Summary: Mac & Claire
Disclaimer: I'm writing this for fun, not for profit.
Three in the morning was the worst time of all. No amount of coffee could help Mac think clearly. He had learned over the years to take a nap - an hour or two on his office couch - to give his tired brain a break. It was harder now than it used to be, but caffeine usually pulled him through. He was smart enough, at least, to go to bed in earnest when his hands began to shake.
Mac poured himself another coffee. Somewhere, somehow, he could hear the steady drone of rain and traffic beyond the thick, stone walls. A siren sounded faint in the distance. His footsteps echoed as he walked past the shadows, back to his office, back to the overflow of paperwork on his desk.
He settled into his chair and closed his eyes with a sigh. Only for a moment, but long enough for him to hear the whisper in the dark.
How much do you think you really make per hour, Mac?
He had crawled into bed, his mind fogged by the long hours and another fevered search for connections. No way to explain, no way for his wife to understand. No way to apologize except to murmur her name and to wait for her next move. The rustle of sheets, sometimes in anger, other times in resignation or fear. Over the years, a ritual. Until one night, when she murmured something else instead.
There was something shameful in her silence as he fumbled with his answer. As if she knew she had gone too far and had asked for too much. She shifted away from him, her breathing unsteady before it finally fell into the rhythm of sleep. In the darkness, he struggled with his thoughts until they repeated themselves. At dawn, he made his decision.
He loved his work.
He loved his wife more.
In the end, it was not enough.