Author: Abilene Keegan

W h a t   L o v e   I s

B y   A b i l e n e   K e e g a n

Abby stood at her usual spot beside the lake looking out over the water.  She'd never realized before how mysterious water could be at night.  It seemed to have this power to hypnotize the mind.  To take you into areas of thinking you'd never dreamed of thinking about before.  She imagined it had to do with the way the moon's light reflected off its surface.  Kind of the same effect candlelight had on a person.  Both were soft lights against a bleak darkness.  When staring into the light of a candle your mind could wander into places you never even knew existed.  The mysterious gleam on a lake derived from the moon apparently had the same effect.  'Cause Abby found herself thinking of something she never thought about, in fact she downright avoided the subject whenever it came up.  She was thinking about love.

        She knew in part the subject had come up over the conversation she'd earlier had with Carter.  "I don't want to sit on the sidelines waiting for you two to break up."  Break up?  The idea hadn't even entered her mind till that moment.  The more she'd thought about it though the more she realized that was exactly what would happen.  It was the inevitable in most every relationship.  Because if you didn't break up then you'd eventually get married.  And she didn't see that ever happening with them.  People who got married were people who were in love.  They weren't in love.  She may love him but she wasn't in love with him.  At least she didn't think she was.  She'd just always figured she'd recognize love when she found it.  But how could she recognize something that she didn't know?

More then any of that Abby was certain that Luka wasn't in love with her.  She didn't think he was capable of allowing himself to fall in love again.  She didn't know about his family, or what had happened to them, but she knew he'd loved them more then anything.  More then anything.  That kind of love never died.  Was it possible to fall in love with more then one person?  Was it possible for him to love both his wife and her?  And if it was could he ever do it without feeling guilty?  He'd never treated her like he felt shameful of being around her.  When they made love he never seemed to regret it.  He treated her kindly enough, like she was important to him.  But was it love?

        "And I don't want to be your friend.  It might be convenient for you but it's not doing much for me."  Now Carter was a whole new subject.  While she was confused about her feelings towards Luka, she had no idea about her feelings towards Carter.  They were friends.  She'd never looked beyond that.  Did he have feeling for her?  Was their friendship just a convenience for her?  Or had she kept going back to him because she was falling in love with him?  Had he kept listening because he was in love with her?  Things were just so easy with Carter.  Not at all like they were with Luka.  Her and Luka had a very rocky and unstable relationship.  Her and Carter had an easy and smooth relationship.  Wasn't love when you got along with a person as easily as she did with Carter?

        "Hey."  She heard Luka's whispered greeting as he stepped up beside her.  She didn't look over.  She just kept staring at the water.  He stood in silence beside her, their shoulders touching slightly.  Maybe it was his sudden kindness of not disturbing her, or maybe it was the fact that he knew not to disturb her that was the reason for Abby asking him the question.  A question she never imagined she'd be asking anybody, least of all a boyfriend she was considering breaking up with.

        "What do you think love is Luka?"  She didn't look over at him as she asked the question, just kept watching the lake.  For a moment he didn't say anything.  He simply leaned down next to her till they were nearly head high together.  She knew this response, he was getting ready for a serious discussion with her.  Something they did very seldom, or more like never.

        "That's a very complicated question Abby.  Love can be many things."  The thought had occurred to Abby that by asking him this question he might think that she was indirectly telling him that she loved him.  She could tell though by the sound of his voice that he knew otherwise.  Abby was beginning to realize that perhaps he knew her better then she'd thought.  "It can be the most wonderful thing in the world.  But it can be the most painful too."

        "I'm sorry."  She spoke softly as she looked over at him.  He questioned her with his eyes.  "I'm sorry you had to know that pain."  He smiled down at her softly.  She really did like his smile.

        "It's a part of love Abby."  That one statement had so many volumes to it.  It represented so much.  She knew he was even using it, not only as a representation of losing his wife, but of his relationship with her.  "Everybody feels it sometime.  Everybody pretty much knows they're going to feel it.  But it doesn't stop them from falling in love.  From taking that chance."  He paused for a moment and Abby watched him look back out over the lake.  She wondered what he was thinking.  He soon told her.

        "You know when I lost my wife I didn't think I'd be capable of falling in love again.  But it wasn't because I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to.  It wasn't because I thought she was the only woman I could love.  It was because I thought I'd never take the chance again.  I figured I'd just walk away from it.  To afraid to face it."  Abby had to think hard about this one for a moment.  Had he just told her he'd fallen in love with her?  She couldn't be certain.  And she sure wasn't going to jump to conclusions.

        "Why's it so complicated?"  She looked down at the railing beneath her hands.  She suddenly felt like a child looking to an adult for further guidance.  Of course guidance is what she was looking for.  And Luka had been in love before unlike her.  So why not talk to him?

        "Because it wouldn't be love if it wasn't complicated.  How long do you think you could stay in love if your relationship was utterly bland?  If there were no fighting or arguments?  'Hey honey what happened to that money in the bank?  Oh I spent it on gambling.  Okay, lets go watch some TV and then make out'."  Abby had to laugh at this representation, it was so unlike Luka.  Of course this whole conversation was so unlike them.  "No way.  Whoever found that money missing is going to want a fight.  It makes things interesting.  It keeps you dealing with problems and keeps you involved with your significant other on more then one level.  It just wouldn't last if there was never anything complicated occurring."

        "Why's it so hard for us?"  Luka looked over at her abruptly and Abby had to bite down on her bottom lip.  She hadn't meant to say that out loud.  She eased up immediately though and looked back out over the mesmerizing water.  Why not get this out in the open?  "When I'm with Carter, sometimes it's just like he and I belong together.  But when I'm with you, it's like we can't be together."

        "You think you're in love with him?"  Luka asked the question softly leaning in closer to her.  He wasn't accusing her of anything.  And he wasn't sad by the thought that she might be in love with another man.  Instead he was holding it all back and being exactly what she needed him to be at that moment.  A friend.

        "I don't know Luka."  She felt a lump rising in her throat.  Why did this all have to be so confusing.  "And I don't know that I'm not in love with you."  God, she must really be mesmerized.  "It is so easy with him."  A few tears fell.  "But it's so hard with you."

        "You'll know Abby."  She felt him lean his chin on her shoulder.  She actually welcomed the closeness.  "When you are in love, you will know it."  He sighed and then continued.  "Can I say something without you getting mad at me for it?"  She looked at him curious.

        "I don't know.  What do you think?"

        "Just don't get angry Abby.  I'm not trying to tell you how you feel.  And I'm certainly not trying to convince you that you're in love with me.  Perhaps this is just my opinion in my experience with being in love."  He looked at her intently, questioningly.  She nodded her head.  "I don't think you're in love with Carter."  She was astonished but she wasn't angry at all.  Just amazed he'd even go there.  "You said so yourself, when you are with him it's easy.  Tell me, what's it like when you're with your brother?"  She looked away and out into the water.  Wondering if he was right.  Knowing that he was.

        "Reminds me of a poem."  To her surprise he wrapped his arms around her waist and stood behind her.  "A poem by Henry Ward Beecher."  Abby closed her eyes and listened as he recited the poem softly into her ear.

"Love is the river of life in this world.  Think not that ye know it who stand at the little tinkling rill, the first small fountain.  Not until you have gone through the rocky gorges, and not lost the stream; not until you have gone through the meadow, and the stream had widened and deepened until fleets could ride on its bosom; not until beyond the meadow you have come to the unfathomable ocean, and poured your treasures into its depths--not until then can you know what love is."  A few more tears fell down Abby's check as he finished the poem.  She felt him wrap his arms around her tighter and kiss her softly on the top of her head before whispering a few more words.  "This is love Abby."

        He released her from his grip and silently walked away.  Abby looked after him thinking of the poem.  Realizing that the rill was Carter and the ocean was her and Luka.  A smile spread across her face, he really did know her, he knew that she was in love with him before she'd known it.  He'd known that they were in love with each other.  She quickly ran to catch up with him.

        "Hey, Luka wait up."  He stopped instantly and turned around to face her as she ran up to him.  They smiled at each other for a moment before Luka wrapped his arm around her shoulder and they began walking together.  "Say," She asked looking up at him. "How on earth did you manage to memorize a love poem like that?"  He laughed and looked back down at her.

        "It's a long story Abby."

        "Well we have plenty of time."  And Abby knew that they really did.  Because when people fell in love...  She looked at him adoringly, glad that she finally knew what love is.

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End Note: Okay, so it wasn't my best story.  But, hey, the idea came to me and I had to write it down.  And I couldn't possibly not sure it with my fellow Lubys, now could I?  Anyhow, please review with something other then 'it sucked'. :)

Disclaimer: The above was a story of fiction based on characters created and owned by Michael Crichton and NBC.