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Philema

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‘Philema’

 

Note: this is technically Scriddler, but it can be any person and a dude in Arkham if you prefer that.

 

 

Once you were separated, you thought that was it.

It had always been hard to tell what you were; you had never been able to figure out if it was circumstance or lust or - God forbid - love, and how could you have?  First and foremost a stranger he had been and still he was.  Not to say he was a liar.  You believed he didn't lie to you, and only you.  But any personal history was carefully related, in such a way that after the telling concluded you realised he hadn't really told you anything at all.  And for all the nights you'd spent together, who knew what of it meant anything at all?  A passing fancy, perhaps; plausible, and probable also, and you should have expected it.  Were you a fool for hoping otherwise?  For hoping at all?

When you glance at him across the room he never looks at you.  Or maybe he does, and your eyes just never cross.  It all has to be a secret anyway.  If anyone discovered how much he understands and how much he knows, it would ruin the both of you.  You wouldn't wish that on him.  For him you want only the best. 

You hate that.  You do.  The world changed when you met him.  You used to laugh in the face of fools who declared selflessness in the shadow of threat to family or friends or dear colleagues.  Now you don't remember what was so funny.  You want to confront him, want to demand answers, want to know how he can ignore you after all this time away, but you can't.  Because then he would be unsafe.  And it would be your fault. 

It's a pain you don't want to bear.

When you lie awake at night you inevitably realise that maybe you didn't mean that much to him.  That it was circumstance, and his new cell mate is more interesting and agreeable and alluring than you ever were, or ever could be.  And you bite your cheek against this thought, because it defies sense.  You were good enough, weren't you?  Didn't you listen?  Didn't you speak?  Didn't you be everything he needed even when he didn't ask?  You did.  You know you did. 

Didn't you?

Weeks go by and nothing.  You never meet, you never whisper, not a blink is exchanged between you.  And you hate yourself for missing him.  He doesn’t miss you, doesn’t need you.  You’re a fool now as you always were.  Pining for stability in a life full of lies.  You try to forget him and you can’t.  You can’t push away the memory of his weight on the bed next to you, the long-gone trail of his fingers on your arm, the whisper of his breath on your neck.  You can’t forget.  You can’t forget.

And so it happens that you sit in the darkness of the basement, hands placed over some method of distraction that has proved to be futile, gritting your teeth and asking yourself over and over how you allowed this to happen.  You have bigger things to worry about.  The question of whether or not a heartless criminal is your friend should not be one of them.

“It’s been some time,” comes his voice from the shadow, and you double your focus on what’s in front of you.  You’re done with this.  Your heart isn’t trembling in excitement and your breath is even.  You aren’t pleased, aren’t hopeful at all that he came to find you at last.

Yes, you are.

“What do you want,” you tell him, in as level a voice as you can.  He sits next to you in silence until you relent and look at him.  Your heart really is in your throat now.  Finally.  Finally.

“We had to wait.  You know that.”

You hoped that, yes.  Knew?  How could you ever know?  How could you ever be sure he hadn’t turned away?

“I thought you trusted me.”

“I do,” you say, without pause.  “But time makes more of a difference than I wanted it to.”

“Nothing has changed,” he tells you, and when he lays his hand so softly alongside your face and leans in to kiss you, your doubts abate.  He’s right.  It was never he that was the problem, but you.  Inventing something out of nothing, compounding your own baseless fears. 

Soon you will separate again, and maybe you’ll begin to think once more that you don’t matter to him.  That he’s moved on, found something new, and left you to wait for another day that isn’t coming.  But until then, you have this kiss to remind you that perhaps nothing simply means… nothing.