For Fanfic100 at Livejournal, I have to do 100 Marcus/Susan-centric fics based on prompts.
Title: Red Glass
Prompt: 'Too Much'
She watches him watching her. There's a slight glare on the C&C windows, the dark void of space reflecting back the red glow of low lights. He thinks she can't see him there, but she knows. She sees his face, captured in red.
She wonders what he's really thinking, why he's here. He looks tired in the light; his reflection shows every line, every crease that used to be a dimple or a smile. Surrounded by blackness, dark furniture, red shadows, she thinks for the first time about his age, five years her senior.
She thinks he looks old. She thinks he looks empty.
Perhaps it is only in times like this that she can truly appreciate Marcus Cole: when time stops and the pain is pushed back to its place on the brink of her mind, when nothing is calling her name, when he's quiet for once. He certainly doesn't seem to carry the air of seriousness or respectability in the daylight, not to her. She never sees these lines on his face; he hides them in smiles.
Minutes pass. She notices he's shifted his weight against the doorframe. Occasionally he runs his hand over his hair. He looks tired.
Almost imperceptibly, she pats the seat next to her. She does not turn around, but she knows that he sees. Her mouth is dry tonight and her hands are cold, and she is so damn tired of staring into space. The space outside, the space in him. The space in her. She wants a little company instead of uninvited demons.
The darkness rustles and he's there; he bows with a flourish and a tired smile, and sits. In silence, for once, damn him. The one time she could have and wanted to put up with his inane blabber.
More silence. Alcohol might be nice.
They both think so, perhaps for different reasons.
Getting sick of the black and the space that separates her from every other human being, the Commander sighs. 'Hell of a day.' Four words, long story told.
The Ranger takes a moment to respond. 'You could say that.' He looks at her with understanding and she catches his eye, and the understanding grows. He's another soldier in the game, just like her. He throws himself out on everything he sees and he hopes he'll die from it, just like her. It isn't something a sane person admits to anyone, so she hides it from herself, because insanity would just have to be another lovely gift from God, wouldn't it? On top of everything else. But he knows.
She leans back in her chair, continues to stare him in the eye. It's easier than looking down or acting embarrassed for making eye contact; that kind of game is wonderful for people who actually have the time for it, and she does not. This is about something deeper.
She is not a woman scrambling for passion and fury, and he is not a man attracted to most at all.
She is not looking for love. He cannot say what he is looking for, but he knows he sees it in her.
Tonight he understands, they understand, she understands. She feels it in the air and it frightens her; it frightens her that he knows. It frightens her how his grey eyes watch her with interest; it frightens her how he examines her face, as if he sees her own lines there.
Perhaps he had known after all. Watching her watching him- this is comeuppance. This is being bare in front of another person, and she isn't even naked.
He looks down first and the loss of contact is so abrupt, she thinks he is about to leave.
He covers her hand instead and she closes her eyes. She never thought it would be this way, that she would end up old and bitter like this, but instead of feeling guilty she is content. It's the way she is, and she knows he knows as if she sent him a message through her arm through his arm to his brain.
She glances up again, intending only to look for a moment, but he is too fast and he catches her eyes. The Commander suffers from a momentary lapse in defense: she feels. She gazes, she enjoys the view, the touch and the company. Something inside flutters, something burns.
He is red in the darkness. It is cold, and she tells herself she can't let this happen, but it happens to be too late. It also happens that she cannot manage to force her brain matter to transmit a message to her hand, ie let go of his. In compromise with herself, she decides it's because she is too tired to be bothered to move.
She feels his fingers filter between her own, his thumb tracing the contour of her hand. She wonders if he is even conscious of his actions. Detachedly, she wonders what events could have transpired today to make him act this way, what revealed his seriousness and undoubtedly his fury as well. After thinking upon it, this is her conclusion- she really doesn't want to know.
She knows the morning is coming soon. No sun rises to tell her, but she's been in this game for far too long not to know, even though the darkness only seems to deepen in the passing of the hours. She does not move.
Soon, in the artificial daylight of the Station, she will solve problems and police Drazi and pull her hair out. She will run into Ranger Cole in the hallways and yell when he waylays her with useless drabble. She will move onwards and fill her life with a powerhouse of military efficiency.
She looks at him. He looks at her. He smiles.
He is too much. She doesn't want to love two men at once; she cannot abide a man who wears a mask. She has a mask of her own.
But for now, Commander Susan Ivanova has a warm hand in her own. She is not alone, and for tonight, someone outside of herself understands her heart.