Two days ago
Rain splashed against the concrete, a humid breeze wafted through the open door of the apartment.
Janilla could hear the steady tapping of heels against the rain-slicked entry corridor floor, followed by a door opening at the end of the hall.
A few moments later the faint sound of music filtered through the thick air.
She followed the soft humming and stopped at the open door, looking over to the young woman who sat at a vanity, brushing her long dark hair.
"Poppet, come inside!"
Janilla gave a shy smile as she stepped into the room and neared the vanity."
You like this, yes?" She motioned to the tube of red lipstick that she'd just smeared across her lips.
Janilla nodded, and the woman leaned over to dab a bit against her mouth. "There, now you are more lovely, little rose." She flashed her a smile as she spritzed her wrists with perfume, then sprayed a bit onto Janilla's.
A knock against the opened door caught their attention.
A young, blonde Amarrian soldier stepped into the room.
He ruffled Janilla's hair, then kissed the woman on the cheek. "My two favorite girls." He pulled a necklace from his pocket and drapped it around the woman's throat, leaning over to brush his lips against her neck.
He gave Janilla a small chocolate bar, then ushered her out of the room "Now off with you scramp before they find you here." She dashed out into the hall and paused to look over her shoulder before stepping into the apartment.
The soldier drew the woman into his arms and started to dance with her as he closed the door. Her laughter echoed down the hall.
Shalee sat up in bed and ran her hands across her groggy face as she tried to make sense of the dream. It had felt so real, she could still smell the perfume. Yawning, she wondered what made her dream of people she did not even recognize. As she sat there waking up, the dream started to fade away and her thoughts drifted to the previous night.
She yawned again as she pulled the covers back, trying to force her thoughts on the upcoming patrol she was about to do but instead all she could think of was Raphael. He had asked her to meet him on a random rooftop and then broke the news to her that he was leaving.
She couldn't get it out of her mind....
The evening sky was overcast, creating a blanket of gray, orange, red, and pink clouds. They stood on a rooftop of a highrise, admiring the spectacular view of the surrounding city and mountains in the distance.
"It's gorgeous." She turned to the side so that she was facing him. "So why are we meeting here?"
"I...I have some news....."
"Oh.... What is it?"
"It....it concerns our future....I..." he paused, trying to find the right words. "...there might not be one."
"Are you breaking up with me or something...?" Her voice was suprisingly calm despite the torrent of emotions she was feeling.
"No, I want the maximum amount of time I can have at your side. It's just...."
"Just what? You can't say we may not have a future together without explaining why. Tell me."
"I'm going to be leaving. In a month or so. I just got the news."
He looked out over the city as thunder rolled in the distance. "It concerns my mother."
"Raphael..you died the last time you left to look for her..."
"I don't want to lose you."
"I don't want to lose you either."
"So don't go, please, don't risk it. I know that sounds selfish but...oh god. You died, Raphael. What if you don't come back next time?"
He glanced down at the street below. "I have to go, Shalee. I have to...."
"Can't you send someone else? Why does it have to be you? I need you.... I need you here. Why wont you stay with me?"
"I wish I didn't have to go, I really do. But it has to be me. It has to be."
She stared at him, "Then why do you say we wont have a future...are you not coming back? What's happening? I don't understand!" She felt as if he had just sucker-punched her.The rain began to fall.
"I'll be gone for a while. This one won't be a quick mission. I love you, Shalee, I really do, but I...."
She was oblivious to the storm around them, even as the rain started to drench them. She inhaled a shakey breath, trying to keep herself together when all she really wanted to do was break down, or leave. She had a hard time dealing with abandonment. And breakups. Was he trying to breakup with her? "But what? Say it, Raphael. Just say it."
He sighed. "...but I don't want you to hate me. I don't want you to think that I'm leaving you. I don't want you to think that I want out. It's the last thing I want. In a perfect world, I'd die of old age, with your face being the last thing I see."
"Then take me with you."
He felt his heart sink as the rain began to pour. "I....I can't. There's no possibly way I could take you with me."
She ran her hands across her face as she looked away, seemingly wiping away the raindroplets. "Yeah. Okay." She tried to remain calm and was having a hard time of it. "So thats it huh? No details. Just that you're leaving me and we have no future together?"
"Dammit Shalee, I'm not leaving you! And I do want a future! I said there might not be one! I didn't say there wouldn't be one!"
"Couldn't you have started the conversation with that instead?"
"I did! I goddamn did! I never said anything was a sure thing! But you were in such a hurry to blame me! Can you trust no one? I'm sorry Zenton left you for piracy! I'm not doing that! I'm not running off to get my goddamn jollies!"
"Will you come back...? Will you promise me that you will come back to me? Promise it, say it."
"Not even death will keep me from you, Shalee."
She wiped her face again as rain soaked them both, her thoughts racing all over the place. She stared at him for the longest of moments, wanting to believe him.
He gripped her by the arms and looked down into her eyes as the torrent fell around them. "I swear it, Shalee. If you can wait for me, I'll come back."
She activated the camera drone as she moved into the kitchen, it followed behind her, recording her every movement, every word.
"So Raphael is leaving. I have a month with him at best...and I don't know when he is going to return." Her heart felt heavy, "If he is going to return."
"I can't help but to feel selfish, to want him to stay. He has made up his mind, he is going...and a part of me can't blame him but at the same time I'm heartbroken over it."
"The more I try not to think of it the more it consumes me."
"And then what? My days will be marked by endless patrols and countless hours missing him, wondering if he is alive or dead. It's not fair...and theres nothing at all I can do about it but watch him leave."
She poured a cup of coffee as she spoke "Zenton left. I try not to make comparisons but I can't help it. I'm tired of hearing 'I love you' in the same breath as 'but I'm leaving you'. I know he says he will come back but what if he doesn't?"
Her thoughts drifted to all the others she'd known from PIE who had left. Koronakesh, Garst, Michael, and Swatyy.
Leaning against the counter, she slid back until she was sitting on it, dangling her feet over the side. "I hear Swatyy is flying with DIA now. I think it is fitting, really. Both Koronakesh and Zenton are with DIA. It is a good corporation and Invelious is a good leader, so I'm glad he ended up there. I just hate that the whole Lallara fiasco lead to it. If he hadn't of come to my defense on that report, then Hiigaren would have never said anything to him...and Swatyy wouldn't have had a reason to attack him."
She sighed to herself. "Some people outside of PIE are making it into more than it was, trying to make it out to be my fault, saying that I had 'driven him to distraction by my ranting and whining'.""I think that is absurd, I barely know Swatyy. Granted we had a few drinks here and there and went on a patrol or two together, but that is the extent of our relationship."
She slid off the counter after finishing her coffee, "And I haven't even seen him since he has left." She tidied up the kitchen then went off to change into her uniform for patrols, having no idea she was about to face the worst day she's ever had since joining PIE..