before we were liars
past mark/oliva. present mark/alcohol...implied olivia/lloyd.
His hands clench automatically as he listens to this lunatic babble on in a singsong manner, rambling about how his marriage to Olivia was the biggest mistake in the world. He swears he'd punch the guy if he weren't crazy.
Only, he's not quite insane, as Olivia explained, but he's not caring much about technicalities and he's not understanding how any of this is important to the Mosaic Investigation, though both Janis and Demetri seem sold.
"Enough," he remarks, interrupting Gabriel. He slams his fist down on the conference table and Janis and Olivia jump. Olivia shoots him the look he's grown to know so well, the same expression she wears whenever another hopeless case stumbles into her life. She's always been such a sucker for lost causes. He wonders briefly if that's why she married him.
"Mark." It's the lilt of her voice that does him in, unravels him fully, shattering the few shards of himself he's managed to keep intact. It's the damn underlying sweetness even in her sharpest tone, the way she says him name, so familiarly and with such concern that everyone in the room would think she was actually talking to him. She's not though. He knows her too well. Years ago he might have mistakenly thought she was trying to calm him down for his sake, but it's all about Gabriel, or whoever she thinks the victim is, and he's sick of always playing the bad guy to her saint. It's grown stale.
He glares at her as he stands, because he wants her to know he blames her. Rationale tells him that he's to blame for most of this, but he's not listening to logic right now. All he knows is that last night he caught his wife in another man's house. Innocent or not, the glasses of red wine still sear through his memory, and he's trying not to picture the two of them standing there, staring at him, like he'd just interrupted a date. He knows the telltale signs of lying, and while Olivia may not be completely lying to him, he knows her well enough to know she's not being completely honest either.
Either way, he's not sticking around to listen to some god damn nutcase tell him who his wife is supposed to be with.
"Mark," Demetri starts, following him out of the room, "I know this isn't fair to you but…"
He snaps. "Look, you think this guy has information relevant to the investigation, then you and Janis deal with it. I think it's a load of crap and I'm not wasting my time listening to a guy sing about what should have happened to my wife. I've got real leads to follow."
He doesn't wait for Demetri to respond. He's already down the hall and turning into his office. He locks the door behind him, hand digging into the bottom drawer of his desk. He doesn't care if it's only ten in the morning or if he could get fired for this. These details are of no concern as he twists open the half-filled bottle in his hand.
It's heavier than he remembers.
Mark watches as Olivia scrambles down the hallways, rushed and emotional (god forbid she show some feeling, he thinks spitefully), her eyes sweeping through the window of his office.
He doesn't flinch as her eyes burn through the glass between them, studying his hands as he fills his glass to the brim with bourbon. He offers no apologies and she offers no sympathy.
In this moment, he's not even sorry.
His vision's blurred as he stumbles home, the last few bars of a U2 song still stuck in his head as he trips up the porch steps and struggles with his house key. All the lights are off as he steps inside, whiskey coating his breath and cigarette smoke clinging to his clothes. He holds his hands out strangely, as if they aren't even his, and he swears he can still see the blood coating his palms.
Killing other men has never set well with him. He should be used to it by now, he supposes, but it still stings and he wishes Olivia could be more understanding.
She's going to be furious. He's prepared for this. He knows what buttons not to press and yet he keeps on igniting the wrong ones.
He's terrified of facing her. He can squeeze a trigger in two seconds flat, never wincing at the screams of terror or the ungodly shattering noise that only bone can make. He can stand in a room full of enemies armed with ammo and no sympathy, but he can't stand in a room alone with an outraged Olivia Benford.
She's crying when he finds her, body crumbled into a heap on the bathroom floor and the image stabs at him as her shoulders quiver and he collapses down next to her.
He's sorry, in that moment, he truly is. Anger and yelling he expected, but not this, never this.
"Baby," he begins, cradling her in his arms. She clings to him with fervor, face sticky with tears. He knows he's messed up, but he never imagined she'd be this broken up over it. He's feeling like there must be something he's missing.
Her finger points to a spot on the floor across the room and he's had his CSI training. He imagines the object landed there when she threw it, cracking against the side of the bathtub in a fit of unexpected emotion. He could calculate the angle specifically, but none of this training prepares him for what is staring up at him from the floor.
Mark's no expert on how to read these tests. His fingers reach for the plastic device quickly, and it doesn't take a genius to determine that yes, that blue plus sign means what he thinks it means.
Several moments go by where he looks at the stick in his hand and then back to Olivia. He's far from sober, but he's getting there, reality setting in and all but slapping him in the face.
"We can do this," he assures her, but his words are slurring and she's still crying and he's never felt like less of a man than in that moment.
He rests his hand on her stomach, and he can't feel anything yet, but he knows he will, soon, and it's in this moment that he decides to choose his family over himself.
He pulls up to his house, Olivia's house, and Charlie's a blur of motion from the door to his car. She attacks his leg as he stands up, and he remembers how this goes. His parents were divorced too. He remembers idolizing his father until the day he was old enough to realize what his mother had gone through.
He doesn't want to do that to Charlie. He doesn't ever want her to think of him that way.
"Hey kiddo," he remarks, kissing her quickly as she starts rambling about her day at school. He smiles as she babbles happily.
He glances up from his daughter to where Olivia's standing, arms crossed around her body like a shield. He remembers thinking he'd do anything for her, not so long ago.
He's not sure when that changed, but a huge piece of him still wishes it hadn't.
It's not the first time he slips. It's not the first time Olivia's forgiven him. But he's certain it will be the last.
Charlie's barely three. He remembers that, because her birthday had been the weekend before. He remembers he drank at the party and slept on the couch that night. He had told himself Olivia was being too dramatic. He'd told himself she worried too much over his every move.
He'd have told himself anything if it meant having a drink.
He remembers going out with Demetri that night, and being livid at some defense attorney who'd threatened their case against a prime suspect. He now remembers this being the start of Demetri's relationship with Zoey, but at the time, she'd been making their investigation difficult.
So they drank. He couldn't blame Demetri for encouraging him. No one knew about his problem with drinking. He had wanted it that way.
He knows he's too drunk when he has to call a cab. He knows he's in for it when he sees the lights on downstairs and when he finally manages to get the door open and Olivia's perched on the steps.
It's obvious she'd been crying, but she's long-since given up on that and she's so silent and still that he's actually afraid to move.
She doesn't say anything. He knows she doesn't have to.
"Jesus, Olivia," he remarks, hanging his head as he walks into the kitchen. "Don't turn this into a big thing."
She follows him quietly. It's her silence that terrifies him. It keeps him talking. He guesses this is what she wants.
"I had a few drinks," he admits. "It's not like…"
She laughs. He remembers thinking that she might actually kill him. "A few?" She laughs again.
He reaches for a glass, filling it to the brim with water. "It's not a big deal."
"Where the hell's your car Mark?" she asks pointedly.
He rolls his eyes. "I'll get it in the morning." He glares at her, the kitchen island in between them. "What, you'd have rather I drove?" He chuckles lightly, but she doesn't laugh back.
"Sometimes," she admits quietly. Her eyes burn his skin.
He's furious now. "What the hell is that supposed to mean? What the hell kind of person says that?"
She steps back. "I can't do this anymore." She's too calm, too careful. He wants her to react, to yell at him, to shove him against the wall, cry, anything. She's too fucking careful.
"Oh please," he mutters, voice rising as he squeezes the glass in the hand. "If I had a dime for every fucking time you threw the towel in, well…"
"Keep your voice down," she hisses, taking another step back. "I swear to god Mark if you wake Charlie up…."
"Then go the hell to bed!" he remarks, spilling water on his hand as he points to the stairs. "No one asked you to wait up! No one asked you to…."
She breaks. "Get the hell out!" she remarks, face losing all composure. Her voice cracks as she yells. "Get the hell out!"
"This is my god damn house!" he yells, face burning as he screams. The glass flies from his hand and hits the wall next to Olivia, shards flying everywhere. He freezes as one slices across the skin on her hand and he sucks in his breath as Charlie appears in the doorway, pink blanket dragging behind her.
Her eyes are wide as she stares at him, turning to Olivia instantly, little fingers tugging at her mom's shirt.
"Mommy!" she cries before bursting into tears. Charlie clings to her tightly, burying her head in her chest and Olivia's eyes peek over their daughter, glaring at him.
He leaves. She doesn't have to ask again. He knows now that he's run out of chances.
Mark knows he's mostly to blame. He may never be able to admit it out loud, but he knows. He's dragged Olivia through hell and back with him and she'd told him she wouldn't go through it again.
He'd promised her she'd never have to.
They both cry as he picks up the rest of his things. All of the papers are in order and it's done, it's over. He wants to beg for another chance, but it wouldn't be fair of them. He hasn't been fair to her. And he'd never forgive himself if he guilts her into saying yes. That's not who he wants to be.
She's taken down their wedding pictures and he's trying to bite back more tears, but it's not working.
He kisses her goodbye and she kisses him back, because despite all of the bad, he knows she still loves him. It hasn't just disappeared overnight. It's been fading for some time, but she's only human. He knows how hard this is on her.
It ends there. She doesn't let it go any further. He knows it wouldn't change a thing, kissing her again, because they both know he's still going to the bar after this and she's going to meet Lloyd fucking Simcoe.
That's the part that stings the most. She's had years to adjust to the idea that he might ultimately leave her because of his alcohol addiction. He's never fathomed she might move on. Losing her, especially to someone else, is the worst feeling in the world. Even worse than knowing he caused this.
Charlie watches him go from her bedroom window, palm pressed against the glass sadly.
He takes it back; that's what hurts the most.
He crashes into his kitchen, hours later, vision skewed and head dizzy and fuzzy. He uses his palm to balance himself against the counter top, too drunk and incoherent to feel bad about his life anymore.
A bottle of whiskey set on the mantle in the living room catches his eye.
He smirks lightly, walking towards it.
"Looks like it's just you and me," he slurs.
It's a joke of sorts.
No one's laughing.