Disclaimer: Little Women isn't mine. Boo.

A/N: I love Jo/Laurie to pieces. They would've worked out; Jo shouldn't have been so pigheaded about the issue. Oh, well. I guess that's what fanfiction is for.

The Unforeseen Consequences of Sharing Lemon Ice

First of all, I didn't expect to enjoy myself at that party. I didn't know anyone, and I can be awfully shy when I'm in large groups of people I don't know. So what else did I do? I lurked in some curtained alcove where I could sufficiently amuse myself with people-watching and manage to sufficiently avoid the dread terror of actually having to interact with them.

Ironic, then, that I more or less failed at both accounts. Because there you were, dancing or something in the hallway without, and I couldn't keep my eyes off of you. Not because you were someone of extreme beauty—you're simple, but still pretty. Your eyes, your hair. But it wasn't that at all; it was what you expressed, what you practically exuded. You had so much life the energy, the zest, the zeal seemed to be literally dripping from your ears, shining from your eyes, emphasized with every movement, even the slightest flicker of your eyelashes. You were so alive, so vibrant, and I so wanted to be a part of that. I was the loner, remember? How could I not want to share that joy you so obviously felt? How could I have possibly have contained myself when you stumbled—whether by accident or on purpose, I don't recall—into my solitude, bringing all of your…Jo with you? You're…you're…you're Jo March. Anything less would fail utterly to describe you.

I thought, maybe, we were kindred spirits, that we could've spent an enjoyable, entertaining evening in each other's presence, exchanged some delightful parting words. I didn't really expect that we'd become friends—such good friends, such best friends. I didn't expect that you'd welcome me into your life as much, as enthusiastically as I welcomed you into mine; I didn't think that would be remotely possible. I never dreamed that by offering my humble dessert—which embodied all I thought we would have, something fleeting but sweet—would irrevocably change the rest of my life, my very outlook on life.

And I never, ever, ever expected that I would fall in love with you.

Could you blame me? Not for never expecting that; it was only lemon ice. Not for falling in love with you; you are more beautiful than anything I have ever witnessed, experienced. Maybe I should have kept it to myself, right? Maybe I should have revealed my feelings later, long after you had adapted to the idea that the March sisters would split as life continued. Maybe I thrust it on you; I don't know. All I know is that the last thing I wanted to do was drive you away, to scare you with the possibility of a drastic change you both didn't want and weren't prepared for. I didn't want to ruin our friendship or complicate things; I just wanted you, Jo March. I wanted to know that you would always, always be in my life, that I could keep you by my side as the years slid by like that melting lemon ice. I was as scared of change as you were, and in my attempt to permanently prevent that change, I ended up doing just the opposite of my intentions. I lost you.

I never expected that. That was what I expected least of all. When I finally comprehended that you were "lose-able", I still never expected it. So we were friends, companions; why couldn't that bliss continue forever? I guess nothing can, but I desperately hoped this would. I wanted this more than anything.

You know, sometimes I sit up late at night and wish that I had never chosen lemon ice that evening. Or that I had been more personable and not hidden in that alcove. Or that I had not attended that party at all and remained the "queer Lawrence boy" that no one really understood but never really cared to understand. And when I miss you most, I wish so hard that I had never become Teddy. I'm not Teddy anymore, not really. Teddy was Theodore Lawrence with Jo; mere Laurie is him without her.

I couldn't tell you this when I explained that Amy and I were married. I knew you wouldn't approve of my reasoning, my intentions, my complete unfairness towards your sister. She is your sister; she is the daughter of your mother and father, just as you are. So I determined that something of you must be hidden within her somewhere, some quality that would peer out every once and awhile, and then I could sit across from her and smile faintly to myself and think, "Ah, there's Jo again." It's terrible of me, I know. I think she knows, too. She understood the bond we shared, and that makes me wonder why you did not. Why you allowed our chance to slip by us…like that melting lemon ice. I can't eat that anymore. I can barely contain myself when someone else has it near me, and I can see it melting in the dish, being pushed around by the spoon, being eaten, eaten, eaten and then it's gone.

We're gone, too, aren't we? "Teddy and Jo"—nothing more than a wish and an idea and a friendship that was only that. Sometimes I think that nothing is more unbearably cruel than friendship that could have been more; because they always can, can't they? That's the riddle of them, the darkness of them. They either become more or they end. There's no middle ground. After telling you how I felt, I knew we couldn't go on as we had. It was simply over.

I still love you, Jo March. I still lie awake at night and reminisce over all those times we shared, all the laughs and smiles. Sometimes I get so lost in these reveries that I utterly forget to live; I'm that young man trapped in the curtained alcove again, and you're on the outside, except this time you don't stumble in. We're separate now, by more than distance and time. Our hearts, our souls are estranged, and I fear they'll never be so close again. We'll never have that quiet understanding. We'll go on with our lives, but I just want you to know all this. I want one last understanding. One last moment of that closeness of our hearts. One last time to tell you that I do love you, that I always will love you, and that I never expected this constant ache for something I never expected to miss because I never expected it to be. I should have expected something along the way, I suppose. But I didn't, and I can't change that now. Christopher Columbus…know that I love you.

I know I have to put this behind me, that I can't dwell on the past. I should "be a man". But that's hard when I only want to be yours. Harder when I remember that I never can. What we had…I can't contain this sigh. What we had, it was…

It was only lemon ice, Jo.

It was only lemon ice.