after.midnight // v.naked
Title: Love Destroyed
Author: Tamara
Rating: R- simply because all the other ones were, so what the hell.
Summary: Because, sometimes, love just isn't enough.
Disclaimer: Vaughn doesn't belong to me. But his wife, bless her heart, does. And, you know what, I'm rather fond of her.
Distribution: Want it, mail me.
A/N: Well, here it is, the last part. Not a happy ended, but maybe a realistic one. Although I do think Rachel should get points for not going homicidal.


They were married on a tiny private beach in Mexico, just as the sun was dipping behind the horizon.

She'd always wanted her wedding to be special, an event she would look back on, fifty years later, her husband by her side, and remember as the best day of her life. The weather was perfect, a nice breeze flowing over the ocean waves, the sky a mix of oranges and pinks, yellows and reds. Her dress was stylish, but simple, a white chiffon and lace creation that just brushed the sand as she walked barefoot along the beach. Michael had made a joke about the color, insisting that white was virginal, and she was far from that. But when he noticed the slit up the side, which ran the entire length of her leg, and the crimson red garter around her thigh, he said it was the perfect representation of the dual sides of her nature, the angel and the devil.

The ceremony itself had been perfect, walking down the aisle, seeing Michael standing there, smiling at her, exchanging the vows that had written just for that moment. And then, spending two weeks on that same beach for their honeymoon, making love under the stars, spending lazy hours in bed, just being with each other. By the time the honeymoon was over and it was time to head back to real life, she knew that she would be spending the rest of her life with a man she would love for a lifetime.

On that beach, deliriously happy and completely in love, she never would have thought that, six months later, she would hate Michael Vaughn with every ounce of her being.

She only hates him because she loves him, loves him so much that she wakes up next to him every morning, cries herself to sleep every night, and holds him in her arms even after he breaks their vows and her heart, destroying all the good between them.

He and Sydney have been meeting behind her back for four months now. Sixteen weeks during which he lied to her and deceived her. One hundred and twenty days, and her love for him died a little more as each night passed.

She paid little attention as Michael walked through the front door and set his bags on the floor. As she had done almost every night since they had started living together, she grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge, tossed it to him as he walked into the kitchen, watched with indifferent eyes as he brought the bottle to his lips and took a drink.

"How was Italy?" she asked, grabbing a bottle of her own.

He looked at her, eyebrow raised in confusion. "We were in Belize," he said as he closed the space between them. "Italy was two weeks ago."

She let him kiss her, couldn't stop herself from responding, too exhausted to pretend he didn't affect her, even after all the pain he'd caused her. When he pulled away, she smiled slightly and shook her head. "Belize," she repeated with a sigh. "Right."

He gets out of the bed at three in the morning, lies to her about where he goes in those hours between midnight and dawn, but he has never lied to her about what he does, why the CIA ships him off to one foreign locale to the next. She's not sure when she stopped paying attention, when she stopped caring where he was or if he was okay when he returned.

She thinks it was around the time he started fucking another woman behind her back.

She exited the kitchen, made her way down the hall to the bedroom. Any other night, when he came home from work or a mission, they would sit down at the table and eat dinner. He'd ask her about her day, laugh when she told him about their neighbor, Mrs. Castenelli, and her date with Joe, the man who owned the little store down the street, smile when she told him about her newest client, her latest sale. Any other night, they would wash dishes together, an activity that always ended with the two of them soaked to the skin and kissing each other senseless against the cool stainless steel of the refrigerator. She's lost count of the number of times dinner led to sex on the counters.

There haven't been any nights like those in weeks, and she doesn't have the strength to pretend that being happy isn't important to her anymore.

He followed her down the hall, and she could feel his eyes on her, knew he realized that something was wrong, but wasn't quite sure what to say or how to react. She ignored his presence as she stripped out of her clothes, splattered with paint, and exchanges them for something silky smooth.

She got into bed, watched him as he watched her, and wondered just how long it would take him to give in and ask what had changed.

She didn't have to wait long.

"Rachel," he said as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. One the other side, she heard Donovan make his opinion on his banishment from the bedroom known with a sad bark. "What is going on?"

She considered not answering, of turning away, pretending that things are fine for one more night. But she can't, not not when pretending will only hurt her more.

"The moment I met you, I knew that I would love you," she said, bringing her knees up to wrap her arms around her legs. "You were handsome and funny and the nicest man I had ever met. You walked into my gallery and, even though there were a hundred other people there, I knew you were the one who would change my life." She paused to look up at him, her lips lifting in a small, sad smile. "I thought it would be for the better."

Something in her voice must have alerted him because he stepped up to the bed, sat down next to her. "Rachel, honey, what's wrong?"

She ignored him, staring down at the sheets on the bed. "The day I married you was the happiest day of my life," she continued. "I thought that being with you would make me the happiest woman in the world."

She heaved a sigh, knowing that after this, there is no going back. In the next few moments, someone is going to be hurt, and she wants it not to be her. But when she looked up and her eyes met his, she knew that hurting is something she's going to be doing for a very long time.

"I don't ever want to see you again," she said finally, tears falling as the words spill out. "I want you to pack up your things and I want you to leave. I don't want you to call me. I don't want you to write me. I don't want you leaving me messages at the gallery. I don't want you to tell me that it will never happen again because, frankly, I don't give a damn anymore. I want you out of my house and I want you out of my life."

It hurt more than she thought it would, hurt to look into his green eyes and tell him she wanted nothing more to do with him, because for so long, he was all she had ever wanted. But she has spent the last four months living a lie, loving a man who didn't love her enough. Hurting him may have caused her pain, but his pain didn't matter to her anymore.

"I loved you," she said softly, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I loved you more than I have ever loved anyone. And you threw that away like it didn't matter."

He started to speak, to defend himself, apologize maybe, but she was past the point of caring. "Don't," she said softly. "I don't want to hear it. I don't care why it happened or how it happened. I don't care. I'm tired of loving you and I'm tired of hating you. I just want you gone."

She turned her back on him, laid down, and let the tears fall. She didn't say a word when he slipped in beside her and held her close. She didn't deny him when he kissed her, didn't stop him when he touched her, when he moved inside her, making her feel things she wished she didn't. She was smart enough to end it between them, to get out before there was nothing left of her heart to break, but she didn't have the strength to stop loving him.

And afterward, when she lay in Michael's arms, the sounds of their union still echoing in the room, she knew she had never hated him more.