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What You Need To Say

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Story Title: What You Need To Say

Type of Story: S/M Fic - Two shot

Main Characters: Indi/Romeo

BTTB rating: T

Genre: Angst

Does the story include spoilers: No (AU from episode)

Any warnings: mentions of death

Summary: Romeo tells Indi that he cheated on her rather than the truth.


fic: what you need to say - part one

Indi doesn't understand.

Correction. She understands perfectly fine, but she can't comprehend the words coming from Romeo's mouth. The apology, the deep breath, the bomb.

"I cheated on you."

Indi can't even take in Romeo's expression - how crushed he looks, dark circles underneath his eyes, and Indi had just assumed all along that it was the stress of the gym opening and a new business, but they were fine. They were planning for a future together, and now, now. She just doesn't understand anymore.

Somehow she manages to speak. Her voice coming thick, watery, "Who?"

Romeo, for his own pained expression, manages to look startled. "What - no. No, it doesn't matter who -"

"Of course it matters!" She feels the anger now. A tear rolls down her cheek and she just has to focus on breathing, can't even wipe it away because her hands are just trembling. "We promised total honesty. God, tell me it wasn't Ruby, if it was Ruby -"

"No! No, of course it wasn't Ruby."

"Then who? When?"

Romeo shakes his head. "It doesn't matter now. I could feel you pulling away, and I didn't know what else to do. I'm sorry."

Indi watches as he walks away, and for a second she thinks she should call out after him, but it gets caught in her throat. Shes been holding it in, unable to react, do anything. Then, as she exhales, a sob escapes and all she can do is put her face in her hands and cry.

When she gets home that night Romeo is gone - already packed his things and left. The room is quiet, already feels too empty. Indi closes the door carefully before leaning back on it.

She eventually crawls onto of the mattress - can't bring herself to climb underneath - put her head on the pillow and lets the tears fall.

She ignores Sid's attempts to talk about it - he's only trying to work out what has happened through Indi's cries - and Dex offering cups of tea, glasses of water, some tangible way of trying to help.

But nothing they do, nothing anyone can do, can fix the pain Indi feels. That hole she has, gnawing away from her insides, and the only person who she thinks could make it better, is the one person who put it there.


Romeo has an arm flung over his forehead, headache forming behind his eyes, and his whole body actively aches.

He tries to just breathe, focus on breathing, and ignore the lump in his throat and the sickness in his stomach.

He was going to tell her. He really was.

Indi was right; they had promised total honesty with each other. And two weeks ago Romeo was a firm believer that honesty and love could get you through anything. But now.

He's staring down the barrel of his own mortality and wondering how the truth is going to save him now.

Romeo feels his stomach over turn. He tries to take a deep breath in, push it out through his nose, make the wave of nausea pass, but he already feels the bile creeping up, and Romeo scrambles up from the hotel bed, staggers for the bathroom, manages to crash to his knees in front of the toilet bowl before he pukes.

His muscles clench, head feels dizzy, and all he can do is grip the side of the bowl and squeeze shut his eyes.

Eventually, Romeo coughs, reaches up to push the button to flush, before his knees give out and he collapses to the floor. The tiles are cool under his fingers, the palm of his hand, and he curls in on himself, resting his cheek on top of his arm, bringing his knees to his chest and closing his eyes.

It's better this way, Romeo tries to tell himself. It's better for Indi not to see him like this. That he'd rather have her think he cheated on her, do something completely unforgivable and hate him, than her to have to go through this with him. She doesn't deserve that. It's the most selfless thing he could think of.

Because he loves her.


Indi stares into space, her thumb hovering over the call button for goodness knows how long. She doesn't really register that anyone has seen her until Sasha pulls out a chair and sits down opposite her.

"How are you?" Sasha asks, and Indi doesn't mean to glare but clearly her expression registers and Sasha is immediately backtracks. "Oh, god, I didn't mean - it was a dumb question, of course you're not okay -"

"Sasha, its okay," Indi manages, and Sasha seems to breathe a little.

"Okay," she echoes.

If anything Indi is not okay - she's tired, confused, still very hurt - but she managed to get through breakfast this morning without crying, even though her dad wouldn't stop staring and reassuring her that he would do anything to help.

"Has he called?" Sasha ventures and Indi shakes her head. "You should."

"Why? Why should I call him and beg for him to explain why he did it? Ask him whether our marriage meant anything to him? He made his choice; I'm not the one who wrecked everything." She feels the tears beginning to prickle behind her eyes and she swallows.

Sasha looks at her sadly. "Because you need to."

Her sister stands from the table, a hand pressing onto her wrist reassuringly, before Indi is left alone again.


Romeo hears the door open but he doesn't even bother to look up. There's only one person it could be, and even he's not supposed to be here, but Romeo doesn't have the strength to fight with him again today.

The hotel room has been spinning constantly since he got up from his nap, so Romeo is now sitting on the floor of the tiny kitchen, leaning against the door to the pantry waiting for it to pass, because he doesn't trust himself to stand without crashing back to the ground.

Liam kneels down in front of him, places a hand on his knee. "How are you holding up?"

Romeo blinks up at him through his lashes, eyelids still feeling heavy. "I'm my very own carnival ride."

He tries to sit up little, but his vision tunnels, darkening at the edges and Romeo shuts his eyes, heaves a breath. He feels Liam squeeze his knee, ask, "You eaten?"

Romeo manages to grit his teeth and shake his head minutely.

He vaguely registers Liam standing, and he begins pottering around the kitchen. There's a rustle of plastic bags - he must have been shopping, brought him some supplies - and Romeo clears his throat. "You don't have to."

"I know you don't feel like it now, but trust me you'll feel better for it. If you feel as good as you look, then you've had quite the night." Romeo grunts a bit, opens his eyes to see Liam standing overhead. He's holding a plate. "You want to try and get up to eat this?" Romeo wrinkles his nose, feels his stomach clench at the mere mention of food. "Don't worry, it's just toast. I'll give you a hand."

Liam places the plate on the kitchen counter and then reaches out a steadying hand. Romeo clutches in tightly, hauling himself gradually to his feet. As his head comes up the floor actually lurches from underneath him and Liam shoves his arm under Romeo's body, keeping him upright.

Romeo feels the clamminess of his skin in contrast to Liam's. He feels hot but his skin is cold, a little damp, and he breathes in deeply through his nose. Liam supports most of his weight as he leads him to the lounge. He tries to let him down gently, but Romeo is heavy and not really helping so he sort of collapses into the cushions, a faint oomph escaping.

Romeo grunts, readjusts himself a little and Liam places the plate on his lap. One piece of toast. No butter or jam or anything on top. He stares at it.

"I know it's not Masterchef or anything, but its what you're going to get. I'm sure Indi would do a much better job."


His tone is cutting, and Liam looks a little startled by his conviction. Even just that one syllable has taken it out of him. Romeo sighs, "Just don't."

Liam is quiet, and Romeo begins to pick at his toast. He's ripping off bits of crust and popping them in his mouth. It sort of tastes like cardboard, but his initial reaction isn't to throw it up, so he calls it a win. Romeo glances up, sees Liam watching him intently, "What?"

It's Liam's turn to sigh. "I know you think you're doing the right thing -" Romeo closes his eyes, pushes the plate away from himself, and Liam just ploughs on, "- I know you have your reasons, and you know I'm always going to be here for you, but Indi is the one whose supposed to be here. She would want to be here."

As Romeo shakes his head he sees his phone skitter across the small coffee table with the vibration. Liam reaches out and grabs it before Romeo has a chance to react. He glances down at the illuminated screen before shoving it into Romeo's sluggish hands.

"See," Liam stresses and Romeo blinks, watches Indi's name glare back.


There's a pile of boxes in the hallway and Indi is hauling an old duffel bag towards the front door when Dex walks in the door.

"Going somewhere?" he asks slowly.

With one final tug, the bag comes to a halt at the foot of the stack of boxes. "Not me."

Indi doesn't take much notice of her brother, just stalks back to her room. It seems bigger now, more spacious - more empty, her brain supplies - and from behind her she hears Dex let out a low whistle.

"Wow. Someone's been busy."

She ignores Dex's comment, starts rearranging her clothes left hanging in the wardrobe. Now she's got the extra space she can finally hang up all the clothes she used to have to shove into drawers because half of the cupboard space was Romeo's.

"You know," Dex begins, "You don't have to do that now."

"Why wait? Romeo's not coming back, he doesn't care about me or my feelings, so why should I care about his stuff. It's just stuff, right? It's not like I'm throwing away our relationship, or our marriage."

Dex bites down on his lip as Indi slams the cupboard door shut.

"Yeah, but he might ..."

"Don't." Indi spins around suddenly. "Don't say that he might come back. He's not coming back and the sooner everyone realises that the better."

Indi slumps down on the end of the bed. It seems too big for one person.

She's been going at it for a couple of hours, at least; pulling out Romeo's clothes from the wardrobe, shoving them into bag and boxes. She tried not to dwell on it - if she kept busy with packing and replacing, then her mind couldn't wander to when she last saw him wearing a shirt, or the smell of his cologne ingrained in the fabric that reminded her of late nights tucked together in bed, planning out a future together.

Romeo's thrown all that away now - so she's throwing him away too.

"Have you spoken to him?" Dex ventures.

Indi looks up, feels the tears swell again, and she scrubs at her face with the back of her hand.

She shakes her head. "I called," she says sadly, "I called but he didn't answer. He's clearly moving on with his life, so I need to do the same."

The first time the call to Romeo had rung out, Indi was so stunned she couldn't speak. She'd hit redial and waited. This time it went straight through to voicemail - he'd turned his phone off, making his feelings abundantly clear to Indi.

When Romeo's casual voice chimed in - "Hey, this is Romeo. I can't answer your call right now, so leave a message." - Indi felt the blood rush to her cheeks.

"I thought I married a man. But this is not how a man acts. You tell me you were with someone else - which I still can't understand, by the way - but then you just take off! You're a coward, Romeo Smith, and I don't understand how after everything you won't even talk to me about it!"

She's breathing heavily when she hangs up, hoping she'll feel better for her sudden explosion, but -

"It's been three days, Indi. No one would blame you for taking a bit more time." Indi is staring at Dex blankly now, and she knows how terrible she must look. Dex cites three days as no time at all. But when Indi hasn't slept and been replaying that final conversation over in her head, just trying to understand, three days feels like a lifetime. "I just don't want you to do anything you'll regret. When its not so ... new."

"I can't, Dex! I can't just wait and hope for him to come back, because he's not going to. He's gone, Dex! And I'm supposed to hate him. I'm supposed to hate him for what he's done, but I don't. I just want to know why." She trails off, voice quivering at the end.

Indi has been running on anger for a while now. Since she made the decision to call Romeo, to try and make contact with him, because if she could just talk to him the maybe she could understand, but the call was blocked. Romeo hung up on her, actively dismissed her call and then switched off his phone, and that was when she became furious. She was angry that Romeo could drop something like that and then just take off. It's not even that he cheated - that still burns a bit, but its not the main reason she's upset - its that he ran out afterwards. He didn't stay to explain, or try to fix things, to see when Indi was okay. That was what hurt Indi the most.

While she was packing up his things Indi could pretend she was still angry. She could haul and sweat and swear at the amount of stuff Romeo had meshed with her life and try to cleanse herself of everything that reminded her of him. But it was impossible.

Romeo was such an integral part of her life, now that she's trying to determine what was hers and what was his, the split is less of a definitive line and more a blur. The bed is Indi's, but the bedspread was a belated wedding gift. The little bedside cabinet was Romeo's, and they bought the lamp together to try and tie together the room. As a result Indi had just ended up grabbing things that had the most emotional connection - things that when she looked at couldn't help but think of him - the stuff that tugged at her insides and made her want to cry.

Now that she's stopped and Dex is standing in the bedroom door, she just feels tired.


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JarlieFanEver - Thank you for reading. Second part coming up immediately following this. I just feel bad about not replying to comments when you take the time to post something.

Red Ranger - I'm glad you think so.

JosieTash - To be honest, I was skeptical myself about posting it. Mostly because so much time had passed since the event had actually happened in the show that I wondered whether anyone would be interested in reading it. So thank you for giving it a chance! I always really appreciate you taking the time to single out your favourite parts.


fic: what you need to say - part two

His palms are sweaty, and Liam shoots him a reassuring look from beside him.

Romeo feels his knees trembling; he jiggles them slightly, trying to calm his nerves. He opens and closes his fingers into fists, resting them on his legs. His fingers have been starting to tingle, a weird pins-and-needles sensation on and off for the last couple of days and Romeo knows he cant put this off any longer.

About halfway down the hall, a door opens and the doctor steps out.

"Romeo Smith?" he announces and Romeo stands.

The doctor's smile is warm, albeit a little stiff. Romeo gets the impression that this line of work doesn't lend itself to delivering good news all that often. He follows into the room, his feet leading him, even though Romeo feels as though his mind is elsewhere. He still isn't sleeping - can't, really - and when he does he always wakes with a start, his heart pounding, sweating through his shirt, and echoing around the empty hotel room. It's moments like this, when the fear creeps in and his body momentarily forgets how to live that scares him the most.

When the room is dark and Liam is sleeping soundly on the couch in the next room, and Romeo blinks blearily at the ceiling, is when he feels death tickling at the corners, enticing him. That's when Romeo will turn over in the double bed and wish there was someone beside him that he could lie awake with too.

There used to be a time when he and Indi would lie awake together; legs intertwined, bodies spent and nothing but each other and all the time in the world. Romeo is slowly convincing himself that that time in his life is over, maybe never really existed in the first place.

The doctor's office is simply laid out with a large wooden desk, a black leather recliner behind it, a plain upright chair opposite. There's a scattering of paperwork on the table, a manilla folder spread open and the doctor extends his hand to Romeo, and Romeo has to wipe his hand off on the back of his jeans before shaking it. He then gestures for Romeo to sit down.

"Hello, Romeo. I'm Doctor Charles Burnett. Please, take a seat."

Romeo obeys, sits quietly, his gaze automatically drifting from Doctor Burnett to the window behind him. There's a large tree outside, the trunk wide and round, branches sturdy, twining upward and around itself, blocking out a lot of the sunlight. It must have been there before the doctor's office was built; much smaller back then, and no one probably considered how much difference a decade could make. How much bigger and more expansive it would become with time. It would be impossible to remove now, its roots too deep, too far beneath the surface to be able to pull out easily. It would leave behind a giant hole too big to fill.

He blinks back to the doctor when he hears him continue speaking.

"I'm pleased you made an appointment to come and see me, Romeo. Doctor Walker gave me your file, and I want to discuss the treatment options we have for you."

Romeo tries to listen, he really does, Doctor Burnett beginning to talk about radiotherapy, chemotherapy, being aggressive towards the cells, but it all sounds very futile. It's about prolonging the inevitable rather than winning the battle. It's taken a while, but Romeo has come accept that this is something that he can't just keep fighting and end up coming out on top. If there was, he wouldn't have made the decision he did. If he thought he had a chance, Indi would be waiting for him, not Liam.

It's impossible to win a war against yourself, you can only minimise the damage.

"Isn't it all kind of pointless though?" Romeo wonders aloud.

The doctor looks a little startled, but covers it well. He clears his throat, folds his hands carefully in front of him on the desk and leans forward.

"I'm going to die, right? So, what's the point?"

"Time," the doctor replies, simply. "You can have time to do what you need to do. Spend as much time with your loved ones as possible. Your wife?"

Romeo's about to ask how he knows when he glances down, sees his left hand and the ring around his finger. He hasn't taken it off.


Indi pushes through the door, letting her keys drop onto the table inside the hall. She walks into the lounge room, her dad looking up from his crossword he's doing in his armchair, as she comes in.

She goes straight to the kitchen, begins pulling vegetables from the fridge. Sid watches curiously for a moment as Indi pulls up a pot and begins filling it with water and setting it on the stove.

"I'm making dinner," Indi explains.

And Sid nods, then says, "Dex is working the late shift, and Sasha is having a sleep over with Rosie so it's just you and me."

Indi works methodically while Sid sits back in his chair. He wants to help, offers to mince the meat or stir the spaghetti, but Indi refuses, insists that she is fine, is okay to do it by herself, is happy to do it, but the way she says it does nothing to put Sid's mind at ease.

They're both sitting at the table, Sid watching as Indi moves food around on her plate without actually eating anything.

"Is everything okay?" Sid asks when Indi remains silent.

Indi stares down at her plate, and Sid puts his own fork down and looks across the table at his daughter. He hates seeing her upset; it practically tore his heart when she came home after Romeo had left. And the worst part of all of it was that Sid knew the truth. He knew what Romeo was going through. He knew his reasons and his own struggles and he couldn't say anything about it.

He doesn't know if it would even make a difference at this point - telling Indi where Romeo actually is, what he's going through too, even though he still believes that Indi deserves to know the truth - but maybe the moment has passed for that. Maybe he should be telling her to move on - that is what Romeo wanted after all. After everything, doesn't he at least deserve that?

"I keep thinking that one day I'll get up and I won't think about him. Or it. Was it something that I did?" Indi asks, a tremor sneaking into her tone. She doesn't even need to elaborate, Sid knows what she's referring to. The lie Romeo planted seems to have taken root.

"No," he assures her quickly. "No, Indi. There was nothing you could have done. This is not your fault."

She shakes her head a little, as if to bring herself out of whatever was occupying her thoughts. "How do you know that? I keep thinking that if I could just understand what went wrong then I would be okay."

"Romeo, for whatever reason, did what he did. And now, he has to live with that choice, not you."

"I just thought we could get through anything, you know?" Indi's voice wavers and she uses the back of her hand to trap a tear that's escaped, squashing it into her cheek.

Sid reaches out a hand, places it on top of his daughter's; it's rough and a little worn, but comforting. "I'm so proud of you," Sid tells her.

"The sad thing is," Indi says, "Is that if he came through that door right now and asked me to take him back ... I probably would. What kind of person does that make me?"

"It means you love him."

Indi nods. "That's the worst part. I thought he loved me too."

"You know, I think he does."

Indi looks up, slightly startled. Sid made no apologies for not making things easy when Indi and Romeo first got together, so why now, after Romeo admitted to cheating on her, is he suddenly sticking up for him?

"Indi, there is something I need to tell you."


Romeo's hands won't stop shaking. He's sweating and shivering and has a blanket pulled up around himself, and is trying to stand from the couch to get a glass of water. He's got his pills bottles on the coffee table, his lunchtime medication all laid out, and Liam has finally gone out - on Romeo's continued insistence that he would be fine on his own for a couple of hours - and now he's walking on shaky legs into the kitchen to get to the cupboard.

He staggers a little, the blanket caught around his feet and he trips, has to lurch to grab at the edge of the counter.

When Romeo is sitting, he can convince himself that nothing has changed. That he's still the same fit and healthy guy who was running a gym and looking to the future. And then he moves, and its like his entire body ceases in protest. If its not the quivering of his muscles, its the dizziness in his head. Nausea has become a pretty much constant state of his being, and Romeo hates that this is what he has been reduced to. He's a shivering, shaking mess and he slumps against the side of the kitchen counter, the blanket falling into a limp pile around his feet.

This is what he wanted to protect Indi from. From watching him fade away, becoming a shadow of who he used to be. At least if she's moving on from him then she won't be dragged down.

Romeo is not going to let himself dwell on how much he actually misses Indi. How he wants to call her just to listen to her voice, or hold her hand and feel the softness of her skin. He can't let himself think of those things.

It uses all his concentration to half fill a shaky glass with water, and he turns, ready to make the trek back to the lounge when he feels the glass slip out of his fingers. Romeo can literally do nothing but stare as the glass disappears, falls straight down and hits the floor.

The water sloshes at his feet, shards of glass scattering like glitter, and Romeo swears under his breath. Clumsily, Romeo drops to his knees, starts grabbing at the pieces of broken glass and he doesn't even realise he's crying until someone else is kneeling beside him.

Indi grabs at his wrists, stops him from going back and picking up more glass. "Woah, hey, hey, hey, stop. Romeo, stop. Breathe."

He obeys, nods dumbly, and stares down at his hands caught in Indi's. He's still holding on to the glass, but its already nicked at his skin, cutting his flesh, spots of blood leaking onto his palms. He didn't even feel it.

It might be a dream, please don't be a dream.

Indi is reaching up to the counter above him, grabbing a tea towel. She carefully uncurls Romeo's fingers, makes him drop the remnants of the broken glass, before pressing the towel into his palm. She makes Romeo use his other free hand to hold it there. Meanwhile, Indi grabs another towel and begins mopping up the water.

It's only when Indi is standing, emptying their dustpan into the small kitchen bin that Romeo feels like he can talk again.

"What are you doing here?"

Indi looks down at him, doesn't reply, just comes over and slips a hand around his arm, helps to hoist Romeo back to his feet and lead him to the lounge. He slumps into the cushions and Indi drapes the blanket back over him.

His body aches and Romeo can barely keep his eyes open but he doesn't want to sleep. If he sleeps he can't guarantee that Indi will still be there when he wakes up, but she just tucks him in carefully, lets him lie back in the cushions.

"It's okay," Indi says. "Rest. I'll be here."

Romeo wants to protest but he can already feel his eyelids becoming heavier, the lounge room becoming blurry at the edges, and Romeo lets the darkness take over.


He falls asleep pretty much as soon as she gets Romeo back to the lounge.

Indi has been operating on autopilot since her dad told her the truth - the real truth - and all she could think was I've got to see him, I need to see him.

And now she's here in a hotel room watching her husband - does he even still want to be her husband? - sleep and she has a chance to actually take in the change. He looks smaller, all tucked in like that. His shoulders are less broad, the strong arms that used to hold her are thinner, not to mention the dark circles under his eyes, the sunken hollows of his cheeks.

Indi looks up when the hotel door swings open and Liam comes bursting in. He's got a plastic bag of groceries and stalls in the doorway when he looks up and sees Indi sitting there.

"What -?" he starts and Indi brings up a finger to her lips, shushing him quietly. She nods towards Romeo asleep on the lounge. Liam closes the door quietly behind him, then brings the shopping into the kitchen. He drops his voice to a whisper, "What are you doing here?"

"My dad told me," Indi replies, she glances down at her hands. "I know Romeo wanted you to keep it a secret."

"I'm sorry," Liam says, coming over and sitting down in the chair on the opposite side of the table. "If it helps, I told him he should have just told you the truth."

Indi nods thoughtfully in reply, not looking up.

"But you're here now," Liam says, a little bit more lively, "That's all that matters." Then, his face falls. "Wait, you're not here to break up with him for real are you, because that would be just cruel -?"

Indi shakes her head, glances over to Romeo again. She keeps getting drawn back to him, it's only been a couple of weeks but she needs to remind herself that he's still there. That he's not just going to disappear again.

"How is he?" she asks, quietly.

Liam is silent for a moment, then replies, "He has his ups and downs. Today would be an up."

There's a faint groan from the lounge and they both look up. Romeo is starting to stir, blinking his eyes open and glancing around at Liam and then his eyes drift over to Indi. "I thought it was a dream," he croaks.

Indi stands, walks over to the lounge and perches on the arm rest. She reaches out and brushes his hair back off his forehead. "I thought you would be mad."

Indi sighs, but her fingers keep working through his hair. "I am," Indi replies and Romeo's eyes widen in shock, but Indi continues, "Im angry that you thought I wouldn't want to be there for you. That I'm some fragile flower that needs protecting. I'm stronger than you realise."

Romeo's eyelids flutter closed for a moment and Indi's hand stalls.

"I wouldn't blame you if you hated me."

"I could never hate you," Indi whispers.

Romeo opens his eyes again, stares up at Indi and for a moment its like things are back to the way they were before. "It's only going to get harder."

"I know," she replies honestly, "I know."



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