There are people we meet that we can never forget and it makes me wonder just why we forget at all...
Disclaimer: Daniel isn't mine, but Aeda is me, 110.
The sunlight that filters through her yellow curtains is winter sunshine – cold and bright and reflected through icicles that have been growing for days. She opens her eyes slowly and blinks against the brightness. These are her favorite kind of winter days, just after it snows and the world is blanketed in white perfection.
She rolls over onto her side and smiles at the man seated across from her. He is wearing the clothes she kept even after he was gone – jeans and the heavy grey sweater with wooden buttons and elbow patches that he laughed at when he saw it in the window of the store. She bought it for him anyway and whenever he visited Boston in the cooler months he wore it. She can remember the last time she saw him in it and she knows that it still smells of him because even in the middle of a brutal summer heat wave, she pulled it out and put it on, just so she could feel him.
It makes her smile widen to see that the bruise from her right hook is still visible on his cheek. Ascended being or not, they probably should have iced it instead of moving on to other...more interesting...things.
He returns her smile. "Good morning," he says and sips what she's fairly certain is freshly brewed coffee.
"Ascended beings make coffee?" she asks.
"It's all about helping people, Aeda," he says with mock seriousness and she laughs as she pulls herself up into a sitting position. He leans over and hands her the coffee mug. "I also made pancakes."
They're avoiding the pink elephant that has found its way into the room. She doesn't want to discuss the after, doesn't want to talk about what happens next. She just wants him, here and now.
She sips the coffee and tries to ignore the fact that her heart has skipped a beat. "Do you remember the last time we had pancakes?"
He nods slowly and she realizes that the pink elephant in the room is beginning to take up more space than before.
"The morning of the day I proposed. June 28th."
The crack in her heart is beginning to widen – it feels as real and tangible as the stone coffee mug in her hands.
"You can't stay, can you?" she asks in a voice that registers just above a whisper.
He shakes his head very slowly and she tries desperately to ignore the tears in his eyes. He's never cried in front of her and she cannot bear it – cannot bear his good-bye – if he does now.
"It doesn't work that way, Aeda." He leaves the chair and sits on the bed beside her. Bear joins them and when he lays his bony head on Daniel's knee she feels her heart break.
The words spill from her like pearls from a broken necklace. "I can't do this. I thought I could, I thought if I saw you and said good-bye that I'd be able to go on, but I can't, Daniel. I can't."
She's breathless and he takes the mug from her before wrapping her in his arms. The familiar feeling of wool against her cheek brings tears to her eyes and she grasps onto him with all her strength. He tries to console her, says nonsense things to her, but it doesn't help.
"You can do this, Aeda. You have your family and Bear and Jack. You don't need me here with you. I'll still be around, just not…here."
She pulls back from him and his thumbs gently brush tears from her wet cheeks. He kisses her and quiets the sob that is threatening to escape her lips. She breathes him in, tries to memorize the way he feels, the way her body responds to him. She would do anything not to forget and the fear that she might one day is agonizing.
"I love you," she says as they break apart. "More than anyone before, more than anyone after."
Tears escape his eyes and he kisses her again, harder and longer than earlier. "I love you, too, Aeda."
They hold onto each other for what feels like an eternity. Finally, he looks her in the eye and smiles very slightly. "Do you remember what I said to you that night on the phone?"
She smiles slightly as he pulls away from her and stands. "What are you wearing?" she asks.
He laughs. "Close." He leans over her, kisses her forehead, and leans back. "See you soon, Aeda."
"See you soon."
He reaches his hand out and rests it against her cheek. She closes her eyes, feels the warmth of him, and when she opens them again he is gone. She takes a deep breath. Beside her, Bear whines very softly and she rests her hand on his back.
"I know," she says. She glances out the window at the bright blue sky and perfect white snow. It hurts to look at, but she does it anyway.
It hurts to breathe, but she does it anyway.
It will hurt to be without him, but she understands and she will do it anyway.
Carefully, like mending a piece of lace, she weaves her broken heart back together.