Disclaimer: I own nothing...

Author's Note: This little piece is an attempt to make sense of David's silence when Maddie confronts him...and also to answer one of those "what-ifs" that like to run around in my brain: if you watch this scene, David hesitates a half-second before he leaves her office. What if he stayed?

Don't

"Come on, David…speak now, or forever hold your peace."

Her blue eyes shined with unshed tears. Here it was—his opening. All week he'd been trying to talk to her. This was his chance, his chance to tell her everything: how he'd fallen for her without even realizing it. How, somewhere along the line, he'd gone beyond being merely amused at her disdain, sparked by her wit, and tempted by her beauty. How, instead, he'd come to admire—OK, need—her for those qualities most people overlooked: her strength, her integrity, the generous heart she hid under a veneer of suspicion and quick temper.

Yeah, he could tell her all that. And he could tell her how he'd felt sucker-punched when she wanted to "be bad" with some random guy. How it'd felt worse than a punch—more along the lines of hara kiri—when Sam opened the door. Goddamn, he'd been so full of hope, so ready to lay it on the line…so stupidly sure she would feel the same way.

And now? Well, all he really had going for him was his silence. He could lay himself bare…and then what happened when she decided that, on balance, Neil flippin' Armstrong was the best choice after all? But thanks for playing, David—we have some lovely parting gifts…

She was searching his face, waiting for him, looking for what she wanted to hear. By the turn of her mouth, he could tell she hadn't found it. "Right," she said sourly, turning away. "Are we through?"

That was it, then. Door closed. Game over. Astronaut wins.

"Sure sounds like it." He turned too, wanting to get out of there before he broke down...or broke something.

"Sure does," she echoed. He grabbed for the doorknob—

But the catch in her voice stopped him. She didn't sound angry; she sounded sad. Heartsick, even. And maybe overwhelmed, like she'd been last night, in his apartment.

It hit him: she wanted him to tell her—not so she could lord it over him when she chose someone else, but because…because it mattered to her, how he felt.

"Don't," he murmured.

"What?"

He leaned his head against the door. "I don't want you to marry Sam."

"Why?" Her voice was soft, gentle…and nearer.

He turned around slowly, keeping one hand on the knob in case things got too painful. She was leaning against the desk; her pose looked casual, until you saw her fingers gripping the edge.

"You'd hate Florida—it's hell on the hair." It was out before he could think, and he saw her temper flare as she pointed at him, a "go to hell, Addison!" doubtless on her lips.

He stepped forward quickly and caught her hand. Turning it over, he traced a circle in her palm with his thumb. "Sorry, Blondie—old habits…" She didn't pull her hand away. "Two and a half years. We've had some fun, hey?"

She raised an eyebrow. "'Had some fun?' David, what is this? What are you saying?"

"I'm saying—" He raised her hand to his cheek, closing his eyes. "I'm telling you—"

"What?" It was a whisper, barely a breath.

But another voice ran through his head: It's real obvious who and what's best for her…why don't you do us all a favor and back off?

He opened his eyes. He knew the spaceman wasn't right for her, but he was no bargain himself. It was up to her—it had to be her choice. "Do what you've gotta do, Maddie. Just—be happy."

Pressing a kiss into her palm, he took off, out the door and down the hall. Somewhere, there was a shot of tequila with his name on it.