–– TEASER ––

When she was certain he had fallen asleep at last –– she had tested it by maneuvering the arm he had wrapped possessively about her middle away and carefully gauging Mark's reaction, the low groan he emitted confirming her suspicions –– she saw her chance, sliding to the side of the bed. She snatched her nightdress from the cold floor where Mark had dropped it before, hurrying into the hallway. Stacy didn't even risk losing the second it would take to get dressed until she let the door to the bedroom fall quietly shut after her. She crossed the hallway, tip-toeing down the flight of stairs and walking into the kitchen where she pulled back a chair and shakily sat down. She sat there breathing hard for a moment before she gasped loudly and clasped both hands over her face, bordering on the verge of crying yet not getting to the point where the tears left her eyes yet.

Mark had never forced her to be intimate until that night, and it had shocked her more than a little bit to find him still awake when she entered the bedroom, find him rolling himself atop of her as soon as she had laid down. She had been taken aback, of course, had asked what he was doing… to which Mark had pinned her hands above her head, using way more force than she had expected from him, and had told her that if she could open her legs for House, then she certainly could for him since he was still her husband. His eyes had scared her the most. They had been wild, unlike anything she had ever seen even if indeed, Mark wasn't really the kind man he had always been before he got ill any longer now.

Finally taking her hands down, she eyed her kitchen –– their kitchen, technically. The old feeling of 'home' wasn't there anymore. Instead, it felt cold and strange and weird more than ever before even if it became clear to her, as she looked about more carefully, that it hadn't felt like home there for so long now. Possibly even from when they left their rental home in Princeton and moved back to Short Hills, after Greg and she had made love and he had not long after told her to go back with Mark after all. She had known for sometime longer, but she must have suppressed it until this particular point, now Mark's behavior had reached a new level of impossible and she couldn't rectify it anymore even in her mind. Greg hadn't exactly been pain-free since his illness either, but he had never dreamed of forcing Stacy to do anything intimate, even if he, being the man that he was, had always given her clear indications when he wanted to have sex. She knew that he had loved her even if now not any longer. With Mark, she couldn't tell whether he had ever loved her to begin with. Maybe the Mark she had married had, but this Mark –– this suddenly strange person –– she couldn't quite read.

She shook her head to herself and knew she couldn't stay there. Stacy had stayed with him much longer than her gut feeling had allowed her to; much longer than she had stayed with Greg back then. She had taken a lot of crap from Mark already, and this was the last straw. She had no clue at all where she would go, but she wasn't going to stay here. She would take her bags and leave as soon as Mark had left for work.