Incarnations of Lovebyscriptordelecto©
Author's Note: This piece does not contain erotic scenes. If you are looking for something a bit more carnal, please exit now. Otherwise, read on and please remember to vote! Thanks to everyone who has left comments and sent feedback on my other story! I promise I'll get back to it soon. This one was dying to be let out first!
Kara stared down at the stone before her, every ridge and mark forever embedded in her memory. She took a deep breath and tried to still her shaking hands. She was cold despite the beautiful summer day.
"I need your help..."
She heard the tremor in her voice and shrank away from her weakness. She squared her shoulders.
"I can't do this anymore. I can't function. Here you are and I can't even breathe, the pain is so much. Do you feel it?"
She felt the tears welling in her eyes once more. How many had she shed? How many little manifestations of her agony had wet the ground here? Had any of them made their way through the cold, hard earth to reach him? Did he know the grief that ate at her soul, even two years after he had left her?
Survivor guilt. That's what all of the so-called experts were telling her, had been telling her. They tried to put a generic label on the void that stood where her life had been, tried to compartmentalize her loss until it fit into tidy little boxes. She was tired of it, more than tired; exhausted.
Some of her friends were concerned that she was tired of living, that she was suicidal, but it was not living that had her so weary. Her life had, for all intents and purposes ended with the crash that had ripped him from her arms. It was draining; just moving from one moment to the next, pretending she was alive.
She was like a ghost that didn't know she was dead, haunting the places she had lived her life, going through the motions of living, yet not understanding why it was less than before.
She was ready now, to face what fate had placed before her. She was ready to move from limbo.
She knelt down next to the stone and ran her hand over the soft grass there, a caress, more for her than for him.
"I'm going now."
Her voice fell to a whisper.
"I love you, but I can't do this anymore."
More tears fell and she wiped at them with an impatient hand.
She stood and walked away from the cold headstone, trying to hold her head high.
William watched her kneeling beside the grave, her voice carrying softly on the wind, the words indiscernible. She stood and walked with dignity and grace towards her car, never noticing that he was there.
He waited until she was gone and walked on shaking legs to read the stone.
Richard Bennett Wallace Beloved Husband Adored Son
Our time was not enough
He shuddered. He had waited a long time to come here, to face the evidence of his memories from that night. Will ran a hand over his face. Dear God, how would she ever understand? Should he just leave her alone with her grief and sorrow? Would he make it worse if he tried to explain? How could he explain what he still didn't understand himself?
He thought of her, tears streaming, her pain still raw and fresh. He didn't want that for her. She was meant to smile.
He still remembered the first time he met her. They had a class together in college. He had bumped into her and knocked her books all over the floor. Awkward and clumsy, he had helped her pick them back up, mumbling apologies the whole time. When he glanced up at her, he was paralyzed by the radiance. Her smile was like the sun.
God, that was so long ago. Did she remember? He wondered. He decided that she probably hadn't thought of happier times for years now.
Tears streaming down his own face, he strode out of the cemetery, unsure and uncaring of his destination.
Over the last few months, Kara had tried returning herself to the world. She went out with friends, laughed at jokes, smiled at the appropriate times, but it was more of an act than her previous apathy was. She didn't feel anything. She was still going through the motions in the hopes that something would jolt her back to life. If she tried hard enough, maybe the laughs would be genuine; the smiles would warm enough to thaw her blood.
She returned to her little apartment and curled into her bed. The pretense of life was exhausting. Breathing was exhausting. She closed her eyes and let the abyss claim her.
"Don't give me that crap!"
Rick shook her. She was frightened and somehow thrilled at the same time. She had never seen this side of him.
Didn't he see that she was trying to save them both? She raised her chin and looked him in the eye, trying not to grab him and kiss him like he was her air.
"What crap? You know as well as I do that this will never work. We're too different, and I'm not the type of woman to be a plaything. I won't be one of a string of conquests."
The anger that darkened his beautiful face was impressive, nothing like the easy going expression he usually wore. It made him look dangerous, sexy. She let her eyes roam over his blond curls and tanned skin until she worked up the courage to meet his gaze. His blue eyes pierced her, leaving her feeling exposed, her every thought laid naked before him.
He pressed her body against the wall, pinning her arms over her head. Kara's heart was pounding rapidly in her chest.
"Do you really think so little of me?"
His voice had taken on an edge to match the cutting blue of his eyes.
Kara's breath was coming in short ragged bursts. Of course she didn't think that, but what if he changed his mind later? What if he left her? Wasn't it better to walk away now, before the hurt would kill her?
Rick read the series of expressions that crossed her face and his anger dissolved. He let go of her arms, sliding his hands down to frame her face, tangling in her hair.
"I'll never leave you Kara, you're my life."
He brought his lips down over hers and Kara's knees gave out. Rick slid an arm around her waist and pressed his weight against her. She let herself go, her arms coming up around his neck. He really meant it. He would never leave her.
Kara sat up in bed, her body still aching, and eyes streaming. She ran a hand over the scars that covered her side. He hadn't been able to keep his promise. He'd left her after all.
Will dragged the razor over his face, scraping away the dark stubble. Sometimes he wondered why he bothered, since it would be back in another few hours anyway. He sighed as he patted his face dry with the towel. It was the little things that kept him going, the daily routines made him feel like he was living.
He spent every moment of his conscious life longing to go to her. He stared at the blue eyes in the mirror, disgust evident on his face. Why would she even talk to him? How could she bring herself to forgive, let alone love, the man that had killed her husband?
Will turned his eyes upwards, the anger and frustration eating away at him.
"You really do have a sick sense of humor, you bastard."
He sighed and resigned himself to another day of hell. Maybe the memories would leave him alone today. He snorted. No. God or fate or whoever, really did have a twisted sense of humor. He wondered what new torment would be revealed today.
Kara pulled her coat tighter around her as she hurried towards the mall. The chill wind cut through the fabric like icicles. She hated this time of year. She could see why suicide rates rose during the holidays.
For those with families, the stress of finances and family obligations and gatherings was higher than any other time of year. For those alone, like her, the emptiness was amplified. Somehow, she thought sadly, the whole point had been lost all around.
She was trying to go ahead and get her shopping done as soon as possible. She had already picked up gifts for most of her friends. Now she was looking for something special for her assistant.
She shook herself out of her musings as she almost passed the little boutique that Susan liked so much. Entering, she strolled slowly through the little store, searching for something that caught her eye.
She gave a little gasp as she ran right into someone. Strong hands reached out to steady her and she looked up prepared to thank and then apologize to her victim. Vivid blue eyes met hers, widening in recognition. Will stepped back from her, his gaze wary.
Her heart plummeted to her stomach. Shock kept her from acting on her first instinct, which was to rage at him for standing there, looking perfect and healthy, while Rick was gone and she was alone, to ask why he'd done the cowardly thing and left town after the accident. She hadn't seen him since the hospital, over two years ago. She'd heard that his head injury had caused some problems, that he'd spent a long time in recovery.
Her hand strayed to her side where she absently stroked the scars, now hidden from sight. Intellectually she knew it wasn't his fault, but her heart had difficulty accepting something as sensible as intellect. It hurt to see his face. She could see the hurt in his face as well.
She looked away, her eyes searching desperately for something else to rest on.
His voice trailed off, his eyes closing and he turned abruptly to leave.
Will stopped, his body rigid with tension, like he was waiting for the blows to start falling.
Kara glanced out the window at the people passing by, her thoughts about the loss of the meaning of the season still echoing in her head.
She walked up behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder.
"It's been a long time Will."
He turned his head back towards her, waiting.
"Maybe we could go somewhere and...catch up."
It sounded lame to her and she cringed. She wasn't sure she was strong enough to do what she was suggesting, but she was willing to try. Rick wouldn't have wanted her to blame Will, she knew that.
She felt his shoulders relax under her hand and he nodded, still not speaking.
Kara looked across the table at the man who had been Rick's best friend. He had said no more than two words. His eyes were downcast and he was tearing his napkin into little shreds. She supposed she understood his lack of communication, it wasn't as though she were babbling either. It was such a difficult situation that they faced.
She decided to go ahead and get the hard part out of the way.
"It wasn't your fault."
She watched as his hands stilled. He kept his head down. Kara reached across the table and placed her hand on top of his.
He still refused to look at her.
She gave his hand a squeeze.
The question fell so softly from her lips that she almost didn't hear it herself.
He suddenly met her gaze and her breath caught in her chest. A memory flashed in her mind. Her books scattered across the floor in psych class, and the sudden piercing blue gaze that had started her heart pounding. She shook her head. Why would that recollection surface now?
She pulled her hand slowly out of his, the awkwardness fully restored between them. Maybe she was asking too much of herself. No. She firmed her resolve. She was going to think about someone besides herself for a change.
She cleared her throat.
"So...how have you been doing? I...mean, well.... I heard you had a tough time recovering, something about your head injury."
Mentally, she smacked herself. Smooth. Really smooth.
Will picked at the napkin for a few more minutes. Kara was beginning to think he wouldn't answer when he finally spoke. The words came slowly, as though they had been packed away for a long time, and he was pulling them out now to look them over.
Her heart dropped. She hadn't known it was anything like that.
He gave a wry, humorless, smile.
"Yeah, I know, you only see stuff like that in the movies. The doctors weren't sure if it was because of the head trauma, or just my way of dealing with the accident."
Will gave a careless shrug.
"They wouldn't tell me everything that happened right after; they don't like to influence memory recall."
He took a long sip of his drink.
"It wasn't until much later that I found out about Rick...and you. You can only avoid your past for so long, even if you can't remember it."
Kara's heart went out to him. She couldn't imagine finding out you'd lost your best friend the way he had, and not remembering him. God, memories were all she had left, and Will hadn't even had that.
"The doctor's all said my memories would come back when and if I was ready. In the mean time, I built a new life. I went to work every day, I ate, I slept, I made friends, but all the while, there was this big void. A question mark where my life should have been."
Kara leaned forward, and looked at him intently.
"You said there was a void..." Her eyebrows drew together. "And you recognized me."
He looked down, the silence stretching between them.
"I started getting flashes about six months ago. Little things, like bits of a dream that you try to hold on to when you wake up. I get more almost every day."
Tears welled in her eyes.
"But Will, that's great."
Those blue eyes snapped up to meet hers and she felt that electroshock again.
The expression on his face left her in no doubt that he was in pain.
"Oh God, is it the accident? Is that what you're remembering?"
Will's eyes were swimming, and she sat helpless as he got choked up. The tears that had been threatening, spilled from her eyes and fell unchecked to the table.
He gave her a pleading look, one she didn't understand. She felt her heart pound in response and didn't know what to say. She wasn't sure what was happening. She reached a hand across the table towards his.
When he stood suddenly, leaving money on the table to cover their drinks, she couldn't find the words to make him stay. He gave her a long look, and then he was gone, leaving her to stare at the space where he had just been.
Will got into his car and pounded his fist into the steering wheel. He dropped his head into his hands and gasped as the sobs wracked his body. Oh God. Why? How many times had he asked that question? He couldn't even sit across the table from her without.....
She had to think he was a world class nut case. He dragged a few calming breaths into his lungs. Maybe that was for the best. He really didn't think he could pull off the role of best friend to the grieving widow.
Starting the car, he made his way home to crawl into bed, hoping that the safety of sleep would give him a brief respite, not that it usually did. He didn't know why he expected anything different now.
Kara stared at the ceiling. It looked exactly the same as it had for the last hour and a half. Throwing off the covers, she crawled out of bed. She glanced over at the clock on her bedside table. Two-thirty-five. Great. She had been mulling over the strange conversation she'd had with Will. The last few moments of it bothered her. She didn't understand why he had opened up to her so much and then just walked away.
Any blame she had been harboring for him had evaporated in the face of his vulnerability and his suffering. Why wouldn't regaining his memories be cause for celebration? Unless she had been right and he was remembering the accident and nothing else. She was no expert, but even she knew that could be traumatic, but wouldn't it still be healthy on some level, even if it was painful?
She fired up her laptop and checked her printer, preparing to find everything she could on the topic of amnesia.
Will shut his computer monitor off and turned to stare out the window of his office. He was better off staying far away from her. Yeah, right. If that were true, then why did he have to work so hard to convince himself? Why had he gone for a week without sleeping worth a damn?
Because he needed her and every glance in the mirror was a reminder of why he couldn't have her. The answer crept quietly into his head.
Every fragment of memory that exploded in his head was payment toward a one way ticket to the crazy house. He was tired of the doctors and the experts poking and prodding into his mind. No one could help him. There was no one like him out there. Oh, the head shrinks would point out that no two cases were the same, but that was psycho bullshit, at least from his perspective.
He still told them what they wanted to hear. If he told them the truth, they'd lock him up and keep him under a mental microscope for the rest of his days. It was easier and safer to keep playing accident trauma victim.
He had to stay away from her. They would both be better off.
They would both be better off.
Kara nodded to herself, the decision made. It would be best for them to spend time together. As the only two survivors of a horrible accident, one that left its scars both outside and in, maybe they could find some kind of closure. Maybe they could finally begin to heal.
All of the time with grief counselors and psychologists hadn't helped her past losing the love of her life or his best friend. All of this time, she thought he'd been hiding from her, how could she even have fathomed that he didn't remember her. Shame washed over her. God, how could she have been so selfish that she didn't know how much it had cost him?
She tried to console herself that she did try to check on him, but the doctors had kept her away at the hospital. He hadn't been released by the time the funeral took place. Kara had spent so much time in a cloud of grief after that, always meaning to go see him, but the anger had set in. She found herself blaming him, playing irrational games of what-if.
By the time she plucked up the courage to try again, he'd been released. His apartment was empty, and he'd left no forwarding information with the landlord. Will had simply vanished, and Kara found herself caught in a cycle of grief and self pity.
It was time now to break that cycle. No more half-measures.
His sleep was restless. Images of bold blue eyes and a red curtain of hair that felt like strands of silk flowing through his fingers consumed him. He could taste her lips under his and smell the perfume of her skin, a scent that had always intoxicated him.
After hours of fitful dreams, he dragged himself out of bed. Maybe a run out in the chill would clear this fever from his veins, even for a few precious hours.
It was getting harder to deal with his losses as the memories continued to flood his mind. Sometimes they hit him in violent flashbacks and sometimes it was like looking through a gauze curtain. The images were there, but hazy.
This week had brought more pain, adding to the already cumbersome burden upon his weary shoulders. He had lost his best friend, the one person who had known him for the whole of his life, and accepted him for who and what he was without question. Unconditional love like that was not only uncommon, it was rare.
He had impressions of them playing together as children, as co-conspirators in high school and then college. He also had images of the two of them together with Kara, times when they were all out together or lounging around the house watching TV and drinking beer.
Just the recollection of her laughing blue eyes was enough to make him sweat, even in near freezing temperatures. He picked up the pace, driving himself harder as his feet beat out a tattoo over the cold ground. Even as he sprinted, he recognized that there were some demons you just couldn't outrun.
When he realized he was close to the end of his route, he slowed to a walk. His decision was reaffirmed. He just had to stay clear of Kara, whether the demons still followed or not, it was the only chance he had of survival.