Strumming Guitars

            He sat—quiet and aloof. In a corner of the room where he knew that no-one cared to look. Silently strumming the strings of his guitar and eyes looking off into something distant. He was never really there. It had been ages, it seemed, since she had seen him. And he hadn't changed. Hair as careless as always—and he still chewed on toothpicks for lack of a remedy to his smoking habits. People moved—disappeared and floated—around the café. And yet he seemed to remain. Quietly strumming on his guitar.

            She waited on another seat in an unobtrusive corner. He hadn't seen her yet and she wasn't sure she wanted him to. Plucking nervously at the hem of her woolen sweater—just a shade darker than her cloudy eyes— she quickly reviewed her options. Did she really want to come back to him after all these years of convincing herself that she didn't need to come back to him? She'd told herself that he'd laugh at her—but she knew it wasn't true. He'd never laugh. At least not at her.

            He tossed his head down, and continued strumming. But her breath caught at the way the orange light caught at his glittering dog tag for the briefest of moments. So he still had that. It seemed ages since she had given it to him—impulse when she'd seen it and wondered what it'd look like on him.

            "I gave you ten bucks…and you got me… a necklace?"

            "Dog tag, silly. And besides, I think it looks nice."

            "You mean incredibly girlish, right?"

            "No, I mean incredibly sexy and masculine."

            "God, c'mere—"…and there hadn't been much talking for a while after that.

            And the decision became that much harder to make. She'd almost forgotten how orange light lit his face—tan lines glowing and dark hair and the fingers that quietly strummed his guitar. She remembered when he had played that guitar just for her. When she'd sit with him in the quiet hours of dawn—light thrums that filled the silence and spoke better than words. There was a song for every moment—always was that way with him.

            He played that guitar like a lover—she sometimes felt a little jealous. A care and feeling that he rarely showed anyone else. The kind of touch that he had only ever shown her.

            And then she had to go and break his heart.

            It had all been a misunderstanding. She hadn't meant for him to come in and find her hugging him. She'd tried to tell him—tried to explain that it was just a friendly hug, that she was just wrapping things up for good.

            But he was never a good listener.

            Then she'd moved on. Told herself every day when she looked into the mirror into sad, gray eyes and blonde hair—bleached by years of tears—that she didn't need him. That she could live on just fine. Told her pale, pale face that there were plenty of fish in the sea and he was just another guppy compared to them.

            She was always a horrible liar.

            It had been forever, but she still remembered the way he smelled. Like firesides and bed sheets. Something warm that compelled her and made her want to wrap herself up in them. She'd seen a lot of guys after him. Each had their own smell. But none had that unique blend of fire and fabric that drew her the way he had.

            It had been after her last fling when she had realized that, yes, she missed him. But that wasn't when she had decided to come back. It had taken her a while after that because, deep deep down, she still couldn't quite forgive him for not listening to her. And then there was the fact that she didn't want to be the first to come back.

            But she was, anyways.

            Somehow, she had known where to find him. Known he would be at the coffee shop—just the way she'd met him. Sitting in that quiet corner and strumming his guitar.

            Gathering breath like courage, she got up from her seat—suddenly feeling so naked and exposed.

            As she came nearer, the song he was playing became clearer. And with clarity, came recognition. She knew that song. It was the one he had played the one day she had come to him crying—when they were still together. When her sister had died and she had run into his shoulder to cry herself hoarse. Because she couldn't do it in front of anyone else. She had to be strong. He'd sat there and understood. Because he knew what it was like in the way that none of those kind faces and sympathetic smiles did.

            Picking up his guitar, he'd strummed that song. All low notes and soothing rhythm. She'd listened in silence before she'd fallen asleep—guitar notes like rain outside the window. And he'd just sat there strumming.

            She approached him, but stopped at a few feet away. She'd lost her nerve. Surely he'd had to know she was there by now. But he hadn't turned. Hadn't acknowledged her presence.

            Of course…he doesn't forgive me. Or—worse, he's forgotten about me…

            She turned to leave—she couldn't believe that she had actually come here to begin with—when the low notes of the guitar suddenly stopped.

            She didn't hear more than she felt his footsteps approach. Her heart beat in rhythm and she could barely move for anticipation. The final showdown. Did he just want to tell her to go away?

            Then his arms went around her.

            Or maybe not.

            "I'd been waiting." It was a simple statement, but it worked miracles. Her shoulders untensed and her eyes fluttered shut.

            "I'm—I'm sorry it took so long."

            His head was nuzzled into her neck, and she could feel him smile. He didn't need to say anything, but she knew that things were all right now. He led her back to the seat and pulled her onto his lap. For once, letting the guitar lay neglected in the corner. Those fingers that played on strings so well now snaked up to tangle in her hair—playing almost orange in the dim lighting.

            And the world was suddenly a simpler place.


A/N: Something that just sort of…came to me when I was sitting here and contemplating Finals while listening to Stained's "It's Been Awhile"…I'm not saying it's any good…or even that it's halfway decent…it's the straight product of a rambling mind and….well…voila ^_^.

            For the guys that reviewed my last chapter/author note of Loki…thanks so much! I actually feel stupid and whiney after reading your comments…but I'm glad you told me what was actually wrong with the first part of chapter six…I actually was a little too focused on getting the whole "dream-scene" to work…it's really important to the story, but kinda boring for me, so….

            Anyways…thanks for bothering to read my ramblings and please send me EXACTLY what you think (my last author's note in 'Loki' still stands…I won't be offended)..I do believe I'll be expecting a lot of flames and this-is-crap comments for this…considering I posted this up without ANY editing WHATSOEVER (actually, even the title was kind of tacked on at the last moment *looks sheepish*).

But thanks for reading anyways ^_^.