The Other Richard

A/N: This isn't a happy fic, just a warning. I have always been a Richobel shipper. That being said, I find absolutely nothing wrong with Lord Merton (except for his unfortunate offspring). I have always viewed him as a good man who really adores Isobel. But I just can't see them making a happy couple. I don't know how I came up with this little storyline, but it wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it down. It's very rare that I post twice in one day. But this little drabble is short. So have a treat.

Richard.

His own name was haunting him now. It wasn't even the name most people called him. To anyone of importance, he was Lord Merton. To his boys, he was Father. To everyone else, including his wife of four months, he was Dickie. His father had been Richard. That's what he told everyone who called him by his given name- and then asked them to call him Dickie.

But his father was long dead and he was getting on in age. So why would it be unusual for someone to call him by the name he was christened with? Especially when that person was his wife. Why did it bother him so much to hear his name come from her lips? But that was just it. She didn't call him Richard. Not as long as he'd known her had she referred to him as anything besides Lord Merton or Dickie.

Except sometimes at night, in the throes of passion. Even then, she was usually a quiet lover. Oh, he never had a doubt as to how she was feeling; the deep humming in the back of her throat, a sharp intake of breath, the way she guided him with her hands and moved beneath him. For a woman who usually had plenty to say during the course of the day, his wife preferred her lovemaking in silence. Not that he minded. In fact, he found the silence brought him closer to her needs and wants. But then, every once in a while, the name would roll off her tongue in a gasp of pleasure.

Richard.

He hadn't thought much of it the first few times it happened. But now he was left wondering why she chose those moments to call him by that name. And what she didn't know is that he has heard her whisper that name in her dreams. Sometimes, it was if the name brought her comfort. Others, he thought she was having some sort of terror in her dreams and would call out in her anguish. Never Dickie, just Richard.

When the daylight rolled around, he never doubted their feelings for each other. Her smile was genuine when she greeted him and she had an unconscious habit of touching his hand, arm, or chest whenever the opportunity arose. When he kissed her, he could feel a heat he never experienced in his first marriage. And there were moments when she would very quietly tell him of her love. But she called him Dickie in all of these moments. Never Richard.

Because he wasn't Richard to her. He was Dickie: her husband, her confidant, her lover. But not Richard. No, Richard was someone else. A man she had known before him. He never knew if they had been lovers, perhaps during the war or after her son died. He knew they had worked close before, during, and after the war. They were the closest of friends, this much he was certain. She had been upset when he hadn't come to their wedding, but it was something they had never spoken about.

This other Richard was a good man. Dickie knew this. Of course, it wasn't just that he was a doctor and saved lives. No, Dickie knew Dr. Richard Clarkson was a good man. Because Dickie wasn't the only man in love with his wife. Dr. Clarkson also loved her, but respected the ring on her finger. Never once had Dickie thought his new wife was carrying on an affair. Although, maybe that would be easier. If she had been cheating on him, it would explain the way she whispered that name.

No, his wife didn't see the good doctor very often. But the last time she did, it haunted him. They had been speaking about the hospital. He had gone to grab their coats. He knew they hadn't heard him return. It was an innocent enough conversation. It was the end that had his stomach in knots.

"It's good to see you, Isobel."

That's all the doctor said. And although he tried to keep the pain out of his voice, Dickie heard it, and he was sure his wife did to. But he didn't care how Dr. Clarkson felt about his wife. No, it was her response that got to him. Maybe if he hadn't heard her say it, he could still convince himself that it was his name that she called out in her ecstasy.

"You too, Richard."