One Step Forward

By Meriko Robert

The metallic scrape of a door swinging open echoed through the quiet room, and Aya and Eve turned to look at their visitor; Eve out of simple curiosity, and Aya through her ingrained need to be aware of all facets of her surroundings. Aya's eyes narrowed slightly as she tried to make out the features of the figure standing in the shadows across the room from where she stood. What her mind did not immediately process, her heart understood immediately, for it leapt in her chest and began pounding as if it were demanding to be let out of her ribcage.

Her eyes widened and she drew in a shaky breath as a smile broke over her face, as naturally and uncontrollably as the sun rising. was Kyle. It had to be. The broad shouldered silhouette, that cocky stance, and the familiar gloved hand that she could see in a beam of sunlight. And most of all, her intuition, her gut instinct, and her battle against the urge to laugh and cry at the same time...all of this told her that she had found him - or he her - at last.

At her side, Eve let out a happy gasp in recognition of the tall figure, and two thoughts popped into Aya's mind as she continued to stare in amazement. The first, that Eve would most likely break this electric silence by running for Kyle, for she'd never forgotten her other savior, and had been as devoted to his memory as she had been to Aya's presence. The second thought that intruded on the heels of the first was that she wanted that first step for her own.

She could see it as if the scene were a movie flashing before her eyes, here and then gone in less than an eyeblink, but leaving a deep impression on her. Eve would run back towards the door as quickly as she'd raced to the double helix display just moments before, her hair and light pink jacket fluttering. Kyle would receive her with open arms, no doubt, perhaps ruffling her short blonde hair or playfully chucking her chin. And Aya herself? She would follow in Eve's excited wake, her own emotional impulses dampened by the loss of those critical, first few seconds, and give Kyle a smile, and probably receive a grin and some of his ready humor in return. A simple reunion followed by who knew what...questions, explanations, and probably more questions.

Her right foot slid forward before she'd even had a chance to consider the impulse behind it, and with that momentous first step, the tension within her seemed to loosen slightly. was Kyle. She didn't want just a grin and a joke, she didn't want to just walk out of here with a friendly how-do, she didn't want this reunion to be as simple and impersonal as some interview or debriefing.

She wanted...

...something. Something else, something more, and that first step was how she admitted it to herself.

And after that first step, the next ten or so followed more naturally. The amazed smile on her face widened and smoothed into pure happiness as the figure moved down the short stairway and into the sunlight streaming in through the windows. really was Kyle. Now that her eyes had confirmed what her soul seemed to have known at once, she suddenly found that it wasn't enough. She wanted to hear his voice, to inhale the strange yet wonderful mixture of cologne and gunpowder, to grasp one of his hands in hers in a handshake and handclasp that said all the things she didn't think she could get her mouth to say. That she'd missed him, that she'd thought of him, that she'd never stopped looking for him. Her feet quickened, and the next five steps were nearly running because she wanted to really know, to make absolutely sure that he was real.

Instead of waiting for her at the foot of the stairs, he stepped forward to meet her, an answering smile on his face. The space between them shrank more rapidly with both people moving towards each other, but this very improvement on time made Aya impatient. It was was Kyle right there right in front of her. That smile, that casual ease in his long since she'd seen him so? Not just the year in which he'd been missing from her life, but those few days he'd been at her side as well. So long since he'd looked so relaxed, just like the day they'd first met. In that temporary reprieve from NMCs, high above Dryfield with the wind ruffling at them with gentle fingers...since then it had been thoughtful frowns or forced laughter to relieve the tension, and the year of nothing but memories and an old fax of his driver's license. She'd missed that smile, and her shoes clicked loudly across the tiled floor as she finally broke into a run because she couldn't wait, couldn't wait another moment longer for...

...for whatever it was that she so desperately wanted. She didn't even know. She just ran.

He quickened his pace as well, strong arms swinging at his sides, and the sight of him rushing to meet her seemed to completely undo her. As if this were a race, Aya began running as fast as her heels and narrow skirt would allow, not even caring how silly she might seem. She barely knew him after all, nor did he know her any better. But she'd taken that first step out of a sudden impulse obeyed, and now here she was, running all out just to reach his arms a few seconds faster. His arms...she didn't want a handclasp anymore. Suddenly, somehow, she wanted him to hold her, and suddenly, somehow, she knew he would. Aya Brea, elite FBI Agent, a woman feared among even her fellow Hunters, and savior of the world...felt tears come into her eyes for she knew not what reason.

Twenty feet...fifteen...ten...

All the nights spent wondering where he was, all the days learning more and more what danger he was in...she'd kept up a cheerful, optimistic front but the sight of him swept it all away. Hopes, fears, and feelings that she'd barely admitted to herself came rushing over her with each step. One of her arms reached out for him of its own accord, and all her pent up anxieties and worries that she might never see him again surged up from her heart and burst out of her lips in an almost anguished sob.


And then there were only inches between them and two arms stretched out to encircle her as they collided. She hadn't slowed at all and so it seemed that only Kyle's arms around her kept her from ricocheting off of his chest as she finally reached him. Aya's own arms were pinned tight between them, her hands clenched tight in he soft fabric of his shirt, seeking purchase wherever and however she could since she was prevented from throwing her arms around him and clinging to him like a burr as she'd planned to a moment ago.

A soft pattering of feet announced the arrival of Eve, and one of Kyle's arms disengaged from around Aya's back to drape around the little girl's shoulders. Aya took advantage of the movement to snuggle herself more comfortably against the broad chest she was leaning on, and slipped her hands around his waist and locked them firmly behind his back. She could feel one of Eve's arms slide around her own waist, and then the three of them stood thus entangled for a long while, saying nothing and just holding each other.

A minute or twenty passed, and as her heartbeat slowed and seemed to match up with the one beating under her ear, the strange, irresistible need she'd had to obey all her emotions and impulses and just throw herself at Kyle faded away a bit. Still tucked into the curve of his neck and with a strong arm holding her closer, Aya became a bit nervous and more than a bit embarrassed. She shifted a bit, bowing her head to look down at Eve and unhooking one of her arms to run a hand over the golden head at her waist. Her senses keyed up, she rubbed one cheek along the fabric of Kyle's shirt and hoped to detect some sort of cue from the man she was plastered to.

There was a small vibration as Kyle cleared his throat, but when Aya tried to lean back to look up at him, the hand still at her back came up to cradle the back of her head and kept her from peering into his face. She felt his head turn slightly, and a soft chuckle sounded by her ear. "Hi," he said quietly.

She laughed softly in return at the ridiculously simple greeting after the strange, emotionally charged meeting, and responded in kind. "Hi," she replied as steadily as she could, her eyes misty at the sound of the husky voice so very close to her. There were so many things she wanted to ask, but she didn't quite trust her voice with full sentences yet. How had he found her? And where had he been all this time? Could he still be in danger? The possibility that she and Eve were under surveillance was very real...was he putting himself at risk by being here? And what about all the things she didn't even know how to ask?

"Hi Kyle," a light voice piped up. Eve, not to be left out, concluded the round of verbal greetings. Aya laughed again. Here they were, all three of them clustered together in a museum where anyone might walk in and see them standing there like a strange statue...well, who cared? Her questions could wait, too. was Kyle, it was really Kyle. That's all that mattered for the moment.

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