You’re not even touching him but you can feel his presence in the bed and it’s comforting and reassuring. He’s been quiet all evening and you need to talk things out. Well, you think you need to. It might make it worse; you don’t know. Lately, you’ve been struck by the vastness of all the things you don’t know – how you feel, how he feels, what is wrong, what is right, how to make choices that won’t hurt everyone around you.
“Lindsey,” you say, a mere whisper. He doesn’t respond, just keeps staring up at the ceiling. He’s been doing that for hours now, even since you crept into his room after a late dinner with Karen and asked him if he was okay. He still hasn’t answered you. Trying again, you stroke his bare chest as you say his name, syllables drawn out unnecessarily; you just want him to say or do something, to stop scaring you like this. Sometimes he withdraws and that’s probably more worrying than when he lashes out in fear or anger. THAT you know how to deal with but this… “Linds, honey…”
His hand comes down upon yours, stills it, a firm weight that causes you to look startled into his eyes. “Stop,” he says, voice gruff and strained. So you do.
“Do you want to talk about it?” you offer hesitantly, trying to gauge his response from the tenseness you can feel and see in his body. “Talk about any of it?”
“I think it might help.”
“Help you or me, Stevie?”
“Both,” you say. But you don’t know if that’s true or not. Add it to the list.
And that’s a start, you suppose. Maybe he’ll talk tomorrow on the plane ride home as you sit side by side, or maybe next week when you call him up to check how Will’s football game went, or it might be time to talk next month when you stop by his home unannounced just because. Or maybe never.
He loosely entangles your fingers in his and sighs. Deeply. “I just don’t know, Stevie, I don’t. Things weren’t supposed to go like this.”
“They never are. And they always seem to.”
“I’m beginning to believe in your theory about us doing something terrible in our past lives,” he says with a sad smile. “I mean, really.”
“It could be worse,” you say, resting your head on his chest, not able to look him in the eyes anymore (they’re too pained). “He’s strong, the prognosis is good.”
“I shouldn’t even be hearing that word,” he mutters under his breath and you can feel his heart rate increase under your fingertips.
“We’re not young, Linds. It’s going to happen eventually.”
“And people accuse me of not living in reality…” you say gently, pressing a soft kiss to his collarbone. “Lindsey, you’re healthy. Your kids have got many, many, many years left for you to annoy them.”
“I hope so.”
“I know so,” you say vehemently, raising your head and forcing him to look right at you. “I know you. You’re not allowed to leave them. Or me. Not now, not ever.”
“Speaking of living in a place other than reality.”
“I mean it. There will come a time when one of us - ”
You cut him off with a desperate kiss. It’s not gentle and it’s not given with any finesse. You’re needy and you need him to stop and your thoughts aren’t as positive as you’d like to think they are and oh god, he’s not allowed to die. None of them are. At first he responds fiercely, quickly moving so he’s laying half on top of you, bearing down on you, one hand tight on your hip and the other caressing your breast. His eyes are burning into you and you whimper as he turns his head and bites the soft skin of your neck. You feel like a walking cliché, allowing sex once again to try and plaster over the pain you’re both in right now, the grief. But the fuck with it; you both need this. Badly.
“Steph, please,” he begs as you reach for him, needing to feel him, to make him feel better.
You know you’ll probably have regrets and guilt about this in the morning. Not about the cheating, never that, but about how you’re supposed to be mature adults now and all you can manage to do when you hear some bad news is try and comfort yourselves with long, greedy sex. It’s probably selfish of you. It’s definitely not what you’d imagined – a long, deep conversation about mortality, what life means and how wonderful the journey has been and will continue to be…
“Baby, I need - ”
You kiss him fiercely, your fingernails scraping down his back as he groans into your mouth. You know what he needs. Peace. You only wish these few moments of release and bliss could give that to you both. But it can’t.