Hard Truth
Hard Truth
Summary: Adele finally calls Zaharis out on his worsening drug use.
Date: 39 ACH
Related Logs: Dum Spero, Spiro 3

Townhome A Carina - Main Level
41 ACH 6285 Souls

This two-story home is comfortably sized for a small family. The downstairs holds the living room, kitchen, a half-bath, and a small bedroom or office. The other two bedrooms are upstairs, along with the bathroom.

The main living area is furnished with a long comfortable couch and two matching chairs accented with a pair of small end tables. A wireless unit sits atop a cabinet along one wall, and a sliding glass door leads out to a small porch.

Adjacent to the living room is a small kitchen and dining area, separated up by a breakfast nook countertop. The modern conveniences are available, including a large refrigeration unit and countertop stove, micro-oven, and plenty of counter space. The dining area has a table and chairs for four.

This room is currently UNLOCKED.

See +lhelp for local help files.

There's a pause as Adele looks through the peephole, and then a soft click as the doorknob turns. Opening it fully, she steps back to admit Zaharis. She wasn't lying about cleaning - it's immaculate in here - but she was lying about wearing nothing but bells. In fact, there are no bells at all on her person and she is fully clothed, how sad. She looks him over slowly.

Zaharis looks kind of like shit. Well-washed and shaved shit, at least. Small favours. He threw on jeans and his only remaining T-shirt, the same he wore to the hotel the night before the PAS blew up. For not having seen him in a few days, the change in his weight is noticeable, as are the dark circles under his eyes. Chewed fingernails. No smell of smoke. Despite that, though, he doesn't seem 'tired' at all. He smiles at seeing her when the door opens. "And I was so hoping for bells."

Adele grins at his words, but that fades swiftly as she finishes looking him up and down. In fact, the grin keeps fading until it is the precise opposite of a grin. She brings her eyes to his face, where they flicker over the dark circles before meeting his gaze. She backs into the house, beckoning him inside. "Been working hard?" she asks, pleasantly enough.

"Been a long couple days," Zaharis admits. He pulls the door shut behind him. "Chose the best time ever to quit smoking." He takes an absent glance around the living room, then reaches out his hands for her. "You weren't kidding about the cleaning."

Adele steps up to Zaharis and wraps her arms around him, settling her face in the nook between his neck and shoulder. "I missed you," she says, nuzzling him there. "Have you not been eating?"

"Sure I have." Zaharis answers lightly, folding his arms around her back. His hands run up both sides of her spine, pressing her against him. "You feel so good to me." He turns his head, kissing her jaw and then her temple. "Better than anything else."

Adele breathes deeply, submitting to the embrace and the affection, if not readily. It's obvious she's concerned, and his answer to her question only heightens her wariness. She angles her head up to breathe against his ear. "You're losing weight." Maybe not the most romantic thing that was ever said in someone's ear.

"I quit smoking." Zaharis shrugs, turning his face so his nose brushes her cheek. "Some people lose weight when they quit smoking, you know that." His hands fold at the small of her back, keeping her held against his hips.

Adele nods, shifting her own face so she can meet his lips with hers, and she presses a light, nibbling kiss there before pulling back to reply. "Sorry. I spent the whole time we were separated worrying, I guess it's just spilling over." She reaches up to stroke one of his cheeks, running her thumb over the comparatively more pronounced bone. "I have something for you."

Zaharis' eyes drift closed as she touches his cheek. He seems reluctant to have to let her go, his arms staying around her even as he replies. "Show me."

Adele reaches for Zaharis' hand as she pulls away from him, then proceeds to lead him into the bedroom. Once there, she heads towards the left bedside table and crouches down, letting his hand go. Opening the little cabinet beneath the surface, she pulls out a small box and shows it to him. "It's a pack of twelve, but two are missing." Condoms. Thankfully, pretty run-of-the-mill ones.

Zaharis lets her lead him, kicking off his shoes along the way. Quiet haphazardly, wrecking the clean feng shui of the room. As he stops and sees the box, he stares at it for a long second before he suddenly laughs. "Whose firstborn did you trade for those?"

"They came with the place," Adele replies, looking quite self-satisfied. She even ignores the shoes as they settle in the middle of the carpet - carpet which, until this point, had been raked so the fibers faced the same direction. "I thought it'd be a nice welcome back gift. Now we have thirteen. Lucky." She smiles, setting the box on top of the nightstand, then hops up onto the bed, sitting with her back against the headboard. "Can you stay the night?" she asks quietly.

"I think so." Zaharis folds himself onto the bed next to her. On his stomach, his chest resting on the mattress by her hip. He doesn't seem quite relaxed, not like he used to be. He keeps shifting every so often, his body making restless movements as though constantly trying to bleed off energy. He's quiet for a few seconds though, scratching his hair at his temple. "That was a really shitty few days," he says, finally. It took him some effort to say it.

Adele brushes her fingers through his hair, watching him move around with that flicker of concern returning to her gaze. "What happened?" she asks, after a moment, pushing her fingertips from his temple to the back of his neck, through the short, dark locks.

Zaharis braces his elbows under him. He picks at his ragged fingernails and the bitten skin around them. "Found the Persius. Ship where Rhea's husband was."

"Oh… gods." Adele's hand stops moving at his answer, resting awkwardly against the back of his head for a moment, until is falls to his shoulder. "Was the ship intact? Is he…?"

"It was intact." Zaharis clears his throat, steepling his fingertips and running them over the bridge of his nose. "He was alive, Adele."

Adele watches Zaharis closely, her expression softening into one of saddened sympathy. "Was?" she asks gently, her fingers moving from his shoulder to his arm, fingertips tracing up and down with ginger care.

Zaharis doesn't answer for a while. His eyes stay on his fingers, his thumb running over each knuckle. The pressure leaves trails of red on his pale skin. "Yeah. He was being held. Hostage. And they…shot him."

Adele swallows, confusion and worry melding to create a rather pained expression on her face. "I'm sorry," she says in a whisper, hand returning to his cheek. "Come here?" It's a request, too tentative to be firm, but her arms open, and she turns onto her side, inviting him to come lie against her.

"It's Rhea you should be saying sorry to," Zaharis says, talking to his hands even as she touches his face. "They had to tell her later that her husband was alive. And I was right there. He was looking at me when he died." He doesn't respond to her invitation, still intent on slowly rubbing the back of his hand raw. "I couldn't save him."

"He was your friend," Adele says quietly, but her tone grows a little firmer. "And you're here. I'll tell Rhea when I see her." She remains on her side, watching him rub at his hand. "Come here," she repeats, reaching for his hand to save it from the other one.

The movements of Zaharis' fingers on his hand get steadily more agitated, until his ragged fingernail scrapes his skin. It leaves a tiny trail of blood beading up behind it. He exhales and lowers his head, scratching his hands roughly through his hair before he lets her have the hand she wanted. He shifts more onto his side and puts his head down against her hip.

Adele stares at the trail of blood, streaked by his hair, on the back of the hand she has in hers, unsure of what to do with it. As he turns onto his side, she lets out a quiet breath and just looks at him for a long few moments. Tenderly, she lifts his fingertips to her lips and kisses them lightly, then reaches for a box of tissues upon the right bedside table. Pulling one out, she dabs at the blood on the back of his hand.

Zaharis doesn't say anything else, just laying there with his face turned to her hip. His eyes stare past a fold of fabric of her pants, and his bleeding hand rests on her leg after she kisses it. His feet keep moving, curling and uncurling, and despite lying so still the tension in him seems wound up. "She would've got to see him. Five more minutes."

Adele resumes pushing her fingers through his hair, remaining silent for a few moments after he speaks. Then, she closes her eyes, and asks - regret already written on her face - "Would five more minutes have been enough?"

"If we could've kept him alive five more minutes," Zaharis semi-repeats himself, talking to her leg. "She could've seen his eyes. She could've heard him. She could've said goodbye. Five stupid frakking minutes."

"Oh," Adele replies, understanding now. On a basic, face-value level. "Do you really think it would have been good for her to see him dying, Jesse? To have that image going through her head?"

Zaharis breathes out a frustrated rush of air. "I don't know. I don't /know/." He raises his head, unable to lie still anymore, and slides his fingers into his hair. "The whole time he was alive…a whole month he was out there and she got cheated out of a last breath."

Adele flops back down onto her back when Zaharis lifts his head, and she stares up at the ceiling, her eyes moving rapidly as though reading something written up there in the paint. "What happened?" she asks finally, confusion returning to her features. "You said he was held… hostage?"

Zaharis rubs his fingers over his eyes, closing them. "They had a gun to his back. Marines tried to get him down so they could take the guy out behind him…and he frakking shot Ephraim in the back. Just like that. One frakking second he was okay and the next one his blood was everywhere."

Adele grimaces at the image she can't help but form in her mind. "Gods," she mumbles, pulling herself into a sitting position again, a distance away from the headboard, with her legs crossed on the mattress. "I'm sorry, Jesse," she repeats, turning her head to regard him rubbing at his eyes. She wants to say more, that much is clear, but she refrains. All that issues from her lips is a deep sigh.

"I don't know what to do." There's no moisture or tears in his eyes as Zaharis runs his fingers along his closed eyelids and then opens them again, looking at the pillow. There's not really anything in them except a crushing amount of weight, which he attempts to manage by taking a very deep breath. "There's nothing I can do."

Adele reaches out, the pressure of her hand taking on some firmness as she rubs at the space between his shoulderblades soothingly. "No, not beyond being there for Rhea. Just like you have been." Her eyes travel over his body, then back to his face, and she is once again taken aback by his appearance. "You can also take care of yourself so you /can/ continue to be there for her. And… others, who need you."

"I know…" Zaharis says, breathing out the words. "I know. I know." The repetition isn't sharp. He sounds like he's trying to drill it into himself rather than prove he understands. He lowers his head as she rubs his back, trying to relax out all that tensed up muscle.

"You're a mess," Adele says quietly, turning herself so she can better reach Zaharis' tight back. "I've never seen you like this, Jesse." Slowly, she adds her other hand to the pressure at his back, kneading the muscles to the best of her strength. Leaning over him, she brushes her lips against the back of his neck.

"What?" Zaharis turns his head slightly, not raising it as she moves to kiss his neck. "What are you talking about?"

Adele looks immediately apologetic. "Nothing. I… I'm sorry. You're grieving." She swallows dryly, shaking her head. "That was insensitive." She pushes her thumbs along his spine and lapses into silence.

Someone hasn't looked in the mirror lately. Zaharis' shoulders tense as he moves them a little bit, about to say something more. Then he's silent. Then it bubbles up again. "No…what…?"

Adele sits back, pulling her hands off his back slowly. She looks at him, every part of him, then closes her eyes so she can apply pressure to her sockets with her thumb and forefinger. She keeps doing this as she speaks, as though it physically pains her to tell him. "You've lost so much weight, you're pale, you've got circles under your eyes. You're twitching, Jesse. You… you look strung out." She sucks her lips between her teeth at that last statement, physically forcing herself to shut up.

Zaharis stares at her. Really, she might've slapped him straight across the face. "I'm not…what are you talking about? What did you just say?"

Adele pulls her hand away from her eyes and meets Zaharis' gaze with her own. For a moment, she looks meek. Another sweep of her eyes up and down his body, however, coupled with the look in his eye, strengthens her resolve, and she repeats herself firmly. "You look strung out."

"I am /NOT/." Zaharis suddenly snaps at her. The force behind his words is sudden and intense, and he jerks his elbows up under him. "What the frak kind of thing is that to frakking say? What your frakking problem?! I /am/…!" The explosion catches up to him with those two words and the 'not' gets lost. Utterly lost. "…I…"

Adele reflexively scoots away from Zaharis as he snaps, moisture springing to her eyes as his words intensify and he swears at her. She doesn't let any tears fall as she looks at him, her jaw set so her chin won't quiver. When the explosion subsides, she reaches out for him. "Tell me, Jesse. Please don't lie to me." Her voice cracks a little, but still, she doesn't let any tears fall.

"I'm not lying!" There's an eye of this sudden hurricane somewhere but it moves crazily, coming and going and bouncing around. The wind is back for a second as Zaharis shouts again, and he pushes himself up and away from her reaching hand. "Why does everyone think I'm lying? Why is everyone…I just…I just needed to do /something/. It was just a little bit. I know what I'm doing, it's just a few. It's just…I /need/ it."

"How much are you taking then?" Adele asks, placing her rejected hand limply in her lap. She's trying not to sound so much like a doctor. "And you know that the first moment you say you need it, Jesse, you've relinquished control." She reaches up to push the moisture out of her eyes, physically precluding it from falling once and for all.

"That's not what I meant!" The backpedaling is instant and scattered, Zaharis' hand closing around a fold of the blanket. "I have control! I have /plenty/ of control! It's just a few, I have to sleep and I have to wake up. What do you want, that I'm not able to do my frakking job?"

Adele's grey eyes darken, her face tightening into an expression he's likely never seen before. Anger. "I /want/ you to stop lying to me and yourself!" she exclaims, looking as though she -could- slap him straight across the face. But of course, she does not. Not going to add domestic violence into the mix at this point. "You're not an idiot, Jesse. You know full well that you're going to suffer for whatever you've done to yourself. What about when they run out? What about the tremor in your hands the next time someone gets a bullet through the abdomen and you're the only doctor around to do the surgery?" She pushes out of the bed, storming away to the opposite side of the room to stare at him from over there. "You have to stop now, Jesse. It's only going to get worse with every pill you take."

"I didn't hurt anyone!" Zaharis shouts back at her. "Who am I hurting? Nobody! I didn't hurt anyone. I haven't hurt -anyone-. I /can't/…" He sits back on his heels, his entire body seeming to be shaking along with his hands. "I can stop…anytime I want to. /Anytime/ I want to. I can control it, Adele. I /can/. I can…can-…t…I can't…"

"Do you hear the way you're talking to me?" Adele asks him, her tone softening somewhat. The angry expression has faded into something less overt, and her eyes close as she works to compose herself. She only half-succeeds; her emotions are too strong to banish them completely from her face. "Jesse, please," she pleads, taking a few steps towards him. "Let me help you stop." Another step. "I love you." It's a plea this time.

That completely alien rage in Zaharis' dark eyes seems to flicker at her question, like a candle flame that's been hushed by a sharp wind. He draws a sharp breath that hitches in his chest and his shoulders seem to draw in on themselves. "I…yes…"

Adele takes another step closer to him, and then another. "This isn't you, Jesse. The way you're talking to me, the way you look. It's not you." She sucks in a breath, and reaches out to press a cool hand to his cheek if he lets her. She glances around the room, then back at him. "I'm not shifting the blame somewhere else, either. I know how you like to be held accountable. But we need to get you back. Do you understand me?"

"…yes." Zaharis rubs his hands over his face, and up into his hair. He doesn't pull away from the touch of her hand, breathing shallowly. He feels warm to the touch, and his hairline is beaded with sweat. "Yes."

"Good," Adele says, firmly. She sits next to him on the bed pushing her hand from his cheek to his forehead, wiping away the beads of moisture there. Once again, she glances around the room, as if assessing something. "We can do it here," she says, pulling her hand from his face to wring her ten fingers together in her lap. "If you want. You can ask for leave - they know how hard you've been working."

"I have to go back…secure leave." Zaharis turns his face towards her cool hand until it pulls away. His voice is tense, forcing himself to keep talking. "It's going to take hours, Adele…if not a day or two. Need someone else here, you can't be awake the whole time."

Adele tugs her lower lip between her teeth as her hands untangle themselves from one another. Her fingers flex a few times, then she turns herself inward to face Zaharis, mimicking his sitting position. "I'm not going to be able to sleep anyway, Jesse. But if you want someone else here, that's fine. Just tell me who." She puts both her hands on his face and leans forward to kiss the corner of his mouth.

"You'll need someone to talk to…I'm going to be pretty useless." Zaharis finds some very weak humour in that. "I'll…figure it out." He breathes slowly. "Get a lot of water. Extra food. Ditralin from the clinic. Might need it." He lets her turn his head and closes his eyes as he feels her lips next to his mouth. His head nudges to the side, giving her mouth the lightest press of his own.

Adele keeps her lips where they are for a moment, her hands inching upward and into his hair. They only get a few inches before she forces herself to pull back and regard him intently. "I'll need to have Rhea do something with Reece. Do you want me to tell her what's going on?"

Zaharis doesn't say anything for a while. "Do I want you to? No. Do I think she should know…yes."

"Yes, she should," Adele agrees, the faintest twitch of a smile flickering upon her face for a second. Her expression turns serious once more, tinged with haggard worry that brings to light a few creases at her eyes that weren't as noticeable before. "Gods, Jesse," she says on the exhale of a sudden breath.

"I'm sorry." Zaharis barely breathes as he says that. It's not easy to say; the apology's tightly wrapped up with humiliation. "I should…I need to go get leave. I need to do it before I lose my nerve."

Adele nods. "Go," she says, reaching out to squeeze Zaharis' shoulder and give it a gentle shake. "I'm going to talk to Rhea so she can figure out what to do with Reece."

Zaharis nods slowly, clearly dreading Rhea. His hand reaches up to caress her face and then he makes himself move, leaving no time to let himself stall. He slides his leg off the bed, using the headboard for support as he stands. "Call you tomorrow."

"I'll be here," Adele replies, remaining seated. As he goes, she reaches for her handheld and begins texting.

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