A/N: This is another Fix it, Sonia! vignette, similar to my fic Who Knows (from Committed). A certain group of friends of mine browbeat me until they got what they wanted (do not take this to mean I respond to threats, now bribery on the other hand... call me and we'll talk).


Three Times
aka Fix it, Sonia!: Bride

Three times she asked him if he was ready to cross that line, and three times he answered with confirmation.

"I want to kiss you," he said.

"You do?" she asked, her brow slightly furrowed in confusion. This was new, this boldness of his; the jaw lines that chiseled with determination. Whatever denial she had been toying with was suddenly flying out of the window and now, bared, her heart was skipping beats and her soul was trembling.

She lifted a hesitant hand to his chest, tentatively touching an area to the left of his tie with the lightest touch. His heart was somewhere near there and she wanted… no *needed* to know if it was as exposed as hers.

This line, if crossed, once crossed, could never be uncrossed. If they were a mess now, they would be so much more after. The question was this: would the so much more be better, or would the so much more be worse. Or, would it be both?

"You do?" she asked again, wanting… no, *needing* to be sure. Her heart was half his anyway, but if she were going to give it to him willingly, she needed to know it was safe.

"Yes," he replied resolutely, taking a step forward so that her timorous fingers gave way to a full palm resting on his shirt, pushing the fingers under his lapel and even closer to his heart.

She inhaled slightly at the shift—not just because it was a change in position—but because it signaled a change in their relationship. God, this was what she wanted; this was what she had refused to let herself dream of. The closeness, the intimacy, the… propinquity.

But in her line of work—hell, in her line of *life*—this was what they call 'too good to be true,' so she paused, pulling her eyes from where they had scouted a direct route to his parted lips, and asked again. "Are you sure? I mean, *really* sure?"

She was teetering on the edge of a cliff and the vulnerability was in her eyes, making them glisten as tears would.

"I'm sure," he answered strongly, meeting her eyes one at a time. Then he looked at her lips so she wouldn't doubt what he wanted and where he was headed. "Very sure."

Another shift forward, a strong hand sliding around her waist, and then they were close. Very close.

"Well, if you're sure," she whispered, smiling in her self-depreciating way. It was habit, the leap into sarcastic humor. He had reached past her walls and touched her heart, and it was the last defense she had before he could slide all the way in.

But who was she kidding—she knew that he was already there. So she let the defenses go, let the fear subside, and the hesitance dissolve. The last thing she saw before her eyes fluttered closed was his face nearing hers. His mouth still strong and determined, his lips supple and parted, tilting to the side as he bent to finally fit them together as she knew they had always been meant to be.

But it all ended with a gasp of incredulity followed by a silhouette. And as his former girlfriend moved into the foreground, leaving the shadows behind—she slipped into the background, a return to darkness—the dance now complete.

Three times she had asked him if he was ready to cross that line. Sure there weren't really any words spoken when she asked, and there weren't really any words spoken when he replied, but there was—without doubt—a conversation. Three times she'd asked with her eyes, and three times, he'd answered. Only, they didn't have the chance to finish what they'd started, and now… now she was leaving without knowing if she'd read him right at all.

She'd looked for him—it seemed she had always been looking for him—and when she found him, she wasn't surprised. He was where he always had been, where he always would be, and she couldn't feel pain at the sight. She couldn't feel anything.

"How're you holding up?" He was asking, and it was natural because he was always asking.

"Jimmy's in bad shape," she redirected—because she was always redirecting. It was safer. It kept the line uncrossed.

"The nurse said they have him stabilized."

"But he's not out of the woods," she said, forcing her self to remain calm and upright. Her arms were tightly crossed over her chest because what she really wanted… no *needed* right now was to be held. "He has severe internal bleeding. They're Medivac-ing him to Star City to one of the country's top surgeons."

He looked concerned, and she recognized the feeling. When you're used to taking care of everyone else, something like this really throws you for a loop. It was on their watch. They were the commanding soldiers who hadn't foreseen the weak left flank. Unfairly, they were the ones left standing.

"I'm gonna go with him." The words practically burst from her throat, sounding much more confident than she felt—a fall back on her upbringing. But then he looked up, and there was something else in his eyes, something more than concern for Jimmy, and she was back to that cliff, willing her tears to remain at bay. She didn't dare try and read him again.

"I'll stay there until I hear from…" she stopped, shifting her weight to her other foot as the pain built in her chest, finally knocking the numbness and shock out of the way. It was so natural to say her cousin's name. Any time there was trouble, the petite blonde was the first one she'd call, but this time, there was no guarantee she'd answer. Ever. "…Chloe." And she couldn't quite stop the following freak-out, and partly didn't want to. "Why did this have to happen to her? Why do these terrible things keep happening all around us?"

He hugged her then, promising things that he couldn't control, and she wished she could believe him. Wished she could relish in his embrace—in the touch she had craved earlier, but she couldn't. She wouldn't. Her needs would never come before those of the people she loved.

So, expressing her deepest fear—(What if we can't?)—she pulled back, willed the tears to retreat, and walked away.

She looked back once before turning the corner, because this wasn't just goodbye. This wasn't just a 'See ya around'—in fact, there was no guarantee of a hello if her favorite cousin never called—this was a farewell to arms; a farewell to hope, a farewell to what could have been, a farewell to what never would be. An end before they could even begin.

They shared one last look before she focused on the door to the helipad, which was coincidently the door to her new life. The male nurse that was waiting for her must have realized that she couldn't see through the tears, because he wordlessly helped her into the heavy paramedic's jacket. She didn't even care when they stepped outside and her once meticulously styled hair was blown to oblivion by the airstream from spinning rotors. In a minute, she would have to be strong enough for Jimmy *and* Chloe, but right now she was going to take full advantage of the opportunity to have a breakdown.

Her minute was interrupted when someone grabbed her arms and spun her around. His hands bracketed her face, his thumbs wiped her tears, and his body blocked the harsh wind better than any wall could have.

This time they didn't need three exchanges—neither of words nor looks. He simply kissed her. Abolishing uncrossed lines and unspoken doubts. This time she believed the promise.

She would come back. *They* would come back.

And he would be waiting.