Never Is A Promise
by A.j.

The apartment door makes a nice, satisfying, slamming sound behind me. Coat goes flying, keys land hard in the basket, Chiops goes zooming for the privacy of his box. Sometimes that cat is scary in his mood judging accuracy.

No kitty-cuddles today. Mommy's on the warpath.



That's a question I seem to be asking alot, isn't it? Why this, why that. Why the hell am I such a idiot?

That bastard.

Jeez, why did I go slamming out like that? He didn't do anything wrong. He merely asked my advice on where to take Anna to dinner. 'Someplace nice.. I really like her, Ange.' Just like I'm one of the guys.

He has no idea, does he?

Why does that make it worse?

I don't know when it changed. When he was more than a brother. More than friend... but he is now.

God, how do I do these things? I am the biggest emotional disaster this side of the nut house. I love my best friend in that 'Very Special Way.'

He doesn't know either. He can't. If he did.. He'd leave.

God. The very idea...

He is so much a part of me.. If he ever left, it would feel as though I've lost a limb. No, something more vital. An organ. I can't lose him.

I know he does love me. I guess I should feel priviledged. I get to know *him*. The real him. What's inside. Not many are able to say that. Anna certainly can't. She's only been able to have his body. For now.

God this hurts.

How'd I get here? I'm on auto-pilot right now, aren't I? It explains how I got to the bathroom and why it's quickly filling with steam from the bath tub.

Why does he *do* this? Does he honestly have *no* idea how much he means to me?

Oh, I began loving his body . Who wouldn't? But no.. that's not what keeps me up at night crying. That's not what makes me yearn to be with him for the rest of my life. Cliche, no? I love his mind. His sweet, kind, generous mind that can keep me guessing right down to the end. He is so strong, and so vunerable.

I love him. It's insane and nuts. It's not.

It's natural, isn't it?

He's been there forever. Well, maybe not forever, but when ever I've needed him... Even Dad can't say that. Who was it that I cried to about Mom? Who was it that cried about their mother to me? Not Dad... No, it was *him.* Who was it that let me drag him to every store in the shopping district just to find the *perfect* prom dress? Better yet, who has been there to protect me and listen to every problem over the last ten years?

Who was there when you died, Daddy?

It was him.

Every damn time.

Why does he have to be so... *him*!?

He'll always be there to catch me, right? Nope. I've already fallen my greatest height and it was *because* of him. There are times I hate him. He doesn't even realize the effect he has on people.

He attracts them. He's so amazing that people can't help but get drawn in by him. It doesn't matter that he's a grown man. There's something so... innocent about him. He's like a kid; earnest to a fault, trying like hell to get everyone around him to like him.

He doesn't even see how much they love him.

That's why he can't see it. Why he can't see me. He'll never be able to tell. He would never believe it.

But I love him so. So much it hurts. Why *can't* he see it? Why do I have to carry this enormous weight with no forseeable resolution?

I'll never tell him. I can't. There's only one way this can solve itself. The ball is firmly in his court, and all I can do is hope he returns it. I can't let go of him. He's the only family I have. I won't lose him because I love him. That would be too insane.

Dammit. He's here. I thought I could just go home and have a good crying jag, but no. He has to make sure I'm okay. The bastard. I am *not* okay.

I'm not going to let him in. He's just going to have to deal with a terse 'I'm fine' through the door and he is *gone*. I can't let him see me like this. The emotion.. it's just too close to the surface. He could see...

But I have to look through the peep-hole, don't I? I just do.

Damn auto-pilot. How the hell did the door open that fast?

Someone please tell me how I'm supposed to resist him? Please? That hair, that build.. those eyes... So deep and bright with worry. For me.


Why do I keep doing this to myself?

That beautiful voice. Lilting and exotic.. He's a bird of paradise, nestled in the grey confines of the city.

And when the hell did I get so poetic?!

"Come in."

Good. The tone was hard. Uncompromising.

He's in. As always, my living-room shrinks now that he's standing in it. Everywhere is his personal space now. He radiates comfort.


"Angie... are you okay? You left pretty abruptly."

I can't do it. I can't stand here and look all mean. I just can't. He does that to me. He always will. I don't think I can ever escape this man.

Dammit. I'm misting up. Gotta look away, gotta look away.. Look out the window; good option!

"I wasn't feeling that great."

Hah. *There's* an understatement.

"That isn't it. Something else is wrong, isn't it?"

How did he get behind me so fast? I can feel the heat of his body on my back. Damn that outback childhood. He's quieter than Chiops before the bell-collar. Damn *him*.

"No. I'm fine. Just a little run-down. I guess this winter's hitting me harder than you this year."

What a joke. Please buy it, please buy it, please buy it...

"That's not all, is it."

Not a question. Shit he's good at this. But then, what should I expect? He's seen me grow. He knows me.

"Did something go wrong with a male friend of yours?"

I almost have to bite my lip off to stop the hysterical laughter rising in my throat. Even clueless, he can hit the nail on the head.

"No. It's just winter blues, I swear."

Who knew all that helping the police would do some good? Those crash acting coarses are finally paying off. I didn't know I had it in me. My voice sounded perfectly normal.

"You sure?"


He needs to leave now. I can feel it letting go. There's only so much facial control one can exert.

"You're lying."


"I am not."

Dammit. It was there. A tinge of tears. He heard it to... God, NO! He's turning me around.. NO! Resist!

"Ange, I know you better than any one else on this planet. Something happened, didn't it?"

God, no.. Desperately, I try to stay facing the window. He can't see, not now.

"Did he hurt you!?"

His voice is panicked, angry. This can't be happening!


That sounded pathetic, even to me. To him definitely. He spins me around and I am confronted with six feet of angry, protective male. Gotta stop this now, before something gets out of hand. Well, more out of hand.

"NO, Rollie. He didn't hurt me. No one did. I'm just having a lack-of-social-life depress-o day. Let it be."

Good, nothing to instill confidence like studying your toes, is there, huh?


I look up. God, no. Not that. Not that look. Not the 'understanding, but relieved brother' look. Anything but that.

Hands settle on my shoulders, those long, tapered fingers massage the stiffness he finds there.

"Stop it."

God, that sounded cold. His hands freeze, tensed in the middle of a knead-cycle.

"I don't need that damn look, Rollie. You have absolutely no idea what I'm thinking right now." The need to hurt him, to prove my effect on him, rears its ugly head. It's petty, but he deserves it. Maybe it'll wake him up.

When did I become so sarcastic in my own head?

"You have absolutely no idea who I am." My eyes lock with his. Be hurt! "You never will."

For a moment, I can see it. Pain. A flicker in those cocoa depths, hard and strong.

It hurts me so badly, I have to turn away. When will I learn? I can't cause him pain... I love him. I'll only get it back. Tenfold. But I have to be strong. This ends. It has to. I can't do it anymore. It takes too much. I am losing myself in him.

Bull. I lost myself a long time ago. It's time to get myself back. I have to stay strong, to hold back. I have to tell him to leave. He needs to go to Anna now. Anna... his girlfriend. The one who may get the chance to learn about this wonderful, amazing man. The one who is allowed to love him.

I can feel my eyes tearing up.

What comes next releases those tears.

"You're right, sweetie. I never will know you totally. That's for another man." Those damn hands... How does he... ?

"I will be jealous of him though. The man that steals your heart will have to be something special." And he hugs me. Just like that. From behind and everything. He tries to make me feel better.

That man.

God, he can't tell, can he? My heart has been gone for years, and he can't even tell.

"It'll be okay," he says. Ha. But I feel myself sinking into him. The familiar touch, the smell. It engulfs me, surrounds me. So, once again, I let go. I don't have a choice. Just like I don't have a choice in loving him.

Someday, I'll have the strength.

Not today.

Damn it.