A/N: Ok, so I was craving angst and happened to listen to the song "A Light in Your Eyes" by Blessid Union of Souls. Voila, an angst fic loosely based on those lyrics. So grab a box of tissues and read on ;)
In the hours just before dawn, the bedroom was always steeped in darkness, and it was in those hours, on this day, that she realized that she simply couldn't hold on any longer. It had been six months since she gave in and let herself tumble into a relationship with her partner - six long, hard months, both at work and at home. She felt like she'd been clawing at the ground to keep her sense of self from sliding off a cliff, and she was, quite simply, exhausted.
She glanced at the man lying next to her in bed. He was still asleep, as she'd known he would be. She was the one who enjoyed watching the faint light trickle gently through the blinds that covered the windows of his apartment; Bobby had never quite understood how she could willingly wake up to watch the sun rise, but bitch and moan about getting up to go to work an hour later. She couldn't really explain it to him, considering that she didn't know how to explain it to herself. It was just that the sunrise brought . . . silence. Explosions of color. Peace.
Peace. Yeah, that. Lately, these few minutes in the morning were the only times she could feel at peace in her life. The rest of the day, she was fighting one battle or another.
It wasn't that she didn't like her job, because she did, and it wasn't that she didn't like her partner, because she liked him too. Goren had always gone out of his way to make her happy, whether that entailed something as trivial as bringing in an extra donut in the morning or something as hair-raising as meeting her parents. In fact, she had a sneaking suspicion that she actually loved her partner.
The day she'd realized that, she'd cried.
Because it didn't matter. The relationship wasn't working. It didn't matter how much she loved him, because she simply couldn't get along with him any longer. She'd always believed that when she found a man she really loved, things would just . . . magically work out. Or, at worst, she'd just buckle down and work a little harder to maintain the relationship.
The problem was, she'd been buckling down for months, and things were no better. At some point when she wasn't looking - she thought it had been around their third month as a couple - her easygoing, gentle partner had turned into a secretive, distant man she didn't know.
She looked again at his sleeping form and fought the urge to just cuddle up to him and try to forget her unhappiness. No, she'd tried pushing the problem out of her mind before, and it had always just forced its way back in within a few days. Tolerance of his flaws could only take her so far, that was what her mother had told her the night Alex had broken down and blurted out the whole story. Accepting everything unkind he does, just for the sake of keeping the peace . . . Alex, honey, that's not happiness, her mother had whispered as she watched her tough, strong-willed daughter cover her face and cry. That's just . . . setting yourself up to be hurt even more. You need to take care of yourself before you try to take care of him.
She didn't want to do this. She didn't want to be yet another person who gave up on Bobby Goren; he didn't deserve that.
But she didn't deserve to be snapped at daily, to have her emotional reserves completely drained because she had to care for him as well as herself, to not be able to find peace in her own home when he was there.
He would be angry. At least, he'd make it look that way. She was pretty sure, though, that underneath the facade, he would be berating himself for driving her away, analyzing and re-analyzing the things he'd said and done in an attempt to identify what had gone wrong so he could try to fix it.
The problem was, it wasn't fixable. At least, not by her alone, and he'd given no indication that he even knew anything was wrong with their relationship, let alone that he wanted to put any energy into fixing it.
Next to her, Bobby rolled over, ending up with his face against the small of her back as she sat on the edge of the bed. Thankful that she'd thought to get dressed a few minutes ago instead of leaving it until he awoke, she carefully twisted around to look at him up, trying not to jar him too much. "Bobby?"
"Hmm?" He didn't open his eyes as one of his hands slid under her shirt and up her back.
Alex pulled away from him and stood up. "Bobby, wake up. I need to talk to you."
His eyes stayed closed as he mumbled, "I'm listening."
"Damn it, I'm serious. Would you at least pretend to have some interest in what I have to say?"
He opened his eyes and raised an eyebrow. "Someone's cranky this morning."
The urge to just walk out right then and there grew stronger, and she had to remind herself that underneath his sarcasm, there was a man she loved. She needed to at least try to explain herself to him before she left. "Bobby, please. Just listen to me for a minute, ok? Then you can go back to sleep or whatever."
With a sigh, he rolled onto his back and looked up at her. "Ok, you have my attention. Is something wrong?"
"I . . ." Oh god, in those last few words she'd heard the old him. She couldn't decide whether she wanted to fall into the arms of the man who asked so kindly if something was wrong, or run from the man who was more interested in sleep than in what she had to say.
"Alex?" he prompted worriedly, sitting up and moving to the edge of the bed. Reaching out to take her hand, he said after a second, "Something is wrong. Tell me."
"I . . ." she tried again, frustrated at not being able to get the words out. "I don't think this is working, Bobby."
He looked at her blankly. "You don't think what's working?"
"Us." This was too hard. She couldn't look at his face while she did this. Biting her lip, she turned her back to him. "I've been trying . . . so hard . . . but it's just . . . it's not working."
There was complete silence from the man on the bed for a few seconds. "You're talking about . . . you and me?" he finally said jerkily. "This?"
She nodded. "It's . . . I don't know. I loved the Bobby you used to be, but now you're someone completely different, and I . . . I can't deal with him. I just can't, no matter how hard I try."
"I'm still me, Alex."
She could hear how tightly he was controlling his voice, trying not to show her what he was feeling. "Maybe to you, you are. But to me . . . look, Bobby, just . . ." She broke off on a defeated sigh. "You have no idea how much I wish I didn't have to do this. You're . . . you're my best friend, and my partner, and I value those more than you can imagine. I just . . . can't let myself be in love with you anymore."
"Why?" he said sharply. "Alex, tell me what I did! I can . . ."
She shook her head, not letting him finish his sentence. "No, I'm starting to think you really can't." Damn, she needed to get out of here before she started crying, but before she could run, she needed to face him down. And so she turned back around to where he was still sitting on the bed. "Bobby, listen to me," she ordered quietly, taking his face in her hands. "Maybe I'm wrong, ok? I hope I am. I hope I go into work Monday morning and find the old Bobby sitting across from me. And if that happens, believe me, I'm going to take back every word I've said this morning and beg you to forgive me. But right now . . ." She swallowed and pulled her hands back. "Right now it's hurting me more to be in this relationship than to not be in it."
Bobby had gone very still, she realized as she watched him. His eyes were on her, but his hands were fisted on his lap and he was sitting ramrod straight. "You don't want to be here with me?" he said after a second, his voice low and dangerous and his face hardening. "Fine. You can get out."
"Bobby, please! Did you even hear a word I just said?" she protested as she watched him point one long finger to the door. "I'm telling you that I lo-"
"I believe I told you to get out," he interrupted her coldly. "I ruined the relationship, you don't love me . . . You've made your points. So leave."
She looked at him, searching his face for the Bobby she loved and finding no trace of him. "I'm going," she sighed as he continued to just stare her down. "I just wish I knew what happened to the real Bobby. Maybe you should start looking for him under all that ice."
"I said, get out!"
TBC . . .