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When The Day Is Done

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Watching Chris become a parent, even from a distance makes Keith ache in an obscure way that he can't quite name but he thinks might be a biological clock that's started a couple of decades too late. Then again, he says to himself, he's really too much of an ass to be any kind of parent. But when he watches Rachel's show (he does watch, every night. Even when he was determinedly not talking to her) and sees Chris cradling his little girl and his delighted face it's like a kick to his heart. And he's not even there to see it, take pictures and coo over Ryan.

When he does hold her, later - he looks in to a six month old who gurgles and gestures a little like her father and Keith gets hit in the face with the fact that he's old and tired and pissed a whole lot of people off. Because it's never going to be the same. Rachel talks to him, but with a large touch of wariness. Susan, who'd been genuinely friendly is now just polite. Richard refuses to talk to him and Chris, Chris is distant in the way he didn't used to be. Keith just tells himself to deal with it and makes giggling faces at Ryan, who tries to grab his glasses.

Ryan's eleven he puts his feet in his ass (again) and this time, there's no coming back. And it's not that he doesn't have success - baseball column, NY Times bestseller, top rating show and the prospect of academia in the future. He's got friends, sort of. For a time. Keith has begun to work out that he keeps friendships like baseball team dominance - only for set periods of time. He sometimes thinks, I should apologise and then writes it off because he can't guarantee he won't do it again and he's too old for this shit.

He watches Ryan Shaw-Hayes grow from a distance. He watches her graduate and become a doctor and it stings. Almost worse than watching Rachel and Susan's daughter become President because hey, he never got to meet Cassidy Maddow-Mikula or see her smile or hold her warm, floppy body when she was a baby.

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She knows Rachel and Susan are the forever kind of couple. The kind of couple you can look at and know they'll still be utterly in love in their nineties. But Ana still wonders sometimes, what might have been had Susan not being there. When Rachel and Susan have a little baby Ana doesn't ache (she's happy just being an aunt) but she does tick it off as one more reason she and Rachel aren't meant to be in a universe that contains Susan. And really, they don't fit (though Ana often thinks that if they'd met a long time ago, in college when Rachel was a baby dyke - all leather and spiked hair and Ana was decidedly in to casual hook ups and drugs, they would have been great. Fantastic, at least in terms of the sex)

There is a list, actually. She adds to it when things get unbearable and she has a lot of trouble keeping herself from blurting things out like 'I love you Rachel' and 'I'm sorry' but it turns out she just drops off the radar to write a book, start a blog and avoid her phone calls and tweets. Ana says it's because most of her mainstream and not so mainstream radio and TV appearances have ended in being let go but it's not even mostly that. It's because she needs to get over Rachel. And she does, in the main.

Ana Marie isn't in love with Rachel anymore, but she does want her. Even if it would never work in so many ways she wants Rachel. To run fingers through her hair. To undo that belt buckle and kneel and feel rough fingers in her hair. To be tied up and fuck all weekend and it won't go away. Which makes being on TRMS incredibly awkward, let alone being Rachel's friend. Keith might have managed it for years but he's not technically her type and Ana technically is. It makes her wish she could hate Susan. Instead she smiles, buys a gift for the baby and sends a card from a distance. The baby has Susan's eyes and somehow this makes Ana hurt because there it is. Another win for Susan in a contest with Ana she has no idea she's in. Which is a whole other level of fucked up, possibly a Keith Olbermann level of fucked up.

So she stays away and shuts up while she tries to get the hell over it.