A/N revised 3/10/09

THIS IS A ONE SHOT (famous last words) Don't ask for more, there isn't any that I know of, (read that I know of) but my brain is a sort of attic jumble so I suppose you never know (you know now, its a 17 chapter one shot)

Has NOTHING TO DO WITH FACING THE ENEMY (that is still true)...not a misplaced chapter or flashback or anything (also still true). Just one shot (liar liar)

For Dani...it was then, it still is now.

He only meant to leave the note he had hastily scrawled out on stationary purloined from his sister's desk along with the hothouse roses he'd selected especially for her and leave. Run away from her yet again. Run toward a distant, unknown future; a future that did not include her. A future that could not include her; not if he was to hold onto his sanity.

He hadn't lied to her in the shack on the beach. She was a indeed a sickness in his blood. She was an obsession, a narcotic that enslaved him, completely dominating his self-control and sensibilities. He had to break free and escape; he had to run if he wanted to escape unscathed.

Unscathed? That was a joke though; wasn't it, he though as he placed the vase on her bedside table where she would be sure to see it the instant she awoke from her deep slumber. He propped the envelope against the base of the vase.

She stirred slightly and the brief spat of movement tore at his heart. She was so fragile and pale lying in bed with her dark lashes fanned against the slight rise of her cheek. He reached out to stroke her cheek with the back of his fingers, but instead merely moved his fingers down the sweep of her cheek, in the air, above her face.

He dropped heavily into the chair his mother recently had vacated, his body weighed down with exhaustion and sadness. She would see the flowers first. If he knew anything at all about the way her mind worked she would smiled that satisfied grin of hers, the one that lit her eyes from within, coloring them emerald bright. But then, she would see the envelope with her name in his precise script. She would no doubt grab it greedily, thinking that it was a note wishing her a speedy recovery or a missive pouring out his heart to her.

But he had no heart; he knew that for certain now. Earlier, as he folded the note that now waited slyly at the base of the vase he wondered, could there be another way to do this to her, a kinder way? But nothing presented itself and so he would hurt her yet again.

One more blow, one last departing shot.

Would she hate him, bleed for him, long for him, would she continue to love him, albeit from afar? Perhaps, at least for a time. But, she was after all Scarlett O'Hara; she would find a new love. He hoped she would find a love that might last her the rest of her life. He wouldn't divorce her until she met him, her phantom love. He would, when the time came, let her go. But not without meeting, face to face, the man that would love her. Love her as she deserved to be loved: fully, without any hesitation or conditions.

When that time came, he would be nonchalant and casually remark, "Took you longer than I expected," just so she would never suspect that what lies on the surface was not what lies beneath.

It was then that her eyes slowly opened. Her lips moved and he leaned forward to catch the words that she whispered.

"You came, I knew if I kept calling for you, you'd come. You've always come when I needed you." Her eyelids drooped and closed, veiling her haunting eyes from view.

She moved again and he started in his chair. Slowly, her head fell to one side. Her eyes were still closed and she was breathing deeply.

He wanted nothing more than to find himself on his feet, out in the hall, making his way to the front stairs.

He wanted nothing more than to stay.