Just a random drabble, inspired while listening to "Plane" by Jason Mraz. It seemed fitting.
In the days that follow the mass exodus from the library, it's almost quiet. Almost, because it's never really silent until late, late into the night, when everyone but Sam is asleep and that's how he knows the difference.
During the daytime, when white-gold sun spills through the tiny crevices the snow leaves between drifts, everyone is vocal. They're almost happy; as happy as one can get in this sort of situation, as happy as one can be when facing death if you aren't careful about keeping the fire blazing round the clock. They laugh, they kid, they try to keep the humor.
Sam can see right through them, though. He knows that, under the cheerful show they put on, everyone is worried. Brian worries for his family; Laura thinks of the mother and child whose belongings she risked her life to save; JD fears for his brother, all alone in Philadelphia. The librarians are wary of the four teens, protective of their precious books. Scraps of words on paper that have never particularly interested Sam; scraps that they're willing to sacrifice everyone's safety to keep intact. Sam thinks it's ridiculous.
Sam worries too; he just does more to hide it. He's supposed to know what to do; he can feel that everyone is looking to him for some semblance of guidance. He does his best to keep everyone alive; but there is only so much he can do for them. There are only so many hours he can hold out before he wants to just sit down in a corner and think about how long they can last, how much longer he can hold out.
He worries for his father, worries that he's being brash and a good father for once and has gone out into the blizzard, braving death to look for him. No matter how many fantasies that would fulfill, he would rather have his father alive. But he knows his father is coming; despite snow and ice and winds and death, his father is on his way.
He worries for his mother, who has probably stayed behind to make sure the last of her patients have been evacuated before thinking of leaving herself. He worries because she never thinks of herself, only others, and that might have left her alone in the cold.
He worries for Laura, for Brian, because he likes Laura and Brian has been one of his best friends since he can't remember. He worries for JD too now, because he's getting to know the other boy now, and besides that Laura likes him so that's a reason to like him too, right? But Sam isn't so sure.
And then, even then, in the dead of the night, he worries for himself. Worries that his seventeen years won't ever add up to eighteen, or nineteen, or even twenty, worries that he'll never find love like in all those fairytale stories. Worries that maybe he'll never get to be the architect he's always wanted to be, that maybe this is how he'll die. But then he stops, because he needs to keep a clear head, and he thinks about something else.
Each day progresses slowly. He spends the mornings talking with Brian and fooling everyone into thinking he slept that night. He spends the afternoons with Laura, talking and keeping her happy. He spends the evenings with JD, getting to know him and slowly making friends. He spends his nights thinking, long, lonely thoughts for long, lonely hours, and then the sun rises and the process starts all over again.
This night--Wednesday, Sam calls it, because it lends a semblance of knowledge even though he has no idea what day it is anymore--leaves him awake and restless once again. He hasn't slept properly since this disaster first took shape; in what he deems to be a week he hasn't had more than ten hours of sleep, total. But leadership in the day and listlessness at night keep him awake.
He's worried that maybe the others can see it; he's afraid that they can see the dark circles under his eyes, the paleness that stems from more than cold, the way that the sugar and energy from their rations aren't strengthening him, only barely keeping him able to function. He can't sleep in the day because he knows the others will worry and doubt in him, and that doubt will bloom into hopelessness and he needs everyone to believe he can get them out of this alive. Because even now he has his hero complex, and he can't let them down.
He wants to sleep, so very badly; for once he wants morning to come so he can really be refreshed and energized, and stop pretending to be so in control when he's really not. And maybe tonight, that will happen.
When it happens, Sam doesn't know what it is. He can't tell if it's simply primal, carnal instinct that drives him to put his lead-weighted limbs into action and move when he should be resting by the fire, not moving father away from it; he doesn't know if it's deep-rooted impulse that drags him across the library floor, his movements hindered by blankets and cold-induced numbness.
What he does know is that somehow he ends up next to JD, on the floor curled up against the foot of the couch, and that's finally when he gets to sleep.
When he wakes up the next morning, he really truly wakes up; his conscious drags him from what feels like the deepest sleep he's ever had, and he blinks himself awake to JD looking down at him, a faint, sleep-riddled smile pooled across his face.
"Good morning," JD says, and Sam yawns and stretches and blinks blearily, smiling widely all the while, and then returns the greeting. His chest goes warm when JD takes his hand to help him up; Sam brushes it off as having actually slept for once in a while.
Even though a full ten hours isn't enough to make up for an entire week of lost sleep, it's enough to get Sam back on his feet and put a little spring back in his step. That day he smiles more often and laughs more frequently, and even the librarian notices it when Sam is trying to distract him so he can finally burn that damned philosophy book the older man is so fond of.
"You seem much more vicarious today," he said tersely, batting Sam's hand away from the shelf again. Sam just laughs and grins and settles for a cookbook instead.
Sam's clocks are finally back in order. The dark circles are gone and his eyes are now bright; he has much more energy than he did before that night, and everyone else seems a little more upbeat as well.
And now that he can keep day separate from night, he knows it's been six days when his father bursts through the library doors.
Sam's heart nearly explodes from his chest with the force of the joy beating under his ribcage. His mind is soothed for the time being; his father is safe. And those fantasies of his father finally coming through for him have come true, and just that elates him.
"Dad," he croaks, and when he's back in his father's arms he knows everything will be all right.
Four months later, Sam is in Mexico, soaking up the sun. Four months later and he still can't get enough of it; after those days in the savage cold under the gray skies, the sun is still a godsend.
Sam hasn't gone home yet; the helicopter ride had been a straight shot from Manhattan to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. Though he doubts there's much of home left to go to, he still longs for his bedroom sometimes. But now he's immersed in enjoying life and doing things he hasn't done yet, an aftershock of ambition left over from those hours spent contemplating things he'd never experienced. Some of those things are normal things; others are best done in private.
"Hey, Sam, check it out." Sam turns his head to Brian, who sits beside him with a book. The pages are marked, his thumb in the crease, and his head is turned toward the shoreline of the beach that presses its sand into Sam's skin. "Isn't that JD over there?"
"Where?" Sam follows Brian's gesture and yes, that is JD. Strolling down the beach, talking, now laughing with a pale brunette girl who looks remarkably like..
"Is that Laura?" Sam asks, swallowing down the sudden flare of jealousy that rises in his stomach. Brian shrugs, leaning forward to see better.
"I think..oh, no, it's not." Brian squints briefly before returning to his book. "I don't know who that is, then, but it's not Laura."
"Oh." Sam leans back as well, wondering why that feeling of envy hadn't faded yet.
Five days later, and each time Sam sees JD with a girl it makes jealousy spark in his chest. He can't quite figure out why, but he's hazarded that maybe he's jealous that he hasn't scored with anyone yet. It makes him angry that he can't even decipher his own feelings, and he's resolved not to confide in anyone else about them.
He has noticed, though, that they all look the same. Tall, thin, pale skin, dark hair, blue eyes. Maybe that's just JD's type; maybe that's the kind of girl that likes him. Either way, Sam is still confused and annoyed and curious.
That night, Sam leaves the hotel room he shares with Brian and goes down the beach. It reminds him of those sleepless nights he'd had four months ago as he sits under the stars, arms curled loosely around his knees as he watches the sand sift under his toes.
He wonders why, exactly, he feels what he feels; he wonders why he gets jealous when he sees JD with those girls, the ones he interchanges every few hours so easily. He decided to map out possibilities and he does this in the sand, tracing his fingers through the grains.
Maybe...maybe they all looked like Laura. Maybe it was because they reminded him of her, and that made him jealous. But no; his mind rejected that theory, telling him that Laura looked nothing like them; she was small and athletic and dark-eyed and tan. And besides, he hadn't felt the same way towards her since they left New York; the love he'd felt for her was gone, replaced by brotherly affection and platonic fondness. She just didn't make him feel the same way he used to; she didn't incite the warm, fuzzy feelings in his stomach, didn't make him stare with her smile.
So that wasn't a possibility anymore. He dragged his finger through the 'Laura?' he'd written on the ground, sighing. Besides being jealous that he hadn't met anyone yet–which he didn't think he was, because he could care less about meeting some random girl here–there weren't any other reasons he could think of.
Unless..his mind whirred again, ever calculating. What if it wasn't JD he was jealous of so much as those girls?
He'd always been open-minded, that was true; so thinking of these kinds of things didn't bother him horribly. But wasn't this a bit much? The normal seventeen-year-old thought about girls, not boys; but it did make sense. It explained why he was okay when JD was alone, why he didn't care when he saw those girls later. It almost explained why he'd been able to sleep four months ago; had it been because of his proximity to JD? Did it provide a reason for his partialness to the other teen as of late? Why Laura hadn't seemed so appealing any more?
It did, Sam decided; it explained a lot of things. And if Sam wasn't rational, he was at least straightforward. But he was rational, and he gave himself two more days to see if he really did...like JD. He could always be wrong.
The next day Sam had decided he was right. He didn't need that extra day; because he'd finally noticed and acknowledged the way his stomach twisted when JD smiled at him. He'd taken note of how he tended to talk more with JD than Brian, and how he laughed more often when he was around the brunette. It was almost frustrating to realize how dense he was, honestly; and that he hadn't realized how dense he was being only served to irritate him further.
But Sam was still straightforward and outspoken, and he knew that taking the direct approach would be easier than dancing around the subject. He couldn't just be irrevocably awkward and easily provoked and continually blushing around JD, because that would cause problems. Dealing with this situation head-on would be the best way to solve everything out.
In the evening, Sam caught sight of JD heading out of the hotel, another girl on his arm. Second glance told him she looked the same as the others; pale, blue-eyed, dark-haired, and he made a note to ask JD about it later. When this new ordeal had blown over, maybe.
Sam redirected his path and made no bones about it; when he reached them he greeted them both and asked if he could speak to JD in private. The girl had looked mildly offended, but had walked off cooperatively when Sam flashed her a pleading smile.
"So what is it, Sam?" JD asked, raising an eyebrow at him. Sam opened his mouth and–what ad he been planning to say?
It figures he wouldn't have planned it out at all. Sam had just thought he'd go up to JD and somehow he's find a way to say what he wanted to say without making it incredibly awkward between them. But he hadn't given any thought to the words themselves; he'd supposed he wouldn't have to, since he was usually good at thinking on his feet.
"I..." Sam stopped, swallowing the wave of sudden apprehension that had turned in his throat.
JD waits for another moment and then sighs. "Look, Sam, while we're alone–" Sam tries to ignore the way that phrase makes him blush "–I've got something to tell you."
"Okay," Sam says, relieved. That means he doesn't have to speak for now; and maybe JD will inspire something for him to say.
"Now, just hear me out," JD begins, holding up a hand. "And don't go screaming your fool head off and running away, okay?"
"Alright," Sam agrees again, this time a little more cautious.
"I like you," JD says bluntly, nodding. And then he just stands there, waiting for a response of some sort from Sam.
Sam raises an eyebrow of his own. JD liked him? Well, that made everything so much less complex. Because he could just say that was fine and dandy and he felt the same, and where do they go from there?
And then a grin blossomed on his lips because that meant he didn't have to think of a speech, didn't have to worry about saying the wrong thing or making things awkward. And since JD had been the one to initiate this confession, Sam could just as easily say what he'd been thinking.
"Well," Sam says, the grin widening, and JD is looking at him now like he's a madman. He is, in a way, but that's okay. "Well, then."
All of a sudden Sam feels silly and feminine, more than just a little pleased because JD reciprocated his still-unconfessed affections. He wants to laugh and hug him and say all sorts of things; and he remembers those words JD had spoken to him four months ago.
'Just tell her how you feel.'
Well, Sam could be blunt too.
So he rocked onto the balls of his feet and, on impulse–but everything he was doing now was on impulse, all spontaneous messages being fired to his brain–he threw his arms around JD's neck and pulled him close. "I like you too," Sam said happily, his lips at JD's ear. Then, quite unable to stop himself, he added, "You give me butterflies."
He could feel JD's laugh spanning both of their chests, and he couldn't help but laugh as well. He knew what he'd just said was ridiculous, but he could care less.
"Good," JD said, pulling away a little. Sam just smiled, tipping his head to the side to watch JD's eyes. "You wanna know something?"
"Sure," Sam was pretty sure he'd just chirped the word, because he still felt bubbly on the inside, and he'd never really cared what people thought of him anyway. "What?"
"You know all those girls I've been hanging out with the past week or so?"
A frown replaced his smile, and the familiar pang of jealousy returned. "Yeah."
JD laughed at his expression and continued. "Did you notice anything about them?"
His frown turned into a faint pout, and the jealousy was replaced by curiosity. "They all looked the same. Why was that?"
"Did you notice who they all looked like?" JD's voice was expectant, his eyebrows raised. Sam searched his face for a clue, and then thought; he could recall seeing or knowing anyone who looked like that.
JD rolled his eyes. "They all looked like you," he said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Like you would if you were a girl."
Oh. Sam had to think about that one; he was never one for taking in appearances, much less his own. But once JD told him, it did click; he was tall, skinny, dark-haired, pale. "Are my eyes blue?" Though he didn't quite remember that detail.
JD snorted, pressing his forehead against Sam's. "Yes, they are," he said. "The clearest shade of blue I've ever seen, I think."
"Would I make a pretty girl?" The mischievous mood was back again, now that he knew they posed no threat, and Sam grinned when his nose brushed JD's.
"I like you better this way," JD murmured, and Sam tilted his head the slightest bit so JD could kiss him.
Much later, Sam reflected that although sleeping near JD was fine, waking up with JD's fingers intertwined with his made the night seem so much better.
I really like this story, actually; I think it's good. I may be wrong, though; the only way to know is if you drop a review.
So please review, and let me know how you liked it.