Rating: PG-13 (mild adult themes)
Summary: How far can he sink without her knowing it? She sees him one night, indulging in his poison, and she is reminded of the one she could not save. Can she save him before he drowns in his seductive poison? (Lily/Garret)
Disclaimer: I don't own Crossing Jordan. At all.
A/N: This idea came to me after watching Locard's Exchange once again. I began to see similarities between Lily's mother and Garret and I decided to play on it a little. Enjoy.
Quote: I never think about the future, it comes soon enough - Albert Einstein.
There it was again, the tainted scent of something burning. I shrugged it off and wrinkled my nose, wiggling the pen hypnotically in between my fingers in the hope that the strong smell would dissipate with time. A gentle voice in the back of my mind reasoned that this was a morgue. Lives were supposed to be wrapped in ice, not fire. But still, however many times I reminded myself, there was that wafting odour that lingered like embers from a once ravaging fire.
I glanced to the clock just as another hour ticked by. The twenty-third hour of the day, precisely. Sighing to myself, I realised that even I needed to be counselled sometimes. Mostly at night I became anxious, not all of the time but occasionally. It was a subconscious action, really. I knew where it came from; I just could not bring myself to think about it. It was too painful to have lived it through once; there was no point in revisiting that dark place of my life, not even to pinch a glance at the memories of her.
I lifted a finger and ran it over the few strands of overflowing hair; the tendrils that escaped my messy ponytail. I felt a sticky moisture and rubbed my fingers together. I was sweating again. Closing my eyes to capture a moment of silenced darkness, I took a shaky breath and exhaled slowly through tightly pursed lips. I licked my lips and my eyes found the small clock again, its hands seeming to stop and admire my inner anguish. I breathed in through my nose and couldn’t help the smell that leaked in. That burning again.
My head turned at the sound of soft jazz playing from somewhere very familiar. It was one of his favourites, I knew, but the name of it escaped me. He listened to it when he knew he didn’t have a firm grip on the railing he was leaning against. When he was slowly falling forwards. I knew I should go over to him, like I always do, but after last night I was hesitant.
I licked my lips again, searching for a taste of him though to no avail. His lips had long strayed from mine and his taste had disappeared. Last night had been a night very similar to this one; balmy and silent, with the exception of a muggy breeze drifting about the windows and that soft, seductive jazz capturing the corners of the building. He was the only one who remained here, and I waited patiently for him to find me. He had wandered in at the exact time I had desired of him, just when my paperwork lay about my desk completed. He held his light jacket over his shoulder, his shirt open at the top. His cuffs were rolled up to just above his elbow, revealing the veins that had protruded out in the heat. He asked casually if I needed a lift, his voice hinting something more. The suppressed desire between us had been cleverly hidden, neither one of us wanting to ruin what we already had. But, we could not deny it existed.
I closed my eyes again, capturing a gasp that had tired to escape as I remembered how cold it was to once again feel his lips over mine. Too much time had lapsed for our lips to be warm against one another’s like they once were. It was just an outlet for our desire, that’s all it ever had been really. Every kiss that we had shared was just an excuse to feel something real, for us to feel alive amongst the death we saw every day. Just an outlet at the end of the day. And last night had been no different.
The burning smell once again tickled my senses and the desire to see him was stronger than ever. I looked to the clock again and sighed, resigning. I tried not to think as I made the brief journey from my office to his; grateful for the skeleton that was the morgue at night. The other workers of the night would not bother us even if they wanted to. Without knocking, I opened his door and was overwhelmed as the burning smell became stronger even still. He sat at his desk, barely looking up to greet me from over his full glass of scotch. His eyes were clouded and slightly bloodshot, the rims of his orbs were painted a bruised shade of black. Thick stubble dotted his chin and cheeks and his clothes were unruly. He was drunk.
I sucked in an unsteady breath and looked around his desk. There lay a half-empty bottle of scotch and a small plastic vile of vodka, along with a few papers that were plastered to his desk as a result of his carelessness with pouring his drink. His keys were dangling in one hand, his eyes staring at them daringly. The jazz lingered in the air like a distant haunting. It became a blur to hear because I couldn’t focus on anything but him. Drinking was his way to sink down into the depths of release. It was a subconscious cry for help, a cry that could never be sounded because if it were, he wouldn’t need his poison anymore. Drinking made the pain go away for a moment.
I knew it all too well. The beginning of it all when you realise you don’t have a firm grip on life anymore and you need something to relieve yourself in. Something to make you feel complete. Then it becomes an addiction, something you can’t get rid of even when you try. It’s claws itself deep under your skin. You find yourself thinking about it every suffering day and every savouring night. You push the people you love away because you don’t want them to see you in a different light, or lack thereof. And then you just drown yourself in it until you can’t sink anymore.
The burning smell snapped me out of my stupor and I wrinkled my nose, ridding my senses of the scent that encased a painful memory. I closed the door quietly behind me, careful not to provoke him as I once did someone else when they were in a state like this. You know what they say; a mistake is there for you to learn from.
“Garret,” I whispered gently, my frame leaning against the door lightly. I shook my head slowly when he looked over at me. “Don’t do this.”
It took a while for him to answer and in that silence I tried hard to stop the burning from arising again. “It’s like I have nothing else, Lily.”
His croaky voice drifted to me on a strained wind. I walked carefully forward, creeping like a scared child. “That’s not true.”
“What else do I have?” he growled to me, raising his voice high over the soft jazz.
I reached his desk and walked around it, kneeling down beside him and taking one of his hands. His keys crashed to the floor. “Me. You have me.”
I was pulled back into the past for but a second and I could see the ravaged look my mother gave me when I had whispered that very same thing. I drew back instantly, waiting for the stinging strike, but it never came. Not this time. He just looked at me with his dark eyes, the desire in them returning. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled when he began to lean forward, but I shook my head gently.
“Garret,” I croaked softly, inching my head back, “I will always be your friend. I know there’s a lot unresolved between us but maybe it should stay that way. I don’t want it to be like last time when you dismissed me whenever you wanted.”
His eyes clouded over with a dark anger. “Then I don’t have you.”
I sighed at his lulled tone. I leaned forward and laced my hand around the back of his neck, pulling him toward me, though I strayed from his cold lips. “I don’t want to be where we were all those years ago. You have to understand that.”
He swallowed and exhaled through his mouth, his breath streaming over me, saturated with alcohol. I felt a tremor in his other hand and the scotch swirled in the glass dangerously, threatening to spill over the rim. I detangled my hand from his, and reached up to take the glass, but he stopped me. He refused to let go of the glass and without thinking I tugged hard on it.
I screamed as the alcohol spilled out and scattered onto the floor. I saw the flames in my mind from the old kitchen stove as the alcohol splattered onto the alight frying pan. The fire flared with the additional fuel and I screamed for my mother to move her hand away from the edge of the stove. It made little difference though, as she crumpled to the floor, clutching her hand and crying out in pain. The burning smell was overwhelming but all I could hear was her cursing me. It had been my fault; I pried the glass from her hand and I didn’t think that she was so close to the alight stove.
I was pulled back to reality by Garret’s voice, his eyes concerned. “You will not be my mother, Garret,” I warned forcefully, my eyes narrowing dangerously.
His look softened and he almost seemed stunned that I would say such a thing. Before he could even open his mouth, I turned and walked away, pulling the door firmly closed behind me. I walked the length of the hall until I reached my office and waited until I was leaning against the frame of the door before I crumpled, just like my mother had against the stove.
I let the tears flow like a hot tap, just waiting for them to stop on their own. I sobbed without control, thinking back into the past with a deep regret that I had never really felt before. I could not save her. She had given up on me, just as I had lost all faith and hope in her. I did not want that to happen again. I could not lose someone else that close to me. Someone who was an addict, but someone I was addicted to. Someone I silently loved and would continue to love for the rest of my life, whether he knew it or, or even returned that feeling.
It was safer to be silent about it, I thought. The heartache that had come to visit me all because of him was something I did not want to feel again. And I did not want to be a victim of his deadly addiction. Not like I had been with my mother. I could not save her, but maybe this way I can save him.
I stopped sobbing to smell the air. I could no longer smell that burning anymore; the air was clear and the flames were gone from my mind.