A/N: This is AU of 'And Away'...you probably need to read this first. And yes, it's a darker alternative. Just crept into my head and required writing down.
A/N2: Title is taken from Fight Club. So I can't talk about it.
Disclaimer: I don't own O11
The first time is his fault, it really is. Oh, she doesn't kid herself; that doesn't excuse her. For some things there are no excuses.
But he comes home and says they need to talk, and he stands in front of her and tells her he slept with someone else, and he tells her that he's sorry, and the fury sweeps out of her like a tidal wave. He's still talking when her hand flies back, and afterwards he's still standing, his eyes fixed on hers, still sorry and not-sorry-enough, and it's the surprise that hurts her, the surprise and the betrayal, and it doesn't feel like he has the right…
Then he's on the floor and she feels so sick.
Her hand is aching.
She is horrified, and not by him.
"I have to go," she says, and she grabs her coat and it's not until she's a block away that she realises she didn't say that she was sorry too.
This isn't meant to happen. This isn't who she is. She gave up everything for him, and she knows he loves her as she loves him. She doesn't know what to do, where to go, who to call. For a while she walks the streets and her heart is bruised, her knuckles bloody.
In the end she goes back. Where else is there to go?
He hasn't moved, although it's dark now. There's a bottle by his hand. He looks up and he looks uncertain, like she's never known him. "I'm sorry," he whispers, before she can say anything. "I never meant to hurt you."
The darkness almost hides the bruises. It doesn't hide her guilt. "I'm sorry," she says and her voice is choked. "Oh, God, I'm so sorry."
She falls to her knees and holds him tight and wonders what they do now?
They talk, they drink and they forgive. They promise this will never happen again.
The second time is still his fault. No. Really. He can be so selfish sometimes. So childish, so obsessive. She's not excusing herself, she understands her sin, but after a night spent pacing in front of a phone that doesn't ring, when annoyance has turned to anger, has turned to worry, has turned to fear, is it any surprise that relief can turn to anger again?
Apologies fall from his mouth right along with the blood.
This time there is no surprise in his eyes. She's standing on a line she truly doesn't wish to cross and she's not even sure he knows or understands.
He is selfish. He says as much himself. This is his fault as well as hers and there will not be a next time. She is determined.
The morning after, he smiles and laughs and takes her to breakfast and it's like all the problems just melt away. There's love in his eyes, not fear. He's not afraid of her. There's nothing wrong, as long as he's not afraid.
Debbie disagrees. Bright and brash and beautiful Debbie, the girl he took home from Vegas, looks up at him with horror. "What happened?" she says, as they walk into the Standard. Debbie looks at him as though he's something rare and precious, something fragile, something that can be so easily broken.
It sets her teeth on edge. (She wishes he wouldn't talk to Debbie. She wishes he wouldn't talk to anyone.) The anger starts to rise.
He laughs and lies with ease. "Walked into a door at Walmart," he says, and it's like he's done this a thousand times before.
The anger dies. She takes his hand and wishes she hadn't hurt him.
The third time he left a wet towel on the bedroom floor again. It is a petty domestic argument that she turns into domestic abuse. She can't lie and call it something else - she thinks she cracked a rib, but he won't let her see. He hides the pain and turns away from her.
That makes her angry too.
Later, she locks herself in the bathroom and cries, watching the blood drip from her hand. It forms a pool on the tile – so much more mess than the stupid towel. (Why couldn't he just pick it up?)
She sleeps with her ear against the bathroom door, longing to hear him make the call.
He doesn't. So maybe that's all his fault, right?
He is too controlled, she decides. Too self-contained. They rub along together and the friction slides off him and has nowhere to go, until she can't stand it anymore and explodes in fits of anger, righteous and unholy.
It isn't all the time. It isn't every day. It isn't even every week, and if that doesn't make it okay, at least it means she doesn't grow used to the feeling. She is sorry. She is always sorry. And she always tells him that this was the last time, that she will never do it again, and he always smiles and says he believes her.
In time just those words will anger her.
He buys more long sleeve shirts, and hides his eyes behind dark glass.
Some days she thinks maybe he just doesn't mind so much.
They live in his house, in his city, in his country. He brought her here. He came back into her life and turned everything upside down and then offered her his world. All he has to do is say the word and she will leave.
And he should. She tells him that, while she holds the icepack to his eye. His hand is gripping hers tightly.
"Make me leave," she whispers. Pleads.
For once his eyes are serious. "But I want you to stay," he says, and she thinks that maybe if he had a little less pride, a little less control, he might just say he wanted her to stay and not hurt him anymore.
She wishes she wouldn't hurt him anymore.
If wishes were horses they could ride off into the sunset together.
What else is there to say? She came here because he asked her to and she stays because he wants her to, and in her heart of hearts she knows that all of this is deeply wrong.
He doesn't love easily. Neither does she. And there are times – so many, many times – when their love is enough to set the world on fire, when they are together and nothing can touch them, when life and love and laughter chase the other times into mere memory. If she was on the outside she knows she would say that doesn't make it worth it. And yet, when the stars shine down, just for them, it feels like this is their world and no one else will ever understand.
Maybe he really just doesn't mind so much.
Besides. She will never do it again. She really means it this time.
It would be easier if he broke his promise like she broke hers. Then all of this would have some sort of rhyme, some sort of reason. She checks his phone and his email time and again, follows him without him ever knowing and she never sees any sign that he's sleeping around.
But he flirts as easily as breathing and he has an unselfconscious beauty that draws too many eyes. Sometimes she watches him walk into a room and she knows that half the people there want to tear his clothes off and throw him down onto the nearest bed, just like she does.
It's natural to feel jealous. She has a right to feel jealous. Just because he can keep it in his pants doesn't mean he's not in the wrong.
He comes home from a job and she's waiting for him. It's been five weeks. She's been alone. Too much time to think, too much time to imagine. She catches him smiling that smile which means he isn't thinking of her.
She gives the jealousy free reign. "Did you let Ocean fuck you?" she demands.
The smile fades. He drops his suitcase to the floor with a dull thud. "Can we not do this?" he asks and he sounds so tired. "I was having a really good day."
The words are damning to her ears. A full confession. She imagines him beneath his friend, hot flesh on flesh, lips parted, legs spread wide, soft words of love and urgency. Always and forever. In her mind he is smiling, and there are no bruises, there is no pain.
Later and he is lying on the floor. He hasn't even had a chance to unpack. The guilt is choking her.
He stirs. "I've never had sex with Danny," he says quietly and he still sounds tired.
"I know," she says. "I'm sorry."
He closes his eyes, and for a moment she thinks that maybe, this time, he isn't going to accept the apology. But then he nods and she kisses him and holds him close.
They make love like they can make love matter.
She loses count somewhere along the way. She long ago passed the point where she can say it's his fault. (And yet.) He doesn't fight back. He doesn't throw her out of his life. He doesn't even talk about it, when it's over.
Somewhere, somehow, he made a trade-off in his head. Accepted what was happening as just part of his life now. The price he pays for being with her. Deep inside, she knows this isn't the first time.
The only time he raises his hand and stops her, is the night before his friends are coming to town. "No," he says, his chin raised, and she looks at him, astonished. "Keep it off the face," he tells her. "Keep it where I can hide it."
That is the moment she realises she's damned.
Sometimes she dreams that all of this is simply over, that she says no more and keeps her word and the happy-ever-after comes at last.
Sometimes she dreams she opens a door and Danny is waiting for her with dark and angry eyes, ready to make her answer for her crime.
In the meantime she sleeps beside him and dreams. Sometimes she just feels like destroying something beautiful.