In Bathing Light And Naked Red
by Signe

Syd wants to relax. She wants to brush out her wig-crushed hair, stretch out her body and relax. And she wants to do it the way they do in the movies or in those daytime soaps where everyone is rich, sipping chilled champagne and soaking in thick bubbles. You can't smell the bubbles in the movies of course, but she knows they must be some heady exotic scent, rare orchids blended with ylang ylang or the like.

And then, of course, there is the back rub. She doesn't have a complete picture of that, no face that she imagines behind her, she just knows that the arms are slim but strong, the hands move in ever decreasing circles, and they'll rub so gently against her skin that she'll fall asleep resting against them.

But she can't do it. She can't relax in her own bathroom.

It's not the same house, but the bathtub is in the same place, and it's the same color, and she sees, she sees…


Danny's. Will's. Splattered on the white tiles.

Blood smells, a brutal, hot smell. Nothing removes it.

She hears…

Gunshots and screams. The screams are Francie's even though she knows Francie's screams would have been over months earlier, unheard by Syd.

It's not like it is in the movies.

Syd doesn't have nightmares. She doesn't feel scared each day as she heads off to work, even though she should by rights. She doesn't find her daydreams taken over by Sloane or Sark or the craziness that is (was) Rambaldi. Her hands never tremble.

It's just the fucking bathtub that beats her.

She walks into the bathroom, a determined set to her shoulders. Turns both taps, hot running fast, a trickle of cold. There's no bubble bath, so she squeezes in Herbal Essences shampoo for bubbles and a way too generous splash of BLV. The scent is over-strong in the dense steam and she feels mildly nauseous.

She strips, methodically, but leaves the clothes in a tangled heap on the tiles. It seems more fitting than folding them. She piles up her hair and clips it out of the way.

The water is too hot, but she gets in anyway, and lies, stiffly, watching her skin turn red and mottled.

She starts to weep, quietly, thinking of the days when her life revolved around Danny and Will and Francie, when it was simple, and relaxation wasn't such an impossible thing. When she would loll in the bathtub after class and Francie would perch on the side and share a tub of Peanut Butter 'n Chocolate ice-cream (not coffee like that last day), or Danny would slip in the room and idly splash water over her (she was covered in blood, not water, the last time she saw him, his blood).

There are no untainted memories left.

She slumps, defeated, while the water grows cold around her.


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