You're so great, I love you.

He still couldn't believe he said those words.

Well, not those words. The second part. The first part, he always believed and never shied away from saying out loud, repeating them as many times as she needed to hear them.

It still baffled him she needed reassurance about how great she was. How could someone so smart, passionate and beautiful ever feel otherwise?

She was great, she's always been great, but did he love her?

Love is ... something else.

Of course, he loved her. He loved her like he loved all his friends. But did he mean it that way, or did he mean it the other way? The complicated, overwhelming and sometimes crippling way?

He couldn't believe someone would ever go to such lengths to cheer him up. He didn't expect her to go to such great lengths for him. Do something that is essentially the antithesis of herself, the one person who freaks out about water rings on tables and the arrangement of fridge magnets.

Then again, he didn't expect any of this. He didn't expect his amazing friend to come to his hotel room one night and throw herself at him. He didn't expect one night of comfort to turn into the best months of his life.

So maybe he loved her. He loved before and was crushed. Abandoned and betrayed. Title of my biography.

Truth is, he took it back because he was scared senseless.

This time, if she left him, for someone better, more mature, someone who deserved her, he wouldn't survive. It wouldn't be sweatpants and morning drinking, it would be the end of his world.

He loved her, and maybe he was in love with her.

Maybe his subconscious knew it before he did.

He simply needed a little more time to fully realize it. He always needed more time for all things in life, and more time with her was everything he could ask for.


A/N

This was initially posted on the fanfiction subreddit in a prompts thread about character studies, that's why it's so short. I decided to post it mostly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Mondler I Love You.

Also, something cool happened, someone picked this up from the thread and made an audio version of it. You can find it on SoundCloud, under the profile of Shanina Rice - titled Friends Nov 7 '18, if you want to check it out.

Thanks for reading!