Disclaimer:  Not mine.  Lyrics are from Over the Rhine's "All I Need".

A/N:  I was going to leave it at a one-shot, but then I got to thinking that maybe Max deserved a say too.

Happy Endings
Calm down.  Be Still.
We've got plenty of time to kill.
No handwriting on the wall
Just the voice that's in us all.
And you're whispering to me,
Time to get up off my hands and knees,
Cause if I beg for it, it won't come.

Would it make a difference if I said I was sorry?

I don't think it would.  I remember all those times you apologized to me, and then I thought it wasn't even worth the breath you used to speak the words.  But I know now that you really meant it, just as I really mean it now.

And isn't it always so much worse when you really mean it.

It would be so easy to pretend this was all beyond our control.  That I was in heat, you were only reacting.  That it was the pheromones that took away our choice.

But no, it wasn't; it wasn't anything of the sort.  We made our choice consciously, fully aware of all consequences.  And the consequences were plenty.

Was I supposed to be your role model, your guide on how to be human?  If so, maybe I did a better job than even I could have imagined.  Because humans are fallible, they make mistakes.

I made a mistake.

It was a moment of weakness, and I needed someone… someone to be weak with me.

It was desire—desire to touch, to be touched, to be held and caressed.  A primitive need that burned too strong to be denied.  And in the night, in the darkness of this room, where there was only our two bodies clinging together, we burned together.

Even as I saw the doubts that shadowed your eyes, saw the fear that lingered there, I pushed you on.  When I saw how you wanted to stop, maybe just as much as you wanted this to happen, I pushed you on.  I saw that you realized there would be no pretending this never was, no going back to life as if nothing had changed—when everything had—and god help me, I pushed you on.

Then I closed my eyes so I wouldn't have to see what I was doing—to you, to myself, to… everyone else.  I squeezed them shut so you wouldn't see the tears that gathered there, and I bit my lip to keep from crying out, so I wouldn't say anything I might later regret.

If you don't say his name, I won't either, and I won't think of him.  I'll pretend there's no reason for this guilt.  I'll pretend this was as right as it felt.

He's been good to me, you know.

Maybe not for me, but to me.  And I love him, I do.

I told you that I'd leave in the morning—but really, I was telling you that I'd leave.  I saw the disappointment in your expression, the pain you were so quick to hide.  But I pretended not to.  When you pretended you were fine with that, I pretended right alongside you.

If I thought you didn't care, it would be easier; but if you didn't care, would I be here?

Now, as we lie here, waiting out the hours until morning, the hours until life resumes as "normal", I know you think I'm asleep, and I let you believe that.  I feel the warmth of your arms around me, your fingers on my face, gentle, reverent, and I wonder what I ever did to deserve this devotion.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry I dragged you into this.  I'm sorry I never gave you credit for all that you did—for me, for others—I'm sorry.  I'm sorry I couldn't be a better guide.

But most of all, I'm sorry that I can't say any of this out loud.

--fin--