Title: Promises of a Long Lost Friend

Author: All Things Holy
Rating: PG
Pairing: Luke/Lorelai, Luke POV
Email: fox_e_girl_7@hotmail.com, feedback is better than ice cream
Disclaimer: Oh, you must be joking.
Summary: "Never do you let yourself dream that it ends happily."

Spoilers: General

"But I fear I have nothing to give, I have so much to lose here in this lonely place, Tangled up in our embrace, There's nothing I'd like better than to fall, But I fear I have nothing to give, I have so much to lose."

-- Sarah McLachlan, "Fear"

Lately, you find yourself watching her. She's spending more time in the diner now that Rory's gone. She'd deny it, but she hates her house now, so empty. So she fills her days with your coffee, your food, your conversation. (She fills her nights with. Him.) Things that aren't you. Things you know about not because she's told you but because she's only this guarded with her words when she's trying not to hurt you. Though she'd deny that, too. You've caught his name in the bits of cell-phone conversation as she walks through your door. The mornings she's not in for breakfast, you struggle to keep her from your thoughts. Every time the door opens, you check yourself before you raise your head too expectantly. She'll come in later. Eventually. She always does. And there will be something behind her eyes. (You hate that you're glad it isn't happiness.) You only saw him once, have never met him, but you see him every time you blink on days like this. Circles under her eyes from too little sleep, neck red with beard-burn, and you just imagine him beside her. Above her. You hope you keep the jealousy from becoming too palpable. (You never quite succeed.)

You wonder sometimes, how she could not know, since everyone else does. She reads you better than anyone you've ever known and it wrecks you that maybe she's known all along. Maybe that's why she's so guarded. (Maybe she just doesn't care.)

You search your mind trying to think of her moments of jealousy at your attempts at relationships. Rachel, you remember the awkwardness. Nicole, the not-so-hidden disdain. But you chalk her jealousy up to simple possessiveness. She likes that you're always there and hates for anything to disturb that. Hers aren't feelings of envy, just rejecting change. The two of you instituted, long ago, a kind of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy regarding your less-than significant others. (You think that maybe now it's not working.)

I love you. You wonder sometimes, the way she'd react. You'd drop it into everyday conversation, as if it were the most casual thing to say. Like it required so little thought, when in reality you've lain awake in your bed (Your narrow, lonely single man's bed. She says.) and weighed the reasons for and against keeping your mouth shut. The possibilities, good and bad, haunt your dreams. The closest you ever came to telling her was three summers ago, when you managed to let her slip so far away. She was going to remove herself from you entirely and you'd decided to let her have her happiness. So you stood with her under a beautiful chuppah you'd made, and dreamed with her, and died a little inside. (It was the only way you knew to let her go.)

I love you. You imagine the pause of her cup between counter and lips, her caught totally unaware. You see the white of her knuckles as she tightens her grips around ceramic. The shock that registers in her eyes as she struggles to find words. The bend of her neck as she drops her head, apologetic. The feel of your heart breaking. You've scripted it so completely and never do you let yourself dream that it ends happily.

Regardless, you'll always be there for her. You know you love her; you suppose that, really, you always have. You compliment each other so well, have finally created this easy balance and a lasting set of guidelines. You've settled into a pattern that suits you both. (More or less.) You consider the fragility of your friendship and reconsider finally saying all the things you should've said long ago.

Another morning she's missing. Another morning she's with him. She's started looking older, acting older. She looks almost breakable to you. So you decide to be there for her, steady as always, in the role you've filled for as long as you can remember. She'll come to you for support, advice, friendship. Maybe someday she'll come looking for everything, and you're more than prepared to give her that. But for now, he can keep her nights, because you have all the other, all the best, parts of her. And that's enough. (For now.)