All I have to say is holy shiiii. Less than a week.

Continuing...

Mile High

Chapter Nine

Timezones

"Clothes?"

"Got 'em."

"All of them?"

"Yes. And yes, I'm sure."

"Hair and make-up shit?"

"Yes."

"The little hotel shampoo and conditioner things?"

"Why the hell would I want those?"

"Well you pay for them with the room, why leave them behind?"

"Because I can afford big bottles of shampoo."

"But you can never find shampoo that smells like the ones in the hotels."

"Jake!"

"Rose!" I shouted in the same exasperated tone she'd just used.

She huffed and put her hands on her hips.

I smiled in response.

"Do you have to be so God damned annoying?!" she asked sharply. Her hair was all over her face, her shirt was wonky and her pants were undone and practically falling down her legs. Still, I was managing to annoy her more than wayward hair and loose clothing.

"Just one of my many endearing qualities," I told her cheekily from my position on the bed. Half an hour of me directing her from corner to corner in search of whatever belongings of hers were in my room had apparently become quite grinding on her patience. "I just don't want you to forget something important," I continued, half teasing.

"I think I can manage just fine on my own, thank you." She flashed me a tight-lipped smile then turned around and zipped up her bag. "All right, well I'm done now. I'll see you at the airport later on," she said, buttoning and zipping her pants before turning back to me whilst fixing her shirt.

"Sure, sure," I agreed.

She combed her hair down with her fingers but left it a bit mussed up.

"How do I look? I'm going for 'spent all night drinking and dancing with strangers'."

I slowly scanned her over from head to toe. She looked tired, thanks to yours truly, dazed, again thanks to me, and slightly roughed up, that part being her own doing. But something was missing…

"May I?" I asked, standing up.

She shrugged and held her hands out to allow me access to all of her body.

I pulled her shirt off her shoulder and flicked her hair about a little so the part was jagged then smoothed it down a bit.

"Something's still missing…" I thought out loud. "Ah!" I spun around and went to the mini bar, then pulled out a small bottle of bourbon. I quickly twisted off the lid as I walked back over then, right as she saw what I was holding and began to frown; I sloshed half the contents down her front.

"WHAT THE FUCK?!" Rose shouted and jumped back.

"Now drink the rest." I held out the bottle to her and waited while she peeled her shirt off her now soaked chest and stared at it in horror.

"Why the fuck did you do that?!" She demanded.

"You really think you can spend a night in a club with hundreds of people and not get alcohol splashed on you?" I asked critically. "You need to reek of booze; drink this quick."

"You're out of your fucking mind, you know that, right?" she barked then snatched the bottle off me. I watched her drink down the rest of the bourbon, then shiver as the burn hit her throat.

"Urgh. That's disgusting," she groaned.

"Disgusting and pungent." I agreed.

I took the bottle off her and placed it on the table then stepped back in front of her and waited patiently in silence while she continued to grumble over her shirt.

"This probably won't come out, you know. Even if it doesn't leave a stain, it'll stink for ages, if not forever," she mumbled, looking down at her chest.

"I'm sorry," I apologized, not really meaning it, but I didn't try to hide the lack on sincerity in my voice either. I reached over and took her hands off her shirt and placed them beside her then moved one of my hands to her cheek as she looked up to my face and left the other holding onto hers. "You can shower in five minutes," I reminded her. "I won't get to see you for a couple of hours; if you can't get into the cockpit it could even be a few days or weeks. I don't want you to leave annoyed with me."

Her face softened perceptibly and the hand I was holding squeezed my fingers. "I'm not really up for all this bipolar behavior."

"Looks like we're screwed then," I surmised casually. "Best take advantage of what I can get, while I can still get it."

She rolled her eyes then pushed up onto her toes and kissed me. I tilted my head to the side a bit so we could get a better connection and started kissing her back. She seemed to have realized the possibility of us not being able to see each other then and leaned in a bit closer—not touching me with her shirt though.

It continued for the better part of the next two minutes and then just as smoothly as she had moved up, Rose pulled away and released my hand from hers.

"I'll talk to you later on, okay?" she said softly with her eyes still half closed as her feet began moving away.

I tucked my hands inside my pockets to keep from fidgeting as I watched her head toward the door. "Yeah, of course."

After quickly picking up the small bag of her belongings that had become scattered around, she went to the door and pulled it open but then paused to throw a quick smile over her shoulder before stepping into the corridor.

"Bye."

"Bye." I waved my right hand quickly, smiling in a slightly forced way.

I was now beyond the point of denying to myself that I hated watching her leave. That's why I didn't walk her to the elevator. That's why I didn't even walk her to the door. Because I would want to pull her back and say fuck it to all the problems we could cause.

So I stayed in the middle of the room, watching, and waited for the door to click and the elevator doors to open.

Rosalie lingered in the doorway for just two or three seconds, and then stepped out and gently pulled the door shut again after herself.

It was done. Again.

Now I just had to find something to do to occupy my time for the next three hours until nine o'clock when I had to leave to go to the airport.

It was rather mind-numbing at best.

Obviously, I had gotten used to her being around far too much and now that the prospect of not seeing her for hours, days, or even weeks had become a possibility I had no clue what to do.

The only thing that really came to mind was to make sure I had packed completely, and then attempt to pass out for a few hours. The first option took all of fifteen minutes, and then the second one failed to come to fruition and I was left listening to music with my eyes closed waiting for the phone to ring and one of the reception girls to tell me my cab was here.

Naturally, because I was going out of my mind, the driver decided to wait until exactly nine o'clock to show up, and then proceeded to get us stuck in peak hour traffic for twenty minutes longer than necessary. All because he refused to listen to my advice to take one of the side streets.

The American accent didn't get you very far when you tried to suggest an alternative route to a local driver.

By the time we finally reached the airport the extra time I had made for myself had be totally used up and I was now forced to nearly sprint across the terminal to get changed into the ridiculous uniform and then down to the operations room—praying the whole way that they hadn't made twenty pages of revisions for me in the last week. Thankfully, that wasn't the case and I felt a little stress ease when what could have been a horrendous amount of paperwork needing to be changed worked out to be a simple signature in the book.

Having gone through hundreds of security checks in my career, I now had it down to a fine art that took all of three minutes—partly due to the fact that they don't worry as much about pilots—and within five minute I was out the staff door and onto the tarmac looking up at the belly of my pretentious jet.

She really was a status symbol of over-the-top expense.

I quickly checked over the outside, looking for the obvious gaping holes or flat tires among other things, but it didn't seem like someone had hacked the shit out of the plane in the past week so I headed inside and up to the cockpit to program in the flight plan and ensure that no idiot had been in and removed the oxygen tanks or circuit breakers from the alarm systems.

I vaguely heard the girls come in not too long after I arrived and they started packing all their stuff away, laughing and chatting away as I fully expected.

"Jake." Heidi stuck her head around the doorway. "If you want food or whatever, go now. They're already here and they're driving security crazy with the luggage."

"Thanks." I looked over my shoulder to flash her an appreciative smile.

Probably about a third of all my flights with the airline had been with Heidi as a flight attendant. She was in her late thirties and got along with everyone from the pilots and crew, to even the most obnoxious of clients. And she made sure I ate, which was always nice considering the number of times I'd jump onto a twelve hour flight on an empty stomach.

I hastily left the plane again and walked down toward the cafe closest to the gates. There wasn't really much to choose from between sandwiches and cake-type good, so I got one roast chicken and avocado sandwich and a muffin before going back the way I came.

It would seem at this stage that I wasn't paying much attention to the world around me and was on some kind of mission because it wasn't until I felt a solid whack against my side and automatically curled my arm around the object that I realized I had actually run into someone in my time-crunch hurry.

"Whoa, oh, shit, hey." I looked down to where Rosalie was now squeezed in my grip to stop her from falling after the collision. Perhaps the only lucky thing about this moment was that I had been holding the food in my left hand and had caught Rose with my right, so nothing had been damaged at all.

She blinked quickly, seeming quite startled for a moment, and then let out a rough breath. "Hey."

"I'm sorry, are you okay?" I checked.

We straightened up and I let her go again, remembering after a moment that her father was likely somewhere very close behind as she wouldn't have been allowed to wander off if he was still going through security.

Luckily I did too because all of three seconds later both Rose's parents rounded the corner looking like they too were on a mission from god.

"Rosalie?" Charles called out like she was his maid or something when they got closer.

She rolled her eyes quickly where I was the only one who would see then turned to face him. "Yes, father?"

"I know you were planning to sleep through the flight back, but I need to talk to you so please stay in the main cabin," he ordered without so much as looking at her.

"… yes, father," she replied quieter than before. I saw the muscles in the back of her jaw pulse once as she clenched it, but her face remained emotionless from then on.

He caught up with her then and Rose kept pace with him as they continued walking down the hallway to the passenger lounge, glancing back for half a second to give me a small smile.

"That was... cute..." Jane smirked, just then coming into my line of sight from the doorway I was going back to. "Is that who you were doing when Heidi and I invited you out on Tuesday?"

"What do you mean?" I put on my best innocent facade.

She walked closer, still smiling like the cat that got the canary. "I mean how Princess Barbie seemed to know you and even did that oh-so-cute longing look over the shoulder thing as she walked away. It's okay, Jakey. I won't tell anyone."

I rolled my eyes, shaking my head a little as I started walking around her to the door.

"I think that's just your over-active imagination again, Janey. You're reading really far into something that isn't very deep." I tried to keep my tone playful and light, though it was pretty clear Jane had one of those freaky girl intuition things. Or maybe she just liked to find drama and got lucky.

Either way, I wasn't going to just admit it.

Jane had gotten to a distance now where continuing the conversation was no longer practical and so I turned completely and went back up into the cockpit. Back into my sanctuary. A sanctuary I would be alone in it seemed if Charles' instructions were as clear as they seemed.

:-:-:-:

We got back to New York right on sunset—an absolute dream to land in on a west-facing runway...—and I didn't linger anymore than necessary in the cockpit. Seven hours with my thoughts was definitely long enough. Plus, I needed to pee something chronic.

"For crying out loud! How hard is it to hang a coat?!" Charles barked from around the divider as I walked out.

Clenching my teeth, I stepped into view and took my usual position by the door. I caught Heidi's eye as she apologized and continued to hold the coat while Mr Hale slipped into it. I saw a rare hint of annoyance cross her face and felt a little sympathy; I could only imagine how the trip had been for her.

I shifted my gaze past Charles then to where Rose and her mother were gathering their belongings quickly. She looked utterly depressed and her mother was saying something to her too quietly for me to be able to hear, which I assumed was the reason for the expression.

"Well." Charles turned his attention to me now. "I suppose that was better than the flight out here. It didn't feel like you'd ran into a patch of cobblestones in the air. The landing was a bit rough though."

Are you fucking serious?! "My apologies. These planes sometimes have a mind of their own." I forced a smile, not that he noticed.

"A poor workman blames his tools," the asshole muttered under his breath as he walked past me and out the door Jane had just opened beside us.

As Charles left, I looked back to Rose, watching as she slipped something in Heidi's pocket on the way past. Either a note or cash by the looks of the color.

She came to me next and gently shook my hand, pushing a square of paper between my fingers before she let go and thanked me without properly looking up.

"Pleasure," I replied formally.

She moved on to Jane almost instantly and discreetly pushed a little square into her pocket too before leaving with her mother walking just behind.

Heidi pulled out the square first and then Jane, both of them finding two hundred dollars and a note that said sorry and nothing else. I didn't let them see what Rosalie had much more carefully slipped into my hand, sensing somehow that it wasn't a tip for putting up with her father like it was for the girls.

"Have a good night, ladies. I think we all need a little quiet breather." I picked up my bag from behind me, throwing a casual wave back to Heidi and a polite smile to Jane as I passed her and began walking down the tunnel.

Once I got around the bend, I unfolded the paper using just one hand and held it up a little closer to my face.

Meet me by the bathrooms down the corridor as you walk out of the terminal.

I paused for a second, re-reading the message. This had not been part of our plan. But she wasn't here to question the change, so I continued walking out of the tunnel and across the first corridor of this bizarrely shaped place.

I turned the corner and looked down to my left, scanning for any familiar figures, and then to my right where I found just one person. The one I was looking for.

Rose didn't look up until I had almost reached her and when she did it was only for a moment.

"Hey, what's up?" I asked in a forced casual tone as I reached out to touch her, but she took a half step back and turned her body away from me a little. After an uncertain moment, I let my hand drop then tucked it inside my jacket pocket.

She remained silent for a few seconds, then took a long breath and began speaking. "Um, do you remember when we were in Hyde Park, and you said that in Japan you were a crack head and that in Russia you're a ballet dancer?" she asked, looking at the floor next to my feet.

I nodded, confused. "Yeah…"

"And when we were in the shower you said maybe we should just call it a holiday fling…" she continued in a whisper this time.

I closed my eyes and nodded. "Mmmm hmmm."

"So, um, maybe England you has holiday flings?"

"Yeah," I mumbled, opening my eyes. She still wasn't looking at me, rather, the space next to me. "Well in New York I'm a pilot, so it's probably best to leave the two worlds separate."

Rose sniffed quietly, trying to hide it, and nodded. "I'm really, really sorry," she breathed out softly.

"What for? It's not like it was anything more than that anyway." I shrugged, but didn't even feel the movement. I was numb. Physically anyway.

The air around us was heavy now and there weren't any people around to break it up. We just stood in that awful silence, as if we were enjoying the pain.

If this were a book or a movie this time would have been called, 'That awkward moment after you break up and neither of you knows if they should walk away'. But it wasn't awkward, or embarrassing, or even an uncertain silence. It just sucked, and neither of us had the will to interrupt it.

This feeling was so unfamiliar.

The sadness.

The odd sense of loss.

I could feel my pulse thumping in my head, but it felt like my heart had stopped several minutes ago.

It physically hurt.

This was heartache.


Well that sucked.