Yay! My First Upload. This is a one shot...but I may add more later on. Reviews and critiques are welcomed. Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Adrian holds onto June's hand and waits patiently as Joshua kneels in front of his wife's grave. The cool summer breeze and warmth of the sun soothes him as he speaks to his deceased wife. "Hey Gloria," he scratches the back of his head and clears his throat. He stares at the headstone. It was hard to believe that the woman he loved now lays there. "Gloria, this is the last time I'll be able to visit you in a while..." He pauses, searching for the right words to say. "Today is moving day," he breaths, a small smile on his lips. "I finally made up my mind and decided that we are moving to Windenburg. June loves it there. She has made quite a few friends and she really enjoys Adrian's company."
Joshua looks at his boots and grazes his fingers over the blades of grass that cushioned his feet. He wipes his dew covered digits on his jeans and allows his sheepish smile to widen a bit. "Adrian is good for her, ya know? The other day, when I went to pick her up, I found June in the kitchen with flour all over her cheeks. They didn't hear me come in cause they were singing so loud; so I just sat there and watched them spoon cookie dough onto a pan."
Joshua thinks to himself as he reminisces that day. He remembers the chocolaty aroma that filled the air as Adrian and June opened the oven to retrieve the first batch of cookies. He recalls the excited shriek that escapes his daughter's lips when he answers her question as to whether or not he'd like the cookies they made. He listened to his daughter talk about her day as the three of them sat at the round table in the small dining area, munching away on sweets. He watched as Adrian brushed the bangs from out of June's eyes and uses a warm cloth to wipe the flour off his daughter's face. And when it was time for him and June to take their hour trip back home, he watched as his little girl wrap her arms around the kneeling woman with all her might.
"She loves June very much," he continues, his voice barely audible to even himself. As his mind slowly comes back to the present, he dusts his hands off onto his pants. "This is the right thing to do. June needs stability. Bear and Adrian helps give her that security." Joshua kisses his hand and places it on Gloria's grave before lifting himself to his feet. "I love you Gloria," he adds as he turns to leave.
"Is Daddy finished?" June asks in a hushed voice.
Adrian's brown eyes meet those belonging to the little girl. Although she had her mother's olive skin and pouty lips, her ocean- green eyes and the expression she wore on her face made her look more like her father. She smiles, "I think so." Adrian glances up to see the man walking their way, his hands in his pocket and eyes to the ground. "Come on, let's go to the car."
Adrian listens in on the chatty, little child as she drives the rental car to the train station. June was carrying conversation with her brown, stuffed rabbit, Walter. They were talking about June's new room and all the tea parties and picnics they were going to have. Adrian glances over at the passenger side to see Joshua quietly staring out of the window. It was obvious something was on his mind; hopefully it was something that they would later talk about. Adrian looks in the rearview mirror upon hearing her name.
"Yuh huh, Walter! Auntie Adrian tell him!"
She smiles, "Tell him what, June-bug?"
"Walter thinks Magik is fake. He says only babies believe in Magik."
"Whaaat? Walter said that?"
The woman's smile widens as she nods her head. "Well of course Magik is real. I mean, just cause you don't see it every day doesn't mean it's not there, right Josh?"
He glances over at Adrian and then turns in his seat to face the young child. He reaches out and rustles the girl's dark curly hair and then gently brushes the tip of her nose with his thumb. "That's right!"
Adrian was happy that June was keeping things lively. Her voice and laughter seemed to take Joshua's mind off of whatever he was pondering over. After about 20 minutes of driving, they finally reach their destination. Joshua helps June out of the car, making sure that she had her pink book bag on her shoulders and Walter in hand. He tells the little girl to take Adrian's hand so that she could help return the car while he unloads the cased weapons from the trunk. As they are about to board the train, Joshua is stopped by the Conductor.
"I'm sorry, Sir. I need to see your Keeper's Seal before I can let you on."
"Sure thing," he replies, rolling up his right sleeve to revel a seal branded into his inner forearm.
The Conductor takes out his eye glass and examines the mark. "Are both of these your weapons?"
Adrian answers the man before Joshua could open his mouth. "No, one of those belongs to me."
The Conductor looks at her quizzically. "Really? One of these weapons belongs to you." He sounded as though he was more repulsed than shocked by the thought. She nods slowly, prepared for the reaction that she often received when someone found out she was a Keeper. After all, it was extremely rare to see a female Keeper.
The job of slaying monsters to protect cities was a prestigious but dangerous, and, sad to say, thankless task. In order to survive a chore as treacherous as monster killing, one had to be a skilled fighter. They had to know how to keep cool under pressure, they had to know how to strategize, and they had to have flexible hours. Young, strapping, single males were the top candidates for Keeper positions, but it was hard to pass up recruits that had as much promise as Adrian. Adrian was a natural at Magik and that was exactly what the Keeper Alliance needed. Plus it didn't hurt that Joshua and Bear vouched for her after successfully passing their grueling training regimen.
"Alright then, I will need to see your seal as well." Adrian sticks out her arm. She stiffens when the Conductor takes her arm in his gloved hand and inspects the seal closely. "It is a shame. A pretty, young lady like yourself...running amuck... what a waste..."
Adrian knew where the older man's statement was coming from. She lived in a society where women warriors were seen as unmarriageable, not because they were unattractive; but because men were intimidated by them. Men were the ones who were supposed to be doing the fighting, period. If a male civilian were seeing a female Keeper, it would be in bad taste and the poor lad would be labeled as a pansy. And don't even get her started on some of the male soldiers who date their female counterparts. When it comes down to it, guys loved to have their egos stroked. Adrian was just happy that there were sweet men like Bear and Joshua who didn't care about that superficial B.S.
"You know, young lady," the Conductor's beady little eyes meets Adrian's soft gaze. "You're never going to find a husband if you let yourself continue like this." He offers a smile; but it looked more like a smirk to Adrian. "You should quit now, at least while you can still have children."
Growing frustrated Joshua, takes hold of the woman's hand and gently removes it from the older man's grip. "Are we done here, Sir?" His usually kind and soft eyes were now like steel, cold daggers, ripping through the Conductor's every fiber of his being. The Conductor glances at June, who was following her father's lead by giving a (not so) intimidating look of her own. The Conductor nods as he stamps the tickets and steps out of their way. The trio boards the train in silence. They quietly walk down the narrow hall until they find their assigned cabin.
Joshua takes hold of the handle and slides open the metal door. He sneaks a quick peek at Adrian. It was apparent that the woman was affected by the Conductor's comments. Even June could sense it. Before entering the cabin, she grabs hold to the brown woman's hand. "Don't listen to that man!" June wrinkles her nose. "He's just...He's just a big ole Doo Doo Head!" she exclaims. A spurt of laughter escapes Adrian's mouth upon hearing the five years old's last statement. "DOOKEY, DOO-DOO, DOO-DOO, HEAD!" she shrills, her curls shaking this way and that.
"Alright, June, that's enough," the little girl's father says, placing a gentle hand on the back of her head, steering her into the room. The little girl bounces into her seat and watches as her daddy shoves the cases into the tall, thin closet. She continues to look on as he grabs her bag and pulls out crayons.
"Okay June, stay in your seat and color in your book."
"Where you goin' daddy?"
He throws a quick glance over his shoulder. "I'm just gonna talk to Auntie Adrian, ‘kay? We'll be right outside the door." He gives her a quick kiss on the cheek and hands over the coloring book. "Stay in that seat," he repeats with a stern look before exiting.
Adrian traces her fingers over her seal. If there was ever a time she wished she had a long sleeved anything in the middle of summer, it was now. She lets out a light sigh and clasps her hand over the burn.
"You have nothing to be ashamed about." The deep voice startles her out of her thoughts. She feels him approaching.
"I know." She takes one last look at her arm before letting it drop to her side.
"What you, Bear, and I do, protecting people, that's a noble cause."
She nods in agreement. It is true; fighting for the safety of others is pretty darn noble, but that was far from her mind when she signed up. At the time, all she cared about was being near Joshua. It's been that way since they were kids. She claimed it was because he was like family; her big brother, so to speak. But deep down inside, she knew it was more than that. For years she had been lying to herself, denying the feelings she had for him. It wasn't until after she awoke in a hospital from a major battle that separated the party, did she realize how lost and unsure she felt without him. The day she and Joshua reunited, the day he hugged her so tight and close that she thought he would never let go; that was the day she vowed to stay by his side. It did not matter to her that he would not love her the way she loved him; the nearness of him was enough to sustain her. She would accept the love that he could afford to give her.
Once again, her thoughts are interrupted by Joshua's voice. "Adrian, have you ever thought of starting your own family?"
She raises an eyebrow and answers his question with a question of her own. "What has brought this on all of a sudden? It's cause of that jerk Conductor, isn't it?"
Joshua shakes his head, shrugs, and stuffs his hands into his pockets as he leans his shoulder against the window, "No, just askin'."
They stare at each other. Adrian gives a small grin before breaking their eye contact to look out of the window, "Yeah, I've thought about it." They are silent for a few minutes.
"...Have you ever been in love?"
Her eyes glance at Joshua, had he been staring at her the whole time? She feels her cheeks growing hot. Could he see her blushing? Her question is answered when she sees a goofy smile grow across his lips. "So, who's this lucky guy?" he asks with crossed arms. He moves in a little closer to her when she doesn't give an answer. She remains silent, being sure to avoid eye contact. Joshua finally gives up and throws his hands in the air. "Alright, I get it. You want your secret love to remain just that." He puts one hand on his hip while using the other one to rack through his hair. He tilts his head, "Well, did you at least profess your love?"
Still looking out of the window, she shakes her head. Joshua places his hands back into his pocket and leans back against the window. "I almost did." He looks at her upon hearing the quiet voice. She speaks slowly, she's hesitant. "But when I was about to tell him," her eyes meets his, "he had already given his heart away." She looks back out the window. Joshua felt a twinge of pain in the pit of his stomach when she said those words. Well, it wasn't necessarily the words that got to him; it was the hint of regret and sadness that flashed in her eyes that cut.
Joshua clears his throat and places a hand on her shoulder. "C'mon. Let's go inside." Adrian nods and follows him into the room.
"Auntie, sit with me!" Adrian takes her seat at the scarlet, cushion booth and wraps her arm around the girl. Joshua plops into the seat across from them. "Here," June says, grabbing a thin, light blue book from her back pack and handing it to Adrian. "Read this to me, pleeease?" Joshua watches his daughter snuggle closer to Adrian as she read the book. He admires the way June plays with one of the long braids that falls over Adrian's shoulder when she checks to see if the girl was still awake. He takes notice of the way Adrian gently strokes his daughter's hair when she finally falls asleep. He sees her lips curve into a loving smile and suddenly wonders how it would feel to have her scrumptious lips against his. Joshua closes his eyes and quickly shakes the thought out of his head. When he sneaks another peek at Adrian, his eyes immediately falls on her long, crossed legs. "Argh," Joshua rustles his hair, leans back in his seat, and crosses his arms.
Adrian looks up, "You alright, Josh?"
"...Yeah. I was just thinking."
She shifts in her seat and adjusts the sleeping child. "Oh? Tell me."
His eyes do a quick scan over her figure. The way she filled out that white t-shirt, dark blue skinny jeans, and ankle high steel toed boots was doing something to him. Another image dances in his mind, this time it's one of him running his hand down her side as he lays her body down. Be gone lusty thoughts, be gone!
"Huh? Ah, sorry Adrian. My mind is just ..." he waves his hands on both sides his head, doing his best to describe what he was feeling, "It's everywhere... This move is a big step for us." He pauses, "Can we talk about it when we get to Windenburg?"
She nods with a concerned look on her face. "Of course." She thinks to herself, then leans forward and places a hand on his knee. "I'm here for you guys, you know that, right?"
His eyes smile, "I know." Joshua can't help but gaze into the brown orbs that seemed to have him in a trance. Crap, I'm starring again! He thinks to himself, hoping he didn't appear starry eyed. Adrian leans back into her seat in time to brace herself and June for the sudden stop of the train. "Whoa! You okay?" She nods.
They turn their attention to the girl when she begins to stir. "Mmm, what's goin' on?" she whines, clearly grumpy that her sleep was interrupted. She looks over at her daddy.
"I don't know," he murmurs, pulling back the curtain to peer outside of the window.
The intercom chimes on *bing bing boop* "Attention Passengers. We are experiencing some technical difficulties, please remain calm and remain seated. I--for--safety, plea--." The power cuts out. All of a sudden, they hear a loud crash from one of the other cars. June jumps up and buries her face in Adrian's arm. Adrian whispers words of comfort to the girl while rocking her back and forth. The little child screams when they hear another loud bang. Joshua heaves himself out of his seat to retrieve the weapons. He meets the woman's gaze; it was time to rock and roll. Adrian cups the girl's face in her hands. "June, sweetie, I need you to listen to me," she says in a slow, calm voice. June looks into Adrian's brown eyes, "Remember what I told you to do during a Raid? Remember how we practiced?" The girl nods her head and Adrian continues. "Okay, you need to do that now. I need you to get on the ground and cover your head and remain as quiet as possible, okay?"
The girl looks at her father who bends down next to them. "You'll be fine. We'll be back, alright. I promise." He gives his little girl a tight hug and kisses her head. He then hands her Walter, takes off his jacket and places it over her. "Stay here, June." He hands Adrian her cased weapon.
Disregarding the announcement made earlier, Joshua and Adrian exits the cabin, being sure to close it after them. They look out of the window, but couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. After a few minutes of silence, they hear the creaking of metal coming from another train car.
Joshua notices Adrian walking towards the noise and gently pulls her to his side, "Be on guard." Adrian takes out her Katals and Joshua loads up his machine gun, being sure that the safety was on...at least for now. There was another noise, this time it was closer to them. They look in the direction of the racket.
"Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!" They stand back to back looking at the ceiling. Adrian hears the click of Joshua's gun, the safety is off. "Stay on your heels," he says in a low serious tone.
She smiles to herself. Joshua was always messing up the simplest quotes. "...Don't you mean ‘stay on your' --".
Crash! A monstrous arm busts through the window, sending shards of glass everywhere. Adrian and Joshua hop out of the way in the nick of time. They knew the drill, Joshua hits high and Adrian would go low. Joshua takes aim and fires at the massive, purple, veiny arm. A terrible shriek escapes the lips from the faceless creature and it pulls its beefy arm out of the passenger car.
"Quickly, to the top!" he hollers as he heads to the back of the car, sprinting past Adrian. They pry open the door and race up the ladder. When they reach the top, they quickly evade the swing from the beast. Joshua rolls towards the monster and takes aim at the 10 foot giant. "What the hell is that thing!?" he yells as he lets loose rapid fire.
Adrian tumbles behind the beast and slashes at its hind legs. "Don't know," she hollers as she evades the clutches of the beast, "Looks like a Caninidrome...but bigger." The horned, wolf faced, animal growls out of frustration, gets on all fours, and snaps at Adrian with its immense jaws.
"Heh heh heh. You're lucky; I would have loved to sink my teeth into that voluptuous skin of yours."
"It speaks?!" Both Joshua and Adrian were caught off guard by the talking monster. They thought it would be business as usual; destroy the mindless creature that was endangering the people's lives. But instead, they were face to face with an enormous, mutated being that showed a form of heightened intelligence and the ability to communicate with them.
The beast ignores Joshua and turns its back on the man. Its sites were now set on Adrian, "So, my beauty, you think you've got what it takes to defeat me?" Licking its lips, it takes two steps towards the woman.
Warning shots are fired, followed by Joshua's voice. "Take one more step and I'll put you down!" Keeping its eyes on Adrian, it peels back its lips into a snarl to expose sharp, carnivorous teeth and answers, "Is that a threat or a promise?"
Joshua stands in fighter's stance, eyeing the mystical creature. Adrian does the same. Then suddenly, the monster lunges at Adrian. Joshua opens fire. Adrian, being the nimble acrobat that she is, jumps toward the beast, bounces off its head into a flip and lands on its back. She then takes her weapons and stabs them into the brute's back. The monster lets out a dreadful roar as it reaches for her.
Adrian then places a hand on the beast, being sure to use one of the blades to balance herself. Sparks float and swirl around the woman as a heated sensation rises from her belly and jolts down her left arm to the palm of her hand and fingertips. She feels her hand sink deeper as it scorches the monster's skin. Just when she was about to cast her fire spell, the beast grabs Adrian and throws her on top of another car as though she were a rag doll. Joshua watches as her body slides across the steel before rolling to a stop.
"Adrian!" Joshua heads towards his fallen comrade, being sure to dodge the beast as it struggled to get Adrian' blades out of its back. He falls to his knees when he reaches her. "Adrian..." He takes the woman into his arms and brushes a strand of hair out of her face. She stirs under his touch.
The roar from the colossal beast draws Joshua's attention. He turns in time to see the monster slamming down the bloodied blades and stomping towards them on hind legs. Joshua jumps up with his weapon and starts spraying bullets. Although the beast loses momentum and falls to all fours, Joshua's bullets alone were not able to finish the behemoth. "Dammit," he utters, dropping the empty gun to his feet. He flexes his fingers as he slowly walks toward the staggering beast. Freezing energy gathered in his chest with every step he took. Ice particles dance around him as he continues to advance towards the giant. Joshua stops, squats down, and places both hands on top of the train. His breath is visible in the 85 degree F weather when he slowly exhales. An ice path spreads from the man's hands towards the approaching beast. When he sees the monster's steps quicken, he unleashes his power.
Giant, jagged, ice blades spikes up from the frosty trail and goes straight for the attacker. Realizing what was happening, the animal stops, but it is too late. A sharp icicle shoots up through the bottom of the beast skull. 3 more ice blades penetrate the chest and stomach of the assailant. Joshua watches as blood trickles from the impaled beastly creature. He breathes a sigh of relief as he turns and heads for Adrian. "Hey, Adrian," he strokes the side of her cheek as her eyes slowly opens. He grins, "Hey, you alright? Can you get up?"
Adrian gives him a weak smile and nods. She slowly gets to her feet with the help of Joshua. As they walk towards the ladder, Adrian falls into the man. When he wraps his arm around her to keep her steady, he feels dampness on his arm. "Huh?" he takes a look. Blood? He looks over at his friend. He sees that her t-shirt is torn in the back. Although panic surges through his stomach, Joshua is sure to keep his cool. He smiles at the dark woman as he kneels down. "Hop on," he says, looking up at her. She is hesitant, but accepts the piggy back ride. He stands up and adjusts her to his liking. "Hold on tight."
"Her cuts are a bit deep, but nothing serious," the medical personnel announces when Joshua returns with his and Adrian's weapons. "She's very fortunate that she was able to get up from that attack."
Joshua watches as the medic finishes patching up his friend. He stares at her partially exposed back, but quickly looks away when Adrian glances at him. Joshua clears his throat. "The mechanic says that we should be up and running in a few minutes." Once again, Joshua's eyes drift to the Adrian' back. He watches as the medic finishes bandaging her up.
"Alright, Adrian, we are all done here." The nurse grabs her belongings, "I want you to get your rest, so don't be too eager to get into another fight."
Adrian laughs, "I won't. Thanks." The medic nods before exiting the cabin.
"Auntie," Adrian turns to meet the face of the teary eyed girl.
"Aw June..." She grabs the child and gives her a big hug. "You were very, very brave." Adrian kisses June's cheeks.
Joshua walks over to them and kneels down. "You did a good job, kiddo." The girl leans over and reaches for her daddy. He picks her up and takes a seat next to Adrian. "That was crazy," he finally says, trying to make conversation.
"Yeah, it was." Another moment of awkward silence hangs in the air.
"Adrian," she looks over at him. "Adrian, I-- "Joshua is interrupted by the sound of the engine revving up and spinning wheels. *bing bing boop* "Attention passengers. We will be arriving at Windenburg shortly. Be prepared to disembark."
When they reach Adrian' house, Joshua heads upstairs toward the guest bedroom to lay his sleeping daughter on the bed while Adrian dropped their weapons on the middle of the living room floor and eases herself onto the couch. Joshua thinks to himself as he tucks his daughter in. When he gazes upon his daughter's face, he is reminded of a conversation he and her had a few months ago during their trip back home.
"We always hafta leave her alone. Why can't we stay with Auntie Adrian?"
He smiles. "Because we already have a home. Plus if we lived with Auntie Adrian, you wouldn't be able to see Uncle Bear as much."
"Uncle Bear can come visit us!" she exclaims, throwing her little arms up.
"True, but Auntie Adrian has a life of her own. What if she wants to get married to somebody? What if she wants to start her own family?"
Clearly that question didn't sit too well with June; you could tell by the way she crossed her arms and turned her back on Joshua. "No! She can't get married! She just can't!"
He hears her sniffling. "Why, June?"
"Cause..." She slowly turns around and looks up at her daddy. "Cause I want her to be my mommy."
The man straightens himself up. He is about to exit the space when his attention is caught by the picture sitting on the nightstand. A smile comes to his lips as he stares at the photograph that showed him sandwiched between Bear and Adrian with his arms wrapped around their shoulders. He had forgotten that the picture was taken. The man picks up the photo. He chuckles when he sees the half annoyed expression on his red headed friend's face; Bear did not like having his picture taken. Then Joshua looks over at the girl to the left of the picture. On her face she wore a shy smile, but it was the way she looked at the goofy, teenage boy in the middle that gave Joshua an "ah ha" moment. He could see admiration and respect she had for him in her eyes.
Of course, he saw that respect every time he was with her. But in this photograph, he saw more; he could also see, what he described as, her quiet love. He could see that love in the way she tilted her head towards him and the way she gently rested her hand on the one that hugged the group together. It was the same look she gave him the day he found her all patched up in the infirmary. It was that same quiet love she showed him the night he got the news that his wife passed away. It was the same love that she showed his daughter. Adrian was always there for him; from their childhood at the orphanage to their time as Keepers, she was there. That was how she expressed her love. It was the only way she knew how...it was the safest way...No one ended up broken hearted this way.
Joshua lets out an irritated huff as he leaves the room. How could he have been so blind? Why was he so oblivious? And now that he was ready to admit his love...what was to say that she even felt that way anymore? What if I'm too late? What if she rejects me? Joshua quickly shakes the thought out of his head. Who cares if he was too late? All he wanted to do right now was to tell her how he felt; he needed to express himself or else he might explode. So what if he got rejected? He wasn't going to let his hurt pride destroy a perfectly healthy relationship. They were stronger than that. Alright, Joshua. Just go with the flow. You may have chickened out on the train, but now is your chance! Speak from the heart.
When he reaches the living room, he finds Adrian sleeping on the sofa. Joshua smiles to himself as he grabs a blanket off a chair and lays it across the sleeping beauty. Joshua stares at her. She looks so peaceful. Before he knew it, he was inches away from her face, examining her loveliness. He admired the way her mahogany skin seemed to glow even in her sleeping state. Joshua allows his lips to brush against her succulent ones, but quickly pulls away when he realizes what he was doing. His heart jumps when she adjusts on the couch. He wanted to steal another kiss. Joshua places a steady hand on the arm rest as he slowly lowers himself and allows his lips to caress hers. "Soft" was the word that came to mind. He adored the warmth of her mouth against his. Even though he knew he should break away from her lips, his kiss grows deeper. However, his bliss is short lived when he hears a gasp escape her lips. He opens his eyes and breaks away.
Adrian stares up at Joshua. "Adrian! I was...you were. There was something...on your lips. An-and...uh...*cough*." Adrian's eyes drift to the ceiling as Joshua rambles on. Her heart was racing and her stomach was in knots. A sea of emotions engulfed her as she lay on the couch. She wanted peace and quiet... she needed to be left alone. Joshua is startled when Adrian suddenly yanks the blanket off of her body and throws her legs over the side of the couch. He recovers from his brief moment of shock and follows after her.
"Adrian, did I say something wrong?" No answer. "Adrian?" Joshua rushes down the hall and grabs her by the hand, "Hey!" When he whirls her around, he comes face to face with a misty eyed woman. "Adrian," Joshua takes his free hand and slowly brings it up to cup her cheek. "I didn't...I didn't mean any harm." Adrian gives a slight nod and lowers her eyes. "Did I..." he clears is throat, "...hurt you?" She shakes her head. "Adrian," her eyes meet his, "...tell me, what's the matter? Why are you crying?"
She stares at him in brief disbelief and then sighs. "Josh..." she closes her eyes as she places her hand on the hand the held her face, "Joshua, I've been in love with you for the longest time." A small grin comes across her lips. "There have been many times when I thought about kissing your lips...but--" Adrian opens her eyes, tears spilling out. She turns to leave but Joshua's grip tightens around her hand.
"Joshua, you and June will always have my support--"
"and I will always be there for you guys--"
"--but, I don't want you to be with me just because I'm good with June...I don't want to be a fill in for Gloria...I don't want to be your rebound." Her last statement is so soft that Joshua could barely hear her. He stares at her in confusion.
Rebound? The ugly word hovered in the atmosphere, causing the 30-something to think before he reacted. After a few moments of staring at Adrian, the 5'11" man steps closer to the 5'8" woman until her back is against the wall. He takes his hand, places it under her chin, and gently tilts her head until their eyes meet. "Adrian, is that what you think this is about? You should know that I would never use you like that..." Adrian knows that he speaks the truth as she stares into his eyes. She could tell that he was a bit hurt by her comment and she remains silent as he continues. "Adrian, you built me up when I was down. We've been through so much together throughout the years...it was only natural that I would grow in love with you."
In love...with me? Adrian couldn't believe what she just heard, but then again, Joshua wasn't the type to bead around the bush when it was time for him to speak his feelings.
"I want to make you happy. I want to bring you as much joy you have brought into both my life and June's life." Joshua ran his thumb over her bottom, tender lip. He was tempted to kiss her again. "Adrian, I want to be more than a friend to you, not ‘just because you're good with June'... " He leans in and kisses her on the forehead, "But because I love you," he tilts her head to side and plants a kiss on her right cheek. Joshua stares her in the eyes "I am in love with you." The longhaired man slowly leans in, being sure to keep his eyes on hers. His lips are mere millimeters from hers. She could feel his warm breath stroke her lips as he asks for approval, "May I?"
"A-alright," she answers, her voice shaky with excitement and nervousness. Adrian remains still as Joshua closes the distance between their lips. He takes in her bottom lip and tastes it. His kiss was kind and warm, just the way she had imagined it to be. Joshua could feel Adrian's body quiver. He responds by placing a gentle hand on the small of her back. As soon as he feels her bandages, his instinct is to sooth her by stroking were she once hurt. Adrian melts under his touch and gives into him. She closes her eyes as she allows herself to be embraced by the man that she loved.