The first time she said those words, he looked away and she left. He must have hurt her...no, he was sure she had been hurt. But she should have known, right? He could never say or be what she wanted or needed. He could never return what she gave so freely. So he pretended not to understand. He told himself she had no reason to be upset. They were just words and words had ways to deceive even the most intelligent minds. Perhaps she hadn't meant it; maybe they meant something else to her. When he saw her the next day she smiled, twirling a strand of her amber hair around her finger. He knew that gesture. He could remember the first time he had seen those silken strands being twisted and pulled. Watching her play with her hair, he wondered if everything was a game to her. She always did love to toy with people; it was her job after all. It would explain many things, it would explain her words.
Her hand fit perfectly inside of his but his never quite belonged in hers. He was acutely aware of their skin shifting against each other and every now and then he would flex his fingers in agitation. She would give him a small smile, which he noticed was a forced one. As their fingers tangled further, he forgot the he was the one who had spun the web that entrapped him in the first place. He approached her for special training. She never pursued him and still she truthfully wasn't. For their image in the military was enough to keep up the facade of their relationship. She was just trying to make the best of it.
He wasn't used to feeling vulnerable and he never could quite comprehend why she made him feel strong and weak at the same time. She had changed him, evoked thoughts he had never considered to be worth his time. When she leaned closer he wanted to curse her for enchanting him and when she wouldn't pull back he wanted to beg her to let go because he didn't want to feel as if they were connected. He didn't like whatever he began feeling when around her yet he couldn't get enough of it. Her gaze would burrow into him and he wondered if she knew how much it tore him to resist her. In those bittersweet moments she seemed like a dream come true. She wasn't like the rest of their people. She was lethally brutal in combat but she had held onto her emotions. She still had a heart, no matter how battle worn and scarred it was. Sometimes he doubted he could ever return her feelings. After all he didn't held onto his heart like she had.
The second time the words crossed her lips, he did not look away but she left anyway. He wondered if she would come back this time, if he even wanted her too. He had hoped she would know him well enough not to say it again. He did not like feeling like this. How could she be so selfish to force her feelings upon him, knowing he could never accept them? Couldn't she see? Did he let her see that?
Days passed and they forgot about it, at least, that is what he made himself believe. They would sit in the commander center, her body leaning against his. He would breathe her in, wishing the petite body on him did not make his heart flutter. She would sigh as she played with her hair, the soft, red locks slipping through her fingers. And he wondered when she would just give up on him.
The third time it happened, she stared at him with understanding eyes and he left. He had been angry. She couldn't understand that. No, it would mean too much. How could she continue to lie like that? Those words were never meant to be spoken to him and he could never feel something he did not believe in. He had locked those hopes away the first time he was on the battle field during a war. He had accepted it, so how dare she say those words in that sweet, gentle voice of her. She was perfect in every way and it hurt because he knew, he just knew, he could never be like her.
He wished she would leave. That they could just forget what was happening between them, forget what they were becoming. He used to be able to escape reality rather easily, just close himself off and forget it was there. But she made him remember and it hurt. It hurt so much, it was killing him. He was her Commander not her lover. He was taught, like the rest of his people including her, that there was no point in loving others. It would only be a distraction.
Perhaps destroying that person he had been groomed to be wouldn't be so bad? Obviously she was beginning to destroy that part of herself. He chastised himself for even considering that and buried the thought deep within his mind. He warily looked at her.
She was worried and he hated the fact that he was the cause of it. He'd known this would happen; he should have never burdened her with his problems. He was a mess, hopelessly set in his chaotic ways and no one could change that. Especially not someone like her. Couldn't she see he wasn't right for her? That he was being cruel and selfish by refusing to let her go. Didn't she know how afraid he was of the feeling he felt; they were so foreign to him. He did not want to smother her perfection; he didn't want to take away that spark that made her who she was. He tried so hard not to extinguish the flame that drove her but he hated being scared all the time. He had tried to guard it from his greedy hands but it had burned him all the same. She had become the fire in his heart, the comfort at his side. Her beauty was astonishing and sometimes he wondered if he should bother catching his breath, when it would be so much better if he just let it slip away.
He couldn't recall when she had come to stand in front of him, looking at him with pity. He couldn't help but feel it was wrong, that it was degrading. He didn't need her pity nor did he want it. Her sharp and penetrating gaze battled its way into his mind as she tried to read him. But he was a closed book with the pages worn and stuck together, damaged by its previous handlers. He couldn't open up to her, because there was no romance novel written in his heart. It was a story that made him sick, that made him want to look away once the first word was read. She would never understand and that would hurt even more.
He hadn't even noticed he was crying until her hand reached out to wipe away his tears. He closed his eyes, inwardly shivering as her fingertips brushed along his mask. At the same time her vicious claws sank into his heart. Opening his eyes, he was unable to resist the pull of her perfection. He knew it was wrong, that he would ultimately taint it, ruin it as always. He leaned forward until they were mere inches apart. She smiled but there was a sadness to it that tore at his heart. She knew, no matter how hard she tried, he would never truly love her. She had slipped past his defenses so it was good enough for her now. He knew was not good enough for her. He was flawed, a sinner, but no matter how perfect she appeared to be, she was no saint either.
Because, after all, didn't she love him?