WAITING FOR A FRIEND

GAIA MOORE FELT UNCOMFORTABLE. No, not just uncomfortable but awkward with a dollop of stupid mixed in. There were three reasons for this. Number one: there was the clean black suit and smart ankle boots she was wearing. While this outfit had been prefect for her meeting with Agent Malloy an hour earlier, it looked out of place amidst the trucker gear everyone else seemed to be wearing. Number two: she was wearing layers of cover-up to disguise the bruise on her cheek, which she had obtained during training. Also her hair was falling out of her once sleek ponytail. Oddly it was not this that was making her feel uncomfortable/awkward/stupid. She was used to looking like a disaster victim. Looking a mess had become her 'signature style' of sorts while she was in her teens. Gaia snorted into her drink at this thought. Back in high school the girls had thought that always wearing dusky rose lipstick was a 'signature style'; not looking like a homeless person.

In truth it was number three that was causing her uneasiness. It was also the same reason why Gaia was currently sitting alone in Johnny Ray's, her eyes flicking to the door every five seconds.

She was waiting for a friend she hadn't seen in three years.

She was waiting for Ed Fargo.

GAIA SWISHED THE REMAINS OF HER NOW FLAT COKE AROUND THE BOTTOM OF HER GLASS. However her mind was not on her unfinished drink. She was too busy remembering the phone call she had made to Ed a couple of weeks ago.

"Hi, Ed. It's Gaia."

"Gaia? As in Gaia Moore?" asked Ed's disbelieving voice.

"How many Gaias do you know?"

"Jeez." Gaia heard Ed chuckle. "I am surprised to hear from you. I thought you had moved to Iceland or something."

"Definitely or something," Gaia replied, briefly looking out of the window at the Virginia landscape.

"How are you?"

It was a simple question for Ed to ask, but for Gaia it required on a complicated answer. Finally she settled on replying with an "alive".

"Well, that's a start."

"I suppose. How are you?"

"Actually I'm pretty good. I graduated from NYU a few months ago with a degree in sport and exercise. I now have a job at a local health and fitness centre."

"That's fantastic Ed!" Gaia said with a smile that nobody could see.

"Thanks." Gaia could almost hear him blush with gratitude. "What have you been up to?"

"Well I...I joined the FBI," Gaia said, unfortunately aware of how silly she sounded.

"The FBI huh? That means you have to stop trouble instead of causing it now right?" Gaia could hear the amusement in Ed's voice.

"Yes it does mean that. Though to be honest I am finding that a habit hard to break," Gaia admitted.

"I'm sorry to hear that." The sincerity in his voice made Gaia suddenly realise how much she missed him. How much she missed him and his honestly and his selflessness. How much she missed his friendship.

"Ed, can I ask you a favour?"

"You don't want me hit someone, do you?"

"No, nothing like that," Gaia replied. "Ed, could you come visit me?"

It was because of that one question that Gaia was sitting on a barstool, wishing that her drink was a beer and not a Coke.

"COULD YOU COME VISIT ME?"

It was because of that one question that Ed was parking his rust bucket of a car in front of some restaurant/bar called Johnny Ray's. Though if Ed allowed himself to be honest with himself, it was because of whom had asked him that question. Only a month ago his own sister had asked him to visit her, but he had said no. No, there was no way he was hauling his ass all the way from New York to end up in some dump of a town that she now called home.

But he had done it for Gaia. And why? He had heard nothing from her in three years. Then she called out of the blue and he immediately decided to travel across several state boundaries to see her. As Ed climbed out of his car he realised that he would always have a soft spot for Gaia.

Ed sighed as he remembered watching Gaia disappear from that alley. Disappear from his life, for what he thought would be forever. He had tried to forget her. He had tried to move on. He had tried to feel happy for her as she was finally getting the fresh start she needed and deserved. But in the following weeks and months he had started to slowly slip into depression. He often wondered if it was possible to drown on your own tears. He had been a positive person. Or at least he had tried to be a positive person. But Gaia's departure had left him broken. The fact was he missed her. A lot.

To take his mind off Gaia, Ed had started skating again. And thank god for the moment he decided to do that. It had been like therapy. Ed had almost forgotten the rush that skating could bring him. Skating again had also been why Ed picked his particular degree course. And it was also why Ed and Kai had tried dating again. Besides both liking skating, with the knowledge that he could no longer be with Gaia at all, Ed was able to focus fully on Kai. Their relationship had been good, but by the end of his second year at university the excitement had fizzled out and they both decided it would be best if they were just friends.

But then Gaia had phoned. And now here he was, wondering in what ways had she changed and in what ways was she still the same. There was only one way to find out. As Ed walked towards the door we wished there were more films about meeting long lost loves, because right now he really needed some advice on how to handle this reunion.