Rating: Green Cortina.
Pairing: Sam/Maya. Gen.
Spoilers: None - HOWEVER, I am increasingly convinced that the premise raised here is actually real in canon, and yet to be revealed. But this is speculation rather than an actual spoiler.
NB: angst alert!!
Sam surfaced from an uneasy sleep to the sound of sing-song chanting from across the room. All too familiar with the source, he opened his eyes reluctantly, despising himself for the wave of terror that crashed into him, every single bloody time, even now he knew what to expect.
A little girl sat on his scratched formica tabletop, legs dangling and swinging back and forth, her arms clutching the smug-looking ugly clown.
He glanced at the TV out of pure reflex, seeing there the confirmation of what he already knew. Focused again on the girl on the table.
"Go away," he muttered. Then, louder, "Go AWAY! Just leave me alone, for Christ's sake."
"Alone, Sam? Is that really what you want? You think you're alone now - you have no idea what real loneliness is. I've got a secret. Do you want to hear?"
"No." Sam had been sure of many things in his life, but in this uncertain world this was one of the few things he was absolutely confident of. "I really don't."
Damn. He was breaking one of his own rules. He'd promised himself that he would not engage with this nightmare child. He'd never been that fond of children anyway. And he knew just how to deal with this one. Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, Sam covered them firmly with the heels of his hands. Pressed until stars danced. Waited, breathing evenly, for a slow count of ten. And, triumphant, confident, opened them.
"What are you doing?" The girl was peering at him curiously. Sam sighed.
"Nothing," he answered wearily. "Look, could you please just go? I'm tired, it's the middle of the night, and whatever your big secret is, I just don't want to know." He lay back on the shabby bed, ostentatiously turning onto his side away from the girl, in the forlorn hope that she might take the hint.
A click. A static hiss. Then, a voice he knew from his dreams, and Sam found himself on his knees in front of the television without realising he'd moved, as an achingly familiar, beautiful face appeared in front of him.
"Sam? Sam, I know you can't hear me." The little girl looked on as Sam raised one arm, stroked a trembling finger gently along the cheek of Maya's unreachable image.
"I wish I could reach you, but I know now you won't come back. I need to tell you this, though - you have to know. I have to try, at least."
A tingle of foreboding permeated Sam's body. He swallowed harshly, moisture gathering unbidden in his wide eyes. Suddenly he knew what was coming. "No," he whispered. "No, please. Don't say it, Maya. Please."
"I'm pregnant, Sam. Four months, now. I'm going to have our child. That's what I was trying to tell you, the morning that - that -". She paused, struggling to continue. Tears ran unchecked and unnoticed down Sam's face, dripping from his chin onto the grubby, stained carpet. Both his hands were pressed hard against the screen, fingers slightly curled as if he could somehow claw his way inside and scramble through.
"I won't come back again, Sam. I have to think of the child now. When he's old enough, I'll tell him about you. That you loved us both, but - but that you had to go away."
She leaned in, very close to the screen now, and Sam could see round her eyes the redness that he recognised from the mirror - the redness of sleepless nights and too many tears.
"Sam. I'll always love you. If you know nothing else, know that."
Her fingertips came up, and for a moment the two hands met through the unyielding, unforgiving glass. A shock of pure happiness jolted through Sam, catching him unawares, and he smiled through the mist that blurred Maya's face. Indistinctly he say her eyes widen, her lips part in reciprocated surprise. "Sam?" on an incredulous whisper.
Such a brief moment, one that Sam would hold and treasure for eternity. Then Maya shook her head, pulling herself back to a reality that Sam couldn't reach. "Goodbye, Sam. Sweet dreams."
The picture flickered, faded to a desperate, all-consuming black. Sam found himself paralysed, held in genuflected homage to a blank screen. "No." The absolute denial forced from him, a plea that he knew with horrific certainty would never be answered. He turned towards the little girl on the table, ready now to beg, but she was gone.
And now, broken and crumpled on the floor of the tiny, dingy flat that he loved and loathed in equal measure, he recognised the agonising ache for what it was. The little girl was right. Until this moment, he had never known true loneliness. And, for the life of him, he didn't know how he was going to bear it.