TITLE:: Masquerade

AUTHOR:: Court

RATING:: PG-13

SPOILER ALERT: Season 7.

SUMMARY: 'Episode One' of a series of season seven continuations. This one begins immediately following "The Good Fight."

SPECIAL THANKS: To Jewel, without whom this story wouldn't be possible. Thank you, my dear friend, for your encouragement and special touches to the start of this piece. Someday, I hope, we can do one together. ;) You are amazing, you are wonderful - you are the BEST!

FEEDBACK: Absolutely, positively - yes, yes, yes! blessed_23_83@yahoo.com

DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to DEK.




He sits rigid against the wall of the old brown couch, the fear eating him alive - its cold, icy presence chilling him to the core, further reducing him to a trembling, lost man. It wasn't supposed to be this way. This wasn't part of the plan; then again, just about everything that has happened in the past ten years wasn't either.

Marrying Lindsay made him complete - made him believe that mixed with all the good he had been blessed with, the bad couldn't touch him. It all seems crazy now - but who could ever imagine that so many traumas could happen to two people in so little time? How could he have possibly foreseen his sweet, innocent wife being broken down to the point of losing control? Who could have known that blessed night on a baseball diamond would lead to this? Who could have known that all their dreams of a life together would be tattered, and torn into pieces from the start? Would she have gone through with her vows on that crisp spring night filled with the electricity of promise? Would she have pledged to love forever if someone had warned her? Would they ever be able to get back to what they once were? And now, she is here with him - by his side - always by his side. How can he tell her that he's not sure she can help him this time? That he's so blind to himself that he doesn't know who he is anymore?

They sit here so close together yet they are lost in their own memories as Lindsay hand brushes the velvety couch she can't help but be reminded of those first days, their beginning... They have survived so much and here they are again in this almost sacred familiar place trying to sort out yet another staggering disappointment. It was here that they first made love, here that she whispered into his ear she thought she might be pregnant, here where they have butted heads and united bodies with equal passion. So many happy, wondrous earth-shattering moments, so many sorrowful times, where they took turns lifting each other's spirits, cheering each other on, as only your most loyal loving partner could.

Looking back, he recalls the days in which his life of practicing law first began - he felt alive...ready to take whatever he could get and strive for the best result. Time and time again, he had been asked how he could live with himself knowing that he'd secured the freedom of countless drug dealers, rapists and murderers...it was a dirty job, but someone had to do it. Back then, thinking that made sense. Over the years, though, it slowly started fading to nothing. I'm a defense attorney. It's not my fault. Those magic words that could once ease his mind now were nothing short of a dead weight on his lips. Even if it was right to think them true, he couldn't bring himself to commit to the idea - though desperate to believe it. For, if it was a lie, then, who was he? What had he become?

The brush of her fingers against his neck is the only warmth he can feel. In her touch he finds peace...peace only she could give. They weren't always good with words, but sometimes it was okay. Moments like this...actions speak louder than words. Knowing each other so well, Bobby realizes she probably has secretly agreed to his unspoken declaration. For now, she will simply hold him with all the love she has inside...reach him with her eyes, and soon, be it his desire...maybe even her arms as well.

The soft whisper of her voice begs to break down the walls built in his mind. She wants to scream at him to let it all out and cry...tell her he needs her. Lately, she feels as if he doesn't. The sad part is, she doesn't think he even knows what he is doing, and it terrifies her. All her fears about marrying him - being shut out and alone - seemed to be easing their way from theory to fact.

But the place he is in now - its familiar to her. Killing a man and spending time in prison...it changed her. She felt lost returning to the world. The intention of starting her own practice was to find herself again. In some ways, her anger is unjustifiable, as she too hid away and told herself that the only way to be the old Lindsay again was to do it alone. It was all part of some grand master scheme to keep her loved ones out of the pain tainting her life. But it wasn't right. That's what being partners was about. Having that person to share your battles with - someone willing to shield you from the flames of hell. And she knows if they ever do start talking, they will take on their roles completely - be there to take the falls for one another. It was who they once were - and those people that seem so far gone are just beneath the surface...that she believes with all her heart.

Such a short time ago, they had been on the same page - it seems crazy to think that in the blink of an eye that could all change. Today they are going in separate directions: she was moving forward, while he was starting to fall back. And if one of them didn't do something about it soon, the gap might be too large to fill. For that reason alone, she was grateful for this break. With the absence of work, their conversations could bare something deeper – they'd be forced into facing their problems. It was dark – this place they'd drifted into – and the key to escaping it was lost in a ring of a thousand others…the only way to find it was to find each other…allow the light within to guide them back home.

Keeping one hand at his neck, Lindsay rests the other on top of his. For a moment, her eyes focus on that image…her mind straying back to the first time in which they'd shared that comforting gesture as husband and wife. Tears had filled her eyes as those two bands of gold became the symbols of their promises to love in life together forever. Reliving it all in her daydream, she'd give anything to have that perfection once more…to look on tomorrow as a day made in heaven to share a sweethearts dance in a world of chaos – not as a day written up to make them liars…make them pretend all was good and right, while their hearts continue to die and soulmates drift further apart.

There was a time when all she had to do was grab him and fold her arms around him…he'd latch onto her like his last ounce of strength had gone and he needed her to catch him, hold him and never let go. But she couldn't do that now. For, all he would do is sit there like a stone, and, if she was lucky, drape a heavy arm around her. Does he know how much it hurts her to know she can't have all of him? Does he even care?

Sighing, she smiles, resuming her role of loving, devoted wife. The aching she feels courses through her veins…she wants to help, but hasn't a clue how to do so. Squeezing his hand, she speaks.

"Let's go home." Before he can object, she places her fingers to his lips. "We need to go home. There's no reason for either of us to stay. Besides…I'm sure Bobby's waiting for daddy's bedtime story."

"Yeah…" Bobby mumbles sadly, bowing his head, wondering how he can possibly face his son. That bubbly, wide-eyed little boy looks at him like he's his hero…too small to see the truth about who he really is. He was no one's hero.

~*~*~*~*~

"The end."

Bobby closes the book and smiles at the beautiful creature that is his son, sleeping against his chest. They did this every night…no matter what the day brought, it helped him to forget his troubles. Looking down at him, Bobby knows he must conquer the demons that have invaded his soul…he believes he can be a better man. He has to be – for his child…for his wife…for himself.

Gently easing him out of his arms, he rolls the toddler onto the mattress. Standing, Bobby pulls the covers up and kisses the top of his head. Every second spent with him leaves Bobby in awe…just like the moment he made his journey into the world. Kneeling on the carpet, he runs his hand through the lightness of his hair. He recalls the first time he held him in his arms…silently vowing to protect him and shield him from all the bad things in life. It shames him to know he hasn't.

Warm, salty tears stain his cheeks, his hands braced behind his head as he rests his elbows against the bed. The sobs that shake his body come from all that he has buried deep inside, hidden somewhere beneath the mask he wears in fear of being seen as the broken man he very much is. It seems like hours that he stays in this place, falling apart as he no longer has the will to stand tall and strong. But the doors begin to close once again as he realizes he isn't alone.

"Bobby…" Lindsay whispers his name, massaging his shoulders with hands begging for the ability to heal his wounds.

A bit more harshly than intended, Bobby brushes her hands away, standing and abruptly exiting the room without a look or word. He doesn't want her to see him like this.

Lindsay feels a little breathless in reaction to his rejection. She wants to cry…but the tears refuse to come. Perhaps there had been too many…maybe she was all cried out. If only he knew how many times she'd crumbled under the power of his actions…

When her mind is clouded with negativity…shaped by the relentless torture that is the shadow of her journey through life – she scrambles to find something good. The angelic face of her child tells her there is hope. He is the greatest part of her life – all she has to do is close her eyes to see him, feel him and be filled by the love of him. In all the wrongs of her days with Bobby, she knows he is the one absolute right. The one perfection. For him, she had to stop the game – if only for an instance. Walking out, determination to push harder drives her to him.

She finds him in the study, looking over a file. Angry and frustrated, she strides over to the desk and places her hands on her hips.

"Bobby – what are you doing?!"

"Isn't it obvious, Lindsay? I'm working."

"NO – you're not!" She grabs the file and throws it across the room, its contents flying about the room.

Standing, Bobby looks pissed. "What the hell has gotten into you?! What do you think you're doing?!"

"You were benched, Bobby. For the next month, you need to forget about work and focus on YOU. Every time you pick up a file or come into this room you're digging yourself a little deeper into this hole you've dropped into."

"Please, don't start," he sighs, falling back into his chair with a thud, rubbing his temple.

"I WILL start! Please, forgive me for acting like a WIFE! Forgive me for being CONCERNED! Forgive me for ignoring the NO TRESPASSING sign and attempting to have a real CONVERSATION with MY HUSBAND!!"

"FINE!" Bobby clasps his hands and leans forward on the desk. "Let's talk, Lindsay … How was your day?"

"This isn't a joke, Bobby. This is serious."

"What do you want me to say, Lindsay?! What do you want me to do?!"

"ANYTHING!! SCREAM at me!! TALK to me!! KICK me if you feel like it for God sakes!! Just PLEASE – DO SOMETHING!!" Lindsay's chest heaves from her outburst. She takes a deep breath before speaking more calmly. "Please, Bobby, let me help you. Tell me what you're feeling…"

"I can't do that, Lindsay," he whispers, shakily, looking down at his hands.

"Of course not," she says, feeling like a failure. The sound of her quiet footsteps on the floor panels is the only noise in the room as she makes her way to the door. But before she reaches the threshold, she stops. "Why did you marry me?"

"What?" Bobby asks, stunned, not sure if he'd heard her correctly.

Lindsay turns to him and steps a little closer. "Why did you marry me?"

"Lindsay…"

"Don't –" she raises her hand to stop him. "Don't say 'you know why' or something like that, just – just humor me, please…I really need to know."

Rising, Bobby slowly moves until he stands directly in front of her. Looking into the deep blue pools of her eyes, he can see her love mixed with hurt…the familiar, blinding shine of them cloaked by confusion and despair. Holding her hands tightly in his, he allows the tender, lighthearted man within to play the scene. "I married you because I love you…because I couldn't imagine spending my life without you…because I need you…"

"No…" Lindsay shakes her head. "You don't need me."

Sliding his hands down, he grasps her lower arms, and pulls her closer. "I DO. Why can't you see that?"

"I don't know," she shrugs her shoulders to compliment her sarcastic response. "Maybe because the last thing I think before I go to sleep every night is 'why am I here'?"

Bobby's hands drop from her, as the shock of her confession sets in. "Wha – why would you –"

"It's not – it's not because I don't want to be. It's because I – I feel like YOU don't want me to be…or need me to be…or both."

"Lindsay –" Bobby gasps, in disbelief.

"Tell me something, Bobby. What do you think a marriage is? What do you think it means? What do you think it changes about a person's life?"

Bobby shakes his head, looking like he wants to say something, but can't quite get it out. "Nevermind. I'll tell you." Pointing at him, she begins her analysis. "You think it means living in the same house, sharing the bills, and raising kids. You live your life, and I live mine. You wouldn't dream of being unfaithful. You believe in loving, but not with your whole self. The love that you do give is only shown through the occasional nights you wish to make love. There's no connection except for home, bills and children. Anything else is like a rare prize or a lost fight when you're forced into giving more up. Maybe at one time lines like 'how was your day' even fit into your perception of what the ultimate eternal promise is. But as time goes on, the wall that stands between you and me grows taller. The truth is, you don't care how my day went, because if you did, that would mean we ARE partners. And you don't want a partner."

"That's not –"

"You can deny it until you're blue in the face, Bobby, but the truth won't change. The first time I told you this, you managed to convince me I was wrong. It won't work this time…because I see you. I know who you are. You haven't changed. You're living alone still…and because of that, so am I."

"You're getting this from my not wanting to throw my problems at you?"

"That's just IT, Bobby – they're not YOUR problems! They're OUR problems! That's what marriage is supposed to do. What's YOURS is MINE and what's MINE is YOURS!! The good and the bad. Through sickness and health. 'Til death do us part. We take it ALL. We share it ALL."

"Lindsay, I'm just trying to protect you. You've gone through enough without –"

"That's right! I've been through hell, Bobby – but I LET YOU IN!! I LET YOU HELP ME!! How is it fair that you deny me the same favor in return?" When Bobby doesn't answer her, it only adds fuel to her fury. "RIGHT! Don't talk. Just sit there and hurt yourself a little more. But remember it's not just you anymore. It's not just me. There's a little boy that loves you and needs you and is being forced to watch his father fall to pieces!"

"OH – as opposed to watching his MOTHER go off to prison for shooting a man three times?!? Did YOU think about him before you pulled that trigger?!?"

Gasping in pain, Lindsay's hand smacks him hard on the cheek as the hateful words drip from his lips like a poison to her soul. Bobby's face remains at an angle, as he cannot meet her eye. The tears that she thought so impossible just minutes ago stream down her face, falling one after the other. For a moment, she feels her need to leave is because of him…but soon she discovers the ache to be a desire to escape reality. No matter how much it hurt, he'd merely spoken the truth. The world around her disappears and she seems to float from the room and into another and another until reaching their bedroom.

After taking a moment to collect himself, Bobby joins her. She sits on the bed, feet draped over her side, pillow hugged to her chest. Silently, he moves to kneel on the floor before her. Easing his hands to rest on her thighs, his soft voice persuades her to look at him. "Lindsay…I'm sorry. I shouldn't have –"

"No, Bobby. It's true." Looking away, she swallows the lump in her throat. "To answer your question – no…I –" She pauses. "But there isn't a second that goes by that I wish I had. There isn't –"

"You snapped, Lindsay, it –"

"No, Bobby…no. Let's just call it like it is…" Lindsay smiles half-heartedly. "Hey, at least I got you to talk. Now I know what you've been feeling about something. I mean, I had an idea, but you never –"

"I didn't mean it, Lindsay. I was being stupid. I just-"

"It doesn't matter…"

"Yeah, it does!" He takes a deep, exasperated breath. "I'm such an ass! Why DID you marry me?!" He asks, half joking, half serious.

Releasing a shaky sigh, a gentle smile sketches its way upon her face. Dropping the pillow, she runs her thumbs just beneath his eyes, she gets lost in what she has always found to be the windows to the soul she knows is still with her...though not a voluntary gift, she thrills in the sensation it brings to her heart. "Because…because you're…you. I've loved you so long that I don't know when I started…and I don't know how to live without you…and when I think about the future, I see you…no matter how much it hurts sometimes…I see you…"

"I don't want it to hurt…" Bobby tells her, insistently.

"I know…" Lindsay whispers, running a hand through his hair. "I know..."

Turning his head, he nuzzles her palm before kissing it. "I'm sorry...Lindsay, I - I just -" Chuckling softly, he bows his head. The feel of her fingers under his chin persuades him to face her once more and release the words jumbled together like a giant crossword puzzle in his mind. "I'm sorry." Fiddling with the belt of her silky, delicate pink robe, he shakes his head a bit. "So much has happened...I don't know what to do anymore...I wish I did, though. I never wanted to hurt you."

"Bobby - what I said -"

"No, no, no, Linds...I'm glad you said it. I'm not glad that you feel it, but...I'm glad that I know. Now I can do something about it."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean you have to stop thinking all of that stuff about me not needing you or wanting you as my partner or -" He pauses, huffing in frustration. "Not three years ago we were here, remember?" Lindsay gives him a look as she knows neither won't soon forget the wedding dress fiasco - nor will their friends and coworkers. "The night you came back...when I was holding you in sleep...I knew that I loved you...I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you...even though I knew it before it still seemed...different...maybe because I thought the worst was over...that we'd seen the bad and nothing but good was coming for us..."

"And I thought Bobby Donnell was always right..." Lindsay teases.

"No, that'd be you, sweetheart..." Bobby plays along, wiping a warm tear from her flushing cheek. "I guess I was pretty stupid to think it, but-uh," he laughs.

"Yeah," she giggles. "Wow..."

"But you know what Linds?"

"Hmm?"

"Right here - right now...I can't say I'm so sure about everything anymore." Leaning forward, he caresses her neck as he whispers to her. "I DO want to share it with you...because I know how much you want me to...but I can't, Lindsay. If you knew...you...I don't want you to know that part of me. You have to understand...I don't want to hurt you..."

The tears blind her vision as she aches against his words, closing her eyes as he feathers kisses atop her head. "Bobby..."

"I DO need you..." kiss "I need you..." kiss "I love you..."

"I love you, too..." Lindsay mutters, instantly hating herself for allowing him to twist her around this way.

Fighting him would only result in another cold night of loneliness, and that alone is enough for her to let him take her away from their problems. Why did she let him do this to her? To them? Was it the selfish need to feel his touch any way he was willing to give it - be it physical or emotional? The desire to momentarily be secure in the fact that he still adores her? To fall into dreams knowing that his arms were holding her tight just once more? She had always been weak when it came to Bobby, and tonight was no exception. He was winning...they were losing...

Desperately and hungrily, his mouth moves over hers...his hands urging her robe from her shoulders...trailing from her lips to her neck...feathering kisses along her collarbone. Lindsay closes her eyes, instinctively threading her fingers in his hair...wanting to cry in this moment when he can't see her pain, but stopping for her love, for herself. He has her now...the pleasure takes over...she is lost in him.

Clothes scatter about the room...skin touches skin. They make love, for swept up in the attraction that never faded...driven by love and need...

"I need you..." he husks into her ear again, then once more against her lips.

Latching onto him, her body bids him to stay forever...to never leave her...to save them as she is powerless to do so by herself. As their eyes lock, her hands form pressure against his cheeks...tears for fears fall from the home in which they shimmered...standing out from dots of sweat and the bliss that never failed to surpass circumstance. "I need you, Bobby..."

Wordlessly, he lowers his forehead to hers...transmitting a message he wishes he could verbalize...a message from the heart. Minimal it may be, Lindsay takes it...holding onto it for dear life. Silent cries mix with heavy breaths and racing heartbeats, creating a havoc in her ears. Sliding down her body, Bobby rests his head on her chest, wrapping his arms around her. Somewhere in the vicinity of the moment when sleep claims him, Lindsay, for once, falls as well. Instead of fighting off the blessed dreams of the things she wants so badly for reality to bestow - writing them off as comical fiction...mocking her in some way - she finds herself smiling at the thought. For now, she feels an inkling of hope - the reason uncertain.


=THE END=



THANKS FOR READING! THE NEXT EPISODE IS COMING SOON...
THAT IS, IF YOU GUYS WANT IT! LET ME KNOW - EMAIL ME