"He might separate - us."
I can't believe she said that. Said that word. Us.
I'm a little pleased with myself that I kept from pointing out to her that she's said on more than one occasion that there isn't an us, or that there was never going to be an us. Maybe it means we're making progress. That she's starting to settle with everything that's happened and might - just might be ready to move forward before long instead of treading water.
When she said it, I wasn't sure that she realized what she'd said. But one look into her eyes, and I saw the surprise, the discomfiture - and the terror - and I knew. She didn't mean to say it. It slipped out before she could stop it.
At least she didn't try to deny it or explain it. I wanted to let her know that no one was going to separate us again if I have any say in the matter - but that particular moment didn't seem the time or the place. We were on board a ship - working, and it wouldn't have been proper for me to touch her face or pull her close the way I wanted to in order to comfort her. So I reminded her that she's not the same person she was back then.
She's not. She's overcome a lot of things in the last nine years just since I first met her in that rose garden. And before that, she overcame so much more. She's not perfect, but then neither am I.
Problem is, I'm not sure that she meant that she didn't want to be separated from me because I'm her friend and promised to be there for her and she doesn't want to lose that - or for another, deeper reason. I guess I shouldn't question it, though. It was something. More, certainly, than what I've gotten so far. She barely agrees to have lunch with me anymore, much less dinner, saying she doesn't like to intrude on Mattie and I, since we're not sure how much longer Mattie will be a part of my life.
I'm sure that Cresswell won't hold a mistake that Mac made years ago against her now, after all this time, not after all she's accomplished in her career and for the Corps. After all, they're both Marines.
Whatever happens with Cresswell, I'm sure my Marine will come through it just fine. And I'll be there for her. To support her or to watch her back. Just like I promised I would be.