by Stephen Greenwood

Rating: R for foul language
Spoilers: Possibly the flashback sequences from 1x08; the fact that Hank and Karen are apart for season one is common knowledge and advertised in the trailers
Disclaimer: If I owned them, do you really think I'd be writing things like this?

Written for cali-kenna at LiveJournal, who wanted a fic showing how Hank dealt with Karen's revelation about Bill in 1x08.

Summary: Home is so sad.




Delete. No point in lying.


Del- no.

Hank ponders the question, head cocked to one side, finger hovering over his most-often used key, ready to erase. He leaves it on his screen. The black text stares at him from an otherwise-blank document, taunting, mocking. And, not for the first time, he has no answers. The question seems infinitely accusatory in ten-point Times New Roman.

Save for the rhythmic blinking of the cursor, nothing moves. He doesn't add anything or remove what little he has; sometimes a story is more effective with less words.

He wants to beat the crap out of something. Or drink himself into a coma. Or bang the next willing female who crosses his path. Too many choices. Making a decision is hard work so he does nothing. Maybe he can stop fucking up that way, through omission.

He pinches the bridge of his nose as he remembers that's why Karen left him.

A quick glance at the clock confirms it has only been eight hours since the door slammed in his face. It feels a whole lot longer. The darkness embraces his solitude; there is no noise from elsewhere in the apartment, no rustling of bed sheets or light snores he used to find comforting. Becca's bedroom isn't alive with the sound of old Alice Cooper songs played on guitar but Karen, ever the musician at heart, certainly strums his pain with her fingers. Her confession is written on the walls, graffiti he will never be able to clean, and instead of finding solace in her arms like he usually does when he's had a bad day, he turns to the reliability of hard liquor and musty cigarettes, the welcome yet discouraging glow of the computer monitor displaying yet another blank page.

Has a chapter just ended? he wonders, or is it just beginning?

He sighs heavily and closes the lid of the laptop, the optimism in an empty page becoming too overwhelming. He prays for a rewrite of the previous scene, knowing one is not forthcoming.

* * * * *

In the pre-dawn hours, Hank meanders through the apartment on drunken legs. He is a lost explorer, fingertips grazing the back of the couch, the dusty bookshelf, the coffee table magazines, reluctant to move anything because that would mean accepting change. If things remain the same, maybe Karen would want to come back to the comforts of home.

He stands in the doorway to their bedroom for a long time. The early vestiges of sunlight are yet to be seen; moonlight filters in through the glass at the far side of the room, painting a landing strip and coating everything a ghostly shade of silver. Her drawers are empty, hastily shoved back into the cabinet, mouths gaping black and vacant. A balled up pair of socks and a lacy black bra mock him from the floor. The bed is too big for him alone; it looks as though it wants to swallow him whole. Right now, he can't think of a reason not to.

He stumbles into the bathroom and finds one toothbrush, one razor, one can of deodorant. The medicine cabinet has never looked so bare.

Emblems of mutual happiness stare at him wherever he looks. He thought the photographs would be the worst but he now knows he was wrong. A plectrum lies forgotten on the end table next to the couch. In between the cushions, he finds the inscribed pen Karen presented him with upon publishing his third novel. The shopping list pinned to the refrigerator is an elaborate love letter in her neat handwriting.

The walk to Becca's room is long and his hand shakes as he opens the door. The closet doors hang open, coathangers shivering on the metal rail. The pile of her favourite CDs that usually lies precariously at the edge of her desk is gone. He stubs his toe on something on the floor at the side of her bed; he finds a dog-eared paperback, page saved by a torn bookmark. Seasons in the Abyss, the cover reads, by Hank Moody.

He clutches it to his chest as the tears fall.

* * * * *

Hank wakes in the morning with a headache and a loud banging noise coming from down the hallway. For a brief moment he wonders why he is in Becca's room, why he has slept in her bed, and then he remembers. Even the copious amounts of whisky he drank couldn't make him forget for long, although that had been his primary intention. It feels like a dream. Who knew a decade-long love affair could end so abruptly?

Sunlight shines in through the window but Hank is only aware of the shadows. The banging sounds again. He drags himself to his feet, finding Karen in their bedroom.

"I knew you'd come back," he says quietly.

She jumps and turns to face him with wide eyes. "I just came for some of my things."

He shuffles his feet awkwardly and leans on the doorframe, watching her pack clothes into a leather suitcase. "Where are you going?"

"You know where."

"Come on, Karen, don't fuck around. You've had your fun, you've scared the shit out of me, so you win. Can we stop playing games now? Can you come home, please?"

"What makes you think I'm playing games?"

He stares at her in disbelief. "You aren't coming back." Her silence says more than words ever could. He nods briefly, willing the tears to hold on for just one more minute, and stalks off to the bathroom, locking the door. He sits on the downturned toilet seat with his head in his hands until he hears the staccato beat of her heels on the floorboards and the resounding slam of the front door closing behind her. Alone he can mourn.

There used to be so much here. Now there is only an imprint.