Prompt: Love Triangle
Fandom: Billy and Phyllis (Philly)
Title: The Truth
“You’re not welcome here.” Jack stared through the glass door, the disgust that settled inside him as he looked at the face of his own brother still unnerved him.
Billy looked back at his brother. He expected this. He knew Jack was angry, but he also knew his brother had a great capacity to forgive—even if he didn’t deserve it.
“Jack, just let me in. I have some things I want to say and I’m sure there are some things you want to say to me. “He studied his face wondering if he was getting through.
“One time,” he said flatly. “Let me say what I came here to say. You get it off your chest and then if you never want to see me again, I’ll respect that. I’ll never come back here again.”
Jack slowly pulled open the door.
Billy shoved his hands in his pockets. He hated feeling this way—so uncomfortable, so awkward in front of his own brother, but he couldn’t pretend he hadn’t caused it. He and Phyllis had made their choice. They had both known the fallout their relationship would cause. Jack was the ultimate collateral damage, but he wasn’t an innocent and he couldn’t stand the fact that everyone was treating him like the injured party.
“Look Jack, I’ll make this quick. I’ll…”
No.” Jack interrupted. “You’re in my house. You slept with my wife. You blew up my life, my marriage. I get to speak first.”
He could have, and probably should have, chalked the angry words up to pain masquerading as rage, but his own pain and rage blurred the lines of rational thought.
His mind filled with anger and his eyes fell on a picture of Jack and Phyllis that sat on the mantle across the room. He walked over, grabbed it, and held it out in front of him.
His voice trembled as he spoke, “Not this time, Jack. Not this time. You don’t get to pretend that I came in here and just blew everything to hell. You don’t get to pretend that you and Phyllis were just living some kind of fairytale before I came in and just stormed the castle.”
“You don’t know anything about my marriage,” Jack bellowed.
“See that’s where you’re wrong, Jack. I know a hell of a lot about your marriage. In fact, I think I know more about your marriage than you do.”
He could see the worlds were making him angry. He shook the picture in front of him again.
“This…This is a façade, Jack. This is a lie..a pretty smile for the camera. The same lie and pretty smile you asked her to put on every single day no matter how she felt inside. Do you have any idea how many times she came to me, how many times she cried to me?”
“Shut up,” Jack spat. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. You have no idea what we went through..how we struggled.”
“I know how she struggled. I know how she told me time after time that you didn’t understand her. I know how she told me that you thought she was a horrible person. I know that she told me that you weren’t the same man she married.”
He watched as the words registered on his brother’s face. The anger seemed to fade—if only for a moment.
“She said that?” he asked softly.
The sound of a key in the door echoed through the silence that suddenly settled on the room.
Phyllis stepped inside. Her eyes widened as she saw the two men standing in front of each other, both their eyes now turned toward her.
“Sorry,” she said quietly. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She looked at Jack. “I tried to call, but you didn’t answer. I just wanted to come get a few of my things…”
He nodded. Billy’s words still echoed in his head.
He stepped over to her. “You told him I wasn’t the man you married?”
Phyllis looked over at Billy, her eyes full of questions. What had she walked in on? What had he told him? “I don’t…I don’t think we should be having this conversation right now.”
“Why?” Billy’s voice was clear, but not at all angry. “Because you can’t be honest?” He stepped closer to her. “Tell him Phyllis. Tell him what you told me. Tell him he had a part in this…a big part. Tell him the truth.”
“Billy.” It was a plea and, under almost any other circumstance, he would have been helpless to refuse her, but not tonight—not when it was this important.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I can’t make this easier for you this time, Phyllis. I’ve been there for you so many times when Jack wasn’t, but this time I need you to stand up for yourself, for us.”
Jack spoke. “Is he right?”
The thought was a sobering one. It was easier to believe Ashley’s version of the truth—that Phyllis had never been right for him. He even felt comforted talking to Jill who insisted this was what Phyllis did—that she was a cheater. That she would never ever change—that she would never be content with monogamy. But this, this version, the version his own brother presented him with, was the hardest to hear.
Could it be true? Could Phyllis have been that unhappy, that traumatized? Could she have felt that misunderstood by him that she turned to someone else not because she wanted sex or excitement, but because she wanted comfort, and understanding—something her own husband wasn’t giving her?
“I don’t know what to say,” Phyllis whispered, her eyes moving slowly from Billy to Jack.
“Why did you go to Billy?” Jack asked.
Phyllis stared, stunned by the straightforward question.
“He cared,” she said, her voice quiet, her eyes meeting his as she continued. “I needed someone and he cared.”
“And you didn’t think I did?” Jack questioned.
“I didn’t think you understood. I was so hurt, Jack. I don’t know if I ever really knew the extent of what I felt.”
“But Billy knew,” he said sadly.
Jack glanced over at his brother. Even now, even as he stood between them, he could see it. There was more to this than some tawdry affair. This wasn’t about finding someone else—as if anyone else would do. Phyllis had found someone that understood her, someone that accepted her—all of her, someone that loved her in a way she didn’t believe he did.
Phyllis stood silent for a moment, unsure of what to say to make it better or, at the very least, to end this moment.
“You love him,” Jack said—more of a statement than a question.
Phyllis hesitated, unsure if her answer would make things worse or bring a quick end to this conversation.
“I…” She looked at Billy, suddenly certain that she couldn’t say anything other than the truth. “I do…I do love him.”
Jack said nothing, simply staring sadly at her. “Well then—I guess that’s all there is to say.”
Phyllis walked out the door, the cool night air bringing much needed relief from the pressure-filled atmosphere inside.
She pulled the suitcase behind her, struggling as the wheels hung up on the cobblestone path.
“Let me help you with that.” Billy stepped out onto the lighted path, relieved that her reaction wasn’t one of anger.
“Thanks,” she said gratefully, handing the bag over to him and walking beside him as they walked to her car.
He lifted the bag into her backseat, closing the door, and turning to face her. He smiled, feeling a bit unsure of what his next move should be.
She opened the driver’s side door, her hand resting there, her eyes staring into his. She followed his gaze to her hand.
“Oh,” she said softly, stroking her naked hand.
“You don’t have to…It’s not my business.” Billy responded quickly. He didn’t want to push her. He’d already been given far more than he anticipated tonight.
“No. It’s okay. I gave Jack the rings back. I should have given them back to him a long time ago..when I knew..when I knew he wasn’t the same man. When I realized he wasn’t the man I wanted anymore.”
Billy stared at her. He wanted to believe her words meant what he hoped.
“I feel like I should say I’m sorry,” he said quietly, “And I am..I’m sorry that you’re hurting, but I’m not sorry that you made the decision. I’m not sorry that you walked away from someone that made you feel less than what you are—a strong, smart, beautiful woman. You don’t belong there—in that house. You don’t belong with him. It’s time for you to decide where you want to be—who you want to be with.”
She looked at him, the moonlight casting a soft glow on his face. He wasn’t pushing her. He wasn’t forcing a decision. He simply stood there with his heart in his hands—just waiting for her to take it. She stepped closer to him, the decision suddenly seeming as natural as the breath that flowed through her body.
Taking his hands in hers, she smiled and whispered, “I already have.”