Title: Ashes & Wine
Category: TV Shows ยป Days of Our Lives
Author: And The Moment's Gone
Language: English, Rating: Rated: MA
Chapter: 5, Words: 1,850

Warnings/Spoilers: If you know Chloe came back to Salem in 2007 then you're all set.

Summary: There is nothing left to say.

Official Disclaimer: All Days of Our Lives characters and plots belong to Ted Corday, and NBC. I do not hold stock either the man or the company. Brady Black, Chloe Lane, and any other character featured are NOT mine. The title, summary, and lyrics come from A Fine Frenzy's song Ashes & Wine and I don't own that either.

I'll tear myself away
If that is what you need
There is nothing left to say, but
Is there a chance?
A fragment of light at the end of the tunnel?
A reason to fight?
Is there a chance you may change your mind?
Or are we Ashes and Wine?

"I'm slowly dying inside, again."

It's the first words she's said to you in weeks and you're not entirely sure that you heard her right.

She's been quiet, you've been distant, and for half a second you wonder if it may have been the other way around. You see her twice a day; maybe less if she's up and out of the suite before you start your morning. She never forgets to call for the morning coffee service though, and it may be habit that's kept her ordering your favorite brand before she seems to run away.

She's here now though, completely throwing your train of thought away from the board meeting you're prepping for and forcing your eyes to the other side of the room.

You always knew your wife loved to read. It's just been forever and a day since you've seen her decked out in her yoga pants and a loose sweater, curled on her side in the armchair with a book in her lap. She's watching you instead of the pages though; you're not sure what to make of that.

The words she said earlier ring in your mind again, and if it weren't for the fact that you watched her lips move, you could have sworn that you were imagining that too.

Her name leaves your lips and you drop your grandfather's proposal onto the bed next to your laptop as she sits up. Her hands don't let go of the book though, even as she stretches one knee to set a sock clad foot onto the floor. The other she leans her head on, keeping the book close to her heart. Yours breaks at the fact that she's back to being so guarded with you.

Then again, isn't that the way it's always been?

She's been hurt too many times before that night, before this. You'd think it would be routine by now for both of you. You'd think she wouldn't let anything get to her anymore. But the truth is that you're the only one who can break her now.

"I don't know what's wrong." Her voice is soft, almost childlike, and you have to resist the urge to get off the bed and go to her. She was the first to leave you those months ago in Rome. She'll be the first to make the steps back. "Don't know why I feel the way I do." Her other leg drops and you didn't even notice when the book fell too. "I just know that it's killing me."

It's killing you too, but you won't tell her that. Because she's still in the chair with her book in her lap, and you're not about to give up the inch you've gained.

You've played this battle of wills before.

Only the price of you losing is so much higher now.

"I'm so tired of this." Words are flowing from her faster now. It's the most she's said to you since you returned to your hometown and there's a second when you wonder if you're going to wake up. "It's too much for me to handle right now. I'm sick of being the one to lose." Both hands are on her abdomen now. It's almost surreal the way she's moving and not all at the same time. "I'm done."

"You're not a quitter."

Her eyes widen, almost as if she just discovered there's someone else in the room with her. "People love saying that." She snaps back, her eyes focusing on you again and her lips curling into a raw smile. "It's like they saw it in a movie once and liked the way it sounded." She repeated your line twice just to turn it around on her lips. "I've got nothing left to quit." She reminds you.

You almost speak. The words are on your lips but she laughs and turns away from you, finally free of the chair. "I've become someone who hates herself so much that I can't even look at myself in the mirror." Her back is to you and before you know it you're on your feet as well. There's still a room between you though. You're okay with that. "And I wish being with you didn't make it worse but it does." A shaking hand tugs at her hair and you've stopped watching her, choosing instead to listen. "Because the more you love me in spite of all of this, the angrier at you I get. And this is my fault."

Stopping her seems to be the first thing on your mind, and you're across the room before it turns into a bad idea. This is not your fault, doesn't even make it past your lips. You know she's seconds from crying. You can't bear the thought. She's given up. She needs to fight back. So you do the only thing you can think of.

"Something was taken away from us." You tell her quietly, knowing full well that she heard you. "You're numb, so am I." You take two steps back and watch her relax a little.

You're not sure how you feel about that.

"I think you're grateful for it." You know you hit the right nerve when you hear her gasp, her eyes are the size of silver dollars and she's seconds away from turning to face you. "Because you don't have to deal with anything when you're numb; you get to run away."

"You didn't want to deal with me." She protests, and the second her eyes lock with yours you know you've got her. "You didn't want to deal with her."

You're two feet apart now, and tearing each other apart seems to be the best option that you have. "I buried her." You tell her softly. "And I worked through my grief." Her mouth is open again and you know without a shadow of a doubt that you're not going to like what comes out. "Then I came to get my wife."

"You blamed me-"

"I blamed myself." The correction is out of your mouth before the rest of her accusation could come. "I blamed me for not seeing it earlier and not taking you seriously when you said you thought something was wrong." She's two more feet away now. "And God damn it Chloe I never once wanted you to leave."

"You never asked me to stay."

And there it was.

There wasn't a single thing you had in your entire arsenal of words to combat the fact that you knew she would run and you did nothing. To her, you were no better then she was.

So you do the only thing that makes sense to you.

Two steps forward and you're close enough to thread your hand around her neck and into her hair. She gasps into your mouth and for a fraction of a second you wonder if this was the smartest thing you've ever done. But then her hands are around your neck and her fingers gripping the back of your head and you've never been surer of anything in your entire life.

Your legs take you both away from the window and when she stops the pull to the bed your mind runs through all of the ways that this scenario could logically end.

Letting go of her isn't an option.

This is the only way you know to hold on.

She's on her tip toes now, dressed only in those damned yoga pants and a sports bra that you didn't even know she owned, and even with the cesarean scar she's still the most beautiful creature you've ever seen. The fingers of your left hand dig into her hip as the other takes residence in her hair and her moan dies somewhere between her lips and yours.

It takes two minutes for you to remove the pants, and as you reach for her panties you realize that your shirt is most likely at your feet. Your hands anchor themselves on her hips and raise her off the floor, her legs wrapping instinctively around you. Her scalding center burns the flesh of your abdomen through the cotton. It takes all of the strength that you possess not to drop her to the floor and take her there.

As you drop her onto the bed, she laughs, her hand never leaving the back of your head, gripping your hair lightly. Your tongues dance, mating as she rotates her hips, egging you on.

You don't speak when you pull back from her. There are no words that needed to be uttered. This isn't the first time you've been together. Not in the last year, not even in the last twenty-four hours and yet this seems sweeter. Your wife was the grip on sanity that you would have sworn you'd lost; the one tie that couldn't have been broken, not even when she ran from you.

It isn't until you sink into her that you find the peace that you were looking for.

She is your salvation.

It's a terrifying moment when neither of you move, her body spasmed lightly, but still she clings to you. Never in your life have you felt so complete.

Her eyes meet yours before you can think to thrust.

"I love you."

"Don't leave me."

Her eyes close, and you can see the crystal-like tears peeking out of the corner of her eyelids. She lets go of your neck and for a moment you think she's about to tell you to get off of her. "Don't let me go." Her voice breaks and nails dug into the flesh of your shoulder. You pull out slowly, deliberately, and then lower back into her, your hands forcing her hips to follow yours. "Don't let me go."

'I love you' has become your new mantra, the push and pull of your bodies setting the rhythm of your breaths. Your eyes drop shut; the same words are on her lips.

"I'm sorry."

It's the next sound you hear as the tempo speeds and for half a second you wonder if this was what deliverance felt like in the flesh. If this meant that there would be nothing else to overcome.

Her climax hits, like a wave crashing onto the shore, and she cries out hoarsely beneath you. Her legs grip yours, using the bed underneath her for leverage, she rolls. Before you truly understand what is happening, you're pinned below her, watching your Diva raise and impale herself to the rhythm your declarations set.

This was dying; there is no other explanation.

You're dying in her arms.

Two more thrusts and you're crying out her name, clutching her close to your chest, not yet withdrawing.

"I'm slowly dying inside. Again."

And this time it doesn't feel like the end.