Author's Note: Short, awkward, OC driven story I wrote I while ago. Here, have some sadness.
Sebs is working, and that's not out of the ordinary. It feels like the only thing he does nowadays. All he'll ever do. It's been two weeks or so, maybe two and a half, since Tom's death, and he hasn't heard anything from people but "I'm so sorry" and ridiculous clichés of that nature. He supposes they're just trying to be nice, but he can't find it in himself to be appreciative. Those are just words. They have no meaning because the people who are using them have no meaning. Not to him. At least not anymore.
He'd started to make a point of keeping his door shut when he could. Keeping people out unless they really had something to say to him, and that was becoming quite rare. He'd shut himself away only coming out to critique someone's shitty work or take a piss. Work, work, work. Sebs couldn't even remember if he'd eaten much of anything recently. He wasn't hungry for anything, and when he was there was never anything available that he wanted to eat.
Cooked meat was all kinds of disgusting now.
And that was just how it had gone on. This new rhythm wasn't the most exciting, but it was efficient, and it kept his mind off of things he was tired of trying to rationalize. He stared at his computer and realized he had completely forgotten what he had been doing. Maybe he hadn't eaten in longer than he thought. Sebs leaned back in his chair, blinking a few times as if it would miraculously remind him of what he had been doing. No such luck.
The words on the screen don't even look like words anymore. They're crude symbols that he's sure mean something. It probably just means he's tired. He closes his eyes feeling a bit defeated. So much for that. He figures that if he can't focus on it that it mustn't be that important or if it's important it's not pressing.
A little meditation and then back to the grind that has become his existence.
There's a knock at the door, and Sebs sits up again. It was a formal knock. The kind that meant the person had a reason for bothering him. A business reason. Not a stupid reason. Stupid reasons could have been anything on a given day.
"Come in." It's short. To the point and impersonal.
The door opens, slower than usual. Most people would have opened the door quickly. Get in. Get out. This person appears to be thinking about coming in. Sebs finds himself annoyed by this fact. If they didn't need to bother him why were they? He feels suspicious, but he keeps his eyes fixed on the door and doesn't speak. If this person decides they have the balls to come in then they're worth the minute or so of his time he's willing to give most of his co-workers.
The door opens all the way, and finally, the perpetrator shows herself. Sebs arches his brows in her direction as if it's a friendly greeting. Jackie, a financial analyst at the office if he remembers correctly. Deals with budgets or something or other. Sebs would say she has a boring job if he didn't know that his own job wasn't exactly thrilling. He's spoken to her a few times. Never about much. A few words spared in the break room. Mostly about work. Always polite, but never quite chummy. She's got a way of speaking that assumes she's your friend. It's friendly because she makes an effort to be so.
Sebs can't remember liking her all that much, but nor can he remember hating her.
"Hey, sorry to bother you, but I just have some forms for you to sign. Should only take a minute." She seems nervous, and Sebs notices this because he can't recall that being something Jackie gave off. Too much confidence usually.
He just nods and indicates for her to put the forms on his desk. She obliges and takes a step back. She's waiting.
"I never said I was going to sign them right away," Sebs says evenly. He feels a bit prickly from annoyance, but he had been expecting her to hover a little bit. Something about her makes her seem watchful.
"Yeah, I know. It's not that so much as…well, I just kind of wanted to talk to you."
Sebs tenses. He's heard those words and variations on them way too much for his liking recently. More fake concern than he's ever wanted and figures he ever will want. He doesn't need her pity, but he can see it in her. No, he can't see it. He's not looking at her. He's looking at his screen again. He can feel it though. He can feel her caring, and it makes him want to tell her to go away.
"Is it important?"
"I'd like to think it's important, but it's really for you to decide I guess."
Sebs gives her a look. She doesn't respond. She's just standing there waiting for permission. He figures he can stomach one more practiced speech of sympathy. He nods, and Jackie smiles but only for a second. She's remembering what it is she's here to say.
"I just wanted to say that I've noticed everyone saying stuff to you about…well, you know, and I could say a lot of things, but just the way I've seen you act around others I can tell you don't want to hear this sort of thing from others. You know they don't understand."
What exactly does she mean? There's a rambling feel to her words. She knows what she wants to say, but she's going about it in the most roundabout way Sebs can recall in recent memory.
"I'm not going to stand here and claim to understand what happened. I know better than that. I can understand one thing though, and that's what I wanted to say to you. This whole thing, it sucks. And I'm sorry it sucks."
He looks down at the forms she gave him to sign and picks them up. Jackie's gone silent and is staring at the door. She looks like she wants to leave, but there's something in her path. Sebs has half a mind to ask her what it is she's looking at, but she cuts in before he can.
"I didn't know him, but I saw him a few times. You seemed happy when he was around so…yeah, this is a shitty situation and I'm sure you know it. It's not much, I know, but…feel better when and if you can. I can't ask more of you than that."
Sebs feels his mouth tighten, and he can't stare at the screen anymore. It's too bright, and it's making not just his eyes but also his head as well hurt. He feels something like nausea in his stomach, but he forces it down.
"That's all I really wanted to say. I don't expect you to love me for it, but I wanted to let you know. Know…whatever it is you take from this."
Sebs bites the inside of his mouth and nods.
"Yeah, it's fine. Thanks."
"You gonna be ok?"
"I am ok."
Jackie reaches out and touches his shoulder lightly. Normally Sebs would have shied away from the gesture, but that's usually because the gestures felt forced. Fake. This one doesn't have that quality. It's not trying to make a point. It's gentle. It's not trying to be more than it is. Had he had the energy Sebs would have enjoyed it.
He picks up his pen and scrawls his name on the first page. He said he'd get to it later. Why's he doing it now? He doesn't take the time to give the question much more thought and finishes signing the forms without looking over them. What could he possibly be signing? He doesn't know, but he also doesn't care. He picks his pen up off the last page and makes sure all the paper is lined up with each other. Sebs is about to hand them over to the woman when he realizes that she's no longer standing beside him.
She must have left. He didn't hear her.
Getting up from his desk, Sebs feels a few bones shift uncomfortably, and he resists the urge to make a sound. No grievances are to be wasted on such a thing as a little stiffness. He leaves his office for the first time in what must be hours. He tries to remember what he spent that time doing, but all he gets is static. He's sure he did something, but he might as well have done nothing.
Another afternoon gone. Just has to keep on going until he dies.
He gets to Jackie's desk, but she's not there at the moment so he stares at it. He's seen it before, but he's never really looked at it. It's a cubicle, but it doesn't seem claustrophobic like some of the other ones. It might have something to do with the fact that Jackie's stuff actually looks like there's some order to it. It makes Sebs smile despite himself. There's a picture of her and people he can only assume are her family. Mother, father, three siblings, and her. They look so happy. It makes Sebs' smile vanish.
"You need something?"
He turns to see Jackie looking at him. She looks curious but not entirely shocked. He can't find his words for a moment, but then he remembers the papers in his hand.
"Signed the forms for you. Just dropping them off."
"Oh." There's a genuine look of surprise on her face as she takes the documents. "That was really fast. Thanks." She looks back up at him as she thanks him, and Sebs manages a polite smile.
Somehow he gets back to his office and returns to his seat. His desk looks more cluttered than he remembers it being, but he can read the words on his computer screen again. Sebs frowns as he looks at the little clock in the corner. He still has hours. He decides to check his email to pass the time, and he finds an old message from Tom. Something ridiculous. An idea he'd had about something or other, and for a moment or two it makes Sebs happy. Happy until he remembers that there won't be any more. The pain he'd been able to suppress for most of the day rears its ugly head, and Sebs feels like doubling over from how hard it hits him.
Jackie was right. It does suck.
However, as he remembers that he replays her words in his head.
"I'm not going to stand here and claim to understand what happened… This whole thing, it sucks. And I'm sorry it sucks."
He's not sure why, but some of the pain in his gut subsides. He thinks about it some more. The words make him feel justified. They're not telling him he should forget everything. He doesn't want to. They're not telling him he should be done grieving by now. He's nowhere near done. He knows that. Most of all they're not trying to be what they're not. They're words that mean what they mean with no ulterior motive, and Sebs can't help but feel grateful for that fact.
Sebs leans back in his chair and stares at his computer for a few more minutes before closing Tom's email. Looking at it was depressing him. He closes his eyes, feeling the unique sting of strain, before contemplating his wall. Tom used to always complain that it needed more colors. Needed more life. He's going to laugh at the thought when he notices something strange.
His door is open.