Title: 3 o'clock High
Fandom: Guiding Light/General Hospital
Rating/Classification: gen, AU, crossover, something of a filler fic, one dirty word.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters.
Summary: A totally strange stand alone ficlet that cannot really be explained.
There is a vast nothingness beneath her, an abyss. She swings her legs, hands curling around the edge of the bridge, tapping a rhythm on the long unused railroad ties. The express train to nowhere doesn't make stops here anymore. "You're not supposed to be here," she says to the boy who crawls down from the platform to sit beside her.
"I guess I made a wrong turn at Albuquerque," he jokes, the corner of his lip turning up.
"It happens," she allows, as he digs around in the back pocket of his jeans for a half-crushed pack of cigarettes. He taps out two and she pulls out the one closest to her. It's a slender brown clove and when she inhales, it smells pungent and rich like one of her dad's cigars. He finds a lighter in another pocket and she holds her hair out of the way as she leans in toward the flame.
"What are *you* doing here?" he asks, as if he's been here every day of his life. Completely unconcerned.
"I'm not allowed to grow up," she confides, exhaling sugary smoke. It hangs in the air, in the darkness, and if she squints, it makes shapes. "This is where you come when you're stuck."
"You look plenty grown to me." He leers. His eyes are dark brown and appreciative and she remembers that somewhere between Then and Now, she went from brunette to blond, from nine to sixteen. She forgets, sometimes. Like that boy who came looking for his skis and vanished.
"If you come back, I'll be an old woman. Maybe dead." She points down into the swirl of nothing with her toe. "Back *there*, I'm still nine. Maybe seven."
"So this is Purgatory or something?" It's not a question that requires an answer. She couldn't give one anyway. She has no idea where this is...only that this is home. He holds his cigarette between two fingers as he inhales, like it's a joint. His hair is almost as long as hers, cut jaggedly, as if he took a knife to it. He hasn't shaved in days. If he stays here, he'll never have to. "What's your name?" he asks.
She flicks her half-smoked clove into the void, hoping it'll land on someone, burn a hole through them. They won't know why or how, but it's her way of shouting "I'm here. See me." Of course, they can't. "Lu," she murmurs, cocking her head. "Lu Spencer." She feels him start, surprised, and she shakes her head. "No relation," she assures before he can speak.
"How did you know what I was going to say?" The question is defensive. Oh, finally, he's not so comfortable here. The temporary ones never are. He stares at her with suspicion, wondering how in the world she plucked from his brain the words 'My mom's maiden name was Spencer.'
"Practice," she admits. "I have nothing but time on my hands. You should see me pull a rabbit out of my hat."
His clove follows hers into the abyss. He snorts, "Babe, you're not wearing a hat."
"Perceptive guy," she counters, with her own noise of disbelief. "So perceptive that you took a wrong turn and ended up here."
"Well, gee, since you're so nosy...I'm actually drowning," he admits. "My asshole of a stepdad shoved me off the pier and I can't swim."
Well. That makes sense. Nobody comes here voluntarily. There have been others who have drifted in and drifted out, shared their stories and a beer or a slice of pizza before the heart monitor kicks back on or somebody beats on their chest and wills them back to life. She sighs. And she hears it. That call from below. "Don't look now, but I think you're about to be rescued."
He tilts his head and she can tell he hears it, too. Like the scratching of a pencil on paper, the striking of letters on a keyboard. He looks at her...and, like all the others, he furrows his brow. They're always concerned before they forget her completely. "Will you be okay here?" he wonders.
He reaches out, tries to straighten a lock of her hair but it springs right back into a stubborn curl. If she thought it would do any good, she would cry. Yell. Beg him to stay because she's lonely.
She just shrugs. "I'll be."
That's more than most can ask for.
She watches him climb back up to the platform, the way he came. He walks along it until all she can see is the back of his shirt growing more and more faded, until all she can hear is coughing and gasping and the gurgle of water being willfully pushed out of a straining set of lungs.
"I'll be...waiting," she adds, softly.
She swings her legs, hands curling around the edge of the bridge, tapping a rhythm on the long unused railroad ties. The express train to nowhere doesn't make stops here anymore.
Maybe it never did.
July 27, 2005.