by Oro

The skies were awesome and grey the day Leo came back from war.

You could practically see the blood on his hands when he hugged you, see the red all over his military jacket, you fucking pacifist. You smiled, and his eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. "Hard day?" you asked.

"Like you wouldn't believe." His smile was tired and older than his years, your youth reflected back from eyes more mature than yours. This gap between you was so suddenly so painfully obvious and tangible, for just a moment. You looked down at his military boots and back up before you started walking towards your car.

He didn't say much on the ride home. The front passenger seat was left empty as he sat in the back. You saw red, before, as you stared at his fingernails -- underneath, a thin line of struggle, death, hurt; you were still hurt, and all of his letters from Korea were locked shut inside a wooden cupboard in your den. Abbey had never seen them, had never asked if he wrote, so you'd just never mentioned it. There were bumps on the road, and the clouds were gathering, preparing for a storm, a dangerous dark setting the shade of their shadows.

"How's Abbey?" he asked at one point, face in hands, elbows on knees, his weary gaze turned to the window next to him, taking in the grey sights outside. Still thinking of war, you assumed; of different scenes, different landscapes, coming straight towards him, suffocating. Too familiar to allow for him to sit in the front next to you, another remnant of his seemingly previous life, which you began to feel like more and more with his letters and his military experience and his soldier brotherhood.

"She's good, good," you replied. "She can't wait to meet you." (Liar, liar, liar, liar, did she not ask you that very morning why he had to come?)

Lying through your teeth got you all the way to Notre Dame, got you to Oxford and back, got you to Abbey, an engagement ring on her finger. As far away from Leo as you could, fast as you could, and here he was, in the back of your car with his hands propped on his fucking knees.

"I can't wait to meet her," his reflection in the car mirror spat the words in a fake, sugary tone. The cold weather had chapped his lips, made them dry, made his voice crackle like autumn leaves, and you couldn't stop seeing the murderer in him like you knew he saw you as a cheater.

It wasn't like he`d never left, but you shouldn't have expected it to be any different. The car radio was dodgy so you turned it off and let in a silence that penetrated every hidden corner. You pulled into the driveway, where Abbey was already waiting with a fake grin and a bottle of wine to celebrate Leo's return and the long-awaited end of war.


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