When I'm Lost At Sea

There are many grey areas in life, but some things are fixed.
One of the universal truths is the fact that it is very difficult to sob, with a girl outside your door.


He tried to hold it in, swallowing the pain in great hiccups. Despite the anguish, a little, proud, part of him didn’t want her to think him unmanly. Then, as she started to sing, his crying genuinely eased.

At first he was put in mind of his mother, singing to him when he was tiny, before she ran away all those years ago. And his father singing to him and Jacob, after she had.
Then he was put in mind of his ex-wife singing to their own kids, and singing soft mumbled lullabies to them himself.
Finally, those memories floated away and he was simply focused on Jade's voice, and the present. He didn’t know if she was singing for him, or out of boredom, but he found comfort in the tone, and the words he could make out when she sang up. Her voice was gentle and friendly, and her Irish lilt cut through his muggy despair, like a lighthouse through fog. A beacon to home in on.

Initially he’d tentatively toyed with the idea of asking her to leave him alone, so he could have a good cry with no-one about to hear it, but gradually he was lulled, and though his mind was numb and only around 60% operational, he realised her kindness, and it touched him.

He decided he couldn’t leave her out there all night, but feeling barely able to speak – Gods he hoped he wasn’t reverting to his childhood muteness, the thought frightened him – he lie and listened a while longer.

At one point, when one of the songs had come round again, he thought he’d heard another man out there, and tried to stifle the sobs which still occasionally spasmed through his body.
Then, after what sounded like a gentle conversation (which was also weirdly comforting to listen to, despite the fact he couldn't make out the words) the man-voice went away.

After another Jade-Jukebox hit, he got up and padded to the door. Wretched and bedraggled, barefoot and in his grey jogging pants, wiping his eyes in futile hope that perhaps she might not notice he’d been crying.

Then he opened the door.

Doctor Jade Black was lying on the floor in children’s nightwear and bunny slippers.

It was a cheerful and welcome sight, a cosiness sticking two fingers up at his grief, and a sharp contrast to the gunmetal grey corridor.

“Oh!” She realised the door had finally opened and with a smile, clambered to her feet. “’Bout time too.”
“Uh…” he began.
After a while he realised he wasn’t going to say any more. He didn’t even know what he’d intended to say to begin with.
“I wanted to check you were all right.” She said by way of breezy reply, as if he’d been conversing like a normal person.
He nodded. “Mmf.”
“Well,” she said kindly “… you don’t look it.”
He let out an almost imperceptible, sad, gentle little snort.
“… You look like you need a hug" she told him.

He raised his eyebrows, feeling like they were moving more slowly than usual.
Alex didn’t need a hug, Alex was tough, Alex was fine, Alex could look after himself, Alex didn’t need anyone, Alex made it through alone, Alex didn’t even like humans, Alex could survive without hug-

She hugged him.

He closed his eyes and took a deep, shuddering, breath, and wrapped his arms around her in return.

Alex was hurting.
Alex was lost.
Alex was no good.
Alex was a child.
Alex had killed his brother.
Alex had broken his family.
Alex was separated from anyone who cared about him by three million years.

And yet...
Here was this plucky little doctor, bothering to be kind to him in the middle of the shit sandwich.

He wanted to give her something to make her feel as pleased as he was grateful. But what did he have to give? He doubted she'd want a spanner.

He wanted to ask her how Jay was.
He wanted to ask what her announcement had said.
He wanted to tell her she smelled of freshness.
He wanted to tell her that everything was going to be okay, just in case she didn't know it.
He wanted to tell her that he was okay, even though he wasn't completely sure of that himself.
He wanted to thank her for being there.

But he didn’t say anything, the words just wouldn’t come. In their place was a big ball of emotion - starting in his chest, and reaching right up under his jaw - which he had no idea how to deal with.

Instead of saying anything, he just hugged her tighter.

She began to cough. “Achachh, I just got a face-full of chest!”
"Sorry" he said, finally managing to croak something.

"Come in for a cuddle?" He suggested.
Then he realised what he'd said. He was too emotionally drained to be particularly embarrassed, but he was 20% awkward. "Cuppa. I meant come in for a cup of tea."

"Now that... was a Freudian slip if ever I heard one." Jade winked.


<... I hear your voice, and it carries me. ♫
Tag Jade. Dang my slowness, it’s past ̶m̶i̶d̶n̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ one. Sorry.>

<Also sorry for not setting up some more interactive things just yet for Artie etc, it's a bit difficult to write them in when Alex is in this tough place. I will find a way soon though. Maybe some other people could get talking to him in the meantime?>

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