Author: All Things Holy
Feedback: Why yes, I'd love some.
Disclaimer: Sadly, I own them not.
Summary: "If you were to ask each of them, separately of course, why the thing between them didn't work out, she'll tell you that they tried too hard; he'll tell you that they didn't try hard enough."
Spoilers: Raincoats & Recipes, I suppose
A/N: An angsty, unhappily-ever-after look at their relationship. I'm a one-shot drabble queen; can't hardly seem to write anything longer than a thousand words. And big thanks to Lula, just because she's the bestest beta in the whole wide world.
The thing about illusions is that the closer you get to them, the easier it is to see that they aren't real.
If you were to ask each of them, separately of course, why the thing between them didn't work out, she'll tell you that they tried too hard; he'll tell you that they didn't try hard enough.
There was something about their friendship that didn't quite carry over into romance, something that they couldn't ever make fit. It wasn't for lack of trying. They went through the stages, all of them together, but never exactly managed to find that easy balance they'd been so sure would come naturally. The things they'd loved about their friendship faded away until they were nothing more than just another couple who talked too little, fought too much, and touched too coldly; by the time they finally ended it, both of their hearts were broken.
He'll say that she always took him for granted, she'll say that he'd worked her up so much in his mind that she became this idealized version of herself that reality couldn't compete with. He'll never have the heart to tell her that the idealized version disappointed him just as much as the reality. She'll never have the strength to admit that she never exactly knew how to need him.
At first it was easier, pretending that they worked so well. That the harshness in her words didn't sting him, that his tight grip on her didn't suffocate. They'll both admit, reluctantly and full of enough alcohol or sorrow, that the problem was that it never was quite what they'd imagined it would be.
They lived in the illusion for awhile that things were great; they wanted it so badly to work and everyone around them had expected it to. When they finally broke up, several months later than they probably should have, there were tears and words that shouldn't have been said, though the anger was never directed at anyone other than the one doing the yelling. He was mad that he couldn't make this thing he'd held onto for so long work; he'd wanted to keep trying until all the pieces fell into place. She was angry that she could never fully open herself up to him and that he'd tried to make her stay, that he couldn't just give up; she'd never been one for the long haul.
Their new friendship was never what it had been, things were never quite the same. There was still jealousy at the other's new relationships that neither could explain. When she finally got married, he didn't attend. When Rachel came back on a whim, she saw that what she'd ran from before was changed; it wasn't gone exactly, he's still only ever loved one woman, but there was an acceptance now that came with trying, a realization that settling was maybe the best thing to do.
They loved each other, that was never the problem. Their ferocity of affection was the one thing they managed to acknowledge. But they were better apart and they knew it. It shocked them both, that the thing they'd thought would be so easy turned out to be so hard.
Though their friendship is fractured now, they're glad that they at least tried. The possibility would've hung over them forever, clouding their view and choking out light. He still serves her coffee and she still confides in him, but now there's less banter, fewer moments, none of the 'almosts' that there used to be. It's just them and the quiet and the broken pieces of themselves that they've shared over the years. They're closer, the shared experience of failing binding them together even more so than before.
Still, there are nights when they wonder if maybe they should've given it one more chance. She would've been kinder, she thinks, less demanding. He would've given her more space, not been so afraid that letting her go meant that she'd never come back. She remembers moments that still bring tears to her eyes; his hands on her shoulders, in her hair, around her waist. He remembers moments that still make his throat tighten; her leg wrapped around his, her lips at that spot right under his jaw. Sometimes they wonder if giving up was maybe the wrong choice after all. Then she'll kiss her husband and he'll kiss Rachel and a feeling will form, just behind their ribcages. That's when the illusion becomes a reality and they're made to feel it; the sheer tangibility of loss.