Summary: Gaeriel knows they can't be together. But she can't stop herself from watching him.

A/N: No weighty introspection or aspirations to fine art here--just a bit of channeled frustration! BTW, I don't own SW.

It's hard, sitting behind him, but in an addictive way. He dips his head and she finds herself staring at the curve between skull and shoulder. Right there, she muses. I want to kiss him right there. He stretches and she is fascinated by the play of muscles across his back. His shoulders are very broad.

Her gaze travels up his arm; something about it is lazily seductive, all the more so because of the innocence in the movement. She trembles with the overwhelming desire to trace her fingertips over those arms.

He turns his head, laughing. She watches it intently. Thick, shaggy blonde locks cover his head, coarse but at the same time impossibly soft-looking. Her knuckles twitch. She makes a fist to keep from touching his hair.

His hands bother her a little. They're not her style; too short and plainly constructed. Too raw; too unfinished. But maybe that only intensifies the attraction. It makes him imperfect. Like her.

His chest she doesn't visualize, or anything lower down. It's the nape of his neck, his back, his arms, his hands, his hair that hold her enthralled. But she worries, nonetheless, and there's a gnawing of guilty fear that simmers under the pleasure.

You see, once she only noticed his eyes.

They're beautiful eyes. Big (but not too big), expressive, clear, vulnerable. Long, arching eyebrows frame them perfectly; his eyes are art. She used to look at them, then tear her face away as a shudder of appreciation ran the length of her body.

Now it takes his back and arms to do that to her.

For days she lived in cycles of suppression and rebellion, locking away desire only to find herself staring at his eyes. Sometime, though, not too long ago, she thinks she gave up. She's not sure if she made a conscious decision; she certainly doesn't remember one. All she knows is that there is no more cycle, only a steady crescendo that builds every day. She watches it. She doesn't try to stop it.

She knows she's falling, and she knows it's to a dark place. Every ingrained moral response warns her away, reaches out pleading hands to slow her reckless slide. Run, they whisper. Run away, little girl, before it's too late.

The problem is, she thinks it was too late from the very beginning.

He's gone. She made him leave. She watched him go. He looked back once, a fluid twisting of muscle and bright hair and hurt, bewildered eyes.

She wonders if she broke his heart. Some spiteful, hurting part of her hopes she did. An eye for eye. A heart for a heart. No, that's not right. Her heart wasn't broken; she pushed him away before it went that far. But something is broken, some emotional barricade that once gave her poise. She will never feel that perfect serenity again, not truly. She will fake it all her life. But she will always desire…something. An angry tingle just beneath her skin. Shallow breaths. A secret.

She will always want to touch him, even when she doesn't anymore.

She wakes in the night, panting. Her body is hot, and something inside is writhing, aching. Desperate for another body to fill in the curves and hollows of hers. She touches her lips; they are dry and tingle with frustrated longing. Aloneness.

She doesn't want to be alone.

It comes and goes. Often it takes her by surprise, like now. She excuses herself gracefully but abruptly, ignoring the faint disapproval of those sober enough to notice. It's too hot in here. She has to get out, to cool down.

The air outside is dark and clear and cold, nipping at her exposed arms, playing roughly with her elegant coif. She drinks deep draughts of it.

Why? she asks the wind. I don't need this. It doesn't make sense. It's been years.

The wind only howls, mocking her.

She doesn't see the joke.

Rav is nice. She likes the way he laughs, heartily and without reserve. She likes his frankness. She likes how courteous he is to her mother. She likes his hands, slender, long and sculpted—oh, yes, she likes them. They're precisely her type of hands. She likes…

She realizes that her teeth are clenched, and her hands are balled, and her mental voice is loudly defiant. She realizes that she never simply watches Rav.

Only compares.

It's hard, sitting at his wedding. His head is held high, hair slicked back in an unfamiliar style. There is peace on his face, but she knows instantly he's faking it. She's an expert on faking peace. He can control his facial muscles, but his neck and his hands give him away. She watches him and reads his tension, pent-up longing. He can barely restrain himself. A gentle smile of bitter comradeship pushes up her lips. Good luck, Luke, she whispers. Be happy with her. And she is happy for him…in a way. Something flits across his face; he half-turns, a fluid twisting of muscle and darker hair and questioning eyes. Their gazes never meet. She looks away.

It's hard to leave the reception before he sees her. She still wants him. Nothing has changed; she wanted him then, and she always will. She's accepted that by now. That was the hard part. She accepted that she'd never have him long ago, when she sent him away. The wanting, though…well, it was hard to live with. More than lust, but not quite love, erratic, insubstantial, perennial. Years passed before she was able to accept the permanent emotional limbo.

She has, however, and so it wasn't hard at all to hear of his engagement. The other woman needs him, and Gaeriel only wants him.

But she really wishes now that she hadn't left the reception so early.

She wishes she had at least shaken his hand.

She likes his hands.