The Meaning of 'Sorry' – A Christmas Story

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She stood outside, watching the white snowflakes fall from the sky, her breath let out in visible little puffs in the air. She could hear music being played loudly in the Brief's home, but from the many conversations in the same room, the tune wasn't recognizable and the lyrics couldn't be heard. She didn't really care though. All she wanted to do was have a little alone time with the scenery before her.

The lake nearby was partially solid, but not enough to be able to go skating. Cars rarely passed by, which she was thankful for because she just wanted to listen. Listen to the soft fall of the snow grab onto surfaces, and heavy loads of snow on frail branches collapse. It really was a beautiful sight.

Right now, she just wanted to stay here by herself, and be carefree for the time being, though she knew that there were many things she had to worry about. Things like that were pushed to the back of her mind as she inhaled the cold, frosty winter evening. Eventually the thoughts were brought back when she heard the door behind her open, and close softly. Her heart skipped a beat; knowing whom it was already without having to turn around.

"Is it okay if I join you?"

His voice was as gentle as the snow hitting the ground, and she shivered, both from the cold and from the tension between them. They both had been avoiding each other all day at the party, but now he had decided it was time to speak. She sighed. Why did he have to choose this very minute? She was content, before he had followed her outside, and she had almost felt the Christmas spirit too. Despite her thoughts, she nodded, and spoke just as softly, "Yeah."

He walked to her then, and she watched him in the corner of her eyes as he stood beside her. She had to admit, he looked attractive with that formal suit he wore. He had on the classic tuxedo with a blood red bow tie. She wanted to scold Bulma for making everyone dress up formally, but right now, she didn't want to go anywhere. He would know for sure that she was avoiding him if she were to leave right when he just joined her outside. They didn't speak just yet, just stood awkwardly next to each other, looking forward at the blanket of snow of his parents' yard. Pan shifted uncomfortably in her place, and when she stole a glance at him, their eyes met.

Trunks was the first to speak then. "Don't you think Krillen's growing his hair out too long? I mean really, he's close to looking like a hippie." He lightened the mood between them, and she laughed.

She lightly hit him on the shoulder and brushed her hair out of her face. "Don't be so mean," she scolded, but her tone of voice didn't sound all too serious, not to mention the smile still on her face. She had to give him credit though; the tension between them was almost forgotten. "I think his hair looks great on him."

"I dunno, Pan. That tone of yours doesn't sound so convincing."

She laughed lightly again, and so did he. "Whatever," she mumbled, waving a hand at him as if to dismiss their conversation.

He rested his right arm on her shoulder and sighed softly. "It's beautiful out here, isn't it?" He felt her nod, and felt the cold breeze hit him. "Sometimes I have to wonder whether it'll always be this way."

She turned to look at him. "What do you mean? It always snows at this time, Trunks."

He shook his head and looked at his feet. "No, I mean… It's different sometimes… It was different last year." He met her eyes then and spoke almost in a whisper. "When you weren't here. It was different."

She looked away. "Trunks, you shouldn't bring that up, and you know it. We already talked about it."

He looked to the ground and shook his head as if he didn't, or didn't want to believe her. "Just because we discussed it doesn't mean it's past us." He took his arm off her shoulder, purposely brushing her neck with his fingers as he did. "I still care about you."

She laughed bitterly. "If you do, don't bring that subject up." Just after she spoke, she stepped forward and walked toward the partially frozen lake. She could hear him following after her, but she didn't stop until she reached her destination. Pan stood just under the tall oak tree beside the lake, and rested against it, her back touching the cold bark. She didn't mind the sky-blue flowing dress she wore, but she hated how little heat it retained. She rubbed her arms, sighed, and watched the white puffs of air escape from her mouth.

"I'd give you my jacket, but then I'd be cold."

She gave him a look and shook her head. "And I thought you were better than that."

He chuckled lightly. "I'm kidding. Here," he started to unbutton his tux, but before he pulled his arms out of the sleeve, she grabbed one of his arms, and he looked at her.

"It's okay, Trunks, I don't want it."

He could see goose bumps form on her arm though, and he scoffed. "Yeah right, I know you're cold."

"Just because I'm cold doesn't mean I want to wear things that belong to you."

"Correct me if I'm mistaken, but didn't you wear a shirt of mine when you had stayed overnight?" She looked away, and he regretted bringing 'that subject' up again. "I'm sorry."

I'm sorry…

That phrase was spoken multiple times to her that day before Christmas Eve a year ago. When she had cried in his arms after he'd opened the door for her… When she had explained what had happened to her that day, and what had happened after…

She walked numbly through the city, not knowing where she was heading. All she cared about was going as far from his home as possible. She just walked, her feet guiding her to a familiar place, where she would be safe. She didn't want to think about him now. It disgusted her, and things were going to be okay now. It had to be. She had told him their relationship was over.

Pan found herself in the front steps of her best friend's home. Though she had come here, she wasn't sure now if this was a good idea. Her hands shakily rose to the solid mahogany doors, but she didn't knock.

She couldn't.

Instead, she cried again.

She didn't even know when the door opened, what he had said to her when he saw her in her state. She didn't know when she felt his strong arms encircling her as he led her inside to the couch in the living room. Pan found herself crying on his chest, pouring out information she thought she wouldn't be able to say aloud to anyone, let alone herself.

And he listened to her. Trunks just held her in his arms, not saying anything to interrupt her. He wasn't thinking about what he should say to her to comfort her, knowing she didn't want any pity. She just wanted him to be there, and that was what he was going to do. Be there for her.

"…I don't understand why I'm not good enough for him, Trunks…"

He found himself speaking then. "Pan, he's not good enough for you."

She pulled away then and shook her head. "No," she spoke shakily, wiping her tears with her sleeve. Her voice cracked as she spoke. "I'm not good enough, and I never will be."

Trunks brushed a thumb across her cheek where a tear slipped down. "Don't say that. Do you really believe that?"

She didn't speak. Instead, she nodded, covered her face with her hands, and cried silently. She felt her body being pulled toward him, and she allowed him to hold her.

-

In the morning, she woke in his arms, in the exact position they were in hours ago. She stared at him, at how peaceful he looked when he slept. She pulled away from his embrace, careful not to wake him. He stirred in his sleep but he didn't wake just yet, and she took this time to leave the living room.

She went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and stared at herself. Her eyes were swollen and slightly pink. She didn't like what she saw in the mirror. The clothes she was wearing were given to her by her now ex-boyfriend. He had bought them for her for her birthday, and though those were happy times, it saddened her because it made her think of him. She didn't want to think about him, or remember him for that matter. So she walked into a guest room and went into the connected bathroom to shower. There, she closed the door and locked it.

Thirty minutes later, she dried her hair, wrapped her body in a towel, and found an unused toothbrush to brush her teeth. She snuck out of the guest room after she was finished so she wouldn't wake her best friend that was still lying on the couch in the living room. She smiled at how Trunks was such a deep sleeper. She knew he wouldn't mind her taking a shower in his home. She's done it multiple times before when her uncle Goten would spend the night over at Trunks' room and she would spend the night in Bra's room before she moved out to go overseas for college. Pan couldn't go overseas for college, she knew, because she wanted to stay with her family. Though she acted like a tough person, she got homesick easily.

As she reminisced, Pan slipped into Trunks' room, looking for a bathrobe that she would temporarily wear before heading back to her apartment. When she found none, she went into his closet and took out a light blue button down shirt, and wore it. She buttoned it all the way, but later unbuttoned all of them, deciding to hold it together instead since it was cold when she walked and the air went beneath her and up to her body. She wore nothing else underneath except for her undergarments from last night. She was thankful that she had taken a shower that night too before going to her ex-boyfriend's home... Before she walked in on him cheating on her with… She shook her head, trying to get the thought out of her head.

Just then, she heard the door open, and she spun around, only to bump into Trunks. He looked just as surprised as she, and blushed when his eyes trailed up and down her body. Their eyes met once he had finished his quick glance at her attire, and he spoke. "I thought you had left," he spoke quietly, as if he had been saddened when he thought she had left. His hair was slightly wet, and she had to assume he had taken a shower too, in a different room.

Pan gripped the material covering her body and wrapped it tighter around her, feeling the cold air come in, and moved one leg to touch the other to retain heat. "I just… Went to take a shower." She then remembered that she was wearing his shirt, and continued. "I hope you don't mind. I um…" She cleared her throat nervously, though she didn't know why she was nervous. "I hope you don't mind me borrowing your shirt."

"No, I don't mind at all." His eyes softened, and his lips curved upward into a warm smile. "You look cold."

"I'm fine."

"No you're not."

She returned his smile with one of hers, and looked away shyly. She saw him, from the corner of her eyes, grip the sweater he had on so he could give it to her, but she stepped backwards and shook her head, looking at him. "No it's okay, Trunks. I've caused enough trouble as it is. I don't want you to catch a cold."

He stepped forward though, with the sweater he took off in his hands. "Don't be ridiculous, I like it when you come over. You're no trouble at all, and hey, I don't want you to catch a cold either, so come here."

She backed away, refusing to wear it, but he continued walking to her. "I should be heading home anyway, and it'll only take a few minutes to fly home."

"You're going to fly home in that?" His eyes lowered to her arms that were holding the shirt in place, and he wore a sly expression. "Are you wearing anything under that?" he asked almost huskily, and she blushed furiously.

"Trunks, stop fooling around." Her back pressed against the wall when she took another step backwards, and she glanced behind her so that she could check if there really was no more room.

He apologized, but continued forward until they were a foot apart. "I can drive you home if you want."

"You can drive me crazy," she joked, and he laughed.

He reached beside her and grabbed a set of keys that were on top of the drawers, and swung it around on his fingers.

"And yet you came to me yesterday."

She looked at their feet and stared contently at the floor, as if remembering. "That's because you're… You," she spoke slowly, and then she looked back up at him and smiled sadly. "You're not like him at all."

"Hey, come on." He put his arms around her and pulled her to him. Their hug was awkward since Pan had to hold the shirt she wore so she wouldn't reveal anything, but she closed her eyes and breathed in his scent, welcoming his embrace. "Just smile for real for me, okay? I miss it." He felt her body shake unsteadily, and he tightened his hold on her slightly, knowing that she was crying.

After a while, he slightly pulled back and brushed her tears away. She looked away but he gently grabbed her chin and turned her head so that she was facing him. He flashed her a quick smile, but it disappeared when he spoke. "You're so beautiful, Pan." When she didn't respond, he slowly leaned his head to her, and grabbed her waist carefully. Then, when she didn't pull back, he tilted his head the side and pressed his lips to hers. Their kiss was slow, but ended quickly when they both quickly stepped backwards simultaneously.

"I'm sorry," he whispered instantly, but she didn't reply. "I just… I don't know what got into me." When she didn't answer still, he quietly spoke her name in a questioning tone.

She met his eyes then, but looked away quickly. "Can you take me home?" she asked, purposely ignoring his apology as if he didn't say anything to her and as if they never kissed. When he nodded, she brushed past him and headed out to his car.

He sighed and locked the front door once he was outside, and headed to the car. Pan was already buckled in the passenger seat, but she was looking away from him, not wanting to meet his eyes. He got in the car and they drove off in silence, until he decided to speak up when her house neared.

"You know that my mother's hosting a Christmas party tomorrow, right?" He parked the car on her driveway, and Pan opened the door.

"Yeah."

That was all they said before Pan closed the door and hurried to her apartment so no one would see her. Before she closed her front door behind her, she slowly turned around to see if he was still there, and their eyes met. She gave him a small wave when he raised his hand to say his goodbyes, and then she closed the door.

The next day at the Christmas party, she didn't show up.

-

"For what, Trunks?"

"What?" he watched as she shifted her weight to one foot and shivered as a gust of wind started up.

"What are you sorry for? Bringing what happened last year up, or are you sorry that just the day after I broke up with my boyfriend, you decided to…" she didn't finish her sentence. She knew that he would know what she meant anyway. She sighed and continued, "Just tell me why you're sorry." Her voice was quiet, and she rubbed her arms with her hands to warm herself.

He didn't answer her question though. Instead, he asked her one just as softly as hers. "Why are you mad at me?"

Pan just looked up at him, meeting his deep blue eyes, and didn't speak. She watched as he unbuttoned the last button on his jacket. "I told you, I don't want it."

"I'm not going to take it off," he replied, and he stepped forward and grabbed her arms and put them around him inside his jacket, and hugged her. She was warmed up instantly, but she tensed up. He could tell by her stiffness, and he sighed. "You really don't know what you're doing to me."

She rested her head on him. "Trunks, I just…" She felt him wrap the jacket tight on her back, and she nearly melted against him, feeling the warmth surround her. "I just don't want what happened last time to happen again," she whispered against him. "You're my best friend, and I don't want to ruin that."

"But isn't it already ruined?"

She looked up. "What?"

He didn't look at her. He stared forward at the scenery. "I know you're avoiding me and I'll admit it, I was avoiding you too. I don't think that's how 'best friends' work." He moved slightly backwards, and she moved with him. "Do you think I could just forget about what happened that day and move on like it never happened?"

"I want you to." She pulled away from him and goose bumps instantly covered her skin again against the wind. "'Cause I am."

He laughed bitterly and looked away as if he couldn't look at her. "Well Pan, I guess I'm not like you," he spoke coldly. He turned to look at her then. "I'm not going to forget about something just because I'm afraid of it and I don't know about you, but I think it sucks to hide from everything you're afraid of!"

"Oh, so you're mad at me," she said, raising her voice to match what he had just said. "I don't see how you could be mad at me, seeing as I wasn't the one who whispered, 'you're beautiful' and then-"

"I'm not mad at you, okay?" he sighed, exasperated. "I just... I don't know…" He looked at their feet and kicked a rock away toward the lake, and it broke the top layer of frozen water, disappearing in the dark below. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and bit his bottom lip.

All the anger she held inside disappeared as she stared at him. She found herself stepping closer to him until they were inches apart, and looked into his eyes so that he'd look at her. Once their eyes met, she spoke. "What's wrong, Trunks?"

He smiled sadly, almost as if he didn't want what he was about to say to be true. "I fell in love with you," he half whispered, half laughed, his voice choking on some of his words.

She looked away. She didn't know what she should say. She wasn't even sure if she was mad or upset with him for saying that to her. "Trunks…"

"I'm sorry."

He said it again. He seemed to say that a lot lately, but this was a different kind of 'sorry'. He seemed to say it in a way that made her guilty. He wasn't sorry for falling in love with her. He was sorry for needing to say that to her and putting the pressure on her and her feelings.

She laughed too, except this was more of an I-can't-believe-it kind of laugh. It was short though, because after her small outburst, she shook her head. She shook her head and tried to stop the tears from falling down her face. She wanted to stop it, run from him; from everything that was happening to her, but she couldn't. Her body wouldn't move. "Is that why?" she found herself asking. "Is that why you've been avoiding me? Why you've been distant, and didn't mind how I was being distant too?" She didn't give him enough time to answer as she continued. "Was it before or after I broke up with him that you… You…" she couldn't finish. Pan closed her eyes and tried to think through it all. "Is that why you're not in a relationship with anyone?"

He took his hands out of his pockets then and sighed. "What do you want me to say, Pan?"

She was finally able to look him in the eyes. "I want you to lie to me, and tell me you were kidding." Her eyebrows were furrowed downward as she went on. "Tell me that you were just being a jerk and wanted to have a little fun by saying stupid meaningless words and-"

He became just as angry as she was, and he walked to her, making her forget to finish her sentence. She nearly stumbled, but he didn't stop until he had her against the oak tree. "I refuse to lie to you, Pan, and I'm not going to let you make me forget about that kiss, because I can't help but like it, and I hate how you want to forget about it!" He watched as she looked away from him, but he didn't stop there. "Yes, I'm not in a relationship because of those reasons, and I know you're going to hate me for saying this, but," he laughed bitterly and continued. "I like how you blush every time I compliment you and how you would first tense up when I touch you but then in a split second, you'd relax, realizing it's me." He grabbed her hand, and to her dismay, he was right.

"Trunks-"

He cut her off. "Don't tell me to stop loving you, because I'm not going to. I don't even care if you hate me right now, but even after this," he suddenly got quieter. "Even after this," he repeated, "would you still hate me for telling you the truth?"

She gripped the hand that held hers, and blinked back tears that were forming in the corners of her eyes. "Kami, I hate you so much," she choked her words out, and though she said those words, she grabbed his shoulder with her free hand and pulled him closer to her until their lips made contact.

She knew he was confused, but he had gotten the message. She hated how he wasn't afraid of telling her his feelings and she was. She hated how he was right about everything, but despite all that, she loves him deeply, and she had for a long time.

He pressed her against the tree once again, until her head rested on it, and deepened their kiss. He warmed up her cold lips with his warm ones and caressed her cheek that was wet from tears that fell as they completed each other. Finally, they slowly parted, but no words were said. Trunks pulled her body to him in an embrace, and breathed in her scent, exhaling through his mouth.

She fit perfectly in his arms, her head just above his chin, and as she breathed, it tickled his neck. "I'm sorry," she whispered, and he smiled.

He felt her plant a feathery light kiss on the crook of his chin, and he leaned down and kissed her forehead. "We should probably head back inside," he mumbled, but they didn't move from their spot. Instead, he slowly leaned closer to her and captured her lips once again.

-

A/N: I took a break from writing another chapter from my other story because a new idea popped in my head, so I decided to go with it. I'm still working on my other story, so watch out for that one:P Happy Holidays everyone!