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Goodbyes Don't Last Forever

"Don't do this, Gill." His voice is desperate, begging, and he sees her softening for a moment, her eyes bright with tears before she takes a deep breath and gives him a small, sad smile.

"I have to, Cal. You know I do."

"Please." He's aware that he sounds like a whining, petulant child, but all he can think of in this moment is that this can't be happening. That he has to stop it.

"I have to," she repeats softly, and takes his hands in hers. "It's what we both need."

"Losing you isn't what I need."

"Oh, Cal." She lets out a slow breath, then leans forward to kiss his cheek. "You're not going to lose me."

"You're leaving." He strokes her wrist, his eyes focussing on the slow movement, before dragging his eyes back to meet hers. "You're leaving me."

"I'm creating some space," she corrects. "I need to, Cal. Everything that's happened lately... it's too much. I feel..."

"Like you're suffocating," he mumbles, remembering the word she'd used when she first told him of her plan.

"Yes," she says, so quietly he can barely hear her. "I just need time, and space. For now."

"I don't want to lose you," he says, wondering how he is supposed to condense everything he feels for her in a few sentences that he can utter before her train arrives.

"You won't." Her soothing voice only makes it worse. Who is going to make him feel better without her around? "If I stay, you might," she adds, and his attention snaps back to her.

"You think?" He knows she's right, though. But what guarantee does he have that she will come back to him? That she won't discover that life really is better without him around?

She steps forward and wraps her arms around him, pulling him into a warm embrace. "Goodbyes don't last forever, Cal," she whispers in his ear, and feels him tighten his hold on her.

"How do I know you'll come back?" His worst fear, spoken aloud, is followed by a few seconds of silence. When she pulls back, he sees she is smiling.

"Trust me," she says, before leaning towards him again, this time so their lips meet. The kiss is slow, gentle and sweet, and when she draws back there is an echo of a smile on his face too.

"I'll miss you," he says simply, and she gives a slight nod, her eyes telling him more than her words ever could.

The train has rolled in and come to a stop, and all around them people are starting to board. He takes a deep breath, steeling himself for the moment when he has to let her go.

"Goodbye, Cal," she whispers, brushing her hand against his cheek lightly before stepping back.

"Goodbyes don't last forever," he reminds her, and she smiles.

"I know."

"So instead I'll say... see you soon."

She swallows, blinks back her tears, and picks up the holdall at her feet. "Soon," she promises, before stepping onto the train, and out of his sight.

He stays until the train, too, has disappeared from sight, before beginning his slow walk back to the car. The sun is bright, almost mocking him with its cheeriness, and he half wishes it were a duller day, to match his mood. But her words have given him hope, and he touches his fingers to his lips as he remembers the feel of her kiss. Gillian Foster is not someone he is prepared to lose, and this is one goodbye that, he is determined, will not last forever.