A/N: Another in the poetic series. This time, I'm using one of my favorite poets of all time – especially when dealing with emotions. Pablo Neruda. Obviously, I'm using a translation of his work, not my own. The poem is "Don't Go Far Off, Not Even For A Day".
I think this one might be a little…eh…so-so. So, any feedback would be especially welcome. It hasn't really been beta'd either.
She hadn't understood what he'd been trying to say – obviously. She had taken his words at face value, or perhaps she hadn't ascribed any value to them at all.
Yes, that was most probably the case. She had heard his words but taken them for the empty pleasantries people seem to say on a regular basis.
She hadn't taken him seriously, hadn't even really tried to truly understand what he was trying to tell her.
And he knew – he had seen it on her expression – or lack of one – had read it in her eyes in that uncanny way he had and heard it in her silence.
She sat down on the edge of her bed, pulling out the neatly tucked in edges of her down covers as she did, but she didn't bother to tuck them back in – she was focused on the piece of paper in her hand.
She knew the poem, was even familiar with the poet, but it struck her as odd that she'd never really considered what the words of the poem might mean to someone until she pulled it from the envelope he'd slipped under her door at some point during the night.
She re-read the words on the page, and somehow, it was like hearing him speaking them.
Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long…
It had taken her months to grasp what he was doing, months of his invading her consciousness, however subtly; of his always being around, always aware of her.
Months to realize that every time he called her for a report whenever she'd gone from the Tower for any length of time it wasn't because he doubted in her abilities or because he found her written reports -- which she filed religiously after every mission – to be lacking in any way.
…and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.
Months for it to dawn, that although they spoke often, he rarely had a purpose in initiating the conversation – something she would only wonder about in retrospect, and then only idly.
"Where do you go when you meditate?" he had asked one day.
"It depends, I suppose," her answer had been flippant, evasive – not because she didn't want him to know, but only because she wasn't used to speaking of herself, of letting people in to those few places she still called solely her own.
Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
And sometimes, he didn't speak at all. But always, he was near. Like the day…
She could feel his eyes on her as they sat in silence on the craggly shore of Titan Island, even if her eyes never left her contemplation of the horizon, she could feel the question hovering around him.
It was a testament to her trust in him, to her feelings for him, not only that she was the first to speak, but that she offered any significant information when she did.
"It's peaceful to sit and stare at something like this, isn't it?" she asked. When he didn't answer, she continued, her eyes still on the place where the sun was sinking into the sea. "For a moment, as I sit here, I have no responsibilities, nobody waiting for me, nothing to do…" she exhaled. "I'm free." She turned to him then and was only slightly startled by the contemplative look on his face. She didn't know why she had just explained so much to him, and wouldn't know why it was important enough to her if he understood that she would ask him, "Do you understand?"
He nodded slowly, but when she turned back to her view, he surprised her by speaking.
"Sometimes…" he paused and she thought that might be all he intended to say, but he continued, "…that's what I'm afraid of."
…the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.
It was all starting to make sense to her, the pieces fitting together like a puzzle, showing her a picture. Things she hadn't thought twice about were suddenly coming back to her with entirely new meaning.
How could she have been so blind? They say hindsight is 20/20, but when Raven's epiphany struck, it was like a veil was pulled back and she suddenly saw an image of herself that proved her blind, unaware, and oblivious.
He had been restrained, yes, perhaps understated, careful, but not exactly subtle. Especially not the night neither could sleep and both found themselves on the rec-room couch, watching a marathon of old Laverne & Shirley re-runs so late it was early and she had stood up only for a moment, only to warm up her tea, and he had fallen asleep after the sixth episode, halfway through the opening credits of number seven.
She had been careful not to wake him when she stood from the couch, but somehow…
She had started when she felt his warm, strong fingers hold onto her arm and looked at him in surprise.
"I didn't mean to wake you," she had excused, not daring to move her arm under his fingers for some reason, raising the other arm to show him the mug in her hands. "I'm going to warm my tea."
"I wasn't sleeping," he spoke. And when he met her eyes, the blue of his eyes were clear and not at all hazy with sleep. She thought about teasing him then, but she believed him that he hadn't been sleeping. She didn't exactly know why, but she did. And he smiled, suddenly, easing the lines of his face, changing the shadows from the low lamp light and the flickering of the television screen. "Just resting my eyes."
Her lips twitched reflexively, and she knew although some might wonder if it was a grimace, he would recognize it as a returned smile. "Do you want something from the kitchen?"
His fingers slipped off her arm and he turned back to the television, stretching, his hands rubbing at his eyes like a toddler. "Just you," he replied, and perhaps it had been the image he had portrayed at that moment, or perhaps it had been the late hour, but she hadn't thought anything of it at the time. "This is a good episode," he said, glancing at her before looking back at the television.
She had nodded, her lips had twitched again, and she had moved toward the kitchen. "I'll be quick," she had assured.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
She hadn't understood what he'd been trying to say, obviously. She'd misunderstood him, for months, but especially that night, when she'd announced after dinner that she'd be going to Tower East in Steel City to consult with the Steel City Police on a case dealing with archaic symbols and undertones of ancient magic.
Her teammates had understood, and her leader had made no comment in front of the others, because as they all knew, Jump City seemed to be in a crime lull and she really couldn't consult over video-conference and telephone on something of this nature, and no one of their Titans East counterparts had her expertise with either symbology or magic. It wasn't a strange thing, this sharing of resources.
Yet, after she had excused herself to go pack in her bedroom, he had followed her. Knocked on her door, waited until she asked him inside.
And when she'd looked at him, waiting for him to explain what he needed to tell her, he had been simple, direct, and to the point:
Yet still, she hadn't understood.
"Why ever not?" And she hadn't quite kept the surprise from her voice.
And again, he'd been so candid, so straightforward, so honest, but she hadn't seen it. "Because I'll miss you."
She hadn't known just how to take that, and so she'd frowned. In her defense, she had never had cause to reply to anyone saying that she'd be missed. It was outside her frame of reference. What did it mean to miss someone? Would she miss them? She had no particular desire to go to Steel City. She preferred to stay where she was. She enjoyed her things being so near, she took pleasure in the small ways in which she fit in Titans West. She looked at him and knew she would think about him while she was gone, perhaps wonder what he might be up to, she would be glad when he called and she heard his voice, saw his face on the vid screen, because she would remember Home when he did, but was that what missing was? It couldn't be, she had thought. Missing someone must be more than all that, or the Titan leader wouldn't think of asking her to forsake a police force that needed her.
She had thought to ask why he'd miss her, but had logically (she thought) dismissed that question as pointless, deciding instead to address the problem, rather than probe into the reasons for the problem.
"I won't be gone long," she tried to explain. "I'm just to consult, I don't have to stay through the entire investigation."
But he knew that. She knew he knew that. He shook his head. He took a step toward her, but something in her expression must have stopped him.
"Three, perhaps four days," she tried.
He nodded. He knew that too.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,
…because in that moment you'll have gone so far…
But she hadn't understood. Hadn't understood what he meant when he'd said he'd miss her, hadn't understood that she filled a space inside him, and being far, even for a few days, even when it was necessary, left that space empty and void and aching.
She had never let herself want anything, feel anything. She pushed any feeling aside so automatically, she hardly registered having felt them.
The words of the poem explained it to her, however, the way poetry always managed to clarify things such as feelings for her, who had never been taught about them by being encouraged to experience them. He had always known that about her, too.
She looked at the hands on her bedside clock, knew she had to leave if she hoped to make it to Steel City in time for her meeting with the Steel City Police, but suddenly, she felt the tightness in her throat – the flutter of her heartbeat – all signs she usually paid attention to, telling her not to do something, or to be wary.
She didn't want to go to Steel City. She wanted to stay here. She stood up to pace, something she rarely did, except under special circumstances. She hadn't necessarily cared about going to Steel City before, but now, she really did not want to go. She wanted -- she felt her knees suddenly buckle beneath her -- to see him. She sat down hard on her bed, a hand raised to her chest.
The desire to see him -- to stay here just to see him, to drink coffee with him in the morning, to share the newspaper, to hear the soft sounds of his workout nearby as she meditated, the rumble of his voice – ran through her like lightning, and her automatic response of pushing those feelings aside abandoned her and left her to feel it all.
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
She made it to his room and had knocked on the door before she had really realized what she was doing. It was hours yet before he would normally be awake, and she didn't know what she was doing, except the need to see him – to let him know…
The door opened almost immediately, and she had the passing thought that he might not have been sleeping at all. His eyes behind the mask opened wide at her presence, and she stepped toward him, the door closing behind them when he moved back, allowing her entrance. She took in his disheveled appearance. She needed to see his eyes, and she reached for the edge of the mask, the apple of her palm touching his cheek, her fingers fluttering against his cheekbone. He held perfectly still as she peeled the black material away from his eyes.
"I understand," she spoke, even though once their eyes met, she hadn't needed to. His arms were already reaching for her, wrapping around her waist and bringing her close. "I don't want to go," she said against his chest and she never realized how warm it felt to be held by him.
She just knew the horrible bareness inside her, the tightness of her throat, the wrenching inside her eased when he held her, her heartbeat– not exactly steady – seemed to cause less ache inside her chest when she could feel the answering rhythm of his pressed against her, and her lungs seemed more willing to provide oxygen now that she could breathe in the crisp verbena and lemon scent of him.
And when he used one of his hands to raise her face to meet his eyes, he seemed to be waiting for something, and just when it occurred to her what she wanted to say to him, he kissed her and she realized that she hadn't had to speak at all.
He read it in her eyes, in that uncanny way he had.
The Poetic Series So Far
1. Beacon (story id: 3352613)
2. Memoriam (story id: 3140537)
3. Interpretations (story id: 3042207)
4. Refusal (story id: 2800809)
5. The Request (story id: 3612411)