After You Left


AUTHOR: Celina
EMAIL: ccci@nautilus.com.br
CATEGORY: MG/SL - angst
RATING: PG
SPOILERS: "Union Station"
ARCHIVE: Please!!
DISCLAIMER: None of this character belong to me, they are all property or Warner, Constant C, Michael Chricton, etc...
AUTHOR'S NOTES: It takes place right after the third season episode Union Station, and it is focused on Mark and his feeling about Susan's departure. Please, let me know what you think about it.
SUMMARY: Right after Susan's departure, Mark comes back home to face the hard reality of having to go on without her.



"Baby, I said, please stay

Give our love a chance

For one more day

We could have worked things out

Taking time is what

Love is all about

But you put a dart

Through my dreams ,through my heart

And I’m back where I started again

Never thought it would end"

FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY BROKEN HEART

(Britney Spears)

Mark Greene stood up looking over the hall of his new apartment. He took some time before walking towards the door. He couldn’t count all the times he had done the same thing for the past years. But this time he didn’t have to knock on the door, nobody was going to ask "who is it?" from the inside. He wouldn’t see that bright face opening the door.And that made it even harder. He reached for the keys in his pocket and slowly opened the door. He looked around and felt incredibly lonely in there. The place was almost empty, only a few things still remained. In spite of this, he could still feel her presence, he could smell her perfume and hear her soft voice. A fit of cold air went through his spine when he actually realized he was all by himself now. It had just dawned on him that she wouldn’t be there anymore, that they would no longer share long talks over pizza and beers. That her laugh and smile had gone far away from him, that the person he loved had left his life forever.

Mark glanced at his watch. 6: 44, it showed. He had no idea of how long he had been in the train station. After the train pulled away he stood there waiting, hoping the she might change her mind and get back to him. It was a fantasy, he knew, but he couldn’t imagine his life without her. He couldn’t imagine how it would be to wake up everyday knowing that she would be living miles away. But it was the sad reality now, it was the truth he had to face. Mark opened the window, letting the cold breeze of the night enter the room. He watched the people and the cars passing on the street for a while. He felt his body shaking and his heart beating fast. There was an emptness deep within his soul, a terrible pain was taking over him. But it wasn’t a physical pain, it was an emotional and spiritual pain that hurted more than any real injury. And he knew there was no way to make it go away. Mark took a deep breath. He could still fell her warm, soft lips gently touching his. He could swear that in that moment, when they shared their one and only kiss, she would give up everything and stay. There were no words to describe the way he felt when they finally kissed, but all his joy and hope disappeared when she boarded on that train. The image of her face fading away with that train was enough for him to feel desperate and depressed. His head ached when he remembered her departure. He had run all the way from the hospital to the train station, trying to find her, hoping that she would still be there. He had kept his feelings inside for too long and he couldn’t let her go without saying what he really felt for her. He hoped she would realize she loved him too and that she couldn’t leave him alone. He wanted her to realized that they belonged together and that they had more than a friendship in common.

So he ran to Union Station and headed for the plataform her train was supposed to be. He got there and saw his world crash down, the train wasn’t there. Soon, Mark was warned the the train had moved to a different track. He looked around and saw Susan getting ready to board on the train. He raced to the other track, yelling her name. She was about to get in, when she heard him. A huge smiled crossed her face and Mark stopped for a second, breathless.

"Mark, are you okay? You came to say good-bye?" She asked

"No. Stay. I want you to stay."

"But, Mark..."

"I love you. And I'm stupid for not saying it before."

"No, no it's okay...I, I knew. In a way, I knew."

"Stay. We belong together. Tell me you don't feel the same."

Susan paused.

"I'm sorry."

"Train's leaving, ma'am." The porter said boarding on the train

"We're right together." Mark said begging.

"Mark, you are my best friend, I don't know how I'm going to make it without you."

"Don't go!"

"I have to. I don't belong here anymore, I have a new life, it's going in a different direction!"

"Susan, I don't want to lose you." Mark said in tears

Susan looked down and rested the back of her head on his chest. She looked up and leaned to kiss him. For a few seconds they shared a tender and passionate kiss.

"Ma'am we're leaving" The porter said grabbing Susan’s arm as the train started to pull away.

"I'll never forget you." She said boarding on the train.

Once she was in, she leaned out of the window and said:

" I do love you."

"What?" He asked

" I love you! Bye!" She said waving at him.

Mark raised his hand but wasn’t strong enough to wave back. The train was almost out of his sight. Mark watched as the woman he loved left the city, left his life.

Now, alone in the apartment that used to be hers, he allowed the tears he was holding back to fall free. He couldn’t keep that sadness inside anymore, he just wanted to make that agony go away. He succumbed to the sobs and tears like a child, he was feeling hopeless. If it was another situation, she would be there by his side, trying to give him some strenght and hope. She was his support, she was the one he turned to whenever he needed help, or whenever he was feeling down. She was his best friend, they had always had a strong and intense relationship. But in the past months, Mark had started to feel nervous whenever she was around, he had butterflies in his stomach. All of the sudden, she wasn’t just a friend to him, she was the object of his affection, the reason he would go happily to work in the hospital every day. They were getting closer and closer each passing day. A romantic atmosphered seemed to be invading their relationship. There were always glances of a deeper interest between them, but they both were scared of screwing their friendship. And also, they were afraid of not being corresponded. So, that’s why Mark waited until the last minute to tell her about his feelings. Susan was leaving Chicago to be closer to her sister and niece in Phoenix. She told Mark that there was nothing left for her in Chicago, that she felt her life was empty there. If only he had told her he loved her sooner, maybe they would be together, but that was something he could only wonder. He wipped some tears off his face, but they didn’t stop falling.

Some moments after, when he looked over the window, he noticed it was raining. He closed the window and leaned his head against it. Staring at the rain drops falling, he just wished to be with her. He only wanted to turn back time, he would give everything to spend one more second with her. She meant the world to him, she was all he needed to be happy and the only thing that mattered. Although he knew she had left by her own will, and knowing he loved her, Mark didn’t feel angry. He just missed her badly. And this feeling was so strong and present that made him question how he would carry on. His life had no sense without her.

Mark shook his head and took a deep breath, trying to tell himself that he would be ok. He looked around and decided to start unpacking his stuff. In his mind, this could be a way to take the thoughts of Susan away, at least for a while. He opened a big box and took the stuff out. There were only Cds and books there. He put one of his Cd’s on the stereo and kept listening to it, while he organized the books on the shelf.

"How can I just let you walk away

Just let you leave without a trace

When I stand here taking every breath with you

You're the only one who really knew me at all

How can you just walk away from me

When all I can do is watch you leave

'Cause we shared the laughter and the pain

And even shared the tears

You're the only one who really knew me at all

So take a look at me now

'Cause there's just an empty space

There's nothing left here to remind me

Just the memory of your face

So take a look at me now

When there's just an empty space

And you're comin' back to me is against all odds

And that's what I've got to face

I wish I could just make you turn around

Turn around to see me cry

There's so much I need to say to you

So many reasons why

You're the only one who really knew me at all

So take a look at me now

There's just an empty space

There's nothing left here to remind me

Just the memory of your face

So take a look at me now

'Cause there's just an empty space

But to wait for you is all I can do

And that's what I've got to face

Take a good look at me now

'Cause I'll be standing here

And you comin' back to me

Is against all odds

It's the chance I've gotta take

Hey yeah

Whoa

Take a look at me now"

(Against all odds _ Phill Collins)

Mark let a book fall from his hands, while listening to this song. He struggled the tears that were insisting to fall down. Those lyrics were all he wanted to say to Susan at the moment. He just wanted her to see how he was suffering, how empty he was feeling without her. In the back of his head he knew that she would probably never be back, but he would never stop loving her and he would wait a lifetime, if that’s what it would take.

In the bottom of the box, he found some pictures. He picked them up and looked at them one by one. Most of them were of Mark as a kid and with his daughter. The last one was of him and Susan. They had taken this photo two months ago in a photo booth. He had his arms around her shouders and she had hers around his waist. They were both smiling and clearly having a good time. Mark smiled as the memories of that day came to his mind. They were on the carnival running away from their blind dates. He looked at her face on the photograph. He loved that smile. It was so sincere and peaceful. It was still hard to believe that he wouldn’t see that smile again. He placed the photo on his pocket, he would put it on a frame later.

Checking if the box was really empty, he found more pictures there. Looking at them, he soon remembered the day he had taken them. It was on Carol’s welcome back party, two years ago. It was her first day at County after her attempt of suicide. In one of the pictures, Mark, Doug and Carol were smiling and they were holding a banner with those words: Welcome Back, Carol!!

The other one was a picture of Susan and Carol talking. Mark had taken this picture when they were not looking. The third one showed Doug, Susan, Haleh and Carol making scary faces to the camera. Mark laughed as he saw that one. The last picture was of Mark, Doug and Susan together, with their arms around each other, smiling.

Mark separated these pictures. He made a mental note to put them all in an album. He got up and walked towards the window again. The rain was still falling outside. It was lightening and thundering. It seems like the sky was complaining about something. Mark didn’t care about it, nothing could make him more depressed than he already was. He looked around and noticed a yellow duck on the fireplace. Susan had left this for him, probably as something to remind him of her. He didn’t need this to remember her, the whole apartment did this itself. Mark sighed as he took the little toy in his hands. He kept looking at it until the telephone rang. He turned around, but stepped back quickly. He didn’t feel like talking at that moment. He didn’t feel like anything, honestly, so he let the machine answer it.

"Hey, Mark. It’s me, Doug. You didn’t get back to the hospital, so I presume things went well, right?! Did you reach her? What happened? Ok I don’t know if you’re there, but if you want to talk, give me a call. See ya!"

Mark let a big breath out. Everybody else was unaware of his situation. He tried to laugh at his friend’s words. "Did he really think she would stay?" he asked himself when he remembered that Doug was the one who had encouraged him to confess his feelings to Susan. He tried to be mad at him, he tried to be mad at himself for doing that, but it didn’t work. The only thing he was feeling was pain and despair, and those feelings had taken all his will and energy. "But if I haven’t done this, we would still be friends!" he cursed himself.

It made him consider how would they go on. Would they keep in touch? Would Susan call after this? How would he react if that happened? Could they put all this behind and keep sharing their friendship? Mark wasn’t able to come up with any possible answer. He didn’t even know if he wanted to talk to her again. No, of course he wanted to talk to her, but now things had changed, they couldn’t just have a normal conversation like it used to be. And he didn’t want this to happen, he didn’t want to feel pity in her voice. But one thing he knew for sure: he could never put the love he felt behind, he would never forget her and her last words. "She should had never said she loved me.What is that supposed to mean? That she loves me, but not enough to stay?! Or maybe she just said that to make me feel better" he mumbled to himself. Better? That was the last word in his dictionary. He knew he wouldn’t be able to feel better for a long time, it maybe take forever to recover from her brutal departure.

He promised himself that he wouldn’t suffer from love when he got divorced last year. But Susan had come into his life so quietly, and so naturally, that he didn’t even noticed he was falling madly in love with her. He couldn’t avoid it. It just happened, and in a huge way, that it was hard for him to conceive. At this point, he could hear this song playing in the background:

"This Romeo is bleeding, but you can’t see his blood

It’s nothing but some feelings that this old dog kicked up

It’s been raining since you left me

Now I’m drowning in the flood

You see, I’ve always been a fighter but without you I give up

Now I can’t sing a love song, like the way it’s meant to be

Well, I guess I’m not that good anymore

But baby that’s just me

Yeah, I will love you baby always

And I will be there forever and a day always

I’ll be there until the stars don’t shine, till the heaven burst

And the words don’t rhyme.

I know when I die you’ll be on my mind and I’ll love you

Always

Now the pictures that you left behind

Are just memories of different life

Some of them made us laugh, some that made us cry

The one that made you have to say goodbye

What I’d give to run my fingers through your hair

Touch your lips, to hold you near

When you say your prayers, try to understand

I’ve made mistakes, I’m just a man

When he hold you close, when he pulls you near

When he says the words you’ve been needing to hear

I wish I was him ‘cause those words are mine

To say to you until the end of time that

I will love you baby always

And I will be there forever and a day always

I’ll be there until the stars don’t shine, till the heaven burst

And the words don’t ryme.

I know when I die you’ll be on my mind and I’ll love you

Always

If you told me to cry for you, I could

If you told me to die for you, I would

Take a look at my face there’s no price I won’t pay

To say these words to you

Well, there ain’t no luck

In these loaded dice, but baby

If you give me just one more try

We can pack all our old dreams

And our old lives, we’ll find a place where the sun still shine

(ALWAYS _ BON JOVI)

Grieving in his condition, Mark remebered all the times they spent together. All the moments of joy and pain they went trough, and that he knew would never be repeated again. He could still hear her soft voice, while all of his memories run through his mind. He remembered since the day they met until their last encounter, on the El plataform. She had never looked so beautiful. Somehow she still carried that powerful look, in spite of the obvious sadness in her eyes. Susan Lewis was one of a kind, she had the most amazing personality Mark had ever known. She had her own way to handle things, that could fascinate anybody. Her strong character and broad smile were her trademark. She would never give up a fight if she thought she was right in her opinion. She was the kind of a person that everybody wanted to have around, that kind of friend that would stand up for you in any situation.

Mark put his hand in his pocket and felt something in there. He took the piece of paper and soon realized it was Susan’s note. She had left this from him, before the station episode. He had been so dazed, that he had even forgotten about it. He slowly unfolded the paper and read each word carefully.

"Mark. I’m sorry for not saying goodbye to you before leaving the hospital. But you all were so busy and I felt it would be better that way. I know I never told you that, but I think it was kinda obvious. I love you. And I’m really sorry I didn’t have the guts to say that to you. You may think I’m idiot running away like this, you may think I should have stayed and gave us a try. Believe me, this was something I most considered before making a decision. You’re a very important person in my life, Mark, and our friendship was the only thing that was holding me back in Chicago. But I had to do something to move on, and Phoenix just seems like the right place for me right now. But I want you to know that I never want to lose your friendship, never. It’s something I tresure too much to let go, and that’s why I never meant to jeopardize it. I hope you can understand me. I’ll call you as soon as I get there.

Your friend, that’s already missing you...

Susan"

Mark read the note again. And then again and again. He couldn’t believe her words. "How can she say this and just leave?" Tears were streaming down his cheek, but this time he didn’t bother to wip them off. "How can she tells me she loves me and leave me like that?" he kept torturing himself. "Move on? Why this? Wasn’t she fine here? What was missing?"

Mark went down on his knees, he couldn’t take it any more. The excruciating pain and regrett were killing him inside. He touched the paper with his fingers, softly feeling her handwriting. It was the only thing left now. He had a goodbye note, a yellow duck and that empty apartment. That was all that had remained from their relationship.

For a second he thought about taking the next plane to Phoenix and going after her. But that would be insane. She had left, after everything, so it was pretty clear she didn’t want him around anymore; that was what he assumed. "Our lives are going in different directions" he quietly said to himself as he remembered her own words. He spent some time just staring at nothing, with the note on his hands. Nothing could heal those open sores, nothing could possibly avoid his crash and burn. As the night was quietly replaced by the sunlight, Mark stood up just grieving and crying over her. Did she deserved all this? He didn’t know, but there was nothing he could do to stop loving her, that was out of his league.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Two nights later.....

Mark let his bag fall on the ground, after entering the apartment. He had just gone out of the hospital, after a 24-hour shift. But instead of been relieved that he could finally relax without the chaos of the emergency room, he wished he could still be working. Of course, working there without her wasn’t the same. The place felt cold and empty, but since she had gone work was everything he had. And he had decided to dedicate all of his time to his job, at least it was a way to keep himself busy, to try not to think of her. He thought throwing himself at work would be the best therapy to get pass that situation.

Deep inside, he knew he was just fooling himself. Nothing could make him get over her, nothing could make he stop thinking about her even for a minute. Mark sat heavily on the couch and rested his head on the back of the couch. Staring at the ceiling, he could feel the images around him spinning. He hadn’t eaten anything during the day, and truth be told he didn’t feel hungry. The only thing that was keeping him up was the endless cups of coffee he had had all day long. Going back to his apartment was torturing. Having to deal with all of her memories, with all that she had left behind and all they had experienced caused him a dreadful feeling.

The entire apartment still had her essence, her spirit seemed to haunt him. He regretted so much to have bought that place. Now, he knew it would be easier to move on if everything around didn’t remind him of her. Well, not really easier, but less painful. Mark looked over the room and decided to do something, anything. He knew that sleep wouldn’t work. He would toss and turn in bed all night long like it had been happening for the last two nights. He reached for the remote control and turned on the tv. There was a hockey game on and watched it until it was over. He tried other sports channels, but nothing was appealing for him. It was pretty late, so there was not many options on tv. Mark gave up and stopped on a music channel. While he looked over the tv guide, his ears caught the sound of a soft ballad. He looked up and noticed that that romantic melody came from a new video. He watched it carefully, listening to those lyrics that could be spoken by him easily. They fit in so well in his "depressed\dumped-human_being" recent condition and all that loneliness that had come over his life.

"I’m thinking of you

In my sleepless solitude tonight

Is it was wrong to love you

Then my heart just won’t let me be right

‘Cause I’ve drowned in you and

I won’t pull through without you by my side

I’d give my all to have just one more night without

I’d risk my life to feel your body next to mine

‘Cause I can’t go on living in the memory of our song

I’d give my all for your love tonight

Baby can you feel me

Imagining I’m looking in your eyes

I can see you clearly

Vividly emblazoned in my mind

And you’re yet so far like a distant star I’m wishing on tonight"

( MY ALL – MARIAH CAREY )

By the end of the song, Mark was crying quietly. His heart was beating fast and he was running out of breath. The tears streamed down his cheek slowly, all the flames of emptness and loneliness taking over his heart once again. He rested back on the couch and fixed his lost look on nowhere. Losing notion of time, he dozed off for a couple of hours. When he woke up, the sun was bound to rise. He got up and looked over the window. It was going to be a beautiful morning, the sky was clear and the weather was nice. For half a second, Mark almost forgot about everything he was going through. He looked around the apartment, the place was a mess. There was some clothes on the floor and old newspaper hanging on the table. He noticed the tv was still on, and that there was another song playing on the background.

"What’s the time? Seems it’s already morning

I see the sky, it’s so beautiful and blue

The tv is on but the only thing showing is a picture of you

Oh, I get up and make myself some coffee

I try to read a bit but the story is too thin

I thank the Lord above that you’re not here to see me

In the shape I’m in

Spending my time

Watching the days go by

Feeling so small, I stare at the wall

Hoping that you think of me too

I’m speding my time

I try to call but I don’t know what to tell you

I leave a kiss on your answering machine

Oh, help me please

Is there someone who can make me

Wake up from this dream

I’m spending my time

Watching the sun go down

Fall sleep to the sound of the tears of a cloud

Hoping that you are missing me too

My friends keep telling me

"Hey life will go on"

Trying to make sure I’ll get over you

This silly game of love

You play only to lose

Oh, I’m spending my time"

(Spending my time- Roxette)

When the song was over, he turned off the tv and headed for the kitchen. He was off duty that day and nothing could be worse for him than having a whole day to think of her. At each passing day, his pain seemed to go stronger. He was drowning in self-pity and loneliness. Speacially because she hadn’t called or anything. He was conviced that she didn’t want to cantact him anymore. He thought he had repelled her away for saying all those words at the train station. Maybe it was for the best, maybe it was better for him to get over it and move on. If she called, it would only turn thing upside-down. Pouring himself some coffee, he remembered his conversation with Doug on the other night. "You’re killing yourself Mark" Doug said. "I don’t care! ‘Cause I can’t take this anymore. I miss her too much, and there’s nothing I can do to make this go away. Nothing!" he said, his voice filled with sadness. "I wish I could help you. But you are the only one that can do this. Acting like this will not bring her back" his friend said. Mark stood speachless at that moment. That was an uncontestable fact. Feeling depressed and desperate, spending most f his time working like crazy and crying himself to sleep were not gonna bring her back. That much he knew. But the wasn’t the point. The point was that he had to deal with his feelings, he had to feel all the blues he needed, he had to miss her, because it was the only way to get through that part of his life. Denying his feelings or hidding his pain would only make him feel worse. Lying to himself wasn’t a life option. He was going down and he didn’t want to find an exit. The only thing that could make him stand up on his feet was Susan, and since he dind’t have her, that was no reason to carry on.

THE END




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