FIRST OFF- anyone who HASN'T seen the season finale, DO NOT read further. If you have, we shouldn't have any problems. ;)
Sweet Jesus. What the hell kind of crap was that? O.o
Alright, so we don't know for sure whether or not Ben ate it (though USA made some kind of cute line about "How will Annie live without him?" to segue into the screw you that is making us wait until NEXT SUMMER for the show to come back), but I'm operating on the pretense that he is dead. Mostly because I was struck with this absolutely beautiful idea last night whilst tossing and turning (blahh. I think I'm getting some kind of cold/flu/bug thing that does not make me happy) and then I promptly started writing this during class.
Oh, and quick note- was I the only person to be disappointed that Henry was the leak? I felt like USA could have done something a little more imaginative than that. My best friend suggested (which I thought was absolutely hilarious) bringing back Conrad as the leak. I also am extremely fond of CMW2's theory in her fic, To the Shore, where she has the Indian guy that does the polygraphs be the leak. That would have impressed me, because it's someone we see that we wouldn't expect to be the leak.
Plus, and this didn't occur to me until later in the night, but can I just say… EWWW? Liza screwing Auggie is one thing. He's a total hot nerd, and jacked to boot. While I wasn't happy about that part in the season, at least I can understand her motives behind that one. However, Henry Wilcox? In addition to being the worst casted person to play Jai's dad (don't anyone pretend like a short, chubby white Irish dude could ever have a son that looks like Jai- yes, I get his mom is Indian but that doesn't make it anymore realistic) but he's SO OLD. And she tapped that.
(Sorry if I offended anyone by letting my inner 15-year-old-boy rant for a paragraph.)
I don't write in present tense very often (I'm pretty old-fashioned and stuck in my ways- 3rd person omniscient is the way to go in my book) but I like to dabble and for some reason this just worked in present tense. It was a fun exercise in writing styles.
Obviously, this is pretty damn angsty, but I'm hoping to start a multi-chaptered fic sometime soon so this should be the last of the angst…
Spoilers for When the Levee Breaks (1.11).
Louder, louder the voices in my head
Whispers taunting, all the things you said
Faster the days go by and I'm still
Stuck in this moment of wanting you here
- "Haunted," by Kelly Clarkson
The next few days pass by in a haze.
She goes to work, talks to Danielle, spends time with her nieces, but it feels like she's going through the motions. She feels hollow, completely empty. She's freaking Danielle out and she thinks if this keeps up any longer Joan may send her back to the Farm.
She feels broken.
She's lost count of how many times she's cried herself to sleep. It's not healthy, but that's the only way she can get to sleep anymore. Not that sleep does any good- she has nightmares, always the same thing. Playing the day over and over again in her head, watching him die in her arms, being able to do nothing to stop it.
She prefers not sleeping over that.
Everyone knows, which makes it so much more awful. Even the barista at the Starbucks kiosk treats her different, walking on eggshells like if she doesn't give her the right number of sugars she'll have a breakdown.
She hates seeing the pity in other people's eyes.
It takes almost a month to finally have the funeral. They had to do all sorts of tests to confirm that, yes, Ben Mercer was shot in the back with a .9mm and died from blood loss. There's more than that in the report, but she can't bear to read it without getting nauseous.
The funeral is small, but she doesn't recognize most of the people that show up. There's an older man that has Ben's eyes, but he's with a woman that's several years younger and they have a little girl with a blonde halo of hair that keeps fidgeting.
Yet again, she is reminded that she knows next to nothing about this man named Ben Mercer. This only makes her feel worse, because she shouldn't be as upset as she is about a man she barely knows.
Arthur and Joan and Jai show up, and she's fairly sure the last two are only there for her. If she was capable of speaking fluently at this point she would attempt to thank them. But she can't, so she settles for making eye contact with them, silently conveying her gratitude.
It's one of those unfairly beautiful days out, when there shouldn't be a funeral taking place while the birds are chirping and the sun is shining through bright blue skies. She feels uncomfortable in her long-sleeved black dress and heels, wishing a breeze could pick up to cool the sweat beading on the back of her neck.
The only comfort through this all has been the man with his arm around her waist. Auggie, like always, has been her rock for the last month. He's been with her every day at work, every night she went out to the Tavern. He was even there that night she drank herself into a stupor and actually held her hair back as she spent a good half hour emptying her stomach contents into a toilet in Allen's. It he wasn't already the most stable thing in her life, he sure as hell had proved it in the past few weeks.
At the funeral, she doesn't cry. It's amazing, because she's spent just about every day crying at point, until she sees the dark cherry wood casket being lowered into the ground. For the first time since this horribleness began, there are no tears. Just emptiness.
In a perverse way, this whole terrible situation reminds her of her time as a child living on base. She buried pictures of people, phone numbers, trinkets, in her backyard so that she could forget them. She couldn't forget Ben for two years, and now he's being buried because she couldn't move on and leave his memory behind. Fate is cruel that way.
She turns into Auggie, inhaling the familiar scent of Tide detergent and his musky cologne and that comforting underlying smell that's all him. She has to resist the urge to bury her face in his neck, because that's hardly an appropriate reaction given the situation. They're behind a couple people, not quite at the front of the tiny crowd gathered around the reverend speaking at the head of the open grave.
The reverend keeps speaking, but none of the words make it to her ears. Auggie squeezes her waist gently, keeping her stable and focused on something other than the grave. Yet again, he's keeping her grounded, helping her when she can barely help herself.
Before she can realize what's happening, the funeral is over and people are leaving. She isn't ready to leave, but she can't stay, either. Joan comes up to them, gives her a soft Mona Lisa smile and squeezes her hand. It's a surprisingly motherly gesture, but she appreciates it more than she expected.
They leave with the rest of the crowd, and she drives Auggie back to his apartment. She realizes for the first time she hasn't spoken a single word to anyone all day. That should bother her, but it doesn't.
Auggie slides open his door and steps aside, giving her a silent offer to take if she chooses. And she does, because the thought of being alone makes her even more depressed. She steps inside his apartment, slipping off her heels and dropping them and he purse on the couch so Auggie won't trip on them.
The zipper to her dress slides down easy as she wanders into his bedroom. She heads for his dresser, letting the dress slide off her shoulders and pool around her feet.
She hears him walk into the room, and he must have an idea of what she's doing because he never asks her why she's rifling through his drawers in her underwear. Though he might not know she's only in her underwear at the moment.
There's several t-shirts in the first drawer, including the Mario Bros. mushroom one and another with the Atari logo that smells like Chanel No. 19. Odd, that's the perfume Danielle wears.
She settles for a heather grey tee with two parallel white vertical lines and a small white ball slightly off-center. Pong.
She pulls on the t-shirt, and from there finds a pair of black sweatpants in the third drawer with the words East Glencoe Gladiators Men's Soccer emblazoned across the left pant leg.
Not her most stylish outfit, but certainly the most comforting at the moment. She smells like Auggie, something that makes her feel better than she has all day. Possibly all month.
She doesn't explain what's going on, but they know each other so well he seems to have filled in the blanks on his own. She pulls back the comforter and sheets on his bed, slipping in on the left side- he sleeps on the right- and snuggling into his pillow. More stuff that smells like him.
He knows what's going on, because only a few seconds after her he lies down in the bed next to her, wearing similar sleep clothes. She turns on her side, facing him, hands tucked under her cheek. They stay like this for a moment, and then Auggie reaches over, wrapping his arm around her waist and dragging her towards him. She doesn't resist- even if she wanted to, she didn't think she'd be capable of the energy required to make that happen.
When she's completely molded to his side, she shifts, resting her head on his shoulder, hand lying across his chest just under his heart, her leg bending on his knee. His other hand comes up to settle between her shoulder blades, playing with the ends of her hair.
And just like that, she can feel her muscles begin to relax. It's slow, happening in sections, first her face, jaw unclenching, then her shoulders, her chest, stomach, and so on. She's relaxing, relishing the warmth and comfort she finds in his embrace. She doesn't feel perfect, but it's improving, mending in a way. Not quite as empty as she had been minutes ago.
She's so distracted trying to quantify this new sensation that before she can realize it her eyes are getting heavy and she's falling asleep in his arms.
And when she falls asleep in Auggie's arms there are no nightmares.
This is a little funkier than what I typically write. I'm sorry if it threw any of you guys off, because as I said before I don't write in present tense very often so it usually turns into an experiment every time. This oneshot was no different, because to the best of my memory I don't think I've ever written anything quite as distant (and let it be known it took me a couple tries to get that adjective and I still don't think it covers it) as this oneshot.
As a result, I'll understand if some people don't like this as much as my other ep-oneshots for this season. I didn't have a single line of speech in the whole thing, something I don't think I've ever tried before (usually if it's present tense it'll have speech or just be a plain introspective drabble in someone's mind). It's choppy and short, too, but I did that because I wanted to convey how Annie has distanced herself from everything, and I hope it came off that way in the end. Otherwise I'm sure it'll just seem dumb. XD