Author: TB's LMC PM
Long after the terrifying nightmares of "For Now," John turns to the one person outside his family he knows he can trust. But can his best friend help him? Sequel to my story "For Now."Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - John T. - Words: 3,180 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 02-29-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7882312
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: Long after the terrifying nightmares of "For Now," John turns to the one person outside his family he knows he can trust. But can his best friend help him?
Acknowledgments: Compliments of John Tracy and Ann Darning.
Author's Note: This is a story written some time ago, it's archived at the Tracy Island Chronicles under "The Tracy Symphony: Solo – John's stories" and is the sequel to "For Now."
"Wake up. Ann?" I shake the slumbering form gently. "Ann, wake up, I need to talk."
She stirs, eyes slowly opening. "What?"
I lay a hand on her arm. "Ann, it's me, John. I need to talk."
Looking up, it takes a few seconds for her to realize who I am. "Talk? Now? Okay, um...living room?"
I nod and exit the bedroom. Within seconds, she's on her feet and following me. "John?"
I sit in the middle of the sofa, my head in my hands. Well, here I am. I'd done it. I'd come to talk. But I don't even know where to begin. How to convey...how to start...hell, I don't even know how my feet had found their way to her place. Yes, I do. Kyrano had said, "You must tell someone," but I couldn't tell him. And I sure can't go to any of my brothers. I mean, they're always worrying as it is, and besides...that's just not the Tracy way. "You must confront what hides inside," Kyrano said. I look up as she sits down next to me, a look of concern on her face, and suddenly wonder if this is the right thing to do.
"John? What's going on?"
I rise to my feet, pacing, nervous energy almost making me shake. "I need to talk."
I wave my hands in the air. "You know."
There's a pause before she replies, "What happened on Five?"
I nod. "I just...I need to...you...and it's..."
She's the only one I've ever told. Ever told about what I really do. Well, I guess it sort of slipped, but I've known her for what, ten years now? Ten years. She's kept my secret for six of those ten. I can trust her. I know I can. I had to tell her. Just like I have to tell her now.
It begins to overwhelm me. Five nights in a row now, almost no sleep. The nightmares. Haunting me. Teasing me. Death wish, John? It'll catch up with you, it will. How can I put voice to a terror that makes no logical sense even to me? I only know what happened second-hand! But it's the not-knowing. The horror of realizing you almost died but having no recollection of it. And the mind convincing you that you're a fluke – that the fact you survived is a fact that should not be. Death had you, Johnny. It had you in the palm of its bony hand.
It wants you back.
"I just—" I falter and she's looking up at me, worry etched into her face. "It's the nightmares," I finally blurt out. She deserves to hear it. I owe her that, not just for waking her in the middle of the night, but for being my confidante for so long. She's my best friend. I owe her this much at least.
"You're still having them."
I nod. Still pacing. "I can't—I can't sleep. Scott's just looking for a reason to ground me, I can't—dammit!"
I can't believe how agitated he is. I've never seen him like this. He's usually so calm, so cool, so relaxed around me. I mean, not only is he John Tracy, but he's part of International Rescue, for God's sake! But now? Now he looks as though he might either throw up or blow a vein any second. He obviously needs to get something off his chest. Whether or not he's going to be able to is another story. I know what it is. When I hadn't heard from him for eight months, I knew something terrible had happened. I kept looking for his obituary, wondering if they'd even make it public if it was in the line of duty.
But I never found one, and when he was finally well enough to contact me, you never saw such relief in two pairs of eyes as the look on his face reflected the look on mine. "Never thought I'd get to talk to you again," he'd said. I'd come so close to losing him. So close. And now here he stands so close, yet so far. Trying so hard to tell me what's inside. Like the cork's about to blow, his face is red, his eyes are bloodshot. He's tired. Dark circles ring his eyes. He looks gaunt. Not my Johnny. Not the Johnny I've known for ten years.
"So the nightmares are still plaguing you." Cool. Calm. Calculated speech. Level. Even. No emotion. Don't let on how you feel, Ann. Don't do it, it'll be the end of your sanity.
"Yes. They're getting worse. I don't know how much longer I can function like this."
He sits back down on the couch, scraping his fingernails through his hair, along his scalp. I wait. I watch. I know this man so well. So well. But then...something I've never seen before. He looks up at me and his eyes are full of unshed tears. I see pain and torment in those ice blue eyes, eyes that are so warm yet always watching, always thinking. The observer. The communicator who right now can't even speak.
"I've known you a long time, Johnny," I say quietly. "Let it out."
He opens his mouth, but no sound emerges. I swear I can see the struggle within him as he fights this demon, fights to gain control, fights with himself over how much he should let me see. I know he's never broken down. Not in front of anyone. I suspect perhaps never, not even alone. He's a Tracy, dammit. I know enough about Scott and the others to know it's not their way. He's told me as much himself. He looks at me and his pain seems to enter me, I feel it as though a tangible thing which has invaded my personal space, and it hurts. God, he hurts so much inside.
"Let it out. You're safe with me," I say, laying a hand upon his arm. "No one will know, John. No one but us."
Tears spill over and suddenly this pillar of strength, this master of sarcasm and wit, this man who has no idea how beautiful and perfect he is, crumbles before me, shattering into thousands of shards, barely representing the man I know.
"Oh, John," I whisper as sobs wrack his body. I keep one hand on his arm. He needs only to know I am there to share his pain, to help take it away. To allow him to be this person he doesn't want to be. Nothing more.
"It's there, every night. Every night, my death, my near-miss, Death coming to claim me. It's there and it won't leave me. It haunts me. I don't remember anything, I only remember that I was checking a circuit, a circuit below 027, just checking, you know how fucking anal I am, Scott's always busting my ass about it."
She's not even there anymore. It's me, lost in my thoughts, verbal diarrhea finally getting the better of me and it all just comes out in a jumbled mass even I can't understand.
"Details, details. I wake up, I'm in so much pain, so much pain. I see it's a hospital, I don't understand. I was on Five, not a rescue, I don't get hurt on Five, we only get hurt on rescues. Five is safe. Quiet. No danger, no danger on Five. But here I am and I hurt and suddenly the pain starts to ease and I don't remember again. Don't remember."
I rise, barely aware of her hand slipping from my arm, but feeling the connection we have as strong as though my arms were around her. I pace, patio to front door, back again, around the room, the living room, the dining room. And it keeps coming. It keeps coming. Now I can't stop it.
"And it comes together, I start hearing them talk, what happened, Father's furious, talking in hushed tones, Scott's on Five, yelling, worry, low tones, whispers, hushed conversation. Hushed. Whispers. He can't hear you, he's unconscious. Be quiet, just to be on the safe side. Scott's got it stabilized, she won't lose orbit. She degraded half a mile, he's just got her back. Can I come see...no, yes, come. Worry, worry. What happened to me, why are they talking like that? Why this pain, what is this in my head, what happened to me? How could Five degrade, how? What happened, goddammit, somebody tell me, somebody tell me!"
I can feel my blood pressure rising, feel my face flush hot. Her eyes are on me. I stop and look at her. I can see my own mental and emotional state reflected in those hazel eyes of hers and for a moment I regret letting her see this, letting her hear this. She doesn't need this, but then...then she nods at me. She wants me to go on.
And it's a good thing, because I don't think I could stop it now if I tried. I lift my shirt and wipe my nose like a little kid. I can't stop the tears, I feel like I'm five years old and I've fallen and scraped my knee. I feel so stupid, but then again she doesn't seem to think I'm stupid. And so they continue, and I continue.
"It took me so long, I couldn't do anything, I thought I was just going to die, but the nightmares, they didn't start 'til I was home. That's when they hit and I'd wake up terrorized, but I didn't understand why, they still hadn't told me what happened, hadn't told me she'd been holed, I had no idea, but Brains would be there and he'd talk in his soft voice, the one I've only heard when he's been treating one of us as a patient, he tried to help me, but nobody could. Nobody until Kyrano came, and he would somehow calm me, and I would sleep, but then they'd come again. He could help me when I was awake, but he couldn't protect me when I was asleep."
She knew Kyrano...not well, but she did. She'd met him once when he'd come here with me. He'd had errands, but I'd wanted him to meet her, she was...she is...my best friend, and I wanted him to meet her. He told me she was good, that he'd felt it. I could've told him that, and I feel myself smile. It mystifies her, she probably thinks I'm cracking up, I can see it on her face.
I'm not. It's coming out now. It's coming out and I kneel before her, between her legs. I take her hands in mine and my head falls to her chest and I just keep going and going. I don't even know what I'm saying anymore, but my body heaves. I must be crying hard, but I feel detached, as though I'm watching someone else with her, someone else baring themselves. I suppose it's how I deal with the fact that it's me. If I don't think it's me, I won't be embarrassed later. Pop psychology. Reality. I look up into her eyes. Ann.
I can't hear him half the time, his voice disappearing into the cloth of my nightshirt. Even when I can hear him, now his words aren't making sense, like random thoughts are just popping out. He's stopped crying, and for that I'm grateful. He's allowed his share, but it's unnerving for me to see him like that. I want the man back that I've always been able to verbally duel, the man who's so self-assured, so confident, so unaware of his own looks and the effect he has on people. I remember, as I sit here with my hands running through his hair, I remember the time I sang that song to him, just to get under his skin.
Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you.
He had no idea there was some seriousness behind that, but he asked, "Why the hell are you singing that to me?"
"You just got chased by four girls!" I laughingly replied.
On the day that you were born
The angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
"Oh, knock it off, Christ, you can't sing."
"I can so!"
So they sprinkled moondust in your hair
And golden starlight in your eyes of blue.
"Shouldn't it be golden starlight in my hair and moondust in my eyes?"
"Why, have you had moondust in your eyes?"
"I'll give you moondust!"
And we'd dissolved in a fit of wrestling and tickling that had left us both breathless. And we'd almost...almost...but no. We never had. I wasn't to chase him like the others, I was to be his friend. The one person who knew who he was and what he was. I carried it with me every day of my life for six long years. And I almost lost him to it. Almost.
I notice his voice has quieted. He's not moving. His head is still against my chest, but I feel his hands squeeze mine. So he's not asleep, then. I hesitate to speak. This moment...these hours, I realize as I look across the room at the clock...these hours have been hell for us both. He's spent. Exhausted. And, having been awakened in the middle of the night and having felt every word, every movement, every one of his tears through to my very marrow, I am exhausted, too.
"Let's go lay down," I suggest, breaking the silence and startling him just a little.
He nods and rises to his feet, never letting go of my hands. We've done this before, lied in bed together and talked for hours and hours on end. It's just one of those best-friend-things. I remember one night we talked for five hours solid, finally falling asleep at six a.m. I woke several hours later to find myself wrapped in his arms. I went back to sleep, never having felt more content. Or more loved.
He'd never said it. It didn't need to be said. We just were. It was this normal, natural relationship. Nothing else. But if he knew, if he knew there was a reason I'd never had a boyfriend in the ten years we'd known each other. He never asked. I wondered if he thought I was a lesbian or something, but he never asked, never said anything. It was always like he somehow knew on some base level what I felt for him, but it was a line he felt we could never cross. And so I just remained his friend.
And now, we scoot into bed, him on his side and me on mine. It's warm enough out, so the covers get pushed to the foot, the quilt and sheets, and our heads hit the pillows and we're silent. I hear the night birds outside, the crickets chirping and the soft breeze rattling the leaves. And I can hear him breathing. Fast at first, but then it slows. I look over to see if he's asleep, but he's not. He's watching me.
My eyes return his gaze, only moonlight from the window allowing us to see the shadowed etchings of one another's faces. He moves, then. Reaches over and cups my face and I freeze. I don't know what to think about that look I see there. His eyes are red and puffy, but he smiles at me and moves in. And before I know it, I feel his lips on my mouth. Not the first time, it's happened over the years, but this...somehow it's different. I feel his tongue against my lips and I know it's different.
I can't believe it's taken this long for me to do this. She's been right here with me all this time, and I've never seen through Ann-my-best-friend well enough to know what's been there the whole time we've known each other. I met her while on a trip here to Kansas, a trip "back home" to the farmhouse, back to where my family's roots are. Her family was renting the house at the time, but of course her dad's too old to work the fields now and her mother died last year of cancer. So much pain, I remember holding her for hours, she'd called me up and I'd flown here as fast as I could to be by her side for the whole thing.
Alan teases me about her sometimes, but I never let it get to me. After all, all I have to do to shut him up is tease him about Tin-Tin. Does the trick every time. But now, as I taste her and touch her, it feels right. I've bared my soul. Showed her everything. Now I'm baring me. And now I'm giving her me. And from the way she responds, I know my gut was right. This is why Kyrano urged me to come here. This is why. He knew. He's known since he met her.
And then she climbs on top of me and as I look up into her eyes, as I feel her surround me, as the pleasures build, pleasures I haven't felt in so long...I know there will be no more nightmares. There will be the island. There will be my family. And there will be Ann.