Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday First Kiss - Peace Part 2

Today's First Kiss is by request from Courtney. She won the customized ficbit during the 12 Days of Christmas Extravaganza and requested a follow up on Robbie and Jared from Peace, including their first public kiss. So if you haven't read Peace, just click on the link above and read it before you read what comes next. =)

Peace, Part 2

Jared sighed as the hot water flowed over his scarred body. The steaming water flowed over his once perfect skin. But the entire right side of his torso was a tangled mess of burn scars ever since the explosion that got him sent home from Iraq. Sometimes it seemed that he was just a tangled mess all around. He jumped at the slightest noises, he woke up screaming more nights than not and, worst of all, no matter how many times he allowed Robbie to hold him during the night he couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge it during the light of day.
It had been three weeks since that first night. After the third time Robbie had to hold him on the couch for him to go back to sleep, Robbie had nonchalantly offered Jared his bed. That way they would at least both end up on the bed, not the couch when Jared woke up from one of his flashbacks.
When the water finally ran cold, Jared got out of the shower and toweled off. He turned toward the steam fogged mirror and for just a second, in the blurry reflection, it almost seemed like he was looking at himself again. Strong, brave, a soldier. With another deep sigh he reached forward and wiped the steam off the mirror and looked at himself through the streaks of water left behind. He wasn’t strong or brave and he definitely wasn’t a soldier anymore.
Sometimes it felt like his skin wasn’t thick enough to hold him together anymore. Instead of being made of being made of bone and muscle and sinew it felt like he was held together by twigs and tattered cloth. Like the smallest breeze would rip him to pieces. The only time he felt real and solid was when Robbie held him. Sometimes it seemed that if Robbie weren’t there to hold him to this earth he would just come apart, float away and not even exist anymore.
Jared’s reverie was interrupted when he heard a light knock on the door. Robbie peeked his head in the bathroom and reminded him they had to leave in 10 minutes or they would be late. They were headed to Jared’s parents house for a barbeque. It would be the first time he had seen his whole family since he got back. He hoped they recognized him. Because he sure as hell didn’t recognize himself anymore.
Robbie spent the entire hour long car ride talking about one of his favorite tv shows. And really, with the way he talked about the two guy leads it was amazing that Jared hadn't realized the Robbie was gay ages ago. Or perhaps Robbie had always watched what he said before. Robbie didn’t ever need a reply when he got to talking like this and Jared enjoyed just letting Robbie's voice just roll over him. It stopped Jared  from thinking about the ordeal to come.
His family wasn’t that big. It’s just his Mom, Dad and Annabeth but someties Jared felt like he was born into the wrong family. They're all loud, go with the flow, hippie types. And he joined the military. They always supported his decision but they never really understood. How could he ever explain to them why he wasn’t him anymore?
Jared looked up as Robbie abruptly stopped speaking. They had pulled into his parents’ driveway. He just sat in the car and stared. It looked exactly the same. Eventually Robbie came around and opened his door. Jared grabbed his hand to help get himself out of the car. While he was completely “healed.” his scars made him stiff a lot of the time. When Robbie moved to pull away, Jared clenched his hand tightly against his best friend’s fingers and would let go. He looked at Robbie with slightly wild eyes.
Robbie untangled his fingers and for a moment Jared almost flew into a panic until Robbie’s hands moved to his face and cupped his cheeks. Jared focused on his eyes and it seemed when Robbie sensed he had come down from the brink, he strongly reassured Jared, “I am going to be with the whole time. It’ll be okay.”
Somehow Robbie knew that he was the key to Jared’s being okay. Robbie slid his arm around the back of his shoulder and said, “C’mon,” before leading them up to the porch. The time between when Robbie rang the doorbell and when Jared’s Mom opened the door seemed to telescope, giving him just long enough to build up his anxiety again.
His Mom threw open the door with a huge grin on her face, excited to see Jared for the first time in over a year. Her arms spread wide and she moved forward to wrap him in a huge bear hug. Jared flinched back but she didn’t notice. He remained stiff in her arms and the only thing keeping him from fleeing to the car was Robbie’s hand at his lower back, holding him steady.
This process was repeated with his Dad and Annabeth. They all asked him questions and kept touching him. He must have responded somehow but he didn’t remember anything except the occassional supportive hand from Robbie. They ate and talked and it all swirled around him with no meaning, like a dream or a trance.
His mother pulled him into the kitchen to help get dessert out of the oven and on back to the table. One minute he was nodding along to whatever she was talking about and then a wave of heat from the oven hit him and he was back in the desert.

This time he felt the explosion rumble through the ground before the heat rolled inevitably over him. Even through the blast he could feel the warmth of Hernandez’s blood seeping over his fingers. His throat was hoarse from screaming for a medic, screaming in pain, screaming in fear. After what seemed like an eternity of noise and heat and pain he eventually registered the melted mangled corpse that used to be Hernandez, still gripped in his hand and it all became too much. His consciousness pinpointed in a bright white light and he passed out.
Just like almost every night for the past three weeks, he woke in Robbie’s arms. Robbie had learned that shaking him and yelling his name did nothing to wake him up or stop his screaming. He just had to live through the dream and then he would wake up.
They were huddled on the floor in the corner of the kitchen. He was practically in Robbie’s lap as Robbie held his head and rubbed his back gently. In the background I could hear my mom repeating, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.”
Robbie tried to keep an even voice and responded with, “It’s okay. It was probably the oven. Just give us a few minutes.”
Eventually it sunk in and his Mom left the kitchen, dragging his Dad and Annabeth with her. Robbie just rocked and held him for a little while longer before he leaned Jared back and started to wipe away his tears.
He leaned forward to kiss Jared’s cheeks or forehead like he usually did. But at the last moment Jared shifted his head and their lips met instead. Robbie froze for a split second before a groan sounded from deep inside him and he kissed Jared back. Robbie’s hands threaded through his hair and he pulled Jared closer until they were both lost in the kiss, forgetting the past, forgetting the flashbacks and the tears and living in that moment.
After much too brief a kiss Robbie pulled back. “Wait, wait, wait, Jared. Stop. We can’t do this now.”
“Why not?”
Robbie just looked torn before he finally responded. “I don’t want to take advantage of you.” He shook his head and rubbed his hand over his face. “You need me to be your best friend right now. And I don’t want…”
Jared cut him off by kissing him again. Just a quick hard pressing of the lips to get Robbie to stop spewing such nonsense. With tears streaming silently down his face, Jared whispered to Robbie in a broken voice, “Since that explosion, I..I.. have no idea who I am anymore. I don’t recognize myself. I can never be who I was before." He  brought his hands up to Robbie’s face and for once the wounded man wiped tears from his best friend’s face. He brought Robbie’s face up so that they were looking each other in the eyes.
“The only time I feel like someone I recognize is when I’m with you. This new me, this weak, broken me has one thing going for him. And that is loving you.” Jared’s voice cracked. “Please let me love you. Please.”
Shock flashed in Robbie’s eyes before it melted into something that had probably always been there but Jared was just noticing for the first time. Finally Robbie nodded and kissed Jared gently on the lips. He opened his mouth and let Robbie in. This time they slowly explored, revelling in the wonder that was each other. The peace Jared got glimpses and snapshots of when Robbie held him, began to sink into his bones, and his heart.
They only broke apart when they heard Jared’s Mom clearing her throat from the doorway. Jared looked up to find his whole family staring at them with stunned looks on their faces. Annabeth’s quickly morphed into a knowing grin. Jared buried his head in Robbie’s shoulder as Robbie promised, again, that they would be out in just a minute.
His family looked a little skeptical but went back out to the living room anyway. Robbie helped Jared get his stiff body up off the ground and grabbed his hand as they started to walk out to face his family. Before they could leave the kitchen, though, Robbie stopped them. He turned Jared to look at him.
His eyes boring into Jared’s soul, he softly declared, “Jared Phillip Richardson, I know who you are. I have always known and will always know. When you forget or don’t recognize yourself, just know I am here and will remember for you, until you can remember again.” He paused for a moment and took a deep breath. “ I love you. And you can’t love something you don’t know. Okay?”
Jared’s breath caught in his chest. Then he nodded. Those sticks and tattered rags that he was made of seemed to be getting stronger, growing bone and muscle again. It would be a long journey back but Jared could almost believe he could make it, with Robbie by his side.
He laced his fingers through Robbie’s and together they walked out into the living to take the ribbing they would most likely be receiving for getting caught making out in the kitchen. Jared stood a little taller and a real, if small, smile graced his face for the first in too long.


  1. OMG!!! Kathleen, I LOVE this!! Thank you for writing such a sweet first kiss for my prize.

    When I got to the end, I did what I call the Chick Flick Sigh (hand on the chest saying "Aawwww"). I cna't wait to see what happens next with Jared & Robbie.

    Thanks again!