As she walked past the corner of the table, Farkle lead her to a bookshelf.
"Poetry," Riley read out loud.
"I found one you might like," Farkle said softly, brushing his fingertips across the book spines.
He pulled out a red book as Riley stepped closer, her shoulder touching his.
"Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav," she read out loud.
As Farkle held the book in one hand, Riley opened it with her other hand.
He stopped at a short poem, but the title made Riley smile.
"Always," she read.
"You were you," Farkle read, "And I was I."
"We were two," Riley read, "before our time."
"I was yours before I knew," Farkle said, "And you have always been mine too."
Riley smiled as they closed the book, and she met Farkle's gaze.
Her eyes dropped to his lips, and she heard his intake of breath.
Farkle closed his eyes as Riley kissed him. It was a soft kiss, simple and meaningful like the words they had read on the page. She tasted like strawberries and the subtle scent of roses overwhelmed him.
When she pulled away, Farkle opened his eyes and smiled.
"I like poetry," he said, cupping her cheek.
"Me too," Riley replied.
Farkle's eyes asked a question that Riley answered with a nod.
He kissed her, and both got lost in the moment.
When they pulled away, Farkle smiled.
"Happy Valentines Day, Riley," he said, red tinting his cheeks.
Riley gave him a quick peck on the lips.
"Happy Valentines Day, Farkle," she said.