Author's Notes – Not mine. Just borrowing.

MATURE THEMES AHEAD! This piece talks about violence against women. Please be warned if this subject is going to cause issues, then please do not read. Triggers are possible if violence has touched your world.

Please read and leave comments. Any and all are welcome. I am still unsure about whether this should be posted, but thought I would put my worries aside and see how it is received. If this story is not of interest to you, please feel free to check out my other two pieces are am working on….both are multi-chapter and in various states of completion (neither are finished as of yet)…Drug of Choice and What Now?

The likelihood she can keep going at this pace much longer is dwindling at a rapid pace, especially in light of what happened. How it has come to this she has no idea. It's like a bad dream that she can't get away from; except she is always awake. The thing is stuff like this doesn't happen to women like her. Really if you think about it at any length; she's a genius who works for one the most covert organizations around. She knows better, god knows she does. All the rationalization that she has heard through her twenty some years on the planet have given all the information needed to avoid these situations. Hell, she could quote all the ins and outs. None of that matters though.

So, she hides; because that is an easier thing to do. The other choice, to talk about it, would cause so many repercussions that she is having trouble justifying. Of course, she can come up with all the justifications under the sun for what is happening and why. The reasons are textbook and she knows it. The reasons would also be blown out of the water by most who she tells, so she stays quiet.

At the end of the day, her job is demanding. It takes her away. A lot. That's a hard thing for anyone, let alone the man who is in a relationship with someone in her position. She doesn't tell him what she really does; she can't. The late nights and the overnights have convinced him she is lying to him. The thing is she is lying to him. That's the part that gets her when she tries to come up with anything other than she has no right to question him when he accuses her.

How can she really expect him to understand if she can't share everything with him? That's the crux of the problem. He gets mad because she is gone til all hours, no matter how much she insists that there are no other reasons for it other than work. What the hell kind of TV news editor works the schedule she does? None. That's why nothing she says matters.

She knows she can't tell him the truth, but she also wonders if ending things is really fair. The first few months were magical. Everything a woman dreams about. Great guy with a good job that was willing to do anything to make her happy. That's the man she was starting to grow more and more attached to; she couldn't really say she loved him, but there was definitely something there that kept her coming back. Who knows, maybe it was just the normalcy she was craving. People all over the world have lives outside of work, why not her?

Then things got crazy at work. The last two weeks have had her at the Mission more than at home. Between work in ops and going on-site to various locations, she has been gone so much. The first couple days he was understanding and sweet. Then he started getting frustrated. He picked fights. Argued with her and made sure she knew it was because she was never there.

By the end of the first week, the first accusation came from his mouth. She had to be sleeping with someone else and he was going to have none of that. He grabbed her arm so hard when she told him to go to hell that she yelped in pain. Shaking her hard, he made it clear that she had better be home by dinner. Of course, she wasn't. It was closer to midnight. When she came home finally, he was so livid that it scared her.

He screamed at her that night for the first time by the beginning of the second week. She was so shocked by his reaction that when he pushed her against the wall on his way out the door she couldn't even think. Thinking back the way her head hit the wall probably didn't help her ability to think clearly. It was the first time she almost called someone.

She picked up her phone as the tears streamed down her face, but stopped short of dialing. What exactly would she say? The man she is dating is pissed because she is always at work. He overreacted because he thinks she is lying. All of those things were true. She was gone a lot and she was lying to him. It falls directly on her. She put the phone down and went to bed after locking her front door.

The next couple days were not any easier. She was gone the entire night following him shoving her and when she finally got home late the night after, he is waiting for her. The look in his eyes gives her all the information she needs to know. He is beyond pissed. She swears she can see him shaking he is so mad. Trying her best to seem happy to see him through the exhaustion racking her body, she smiles as she reaches her door where he is waiting.

Then it all goes wrong. Really, really wrong. She tries to talk to him and he shoves her into the wall outside her apartment. His hands are so tight against her arms that she can't move. She is officially scared. Without even thinking it through, she kicks him in the shin as hard as she can. That does not help her cause at all. He responds with a backhand across her cheek and another hard shove into the wall. Then he is gone.

She feels herself slide to the floor as she tries to process what the hell just happened. It doesn't make any sense. He didn't even give her a chance to explain before he reacted. One part of her knows she has to leave now, but another part of her thinks maybe if she did things differently their relationship will go back to where they were before. She picks herself up off the floor and goes to the only place she knows he can't find her. The Mission.

By the time she arrives back at work it is well past midnight. She settles back into her chair with a sigh, trying to push all the thoughts out of her head. Sitting in the dark allows her a peace she can no longer find once she leaves. Now what? There is no way to hide the bruise on her face. The bruises on her arms can be covered. She is also well aware that lying to the team won't work. There was no way she wants them to know the predicament she has herself in, but she also knows she is kidding herself if she really thinks she can fool them.

Getting up from her place in ops, she goes to the locker room to shower. Maybe that will clear her head enough that she can think clearly. She purposely undresses away from any mirrors unsure that she wants to actually see the damage inflicted. It's easier to forget if she doesn't look, right? After the shower, she will deal with reality.

Standing under the steady stream of water, she lets the heat calm her tense muscles. As she leans back to get her hair wet, she experiences a sharp pain as the water makes contact. She hisses loudly and jerks her head out the path of the water. For the first time since the incident, she places her hand on her head attempting to determine the damage. She pulls her hand away from her head and sees blood. Well that changes things a bit, doesn't it?

She has no idea what the wound looks like that is causing her head to bleed. Trying to determine the next course of action, she decides the shower may well be a bad idea. Although she hasn't really felt dizzy at all, she is a bit concerned she could pass out from whatever the hell is happening with her head. She turns the shower off and dries quickly with the nearby towel. Getting dressed in clothes she had in her car, she sits on the bench as she ponders who to call.

Her options are pretty simple. One of her team; she just isn't sure which one to call. Mentally going through the list she tries to determine the best choice. In the end, she quickly eliminates some while trying to decide between the remaining members. So it comes down to three, just which one will make things the easiest remains to be determined.

Taking a deep breath, she makes the call. A couple of rings go by before a groggy voice answers the phone clearly having just been woken up. They don't use her name, so she figures they must have not even looked at the caller ID before answering. She briefly loses her nerve and almost hangs up before she hears her name being called into the phone. Evidently, they chose to check after she didn't respond and she now has no choice but to speak.

"I've got a slight problem; can you meet at the Mission as soon as possible?"

Ok…so this is obviously a touchy subject. It was actually what I started as my first story moving to What Now?. I wasn't so sure this was a good idea for my first piece and honestly am still not so sure about posting it.

I do realize this probably could be seen as out of character for Nell, but it is something that touches everyone; regardless of their gender, intelligence level, societal status, income level, or any other niche they may fit in. It's much easier than most give credit for to fall into a relationship that goes from ideal to bad without warning or understanding.