"I'm becoming a monster, Eli. I have to accept that." Chloe paused for several tense moments. "And so do you." She whispered.
Eli stopped pacing and sat down on the bed next to her. "No I don't. You aren't a monster, Chloe. You're still you."
She shook her head. "But for how long? You know it's only a matter of time before this," she gestured towards her ever changing skin. "Is all that I am."
He reached out as if to take her hand then seemed to change his mind half-way, his hands returning to the bed. "I cannot believe that you won't still be in there. You're too strong to let this thing take over. You've survived so much. This can't be it." His head dropped and Chloe bit her lip as she heard him take a long, shuddering breath. "I can't lose you to, I just can't…I…"
"Eli. I know losing Ginn has been so hard for you. I wish things were different and I could be there for you." She laughed bitterly. "Hell, I wish I could get out of this room and have lunch with you. I hope you know as long as I'm able, I'll be here for you. You're my rock."
Now he did reach out and take her hand. She held his back. It made her feel more real. She was touched so rarely these days. It felt nice.
"How did you get through it Chloe?" His eyes lifted and met her gaze. They were too bright.
"What?" She asked.
"Losing someone you love. I feel like…like…"
Chloe leaned in closer. "Like there's a piece of you missing. A hole you can't fill up no matter what you do. You try to keep busy but your mind keeps going back to it whenever you let your guard down. People keep trying to help you, but all you want them to do is go away and shut the hell up because they can't possibly understand what you're feeling."
Eli blinked. "Well, yeah. A lot like that actually."
They both shared a tired laugh.
"What did you do to get through it?"
She sighed. "I put one foot in front of the other each day. That's all you can do. It's going to hurt like hell for awhile. I still miss him everyday, but sometimes I can forget now."
Eli closed his eyes and took another deep breath. "Time heals and all that crap."
She managed a small smile. "Yep. Pretty much."
"Damn. I was hoping for some magic potion or a special dance that would make it all better."
Chloe snorted. "There's always Brody's still."
"Now that is not a bad idea." Eli flopped back onto the bed, lacing his fingers behind his head.
Chloe joined him. "Thanks by the way."
Eli turned to look at her. "For what. Whining about all my problems when you have enough on your plate already."
She slapped his arm. "No. It's not like you haven't listened to me whine plenty of times."
"True. You are very needy." He flashed her a rueful grin.
"I'm going to let that one slide since I'm feeling so grateful at the moment math boy."
She saw him wince at the nick name.
"I deserved that."
"Maybe." She teased. "What I wanted to thank you for was treating me like a person. Ever since all this started I feel like I'm a ticking time bomb that everyone keeps waiting to explode. I don't feel like that right now. With you. Getting to know you has honestly been one of the best things about being stuck out here. If it wouldn't have been for us getting stranded on this ship we probably would have just went our separate ways. It's something I'm grateful for. You are truly one of a kind Eli Wallace. Don't ever forget it or let anyone tell you otherwise." She felt her voice quaver towards the end.
"Don't do this."
"Do what?" She swallowed back the tears.
"Say goodbye. This isn't goodbye."
"None of us know how much time we have left Eli. I'm just making sure you know how important you are in my life. You do know that right?" Chloe rolled onto her side and faced him.
He looked like he wanted to argue, but in the end all he said was, "Yeah. I know."
"Good." She leaned in and kissed him softly on the cheek. It felt wet. She didn't comment on it when she pulled away. Eli's hand touched her face and wiped away a tear of her own that had snuck out.
They just smiled at each other for a few moments. Then she laid her head back on the bed and closed her eyes.
"I guess I should get back to work," he sighed.
"Yeah." It was all she could manage.
"I'll be back soon. You know that right. I'll always come back."
Chloe opened her eyes, sat up, and wrapped her arms around her best friend. "I know that Eli. I know."
"Good." She heard him whisper as he pulled her tighter. "And you better be here when I get back."
Comment/Feedback are always loved.