Seeing & Knowing (Charlie's POV)
"Aren't you going to open it?" he wondered as she gently set the envelope on the bedside stand. Some days she could still amaze him – this would prove to be one of them.
He was so tired the day she picked him up that he'd forgotten to give her the envelope containing Jack's letter. Part of him wondered if he'd consciously avoided it because at some level he knew it would be painful for her, but he really couldn't remember consciously deciding not to deliver the letter. He could only really recall the sensory overload of having her in his arms again.
Her name in her father's handwriting was scratched across the surface of the plain-faced envelope. She knew it instantly as his, her father's - he realized as he watched her examine the envelope. Her finger's traced her name lightly before she laid the envelope aside.
Thinking back Charlie all he could really recall from that day was the absence of questions. She'd never asked him – anything. Not where he'd been, not if he'd found her father, not if he met the Pope. She's simply shepherded him home, out of his clothes and into a hot shower. He'd fallen asleep and when she joined him the missing puzzle piece fell into place for both of them and they'd fallen into a deep dreamless sleep. It was as if, she like him did not want anything else in that moment with them in their tiny bubble of two.
Late the next morning, they woke, stretched, but neither showed any particular interest in leaving their bed. Until he remember the letter. He carefully extricated himself from her embrace and walked barefoot to the pile of clothes in the bathroom. Luckily, he had the forethought to hang his jacket on the valet, before unceremoniously shedding the rest of his clothes in a heap. He pulled the envelope from his jacket pocket, returned to the bed and handed it to her shyly.
"The man I met with gave me this for you. It's from your father," and technically he hadn't lied. She'd simply taken the envelope, examined it briefly and then laid it unopened on the nightstand.
"Aren't you going to open it?" She shook her head no and returned to a careful and patient examination of his body with her hands.
"I went to a lot of trouble to get that. Got my ass kicked, got held in a basement for three days…" he complained.
"Four," she interjected. "It was four days," she explained when he looked at her oddly. "Four days, seventeen hours and about twenty minutes – give or take," she qualified teasing him, "from the time you left that cryptic message on my phone."
"And you don't want to know what's in it?" he asked in disbelief.
"You... this…. those four days… taught me a valuable lesson," she said coyly.
"Yeah?" he was helpless when she played coy. She made him feel like a clumsy seventeen-year-old boy. She ran her short nails along his rib cage tickling him.
"I learned that all I really want to know is right here," her hand completed it's traverse of his torso and now held his chin. "I wanted to know where my father was because of what Roman said, not because I missed him." She looked deep into his eyes and smiled before continuing, "but you? You I missed – more than I thought possible. Even though you're a pain in my ass. Even though you have a problem with sharing….your cars," she teased.
Then she rose and kissed him very lightly on his injured mouth. It felt like the wings of butterflies touched him. He lost his way momentarily as she distracted him from his vow to get her answers. Her pink tongue darted out licking her lips and he watched her mouth for several second before he refocused.
"But…" he interjected when she withdrew to study him, "you're seriously not going to read it?"
She pulled on his arm and beckoned, "Come back to bed, Charlie."
"Can I read it?" he asked as his eyes flicked to the envelope on the table.
She arched her brows in either challenge or contempt. Neither was good.
"Didn't you have time to read it while you were waiting for me?" she inquired while her hand trailed down his arm creating gooseflesh in its wake. She was so on to him. He had read it and she knew it. Time to come clean because lying to her wasn't an option.
"Okay, okay," he confessed. "I did read it," he shook her off and tried to stay focused.
"So what's it say?" she asked still more focused on him than discussing her father.
"Uh…well, it's complicated," he sounded uncomfortable. "That's why you should read it," he sighed in exasperation. "The answers you're looking for are in there," he told her.
"No," she told him clearly. "They aren't."
He simply stared, amusing her. For a man with so many difficult things conquered, some of the simplest things still eluded him. He could push away anger, vengeance, even his powerful desire for revenge and yet, he couldn't suppress his own curiosity.
"My father was never the answer for me. I can chase answers forever. Answers that lead to more questions, paths that fork and then fork again. I can get lost looking for answers," she sounded much wiser in those moments. Wiser than he was in his constant quest for truths that he could never fully know.
"Or…." She continued. "I can accept not knowing. Be at peace with it. I can let him go, never know why he left and understand that no one can know everything. And that even if I know, I might never understand." In those moments she was a goddess replete with the wisdom of the ages. She dazzled him, entranced him with her dark brown eyes hiding under long lashes.
"You do realize that's Zen?" he teased. Her soft smile lit her face in ways he'd never seen but instantly wanted more of.
"Do you really wanna debate the finer aspects of Zen? Or do you wanna come back to bed?" She was stronger now, more self-assured but not the woman he'd met three years ago – things had changed – she had changed. She wasn't angry, she wasn't hiding, she was no longer looking for an easy release, for just fast and furious sex. She was looking for so much more from him.
He wondered if he could live up to her expectations, but realized he'd happily spend the rest of his life trying. Sure there'd be times when he'd pin her to a wall in the house, in a frantic fusing and they'd end up with bruises they couldn't explain, but not today. Today she was his partner, body and soul. Today she wanted him more than drugs, more than alcohol, more than answers. Today they were one – together.
He reached for her and the forgotten envelope slid from the table to the floor. It floated on the current riding the marble floor until it settled amongst the dust bunnies under the bed. It was a remnant of a past life; one that no longer mattered.
Much later he'd retrieve it and place it in the top drawer of his dresser with other unfinished things. The ring she'd never wear rested comfortably alongside the letter she'd never read. Letting go was the key. She was giving up her attachment and he had to let go of his too. She would never marry him. They'd never have kids. The difference lay between knowing and seeing – he understood that now.
Happiness lived in the space between, those expectations that we build ourselves and that society teaches us to strive for; and those simple pleasures that exist in our everyday. Those things we see but fail to know. Dani learned quickly, perhaps more quickly than him. She'd never accept that it was Zen she'd embraced, but she had unconsciously grasped the most basic tenant. She'd let go of an attachment that caused her suffering. The one attachment she held onto was him and that made him shut the drawer and put the ring and the letter in their past.
They moved on – but most importantly they moved together.
-TO BE CONTINUED-
Author's Note: I'm not done with the SF soldiers, The Pope or the connection between Roman and Amanda Puryer yet. Stay tuned, for while Dani closed one chapter, the rest of the book remains – and it's a mystery. Press that little review button and let me know where you think we should go next.