Getting off the plane was going to be an adventure in and of itself. Dodging around happy reunions was not something Sean was looking forward to. He was excited to be coming home, don't think he wasn't. It's just that he wasn't sure what kind of a home he was walking back into. He'd been stationed on an army base half way around the world for two years, and during those two years a lot of things had changed.
As an only child of only children, he didn't come from a big family to begin with, but in the last 18 months his remaining grandmother had died of breast cancer that she didn't even know she'd had. And after that, his grandfather had passed due to a broken heart. Sean's guess is that he just didn't want to live any longer without the love of his life.
On top of that news, he recently received a letter telling him that his parents had died in a freak hang gliding accident while on vacation. After their retirement Sean's parents had taken to going on exotic vacations and trying new things. They had been to Guatemala to help build houses for the impoverished people living there, they had gone to Venice and Prague and done all the touristy things their hearts desired. After all, they deserved it after all the work they'd put in to make lives for themselves. They had even taken to trying extreme things such as bungee jumping, parachuting, and unfortunately, hang gliding.
The letter from their lawyer, a Mr. Squibs, stated that he was the sole heir to their mini fortune. He would have to meet with this Mr. Squibs character within his first few days of being home. "The sooner the better" said the lawyer. Sean was not looking forward to this meeting because it would be like finally believing that his parents were really dead and not just on an extended vacation.
Also, the few letters he'd received from the friends who had kept in contact with him after he was sent overseas had dwindled in the last year and a half. He hadn't received a single letter aside from the one from the ever delightful Mr. Squibs in over eight months. The friends who had supported and encouraged his decision to enlist were all gone. They had lives to move on with that Sean wasn't a part of anymore. He assumed that they had all gone away to college and started their own lives. He just wasn't important enough to them anymore. Sure it's cool for a while to know someone in the Army, but after a while the shine wears off and you forget because they aren't right there next to you like all of your other friends.
These were just a few of the reasons Sean was not looking forward to getting off the plane. The main reason was that he didn't want to be surrounded by the happiness of all of his friends. He would have to meet the wives and girlfriends, the children and parents, the multitudes of friends who had shown up for their return home only to have to explain that no one had come to greet him and welcome him home. Sean didn't want to see the pity in their eyes as they offered to take him out with their families for a welcome home dinner. He didn't want to field the questions about his family and why no one had bothered to show up. The truth was, he didn't have a family anymore. All he had left was a big empty house to go home to and the luggage he carried with him.
"Hey folks, we're going to be preparing to land in just a few minutes, so I'd be mighty obliged if you would please fasten your seatbelts and return your seats to their upright position," came the captain's voice from the speakers on the plane. Sean groaned, woken from his thoughts. He looked out the window and sighed as he saw Castle Island way down on the ground. Home sweet home he thought with a slight grin but the grin faded as he thought about how nothing was the same anymore and he didn't know what home was going to be like. He didn't even know if it was even going to be home anymore he thought as the plane touched down.
"Brodie!" Sean snapped his head up from the window where he was staring aimlessly out at the other planes. His Sergeant was walking down the aisle of the plane towards him holding a beaten up stack of envelopes held together by several rubber bands. "I was informed that these were to be given to you. Apparently they got lost in the mailing system and once they sorted everything out they were just pushed aside. I just got a hold of them this morning and figured better late than never, so…here." Sean reached out cautiously for the stack. Sgt. Emerson dropped the bundle in his hands and walked back to the front of the plane and grabbed his bag from the luggage rack and prepared to depart.
Sean took the elastic off the first few letters and read the return addresses on them and realized that they were all from Kyle. Kyle was the girl in his neighborhood who hung out with him and all of his friends growing up. She was the tomboy of the group. She had said she'd write but when he never received a single letter from her he'd just assumed that she'd forgotten about him like everyone else in his life. He checked the post mark dates on the first few letters. It seems Kyle had written him every single week. For two years if there were that many letters in the stack, which there looked to be.
"Let's get a move on, man, you can read your love letters later." Sean looked up to see Kevin Dooley standing in the aisle. Kevin was a good guy he'd gone through basic training with. Sean wrapped the rubber band back around the stack and smacked Kevin in the chest with them as he stood up to grab his bag from the overhead rack and stand in the aisle to wait to get off the plane.
The process of getting from the plane to the terminal where their families and loved ones were gathered seemed to take forever. For some it was the anticipation of seeing those they loved after being apart for so long. For Sean it was the dread of having to deal with all the happiness surrounding him while he felt somewhat empty inside. He knew there would be no one waiting for him. No proud parents. No overjoyed wife, fiancé, or even girlfriend. Not even a single friend knew he was coming home. They hadn't asked and he hadn't thought it necessary to contact them with the information if they didn't want it to begin with.
As Sean got to the gate he could see over the heads of the other guys and he could see the hell that awaited him. He knew it was going to take some doing to get through it all. He glanced around, making a bit of an exit strategy and once he found the easiest exit, he started forward. Tilting his eyes towards the ground so as not to trip over anything and also to avoid getting pulled into any awkward family greetings he maneuvered his way through the crowd with only one or two minor stops to meet the families of some of his friends.
After disengaging himself from Kevin's family with a promise to come over for dinner sometime soon, he looked up once more towards the exit and that's when he saw her. Standing above most females, she had to be at least 5'10". She looked vaguely familiar. Dressed in a simple yellow v-neck cami and dark jeans, she shouldn't have stood out, but there was something about her that drew his attention. The woman was slender, but not skinny. Her chest was a little larger than average, but then again, with everyone and their mom getting implant these days, average is getting to be huge, so she wasn't too busty by Hollywood standards. Her natural auburn hair hung in a slightly curly ponytail almost down to her waist. She was looking around, craning her delicate neck as though trying to find someone.
Duh, this is an airport, of course she's here to meet someone. Probably her boyfriend or something, Sean thought to himself as he looked her over, wondering why she caught his attention over the countless other women in the thick crowd. Whatever, I just need to haul ass out of here and see if I can't get a taxi home. As he made his way towards the exit, he again glanced towards the floor and barely avoided tripping over someone's bag that they'd carelessly left in the middle of the floor in their rush to greet someone. He looked towards the exit once again as he left most of the crowd behind and was a bit sad that the beautiful girl was no longer there. Oh well, he thought, guess she found her guy. Too bad though, she was gorgeous.
"Holy shit," Kylie Donnelly muttered. "Holy. Shit. There are a lot of people here," she said again under her breath. When she'd heard that Sean's unit would be coming home she had had mixed emotions. She had written him every single week just like she'd promised and he had never once responded to any of her letters. She understood that they weren't the greatest of friends before he left, but she had hoped that by keeping in touch with him their friendship would grow.
When she found out that his parents had died she decided that it would be a good idea to show up to welcome him home. Now that she was here and she couldn't see him, she wasn't sure it had been such a great idea. Kylie started rethinking her decision as she scanned the faces of the uniformed men in the crowd. She couldn't see him anywhere. Suddenly as she was looking around one last time, the hairs on the back of her neck prickled and she let her eyes wander to a striking man in the green army uniform sported by many other men in the lobby. He was looking down at the bag he had almost tripped over with a look of mild annoyance on his tired face.
The man had to be at least 6'3" barefoot. He had closely shaved light brown hair, although it was hard to tell because it was so short. His side burns led down to a strong square jaw that framed his handsome face. His cheekbones were almost high, but not quite, they were somewhere perfectly in the middle. He had an almost button nose, kind of like Matt Damon's, lips that were begging to be kissed and all of this on top of one hell of a body. He was obviously strong as an ox without being built like one.
One double take later, Kylie realized that it was Sean. She started over to him excitedly but got shuffled out of her direct path to him by people trying to get to wherever it was they were going without any regard to who they were pushing out of their way. By the time she got to where he'd been standing he was already gone, right back towards the doorway she'd been standing in.
Damn it. she thought if I'd just stood still for another minute he would have come right over to me. She rushed back over to the doorway but couldn't keep up with his long strides.
She grew thoughtful as she stared at his wide muscular back. What if he didn't recognize her? She looked down at the ground as she walked. What if he did, but didn't want to see her? What if that's why he never responded to any of her letters? She began to get lost in these thoughts while trying to follow him. Her thoughts, however, were abruptly interrupted by her walking head long into a very solid back. Arms quickly reached out to catch her as she stumbled back.
"Oh! Excuse me, I wasn't paying attention and I…" She looked up and right into a pair of very surprised, gorgeous blue eyes. "Hey!" She yelled as she threw her arms around his neck in an enthusiastic hug.