Disclaimer: Nothing's mine.

Notes: Originally written to fill a prompt from the Darkfest in livejournal, but real life got in the way and, well, here's what it left me.

Going home

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

There are things you don't think about when you're sixteen. Things like laws and difficulties, like love burning so fast it turns you into ashes. Laurie knows it's not his fault, her fault, anyone else's. It is just time, she supposes. It is just time and life, but that doesn't make it easier.

She wakes up some nights holding a scream, wanting to let his name scape her lips, just to see what he would do – only she knows exactly what that would be –, just to make him react. Look at her for once, and see.

He loves her, she knows it. He loves her like one would love a beautiful painting, a song, a poetry. He loves her because that is what he is supposed to do, and he kisses her and fucks her and his heart, his mind, are just too far away for Laurie to reach.

She cries.

She calls Dan more often than she should. Laurie's not stupid. She knows exactly what this is doing to him, but she can't bring herself to care. Maybe she even likes it, a little, maybe it is the closest thing she has to a relationship – a real one –, and sometimes she fantasizes she gets into his bed. Fantasy Laurie still shouts Jon's name, though.

She loves him, she knows it. Laurie isn't sure of what she did in a past life, but it must have been terrible to be cursed like this. She loves him and thinks about him and part of her still believes she can trust everything he said when she was sixteen. Everything he hasn't repeated, and never will.

He still tries, though. He tries to make her happy, and maybe that's the worst part. One can survive an awful boyfriend, lover, one can survive everything but a kind one. A man that stays with her in bed, even if she knows there's other Jon working while they make love. Someone that says what he has to when he has to, that knows her so well because there are no secrets and she is like a clock, with her tiny little pieces always in their place. Some days she thinks she can't stand it.

And there is a morning she wakes up to discover she's made up her mind. Laurie's not sixteen anymore, and that feels like a new fact, a revelation. You're not sixteen, wont' be sixteen again. You know what this is like. Growing up. There are things you cannot control. Things even Doctor Manhattan can't fix.

He doesn't ask where she's going. He already knows.

And maybe she feels a little guilty doing this, because Dan doesn't deserve it. But she didn't, either, she didn't deserve any of this. And life, she's discovered, is never fair. Doesn't have to be.

Besides, he's her friend, she tells herself. He will understand. Only, he doesn't.

Fantasy Laurie used to do this thing, before falling into bed. She used to undress slowly, grinning, making sort of a dance with every move, every piece of clothing. Real Laurie doesn't. Instead, she kisses him, ravages him, and it is clumsy and uncomfortable and not at all like Fantasy Laurie and Fantasy Dan, but, in the end, she doesn't shout anything. Any name. And that's good, she supposes. That's the best she could ask for.

They cuddle. She holds tightly onto him, as if afraid she's gonna lose him, as if this was something different, something more. Dan lets her do that, lets her do anything, and that's the best part, the worst part, and he reminds her so much of Jon that she wants to cry.

She wakes up to find him gone. She's alone again, she discovers; there's something in her that doesn't move, that cries and wants to hide forever, too, but she fights it, gets up. Breathes deeply. Showers. Lives.

She doesn't even bother looking for Dan. Doesn't need to, doesn't want to. She grabs her suitcase, leaves the door closed behind her. Walks back home.