It was easy to get caught up in the minutiae, easy to think of what she did, day to day, as the important stuff, when in fact it was the overarching pattern she’d wanted to accomplish.
She didn’t do it for herself.
She didn’t do it for anyone that might end up saved or grateful.
She was doing it for him.
Every time, for him.
Think of me.
Where are you?
If he was still able to be reached, wouldn’t he have returned, by now?
There were too many conversations in her head where she was herself, and some alternate version of herself that only gave tough love. Sometimes the other half of the conversation was him. Sometimes it was the nameless void where she put all the fear and love she’d ever felt, piling it into the nothing, letting it take it all away.
If he could come back, he would, wouldn’t he?
Not if he thought it was keeping you alive, to stay away, dumb-ass. Wasn’t ever a rom-com or a sweet Hollywood ending before. What makes you think now’s any different? What makes you think, after all this time, he would ever come back for you?
Every time those questions came up, she swallowed back the words she held as her last piece of armor, her last shield, her last secret dream, the last hope, tiny and fragile and dear.
She couldn’t risk saying them aloud. She couldn’t risk thinking them too loudly.
It grew harder to keep them in; she ground her teeth against them, and felt the misery of it in her throat.
Instead, she spoke the words of the spell that put the feelings at bay, that let her pick her head up and get back to the work that needed doing.
“You’re not special, Jones,” she hissed at herself, scrubbing tears away with the back of her hand, clearing her throat and squaring her shoulders. “You’re just a bloody drama queen.” She rolled her eyes at herself in the mirror and finished with, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and get to work.”