Red holds tightly on to Blue’s arm as they walk up the hill, nearing the brink towards the ocean. Blue turns to Red as she feels a slight tug. They don’t stop – Blue knows the pathway like the back of her hand. She never understood that expression, for who ever knows the back of their hand? Who observes their hands frequently enough, well enough, and long enough to know them as well as the expression implies?
“A penny for your thoughts?” Red asks. Blue looks at her and smiles. Inevitably. Years have gone by but she still can’t believe it, nor can she control the upturn of her lips every time Red’s voice graces her ears.
Blue gives Red a slight shake of her head and returns her gaze to the path they’re on. Red leans her head on Blue’s shoulder and whispers, “I love every thought that crosses your mind.”
Blue’s breath skips one, and when she turns to look at Red, Red is grinning. That look in her eyes, that twist to her lips, that’s everything Blue ever wanted. Blue simpers, closing her eyes for a moment. She stops walking, and so does Red.
“My dearest Red.” She faces Red and holds her hands in hers. “My Red, Red Rose,” Blue continues, highs and extreme lows punctuating her words. “My Scarlet Tanager. Your every word, every chitter, is a song. A lullaby that my humble ears are yet to get enough of, never will.”
Red smiles and leans close, brushing her lips against Blue’s. She lingers for a second or two then withdraws slowly, her lips brushing Blue’s ear instead. She whispers, “How long did it take you to come up with that?” Blue feels the tingles everywhere in her body, the remnants of the kiss, the persimmon whispers.
“All morning,” Blue says, pulling back just enough to see the expression she knew she’d see on Red’s face, that all-knowing grin. “One could say you caught me red-handed.” It’s just a whisper, quiet, completely unlike Red’s bursting into laughter, her head turning backwards as Blue stares, her heart turning inside out, committing that smile to memory among its companions. She tucks it away safely, to be called upon if needed.
They walk on, their small brick house coming into view from afar.
“You never told me what you were thinking.” Blue looks at Red, wondering which answer to give. Not for long, though.
Honesty. Utter, non-negotiable honesty, and absolute trust. That’s how it all started, and that’s how it shall remain.
The best part is, Blue thinks, it was always an unspoken agreement. No one ever felt the need to say it aloud.
“I was thinking about why people say they know something like the back of their hand,” she tells Red, kicking a pebble out of the way. “Does anyone know the back of their hand?”
Red mimes thinking, her thumb and index finger cupping her chin. “Not really, no,” she says. “How did I never think of that?”
Blue shrugs, pleased with herself.
“I’m glad you told me.”
The porch greets Blue and Red with open arms, asters, delphiniums, and bluestars colouring the space, the reds and blues melding together seamlessly.
Through the crimson door they enter, Red squeezing Blue’s hands. She lets go before pressing a soft touch to Blue’s cheek. She walks further into the house, and Blue follows—it will always be too soon to let Red out of her sight.
While Blue splashes her face with water at the kitchen sink, Red puts the teapot on the stove. Their unspoken understanding led them here. Their ultimate wish?
Blue didn’t think she’d survive long enough to witness moments like these, peaceful moments that, for too long, she’d longed for. Red with her peach tea and Blue with her hibiscus, Red’s left hand entwined with Blue’s right, Blue’s calm smile complemented by Red’s grin. Red fixes Blue with that look, that look that holds Blue captive and kills her. Every single time. How was she so fortunate? Amidst a Time War, thousands and millions of agents, and yet, she knows she was only meant to find Red.
Red, and only Red.
Waking up in the middle of the night is a common occurrence, her body never adjusting to the time-lag her former occupation entailed. Blue lies on her back, the warm bed under her and the light blanket on top not doing much in the way of protecting her from the night’s chill. She reaches out next to her, and her eyes jolt into awareness at the obvious absence of Red.
She sits up. Her breathing slows as her mind wakes up and analyses the possible reasons for Red’s absence. Her vow to always keep Red in her sight elevates her panic, and she quickly throws the covers away and stands up. She closes her eyes through the immediate wave of dizziness. The second it fades, she sprints in the direction of the kitchen.
There, her steps slow when she sees Red on the sofa. Awake, the moonlight illuminating her face. She walks towards Red, making as little noise as possible. Red’s face is serene as she stares at the open window, looking at nothing in particular, Blue realises. She quietly takes a seat next to Red.
Red looks at her and smiles, calm, peaceful. Blue gives her a sad smile, reaching out to pull her into her arms. Red wraps her arms around Blue, and Blue closes her eyes, squeezes back.
Now. Now, her heartbeats return to normal, her breathing steadies. Her mind is enveloped in the calm of Red’s embrace.
The seconds tick, the minutes trail behind, but Blue holds on, enjoying the silence—they have all the time in the world, don’t they? Red is the one to break it, rubbing Blue’s back.
“Are you okay?”
Blue squeezes closer in response. The silent answer she knows Red will understand.
Red pulls back slightly. Blue opens her eyes for a second, but they’re forced shut again when Red’s fingertips gently, oh so gently, touch Blue’s cheek and draw circles. Slow and steady. Blue takes a deep breath, her eyes welling up. She wishes she could let go of this fear once and for all, this innate dread that she’ll one day wake up to realise this has all been a dream, that she had lost Red for good.
“Shhh,” Red whispers, pulling Blue into another embrace and resting her cheek against hers. Blue slowly relaxes when she feels Red’s fingers in her hair, entwining with the strands and resting in place.
Blue breathes deeply. In, out.
Red matches her breathing.
It’s hours later when they succumb to sleep. The tea’s gone cold by then, but it didn’t matter. They sleep. There. Sprawled on the sofa. In one another’s warmth.
In each other’s arms.
Blue had signed her letter with Love, and what had followed had been Red’s outpouring of poetry. It had been Blue’s favourite letter to read, and she’d taken her time crafting a response. She needed the time to get it perfect, but it never was. Nothing she ever wrote would be enough to satisfy her endless adoration of Red, to describe the intensity of her love, her affection-ridden worship.
A close second was their shared love of books. Red didn’t bat an eye—she couldn’t know for sure, of course, but she did — when Blue told her she pushed Travel Light in critics’ directions on Strand 623. She still found it astonishing it never made it as widely as many, less exciting texts. Blue casts a side note in her mind to return to that strand to ensure her efforts come to fruition.
Now, as she watches Red engrossed in a copy of Scythe, she wonders, and wonders. Will Red love it as much as she did? One thing she’s sure of, though, is that Red will notice something that Blue hasn’t seen until Red’s mention of it. Blue devoured the book time and again, but she knows, she trusts, with every fibre of her being that Red will discover the undiscoverable.
Not only that, but she won’t even know she’s found something Blue hasn’t. Her eyes will light up, her speech will hasten, and Blue will sit and listen, mirroring Red’s smile and interjecting with her own thoughts.
For the millionth time, Blue ascertained that she was destined to find Red, her bright light, her companion, her love, in the darkness of the tunnel that was the Time War.
When Red looks up from her book and sees Blue staring, she smiles, to Blue’s heart’s demise.
Blue’s returning smile is the most natural of everything she’s ever given Red, everything she’s ever done with Red.
“I haven’t the faintest idea if you, my dear Red, partake in the ancient act of consuming coffee. Is that strange?” Blue asks as Red sips lukewarm tea from Blue’s mug. Only a few lights were in use inside the house despite the hour of the night.
Red laughs. “Never acquired a taste for it. Well, with the exception of that one time in Morocco.”
“Long before we started our correspondence, I saw this small teashop that also served coffee,” Red says, her face deep in thought.
“I must try it someday. We must. Together.”
Red smiles. “There is more to the story.”
Jokingly, Blue frowns. The frown quickly becomes a grin, and Blue nods for Red to continue.
“I ordered my usual: peach. The server wouldn’t stop talking about how rarely customers order peach.”
“Let me guess,” Blue interrupts, turning with her body to face Red, both of them on the sofa—the same one they fell asleep on a few nights before. “He offered you coffee on the house?”
“She,” Red corrects. Blue senses a strange tug in her chest but says nothing as Red continues. “And you guessed correctly. Coffee was even less popular. I felt bad so I agreed to give it a try.”
“Or perhaps it was the server’s charming ways,” Blue says, unable to fully identify what she’s feeling. She remembers reading about the strange way one often acts when faced with the idea of their lover with another.
Red pauses, putting Blue’s mug on the table. She regards Blue with questioning eyes. When Blue says nothing, Red grins. “Are you jealous, dearest Blue?”
“It was a long time ago,” Red continues. “And Blue,”—she takes Blue’s hands—“You know I only have eyes for you, don’t you?” She puts one leg beneath the other and moves closer to Blue. Their knees touch.
“I know,” Blue finally says and looks away.
“You’re the only person I ever loved.” That pulls Blue’s eyes back up.
“Yes,” she whispers.
“You’re the only person I ever loved,” Blue says, pausing for a second then connecting her lips with Red’s. It only takes Red a second to realise what’s happening and return the kiss.
Blue can never get tired of kissing Red. She’s gentle yet firm. Giving, and giving in, just enough to pull Blue in.
Blue’s hands travel up Red’s arms, her shoulders. She squeezes in a quick breath then pulls Red’s head closer as their lips crash together harder, faster now. There’s an urgency in Red’s stance, a wild surrender, and Blue parts her lips, her tongue requesting entry to meet with Red’s.
The invitation is accepted.
Blue wraps her arms around Red as they kiss, shifting, laying Red on her back and planting one knee by each of her hips.
Blue pushes and Red pulls, their lips, their tongues, their whole beings engaged in a riveting battle of wills, knowing neither of them can win. Knowing the only way to win is together.
Blue pulls away for a second, exactly one second, to catch her breath. This time, Red connects their lips. They don’t waste time getting back into it, and without breaking the kiss, Blue gets up, Red joining her as if pulled by a magnet.
They manage to make it to their bed in time for Blue to pull Red’s shirt off, then her undergarments, and her trousers. Red doesn’t break stride as she returns the favour and rids Blue of every piece of clothing.
Sometimes, Blue thinks her heart can’t handle Red’s magnificence. Other times, like now, she pays no heed. Her heart can explode, and she’ll still be grateful for Red, in love with Red. The love that fills her chest to the brim, then can’t be contained so has no choice but to bubble on the surface, bare, exposed, naked, all for Red to see.
It’s then that she knows she made the right decision that day she ate Red’s last letter. Had she listened, she wouldn’t have this privilege, this gift, of sharing a life with Red, sharing herself with Red, knowing Red is and will always be hers.
Blue? She remains completely, irrevocably, unflinchingly Red’s.
And it was the greatest thing she could think of to be.