In the dark silence of the room it was all too easy to hear the soft breathing of her husband, even easier to tell he was still awake. A wry smile twisted her lips, both of them lying awake over the same problem, each knowing the other was awake and each pretending they thought the other asleep.
It had been that way since the call.
The call that had quite effectively called a halt to their quiet life. Well, quiet for them.
The call that had brought the news Sydney Bristow was alive.
Since The Call, as she had dubbed in her thoughts, nothing about Mike and Chloe Vaughn's life had been the same. A cloud of confusion, worry, and general unsettledness had descended over everything from work to sharing a cup of coffee in the morning and she hated it. She hated the situation, she hated the guilty look on Mike's face everytime he got a call about Sydney and she was there, she hated the way people at work watched her with sympathetic eyes, as if they thought it only a matter of time before she was unceremoniously served with divorce papers, she hated the quiet whispers which ceased when she walked too close but, as she continually reminded herself sternly, she couldn't hate Sydney. She just couldn't.
How could she hate someone for being abducted? Or turning up without any comprehension or expectation of just what kind of turmoil her reappearance would cause? It wasn't Sydney's fault and Chloe was determined to remember that. It got easier to tone down the anger when she thought about that moment when Mike explained the truth.
She'd been there, she'd experienced that moment, she knew how heart-wrenching it could be. Of course, Sydney had one benefit Chloe had not had. Sydney hadn't had to watch it happen, didn't know who Chloe was, didn't consider her a friend. But still, Chloe understood. And for that, her heart broke in sympathy for the other woman. As much as part of her didn't want it to, it did.
And, as much as part of her felt sympathy, another part of her...another part of her was afraid. Afraid she was about to lose her husband and there wasn't a damn thing she could do to stop it.
That part continually asked a question Chloe was afraid to have answered.
She knew Mike loved her, she didn't doubt that for a second, but...was he in love with her... or Sydney?
Chloe lay silent, these thoughts running through her brain, working themselves into some sort of gordian knot, until she thought she heard her husband's breathing deepen into real sleep. Then, moving with the careful grace her profession required, she eased over onto her side and rested her head on her palm as she surveyed Mike's sleeping form.
The wedding band on his hand glinted in the bright light of the full moon and she resisted the urge to reach out and touch it, confirm to herself it was still there.
A sob loomed and she quashed it ruthlessly even as she knew she couldn't take losing him, she couldn't. Oh she would survive it, she would pick up the pieces and move on, but surviving was a far cry from living.
And yet, she couldn't help but wonder...if he had a choice. If he was free to choose...
Where would he be...
With her? Or with Sydney?
And she hated the fact she'd begun doubting his choice. His commitment. It wasn't fair to him or to their relationship and yet...she did it anyway.
Gently, she reached out to touch his cheek, barely risking the slightest brush of her fingertips against his skin. Mike slept on, seemingly oblivious, and she sighed quietly, snuggling closer to rest her head against his shoulder.
The irony of the whole situation was not lost on her. All the progress in her life, all that she had changed, and all that she had grown into...she was a completely different woman from the teenaged girl who'd fallen so helplessly in love with Clark Kent and yet, now, was she not back in the same situation she'd been then? Replacing Lana Lang and Clark Kent with Sydney Bristow and Michael Vaughn?
She closed her eyes against the thought, pushing it off. She wasn't that naive young girl anymore. She'd learned all too well what life could really deliever but, Mike wasn't Clark anymore than she was the old Chloe. He wouldn't leave, he wouldn't do an about face and abandon her...he wouldn't.
But that wasn't the question. The question wasn't would he stay but why would he stay?
Would he stay because he loved her? Because he wanted to be with her?
Or would he stay because she was his wife and he'd made a commitment to her? Stay until the day came when he woke up beside her to realize she'd become little more than the enemy, an obstacle barring him from the life he should have had. The life with someone else, the woman he truly loved?
The idea of Mike looking at her with that expression, those feelings, in his eyes...Chloe instinctively closed her eyes tighter, hiding her face against the warmth of her husband's chest.
It wasn't fair...it wasn't fair that Sydney Bristow had reappeared now. Thrust herself into their life, quite effectively turning it on its axis. It just wasn't fair that she had to deal with this and it wasn't fair that Mike now found himself in the quite possibly worst position of his life...
Having to chose whose heart he would break...
And it wasn't fair that Chloe felt guilty for wishing it wouldn't be hers...
But she did.
And she hated it.
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