Mitch felt his Mama's hand slide through the crook of his elbow as he stood on the tarmac. He looked down at her and smiled softly, feeling Angie's hand do the same on his other side. Jason hadn't wanted a big crowd waiting for him. Hadn't even wanted Mitch to meet him. That idea had been squashed quickly enough after a few choice curse words down the crackly line, that Jason hadn't even been aware Mitch knew. But he had told Mitch he was putting his foot down on there being their entire families waiting for him. Mitch swallowed nervously at the small pregnant silence that had followed. Silly little words that took on a whole new meaning.
He shifted from one foot to the other and checked his watch for the one thousandth time. Another twenty minutes before the plane landed. Thankfully it was on time. He let his mind drift to their last night together. Feeling Jason move inside of him, setting his nerve endings alight, two halves of one soul. Then laying in each other’s arms until the small hours, talking about anything and everything, kissing softly, whispering promises and words of love into the dark. He remembered watching Jason pulling on his uniform in the morning sunlight and then their own quiet, private goodbye at the house. Arms holding each other tight, neither wanting to let the other go, but knowing that they had to. This was the life that Jason had chosen, the life that he loved, just as much as he loved Mitch. The price Mitch had paid for falling in love with an army man.
“You come home, you hear?” Mitch whispered into Jason's hair. “Stay safe.”
Jason had kissed Mitch tenderly and smiled, brushing the chocolate colored waves from Mitch's forehead. “All I have to do is close my eyes and I'm already there.” Kissing Mitch one more time, he had grabbed his bag and closed the door behind him.
“Mitch, it's here, baby,” Angie said nervously, her fingers gripping his arm tightly.
Mitch smiled down at her and kissed the top of her head. “It's gonna be okay,” he said softly as the plane taxied down the runway. He glanced down at his own mother and chuckled. “No tears, Mama. You know what he said.” He smiled proudly at her as she nodded her head.
The plane came to a stop and they waited for Jason to disembark. Mitch blinked back the tears as he saw him. He'd promised Jason when they had spoken for those few brief moments over the crackly line the hospital so many thousands of miles away had managed to set up. Making arrangements for Jason's flight home, making sure they each knew how much they loved each other.
Mitch hated waiting at airports for Jason. Always had done, right from the start. His feet began that familiar shuffling as he waited, wanting to run to the plane, but knowing that Jason wouldn’t appreciate him bouncing around like a big old girl in front of his men. Jesus, what are they doing? Then he saw him and his lips curved into a relieved smile. The wait was over. He was home.
Hurriedly striding forward, Mitch nodded to the other two members of Jason’s platoon before reaching out and placing his hand on the polished oak, his fingers tracing the name on the brass plate. Captain Jason Peters. “Hey, baby,” he whispered, closing his eyes as he remembered that crackly conversation and the way the line had kept cutting in and out, obscuring that sexyTexan drawl.
It's not good, baby. They don't reckon...I'll last the night. Pulled few strings....managed to get...line out...don't know...long it'll work. Had to hear your...voice, Mitch. Say I love you...just...more time.” Jason's voice faded in and out, words being cut off by the bad connection and the harsh breaths he was taking. “Don't want you meeting...the airport. I don't want...entire family...weeping and wailing. Need...to be strong.”
“Fuck that. I've been there to meet you on every plane. I'm not missing this one. And if you think I'm going up against your Mama and mine, you're crazier than I thought.” Mitch's fingers had gripped the receiver so tightly they ached as he heard the pain in Jason's voice, the pain that he was trying desperately to spare Mitch.
“Okay, butthead. No tears…promise...no tears.” Jason's voice faded as he took a long shuddering breath and Mitch strained to hear him. “I want...remember me with a smile on your face...'cos that's...how I'll remember you. Don't....drunk at the wake...sing when you're drunk...you're singing sucks...sucks ass.”
“Fuck you,” Mitch had smiled through the tears that rolled unheeded down his face. “Okay, no tears. I promise. I love you, Jason. Always have. Always will.”
“I...go, babe...line is on...way out. I love you more.”
“Jase, you come home to me, you hear?” Mitch's voice cracked and he hoped Jason would just think it was the connection. Mitch heard the tears in his voice as Jason replied, his voice suddenly strong and sure.
“All I have to do is close my eyes, baby, and I'm already there.”