Author's Rantings: I don't know if you guys have figured this out by now, but I really want Fox and Theresa to get together. I've been patient. I'll keep being patient, as long as it pays off in the end. But if Fox ends up with Whitney and Theresa ends up with Ethan... hell hath no fury like an author scorned. I mean it. I will kick some butt. But at least there will always be fan-fics. Thanks for letting me write this puppy and for being so supportive. I hesitate to end it now because it's been so much fun, but I don't want to drag it out too long. Always leave 'em wanting more, you know? Anyway, I've been a little too obsessive lately and I think it's time to move on. However, I'm not promising anything, but a sequel may be in the works... Thanks again to all of my wonderful reviewers. I know I've said this before, but it's true: you guys rock.

The Color of Passion

It's strange how the little things can leave such a big impression on the mind. The next day, as Theresa tried not to think about Fox, she found that she missed him. It wasn't any grand gesture he had made that she longed for; rather, it was the simple, subtle things. His crooked little smile whenever he found something really amusing. The light smattering of golden hairs on the back of his hand. The way his socks always matched his suits. The way he would always hum along, off-key, to whatever was playing on the radio. The way he always double-checked his seatbelt and used his blinkers, despite his claim of recklessness.

* Of course I miss him and notice those little things,* Theresa reasoned with herself, *he's my friend. That's all.*

But the list didn't end there. It consisted of other things she noticed, things not so easy to dismiss in her mind. The feel of his fingers on her skin. The way being in his arms made her feel so safe. The little smile she inevitably wore when she thought of him. How easily she could imagine their future together. The way he seemed to effortlessly bring her to life.

They were all things that she cared not to think of. But in order to do so, she'd have to stop thinking of him. So, she went about her day, trying to forget. But somehow, despite this resolve, she found herself looking for him wherever she went. She looked for him at Crane Industries, but he wasn't there. She looked for him at the Book Café, but he was once again absent. And soon, she gave up all pretenses of going about her normal routine, and just began to look for him. She looked at the Blue Note and the wharf and the park and the Lobster Shack, but he was nowhere to be found.

Tired, defeated, she returned to her home. She was determined now not to think of Fox anymore. So it didn't really help that, as she pulled into the Lopez-Fitzgerald driveway, he was there, waiting for her on the porch.

Terrified now, she turned off the car and braced herself. In all the time she had spent looking for him, she really hadn't given much thought to what she would do when she actually found him.

Taking in a deep breath, she stepped out of the car and walked over to face him. Fox rose to his feet.

" Fox."

" Theresa."

They stared at each other, uncomfortable. Fox smiled, trying to ease the tension. " You're one busy girl. I've been waiting for you to come home."

Theresa looked at him in surprise. " You've been waiting here? All day?" Fox nodded. "What did Luis say when he saw you?"

" Luis and I had a nice long chat." Fox informed her. " He and I are good now. We might even become friends, someday."

Theresa raised an eyebrow. " Really?"

Fox grinned. " All right, I'm lying. I made up some story about Auntie Sheridan being in horrible danger and he was out of here." He glanced down at his watch, frowning. " Come to think of it, that was quite a while ago. Maybe Sheridan really was in danger..."

Theresa smiled ruefully. " Knowing her, more likely than not."

They smiled at each other, and for a moment, it was almost like old times. But they had come too far for that; there was too much between them. They could be lovers now, or they could be enemies, or they could be strangers, but they would never be friends again.

" Do you want to come inside?" Theresa offered. " Everyone's gone and we could talk."

Fox nodded. " That would be good."

They went inside to the living room. Fox sat down on the couch and Theresa seated herself on the opposite end, keeping a safe distance.

" You're probably wondering why I came." Fox began.

Theresa shook her head. " No, I know why you're here. Look, Fox, I appreciate the gesture, but you really don't have to worry about me anymore. You're this close to having Whitney. So go to her. Make her yours." It killed her to say those words, but it was better than hearing him say them.

" I already did." Fox stated simply. Theresa stared at him. " I saw her last night, at a bar. She drove me home. She and Chad had just had a fight. She was lonely, and vulnerable, and completely sympathetic. It was like...well, forgive the cliche, but stealing candy from a baby."

" Why are you telling me this?" Theresa asked, before she could stop herself.

Fox continued on as though he hadn't heard her. " It was a mutual thing; we both wanted it. And so we kissed. It was everything I had imagined. She was beautiful, the night was beautiful, and everything was perfect." Theresa looked away, stung. " Or, at least, it should have been."

She felt a tiny glimmer of hope. " What do you mean?"

" Whitney's fantastic," Fox informed her, " a great kisser– not that you would know. Or maybe that's a story we should discuss in full detail at a later date. Anyway, she was everything that I'd been dreaming of. The only problem was, I kept comparing her to you. The entire time, I couldn't stop thinking that– no matter how great Whitney was– you were better.

" I thought that maybe it was just a fluke– I was nervous about finally having Whitney to myself, or something. I mean, here was this fantastically gorgeous woman practically begging me to make love to her, and I couldn't stop thinking of you. That didn't make any sense. I'm in love with Whitney, right?"

" Right," Theresa echoed dully.

" Wrong." Fox returned. " I didn't love Whitney. I loved the idea of her. I feel so stupid now– how could I have not known? She's so completely wrong for me. She's sweet and honest and naive and good, and– well, needless to say, I am none of those things by nature. We wouldn't have fit into each others' worlds for very long."

He rose to his feet abruptly and began pacing the room. " So that got me thinking. If I didn't really love Whitney, then why had I gone to all of this trouble to make her mine? Was it because I hated Chad? That couldn't be it– I mean, he's a little dense, but he's a good guy all around. Was it for the competition, because she was something I couldn't have? Maybe– I mean, I am a Crane. But then I realized...I HAD been in love. I just didn't realize that all the time I'd thought I was in love with Whitney, I was really in love with you."

Theresa merely stared at him for a moment blankly, and then the emotions came. Joy. Elation. Nervousness. Terror. She had never been more confused in her life. " Y-you love me?" she inquired finally. Fox nodded, watching for her reaction. Theresa shook her head. " You can't. You love Whitney."

Fox frowned at this. " Haven't you been listening, lover? I love you."

Theresa took in a deep shaky breath. " But I love Ethan. I– I've loved Ethan my entire life, Fox. We're meant to be together."

His face darkened. " That isn't love, Theresa. This isn't a fairytale. You can't love someone who you barely know your entire life. That's obsession or fantasy or whatever you want to call it, but it isn't love. And you can't fall in love with someone because you hear them sing, like I thought I did. Love means caring, genuinely caring about someone else. Love means hurting and aching and fighting and struggling – through the good and the bad. I love you, and I think you love me, too."

Theresa felt her mouth run dry. " I'm sorry, Fox, but you're wrong. I love Ethan, I know I do."

She expected Fox to be hurt or angry or crestfallen, but instead he merely shook his head. " No. I don't accept that. You love me, whether you like it or not."

Theresa was becoming indignant now. " I do not!"

" Yes, you do." Fox countered, and before she could say anything more, he had pulled her to her feet and kissed her more passionately than anyone had ever kissed her before.

She pulled back, looking into his eyes. Those eyes, that had been so kind and caring and supportive of her all along. Those eyes, whose wicked merriment made her laugh more than anyone else ever could. Those eyes that were now filled with love for her.

" Okay," she conceded, " maybe you have a point..."

Fox grinned at her. " Say it."

She scowled at him. " You can't order me around, Nicholas Foxworthy Cr– " He kissed her again, until she was breathless. " I love you." she murmured obediently, and smiled at how wonderful it sounded.

" Now that's more like it..."

Her life began as a sort of fairytale. She was the poor but beautiful girl, destined to find great love. And she found it, but not with the prince that she had always dreamt of. After all, fairy tales weren't real, as she was constantly being reminded, and there was no happily ever after.

But, as Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald discovered, sometimes life– with all of its passion, pain, hurt, and elation– could be even better.



The End

***

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