|Sam is not a (littleingenue) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2012-08-09 22:44:00
|Entry tags:||christine daae, ruby|
Who: Sam and James
What: Consolation and sleep and reunions
Where: James' place
When: The night Sam met Micah
Warnings/Rating: Language, but that's it
Getting into Turnberry was a breeze. Clarissa had dealt to nearly every rich bitch in the building, and the doorman always got comped, so Sam just brought along some product, which she handed over before getting into the elevator and riding up to the penthouse. Finding the penthouse was a piece of cake, since she'd been on the floor before, thanks to Daniel. And picking the lock? The easiest part of all. She glanced over at the blinking alarm panel beside the door, which she reached out for and tapped on without any concern, assuming James' passcode hadn't changed in the past five years. And if it had? Well, it's not like he was going to have her arrested.
When no alarm sounded, she left the door behind, and she made her way up the steps. She looked around as she went, and the care taken with the apartment was so very James that it made her heartsore. It was all dark woods and heavy tapestries and so much like James' house from five years earlier, when she'd been a sixteen-year-old with tattered clothes and dirty feet.
Meeting James had been accidental. Well, as accidental as anything was in Sam's life. She'd broken into his house after three days of no food at home, and she'd raided his kitchen. He'd let her rob him blind from that day forward, and he was the first man she ever liked enough to want to spend more than five minutes with him. It wasn't anything like her childhood crush on Steven; James was too old for that shit. And Sam wasn't stupid enough to call it love, even then. James had been the worst kind of fucking lothario, and there had been plenty of nights where she'd snuck in, only to find him in bed with some man or woman, the sounds carrying down into the kitchen and onto the couch that she regularly crashed on when things were too shit at home. She never told him about the ache that came with that, with listening to those sounds in the dark, because fuck that, yeah, no way.
But it wasn't the little girl from all those years ago that walked into James' empty bedroom that night, and it wasn't that little girl that climbed into his bed. Sam was cargo pants and a wife beater, pigtails and a bad attitude. She smelled of cigarettes, and she'd lost way too much weight since the incident with Micah (she knew his name now, Micah), and she was layers of sedatives. She was still shaking from the incident at the motel, still wondering why the fuck she'd even gone there. She didn't feel any better, not yet, and she pulled James' sheets up around her neck and inhaled the safe, musky scent from years ago. She could hear him in the next room, and she knew he'd come in eventually, but she fell asleep waiting, twisting and turning, overtaken by nightmares almost instantly.
The problem with James, if could be narrowed down to just one thing, was that he became too engrossed in far too many things. That night, his nose was buried deep inside a physics book, something he had picked up on a whim. It had been something to distract him from the lingering sensation of the awful memories, and from that specific brand of worry that came with knowing Sam. The girl had always been reckless, even when he had first met her. Yet there was something about the wild thing that spoke directly to James’s otherwise absent protective instincts, and he had insisted on taking her in, begging her to take food, shelter, and whatever else she had needed or wanted. It had brought him peace to know that she was sleeping on the couch downstairs, or in the upstairs guestroom whenever he could convince her; after all, if she was spending the night there, then she was alive and well and not about to risk it all on a bout of frenzy.
He had never known why she had left; all he knew was that she had vanished as suddenly as she had appeared, and she had left no forwarding address. He had looked, of course, but even then he had known he wouldn’t find her until and unless she wanted him too. It shouldn’t have surprised him that she dropped back into his life out of the blue five years later, with as cryptic and bizarre a request as she had. Her tone had obviously left him worrying, but she had given him his word, and until she showed up, he was left waiting with little else to do.
Hence the physics book.
It was a good read. So good, in fact, that it left him utterly oblivious to the sound of the alarm system being disengaged, or the padding of feet across his apartment. James kept reading until he found himself going back over sentences twice, after which he called it a night by filing the book away on its shelf, straightening the folders on his desk and heading to his room. It was an old habit, clearing his workspace at the end of the day, but he found it helped him come back to the real world. That it made for a much more attractive prospect to approach in the morning was a bonus.
Once in his bedroom, James made straight for the closet without bothering with the lights, trading his button-down and khakis for softer, more breathable cotton. He didn’t notice the warm body in his bed until he had almost climbed in himself, stopped short only by the sound of the sheets rustling. Even a man far less intelligent than James could have surmised what was going on.
“Sam?” He switched on the lamp on the bedside table, the light catching the girl’s uneasy face. James didn’t have time to marvel at how much the girl had grown up in the past 5 years, or the hard beauty that had set into her face in her transition to womanhood. It was obvious from the girl’s knitted brows that whatever dream she was having was an unpleasant one, and for now that was his primary concern. “Wake up, Sam.”
Sam had spent the weeks since hotel in a perpetual state of tense fear. It was a roller coaster, one that never quite reached the point of being a true lull, and the voice from beside the bed just made all the fears come crashing into her subconscious, filtering into the fog of her terror and nightmares. Perhaps it was a reaction to having just seen Micah, to reliving every minute of that horror in the kitchen, but his voice was like knives, and her eyes flew open, even as she scrambled off the bed and onto the carpet on the far side.
She stared at him from across the mattress, her chest rising and falling with her frantic breathing. She was a wide-eyed thing just then, fear and mussed blonde hair and an impossible desire to flee. She looked toward the door, and it was the glance toward her escape that reminded her of where she was.
Dark woods. Dark woods. James.
Her gaze caught his across the bed, and with that came the realization that she was going to have a really hard time playing this off as no big thing. Fuck. That didn't mean she wasn't going to try, though. Let it never be said she didn't try to brazen shit out. She huffed a breath, even as she forced herself to climb back onto the mattress. "Anyone ever tell you not to sneak up on someone when they're being chased by the fucking bogeyman in their dreams?" She knelt in the center of the bed, and she intentionally turned her gaze teasing, tongue against the inside of her cheek. "Hey, baby. Long time."
As a trained surgeon, James was practiced at keeping still even in the most stressful circumstances, and it was this skill that kept him from leaping back as the girl sprung into action and flew across the bed. She looked like a wild thing just then, her blonde hair mussed by tossing and turning, her eyes wide and dilated in the lamp light. He saw the way her eyes flickered towards the door and back, mapping out an escape route in case she was attacked. Sam reminded him of an animal trapped in a cage, ready to swat deadly claws at anything that came close.
“No, but I’ve a feeling this has more to do with your meeting than the bogeyman, love.” James was no idiot. Sam’s tone, her insistence on calling the police if anything went wrong, and the mere fact that she was contacting him had been enough to put James on alert hours ago. She was back in one piece, but it was clear he had had good reason to be worried about the girl. It didn’t matter to him that she was attempting to brush this off as no matter; James still knew how to read people and the girl in front of him was sending off warning flares left and right.
James pulled the covers near him straight from where Sam’s restless sleep had untucked them, and sat on the edge of the bed. “Quite. Five years is a long time to disappear.” Five years was also a long time to make a miserable old sod worry, but he didn’t feel the need to add that to her troubles.
Sam watched the retucking of the sheets with inky blue eyes that took in the normalcy of the gesture and used it to calm the fuck down, which is what she kept telling herself as she knelt there. Calm the fuck down. "Meetings over," she finally said, voice finding some steadiness and clamping onto it tightly. Yeah, ok, she could calm down. "Now it's just you, old man, and the nightmares in my head." She tipped her head, blonde hair tumbling down along her bare arm. "But you don't look so fucking old anymore. When did that happen, huh?" she asked.
There was still something starry in her eyes. Something that said - and she'd bite if he commented on it - that she'd thought he hung the moon once upon a time. She flopped back onto the bed the moment he was done getting it settled, undoing his careful work and grinning up at him from the center of the sheets. She was all gap-toothed tormenter then, bare feet sliding along the sheets like they were a heavenly silk, and a pleasured sound accompanying the moment that was just as inappropriate now as it had been when she'd been only a girl. "You always did have good taste in sheets, baby."
He heard her voice regain its steadiness, and relaxed. There was the girl who had once upended his life, more cocksure and ready for a fight than any Eton lad. He realized it was a complete front, of course, but it calmed him to know that she had come down enough to put one up at all. “Yes, and you’re here in one piece, just as you promised. I can’t to wait to hear all about it.” His tone was light throughout, a clear indication that he would not press for details just yet. He smiled at her comment about his age. James was aware that he could pass for someone five, maybe seven years younger than himself in the right light, but knew that was not what Sam was referring to. “I think that’s more a sign of you growing up than me finding the fountain of youth, love.”
James caught the look in her eyes, and smiled. Five years or not, he knew that look, treasured that look. That look was the one true indication that Sam was as fond of him as he was of her, and to see it once again after all this time did much to melt his unfeeling heart. He shook his head when she undid his careful straightening and laughed as he settled more comfortably onto the bed. “And you always were far too cheeky for your own good. Besides, you know what they say about old dogs and tricks.” Despite all the times James had moved over the years, there were some habits he refused to break, some luxuries he saw no reason to sacrifice. “It’s damn good to see you again, Sam.”
"Are you calling me old?" she asked, fake affront in the question. At barely twenty-two, she knew old was years away yet, even if she felt it in her bones on some days. His smile chased the thought away, and she scooted over when he settled more comfortably, patting the generous space beside her on the bed. Maybe she left more space there than she had as a teenager, when she'd cuddled up to him without even thinking twice about it. And, yeah, maybe she used to hope he would let a hand stray, or pay the same kind of attention to her that he did to his conquests, but he never had. She didn't blame him, even then. She'd always been a dirty street urchin, and he'd always been smart and refined and way the fuck out of her league. Time hadn't changed that, but it hadn't changed a lot of other things either, like the fact that he felt safe in a world where nothing else did. See, Sam knew perfectly well that James would never even think of touching her; she so wasn't his thing. "Then lay the fuck down and let me use you as a pillow, if it's so good to see me," she encouraged, her online-version of an education showing in the wrong version of lie-vs-lay.
“Yes, Sam. You’re practically ancient,” he replied dryly, quirking a brow at her false indignation. Despite the fact that the person beside him was very much a woman, she was obviously very young. The sixteen year age difference might seem smaller now that he was no longer twice her age, but she would always be that snippy teenager off the streets, one who gave rise to a fraternal protectiveness that he had never felt before or since. He obligingly scooted in towards her, automatically putting an arm over her shoulder and pulling her in. “If you insist.” It was a testament to how tired he was that he let the grammatical faux-pas pass, not automatically slipping into his professorial mode. “I never could quite understand how my shoulder is more comfortable than a down pillow.” He lay there quietly for a while, thoughts drifting in moonlight. James knew he would have to ask her about what happened soon, otherwise he risked falling asleep. It could not be left until morning either; James was willing to bet good money that Sam would be long gone by the time he woke. “Care to fill me in on what’s been going on then, love?”
"Quit it. I'm not a kid anymore. I'm a foul mouthed grown ass motherfucking woman now, thank you very much," she informed him, even as she steeled herself for the panic that would come with the arm over her shoulder. She tensed, and then she untensed by waves - a little, then a little more, then a little more. "Your shoulder is warm, baby," she replied, clarifying how he was better than a pillow, and she carefully turned toward that warmth, sliding a leg over his thigh with much more trepidation than she had in her youth, when she'd mercilessly tried to tease him into realizing she wasn't actually a flat-chested boy. She closed her eyes after a few seconds, experimentally, just to see if nightmares flashed behind her closed lids. They didn't, and she sighed and draped her arm across his stomach. She was quiet when he asked his question, and she almost didn't answer. Silence stretched, and stretched, and stretched, and when she broke it it was almost a whisper. "So the hotel, you know? Some shit happened there, in the dark." She shrugged, even as she curled into the safety he offered. She didn't have words. Words fucking sucked, and this was James. Instead, she took his hand and she picked it up with her own. She didn't hesitate before slipping his fingers beneath the strap of the wife beater, to where the scar that ran down between her breasts began, the skin raised and angry, even in the dark safety of the room.
“I see then that with the exception of being a woman now, not much has changed at all.” James smiled. “That’s comforting.” He could feel the tense lines of her body relax progressively, but chalked it up to a combination of whatever happened at the motel and her nightmares. “If you say so, but you do know you’re less likely to wake up with a crick in your neck if you use a pillow, right?” But for all his protests, James didn’t actually mind. He felt Sam’s shoulders ease under his arm as she curled into his side, and for a moment it was as though the last several years had never passed. James was once again one of the brightest young cardiothoracic surgeon in the world teetering on the verge of burning out, and Sam was his cheeky young charge insisting she was a god damn grown up, thanks. As the silence stretched James allowed himself the indulgence of traveling back in time to that world where things made sense and weren’t quite so bloody complicated.
He opened his eyes to look down at the girl, not saying a word. He had heard about the Passages Hotel of course, but only as much as Anton thought he could handle as he dealt with the memories. If he thought about it, James vaguely recalled some mention of a body being found, but nothing more than that. He was about to ask Sam just where she was guiding his fingers until he felt the raised scar beneath his fingers, running right down the middle of her body. Panic rose in his throat as he realized exactly what it was he was feeling in the dark. James was a heart surgeon. He taught medical students and residents about cutting into the chest cavity for a living. That someone could cut like this into Sam, his Sam, who for all her curses and fights was still an innocent in his mind — James felt his heart shatter into a million pieces, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
All he could do now was turn towards the girl and pull her as close to her chest as she would allow and hoped the silence could convey everything his words could not.
She tensed when he pulled her close, but she was tired, and he was safe, and the tension only lasted a few moments before she relaxed against him. Admittedly, it felt unbelievably good to be against someone like that, someone she'd known from before all this shit, someone who would never make a move on her. The only person she felt this safe with lately was Neil, and she hadn't seen him since- well, that didn't matter. She sighed. "'S'ok, James. I'm not going to fall apart. Fucking promise," she told him, slow and with the edges of sleep already tugging down on her. And it was true. If she was going to shatter, she would have done it then, back when she'd woken up in that clinic the morning after. "I saw him. He was a selfish fucker, but I saw him," she added, even as she rolled more heavily against his chest, as if more heat and the strength of his arm would keep the nightmares at bay, even now that she was grown and the nightmares were darker than just a rumbling in her belly and shit troubles at home.
He was right that she would be gone before the sun came up, but right then she just murmured, and moved her head from his arm to his chest, her cheek pillowed against the steady beat, beat, beat there. "Thanks for letting me crash, baby."
“Alright,” James mumbled in response, not wanting to argue about her well-being now that Sam finally seemed relaxed. “I would loathe it if you did.” He generally had faith in Sam’s ability to bounce back from whatever life through at her, but this seemed like a stretch, even for her. Then of course, she had presumably had more time to come to terms with what had happened than he had. “Tonight.” It wasn’t a question. “Were you able to get what you needed?” James didn’t know if it was vengeance or a need for closure or something else that had taken Sam to meet her attacker that night, and was conflicted about how he hoped it all turned out. On the one hand, he would be right to wish horrible things upon the man who had attacked the girl, but on the other, he was a Doctor, and his mission was to protect life, no matter how undeserving the person on the table. The situation required more thought than he was willing to give in his current state, and he decided to put it off for another day. For now, he would simply be content that the girl was here and was safe.
“Of course, love.” James said softly dropping a kiss on the top of the blonde head before reaching out to switch off the light. “After all, it’s not as though I had a choice. I would never be able to keep you out even if I wished to.”
She was awake enough to consider his question of whether or not she'd gotten what she needed, but not nearly awake enough to actually follow the question through to an answer. The answer, she feared, was no, but saying that might make it true somehow, and she was fucking exhausted and confused and just coming to terms with the fact that this, this feeling she had since the fucking night in the kitchen, that it wasn't going to go away. She didn't answer. She kept her silence, and she snuggled closer, and she didn't fall back asleep, exhaustion and all, for a long fucking time.
And, yes, she slipped out before morning with a "donation" in the form of some loose bills she found in James' study, and she didn't look back.