Ash '06: Sweet Nothings


I put up with it because I love him.

I don't know if he even realizes how much it bugs me. Maybe if I told him he'd do something about it, change in some way. In fact, I know he would. I know he'd do pretty much anything to please me and make me happy – just like I would for him. But there's a perverse part of me that thinks he should know without me needing to tell him. Like it's some kind of test that he's failing - and yeah, I know that's mulish and unreasonable because why the hell would he think to change if he doesn't know it irritates me?

And I guess I'm also reluctant to tell him because it's so petty. It certainly doesn't show me in the best light –makes me look like a fucking mean-spirited curmudgeon and that isn't exactly how you want the person you share your life with to see you. Especially when he's so easy-going and likely sees the damned word as an expression of love.

I reckon it bothers me because it's thoughtless, which wouldn't make a lick of sense to most people because all they see is his charm. But it's a word he uses all the time, to secretaries and receptionists; to checkout girls and waitresses; to old friends and strangers; to toddlers and grandmothers alike. A word that slips out of his mouth as easily and naturally as a breath. Nothing special. Unthinking. Automatic.

He doesn't do it at the office, and I suppose I should be thankful. I'd definitely put a stop to it double quick if he started up there. I know he wouldn't, though, he's way too professional and he's careful about our relationship at work. Real conscious of his position and mine. But once we're off the clock, he slips back into it; in front of our team when we're having a drink at the Saloon, or on the weekends when all the family gets together. I cringe when in a single breath I hear him say it to Rain then Casey then me.

Jesus, let's get real here. What pisses me off the most is that he only says it to women. Women, and me. And that's exactly what the damn word makes me feel like – the little woman, the wife. I don't need to be…what? Coddled? Flattered? Whatever the hell reason he has for using that word. Christ! It's just so fucking queer. It isn't what men call each other, not in my world anyway. Darlin'. Like I'm some starry-eyed schoolgirl, fawning all over him. He says it and everybody who hears it starts to speculate about what's between us, I see it in their smirking faces and goddamn it that just isn't anybody's business. End of story.

I know he'd be totally baffled if I ever told him. I know how much it would hurt him that his favourite endearment makes me squirm. I can almost see the frown that would crease his face while he thinks it through. He'd ask me incredulously why I never said anything before, and his confusion would be so easy to read because he's no good at hiding anything from me. And because he loves me he'd fight his instincts really hard but the word would inevitably slip out from time to time, and he'd glance at me, embarrassed, and try to shake it off. And knowing him he'd quit on the word altogether because it would always remind him of my disapproval, and that wouldn't be fair, not when it's so much a part of how he expresses himself, and who he is.

So I suck it up and try to paste on a smile whenever he calls me darlin'. Because I love him and I don't want to hurt him. In the end, it's as simple as that.


I know he loves me; it's right there in the fond smile he gives me when I walk into a room, in the eagerness of his body when he moves towards me, in every breath we exchange in each other's company. Even when he's mad at me for some fool thing or another I know it doesn't touch what we have together – not down deep.

And he shows his feelings in so many ways – ways I know other people would be surprised by. He tiptoes around the house on Sunday morning so that I can sleep late; even though he's raring to go he slows his pace to match mine. He watches horror movies with me, even though he thinks they're corny and hokey and a waste of a good evening. He lets me order anchovies on our pizza, even though I know he doesn't really understand the attraction. Hell, he's even a closet romantic with dinner and soft music and candlelight, the whole nine yards. He shows me he loves me in everything we do together, in the way we work and the way we play, in the beautiful life we've made with each other.

And he says it all the time. I love you. Sometimes funny and sometimes sarcastic; sometimes so intense that it breaks me apart. I love you. The most profound words one person can offer another. So it's totally stupid and ungrateful to wonder why he can't bring himself to voice an endearment. I don't mean in front of the whole wide world, I know he doesn't have it in him. I don't even mean in front of the team, even though they're our friends, our family. That's not Chris either and I know that, I can live with that. But he can't even say the words when it's just us, alone.

Maybe it niggles because he used to. With Sarah. Sweetheart. I remember that one best because it was his special word for her. When she was miffed she called him on it, "don't sweetheart me Christopher Larabee". But most often when he said it her eyes would soften and she'd smile so warm and tender and everything about her would kind of…melt. It meant something different than I love you. I know it doesn't make much sense but it somehow seemed more intimate, something private just between them.

I call him pet names all the time. You'd think he'd get the hint. But this is Chris Larabee we're talking about, so I guess that's bein' a little too optimistic. Still. One sweetheart. Just on special occasions. Just between the two of us. It'd be, well… really sweet.

They're called sweet nothings but that's just plain wrong. Those little endearments can mean a lot. I see it in the smiles I get when I use the words, in the twinkling eyes and the smoothed out frowns. But it isn't something Chris can do for me and I'll never let him know it bothers me. I'd hate him to think I found him lacking, not when he does so much to make me happy, makes so many accommodations, meets me more than halfway. I have to say, though, living with a man—much as I love it—sure highlights the things only women offer up naturally. Like sweetheart, and cuddling and the easy way they lean into you for saying the right thing.

Still. If that's all I've got to complain about, I've got it pretty good. So I learn to live without those special words because I love him and I don't want to hurt him. In the end, it's as simple as that.