title: Sea & Sky: Life After Death
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Garth/others
rating: Teen
warnings: angst, sex, language
summary: Garth doesn't know how.
notes: rithy told me to post, so i am. whee. all faults are mine.... *snugs to rithy for the read through and guidance* ^_^ take place about a year and half after Reverie.
Sea & Sky is the brainchild of the amazing and wonderful 'rith and Dannell Lites. it's a phenomenal tour de force, and my offerings don't really do it justice, so. go check it out!!

He didn't remember the days that followed her death at all. It wasn't that he wasn't aware of what was going on, just that every minute bled into the next, and he lost all ability to form context or meaning. Things happened. There was a service for her. He just didn't know.

He was either very, very still, and then people hovered over him, or he was restless, and people told him to relax. There was a deafening quiet filling everything, a void of white noise that made everything else seem muffled, and nearly drove him mad.

It was several weeks before he realized it. She was gone, but he was still alive. Everything inside of him was gone, but he was still moving. There was a phrase for it on the surface. Roy had said it once, talking about Wally, and he'd asked Robbie to explain it, because Donna didn't know, either. "A chicken with his head cut off," that was him. He was as dead as she was, but he kept moving, anyway.

He thought about slashing his wrists, or something equally dire. The only reason he didn't was because he knew how she would feel about it. So he did nothing, said nothing, and thought nothing.

He tried to think nothing, but sometimes, the waking bled into the sleeping, and then he dreamt in black and red, and woke up being too aware for a time.

He tried not to sleep.

He was only half aware of the comfort others offered to him. They moved around him like shadows, holding no more substance to sway him than a gentle current, as he stood frozen in the waters of his grief.

Avoidance was a new skill. He wouldn't speak to Alianne, just because he couldn't think of her without thinking of Tula, thinking of who he used to be when Tula was still alive.

This person he was being made to be now that Tula was gone wasn't someone he really wanted to know.

Time kept moving forward, and people stopped offering him their condolences, and started making suggestions for how he could move on. It made him sick. Oddly, the person he liked to be near the most was Arthur, who wasn't sensitive enough to be sympathetic, and who was generally under the impression that the best thing for Garth was to keep busy. Anything was better than the nothing he had become.

It wasn't even sex without Tula. It wasn't the same act at all, it was completely different. It wasn't just that Lori was a mermaid. There was nothing about it that was the same. They weren't Tula's lips on his, opening his mouth, wasn't Tula's tongue sliding over his. Not Tula's hands, skimming over his skin, nails digging into his flesh, cutting him in places. Not Tula's breasts under his own large hands, not Tula's body that he moved into and out of, not Tula's arms that came to get him when he crashed into her.

It was just sweat and semen and hormones and skin. Nothing about it added up to anything. The lack of emotion was like a vacuum inside of him, and if he cried afterward, it wasn't because he was hurting; it was because he was empty.

Still, it was too easy to just let it happen. It would have taken more effort to stop it, and so he went through the motions, probing her, thrusting into her, kissing her, crying on her shoulder, and it was just friendship on her part, and nothing at all on his.

Merfolk must have been easier for him to tolerate, because he found himself with Jero, as well. It almost made more sense than being with Lori, as much as he was. Jero was in pain, too, aching and bleeding all over everything, just like Garth. They never spoke of the specters that haunted them, but the weight of their shadows made their bed heavy. It was like fucking in frozen waters, being with Jero. A part of him liked that he could take the other role, that he could lie on their frozen bed, and just let Jero do what he would to him. He liked that the sensations were different, and that he could take Jero in his mouth, and it could all be different, because it wasn't even supposed to be the same.

Jero said things, like 'I love you,' and it made Garth feel like a whore. A cheap, dirty whore, selling his body for affection. That was probably what he liked best about it. Fucking on a frozen bed, covered in the invisible blood from their hidden wounds, his body being used as his heart hardened. Jero could lie to himself and pretend it was love, and if that made it easier to fuck someone who wasn't Kara, then more power to him.

Garth washed himself in the filth of their dirty transaction, and felt his heart beating again. Maybe it was just sex, and maybe it was just his flesh being used, but he could feel it all again, and it wasn't nothing, it didn't tear at the abyss inside of him.

So he opened his mouth for Jero's kisses, and he opened his legs for Jero, and he let him inside of his body. And when Jero sleepily declared his love, he said nothing, but he smoothed his hands over Jero's hair, and he smiled softly in the darkness, and he felt the dull thud of his heart in his chest.

He never ended it, exactly. In his mind, it never fully began, and so he just drifted away. Arthur needed him. The Titans needed him, rarely. He had his own needs. He did the best to fulfill Jero's needs, as well, but his heart had just learned how to beat again; it was too early for it to love.

Drifting became a habit with him, and quickly, so did sex. Fucking. Humping. The sweat, the flesh, the taste of semen and vaginal fluid and saliva and skin… It was like a fog that clouded his senses and made him believe that the universe was confined by his flesh, and he could be free inside of those confines. Arthur asked him to help train an up and coming officer in his guard. She was capable, and friendly, and he fell into bed with her almost by default. Her hair was too long, and her breasts were too big, and she made too much noise as he moved in her, she was too wet, and afterward, she worried too much about what it all meant. He sighed and told her it was all right, and they never did it again, and he understood now why the surfacers called sex 'it.'

Years were passing by him. He didn't feel them slip by, and was surprised each time he was reminded how long ago it was that he lost Tula. And he had lost her, because he couldn't feel her anymore, couldn't taste her, couldn't hear her teasing laugh or tempting moans…

He slept with some surface girl while doing some work with the Titans. He didn't remember anything about her except how arid she felt, wrapped around him. He gave a guy a blowjob in Buenos Aries, and all he remembered about it was how the guy's fingers had tightened painfully in his hair.

He collected sexual exploits like coins from the bottom of the sea, shining, alien souvenirs that served no purpose other than decoration.

On the anniversary of the day he had been found, Arthur gave him a mirror embedded into a giant pearl. It had belonged to Arthur's mother, once upon a time. He told Garth, gruffly, that it was the past, reminding him that everything he had endured made him the man in the mirror.

Garth looked into it, seeing purple eyes and dark hair and a mouth that was much harder than it used to be.

He was still moving. His heart beat without her. Days became years, and he lived on after her death. He turned the mirror around, and he prayed to Pallais that one day, he would like the man he saw reflected.