Title: The Man Next Door
Rating: White Cortina
Character: Sam, OFC, no pairing
Summary: Sam's flat must have paper-thin walls, and with him screaming all the time, what must the neighbors think?
Notes: I just found this on my hard drive tonight. Brushed it off and presented now for your (hopeful) pleasure. Also, omg, I wrote a white cortina!
The man next door looks so like her husband that she did a double take the first time she saw him. It's not his appearance so much as the intensely lost look in his eyes, the one that makes it seem like he thinks he's in the wrong place and doesn't know how he got where he is. She lost Graham because of the war. He came back, but changed. He didn't sleep through the night. He woke in cold sweats, screaming sometimes.
The man next door screams, too. She can hear him through the thin walls. She never planned on spending her final years in a shitty complex with a fold down bed. One doesn't, does one?
Graham took his life eleven months after he was discharged. She'd come home to find him in the bath floating in blood. Graham was always meticulous and neat. It made him a good soldier. It made the clean up easy on her. Her sister offered to help, but she wouldn't have it.
The man next door wakes her in the night. The first few times it happened she thought she was having flashbacks, just like after Graham first died. She thinks that if Graham had a full night's sleep, just once, he'd still be alive. Going without sleep does things to people. It turns them into zombies, makes it so they can't handle things, like life.
She knows he is a police officer because she once saw an enormous man knocking down his door and calling him "DI Tyler" as he dragged him out and down the stairs, and the man next door had called the big man 'Guv'.
She knows he is polite because he has carried her groceries up the steps for her many times and even offered to put them away for her. When she tries to give him a shilling, he smiles and refuses. She squeezes his hand and asks if he is getting enough sleep. He says yes, and she wonders if he knows that she knows he is lying. His eyes are red from being open too long. And then there's the screaming, which he must know she hears.
The man next door is the best neighbor she's had in twenty years. He could have been her son, had things been different. She is still angry at Graham, sometimes, that the war ruined their chances of having children. She is angry at him before she is angry at the Germans or the French or the Italians or anyone else who shot at him because Graham enlisted even after she begged him not to.
"I'm going to make you some biscuits if you won't take this shilling," she tells him.
The man next door smiles and says that would be lovely.
She makes the biscuits and adds in a special ingredient just for him. He is grateful as a child when she brings a small container of six to him. He invites her in for tea. They eat together. He has four biscuits. She has two. When he starts yawning, she excuses herself.
She has a nightcap in her flat and listens to a concert on the radio before bed. She sleeps well. The man next door does not scream once. She sees him in the morning. He looks clear-eyed, for once. He thanks her for the cookies. They remind him of his mother's, he says and wonders if she got the recipe from the same magazine.
She says 'perhaps' and promises him more, whenever he wants them.