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This is goodbye

The waves crashed against the rocks below, a light roar amongst the steady hum of the sea breeze. A slight chill ran across Ryan's body raising the hair on his arms even through his long sleeves. He instinctively reached to pull his jacket a bit tighter, only to immediately realize that it was currently wrapped around the shoulders of Crystal Oxley, his girlfriend. He put his arm around her pulling her close against him. She instinctively laid her head against his chest as they watched the rockhopper penguins gleefully hopping across the tidepools below, searching for their next meals.

"I wish our lives were that simple" Crystal wondered aloud, as one of the penguins arose from the ocean with a fish, sending its compatriots into a frenzy. She had been a little more distant over the past few weeks. It was no secret why. Their graduation was now less than 2 weeks away. With her due to depart for her first duty assignment 2 weeks after, and Ryan to depart just a week later. As that day crept closer, both of them had silently acknowledged the inevitable, they were going to be separated. She had been assigned a coveted spot at the Daystrom Institute, while Ryan had been assigned to the USS Excalibur.

Ryan kissed her forehead. “Simple? Dodging Harp Seals and Orcas for your meals? Nosy humans like us encroaching on their seaside just to watch them wander around? No thanks.”

I just mean socially, we all have to worry about survival, especially in Starfleet.”

Well actually, the rockhoppers have a pretty compl....”

Ryan...” she interrupted him. He stopped his thought. She was one of the few people that would put up with his rambling, and even she wasn't willing, she'd just quietly interject with a simple thought to change the subject, or just a quick chiding as she had just done.

Sorry,” he apologized to her. He let it hang in the air a bit before speaking again. “You've been thinking about it too, haven't you?” The meaning of “it” was implied. He felt her nod against his chest. They had been avoiding the subject, almost pretending that the issue would just magically resolve itself. “No time like the present, I guess.” Ryan said, with a hint of resignation in his voice. He could feel her tense up against him.

I love you, Ryan.” she said, her voice barely audible over the breeze. Those words, even after the thousandth time, still gave him goosebumps. “But I just don't know how it's going to work.” Ryan didn't say anything, he didn't react. Those thoughts mirrored his, he just hadn't had the courage to put those thoughts to words yet. He didn't know what to say, if he was being honest with himself. The moment of inevitability he had been thinking about constantly over the past month had come, yet he had no idea how to respond.

So is this goodbye then?” he blurted out. It's not what he wanted to say, but it was the first thought to cross his mind.

Do you want it to be goodbye?” she replied.

No” he responded quickly. Letting his answer hang for a few seconds. “But if it has to be, I want to spend every second of the next month with you. I don't want to say goodbye until you're walking onto the shuttle and I want that last memory of you to be that smile of yours. That's all I'll need to see to know that it was all worth it.”

Ryan felt Crystal's body relax against his. As if a weight had been lifted. Ryan felt relief too, but mixing in with that relief was a dull pain. The pain of realizing that this was it. But it was goodbye on their terms. He had seen many of their friends and classmates struggling with the same decision. Some had just been avoiding it like they had been, others had allowed the tension to eat away at them, eventually causing a fight and breaking it off that way, other had pledged to try and maintain a long distance relationship. The latter had crossed Ryan's mind, but it wouldn't be fair, to either of them. Crystal's research and Ryan's duties required their full attention. The didn't need to be bothered with the work of maintaining a long distance relationship. Even if they were able to make it work.

Why'd we have to meet at the academy?” Crystal asked after another long silence, her voice betraying the tears Ryan could tell she was trying to fight back. “Why couldn't we have met somewhere else, some place that can't tear us apart like this?”

Ryan found himself fighting back tears. He had thought the same exact thought at least 100 times. There was no right, or wrong, or “fair” answer to that question. “I don't know. But it wouldn't change the fact that' I wouldn't change one second of the past 2 years.”

Crystal turned around at buried her head into his shoulder, gripping him tightly. He wrapped his free hand around her. She wasn't sobbing, but he could tell she was crying. He closed his eyes as his tears began to fall. He didn't know what to say, or what he could do to comfort her. He was as lost and in pain as she was and words just seemed worthless at the current moment.

Are you crying?” Crystal asked, her voice still shaky and muffled against his chest.

Maybe” he replied. He had never cried in front of her before. In fact, he couldn't recall the last time he had cried.

Crystal pulled her head up and looked up at him, her eyes red with tears. She wiped a couple of his tears away from his face. “Really? Ryan of the House Von Drake? Conqueror of Klingon warriors? Sole survivor of Professor Sulok's Vulcan history class? Reduced to tears by a 5'3 engineering Cadet?” she mocked him lovingly. “Your reputation is going to take a hit.”

As much as he hated that nickname, Ryan couldn't help but smile. “What can I say? None of them had my heart like you do.” He leaned in and gave her a kiss. A long, passionate, kiss. It reminded Ryan of their first kiss. Now, like then, it just felt like more than a kiss.

As they their lips parted, the tears had subsided. Crystal look up into his eyes. “Now, if I remember, you reserved the boat house for the entire weekend, right?”

Ryan nodded, “Yes, we just have to have the keys back to my parents by 1700 hours on Monday so they can get it ready f...”

Ryan...” she interrupted him again.

Sorry...Yes. We do have it to ourselves for the weekend.”

Then take me back there and let’s spend the rest of the weekend in each others arms.”

He gave her a quick kiss “That sounds like a great idea.”


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