If I Never See Your Face Again by AndromedaMarine

If I never see your face again I want you to know the truth. Every day you pass through a portal from which you may never return. When you turn back and smile, waving, before you step into danger, I want to scream it out or make you wait before you leave so I can embrace you – even if it's the last time I will. Four years, John. Four years and I still haven't listened to my heart.

There – I just did it again: I just waved goodbye to you without following my heart. One day it won't be enough. That day is approaching very quickly. Four years, John. Four years. If I never see your smile again I want to burn it into my memory. I'm so sure that your kiss would be even fierier than the raging flame that stays on my skin after you touch my arm or my hand. I want to burn your smile into my memory. If I never see your face again, John, I want to be able to say the truth. Now I force myself to walk away from the empty portal. My mind fights with my heart; it feels like a war raging inside my hollow shell. I know that one day my heart will win and the shell will become full of what I've denied myself. I know that one day I'll have to give in to it. One day. One day soon.

Maybe it'll be too late. Maybe that day will come when I'll smile and wave and I will never see your face again. My mind negotiates and argues with my heart: yours wouldn't be the first face to pass through the oblivion of my mind and die away. Yours wouldn't be the first face that I'll never see again. Could I really be that selfish? Internally I kick myself while I keep the calm, diplomatic exterior. I come to the truth. If I never see your face again I would die. Everyone I pass has no idea that I'm really terrified that you'll never return. No one but me knows what my heart's been screaming to my head. I have to acknowledge it. I will, eventually, but I still have no idea that every time you make eye contact with me if it's for professional purposes or not. I don't know if you feel the exact same way, terrified of what I might think. Four years, John. Four years of smiled goodbyes, nothing more. Four years of wondering, and four years of beating myself up. Four years of whispered and silent goodbyes.

If I never see your face again I need you to know the truth. I need to know the truth. Hours will pass before you're scheduled to check in, but I know you'll be late. And every time I'll worry. I know your lack of punctuality is a flaw I might learn to love, but it doesn't change the fact that something could go wrong off-world. It doesn't change the fact that if something goes wrong I will never see your smiling, amazing face again. I won't cry. Even though my heart is now plagued with sadness about my own hopelessness, I won't cry. I won't let myself. If anything I can only cry if you're here to hold me for the turbulence. And even then I don't know if you'd be willing. If I never see your face again I will have to cry, but it will never be the same as weeping when you're here.

The hours have passed and it's now your scheduled check-in time. I make my way to the control room and I know that you'll be late. It's an inevitable fact that I'll have to live with as long as I continue to see your face. If I lose that privilege I'll never say that you've died; I'll never accept that you're really gone. My mind will argue with my heart again and probably convince it that you're just another one of the faces that died away in my head. But I didn't imagine you. If anything I imagined every possibility that arose which could take you from me, but I never imagined you. For the longest time I didn't have anyone real in my life, anyone I could trust to keep me safe. At first, it felt like I was imagining you, but that first brush of skin-on-skin and I knew it wasn't a fairytale – I felt the fire that exploded inside me. It didn't take long for me to realize I had felt you.

Each smile that you send my way, each flick of the eye toward me, makes me feel loved – but I still don't know if you're just sucking up. My mother would tell me to be happy that I've got someone who cares about my wellbeing, even if the guy who does is just a coworker. Ha. You're more than that, and we both know it. I've been sitting in the control room for twenty minutes now, and the worry is starting to build up. The day is here, I can just feel it. This is the day that I have to tell you the truth. I don't want to lose you. I don't want to go through the list of 'if I never see your face again' again. My heart is winning the battle raging inside my empty shell. My mind is overpowered, and my heart leaps with newfound strength when the portal begins to spin.

The gorgeous unstable vortex that could just as easily take me away from you extends into the center of the room below me. My heart pounds as the team steps through the gate, your mission being cut short by unexplained events. Perhaps the mission was completed? Or maybe that tragic and desperate event that did take you away from me has happened. My heart can't keep up with the suspense as the other three in your team step through. And then I see your hand – your torso and your head – and I see a smiling face. The one I let go so easily so many hours before; it's not gone, it's not going to die away in the expanse of my mind. You're alive. For now.

You see the relief and worry on my face and you're a bit confused. The rest of your team goes to their respective rooms and you signal me with your eyes to follow you. I do. Once we're in the solitude of a deserted hallway you turn to face me, that gorgeous visage displaying worry and confusion. "Are you okay?" you ask me, your voice melodic as it presses my condition.

I nod, but unshed tears build up behind my eyes and you can see it's clear I'm not alright. "Not here," I say, although it sounds stupid coming out of my mouth. Your quarters are closer. God, did I just think that? Here I am, internally sobbing about what I'm about to tell you and all I can think is that your room's closer than mine. But your eyes fill with sadness that mirrors mine, and your hand hovers at the small of my back, making me tingle at the non-contact. I wish you'd touch me and guide me down the hallway, instead of hovering. But if I slow down you would match my pace. I just want to feel you again.

The doors of your quarters swish open almost unexpectedly, startling me from my own cringing thoughts. "Are you okay?" you repeat, gesturing for me to sit on your bed. I accept the offer, and descend onto the mattress. Your hand touches mine again and the fire sweeps through my body once more, igniting every emotion I possess.

I take some deep breaths, calming my core, or at least attempting to. "I have to tell you something." Your eyes grow wide, the hazel orbs piercing my green ones. I breathe out fast. "This is really hard," I mutter, but you catch it.

"What's hard?" you inquire, and place your hand on my upper arm. I try to ignore the waves of fire that flow through my body, originating at where your hand is now placed. You squeeze my arm, getting me to look at you.

"For four years we haven't said anything. Four years have passed and every time you walk through the gate I'm terrified that you won't come back." I stare into your eyes, unable to look away from their depth. I find comfort in them.

You give me a small smile. You seem relieved at what I just said. "Every time I leave I'm worried that I won't be able to come back and see your face again." It is a careful confession, but your eyes betray what you mean. It's my confirmation. You stand from the crouch you've been in and stretch, your hands ruffling the already disheveled black mop on your head. You sit next to me, your weight lowering the bed so I start to slip toward you. For a moment I think back to the situation involving Phoebus and Thalan, and suddenly my face feels red-hot. You turn toward me, your face ever closer to mine. I can almost taste your breath. "I'm afraid that I won't get to tell you the truth."

Now I'm really nervous. You're giving me the signals that you feel the same way about me. "What's the truth?" I ask softly, and I watch as your face inches closer.

You don't answer. Instead the fire explodes inside me as your lips gently touch mine. And now I'm hungrily kissing you back. This is the contact I need. I'm feeling you again. I weave my hands into the mop on your head and the only air that finds our lungs is taken in when the kiss is misaligned. I can feel your defined chest under the shirt you're wearing. You cup my face with your large hands and pull away. Immediately I miss the feeling and want more. "I've stepped in love before, but I fell in it the first time I saw you."

If you were any other guy I'd think it was the corniest thing to say to a girl. But for you it is true. "I love you," I whisper, and catch your lips again.

Now I know that if I never see your face again at least it's burned into my memory. At least your scent, the feel of you and your taste will linger on my lips. At least you will leave a part of yourself behind if I never see your face again. And I admitted it. I told you what I had wanted to for four years. I told you that I love you. And you say it back to me. "I love you too," you say in between kisses. And now I know that I will always have you.