It was only a passing moment, but it reaked of eternity. It was a simple act of deliberate intention, and yet he felt his resolve crumbling into an unspoken ache that would only fracture to howling like a wounded animal the moment he could break down alone and unseen.

But, not yet, not now. Not when she was standing there in front of him, with her eyes glowing at the arch of serene sky, the planes gliding over the runways as she held that ticket between her manicured nails, and put that longing palm against the glass. Sighing, she raked a cascade of golden hair over her shoulder, swept it up in aggitated fingers, twisted the strands and let it fall loose over her shoulder as her eager smile only widened.

He felt the tears rising again, forced the splitting grin over his cheeks until they ached, as he blinked hard, and snorted.
His flesh felt like it was shattering over the bones as he set her suit case down with a thud. She flinched at the noise, her heels clicked as she turned back towards him, eyed him with a concerned scowl. "Joey?"

When that failed to rouse him from his stewing, silent misery, she gently lay a hand over his shoulder, felt him shudder beneith her fingers as he shook himself back into awareness. Into *now*. He tilted his head, huffed the golden bangs out of his face, gave her his best, goofy grin. "Sorry, Mai. I was just thinkin'."

Her eyebrow arched high as she examined the tense line between his eyes, and fell when she looked into his eyes for a moment that lingered too long. Joey only sighed, bent down to hide his face under the pretenses of lifting her suitcase.
He heard her sigh, the silence, but did not see that tortured flinch when she saw the tremble in his fingers.

"Joey-" His name was breathed beyond his hearing as she hastily turned away, and stared without seeing the airplanes.
The ticket dangled between her slackening fingers, fell between them like a dying bird. Joey snorted softly, shook his head, as he knelt and held it out to her. When she touched him, he yanked his hand away as if it burned. She only shook her head at his reaction, slumped, tiredly. Her eyes drifted upward, rolled back behind the lashes, as if the ceiling above their heads held any of the answers.

"Joey." His name was nearly hissed, sharp as a whiplash as she sucked in a breath and tilted her head towards him. Her mouth twisted against her teeth, the lip stick staining the alabaster, that broken moment and all that she was leaving suddenly invading the decisions again.

She only heard that tired, tired sigh, as Joey lowered his head, set the suitcase down with delaying deliberation. She felt those warm hands encircling her own, caressing her fingers into a deeper grip over her ticket, felt his hands mold hers into fists over that paper as he finally balled them into certainty. He met her eyes, swept her hands up in his. She trembled when she felt his lips grace her knuckles in a chaste, bruising kiss, before he let them go.

He gave her a sad, accepting smile as he wound fingers through that gold hair, swept it over her ears, let his hands fall on her shoulders, and stay there as he said nothing, but only jerked his chin towards the clock. "It's almost time for ya to go, Mai."

It was a dismissal, final and pronounced as the way he turned away, hitched her suitcase with a grunt. She saw his back stiffen as he strode up the terminal, leaving her behind in a twisted ball of uncertain anguish.

Joey heard the clack of her heels as she called his name and clacked after him, imagined the swirl of her hair as she would fling it back in aggitation, heard her shoes thundering against the shining tiles. Her voice had melted from suprise to nearly a shrill whine and finally caught up with him.

He did not turn back to her, not until he felt her hand hand heavy on his quaking shoulder, those nails arching into claws as she forced him to look back at her.

"Joey, why-"

The words were suddenly like trying to heave up bricks, his eyes felt like a slap as his lips twisted. That broken torment was finally cracking to reveal the anguish sliding into futile rage, the futile whys, and reasons all bleeding together into one long, vicious avalanche. Joey shuddered as he felt something deep inside fracture from pain to benumbed torpor as he finally snarled out, "Because I love ya, Mai. That's *why.*