Dagmar, Now.

The crisp and clean sheets curled around Mack's still naked form. The white sheets made her skin seem paler and I bit back the urge to touch her again. I don't know why I fought the urge this time- I had just spent several hours giving into the very urges that drove it.

The scratches on her back were still a fresh red, marking where my nails had dug into her back. Tentatively, I reached out to touch one of them. She stirred slightly, but stayed asleep. Her body was the same as it had been back then, firm, lithe, stretching and straining. It always amazed me how she and I seemed to fit… our bodies seemed to fit.

I slid the sheet down, exposing more of her back, still sliding the tips of my fingers down it. A shiver ran through her, but she slept on. It was a strange thing, how it worked. How after all this time our bodies seemed to lock together. Sex with Mack had always been comfortable, like it belonged. And it hadn't lost that feeling.

I watched my fingers trail down her back, almost like an out of body experience, as though the images of the past few hours ran through my head like a strobe light, each changing rapidly, showing the mistake I had made. Melanie's face shone in my mind, and I shut my eyes, willing the out of body view to stop.

It did, but not because it was gone, more of a show of effort. Pulling myself together. Making things work.

There were few moments in the time gone between Mack and I were I had allowed myself to be perfectly honest about everything that happened, and this may have been the first. The moment was tangible, with her body shifting sleepily underneath my fingers, as she slowly woke.

The things that happened between us were not black and white. There was a surreal feeling to having the memories come back. Mack was… Mack had gotten inside me. I'd told her once, she made me feel alive, and after all this time, I feel alive again. Mack had gotten inside me, in a way I couldn't get her out. Nightmares had dotted the months apart, bucking and twisting in my sleep, cold sweat against the covers. The ceilings and walls black and dark, crawling with giant spiders, omens of my past.

There was a reason it was so hard to be honest.

Mack had gotten inside me. I'd questioned for a long time if I had truly loved her. And I did know. I knew the answer right there, bringing my fingers up to run over her hair, knowing the body beside me. I knew that I had loved her- I'd let her get inside of me. And it hadn't been some quaint superficial love, the kind you keep to the surface, it was this consuming love that hit hard and made you gasp for breath as it pressed on your lungs, making you cry out.

I knew right then as she turned over and smiled sleepily at me, I knew I would never love anyone, not even Melanie, more or better than I loved her, so long ago. I could never love better than that. But maybe just differently. More intimately, truer, selfless. Or maybe even selfishly.

Selfless- the whole time I had been with Mack, I thought I had been selfless. But the truth was, I was selfless because I had no self. I only had her. She was part of me- like I said, she'd been inside my soul.

"Don't tell me you want to go again…" she murmured sleepily, smiling indulgently at me. "Some things don't change, do they?" She reached over and pulled me over to her, sliding me on top of her.

"Shh," I whispered, allowing myself to be more tender than I had been our entire trip. "I want you to know," my voice was a barely a whisper. "That I have never loved anyone like you. I never will."

She opened her mouth to speak, but I put a finger over her lips. "But there are things… your own actions, always your own actions, not anyone else's… that you can never recover from. That you can never come back from. That you never forget." Her fingers reached up to trail the long, angry red scars carved into my skin. I nodded slightly.

"Forever is a true word," I told her. "It's true. Some things that happen are forever. Love," I moved her fingers away from my scars and intertwined them in mine. "Some love is forever. There will always be something, some feelings between you and me, I promise that. That's forever. But that's the good kind of forever." I took a deep breath. She looked up at me, with curious eyes, as though she understood but was waiting to see if she could keep understanding. For a brief second two looks conflicted on her face, one of love, adoration, and another of intense dislike. But they were gone, almost immediately, replaced by the confused understanding. I blinked the memory away.

"But there's a bad kind of forever, with the things I've done, I will never recover totally. I told you once, that I could never curse us, what was between us, but I had. Even when I was saying that, I had." The look on her face showed she was hurt, instantly. I didn't blame her. I'd always said I had never- could never curse us. But I had. "There are things that happen. Things that get inside you. And when they do, you curse it. You sit in a room in a treatment facility in the middle of goddamn Iowa, and you curse it. You see where you are- what you've become, how you ended up here. And you want to blame anyone and everyone for how you got there."

"And you do blame everyone," I continue softly, letting go of her fingers. She reaches up to move a lock of hair that's fallen down, and tuck it behind my ear. I'm struck for a second, by what a loving gesture it really is. "You blame your parents, saying they must have been bad parents. You blame your best friends, asking why they didn't see what was happening. And you blame… I blamed you. And maybe it partially right, in fact, I know, parts of it can be attributed to you. But I blamed you with everything I had. And I cursed you. And I cursed myself for loving you and-" My voice cut off and I was surprised to see that I was starting to cry.

"So what?" she whispered back, taking my face in her hands. "What does it matter? I cursed you. I cursed us! It doesn't matter. That was then, this is now. We were desperate."

"It does matter," I told her softly, but firmly. "Because once you do that, you can't go back. Sure, you could brush it off, say you didn't mean it, but you did. When you're at that point, you believe it. You mean it. And I meant it." I kissed her, hard, quickly, desperately. As though perhaps that one kiss might make her understand everything I wanted to say with so many words that I would never have time to say them all. "And you could can never recover. You can never forget. You can never be the same. You could say you regret it, I could say I regretted it- after all, I do. But what would it mean?" I shook my head. "It couldn't mean anything. It still happened. It will always be there. And it can never be the same."

She gave me a soft, gentle kiss and touched my cheek- it was more than I deserved honestly, or thought I did. Sometimes, I could forget things when she kissed me like that- but it would be over, and I would have to remember. "I understand," she murmured, kissing my ear. "And I don't care."

"Why?" I demanded, moaning slightly as she ran her fingers over me, trying to convince me we could go back. "Why don't you care?"

"Because the road always comes back to you. Because it's always been you." She rolled us over, kissing me again. "I've never loved anyone else and been loved back by them the way you did. I loved Cordelia, but she never loved me. I even loved Gabe, in some twisted, needy way. But he never loved me back. It was only you. Always you."

The phone on the bedside table rang. Mack groaned her indifference to it, but answered it anyway. I laid back on the pillow, thinking. Mack made me feel alive- Melanie made me feel sated. I didn't know which I needed, which I preferred. I'd tricked my mind into thinking in the here and now.

The phone clicked as Mack put it back on the receiver. Her hand shook, her eyes were closed. And when she spoke, it was in a rasping voice, tightened with pain, fear and worry.

End Part One.

That's the end of this part of the Story. Part two will be posted started and posted later, when I have more time, and a less full plate as far as real world demands and other stories. Thanks for reading, and reviewing.

Peace on Earth,

Mick Reis AKA Crazywriter