Love Hurts

by: Blue

Summary: Mel and Cole reflect on the events of the episode "Love, Cirronian Style". Mega spoilers for that ep. Sorry if it's pretty darn angsty, but the ep had me almost crying, so here you are.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don't own them, but, hey, just as soon as that deal with Zin goes through...

Feedback: Yes, please. More feedback equals more fics, okay?

1 -- Mel

"Morning, Mel!" Jess said cheerfully as she let herself into the Watchfire. "Hey, what are you doing back so early?" she asked, remembering that Mel and Cole were not due back for another day and a half. Jess frowned as she looked at Mel, elbows resting on the bar, hands folded over her face. She was shaking slightly and seemed not to have noticed Jess. It took her a minute to realize why. "Mel, you're crying..." she said softly. She picked up a clean towel and sat down across from Mel, proffering it. "Did something happen with you and Cole?"

Mel started to shake her head, then nodded. Snatching the towel and swiping furiously at her eyes, she shook her head again. "Sorry, Jess." She smiled helplessly, struggling to get her tears in check. "It's just been an emotional morning."

"I guess." Jess squeezed her shoulder gently. "Did you have a fight."

"No." Mel shook her head. "Nothing like that."

"You know, I'd be more willing to believe you if you weren't down here crying." Jess picked up a glass next to Mel and sniffed it. "And drinking before 10 in the morning, Mel?"

Mel shrugged defensively. "Did I mention the 'emotional morning' part?"

"Guess your romantic weekend didn't go well?"

"It wasn't supposed to be a romantic weekend, Jess!" Mel snapped. She had taken a lot of teasing from Jess before they had left, and knew she would have been on the receiving end of a lot more if Jess had known where Cole's 'business trip' had taken them. She knew that Jess meant well and she was not normally bothered, but right now, she simply could not take any reminders.

"It wasn't 'supposed to be'?" Jess repeated curiously. Something about Mel's tone of voice had caught her attention. "What, Cole had other plans? What did he do, Mel?" She frowned curiously.

"He didn't do anything..." Mel muttered unconvincingly.

"Maybe you should talk to him, Mel..." Jess suggested gently.

"I already did."

"That why you're crying?"

"I don't know why I'm crying, Jess..." Mel lied, shaking her head. "I'm sorry, Jess, I just haven't gotten much sleep lately. None last night, actually."

"Well, why don't we get you upstairs and into bed, then..." Jess suggested reasonably.

Mel nodded and allowed Jess to lead her up the stairs and to her room like a child. She was glad for her presence, not entirely sure if she would have been able to make it on her own. "Thanks, Jess..." she said softly as she pulled off her shirt.

"Maybe you should talk to Cole again..." Jess ventured as she turned to leave.

Mel shook her head and pulled on a night-shirt. "No. We already talked."

"Which seems to be half the problem, Mel. You want me to talk to him for you?"

"No!" Mel said firmly. "Jess, I really do appreciate it, but this is between me and Cole."

"Okay, Mel, it's just that I've never seen you cry before."

"And probably won't again. I'm just a basket-case right now." Mel climbed into her bed, pulling the covers up and turning off the lights. "Thanks, Jess."

"Get some rest, Mel. I'll be downstairs if you need anything."

"Thanks, Jess..." Mel repeated.

She closed her eyes but knew that she would not get any sleep. Her mind refused to slow down enough for that. It was still on the roller-coaster that Mel had gotten onto the previous morning.

A weekend that had promised to be nothing more than awkward had pretty quickly spun out of control. She should have known better than to agree with Cole's idea. He could not have known any better, but she should have. She had only herself to blame for the pain that she was feeling. The problem was that Cole seemed to be less than happy himself, and Mel hated herself for making him feel bad.

She hated herself even more for having taken this long to realize that he was more than a friend. It was making this moment that much harder on her. And, maybe if she had realized it earlier, this could have been avoided altogether. If she had known, she never would have agreed to go undercover as newlyweds. Cole could have found another way to catch his twin assassins, his life would not have nearly been lost, and they could have gone on exactly as they had before.

It had not, most of the time, been so bad. True, there were occasional misunderstandings, but they were more funny than embarrassing in the long-run, and, strangely, Mel always felt closer to Cole after these. It was an unusual relationship, true, but what else could it have been? Mel had never minded that Cole was not human, had never minded that she had to show him how to do the simplest things, like how to eat properly and how to bathe. She still smiled when she remembered that lesson. She had been so embarrassed at the time, though she could hardly think why now. Had these ideas and feelings already been present then? After only a few days? Or was the embarrassment associated with the fact that they had not yet been present? Or that she did not yet realize what they were?

She suspected the later. Then, he had not even really been her friend in any real sense of the word, just a perfect stranger with a perfect body, which had made the whole experience just bizarre. Not that life with Cole was anything other than surreal most of the time, but the more she got used to having him around, the less she noticed. Only the reactions of those around her reminded her that Cole was not the only one to have changed during their relationship. She supposed that, once you had accepted alien criminals in human form, there was very little that was hard to accept. So Cole had become first acceptable, then familiar, then a friend, and then, although she could not have said when, something else entirely.

She had been having trouble denying that to herself for some time now. The scary part was that, more and more, she found herself not wanting to deny it. When he was close to her, she felt different, more alive somehow. It was something that she had never experienced with any man she had ever dated, but it had been there the first time they were close, and it had been there during her lessons on personal hygiene, and it had definitely been there when she had taught him to dance, but, every time, she had denied it, even tried to deny it to herself.

Until this weekend. Anxiety had given way to humiliation, excitement, jealousy, passion, disappointment, fear, wonder, and finally depression, almost too quickly for Mel to keep up. She wondered what Cole had felt, other than 'distracted'.

Told to publicly display his affection for Mel at the seminar, he had hesitantly reached out and lightly touched her chest, caressing it gently. Mel had been more than a little startled by her physical reaction to the gentle touch and suddenly she had found herself unable to deny anything. If it had been anyone other than Cole making her feel those things, she would have taken him by the hand and led him straight into her bed. Hell, even though it had been Cole, she had very badly wanted to do just that.

But Cole was... Cole. There were things about his human form that he just did not understand. Mel was not entirely sure that he was ready for a physical relationship, and she was unwilling to push him. He had always seemed more than content with their relationship exactly as it was, without any kind of sexual tension or physical interplay, so Mel had always let it go, treasuring what they did have instead of dwelling on what they did not.

Until now. First he had touched her like that, which Mel could have dismissed as being coerced. Besides, at the time, she had interpreted the touch as more something between friends than anything, a large part of the reason that her own reaction had alarmed her. But that kiss... There had been no reason to kiss her at that moment and in that place, except as an expression of something that he obviously felt too.

It had not been unlike getting hit by lightening. Mel would not have been at all surprised to find out that some of his energy had passed from his lips to hers during the kiss. It had not stopped at her lips, either, but had exploded outwards until every inch of her body had seemed on fire. She had no idea if Cole had been similarly effected; he had been gone too quickly for her to tell, leaving her weaving on her feet. She had managed to avoid passing out, barely.

Of course, that was when it had all come crashing down. Cole had admitted to being 'distracted', which was what had allowed him to be captured and nearly killed by his quarry. Mel had never in her life felt as totally miserable as when she had found him hanging there, seemingly dead. The idea of life without Cole was a horrible one. She was not sure how long she had cried there, but she would never forget the way she had felt when he weakly spoke to her, as if her heart would burst from joy.

There was no time to dwell on that, however, since they still had work to do. It had returned in small measure when he had healed her injured hand, but then he had been gone before she could even thank him. Everything had turned out okay, as it always seemed to, and it had seemed like things would return to normal, or, Mel hoped, perhaps not entirely normal. And then there was this morning, when reality had intruded on her hopes.

The big problem was that Cole had been right that there could never be anything between them: he had to focus on his work, after all. She was, as he had so rightly put it, a distraction. A distraction that had nearly gotten him killed. He did not need her, she was only a distraction to him. The though made her feel hollow inside.

Mel rolled onto her stomach and buried her face in her pillow, crying herself to sleep.