We Meet Again
The woman hurried out of her apartment with a bag and a load of papers in hand.
The man was walking by with a nervous expression on his face.
He unintentionally crashed into her. She fell into her butt with an "Oof!" and a flurry of papers fluttering down around her.
The man stumbled but caught his balance. Looking down, his eyes processed the image of a petite young woman in a navy blue business suit. Delicate wisps of blonde hair escaped her neat bun.
"Oh, shit, I'm sorry!" the man exclaimed, reaching down a hand. The woman looked up to glare at him with her round blue eyes and froze.
He froze too.
They stared at each other, frozen in time.
The woman's shocked eyes took in his clean-cut appearance, from his perfectly ruffled hair and smoothly shaven face to his expensive-looking suit and gleaming black shoes. He was still as tall as ever. And his eyes….
He hadn't changed all that much.
She hated that after all this time, the one day she finally ran into him was the one day she had rushed with her appearance.
She knew she looked terrible, from the dark bags under her eyes – his fault that she hadn't gotten a decent night's sleep in ten years – to her messy hair and wrinkled clothes.
She tried not to show her despair on her face as they silently looked at each other.
Then the man chuckled uncomfortably, cracking the silence and rebooting time. Looking around them at the fallen papers, at the passersby, at the sidewalk, anything but her, he squatted down beside the woman and asked mildly, "Um, is it just me or does this incident seem very familiar?"
The woman, thrown out of her shell-shocked state, only gazed at him with an unreadable expression for one more second before standing up gracefully and carefully brushing off her skirt. Then she reached down, bag in hand, and began snatching the papers off the ground and stacking them in her arms again.
Silently, the man stooped down to help. The woman paused for a pregnant moment, prepared to say something, but she turned abruptly and continued her work, ignoring the man.
He glanced at her and saw that she was studiously disregarding him, so he gave into his urge and openly stared at her.
She looked good. Older, obviously, and wiser, but good. Content. Happy, even. Tired but satisfied with life, it appeared. So different from him. Every minute of every day for the past ten years had been filled with thoughts of her.
Looks like the same couldn't be said for her.
He turned away abruptly and continued picking up papers.
A minute passed like this. Neither spoke. When they finally finished picking up all the papers, they both straightened up and turned to look at each other.
She held out her hand for the papers. He handed them to her. As she shuffled them into a neat pile in her arms, the man opened his mouth and finally began to speak.
"What happened to us?"
The woman stopped moving. "What?" she asked quietly, as if she wasn't sure she had heard him correctly.
"I said, what happened to us?" he repeated forcefully.
"What happened?" She laughed bitterly. "What happened? Nothing. That's what happened."
"That's what I don't get!" he exploded. "Something must have happened. I did something. I did, didn't I? What did I do? I need to know. Tell me."
"You want to know what you did?" She glanced up suddenly, straining her head back to glare him in the eyes. Her voice was suddenly furious. It was a rapid change from her previously cold tone. "Fine, I'll tell you. What did you do wrong? You didn't. That was the problem. You didn't do anything."
He was sure he had misheard her. "What?"
"The problem was that you didn't do anything. You never did anything. You never told me anything, you never asked me anything, you just didn't do anything. Why? Ten years ago, when I broke up with you, I wondered and ten years later, I still don't know. So tell me. Did you just not trust me? Was I not good enough for you? Was I just not enough?"
"What? No! Celeste, how could you even think that?" Unconsciously, the man took a step forward as he rushed to assure her, "Of course you were enough. No, you were more than enough. You were everything to me." He ran a hand through his hair. "You were too good for me."
"No!" she snapped. "You've always had this image of me as some saint who's so innocent and naïve and good. Well, guess what? I'm not. I'm not good. I'm definitely not a saint. I'm a terrible, selfish person."
"I don't believe that."
"Then why couldn't you trust me?"
"What are you talking about?" He almost sounded exasperated. "I did trust you! I trusted you more than anyone."
"But you didn't." He started to object, but Celeste cut him off. "You didn't! Look, I'm not like you, okay? I don't like lying, and I don't like keeping secrets. I can if I have to, but with the people who actually matter to me…No. I can't do it. And I can't bear it when those same people do it to me. Do you realize how little I actually know about you? You never told me anything."
"You think I like keeping secrets? That I do it for fun? That I wanted to keep stuff from you? I was trying to protect you! Your life was hard enough; I didn't want to give you my shitty life to worry about too!"
"But I wanted to! I want to worry about the people I care about. Two years together and you don't understand me at all, do you? I don't care if you give me more to worry about. I'm a big girl, I'm strong, I can handle it. Don't you get it? Felix, I loved you. I didn't want you to have to deal with everything on your own. What the fuck was I there for if you couldn't tell me your problems? Being together means sharing the burdens. You were all I wanted, all I needed. I just wanted to make you happy. Because I loved you."
Felix was silent. Then, "Loved?"
Celeste realized her face was wet. Quickly, she wiped her face on her jacket sleeve – better clean up that snot, she noted distantly – and cleared her throat. "Yes, loved. It's been ten years, after all. I've moved on. We were good together but…I guess we're just not meant to be."
He was again silent. He mulled over her words for a good minute. And then he muttered, quite randomly, "It's not like I cheated on you or anything."
"I'd rather you have cheated than what you did do."
"How the fuck does that make sense?"
"Well, if you had ever deigned to notice, you probably would've realized that trust is a big thing to me."
"I'll say," he grumbled.
She ignored him pointedly. "So to me, I feel that if you had cheated on me, then the reason you never told me anything would've been because you didn't like me all that much. Which wouldn't hurt like hell, but not as much as seeing you sit on a bench with Hope Donovan, pouring your heart out to her. I mean, the one thing that you had bothered to tell me was that you loathed her fucking, slutty guts. You words, by the way. But there you were, telling her your life story, while all I knew about you was your birthday, your favorite color, and bullshit like that. Oh, and that you were on bad terms with your family. Thought actually, I deduced that last one from the fact that you were living alone during high school and that you froze up any time anyone even mentioned the word 'family.' Anyways, seeing that just about killed me. Clearly, you didn't trust me. But you trusted her. I never did understand that."
"So right away you decided to break up with me? You didn't even consider trying to gain my trust?" His face was disbelieving.
"Two years I tried. Two years to get you to trust me. Two years of waiting and hoping and waiting. I decided I had waited long enough for someone who didn't appreciate me." She exhaled sharply. "If two whole years wasn't enough, then it just wasn't gonna happen."
Celeste tilted her head back to look into his familiar eyes and smiled sadly. "It's okay. It's been ten years. We've moved on. I'd ask if we could stay friends but frankly, I'm not sure I'd actually mean it." She laughed shakily.
"So." She stuck out her hand and waited, looking at him expectantly.
Slowly, carefully, unwillingly, Felix's arm moved and his hand reached and grasped hers. Sparks ignited but he could tell from her polite smile and shuttered eyes that she hadn't felt anything.
They shook hands.
"Well, I've gotta run. Work and all." She gestured to her stack of paper. Shooting a glance at her watch, she gasped and swore, "Holy shit, I'm so late!" She turned to him and said sincerely, "Thanks for the closure. See you around?"
Without waiting for an answer – probably not really wanting one in case he said yes, thought Felix– she dashed off and into the world, the world that he no longer had any part in.
He was too late.
The girl who valued trust and honesty above all else lied.
She hadn't moved on. Not one bit.
Ten years apart, but one meeting was all it took to take her back. Back to before, when they were together.
When she was happy.
Her hands shook as the sensation of his hand holding hers flooded her. The warmth, the electricity was so unexpected and so...familiar.
She pressed her fist to her mouth and bit back a sob.
Her fragilely mended heart had re-shattered.
That one touch brought back all the memories. She'd thought she was hallucinating when she saw him. It had been ten years, after all.
Ten years was a long time, but they really hadn't changed much - physically. She could tell from the quality of his suit that he was living a good life. A much better life than the one he'd been living with her. She was happy for him. And proud of him.
She felt old, old and worn. She looked terrible, she knew, from lack of sleep, having been unable to get a full night's sleep, though not for lack of trying. She was simply too busy thinking about him. Not a single night - or day, for that matter - had gone by without her thinking about him. He was a sickness and she was condemned to be forever sick.
She'd told herself that she had moved on but there was nothing farther from the truth. Her ruined heart had been living in the past while the past became the present and the future.
She couldn't live like this anymore.
He chuckled self-deprecatingly.
Moved on? Moved on? What the fuck did that even mean? There was no fucking way he had ever moved on.
There she went, assuming things again.
When he saw her today and touched her hand, it took all his willpower to keep from crushing her to his chest and kissing her like she was air and he was suffocating.
That and the fact that she'd clearly "moved on" with life.
He didn't quite know what he had expected. Had he expected her to wait for him? He scoffed at the idea. Her, a beautiful girl full of potential, wait for him, the stupid idiot who couldn't give her shit ,much less make her happy? Not a fucking chance.
Still, he supposed that he subconsciously believed that she would be suffering just like him and that once he found her again, she'd leap into his arms and make him promise never to leave her.
Yet he couldn't believe it. All those years of wanting her, searching for her, trying to make himself worthy of someone like her - what had it all led up to? This? The true destruction of his already much damaged heart? He didn't need this. He didn't need the pain. What was he, a masochist?
He didn't need her.
Ah, but who the fuck was he kidding?
She was his everything. That would never change.
He was suddenly determined to show her. To make her realize the truth: that he wanted her.
That he needed her.
That he loved her, he still loved her.
That he was hers so fully and completely that he'd die without her.
She was his drug of choice and he was utterly addicted to her.
It was time to act.
There was only one thing to do.
He sprinted after her.
There. There she was.
His heart - huh? It wasn't dead yet? - clenched and tugged painfully at the sight of her brilliant smile. Her teeth were as perfect and white as ever, he thought. The emotion that ran through him like an electric current was more than a lot bittersweet.
Sweet because it had been ten whole years since he'd last had the privilege to see her smile. Bitter because he knew it wasn't for him. He hadn't made her laugh so happily.
It nearly killed him to see her blinking adorably up at the man she was talking to. Felix felt the Green Monster of Jealousy rear up inside of him. He clenched his jaw and hands, forcing himself to turn away and not go through with the strong urge to walk up to the other man and knee him where it would maim.
Felix could just see it. He'd stroll up to the bastard nonchalantly, hands stuffed in his pockets, and knee the guy carelessly, as if it was simply a reflex. The idiot would go down groaning and swearing but Felix would pay him no mind because he'd be too busy sweeping his Celeste into his arms and carrying her off into the sunset. Or his house.
Either way, Celeste would be with him.
No, he couldn't do that. He knew that if he did, Celeste would do more than simply knee him with all her strength. She'd totally beat him up. And she'd never forgive him.
He would kill himself if she hated him.
So instead, he forced down his violent urges, pasted on a strained smile, and stalked over to Celeste.
"Fancy meeting you here," he drawled, expertly hiding any revealing emotions. "Can we talk?"
"Felix? What are you - how did you - I'm busy!" she finally hissed at him.
He cast a disdainful glance at her companion, who was sizing Felix up like men did before a fight.
Well, bring it. Felix hadn't been a delinquent for nothing.
"Yes, I can tell how busy you are...flirting," he smiled an amused - and pained - smile as a faint blush rose in her cheeks and she opened her mouth to protest, "but this is pretty urgent. We need to talk."
Anger flared in Celeste's eyes. "Oh, now you want to talk? Well, you had two years to talk, and twenty minutes ago you could've talked but you chose not to. Well, guess what? It's too late, Felix. It's just way too late." Celeste folded her arms across her chest and glared at him.
"Sorry?" She must have misheard him. The Felix she knew and loved - once loved, many years ago, she reminded herself forcefully - was definitely not this accepting.
But it had been ten years. She didn't really know him anymore.
"I know," Felix repeated, looking at her with anguish and regret. "I know it's too late but even so...I feel like if I don't at least tell you now, I'll never get the chance and then I'll never be able to move on and you'll never know. Please Celeste. Please." He gazed pleadingly at her.
Celeste stared back wordlessly. Just as he was about to sigh and give up, a musical voice from behind him trilled, "Oh, let him explain, Celeste. No need to play so hard-to-get. He's clearly head-over-heels." A tall, curvy woman with wavy black hair emerged from the circle of people who had been feasting on the drama. She looked at Celeste, lips twitching as if holding back a smile.
Felix gritted his teeth. Was this divine punishment: embarrassing himself in front of a crowd of people? If so, he knew he deserved it. If not...well, he still deserved it.
"Oh, is that so?" commented Celeste wryly. "Well, I'm not playing hard-to-get. See, the thing is, he had me for two years. Then he lost me. And I don't go back to the people who have lost me. I have no desire to relive the past." She slid her eyes to her black-haired friend. "Unlike the rest of humanity, I really do learn from my mistakes."
Ouch. Felix winced. So he was a mistake, was he? He supposed he deserved that as well.
"Please, Celeste. Let me just do this. I swear on my life that when I'm done, you'll never see me again."
Celeste was hit with a pang but she roughly shoved it aside. This was what she wanted, right?
"Please," Felix begged. "I swear."
She blinked. Suddenly, a gentle smile lit up Celeste's face, and she looked ten years younger but even more beautiful than she had been then. "Cross your heart and hope to die?"
"Stick a needle in my eye," Felix agreed solemnly, his heart wrenching around from her tender expression as she remembered promises past.
He knew the exact moment she came back from her trip down Memory Lane. He watched as she wiped the smile off her face and slid her mask back on. But she forgot the eyes. Her eyes were still soft and vulnerable - and scared.
He made her scared? She was scared? Of him?
Felix couldn't wrap his mind around it. Him? She? Scared? Huh? She'd never been scared of him. He felt lower than a cold virus. Even a cold virus didn't instill fear anymore.
Celeste sucked in a deep breath. No no no this couldn't be happening! It couldn't! She didn't want to refuse him but she knew as surely as she knew her own gender that if she let him explain, the first "sorry" he uttered coupled with the imploring expression on his face would make her cave. She'd throw her arms around him before he finished explaining and beg him to just take her back already. She knew it. She didn't want it.
But she couldn't say no.
Reluctantly - though her heart was leaping and beaming - she nodded, her eyes not leaving his. She watched as his eyes brightened adorably and grinned boyishly at her, chomping down harshly on her lip to squelch down the instinctive answering smile.
Felix grinned goofily at her acquiescence and wrapped her hand in his, tugging her away from the crowd. It was at this moment that the man Celeste had been standing with decided to finally intervene. "Hey!" he snarled at Felix. "Where do you think you're taking her?"
Felix looked pointedly at the audience they had acquired. "Somewhere private?"
"What's wrong with here?" the man challenged, eyebrows raised. He planted himself firmly in front of the exit.
Felix rolled his eyes and sighed. He stepped closer to the glaring guy. "What's your name?"
Felix snorted. The boring name matched the boring man. "Alright, John. I will say this once and only once." He leaned towards John and lowered his voice. "Get. The fuck. Out. Of my. Way. Or I will hurt you so bad you won't be able to walk, sit, or stand for a month."
John would've smirked but then he saw the murderous glint in Felix's eyes. John tucked his imaginary tail in between his legs and scurried away. Far away.
Felix smiled, satisfied. He turned to Celeste, who had watched the interlude bemusedly, and yanked her out of the room. "Let's go!"
He pulled her with him as he power-walked around town, searching for an appropriate spot to spill his secrets.
"Wait - Felix - Wait!" she shouted at him. She yanked her hand out of his.
Felix grimaced, knowing that she was about to tell him that she changed her mind. He would let her, too, because he wouldn't force her to listen to him. He slowly turned around, preparing for the blow. "It's fine, I under - what the fuck are you doing?" He gaped at her as she calmly pulled off her heels.
Brushing her hair out of her face, she looked at him and said, "It's kinda hard running in heels, okay? Not that I expected you to know that, of course." Her shoes dangling from her fingers, she took his hand and started walking again. "Come on, I know a place we can talk alone."
They made their way through the streets and around buildings until they same across an abandoned old shack hidden away behind a large business building.
Surprised, Felix asked, "Uh, how did you find this place? It's so out of the way."
"I don't really remember," she shrugged. "I was just walking around one day, trying not to think, and I didn't even realize where I was walking. Then I saw this place and the rest is history. I come here whenever I need to just get away."
"No one else knows about it?" Felix was incredulous.
"Nope. Except you, now."
He preened. She threw a knowing glance at him, but quickly looked away when she realized that she was this close to falling back into old habits.
Dropping his hand with an unflattering speed, she pushed the creaky old door open and waved him in. "Welcome."
He stepped in and his jaw dropped. "What the - half your stuff must be in here!"
Indeed, there was furniture and food, even some technology, sitting around, giving the old place the sort of cozy warmth and cheer that came with being inhabited.
Shrugging abashedly, Celeste muttered, "Yeah, well, at least my apartment's not crowded. All my valuables and stuff are here," she told him as he continued to look around incredulously.
Felix's keen eyes alighted on a familiar picture frame. It held a snapshot of him and Celeste laughing happily, way back when. Good times.
He carefully picked it up, rubbing his fingers over their joyous faces in the picture. He looked up at Celeste, who was blushing fiercely and studiously avoiding his eyes, and asked in a serious voice, "So this counts as valuable?"
"Well, I just - I mean, that's - well, I - " Celeste stammered unintelligibly, not wanting to give away the fact that she still thought about their two years - indeed, she still cherished those two years of her life greatly - but unable to think of an appropriate and plausible excuse.
Instead, she settled with the truth. In a resigned tone, she admitted, "Yeah, that's pretty valuable to me. Those two years were the best years of my life. But that's all said and done," sounding abruptly businesslike. "We're here for your explanation so please, explain."
She gestured to a chair at the small, circular table in the kitchen and promptly seated herself in the one across from Felix's.
Cautiously, he sat and ran his hand through his hair agitatedly as he gathered his thoughts. She waited patiently, looking at him. Finally, his eyes met hers. He sucked in a deep breath and began, "So it's like this..."
"...and so basically, that's what happened," Celeste finished explaining the situation to her black-haired friend and coworker, Carla. "I'm still pissed that he didn't tell me all this when we were together, but...well, it was his prerogative. I'm just glad he told me now."
"Aw, he's had such a hard life," Carla cooed to Celeste. "Did you really have to make it harder?"
Celeste replied grimly, "Yes. It may have been a hard life, but he learned nothing from it. He didn't know what it was to lose or want someone because he never had anyone to lose before - or want. I can't regret causing him this pain," she added guiltily but decidedly, "because this was a lesson he needed to learn. Besides, he has me now and I know he'll never let me go 'cause he doesn't wanna go through that pain again." Celeste was smug.
"Not that you'd let him let you go," Carla scoffed shrewdly.
"Well, that's true too," Celeste agreed sheepishly. After the ten years of self-inflicted pain, she wasn't about to go through it again, not that she had him now. He was hers, and she so wasn't letting him go. Not again.
Suddenly, Carla grinned evilly.
Celeste was on instant alert. "What? What happened?" she began to ask but was cut off by her own squealing as a pair of strong arms slid around her waist and whirled her around.
Laughing freely - Celeste was still marveling at how happy a life she found herself living - she waited until the arms set her down safely on the floor before twisting around in the warm embrace and grinning up at Felix.
He tightened his arms around Celeste possessively, his heart glowing so happily he thought he must be dreaming. He knew he never deserved to be so happy, but would it be too selfish to just take the happiness since it was being gifted to him?
Yes, yes it would be.
But oh well! He didn't care.
As he smiled lovingly down at her, Celeste gazed up just as lovingly at him.
"I love you," he murmured.
"I know." Celeste batted her eyelashes demurely. "I love you too."
"Hey, guys!" a voice called out. Both Celeste and Felix turned around to find that Carla was still watching them. "Get a room?" suggested Carla.
Celeste smiled sweetly - too sweetly. "Nah, we're fine here." With that, she turned back to Felix and stretched up on her tippy-toes. He leaned down, their lips meeting in a promise - one that would last a lifetime.
Hey guys! Miss me? ;) No? Ah well. One can hope.
Sooo yeah, this little guy took me a while. Mostly, I just had not time to type everything up - after I came up with a plot, that is. In the shower, naturally. We all know what a great thinking place that is - NO JOKE. Try it. :P
So yeah. Hope you like. Please review. If not...well, do something to let me know who to appreciate for reading this story.
BTW, doesn't "meet" imply "for the first time"? How can you see someone for the first time AGAIN? I don't get it. Maybe I'm just too stupid.
© 2011 by The Siege