Just a brief, AU-ish Maria-centric drabble. For the record, I think she and Ben both settled. They belonged together JMO but when Ben took the easy way out, so did Maria.

If You Can't Be with the One You Love

She used to love singing the Stephen Stills song, "Love the One You're With" to him as she danced around the kitchen baking up a batch of her delicious huevos rancheros. He would playfully grab her and twist her around to face him and he would ask in his rich staccato voice, "Who do you love better and more than me?" She would just laugh and pull away from him, and then she would turn back once to say, "No one. You're the one I'm with and you're the one I always want in my life."

That song took on a new meaning and precedence years later when she returned from a living hell to find her husband had fallen in love with someone else. For awhile all three of them did the tango of "who will he choose – Meg or Maria?" Back and forward, step left, step right … The steps became so practiced and almost routine that even she was a bit surprised when he finally put down his foot and told her in a near-teary voice that he had decided to remarry Meg and make it work.

She agreed, said she accepted his choice and she tried to move on. She even attended Ben and Meg's wedding with a date. Eventually, she and Tim Truman discovered latent feelings for each other and she married him soon after he proposed. The feelings were of course born of the desperation for love and missing the one they really wanted to be with.

Soon enough Maria and Tim's marriage deteriorated into fights and then just stubborn silences. She thinks she will love him always but simply because he's the one she's with and when she commits to something, she always sees it through to the bitter, bitter end.

And if you can't be with the one you love

Love the one you're with

Love the one you're with