People like you always want back
The love they gave away
She was running late. Not because she had planned to, but it wasn't something she could honestly say she wasn't glad for. It had been six months since she had last spoken to her husband, and if arriving late to her first meeting with him since then was a 'blow' life wanted to throw her, she'd take it. He'd tried calling her a couple of times. Had showed up at the door once. She'd intentionally missed the calls, failed to open the door. She didn't want to hear his reasoning. She didn't want to be told that despite how hard she had tried, she hadn't been enough. That despite how much she loved him, he couldn't genuinely love her back. He owed her more of an explanation than the written one he had left behind, sure, but that didn't mean she was interested in hearing it any more. It wasn't her job to make him feel better. Not any more.
She'd seen him a couple of times. First just a week after he'd left, when Carol Ann, who had rushed to her side as soon as she'd heard, managed to steer her away before he himself saw them. Then again when she'd been out with a mutual friend of theirs – he'd wanted something from Michael and the man had given him their location without thinking. He hadn't acknowledged her. She'd seen him in a book shop with the editor she now refused to acknowledge by name as she had been rushing past on the way to an audition. She'd caught him watching her from across the street when she had been having lunch with one of her new colleagues – he'd quickly slipped away as soon as she saw him. Sometimes it seemed that she saw him more now than she had when they were together.
She'd learnt a lot in the past six months. About herself. About him. About their marriage. And although she'd be lying if she claimed to have been surprised by the knowledge of his indiscretions, it had hurt to have them confirmed to her. It had hurt that he hadn't chosen to be honest and end the marriage sooner instead of stringing her along.
She'd changed. Her friends had all told her. She was just that little bit stronger now. A little more confident. Without having him to lean on, she had adapted to relying on herself. Being her own strength instead of taking whatever scraps he would give her. And looking back, she understood. She understood why he had left, why he had grown tired of her insecurities and her constant need for reassurance. Looking back, she hated those things about herself too. She hated the person she was when she was with him.
She'd thrown herself into her work, despite the feeling of hopelessness that had generally accompanied her efforts, and had had a lucky break. Off broadway, but a real job that didn't require her travelling across the country. It was rehearsals that had led her to this lack of punctuality, distracting her just enough throughout the morning that she had almost forgotten about the impending meeting between the two of them and their representation, a call from her lawyer questioning her failure to show up early as planned leading to her abrupt exit after checking the time she needed to return later that day.
She swung open the door to the building haphazardly, giving her name to the receptionist before being taken towards her destination, expecting to see only her lawyer still waiting outside the room. She frowned to see him deep in conversation with whom she assumed was opposing counsel, Jamie no where in sight – not that she planned on complaining about that.
"Hi." She was hesitant, but announced herself in the hopes that things would be a little less awkward.
"Cathy." He smiled warmly when he saw her, and it took her a moment to remember that she had asked him to use her first name when she had first met him. The other man ducked into the room to her right.
"What's going on?"
"I'm handling it." The lawyer assured her. "Nothing to worry about. Just an attempt to overlook procedure. Your husband's lawyer has just gone to inform him of our refusal to do that."
She frowned, but let it go, wanting to get this over with. "How long do these things usually take? I need to get back to work."
"Today's meeting is really just to give us an idea of what needs to be considered and to see if any mutual agreements can be made early on. It usually takes around an hour or so."
She nodded, and was about to respond when the door opened again, and she caught a brief glimpse of Jamie as his lawyer once again stepped out.
"My client has advised me that he's not willing to proceed without speaking privately with his wife."
Cathy's eyes widened, and she subconsciously took a step back. That's exactly what she didn't want. It's exactly what she had been avoiding when she hadn't taken his calls or opened the door. She didn't need his excuses, she needed him to let her move on. But he was stubborn, and that was the reason she found herself saying "Fine." just after her lawyer insisted that it wasn't an option.
"I really advise against this." He was concerned by her agreement, but she wasn't sure whether or not that was due to genuine care for her, or a genuine concern for not being paid. As far as she was concerned, the latter didn't need to be a worry for him, she wasn't going to agree to any form of divorce that didn't require his services.
"If this is what it takes to move things along faster, I'll do it." She assured him, trying to hide the anxiety that was building inside her as the other attorney smugly smiled over his little victory and opened the door for her. She stepped in and almost jumped when it was immediately closed behind her and she was confronted by her husband's back as he focused on whatever was going on outside the window. She wouldn't talk first. He was the one that insisted on this.
"What did she say?" The familiar voice almost startled her again, but she stood her ground, not wanting him to see that he could have any effect on her. "Will she see me?"
She didn't respond, and after another moment passed he turned to see why his answer had not come, and a small smile graced his lips. She stared back, trying to pass as emotionless.
He took a step forward, and she was suddenly grateful for the table that was between them. The barrier was helpful.
"What do you want?"
"You didn't answer my calls."
"No." She glanced to the side of his head, focusing on the sky outside. "You didn't answer my question."
He let out a sigh, and she averted her gaze just a fraction more.
"I'm coming home."
"You expect me to move out by tonight?!" She risked looking at him for a moment, but turned away at the determination in his gaze. "I definitely think the lawyers should be in here for this."
"You're not moving out." He demanded. "I fucked up, I know that, but now I'm going to come home. That's why I called you, and why I stopped by. I decided that we're going to fix this."
"You decided?" She watched as he began to move around the table, and immediately began to move in an attempt to maintain the distance. She understood now, and six months ago that would have been exactly what she wanted to hear. Six months ago she hadn't started picking up the pieces. Six months ago she hadn't re-evaluated their entire relationship and realised just how bad he had been both for and to her. "That's not your decision to make."
"Yes it is." He insisted. "I left, it's my responsibility to put us back together this time."
"What, so I didn't get a say in the ending of our marriage and now I don't get a say in your decision to 'fix' it?" She wondered when he had first started to overlook the fact that she may want to make her own decisions. Her own life choices.
"It's not like that." He argued. "I left, I miss you, I'm coming home."
She watched him carefully, still working to keep the distance between them as he tried to work his way closer to her, taking in his expression. Then it dawned on her. "She kicked you out, didn't she?"
"Whoever it was who's bed you went to when you left mine." She shook her head, crossing her arms defensively over her body. "This isn't about me, you don't have anywhere else to go."
"It's about you!" He asserted. "I can't write without you. Nothing makes sense."
"Oh." She scoffed. "So it's about your career. It's not convenient for you for us to be apart permanently. But it is convenient for you to ignore me at your events and sleep with every woman you come across while we're together."
"I didn't mean to hurt you."
"You know if you kill someone, and then say you didn't mean to kill them, they're still dead, and it's still your fault."
"This isn't you." He frowned. "It's been six months and you're... you're angry."
"Maybe this is me." She reasoned, partially for herself. "Maybe this is me when I've been hurt one too many times and I'm tired of feeling like I don't matter. I do matter, Jamie, I do matter, and I never felt like I did with you. I don't think I can go back to that."
"I'm not the same person I was back then." He claimed. "We can make this work."
"No." She decided. "We can't."
People like me want to believe you
When you say you've changed
He'd worn her down. First by refusing to reschedule the appointment she had walked out of, then by getting their remaining mutual friends to encourage her to give him a chance, and by showing up after rehearsals (not that she even knew how he'd found out where she was working, but she was willing to bet it was through one of said mutual friends). She wanted to believe him, she really did. Loving him was like breathing to her, so easy, so natural that she wondered how she could ever survive without it, so the idea of having him definitely had it's appeal.
That was how she found herself at his latest book launch. Carol Ann had referred to it as the perfect test (after, of course, many phone calls discussing whether or not she should even go). They'd often discussed these events over the past few years, and her friend had always been put off by the way Cathy had always finished them, alone at the other end of the room. Ignored. Feeling like she didn't belong.
He hadn't picked her up, she'd decided not to tell him she had decided to attend, curious as to how the uncertainty would influence his actions, but as soon as she had given her name at the door she was escorted to him (something she later learned he had requested be done immediately upon her arrival), and he'd smiled a smile she couldn't recall seeing in well over a year. It was almost as if he was genuinely happy to see her.
She was by his side, his arm tight around her waist as they moved around the room. He spoke to almost everyone there. Everyone except her. She wondered if it was because he didn't know what to say to her (this wasn't the ideal place for her to finally give him an inch), or if he was concerned that the subject matter would bore her. It didn't matter. He could have tried to involve her in the conversation, but instead all she had got was occasional questions or statements or a forehead kiss when they were between guests.
Sure she wasn't alone this time, but alone and lonely were different things, and his editor's glares from across the room were making her more uncomfortable than she usually was at these things. Even the familiar faces that she had spent previous events getting to know didn't put her at ease. Jamie had been wary of her leaving his side for even a moment, and she had had to offer them nothing but apologies when his hold on her waist had tightened at the prospect of her going to have a drink with them. It had been the only difference.
She glanced back over to the other side of the room, catching yet another glare. She supposed that was something. He hadn't said a word to Elise all evening, and it had taken her a while to figure out that he seemed to be purposely avoiding the other woman, expertly moving them around the room so that they were always at the opposite side to her.
He was laughing at something the man occupying his attention had said. A fake laugh, but a laugh all the same. More communication than she was getting. She felt herself tiring, and wanted nothing more than to be at home, watching a movie or reading a book. Doing anything than what she was doing in the location she was, really.
He turned as she tried to pull away from him, hoping to make an escape and disappear into the night, just as he had done. He had noticed, and his hold tightened again, his fingers beginning to dance on her hip. When they had first got together the action had soothed her. Now it just felt like his way of blowing her off without actually going anywhere. She tugged again,and this time he released her, but quickly joined their hands before she could stray too far from his side, quickly ending the conversation he had been so involved in moments before.
"I want to show you something." He was smiling, and it seemed genuine, but she had a hard time believing anything that came from him these days.
Following him through the crowd, he stopped in front of the many copies of his new book, picking one up from the back and dropping her hand to open it.
He'd dedicated it to her.
She didn't know whether to smile or cry.
The more I think about it now
The less I know
"I just don't know."
Carol Ann was once again providing some much needed moral support as Cathy tried to make sense of what was going on in her head. Did she give in? Did she give her marriage another chance? Was that even what he wanted? If it was, how long until he changed his mind again? Could she handle that?
She knew he believed that they had already begun to work things out. She knew that he thought her presence at the launch had been her agreement to allow him back in. It hadn't been. She'd needed to know if he really had changed, but going had left her more confused than ever.
"It was different but, I don't know if it was in a good way."
"How did you feel when you were there?"
"Sad, but also happy. It felt right to be there but... it still seemed like I may as well not have been when it came to him."
"Did it feel right?" Her friend mused. "Or normal?"
"Normal." She admitted. "Just, normal."
"Then it was exactly how all of the other events you used to go to were."
"I don't know how to handle this. I was happy. I had actually found a way to be happy without him and then he just comes back like this and he's saying all of the right things but my mind is telling me that it's too late, and I should run." She paused. "I know he was right to leave, I know that. Neither of us were happy, it wasn't working and I was never going to admit that, but now... I just don't know what to do."
"Why don't you come and visit? Take some time out of the city. No Jamie, no stress. Just time to yourself."
"Sounds great." Cathy sighed. "But I can't, I can't leave a job I only just got."
"Maybe I could come to you for a weekend? Girls weekend in the city."
"I'd love that."
"Hopefully I'll see your asshole husband so I can tell him I got in your bed before he got back in it."
She laughed, and it had been so long since she genuinely had that the sound was alien to her."I should probably get to bed, tomorrow's opening night. I'll call you after? So we can figure out what weekend to make this happen?"
She hung up the phone and glanced around the empty apartment. He'd dropped her off a little under an hour ago, and it had been clear to her that he had wanted to come in (He hadn't invited himself to move back in as he had claimed he was, she'd found out that after filling Michael in on their conversation, he had been told that trying to force himself back into her life was definitely not his best option). She hadn't invited him, and he hadn't asked. She hadn't even wanted him to drive her home, but giving him that had seemed like the least she could do. She'd been the centre of his world in the car, and it had only added to her confusion.
It scared her that one moment he could be distant, barely acknowledging her, and the next it was like she was the only person in the world. It had never been like this before they had married. There had never been distance, he'd always made her feel like his world would crumble if he didn't have her. She'd long given up on blaming marriage for the breakdown of their relationship. It was all on them. Wrong decisions. Selfish desires. Different paths and little compromise. They both could have done better. She knew that. But if they were right for each other, why hadn't they? Had they even tried? She liked to think that she had, but she couldn't answer for him. Maybe that was a part of the problem.
She moved slowly as she heard someone at the door, frowning when she looked out of the window to see no one waiting outside, and cautiously moving to go and check. She almost smiled as she opened the door to the building, seeing the bouquet placed on the doorstep.
Thanks for tonight, J.
All I know is that you drove us
Off the road
She'd exited the stage with a grin on her face, still listening to the applause of the audience as the curtain came down. They'd all been expecting there to be a number of small opening night issues, so were all elated that there had been none, and that the show had been as successful as they could have hoped.
"You were great out there."
She smiled at the compliment as she headed further backstage with her co-stars, planning to change quickly and get home. They'd celebrate later in the week, when they didn't have a show the next day.
She'd seen him in the audience, and despite his persistence it had surprised her. He'd seemed to actively go out of his way to avoid coming to her shows before, and this time he had come without so much as an invitation. She hadn't even told him when the show opened, although she had assumed he knew following his appearance at one of their rehearsals.
"Think we can pull that off again tomorrow?"
She turned to her co-star, nodding as she took him in. She and Jack had become fast friends since meeting, and it had been nice to have someone who knew nothing of the stuff she was struggling through. Someone who she could talk to without them seeing the damage underneath. Someone she could have a laugh with.
"What?" He joked. "Can't speak unless it's scripted?"
She laughed. "No. Just trying to figure out how many shows we have left until we lose this and have to go and find other jobs."
"Live in the moment, Cath." He advised, beginning to almost dance around her as they walked. "You've got me for months yet."
"You got me." She laughed. "It was all about you. How will I ever cope without seeing you every day?"
"You'll manage." He sighed dramatically. "And I'll be front and centre at all of your future opening nights."
"What if I don't invite you?"
"I'll reserve in advance." He claimed. "And of course I'd be so hurt by it that I would then spend the entirety of the show trying to put you off."
"I guess I should just invite you, then."
Their playful chatter was interrupted by a familiar voice, and she sighed as she noticed that Jamie had somehow made his way backstage and was watching the exchange as he approached. She could barely hide the sense of dread that filled her when she saw him. The realisation that she could possibly lose the simplicity of her friendship with Jack if he was suddenly confronted with the complication of the husband that had damaged her almost beyond repair.
"You were fantastic."
She smiled in thanks as she grasped Jack's arm and attempted to lead him away.
"What? No hug for your husband?"
She froze, and caught a glimpse of her friend's face as she turned round. Jack didn't seem phased by the title, almost as if he had known, but he had seemed to sense her anxiety and stepped forward himself before she got the chance. "Jack, Jack Berkeley."
She watched as Jamie surveyed the man's hand before taking it, consenting to the handshake before pulling away and turning back to her. "It was a great show."
"I'm surprised you even saw it." She countered. "Don't you have a book to write?"
"I'm never too busy to come and see you."
She almost flinched at his words. It was a lie. He may not have seen it that way considering his new obsession with showing up in almost every aspect of her life, but it was. He was always too busy to see her. She'd asked on many occasions, he'd always had an excuse ready, almost as if he had an entire list planned out just to pick one whenever she called. Even when she had managed to convince him to come and visit her he'd had an excuse to leave promptly. A weak one, but an excuse all the same. The present didn't change the past.
He'd made no effort to spend time with her, and as the years had progressed he'd become less supportive of her, despite his insistence that he believed in her. She'd spent many months before he left feeling abandoned, he may as well have already gone at that point for all the interest he had in her. He didn't make sense, not to her at least. She'd just never seen that as a bad thing before.
"Cath?" She felt Jack's light touch on her arm. "We really need to get ready to go before they want to lock up for the night."
She nodded and made a move to walk away, only for Jamie to stop her with his words. "I'll wait here. Take you for a late dinner."
"Um..." She excused. "Jack and I have plans."
Great. Now she was lying too.
She was sure Jamie hadn't missed the look of confusion her friend had given her when she spoke, but she was grateful that the latter had at least tried to hide it for her. "Um, yeah, I mean, we wanted to celebrate the show."
"He can come too."
And she knew there was no real way out of it.
Here you are now
Calling me up
But I don't know what to say
I've been picking up pieces of the mess you made
She cried. The first time she had cried in months. She had thought she had finished crying over him so long ago that it was almost a distant memory, but as Carol Ann sat by her, attempting to comfort her as she sobbed, she realised she'd just been holding it in.
"Why is he saying all of this now?" She questioned. "Why didn't he say all of this instead of leaving."
"Guys are idiots." Her friend offered, her hand continuing to gently rub Cathy's shoulder in an attempt to calm her down. "And you don't always have to forgive them for it. Not when they go too far."
"How do I know when he's gone too far."
"You already do know." Carol Ann's answer was somewhat unexpected. "Your boundaries are yours, and you do know if he has crossed the point of no return, even if you're not seeing it clearly right now. Try and clear your head, and it'll come to you."
"And if it doesn't?"
A silence fell over the room, only being occasionally broken by the sobs, and the two women stayed huddled together in silence for a moment before Cathy suddenly leaned forward, picking up a tissue from the box that had been placed in front of them earlier and turning back to her friend.
"I love him."
"But I don't trust him."
Carol Ann nodded, pulling her friend back into her arms. "Just think about it. Is love a strong enough basis to try and build from? Do you think you could learn to trust him again over time? If not, it's better for you both to let each other go now."
They were interrupted by the ring of a phone, and Carol Ann instinctively answered it (a habit she had picked up in her own home) without checking who was calling.
"You're not Cathy?"
Cathy could hear the conversation clearly, her head resting on her friend's shoulder, and the voice threatened to make her lose control of the tears she was trying to hold in.
"Is she there?"
"Where is she?"
"Why do you need to know?"
"I have to talk to her about something."
"Or you could talk to me. And I'll pass on the message." Carol Ann stood up, frowning slightly as Cathy's only response was to allow herself to fall onto the couch where she had been sitting, gazing up at her as if to plead with her to not make her speak to him. She placed a hand over the receiver and questioned "Are you sure?"
"I don't know what to say to him."
Carol Ann nodded, moving the phone back to her ear. "She's in the shower, can you not let her have that?"
Cathy watched her expressions as the conversation continued, and she eventually hung up the phone, amusement tugging at her lips. "Your husband wants to know if you are willing to consider marriage counselling."
"I don't..." Cathy began. "I don't know how to answer that..."
"You know, I tried it once, it really helped."
"Since when was your marriage anything other than perfect?"
"A couple of years ago, all we did was fight, we figured it was worth a shot." A shrug. "You know, it's not just about saving a marriage. That's the aim, but it really gives you a lot of insight into whether or not it's worth saving. It could help you realise how you feel about whether or not he's gone too far, even if nothing else." She paused. "And it would probably look good if you do end up divorcing, that you were willing to try and work it out. Ask your lawyer?"
Cathy nodded. "Why did it seem to amuse you that he asked?"
"I just never imagined you in marriage counselling."
"I don't know that I'll go."
"The way he's being now, that's hard enough, I don't think I can discuss the past, not yet. I'm still trying to accept the fact that he completely tore my life apart and waited until I put myself back together before he changed his mind. I can't relive it all right now."
People like you always want back
The love they pushed aside
But people like me are gone forever
When you say goodbye
"Cath, wait up!" She stalled, holding the door open as Jack ran up behind her, darting inside the door before she let it close. "I've been meaning to talk to you."
"I'm sorry, I really don't want to go skydiving with you."
He rolled his eyes playfully. "Yeah right." The way he was watching her was making her nervous. "Cath, be careful."
"The stuff with your husband."
She nodded. She'd filled him in on everything following the awkward dinner, knowing that he deserved some form of explanation for that situation. "What about it?"
"I know that it's none of my business, and he could be completely genuine in this trying to fix your relationship thing, but my cousin works in that business, and according to him, divorce really isn't great for sales unless that's what the book is about." He hesitated as they began to move down the corridor. "I don't know if that's what's going on with your husband I just... I don't want you to get hurt."
"I got hurt a long time ago." She shrugged. "I doubt anything he does now will be any worse than what he's already done."
"You're really not taking any nonsense when it comes to him."
"I made that mistake before." She smiled. "You don't need to worry, I'm going into this with my eyes open. I don't know how things will turn out, but whatever happens, it's on my terms this time."
"After the way he treated you, it should be."
"He wasn't all bad." She sighed. "Sometimes he was really great. He's just carried away right now, so I have to be the one to remember that he left for a reason and that that reason is not only still an issue, but is made up by many smaller issues." She paused. "Thanks for caring, though."
"I'm good at the caring thing." He shrugged. "So, how did you spend your morning off?"
A sigh. "Marriage counselling."
"Funny." He laughed. "That's a good one."
"I actually wish I was kidding." She frowned. "Not that it's a bad idea in itself it's just not something I ever thought I'd be doing."
"Is it working?"
"Pretty much the only thing that Jamie and I have verbally agreed on is that he messed up when he left, and I'm not even sure I even agree with that any more. I kind of found my world again when he left, reclaimed my own life instead of living in his."
"That's good." A grin. "I guess what you really need to figure out is whether or not you can keep this life of yours and your marriage, or if you would have to give it up for your marriage."
"That's the thing." She elaborated. "I'm not willing to do that. I can't go back to being the person that I was back then. I want to be happy and that life didn't make me happy. I hate how dependent I was on him. Leaving was the best thing he could have done for me because it gave me the metaphorical kick that I needed."
"These are the sort of things you should be telling him, you know."
"It's hard to." She sighed as they came to a stop at the stage door. "I'm not sure I can ever go back to being his wife again and I think I've left it way too long to tell him that."
"Quite a predicament." The man was clearly amused, and she reached out to playfully slap his arm. "That's abuse!"
"So sue me." She laughed, opening the stage door to see if any of the other cast and crew members had arrived. She smiled at the few that were there, running lines and checking the placement of props. "This isn't funny."
"It is." He claimed. "I feel like I should be the one getting paid for the marriage counselling."
She couldn't read his expression, not like she used to be able to, and it worried her. He was watching her intently, his gaze firm, but with no distinguishable emotion. Squirming under his scrutiny, she turned away, unnecessarily beginning to go through her bag to make sure she had everything she'd need when she left the apartment for the theatre the next day.
Without being able to see him, she became even more aware that she couldn't hear him either, not even the familiar sound of his breathing, but as she turned back to him slightly, she was once again met with his unwavering gaze.
"I'm going to need at least some form of acknowledgement." She eventually spoke up, allowing herself to fully focus on him. "Just some sign that you heard me."
After a few moments he stood up, taking a few steps towards her but stopping just short of reaching her. "I thought we were doing well, that the counselling was working?"
"We are doing well, but just because something is working, doesn't mean we should be letting it."
"That doesn't even make sense." He frowned. "Are you still scared? Michael said you'd be scared of letting me get too close for a while."
"Well, yeah." She admitted. "But that's not really the problem, but at the same time it is." His expression prompted her to continue. "I am terrified of letting you in again, but since you left, I started doing things anyway, no matter how much they scare me. I didn't have that when we were together and I need it now, I'm just not sure I can risk losing it."
"So you just expect me to give up?"
"I don't expect you to do anything, you're your own person." She insisted. "I'm just telling you how I feel, like the counsellor said I should."
"That advice was meant to bring us closer, not be a means of tearing us apart." He paused. "Is there someone else?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It's about me. And I kind of am someone else. I'm not the person I used to be."
"That doesn't bother me." He assured her. "I like the new you."
"But you loved the old me once. And I need to be the person I'm becoming now, not the person I was. I need to figure out how to be me before I can figure out how to be an us with anyone."
"So that's it?"
"I'm not saying never, Jamie, I'm just saying not now." She sighed. "We can hold off on the divorce if you really want to, but I just need time to be myself."
"How much time?"
Marked as complete because I fully intend for this to be a one shot, but I do have a habit of updating my one shots, and I already have ideas (although more future one shots than a continuation), so I doubt I'll be able to hold off for long.