Disclaimer: The characters used in this story belongs to creator Shonda Rhimes, ShondaLand, The Mark Gordon Company and ABC Studios. No copyright infringements intended.


When they finally learn the truth about Charlotte's attack, Pete feels a change in his wife. It's not like last year, where Violet would wander the house like a zombie, staring at the dark spot on the floor which bore the mark of her brutal attack. She's still the same Violet. She kisses him good morning when she wakes up, touches his arm when she talks to him, smiles when she sees him stopping by her office in the middle of the day. She tucks their son in at night, picks him up when the boy stretches his little arms towards her. Anyone not paying that close attention to her, could easily overlook the pensive long stares, but Pete sees them. And he sees it, the dark cloud washing over her face from time to time.

He thought something like this could happen when he found Charlotte, all bruised, battered and broken. But in the weeks that passed, Violet was more or less fine. Not unaffected, of course. She had great sympathy for her former roommate and her best friend, and had frequently visited Charlotte's office between patients as well as her and Cooper's apartment after hours. Violet was determined to be of whatever help she could be, whether it meant being a quiet drinking partner for Charlotte, or a shoulder for Cooper to lean on as he let out all the anger and frustration he couldn't let Charlotte witness.

It's not until the mention of a four letter word, that the nightmares start up. Sometimes Pete wakes up, hearing her whimper in her sleep. At first his touch seems to only make it worse, but eventually she settles against his body. He tries bringing it up in the morning, but living with a toddler, there is never time. He tries coming by her office whenever he has the time, but before he can voice a question or concern, she initiates a different conversation, about a patient, or about Lucas. It's as if she knows what he wants to talk about, and she's purposely avoiding it. He doesn't want to engage her in a serious conversation when Lucas is present, and when they are finally in bed together at night, she distracts him with sex before he can even form a thought.

She's a master avoider and this scenario goes on for weeks, leaving Pete more and more frustrated with every day. Normally he would ask Cooper, but the man already has more than enough on his plate. Charlotte is out of the question for obvious reasons. He doesn't really see the point in asking Sheldon, but out of desperation he does. Unfortunately the shrink cannot offer a greater insight than what Pete is already thinking. In the end, not really expecting anything to come out of it, he voices his frustration to Addison as they walk the halls of the hospital after working a case together. Surprisingly, he spots a flicker of recognition on his friend's face.

At first the woman is reluctant to say anything, but when Pete refuses to let it go, she finally voices her suspicion. Far, far at the back of his mind, Pete has been thinking the same thing, but what Addie gives him in addition to her theory, is something tangible. She repeats a conversation, things that Violet said, as well as what she didn't say. Bile rises at the back of his throat and chills run down his spine as his mind conjures an image of Violet lying helpess as someone... He shakes his head.

When he visits her office that afternoon, Violet has a conversation topic all picked out, but this time Pete refuses to bite, "I need to know," he tells her.

He can tell she feels backed into a corner, that her instincts are telling her to play dumb. She doesn't, but at the same time, she doesn't say anything, either. She knows perfectly well what it is he's asking, but she stays quiet.

"You have to give me something," Pete begs, "I need to know what you're dreaming about when you thrash and turn in the middle of the night, what you're thinking about when you fade out and stare aimlessly into the air. I opened up about my past when you asked me to, now I need you to do the same..."

Her breath shortens and she slowly sinks down onto the couch. He takes a seat opposite her and stares pleadingly into her eyes. She sighs and when Pete sees her right hand slowly beginning to tremble, he takes her hands in his, gently rubbing her soft skin with his thumbs.

"It happened a long time ago," she begins, "I was asleep, when a man broke into my dorm. I didn't even notice him until he had one hand over my mouth and the other between my legs. I knew him. He worked at a bar near campus and we had talked a couple of times, even flirted. I was a different person back then. My parents didn't really give me the time of day, they were too busy caring about how they were perceived by the outside world to be bothered with how I was doing. I knew I had a body to kill for, so I took advantage of it. I flirted with bouncers and bartenders in order to drink myself into a stupor, drown my sorrows in alcohol." She gives him a sad smile, and he thinks about her retreat to Costa Rica. Not everything about her has changed.

"Of course, there were men I flirted with because I was genuinely interested. This guy wasn't one of them, but he believed he was..," Violet takes a deep breath as she dives further into her painful past. "I bit his hand so that I could get a chance to scream, get help. He got angry and punched me in the stomach, making it hard for me to breathe, forget about screaming. By the time I managed to catch my breath, he had already ripped my underwear off and was..," she bites her lip and looks away. Pete spots the light's reflection in her glassy eyes.

"A-after," she continues. "I just needed to cleanse myself of him... so I took a shower..." She chuckles bitterly and shakes her head. "The police thought I made it up. I had no physical evidence, no real bruises from where he had hit me, the semen on my sheets only proved that we had intercourse, not that it was against my will. He had picked the lock, so there was no visible damage to the door, so again, no evidence of a forced entry. The guy was a popular bartender and many people had seen me flirt with him on several occasions... I didn't stand a chance."

Pete squeezes her hands and is about to reach out and wipe the single tear running down her cheek, when she opens her mouth again, "My period didn't show," she says quietly, and Pete instantly feels a cold knot forming in his stomach. "It was my first abortion. My friend, Kara drove me to the clinic and stayed by my side for the whole thing. She helped me bury the memory. Eventually the nightmares just stopped and... for the most part it was like it never happened."

"Cooper doesn't know," Pete realizes. Violet shakes her head and confirms it. "Charlotte?"

Violet shakes her head again, "Mostly, we just drink..."

"Are you going to tell her?"

She shrugs, "Still thinking about it. I... I don't really like talking about it, so... if it's okay, I would like to stop now..."

Pete nods, "Okay." He gently pulls her into his lap where she wraps her arms around him and buries her head in his chest.

"I love you," he whispers.

Although he knows she already knows this, he just needs to tell her, to remind her. He feels her relaxing in his embrace and although her voice is severely muffled by his chest, he swears he hears her say, "I love you, too."


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