Jabra shrugged his shoulders, turned away towards the massive window next to him.
Some could say a lot about Jabra but for sure he wasn't someone who escaped out of uncomfortable confrontations quickly.
It was a peaceful Friday afternoon; the alleys of St. Poplar became quieter and quieter with each hour that passed and now the former agent tried to build up a conversation with the tall woman sitting on the edge of his bed – which obviously wasn't one of his favorite things to do. He didn't look at her but was able to see her reflection in the glass of the window.
Even when he heard a light sigh and sheets ruffle, he couldn't force himself to turn around. Something stopped him. Jabra used to talk to Kalifa a lot in the past but that was before she went to Water 7 and disappeared out of his life for five long years.
They didn't have had the time to catch up with what happened in Water 7 nor did they take a single minute to sit down and face each other after their home, Enies Lobby, was destroyed by the Buster Call.
He hoped for things to turn out better, that they would recover, recuperate. Just like Lucci did one week ago. It has been hard to see him suffer and even though he was happy to see Lucci's physical wounds healing, he wasn't sure if Kalifa's emotional scars would ever disappear. And that scared him more than he'd ever admit.
"Listen, I'm not feeling like talking about it. I'm thankful, you let me sleep in your bed for a few nights. I won't take this for granted." Kalifa stood up, covering her half-naked body with one of the sheets. Jabra's smell was intense, but there was one thing she liked better than the safetly he gave her by his presence – chocolate. She reached for the nightstand to allow herself a piece, but was stopped by Jabra's rough words.
"Kalifa, it's been a whole week, not only a few days."
"So what? Am I bothering you? Just speak your mind, Jabra."
"Oh nice, giving me that attitude again, huh?" Jabra turned around, anger burning in his eyes.
He never wanted to hurt Kalifa, but her hard-to-get-game became more annoying each day. There was no way he could let go of her so easily. "Fine. If you don't want to talk, I will."
Now Kalifa was the one shrugging her shoulders. She couldn't care less.
Jabra closed the gap between them – he was almost too close when it came to Kalifa's preference. She felt lonely as soon and scared as it was night, yes. She needed his embrace, the warmth. Even his snoring calmed her down in a way she never knew she'd find peace in. But now that he was standing in front of her and she could feel his warm breath slightly tickling her collarbone, all Kalifa wanted to do was to run away. But wasn't that what she feared? Running away? She wanted to stay; be with the people she knew all her life. People she felt safe with.
"You've lost your smile, you know. Not cool," Jabra sighed, looking straight into the woman's deep blue eyes. Kalifa – being shocked by his words – couldn't endure the gaze. Those words hurt more than expected.
"I'm glad Lucci is alive, I'm happy." Kalifa groaned. This wasn't the complete truth first and foremost, but everything Jabra needed to know.
"I believe you. You're glad Lucci is alive. I am too. But we lost our home, lost faith for quite a long time. What about that? The others don't have problems talking about their fears, even though they had to learn how to do so."
Kalifa raised her eyebrow, she was surprised by Jabra's direct tone, yet she couldn't answer.
Adjusting her glasses, she sat down. Kalifa knew what Jabra was talking about, but opening up to someone she appreciated so much, was probably the hardest and most devasting thing she could imagine.
She felt a slight ruffle and noticed that Jabra sat down, right next to her.
"I'm here for you, Kalifa. You know I'd never let you down, but I can't stand seeing you like this. Sad, even scared."
Kalifa felt so heavy on her heart. She didn't want to lie to Jabra, wanted to get everything she thought of off her chest.
"And I don't wanna see you cry," Jabra sighed and rubbed his best friend's back softly, while she started sobbing out of nowhere.
There weren't many occasions Kalifa let it go and started crying. She did it once, shortly after leaving Water 7 in the back of the Sea Train, realizing what they'd done. A second time when she got a letter from her father, saying he'd be on a long-ass undercover mission and won't be able to contact her anytime soon. The third time was when she went to the fridge at 3am, desperately wanting to eat the pistachio-chocolate she put in there, just to find out Fukuro ate all of it. And now Kalifa was sitting on Jabra's bed, in a small town she fell in love with. Not wanting to leave it, but also ready to run away the mere second someone would abandon her.
Kalifa's voice cracked when she gave in. "I'm so glad you're here. I just don't want to lose any of you, we became a family." Her tears-filled eyes investigated Jabra's surprised face. He gave her time to process what she was saying, even he needed to understand that Kalifa was actually opening up to him. He'd have never wanted to interrupt her, so he tried to encourage her instead.
"You know, we found this pretty place. All this pain helped us to grow. Lucci is doing better… I thought…" Kalifa didn't need to finish her sentence. Jabra felt his heart skip a beat and thought about the past weeks, their fight for Lucci's life and not wanting to give up even though all of them were at their limits.
After a brief moment she continued, and Jabra noticed her voice becoming stronger.
"Do… do you remember how devasted I felt when we came back from Water 7? We did horrible things, but it was our job, our mission." Kalifa took her glasses off and put them on the nightstand. "I left someone behind I really appreciated. Someone who gave me the feeling you give me but… also different. It's hard to explain, honestly."
Jabra shrugged, "well, you lived in Water 7 for a bit more than five years. It's just natural to befriend people you got to know there."
"It's wasn't like that like that, Jabra…," Kalifa focused on her feet as if she'd explode the very second, she'd look at her best friend. "It wasn't just a friend; she wasn't just a friend." Holding her breath, she could hear Jabra exhaling in response. There it was, the truth. The secret she kept for so long, just a simple sentence containing so many turnouts.
"And… You can't ever see her again?" Jabra asked.
Kalifa – not being able to process all the tension between the both of them anymore – almost jumped up and gazed at Jabra in disbelief.
"That's all you got to ask?!" Another crack in her voice.
"Well I mean, if you've got feelings for her, I support your return to Water 7. But I'm not sure if, after what happened, she would like to see you again."
Completely ignoring his words, Kalifa dramatically threw her hands up in the air. "Jabra I just told you that I… fell in love with a girl. Don't you want to tell me to stop talking nonsense or question my worth?"
"Question your worth? Because you told me something whole Cipher Pol knew all along? Kalifa, still waters run deep. But when it comes to that part, you're like an open book." Jabra couldn't help but chuckle. "And besides that, picturing you with another woman is quite…," a slap on his shoulder made Jabra stop talking.
Kalifa's gaze went from disgust to anger. But Jabra, as he was her best friend, saw something else in her eyes. Relief.
"Urgh, stop that. I'd call it sexual harassment but I'm still too busy questioning your sense of humor." Silent tears were running all over her cheeks as she sat down next to Jabra again. No one said a word but with every minute that passed, Kalifa's smile grew wider and for the first time in forever she felt safe, even though it wasn't night yet.