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The colour drained from his dark face, leaving behind a mere shell of the vibrant individual he had once been. All light, all happiness, had been extinguished from his life in four succinct words. No apology, no reasoning, just the cold hard facts. "I am leaving you." He should have known it was coming. Suspected something was wrong. But he hadn't. He'd been blinded to all problems and all incompatibilities by the love he felt.
"Why?" he pleaded. "I don't understand." He'd given her everything. His love. His name. His friendship. Why couldn't she just love him in return?
"I am sorry."
"Don't be. Whatever it is, we can work it out." He hardly recognised his own voice anymore. Never before had he been reduced to begging for his very life. "If we love each other, there is nothing we can't fix."
She was silent.
"You do love me, don't you?" He knew the answer before he'd even asked the question, but he couldn't help but cling to the last vestiges of his hope.
"I am sorry."
He didn't want her apology or the look of pity that was coating her face. He'd given her his life and she was spitting it back in his face. "Why?" It was a demand. His devastation turning to anger in a heartbeat. "I took you in! I loved you despite what you are!"
"What I am?"
The words were on the tip of his tongue, almost begging to be set free. Words that could wound far deeper than any sword, and in doing so reduce her to a thing in her own eyes. He wanted to do it. Wanted to hurt her, just as she had hurt him. But he couldn't. He just couldn't. "I didn't mean..." He was deflated.
"I am sorry."
He slumped down into a chair, his eyes swollen with unshed tears that coated his throat and made him question his need for life. He was meant to be the dashing one. The one to ride in and secure the love of the beautiful young waif who would love him unconditionally. And for a tiny while, with her, he'd thought that was exactly what he'd been. "Did you ever love me?"
She was silent for so long he thought for a minute that she hadn't heard his question, then when she answered he wished she hadn't.
"I thought I did, once, before I knew what love was."
A simple mistake? He couldn't believe she was equating their marriage to a flaw in judgement. Their love had been real. He knew it had. He'd felt it. Hadn't he?
Slowly he began to see past his own pain and with his cleared vision he could detect another layer to her statement. Another even more painful layer. "So now you know what love is?"
"How?" He shook his head. That wasn't what mattered. "Who?" he demanded.
He would have laughed but her face remained impassive. The truth of her statement written large in determined blue eyes. It made no sense. "Why?"
He searched her eyes in anticipation of her next word, but none was forthcoming. She simply loved B'Elanna, because. He didn't understand, but then maybe he'd never understood her, and maybe that was one of the reasons she was walking out of his door and out of his life.
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