This started as a playlist drabble, using Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me (if you don't)", but it quickly grew larger than 100 words. I had the idea for this at 2 in the morning and it wouldn't let go.
Just a warning...angst and tears. Have a hankie handy.
She lay in the shade of a tall tree, its alien canopy blocking out the sunlight. Her small hands pressed against the wound in her stomach, but she already knew it was too late. Even if help arrived now, there was nothing to be done.
Ironic that she tried to help those who needed it, but she had happened to run into the wrong group of people who hadn't wanted it. She had wanted to help and look where her empathy had led her.
It was a familiar tune. She should have gotten used to it by now. Yet her heart picked the wrong person, over and over. Maybe, someday, just maybe...
Running footsteps broke the peaceful silence. Panicked voices shouted at her, but she didn't understand the words. She managed to open her eyes to see the rescue team all around her. Three men, one Denobulan and two Humans. Phlox gently pushed her hands away from her wound. The soft cadence of his voice lulled her and blunted the pain.
She felt a surge of gratitude for his care, his friendship. His willingness to talk, his superb insight into people. His love was like a father to a daughter, and nothing more.
'Cause I can't make you love me if you don't.
She would miss him terribly.
Somehow she managed to turn her head and saw Travis. His dark eyes were wide with fear and dismay, his mouth rapidly making noises she couldn't hear. He was like an older brother, who looked after her, laughed with her, shared memories with her.
She felt a smile play across her lips. Her best friend, but not her lover. Most people on Enterprise assumed it was the same man, but it wasn't.
You can't make your heart feel something it won't.
The third man held her up, and eased the sense of drowning. His eyes betrayed the pain of failure, of not being there to help her. She shook her head, just a little. It wasn't his fault; she didn't blame him, wasn't angry at him. If anything, she was furious at herself. He didn't know, but maybe that was for the best.
Here in the dark, in these lonely hours
I will lay down my heart and I'll feel the power
But you won't, no you won't.
There was a sense of lightheadedness as her vision began to narrow at a single point. She had always thought his eyes were his most attractive feature...the color of a stormy ocean. He held her gaze, even as he slowly drifted away from her.
But she felt a surge of love for him, even if he didn't return it. He would never know.
I can't make you love me if you don't.
And so, Elizabeth Cutler died smiling, in Malcolm Reed's arms.