All around me, family members of the returning soldiers waited anxiously for their loved one's arrival. Everyone waited restlessly at the bottom of the stairs, as nobody was permitted past that point. Mothers, wives, and girlfriends held back tears and clutched bouquets close to the breasts, rocking back and forth on their wedding day heals. Men wore suits and women wore dresses fit for a prom. Children held signs with American flags and their loved one's name drawn on with crayola markers. Hearts and inspirational sayings were smattered all around. One of the families was holding balloons and a stereo sat on the ground next to them, most likely to be used for some grand welcome home spectacle.
Most had been waiting for hours in the airport, hoping against hope that the plane would be early and they would get to hold their sons, husbands, boyfriends, and brothers sooner.
I stood off to the side – alone in a sea of families. My button up shirt was pressed and starched; my pants were held up securely by a belt; my face was clean shaven and my hair was neatly combed. I'd been preparing for a month. The apartment was spotless, the sheets were soft and new, the refrigerator was filled with chocolate – Nate's favorite –, and every single one of our acquaintances had been notified of his impending homecoming. Our eccentric doorman was prepared to sing the Marine's Hymn upon our arrival, and couldn't be convince to do otherwise no matter how many times I told him that Nate was a GI not a Jarhead.
Clutched in my hand was Nate's favorite baseball hat, a blue canvas rag with a simply baseball bat image above the bill. It wasn't anything special, but he'd had it since he was fourteen and somehow that made it special to him. He was like that. Sentimental. My other hand was in my pocket as I didn't know what else to do with it. Anyone who's ever stood in one place for an extended period of time can attest to the awkwardness arm positions can bring.
Beside me, a stout black man, who seemed to be in his fifties, cleared his throat. It wasn't that of an illness, but more of an attention grabbing device and so I turned to look in his direction. He'd been there for about thirty minutes with his family – a portly woman and two rambunctious children. His attire was similar to mine and his face was recently shaven except for a bushy mustache which sat atop his upper lip, not unlike that of Dr. Watson in old Sherlock Holmes movies.
His eyes twinkled when mine met his and I offered a small smile. He turned his body to face mine and said, "So who're you here for?" His hands were stuffed into his pockets and his entire face was a smile.
"Sergeant Graff." I answered, a proud smile now forming on my own face.
The man's eyes widened with glee and recognition. "Nita! Get the kids over here! This guy's here for Sergeant Graff!" His head swung back around to me and he stuck out his hand for me to shake. I quickly switched the hat from my right hand to my left and proceeded to shake his extended hand. He pumped my arm up and down with enthusiasm. "I've heard great things about that man! My boy's in his squad! Says he's the best damn leader they could have."
His admiration made me a bit bashful because it wasn't me whom the praise should be piled onto yet he was speaking as if I were Nate or I somehow made him that way. He'd always been a leader and, though I'm a bit bias myself, I've always believed him more capable than anyone I'd ever met.
I didn't know whether to thank the man or simply nod, but I was saved from having to do so by the man's wife who chose that moment to join her husband. "Oh, Tom. Stop. You're embarrassing the poor boy." She playfully swatted his arm before interlocking them together. "Private Michaelson's ours. Been away a year and a half." She smiled sadly and exchanged a look with her husband. Then her eyes got a bit wider and she turned back to me. "Of course you know what that's like though!" She paused a moment and looked as though she were trying to find another subject to talk about. "So you're here for the Sergeant, huh? Oh, Betty's son served under him as well! Betty get over here! This boy's Sergeant Graff's!"
She waved over another woman who was wearing a red polka dot dress with white pump heals. She looked straight out of the fifties but somehow it worked for her. She practically skipped over to us. "How are you?" She didn't seem to really want an answer, however, as she began smothering me with a hug.
Another woman called, "Graff? Squad 132? That's Jack's squad!" And prompted she joined our small circle. This was the woman who had been standing next to the boom box. She, unlike the other two women, was young and thin. On her hip she carried a toddler with strawberry blonde hair and a pink frilly dress.
The women commenced chatting immediately, as if they had known each other for years. I had never really gotten involved in military family functions, for obvious reasons, so for all I knew, they did go way back.
"What are your plans for Graff when you leave the airport?" The youngest woman was very informal in the way she addressed people and that made it clear that she was not of a military background. However, her exuberance and cheery smile made it so it didn't matter in the slightest.
I smiled a smile which made it clear that my plans were not set in stone and I let out a little puff of air as I lifted my shoulders in a casual manner.
"May I suggest a bar? With plenty of beer. Lord knows these men are gonna want their alcohol!" Her eyes shone with eagerness and, though I expected the two older women to be somewhat appalled, they both laughed.
Betty, the one in the polka dot dress turned her gaze back to me and asked, "So what's your relation to the Sergeant?"
I must have looked like a deer caught in headlights as I opened my mouth and struggled to answer the question. "I...um...I'm –"
I was saved from having to answer, however, when a man in a pilot's suit said in a jovial voice, while standing at the top of the stairs, "Please welcome home our men and women who fight everyday for your freedom and their own!"
All eyes turned to the stairs and clusters once again split back into familial groups. Everyone cheered and scanned the crowd for their loved ones.
And then he descended the staircase. I had eyes only for the tall, gruff sergeant with a face full of stubble and a grin the size of Texas. His muscled arms, not unlike those of his fellow soldiers, filled out his uniform nicely and, though his back was ramrod straight, you could see the calm which covered his face. Along with eagerness. His own eyes were scanning every face in the room, pausing only minutely on each one, as he sought out my own.
Our eyes met. And suddenly everything else disappeared.
At the bottom of the stairs, he threw his duffel to the side and ran towards me, wrapping me in his arms and lifting me into the air. The hat dropped from my fingers. My lips lifted themselves into a smile and tears fell down from my closed eyes. He spun in circles, holding me up the whole time, and whispered words that were impossible to hear through the roar of the crowd. When he finally set me down, we only clutched each other closer.
Our foreheads were pressed together and the only part of our bodies which was not touching were our lips. His arms encircled my waist, one hand pressing itself against my upper back to hold me there, while mine rested on his shoulders as my fingers cradled his head. His eyes were watery, but being the macho GI he was, he wasn't going to let them spill over. However, they were dangerously close to doing so.
I abandoned every anxiety I ever felt and crushed my lips against his.
My fingers curled into his short hair and tried to pull him closer, though it was physically impossible. His stubble grated against my skin but even the discomfort was comforting. It had been a year and a half since I'd been held like this; kissed like this; loved like this. We were of a height, but as the kiss progressed I stood on my toes and felt his lips every possible way I could.
But soon I needed to breathe and so I sighed into this kiss and separated us by merely a centimeter, the skin of our lips sticking together before finally pulling apart. My eyes opened at the same moment as Nate's and we both laughed in short, breathy pants.
"James...God, James." He practically sighed before pressing his lips to mine once more.
Around us, families were being reunited and children were seeing parents after months and years of separation, but to us none of that mattered. What mattered was the man whom we embraced. Him and him alone.
It was only when the room began to quiet down did we noticed those around us. Our kiss ended slowly, only completely finished after multiple pecks and long sighs of contentment. I could feel eyes on us, but I no longer cared. Nate was home. Nate was holding me. Nate was the only thing that mattered.
We only removed our gazes from each other when music began to play and people began chuckling. Nate, his arms still wrapped tightly around me, turned his head in the direction the music was coming from and I did the same. A small space had been cleared and that space was occupied by three soldiers, each holding a single red rose in their hand.
At Nate's amused eyebrow quirk, I knew these must be his men.
That became even more clear when they all turned their attention to Nate and I and the tall, black soldier began singing, in perfectly in sync with the music while using the rose as a makeshift microphone, "Nothing you can say, can tear me away from my guy."
The two other soldiers echoed, "Tear me away from my guy!"
The three men began to sway back forth and the lead man, who I now assumed was Private Michaelson, began moving around the space which had been cleared for them. "Nothing you could do cause I'm stuck like glue to my guy." His backup singers echoes his words and then he continued, "I'm sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter; like birds of a feather; we..."
"Stick together!" They all sang in unison.
"I will tell you from the start, I can't be torn apart from my guy." Michaelson continued swaying and crooning while his backup singers snapped their fingers and hummed along.
Nate had turned us so we were facing the men and his arm was now securely around my waist. My face was beet red and pressed into his shoulder, though I could still easily view the proceedings. Nate, however, was grinning like no other and his shoulders shook with laughter.
"As a matter of opinion, I think he's tops..." At this, Michaelson turned to Nate and gave him a raunchy, stage wink which caused the entire room to roar with laughter, including Nate himself. My face, however, only turned more red and, sensing this and probably attempting to ease my discomfort though he failed miserably, Nate turned his face to mine and captured my lips once more. A cheer erupted in the room.
The song continued and Michaelson, as well as his cohorts, continued hamming it up until the very end.
"There's not a man today who could take me away from my guy." Upon concluding the final line with dramatic flourish, the men ran up to us, bent down onto their knees, and offered me their roses with completely earnest looks on their faces.
The room applauded and many cheered. But the men in front of us weren't going anywhere until I accepted their flowers, so I reached a shaky hand out to take them as an awkward smile came over my face.
Finally showing me some mercy, Nate pulled me close and said, "Alright, alright. He's mine!" His tone was joking and a smile was on his face, but his arm also showed his protective nature.
The men's faces turned serious and they all stood up in a militarily formal manner. "Yes, sir!" They practically grunted, before smiling again. Each gave Nate's shoulder a friendly punch before leaving to join their families once again.
Once they were gone, Nate turned to face me once more and dipped his head to the side to give me a sweet peck on the lips before moving to retrieve his duffel bag. I reached out my arm, wrapped my fingers around his bicep and jerked him back to me. For a second I just looked into his eyes. Then I leaned in and kissed his lips, slowly and chastely. "I missed you."
AN: So...uh...I didn't mean for the title and the song to coincide...I wanted to write a story called "My Soldier" and then I thought it would be funny if people sang them a love song and then I found "My Guy" and thought it would be perfect...it wasn't until the end that I realized the titles matched...I don't really like it. But I refuse to give up MY title :P
Reviews are nice :D