Hearts of Stone

by brooklinegirl (witchbaby)



An addendum to Green Christmas in response to the holiday Challenge over at Notes.

I canít be alone anymore. I hate losing that ability, to be just myself and not have to be with someone. I was good at that. Damn good at pushing people away. It worked for me. Till now.

Till him.

Everythingís changed and itís harder now. Hard to not think too much. To not wonder. To not wish, hope, think, feel. Hard to be alone.

I worry too much. He tells me that, a lot, tells me to take it slow and easy and itíll all work out just fine. He says it like he believes it, too. He makes me think he must know something I donít, because how the hell can I *keep* from worrying? Thereís so much, so very much, that can go wrong. Fall apart.

And I canít be without him.

That worries me, too. Iím easier with him than Iíve ever been with anyone and I still canít show him even half of what Iím feeling. Canít. When I feel all of that emotion, all of that. . . love, I guess, rising to the surface, I have to. . .*have* to. . .fling up a wall of some sort. Itís instinct, I guess. Iím trying to work past that.

Doesnít matter though, not really. He sees through that. Sees through me, real easy. Iím watching him now, as he sits on the floor of the orphanage, surrounded by kids. Theyíre drawn to him. They donít see him as a soldier, as a killer. Nope. They see what I see: this huge man, grinning just like them, as excited about Christmas as they are. He handles the kids, the toys, as easily as he does an M16. His face is wreathed in smiles, and the kids see in him a kindred spirit. Theyíre grinning back, and climbing all over him.

Iím brooding, I know, standing here in the doorway in order to smoke. Zeke looks up at me and catches me watching him. His grin gets wider. I offer him my wry smile, caught. I watch as he bends close to the ear of one of the little girls, his eyes never leaving mine. The kid canít be more than 4 or 5 and Zeke sends her off in my direction.

She makes a beeline for me in the doorway and I crush out my cigarette under my heel before she gets there. Reaching me, she tugs determinedly on my sleeve. I canít help but smile at her serious face and I crouch down to look her in the eye. She leans in and gives me a solid kiss on the cheek, then immediately spins around and scurries back to Zeke.

Itís stunning, how the trust of a child can set fire to your soul.

I straighten up slowly and realize, bemusedly, that Iím grinning, probably as widely as Zeke himself. Heís still looking at me from across the room, holding the girl in his arms as she peers back over her shoulder at me, a shy smile on her face.

He knows how to break down my barriers, how to bring me back from my worries. Knows when I need help, and knows when to leave me alone. He knows me better than I know myself and maybe I donít mind. Maybe being alone is the hard part. Maybe this is worth it.


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