Pairing: none (yes! this is gen!)
             Rating: G, drama
             Category: drama
             Warnings: none.


             by kai

             He found me at Malibu at sunset, watching the sparkling waves surge
             and withdraw, roughening then smoothing the dark sands. Farther down
             the beach, laughing couples gathered around impromptu bonfires whose
             russet flames echoed the sun's last flare before nightfall.

             The February wind was chill and so I sat, shivering a little, despite
             warm clothes and an old woolen blanket. Once, I would have spent
             Valentine's sunset rushing home from work through the slippery streets
             of Manhattan. Haggling for red and white roses -- passion and fidelity
             -- with a corner flower merchant. Teasing Roz while she showered and I
             shaved, swiping at the steam-clouded mirror with a towel. Rushing out
             the door, late for our dinner reservations. Making love in
             candlelight, her hair, a dark curtain against the pillow.

             Instead, here I am. Sitting alone, cold on the sand. Over fifteen
             years dead. Useless and unwelcome tears, chill upon my face. My life,
             my loves erased. A living ghost. A man out of time.


             I'd known he was there. Had felt his presence when he appeared. But, I
             didn't bother to turn. Didn't bother to wipe the tears from my
             face. Didn't bother to think of a sarcastic or witty greeting. None of
             it mattered. Whether I was in heaven or hell, didn't matter. Tonight,
             I just wanted to be with her.

             And now, all I have left of her, of our love, is sharp-edged memories.

             He sat down beside me and stared out at the waves, the unnatural heat
             of his skin warming my body even through the blanket. He didn't seem
             inclined to speak. Perhaps he sensed and respected my bleak
             mood. Perhaps he was just waiting for the right moment, the perfect
             time to twist the knife. Again.

             "I have something for you." His voice was serious, with none of it's
             usual irony or sarcasm.

             I turned towards him and his burning eyes searched my face, flickered
             over my tears. His expression was unreadable.

             "Give me your hand."

             Reluctantly, I did so. I wanted no gifts from him.

             He pressed something cool into my palm and closed my fist tightly
             around it. And then, he was gone.

             As I stared at the waves, the sky's russet became indigo and indigo
             became midwinter's black velvet. And finally, under the faint light of
             the winter stars, I gathered my courage, opened my hand, to reveal the
             golden circlet of my wedding band.




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