He slides out of you gently, his lips on yours in a gentle caress, almost apologetic, trailing off to your cheek as he rolls off of you and onto his back, sighing happily. You follow him, your head finding the usual comfortable spot on his shoulder and your hand drawing abstract shapes on his chest as his arms wrap around you.
“So much for married sex being a disappointment.”
You laugh at that, nuzzling into his chest and feeling his heartbeat against your cheek as his chest hair tickles your nose. “Well, we’ve been married for what... two whole weeks? There’s still time.”
His arms tighten around you and he kisses your head. “I hope not. I don’t ever want to get used to you, dude.” His breath sticks in his throat and you can feel him smile above you. “I just... I love this. And I love you.”
The buzzing of his phone pulls both of you out of your post-conjugal glow and he groans, his hand fumbling around the nightstand for the device. He finds it and you avert your eyes from the harsh glow of the screen, closing your eyes and finding refuge in his comfortable scent.
He pushes you off him, gently, and sits up, seemingly looking around for his clothes. You lay a hand on his shoulder, and he shakes his head, giving you a half-hearted smile. “School shooting. ER page.”
You watch him, silently, as he gets dressed and grabs his keys, the right words not coming at the moment. He kisses you, gently, apologetically. “I’ll... I’ll be back when I can. I’m sorry.”
And with that, he’s gone, and you lay back in the bed, staring up at the ceiling and hoping that you can somehow manage to give him whatever strength he needs to get through it.
He doesn’t return that night, nor the next morning, and it isn’t until you come home from work the next day that you find him sitting on the bed, naked and seemingly fresh out of a shower and staring off into space.
He doesn’t seem to notice when you sit next to him, and jumps when you lay a hand on his leg.
You recoil and clasp your hands together, suddenly feeling very awkward. “I’m... I’m sorry.”
He stares at you for what seems like forever before sighing and shaking his head. “No. It’s not... it’s not your fault. I’m sorry. I just....”
You try again, laying your hand on his. He shudders at the contact, but seems to make an effort to relax this time. “What... happened?”
He stares at the wall again, silent for a long time. “Just so much... death. I know I should be used to it, by now, but I just...” He shudders again, and this time, doesn’t pull back when you wrap your arms around him and pull him closer to you.
“They’re just... kids.” His voice is breaking now, and you’re not sure you’ve seen him this distraught about anything. “And... case after case... there was just... nothing I could do.”
He slips from your embrace, a little more forcefully than necessary, and disappears into the bathroom. You stare at the door for hours, but he doesn’t come back out.
It should be nice, having him next to you in bed again after so many nights on your own. But instead it’s torture having him so close but feeling like he’s a million miles away, flinching every time you brush against him.
He apologizes, of course, assuring you that it’s not your fault, but refusing to talk about things when you push him. You eventually fall asleep, curled up into a ball on your side of the bed, and when you wake up in the middle of the night, he’s gone again.
He sees a psychologist. At least, he tells you he does. You’re honestly not sure what to believe anymore, and the feeling of helplessness is perhaps the worst of all.
Carlos calls you when he doesn’t show up for their usual Friday night hangout, and you’re not sure what to tell him. You hang up on him, instead, and go to bed early.
You wake up in the middle of the night, blinking the sleep from your eyes and wondering what woke you up when you notice a dark figure looming over you.
Terrified, you fall backward out of bed onto the floor, but it doesn’t move or seem to make an effort to follow you. You squint, and the figure seems to coalesce into a familiar form. “...Adam?”
He shakes his head, and even from here you can smell the stench of alcohol on him. “Chris. I...” He shudders, involuntarily. “I’m sorry.”
You stand, shaking, staring at him in the darkness. “It’s... it’s okay.”
“No. It’s not okay.”
“Adam. Just... let me help you. Talk to me. Something. Please.”
He shakes his head, and you can feel your heart drop. “I just... I just need to be alone.”
“T... take the time you need. But I.... I want to help. Please. Let me help you.”
Even in the darkness, you can see him squeeze his eyes shut, and he turns away from you, staggering toward the door.
“We... we need to be apart. For a while. I just... I just can’t.”
Then he’s gone, and you’re not sure you’re even aware of the tears streaming down your face.
You hear from Carlos that Adam’s found a hotel somewhere and wants to get some of his stuff, and perhaps the fact that you didn’t hear it from him hurts the most of all.
You show up at the hospital, instead, a bunch of roses in your hand and a complete and utter lack of any idea what you’re going to say or do in your head. You’re not even sure he’s even here, anymore, wondering if maybe he was on leave, but to your surprise, you catch a glimpse of a familiar figure in a white lab coat leaving his office.
He doesn’t notice you and you follow him, quietly, watching as another doctor comes up behind him and taps him on the shoulder.
He doesn’t flinch, or even seem upset... if anything, he seems happy as they walk, close together and staring at some clipboard, talking about whatever bullshit case they’re working on at the moment.
You rip the roses to pieces in the parking lot, not even noticing the thorns as they dig into your hands.
“Hey, Chris. I...”
Carlos stops and stares at you, his mouth still half open. You must look as shitty as you feel, at the moment.
“Dude. What... what happened to you?”
You shake your head and turn away from him, sitting on the couch in the living room. You can hear him shut the door behind him and feel his eyes boring into the back of your skull.
“I’m fine. Just... upset.”
“Dude. It’s not your fault. You know that, right? He just...”
“It’s fine. I’m fine. Just... thanks for helping grab his stuff.”
He sits next to you on the couch, in silence, until a key jiggles in the lock and Adam emerges through the door. His eyes lock with yours, and he manages a half smile.
“Hey. I, uh...”
You grab Carlos, forcing your mouth on his, interrupting Adam as your tongue invades Carlos’ mouth. You can see Adam staring at you, mouth agape, and you consider it lucky that Carlos seems to have been so surprised that he seems to be unable to react. You’re filled with a strange sense of pride, or maybe the hope that maybe Adam will feel as betrayed as you did.
Adam slams the door shut behind him again and Carlos finally pushes you away, his expression a combination of confusion, horror, and utter abhorrence.
“Chris?! What the f...”
You’re upstairs, slamming the door behind you, before he can even finish his sentence, finding solitude in the bottle of whiskey Adam had left behind.
A voice manages to startle you awake, and you blink your eyes, trying to will them to focus in the haze of your mind.
He shakes you again and your head explodes in a thousand tiny firecrackers, trying to break free of your skull. You roll over into what you’re guessing is a puddle of vomit, its sickly stench suffocating even in your current mental state.
You’re vaguely aware of him picking you up before the blackness overtakes you again.
A vague rhythmic beeping sound worms its way into your peaceful darkness, and you frown, feeling some irrational anger at it for distracting you.
It continues, and the darkness brightens into some dim orange glow. Then you’re blinking, eyes open, staring into the harsh fluorescent lighting on the ceiling. A quick look around tells you you’re in the hospital, and your head aches with what you’re pretty sure is the worst headache you’ve ever had.
Adam appears in the doorway, seemingly checking on you. When he notices you’re awake, he immediately rushes to your bedside.
You turn away from him, anger welling up inside you, but unable to find the strength to wrench your hand free when he takes it in his.
His voice is soft now, almost pleading, and you close your eyes tightly, trying to will him to go away.
“Dude. Why? Why did y...”
You laugh at the absurdity of that. “Why? You have the nerve... the sheer gall to ask why I wanted to drink myself to death?!”
His grip on your hand tightens and he turns your head toward him, forcefully. He’s angry now, and you feel a strange sense of satisfaction from it.
“Christopher. I know I’ve been spectacularly shitty to you the past few weeks. But what the fuck?”
“Yeah, not so happy now, are you?”
“Who was that doctor, huh? Did you fuck her on the desk in your office?”
“Is that why you needed ‘time apart’? I bet there weren’t even any kids, were there? You’ve been lying to me from the beginning.” You can feel your hand going numb from his grip.
“How... how dare y...”
He stops himself, all of the anger seemingly melting away at once, leaving him looking utterly defeated.
“I... dude. Dude. You... you have no idea how much that hurts.”
Some weird sense of vindictiveness eggs you on, and you almost laugh at that. “Good.”
He shakes his head, releasing your hand and staring at it, seemingly in shock. “Chris. I love you. What... why would you ever...”
“Just leave me alone.”
“I just... couldn’t deal with things, okay? I don’t know why it got to me like that. And it was unfair of me to... to not let you help. To abandon you like that. Working was a... distraction. Something I felt like I could do. Something I knew I could do. Dealing with you just... felt like I had to start dealing with all my emotions, and I didn’t know where to begin. And, yeah, that’s shitty and unfair, and I know that doesn’t make anything any better, but I love you. There’s no one else. There’s never been anyone else. Dude, I love you like I never... like I never thought I’d love anyone. Why... I... why would I ever want t...”
“Leave me alone.”
You can see the concern in his eyes, now, and for some reason it frightens you.
“Leave me alone!”
You’re practically yelling now, and a nurse scurries into the room, forcefully pulling him toward the door.
He shakes his head, looking at you. “No. He’s my husband.”
You feel your anger welling up again, and you laugh at that, turning away from him. “Unfortunately.”
He doesn’t respond, but doesn’t resist this time when she takes his arm and guides him toward the door.
Out of the corner of your eye, you can see a tear run down his cheek.