The camp was a lot more hard working in the morning. People were up barely before sunset hit, and they were putting together breakfast and keeping lookouts. A couple were training just behind the trees. I woke up to a soft silky voice, that I recognized.
"Jack? Jack get up!"
I opened my eyes a crack to see black hair and lavender eyes. "Hey Tara," I said giving my tired eyes a rub. "What time is it?"
"I don't know...I don't even know what day it is."
I groaned and with her help, lifted myself up into the sitting position. Hayden and Ebony were nowhere to be seen, but Tony was in plain sight. He began walking towards us. I cleared my throat and looked away as Tony crouched down beside Tara.
"Hey there," he said giving a quick peck on Tara's cheek. He then looked over at me. "And um...you too."
I didn't reply.
Then Tony looked at Tara again. "I'll go get you some breakfast." Then he got up and walked back from where he had come from.
After watching him disappear I turned my hard gaze onto Tara, who just stared back.
"Jack...." She reached out and gently touched my cheek with her soft fingers.
I jerked away. "Why are you doing this?"
She furrowed her eyebrows. "Doing what?"
"Playing like you like me," I replied.
Her eyes grew sad. "Like you? Jack I never-"
I scooted away from her. "Then stop," I growled, "Trying to lead me on." I stood up and began walking towards the edge of the forest.
"What is your issue?" I heard her yell at my back.
I swung around, my heart beating frantically. "What's my issue? Your the one who knows, and yet you still play me. How do you think that makes me feel? Especially since we were best friends."
"You're using past tense again. Stop it Jack! We are best friends."
I stared at her blankly. "Stop Tara." I exhaled sharply out my nose. "I know you saw my eyes; I know that you know I want to be more than just best friends."
Tony was beginning to make his way back, two bowls in his hands filled with only god-knows-what.
She turned to see him coming too and took a few steps towards me. But I stepped back.
"Don't follow me Tara; I need to just be alone."
"Where are you going to go? Run and hide like you always do? We need to talk about this Jack."
"I can't talk to you about it. It doesn't even matter if you like me back. Let's just end the petty lies, and get on with the way our lives were before."
Tony stopped beside Tara.
"Everything all right?"
Tara sniffed back tears and then screamed in rage. She turned towards Tony and smacked the bowls out of his hands. "Will you leave us alone please?"
"Sorry," he mumbled as he headed back off to where everyone else was.
I sighed and began to walk towards the edge of the forest. I could hear her footfalls behind me. And I didn't care. I wanted her to follow me, and I wanted her to understand that we could never be together. The sounds of those words in my head almost made me bleed eternally. How could I have made that stupid deal? I loved Tara more than anything...and yet I was giving her up. We were deep in the forest before she grabbed the back of my shirt and turned me around.
"Don't think you can just run away again Jack. All your life you've been running away, and I keep trying to make you stop. You've got to walk before you can run."
"First of all, that made no sense, and second of all, I asked you not to follow me."
"I heard you say the words out loud Jack, so stop acting like it's not true."
"Like what's not true?"
"That you love me." The words came out in a whisper.
"When did you hear that?" I asked, taking a deep breath.
"That morning...when you were talking to Ebony. You guys woke me up and I heard you tell her that you were in love with me. Why couldn't you just tell me?"
"Just tell you?" I broke out in halfhearted laughter. "Tara, how could I just possibly go up to you and tell you plainly, that I was so deeply and unconditionally in love with you? And especially after we've been best friends for so many years?"
She shrugged gently. "I don't know. I just didn't think I'd have to figure it out by...looking at your eyes."
I could already feel them change to the color indigo. "I never planned for you to find out." I sighed sadly. "And obviously, Tony is just a better person for you to be with."
"Tony?" She giggled. "Tony is just a friend, I told you that last night. I don't care that he's affectionate towards me. I don't love him."
"You should. He's a better guy." I looked down at my feet. Suddenly I felt her warm hand on my cheek and I looked up to see that her silvery glow was extremely bright. It almost blinded me, standing so close.
"But Jack, I want you, not Tony."
After hearing those words, I just wanted to catch her in my arms and kiss her until both our hearts stopped. But I couldn't. And that's what broke me in two.
"You can't." My words were hoarse. I shook my head. "Tara you just can't."
"What?" She looked terribly confused. "But Jack-"
"Love Tony." I brought up my hand and placed it on the one she had set upon my cheek. Her gaze melted into me, almost making me lose complete thought. "Please, love him and not me."
"Why are you doing this?" She looked angry. "First you get jealous and yell at me for thinking I liked Tony, and then I just confessed I loved you and you turn me down? But you love me Jack! How can you say that?" A tear escaped down her cheek.
I brought her hand down to my chest, and placed my hands on either side of her face, wiping away her stray tears with my thumbs. "Because we can never be together." The words got caught in my throat, and for a moment, I thought I was going to burst out in tears. Andromeda was a witch. And I was just a fool in her game.
"Explain," she gulped. "Jack you're breaking my heart. Don't do this...please don't say that!" She gripped my shirt tightly in both her small hands, and pulled me against her. "I need you-"
"And you have me," I whispered gently in her ear. "As a friend. Just like I have always been."
I could hear her sobbing clearly. and I could feel her tears stain my t-shirt. I looked up at the blank blue sky, dreading last night to my deepest core. Right then and there, I didn't care. I vowed to myself that Tara would forever be mine; that I would protect her with my life. Andromeda wasn't getting anywhere near her. I pulled her away from me and stared her straight in the eyes. They were glassy with tears.
I cupped her face in my hands and brought her closer, putting her lips on mine. Her sobs were immediately lost, and her fingers gripped my t-shirt tighter. She kissed me back with more enthusiasm that I myself, could muster. Her lips were like flower petals against mine, and it was like I had finally come out of my dark abyss that kept dragging me down lower and lower. I broke the kiss for some air, and then immediately began to kiss her again. I ran my fingers through her new black hair, keeping her locked to me. Her fingers grazed my collarbone, and then I broke out, placing my forehead against hers. Both our breathing was raggid, and I could feel a smile spread on my face.
"You've seriously got to stop giving me mixed signals Jack," Tara whispered with a soft giggle.
"I'm sorry," I replied. "Tara I love you."
"You are my forever."
We stood there for what seemed like hours, our eyes closed and foreheads pressed. But then she shifted beneath me and made a sound of pain.
I opened my eyes and looked at her. "Tara? Are you ok?"
She shut her eyes tightly and wrapped her arms around her stomach. "My stomach...."
I placed my hand on her shoulder and let her lower herself to the ground. Then she screamed and flung forward.
"Tara!" What was happening?
She cried out in pain again, fresh tears now flowing down her cheeks. "Jack! Oh god it hurts!"
"Ok hang on." I picked her up in my arms and then ran back as fast as I could towards camp. Everyone was still there, doing the same thing they had been doing when Tara and I had left. Except now Hayden and Ebony were back, talking to Tony. When they saw me run in with an injured Tara, they were immediately by my side. Tara screamed and flailed, crying hard. I set her on the ground and kneeled next to her.
"Jack what's wrong with her?"
"I don't know," I replied truthfully. "I kissed her and after a few minutes she began to complain of a stomach ache."
Hayden pinned her down to the soil, trying to determine the problem.
"A stomach ache?" He shook his head. He shooed Tony and I away.
"What's happening?" I cried.
Ebony looked up at me with sad eyes, Tara's screaming still echoing in the background. "I don't know Jack, I don't know."