Title: The Hard Way
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Warnings: adult themes
Category: angst, AU
Keywords: Jimmy Bond, Yves Adele Harlow
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Archival: If you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.
Notes: This is a bit of an experiment for me, because I usually don't write dark. Needless to say, if you want happy, don't read this. This is a one-shot; there is no sequel planned.
Summary: Wanting the unwantable. 517 words.

What a beautiful piece of heartache
this has all turned out to be.
Lord knows, we've learned the hard way
all about healthy apathy.
--Over the Rhine, "Latter Days"

He'd lied to her. She hadn't thought him capable of such a thing, but he'd looked her in the eyes and said he didn't want any more than this.

She'd believed him, because she'd wanted it as much as him.

Now, he looked at her, and she could see the truth deep in his eyes, the shroud that had covered it stripped away with the light of morning.

She looked away from those hurting eyes, down at her hands, holding the last item she needed to pack. The towel's terrycloth was rough against her fingertips. She tucked it into her bag, her motions stiff. She stood there, her hands still, her head bowed, knowing she should have left while he was still asleep.

She'd watched him shift his weight from foot to foot, his hesitance coming off him in waves.

It had been a mirage, like the shimmer of water on a hot highway.

"I know what you are," he'd said, and the confidence in his voice had fooled her.

She'd heard his words, but she hadn't listened. Not until later, when they came back to her, lying in darkness, him breathing beside her. What, not who. She'd been so arrogant, certain he couldn't know.

He'd only had to say her name and it was enough.

She'd said, her voice beyond bitter, beyond tired, shading into a frayed grey of resignation, "What do you want, Jimmy?"

"Come back, Yves."

"Why? Isn't it better that I'm gone? Go back home, Jimmy, tell them you didn't find me."

"That's what you want?"

"Yes, that's what I want."

Wanted. It was what she'd wanted. Not this...this uncertainty, this sudden doubt rising like bile, scorching her throat, strong and sour.

She looked up, encountering his gaze.

He blinked and looked down, at the sheets tangled around his body. When he spoke, his voice was as soft and brittle as old paper.

"It will never be enough, will it?"

He tossed aside the sheets and turned his back to her, reaching toward the floor. She shut her eyes at the clean lines of his shoulders and back, a shudder of breath ripping through her.

His hands tangled in her hair.

His mouth reverent against her own.

Dizzy abandon, tenderness and--

She opened her eyes. He was buttoning his shirt. His hands were shaking.

She said nothing.

It would only take one word. One word and he wouldn't go. One moment in time, and everything could change.


He'd turned to go and she'd said, "Stay."

He'd turned back to her, the question furrowing his brow.

"You don't mean that."

She'd been so naive, so incredibly, insanely naive. He'd stayed and she'd lost everything he'd meant to her.

She couldn't ask, she wouldn't ask him to lose a little bit more of his soul just for her. So what she wanted to say stuck in her throat and burned there.

He didn't look at her, not even when he walked past her. She almost reached out, almost asked him.

The moment passed, closing with the door.

She felt the prick of hot tears.