The Men in Her Life

Love Shines Through

Her heart pounded steadily, heavily. He was so close to her. Piper kept her eyes on the boxes of straw she was stacking, and she could feel his eyes boring into her. It would have been hilarious had it not been so ridiculous. She knew that he was staring from the corner of his eye. She knew it the way she knew her every deep breath was insufficient. After all, he took most of her breath away. When she would suddenly look up at him, his eyes would stray away so quickly she feared he would hurt them.

Leo could not help it. She was so intent on her work. He prided himself on doing his job and doing it well. Now he was her bartender, waiter an all-around-help in the club, yet for the love of him he could not keep his attention on wiping the counter when once he could save the world with not a lot of trouble. Something seemed to be bothering her. He was bothering her too, he knew, but what was he to do? All he could think about was her smooth cheek pressed against his bare chest, those pursed lips soft against his. Sometimes he just wondered if those busy hands his the tremor of nervousness, or if those eyes veiled even a small portion of the love she used to feel for him.

If you see the love shine through

Don't be afraid to show me that you care

And I will take all the doubt in you

And show you what to do

And find a way to make you feel

That I am here ready to show the way

"Piper, is something wrong?"

"Umm.. no, nothing, I was just—" She muttered a soft curse when she knocked the boxes over and hundreds of red straw rained down on the floor. "Dammit. I'm sorry. I got it!" Leo knelt down and started picking them up. "No, it's okay, Leo. I got it." She bent down and started picking them up too. "It was my fault. I wasn't thinking clearly."

His hands brushed hers, and they both jerked away and fearfully, tensely glanced at each other. "I'll help you. Don't worry." Leo started gathering the straws and placing them in a fallen box. "What's bothering you?"

"I was just thinking about Dan."

"Oh."

"No! It's not what you think," she stammered. "I was just wondering how… how to tell him… that it's you I really love."

His shocked gaze met hers. Piper stood up and unsteadily stacked the boxes. Leo stood after her and grabbed her hands. "Really?"

"Really," came her faint answer.

He burst into a gigantic smile and took her in his arms. Her hands rose to press him closer to her, and they kissed for the first time in so many months. It was like finding an oasis after walking for days thirsty in the desert.

 The phone rang, and Piper pushed away from Leo. She smiled reassuringly at him and put the receiver to her ear. "Dan!" He seemed to notice how different she sounded then, how unsure. He promised to come home soon, so that he could see her again. Piper bit her lower lip and replaced the phone on the hook. She turned around to face Leo, who had been watching her the whole time. "I don't know how to tell him, Leo. It's just so unfair to him. He's been so great. And he loves me."

Leo stepped closer, and squeezed her shoulders to comfort and reassure her. "If he loves you so much, he'll understand. I did."

She felt a wave of sadness settle on her. At least she would tell Dan, in a planned and gentle manner that she had decided that it was not going to work. The two of them, she and Leo, never got that choice. The decision of whether or not to stay together was more or less taken away from them. "I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry," Leo emphasized. "Actually, we shouldn't be sorry. I know all the laws a human being should live by, legally and morally. I never heard that it was a sin to fall in love."

When he said goodbye to her that day, after finding out the struggles that her mother and her whitelighter went through, after knowing how a love so much like their could end in that kind of tragedy, he felt a pain more painful than even that instant of his death. He watched as the tears fell from her face like so much drizzle on the hard surface of the wooden kitchen table.

"I don't know how to say goodbye," she told him pitifully, the way a helpless child would.

And he knew he had to be brave and strong for both of them. "Don't."

So if you say goodbye to me

Always remember this

That woman, you really mean more to me

And if someone else should come

Who will love you more

And then he stood behind her door while she talked to the very one who did come along after him, pained and hurting so much because she spoke of trust and presence with a man he knew could offer her the one she deserved and could never have from him—that sense of normalcy she so prized and desired. He did come, and she welcomed.

And will take care of you

Much more than I can do.

But Leo knew he would never, ever, even with all the normalcy and stability of his world, even with his permanent job, and home address on a legal driver's license, love Piper more than Leo did.

And that was why he stood back and let her love another man.

Because he had full trust that someday it will be the two of them together.

Dreams are there for us

Dreams sometimes end

Don't ever think that I am just a dream

And today they were.