Name: Dana E-Mail: [email protected] Rating: PG Summary: When David hears from Burt that Maddie is pregnant, he goes to Chicago to talk to her. Alternative Universe. Ignores Cool Hand Dave I and II and picks up again before Father Knows Last. Disclaimer: This is not for profit and for entertainment purposes only. The plot is mine but the characters belong to Picturemaker Productions and ABC Circle Films.

From Here To Uncertainty

David squinted as the tongues of afternoon sun beat through the backseat window. He was tired, jet lagged maybe, but he was anxious. For a month he had managed to talk himself out of following Maddie to Chicago. He had figured that as time when by the urge to hop on a plane would be easier to fight, but he had been wrong. There were so many times when he would dial the first few numbers for the airline, only to abort the effort at the last digit. He'd even bought a subscription to the Chicagoland Times, picturing her reading the same articles and doing the same cross word puzzles. Anything to somehow bring her a little closer to him.

But now that fate had handed him a good reason to go after her, a part of him wished he had never left LA. But here he was, slumped in the back seat of musty cab, having no idea what he was preparing himself for. This was probably the one time that it would be easier suffer her absence than face her wrath.

The taxi driver spewed off a list of common tourist attractions, but David wasn't really paying attention. He had barely realized they left the airport. He rubbed his temples, eager to ease the crushing pressure he felt behind them. There was so much that weighed on his mind, a myriad of questions he had. How could this happen? Had she known all along? But why not tell him? Was she afraid? He shook his head, his tired eyes unfocussed and dull.

"Hey buddy, tell me the address again." The driver peered at him through the rearview mirror, his narrow lips balancing the filter of his cigarette.

"Twelve Elmwood Terrace." David replied, watching a thick cloud of smoke slither through the crack of the open window. "Hey do ya think I could bum one of those?"

The driver shrugged as he flipped open a box of Camels and pulled one out. He passed it back to him, eyeing him curiously from the front seat. "You look like you could use more than a smoke, pal. Someone die?"

David smirked as he fished around in his pockets for his lighter. Finding it, he snapped it open and lit his cigarette. "Shit, I wish it was that easy." He pulled a long drag as he leaned over the middle of the seat. "I ah.. I'm here to visit my girlfriend and her family."

"Ah ya nervous. You want to impress them or something?"

David thought about it for a moment, rolling his Camel between his thumb and forefinger. " Well, I don't know if I would say impress. Persuade maybe. Not them... her."

"You lost me."

He took another drag, letting the smoke fester deep in his lungs. He blew it out with a sigh and tipped the ash in the ashtray under the meter. "Well the truth is she left me. I just flew here from California to get her back."

The driver nodded. "Ah one of those."

"Yeah, one of those." David chuckled.

"Let me tell you something pal. Women, they ain't worth it." He wagged a stubby finger at him through the mirror. "You were better off from wherever it is you came from without her. "

David didn't answer, unsure of whether he should defend Maddie or agree. Instead he turned his attention back out the window, watching the scenery pass in a blur. They had left the city now, and were well into the northern suburbs toward the lake. The houses were large here, the air was clean and the trees grew tall like wooded octopuses in the marine blue sky. He smiled. It even smelled better than the modest south Philadelphia neighborhood where he had grown up.

They turned into a neighborhood. Children were riding their bikes, playing hopscotch, running carelessly down the wide street. Lawn sprinklers ticked around in rotation nourishing the perfect green carpet of well-manicured lawns. A father and two daughters washed their Volvo in their driveway while their cocker spaniel sprawled on the sun struck pavement. The littlest girl shrieked in delight as her father pointed the hose at her. David watch in amusement. Family. In spite of himself, he smiled.

"Your gal lives in a ritzy neighborhood." The driver said approvingly. "Not bad."

"Yeah," David agreed, "Not bad."

They drove a little further then turned into a driveway. David could feel his stomach tighten as the taxi jerked onto park. He reached in his pants pocket for his wallet, wishing his hands would stop shaking. The driver pretended he didn't notice, instead offering some encouragement. "Hey, remember. They may keep ya warm at night. But women, ya don't need them."

David laughed as he tossed the driver his fare. He got out of the taxi and slammed the door. "I hear what you're saying chief, but you don't know this woman." He extended his hand to him through the open window. "Thanks for the smoke, man."

"Good luck pal." The driver shouted as David slung his duffle bag over his shoulder.

"Yeah I'm gonna need it." He mumbled to himself as he stood at the end of the walk. Somehow these last few feet to the front door seemed harder to bridge than the last two thousand miles. He leaned into the window of the cab, forcing a cool expression." You might want to stick around in case I need a ride somewhere else."

The driver nodded and shot him a commiserating smile. He pulled another cigarette out of his box. "Why not."

Straightening his tie and clearing his throat, David forced one foot in front of the other. When he got to the door he just looked at it, debating on whether to use the knocker or the bell. He decided on the bell. Reluctantly he pushed the button, his face grimacing when he heard the muffled ring.

On the other side of the door he could hear the click of heels on marble. Nervously he shifted his weight and licked his lips. Maybe Mrs. Hayes would answer. That would be okay. She liked him, or did. Certainly it wouldn't be Maddie's dad in the middle of a weekday, thank God. He didn't think he could face him right away. But it wasn't like he would be relieved to see Maddie in front of him either. He let out a breath, quickly glancing at the taxi. Maybe it wasn't too late to escape. He heard the lock release and the knob turn. He shut his eyes and held his breath, hoping for the best.

"Yes?"

David raised a confused eyebrow at the strange woman in front of him. She was large and dark, maybe Hispanic. She stared at him waiting for an explanation. "Um, hi. Is ah... this the Hayes residence?"

"Carmelita. I got it. Its for me."

The old woman retreated back into the house leaving David in the door. He was paralyzed when he saw her, his fingers clutching the strap of his bag. In his minds eye he had pictured her over the past month. How her hair fell, her clear green eyes, but somehow she was always more beautiful in person. Maybe because she was real to him, not like the one-dimensional pictures in magazines everyone else saw. She was his Maddie, all three dimensions, each as gorgeous as the other. He cocked his head to the side, the sides of his mouth forming a smirk. Yes, it was worth flying all this way just to look at her.

He set his bag down in front of him, digging his hands into his pockets. Casually, he leaned on the doorframe, hoping Maddie wouldn't notice his shaking knees. " Before you throw anything at me, let me just try to explain myself" He shifted his weight his voice struggling to remain even. "I ah... I could lie and say I was in the neighborhood and decided to stop by, or that I was in Chicago on business. Or I could tell you the truth, which I'll pass on to you as soon as I figure it out." He pausing trying to read her expression. "All I know is I needed to see you so here I am but seeing the look on your face, I guess why I came here doesn't make any difference to you anyway."

She hadn't meant to give him any look. Her arms were folded in front of her, a slight smile tugging at her lips. "That was some speech Addison. Did you just wing it or make it up on the plane?"

"Improv." He said without expression. He reached out to hold her, but she grabbed his hands pushing him away.

"David, you had a cigarette. I can smell it on you."

"I missed you too." Undaunted, his face contorted into a coy smirk. It wasn't the reception he was looking for but at least she hadn't thrown him out yet. "Yeah, you know the taxi driver had a cigarette on the way here. I told him I found it offensive and violated my right to breath clean air but..."

She didn't wait for his explanation. She didn't really care. Finding it hard to look at him, she turned away and walked further into the foyer.

"That's all you can say? I came all this way for a public service announcement for smoking?" He looked at her a moment wishing she would at least face him. The last thing he wanted to do was push her away. Just in the few minutes he had been there it was so clear it him how troubled she was. The bags under her eyes, the flatness of her voice. As he watched her walk into the living room he was convinced. Coming here was the right thing to do. She needed him. "So, am I allowed on the furniture?"

She turned and looked at him in confusion. "What?" He smiled and pointed to the couch in the living room in front of them. "You gonna let me in or you gotta put papers down first?" He tried to walk past her but she grabbed his arm.

"You can't come in here. Carmelita will wonder who you are!" She didn't look him in the eye, instead talking to his chest.

"God, its not like I'm selling vacuums. I think I have a pretty legit reason to be here."

She clutched his arm tighter, desperate to quell his rising voice. "David wait. My parents will be home soon and I don't want you here when they get back. Please!"

"What? No boys I the house while the 'rents aren't home?" He glanced to her stomach. "Of course, if they're worried about some guy knocking their daughter up, too late." He said it with a sneer but he hadn't meant to. Maddie flinched at his words as if she'd been struck.

He pulled away from her and casually walked around the foyer. "So, this is the Hayes homestead. I don't suppose you filled in the grandparents-to-be yet?"

Her gaze fell to the floor.

"I'll take that as a no." He sat down on the stair, resting his elbows on his knees. He waited for her to say something, but nothing came. "Speechless huh? Yeah, well I guess I can understand that. I was speechless myself when Burt Viola told me at nine o'clock this morning that you had called Agnes to tell her the big news!"

"David, keep your voice down."

He got up and walked to her, his face tight with anger. "What, you want to surprise me or something?"

"David, shhh."

"Well, guess what. I'm surprised. I'm shocked. I'm.."

"You're what David?" she croaked, he face only inches from his. "Go ahead, angry, furious, livid what?"

He licked his chapped lips instantly regretting his raised voice. " Look, I'm sorry. I'm just a little edgy. This thing really..." His voice trailed off as he backed away from her in resignation. "Look, I'm not angry with you. I 'm just... concerned" He was quiet a moment, searching for words on the cold marble floor. "Maddie, I just gotta know how you could keep something like this from me?"

David's tone stung her. She could feel his eyes on her sizing her up, eager for some explanation. But she didn't have any. Letting out a held breath, she lifted her head forcing herself to meet his gaze "David, I can't talk about this now. Later, please?"

"When Maddie? Huh?' I won't wait for this."

" Well, you're going to have to." Her voice was little more than a whisper. "Please, David you can't stay here. My parents don't know yet. Check in to the Holiday Inn over on Lake Avenue and I will meet you there later. Please David?" She hung on his arm here pleading eyes staring wide at him.

Defeated, he freed himself from her grasp. "Ok. Fine." He picked up his suitcase and headed to the door. "How about dinner six o'clock?"

"How about you hotel room eight o'clock? My parents will wonder if I am not home for dinner."

He chuckled at the ludicracy of her words. "You've got to be kidding me." He looked at her closely, knowing he should be so frustrated with her but feeling nothing but his heart swelling with longing. She always did this to him. Make him so angry, but in a split second completely disarm him with a glance or a touch. Reluctantly he brushed his fingers against her cheek, her skin cool under his touch. "Make sure your homework's done so you can stay out late. It is a school night." He smiled as he closed the door. His bag slung back over his shoulder, he strode back out to the waiting taxi.

.......................................................................................

It was a cool fall night, a light drizzle spotting the windshield as she navigated through the neighborhood streets. It was after nine and she knew David would be upset that she was late. But she couldn't help it, She was lucky to get out at all. Both her parents had raised curious eyes when she sat down to dinner her make-up and hair done, dressed in cream sweater and jeans. She told then that she was meeting a friend out after dinner. They didn't inquire. She figured they were just relieved she was finally getting some fresh air rather than lying in bed in front of the television.

But right at this moment, there was no place that she would rather be than nestled between the warm blankets of her bed with a pillow over her head. It was incredible how things had spiraled out of control so quickly. For weeks she had tried to pinpoint what exactly had brought her to Chicago, but she could never come up with an answer. Maybe she loved David too much, maybe not enough. Maybe she was just afraid. She leaned her head against the cool window, eager to ease the headache she felt coming on. David being here was a shock to her system. When she first saw him standing at the door, her heart nearly leapt out of her chest. She never imagined she would miss him that much. Or need him this badly.

In the back of her mind she had hoped Agnes would somehow spill the news about the baby, but not this soon. It would have been better to actually know how she felt about it before even thinking about discussing it David. But here she was heading to his hotel room, two thousand miles from home, preparing to consider a future with a man she wasn't sure she wanted one with. It was all one big mess.

She knocked on the hotel room door and no sooner did she lower her hand did the door open. Her breath caught when she saw him, as always, unprepared for the effect he had on her. She had to admit he wasn't hard to look at especially when he didn't have a shirt on. He had just gotten out of the shower, his hair sticking up scared on his head. He buttoned his jeans as he stood there, knowing full well she liked what she saw.

In spite of herself, she smiled and licked her lips. "Hey, um my parents let me out."

"I see that." He looked her over, as if making up for the time he hadn't seen her at all. It pleased him to see that she had cleaned herself up for the occasion. He leaned against the doorframe his arms folded in amusement. "You got a curfew?'

She shrugged unwilling to waste the brainpower on a witty answer. David moved away and motioned her in to the room. "Can I get you anything to eat? Drink?"

"No, I'm fine."

Awkward silence wove between them as the ticking of the clock on the wall grew louder. This was what David had been waiting for for weeks, a chance to plead his case, confront her make her see. But now that the time had come he didn't know what to say. Back in LA in the safety of his own mind the words had come so easily. Over and over he would rework his speeches to her, some dramatic, some funny. Anything he thought would make her see things his way. But here in this tiny hotel room high above the oblivious city below, he was completely lost. All he could do was stare at her, maybe making up for the month when he hadn't seen her at all.

But looking at her wasn't enough. His arms ached to hold her, a luxury that had eluded him for weeks and a feeling he couldn't quite recall. Tentatively, he reached to her, sliding his hands down her arms and around her waist. He felt her familiar curves, noting that there was no evidence that a baby resided inside her. Burying his face in her golden hair, he let out a breath that he was sure he had been holding since the night she left. It was so good just to touch her.

Despite the warmth of his arms, Maddie shivered as he held her. She hated how it felt so good to her. Despite her brain that was screaming not to, she pulled him closer, her head nestled against his chest. She had forgotten how he had felt against her, how his scent made her body tingle. It was times like this when he was so tender and real that she wandered what exactly she was so afraid of. She never had come up with an answer. Maybe there wasn't one. She turned her head against his bare chest, a few tears welling in her icy eyes.

"I missed you, Maddie." Reluctantly he pulled away, his fingers woven in her blond hair as he caressed the back of her neck. "You didn't have to leave." He put his forehead to hers. "Why did you do this?"

She didn't answer, tears escaping down her cheek.

"Hey, take it easy. We'll work this out." He cupped her face in his hands, forcing her to look him in the eye. "There's nothing to cry about. That's why I'm here. To work this all out. "

She sniffled and defiantly wiped a tear from her cheek. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe I didn't want you here." Eager to create some distance, she pulled away from him and walked to the window. "This isn't your problem, David."

He didn't bother to argue the point. He wasn't here to fight with her. He just wanted to set things straight. He was tired of the guessing games, the hidden meanings, the futileness. He sat down on the edge of the bed and buried his face in his hands. "Well what the hell did you think I was gonna do when I heard the news, huh? Stay in Los Angeles and pretend I didn't know? Or was this supposed to me just a little secret between you Agnes and Burt?"

"I tried to call last night you but I got your machine." She spoke to his reflection in the window. "I wasn't going to keep this from you David if that's what you were thinking."

David shook his head fighting a wave of regret at the previous night's exploits. "I know. I was .. out. I'm sorry." He paused for a moment, struggling to gather his thoughts. "Look, it's not like I'm keeping score here. I don't much care anymore about why you left. I think were have bigger things to worry about." He took a deep breath, and motioned to her belly. " So ah, how long have you known?"

She turned and looked him in his deep brown eyes. Instinctively, she covered her stomach with her hand. " I found out yesterday. David, if I had known I would have told you." "I believe you." He assured her, eager to squelch the rising anger in her voice. Pausing, he narrowed his eyes his face contorting as if it hurt to speak. "Am I the father, Maddie?" His tone was so even it was haunting.

She leaned against the windowpane her knees suddenly feeling weak. "Probably. I'm pretty sure it is but I'm not positive. "

A small smile tugged at his lips. At least that was in his favor. "What about Sam?"

"Nothing about Sam." She answered quickly. "He's not even an issue."

He nodded, relieved he didn't have to delve in to that subject any further, and he could tell by the way she had turned her back on him again that she felt the same way. Once more, the silence collected, both waiting for the other to break it. He looked at her moment, wishing he could somehow open her up, thaw the wall of ice that always held her. He rammed his hand through his thinning hair, wishing he could quell his building frustration. "Look, I have a ton of questions here. I mean what does this mean for us? What are we going to tell your parents? What about work? I mean..."

"David stop." She spun around, her voice strong but uncertain. "Look, I haven't really thought about any of this and I sure as hell don't need you doing it for me. No, my parents don't know, but I will tell them. I haven't really thought about work, and as far as you and I are concerned.." she stopped as if she had hit a brick wall. "I don't know. I haven't thought about that yet."

"Of course."

She folded her arms, poised for a battle. "What the hell does that mean?"

His got up and walked toward her, his eyes wide his composure unraveling. "It means that I am getting sick and tired of being put on the back burner waiting in vain until you get your shit together. " She sighed and threw her gaze to the ceiling. " David, I really don't want to argue about this. "

"This baby isn't going to wait for you, Maddie." He lifted her chin to look at him but she pulled away. "You can't just pretend this isn't happening!"

"Why do you care so much David? Why?" He stared at him, her green eyes as sharp as ice picks. "You worried that a baby would cut in on your party schedule, maybe scare away the bimbos that you date, miss a few nights planted on a bar stool. Is that what you're thinking?"

"No, I was thinking about how we should find an obstetrician in LA, how we could make your guestroom into a nursery-" "Please stop yelling, David."

"You really think I've been living it up since you left me with out so much as a good bye. Well, let me tell you that I have no party schedule and believe me, the only bimbo in my life is you!"

"David, stop!" The contempt in his voice shook her. "What kind of cold hearted bastard do you take me for?"

"A stupid, conceded one." She spat, her dark eyes tight and foreboding, " Did you expect me to swoon and collapse in your arms when you showed up today? Do you think that riding in on your white horse would help the situation? I don't need you to save me David! I don't need you period!"

Her words knocked the wind out of him. He took a breath, his heart pounding in his chest. "You are a piece of work Maddie Hayes." He stammered, his voice shaking.

She hugged herself as if warding off a chill, her gaze directed at the floor. "I'm trying to be honest."

"You're trying to hurt me. Well, congratulations it worked." He folded his arms and let out a sigh, scolding himself for being so aggressive. He had seen the tears meandering down her pale cheek, her lower lip trembling, but he could help but defend himself. "Hey, look I'm sorry."

He reached out to her but she didn't accept him. "You think I want to hurt you. You think everything I do is to hurt you. Do you think I let you get me pregnant to hurt you? "

He looked at her incredulously. She wasn't making sense. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"You think that I never took us seriously."

"This isn't about just us anymore!" He grabbed her arms, lightly shaking her. "You've got to see that."

"Maybe it never should have been about us. Maybe this was all a mistake. Just like me working with you was a mistake, you being here is a mistake. This baby..." Her voice trailed off, her fingers splayed on her flat stomach. "Look, I didn't mean that." She stared at him a moment, wishing the hurt she saw in his face would disappear. "David, I left because I needed time to figure all this out."

"Figure out what, Maddie?" His voice quivered. "What is there to figure out? You don't "figure out" a relationship you just go with it."

"Too little too late, David. I think there we're a little past that now." She yelled, her eyes brimming with tears. "God, it is so easy for you and sit here and tell me how I should feel."

"Let me get this straight. You think the past month has been easy for me? Yeah right, I have been doing both of our work at the office, seeing clients, handling cases. The office doesn't run itself."

"You've caught on to that."

" I can't remember the last time I've slept since I lay awake every night waiting for the damn phone to ring."

"David you're yelling again."

"I love you Maddie! Why do you act like that is the worst thing in the world?" He panted hard like he had been socked in the chest.

The room was so quiet he could hear her breathe. He sat back down on the bed, propping himself against the headboard. Picking up a pillow next to him, he placed it in his lap. "You know when Burt first told me, my jaw hit the floor. The first thing I thought was what a mess all this was. But then I got on the plane and I had time to think about it. I thought that maybe this was some sort of sign. Like maybe we were meant to have this baby together, you know be a family." He smiled at the thought. "It so weird but I almost get excited when I think about it." He looked up at her eager for some kind of reception but got nothing. "C'mon Maddie, talk to me. You got to help me out here."

Again she turned toward the window. This was it. He had backed her into the corner. In the four years she had participated in this peculiar game of cat and mouse she had never felt this way. Usually she would come out swinging, but as she gazed out at the darkened Chicago skyline, she knew she had no fight left. She sealed her eyes shut, wishing she could clearly see the unruly thoughts that tormented her. If she could just keep them still long enough to look at, maybe she could make some sense out of them. Maybe it DID make sense. Maybe she was wrong to fight him anymore.

"I love you David. And I never meant to hurt you, but I did and for that I'm sorry. But I'm not sorry for trying to do what is best for me, for us. That's why I came to Chicago in the first place. " He voice trailed of, her gazed fixed on the rooftop lights of the building across the way. David walked over to her and put his arms around her. At firsts she flinched but soon relaxed in his gentile embrace. "I'm scared David."

She didn't have to say it. He had already known. Slowly he rubbed her back, moving his unsteady hand in small circles. "Hey, I'm not scared." He lied. "I know you think I am this irresponsible moron but Maddie, this is different. You know that I would always be here for you and our baby."

"But what if it isn't your baby!" She pulled away from him, her mouth twitching as if it had hurt to say the words. " I can't hold you to something that isn't your responsibility. "

"But I want it to be."

"David don't lie to me" She turned to meet his gaze, her eyes staring straight though him. "You really can stand there and tell me that you could raise Sam's child?"

"Yes." He didn't waver.

She waited for him to say more but he didn't. Defeated, she pulled away and sat down on the edge of the bed. "It wouldn't work, David. We'd both be miserable. I don't want you to resent me."

He let her words linger in front of him, turning their meaning over and over in his mind. He couldn't fathom ever resenting her or being miserable, as long as she loved him. Despite everything, the heated arguments the sleepless nights the bitter struggles, he knew she was the only person in the whole world for him. As he looked down at her he knew he would never love anyone the way he loved her. He swallowed hard as he knelt down in front of her, his hands gently resting on her knee. "Maddie look at me, please."

He lifted her chin revealing her tear-streaked face. Smiling, he brushed an errant hair away from her sticky cheek. "Um, I don't know how to do this right but um.." He blew out a breath, anchoring his trembling hands with hers.

She looked at him perplexed. "David, are you okay. You look like you're going to be sick."

He laughed. "Not at all." He paused gathering his thoughts. "Look, I have been thinking about this for a long time, before Sam, before everything. I know what we have is hard to explain. But Maddie, I swear to you I wouldn't have it any other way. I want to have a baby with you. Hell, I'd have a whole litter with you. Think how good looking they'd be." They both allowed a laugh. "We could make Blue Moon a family business."

When the smiles faded, David's face blushed and narrowed. Maddie raised a curious eyebrow, eager for David to finish. "Maddie, baby or no baby, it doesn't change the fact that I need you and I think you know you need me too." He looked her deep in her eyes and swallowed hard. Maddie Hayes, will you marry me?

She would have fallen over if she weren't already sitting. "You can't be serious."

"Hey why not? I'm a nice guy. I got a good job..."

"For now."

"Come on, where is your sense of adventure?" He asked with a smirk.

"According to you I never had one."

He shrugged. "Well, if you marry me you're entitled to half of mine. Common Maddie, whatd'ya say? "

It had crossed her mind that maybe it was the inevitability of David posing this very question was what drove her out here in the first place. But now that she had heard it, it made more sense than she had bargained for. But that didn't mean it was right. The last thing she wanted was to trap him, lure him into a life he didn't know wasn't for him. Maddie had always figured that even if David was too blind to know what was best for him, she did. She had resigned herself to do his thinking, when she deemed his actions too spontaneous. But at this moment she couldn't even think for herself, and perhaps it was spontaneity that had made her pregnant in the first place.

But what if David's way was the right way and had been all along. She had to admit that the thought running off with him and never leaving bed for a good couple of months didn't sound bad. But it wouldn't sustain them. Animal lust may get you through the night but makes a hostile bedfellow in the morning. If she were to marry David, it would be because it was the right thing for their relationship, not because it solved a problem.

With his thumb, he wiped a lonely tear that meandered down her cheek. She kissed his fingers as they lingered on her clammy skin. "David, I can't answer that now. I think you and I both know that."

He just stared at her, his eyes clear and expressionless. "Why are you so afraid of us?" He whispered.

"I'm not afraid of you." She stood up, eager to avoid his stare. " Okay, maybe I am. But David, being pregnant doesn't all of a sudden change my mind about coming out here. I came out here to clear my head. I know this isn't the way you handle your problems but it's my way and if you say to want to marry me, you have to accept it, for better or for worse.

"God, its not like I asked you to walk over hot coals. I asked you to be my wife."

She took a breath and regarded him from across the tiny room. He was sitting on the floor, his back against the bed, his head facing the ceiling. "David, I want to marry you but I want it to be for the right reasons."

"Is that a yes?" He lifted his head from the bed curiously.

"No, it's an I don't know."

He shook his head in exasperation as if warding off a slap in the face. Maddie recognized that look. She had seen it many times before, the last time being in the laundromat the night that she left him. She had told him it was over, and then just like now his wounded expression choked her.

But as she stood there in the tentative stillness of the room, she knew he would ignore it and accept whatever she threw at him because he loved her. Why was it so hard for her to do the same for him? "Look David, this was a bad idea me coming here." She picked her keys up off the nightstand and headed toward the door. " I can't deal with this now. Go back to LA. "

David jumped up and bounded after her, blocking her from the door. " Hey, -"

She reached around him and grabbed the doorknob "David get out of my way."

"No, Maddie don't leave like this." His voice was barely a whisper.

"I have to go."

" Stay with me."

"What?"

"I want you to stay with me tonight." Gently, he pried her hand off the doorknob and slid his hands around her. "Just tonight Maddie." he whispered. "I'll go back to LA in the morning." Softly, he kissed her forehead, savoring the softness of her skin. He breathed deeply, taking in her familiar scent. He had almost forgotten how just her proximity was enough to drive him wild. In that instant his lips found hers. He pulled her closer and kissed her harder, his pace urgent and demanding.

Her body quivered as his lips lingered on her cheek, her jaw, her neck. Allowing herself to give in to him, she softly moaned pressing her eyes shut as her quivering lips again crashed in to his. It had always been so easy to get lost in him. He knew exactly how to touch her, where to kiss her. The kinetic sensations he would evoke paralyzed her. She could feel him responding, his breath becoming quick and shallow. It was almost beyond the point of resistance, and now in harsh floresant lights of the narrow doorway their passion had been reduced to a game of who would give in first.

His hands began to wander now, stopping at the button of her jeans. He unfastened it, then eagerly found the zipper of her fly. "David stop." She croaked, hoping she sounded convincing. She pulled away her eyes staring at the door behind him. "David I can't do this. I have to go now."

"Why?

"Because if I don't go now, I won't go at all."

"Why would that be so bad?" He asked, still catching his breath.

She simply shook her head. "I don't know. That's what I have to figure out. Please David, let me go."

He waited for her to say something more but she didn't. He regarded her a moment, wilted and spent, her eyes glazed, stricken by her best intentions. It occurred to him that perhaps he was afflicted with the same malady. He wished he could keep her here in this room forever. She could hide from the world all she wanted. He wouldn't care, as long as he could hide with her.

But that wouldn't be right. It occurred to him that maybe this was his turn to be the rational one. What ever it all meant was lost on David. He had no choice but to believe that maybe Maddie's self imposed exile was the right thing, and would eventually bring her back to him.

Reluctantly, he turned the knob and opened the door never taking his eyes off of her. She lifted her head at the sound of the lock, surprised he gave in without a fight, and almost sorry he did. Her shaky legs barely got her over the threshold before she turned around. "David, don't think I don't love you. I wouldn't be in Chicago if I didn't love you. Just remember that." She reached out and took his hand from the doorknob. Softly she placed it on her stomach. Holding her hand over his, she met his lips with hers.

She could feel his fingers lightly grasping the fabric of her sweater as he kissed her. The sensation sending more tears streaming down her face. When he tasted them on his own lips, he pulled away." I love you Maddie, and you hurry back to me."

And then she was gone. He didn't watch her walk down the hall or even see her to the elevator. He just closed the door behind her the lock engaging with a wrenching click. He looked around the room. Silent and still. There was no sign that she had been there, of what had transpired. He breathed in deeply savoring the fading scent of her perfume and her sweet taste that still lingered on his lips. Somehow it would have to sustain him.

The End