Summary: Caitlin is 16. She and Jim get a little too close for comfort. There are no happy endings here, Caitlin knows; just the things she breaks as she's moving by.
A/N: If you don't like this pairing, that's fine. I, myself, am quite the avid Caitlin/Eric shipper, though this is the first fanfic I've ever written for Caitlin's Way. However, this idea kind of took a hold of me, and just wouldn't let go. Try to see it for what it is; not an excuse to get two characters together, but rather a chance to explore the dynamics of a relationship. About the poem, well... it's my favorite, and it inspired me. :)
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory -
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.
--Percy Bysshe Shelly
The first time it happens, Caitlin can't sleep. She throws her jacket on over her pajamas, and slips into her boots as quietly as possible, trying not to wake anyone. Her heart is pounding in her chest as she opens the door and stumbles out into the cool air.
She can breathe again, and she breathes deeply. For a moment she thinks she can trace the scent of stars in the deep black night. She realizes it's probably just her imagination, but she lets it run away with her through her head, because it's better than what she's been thinking about all night.
As she's staring at all those hydrogen bombs floating out in space, she notices, out of the corner of her eye, a soft glow coming from the barn. As remembered photos and songs fly burning through her head, she decides to take a look. Makes her way over slowly and carefully, her heart whispering: mother, mother. She always did have trouble keeping these thoughts at bay.
Just beyond the soft glow, she finds him, a block of wood in one hand, pocket knife in the other.
'Caitlin,' he says. But it's soft, not a reprimand. She almost jumps at the gentle tone.
'Hey Jim…' Not sure where to go from here. Never sure of anything, no matter how hard she tries to fake it.
'Nope,' she says, entering slowly. 'How 'bout you? Thinkin' about all those crack houses you're gonna take down tomorrow?'
He smiles lightly, but doesn't look up from his carving. 'You know me; always on the job.'
Caitlin likes this. This is better, easier than crying bitterly in dark rooms over things she'll never have. Likes the way the soft glow of the lamp seems to caress Jim's features, making more than his voice seem gentle.
'And what are you thinking about?'
The question jars her for a moment, because he's looking right in her eyes now, unashamed. The words come out before the message gets from her brain to her mouth. 'My mom.'
His eyes don't show pity, only understanding, and he doesn't ask anymore questions. Just gestures at the stool next to his. She sits, warily. Can't help but notice the short distance between them, the heat she feels in her cheeks. He hands her another block of wood, and a smaller pocket knife from the work bench in front of them.
Her breath hitches when his hand lingers in hers, the cool metal of the knife warming between them. She pretends nothing has happened as she sets to work, trying to carve life out of dead wood.