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From A Distance
By hnsnrachel


I watch them dance, wrapped up in each other, blonde hair drifting across his shoulder as she leans against him. They look perfect together, and this is exactly how things should be. She just swore to love, honor and obey him 'til death do they part, and, though I think she'll have some real problems with obedience, for now, she's truly happy. And I want her to be.

Even if just watching them kills something inside of me.

My nails dig into my palms, the crescents of pain the only things grounding me. It keeps me from screaming my love at the top of my voice, letting the words rip from my throat; ragged, drenched in my pain, crystalline adoration shattered and falling around us like the petals I helped Mark scatter across the honeymoon suite. He wanted to make today special for her, and, as much as I wanted to tell him that I couldn't help him do that; that I wanted to be the one making her happy, I couldn't deny him. He is the person she chose to spend the rest of her life with. It makes a kind of sense that sickens me. As hard as they push each other, as harsh as they can be to and about each other at the hospital, I've seen them in their quiet moments, heard about their relationship from beginning to end, tortured myself with their obvious passion coalescing into physicality. I'm just glad I never had to hear about that. Some best friends would have wanted to talk about it, but Erica, to my eternal relief, isn't one of them. I can never – will never – thank her enough for that. The images I torment myself with are more than enough. The strange thing though is Mark. He is the kind of guy who wants to share the details, but, with Erica, he's been different. Maybe he wanted to preserve their intimacy for them; maybe he was terrified of her finding out, maybe his instincts told him that I don't want to know. Whatever the reason for his silence, he has my gratitude too.

I've fought so hard to contain my tears today, praying that I could hold it together until I'm alone. I don't want anything to mar Erica's quiet, but obvious, joy. It's written all over her face; how much she wants this; her hopes, her dreams… her love. If I fall apart, she'll want to know what's wrong, and I don't know that I have strong enough control not to tell her. My grip on my emotions is tenuous at best, and the slightest slip could reveal what I feel for her. I don't want to burden her with that knowledge, with a pain she can't help me resolve. I don't want to see the sympathy in her gaze. Most of all though, I fear losing her. I've never known anyone like her before, and I don't think I ever will again. I need her, whatever she'll give me. Even if what she can give me will never be enough.

So I'll smile through my tears while I watch them dance. I'll wrap her in my arms and tell her I'm happy for her even though she's slipping far out of reach. I'll listen to her heart beating calmly against my own racing one when she whispers a thank you, and if she notices the pace of my pulse, I'll make the same lame excuses I always do when something that might reveal my feelings slips through. I'll ignore Addison's sympathetic looks because I don't want her pity. I don't want to think about how things might be different if I'd been brave enough to tell Erica how I feel. I don't want to wonder if it would be me who pledged her an eternity, me who swept her gracefully across the dance floor in front of friends and family, me who felt those tempting lips against my ear as she whispered sweet nothings at the table, me who kissed her to seal our union and the promises we made. I imagine her hovering above me, smooth skin and intoxicating curves pressed tightly against my own often enough without imagining she and I tangled together in the luxury of the honeymoon suite I now know too well. If only I'd had the courage. If only I hadn't been so terrified of losing her friendship that this never-enough seems a thousand times better than never-again. There are so many ifs to consider, so many different paths we could have taken. I could spend a lifetime wondering how telling her of my love at any one of a thousand opportunities could have changed things. But wondering won't actually change what is, and what she is, is Mark's. Irrevocably. Forever.

At least, that's how it's supposed to be. And that's how I want their marriage to be for her. I don't ever want her to have a moment's pain, and, while that's inescapable, I won't be the one to bring sadness to her life. I won't breathe a word of my heart. And if Mark ever hurts her, I will kill him without a moment's hesitation. I just want her happy and safe and loved, and Mark offers her that in a package that she wants. I can't imagine that I can offer her even close to that. I'd rather have her as my friend forever than have a taste of what loving her is like and have it all crash down around us.

So I watch, while they dance, admiring her from afar.

It's nothing new.

The End

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