wisdomofthesea (wisdomofthesea) wrote in outside_of_rmi,
wisdomofthesea
wisdomofthesea
outside_of_rmi

The Cold War (Lia & Hayden, T24)

Lia heard the fireplace woosh and suppressed an exasperated sigh. This was supposed to be her Thursday. Elliot was at school and Jimmy had taken Ariana to work with him so that Lia could keep her date with Netflix and a clay face mask. One awful visit had already delayed her day and now—what? Norbert just stopping in? Logan with another relationship crisis?

“Lia?” Hayden called out, stepping from her fireplace. If something collided directly with his head, he'd know that Chris had already visited their mutual best friend.

She walked into the living room just as Hayden greeted her. Merlin, it couldn't be Logan having trouble with some girl? “Oh,” Lia said, in the disgusted and disappointed tone typically reserved for discovering they’d forgotten to put the garbage out on trash day. In the kitchen behind her, the coffeemaker whirred and plopped froth onto her cappuccino. “Hi.”

Well she didn’t throw anything—yet—but she didn’t sound pleased to see him. Either she was having a really bad day, or—“Shit, Chris has already told you, hasn’t she?” He phrased it as a question but he already knew the answer. Hayden hadn’t been able to get a hold of Chris, his recently ex-wife. He was pretty sure she was avoiding him. But then she’d just discovered that he was seeing Cosette again, and she’d found out from their two-year-old daughter.

Hayden shoved his hands into his pockets, not moving from the hearth, unsure whether he should continue with his visit or just leave again. He let out a short, hollow laugh and muttered, “Well you know now, anyway.” In truth, he’d been hoping to gradually break it to Lia, to try and encourage his friend to understand things from his point of view, but there wasn’t much chance of that now. He wasn’t kidding himself, he knew Chris was the wronged party here, but it was just circumstantial. Why in Merlin’s name had he thought it was a good idea to tell Bobbie Cosette’s real name?

“Yeah,” Lia answered, her voice cold and pointed as an icicle. Lia had tried to avoid taking sides in the divorce, but since Chris was practically her sister, Lia’s loyalties were a foregone conclusion. Not to mention the fact that she'd been in Chris’ position before—pregnant when she didn’t want a kid, and a husband who desperately wanted kids. It had just worked out for her and Jimmy.

(The therapy had helped.)

Whatever Hayden wanted to say, Lia was not awake enough for this conversation. Would it be rude to get her coffee before they kept talking? Surely not as rude as showing up unannounced at your ex-sister-in-law’s house after your ex-wife found out about you rekindling things with an old flame. She ducked into the kitchen to grab her mug. Hayden was still standing half in the fireplace, looking unsure. “What are you doing here?”

Wow, she really was pissed off at him. Unabashedly, that just made Hayden pissed off at her, too. She was supposed to be his friend! Sure, she was always going to pick Chris if she had to choose between the two of them, but that had never come up before. The separation and divorce had never been ideal, but he and Chris had both just been doing the best they could, and Lia had been there to support them both. How dare she turn tables now just because he was starting to get a glimpse of happiness again?

“I came to talk to my friend,” Hayden replied, stepping into the room, his voice conveying his frustration. “Is she around?” Damn it, if she was going to take Chris’ side just on hearing her version of things then he was entitled to tell his side of the story, too.

Lia damn near threw the coffee on him. If he was a little closer, and if it wouldn’t be a waste of a perfectly good vanilla hazelnut cappuccino, and if he wasn’t, after everything that had happened, still her friend, she would’ve. Instead, she sipped her coffee and tried not to scream. Catterjunes, it’s way too early for this.

It was two in the afternoon. But still. That was early for a semi-nocturnal person.

“Sure. Whatever.” Lia crossed the room and sat forcefully down on the lilac sofa, the way an angry teenager might slam a door. It wasn’t as though she expected Hayden to be celibate now that he and Chris were divorced—but she did expect him to show a scrap of decency and tell Chris he was dating again. Especially given their whole fucked up history with Cosette. Chris’ self-esteem was demolished enough as it was without Hayden boinking the girl he’d cheated on Chris with the last time they were together. Hell, the last time this happened, Chris was so depressed that she thought Keith Blackburn was a good boyfriend. “What exactly did you wanna talk about?”

Lia wasn’t throwing him out or even suggesting that he leave (except by her tone of voice), so Hayden sighed heavily and wearily trudged the short distance to join her on the sofa, sitting as far from her as the furniture would allow.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” he said. “I would be saying this to Chris too, but—” he paused. “Well I’m sure you can imagine, she’s not letting me.” Hayden couldn’t blame her for avoiding him. At least Lia had given him the opportunity to apologize. Not for being with Cosette, because it was his life and he was single and he was entitled to be with who he damned well wanted to be with, but because he hadn’t told the people who were most important to him about it. “But to be fair,” he added, playing Devil's Advocate to his emotions, “I’m not sure it would have gone down any better if I had told anyone, considering…” He trailed off again and rubbed his face in his palms, not wanting to voice aloud his knowledge that Chris and Cosette literally hated each other. No sense making things worse, if that we're even possible.

He’d missed Chris by less than thirty minutes. Lia was grateful, at least, for the timing. The last thing she needed was for her living room to become another battleground in the war of their crumbling relationship. “I guess if we’re choosing, it’s better that you didn’t tell me if you wanted me not to tell Chris.” Lia could keep a secret, but not one like this. Not from her sister. “But like…” Lia trailed off, and sighed as though that could blow away Hayden’s stupidity. “But since you didn’t tell her, it seems like you were hiding something. And if you were hiding something, that means there was something to hide.”

“More like there’s nothing to tell,” Hayden replied, his tone calmer than it had been moments before. “It’s not like we’re going on dates or, I dunno, getting a cat together.” That was something couples in a relationship did, right? Hayden ran a hand through his hair distractedly, a motion he hadn’t been driven to in a very long time. “We’re just having sex,” he admitted to Lia, something he couldn’t exactly say to Chris, unless he wanted the world to implode. “I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want to hear that.” He assumed his tone and context indicated the relevant women when he didn’t use their names.

Nope! Nope, Lia didn’t want to know about Hayden’s sex life. She took another scalding sip of coffee and let Hayden make his excuses. “Oh, come on, you’re not that dumb, are you? You get what it looks like. If she had an ex she cheated on you with, and you just found out he was back in her life, then—I mean, you wouldn’t just be cool with that.” Chris didn’t exactly have a varied dating history she could pull examples from. Hayden had cheated on her with Cosette, and then she’d cheated on Keith with Hayden, and now Hayden and Cosette were together the second after Chris’ marriage ended. Of course she felt like shit about this. “How long?”

Hayden’s initial thought was that it didn’t matter how long, as he and Chris had been separated long before they’d gotten divorced, and they hadn’t really been a couple well before that. But in the spirit of clearing the air, or whatever they were doing right now, he decided to answer.

“Um, we got in touch about a year ago, I guess,” he started. It had been a couple of months of living without Chris before Hayden had reached out to Cosette. “Purely platonic,” he clarified. “But then Chris asked for a divorce and it became… distinctly less platonic.” So he’d been having sex every week or so with a girl he’d technically been with before while he’d been with Chris, but for a start RMI felt like a million years ago, and also the circumstances couldn’t be more different. Chris had left him; that was her decision. She didn’t really have a right to be upset and he would have loved to point that out if he could just think of a way to do it that didn’t make him seem callous and petty.

Lia mentally calculated the timeline. No real overlap—which was a first for Chris and Hayden. But Chris sure as hell hadn’t known Hayden and Cosette were talking again. Lia wondered if that would’ve accelerated the separation’s natural conclusion. It would’ve been another thing for Chris and Hayden to fight about, anyway. Or something for Chris to nurse a quiet hurt over while Hayden stubbornly defended his view.

The whole thing was messy from start to finish. And Lia knew how Chris would take this news: as evidence that Hayden had given up on their marriage when she still thought it was salvageable. Whether or not that was true was irrelevant. “Well, what do you want me to say? Chris is never gonna think this was okay, so…” She let the sentence hang, washing it down with more coffee.

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