Characters/Pairings : Paul/Mellie
Summary : In the aftermath of finding out he breaks apart a little.
Spoilers : Up to SITHOL
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
This is the sound of the heart in his breast beating so fast: Ba-boom (Not real).
Ba-boom (Not real).
She walks softly through his apartment, out of his bed, barefoot and naked except for the over-sized t-shirt, hanging just to her upper thigh, so close to not covering anything at all.
From his kitchen he hears noise, water running and then the beep, beep, beep of his microwave as buttons are pressed and the whir sound of something cooking.
Ba-boom (Not real).
Ba-boom (Not real).
There's too much noise how could anyone sleep? Through the floorboards he hears his downstairs neighbor's dog whine. From his bedroom wall his next door neighbor's tv drones.
And he's sick, he's so fucking sick he can barely stand it. His head throbs with it, his body aches. He wants to punch a wall or scream or maybe just throw up crying in a quivering heap.
But that would break the illusion now wouldn't it? So instead he tosses and turns one more time. He opens his eyes and stares at the ceiling fan turning fast and shaking ready to fall down and cut him to pieces.
His bedroom door opens and the light from the kitchen spills through, he sees her standing there draped in shadows, her back slightly illuminated and hazily he can see her standing, holding a mug.
"I couldn't sleep either." She says.
It's 3 in the morning.
"I made some cocoa," she says, "want some?"
He'd never bought hot chocolate. Mellie bought hot chocolate. Mellie bought a lot of things. From the first moment they'd met as she knocked on his door and shyly introduced herself, "Hey I'm your new neighbor. Mellie. Um, hey, look I know it's weird to just show up her like this but um...I just moved in and I seem to have locked myself out of my apartment, somehow and...well...mind keeping me company until the landlord shows up?"
And he invited her in, just like that (keep in mind this was only a few weeks after Sabrina had left and he was still...there were still some of her clothes and books and dvd's all shoved in boxes and waiting for her and she'd kept her key and stopped by periodically when she knew that he'd be at work and then there was a little less of her clothes and books and dvd's until the day when there'd be nothing at all. 4 years of marriage, one pregnancy scare, 48 hours of couples counseling and that one week of someone calling and hanging up without speaking and her not touching him anymore and in the end all they really had where boxes of books, the smell of her perfume fading and what else? Them both doing things in a million years that they never thought they would do like buying fancy langerie and lighting candles and none of it working any of it and they could blame it on the Dollhouse, she sure as hell did and it did didn't it eventually become one more thing that kept him away from her? If it had been a woman...but she'd been the one hadn't she? That met a man in a bar and kept meeting him? Anyway she was gone.) and she (it wouldn't occur to him until after he knew proving finally how simple and completely fucking stupid he was, how many lovely, shy, funny, sweet, beautiful women just knocked on doors of strangers (men strangers) and said, "Let me in, let me in." And how many men (what kind of man would actually do that?) did. Smiling at him that smile, "Thanks," she said and then she looked around his apartment at the dishevelledness of it, the files on his living room table.
(She was a puppet an empty vessel filled with things he'd respond to her saying and memories that had never happened and someone else's stolen words spilling out of her throat...but what was his excuse?)
Anyway he'd noticed after awhile (because he'd liked talking to her, she was so distracting, the Caroline dreams were barely in their infant stages, she wasn't even Caroline then just...if the Dollhouse had been a woman...) that he liked having someone, this living breathing female someone in his presence if just for a moment.
"Thank you so much." She'd said when the landlord finally showed.
"Hey no problem, stop by anytime." He'd said.
Then there was the thank you home made chocolate chip cookies delivered to his door the next day.
"Stop by anytime." he'd said.
She was always feeding him.
"Eat this," She'd said.
"Drink this," she said.
And her food wasn't even that good. There was too much seasoning in her spaghetti sauce, the cookies were slightly burnt and a little dark around the edges, her lemonade was slightly watery. She made perfect eggs though.
"Eat this," she'd said.
"Drink this," she'd said
Thick food, heavy food, some he'd liked, some he could have gone without. But still he'd eaten, drunk and sleepy on the tenderness. The care. When why should anyone care?
The kindness he could melt into.
And what had it started with? Him letting her sit on his couch and wait?
So freely given.
She hands him a hot mug, little marshmallows float at the top.
He takes it and sips and he notices her smiling at him.
Why does she smile?
"You know," she says sighing and he can see and hear a hint of sleepiness in her voice and her eyes and also...maybe you'd call it "want" if she was allowed to.
"My mother always said, " the Mellie continues, "that nothing was better to get you to sleep then hot food, hot drinks."
He almost thinks he can hear the click and whir of this story being constucted. The keys being pressed. This sweet little saying being cut and pasted into her bruised and battered brain and he wonders if maybe someone somewhere's mother had said that and that someone had grown up and got into the business of gutting people's souls and inserting their own flimsy man made ones and then went at home at night and...drank cocoa.
The Paul smiles at the Mellie.
It's 5:30 in the morning.
She curls up next to him and he wraps his arms around her waist.
Her bare leg brushes against him and he tries not to move. Eventually her breaths grow steady and even and he lets go of her and walks into his bathroom, he sits on his closed toilet seat and his body shakes and the tears come silent and hot and the sickeness lies in his chest and the anger. One minute of this, five minutes, eighteen. And then that's it. There's only so much time for anything when you can never stop moving and never let up. Or she'll know and they'll both die. Besides he really has to sleep.
So he leaves his bathroom and crawls back into his bed.
He wraps his arms around her waist.