Usually, physical activity helped drain her mind, clear her head. In times of emotional crisis, her solution was to go to the gym and stretch herself, push herself, harder, faster, longer, until she could hardly stand up.
It didn’t work this time.
An hour on the treadmill only served to make her calves ache and her ankles twinge. She tried to run, tried to get away, tried to forget that all-consuming feeling of being trapped within herself.
ohgodohgod can’t move can’t breath someone hear me please help me helphelphelphelp.
They locked her up in a cell, but it didn’t matter. She had already been locked up, a prisoner inside her own body, with no way out. But, still she’d fought, shouted, screamed, pushed against the iron will that confined her.
It didn’t do any good.
No one heard.
She turned the treadmill off, breath coming out in pained gasps, but it wasn’t enough. The aches and the pain and the pounding in her chest and head weren’t enough to convince her that she could move, that she could feel. Weren’t enough to make her believe that she was finally free. Because she could never be free. It would always be inside her, somewhere, that feeling of panic and terror and utter helplessness. She hadn’t been able to escape then, and she couldn’t escape now.
She moved over to the punching bag, not bothering with gloves as she slammed her fists into the bag. The pain helped bring her back a little more, a little closer to living and being and feeling again. She could hit. She could kick. She could fight.
Like she hadn’t been able to before.
She’d tried. She’d struggled as hard as she could, but it hadn’t been enough. She hadn’t been enough. She hadn’t been quick enough, smart enough, strong enough.
Forever, she’d lost. Lost a part of herself that she hadn’t even known she’d needed.
Now, she was broken. Not shattered, because Sam Carter didn’t shatter. But she was chipped, fractured, cracked in a way that she didn’t think she could ever fix.
She punched the bag again, hitting it repeatedly with a frantic volley of hits, relentlessly throwing all her energy into the movement until her legs simply gave out from under her and she collapsed against the bag, shaking as she slid down to the floor.
And then she heard footsteps.
She knew it was him. Knew that he would come find her, no matter where she was. She didn’t know if she’d wanted him to or not, only had known that he would.
She felt him sit beside her, not saying anything. Not yet.
They sat in silence for a few minutes. She finally raised her head, but didn’t look at him. She didn’t know if she could. Instead, she stared at the light hanging from the ceiling across the room, hoping that, somehow, just a little of its heat and light could find its way to her. She hadn’t been warm since it had taken over. All she’d felt was an all consuming, icy numbness. She didn’t know if she’d ever be warm again, not truly warm. Part of that cold would always be in her, deep inside her where she tried to lock it away but couldn’t. Because it was stronger than she was.
“Your knuckles are bleeding.”
She glanced down. They were. Her hands were cut and bruised from punching. She hadn’t even noticed. She detachedly observed the stark contrast of the bright red blood against her pale skin.
“Punching bag.” The words came out raspy, her voice scratchy from disuse. She hadn’t felt the need to talk since it had left. Had been more than a little scared that she’d hear its voice, and not her own.
“You should put something on them. Antiseptic, a band-aid. Just to be safe.” His voice was soft, kind, and infinitely gentle. It nearly broke her.
She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter.” And it didn’t. What were a few little cuts and bruises compared to everything else? She couldn’t distinguish the pain on the outside from the pain on the inside. She welcomed both. Anything was better than the feeling of not controlling her own body, the chill, the numbness. Anything.
They sat in silence for another minute. Then, he said softly, almost hesitantly, yet in a voice firm with resolve, “It matters. You matter.”
She closed her eyes against the tears his words brought. “I’m not me anymore.”
“Bull.” She finally looked at him, a little surprised at the intensity behind that one word. He met her eyes squarely, his gaze intent. “She may have been in you, may have controlled you, but she was not you. You’re still you. She can’t change that. Don’t let her change that.”
She wanted to protest, wanted to show him that no, she wasn’t the same, that she could never be the same. She was defeated, shaken, broken. Cold. Still so cold.
So she looked away, said nothing.
He sighed. “Carter.” He waited until she looked back at him, and finally he saw everything in her eyes, everything she tried and failed to hold back and forget. “Come here.”
She tried to resist the temptation, but she couldn’t. Yet again, she wasn’t strong enough.
But strangely, this time she didn’t care.
And when he wrapped his arms around her, and she leaned into his side, she wasn’t cold anymore. She wasn’t broken. She wasn’t beaten.
Somehow, there was hope, and she thought, maybe, she would be okay.
|Genres:||Angst, Character Study, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene/Episode-Related, Pre-Relationship (het)|
|Summary:||She wanted to protest, wanted to show him that no, she wasn’t the same, that she could never be the same. She was defeated, shaken, broken. Cold. Still so cold. Takes place after In the Line of Duty. S/J friendship or beginning romance.