After You Were Mine part 1 - Rewind - By Sara's Girl
Summary: Why do I have to relive how we fell apart, just because you don't remember?
AN - I finally decided to repost this story from WMTDB. Seven chapters in all. Slight spoilers for Fannysmackin' but not really, the events of that episode provide a jumping off point for this story but everything else of course is the product of my twisted imagination.
Post est/rel. Nick's perspective throughout, this was my first experiment with his first person, I/you voice, if you will.
Thanks to InnocentGuilt who, perhaps inadvertently, reminded me about this story :)
Reviews are my absolute favourite, so yes, please do :) Flames will be used to make delicious toast. -crunch-
I almost don't go in, because I'm not sure I know what to say to you any more. Even though I know it doesn't much matter what I say to you, because the doctor says you are unconscious and the blow you received to your head was severe. He said you would be ok, but there might be long term damage. Seizures. Memory loss. Pain. Severe blunt force trauma, he says, and I almost laugh, thinking of how many times I have said those words in the course of my work, never really connecting them to anything real, only a lifeless body on a slab. You're real though, the most real thing I ever had, at one time in my life.
That feels like a long time ago as I stand outside with my hand on the reinforced glass of the door, looking at you. My heart aches from wanting to protect you but I shake the feeling away. I wasn't there to protect you when you were dragged out of your car last night and almost killed for no good reason. You aren't mine to protect any more, though you were once. I remember being happy, more content than I ever thought possible. It was so easy to be with you. Sometimes we didn't need to say anything at all but I could look over at you sitting in your favourite chair, legs crossed, tapping away on your laptop at something I could never hope to understand, and I knew that you loved me.
It is this memory that grabs at me and pushes me through the door to sit at your side, but just as quickly, it fades and is replaced by another that makes me want to turn tail and run away, before you ever know I was here. This memory is the one that haunts my dreams. It is the one that can pop into my head at the happiest moments and wash every positive feeling out of me in an instant.
I can see you so clearly, the day you left. Your face was blank and when I looked into your eyes, I saw nothing, and that scared me more than anything you could have said or done. The slump of your shoulders gave you away a little, but it was the only expression of emotion you showed as you stood in our kitchen and told me that you were moving out, leaving me, that it was over. Your tone of voice was so ordinary and matter of fact that for a moment I wondered if I had heard you wrong, but you simply shook your head and said it again. You said you weren't happy any more and that you needed something that I could not give. I would have done anything, but you could not tell me what it was that you needed. You had packed your things and said you were going to stay with a friend, would not tell me where. You knew I'd come after you. You smiled a little and said you were sorry but you still left. Left our home and our life after five years together and you couldn't even really tell me why.
That was a year ago and I still live in our apartment. I planned to get a new place but in the end I couldn't bear to think of some stranger living amongst all our memories, painting over the places where we had stained the walls in the kitchen trying to cook and ending up laughing and kissing and covered in pancake batter or spaghetti sauce; or replacing the bathroom tiles I used to push you against when you crept into the shower behind me in the morning. I know I should move on, Warrick is always telling me I need to find someone else. He says my house - our house - is like a shrine to you and I need to let it go.
He's my best friend and he's probably right, but I can't. I suppose a part of me hoped you would feel as much pain as me, and that you would come home. But you didn't, did you? Sometimes I think you are in pain. Work was the most difficult thing, in the beginning. We somehow managed to stay professional even though everyone knew what had happened. I would not have got through those first few months without Warrick and Catherine, and I saw you grow closer to Sara. I hoped she was helping you to heal; though I wished you could realize that you didn't have to.
Almost a year now, and you have changed. I know you say you haven't, but you have. You've lost your sparkle somehow, the light in your eyes that first made me fall in love with you, that's almost gone. You don't smile as much as you used to. I used to love being the one that made you smile like that, would think, just for a second, that you only smiled like that for me. Your clothes have changed and your hair is more sensible. You look grown-up and handsome and I sometimes still look at you admiringly when you're dressed up for court. But I miss what you were when you were mine. You never cared or tried to fit in and that's what I loved about you - you were just you, and you made no apologies for that fact. This past year I think you have forgotten who you are. I can understand that though. Without you I find it difficult to remember who I am too. But you are the one that walked away.
After two months I took down all our photographs, because I couldn't stand to look at them any more. I put them in a drawer in the bedroom - I still think of it as our bedroom - along with the silver ring you left on the kitchen counter. I didn't see it until after you'd gone, and that's when I lost it, because it was so clinical that you'd thought to remove it and just leave it sitting there like it was nothing. You didn't want to wear your ring any more, now that you weren't mine, of course you didn't. I waited a month before I took mine off and placed it in the drawer next to yours. I wonder if you ever think of that day. I do. I thought you were mine forever that day. I remember the evening, when everyone was busy dancing and eating, we slipped away, stood by the lake and just looked at each other in the fading light, for a long time. You were crying, and you never cry. You looked beautiful that day and I just held you, knowing I would do anything for you. Anything to make you happy.
Everything hurts when I think about that, and the day you left, and the sight of you now, lying there motionless with dried blood in your hair. I wonder why I'm here, because I'm probably the last person you want to see. I wonder if you have someone else who should be sitting here in my place. I don't think you do, but then I don't really know you any more. There has been no one for me, no one since you. Catherine tried in the beginning to set me up with her friends, but she gave up after I went on a date with one of them and I told him over our appetizers that I was still in love with my ex-husband. She left me alone after that.
My eyes rest on your lips, bruised and swollen, but still perfect. I always did love your mouth. The first time we kissed is burned on to the back of my eyelids and I can never erase the image, no matter how much I have tried recently. We were in the break room of all places, hardly the most romantic setting. You were wearing your lab coat and a loud, patterned shirt that hurt my eyes, and your hair was all over the place. You were talking to me - or rather at me, as there was little chance of you stopping long enough for me to respond – about how you'd helped Catherine to make a breakthrough in her case, and you were asking me if I thought you could be a CSI, but you weren't waiting for an answer.
You could not stay in one place, you were so excited, and your dark eyes were dancing with exhilaration. I was entranced by you, and the feeling hit me so hard that I forgot to try and disguise it. Suddenly you were looking at me strangely with your head on one side and asking me if I was ok. You were touching my arm gently. When your fingers connected with my bare skin I remember letting out a moan that didn't sound like me, pulling you against my body hard, and pressing my lips against yours without thinking of the consequences. It was quick because we were in the break room, and because I remembered who I was and that I didn't do things like that. At least not until I met you. When I released you, you leaned against me for a moment, looking at the floor, and I was terrified. Until you raised your eyes to mine and smiled in the way only you can, with this immense surprise and delight. I had liked you up to that point, but I think it was then that I fell in love with you. It was so easy after that, somehow, I loved you, and we just 'were'.
Until we weren't. I know it was gradual, but I still should have seen it happening in time to stop it. I should have noticed that you were slipping away from me in those last few months, but I did not. I had my own stuff to deal with and I know I was wrapped up in my own fear after the abduction, but that's not an excuse. I thought we were starting to come back from that when things really started to go wrong. It's like we just stopped talking. You got so much quieter and that energy I loved became less and less, but I still loved you, however much you changed. How ever much we argued and you used words to hurt me. You could hurt me because you knew me. I would get angry, lash out at the wall, and that would just make you twist the knife even more.
We had both suffered, but I suppose I never expected we would take it out on each other. I knew how hard you worked to get where you were in your career, and I was so proud of you, but I suppose that took its toll as well. I couldn't comfort you the same any more, it was like there was something dark inside you that I couldn't reach, though I tried over and over again. I would have tried anything. Maybe I would have tried harder, but some part of me just assumed we would always be together, no matter what, because that's what I wanted. That's what I still want, but I know too much has passed and you have changed too much to ever want me again. I hear your words like a sting and I know I can never be enough for you. I suppose I should be grateful that for five years, you let me try.
I'm staring at you and thinking about leaving when you wake up. Your eyes fasten straight onto mine. They are half closed and bloodshot but it doesn't matter to me.
"You're here," you say, and the naked relief in your voice shocks my heart back into a regular rhythm.
"Yeah," I smile, suddenly feeling terrified.
You're lying in a hospital bed and I'm scared of you. The power you still have over me is immense. I wonder how you will choose to use it.
Suddenly you are touching my hand as it lies next to yours on top of the sheets. I suppress the urge to jump. It's been a long time since you've touched me and my body almost can't handle it. Your fingers are tracing lightly and I can't take my eyes away. Suddenly I have Warrick's voice in my head.
'If you have to go there, man, be strong. He's going to look vulnerable and sad and you know how you react to that. Just remember how much he hurt you and don't let him try anything to mess you about, ok?'
He doesn't hate you, he really doesn't, he just doesn't want to see me go through that again. He had to pick up the pieces the last time and he's wary, and protective of my feelings. Thinking a little more rationally, I go to pull my hand away when you speak, and your voice is so confused and plaintive that I want to cry.
"Nicky," you whisper, still tracing the skin of my fingers with yours. "Why aren't you wearing your ring?"
I continue to stare at you and think that you haven't called me Nicky in a long time, you'd think it would sound strange on your lips after all this time, but it doesn't, it sounds like home. You know why I don't wear my ring. It's the same reason you don't wear yours. It's because we don't belong to each other any more. I look at your hand instinctively, which is still touching mine but has stilled now, because you are looking too, following my eyes with yours. A small sound of distress slips from your mouth and it wrenches at me. You rub at the third finger of your left hand with your thumb and you look at me. I know when you are looking at me, I always have. It's like a sixth sense, all the hairs prickle on the back of my neck and I know I just have to turn around and there you'll be. I haven't had that feeling in some time and I miss it.
"What's going on, Nicky, please? When can we go home?"
Your questions rip the breath from me because you are talking to me as though these last twelve months never happened, and while I wish almost every day that that were true, it isn't, and you are scaring me a little. I remember what the doctor said about memory loss and a strange feeling grips me. I know I need to answer you because I haven't spoken more than a word since I entered the room, and you look absolutely lost. It's breaking my heart, but I know that if you really don't remember, then what I have to tell you will break it even more.
"Greg," I begin, thinking immediately that I have gone wrong. I rarely called you simply 'Greg', and I see you frown a little at the formality. I have to continue now, though, and get this over with. I need to get out of this room before I lose what little progress I have made over the past year to get over you.
"Greg, I'm glad you're ok, and the doctor says you're going to be fine, but you might have some problems with your memory. I think you do, Greg, because...well...because..."
Damn, this is hard. What kind of screwed up universe are we living in where I have to tell you that you no longer love me? I try again.
"What do you remember?"
You look scared and I ache to comfort you, but I know it won't help. I can't help remembering when you lay here before, when you had a similar look on your face after the explosion, but then I could hold you and whisper to you and say stupid stuff to try and make you smile. Because you loved me, and it was easy.
"It was dark. I was in the car, and then I wasn't...I don't know. It hurts."
"Before that?" I know I'm being cold and I hate it, but I need to know.
"We had breakfast together, I think. Then we went to bed. It's a little hazy. Nicky, will you please tell me what's wrong?"
I draw every last reserve of my strength to stop from crying out. I don't remember the last time we had breakfast together, but I remember the first. It was at your apartment, before we got our place together. You made me eat fruit loops and I pretended to hate them because I loved how you looked when you were indignant. In the end I put my spoon down and grabbed you, and we made love right there on the kitchen floor, because we couldn't wait. This isn't helping, I know, but every time I look at you it's like a film of our lives together and I can't seem to stop playing it.
I look in your eyes then, and imagine, just for a second, what it would be like if I could just take your hand again and tell you that it doesn't matter, and that I love you. You could come home. Wipe out twelve months of pain as easily as that. You might never remember and it would be like having you back. Just as easily, though, I know I could never do that to you. It isn't up to me to play God just because I need you. You don't need me, other than to tell you the truth in the gentlest way I can, and then you need me to leave. There will be someone else along soon to comfort you, even if you don't know it yet. Sara will stroke your hair and make all the right noises. She might even tell you what an idiot I am, and maybe that will make you feel better, so you don't feel like you have lost anything. Which you haven't, really, I suppose. I take a deep breath and look anywhere but in your eyes.
"Greg, you don't remember this right now but we aren't together any more. We broke up almost a year ago. That's why you don't have your ring, and why I don't have mine. I came to see you because I was worried, but I shouldn't have, I'm just confusing you and I'm sorry."
You close your eyes then, and you look like someone has stabbed you in the stomach. You curl up as much as you can and pull away from me. The sound you make is harrowing, it chills me. It's like an animal in pain, and I can't stand it. Warrick was wrong, it isn't me that is hurt. It's you. I don't know what else to do, so I get up and walk out of the room. I walk until I cannot hear that sound any more, but then I find I can still hear it in my head. I get to my car and kick out at my front tyre violently, spinning and stumbling, almost falling.