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dark Dean

Like Father, Like Son (LoM fic)

Posted on 2007.04.18 at 22:26
Tags: , ,

I wrote this fic for the jumping_off community.  Archiving it here.  It's basically the fiction version of my rant. 

Like every mother, the thought of losing a child is my absolute screaming wake-in-the-night-to-check-they're-still-breathing nightmare.  I've been shying away from the whole subject of how Sam's actions would affect Ruth, and eventually decided to confront it head-on.  And I do see a deeply ironic parallel in the fact that Sam, so desperate at the end of S1 to prevent Vic from leaving the family, eventually pretty much mirrors the action.


Words: 1600ish
Rating: Green Cortina
Pairings/characters:  Sam, Ruth.  Gen.
Warning: character death.  But then, it wasn't my idea.
Spoilers: 2.08.  The ending.  

Like Father, Like Son

The wake was over. Thank God. Ruth had spent an afternoon that felt more like a lifetime, smiling bravely and nodding at colleagues (not friends, hardly a single soul that would have called her little boy a mate) who assured her in the hushed tones reserved for the recently bereaved that Sam was ‘in a happier place now’. She hadn’t cried. Not even nearly, not even as the priest who had never met her son eulogised eloquently and deceptively about his wonderful life, not even as the drooping flowers fluttered six feet down onto the stark wooden box.

She pushed away a nagging sense of guilt at her inability to grieve in the accepted manner. She had said her goodbyes painfully over the past few months. She had cried then, at the side of the silent hospital bed, gazing at Sam, aching for him to wake up, show some sign that he could or would return to the life he had waiting for him. She had stroked his hand, his face, kissed him gently, occasionally (she now admitted) almost enjoyed the helplessness of her son, no more distant really than he usually was in consciousness. After years of playing such a peripheral role in the life of this capable, humourless man, finally she was given a chance to do something potentially useful.

And, after weeks and months of exhaustive care, it had worked. One morning, Sam’s eyes had finally flickered, then opened and stared around with such an air of confusion and pain that she had to fight back the urge to grab him and hold him close. She watched in silence as the surgeon tried to explain to a newly reborn Sam how close he had come to being forever lost, basking in an overpowering joy that compared to nothing she had ever felt before.

Over the following weeks she had witnessed, as far as she was allowed, Sam’s steady recovery and return to the man he had been before. In all honesty, there were times after he woke that she felt he was further away than he had ever been, and she almost found herself nostalgic for the false closeness of the intimate one-sided chats she had conducted at his bedside. Now, she tried to talk to him, but he had so little to say. He never smiled. Not once. He had alluded to dreams, but when she pressed him on this he withdrew, offering merely a weary sounding, "I don’t know, Mum. I just don’t know."

Eventually, doctors satisfied with his progress, he had been allowed to leave the hospital that had become more of a home. She had agreed instantly and with delight when he had asked if he could stay with her for a while, assuming (although Sam gave no explanation) that he wasn’t yet ready to face the flat he had shared with Maya. She had been keen to come and pick him up in a taxi (one of these days, she promised herself for the millionth time, she would get around to driving lessons), but Sam had declined, saying he would make his own way, and she had masked her disappointment with practised ease.

So they settled together, although Ruth saw very little of him really. Most days he went out for a while, claiming to be seeking fresh air, and Ruth got the impression that he was just wandering aimlessly a lot of the time. Certainly there was no suggestion he was meeting friends. Even Maya had stopped trying to re-establish contact, deterred by Sam’s total lack of response. When he was around, he spent much of his time shut away in his room. Through the door, she could hear him muttering lengthy monologues, apparently recording his thoughts for posterity. She had ventured in just once, tentatively bearing a cup of tea, and Sam had jumped in shock, hiding something behind his back and brushing his face with his sleeve, although he had welcomed her calmly enough. His distress had been muted, but clearly visible to a mother, and she had been unable to stop herself saying, "Sammy, love, I don’t know what’s bothering you, but I’m always here if you want to talk, you know." Something approaching a smile had creased the corners of his mouth at the childhood pet name, and his tone was warmer than usual as he thanked her, but he’d never taken her up on it.

Until last Sunday. Sam had been back at work for a week, albeit on light duties. The doctors had protested, but Sam had been adamant. "I can’t just sit around doing nothing any more, it’s driving me round the twist," he had flared, and Ruth, knowing her son’s horror of enforced inactivity, had backed him in his decision. She had hoped that this reconnection with his life would lift his mood, but if anything he seemed even more despondent and morose.

So there they were, sitting in uncompanionable silence, Sam staring blankly at a newspaper, Ruth pretending to read a book, furtively glancing his way from time to time. Finally, unable to bear the tension, she had opted for the direct approach. "How’s work going, Sam?" Quietly, gently, not really expecting a response.

To her surprise, he turned to face her, desperation etched across his face. "Oh God, Mum, I don’t know. None of it makes any sense."

She reached out, took his hand. "Tell me."

And he did. Words pouring out in one jumbled, tangled stream. A fantastic tale, of dreams and cars and cases and friends. As he spoke, he glowed, became animated – looked, she realised, alive for the first time since his awakening. Something about a barman, feelings. "I made a promise, Mum."

She answered him without thought, from the heart of a mother. "You always keep your promises, Sam." Kindly meant words that she now fervently wished unsaid. Although she doubted it would have made much difference anyway.

Twenty-four hours later, he was dead.

Ruth sighed, standing and pushing aside the reminiscences. Things to do. Avoiding the kitchen, unable to face the mess of sticky plates and half-drunk glasses of wine just yet, she made her way upstairs, stopped in front of Sam’s room, gathering her strength. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to go in since Sam’s death. Now was as good a time as any. Taking a deep breath, she pushed open the door.

There were signs of Sam everywhere, of course. His laptop on the desk. Dressing gown hanging on the back of the door. A jacket, draped neatly across the back of a chair. Nothing, though, that gave the impression he’d actually been living there. It might as well have been a hotel room, for all the personality he’d bestowed on it.

Ruth walked over to the desk, resting her hands lightly on the jacket, determinedly resisting the impulse to pick it up, bury her face in it. In front of her, poking out from under the laptop, a white envelope, one short word carefully written in Sam’s neat, precise hand. Mum.

She slid it out, turning it over. It was unsealed, the flap meticulously tucked into the body of the envelope. She drew out the single sheet of paper, unfolded it. Sat on the edge of the bed to read her son’s suicide note.

Mum


Dear Mum Mum

(It was a measure of his state of mind, Ruth thought, that her normally obsessively tidy son had left the crossings out in place, rather than starting again).

I’m not sure if I can explain this properly, but I owe it to you to try. I just can’t stay here any more. Believe me, I’ve tried, so hard, to make it work, but it can’t. I love you, mum, and I know how hard this must be for you, but please try to understand. It really is best this way.

I know it’s not enough, but I’m truly sorry. Be happy.

Sam

Ruth read the brief note through three times, a trembling hand clasped across her mouth in shocked disbelief, tinged with a very real anger. I know how hard this must be for you? Do you, Sam? Really? Explain to me how you know what it feels like for a mother to have to confront the fact that her only child hurled himself off a roof rather than stay with her. Be happy? How dare you? You have no right – none whatsoever – to tell me how to feel. Here, Sam, let me give your analytical mind something to chew on.

The pitifully short note clenched tight in her fist, Ruth almost ran out of Sam’s room and into her own, jerking open the drawer of her bedside cabinet, fishing around the assorted bits and pieces within, finally withdrawing a faintly yellow sheet of paper, held together in several places with tape. Unfolding it, she began to read aloud.

 

Darling Ruthie,

I don’t suppose this is going to make things any easier, but I owed it to you to try. I just can’t stay here any more. Don’t ask me to explain, the less you know the better. Just believe me, I’ve tried so hard to think of a way this can work, but it can’t. I’ll always love you, and I know life’s going to be tough for you now, but please try to understand. This really is for the best.

I’m sorry, love. I hope you can be happy. Kiss Sammy for me.

Yours forever

Vic

The last words no more than a whisper. She fell to her knees, on the bedroom floor, a letter clutched in each hand, the paper crackling as she brought her fists together, pulled her arms round her for protection. The only two men she had ever loved. Summed up right there, on two little pieces of paper. Oblivious to the passing of time, the setting sun, the fading light, Ruth Tyler curled herself up and rocked brokenly back and forth, the tears finally falling freely as the last of her illusions died.




Comments:


ex_emeriin213 at 2007-04-19 18:01 (UTC) (Link)
I've commented on how I loved this fic in Jumping Off, but, I was wondering if I could friend you? I hope you don't mind and I'm tinted on Dome of Stars by the way.
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-04-19 18:52 (UTC) (Link)
Love being friended! :D will friend back. Nice to be making the connections with who people are at TRA as well.
Using words like a trickster
liquorishflame at 2007-04-25 01:13 (UTC) (Link)

Lovey

This is just a lovely fic. Sweet and sad, and reminds us that LOM was more then just punch ups and snazzy cars :)
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-04-27 15:40 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Lovey

Thank you! :D Very glad you liked it. (Sorry for the delayed response, btw.)
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