Special thanks to FearlessNot, Christine30974, and Lalalovely47 for talking through plot and/or beta-ing. This thing could have easily gone off the rails w/o you all. Ficland is kind of fun when other people are involved.
As always, I am both disclaiming and unowning.
I leaned against a post near the entrance of the Opéra Bastille, watching her. I didn't regret letting her go for the first time since we had left the restaurant as she traipsed down the steps in front of me. She was a vision as she glided around, half-dancing, half skipping.
I laughed, as she twirled in front of me, letting the summer night air billow beneath the light fabric of her skirt.
"What?" she said turning to me with a drowsy smile, "Something funny?"
"No," I said sighing lazily, "Just too beautiful of a night, Pretty Girl. I don't think my heart can take it."
I clutched at my chest, and she rewarded my theatrics with a laugh, it was all the reward I thought I ever might need.
She continued with her foray down the steps, her shoes discarded someplace near where I sat.
"So you're a dancer then?" I called to her; she was halfway down the steps already.
I got up, taking the stairs two at a time, watching as her auburn hair picked up the flashes of light from the passing cars filled, no doubt, with the last of the late night revelers. Daybreak was just a few hours away. Tired of being away from her, I ran for the last dozen steps, grabbing at her with desperate hands. She sighed as my lips made their presence on her bare shoulder as I held her from behind, her blouse hanging off of her arm from her careless twirling.
"No," she said breathily as I tried to ignore the frenzied anticipation growing in the pit of my stomach, "not a dancer."
"Quite the opposite," she continued, pulling away from me, leaving my body cold and wanting, "Maybe a klutz, even."
She danced away from me and I followed her, my breathing slow now, measured, sensuous at the sudden freeness of her every unguarded movement. She looked so blissfully happy, so content that I began to believe that maybe she might just like me enough…
Enough to what?
I ignored my own question as I reached around her waist with a gentle arm. I pulled her toward me, taking care to encircle her with both arms this time. I wouldn't let her get away. She drew her arms up from the cage of my embrace, curling her fingers around my forearms, rubbing absentmindedly at the slight vein that ran from my wrist and disappeared before my elbow. I leaned over her shoulder, into the curtain of hair hanging loosely aside her face, my chest pressed into her back, surprised at how delightful I found her scent. Sweet and light, feminine… But there was something else that made it perfection… I could smell, just faintly, a little bit of myself. I had been holding her so close to me from the moment that we left the restaurant that it should hardly have been a surprise. Her scent mixed with mine, it was a new favorite…
As were her eyes…
"Well," I said into her ear, "You definitely don't seem klutzy tonight."
"Mmm," she agreed wordlessly, leaning back into my arms, nuzzling into my touch as I reached around to cup her cheek.
"Paris must agree with you," I said, moving my hand to rub the delicate skin just below her ear with the pad of my thumb.
She turned in my arms and placed the softest, sweetest, most briefly intimate kiss on my lips. She trailed a hand down my arm, grabbing the shoes that hung precariously at my fingertips. She slipped them on and placed her hand back in mine, pulling me toward the base of the steps. She let the silence grow as we left the Opéra Bastille behind us, another beautiful memory to add to the night of a million more.
"No," she said finally, swinging our intertwined hands absentmindedly, pulling me up the street, "I just think I feel… different … when I'm with you."
I pulled her into me for another quick kiss, this time on the side of her neck, before letting her lead me back into the promising night.
She stopped suddenly in front of a hedge-lined arcade.
"Where to, General?" I said teasing her for her insistent pulling. She practically dragged me five city blocks.
"Here." She said turning to the deserted tunnel, "Place des Vosges."
"Ahhhh," I said in realization. "I've never been here. It's supposed to be beautiful."
"It is!" she agreed, pulling me into the Plaza, "I pass it every day on my way to my hotel and I just always think… This, this, is way that the new Paris is supposed to look."
"What do you mean?" I asker her with only half of my conviction, I was too obsessed with the way her eyes lit up at the admission.
"I don't know… It's just a perfect piece of heaven in the middle of the bustling city… It's like, if modernity grew and touched every single piece of Paris, it would stop right here… Right at these hedges."
She was right. It was beautiful; a courtyard of perfectly manicured lawns and tan gravel, framed on all sides by red and white bricked houses, uncharacteristic of Paris, but stunning nevertheless. Elaborate fountains and nameless statues dotted the grounds, the high hedges hiding the bottom-floor arcades of the stone-faced buildings that peeked out between the thick, leafy trees.
She let go of my hand and ran ahead of me, stopping only when she turned to motion me forward.
"See?" she said intently, staring at me with fascination in her eyes. "Listen."
I stopped, listening for the faint sounds of music or some sort of inconceivable French soundtrack. I didn't hear anything but the faint sounds of water trickling somewhere in the distance, a fountain no doubt.
"I don't hear anything," I admitted to her, whispering.
She giggled and grabbed my hand again, the two seconds we were apart far too long for both of us. "Exactly!"
She walked us to a hidden corner on the far end of the lawns, almost totally obscured by high hedges on every side, impossible to see in the blackness of the night before dawn. The moment we passed the threshold of the topiary, a boundary between the world of reality and the dream that we were living in; she pushed herself into me, her lips insistently working into mine.
"Make love to me," I heard her whisper, the urgency in her voice shocking me still. I jerked away from her.
I regretted my sudden action immediately; it could have been interpreted as revulsion though I wanted to guarantee her it was simply, merely shock. Only moments ago she had been tortuously innocent, it was perhaps the only thing that kept my own attraction to her in check.
"Never mind," she said hastily, turning away from me, brushing her skirt down though I had no idea that it had even risen in the first place.
"Wait," I said to her retreating form as she backed away from me, "I'm just… Surprised is all."
In the light of a far off streetlamp, I could see tears pooling in her eyes at her perceived rejection and I was at her side in an instant, begging her not to cry as I pressed her into my chest.
"Don't cry. Please don't cry…"
She pulled away from me, just slightly enough, to look up at me beneath her glistening lashes – just enough to tear at my heart.
"You don't want me?" she asked simply as I wiped at her dry cheek with the pads of my thumbs. The tear had yet to fall yet still it begged me to reassure her.
"No," I said, running a hand through her hair, "Surely you must know it is not that…"
"Then?" she asked defiantly, the change in her tone making me smile.
"I can't do that…Here. Not when we both have to leave in the morning…"
She sniffed petulantly and I kissed the tip of her nose, not wanting to apologize for telling her the truth. I would not make love to here, for our first time, here in this courtyard- Even if it was utterly romantic. No, when we made love it would be in a warm bed, no ticking clocks to sully what was sure to be another perfect moment. I wouldn't do her the injustice of depriving her of anything that I could give her. I knew then, I would give this girl the world, but just not this.
She raised herself on her toes, the tears gone and replaced with something else. Resolve.
"Then kiss me," she demanded breathlessly. "Please… kiss me."
In this private piece of the world, with the desperation in her voice, I knew that rapture on earth could exist. Light and shadow dueled for space on her body, but there was only room for me, my skin on hers. I wanted to close my eyes at the torture of it all, for I knew then that she would be the only one satisfied tonight, but the torture was a small price to pay. She smiled at me shyly, forgiving me for my behavior earlier, and I wanted her impossibly more. I pulled her into me, her body bowing into mine, my hands running from the small of her back to the nape of her neck, my mouth trailing wet kisses down the side of her neck the entire time.
She groaned into me, thrusting her midsection into mine, my body agreeing obviously with the action. I moved to her mouth, kissing her feverishly, trying to hold her up as she collapsed into my arms. I moved us backward, panting by the time my hand, which had only just been resting on the small of her back, touched the wall. She ground her pelvis into me; rhythmic moaning emanating from deep in her throat and the sound forced me to drag my hand from her hair, down her neck, over her breasts, into the waistband of her skirt… I stopped at her panties as her eyelids fluttered closed, a drowsy smile gracing her lips, I had no choice but to take it as her acquiescence.
"Can I?" I asked hesitantly, knowing it was not exactly what she wanted, but it was something to bring us closer, something to fill the void for now… Just for now.
"Yes," she agreed in a strangled gasp, "God, Yes…"
I removed my hand entirely, she protested with a crazed look, but I quieted her with my lips on hers, my hand already traveling up her skirt instead, my fingers running along her thighs, stopping just at the lace of her underwear, between her legs.
She let out the most delightful squeak, squirming pleasantly in my arms as I continued to devour her mouth, wanting to taste, at the very least, this part of her wetness.
She bucked into my hand, as I trailed a finger over the thin barrier of her panties, her wetness already soaking though the cloth. I tore my mouth from hers and I moved to her ear, whispering dirty, sensual words to convey just how desperately I wanted her.
"I want to make you come," I groaned as she nipped at the skin on my neck, "Do you want that? Do you want to come…?"
She writhed and thrashed against me, grabbing my forearm and whimpering as she tried to lead me where she wanted me…
"Say it," I teased her, running a finger between the lips of her pussy, the barrier of her underwear clearly driving her insane.
"Ung… Yes, yes I want you to…"
"Want me to what?" I helped her along, my index finger now resting at her most sensitive peak, perfectly still.
"I want you to make me come… Please!" she begged again and while I wanted to continue playing this game, I still had the unyielding urge to give her everything she desired.
I hooked my finger through the waistband of her underwear and pulled them down, still holding her tightly against me with my other arm. She attempted to help as she wriggled them down to the middle of her thighs, but I scolded her, nuzzling at her ear.
"Stay still… You asked for this…."
She channeled her frustration into her ministrations at my neck, her open-mouthed kisses turning into frenetic moaning at my throat. I parted her in my hand, feeling the wetness that had pooled there, yet not wanting to penetrate her. No that, along with the lovemaking, that was for another night…
I gathered the wetness on the tip of my finger, drawing it up and down the lips of her pussy, slowing just as I reached the base of her clit. If I thought her pace before was frenzied, it was nothing compared to the panting intake of her breath now. She placed her forehead on my shoulder, staring at my hand, stilled between her legs. She moaned, out of pleasure or frustration I had no idea, and I wondered briefly if she might need a moment to collect herself. For all the running we had done this evening, I had never seen her so short of breath.
"Are you oka--?"
The question died on my lips as she launched herself at me, her deep kisses making me the one suddenly out of air. It was only as I felt her wetness brush at my fingertips, her thrusting attempts to give herself what I had been denying her thus far, that I realized where I was and what I was in the middle of doing.
"Tsk.. tsk," I tutted at her, pulling my hand out of her reach, "What did I tell you about staying still?"
"Fine!" she practically yelled, making me worry for the first time about our compromised position. I looked around, the night still as serene and deserted as it had been when we arrived and I looked back into her eyes, satisfied at our privacy.
I turned back to her, her eyes questioning at the slightly menacing look of my smirk. I looked between us, and her eyes followed, my hand lingering dangerously close to her middle.
"What do you want me to do to you?" I rasped into her open mouth, kissing her deeply before I let myself concentrate completely on the task at hand, "Tell me."
She bit at me, pulling at my lip, trying to tell me without words that she was tired of waiting, but I wouldn't let her go so easily. No, if she thought this would be quick, she was wrong.
"Tell me," I said, brushing my finger against her bundle of nerve endings just once, causing her to reward me with a new sound, a cry of desperation, nearly a sob.
"Touch me," she begged.
"How?" I hummed into her open mouth, my tongue punctuating the question with a sweep across her bottom lip.
"My clit," she gasped without air, grabbing my hand and forcing it forward, "There. Please, touch me there…"
I touched my finger experimentally against her clit, her body breaking into goosebumps everywhere else. Rubbing the wetness I had gathered first in circles, then in short flicking movements, I tried to discern which she liked best. Though the constant barrage of moaning and sighing led me to believe that she liked both, though I thought to ask her for confirmation, if only to torture her just a little.
"I wonder," I said aloud, wanting to draw this out to make it as good as possible for her," What you like better…"
"This," I said, rubbing at her bud with my thumb in flicking upward motions.
"Or this," I shifted my position to sweep in circular patterns, just lightly enough with feathery touches, on the tip of her clit.
Her knees buckled beneath her and I easily drew her up again, back into my chest.
"Hmmm?" I breathed into her ear, "Which one is it?"
"Both! Ah!" she yelped, trying to squirm away from my hand.
I laughed, alternating between the movements, "Then why are you trying to get away?"
"T---too," she gasped, "Too good. Unnngh…"
I smiled at her admission, exuberant that I was able to pleasure her, and tightened my grasp around her, making it impossible for her to wiggle away. I rubbed and flicked at her, continuing my dirty talk in her ear, the way she nipped and bit at my neck the only confirmation that she liked what I was saying, it was particularly daring.
She tensed in my arms, her breathing a pattern of staccato rhythms, her hands grabbing tightly into the fabric on my back.
"Are you going to come, Pretty girl?"
I could hardly expect a verbal answer, not the way she could barely breathe, let alone stand on her own. I pinched her clit softly, rolling in between my fingers, loving the way that her wetness seemed only to increase despite the way I played her in my hands. I was supporting nearly all of her weight against the wall. I loved the fact that I could make her this way.
Her breathing stopped entirely as she went rigid in my arms, her pussy shaking and pulsing in my hand. She trembled as if she had just come in from the snow… Once… Twice… Three times she quivered without a breath… And suddenly, she was gasping, her eyes fluttering open though they had been clenched shut just seconds ago. I held her there, not caring if it took her one moment or one hour to regain her strength, I was so perfectly happy, just like that. She pushed away from me softly, her hands on my chest, her feet trying to find steady footing on the ground.
After staring into my eyes with an adoration that made me want to make her come all over again, she bit her lip bashfully; the blush of her cheeks flaring up in the light of the beginnings of the rising dawn. I looked around, suddenly aware of the fact that sometime during the course of our tryst, the sun had graced us with its presence, though second only to her beauty, still mussed and slightly crazed with the aftermath of her orgasm.
She ran her hand down to the waistband of my pants as I silently rebuked the scolding sun. I stopped her, pulling her hand up between us, my eyes never leaving hers as I made no attempt to shield the reverence in them. I kissed into the palm of her hand.
"No…" I said simply.
"But I want to..." she protested.
I shook my head, "No. Tonight, just tonight, it's all for you. I want to give you…"
I stopped myself, not sure of how to finish the sentence, not sure of how to ask her for what I so ardently desired. I was already leading her back out into the cool Paris air for our next adventure before she could protest again; before she could ask me to finish my sentence, but not before I caught a glimpse – just the smallest glimpse—of her crestfallen face.
We found ourselves quietly making our way back to the Rue du Faubourg St. Antoine, the same place where this crazy-beautiful night began. The streets were bathed in the baptism of the new light - a new day – a new beginning. We stepped around the shopkeepers opening their windows and doors, the streets still wet from the pre-dawn cleanings, the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air. It was as if the night had never come, as if the past 10 hours were a dream. If it weren't for the fact that she was pressed into my side, tucked under my arm, her hand bunching the fabric at my waist I might have believed it was all a dream. But it wasn't… It was an impossible reality, a reality that I never wanted to change.
She yawned, burrowing into my side, the crispness of the morning air ushering with it the lightest breeze.
"Tired?" I asked her, "You need sleep."
She exhaled wordlessly, though her body seemed to agree in the way she inched even further into my tight embrace.
"Coffee," she said finally, pulling me into the direction of a patisserie, "I need coffee."
"Your wish is my command," I admitted playfully, pulling open the door.
She smiled at me as she passed, pausing for a moment to stand on her tip toes to give me the small kisses I had come to love just as much as the fiery, passionate ones. She skipped to a table near the front, adjacent to the window, and gave me a hopeful look after a pointed stare at the freshly baked pastries displayed at the counter.
"Broke ass," I teased her, shaking my head.
She stuck out her bottom lip, placing her hands under her chin playing the begging pup.
"Fine," I pretended to cave, playing her game, she was just too adorable. "What do you want?"
"Une baguette, s'il vous plaît, avec du beurre… Et confiture."
Her French accent wasn't bad I thought as I turned to the baker behind the counter, repeating her order. Maybe she knew the language better than I had assumed. Maybe we can just stay in Paris…Forever.
I made my way back to the window, smiling at the way she was resting her head on her folded arms, collapsed over the table, her eyes wide open as she watched me balance my food and hers in my arms.
"No, no, don't worry. I've got it."
She lifted her head from the table, grinning, as she stretched her hands toward me, opening and closing her fists and grasping at the air as if it would make me quicken my pace. She should have known by now, I liked to tease her.
I placed my espresso and croissant out of her reach, not sitting down, her café au lait and baguette still in my hands. I bent over her, holding her much-desired food behind my back.
"A kiss first," I requested, making sure to keep the food out of her reach.
She reached up to my face, cupping my cheeks with both her hands, brushing the softest kiss against my lips. Who was teasing whom now?
I shook my head, knowing that this was the beginning of the end, my desire to please her easily outweighing my desire to keep anything from her. I took my place across from her, reminding myself it would only be a matter of moments before I could have her in my arms again. I was already hopelessly addicted. I sat, transfixed, as she ripped off a piece of baguette, taking great care to spread on the thinnest layer of butter, then heaping on a dollop of jam. I smiled, watching her sigh and chew merrily. So she did have indulgences then…
"You're not hungry?" she said swallowing, eyeing the untouched pastry in front of me.
"No, I'm starving… I just like watching you."
She beamed at me, but just as soon as the smile reached her eyes, she frowned, her eyes filling with water.
"What?" I asked panicked, coming to her side.
"Tears again? What did I do this time?" I tried teasing her, to lighten the mood. "I'll eat every pastry in here if it'll keep you from crying…"
She laughed, a few tears spilling over the rim of her lashes, tumbling slowly down her cheek. I brushed them away with the back of my hand, leaving kisses in my wake, her cheeks still damp. She laughed again, pushing me away.
"I'm sorry," she said sniffling after I took my seat, "I don't usually cry this much."
"You don't have to apologize, Pretty Girl, just tell me what's wrong… What's making you so sad?"
She opened her mouth to speak, but a she fought to choke back a sob instead, the tears coming back with a renewed fervor. I didn't get up this time; I reached across the table grabbing her hands away from her face as she tried to hide herself from me.
"Tell me," I urged her, needing to know exactly what was wrong so that I could fix it.
"I—I just," she cried, her hands still clasped in mine atop the table, though she tried to turn away from me, " I just don't know how to say goodbye to you…"
I let go of her hands. I wasn't sure what to say. I wanted to yell at her, You insane, infuriating, bewitching girl, I never want to be without you…! Don't ever say goodbye, I beg you, don't ever leave…!
I wanted to say all of those things but with the tears falling down her cheeks, dripping onto the table top, the raw agony in her eyes, her quivering bottom lip… All of it, in confluence, it all but broke my heart.
"Then don't…" I whispered to her hoping desperately. "Then don't say goodbye."
"I don't want to," she whispered back, each hitch in her breath stabbing at my heart.
"Then don't," I begged her again, pulling her hand to my face and brushing her fingertips against my lips, memorizing her touch, "You don't ever have to say goodbye to me."
She pulled her hands from mine, sobbing into her palms at my request, the telltale signs of my own overwhelming emotion pulling at the insides of my throat. I bit my lip to keep it from shaking, imploring my body for just another moment of composure. I knew that now was the time to ask her, coward that I was, that in her state of weakness maybe, just maybe, she would accept, but I couldn't speak. I could barely think with her crying this way. It was impossible, but I knew it was true. After just 10 hours with her, her pain was mine and I couldn't take seeing her so sad. I – we- needed to calm down. Just for a moment, just long enough for me to plead with her to stay.
"I'll get you a tissue," I said, needing a moment to collect myself and wanting to soothe her in some small way, "And when I come back… No more tears. Promise?"
She swiped at her cheeks, worrying her bottom lip and trying to still her breath, nodding at my words. She looked the way I felt, probably sure that if she spoke her voice would betray her the way her tears already had. I smiled at her one more time, memorizing the tiniest freckle just above her lip, the first time I had seen it, and I thanked the morning sun. It was already giving me the gifts that the moon could not; maybe it would give me just this last one…
Bypassing the rough paper napkins sitting on the counter- her skin was too delicate to for those things- I pushed my way into the bathroom. I closed the door behind me, taking the time to collect myself. I splashed some water onto my face, preparing myself for the possibility of her refusal; I couldn't be too confident. But I hoped, no I wished, that she would accept my offer. I didn't quite know what to say, or how to say it.
I barely know you, but I already know that love you. I know that it's impossible, that we only just met, but I think I knew it the moment I saw you. Love at first sight? I could hardly think it before. But now? Now I am sure, now I live it, you are it. Run away with me, come with me, I'll run with you… Whatever you want, I'll give it to you. All I want in return is your heart… I swear to you, I cross the heart that is yours alone, I will protect everything of you until my last breath…
I looked myself in the mirror, unembarrassed at the grandness of the words I couldn't help but say in my head. I had always loathed the clichéd, the 'until the end of time' soliloquies that the male lead in Jane Austen novels proclaimed; pitied the poor sods who fell in love with the girl who walked into the room in slow motion, but suddenly I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them all, my compatriots in love. Suddenly, I felt sorry for us… For loving this way was limitless… Insane…. Reckless.
I hesitated a second longer, preparing myself to go back to her, grabbing a tissue from the Kleenex box sitting on the counter, but a graffitied scrawl across the top of the mirror stopped me. In English, the prophetic words gave me a new hope:
"Sometimes, in love, fate works alone."
I smiled; A new calm coursing through me. It was a sign, I thought to myself. We would be fine. Even if she didn't run away with me, even if what happened next wasn't perfect, we would be fine. We would find a way; I believed she cared for me enough that we would find a way.
I walked back to the front of the store, the two small tables in the window being the only seating for customers in the entire place. I plastered a smile on my face, not wanting even a single tear to be shed. As far as I was concerned the tears that had already fallen were a lifetime's worth. I wouldn't let her hurt anymore, not over me.
The table was empty. I noticed it right away, our steaming drinks abandoned where we sat. I looked around, maybe she passed me on her way to the bathroom; I was so lost in my own thoughts that it was possible. I turned around, the door still ajar from when I had departed. The bathroom was empty. The usually steady beat of my pulse went into eighth-notes as I searched wildly around the small shop, continuing on into sixteenths as I ran out onto the sidewalk, crumpling and stopping entirely as I realized that she was gone.
I opened my mouth to call for her, hoping that maybe she was just beyond the corner. Another thing had caught her attention and her mood changed and suddenly she wasn't sad, but curious, the way that had happened all night. She had run off again, just like before, and it was only a matter of time before she came back… I would see her in just another second, standing across the street beckoning me forward, waiting for me to follow her.
I closed my eyes, hoping that last hope, a night full of hopes all in one. Yet before I opened my eyes, I knew, I was agonizingly certain, that she wouldn't be there. She wouldn't be waiting for me at the corner. She wouldn't be holding out her hand for me to take. She wouldn't be reaching for me on her tip toes, ready for a kiss. No, I would open my eyes and my heart would be just as it was: irrevocably, completely, absolutely gone. She had taken it with her… Wherever she was…
I didn't know what to do. There were too many streets to run through now, when just hours ago there weren't enough. Suddenly I hated the thing I had only just loved, the winding mazes of the arrondisement making it impossible to find her. I wished for courtyard in front of the Centre George Pompidou, open and vast… I wished for the galleries inside the museum, minimalist and brightly lit… I wished for the empty banks of the Seine, the Eiffel Tower looming far in the distance, our only companion…. The Place de la Concorde and its gilded fountains, the back corner at Barramundi, her pressed in beside me. I only had to reach out to touch her…. The steps of the Opéra Bastille, the Elysium of the Place des Vosges … I wished for it all. I wished and I wished and I wished once more… But the world was too full of empty promises… So I took them all back and wished for one more –a lifetime outside of Paris, before her, before this heartbreak. That was the only wish I had left now.
I looked back to the patisserie, the place that had only just been the birthplace of so many dreams, just before taking the first step to my hotel. But that first step was impossible, that first step would be the last.
Paris has nothing left for you now.
"Attendez! Attendez, Monsieur!"
The baker from behind the counter was running toward me, coming out of the shop.
"Monsieur," he said again, grabbing my shoulder and catching his breath.
"Comment?" I asked, trying not to be cross, how could he know of my pain?
"Isabella, Monsieur. Elle s'appelle… Elle m'a demandée…"
He shook his head at my flabbergasted stare, misinterpreting my shock for confusion.
"Zee girl," he said in an accent more French than English," 'er name… C'est Isabella. She ask me to tell you…. Bella. Zey call 'er Bella."
He patted my shoulder, satisfied that I had understood him. He gave me a sympathetic smile before leaving me to my grief. He knew, as all good Parisians did, the look of love lost.
My vision went blurry as I watched him disappear back into the store. In my chest, the pieces of my heart that I was so sure had left with her fractured painfully, signaling to me that it was not gone. No, I wasn't given even this small justice. I lowered myself onto the sidewalk, collapsing. Hanging my head between my knees, my hair bunching under my clawing hands, I tried immediately to forget her, hoping that maybe that would make it just faintly less painful, just bearable enough.
As my body trembled, the tears not coming, I knew that it would not, could not be enough. Forgetting her would be impossible. I gave up to the moment of weakness that had been threatening to overwhelm me, telling myself that I would allow this if it meant I could leave it all behind. As the moving figures and the passing cars turned to watercolor paintings in my eyes, I hugged my arms closer to my body chanting in my head as the Parisian streets came alive with the new day: She didn't ever exist… She didn't ever exist… She didn't ever exist…
I reached the airport with just barely enough time to make my flight, though I had no idea how I arrived. I had not stopped crying, bawling, from the moment I left the patisserie until well after I left the hotel. I didn't know – didn't care – whether or not I had all of my belongings as I managed to choke out "De Gaulle" to the driver. He must have thought I was past bereft, perhaps insane, when he asked me if I was alright. It only made me cry harder, only made me think of him…
And suddenly, I was here, standing at my gate. My boarding pass clenched in my hand.
I looked at the digital screen above the door leading to the plane that would, no doubt, be my prison of him. Ten hours. Ten hours to grieve for him, for us… But I knew, I already was certain, that it didn't matter if it was ten hours, or ten years, or a lifetime… I would grieve for him forever.
My near hysteria in the aftermath of leaving him had morphed into something else, the thing I was feeling now, an odd sense of detachment. Not a calm, but an immovable stillness; A silent desperation to contrast the consummate panic. I stumbled to a seat and the relief from holding myself upright broke the tether of my lifelessness. I cried into my hands, inconsolable and at the same time violently angry.
He was the one that would only promise me one night in the Place des Vosges.
He was the one that forced me to leave the way I did, without a goodbye.
He was the one who refused to live outside of the world we had created for ourselves; I didn't even know his name!
At the thought of his face I gasped for breath, sobbing now, for I knew that even in my dreams I would not know what to call him… Even in my dreams I wouldn't know how to beg him to stay.
A stewardess appeared at my side," Are you going to Seattle, Miss?"
"Y-y-yes," I stammered.
She grabbed my carry-on bag and gave me a kind smile, taking my hand and pulling me up. She seemed to know that I did not have the strength to do it on my on. She knew, as all good stewardesses did, the telltale signs of love lost.
"I'll watch your bag. Your gate closes in 15 minutes. Take a moment in the bathroom; maybe have a sip of water? It'll help your nerves. You won't be able to get up for a while once you get on the plane."
"T-thank you," I said, walking blindly into a direction that might have had a restroom. I found one nearby, just across the terminal.
I collapsed again before I could reach the door, into a row of seats in the waiting area adjacent. My sobbing renewed, I barely heard the last call for a flight to Boston as people mulled around me. I tried to drown out their voices as they passed, some of them wondering idly if they should approach me. I hated them, all of them, for their charity. What could they do for me? Console me? Help me? How?! I knew there was only one person who could heal me now, and he was long lost.
"Last call for Boston, Massachusetts. Logan International Airport. Last call."
I drew up my knees, wrapping my arms around my ears, shutting out the offending noise. I only wanted to listen to the sound of my breaking heart. At least then, only then, I could be sure he existed.
Strong arms wrapped around me suddenly, warm lips at my ear.
I looked up, the sobs dying in my throat…. Into hazel-green eyes.
A/N: Sigh, I love love. Even love like this, the kind that trails into a question.
Thank you for taking the time to read this thing… I'm seriously still embarrassed that I had the nerve (the unmitigated gall!) to post it (the lemon scene in particular).
Read and review? It'll validate my decision to ignore my life for two days.
Also, it must be mentioned that the end of this story is dedicated to Ms. ScarlettLetters. Why? Well I think the following quotes explain it all:
SL:I made you read that damn book
I told you you would get sucked into fic
SL: I'M YOUR FUCKING SIRE!!!!
And… She is. Haha.