It was the warm rays of sunshine hitting her face that woke Ant up. It was early Friday morning, and in a few short hours she would be driving Dorian to the airport. She looked at his sleeping form next to her and felt her insides twist. She didn't know how she would handle saying good-bye; she had only gotten two hours - at the most - of sleep. They had spent the previous night all over each other's bodies, again, and again, and again, in a bid to remember every curve and valley, every ridge and plane of each other; committing it all to memory so they would have something to refer to when they closed their eyes once they finally parted.

Dorian stirred and when he opened his lids he was met by Ant's smile. Because he couldn't put into words how much he dreaded how close he was to leaving, he drew her to him and kissed her deeply. She returned his kiss with an equal feverishness and fell underneath him. It was like they were continuing where they had left off before sleep had finally claimed them. He crawled over her and pinned her arms onto the bed and took her mouth in his, desperately taking from her what he wouldn't be able to once he stepped on the plane. He pulled her thighs roughly around him and sunk himself between her legs. He nipped and sucked her skin; he would miss this; he would miss her.

When they had taken and given as much of each other that they could, they laid together, counting the minutes before they would be forced to get out of bed and get ready for the arduous task of saying good-bye. She curled into him and hugged him to her, rubbing her hands over his torso. His body had become a warm and familiar presence next to hers in the last week and a half, and she could already imagine the chill emptiness his absence would bring.

"Don't go," she mumbled into his skin.

Truth be told, he really didn't want to. The thought that he would wake up the next day without her next to him wasn't a pleasing one. But he knew that it would only take a few days before they would get used to sleeping alone again.

"Even if I didn't want to go, I'd have to, or they'd declare me AWOL and the military don't look too kindly on deserters."

She sighed, she knew he was trying to lighten the mood, but it didn't stop the heavy feeling in her body. Dorian felt a wetness near his neck and heard her sniff. It broke his heart to know she was crying even though he knew she would deny it. He ran his hands up and down her back to soothe her as he felt her body quietly sobbing against his. She sniffed again and hiccupped before she wiped her eyes.

"I'm not crying," he heard her say in a small voice.

His lips were drawn upwards. "I didn't think you were."

"I'm just frustrated."

"Me too."

She finally sat up and took a breath and his hand fell to the small of her back. There were no traces of tears on her face but her eyes were red. She steadied her breathing and looked down at him. He brought his hand against her cheek and she held it there. They looked at each other in silence and she bent down to kiss him again, before she pulled herself away.

"We should probably get ready or you might miss your flight," Ant told him. Even though her legs felt like concrete, she was able to force her body to get out of his bed. He watched her walking away from him, naked, and she stopped at his door to look over her shoulder. "Are you going to join me in the shower or what?"

He grinned, got out of bed, and followed her.

Breakfast after their shower was a quiet affair. She pushed the milk towards him as he ate his cereal with a grin on her face. "You can have the last of my milk."

"You know, you were all kinds of adorable trying to get into the apartment with all that stuff in your hands," Dorian told her, digging into his bowl with his spoon before putting it in his mouth. "Didn't think I'd ever be in a position to admit that to you."

She watched him with her face in her hand, propped up with her elbow. He looked god damn handsome in his service uniform and cap. She looked at the ribbons on his short sleeved khaki shirt, and then up to his face. He was glowing, bathed in the morning sunlight. He looked like he had stepped out of a god damn recruitment poster. She knew he was avoiding eye contact as he ate.

"And your shirtless-ness that afternoon seriously distracted me."

He grinned and finished the last spoonful of cereal and dropped his spoon in the bowl. "You didn't want to like me, did you?"

She shook her head, "Nope - not that you were any different."


He looked at her from across the table. She was just wearing dark skinny jeans and a white crew shirt, but she still managed to turn him on as if she was wearing nothing. He couldn't place his finger on it, but Antoinette Imai would be the only woman that could affect him the way she did. He marvelled at the ways she could be dressed so simply and yet be so sexy at the same time. He had his hand in his pocket and played with his dog tags. He was still debating with himself as to whether or not he should give them to her.


He shook his head and leant back on the seat. "Who will I steal milk from, now?"

"I'm sure you'll find some other hot young thing to irritate."

"They won't be as fun as you. Irritating people is only fun when they get all uppity about everything."

Her brows raised: "I don't get uppity."

"Accept it, that's one of the things I love about you."

Ant felt her heart skip a beat at the mention of the 'L word'. She knew it was just a turn of phrase, but it didn't stop her reaction. They had never mentioned the word before, and she wondered if it had been a Freudian slip. "Only one of the things?" She asked with a small smile.

He hadn't meant to use that word but it had come out his mouth before he had realised. He knew it was just a slip of the tongue, but he wondered how much of it he meant. He rarely said things he didn't mean, even in a humorous way. And he tended not to use such loaded words as 'love' unless he meant them. Maybe he did? He shook those thoughts away from his head. It was dangerous territory and not one he wanted to explore so close to their parting.

"One of many things."

They settled into silence. An undefinable tension sat in the air as they waited. They had to pick up Perry soon, but they didn't want to leave just yet. Once they got into the car there was no turning back. The room was still and the hands on the clock ticked with every second.

"What's the time?" He finally asked.

Ant checked her watch and sighed. "Almost 8."

"We should probably get going." But Dorian made no move to stand up. "We want to avoid rush hour."

"I know."

A few long seconds passed before he finally stood up. He walked towards Ant and held out his hand, which she took in hers. He pulled her up and they stood there, looking at each other.

"Have I told you how much I think this sucks?" Ant asked, her head tilted up to face him.

He brushed an eyelash away from her cheek and grinned. "Yeah." He settled his hand on the back of her neck. He would never get sick of just looking at her. Then he bent down and kissed her softly. She brought her hand to the side of his head and returned his kiss. They parted, noses still touching, eyes closed. Ant thought it was so painful. She wanted to grab him by the lapels of his shirt and shower him with kisses. Her hands dropped to his hips instead and she squeezed him there.

"Smile," he told her with a rasp in his throat. "You're prettier when you smile."

A small smile etched itself on her face and she looked up to him. They shared a moment before she finally teased, "Come on, soldier, let's go."

She pulled away from him and he watched her walk to the apartment door and open it. With a final breath he retraced her steps, picked up his rucksack that was waiting for him near the door, and stepped through it, pulling the door shut behind him.

- o -

Perry was already standing at the foot of the stairs when her brother and best friend arrived. Her muscles and bones were still sore but she was mobile, and glad for it, else she wouldn't have been able to accompany Dorian to the airport. And, she had a feeling, Ant would need some companionship once they left the airport significantly Dorian-less.

"Get much sleep last night?" Perry asked slyly as he met her at the front stairs.

"Funny girl," Dorian told his sister, offering her his arm. "Mum and dad already left for work?"

She nodded and hobbled next to him to the car where Ant was waiting. "Yep, mum wanted me to give you extra kisses and hugs in addition to the five hundred she gave you last night."

"So where are they, then?"

"I'm sure Ant probably gave you more than enough."

"I'd hit you if you weren't already hurt."

"You're all talk," she told him, as he opened the back door of the car and helped her inside. "Hey Ant," she greeted her friend.

Ant turned around in the driver's seat and looked at Perry. "Hey, you doing okay?"

"Yeah," Perry answered as Dorian pushed the door shut. "Are you?" She asked softly.

Ant was about to answer but Dorian opened the front passenger door and settled in the seat. Ant sent Perry a small smile before she turned back around and started the engine.

"I can't believe he lets you drive this, and won't let anyone else touch it."

Dorian pulled his seatbelt across his body and looked over his shoulder to his sister. "She's a good driver," he explained simply.

Perry only rolled her eyes and leant back in the seat. Dorian slipped on a CD as Ant pulled out and began to drive towards LaGuardia. The only sound in the car came from the player as the threesome settled into their respective thoughts. Perry looked outside the window, thinking about what had eventuated in the last two months. When Dorian had first announced that he was coming home for an extended R and R leave, she had been excited to know that she'd see her brother again after almost two and half years.

The closer to the date of his arrival, the more she had began to concoct a plan to set him up with her flatmate and best friend. Ant rarely had boyfriends, as she was particularly choosey. She knew she and Dorian were similar in a lot of ways even if their ideological beliefs may have indicated otherwise. They had the same disposition, both were strong willed, opinionated, and a little pigheaded. They were perfect for each other.

Initially she had been disheartened to realise that perhaps she had misjudged how alike they really were as they had not started off on the best of terms. When Ant had dropped the bombshell that she had overhead Dorian telling Tony how much he disliked her, all hope of getting them together had vanished; until she walked in on them in the middle of something on Ant's porch. And then she began to notice it; their little looks towards each other; their small smiles; the way they so obviously attempted to restrain whatever it was they were thinking and feeling when they were within a two mile radius from the other. Perry had thought they were probably just horny. They were both young, and attractive, and intelligent, why shouldn't they want to have some fun whilst Dorian was still in town? She had a feeling it may have begun as that, but things had changed.

It was subtle at first, evident in their interactions. Their secret glances towards each other were no longer furtive and flirtatious, instead their eyes held genuine fondness for the recipient of their looks. It was almost barf-worthy, Perry decided. She didn't know when it had become physical between the two of them, or whether it had been physical before it was emotional, or the other way around, or a giant complicated mush of both. But, it didn't matter, Dorian and Ant were falling hard for each other and it actually made her a little sad to know that whatever it was that was happening between them would go unrealised; left in the air and undefined, until he came back again and they picked up from where they had left off… if there was something there to pick up.

Perry turned from the window and was about to ask Dorian whether he was taking a direct flight to LAX but her words were caught in her throat. Dorian had closed the gap between their seats and taken Ant's hand in his, to sit on the gearstick, but they weren't facing each other. He was looking out the window, and she had her eyes squarely focused on the road in front of her. Should anyone be observing them from the outside they'd have looked like two friends driving around together. And, yet, there they were, fingers interlaced as he rubbed the back of her hand tenderly with his thumb. It seemed to be a micro example of their relationship; an appearance of indifference that hid a deeper attraction, which manifested itself into quiet moments of affection.

Perry felt like she was intruding on a private moment - she seemed to have a knack for that, she realised - and decided to fade into the backseat. They didn't need to know she was there.

- o -

LaGuardia's Delta Terminal was bustling with activity. Ant and Perry watched Dorian from nearby seats, as he lined up at the counter for Northwest Airlines, in order to check-in. He stood out in his service uniform amidst a sea of civilians. Ant felt a tug at her stomach when she saw that the woman behind him in the line began chatting him up. She wasn't typically the jealous type and she didn't anticipate how territorial her reaction to the scene would be. Above all, the woman was absolutely gorgeous. Ant curled the advanced copy of Modern Woman in her hands when the woman leant over, put her hand on his arm and threw her head back gracefully and laughed. Ant told herself not to be stupid and that she was being irrational - she had no claims over Dorian.

Perry observed Ant's reaction to the woman flirting with her brother and raised her brow. It wasn't in Ant's nature to be jealous. She must have really liked Dorian. She saw Ant's mouth settle into a satisfied smile, however, when Dorian pointed over to where they were sitting. He threw Ant a quick wink before he turned back to face the front and the woman fussed herself, embarrassed, with her travel documents. Ant indulged in a satisfied smile.

"You're going to miss him aren't you?"

Ant turned to Perry who was watching her with a curious look. "Am I that obvious?"

She shrugged. "I didn't expect you two to get so close."

"Believe me, neither did I." Ant grinned anyway. "And yes you did. Don't think we weren't aware that you were trying to set us up from the beginning."

"Is it wrong I want to see two of my favourite people in the world happy?"

Ant sighed and leant back in her seat. "I'm going to miss your brother like crazy."

Since she had begun developing feelings for Dorian, the well in her stomach had slowly filled with anxiety the closer he got to the end of his vacation. Now that he was only an hour away from leaving her, and she was almost drowning. It was a little surreal for her. She hadn't completely reconciled with the fact that he would be gone. She dreaded going back to the empty apartment. It would be a very lonely feeling once the realisation completely hit that she wouldn't see him for a very long time.

"Me too, Ant, me too," Perry told the other woman and patted her back. "It was fun while it lasted?"


They continued to watch Dorian as he moved closer to the desk. "Are you in love with him?"

"I really don't know," Ant admitted. "It's too early to tell. I mean, given more time, I could be."

Perry nodded; they were in an unenviable position. She could only imagine what kind of frustration Ant must have been harbouring. She seemed to light up, though, when Dorian began walking towards them with a lazy swagger in his steps. Perry and Ant stood up to meet him.

"So, I'm checked in, I should probably go to the gates in about an hour."

Ant didn't respond and forced a smile. Dorian kept his focus on her as they seemed to will time to go slower. Perry looked between the two of them, not knowing how to allay the disquiet that had settled among them.

Perry cleared her throat and smiled widely. "How about we get something to eat? I think McDonald's are still serving breakfast."

Dorian and Ant drew their eyes away from each other and nodded. "Sounds good," he said; and the trio began to walk to the food court. Perry continued to chat to them, but her companions remained silent, throwing each other long looks and sad smiles. They walked close to each other but didn't touch. And the thought of staying flashed briefly through Dorian's mind as a completely viable option.

- o -

McDonald's brunch had been a little tense. Perry spent most of the time vainly trying to fill up the silence, though it had become increasingly difficult considering she hardly left the house being bedridden, and she could only talk so much about daytime TV. For Ant, the hour had ended too quickly, and each step they took through the terminal that brought them closer to his gate entrance made her want to barf.

"So are you going straight to LAX?"

Dorian looked at his sister and shook his head. "No, flights from LaGuardia don't go direct to LAX. I have to change at Indianapolis which will take me to L.A."

"I see."

The gates were looming closer and closer and Dorian's mouth was dry. What was wrong with him? Every other time he left to go back to base didn't give him such an underwhelming feeling. He was usually excited, actually, at the prospect of getting back to his job. Deep down, however, he knew the heaviness in the pit of his stomach had everything to do with Ant. Since check-in he had been playing with his dog tags in his pocket, still flirting with the idea of giving them to her.

In the past, he knew what he was leaving and what he would be coming home to, but with Ant everything was up in the air; and the thought that he would be leaving something that he hadn't completely finalised, compartmentalised, and locked away in his head as 'done' didn't sit well with him. It ran contrary to everything he was about. To think that he couldn't control something that was very important to him bothered him a lot.

"So, here we are," Dorian told his companions redundantly.

Dorian and Ant just stood there looking at each other as Perry looked between them and tactfully tried to ease the tension. "Come here brother, give me a hug before you leave."

Dorian turned to the blonde woman, and pulled her gently to him. "You take care of mum and dad, okay?" He told her against her hair.

"Of course I will Dorian, and you take care of yourself."

Dorian nodded as he pulled away. "I have skills you don't even know about that'll keep me alive." He smiled and kissed her on the forehead. "I'll miss you, Persephone."

Perry bit her tongue so she wouldn't cry. "I'll miss you too." Then she took a few steps away to afford Dorian her best friend some privacy.

Ant looked at him under her lashes. "So this is good-bye, then."

Dorian had his hands on either side of her head and said, "For now, it's only good-bye for now."

"I've told you everything I've wanted to tell you, but I have so much more to say."

"I know baby girl, I know."

They looked quite the picture standing in the middle of Delta Terminal. Passengers considered the young couple curiously as they filed around the pair - a serviceman sharing a final moment with his sweetheart. He closed his eyes and dropped his hands to her shoulders as he leant his forehead against hers, then he kissed her there, then her nose, then her mouth. Her lush lips felt like pillows under his; the thought of which would be enough to keep him warm during cold desert nights.

"I don't want to ask you to wait for me," he sighed against her lips, "but I hope to God you don't meet anyone before I get back."

She smiled and looked up at him. "No promises, but no regrets."

"No regrets," he grinned.

They held eye contact a few excruciating seconds longer, drinking the sight of each other as much as they could, before they reluctantly parted. Ant swallowed, her heart was beating against her chest with a painful thud.

"And, here," she said, handing him over the rolled up magazine in her hand. "This is the advanced copy of the next issue of Modern Woman; I was able to get my hands on it so you had something to read on the plane."

The magazine unfurled in his hand to reveal the cover. Splashed across the bottom of the magazine was the title of Ant's article with a picture of an Amazonian-like model leaning against the back of a topless man, both wearing elaborate gladiator helmets.

"Wow, thanks," he looked up to Ant, "I'll make sure to read over it."

"You can burn it after you're done." He quirked his brow upwards, confused. "You know, so you don't get embarrassed when your Marine friends see you with it."

He shook his head and knocked her her chin gently with his finger. "It's a piece of you, and I could never be embarrassed about you."

Ant leant in impulsively and kissed him, and he wrapped one long arm around her waist to savour what he knew would be their last. "You know I'm going to miss you so much, right?"

"Me too."

They exhaled and stepped away from each other, knowing that if they didn't he'd never get on the plane. Seeing that they were done, Perry walked back over to them.

"So you two have said your good-byes?"

"I guess so," Ant sighed.

"Actually," Dorian said, "not quite."

Ant furrowed her brows as Dorian pulled something out of his pocket. Perry's eyes almost popped out of their sockets when she saw the glint of silver in the light. Her brother was going to give Ant his dog tags and she didn't think Ant quite understood its significance.

"Do you have my car keys?" Ant nodded and handed it over to him. He unhooked his dog tags and slipped the keys through them, before locking the necklace again. "Take care of my baby."

Perry smiled widely and wrapped her arm around Ant. "You have my word."

Dorian shook his head and threw his sister an amused look. "I'm not talking about that," and he took Ant's hand to put his dog tags in them, closing her fingers around them. "Take care of my Muira for me until I get back. If you need to use it, then use it."

"Dorian, are you sure?"

He nodded. "Yeah." In all honesty he just wanted to give her his tags. He knew that she probably wasn't aware of the symbolic value his giving them to her was, but he was sure his sister would tell her once he left.

She clasped his dog tags tightly. "I'll take good care of your baby."

They were interrupted by a call for his flight and he looked up to the speaker before looking back down at Ant and his sister. "I'll see you on the other side," he told them before he turned to Ant to repeat. "No promises."

She nodded. "No promises."

Then with a final nod he turned and began to walk to the gates. Ant noticed the stupid grin on her friend's face and couldn't help but ask, "Your brother's just left, why are you smiling like a mad person?"

"Because he gave you his tags."

Ant frowned. "So?"

"So," Perry told her, "it means you're his sweetheart."

"He just needed to put his keys on something."

"Ant, the tradition of military men giving their dog tags to women has a specific significance."

Ant raised a brow sceptically. "Oh yeah, what's that?"

"It means that he's coming back for you; so, when he comes back, you have to give them back to him." Perry smiled impishly and continued, "For all this talk of 'no promises' he not only expects you to wait for him, but he knows you will."

Ant looked down at her hand and opened her fingers. She couldn't stop the smile that was breaking across her face as warmth burst through her body. She felt light and dizzy and furry inside. She looked back up in time to catch Dorian turn his head over his shoulder. They made eye contact and he grinned widely, knowing Perry had told her what presenting his tags to her meant based on the look she was giving him. Ant brought the fist with his tags to her chest like it was special treasure. She shook her head but matched his grin, anyway: That presumptuous ass.

- The End -