A/N:The song is Skunk Anansie's Brazen. An amazing song, if you have the chance to hear it, don't pass it.
Within the Shelter of the Night: Men Should Weep
The city flew by her as Sara drove aimlessly through the night. She hadn't had the will power to just stay inside. She had to move. Driving around always helped her to clear her thoughts. She knew that with all these thought roaming around in her head, it would be impossible to get any sleep. Greg's behavior still bothered the hell out of her.
She flipped the radio on just as the first chords of a song played out into the night. She kept her eyes on the road and the view, the lights flashing by, the street signs and the buildings, but she couldn't help listening as the female singer's raspy voice filled the musty air of her worn out VW. And as soon as the words were heard, she couldn't help letting her thoughts drift again...
I called you brazen, called you whore right to your face
and watched you silently and publicly disgraced
I didn't notice when you strenghted like a vice
that you were trembling and burned beneath the ice
Why don't you weep when I hurt you
Why don't you weep when I cut you
You don't bleed and the anger
builds up inside
She blinked, her brains suddenly in full alert, receiving the words, soaking them in. All the thoughts, the realization, that those words brought up. Right there, instead of the flashing lights and the traffic, she saw in front of her the face of a man, his brown eyes staring at her sadly, defeated, just staring, and she heard his words echoing in her mind. "Things happen. No use crying about it." Suddenly, those words meant more to her than they had before.
You said a prayer and I betrayed you with a kiss
I never realized that all had come to this
On the other side of the state, in the city of Reno, Greg Sanders stepped out of the yellow cab. His feet pressed against the black asphalt as he pushed himself up from the backseat. The cab driver grunted from under his baseball hat, tucked deep to cover his eyes, as Greg paid the fare.
The night had crept over the city and its multicolored lights ages ago, and now, as the still vivid flow of traffic, of cars and of people, swept by him, Greg walked silently and lost in his own thoughts, his own fears, across the asphalt yard and through the glass double doors into the big, sterile, white concrete building.
The doors swung voicelessly closed behind him.
So keep your dignity, don't throw it all to waste
stronger feelings than you've ever learned to face
Sara didn't know in which point she'd made the turn out of her normal route, but there she was. In front of an apartment building far away from her own. She'd only been there once before in her lifetime. It was the apartment building where Greg lived. With a hesitating sigh she turned off the engine and got out of the car. Two minutes later she was at the front door, ringing the bell above the name 'Greg Sanders'.
She rang for five minutes. No one answered.
Why don't you weep when I hurt you
He walked down the white, well-lit corridors in an experienced manner, knowing the way through the puzzle by heart. He didn't stop on his path, not even to say more than a short hello to those whom he knew from previous visits.
Why don't you weep when I cut you
Sara backed away from the door, gazing up at the serene facade of the seven story building. Some of the windows were lit with yellow light, some of them were dark. She didn't know which one of them she should be looking at, all she knew was that it was in the fifth floor. In that floor there were lights in two windows. Others were black.
He wasn't home. Subdued, she spun around on her heals, patting her way back to the car. As she crashed into the front seat, she couldn't shake the song out of her head.
You don't bleed, and the anger
builds up inside
With one last glance at the windows of the fifth floor, she started the car and curved out of view.
Why don't you weep...
The hospital room was dimly illuminated as Greg walked in, holding a paper cup full of coffee in his hand and a newspaper in the other. The sun was shining brightly outside, still trying to cover the land in last beams of glow before going to sleep behind the horizon, and its light streamed slightly through the half-closed blinds. He didn't flick the light switch as he entered. He didn't because she'd said that the light hurt her eyes. Instead he just walked to the chair next to the hospital bed which he'd been occupying for three days now and sat down, placing the cup of coffee and the paper on the nightstand next to him.
He reached out his hand to brush the stray hairs off of the pale face of the young woman lying in the hospital bed with her eyes closed. Her skin felt cold and clammy under his fingers.
As if her sleep had been erupted by his touch, her eyelids broke apart and she opened her eyes. When she saw him, a little smile curved her lips. "Still here?" Her voice was raspy and dry, thickened by the sleep. Or the sickness. It took him a lot of effort to return the smile.
"Hey, sweetie. How are you feeling?"
"Like shit," she moaned a bit sarcastically, closing her eyes for a brief second again. Her tired words continued to flow, though; "That damn nurse refuses to give me more drugs. She should shove them up her..."
He chuckled. "I'll tell her that, shall I?"
She didn't answer, just gave a weary smile, trying to shrug off the last shreds of the sleep. He watched her as she slowly woke herself up. She was thin, thinner than the last time he'd seen her. It had taken him time to get through his head that this woman, this fragile little doll, was really her. She looked like made of glass, worn out, sucked dry.
Her eyes fought open and she turned her face at him. "Did you have anything to eat today?" she whispered.
"Don't you dare worry about me, Chrissy."
"Well, just tell me that you did so that I can stop." Her logic made it impossible for him to fight against it, so he just sighed, leaning slightly forward so that he could lean against the edge of the bed with his arms before he answered:
"I did. I went to the cafeteria while you were sleeping."
"Yeah? What did you have?" She liked this. Conversations about normal, everyday things and events. She'd said it made her feel in touch with reality. He liked it too. Being able to just talk with her about everything and nothing.
"Some coffee. Not comparable to my fine Hawaiian but it went. And they had these hot meals, I took the chicken soup, it was the only thing that sounded eatable."
"Was it any good?" Like a child, asking all the questions.
"Yes, actually it was. Nothing like Mom's, you know, but it was okay."
Then, out of nowhere, the conversation changed, as naturally as if it was how it was supposed to go, "How are you doing?"
"We talk everyday, you know that I'm just fine."
"I meant right now. With this."
Greg was quiet for a long time. He weighed his thoughts, trying to put them in an order which she could understand. Line the words to be spoken out. Then he sighed. "I'm scared. I'm worried. Sad. I don't want to lose you, but I know I will. I love you very much, you know that?"
A smile. "Yes, I know. I love you too, big brother."
"I wish I could be here every day. Beside you."
"Next your going to say that you should've been here years ago, sitting by my bed. Since the day I got sick. Well, let me tell you something; That wouldn't have made the difference."
"I should be here for you. I should sit here and talk to you about meaningless things like chicken soup and the weather --"
"And then what? Worry and stay awake? Just as you do in Las Vegas?"
His eyes darted at hers. "How did you know that?"
"I heard it in your voice," she stated, her tone saying 'did you think you could hide it from me'. "When was the last time you slept?"
"I did sleep. Just... not that much."
As if reading his thoughts, she continued: "You called me everyday, Greg. Several times. You were here. Don't feel guilty about it. You were here. Right here. And you're here now. I know that you're here even when you're not. That's all that matters."
"Why won't you let me stay here with you? Why do you want me in Las Vegas instead of here?"
The answer came calmly, as if the simplest, clearest thing in the whole wide world; the truth. "Because you have to keep living. Stop worrying about the inevitable."
"I can't help it."
"It's okay, Greg. We all die some day."
"Don't say that."
"Why not? It's true." He bowed his head under her soothing tone, taking her hand and pressing it against his cheek. But he didn't say anything. The words bored into their minds, hanging in the air between them, controlling their beings for some time before she finally opened her mouth again. "Tell me about the sun." Her voice was weak but it cut through the air like a knife, wrapping itself around his mind.
"It's..." he started, rubbing his thumb slowly across the palm of her hand. He could feel a hard knot forming in his stomach but he refused to acknowledge it, pushed it aside. This wasn't for him, this was for her. So he continued with a voice no louder than a sigh but still audible to her ears: "It's beautiful. The sun has been shining bright for the entire day, like the sweetest day in California. The trees are greener than usually, not a cloud in the sky. You'd love it out there. It's starting to set anytime now. Soon the sky will turn purple and red and all the colors of the world..."
So he kept talking to her, his voice eventually lulling her to sleep that numbed the pain for awhile. As her breathing steadied, got deeper, and she was finally asleep, he stopped whispering the words and just looked at her. Looked at her closed eyelids, the peaceful expression on her face and the steady rising of her chest. He sat like that for a long time, with his hands closed around her skinny one, just watching her sleep. He didn't cry. Just watched her in the darkness.
That night she died.