Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 700 words.
Notes: Gen. Set during 2.08. For scotschik. Title and header lyrics from “Everything is Good for You” by Crowded House.
All paths lead to a single conclusion.
The hospital is a hustle and bustle of movement and distraction. It’s difficult to concentrate on any one thing, any one voice. He thinks he hears them in those moments --- the people the doctor had said were figments of his imagination.
He doesn’t believe the doctor. He can’t. As soon as he’d fully awoken, he’d realised he’d substituted the doctor with Morgan’s face. Had momentarily been confused. He figured it was his brain’s way of telling him something. Do not trust.
But their voices ring in his ears all the same. He closes his eyes and listens to them; to Annie’s soft lilt and Gene’s staccato. Chris’ smooth tones and Ray’s cold one. Nelson, switching from Jamaican to Lancastrian in a syllable. He thinks about the words he hadn’t heard for years that spilled from their lips with easy abandon. He wonders if he’ll hear them said again as more than echoes and refrains from his mind.
He doesn’t want to be here.
And for a moment I was taken.
He asks his mother to tell him what it was like, back when he was a child. She charts his history, starting when he was a newborn, stretching on into infancy, childhood, then adolescence, early twenties, and finally, now. She tells him about sniffles and broken bones, joy and despair. He loves it and asks for more.
Her eyes glaze over when he asks her to tell him about his father. She becomes stilted and awkward. And she visits less, when he becomes more insistent, when he begs for the photographs and trinkets. He talks about how golden her hair was, and she looks at him sharply for a moment, before never really looking at him again.
He wishes he had been able to spend more time with them. He might have been able to. Maybe not with his father, but with his mother, at least. They could have been friends. Instead of this; Ruth sitting by his bedside because ‘it’s the done thing’, and not really knowing him at all. Not really wanting to know him. And him understanding completely.
Everything is good for you if it doesn’t kill you.
Rehabilitation takes an effort he doesn’t want to expend, but he does so anyway. He hates feeling weak; both physically and mentally, but mostly physically. His muscles ache and his bones twinge. And he thinks it’s all incredibly boring and stupid, but he longs to be able to stand up properly again, to have the option of going anywhere he so chooses, so he listens to their orders and behaves like a good little boy.
He felt strong, a lot of the time, before. He could take on the entire world. No fist was too fierce. No punch too precise. He was impenetrable. He doesn’t feel a lick of strength now. He would crumble with a well-timed puff of air.
But if you come undone it might just set you free.
No one touches him. He may as well be a leper. He can’t remember if it was like that pre-coma. Perhaps he’s always had inviolable skin.
Maya used to touch him, but he drove her away.
It’s another connection, he thinks. One he’s lacking. The gift of the tangible, of texture, of tactile warmth and understanding. All it would take is a light press against his hand, or fingertips gliding up his arm. A kick and a bite, grabbed by his ears. But he doesn’t have any of those things. He has cold, clinical, economical sponge baths and minimal contact. He has distance all around him, an inch-thick layer of protection against one of humanity’s most basic needs.
One man’s ending is another man’s beginning.
He used to hope. He used to think he could make a difference. He spent the whole of his time in 1973 searching for the answers to his freedom, thinking this was it. But it’s not. He isn’t free anymore. He can’t hope anymore. He fails to see the reason for it; for anything.
He doesn’t feel like he can make a change --- his feeling turns into dispassion and apathy. It’s all words and pleasantries and pretend. And it hits him that this is less real than his trap. This is less.
He makes a decision. Live for today, or live for yesterday.
Depending on the outcome, there may be a tomorrow.