Eyes On Me

(Whenever sang my songs
On the stage, on my own
Whenever said my words
Wishing they would be heard)

It had been years since I had seen him. I could still see his face, his long black hair and blue gray eyes that could look pained, hopeful, and joyful at the same time. Why was I thinking of him now? I guess looking out over all the faces in the audience made me hope he was among them somewhere. I began the same old song I had sung a hundred times-Eyes On Me. That could have been why as well. It was about him. I was in the middle of a concert, and I was playing my own accompaniment on the piano. No one else ever put that much into the notes, to me.
Actually, I wasn't always a singer. On the weekends, I was a motivational speaker. Women were dumped on constantly in this world, and I was out to stop it at all costs. No one ever listened. He had, though...the first and last person to take me seriously, and he had never come back. If only...who knew what we might have had in those years, had he only come back?

(I saw you smiling at me
Was it real, or just my fantasy?
You'd always be there in the corner
Of this tiny little bar)

There he was! Suddenly, with a jolt of surprise, I saw him just like it had been yesterday, instead of a good eight years past, that we had last spoken. Laguna Loire was watching me. He had a small smile on his face, and he looked exactly as he had years ago. Then a camera flashed, and he was gone. I shook my head. Had he really been there at all?
I saw him again, in the same place. I shook my head again, throwing off the beat of the song. As I attempted to regain my hold on the notes, I met his eye, and had a sudden flashback. He was in that dingy bar once again, smiling, being egged on by his friends to approach and talk to me. His friends went unnoticed, and Laguna watched me play my piano almost shyly. Then the vision melted away and I was sitting in dead silence on the stage behind my piano, staring at him

(My last night here for you
Same old songs, just once more
My last night here with you?
Maybe yes, maybe no)

I began to play again, but not sing. I couldn't tear my eyes off him. Which was okay, because I knew the notes by heart anyway. The song was simply called "Julia's Song" for lack of a better title. It was the same song I had played the last night I had seen him. If I had known I was not to see him for eight years, I would have played something else. I had been working on Eyes On Me for a few weeks prior to that night. I would have played it for Laguna, so he would think of it and remember me...

(I kind of liked it your way
How you shyly placed your eyes on me
Oh did you ever know
That I had mine on you?)

I kept watching him, my mind wandering to the past. It was easily the worst concert of my life. I stumbled over the keys, until finally I regained focus on my piano and sheet music that usually remained unheeded. I normally didn't need it, but today the arrows and dots streaming across the page couldn't have been more necessary. I finished out the concert, and my personal h*** was over at last. He rose to applaud. Others followed suit, but I knew it was only because of him that they were applauding at all. I saw it again, there he was, applauding me way back then, those eight years ago. His eyes searched mine, his small smile present yet.
Strange how so many years had passed and his eyes were still the same. It was shocking. I had watched him every time he had watched me, but I don't think he had ever noticed. I had always hoped to catch his eye, but the concert I had just finished proved that perhaps that might have been a bad idea. I took my bow and got away from those eyes. Keeping my dress just as it was, I wrapped my fur jacket around my shoulders and exited the changing room. I preferred to leave as everyone else did, so I made my way up the aisle toward the lobby. The man behind me shoved me hard in the back when I slowed to fix my bracelet, and I stumbled and almost fell onto the man in front of me. He turned to see if I was alright, and (you guessed it) I found myself staring into the eyes of Laguna Loire.

(Darling so there you are
With that look on your face
As if you're never hurt
As if you're never down)

His face lit up and whatever doubts I had had about his authenticity flew out the window. It was him. It was Laguna. I breathed his name and clutched my bracelet (which had come unfastened) to my heart. He looked as though he had genuinely never felt pain in his life. As he had told me so many years before, however, he had seen enough to cause a dozen people nightmares for years. Somehow he kept his chin up, and was standing in front of me, smiling.

(Shall I be the one for you
Who pinches you softly, but sure?
If frown is shown then
I will know that you are no dreamer)

I fainted dead away. To this day, I'm not quite sure why, but I did. I collapsed right into the arms of the man I had longed to see every day for eight years. I woke up a good three hours later in a hospital room. I had forgotten why I had fainted but there, in the chair beside my bed, was Laguna, sound asleep- and snoring loudly. He was also muttering to himself. I laughed a little, despite my shock, and gently pinched his arm. He turned his head in his sleep, and he frowned. I laughed a little more.

(So let me come to you
Close as I wanna be
Close enough for me
To feel your heart beating fast)

He awoke. "Julia..." he whispered. I nodded.
"Laguna, it's...been so long." I felt I would cry. He could apparently see that, and he hesitantly embraced me. I threw my arms around him. I had another violent flashback to the first time I had been close to him. I had only held his hands then, but his heart had been beating so fast I could feel it. It was now. "Laguna...why are you back now?"
"Julia, after that mission I went on, I fell off a cliff. I washed up around Esthar and a few months passed. I was eventually imprisoned for minor offenses -Okay, so I still can't drive-and I overthrew the government. They made me president, and I've been here ever since. I thought of you every day, but I never found you, until I saw the sign for your concert today. I'm sorry if I startled you..."
"That was the worst performance of my career. MY agent will burn me at the stake for it. Or burn you, for witchcraft." I smiled.

(And stay there as I whisper
How I love your peaceful eyes on me
Oh did you ever know
That I had mine on you?)

A few hours later, I convinced the nurses I was alright. We got in his car, talking and laughing. Eventually, as I had known it would, the conversation turned to that one happy night we had spent talking.
"Laguna, you always watched me when I played my piano."
"How could I not?" he smiled.
"I...I watched you, too."
"You what?" he turned and looked at me.
"Laguna! The road!" I shouted.
He turned back to face the road. "oops..."
I laughed. "You were my biggest fan. I always spotted you when you came. Do you know how many times I wanted to catch your eye?"
"Nope. I can't even believe I never noticed."
""Well," I said, looking at the rearview mirror, "you never noticed that stop sign back there either."
"Don't worry, I won't be arrested, I'm the president, remember?" he grinned.
"Yeah, but being president won't matter if you get us both killed!" I dug my nails into the armrests. He apparently noticed this fact, because he took my left hand in his right.
"Relax," he said.

(Darling so share with me
Your love if you have enough
Your tears if you're holding back
Or pain if that's what it is)

We went back to the presidential residence. We crashed in what I consider to be a living room, where we proceeded to talk the hours away. Finally a lull occurred in the conversation following a discussion on war. I got a drink of soda and returned to my seat. For some reason, I chose that moment to look at him. His face had lost that "never hurt" expression and I could plainly read the signs of pain on his face.
"Laguna?" I asked. "Are you alright?"
His face quickly became normal. "Yeah," he said. "I'm fine."
"No, you're not." I went and sat beside him. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, I'm fine" came the reply in a tone not befitting him.
"Please. Tell me what's wrong. Do you need to talk about something?"
His face grew pained and miserable again. "Yes, I do..."
I listened intently for the next half hour as he poured out all his troubles of presidency. I helped when I could, until Laguna reached a topic that still hurt him. Ward had lost his voice during their escape from the mission, and Laguna still blamed himself for it. I was shocked when he began to cry. Laguna was crying? I embraced him, realizing that he had no one to just do this for him, to just hold him without judgment.
At my touch he immediately wiped his eyes and pulled away from me. By his expression, I could tell he was humiliated. I asked him why he had withdrawn.
"Well...um...your dress, you know. Can't mess it up."

(How can I let you know
I'm more than the dress and the voice?
Just reach me out and
You will know that you are not dreaming)

I gave him a look that said "yeah, right." He preferred not to answer that expression, so I returned to my seat across from him. We sat for a good ten minutes in silence avoiding eye contact before I finally rose to my feet.
"What's up?" he asked.
"Gotta get back before curfew," I invented. I swung my jacket over my shoulder and was about to leave when I turned back to him. "You know, I guess we don't have something special. I really thought we did. IF you only loved me for the songs I sang, and we can be torn apart by my dress," I said, spitting out the word dress as thought it tasted foul, "I guess we don't have much worth preserving." With that as my parting shot, I turned and strode to the door.
I heard something move behind me, and the next moment he had taken my hand. I turned to face him, but he didn't release my hand. He spread his arms, and despite my high defenses, I couldn't help but hug him. He held me close.
"The reason I drew away was because I didn't know."
"Didn't know what?" I asked.
"Didn't know you felt the same way I did."
"Well, what did you think?"
He looked into my eyes. "That I was dreaming."

(Darling so there you are
With that look on your face
As if you're never hurt
As if you're never down)

We looked at each other, and after that moment I could have painted his portrait perfectly without looking at him. I looked at him more intently in that one moment than I ever had in my life. I was reading his expression for honesty. There it was, intermixed with his expression of pure, painless happiness. He was so sweet...and this time, I wouldn't let him leave me.
Eventually, time came for me to go home, but I didn't want to leave Laguna. I looked at him imploringly and said, "It's time for me to go."
We had talked for six hours, approximately. Kiros and Ward came to tell me it was time to go, and Laguna waved them out of the room. He kissed me, and said "I don't expect you to leave your career. And I couldn't get out of mine if I wanted to. But, do you have to leave Esthar any time soon?"
"No." I wondered where this was going.
"Then...would...uh...would you consider...maybe..."
"Get the question out, Laguna." I teased, grinning.
"Marry me," he blurted.

(Shall I be the one for you
Who pinches you softly, but sure?
If frown is shown then
I will know that you are no dreamer)

I gave him a dumfounded look. "Huh?"
He was blushing. "Uh...Will you marry me?"
If I had thought he was embarrassed earlier, that was nothing compared to right now. His cheeks were a bright pink, and his eyes were downcast. He shot a glance up at me, and I blushed right back.
"Didn't think you would. Stupid question. Sorry." He got up and held up my coat, smiling as though to eras the memory of his question. I stood and walked over to him, and he held my coat out to me.
"Did I say no?" I asked quietly, smiling.
It was his turn to look dumfounded. "Huh?"
"I said, did I say no?"
"No, but..."
"Exactly."
"Then...you will?" he looked at me, thunderstruck.
I nodded and burst out laughing, throwing my arms around his neck. He began to laugh too, both of us just holding each other and laughing joyfully.

In later years, he asked me why it had taken me so long to answer.

My reply was: I had thought I was dreaming.