Title: Equidistant
Prompt: 022 'Enemies'
Word Count: 400
A/N: This one is set post-pardon, to avoid any confusion.


It had to happen eventually, us running into each other like this. With all that was said and done, for all we clashed, at some basic level we're just two guys – two very similar guys. So it's no surprise we should end up here, eyeing each other from opposite ends of the bar.

If I was twenty years younger I'd have made a crack by now, something about hospitals and men who can't aim, and he would've risen to the bait, and it would've come to scowls and bluster and eventually blows until one of us was bleeding or arrested.

If I was ten years younger I'd have outfoxed him by now, given him a mad catch-me-if-you-can grin and taken off sprinting; and he'd have been hot at my heels, almost – almost – almost but not quite the victor, standing in my dust trail shaking his fist and most likely humiliated to boot.

But we're neither one of us as young as we used to be, and somewhere along the line either I gave up running or he gave up chasing. Maybe we both gave up at the same time, who knows? Whatever the case, we just eye each other, not quite scowling, not speaking or moving any closer.

Ever noticed that his eyes are the same color as mine?

Like I said – peel away the different levels of brass and the different paths we took, and we're a lot alike, me and him. Sometimes I think that's why we clashed so bad from Da Nang on up. Lay two magnets end-to-end with the matching poles together and see what it gets you. Repulsion. Rejection. A clash that drives one to advance, the other to retreat. An equal distance that can't be bridged.

So neither one of us makes any move, except to glance sideways at each other across the distance with something that's not quite malice and not quite forgiveness, until finally one of us – never mind which one – raises his glass, and the other does the same. It's not a truce and it's not an apology, it isn't even exactly an acknowledgment of our sameness. It's a tip of the hat to that distance between us, to the fact we're both done with trying to close the gap.

And to the fact that it's good to know that some things – even things like distances – will never change.