An Unexpected Christmas Present


AUTHOR: Celina
EMAIL: ccci@nautilus.com.br
CATEGORY: MG/SL romance
RATING: PG
SPOILERS: Union Station
ARCHIVE: Go for it!
DISCLAIMER: None of this character belong to me, they are all property or Warner, Constant C, Michael Chricton, etc...
AUTHOR'S NOTES: That's a stand -alone story, it doesn't follow any other in particular. I'd love to hear your opinion!
SUMMARY: It's Christmas 1996 and Mark is enjoying a very depressing holiday, but his best gift is about to arrive from Phoenix.



" Baby open your heart

Won’t you give me a second chance

And I’ll be here forever

Open your heart

Let me show you how much I care

And I will make you understand

If you open your heart to love me once again

We could relieve this pain and sorrow

But we better do it in time

Start over here and save tomorrow

I wanna make you mine"

( Open your Heart _ Westlife)

 

Mark was walking down the street feeling amazingly lonely and empty. He had just come from his ex-wife’s house to see his daughter. She seemed happy to see him, but the puppies her step-father had just given her had taken all her attention. Mark was bound to go home to share the Christmas Eve with nobody else but himself and the tv. He felt the snow on his face and tried to smile as his eyes caught the image of a couple walking hand-in-hand on the other side of the street. He used to love Christmas time, but this year, even that joy spirit couldn’t take his sorrow away. It had been thirty-three days since she had left, since Susan Lewis, his best friend and the object of his affection, had said goodbye at that misty day in the train station. Mark let a big breath out when all those memories rushed back to his mind. The kiss. Their one and only kiss. That magical moment they treasured, the moment they consumed their mutual feelings. Her gentle touch, her soft skin and tender lips were memories that followed him everyday, every moment.

And now, on what was supposed to be the happiest day of the year, only pain and regret crashed over him. He loved her deeply. It was such a strong feeling that sometimes he thought he would just die without her presence, without her laugh, without her voice. He would do anything to hold her once again or just to glimpse at her bright face. He would give up everything just to have the chance to look deeply into her eyes.

He missed every single thing about their friendship: the way they could talk about anything for hours, the way they knew when something was wrong just by looking in each other’s eyes, the way she would give him comfort and strengh whenever he needed, the way they used to laugh over beers and pizzas, even the way they used to argue about work. Mark missed her badly, it felt like someone had taken a part of him away. It felt like someone had stolen his heart, his soul.

He stopped to sit on a bench. He looked around the city lights. It was certainly a beautiful night. There were Christmas trees everywhere. Stars and angels decorated them. He rested back on the bench, letting his mind wonder what she would be doing now. She’d probably be at her sister’s house, celebrating Christmas as ever. She would be playing with her niece, little Susie, and enjoying the presents and the new city, Phoenix. He thought of calling her to wish a merry Christmas. Yes, that would be a good idea. At least he would get to hear her voice. Slowly, he stood up and started to walk home. Just the possibility of talking to her made his heart race.

Doug and Carol were talking in the kitchen of her house. There was a family party going on there and she was trying to have a few moments without that noisy relatives. Doug had arrived there a few minutes earlier. She hadn’t invited him but either way he showed up. Carol really didn’t mind. She kinda liked having him there at that special day. She didn’t want to speculate about his true intentions, this might lead her to doubts and insecurity. She decided to go with the flow and see what would happen to their relationship.

Doug was trying hard to show he had changed. He was in love with her once again, but he knew he had to take things slow, otherwise he would scare her. Given their past history, it wouldn’t be easy to get her back, however he was willing to do anything to be with her.

__________________________________________________________________

Susan walked nervously out of the airport. She hailed a cab and headed for Carol’s house. She knew she should go straight to Mark’s place, that was what she wanted, but her fear got in the way. She decided she would talk to Carol, find out how Mark was doing and then go after him. She had left Phoenix in an impulse. Christmas just didn’t make sense without him close. She didn’t know what she would do after that night. She had come to Chicago to see him, but she didn’t knew if she was going to stay for good or go back to Phoenix. It would depend on how things would turn out. She leaned her head on the cab’s window, looking at the avenues and the buildings. It was all so familiar to her, but at the same time, she seemed to be in an old time of her life, like the first page of a book that you read lots of times. She took a deep breath, trying to put order on her thoughts. She didn’t know what to say to him. "Hi, Mark. Remember me? I’m Susan, the one that left you after you had begged me to stay. I’m the one who chickened out when you said you loved me." She cursed herself. "What am I gonna say to him? Like, oh I came back but not for too long, soon I’ll be leaving you again" she sarcastically repeated that on her mind. She wondered if he still loved her, if he would be happy to see her. She wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t. He had his reasons. She had left him so broken-hearted, so lonely. All these days in Phoenix were just torturing her soul. She knew she couldn’t live without him anymore. She knew she made a huge mistake leaving him and now she hoped he would find it in his heart to forgive her for all the pain she had caused him.

This thought slipped away when the taxi pulled up in front of Carol’s house.

Taking a second to gather the courage, she walked towards the door....

__________________________________________________________________

Mark stared at the phone. His hands were trembling, his heart beating fast. He looked at the paper with her phone number written on. He didn’t need that, he knew that number by heart. In spite of this, he had never called her. Fear of rejection was the main reason of that. In a quick movement, he dialed. There was nobody home. He dialed again and again to make sure of his bad luck. Then he called Chloe’s house, Susan would probably be there. After a few seconds a female voice answered the phone on the other line.

_Hello!

Mark recognized that voice. It was Chloe. Trying not to sound nervous, he asked:

_Hello. Uh, could I speak with Susan Lewis, please?

_Sorry, she’s not here right now. Could I take a message?

_Oh, no thanks. I’ll call another day.

_Ok. Bye

_Bye.

Mark hung up desolated. The only chance of making that night less awful had gone away. He sat heavily on the couch wondering where would she be, where she have gone. He reached for the remote of the stereo. As there was no plans for the night, he decided to drown in self-pity and frustration. Grief and sorrow were his guests for the night. A song made him go deeper into his feelings, it made him go back to all those moments together, to all those shared tears and troubles. To all those times together, to everything they had gone through and that he could only remember now.

"Since the beginning of time

Since it started to rain

Since I heard your laugh

Since I felt your pain

I was too young, you were much younger

We were afraid of each other’s hunger

I have always loved you

There’s never been anyone else

I knew you before I knew myself

Oh, my baby

I have always loved you

Since we kissed the first time

Since we slept on the beach

You were too close for comfort

You were too far out of reach

You walked away

I should have held you

Would you have stayed for me to tell you?

I have always loved you

Years go by in a matter of days

And though we go separate ways

I never stop dreaming of you

I have always loved you

And when you call it makes me cry

We never made time for you and I

If I could live it all again

I’d never let it end

I’d still be with you

Oh, God I miss you!"

( I Have Always Loved You _ Enrique Iglesias)

Mark closed his eyes. At that moment he wished he could turn back time, he wished he could take her in his arms and hold on to her so tightly that day on the El plataform that she would never want to let go. He wanted her so much, his life had turned into a open sore since she had left. He didn’t see color or fun in nothing. The slepless nights were common so as that guilty he carried on his heart .


"Calling out your name

Faces everywhere

I’m reaching out to you

To find that you’re not there

I wake up everynight to see the state I’m in

It’s like an endless fight I never seem to win

I can’t go on as long as I believe

Ican’t let go when I keep wondering

Where are you now?

What have you found?

Where is your heart?

When I’m not around

Where are you now?

You have got to let me know

Oh, baby so I can let you go..."

(Britney Spears _Where are you now?)

_________________________________________________________________

Susan knocked on the door twice. Soon, a familiar figure showed up to answer it. It was Doug. He stared at her for a few moments, to make sure it was really happening. He never thought he would see her that soon.

_Hey! _ she said smiling.

_Carol, come here quick! Carol!! _ he yelled._ Susan? What..uh, what...

Carol came running to check out the door.

_What happened? ......Oh, God. Susan, I can’t believe this _ she said hugging her.

_Hey, stranger! It’s great to see you two again!

Doug hugged her too.

_How are you doing? _ he asked.

_Oh, I’m fine. I couldn’t spend Christmas away from this, all this, you know...the city, this snow, my friends...

_Mark? _ Doug asked quietly.

Susan paused for a moment.

_Yeah. Speaking of..him, how is he?

_He’s.....trying to get through your lost. And it hasn’t been easy for any of us, but he, he’s just devastated. _ Carol replied.

Susan looked down.

_I’m so sorry for that. I never meant to hurt him, but that day on the station, I just freaked out when he told me about his feelings. I wish I could just take it all back. _ she said.

_It’s Christmas Eve, the day when all our wishes can become true..._ Doug said with a wise statement in his face.

Susan nodded sadly.

_Look, let’s come inside. There’s a little family party going on and we clearly have a lot to talk about. _ Carol said.

_Yeah, we do, but....._ Susan took a deep breath as if it would help her to gather all the courage she needed _ I have to see someone first.

Carol and Doug smiled at her, knowing instantaneously who she was talking about.

_Where can I find him?

_You just have to follow your way back home. _ Carol replied.

_Ok. I’ll see you later. Uh, can you keep my luggage for a while? _ she asked handing them to Carol.

_Ok, ok. Go!

Susan turned around and started to walk away, a mix of anxiety and fear going throught her mind. But something in her heart was telling her to fight for the man she loved, even if it could cost a major deception and the loss of her best friend.

She started to run fast through the sidewalks towards her old apartment. It wasn’t far away and she couldn’t wait any longer to see him and tell him she loved him too.

__________________________________________________________________

Mark glanced at his watch. It was 10:16. Time have never seemed that unfriendly. It was early, he wasn’t feeling like like sleeping but he wanted the night to end. Pacing around the room he remembered the previous Christmas he had experienced. It wasn’t a happy occasion. He had just found out that his wife was cheating on him, they were settling the divorce papers, and loneliness was again pervading his days. But somehow that Christmas was not too hard comparing to the present day. Susan was by his side, helping him to get through the traumatic situation, she made everything possible to take away the guilty and pitty he was feeling. She had even invited him to spend Christmas along with her and her family. But he turned out the invitation, act which he thought tremendously stupid now. Mark shook his head, it wasn’t the time to think about stuff like that, but he couldn’t help it.

Suddenly, he heard a knock on the door. He approached the door, finding that a little strange, since he wasn’t expecting anyone. He rubbed his face before opening it. When his eyes caught that image, her image, he felt like all of his life energy had been drained out of his veins. His heart was bumping inside his chest, his breath was fading. There she was, Susan, looking as beautiful as ever. Mark could still not believe what his eyes were seeing. All of these emotions raced up and down in his body so fast, that he totally lost track of how long he stood there motionless. Tears were forming in his eyes, in Susan’s eyes as well. After this powerful first moment, she was finally able to manage some words.

_Merry Christmas! _ she said sincerely, her voice thick with emotion.

Mark set his glazed, passionate look on her. Bursting out in emotion, he envolved his arms around her, pulling her close, hugging her tightly. Susan wrapped her arms around him, never wanting to let go. She rested her head on his shoulder, rubbing his back softly. He sank into her arms, not minding the tears that were falling down his cheek. He brushed her hair gently and she touched his neck. For minutes they stood like that, in silence, letting their souls speak for themselves, allowing their hearts to feel happy for the first time in a long time.

Slowly and reluctantly they pulled back. They gazed at each other with sparkles on their eyes. Susan looked down for a second and noticed the gift she had brought for him. She bent over quickly and handed him a package.

_This is for you!

Mark looked at her gesture still in shock. He had no idea of what to do, what to ask, how to retribute that.

_Oh, thanks..I, I didn’t get you anything _ he said with a weak smile.

Susan smiled. She ran her fingers through her hair,as she looked away.

_Do you want to come inside? _ he finally asked.

_Uh, yeah, but...first I guess I own you some explanations. I- I came here today ‘cause I couldn’t spend Christmas miles away from you. Something inside of me felt that coming here was the right thing to do. And this something was my heart, Mark. I know I have done some stupid things, and I totally understand if you don’t want to see me again. I just needed to see you and....tell you...that .. _ she paused for a second.

Mark was looking at her without blinking, taking every breath with her.

_I love you. I always have and always will, no matter what happens. Since that day on the station, it became more clear and strong. I can’t deny my feelings anymore and I can’t take my mistakes back, but....I’m standing here, just hoping that you still love me and accept me, and begging for your forgiveness. _ Susan finally said.

Mark tried to fight the tears back, but it wasn’t possible. There she was, confessing her deepest wishes and fears, showing her feelings, pleading for his love and understanding. He knew she didn’t have to plead, she didn’t even have to ask. He would swallow his pride and let his heart make the decision. He had lost her once, but now nothing in the world would make him let her slip away again. He studied her for a second. Hers eyes were filled with tears, however they still had the power to set his soul at ease, to make his pain disappear.

In a quick movement he took one step closer, touched her face and pulled her closer. Their eyes met for a split second before their lips met in a explosive, passionate and deep kiss. All their desire bound to be consumed, all their fear fading away, giving place for the true love they felt for each other. Every single thing in their bodies and souls telling them that nothing could be more right, and that nothing could ruin that special unique moment. Susan sank into his arms, the taste of his lips taking back the old flames of happiness and satisfaction, feelings that she hadn’t experienced on the last month apart from Mark. The soft touch of his hands over her face made her feel safe and complete. Mark kept kissing her passionately, never wanting to let those lips go, never wanting to forget how sweet and tender they were. Her presence made him cast aside all the dark feelings that were haunting his for the past month. He couldn’t accept the possibility of not feeling her touch again. Just the thought of losing that wonderful sensation made him go nuts. He couldn’t imagine his life without her, he didn’t want to imagine how it would be to never taste that kiss anymore.

After a few minutes they stopped breathless. Gazing at each other, they could tell what the other was feeling. Mark caressed her cheek softly, looking straight into her eyes, trying to keep that moment forever emblazoned in his mind. Susan reached for his hand and held it tightly, interlocking her fingers with his. He smiled and hugged her again. She felt relieved in his embrace, like nothing could get in their way to happiness. Slowly he whispered: "Merry Christmas to you too". She smiled to herself, nothing could be more perfect than that.

__________________________________________________________________

The End ! ;)






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