Title: Quiet Desperation
Author: Apathy
Fandom: Six Feet Under
Rating: PG, at most
Disclaimer: Nothing to do with SFU belongs to me. Damnit. *reluctantly lets Nate's owners have him* And, unsurprisingly, I don't own Pink Floyd.
Spoilers: None. Pre-series.
Length: 639 words.
Challenge: First times.
Notes: It's the first time I've written this character. Does that count? ;) And yeah, it's after midnight here, but I figure that it's still Saturday in most places, so, hey. Unbeta'd.

I have no idea where the hell this story came from.

They're so still. Quiet.


It's difficult to believe that only a couple of days ago, their car was wrapped around a lamp-post.

She approaches them from the side, treads carefully so that her rubber soles don't squeak on the floor. She's not sneaking up on the dead, of course that would just be silly.

Just showing some respect for the deceased. That's all.

Still, she's glad that Nathaniel is outside, properly chastised after she caught him lighting up on his way downstairs. He would laugh at her now, tease her for being superstitious, creep up behind her on soundless feet and blow warm, gentle air across the back of her exposed neck

She yelps, head whipping around frantically.



Just her, and a room full of dead people.

So, why does she feel like she's being watched?

She swallows hard, shakes her head slightly. Closes her eyes for a moment. Deep breaths. She's okay. She's okay.

She takes the last few steps in a hurry. Stumbles to a stop at her destination.

The boy lies there, flawless porcelain in his tiny suit. A perfect little angel of God... at least until he wakes up and starts causing havoc in the inevitable way of boys everywhere.

So young.

She reaches out a finger, hesitates only a couple of seconds before touching his cheek.

Too cool, and the illusion shatters and she's back in a room with three corpses. An entire family, silent and cold. She shudders at the thought and turns her back, leaning against the edge of the table.

Strange she should be crying.

Movement in the corner of her eye, and she looks up. Sees the boy Jack, Nathaniel said his name was staring at her from the desk in the corner of the room.

Now that she is actually seeing ghosts, she's strangely calm.

"Sing me a song."

Calm or not, she does a double-take.

"Excuse me?"

Jack's gaze drifts over to the too-still form of his mother all flawless ebony hair and ruby lipstick, eyes unable to see, arms unable to hold and then looks back at Ruth.

"Momma used to always sing to me before I went to sleep. I want you to sing for me."

And it seems like the most natural thing in the world.

He comes closer as she clears her throat, sits cross-legged at her feet and leans his head against her leg as she recalls a lullaby she thought she'd forgotten. He starts to doze, head bobbing forwards as he makes only half-hearted efforts to resist sleep.

She slides to the floor, wrapping a gentle arm around him as he drops off. Strokes his hair, and doesn't look at him as the last of the movement against her side stills into nothingness. Keeps moving her fingers against the soft strands.

This is going to be her life. Her husband is going to spend the rest of his days trying to make dead people look alive, and she's going to cook and clean and sew, and see more wasted life than most police officers would see throughout their careers. She's going to see victims of every possible cruelty the world can think to dish out, witness more unfairness than she can even comprehend, sing more lullabies than she even knows... and her heart will collapse in a little further upon itself each time.

The pale green wall in front of her blurs slightly, and she gives in to the tears. Just a little. Keeps them slow and silent, because if she starts sobbing, she'll never stop. Allows herself a couple of minutes, until she can hear Nathaniel out in the garden, getting ready to come back inside.

She stands up with a sniffle and a wipe of the eyes, and heads back upstairs to check on her pot roast.