Peace by Meowser Clancy

Maddie's last Easter with Doug, and all that that entails. TW: abuse, Doug. Instead of going the fluffy route I went full on sadness so please don't read if you don't want to be taken to a darker place ~Meowser

April 19, 2019

Maddie was leaving work on Friday, knowing she had a rare weekend off. A holiday weekend, no less. She usually tried to volunteer for these, but since her incident with Doug, Sue was having her work less hours. She wasn't quite back to full time.

"Do you have any Easter traditions?" Linda asked casually, as Maddie grabbed her purse from the kitchen, and Maddie paused for too long. She was caught in a memory, trying to brush it aside, and failing.

"No," she said, forcing a smile onto her face. "Not really. I'll see you later, have a good one, okay?"

"Thanks, you too," Linda said, waving her off.

Maddie walked swiftly from the call center, caught in a memory.

April 1, 2018

"My parents will be here in twenty minutes and the ham isn't close to done," Doug said, his voice getting dangerously close to anger.

"We aren't eating as soon as they arrive," Maddie said, keeping her voice measured and cool. Tone with Doug was always a gamble. Sometimes he wanted her to be calm, and sometimes he wanted her to panic. No matter which she chose, it would somehow be the wrong response.

Doug didn't say anything for a moment. Maybe he was too conscious of his parents arriving. Maddie still stood there, stirring the potatoes before sliding them back into the oven, braced for the other shoe to drop.

She finally turned around, seeing her husband standing there holding a bottle of champagne. Fuck. He had bought alcohol. She hadn't seen it in the kitchen fridge, maybe he left it in the garage.

"Maddie, do you want to try that again?" He asked, his voice dangerously slick.

"What do you want me to say?" Maddie asked. She was too worn out to play to him, too burnt out to care. She could see the light in his eyes, and she knew he was about to snap, but at this point, why was she trying for? It was going to be awful regardless.

Might as well go out swinging. She'd had a grueling week and she didn't have any niceness left for him.

She was leaving soon anyway. As soon as the timing was right. He always went on a retreat with his doctor buddies in the late summer. She could hold out until then. This was the last holiday, too. She'd tried to get scheduled on, but Doug had spoken with her supervisor and made sure she was off.

Maddie hadn't had the heart to try again after that. She was done trying. She was just waiting. She had four-ish months to go, give or take.

She had to outlast him. Not give in. Not care. Just be neutral and accept whatever he was planning. It didn't matter anymore.

She wondered if he had a hint of her feelings, if that's why he'd been so volatile lately. Was it because she wasn't reacting enough to his demands?

She didn't have the energy to contemplate it. She couldn't stand his parents. There was a reason that he'd turned out the way that he had. His parents were cold. Cold and brittle. Forever criticizing. Forever "expecting more."

She knew Doug got his temper from his father, and his endless criticisms from his mother. She knew his mother would start criticizing as soon as she walked in.

In her youth, Maddie had pitied Doug for how awful his parents were, but all empathy had long ago dried up. She'd had awful parents as well, as had Buck, and they hadn't turned into their parents. It wasn't an excuse she'd forgive anymore.

"You could fucking apologize," Doug said, stepping closer. "For fucking ruining brunch, for not getting the timing right. For fucks sake, you insisted on staying home from church to cook and then couldn't even get the fucking ham right?"

Oh. This was about church. He'd gone alone, to keep up appearances, but she'd told him she had so much to do before his parents got there that she wouldn't have time.

She hated church with Doug as well. Dresses that were somehow skintight and yet covered every inch of skin. Heels that were pretty to show her off but not slutty to tempt anyone. His hand on her arm like a vice.

"I was working at the vegetables, and the fruit salad," Maddie said. "The ham will be done soon enough. This way it will be hot for them. Nothing your father hates more than cold meat."

Doug's eyes flashed again, and she knew she'd set something off. "Why do you hate my parents?" He said. "Every fucking holiday, it's the same thing. You say that my mom complains but fuck, Maddie, she just has high expectations. Like me. We fucking expect things to be perfect, and what's wrong with a fucking perfect easter for once in our lives? You always pull shit and ruin things."

Maddie didn't have words now. He was getting closer to her, and her mind was racing, trying to brace herself. He wouldn't hit her where it would show, but still, he'd do something awful to send a signal to her of what was coming tonight after his parents were gone. She felt her breath getting shorter, and against her will, she knew her body was beginning to panic. She had to stay calm. She couldn't show fear.

Unless. Unless that was what Doug wanted. Maybe, just maybe, she could placate him with tears.

"I'm sorry," she said, perfect tears falling from her eyes due to years of acting with him. She didn't mean a word of her apology, but damn, it didn't sound like that. "I messed up. I'm so sorry, Doug."

"You always do," he said, slamming the champagne down. Her attempt had gone nowhere. She knew his anger was coming, but then, the doorbell rang.

She breathed out. She knew that whatever was coming to her that night would be far worse due to his anger building, but for right now, it was over.

Doug's face smoothed into the smooth, fake smile she knew all too well. "Smile," he hissed, and left the kitchen to let his parents in.

Maddie sagged against the counter, and tried to keep breathing. Somehow, some way, she had to get through this day. She had to get through his parents complaints, and Doug's little digs. She had to make sure everything was on the table so that she never had to go to the kitchen.

Going to the kitchen meant that Doug could follow her, be alone with her.

She just had to be prepared.

This was her last easter with Doug. She could do this. She'd be free, by next easter.

April 19, 2019

Maddie sat in her car, her whole body shaking. These memories were all too intense now, all encompassing. She had so many nightmares now.

She dreamed about Chimney, lying in a pool of blood, but this time he was dead. She ran to him, she shook his shoulders, she begged him to wake up, but he never did. And she'd stand up, and then Buck was there too, and Doug raised his gun, and shot him in the head.

She'd wake up then, her whole body in tremors. Therapy wasn't helping, not enough. She saw Doug everywhere, he haunted her every last moment.

And she'd even given up Chimney. She couldn't even think about him, couldn't think about the look on his face as she'd left his apartment. She couldn't look back on what might have been. She couldn't contemplate any of it.

She'd failed them. She'd brought Doug into it, and Chimney had paid the price. She had his blood on her hands, and she could never forgive herself for that.

In her most bitter moments, she knew she'd never have been able to give Chimney peace anyway. Even if they had gone on that date. Even if Doug hadn't shown up. Wouldn't he have haunted them regardless? Been forever lurking around every corner, if only in Maddie's mind? She was a fool to think that leaving him could ever mean freedom.

It had only meant pain. All of the joy of living in LA, all of the happiness she'd felt talking with Buck, all of the exquisite pleasure of falling in love with Chimney, and realizing he was falling in love with her, it was all gone, all erased when she'd seen Chimney lying there.

Nothing was worth that. Nothing was worth hurting him like that.

She couldn't ever make up for that. Nothing she did could ever fix that and make it better. So she'd better just leave. Stay away. Distance herself from it all. Yes, it would hurt her more, but as long as Chimney was safeā€¦

She wasn't in a place to date right now anyway. She was so utterly broken, shattered into pieces, left raw and screaming from what had happened. How was anyone supposed to move on from something like that? Was she somehow supposed to make it all okay? Was she supposed to be able to process this? Process her husband's death and Chimney's injury? Process her own wounds?

They all bled into each other, after all. And they were all her fault. If only she hadn't stayed. If she'd kept running when Buck asked her to stay. Doug had known where she was as early as Christmas.

Of course he'd bet on her going to LA. How stupid could she be, how selfish? She'd put Buck in danger, she'd put the whole 118 in danger. Chimney had almost died, because of her.

She knew, on some level, that she shouldn't blame herself. She knew that when she was back talking with her therapist that she'd be told it wasn't her fault. She knew that Doug's hands were the guilty ones. She had been told over and over that she killed him in self defense.

Sometimes she even believed it.

But right now, sitting in her car, trying to face another easter, a year after her last one, her whole body was seizing up, leaving her unable to move, leaving her just remembering everything.

She had been so full of hope. She'd looked at the future as something new, as something that Doug couldn't touch. She'd really and truly thought that leaving would mean an end.

There would never be an end. There couldn't be.

Her whole body ached from the crying she'd done, and she wanted to leave this damn parking lot, she wanted to go home and cry in private, but she knew she couldn't drive like this.

She wondered what Chimney was doing, but that just brought on another wave of regret, and sorrow, and anger at herself. She had no right to know what he was doing. She had no right to his life. She needed to let go, she needed to stop looking back. She couldn't afford to do this anymore, couldn't afford to reminisce.

She had to let go of him, but it was like her hands were clenched in fists. Leaving him as she had, she knew it was the right thing to do, no matter how much it hurt both of them. She couldn't make him go through even more, she was nowhere near healed, and Chimney deserved peace right now. Maddie was only chaos, she knew. She'd only brought pain to his life.

She had to let go, but she couldn't make herself open her hands, she couldn't make herself even really picture it. How could she just go on without looking back? How could she pretend that she was alright leaving him? She knew that she needed to give the semblance of moving on, she knew that she couldn't ask anything else of him, and she couldn't give him any reason to think that there was a possibility for them.

Because there wasn't. There couldn't be. Not after what he'd been through.

She couldn't ask him to take her back.

Maddie could finally see through her tears, and she took a drink of water, trying to keep the liquid down. She had to leave this damn parking lot.