Hello! If you've wandered across, I hope you'll continue on :)
So I wrote this after being frustrated not seeing what happens after Simon goes invisible in the Misfits Christmas special. Figured I'd write something up for it. This is a two part short fic.
Fic title credited to the song 02:20 boy. I felt it fit with the kind of character Simon is. Header is from Damien Rice's Cannonball.
I own nothing, just playing in the new playground!
~There's still a little bit of your taste in my mouth
There's still a little bit of you laced with my doubt~
He doesn't mean to turn invisible.
At least that's what he tells himself as he walks away. It's an impulse, a defense mechanism. He figured that out quite some time ago. Any time the loneliness crept in, taking over. When the world got too big, he got smaller. Fear, rejection, disappointment, self- loathing, all of these things were triggers.
It wouldn't take much in the beginning. One minute he would be there, the next, gone- lost to the entire world- this invisible boy. A cruel joke to be played on someone that felt invisible his entire life as it already was. To become that... to be truly unseen, to be no one... it was hard. Though, with him slowly coming out of his shell more and more each day, being less scared, less alone, it hadn't happened as much. He's not all the person that he used to be, and that's something good he tries to hold onto when his insides want to claw themselves apart.
He doesn't mean to turn invisible, but it happens.
This time, it's shame that does him in. Humiliation and degradation. Jealousy? He doesn't know for sure which one it is. Maybe it's all of them. It's a lot of things, but one thing it's not is pleasant. It never has been. And he felt it gripping him even before it happened, as he sat beside her in bed after... after. It crawled up and around his insides all slow and suffocating, restricting the spaces where bone and body and matter fit together- tightening and pulling apart.
Many people would kill for the opportunity to become invisible- for whatever reason they may find- but it's merely their fantasy. They like the idea. Simon knows better than that. The fantasy would become a nightmare when reality of how awful it is sets in. It hurts. As if the emotional aspects of what he would experience weren't enough, those things, feelings, they would become physical. He found loneliness was the worst. Loneliness made the disappearance that much more painful.
Sometimes he does hate it.
Moments like the one he experienced sitting in that bed with her, just thinking, always thinking. He lacked the inability to turn his brain off. And it was racing, then. Pausing, rewinding, replaying.
Then he felt it, and tried not to let it show. The slow, painful, aching burn settled itself in the pit of his stomach, and he knew he would go. Even though he kept telling himself not to. Kept fighting to stay. After all, how many times had he promised Alisha he wouldn't go invisible on her? She didn't like it. And she had explained to him- quite a few times- that it wasn't him being invisible that bothered her.
She knew it was a part of him, in the same way they thought her power would always be a part of her. It didn't define who they were. She was okay with him going invisible. No, it was the loneliness she experienced once he was gone, she'd once told him. How alone she felt- something he knew all too well. So he tried. He shoved it down somewhere deep inside himself and strived to keep it there.
But then she wanted to talk. "It doesn't matter," she had said to him. But it did, she couldn't know how much it did. And he hadn't wanted to talk. He needed the silence to focus on staying there with her, but Alisha never did good with that. Maybe she wasn't big on expressing her feelings, but she always seemed to feel the need to fill up every ounce of quiet with something, anything. He'd bit into his lip, forcing the words down, trying his damndest to keep her from seeing the side of him threatening to burst out.
The insecure side.
The lost side.
Still, regardless of the resistance, his mouth opened and it spilled out, slipped between his teeth and settled on his tongue. How he felt. He was upset with himself the minute he said what was bothering him. How many conversations had he and Alisha shared about his future self, all the times she'd told him it didn't matter, that she liked him for him, not who he was or the person she was with before him? Still, all those times, it never made it easier- didn't make him feel much better. It's wasn't comforting, then, either. And he wished he'd stayed quiet, had kept it bottled up. She just wouldn't understand. How could she? She wasn't the one who had to try and live up to some perfect version of herself.
That was the thought in his head as he pushed himself out from under the covers and off the bed, moving away from her- trying to move away from himself. Then the rest of the thoughts in his head fell between his lips, too. "You'll always love him more than you love me." And it had happened... he disappeared.
The first thing he wants to do is fall back into himself and be visible to her again, but he knows that won't happen any time soon, not when he's still feeling so inept, so awful. When he's a small distance away from the bed he turns and catches Alisha flopping back with a sigh, bunching the covers around her body.
"How long will it be this time?" she asks aloud. "I mean, there's no rush. Take your time if you need it, I just-"
"I don't know," he answers above whatever she says next.
"You know we'll be talking about this shit when you're back, yeah?"
And he almost wants to smile. Almost. Because this is a side of her he likes so much- her take- no- bullshit- attitude. The way she won't put up with anything that would displease her. He recalls the way it once scared him, made him feel so tiny under her sharp tongue. But that's faded. He hasn't felt that in quite some time. Because they had been growing, he had been growing. Changing more every day. Things were different. She had helped him to become different.
That's when a moment they'd shared in that bed just minutes ago flashes in his mind.
"It's you," she'd whispered. And he didn't have to be a mind reader to know it wasn't him she was speaking to. She was merely talking to a ghost of him. Someone she'd known, a boy she'd recognized. One she sometimes still missed, even though she swore she didn't. Someone she loved. Someone that isn't him.
The thought makes him stomach ache. It hurts to look at her, then, with such thoughts in his head, so he turns and walks away.
He gets dressed, and just that one thing alone feels like one small step in the direction of knowing what to do next. He likes plans, likes knowing what should come next. Keeping patterns has always been something that comforts him when he's felt out of place. It's what makes this more unsettling. He doesn't know what to do. This only leads to pacing around the flat while his mind races.
He wants to let the thoughts out, but imagines what they would sound like echoing off the walls, all big and loud and threatening, and knows it would only make things more unpleasant. His mind can be a terrifying place. Sometimes there's too much space in their flat, he thinks.
He moves from the bathroom to the kitchen, then, sneaking glances over his shoulder to the bed as he moves. Alisha is still lying there, quiet as can be. He wonders if she might have fallen asleep. He feels like a coward for not being able to face her, not being able to just go back to the bed and tell her he's sorry for being so inadequate. He's sorry for not being what he imagines she wants. Something better. Someone so unlike himself. He's always thought she deserved better, anyway. And she'd had someone like that once.
If he had said that, though, had kept letting things just fall out of his mouth, she would have rolled her eyes and told him to shut up. That it wasn't true. She already had, on more occasions than one, but it never really stuck. Sometimes, not even reassurances can take things away. After all, these have always been the kind of voices in his head- the ones that made him feel like he wasn't good enough. And they're currently the ones that makes it so hard to just listen to what she had said to him.
"It doesn't matter."
He tries saying it to himself a few times, but it's drowned out by disparity.
His finger nails dig into his palms.
In the kitchen, he walks around the counter and, at the fruit bowl, plucks out a couple grapes, popping them in his mouth. And he keeps thinking. He recalls the first time he'd found out about this place. He remembers leaving the bar after a night of hanging out with the others, and having intentions of following Alisha back to her flat, because she'd just looked so down the entire time they were out. Not her usual self. She'd looked like that a lot for a while there. She didn't know he was there, but he'd wanted to make sure she was okay.
She didn't go home, though. Instead, she came to his place- the home of his future self. He'd followed her inside, up the lift into the wide open space of a place he now knows himself as home.
But then? He recalls how he'd shook down to his toes with shock, the panic attack that nearly took hold as he recognized certain things within the room- the case filled with butterflies on the wall- one that was still hung up in his room back at his own home. Confusion had clogged his brain and made it so hard to think, for the first time in his life. And then his sights had set on her, there on the bed- picture in her hand- of him, of them. Of a time and a place he knew he'd never been.
He hadn't meant to become visible, but he'd popped back into himself as the words tumbled out of him, all the questions.
And all the answers that came after that moment.
Him, a proper superhero? That thought... that was nice. He'd like that, felt the pride of the idea swell within his insides, even if it was only a small thought, then. And not one he thought to say out loud.
But him... with her? That was the hardest thing for his mind to wrap around, to believe, and she'd also told him he had died. He found it easier to understand and accept his own possible death, than the idea of them being together... or her wanting to be with him. He was Simon, the invisible boy... a no one.
Still, the way she'd look at him, that intensity in her eyes as they stared at one another... it somehow made things shift. How had he not noticed it before?
She saw him.
He startles at the sound of her voice ringing out in the flat, and ends up knocking into the bowl he'd just been picking food from, sending it falling to the floor. He silently curses himself for not catching it as it hits the floor and shatters, sending little shards of glass in all directions.
He listens as Alisha's quick padded steps fall across the floor, heading to the kitchen. Even though he knows she still can't see him, he shuffles away from the spot he just stood. She was awake the whole time, apparently.
Alisha comes into the room, buttoning up her shirt- no, his shirt. She's wearing one of his button up's. Spotting the broken bowl, she sighs and turns around, and he catches a glimpse of her bare bottom. He swallows heavily at the knowledge that she's walking around in his shirt without any knickers on. It makes him stir, makes a warmth spread throughout his body, but he's quick to shove it down. To ignore it, despite the urge to do otherwise. It isn't the first time he's seen her in a state of undress, but it is the first time he's found her in his clothing. He didn't know that's something she did. It's intimate. Something a woman that's in a relationship with someone she cares about would do, wear her others clothing. It tugs at his insides. He swallows heavily, and watches as she comes back with a broomstick.
"Ridiculous," she mumbles, bending down with the dust pan.
"Watch out for the glass," he says when she nearly steps on a piece.
Almost as if she can hear him, she moves away from the piece that nearly got lodged in her heel and picks it up, dropping it in the pan.
As soon as she's done sweeping everything up and tossing it away, she stands there with her arms crossed over her chest, looking around... searching for him? "Are you still here?"
His hands shake at his sides as he takes slow, tentative steps in her direction, stopping when he's standing behind her. Then he's leaning down carefully, bringing his nose to the back of her neck and breathing her in- recalling a time that feels so far away now where he'd done the same thing. Stalked her like an invisible predator. She'd look right through him. I'm not that person anymore, he thinks, before stepping flush against her.
She inhales sharply. "There you are," she all but whispers, a slight shake in her voice.
He's always questioned why things are so much easier for him to do when he's invisible. Following people, trying to play hero, watching people... being around her. There's a safety in this. Perhaps that's why, with trembling hands, he reaches out and carefully traces along her shoulder blades.
The skin there is soft, delicate and warm. It feels nice against his calloused flesh. She feels nice. How many times had he thought of moments like these? When he'd finally be able to touch her.
She sighs, then, and he's so awed by this- just as he'd been when he was in bed with her. Their bodies so close together, the way her breath hitches and she relaxes under his touch- like she's safe here, too. How long they'd gone without this. He's still surprised she even wants him touching her at all, that she enjoys it. How she presses back into him, molding herself to his front side. He never imagined things to be this way.
She makes a noise, a soft moan, and his minds takes him back to before. The sounds she'd made, the way she so desperately pawed at him, wrapped him up in her and slowly drowned him.
How much of a failure he turned out to be.
He steps back, away from her- the tightness back in his chest. He'd nearly had it, nearly been back.
"Simon?" There's sadness in her voice.
He needs to get out of here, needs to breath.
"Sorry," she says, as he starts to walk away.
Me, too," he replies, heading for the lift.
She calls his name twice more once he's inside, tells him to come back, and it echoes to him on his way down. It makes him feel worse. More time to be unseen. Outside the flat, the cold air nips at his exposed skin- the sting slightly pleasant. He can feel things here. It's not all closing in on him.
And he starts to walk. Where, he doesn't really know. He doesn't have a destination in mind. All he wants is some quiet, some air... hell, if he's being honest, he doesn't now what he really wants.
Flashes of images go through his head with each step, though. The warmth of her hands sliding across his skin, the heat of her mouth on his- fingers through his hair and teeth sinking into his lower lip, and how much he liked that. How she knew she liked that- knew just what to do to keep him there, send him over. A chill rolls up his spine and nestles itself in the back of his neck, causing him to shiver.
She had known just what to do, and he knew nothing.
She knew what to do because she's done them with you before, a small voice in the back of his mind says.
"Not me," he says aloud, and then bites at the inside of his cheek until blood fills his mouth, and he carries on. Maybe if he moves fast enough he can outrun the whispers of his own thoughts? He thinks of her back at the flat, alone, and it gnaws at him more. He wonders what she might be doing- wonders if she's thinking of him, too.
His mind keeps taking him back to their moments in bed, no matter how hard he tries not to think about it. As if he could forget it, anyway.
He recalls how good she'd felt, and how those feelings extended far beyond the new physical aspects of their relationship. It had been that way for quite some time. He and Alisha had gone so long without being able to touch, being intimate, that he questioned if it would ever happen- despite knowing because of her words to him that it someday would. He thought all of that would come much later. But here it is.
He thinks about all the discussions they'd had about what it would be like when they finally could touch each other. He learned to build a relationship around something other than contact because they couldn't. They talked. They shared things with one another- got to see sides of themselves in each other that no one else got to see.
She felt good, but she always has.
She kept staring into his eyes, he recalls, pictures it. She never took her eyes off him, even when he'd come apart. Her gaze was firm and intense, slightly mystified. She looked... awed by him. She made him feel so real.
When his heart began to race he can't quite recall, but there it is, pounding away. It makes him dizzy. He looks around, and only then realizes just how far he's walked. He's down by the water, practically at the community center. He's quick to take a seat on one of the benches and tighten his fingers in his lap, squeezing the circulation from them. His eyes go the water and linger there as he remembers his first day at community service- painting the benches. It feels like all of that was ages ago, belonging to a life of someone else now.
"Mind if I take a seat?"
He startles so strongly he nearly falls from the bench, his fingers digging into the splintered wood as he struggles to balance himself. When he's settled, he turns with his mouth slightly agape, searching from the voice of whomever's just spoken to him. A short distance from the bench there stands an elderly man, shades on his eyes and a walking can at his side.
Simon's mind flits to the thought almost instantly, a power. This man, whoever he may be, possess a power that has allowed him to see Simon while he's invisible.
"You..." he licks his suddenly dry lips. "You can see me?"
"What's that, boy?" he croaks. "You're too quiet, speak up."
Clearing his throat, he repeats himself. "Can you see me?"
The old man chuckles. "Young man, I ain't seen a thing for the better part of fifteen years now." On that note, he reaches up and taps the glasses over his eyes.
Blind? This rolls around in Simon's head. The man can't see him, but he knows he's there. Simon's sure he's still invisible, he can still feel the heat in his veins. So how does this man know? Does his one sense being cut off play a part in it? What gave him away? Sound, smell? If this blind man knows he's there... does that mean other blind people will, too? He's got a million questions in his head, and he's over thinking every single one.
"So, about that seat?"
"Oh... um, of course." He swallows nervously and slides over on the bench, never taking his eyes off the man as he shuffles over and takes a seat beside him. Then the man holds out his hand.
"S-Simon," he stutters, giving Ben's hand a quick shake."
"Simon?" he repeats. "Had a good friend growing up named Simon. Good name. Strong. You should work on speaking up though, boy. I can hardly hear ya. It's like you're whispering."
Whispering? But he's been speaking at full volume this entire time. Why is he hardly heard by the blind man? Maybe...
"How did you know I was here?" he blurts out.
Ben laughs again and taps at his nose. "Got a good snoze here. I smelled you. You sure do ask a lot of questions. Why are you so concerned with how I knew you were here?"
Simon's heart skips an extra beat. "No reason."
"You're not a very good liar, Simon. But I'm not the kind of man to push things when it's clear someone doesn't want to answer something. I can respect that."
"Thanks," he mumbles.
"So what brings you out here so late at night?"
For someone who's just accused him of asking a lot of questions, Ben seems to do a lot of the same.
"What's it to you?"
Ben shrugs his shoulder. "Just making conversation, boy."
Simon ducks his head. "I'm sorry, that was rude of me. If it's all the same, I'd rather not say."
"I can respect that, too."
"What... what brings you out so late?"
Ben sighs and reaches up, wiping at his mouth. "It's my anniversary today," he says a moment later. "Forty- two years today."
"So why are you down here alone? Where's your wife?"
He wishes he hadn't asked as Ben's lower lip trembles.
"Oh. I- I'm sorry."
"No, no." He gives Simon's leg a pat. "Don't be sorry. I'm not. I was blessed with forty long, wonderful years with my Suzy. And I'd do it all over again in a second if given the chance. Don't be sorry, she wouldn't be." His gaze goes out to the water. "She liked it down here. We'd always come here on our daily evening walks and feed the ducks."
"I brought Alisha here for our first date."
Ben turns to him and smiles. "So this is about a special lady."
"I had an inkling that's what you being here was about."
"Yeah? Why do you say that?"
His grin widens. "I can still smell her fresh on your skin."
Simon feels his eyes might bug from his head. "You're saying..."
Ben nods and Simon feels his entire body flush. He clears his throat and quickly tells him, "It's personal."
"As most things go when it comes to a lady, eh?"
"I like her a lot."
"Well, then... why in the world are you here?"
"I- I don't know how to... be around her right now. I'm not sure what to say or do."
Leaning back, Ben reaches up and slowly removes his glasses, giving Simon a look in the dim light of his glassy eyes. "Can I give you some advice?"
Simon leans forward, listening with full attention.
"Sometimes," Ben starts, "the best option when you don't know what to say or do, is to not say or do anything at all. Let her talk. Be a good listener. Trust what she says. Because there will be a day, someday, when she won't be there anymore. And all the worries you ever had won't matter because the only thing you'll be thinking about then..." his voice cracks, "is how much you miss the sound of her voice, and her smell, and the feel of her skin. And those will be the things you remember. Not this."
"You loved her very much."
"With all my heart and soul."
"That's how I feel about Alisha."
"Then let me ask you this: what are you still doing here?"
"Go on! Get out of here. Go home to your lady."
Simon wastes no time in standing from the bench. "T- thank you."
"The pleasure was all mine, boy. Thank you for sparing a bit of your time for a lonely old man."
"The pleasure was all mine."
Ben laughs. "Get out of here."
With a small, polite grin, he turns and begins to walk away, making his way back home... back to her.