I opened the door and walked into the room. Brian looked up from his paper and smiled at me. I returned it as I sat across from him.
He folded his paper and put it aside. "How are you?" he asked as he dragged the side table with the chess board on it.
I shrugged, not having anything good to relate, yet it was a good day so I wasn't bothered. "You?"
"You know me," he said with good cheer. "I'm always--"
"All right," I finished for him. "Yes, I know" Oh, how I knew it now.
He rubbed the back of his head as he chuckled. I shook my head and we argued good-naturedly over the last move and returned to our game.
We didn't speak much while we played, just enjoyed each other's company and the quietness. This time I was holding my own. If he made a mistake now, he might not win. He was considering his next move so I watched him.
Mila asked me once if I could learn to trust him again, I told her honestly, maybe never. When she asked me why I still saw him, I only smiled at her. Maybe because women had a strict sense of trust and boundaries, she didn't understand. Or maybe it was because she was young.
True, he and I were no longer in the force and no longer partners but the relationship we had couldn't easily be forgotten. So what if I didn't trust him? I still owed him.
He knew me. He knew what I would do, what my principles wouldn't allow me to overlook. He trusted me, he relied on me to find the truth. That counted for something, maybe even everything.
So I forgave him. How could I not when he forgave me before I even fired that shot? So in every way that counted, he was still my partner.
I watched his puzzled frown give way to a triumphant grin. "Checkmate!" he yelled as he moved his piece.
I smiled and bowed, conceding the victory to him. I wasn't really expecting any other result. I re-arranged my pieces and asked, "Another?"
But the clock chimed; it was getting late. I glanced at him. He shrugged, "Tomorrow?"
I smiled. "I'll be here," I promised. When I moved to pack the game, he stopped me.
"Leave it," he said.
I stood up and stretched, preparing to make my way back to my apartment, hating that clock for an irrational moment.
When I turned back, he was leaning back in his chair, a look of open longing on his face. I felt heady, seeing the same longing in his eyes that I'd choked back.
With two steps, I was leaning over him, my mouth on his. He held me in place as he kissed me back.
It wasn't complicated, the answer was simple. For him, always.