Why did he let his insecurities take the best of him? Fear. That's what it all came down to. Fear of not being enough. Fear of not deserving her. She was everything. She showed him kindness and patience and love. She came to trust him and he wanted to offer her everything. But he'd let his fears overrule him. He'd hurt her, done exactly what he'd promised himself he'd never do.
The cold air swirled around him, making the light snowfall seem almost majestic. If this was any other day, he would've gladly taken a moment or two to truly appreciate and take in the dazzling sight before him. But not today. Today the hole in his chest was too painful. His heart was missing.
He had been foolish and stupid. He knew it the second the words had left his mouth. He hadn't meant a thing that he'd said that day. Ugly words that he'd had wrapped around himself. For what? Self-preservation. That's what he thought he had been doing. He thought he could protect himself and keep his heart closed off. But all that it had amounted to was hurt. Hurt that he'd caused the only girl he'd ever loved. The only girl he'd always love.
A week had passed and each passing day made the pain grow even more unbearable. He'd missed her presence and her sweet scent. The way her hair fell, the sparkle in her warm, bright eyes.
He could clearly remember the day he first saw her. It was engraved in his mind. That moment in time had changed his life forever.
He'd never felt as nervous as when he asked her out for the first time. She'd accepted, to his delight, and they slowly started dating. His heart had been hers the moment he'd seen her waiting for him in the Metro Tower on their first date. He just hadn't realized it then. Her eyes had lit up and a smile graced her lips as she came to him.
Six months passed and it seemed like the happiest time of his entire life.
And now here he was, standing outside her apartment building, in the middle of Metropolis, on Christmas Eve because he screwed up.
He'd been foolish to think he could keep his distance. He did not want to spend Christmas without her. No, he needed her. If he could be that lucky. And if he had it his way, he would never spend it without her.
He took a few deep breaths before he walked up the steps and buzzed her apartment.
"Hello?" Her voice sounded through the intercom.
His heart thudded when her sweet voice registered in his brain. He missed her so much. "It's me," He cleared his throat when his voice came out somewhat scratchy due to disuse.
There were a couple beats of silence; excruciating silence. She wouldn't shut him out, would she?
"What are you doing here?" She finally asked. Her voice was soft but he could still detect the reluctance and the hurt underneath.
He squeezed his eyes shut as he let out a shaky breath. "I'd like to see you. Please," He added. He needed to see her.
She sighed, "Okay, fine."
Relief filled him. If she agreed to see him, he might still have a chance. Quickly he ran a hand through his dark hair and tried to get some of the snowflakes out. He turned and stepped down the stone steps. He eyed the steps; there was a thin layer of snow but probably not enough for her to slip on.
She appeared a few minutes later, bundled in her winter coat with a thick red scarf wrapped around her. She looked lovely. Her long, platinum blond hair fell over her shoulders, her blue eyes tentatively took him in.
"Hi," She said as she slowly descended down the few steps. "So what did you want?"
"I missed you." He blurted out. He missed her so much. He wanted to reach out and wrap her in his arms. But he knew he couldn't do that. Not right now.
She bit her lip as she awkwardly shifted her feet, as if not knowing what to say.
He was at a loss of words too. It wasn't as if he had an entire speech prepared for this moment. He just knew he was sorry, so sorry, for everything he'd said the last time he'd seen her.
"Is there something wrong?" She finally asked after a moment of silence. "Is that why you came to see me?"
"What?" He blinked as he tried to clear his head. There were so many things whirling in his head, he hadn't realized he'd been staring at her all this time. All he knew was that he couldn't lose her. "I came to apologize." His eyes searched hers. They were shadowed and the hurt still showed. It broke his heart to see her like that. To be the cause of that. "I was being stubborn and stupid and I said things that I didn't mean, could never mean." Stupid words that pained him even when they left his mouth.
"You hurt me," The slight tremble in her voice just about killed him.
"I know and I'm sorry. I'm truthfully very sorry," Desperately, he reached for her hands that were slowly turning red due to the cold. He wrapped them in his, hope lifting when she didn't immediately pull away from his hold.
"None of it was true. You have to believe me," He pleaded. She had to believe him. He couldn't let go.
The hurt in her eyes sliced through his heart. "How can I believe you? After you threw my words back into my face."
She didn't trust him. Of course she didn't. He'd hurt her in the worst way possible. He threw her love back. The love he'd so desperately wanted to grasp and keep forever. "I was scared, ok?" The words rushed out of him. It was like their fate was hanging by a thin thread. "Scared of getting in too deep. Scared of never being enough for you, so I lashed out. I was a damn fool, acting like an asshole!"
She flinched slightly at his words and he nearly wanted to bite his tongue off. She never did like it whenever he cursed. He was going to make damn sure to never let an ugly word leave his mouth again. Especially if she took him back.
He rubbed their hands together, trying to keep her warm. "I realized that I was already in too deep and I didn't give a real fff-" he stopped himself before he could let the curse word escape his lips. "I don't care whether I am in too deep or not. Because I realized that you are all I'm ever going to need. I need your presence in my life. Your laughter, your love, you," He needed her like the earth needed the sun. She was the brightness in his life and he would wither away without her. "You can trust me. Always. I'm not letting you down, not ever again."
He watched as her eyes watered and the first tear trailed down her face. Shit! He hadn't meant to make her cry. He didn't want to hurt her. He never wanted to hurt her. Not knowing what to do, he clumsily released one of her hands and quickly reached up to wipe the tears away. "I'm sorry. Please don't cry. I didn't mean to make you cry."
"I don't know what to say." She softly admitted as she gazed up at him with her tear-filled eyes.
Fear gripped his heart. "Say that you still love me. Tell me that I'm not too late!" Don't tell him that he screwed up his only chance at happiness. His hand still lingered on her cold rosy cheek, he couldn't bring himself to let her go.
Her eyes swept down before meeting his again. "Of course I still love you," She said, her voice barely audible.
She still loved him. His heart thudded in his chest and warmth slowly spread through him as a grin emerged on his features. Her love was a gift he was going to cherish forever.
"I love you," Her eyes widened slightly as she stared at him, visibly stunned. "I know I hurt you. I know how stupid I acted. I was wrong. I'm sorry. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me. Let me prove it to you."
"You're a great guy. You really are," She whispered, sniffling slightly.
Those words...she wasn't going to break up with him for good, was she? Fear slammed into him and his palms started to feel clammy despite the cold.
"And sometimes I feel like you don't know that," She continued. "You're pretty amazing, actually." She told him, while blushing. "And there are times that I think, 'what's he doing with me when he could have anyone he wanted'."
"What?" He blinked, unable to register her words. "Why would I want anyone else but you?" She was amazing. She was wonderful. Couldn't she see that?
She gently squeezed the hand that was still wrapped around hers. "I'm glad you're here. I missed you too."
"Y-you did?" He couldn't help the words that left his mouth.
She looked him straight in the eye. "Yes," Tentatively she took a step closer and he immediately held his arms open for her. Finally able to hold her again. "But you did hurt me a lot." She mumbled against his chest.
He held her tight against him. This whole scenario he had gotten himself in to was sounding a lot like a story he was told about years ago.
"But I understand it's difficult for you to open up and I understand how it feels as if you're not enough for someone."
He nodded. They'd talked about this before. He wasn't the type of person that easily let someone inside his life. But with her, he couldn't help it. He was different around her. He was better. "You're more than enough for me." He had to let her know that.
"You're more than enough for me too," She held him tight and he savored the feeling. "I want to be with you but I'm not sure if I could handle it if you hurt me again."
His heart squeezed. "Never again. I'm not making the same mistake twice. I want you Mareena."
She nodded against his chest and then looked up, a small smile on her face. Her eyes were still a little red, as was her nose, but she'd never looked more adorable. "Do you want to come inside Rex?"
He entered her apartment and immediately spotted the small tree they'd picked out the day he messed up everything. "You didn't decorate it." The tree seemed almost sad, sitting there in the corner.
Her smile turned a bit sad and it chipped his heart, "I didn't really feel like it. With all the crazy missions we've been having lately and all."
Because of him. Unspoken words but he knew that was the reason why. He was a huge bastard. Needing to feel her again, he reached out and pulled her close, squeezing her against his chest. The way she wrapped her arms around him warmed his heart. There wasn't any hesitation. She wasn't wary of him anymore.
"Let's cheer this tree up...together."
She tilted her head back to look him in the eyes. Pleasure. It was a beautiful sight. "Really?"
He nodded. "Yeah."
"I've stored the Christmas ornaments you loaned me in the closet. Let me get them," Mareena flashed him a shy smile before disappearing into the hallway.
He surveyed her apartment and a pang shot through his heart when he noticed a box of pizza lying on her small dinner table. There wasn't a chance he was going to let her spend this evening eating pizza. She deserved more, a lot more. He stalked over to the table, grabbed the box and put it in the fridge. He was going to make her dinner. He looked into her fridge and noticed it was fully stocked. He could work with that, he decided.
She returned after a couple of minutes with a big clear plastic box. It was filled to the brim with cheery Christmas ornaments.
"Your father really had a good collection of these things," She said as she popped the lid open. She tucked a strand of blond hair behind her ear as she peered into the box.
Rex crouched down beside her and reached out and took a hold of a delicate gold Christmas bauble. It glistened underneath her living room light. "Yeah, Dad loved decorating for some reason," He admitted. He quickly shook his head to clear his thoughts. He glanced at her and smiled softly.
There was a hint of sadness in her eyes, for him. She put her hand on his arm. "I'm glad I can spend time with you," She whispered. "Ever since I was exiled to the surface world it's always been just me, trying to understand your ways and celebrate your holidays correctly. This is the first time I'm actually spending Christmas with someone. Everyone should have someone to spend this time of year with," She then paused and seemed to contemplate something. "Rex maybe...maybe we should invite your mother. I mean, Shayera always seems lonely, especially now that the holidays are here."
"Mareena, every year I try to get her to spend Christmas with me," Rex admitted as he exhaled, "Mom's not that big into holidays anymore; she rather be left alone. She once told me that Christmas was her favorite Earth holiday because of Dad. That's why she takes as many monitors duty shifts as possible on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. It's her special way of meshing out her feelings. She rather be on monitor duty and then smash all of the zeta-bots in the training facility into pieces than deal with the emotional toll the holidays bring her."
"I feel so sorry for her. She's just been so heartbroken that it makes me want to cry every time I see her but you must miss him too," Mareena whispered as she looked down with a sad expression taking over her features, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought it up."
"Don't be, it's ok," Gently, he reached up to touch her face, to cup her neck as he leaned in and pressed his lips against hers for a soft kiss.
They decorated the tree together and he didn't think he'd ever smiled that much. She had put on a Christmas CD and they talked and laughed as they put up the ornaments. The tree became a center piece with its twinkling lights.
"I think we did a pretty good job," She said as she stepped back to admire their handiwork.
He agreed. It was the most beautiful tree he'd ever seen, "You hungry Reena?"
She looked at him and nodded vigorously. "Starved. Actually, before you showed up, I was just about to have dinner."
He remembered the pizza. There was no way in hell he was going to let her eat pizza on this day. She deserved more. "Let me cook for you."
She frowned, "Are you sure? We could eat it, I mean, it's going to just sit there if we don't."
He shook his head determinedly, "Definitely not."
She let out a small laugh, "Okay then. Cooking it is but you have to let me help Rex."
He rather enjoyed cooking with her. Seeing her chat happily away as she busied herself with the vegetables. He tried to give her the easy tasks, as he worked on the chicken, but she ended up doing her fair share of work too. He wasn't like he was cooking with his mother after all.
When dinner was done, they sat in front of the Christmas tree with their meal.
"This looks really delicious." She smiled at him. "Are you going to make a wish?"
"Make a wish?" He asked with a cocked eyebrow.
"You see, I recently read a book about how a little girl made one wish right before Christmas dinner every year. And one year, when she was older, her wish finally came true," She told him, a soft smile gracing her face. "I think it's worth a shot to just try it out. Don't you? We could maybe make our own Christmas tradition out of it."
He smiled at that. "Sure let's try it."
"Okay, here I go," Mareena shot him a wink before closing her eyes and clasping her hands together. Her brow furrowed a little and he couldn't help but think that she looked entirely adorable.
He couldn't help himself. He silently scooted closer and pressed his lips against hers. Her eyes opened in surprise at the contact.
"Sorry," He mumbled against her soft lips. "I couldn't help myself. You looked too cute."
A small grin appeared on her lips before she kissed him back. "Did you make your wish?" She asked after he pulled away.
He nodded as he took in her warm gaze. "Can I tell you?"
"If you want to," She answered honestly.
"Will you tell me yours?" Rex asked in a childish tone.
Mareena chuckled, "It would only be fair."
Reaching out, he took her hands in his. "I wished to spend all of my Christmases with you."
Her eyes lit up and his heart warmed. "I wished for the same." She admitted, shyly.
He lowered his head, until his lips were millimeters away from hers, "Then it'll definitely come true."
A/N: Well there's my Christmas chapter...a bit early and it's a bit depressing. I don't know why but I love the pairing of Rex and Mareena (yes that's the official, DCAU approved spelling of her name). Their background and story remind me a bit of John and Shayera. Especially if you read the Justice League Beyond comics you would really see the connection.