Tears were falling unbidden as Jagan and I kissed. I hated to think that this might be the last time we'd see each other in a long time. It felt like someone was tearing me apart. I wanted to treasure this moment. I forced my mind to remember, to imprint everything: the bittersweet feelings coursing though me, the smell of Jagan's hair, the feel of his body next to me, gripping me fiercely, the way our lips parted reluctantly when he spoke.
"Promise me, I'll be able to kiss you again. Otherwise I'll never let go."
"I promise," I replied quietly, never breaking my gaze from his eyes.
He hugged me so tightly, and kissed my hair. "I'll be back," he said in a poor imitation of The Terminator. Another humorous moment that I'd treasure.
I couldn't help but giggle. He added: "When I get back, we're going car shopping."
And then he was gone.
I watched until his car was out of sight. Then I cried with all my might, slipping morosely into myself. I knew I was being selfish. I saw the wisdom in his choice, but the thought of not being near him... If I didn't mourn his leaving, however temporary, I wouldn't be able to handle it later. If I even could then.
After I composed myself enough, I joined the rest of the team, wiping my eyes on my sleeve. My brother and Drake were chatting, sharing war stories no doubt. Dani stood by, awkwardly. When she and Crow had kissed, you could practically see the fireworks. She was blushing and beaming at Steve with such innocence and sweetness. I smiled despite my sorrow of Jagan.
She turned to me as I approached the group. My eyes were no doubt red and puffy. She noticed.
"Beth," she said with concern, "what's wrong? Where's Jagan?"
As I started to tell her of his departure, Crow and Drake turned their attention to me. When I had finished, my brother, ever the mask of stability, spoke first: "I can see his purpose. He isn't just running, he's doing what, pretty much is the best thing he can right now."
"I know," I said shuddering, involuntarily. "It's just... Well, he'll get it done. It's great of him to do this." I was unconvincing and I knew it. Dani touched my arm, empathetic.
"I'm sorry," she muttered as Steve put an arm around both Dani and I.
Drake caught on to the situation and surprised me by speaking up.
"Bethany, it'll be all right. He'll be fine. And he'll find out who's trying to frame Steve."
"Yeah," Steve said, "and we'll do our best here."
I nodded and stood a bit straighter. "Okay, back to business; the wicked witch, she's that girl you were going with back in the day, right, Crow?"
He nodded. "You never liked her much if I remember right."
"Nope, she wasn't good enough for you."
"And this Baron?" Drake broke in.
"Yeah, I was getting to that..." Steve started to explain.