|MJ's a little (flirty) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2013-05-25 02:31:00
Avenue 8 was still the same shithole it had been when Sam had first called it home.
The apartment she and Joey shared was on the third floor of the run-down complex. The place had one bedroom off to the back right, and an AC unit that hung precariously from the living room window and threatened to give up at least once a day. The blinds on the windows were the Walmart variety - thin, bamboo, and faded-cheap, and that was just what discernible from the outside. Inside, the place was a cracked-linoleum dream, with decorative water stains on the dingy popcorn ceiling. There was a faded blue curtain in the living room, with a mattress, and another mattress on the floor in the bedroom. Box springs were, obviously, completely fucking optional. The kitchen boasted a tiny stove and an even tinier fridge, and old cabinets in pretend-wood. There were a few barstools against the counter, and that was all the furniture Sam had gotten around to hooking them up with. There was a fat, old 19-inch television on the floor in the living room, which moved from living room to bedroom, depending on who was home. That television was blaring a DIY segment from the local news, and there were junkyard wood slats strewn everywhere, hammers and nails, and the directions for a wooden box spring. A pint of cracking blue paint was protectively perched atop a newspaper, obviously ready for use.
Along with the blaring noise from the television, Sam's ipod speakers were pumping out a seriously loud Bolero, and the door was propped open with a paintbrush in preparation of fumes getting all over the place.
In the middle of all the chaos, Sam was as calm as she could remember being in months. She was decked out in one of Neil's most expensive work shirts, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, unconcerned with the still-red scars on her wrists. The fabric engulfing her much smaller frame, and she had boxers beneath the shirt, blue pin striped and rolled at her hips. Her hair was held back in a bandana, and there were splashes of blue on the shirt, on her knees, and on a few escaped strands of her hair. There was no sign of Iris panic anywhere. There was no sign of any panic anywhere.
She'd made both beds, and she'd set on some of Louis' tea, that she was starting to dig, even if she complained about the shit all the time.
Avenue 8 was still the same shithole it had been when Rose had first called it home. When Lin had helped her move. She was gone again.
Lin sat in the silence of his car, so peculiar it felt heavy on the bare skin of his arms and hands, fitted as they were on the time-smoothed leather of the steering wheel. He frowned up at the decrepit place and its ugly, flashing neon sign (AVENUE 8 AVENUE 8 AVENUE 8), a relic of the ‘80s, a sign that boasted vacancy, boasted no annual leases, said come, stay here, then leave without a trace, no one will ask you a thing, no one cares about you. Come, come. As if that was a good thing. He frowned at that and at the anger—and, yes, it was anger—that fit so tightly, so sharply, between his lungs that he felt short of breath. It was stupid, but it was true.
He tore his keys from the ignition and unfolded on the asphalt that seemed in a state of upheaval, cracked, hideous, warped, like it was all trying to leave the place too, leave it to the sands of Vegas that still lived underneath the city’s cement and buildings and lights, leave to let organic life overtake the man-made inorganic decay that did little other than kill. Wasn’t civilization motherfucking amazing?
He was in a gloomy mood, to say the least. Lin scratched at the dandelion fluff of black that he called hair, uncombed and wild as it was, and girded himself and his sour mood into something a little nicer, a little neater and easier to swallow. He practiced smiling, using the reflection in the Captain’s driver side window and ring of white teeth, conscious of the bloodshot eyes that fell on him from courtyard windows splintered by thrown shoes (haha) and framed with plastic blinds of the $2.00 variety—the eyes did not watch with curiosity, but with a passing, passive, intentionally dulled interest, the corners of which had been buffed down even further, all cabochon, to nothing dangerous. He gazed at himself, at his navy t-shirt, washed a few shades lighter, old beyond old, tight, decked with a powder blue eagle face, glaring, of course, three jets, a mini-American flag, and the words ‘DESERT STORM’ in a heated spectrum of red, yellow, and orange. He absentmindedly chewed on a bare-faced nail, free of polish, as he trod on undyed, thin-soled canvas slip-ons, his most utilitarian shoes by far, across randomly strewn gravel (where the fuck did that come from?), absinthe green shards of broken beer bottles, and a discarded sock, ironed to the pavement by the press of so many tires. This was Lin dressed down. This was Lin without his polish. Even his slacks were faded, a once forest green gone to seed, worn lighter at the seat and the cuffs he’d folded just above his shoes so long ago. He didn’t care. He just wanted to see Sam.
After the dreams, after the motherfucking Cat, after everything, there was left in Lin a need for something positive. He came across as someone with a sense of self removed and secure (right?), as someone who maybe was always buoyant and grinning for no reason, but he wasn’t. And after so much, friendly was what he needed. He didn’t want to talk to Italian girls and their eyes of St. Elmo’s fire, he didn’t want to talk to drunks, with their barbed words, he didn’t want to text ex-boyfriends with the hope of gleaning a smile. It was too little.
Threading up a staircase littered with paraphernalia for things the boy didn’t feel up to considering, Lin reached the second landing. He smiled again at nothing. He smiled at the pass of feet over more broken bottles, over carpet so dirty and flat it felt like wood underfoot, he smiled to feel himself smile.
The door was held open, just as it had been at the Aria, this time with the bristles and wood of a paintbrush. Lin dragged the thing open and stepped inside wordlessly, eyes sliding sideways to the old school cathode ray tube TV that was smaller than his computer monitor circa 2003 and his ears drank in the marching, yet somehow lilting song—he would think about that later, about how fitting, yet out-of-place it was. He stared at the half-naked mattress, dressed only in Goodwill blankets. And there was Sam. Done up in her usual pastiche of clothes, a shimmering shirt several sizes too large, boxers rolled at the waist, a bandana, paint. He smiled again, this time genuinely. Fucking adorable.
“Thank you for being a friend,” he began in a bass-baritone with thumbed charcoal eyebrows high, before cutting himself short, expecting some kind of retribution. Lin sat knees-to-chest on the mattress that was set before the TV with his usual over-familiarity. The room smelled of paint, sharp and fresh, and held the wet heat of boiling water. “So what was this about soda? I traveled down the road and back again for this shit, after all.”
As soon as the first masculine syllable touched the air, Sam turned. It was quick, despite the Xanax lull, but the panic didn't come with anything but that quick, thoughtless jerk. She was grinning a gap-toothed grin a moment later, like that shit hadn't happened at all, and her inky blue eyes crinkled with warmth. "I thought you were serenading me with Golden Girls. That's fucking Cheers," she said incorrectly. Still getting shit confused, despite growing up in a house where the shitty television only got the local channels, and where Golden Girls was always on repeat somewhere during the morning, before the soap operas obliterated the day with their bullshit.
She gave him a quick look over, one that took in the missing cardigan and the lack of attention to annoying hipster detail, and she cut off the Bolero as she walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge, where cheap imitation coke cans took up an equal amount of space as cheap beer did. She popped a can, and she set it on the counter, expecting him to get off his ass to get it. "I have one glass, and you can't have it," she said of the cup she'd found in the cupboard when they got there. Yeah, the little hipster bitch was going to have to drink from the can.
She took the teapot off the stove, and she poured the water over tea stolen from Lou. Well, yeah, even the teapot was stolen from Lou, honestly. She'd grabbed it the last time she'd left Aria, along with some of her shit, before ending up here, where she could smell the pot through the walls, and where there was a party with a needle within reach every fucking night. And now there was Iris and, yeah, no, not thinking about that bullshit.
She let her tea steep, and she carried the dingy glass over to the living room mattress, where she sat back against the wall and sipped. "Close the door, bring your ass back into my bedroom, and tell me what the fuck is wrong," she said, the Xanax making it easy to focus on his shit, and not on the fact that Iris might be getting raped somewhere. Just then, she couldn't remember why she ever got off the shit.
Lin got off his ass, but only after offering the most affronted expression known to that boyish face, all wide-eyed and drop-jawed and disgusted at the theme song mixup. He’d noted, if only barely, the abruptness in Sam’s turn to face him, but it didn’t register as anything much; it was just another detail to log away, and so that’s what happened. Under ‘S,’ under ‘Sam, baby,’ under ‘misc.,’ under ‘idek anymore; what is my life.’ He jotted down a reminder about those scars too. But, by then he was drawing himself up from that flat mattress and his hands fell to his sides uselessly, not bothering with their usual fretting.
“Fuck you. It is not. I just spent six hours watching the shit. Cheers is—” Lin cleared his throat dramatically. He crossed the small space in two steps and planted elbows on the cheap Formica countertop that was some weird flecked color that an ambitious, but miserly interior designer might name something like Moonstone or Tuscan Tan~*~, even though it was just fucking cream peppered with black, chipping back to reveal chipboard at the corner. He scratched at its rough texture curiously, then glanced up at Sam and a grin split over his face. Right. The serenading. “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.”
His singing wasn’t perfect (it was alright), but it was, at least, in key and his voice was, um, commanding, and he was so fucking far from ashamed, it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d gone full out falsetto, so there you go. It was obvious he’d spent many an hour singing the selfsame snatch of song to himself in front of childhood bathroom mirrors with pink plastic hairbrushes as microphones. And when he was done, he just smiled and picked up the off-brand soda from where it’d been placed. The little hipster bitch didn’t mind cold aluminum, sweating as it was even in the wan cool of the colicky AC, and he took a swig (it tasted unnecessarily metallic), watching over the curved silver as Sam took a cup of tea and situated herself in her... bedroom.
Lin did as he was told. He pulled the paintbrush back into the room at large with the rubber toe of his shoe, then plopped onto the mattress next to his friend, with a modicum of care so as not to make her spill just-boiled water all over her bare legs.
“I think I’m just finished, dude. I told you. I just cannot with the peoples any longer,” was all he said as he laid back on the deflated thing, perpendicular to its intended orientation, legs hanging off the edge and stretched out on more downtrodden, colorless carpet. The can was balanced on his sternum. It leaked cold through his shirt. He lifted the thing idly, distractedly, frustratedly, and set it on his forehead and sighed, eyes on the ceiling (not Sam), where they tried to make sense of the web of cracks there and the off-white that was too off-white to be off-white any longer. He paused. His chest hurt. And when he continued, his voice was bizarrely quiet, but flat and free of any helpful intonation. “I feel fucking angry.”
It was the observation of a robot. Of a robot that swore, anyway.
Sam gave him a look when he sang the new television jingle, because seriously? "Your parents just planted you in front of the television when you were a kid, didn't they?" she asked, completely fucking straight-faced, because she hadn't spent any time actually sitting in front of a television. Even when she'd been married off as a teenager, watching television wasn't actually part of her married life. Al had grown-up kids and grandkids, and cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner had dictated the fucking day, from sunrise to sex, aka, sunset, with breaks for laundry and sewing up the holes in dingy socks. Yeah, no, she wasn't a pop culture kid.
She sipped her tea, which probably should have been uncomfortably warm to drink in the badly air conditioned dive, but nothing much was bothering her just then, and it was a sweet change. She watched him close the door, and she lifted the cup when he plopped on the mattress, to aid in non-bed spillage. She took another sip, and she set the cup on the dirty carpet and peered down at him from the head of the bed. "Finished with what, baby?" she asked, nudging him with a bare foot, almost toppling his can of soda and just not giving a shit if she did.
He was way too fucking quiet for Lin. It was unsettling.
Once he had the can of soda in his hand, she crawled down toward him, and she flopped beside him, her head on his shoulder in a show of trust that just wasn't fucking normal for her - well, for this her. Her blonde hair fanned over scrawny excuse for a bicep, and she looked over at him, inky blue eyes peering with a kind of patient curiosity that she just didn't normally have these days. She kicked the outside of one of his ankles idly, then she did it again. "Ok. what has you pissed off? And, baby, pissed off is supposed to come with throwing shit, not with being all fucking quiet." Lin, she decided, was a backwards little hipster fucker.
“Don’t be jelly just because I know all the theme songs and you don’t. Nick at Nite was da serious bomb, okay? Fuckin’ Gilligan. And I happen to have a very good memory.” That was all the answer Sam was getting. It was accompanied by only a light carbon-copy smile of Lin’s usual grin, wax-bound ink wan in the cheap lighting. The buoyancy that allowed him to burst into the apartment in song was fading fast, running away as fast as it could, disintegrating under the weight of the jostled can on his forehead.
The boy reached up quickly to catch the thing with his left hand before it tipped, as it tilted dangerously toward the curve of his skull and the pillow. He managed the feat only through a stroke of luck, or timing, or luck and timing, or coincidence, or a random, misdirected blessing from Bast. Whatever. It was cold in his palm and it left a wet ring on his forehead.
“Check yourself before you wreck yourself, Sam. Honestly,” he said in gentle admonishment, more out of habit than any sincere sentiment. The can of soda was moved back to where it’d started, and still Lin didn’t look at the girl, not until she came closer and eventually settled herself next to him, head on his shoulder, hair in his face, with no room not to make eye contact. It was a strange thing, he thought in some small space in his mind, the one square inch somewhere in the back that was currently unoccupied. Sam had her ...things with personal space. It had never occurred to Lin that she would...—whatever. It didn’t matter. It was nice. It was comforting. And after all the bullshit with the door and the Cat and so on, it meant more to Lin’s wee heart than one might have thought.
Idly, he laid his head against the top of hers and picked at the aluminum of the can where the lip was folded over on itself. His thumb nail bent backwards uncomfortably under the stubborn shit and he swore. After sucking on the digit for a moment, he sighed. Sam kicked against his ankle.
“I feel like, …” What did he feel like? The words weren’t there. There was no description. He wanted to sleep. He was angry. He was lackluster. He was annoyed with everything. He needed to see his fucking therapist. Lin shrugged under Sam’s head. “I can throw a shoe, if you’d like. I have pretty good aim. I can hit glasses from like, at least six feet away.” There was a pause. “I don’t like yelling. I’m not very good at it unless there’s a monster or something.” Another. “I dunno, Sam. I’m just getting reaaaaaal tired of being confused by life. I’m supposed to be able to figure this shit out. Everyone tells me I’m smart or something, and yet...” And a third. “—Oh, but, right. You want to hear about the Italian girl?”
That would be easier to talk about, he thought. His own brain was whirring too quickly, moving from one first-world woe to the next. He was getting on his own nerves.
"I'm not jealous of your bad television jingles, you little hipster fucker," Sam said, no ire and idle fingers tracing one of the deep scars on her wrist, before she tugged the sleeves down past her fingers, where they fucking belonged. She did it without freaking, and without worry, and she wasn't concerned about the thick line of scarring that was visible where Neil's borrowed shirt gaped at the shoulder. And, yeah, she didn't care about the fucking scars at all just then, all pink and raised and still new enough to have shit to say about themselves.
As for checking herself, that got him a roll of eyes and a "fuck that." She scoffed. "It's not like this shitheap of a mattress hasn't seen worse, baby," she assured him; it had. She'd gotten if for $25 on craigslist. Who knew what the fuck was wrong with the mattress. More importantly, who cared? She sure didn't.
But then he was talking about his feelings - or pretending he was going to talk about his feelings, and Sam went quiet to let him get his shit out. She wasn't surprised there was a whole fucking wall of flying shoes to wade through first, because Lin was never direct. She realized that was part of his charm, but it could be fucking infuriating too. Luckily, she didn't have enough Xannies in her to make her forget that he was low, and so she didn't tell him that he was infuriating. She just listened, and when he derailed and changed subjects she blinked.
"Linster, the train isn't hopping the fucking track yet," she told him. "What are you confused about?" Not that Sam wasn't perpetually confused herself, but sometimes it was easier to deal with other people's shit, than it was to focus on her own crap.
The Italian girl was, in that moment, the dead chick in the scrapbook. Siblings were forgotten, even though Daniel's supreme shit losing on the journals wasn't. She hadn't talked to Daniel since that shit, because she didn't know what the fuck to say. Even mellow, like she was now, she didn't have the slightest fucking clue. And mellow was always a dangerous fucking thing to be around Daniel. Mellow made Daniel cannibalistic or some shit. "Yeah, ok, the Italian girl. Spill."
If Lin saw the braille suicide note written on Sam’s wrists in violent, butchered Palmer penmanship, he said nothing about it. (And he did see it.) He accepted it the way he accepted seeing the same on Thea’s sparrow wrists, as he accepted Elise’s various attempts and hospital stays, and his own failed clawings that left not a mark, without much of a word. Lin was nosy and he pried, but not about lines like that, never about that. Everyone had their reasons, and he figured, if Sam wanted him to know hers, she would tell him. More mental filing was done. A memo passed up the ranks. He grinned at the sweet ‘little hipster fucker’ nickname instead.
The ancient Bonnell coils of the mattress creaked under the boy as he lifted the can of soda again. After taking a drink, very, very carefully, Lin then tipped the thing horizontal to the floor. A small spray of corn syrup and patented flavoring dyed brown—only two or three drops, really—soaked into the face of the bed that Sam insisted had seen worse. He smiled, because he was an asshole.
The train conductor blew on by the station in a fit of mania and the boy didn’t answer the question. He thought about Sera. He picked at the can.
“She came with love letters from Daniel to Carlita and wanted to go up and see him when I overheard her saying his name. She didn’t say much to me, really, but she was pretty fucking intense. Anyway, I kind of advised her, sort of, vaguely, against it at first—against giving him the letters, I mean. But then, it became clear that this was basically the fucking reason she was here, so I figured she should do it. And I didn’t say anything to the jackass. Not until—guess where I fucking saw her? She has a journal or iPad or whatever. She wrote to Daniel on it, so I told him. She didn’t like that. She said it was her secret to tell and nothing said that I did it better than she would have.” Lin spoke with measured words, each untangled and solitary, rather unlike his usual jumbled waterfall of half-baked thoughts. His eyes were closed now, and once he was finished, he took to chewing on his bottom lip, his cheek resting still on Sam’s bandana.
Sam took the fucking can away from him when he picked at it. The little fucker obviously couldn't be trusted with a can. She smacked his head, then, a hard landfall before setting the can beside her discarded teacup and and settling more comfortably against him, one bare leg tangling with his denim-clad one in the sticky, non-circulating air of the apartment.
"Were you camping out in his fucking lobby or some shit?" she asked, though she'd heard the part about the cat food; she was just giving him shit. Her eyes, hazy slits of inky restfulness, went wider and sharper as he kept talking, and she whistled in the end, not caring that his eyes were closed or that her bandana was now a pillow. "Fuck. Daniel can't deal with that shit. He'll blow the fuck up or something. The dead chick, does she have something to do with JB or JR? Or whatever those initials were?" Because that made sense, yeah? She'd never asked how Carlita had died. It had been enough to know that Carlita had, and that Daniel was completely not fucking ok with it. She was pretty sure that Daniel wasn't ok with anything, but that was just personal opinion. All she knew was that Daniel was going to hell even quicker than she was, and that was a serious feat.
But that wasn't what this was really about, was it? She sighed, and she shifted and rolled onto her side, where she propped herself up on one elbow and looked down at Mr. Sad. "Baby, telling him was the right thing. Daniel's completely fucking not normal. He's seriously messed up. You were worried about a friend, and you talked to him because you're a good person. If she doesn't get that, she can go fuck herself." Loyalty made it an easy, honest response for Sam; she would have done the same fucking thing. "It's no different than you talking to Neil, yeah? And Neil using your prompts to get through dinner with me." She shrugged, and she plucked at the fabric of that ridiculous fucking shirt he wore, before she flopped back onto her back.
She sighed, and she stole his shoulder as a pillow again. "So, give me some fucking advice, yeah?" Because giving advice always made him feel better, from what she could tell. He had this thing with being useful.
Mr. Sad did not appreciate the loss of his cola, the head slap, nor the joke leveled at him about Daniel’s lobby (he really did not need people thinking he stalked the angry drunk, because he did not). He made a face that said as much, one that was made it extremely easy to imagine him as a bite-sized, child version of himself offering an unaccommodating parent the same. Lin did not retaliate, however. He allowed Sam to return to his side, despite the huge fucking dearth of cola. The mattress complained some more and the air conditioner told it it had it good and to stfu as it hacked and coughed and tried to cool the small room. The boy took to scratching at the patriotic plastisol of his t-shirt. It crumbled in orange under his nails.
“JB,” supplied Lin, eyes shifting to follow Sam as she moved onto her side. He looked up at her and scooted a bit so as to be able to wedge his left arm under his head. His neck was unreasonably warm under his own bloodless fingers. “I don’t know. I think JB and Carlita the Dead Italian Minx are two separate problems or regrets or whatever. Carlita feels sad and JB feels like, ...idk. Something else.” He was truly a poet. Wow. Wonderous was his way with words. Lin closed his eyes again. He wondered if he really was a good person. He doubted it. “And, yeah... I dunno. Girl was pissed at me, then Daniel was too because I was up in his business or whatever. But, like—yeah. It doesn’t matter. Like I said, I think I’m caputt on that front. I don’t care.”
That was untrue but it was the easiest thing to say, and by then, Sam was back by his side and the uncomfortable warmth of the room was fed, but it was preferable to suffering and melting alone. Lin echoed the girl’s sigh. He did have a thing with being useful. If he wasn’t useful, then... well, why would anyone want him around, was his reasoning. They wouldn’t, was his conclusion, which wasn’t an answer to ‘why,’ but internal semantics could bite him. He nodded, his hair tickling the bare skin of his propped arm. The boy smiled a smile that reminded the world he was indeed the same person who’d just been singing theme songs at the top of his lungs.
“Yeah, girl. As long as you call me Oprah while I do it.”
Mr. Sad could kiss her ass, but that was always the case. She gave that face he pulled an unimpressed look, because fuck all that shit. She was pretty sure he was stalking Daniel, and there wasn't shit he could say to change her mind there. She could be unbelievably stubborn when she wanted to be; it was one of her best qualities.
"JB, yeah," she agreed, because the initials sounded right. It made her think of the kitten's stupid name, and what was it with these bitches and initials? As for Carlita and JB sounding like different problems, that was more perceptive than Sam could manage. In all her time in Daniel's apartment - sex visits and non sex visits - the only thing that came up over and over was Carlita, and JB was something new. "How the fuck do you know JB didn't kill Carlita?" she asked. Because, seriously, how many secrets could one drunk have? "She had to die somehow, yeah? And I don't think it was some dramatic wasting disease like TB." She said. And, fuck, now she was using initials. This shit was clearly contagious.
And Lin was never caput on anything, so that just earned him another disbelieving look. "You wouldn't have gotten involved if you were going to be done with it, Lin. Check on his ass in a few days and see how he's doing. I haven't visited the fucker in forever. He likes it when my problems are far the fuck away, where he can't see them, but I can check on his ass too." She shrugged. It was all they could really do where Daniel was concerned. Like Iris, who was in such deep shit that Sam couldn't even see the bottom of that barrel, there came a time where you couldn't save someone who didn't want to be saved.
Deep fucking moment, and she just looked at the dark boy beside her. "How the fuck do you help people, when it fucks you up to do it?" she asked, the segue easy, effortless.
Something inside her shifted. It was a more adult concern and realization than she normally had. She tangled herself up in other people's shit to avoid her own, but Iris was just too fucking big. The number of pills in her system were indicative of that, right? "How isn't it selfish to save your own ass, and to back off, when someone needs help?" Because that was it, wasn't it? Iris needed saving, but she couldn't deal with Iris' shit without heavy medication, and heavy medication was a neon blinking gateway for her.
She didn't sense Gwen much these days, not since the blonde had withdrawn on herself since shit fell apart with Harry, but even she felt things shift just then. Fuck. Not again.
The initials were right. Lin didn’t forget shit like that. Remembering useless information took up a good portion of his brain and it was kind of his thing. You know, after being witty and loud or whatever. He half-smiled, a trace thing out of habit, turning away from Sam to play with the brown fizzy splotch of soda he’d left on the thriftstore sheets. The boy considered the question as to how he knew JB didn’t kill Carlita. Easy. He ran the sticky hand through his hair without thinking about it, shifting his gaze back to Sam. He eyed the bandana and the shirt.
“Daniel was scared of... JB, or the mention of JB, or something. He was terrified. You’d think, if the dude murdered someone Daniel had a heart-on (yes) for, he’d be angry. I dunno. I mean, I don’t think she wasted away, because everyone’s way too sad about it. You should have heard her sister talking about her. But, yeah, no. I don’t think they’re related. I could be wrong, of course, but we both know that’s unlikely.” Lin grinned at the initializing and at his own hubris, but said nothing, letting the thread fall to the wayside for once. He wasn’t too pleased at being called on his bullshit, but he just shrugged in a pinch of shoulders pinned to the mattress and offered the ever-meaningful, very non-committal, “Whatever, bro.”
He’d think about that later. For now, he focused on Sam’s weight on him and the silence that spun out into the small, peeling room. He watched it settle on their supine forms. He listened to the fuzzy TV and the whispering air conditioner and the susuration of his own breath escaping past teeth.
How do you help people, when it fucks you up to do it?
Well. Lin didn’t say what he was thinking, which was that, sometimes, you just had to do it. But martyrdom was cruel and often stupid and even more often pointless. That was some downer shit. He licked his lips in the dryness of the room and finally replied.
“If you don’t save yourself, how can you help people later? It’s not very useful to break yourself trying to save someone, I don’t think. Because then you have to wait for someone to lower their ladder to you and you have to tug them into your hole, break their neck or wound them or whatever, and climb out, et cetera, ad infinitum, you know? It's just dumb.” Lin covered his eyes with the cool black of his palm. He didn’t know what it was Sam was referring to, he didn’t know why she was asking. All he could hope was that somehow she’d make it through whatever it was.
There came a pause, a realization too late, and then a scoff. Lin nudged Sam with his shoulder.
“You didn’t call me Oprah, jackass. No fucking car for you.”