This will never be what it was in my head, but I can't fiddle with it any longer; therefore, posting recklessly. Thank yous go to Trish, for the early beta, Ali for listening and such, and Doqz, just because he is himself. Archiving: Ali/Luba, if you want, it's yours.

Maerere, "to lament"
by Lise

"He spoke, and laid his hair in the hands of his beloved companion,
and stirred in all of them the passion of mourning..."
--Homer's Iliad, Book 23.

You aren't surprised that most people don't realize nothing has changed.

To your eyes, nothing has changed. The plants are mostly dead, but this can be fixed, eventually, with enough time and a lot of luck. You hum as you gather up the stalks of plants, carefully, to see if they can be mended. The humming has no tune.

Bobby has avoided you all day, because looking at you makes him hurt, makes his face crumple and his hands come up to cover his eyes. You know that he is hurting by the way he carries himself, as if each step is almost too painful to make. You've watched that step often, in many people, and you know that Bobby's pain is fresh, that Bobby's wound is raw. You can appreciate it, even as you can feel your own steps betraying how numb, steady, you are. Things haven't changed. You aren't walking jerky at all.

Your steps take you to the kitchen, where you put down your full basket to pick up an empty one. You hear, "I'm worried about Lorna."

You pause, trying to tell yourself that you don't care what comes next. You peer in, and see Domino flicking the knife she's using into the basin of water, laying out the steaks on the chopping block. Nate is scowling at his own hunk of meat. He says, irritated, "Why?"

Domino scowls right back. "She hasn't said a thing since Alex--"

Nate cuts her off. "She didn't say anything before him. What fucking difference does it make?"

His voice sounds tired, you know, and you know that something happened to Alex. You haven't been thinking about it, because until someone tells you, you can pretend it didn't happen, just like you were ignoring him before it happened. Nate's right, when he says you didn't speak with Alex while he was here.

Domino is trying to comfort him, with a laying on of hands. You slip out, knowing his anger covers something, and being afraid of it nonetheless. Your knees tremble all day.

You can't feel. It's not in your nature any more. You pick up the apples, carefully, methodically, and chant inside your head, you can't feel. You don't care.

That Alex was not your Alex.

When Bobby comes through the garden, eyes darting left and right, you hold out a piece of fruit solemnly. His eyes are rimmed red, and you can see into him -- straight through him. This Alex belonged to Bobby, you think, and you would pity Bobby except, you can't.

He takes the apple, and it bruises a little in his grip. He says, "Thank you."

You don't say, "You're welcome."

People don't notice that you don't speak. You like it that way. People generally say, "Lorna, would you do this for me?" and you go off and do it, and that's the extent of it. Nate is sometimes cruel in his looks, but not today.

He doesn't speak to you at breakfast, or lunch. You're grateful. The cutlery you hold clatters gently on your plate as you rest it down. Kitty glances at you once, but is wrapped up in her own thoughts. You saw her locking away Irene's pages, earlier, and shoving them under her bed while she was crying. Now, at lunch, she is distracted and more alone than ever. You know Kitty has given something up, this day. Her crying confirmed it.

You don't look at Bobby either, because he seems to want to be alone, even in this crowd. That's maybe the one thing he wants that you can give him.

When you hear about the death, officially, it's at dinner, because you're sitting around the table and spooning grey liquid into your mouth. Nate opens his mouth, and after expounding heavily on the work that you all have to do to rebuild, he says, "Someone should go out there. To see if there's a body."

Bobby's hands tremble, eyes shiny, and he says quietly, "I miss him already."

You keep eating, for approximately a minute and a half. Kitty is talking about not knowing him well.

You say shakily, "I knew him well," though it's not entirely true.

Bobby does not refute your claim, though he seems lost in his own thoughts. You put your palm, flat, against the table, to push yourself up.

Quietly getting up from the table is easy, and going into the room Kitty and you share is easy. Your feet take you to your bed without effort. It's what comes next that's hard, because you find yourself sitting on the bed and staring at the walls. You slowly remember Alex, his smile. You can remember a lot of years of Alex, they're all stored in your head, and they all replay themselves. A cold arm wraps around your stomach, and dimly you recognise it as your own.

You sit, and remember Alex the way you didn't let yourself while he was still alive. In your throat, deep in your throat, you think you start keening. Really quietly.

Some time passes. It always does.

That's how Bishop finds you, sitting cross-legged and dry eyed, and chest hurting so much you can't breathe. Raw.

He takes you up in his arms, and lays back on the bed gently, and you curl into his side and ball your hands up in his clothing. You breathe shallowly, hyperventilate into his neck, and your eyes are hot and tight and hurting, too. Still relatively dry. No sobbing.

Your back curls so you can touch him, and he puts arms around you and lets you lay however you want, lets you whimper, lets you kick around and move and try and get away from whatever it is that holds you down. He holds you close.

He holds you close and you press against him, keening. You may be speaking. You may be saying things, low and wet and harsh, in the back of your throat, but it all sounds like "I can't," in your ears. You aren't sure.

He kisses your forehead, and then, eyes wet and hurting and tense, you kiss his mouth, feeling your hands clench and your arms clench. He strokes your back, kissing you softly -- letting you move restless against him while he lays on his back, still and quiet and wonderful.

You're tasting him, kissing him again, and you press your body against his. When he touches you now, you moan high and desperate, and it's still quiet -- but now you want to be naked beside him, your body has a bit of flame within it. Your eyes are wet, and he doesn't speak, makes little 'shhhing' noises into your hair. His lips are so soft and comforting.

He rolls the two of you over, your feet kicking uselessly, and covers you with his body, and you can feel it, the fire in your chest and throat, face wet and salty. You're warm, the tension draining away slowly with skin against yours. You press against him, wanting more, gasping with it, and you're tumbling, falling, tumbling.

You want him badly. You might be sobbing.

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