Title: Conjugal Visit
Rating: R for swearing.
Spoilers: Episode 2.05, "Friendly Fire", and 2.06, "Long Time Dead". This is actually an episode insert for "Long Time Dead" in which Jo runs into Saskia coming out of Roper's shower. If you haven't seen these episodes, this story will make no sense.
Author's note: I am not from the UK. This becomes rather stunningly obvious when it comes to my prose and spelling. Maybe I should have poked a few people to 'Brit' this up. Prolly not. Anyway. Glaringly obvious mistakes are mine. Lyssie and Timey did what they could to mitigate Teh Suck.
Summary: This should have happened years ago. Pity it didn't.
The door slammed hard behind him. His muscles were still shaking, hand still curved around the non-existent doorknob.
This was definitely not the way he'd planned for this night to end.
Or begin for that matter.
Saskia was wrapped in his robe, her hair dripping through the towel and on the wood of the floors. She didn't look happy. Good. He wasn't very pleased either.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Okay, not the best opening line, but it worked. And reflected his mood.
Saskia bristled, glaring. Her footsteps were loud in the quiet of the flat. She breezed by him and moved into the living room, her voice sharp. "I'm here because I was invited."
"Not by me. So, again, what the hell are you doing here? Where are Claire and Andrew?"
"I've left them with mum." She dropped the robe and bent to dig through an overnight sack next to the couch, her ass on full view. It was a familiar move. One that had often distracted him in the past, when he'd let it. "This was something between us, and I didn't think it would be suitable..."
"No," he shot back. She had underwear up now, but was taking her time with the bra. "This was something between our lawyers."
She glanced back over her shoulder at his bark, her semi-sultry pout freezing at his expression. Her own shifted quickly to incredulous. "You've called the barrister?"
"Half an hour after you'd left. Told him the separation was back on and to refile the divorce papers."
Her face went white, her shirt hanging in limp fingers. "You're not kidding, are you?"
He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against his desk. The one Jo had been slammed against not three days previous. But that probably wasn't something he should be thinking about. Right now, anyway. "I wasn't playing fun the first time, Saskia. You know that."
"Then why didn't you bloody well sign the papers the first time round? Why put me through this? The kids?"
"Because you asked. And you showed up with Andrew and Claire on my damn doorstep! What was I supposed to do, say no?" It has mostly been the last bit. Claire in her jacket looking all excited. Andrew doing his best not to be hopeful.
That had really been the break. His son doing everything he could to look indifferent at the idea of living with him full time, being a family again. Failing miserably every step of the way.
It had been a royally stupid idea, looking back. Hell, he'd been sure of its stupidity when he'd let them in.
One of the many reasons he'd become so well acquainted with his couch and right hand.
Saskia had managed to pull the shirt up and on, but still looked shaken. Her fingers slipped a few times on the holes, but she finished doing it up and turned to glare at him full on. Yeah, that was Sas. Didn't get something, got angry with it and screamed until it backed down. Or until something else happened.
Best not too think to close on that either.
He mentally shook himself and kept her gaze. Steady and calm. Had to be. She was near vibrating with rage. It wasn't a good look on her. "You didn't even try!"
Shrug. No use denying it. "...no. I didn't."
"Why, Phil?" Tears swelled in here eyes, shining in the low light. Again, had this been any other time, or if Sas hadn't royally fucked the next few weeks of his relationship with Jo, it might have been effective. Fact was, he could almost hear the world's smallest violin going in the background. Christ, the woman was good. "Why didn't you come back?"
"Because I knew it was a mistake." He sighed and ran a hand over his face. The slight alcohol buzz from earlier had deserted him, leaving his head just a bit sore and the rest of him tired. "We're done Sas. I just needed to be beaten over the head with that one last time."
The tears were suddenly gone, the rest of her face stony. "This marriage was over the moment you met her, wasn't it?"
Shit. He did not need this. "No, Sas."
She came forward a few steps, her hands on her hips, eyes flashing. "Bullocks, you ass. That bitch just walked in here-"
"Do not bring her into this."
"She's already in this!" Saskia moved forward again, and he backed off as much as he could, bumping hard against the back of the couch.
Forcibly ignoring the significance of said couch and all the things he wanted to be doing on it instead of having this conversation, he moved away from it and rounded the coffee table.
He didn't want to have this conversation. He didn't want to do this again. Not tonight. Not ever, if possible. But she kept pushing forward. Kept pushing. It was too soon for this.
"I didn't even meet her until after the last set of papers were filed!"
"How the fuck am I supposed to trust you on that?"
"It's a matter of public record, woman! She is not the reason we split, Sas. You know that."
"The hell I do!"
She moved again, grabbing at his wrist. Lighting-fast, he twisted his hand out of the way and backed off again. She stood there in the light of the room's lamp in nothing but a shirt and underwear, her face flushed and hair tousled. The very picture of angry willing woman.
And all he wanted from her was her absence.
Oh, yeah. He'd done real well at this marriage thing.
"Everything was fine and then you were gone! What am I supposed to think?"
"You don't want to do this, Sas."
"I have a right to know why my husband chucked six years of marriage."
"You know why!"
"NO, I don't!"
This was going too far. Becoming too familiar. He had to end this and get her out. Or get out. Couldn't she see...? Finally, finally, the anger flared. "Fine. You want to know why I walked out the first time? I'll tell you why. This marriage was over the minute you refused to fucking press charges."
"What are you talking about?" Fear swelled and burst behind her eyes. Dazed, she backed off a step. Enough to give him room. To make him bite his lip and feel the old wave of guilt come crashing back.
He turned away from her abruptly, heading towards the kitchen, ignoring the power switch by the door. God, he needed a drink for this. Something to put in his hands.
Saskia followed him, but at a distance. Yeah, she'd learned her lesson. And really, that's what this was all about. "You didn't lock me up for hitting you. I deserved it."
The footsteps behind him stopped. He jerked the door on the icebox open, hand snagging the first brown bottle it encountered. Its top twisted off easily, and half of it was down his throat before he felt the hand on his arm.
Oh, he'd definitely needed that. Then Sas was in front of him again, pulling the bottle away and staring him down. Her eyes were large and still incredibly angry. But when she spoke, her voice was careful and controlled. "You were my husband. Of course I wasn't going to do that. You were sorry. And you only slapped me. Once. I've had worse on the underground..."
Denied his alcohol, he shrugged her off and stalked over to look out the window. It was full on dark, but he couldn't see the stars. Instead, he focused on the steeple of the church down the block. "No, Sas. No. That's not the point. That I could do it in the first place is the point. I was wrong. And the fact that I was your husband demanded more than just hugging me the next morning and telling me it was okay. It was not okay."
"So you're saying that if I'd had you taken down to the station, you'd have come back and we would have been fine?" Her confusion was plain despite the dark.
"Maybe. Maybe not. But it wouldn't have killed our marriage. At least not on my part. Sas-"
Her control broke. "That's shit, Phil. You rutting bastard, that makes no fucking sense..."
"You let me hit you!"
"The fuck I did!"
"You didn't have me punished for it. I hit you, Saskia. And you let me get away with it. I can't let that be. You shouldn't. Because if it is, there's no 'us'."
"Because you don't trust yourself."
"Not like that."
"But you do with Jo."
He felt his face twist into something like a smile. Even here, doing this, the mention of her name sent a shot of something down his spine. Yes, he was a total waste. "If I ever tried, she'd kick me through a window after stomping my balls."
Saskia nodded. A jerking motion that said more than anything else up to this point. "And I didn't."
"No. You didn't."
"And this isn't going to change."
Full points for the idiot in back... He sighed again. That wasn't fair. Not really. Not to her. "This is not going to change, Sas. And I don't want it to. You deserve... so much more than this. Than me."
Gently, he reached out and tugged a curl of her hair. She was beautiful. He'd married this woman. Had children with her. But this was done. Had been done for almost three years. It needed to be clear to them both. "Call the barrister in the morning Sas. I want you on a train home after. I'll be home for the court hearings."
She shook her head, eyes genuinely full this time. When she spoke, her tone was shaky. "You're a right bastard, you know that?"
He smiled. This time more real. "On that, we agree. I'll take the couch."
She turned then. Walked back towards the living room and, he assumed, her travel bag. As she reached the doorway, she looked back. She was crying. "I love you. Have forever."
He nodded. But before he could respond - he really hadn't any idea what he could say - she'd disappeared into the darkness of the flat.