23 - Truth Be Told
She cannot imagine what Tucker could have done that is worse than strangling someone to death. She leaves her luggage by the door of the apartment and sits down on the couch waiting for Tucker to join her. She sees him take a deep breath as he shuts the door and lays his bags down next to hers.
She expects him to sit down next to her but he stands over by the door motionlessly looking at her. “You okay?”
He nods his head as he moves toward her. Instead of sitting next to her like she had hoped he sits on the chair across from her. “So, you ready?”
She watches him as his hands rub together nervously and he looks around the room. “You want a drink or something?”
“No. I stopped drinking. It seemed to make my dreams worse.”
“I want a water.” She gets up to go to the fridge. “Would you like one?”
“Okay.” She can tell he sounds distant and relieved by the distraction. She opens the fridge and grabs two bottles of cold water before starting back towards Tucker.
She decides that maybe they better talk about something else first so that maybe he would loosen up and feel more comfortable. “Are you excited about starting work as a police officer?”
She notices he relaxes a bit as he talks and takes the bottle of water from her. “Yes. I already have been sworn in along with a couple of the others. So that is why we are going out tonight.”
“I wish I could have been there for you.” She feels sad thinking about missing his big moments as she sits back down on the couch.
“The other night and earlier on the plane you seemed full of questions. Do you have anymore?”
She thinks for a moment to herself before speaking. “Did you like being in the navy?”
“Sometimes. When days were easy.”
“Where there a lot of hard days?”
She sees him look down away from her toward his hands. “Yes.”
“You said you didn’t know how many people you killed but do you know how many you strangled?”
He clears his throat and never looks up at her as he answers. “No.”
She feels her heart drop at the thought of him being over her strangling her again. Tears start to fill her eyes as she pictures him looking that way over the people he killed by strangulation.
“A few times we needed to be quite and another time we were low on ammunition. We did what needed to be done to survive.” He still does not look at her as she watches him tapping his fingers together.
“Did you lose many friends?”
“Three close ones.” He finally glances up at her for a moment. “Jeffries and Samuels were killed by a car bomb and Treat by a suicide bomber.”
“Suicide bomber?” She sees his eyes tear up a bit before he looks back down at his hands. She had heard of car bombs being a problem but not of suicide bombers.
“It was our first town sweep and we were walking down the street when a kid ran up to him and we didn’t realize the kid had a bomb vest on.”
“Kid?” She wonders what he means.
“He might have been seven or eight.” She feels warm tears hitting her arms as she listens to him. “He just seemed like all the other kids asking for a snack. Then suddenly the bomb went off and…” She sees him closing his eyes as if he is in pain. “He was just gone.”
Chasity cannot help but gasp as she cries. She covers her mouth trying to fight the sadness of Tucker having to see that.
“After that, we figured out kids were just as much of a threat as the adults.” She notices him look up at her and sees the brokenness in his eyes. “I know exactly how many kids I killed.”
She cannot speak as she sits there wiping away her tears. She never imagined him having to kill kids.
“I dream about them the most.” She looks away from him trying to cope with her new feelings of pain. “Most of them weren’t even scared. Sometimes they were as young as four or five and we would see a bomb on them.” She looks back toward him hearing his voice break and notices tears running down his face. “We always tried to yell for them to stop running toward us but we just didn’t have a choice.” He wipes his tears and it makes her cry more. “We had to shoot them.” He continues to cry and she feels the need to hug him. “It killed a little bit of me every time.” She moves over to him and sits on his lap wrapping her arms around him. She feels him hug her tightly as he cries.
He had never talked about killing the kids and seeing kids killed before to anyone. When he was with his troop, they just all knew how each other felt and never wanted to talk about how hard it was. He did not realize telling Chasity would hurt this much and be so hard. He hears her sniffle as he holds her and it makes him kiss the side of her head. She responds by moving her head back so that their eyes meet. He notices how pretty she is even when she cries.
“That is so terrible.” Her soft words and loving eyes make his sadness melt away. “I can’t even imagine how horrible and hard that had to be.” He feels her hands moving on the back of his neck and makes him yearn to kiss her. He has not felt her in so long he is finding it hard to resist her but he knows he must.
“Thirty-seven.” He pulls her hands down from around his neck. “I killed thirty-seven kids.” He searches her eyes trying to see what she is thinking. This is what he had been dreading telling her the most. He did not know how she would look at him after knowing how he killed so many kids. He cannot read her expression because it appears to be as empty as her eyes.
It feels like an eternity before she finally speaks. “But they were going to kill you if you didn’t.” He is not sure if that is a question or a statement but he decides to answer with a nod instead of words. “You were afraid I would not want to be with you because you killed kids from self-defense?”
“I killed so many people Chas. I never wanted to tell anyone all the horrible things I saw and did. People have no idea how horrible it is over there. You are my best friend. You always have been and I guess I. Well. I don’t know. I thought you would hate me.” He wipes away some of her mascara from her cheek. “And I couldn’t bare it if you hated me.”
“Are you kidding me?” She runs her fingers on his shirt collar. “I could never hate someone that I love so much.” He feels relief and a heap of emotions disappear from her words.
“I love you too.”
“Then be with me.” Her plea makes him smile briefly.
He shakes his head. “What if I hurt you again?” He looks down at her neck and runs his fingers over where the mark once was from him strangling her. It is no longer marked but he remembers how it looked and exactly where it was.
“You won’t.” She looks so confident in her words he wants to believe them. “You said your dreams are worse when you drink. You had a few beers that night before we went to bed.”
He thinks back and remembers they had drank with their takeout before bed. He had forgotten about him drinking three or four beers that night. “Yeah. I know.”
“So come back and I will stop drinking too.” She puts her hands up around his neck again as she talks. “Share your bad dreams with me and maybe one day you won’t have them anymore. Just be with me.”
He wants to say yes and give her everything she wants but he cannot bear the thought of hurting her while he is asleep again. “Maybe one day doesn’t seem like much to trust in.”
“Are you kidding me?” Her cute expression of disappointment in him stirs his insides. “Maybe one day is all we have ever had. When you were leaving for the navy, all I was left with was maybe one day. For four years, all I thought was maybe one day we will be together. Then that day finally came.” She places her forehead against his as she continues and it makes him close his eyes. “and we had each other for only a few months before maybe one day became part of me again when you disappeared.” She moves her head back away from his and their eyes meet again. “Maybe one day is a lot to trust in, it has become all I have between us. Please stop making me wait to be with you?”
He knows she is right. The thought of being with her one day was what kept him going the four years he was away. The past two months without her had been hard. “I give in.” He runs his fingers across her lips knowing he cannot keep telling her no. “We can try it your way.”
Her smile makes his heart dance. “Really?”
“Really.” He pulls her so that her lips are closer to his. “I will give you whatever you want.” She kisses him, igniting his desire for her. He had not been with her in so long that he does not fight her lead as she pulls off his t-shirt.