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Rust

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Isaac Hanson often wondered where exactly things had gone wrong in his life. He liked to think it was three years ago when he and his brothers were dropped from their record label. That would be the easy way of explaining how everything thereafter had spiraled so far out of control.

He dropped his keys in the bowl by the door with a heavy sigh. Never in a million years had he ever expected to find himself returning from a visit with his younger brother at a drug rehabilitation center. He certainly never thought he'd find himself and the rest of his family hosting an intervention as they had two weeks earlier. Of course, he never could have imagined Taylor as a cocaine addict in the first place.

The Taylor he had encountered today was so much different from the Taylor of two weeks ago. Though obviously still struggling, he looked more like the brother he'd grown up with. He just hoped that when the time came for Taylor to leave the center that he wouldn't relapse. He wasn't sure their parents could handle seeing Taylor that way again.

Isaac shook his head and rubbed his eyes as he made his way to the kitchen. He wondered despite the silence if Mary was home yet. It was hard to tell these days. The way they revolved around each other, speaking mostly out of common courtesy, was a far cry from the smiles and laughter that used fill their home.

Of course, things hadn't been easy - not that he and Mary had gone into marriage thinking it would be all roses and sunshine. At least, he knew he hadn't. He wasn't quite sure what Mary thought - then or now. Maybe at one time he would have felt comfortable asking her. Now, though, things were different.

Once in the kitchen, he went to the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of Heineken and easily popped off the lid. He took a swig, swallowing it down in one gulp without really tasting it. He felt some guilt, thinking of Taylor, but he pushed those thoughts away. He could drink a beer to help him unwind without ending up falling down drunk. It wasn't his fault that Taylor lost control. At least he hoped it wasn't.

He pushed away that thought - not wanting to revisit the aftermath and bitter words spoken between brothers after being told, more or less, by their former label that they were talentless has-beens.

Isaac peered in the refrigerator, looking for something to eat, as he heard footsteps on the stairs. Apparently, Mary was home, after all. A moment later she appeared at the doorway. Her long blonde hair fell around her shoulders in waves, and her hazel eyes were downcast toward her feet. This was something she often did when her mind was elsewhere - looked at her feet to keep from falling over objects while thoughts ran rampant through her head. When she looked up, the look of surprise that fell upon her face at the sight of him told him she hadn't been aware he was home either.

Once upon a time they might have joked about the way they seemed to move silently in and out and through the house, but like their movements, their relationship was nothing more than a ghost of what it once had been.

He remembered the days when Mary would rush into his arms as soon as he arrived home. Of course, that was usually after he'd returned from a long day at the studio or after a few months on the road without seeing each other. It was odd how much they seemed to love each other when they were miles apart, but when stuck inside a house together consistently for the last three years they'd grown into silent roommates instead of the passionate lovers they had once been.

Isaac couldn't remember the last time they'd made love - at least because they wanted to. When he'd first shared the news of being dropped from the label with his wife, she had been supportive, assuring him that things would be okay. She insisted that given time, he, Taylor and Zac would get back on their feet and return to their music.

She'd even claimed that maybe a break from the music was for the best. They'd been holding off on trying to start a family even though they'd both expressed a desire to have children. She'd still been in school when they'd wed and he'd been traveling so much with the band, so they'd agreed that it wasn't the right time to bring a baby into the family.

Though Mary was still studying to become a nurse, they'd decided that maybe it was finally the right time to try. Isaac would be home more and Mary hadn't been opposed to the idea of taking a semester off after having the baby. They'd agreed that they could make it work.

Unfortunately, they never got that far. All of the tests came back negative, and as months turned into years, their relationship had dwindled.

"Hi," Mary spoke from her place at the doorway. Her voice, once music to Isaac's ears, seemed brittle, and he often wondered if this was simply how she sounded now or if she only sounded that way when she spoke to him.

"Hello," he answered.

They stared at each other for a moment before Mary finally pushed away from the doorway and stepped fully into the room. "How was your visit with Taylor?" she asked as she came to stand at the island.

It was odd, being so close, yet so far apart. For all he knew, the slab of granite between them could have been thousands of miles rather than a few feet wide.

"It was okay," Isaac answered. He was honestly surprised she even remembered where he was going for the day. He'd told her hastily of his plans the night before as she was leaving to go out with friends from school. "He seems better. More himself, or at the very least more aware."

"That's good," Mary nodded. She'd never been particularly close with either of his brothers, but Isaac took the blame for that. When he wasn't touring with his brothers or working on another album, he liked to have Mary to himself. So much of his life was intertwined with his career, and, sadly, that included his brothers - his best friends - and sometimes he just needed some separation.

He'd had plenty of that in the past three years.

"I'm glad he's doing better," Mary said, and Isaac still knew her well enough to tell she was being sincere. "Did Zac go with you?"

Isaac shook his head, swallowing another drink of his beer before he answered verbally. "He was going to, but he had to take care of Kasen."

Mary's reaction to the mention of their two-year-old nephew was two fold. First, she smiled, but then he could see the sadness filter into her smile. Zac had come around with the small boy on a few occasions, and Mary always cooed over Kasen during those occasions, holding him close and speaking softly into his ear. She was all smiles and the happiness Isaac saw there reminded him of why he fell in love with her in the first place.

Even now - distant and somewhat emotionally cold - she was still beautiful in Isaac's eyes. He'd fallen in love with her almost immediately. He didn't believe in love at first sight or any of that hokey fated crap, but within minutes of speaking to her for the first time, Isaac was certain she was the woman he was going to marry.

After Zac and Kasen would visit, though, Mary seemed to fall into a depression. Isaac knew it was out of want for her own child. When they hadn't been able to conceive after a year and a half of trying, they'd gone to the fertility doctor in hopes that he would be able to help things along. After a couple of months of trying and more disappointment, they'd opted out.

Isaac mentioned trying to adopt, but by then things had become strained between them. Having sex had become more like a chore each time they tried, and they'd drifted apart after giving up on the fertility drugs. Mary threw herself back into her studies, and Isaac threw himself into charity work.

It was something he'd done with his brothers when the band was still together, so when he'd first ventured back into getting involved, it had been awkward, going it alone. It felt good to be doing something again, and it also gave him a chance to take his mind off of how much he missed his old life - music and solidarity with his brothers and love and laughter with his wife.

At first Isaac had asked Mary if she'd like to come along, but she insisted that she had to focus on her studies. She'd pointed out that traveling to Africa would certainly be a distraction. Honestly, though, he wondered if the true reason for her refusal was because she couldn't stand the thought of being surrounded by all those children.

Zac was supportive, though, and always said he wished he could come along to help with the charity work. Sometimes Isaac thought Zac's desire to tag along had more to do with wanting a break from Lara and the baby. Though Isaac knew his brother loved Kasen with all his heart, it was no secret that his relationship with Lara was one of obligation rather than love.

It bothered Isaac now to realize that his relationship with Mary, which had begun so full of love and promise, mirrored Zac and Lara's. He never thought he'd see the day when he found himself falling out of love and into complacency with Mary.

"I could have watched him," Mary commented, bringing Isaac back to the present. Her offer to watch Kasen made him smile in spite of himself.

"I guess I didn't think of that," Isaac admitted. How stupid of him not to think of asking Mary to watch the small boy, but the idea, honestly, never even crossed his mind. Even if it had, he wasn't sure he would have asked. Knowing the way she would retreat further into herself after spending time with Kasen broke his heart. "I don't think Zac really wanted to go anyway," he added. Thankfully, that wasn't a lie.

Though Zac had tried to sound regretful during his phone call to inform Isaac that he wouldn't be able to join him visiting Taylor, Isaac could also hear the relief in Zac's voice. He couldn't blame his brother too much, though. Isaac hadn't been looking forward to the visit either - not knowing what to expect from Taylor and remembering his angry words and reaction during the intervention made his stomach turn with anxiety.

Mary frowned, but she didn't question him. She rarely did, nor he her, and the fact that they were carrying on this conversation right now was more than they'd managed for the past week.

"Have you had dinner yet?" Isaac asked to change the subject. He didn't feel like talking about either of his brothers anymore.

"No," Mary answered, and they stared at each other.

It was on the tip of Isaac's tongue to ask her if she'd like to go out. Maybe even suggest seeing a movie just for something to do. They hadn't done anything together in so long. Often times even when they ordered in, it was from separate restaurants. If they happened to eat in the same room, it was usually by accident and an awkward affair at that.

Maybe an evening out together would be just what they needed. Tonight, for the first time in a long time, they'd carried on a conversation. It may not have been much, but perhaps it was a start. Maybe if they spent some time together like they used to - during the old days, the good days - they could held rekindle the spark that seemed to have gone out of their marriage. Maybe, Isaac thought, but he didn't dare to hope.

Before he could open his mouth to pose the question, though, Mary was backing away from island counter toward the doorway. "I'm meeting my study group in a little bit," she said. Was it just his imagination or was she suddenly speaking in a rush. "I'll pick up something on my way."

Isaac nodded - to himself, apparently, because she was already gone, leaving him alone once again.

Just like that the illusion of possibilities fled his mind and reality flooded back to him. How nice it would be if dinner and a movie could fix his poor excuse for a marriage, but he couldn't delude himself. He knew it would take much more than that, and he had no idea where to even begin.