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Night Vision

by Sandrine

Later, he doesn't remember why he came down to the infirmary at this hour in the first place, or why he assumed that Gloria wouldn't have gone home for hours yet. He can't think of what he might have had to talk to her about, or why it couldn't have waited until the next morning. Doesn't know whether it was some cruel twist of fate that has led him here or mere coincidence. Doesn't want to think about it either. He just wants to get the images out of his head.

Shadow play.

The infirmary pitch black, except for the shimmer of light coming from Gloria's little office. The blinds drawn, but not tightly enough to cover what's going on behind.

Two bodies, moving against one another. Only the outlines visible, just vague, dark shadows behind covered glass. But it's enough. More than enough. It doesn't take more than one glance to tell Tim that this isn't an assault. It's been a while since his romantic interludes were anything but brief and emotionless, but it hasn't been so long that he's forgotten what making love looks like. Because that's what this is. Not fucking, no quick wham-bam-thank-you. It's all in the motions, the way the bodies are moving languidly, deliberately, as if they have all the time in the world.

He feels like an intruder, knowing he has no place in this moment of intimacy. Knowing he should either leave or make his presence known. Knowing he should do anything but stare at the shadows. And yet, he's rooted to the spot. Can't stop watching, stealing another moment, and yet another.

Because this is not just physically beautiful, it's... a relief, seeing that there's something else but pain and hatred and death here in Oz. Seeing that there's love, too, somewhere.

But then, Ryan O'Reily's husky whisper breaks the silence, coming from inside the office. Just one word, just name, and suddenly, Tim's insides turn cold.


The answering moan - soft, barely audible through the closed door - breaks something inside him. The realization just who it is he's watching hits him like a tidal wave - much harder than it should, because, really, who else would be in Gloria's office at quarter to eleven except for Gloria. And who else could she possibly be with. But even when he might have known it, he buried the knowledge somewhere in the back of his head until he wasn't aware of it any more; and now that he can't escape it any longer, it threatens to overwhelm him.

He wants to rush in and drag O'Reily away from Gloria, hit him until he's bleeding. God help him, but he wants to hit Gloria, too, beat some fucking sense into her. Yell at her for taking this risk, putting her job on the line, putting her life on the line. He wants to run straight to the warden and tell him. He wants to burst into tears. He wants to leave a note, right outside for Gloria and O'Reily to see when they... have finished. He wants to go in there and join them. He wants --

He wants a lot of things, and not all of them are making sense. So he does nothing. He leaves quietly, careful not to wake any of the patients or alert the two lovebirds to his presence. He heads home and drinks a glass of rum, or two, or three, until he does not picture Gloria's body against Ryan's anymore. The bottle is empty when he wakes up, but he can't tell whether it's because he drank it up or because he spilled it in the surge of rage that followed. He yells and cries and kicks his furniture, not knowing exactly why he is so angry, just that he is.

The next morning, he goes to see Gloria about his bruised fingers, where he ground his fist into a wall a couple of hours ago. At least, that's what he thinks has happened. Gloria asks him about it, but he just shrugs and watches her do her work.

"Are you happy?" he asks, out of the blue.

She frowns at him, misunderstanding the question. "No, of course I'm not happy you wrecked your hand. Why would I be?"

"No, not that. I mean, in general." Because - and he only just noticed this - she looks happy. Happier than he's ever seen her being. Certainly happier than when she was with him.

She has finished wrapping his hand in bandages and looks up uncertainly. "Yeah. Yeah, I guess I am. Why?"

Once again, he shrugs. "No reason. Just askin'." He slides off her desk, trying to stop his mind from reminding him that this is the same desk where Gloria and O'Reily... "Thanks for that." He holds up his hand and forces a smile on his lips. It probably looks as fake as it is, but there's little he can do about it.

"Be careful," Gloria tells him as he is about to go. She means the hand, of course, but he can't help but let out a small, mirthless laugh.

"I will be if you are."

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