Tomorrow, we´ll do better
Summary: There always is a tomorrow. It´s what they believe; and they live by it. OneShot.
Warning: None? Yet. Last chance to run.
Disclaimer: Dramacon and all its characters belong to Svetlana Chmakova. She has all my respect and my thanks for the beautiful stories of hers that make my days so much more worth it.
They have these moments, when nothing works out.
Nobody ever told them being together would be easy, and they know from experience life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. Those days happen, like life happens.
She wakes up one morning and finds him next to her, in her bed, his eyes still closed, his arms wrapped around her. His body is warm and solid against hers. Her first reaction is to scramble away from him, for some inexplicable reason, something he somehow registers in the sudden tension in her muscles. He jerks awake, his one eye fixed on her. She freezes. Then, realization dawns.
He smiles at her; a smile that makes her heart pick up speed and that colors her cheeks red.
"Hi," she mumbles, shyly, and he laughs. It´s a wonderful sound, a deep rumble in his chest. She can feel the heat spreading over her entire body again.
"Seems like words have failed you."
She glares at him.
"They never fail you, obviously."
It´s like a dream.
He is here, he is with her, and they spent the entire day walking on clouds. She shows him her neighborhood, and her college, her favorite comic shop and the library where she and Beth mostly meet to work. He buys her lunch, and takes her hand while they walk down the street, and somehow, he seems softer, more peaceful. She feels his presence, bathes in it, cannot look away. He´s real, he´s with her, and she doesn´t want to let go of him. That´s why she surprises herself when she shies away from his kiss later that day, avoiding his lips and the almost possessive embrace his arms wrap her in when they meet Bill, her ex-boyfriend. Hurt, he backs away and doesn´t talk to her until they have returned home.
He confronts her then, hurt still simmering in his eyes, carefully controlled anger in his voice. She backs away, tries to avoid the issue. He presses on. She gets frustrated, both at him and at herself, and tries to leave the room (because she knows, this time, she screwed up). He holds her back and it ends in a fight, as it always does. She barricades herself in her bedroom, he stays in the kitchen of the apartment he has grown to like so much in only 18 hours like no place before (because it´s hers). Because finally, after three months, he has seen her again. And, as always, they have proven that opposites attract and compel.
She leaves her room later, when it´s already dark outside, and comes to sit in the curve of his side on the sofa. Savoring his warmth, she apologizes into his shoulder while he wraps his arms around her and closes his eyes, feeling complete again. She has acted stupidly, she just felt so embarrassed, and she is so very sorry. He is, too, but not for reacting jealously. Not for wanting her only for himself. He tells her and she blushes when he whispers You´re mine and returns his kiss and his promise.
Tomorrow, we´ll do better.
He´s not answering his phone, and she has tried to call him a million times. She needs to hear his voice. She needs his quiet words, his little laughs and his soft breathing at the other end of the line so bad she feels she is going to suffocate. She needs him.
He doesn´t answer his phone.
The umpteenth time, she listens to the beeping tone at the other end of the line, her hands still trembling, her entire body shaking. Her eyes feel swollen and burn from unshed tears. Again, the answering machine intercepts her call, telling her the person you have dialed is temporarily not available. Please leave a message. Instead of putting the phone down, she listens to the silence at the other end of the line, listens with her fists clenched and her shoulders heaving soundlessly. When the machine turns off with a soft click¸ she still listens, tries to hear his voice in the silence of a dead line, tries to imagine what he would say, what words he would find. It doesn´t work.
I promise, he has told her when she asked him to always answer his phone. Now, she suddenly realizes how childish her wish has been. There is no way a person can answer his phone every time someone calls. And maybe… Maybe he´s just not answering her calls.
She hides in her bed, trying to put aside the fear and the desperation she feels, and falls asleep exhausted from crying and wishing him to be there.
Later that week, while she is visiting her mother in the hospital, still feeling incredibly relieved that she has survived the surgery, her phone rings and the name on the display makes her heart jump. Her family sees her expression and grins as she leaves the room to take the call and almost runs over an old nurse ("Please turn off your mobile in the hospital!") but then, she feels fear creep up her throat. Her voice comes out in a squeak.
"Are you okay?"
As always, his voice makes her heart stop, and she feels so relieved she starts crying.
He listens to her pouring out her heart about how afraid she was her mother would die and how much she wanted him to be here – and still wants him to. You didn´t answer your phone is the repeated accusation, and he doesn´t apologize. He has lost his mobile, and has just gotten a new one, and though she cannot know whether he is telling the truth or not, she knows he is.
I love you.
The words make the rainy day suddenly seem brighter, more beautiful. She can feel the sincerity in his words, the love in his voice.
I´ll call you tomorrow.
I´ll be here.
Tomorrow, we´ll do better.
It´s like saying I love you and I´m sorry and Be with me and You´re the most important person in my life and I love you again and again, and all at once. It´s their personal code, their mutual promise, and they believe in it as much as they live by it. They remember it when they fight and when they make up, when they are together and when they are apart. When they feel sad and elated, when they work and when they take a break.
It is not postponement and it´s not reluctance. It is the plain fact that they are together, and that they have the todays and the tomorrows for the two of them.
More than anything, they need each other, and they want each other, and they don´t want to let go.
It´s a promise.
Tomorrow, we will do better.
And then, there are those days when everything miraculously works out. A peaceful moment. Time together. A fight changing into something else. An argument being forgotten, apologies accepted. They are rare, but they exist.
Heaven has meant well. Maybe too well, because the snow is knee-deep and still, white crystals are falling, blanketing the earth and wrapping the world in a peaceful silence.
She can´t get enough of this miracle, still is amazed by the beauty of a sleeping universe. He watches her, wrapped in Sandra´s warm anorak, a bright green scarf around her neck and head (his present), her hair trailing away in every possible direction. She´s like a child, today even more than normally, and takes in the landscape with wide eyes and a wondering smile.
He follows her gaze and sees the squirrels pick up the nuts she has strewn there shortly before. The little animals ignore her, already used to humans. He sees her smile, her shining eyes, her cheeks, red with cold and happiness, and thinks she´s the most beautiful person in the world. She catches him staring and gives him a smile that makes his heart stop.
"It´s so beautiful!"
You are beautiful, he thinks and hurries to catch up, takes her gloved hands in his and pulls her closer. She snuggles into him, still marveling at the world around her, and keeps talking. He cannot follow; he´s too occupied by the way the snowflakes catch in her hair and turn into diamonds.
When they return, Greta and Sandra are waiting for them, hot chocolate and cookies ready, and they spent the evening playing card games, talking and laughing. He has never particularly liked Christmas, but if it´s always like this when she is there, he´s willing to put up with Sandra´s shopping frenzy and hectic and stress every single year. And when they finally are alone, and she falls asleep in his arms, her head on his chest, her shiny hair tickling his nose, he cannot imagine any other time in his life when he has been absolutely, totally happy. Her silent breathing and the steady beat of her heart he can feel next to his make him sleepy, as well. He wraps his arms around her tighter and quietly vows never to let her go, and falls asleep without actually noticing it. The fire crackles in the fireplace.
She´s hiding something.
He doesn´t need to listen to her chatting away about her friends, her lessons and her homework. He doesn't need to read her forced, cheerful emails. As it always is with her, he can feel it, somewhere deep inside him.
Something is wrong.
He is a direct person, so he asks her. She is quiet for thirty seconds, an odd, strange pause in their conversation. Then she starts ranting, laughs, tries to brush away his worry. He´s not fooled easily. He might not seem like it, but he is carefully attuned to the moods of the people around him. And, especially, to her. She ends in another awkward pause, and he doesn´t help her but remains silent, waiting. Finally, she hangs up on him six and a half minutes after he has dialed her number. He stares at the phone in his hand, a mixture of worry, anger and frustration boiling inside him. Today he wanted to tell her – but now, he doesn´t feel like it any more. He slumps down on his bed and stares at the ceiling. He misses her – her lithe figure in the crook of his arm, her warm body curled up next to his. The smell of her hair. The softness of her skin, her voice, her laugh – he misses everything about her so bad he wants to punch a hole into the wall. How long has it been since she visited him last? Five months. Clenching his teeth, he buries his head in his pillows and blots out the entire world around him, including the papers on his desk.
Sandra enters his room, as always, without knocking.
She sits down on his bed next to him and waits until he acknowledges her.
"She´s thinking of moving here."
"She´ll be ready with college in half a year. She´s thinking of looking for a job in our area."
"She didn´t know how to ask you. I think she´s afraid of what might happen if the two of you get to live together properly."
"Dumb as you are, you only notice something is eating at her and immediately think she´s thinking of leaving you. God knows how she´s been able to stand you those last two years."
His sister gets up from his bed and walks to the door.
"You know," she says and smiles at him the first time since she has entered his room, "Something as deep as the two of you have should be able to work, even if you´re around each other every single day. But that´s only my humble opinion."
"My boss offered me advancement," he tells her without preamble. "It´s a little company in Georgia."
He hears her take a deep breath and lets the message sink in.
Then he adds: "In Atlanta."
Her voice is small. "Oh."
"Can I move in with you?"
He can see her, her eyes wide, her mouth slightly open in astonishment. He closes his eyes and smiles and knows the uncertainty in her face is replaced by a smile, too.
"You know then you´ll have to take over some chores, don´t you?"
"Like dish-washing, and doing the laundry…"
She´s a horrible cook, she knows it. She laughs softly, and he feels warmth flood his heart.
"Yeah, and that. Oh, I always wanted to have someone for the house-work!"
They don´t talk much this evening. After some time, she falls quiet, and he can tell that she´s tired. He listens to her even breathing and sees her on her bed, slowly falling asleep, her hair messy and her smile beautiful.
"Matt?" She suddenly says, her voice heavy with sleep. He chuckles.
"I wish you were here already."
"Hmmm… And, Matt?"
"I´m sorry for not telling you earlier."
She falls asleep, and he listens to her dreams for a while until putting down the phone and getting ready for bed himself. Their conversation replays in his head and he smiles.
Tomorrow, he´ll start making plans.
She´s not angry.
She´s not. Really.
She´s absolutely, royally pissed.
She knows he´s not perfect, and most of the times, she oversees his flaws and his antics. At least, she tries to, because his bluntness and impoliteness are difficult to overlook. But then, all his flaws are a part of him, and she loves him the way he is… When she´s not angry with him, that is.
He´s not the person to be late.
But today he is, and today´s the day she specifically didn´t want him to be late. She checks her watch, again and again, and steps from one foot onto the other. She´s wearing a light summer dress, and the cool, conditioned air is pleasant against her heated skin. Outside, Atlanta is having a summer blast, 38 degrees Celsius – in the shadows. She resists the impulse to muss her hair with both her hands – the braid it is set in has taken far too much time to complete, and she´s not going to anger Monica with destroying her work like that. But, counting the circumstances, Monika will kill her anyway. And if her friend isn´t fast enough, she will kill her boyfriend before.
The street is empty. Behind her, a door opens and a familiar figure emerges.
"Chriss? Isn´t he here yet?"
"No," she fumes and envisions a hundred ways to kill him. "I told him to be on time!"
Her best friend chuckles.
"You know he always has a reason for being late."
"That´s no excuse!"
A civil servant approaches them.
"Excuse me, but the ceremony will begin in one minute. The registrar has a tightly packed schedule… Do you want to go inside?"
"Very funny," she huffs. Beth laughs and pulls her inside.
"Come on. It´s not like it´s your wedding."
Monica looks awesome, in the white, feathery dress Sandra has specifically made and sent over, and her boyfriend – now husband – seems like he doesn´t know what to say, he´s so happy. She forgets his tardiness and is happy for her friends.
He turns up, twenty minutes later, Sandra and Greta in trailing in his wake.
"Oh my God!" "No!" "You look awesome!" "What are you doing here!" and "I can´t believe you are here!" Can be heard while old friends meet again. After the chaos has settled down a bit, and the others already are enjoying the wedding cake and champagne, she finds him, leaning against the wall in a far corner of the room.
"Hey. You still angry at me?"
She can´t be angry for long when he looks at her like that. She can´t be angry at all when he´s so close. She gives him a peck on his cheek.
"That was a wonderful surprise! Thanks a lot."
He grins at her.
"You know, you could show your appreciation a bit more… enthusiastically."
Six years haven´t been enough to get used to the electric feel of his lips on hers. She feels like she´s melting, floating. The only things anchoring her to earth are his warm hands on her almost-bare shoulders, the sound of his breathing, his heartbeat right next to her and his voice in her ear.
"I really do like this dress."
"You forgot to turn off the flash again!"
"Shut up, Hyu-Jeong!"
"So, you two, when are you going to marry?"
He grins at them brightly. She blushes. Her friends descend on her like a horde of starved animals.
"When? When? Have you already set a date?"
"Well, since all of us are here this weekend…"
He throws another big, challenging grin into the round.
"You already have plans for tomorrow?"
Tomorrow, we´ll do better.
She can still vividly remember being here for the first time in her life.
It hasn´t changed.
The convention centre is full of people, full of noise, even though the convention hasn´t even started officially. She thinks it´s the best time of the weekend: A few hours before the first visitors arrive, the hours of organizing and completing, setting up tables and stands, unpacking boxes and laying out book marks and post cards and costumes and hats. The first hours of seeing all those people one has gotten to know over the last years, those friends that might not live close but still are in your heart. Every day, every hour.
Monica is already there, wearing a black and red Loli costume and cat ears, setting up their table and chatting away with their neighbors. Dean is helping. There´s not much to do for her so she grins and dives into the rolling crowd to find the others in the market hall.
Sandra and Greta are setting up the D´elusion stand. The costumes are even prettier than last year. She watches them from far and remembers all the times she has just stood here and watched, feeling the happiness of seeing them again after so much time.
"Stalking us, huh?"
A voice behind her makes her jump, and she sees Beth and Raj with their four-year-old daughter. Whooping, she throws herself around Beth´s neck.
"There you are!"
"Hey, hey!" Beth protests as her best friend attempts to suffocate her. "Yeah, I missed you, too!"
"Hey, Raj," she greets her friend´s husband as soon as she has let go of her. "And Ani! How do you like Yattacon, little one?"
The little girl smiles up at her. She looks just like her parents.
"It´s so cool!"
"Beth? Christie! Raj! Oh my god! Is that Anita? You have grown so much!"
Sandra descends on them like a whirlwind, hugging and kissing, greeting and chatting. Greta is more down-to-earth, but no less hearty.
"I´ve already seen Hyu-Jeong, Monica and Dean," Beth finally says when the first wave of emotions slowly calms down and Raj takes his daughter to show her around. The little girl´s mouth stands open at the sight of a team of Ninja passing by. "I fear I won´t have much time this weekend, there are some workshops I have to hold. But on Sunday, I refuse to work. Let´s do something together, then!"
Everyone agrees happily.
"Oh my God!", a girl squeals behind them. "Are you Bethany Peters? Oh, please, can I have an autograph?"
Grinning, and so proud, she turns around to help Sandra put hand on the last preparations for their stand while Beth smiles and signs the girl´s shirt.
Sunday comes far too fast and it feels like time never has passed.
They have a picnic, in the zoo, all of them together, and heaven smiles on them with a sunny day as beautiful as it could ever be.
The children – Anita and Monica´s and Dean´s little son, Stephen, are playing ninja on the playhouse of the playground, and the grown-ups are sitting together, enjoying the sunshine and exchanging news.
Beth tells them about her new comic project and Hyu-Jeong complains about her taking too long to complete the scripts. Monica laughs and tells her she never should have become an editor. Raj and Dean talk about their respective jobs and about soccer and comics. She just sits and listens and waits.
And then, they arrive, Sandra and Greta and Matt, and the volume increases exponentially. Sandra lets herself fall onto the blanket and grabs some sandwiches; Greta does so, too, but by far more polite. Matt sits down next to her and gives her a quick kiss.
"Hey," he murmurs, and she smiles at him.
"How much did I miss?"
"The entire con?"
"Yeah, besides the fact that I had to work the whole weekend? Please don´t torture me by rubbing it in even deeper than that!"
"You missed Beth being overrun by fans and Hyu-Jeong and Monica taking photos of every single private moment she and Raj had. You missed Sandra winning the cosplay contest, once again, and Greta being given a price for her costume design. You missed Monica spontaneously combust a few artists because they laughed at her for still cosplaying at her age, and Stephen and Anita disguising themselves as bushes in the market hall. You missed the J-pop event, though you probably don´t mind because you don´t dance, and…"
"You missed Chriss buying up all the Pawky she could find because she was so depressed you couldn´t come," Beth interrupts and winks at him. "You´d better find a good way to apologize."
"I´m sure I will," he answers and Chriss turns so red the others immediately burst into laughing.
"I already asked for vacation," he whispers in her ear and she smiles at him so brightly he feels his heart skip a beat. "I´m not going to miss out on all the fun next year."
"You´ll all be here next year, won´t you?" Hyu-Jeong asks and looks into the round. Every head nods, every face smiles.
Christie leans back into Matt´s arms and watches her best friends chat on about life and other things. Behind her, Matt wraps his arms around her and holds her tight, and she enjoys the feeling of his warm arms holding her and the regular lifting and falling of his chest. She catches Beth´s eye, and they both smile, not needing to talk in order to understand each other. Beth´s hand is intertwined with Raj´s.
Carefully, she closes her eyes, still listening to the ongoing conversation. The sun warms her face, and Matt is there, and so are all the people that are important to her.
Tomorrow they´ll all go back, back to the different places they live. She´ll see Beth only every three months, and Hyu-Jeong and Monica even less. But next year, the same time, the same place, they´ll meet again. Some things never change.
These are the people that are dear to her. And here, right behind her, is the person that is her life, no matter how much they screw up and fight and argue. Because, besides all their differences, they still love. She still loves him more than anything in this world, and she always will.
"Hey, Matt. Has she fallen asleep?"
"Yeah. Put away the camera, Monica."
"Can´t I take one tiiiny little picture? Please?"
"Give me the camera, honey, before he demolishes it with his evil eye."
"Hyaaa! Dean, he wants to kill me! Save me!"
"Sorry, Mon, your husband is engrossed in a discussion about soccer with the dear husband of mine and probably doesn´t want to get on Matt´s other side…"
"Hyu-Jeong! Do something!"
"He´s not even moving, Monica."
We´ll do better.