A/N: Updated. This story concerns domestic violence. It is not everyone's cup of tea. It is almost unreasonably angsty.
I have included some notes on my intentions for this story in chapter 8. Feel free to skip there and then come back. It will give away some plot, but you might find that helpful.
Henry couldn't quite breathe properly. What was happening to him? He was so angry. Elizabeth wanted him to talk to her? As if! There was no way he could possibly talk to her. She just did not understand. If he spoke to her, she would feel terrible. She would probably panic, and he just couldn't have that on his conscience. The last couple weeks, he could tell his distance was getting to her. Her eyes would dart around, and she would speak so fast he could hardly understand her.
No. He couldn't speak to Elizabeth. But she thought she could fix everything with a simple conversation and some soothing, comforting sex. Well, she couldn't. Not this time.
A hug wasn't going to fix nearly getting blown up. A kiss wasn't going to fix his dad dying.
God. Why couldn't she understand? She could always read him so well. And yet, when it actually mattered, she was just brushing the whole problem under the rug. How could she just go on with her day? How could she expect Henry to keep going?
Now that he thought about it, he hadn't given her much of a choice. She had been trying to help him, and he had accused her of interfering in his career. Maybe he was partially to blame, but that made him all the angrier.
He could feel it rising in his chest. The anger. It was always there now, hiding behind his calm exterior. He was a good man, but anger was still his first instinct. When he didn't understand what was going on, he would get angry.
He didn't understand anything. He didn't understand his feelings. He didn't understand Elizabeth. And he certainly didn't understand how he was going to fix terrorism. That was his job. He was supposed to fix things. Well, it wasn't going to work this time.
"Don't you understand? I CAN'T talk to you!" His anger had reached a boiling point. He turned to face Elizabeth, suddenly livid. How the hell did she expect him to calmly discuss this? Well, fine. She wanted him to address it, he would.
Elizabeth sucked in her breath. Henry had never yelled at her like that. Sure, their arguments would get heated sometimes. They'd exchange choice words, and they'd raise their voices, but not with that tone. It scared her.
Henry put himself directly in front of Elizabeth. "What do you want from me, huh? Because I've had just about enough of this."
"Henry, baby, I just want you to talk to me. We can work this out…"
"No! We can't! And we aren't going to get anywhere at all until you understand that this just isn't going to work out!" He was stomping around the room now, half speaking, and half shouting.
Fear clenched Elizabeth. What did he mean it wouldn't work out? Their marriage? Their jobs? Catching Disah? "Henry… calm down… It's going to be okay…" She was trying to keep her breaths even, but it was obvious that she was getting scared. Tears began to gather at the corners of her eyes.
"I will not calm down! You just don't fucking get it! If you want me to clean up after you all the time, I have news for you. I'm done with your shit. You can't keep doing this to me!" He came back to her and grasped her shoulders roughly, shocking her. She would have bruises from his tight grip. He could see the tears start to trickle down her cheeks. "You can't just treat me like an afterthought every time I become inconvenient to you." His voice was menacingly calm now. He didn't care that he was hurting her - he barely even noticed. "You betrayed me when you turned in Dmitri, and now you won't even help me get his sister out alive. I don't know who you've become, Elizabeth. So don't stand there on your fucking soapbox and tell me I'm the one who has fucked up here. This is on you. I'm done."
He only meant to release her with a little shake, but in his enraged state, he didn't realize his strength with all the endorphins and adrenaline coursing through his bloodstream. Instead of a small jolt, he very nearly pushed Elizabeth into the wall behind her.
Her tears fell in full force now as she tried to find her equilibrium, catching herself against the wall. She knew she wasn't seriously injured, but her husband had tried to hurt her. Henry. After everything. After Iran and all his tender attentions… He had pushed her with force. She wanted to fight back. She wanted to scream back at him. He needed to know that she wouldn't put up with that. She had spent years telling her daughters not to put up with that kind of behavior from men. They needed to have more respect for themselves than to allow themselves to stay in a situation like that.
But this was Henry. She could see the pain he was trying to conceal with anger. He needed her.
She tried to get her bearings and go to him, but he snarled at her.
"Don't even think about it." Henry's mind was racing. A small, rational part of himself was appalled that he had pushed his wife, but rage still filled him. She deserved it. Maybe that would wake her up.
"Babe, please." Elizabeth held her hands out to him, trying to soothe him.
But he refused to be soothed.
"I swear to God, Elizabeth, if you try to make me give up Talia, you've got another thing coming. You are so shortsighted and selfish you can't even see yourself. Do you understand what you are doing? No. You don't. Because you haven't even bothered to learn her name. But that doesn't matter to you as long as you get what you want. No one matters to you as long as you get what you want. I'm through being your tool. You can't keep passing me over because you think you know what's best. You aren't a genius, and you don't know everything!"
Bess stopped. He was insulting her with the hope that she would engage with him in the little battle. She wouldn't. She knew better. He would have to let his steam out some other way.
"Henry, let's talk about this later when we've both had a chance to cool…"
"Fuck you! I'm sick of the rules of when I can speak to you and when I can't! I'm done walking on eggshells trying to keep you happy. This just isn't working. None of it is working. You only think everything is fine because everyone goes out of their way to make sure you are fine. But you couldn't do any of this without all your advisors and your assistants and me. No. You can just fucking learn how the rest of us do it. You know who is going to comfort Talia? No one. So you can just figure it out. I'm done."
With that, he turned to leave the room. He paused next to a table by the door as Elizabeth called out to him.
"I'll do better, Henry. Please. We can both try harder…"
"I'm done listening to you. Figure it out on your own."
Henry saw the water glasses and pitcher on the table. A part of him needed Elizabeth to acknowledge that she wasn't as put together as she claimed to be. Later, he would regret this moment, but not just then. He picked up a glass, looked back at her, meeting her eyes, and dropped the glass. It shattered loudly.
Elizabeth recoiled from the sound, but before she could get her bearings, Henry slammed the door behind himself on the way out.
She was alone.
And thanks to her husband, she couldn't breathe through her panic.