Character(s): Sam Hughes, Gabriela “Law” Laurel.
Warnings: Mental illness/struggles/trauma (AGAIN)
Prompts: Chocolate #9 – Resentment
Toppings: Caramel (TECHNICALLY this is post-Part 1, but it’s also pre-Part 3??? I’m claiming anyway.)
Once, just once, Law would like to come home from a long day and find Sam doing something other than moping.
She supposes that might never happen, but it’s a dream.
Today, Sam is sitting on the sofa, a photo album spread out over the coffee table, a cup of wine in one hand as she turns the pages with the other.
Law recognizes the album from afar, recognizes the smiling face of Mikey, recognizes the spiral Sam is facing down.
She doesn’t have the time or the energy to manage it today.
Law hooks her coat on the peg, brings the couple of bags of groceries she grabbed on the way home from work across to the kitchen counter and puts them down with a small thump that seems to startle Sam from her thoughts. “Where’d you get that?” she asks, glancing over, eyeing the album. If it was something Sam had yesterday, Law would have seen it already, which means it’s new.
“Mikey’s parents brought it by,” Sam says quietly. She sets her glass down and Law flicks her gaze from the album to the glass to the bottle, wondering just how drunk Sam is tonight. “I think we should tell them.”
Law sighs. “Tell them what?” she says, more irritated than anything as she starts unpacking the groceries.
“You know,” Sam says, “the truth.” She gets up off the sofa, brings the album over and sets it down on the counter by the bag. She makes no move to help put the groceries away.
“Yeah, you wanna be committed that bad?” Law says, slamming the fridge door shut and turning to look at her. “’Oh yes, Mister and Missus Brown, we know exactly where your missing son is and we’ve known all this time! He’s probably in a whole other world with magic and dragons and wars, and we fought in that war, which is why we’re both fucking batshit now. What do you mean we’re having a trauma response to losing our best friend? What’s with the van coming to take us away? Oh no!’” The sarcasm is probably a little too thick, a little too harsh, but they’ve been through this conversation before, and they always wind up back here time and again.
“Well, we can show them how my hair grows out pink now because magic changed my genes!” Sam snaps. “I’d love to see them explain that away by just saying we’re crazy.”
Law takes a deep breath. She’s so close, so close to getting her master’s and then she can move out, leave this stupid flat and Sam and all of this behind forever. Maybe even date. Maybe find some nice girl to settle down with. “If you think you can convince two grieving parents to look at your stupid pink roots,” she says, “you’re more batshit than I already thought.”
“Stop saying that,” Sam almost snaps. “We’re not batshit, we’re—”
“Traumatized?” Law says. “That’s what my therapist says anyway! And she doesn’t even know what we’ve actually been through, she just thinks we’re traumatized because of what happened to Mikey.”
“Aren’t we?” Sam says.
Law goes quiet. She packs the bread away, tucks some cans in under the sink, and stuffs the bags into the holder to take back to the store at some point.
“I feel it,” Sam says. “So why not embrace it and at least try?”
“I don’t know what you want,” Law says, turning to look at her. “Do you think it’d even make anything better? Do you think them knowing he’s probably stuck in another world, unable to get back for whatever reason, or — worse still — got disintegrated halfway back here because of some unforeseen or un-warned for consequence of fucking magic portal travel will make them feel better?” Sam blinks at her a few times. Saying maybe got disintegrated was probably a mistake, but she’s in it now. “Does it make you feel better?”
“No,” Sam says flatly, “but I’m sick of lying.”
“And I’m sick of this conversation,” Law snaps at her. “I’m sick of having this same conversation over and over and over again.” She turns away, running her hands through her curly hair and breathing. “But you know what? It’s fine. I’ll be out of here before long. Just a few more months and we can get out of each other’s hairs.”
When she turns back, Sam is staring at her, eyes wide and lips parted. She looks horrified, maybe even scared.
“You’re leaving?” Sam says.
Law hesitates. “Well, it’s not like you want me here,” she says, possibly a little harsher than it had to be. “We don’t even get along. All we do is fight over—” She breaks off, licking her lips and shaking her head. “It’s all we do.”
She looks back over at Sam, and she’s blinking at her slowly. “Oh,” she says. “I didn’t know.”
Law offers her a deeply skeptical glance. “Really?” she says. “You didn’t notice we just fight?”
“No, I—” Sam bites her lower lip and Law’s gaze lingers on it a moment, noticing for the first time how when she isn’t wearing lipgloss the chaps and bite marks become more obvious, the scars of the stress she’s been carrying like a weight that’s been aging her slowly, bearing down on her until she’s half buried in the dirt beneath their feet. “I just thought one day we’d…”
“We’d?” Law prompts, softer now.
“I thought one day it’d fix,” Sam says and shrugs. “I miss—” She breaks off and swallows. “I miss my best friend. You and Mikey, you’re the only people I’ve ever trusted completely, and he’s— but I still—”
Law’s stomach turns. Do you think it’d even make anything better? her own voice echoes in the back of her head, in the parts of her mind that she’s tried so hard to— “Well, if you want our friendship back, you could start by sharing your wine bottle,” Law says with a playful huff.
Sam perks up slightly. “Wine and TV? I was watching Schitt’s Creek.”
Law pulls a face and huffs. “Baby steps, Samantha,” she teases. “We’re not quite back to tortureville yet.”
Sam rolls her eyes. “If you just gave it a chance, you’d like it—”
Law cuts her off. “I’ve given it chances, I don’t like it,” she says and finds a bag of crisps for a snack, leaning against the counter as she opens it to eat. She doesn’t look at Sam. “We can get it back,” she says after a moment.
“Yeah?” Sam says hopefully.
“If you want.” Law looks over at her. “If you don’t resent me.”
Sam shakes her head. “It’s trauma, like you said,” she says. “We’re both…” She trails off, eyes glazing over for a moment, then snaps herself out of it and plasters on a smile, the same horribly fake smile she’s worn every day since the day they arrived back, since that moment on the concrete floor of the closed mall, Law staring up at the glass ceiling over which the stars — the supposedly correct stars — could be seen and Sam… Sam running around, screaming Mikey’s name as if he’d reply.
Sam, Law thinks, is still screaming Mikey’s name even now.
If she knew—
Law offers her a crisp. “Eat,” she says. “It’s cheese and onion. Your favorite.”
“That’s a lie.” Sam eats it anyway, crunching away.
“We could get couples therapy, or whatever they call it when you’re not dating,” Law says after a moment. “If you want to try.”
Sam looks up at her, a genuine smile alighting on her lips for a split second. “I want to try.”
Law smiles back at her. “Me too.”