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but who could do without you?
nate was standing with his back turned to her, and isla leaned against the wall in their hotel room, arms folded across her chest. so much had changed in the course of the last year, but some things hadn't changed much at all. she still looked at him the same way she did a year ago; with eyes full of love and sadness.

a year ago, she vehemently explained that the love she felt towards him was strictly platonic, that he was her person and one of the people she couldn't go on living a life without. it was a love she felt towards other people, as well, but beneath that, she knew it was more. maybe isla hadn't really fallen for him yet, but it was the beginning. spending those nights in the back of his truck, camping out between nashville and boston and enjoying what time away from home they had together.

a part of her always thought that would be their moment if they were to have one. they didn't. they wouldn't until later that fall after an event that rocked their world in the most traumatic way. isla still shuddered to think about it, but looking back to that fateful day in his place with his hand around her throat, she wondered if they would be here now had she not said anything. was that what set it in motion? was her admittance to loving him what would eventually lead to the relationship they now shared, almost a year later?

looking back, it felt odd that there was ever a time that things were done between them. she begged him to kill her, and he considered it. where would he be now if he had? what would have happened if she had left the earth that day, never to return? it was a grotesque and morbid thing to consider, but so much had changed over the year that she wondered how life would have continued if he had gone forth to take her life. somehow, things had taken a turn. they found one another again and have since spent the last several months building a life together. slowly, but surely. patiently. imperfectly.

sometimes it killed isla not being able to hear him say that he loved her, but she had come to accept that it might be better that way. just like marriage ruins relationships, and babies ruin marriages, she didn't want to do anything to compromise what they had worked towards. and what they did have was solid, more than anything else in her life. it was dependable, loyal, and at times, blissful.

while he looked out the window, she walked up behind him, wrapping her arms around him and pressing her chest against his back. a year ago, in the back of his tahoe, she didn't envision this future for them. maybe isla had hoped for it, but it was nothing more than a childish fantasy at that point, never to be acted upon. a year later, she held him close, as if trying to feel his heart beat against her own. a year later, they were now doing something that has become a tradition for them. a year later, they shared time with family and friends, something the two of them hadn't shared before. a year later, she loved him. irrevocably, wholeheartedly, painfully.