Author: madamenaan PM
Chapter 5: Sam, at the end of 5.2 "The Glass is Always Cleaner". A collection of random little drabbles/short stories that didn't really fit anywhere else.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 5 - Words: 7,881 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 05-21-10 - Published: 08-31-09 - id: 5346218
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note 1: Sam, at the end of 5.2 "The Glass Is Always Cleaner".
Author's Note 2: Many, many thanks again to ktms for so kindly reviewing the last chapter!
Sam sits back, and studies the cell phone in her hands. She's pinned into the backseat of the police car, a constant whirl of flashing red lights just outside the window. She closes her eyes and bright after-images glow on the backs of her lids.
She drank a lot tonight – too much – but somehow she seems to have gone straight from sober to hungover, her throat dry and tight and a throbbing headache reverberating at her temples, without getting the good part in between. She sighs.
So far as she sees it, she has two options. One is to spend the night in a jail cell downtown – not a tempting thought. The other is to make a call and ask for help.
It should be easy, even Sam can see that. But it isn't, not really. Because Sam doesn't ask people for help, ever. It's just not something she does. Because asking for help means admitting to a weakness, it means admitting that you need something, or someone.
And needing makes you vulnerable; it leaves you open, undefended, and that is something Sam swore a long time ago never to be again.
She's not sure when exactly it started – at her grandmother's funeral perhaps, coming undone. Her grandmother left her; it wasn't her fault but still, she left. Left like everybody leaves in the end. Left Sam alone at the mercy of group homes and foster parents.
So Sam left, too, hitched a ride to Vegas with Jeremy Shapiro and never went back to Austin. And learned to live alone, learned to depend only and entirely on herself, because that was the only way to stay safe. As long as she never trusted anyone to be there, as long as she never let herself need someone, she was okay. She never got lied to, and she never got left behind.
Sometimes, since then, every so often, she's found a crack, thin as a spider-web thread, in this armour that she has, a moment when someone has almost gotten in. Casey almost got in.
But Casey lied to her, and one lie was all it took. It didn't matter what he lied about, that wasn't what was important. What was important was that she almost, almost, allowed herself to trust him.
And that was what happened when you trusted people. They let you down.
Although, actually, Sam has found, some people have managed to get in despite all that. Managed to get in without her even noticing it. The people at the Montecito.
Dr. Levin asked her today if she was sure they were her friends, and not simply her co-workers, and to be honest, Sam didn't know what to say. She's not sure how to have friends the way normal people do. She's not sure how that kind of a relationship really works.
So maybe to one of those normal people, Mike and Danny and Delinda and the others would just be colleagues, wouldn't be friends. There are, after all, a lot of things they don't, and probably never will, know about her, just as there are a lot of things she doesn't know about them.
They don't really do the things together that it seems to her friends should do: they don't go out, don't go to restaurants or movies. She and Delinda don't have girly chats and paint their nails and brush each other's hair or whatever it is girls do with their friends. Sam's never been into Mike's apartment, or the one Delinda shares with Danny.
The time they all spend together is always within the four walls of the casino, in a safe space where it's never day and never night, where Sam always has the excuse of work beckoning in the distance whenever she wants to get away, needs to escape some concerned, probing question she won't let herself answer – Delinda asking if she's okay, or Danny wondering when was the last time she slept.
But to Sam, Sam who never lets anyone in, who sees her own brother only every ten years or so, who considers asking for a bail out of jail a fatal sign of weakness, they are friends. In fact, they are more. They are family. Because family are people who accept you in spite of your flaws, who don't give up on you, whatever you do. And Sam can be cruel to the others sometimes, can be harsh, can be cold. But they've not given up on her, not in all this time.
She never really imagined, first going to work at the Montecito, that she'd end up caring about any of them; it had never happened anywhere else she worked. She didn't let it – she worked exclusively freelance because that meant distance, it meant no close relationships. It meant not getting settled, meant never even getting as far as unpacking her bags.
And it was true that, at the start, it didn't feel like she had much in common with the others. Maybe she was like Ed, a little – she could always recognize in him things she saw in herself: stubbornness and strength of will, and a world-wearied view of other people, forever guilty until proven innocent.
But, it turns out in the end, she's found something in common even with people she thought she was entirely unlike. Like Mary, eternally sweet-tempered and achingly vulnerable, rose petals and lace where Sam was barbed wire and broken glass, but they've both of them survived things that would have left a lot of people simply shattered, are both stronger than anyone would guess on first glance, made of steel underneath.
In the same way, she seemed nothing like Danny, Danny who likes everyone and who everyone likes, and yet he has, as Sam does, that wall behind his eyes beyond which there are a lot of things he's seen and done and that he'll never talk about.
Even Mike has something in his character that Sam can understand – the fierce ambitious streak that none of them really saw until today.
She's like them much more than she ever might have thought. And she's gotten close to all of them, in fact, over the years, not realizing that she's doing it, slowly letting them sneak in through the cracks.
She wasn't supposed to stay at the Montecito. Four months was her limit, and she's been here four years. She'd thought of leaving, the end of that first year, planned on it in fact. But she'd stayed on. She told herself, in the beginning, that she'd stay till Danny came back, that she'd see that he came home safe and then she'd pack her bags and head out.
But by the time that happened, she didn't want to leave anymore – she had friends in the girls, she had Ed, who was more like a father to her than anyone she'd ever had before, she had (albeit annoying, sometimes) little brothers in Mike and Danny. So she stayed, making excuses to herself about why she should wait a few more months, until, somewhere along the way, she simply forgot to keep doing that.
And she starts to see now, through the haze of her headache and the flashing lights and the sounds of Piper's drunken giggling, that that is trusting, in its own way.
And so maybe, just once, just tonight, she could ask for help, could let someone know she needs them, and it will be okay. Maybe it won't hurt her, won't break any bones. Maybe, just briefly, she can be vulnerable, or as vulnerable as she'll ever be.
She hears retching from the front seat, and groans softly. That's it. The car smells like puke. It's cramped and uncomfortable and she just wants to go home.
She flips open her cell phone, and dials, quickly, before she can change her mind.
"Mike?" she asks, trying to keep the slightest wobble of relief out of her tone, when a familiar voice comes over the line.