Disclaimer: I own nothing but my imagination. No copyright infringement is intended.
Rating: PG
Summary: At her wedding reception, Hoshi has a dance with the man she didn't marry.

A/N: Written for TDE's June 2011 prompt: "Questions left unanswered." Special thanks to Honeybee for beta services.

"May I have this dance?"

The familiar voice sent prickles across Hoshi's skin, tugging the corners of her lips into a smile. Jon grinned back her. Hoshi pretended not to notice the wistful sadness flashing in his green eyes he pulled her into his arms, leading her in languid step to the music.

Would things have been different if she hadn't been a coward? What if she hadn't feared drowning in his passion, his intensity? What if, when the moment hung between them, when they stood before the precipice of something new and thrilling, she had leapt instead of shying away? What if…

"You look beautiful," Jon said, his light tone belying the pain in the spidery corners of his eyes. "Congratulations, Mrs. Reed."

She murmured her thanks, turning her head as her throat tightened. She loved Malcolm, cherished the slow burn of their relationship. Its steadiness. Its safety. But as Jon spun her, questions lingered in the space between them, heavy and sharp. She closed her eyes, willing them to dissipate, willing away the memories of his hands pressed against the mattress on either side of her. His warm breath gliding across her ear. His…


She inhaled, tried to center herself against the way she knew him, body and soul, as if the years washed away for a heartbeat and they stood once more at the edge—of falling or flying.

The song ended, a final note protracting in the air like a bittersweet caress, chasing the moment away. He pressed his lips against her forehead before releasing her. "I'm glad he makes you happy." I could have made you happy, too. She heard the words in her mind as clearly as if he'd spoken them aloud. She pressed her hand to her chest, her heart lurching.

"Thank you for coming." She forced a smile, playing the part of old friend.

He took her cue. "Wouldn't have missed it."

The silence between them expanded, stinging her eyes with unshed tears. I'm sorry ghosted on her tongue, but she swallowed it back.

Jon brushed her cheek with his fingertips, his smile dipping into a frown. "I've got to go," he said. "I wish you both the best."

Her eyes followed him until he was lost in the crowd of dancers, taking "what might have been" with him.

A pair of arms wound around her waist. "Did I see you dancing with our old captain?" Malcolm asked.

She leaned into him, anchored by his presence as her brooding thoughts fled. "He had to leave, but he wishes us happiness."

"Mm." Malcolm pulled her closer. "I don't think it's possible for me to be any happier."

She closed her eyes and sighed. "Me too." She meant it.

The time for regrets had passed. She had made her choice years ago, walking away from Jon. She had made it again when she accepted Malcolm's crooked-smiled invite to dinner. She sealed it when she put his ring on her finger.

Malcolm wasn't second best. He was a different kind of love. A different path.