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To hug a Friend

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Maybe everybody knows what it’s like to hug your best friend. To feel safe, to feel at home.

To have a pair of arms that have been by your side ever since you remember. Sometimes, that hug is comfy, sometimes you don’t even register it.

But for me, at least this hug. It’s shattering. It’s soul breaking and makes my heart bleed.

We are in his kitchen after a good day with our friends. We had a barbecue, he made a mean chicken. I went inside to get a beer and he just, kind of jumps me.

He loved to do that when he was a fucking twig, I used to give him piggy-back rides, because I could because he was for me to take care of. And now, he jumps and I almost stumble to the ground. So we laugh, he turns me around and he just hugs me.

And I just think it’s a normal hug, we are pretty comfortable with each other. It happens when you’ve known someone for a while, but then…he just…doesn’t let go. He applies a little bit more pressure and I just know, he needs it. He’s been going through a rough patch. So I hug back.

I bury my nose in his neck and just stay there. In each other’s arms and just…breathe. I breathe him in and I feel my heartbeat. I feel how it hurts, how my heart needs…needs more and needs less. How it’s too much and not enough at the same time.

I feel like breaking.

Because what I feel for this man, what I feel for him and because of him, it’s too much. It’s just too fucking much.

I…fuck.

It’s now when I realize that I’m fucked. Long time ago, I thought I loved him like a brother but, moments like these laugh at that assumption, making them feel like a kick in the gut.

My chest hurts, I want to be closer to him. His neck beside my lips begging for me to kiss it. But I can’t do it. I cannot do it because I know she’s still in his mind.

I feel my eyes sting, I need get out. I need to move away from him. So I pat his back and say “Come on, we gotta go pal.”

And he doesn’t say anything.

I stand still, trying to figure out what’s going on with his silence. Then he just steps back and smiles at me. “Did you know that you are my only family?” I blink stunned by his words.

“Wow! Well I am your fucking only friend. Those other guys, are here because of me. So yeah, I pretty much knew it.” Sarcasm, snark. Those have always been my walls.

He laughs.

“It’s…don’t worry.” He continues. “I know I’m being a sap. I know I’m being too much, just bear with me a couple more seconds.”

“O-okay, what’s going on with you?”

“I’m leaving. Tomorrow”

“WHAT?”

“I’m going to Washington.”

“WHAT?” I repeat. What the fuck is he talking about? Why didn’t he tell me anything before? He always plans, he likes things in line. He never acts out of plan…or well he does but only when he fucking heart takes over him and he ends up doing something stupid -like this- and I have to pull him out of trouble.

He just fucking shrugs. “The CIA called. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but you have to know why.” I take a step back. We are both army. For me it had been awful. For him it was a calling.

For a moment I wanted to tell him to wait for me, to tell him that I would be there having his back, but I’m too damaged to go back. The mutt I have for an arm agrees with me.

“And when where you planning to tell me?”

“Just…now?”

“Now? You knew that I was going to be inside the house and grab a beer and you just came here to tell me with everybody outside and what?”

“I knew you would get like this. I didn’t want it to be real because it’s something that I want to do, but it’s also something that I’m dreading. I’ve never been actually living outside of Brooklyn…Yeah, we were deployed but that never felt real…that felt-felt different. I didn’t have a home to back to, I didn’t have to pick a park to run and now I will have to do that and be somewhere else and I’m fucking scared.” He finished looking tired. Like this had been something that had weighed on him for a while. He just made me mad.

“Oh, are you? Then why are you leaving?” Why the fuck are you leaving me like this?

“Because I’m scared but I also want to do it.” Fuck. Now I couldn’t say no to that. He was an artist and a soldier, those were two of the beautiful things that made him who he was and I couldn’t stay there and tell him no, don’t leave me, don’t be brave and listen to your fears! So I manned up and told him.

“Well, Mr. Spy let’s take some vodka. Go outside and let’s toast for this shit.” He smiles before he moves to get it.

Without his blue gaze on me, I tried to get a hold of myself. What the fuck was going on? Maybe it was destiny. Maybe God or someone decided that it was time for us to be apart. That it was time to learn to live without the other. Time to give me a reality check and remind me that he was not mine to keep. He would never be mine.

It hurt like a fucking bitch.

But honestly, it was the best I could hope for, because I was going insane. Having him there, smiling, laughing and being his beautiful self all the time. I couldn’t keep being there with him every fucking day without falling to pieces.

So I smile and put my arm around his broad shoulders to tell him. “You will be okay pal. If you ever need anything, just give me a call, remember that I am with you ‘till the end of the line.” He smiles and nods.

We go out and I don't lose time before I takr the first shot. I need this. I need to stop feeling the pain and the conflict inside. He would be gone tomorrow. Out of my life for who knew for how long and it felt surreal.

At least, I only have to endure one night of torture. I wouldn’t have known what to do if he told me before…even now I see how well he knows me. How aware he is of my reaction.

Sometimes I fear that he knows how I feel. The signs are there and I know I'm transparent enough. But a part of me refuses to think that, because that means that he would never return my feelings and he's just putting walls between us. Letting me down easy.

I hate that I still have hope for more.

“So, when are you moving to DC?” Dernier asks me and I frown.

“I’m not.” He widens his eyes.

“No? Are you leaving the brat alone?” I snort at his description of Steve.

“Yep. Baby birds have to learn to fly solo.” I take a swing sensing his gaze on me.

“You are an idiot.”

“That I am.” I stand up and walk to Steve knowing that the guys wouldn’t bug me in front of him.

The rest of the night becomes a blur of alcohol and big laughs. I knee I was not taking this well but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to think or feel or anything. Maybe tomorrow with the epic hangover I wouldn’t notice the heartache of watching him leave.