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Reply to Kate or visit her websitePosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list November 29, 2001
Title: Stop Restless
Author: kate (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Spoilers: Roswell - Takes place between Season 2 and 3
Summary: What happens after life crashes.
Feedback: Yes, please! Every kind of feedback is greatly appreciated, including crit.
Distribution: Just ask.
Disclaimer: Do you see my name in the credits? Not mine.
Author's Notes: Thanks to the usual suspects. To the insane amount of time I spend commuting, which lets me think about things like fic. To Cherokee Bat for showing another way and Melissa Ferrick for finishing the ride.
It wasn't the exact spot, but it was familiar enough to stop restless and sink him onto harsh red gravel.
It became his spot, open enough to unclutter, but with rocky crags puncturing clear blue close enough to save from desolate.
This was the thinking spot, the remembering spot.
Here, remembering was tangy and metallic in his mouth and wind blowing through hair. The exact spot would be remembering that would sear his heart and overpower, shake his hands. He was glad he'd only ever been there once and couldn't find his own way back.
The exact spot was their space, full of them and train wreck. This was his, away from life uprooted too many times by them. They would not come here - too far. It was close enough for him.
Sometimes he would lean back, shifting weight onto hands, letting pebbles grind into palms. Even when the sharp pieces threatened to pierce skin, he didn't sit up. That was remembering.
Sometimes he would stay for nightfall. Sun set spilled smoky haze on the desert mountains and flood his face with warm. Wind shuddered through the openness and puckered his skin even under the orange glow. That was thinking.
He used to think in the shower. Forty-five minute showers, steam-cleared head and muscles loose under the hard hot wet. Now shower was something he did because he knew he should. Ten minute showers, lather rinse repeat.
She once gave him shower gel, complaining that bar soap left the tub scuzzy. He balked initially, but she promised the scent wouldn't be girly, that she knew better. The mandarin orange and his thoughts were crisp and fresh.
When he finished the bottle, he didn't buy more.
A long time ago he must have felt normal. Normal meant girls and sports and a thousand other things that he did and thought and said and wanted. But the old meanings had fallen away and nothing had sprung up in their place.
When he wasn't here, he still played the part, so well that sometimes even he forgot to notice the split second between real and faked. He cracked the same jokes and smirked the laugh, and shred napkins to give his hands something to do.
He used to tap.
His hands needed the real. Smooth metal and grease oil dirt were the first solid he'd grasped since his life had been upended. Engine sounds drowned out the cricket chirpings of his brain. This was another place he didn't worry about the definition of normal.
The twisting of cogs and joints were a release that occupied his hands and kept him from antsing to retreat to his solace spot. He said he hated the job but really was glad for another space where he didn't have to live up to the past sixteen years of his life.
Sean threatened to topple that security. The first day Sean walked into the garage, his heart wilted, freezing hands mid tinker. The smell of oil stifled suddenly and he felt the need.
He didn't want to be funnyman there. Sean would remember café lunches laughing. He remembered that too, but more than that the incessant finger drumming rhythm of destruction. He didn't want to have to make Sean laugh again.
Their eyes caught for a second and he thought maybe Sean knew, could see past placed expression. But Sean's quick head nod was not saddled with expectant grin. Their eyes parted and his hands moved again and breath unstuck. This spot would not be lost.
The diner used to be a place for them all, but now its air was heavy with the past. It was thick and hard to swallow, but he breathed it out almost without hitch and then felt tired from effort later. He thought there was a difference in Maria's step now, and in Liz's hand linger before coffee pot set down, but couldn't be sure if the change was in them or his perspective.
He wondered if his shoulders hunched just more enough to draw attention to the loss of himself. Before, maybe they would have noticed. Now no one did. He thought maybe it was both his perception and them that had shifted.
Maybe Sean was different now too, or maybe he'd just never really known him. Some days they worked side by side and conversation happened or it did not. He didn't fill up the nots with jokes or fidgets and knew there was no need. He grasped his tools a little less tightly.
He used to keep a flask and a football in the back of his car for Saturday nights. He had stopped wanting the people and parties two months ago. The guys no longer called asking and a sleeping bag took the spot in his trunk to protect from desert night air dipping brisk. The remembering was strong and the thinking sharp Saturday nights.
Now though, his hands were strong callused from the work and the pebbles no longer stung enough to keep remembering's edges from blurring. The night wind rushing was cold now and thinking unfocused a bit. He pulled the sleeping bag tighter close.
At work, his hands had been the thinker and his brain an unfocused focused, but some time ago they started sharing the duty. When Sean told about Liz messing with his mind, he wanted to break his long silence and say he understood. His insides clamped around the thought and his jaw was heavy. He said nothing and just nodded sympathy.
Sand was browner now than red, and he thought about letting go of the ghosts. The words would taste bitter and sting the back of his throat raw, but his chest would be finally light. He hadn't felt his own skin in so long and suddenly longed to.
Dusk slid in through cracks where doors met concrete and it was time. He had already missed sun sink deep into the earth, but not the dim shine that followed that let his brain hover over thought, and he could feel the wind calling him.
Sean's voice stopped his reach. "Hey, Kyle, do you wanna go get some coffee or something?"
He looked down and his fingers were white against the dark of the door, splayed out to grasp the handle. He could feel his head start to shake no because Saturday nights the thinking and remembering were clear, but suddenly so was the outline of his fingers. They curled in on themselves and he swallowed back the harshness in his throat and looked up.
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