FIC: The Language of Goodbye: 1/1: L/R
- Title: The Language of Goodbye
Author: Victoria P. [victoria_p@...]
Summary: This is how it happens. You meet a girl in a
bar, and your entire life is turned upside down.
Disclaimer: All X-Men characters belong to Marvel and
Fox; this piece of fan-written fiction intends no
infringement on any copyrights.
Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool.
Feedback: Feed the monkey!
Notes: Thanks to Jen, Pete/Melissa, Dot, and Meg. Also,
thanks to everyone who made suggestions on the draft in
That sound you hear is me eating crow, because I loathe
2nd person POV, and yet, here I am writing it. The story
demanded it, and who am I to argue?
The Language of Goodbye
This is how it happens.
You meet a girl in a bar.
You *see* a girl in a bar. You don't meet her until
afterward, unless her saving your life can be counted as
an introduction. Well, she didn't really save your life,
but she didn't know that at the time. You figure you can
be generous, even if it's only in your own head.
Anyhow, you're not Emily Post, but you think that might
count as an introduction, but maybe not.
You see her and you know she's looking at you, and
that's no surprise. Women have been looking at you for
as long as you can remember, and generally, they only
want one thing.
And you're only too happy to give it to them in a blur
of hair and scent and slick, wet heat, bruising hands
and raking nails. It's the closest thing to heaven you
can bring yourself to believe in, and it's over before
you can savor it.
But this one is too young. Young and scared and fragile.
You shake yourself mentally, because you can't look at
her that way, and you can't be who you are with her
So when the asshole steps to you, you don't gut him,
because somehow, what she thinks about you matters. The
fact that she tried to help you, when no one tries to
help you -- when you don't even need the help -- means
you have to live up to her expectations.
And she may be a young and dirty runaway, but she has,
in those few seconds, shown you more humanity than
you've experienced at the hands of others in a long
So you walk out and resolve to remember her big, liquid
eyes, full of concern for you, some random mutant she's
never met. You resolve to be a better man. For the time
it takes to walk to the trailer, anyway.
Then you remember, as if you could ever forget, what
those fucking doctors did to you, and the thought of
being a good man crumbles in the face of what you know
But she won't leave you alone. You repay her by saving
her -- once, twice, three times in the end, though the
last two are simply you fixing up your own mistakes.
It's not like you've come to care.
No, because caring means being hurt, and you don't get
hurt, you put the hurt on others. That's who -- what --
you are, and every time you try to forget *that*, life
kicks you in the balls with a reminder.
You leave her -- the first goodbye.
She doesn't want you to go -- she even says as much. You
can kid yourself that you don't care, you can flirt with
the redhead, but you know that this girl is more than a
random fuck in a backwoods bar, so you make a silent
promise to come back. You give her the only thing that
matters; you give her your past as she gives you your
But you haven't figured it out. Not at this point. All
that comes later.
You wonder for the next six months how this slip of a
girl wrangled two promises out of you in as many days,
when you hadn't made one in almost fifteen years.
You find yourself heading back to her, unconsciously
drawn east by some invisible star only you can see.
So it goes for the first few years. You've got all the
time in the world. You're not growing old, and she's
becoming a woman, a beautiful, caring woman who will
always remain for you, at some deep level, the girl who
cared enough about a stranger to save his life.
Because now you can look back on it and see so clearly
how she is there at every crossroads, every turning
point in your life. Each decision you made after she
sneaked into your trailer (and into your heart, though
you wouldn't put it quite that way, even if it does
sound like the country songs you spend so much time
listening to) has been affected by her presence and each
decision from now on will be affected by her absence.
You come and go, each time leaving a bit more of
yourself in her small, gloved hands, bits and pieces
that make you who you are. At first, just the dog tag,
the symbol of your stolen past. But then it's a bit of
advice about not telegraphing her punches. Next, a
shared joke, a love of beer bad movies, Hank Williams,
and the smell of the grass after the rain. And finally,
Though you can't quite bring yourself to believe it, let
alone say it.
A time comes when you can't imagine who you'd be without
her -- the man in the bar, lost and lonely, full of hurt
and willing to share only that with other people.
You've got all the time in the world, and you forget
that she doesn't, that she'll grow old and die before
you turn around twice, it seems, except that, in the
business you're in, growing old is seldom in the game
You watch over her, heal her when she needs it.
One day you even manage to work up enough of that famed
courage to tell her out loud, in words, how you feel.
She smiles and the world stops for a moment; your heart
beats in time with the soft whisper of her breath as she
says, "Yes." And "I love you."
You touch her gently and you learn all the lessons of
her body; she teaches you about yours. You never knew it
was possible to feel both joy and dread, and each day is
a mixture of both because each day you live with the
fear that she will somehow realize that you are that man
in that bar, lost and lonely and full of hurt. Unworthy
of her love.
But she doesn't. She still sees something more, and you
love her for that in addition to everything else. You
love her so much you feel like there's no room for
anyone or anything else, and yet there always is.
Once she opens the door, you suddenly find yourself up
to your neck in people to care about, and you find they
have a way of sneaking in, much as she did, and caring
And amidst all that caring, you forget the most
important thing, the one lesson life has taught you
again and again.
You are nothing, and no one -- nameless and rootless and
not worthy of all the good things she's given you, so of
course, they must be taken away.
Home and freedom, safety and peace are the first to go.
You knew better than to trust those government fuckers,
but she bought into the dream, and you wanted to believe
in something, so you believed in her. You still do, even
as you watched the flames engulf the place you'd been
thinking of as home for the past few years.
You'd forgotten that you have no home, but they reminded
you by taking away even the illusion that you'd built.
A life on the run is nothing new for you, but you wanted
better for her. She seems happy just to be with you, but
you can see the lines of care etching themselves into
her skin, even as you touch her at night, while she's
sleeping, trying to heal the woes that go beyond the
But the physical is your realm, your comfort zone, and
you know it better than most. You keep her with you for
a long time, longer than even you expected, when you
come right down to it. X-Men aren't known for dying of
old age, and you have the silent hope that this time
you'll buck the odds. But you never say it. You try not
to even think it, to bring her to Fate's attention.
Because Fate is a bitch with an axe to grind, and while
you're used to her taking it out on you, you don't want
Marie to bear that burden in addition to everything
You know she's not the type to run from a little trouble
(or a lot of trouble, if you're honest about it, and a
liar is the one thing you've never been), but part of
you is always waiting for that other shoe to drop, for
her to realize that there must be something, some*one*
better for her out there.
But she doesn't leave you.
No. Not yet.
Friends fall, some in battle, some from illness, and
still she stays.
You let your guard down, started to believe you'd get
away with it, until you heard the screams.
It's all a haze of red, one memory you don't want, yet
can't seem to shake. Blood and fire and the odd color of
the night sky reflecting the flames. Her dark hair is
fanned out on the snow blanketing the ground, the way it
covers your pillow at night.
You can smell them on the air, the ones who have done
this to her, but healing her is more important. You slip
and slide in snow and blood, enraged almost beyond
She's too weak even to take your hand as you clutch her
to you, and you finally hear the other shoe drop.
It is her turn to leave, and your turn to say, "I don't
want you to go."
But you know it makes no difference, because you can't
save her, can't force her to stay.
She smiles, and it's never lost its affect on you. The
world still stops, and your heart still beats in time
with her ragged breathing.
"I love you," she says, and you kiss her, trying to
force the healing into her, but she's so weak, has lost
so much blood, that all she gets is your fear and
desperation. Her tears fall like rain, even as she
smiles and you strip off her gloves and kiss her hands
Even in this bleakest of moments, you feel a thrill of
joy at touching her, finally, without pain.
"I love you," you say, "don't leave me."
She strokes your face with a bare hand, and you can tell
from her heavy-lidded gaze and the rasp of her breath
that she'll be gone in a moment.
You pour into her every bit of love you can summon,
every thought of how she's made you the man you are
today. She gasps, and even in death she's the most
beautiful thing you've ever seen. The snow clings to her
lashes and melts on her lips as you kiss her for the
This is the last goodbye.
Her time has run out, and you've got nothing but time.
You get the irony, but don't find it funny.
You've spent the past ten years learning the language of
But in these final, fleeting moments, you speak the
language of goodbye.
You speak of her to strangers in bars, on cold, lonely
nights spent hunched over a bottle of scotch.
This is how it happens, you say. You meet a girl in a
bar, and your entire life is turned upside down.
In the telling, you can almost feel her touch. You
remember all she taught you, all you've learned, and you
wouldn't change a moment, but for the end, the one thing
you wish you'd left unlearned.
You can never forget the language of goodbye.
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