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The Best Part of Losing You

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“Debbie… Debbie, for god’s sake, where are you going?

Debbie doesn’t answer, because she isn’t talking to anyone right now, she can’t talk without running the risk that the pain will rip her chest open and catapult her own heart at a wall.

Also, she doesn’t know where she is going.

Mark got Ruth pregnant?

It’s like some inner life support system has just flatlined, because this new piece of information has Debbie picturing Mark fucking Ruth in 3D technicolor. And it’s worse, oh god it’s worse now because Debbie actually knows what Ruth sounds like when she’s in bed, the way that she runs her mouth over Debbie’s neck before going lower and-

Mark got all of that? And was stupid enough to not use a condom? She’s going to murder him, Debbie decides calmly. Debbie is going to murder the father of her child.

“Debbie, seriously babe, what’s the plan? We doing a walking tour of the hotel?”

Debbie rounds on them. It was Melrose who spoke last, but they all take a collective step backwards.

Why the fuck are they all here?

“Why are you all following me?”

There’s a moment’s pause, and then Cherry speaks, in her role as designated adult in the room. “Because sometimes, Debbie, we think your bullshit benefits from an audience.”

Debbie… can’t actually believe-

“Oh, Ruth fucked my husband and… and… whilst I was at home with Randy, and…. a bunch of other stuff, but I’m the bad guy?

Surprisingly, it’s Rhonda, who answers, in a slight sing song voice and a general air of distracted placation. “Um, I don’t think either of you is the official bad guy, I mean, you’re about evens I’d say, when it comes to fuck ups…”

Debbie turns away from them, and then carries on walking.

“Why the fuck are you all following me, I do not want a fucking greek chorus of-”

“Some of us are genuinely wondering where you are going, this is a circular corridor and I think we’re on lap number three.”

Debbie tries to call her brain to focus on something other than playing imagined highlights of her husband impregnating Ruth, and looks around her.

“I’m… where the fuck is my room?”

Arthie coughs.

“Oh, that’s um. The floor above, this is the wrong floor. I did mention that, earlier, but… I don’t think you heard me.”

…..

They follow her there, because of course they do.

“Sheila, can you tell them to all… go away.”

“No” Sheila says blandly. “You need this, otherwise you are going to disappear up your own ass so dramatically we’ll never find you again.”

Debbie glares at Sheila, who is standing in her doorway, and then glares at every woman that she can see behind Sheila. She flips her suitcase shut with unnecessary force, although Debbie has no idea if she has actually finished packing, or if she has even packed anything other than one bra, seven socks, and the hotel room lamp.

Sheila stares at her, but Debbie will not respond to the guilt trip.

“I am allowed to be angry, jesus christ stop looking at me like that-”

Yolanda sticks her head around the door frame.

“Yo, what’s the plan here Debbie? Once we’re done being dramatic?”

With enormous effort, Debbie drags herself together.

“I am going home. I am going to see my baby, the one I birthed, and then-”

That sentence crashes and burns abruptly, because she hasn’t got an ‘and then’. She’s just… going.

Carmen clears her throat.

“But… we have a show the day after tomorrow?”

“Well” Debbie splutters “Put a fucking… wig on a broom and send that into the ring, if Sam thinks I’m going to just turn up and be Liberty Hell for him-”

“It’s not just Sam’s show Debbie.” This is Cherry again, and jesus, Debbie just needs a minute without everyone expecting her to have all her thoughts neatly lined up in her head.

She rubs her hands over her face.

“Look, I’m just… I’m going to see my son. And then I’ll… fuck I don't know - a lot has happened and I can’t just - I can’t just go and tell Ruth it’s all fine because it isn’t and my emotions are everywhere, and-”

Sheila sighs, and puts her hands on her hips.

“Yeah, if you leave you’re going to make Ruth feel like shit.”

Debbie raises her eyebrows.

“Yeah? Well, god I can’t imagine what that must be like? To feel like shit because of her stupid choices - I mean, how hard is it to insist on a condom?”

“Debbie, seriously, it wasn’t-”

“Oh so, what?” Debbie snaps “You’re all team Ruth now?”

“No” Melrose drawls “We’re team ‘Debbie and Ruth need to figure it out so that we’re not all constantly surrounded by scorched earth’- listen, why don’t we just-?”

“No, I’m going home, now, please get the fuck out of my way.”

…..

The plane is half empty.

Debbie is pretty sure that her suitcase is half empty.

Debbie’s brain feels…

She needs to get to Mark. And then she needs to yell at him. And then….

One thing at a time, Debbie’s half empty brain counsels her. Yell at Mark, hold Randy, and then everything else will fall into place.

The sun is setting, over the landscape, far below her. Down there…. nothing has changed, and yet-

Debbie sighs, and leans her head against the plastic surround of the window frame, feeling the vibration of the plane rattling her skull.

Some part of her does know that this isn’t a fair reaction, that she should take time, take a deep breath, breathe through it, etc. But this is how she does things, and Debbie hasn’t got the inner reserves of mental strength to do anything other than her natural reaction. She feels like those reserves have been running on empty for some time.

She closes her eyes.

This plane journey is going to take too long, and she’s going to lose the inspiration of her anger. And then she’ll just be left with the hurt, and the vulnerability, and-

Debbie blinks rapidly, because she isn’t ready to cry yet.

…..

Mark’s new house is smaller than their old one.

Debbie doesn’t think he’s struggling for money. Maybe Mark was sick of projecting a certain kind of success through real estate as well. Mark’s job had always paid enough to make their previous life comfortable. And they’ve since sold their old house, splitting the money equally even though Debbie is certain Mark had paid more towards it overall. They have a ‘Randy’ bank account that they both pay money into. In many ways, Debbie honestly couldn’t have asked for a more straightforward divorce, and-

Debbie clamps down on that thought, because she doesn’t want to be dwelling on how wonderful and considerate Mark has become ever since she stopped having to pretend that she was in love with him. She’s supposed to be furious with him.

Mark. He fucked Ruth. Okay.

He has a stupid door bell, that seems to ring out the entirety of Beethoven’s back catalogue after Debbie presses it.

Mark, fucking Ruth. Debbie feels like she’s taking dust sheets of long disregarded piles of anger, trying to remind herself of-

Jesus she just needs to yell at someone, and it couldn’t be Sam because Debbie knows full well that Sam can give as good as she can if he wants to, and it shouldn’t be Ruth because… it shouldn’t, so she needs Mark, with his unhelpful face and his inability to answer back unless he’s had a three day warning and is allowed to work from a cheat sheet and-

Susan opens the door, and this is unacceptable, Debbie had almost forgotten she existed.

“Jesus…hello. Uh- I need to speak to Mark.”

Susan smiles at her, which doesn’t help at all.

“Hi Debbie, we weren’t expecting you, come in-” Debbie coughs, and then looks down at her feet, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.

“No, I just… I need to speak to Mark.”

Susan looks very concerned. “Is everything okay?”

Debbie scoffs, haunted by infidelities of Christmas past. “No, Susan, it isn’t, can you please just…” She sighs, and then swallows, fighting the lump in her throat, fighting to not start shouting. “I need to speak to Mark-”

“Oh, he’s not here at the moment, I’m sorry, he’s had to work late-”

Almost involuntarily, Debbie rolls her eyes, and snaps out “Oh I’m sure he is, and you believe that?”

Susan blinks.

“Um… yes? He’ll be back in around an hour, you can come in and wait for him if you’d like-”

“Is he fucking your best friend now? Has he decided that-” And then abruptly, and with absolutely zero control, Debbie starts crying.

Susan’s face immediately softens further, and god it’s like trying to be angry at a sofa cushion.

“Okay, Debbie, why don’t we… not do this on the doorstep. Come in, I was just putting Randy to bed, do you want to take over?”

Debbie gulps a couple of times, and then wipes under her eyes, furious with herself.

“I… yes.”

…..

Randy grins at her when he sees Debbie.

Debbie… oh.

“Hey baby…oh hey baby, oh I’ve missed you-”

…..

Debbie doesn’t want to let go of him, and she ends up just sitting on Randy’s nursery floor holding him on her chest as he gradually drifts to sleep.

His heartbeat thrums against her own, and Debbie presses her face to the top of his head, and breaths him in, trying to ease out her own heart beat into something more peaceful.

Distantly, she hears Mark return home, and the low murmur of conversation between Mark and Susan.

Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s Susan who comes up first, holding a glass of wine that she offers to Debbie. Susan’s got her own glass in her hand, and Debbie motions vaguely at her, an unspoken invite.

Susan takes the invite without speaking, and sits… well it’s slightly closer than Debbie would have chosen, but she finds she doesn’t mind. She nods slightly towards Randy, and then murmurs “It’s not fair, that he keeps growing.” Susan leans in to take a look at him, and then smiles.

“It’s only been two weeks since you saw him last.”

“Oh god… it feels longer. A lot has happened.”

Susan absorbs this without comment, and then says “Mark’s downstairs, if you still need to go and- talk to him?”

Debbie sighs.

“You know he fucked Ruth? When we were still married?”

Susan nods. “Yeah, I know. He… doesn’t feel good about that.”

Debbie’s feels her face try to turn itself inside out, and then she nods.

“Well, he managed to get her pregnant, whilst he was at it. She had an abortion. I just found out, and, um. I’ve been working my way through my reaction to that news. I think I need to tick off yelling at Mark before I can, you know… process it.”

Susan doesn’t say anything for a moment, and then says “Have you already spoken to Ruth about it?”

“Yelled at her?” Debbie asks glumly. “Yeah. I have ticked that one off. She wanted to fix things, but I can’t just… instantly fix…. I needed to come and see Mark.”

Susan takes a sip of her wine. Debbie’s never seen Susan drink before, and it humanises her somehow. She tips her head back, and smiles at a memory.

“Mark insisted that he and I went to counselling sessions before we moved in together.”

Debbie snorts involuntarily into her own glass of wine, and then checks to see that she hasn’t disturbed Randy.

“Yeah? That must have been… you didn’t have to therapeutically lean on him, did you?”

Susan smiles wryly.

“No, not as such, but there was lots of discussion about conflict, and how different people do it in different ways. Some people want the argument to be resolved as soon as possible, other people need to process their anger for longer. Mark and I both look for fast resolution…whereas-”

“Oh yeah, I can sit on it for months, it isn’t… a good habit.”

Susan takes a small sip of wine, and then clears her throat.

“And Ruth?”

Debbie sighs.

“She’s… like you. And Mark. Instant resolution.”

Susan doesn’t say anything for a long time. Randy makes a small noise in his sleep, and Debbie marvels all over again at the warmth of him.

“The therapist said that a relationship can still work, if two people are coming at arguments from different ends of the spectrum, but it takes a bit more… self awareness.”

Debbie sighs again, and why the fuck not?

“I’m in love with Ruth. That’s why… I’m a mess, constantly. I’m in love with her.”

Susan doesn’t say anything for a moment, and then taps her wine glass against Debbie’s gently.

“I had wondered… do you want to sleep here tonight? We can make up a bed in here, if you’d like?”

Debbie smiles, and then nods.

“That’s… thanks Susan. I’d like that.”

……

It’s Mark, who is sent up with the camp bed and foam mattress and an armful of blankets. He creeps into the room cautiously, apologetic for his arrival.

“Hi, um - where do you…?”

Debbie gestures with a nod of her head, her hands full with Randy, carefully manoeuvring him into his cot. The air behind her is suddenly full of a silent kind of wrestling, as Mark tries and ultimately succeeds in unfolding a camp bed that Debbie remembers, the one that always puts up a fight.

“That’s… okay, does that look okay to you?”

Debbie meets his eye, and Mark automatically flinches away from the eye contact, which tells Debbie that Susan has already passed onto him the headline news.

Debbie expects to feel angry that her moment of outraged glory has been ripped away from her, but she doesn’t feel anything other than tired, and sad.

“Was a condom so hard?” she manages. Mark sighs unhappily.

“I know that… this might make you angry, but I would have done everything differently… the lack of condom is, in many ways, the least of my regrets, because the whole thing was… not good, and… a massive mistake” he finishes lamely.

Debbie could use this as another excuse to get angry, but she understands what point he is making.

“Well. It’s… you had no right to-”

“I should never have touched her” Mark says solemnly. “It was… I was trying to hurt you.”

Debbie swallows harshly. “Yeah. I see that.”

Mark watches her for a moment, and then sighs.

“Debbie, I know I have no right to speak on this, but… don’t use this to cycle all the way back to step one of your anger with Ruth and I. That won’t… be good for anyone.”

Jesus, advice from Mark. Debbie rubs her hands over her face briefly, and then nods at him.

“Yes, I know. I’m… trying, okay?”

…..