NOTE: Ok, so it may look like I'm a little late coming to the party with this one, but I had every intention of posting this yesterday. However, ff.net had every intention of aggravating me yesterday, and thus the story is here now. It's a CT post-ep, and thus has nothing to do with the events in last night's episode. ;o)

Title: Reflections

Author: Lanie

Category: JC/AL

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Well, considering this is a post-ep for Chaos Theory…. You figure it out.

Notes: Apologies in advance to the anti-Carbies. This fic proved a challenge to write, mainly because my creativity is currently being sucked dry by other activities, but I'm never one to turn down a challenge. I'm experimenting with a style that I'm not used to writing, and I think I like it. Of course, I couldn't write anything A/C without some cute Carby banter, so I tried to work that in as well. Special thanks to my beta, who wanted me to write this almost as much as I bad as I wanted to write it. Enjoy.

I'm chaos to him.

That's a big expectation to live up to.

Chaos. Great confusion. Complete disorder.

On second thought, maybe it's not that big of an expectation.

I look over and watch him pull his shirt over his head, resisting the urge to tell him that it's inside out. He notices my expression and gives me a curious look. I shake my head, laughing lightly, and twist my hair to squeeze the water out of it. It smells like Lake Michigan. I pick up my flip-flops and pad my way through the sand towards him. His gaze meets mine again, and he smiles warmly. I return the gesture, linking my hand with his as we walk back towards Chicago.

Two weeks ago, if you'd told me that I'd be skinny-dipping with John Carter, I would have suggested a psych consult. Funny how things happen when you've got a lot of time on your hands.

He looks down at me as we walk, asking a question. I'm not hungry, but if he is, I'm sure I've got some stuff at home. I think. I know the eggs will still be good. The milk will be bad, but there's bread. And coffee. He nods, accepting the unspoken invitation.

How did we get here? The last two weeks have been something out of a dream. I can barely wrap my own head around it, yet I'm in the starring role.

He's drawn to me. Chaos. Unpredictability. I look up at him, trying to read his expression. He looks content. Is he? Probably. I mean, he's said in so many words that he's wanted to be with me for the last two years. He's got what he wants, now. He concurred chaos. Yay, John Carter.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not bitter. Far from it, in fact. The truth is, I'm probably about as content as he is right now. However, unlike John Carter, that single realization is enough to shake me to my very core.

Every single relationship I've ever had has ended. Badly. Except this one. Yet. Sure, it's only been two weeks, and we're still at the can't-keep-our-hands-off-each-other stage. Hell, I practically crawled on top of him when he jumped into the lake with me. Can you blame me?

Abby the pessimist always seems to out-rule Abby the optimist. I know I need help. But I need no reminders. I need no heroes.

We drive back to my place in silence. It's comfortable. Always is. There's no urgent need for verbal communication. After all, we have our best conversations without using words.

I don't need to be fixed. I'm not broken. To be broken would imply that I once worked properly, and nothing about my life has ever been proper. It's that simple.

My mother – on one of her better days - once told me that I could have whatever I wanted if I wanted it bad enough. When I was younger, I wanted a normal life. A normal family. A normal childhood.

Maybe I didn't want it bad enough.

John Carter makes more sense to me than anyone ever has. He knows me. There's this unbelievable connection with him that I haven't shared with anyone else. He sees right through my front.

He makes me smile. He makes me laugh. I'm happier when I'm with him, and yet, I constantly push him away.

I can feel his fingers trace small patterns on my back as he waits for me to unlock the door. His breath is warm against my neck when he kisses it lightly. I turn and give him a playful look as I twist the knob and push the door open. He laughs, following me inside.

I'm a fool for tormenting him like this. And he's a fool for letting me torment him. It's a vicious cycle, and we both know it, but neither of us does anything about it.

I drop my bag on the floor and survey my apartment. I think back to the morning two weeks ago when I left for work. Funny, I thought I'd left it cleaner than this. While I walk around picking up discarded accessories, I gesture for him to make himself comfortable. He does, sinking into the couch cushions with a heavy sigh. He leans back and closes his eyes. I guess our little 'swim' wore him out. I watch him for a moment, his chest rising and falling with rhythm. A smile plays on his lips, as if he knows I'm staring. It wouldn't surprise me if he did.

I leave him to his siesta and make my way into the bedroom. I groan inwardly at the mess. Clothing strewn on the floor. The bed half made. Who lives here? I shake my head and tidy up, throwing things into the laundry hamper and smoothing out the comforter. He'd probably get a kick out of this, thinking I was trying to impress him. I am, but I'd never admit it to his face.

A flashing light out of the corner of my eye catches my attention. The answering machine. I try and guess how many messages are waiting for me as I reach to push the 'PLAY' button. I jerk back a little, changing my mind. I'm not ready for reality just yet.

Entering the bathroom, I straighten a few more things and turn on the faucet. Cupping my hands, I hold them under the stream for a few seconds before bringing them to my face. I close my eyes and enjoy the familiar sensation as the cold water splashes over my cheeks. As if the dive in the lake hadn't woken me up already. Turning off the tap, I pick up the hand towel. Drying myself off, I look at the image reflecting back at me in the mirror.

Same old Abby? I stare more intently, looking for any signs that indicate a different person. Aside from the hair colour, I find none. Sighing, I hang the towel up and open the medicine cabinet. Scanning the shelves, my eyes land on something vaguely familiar. Pulling the box out, I open it to check the contents, counting the pills on the card. I turn the box over to check the expiry date, and make a mental note to phone for a new prescription. Popping one of the pills out of the card, I swallow it and put the box back on the shelf. I look at my reflection again as I close the medicine cabinet. It's been awhile, hasn't it?

I make my way back to the living room and find him flanked in the same position I left him, one arm behind his head, the other resting across his torso. I smile to myself. He looks so peaceful when he's asleep. Creeping my way towards him, my smile grows when I realize he's playing with me. Silly, Carter. Tricks are for kids.

An idea dawns on me. I divert my path to the couch at the last second, opting for the scenic route instead. I casually stride around the back, coming to a stop behind him. His face points towards the ceiling, eyes still closed. He knows. Slowly, quietly, I lean down so my head is inches from his. I watch his forehead twitch at my closeness and I fight to hold back a giggle. Leaning over a little more, I tilt my head towards his right ear as I draw in a breath.

"Rise and shine."

He opens his eyes and rolls his head to look at me. He's beaming.

"Hi," I whisper.

It takes him a moment to find his voice. "I missed you."

I raise my eyebrows. "Did you really?"

"Oh yeah."

"Good." I straighten myself up and turn around, bracing my hands on the back of the couch. "It's nice to be missed."

His head rises from its resting spot as he shifts his position to look at me. "So…"

I smile at his tentativeness. "So… This is new."

"Yeah."

We exchange a long, heated look for a few moments before I dare to speak next.

"Um… You said you wanted breakfast."

"I'm not that hungry."

I frown. "But you said…"

He shrugs, giving me the look of an innocent child. "I lied."

Those eyes.

"Fine. What do you want to do, then?"

He shifts forward, resting a hand over mine. "Oh, I don't know. What do you want to do?"

"I don't know. Maybe…" I pretend to gaze off in deep thought. "… Strip poker?"

He lights up, then reconsiders. "Nah, I'm not very good at poker."

I raise an eyebrow coyly. "You don't say…"

"Hey!"

I laugh at his shocked expression. "Well, then, how about you just strip down right now, and I have my way with you?"

He responds by grabbing me by the waist, dragging me over the back of the couch. My head lands in his lap and he leans over so our noses are almost touching.

"Or, we could both strip and have our way with each other."

I don't recognize the girlish noise I make at his suggestion. "Hmm… That sounds like a good compromise."

I place my hand on the back of his head and bring his face to mine, our lips locking. His hands cup my cheeks gently as he deepens our passionate encounter. I comb my hand through his hair, dragging my fingers through the tough, coarse mass of it. I try and hold back a giggle, but fail miserably. He pulls away slightly, confused.

"What?"

I cover my mouth with my free hand, trying to hide my faux pas. He raises an eyebrow.

"You… You've got sand in your hair."

He makes a face and brings a hand up to his head. It brushes against mine as he gropes through his hair.

"Oh. I guess I do." I watch his expression change once more. Great. Way to kill the moment, Abby.

I raise my head up from the comfort of his lap and hoist myself up off the couch. Standing over him, I offer a hand.

"Come with me."

He looks at me, puzzled, and takes it. "Where are we going?"

"You'll see."

I pull him off the couch and lead him across the room to my bedroom. He pauses a little at the door, but I jerk him through it, throwing a look over my shoulder.

"Abby…"

"Shut up and follow me."

I lead him through my bedroom and into the bathroom, where I stop and face him once more. I smile seductively and reach for the hem of his T-shirt. He allows me to pull it over his head, and I do so with flourish. I hold the item between us.

"It was inside out. I had to fix that." I toss the shirt over my shoulder.

He nods and watches as I reach behind him and pull the shower curtain back. I step forward and yank the taps on, testing the temperature of the water. I pull the lever to turn on the shower, right myself and face him again. His expression is a mix of confusion, more confusion, and expectancy. I giggle outright.

"Are we having a shower?" He asks with much excitement.

"We? Oh, no. But you are."

"What?"

I pull a towel off the rack and sling it over my shoulder. I make to move around him again and he steps to let me pass, still watching me almost too intently. I turn around to face him again, and notice his hand drop to the button of his pants. I jet an arm out to stop him.

"No."

He frowns. "No? But…"

"Just your head," I say, as I detach the showerhead from the wall. He gives me an unsure look, and I smile. "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." I gesture towards the tub. "Bend over."

He pauses for a moment to think about it before heeding to my command, bracing his hands on the side of the tub. Wow, I didn't think it'd be that easy. I place my free hand at the base of his neck as I slowly bring the shower stream over his head. I watch his body tense, then relax, as he adjusts to the warm water.

"Is it too hot?"

He shakes his head, and I continue to drench his hair. My hand leaves his body for a moment, as I look around for the shampoo, plucking it out of the corner. Juggling the showerhead and the bottle, I manage to pour some into my palm, returning the bottle back to its spot. I glide my hand through his wet tresses, watching as they mingle with the soap in a generous lather. He groans, obviously enjoying the contact, and I smile as I continue massaging his scalp until I'm satisfied that the shampoo has done its job. Bringing the showerhead over him once more, I rinse him off. He waits with patient silence for me to finish my work on him.

Turning off the taps, I snatch the towel off my shoulder and wrap it loosely around his head.

"Ok, stand up."

He straightens, wincing a little as he does so. My hands are still on his head, and I use the towel to dry his clean hair, leaving it in a disheveled, damp state when I'm done.

Draping the towel around his bare shoulders, I look him in the eye and smile triumphantly. "All finished."

He raises his eyebrows and uses a hand to check out my work, smirking with approval.

"Hey, not bad."

I tip my head to the side. "I told you."

He laughs and picks up the towel from his shoulders, bringing it to his face. He inhales deeply.

"Mmm… Smells like you."

I can't help but grin. "Is that a good thing?"

"Definitely. I love the way your hair smells."

"Aww." I touch his chest lightly with one hand and use the other one to reach back and retrieve the shampoo bottle off the shelf. I hold it up to him. "It's papaya."

He takes the bottle from my hand, studying the product label. His brow furrows as he scans the directions before finally looking back at me. "You missed a step."

I snatch the bottle out of his hands. "I did not!"

I watch his expression soften as he laughs, wrapping his strong arms around my body, pulling me to him.

"Yes, you did."

I angle my head to look at him, conceding. "All right. Which one?"

He smiles silently and kisses my nose lightly. "Lather. Rinse. Repeat."

"Ah. So I did." I gaze up at him as a wicked smile crosses my face. "Don't you think we can find something better to do with our time?"

His eyebrows raise at my inquiry. "Oh… I suppose so." He leans down to kiss me again – this time full on the mouth. It's amazing how this man never fails to take my breath away. He pulls back and brushes a lock of hair away from my face.

"Too bad we're gonna have to mess up that bed you just made."

My eyes grow wide and I shake my head, laughing. He releases the grip from around my waist and grabs my hand to lead me into the bedroom. I hesitate briefly.

"You go. I'll be right out."

He looks back with immediate concern. "You sure?"

I bite my bottom lip, nodding. "I'm sure."

He squeezes my hand before leaving the bathroom, closing the door halfway as he does. I place the shampoo on the shelf, turn around and pick his shirt up off the floor. Bringing it to my nose, I inhale his scent and smile. I catch my reflection in the mirror as I do this, and I'm nearly floored by what I see.

I'm not the same old Abby.

~~~

Now it's your turn. Let me know how you think I did with the two styles (the monologue and dialogue) and what I could do to improve my technique. Thanks in advance!