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Story Notes:
Here I am again, posting things I shouldn't have been working on in the first place. Is it bad etiquette to post this so soon after posting a different story? Probably. Do I care? No, not really. ;-)

If you haven't read "Do You Feel Loved," then you need to read it right now, because this story will make much less sense to you if you haven't read it. You will get a better understanding and a greater emotional impact from the story if you've read the first story recently. This is a direct sequel.

I envision this taking place either just before or just after The Spellingg Bee. I'm leaning toward before, and I think I'm still going to write a tag eventually to connect these two stories to that episode.

Disclaimer: I do not own Psych, nor do I own any of its characters, settings, trademarks, or related material. Psych and all related materials are the property of their respective owners. The plot and original characters of this story are my intellectual property. I am not associated with Psych, its creators, or any involved parties, nor am I associated with any other media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

As always, many thanks to BlkLunaDragon. For everything.
Author's Chapter Notes:
I tagged this for character death, because one of the Psych characters is dead. Her death doesn't actually occur in this story, but she's still dead, so...consider yourself warned. The title and quote come from U2 lyrics, from one of their hits from Rattle And Hum. All of that is their intellectual property and as such, it belongs to them and their record label.

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"You say you want diamonds and a ring of gold... You say you want your story to remain untold... And all the promises we made, from the cradle to the grave... But all...I want...is you."

*********************

His footsteps echoed in the hallway. He tried to walk more softly, but on the hardwood floors, it didn't work, so he gave it up. He didn't care that much anyway. He was the bereaved, right? He had a right to be here, didn't he? So why should he care?

He felt guilty anyway.

He didn't deserve to be there. It was all his fault. All of it. His fault.
She was gone, and it was his fault.

He stopped just in front of the door. He didn't want to go in. But he had to. Both for her and for his own peace of mind. He had to do it. He didn't want to.

He stepped through the door. His shoes touched mahogany-colored carpet and stopped tapping their soft, echoing rhythm. He padded his way down the aisleway, the little rift between the two sides of the room, the two sections of pearly white padded folding chairs. Abstract art and religious prints adorned the walls. The air circulated by one rickety ceiling fan seemed stale and reeked of decaying roses. A row of wilting peace lilies and a pair of rosy standing lamps guarded the casket.

He stopped at the last row of chairs, near the front. He didn't want to go closer. He didn't want to see. He stared at the yellow ribbon on top of the casket, the swirly gold lettering spelling out "Sister" and "Daughter." A quiet sigh heaved its way out of his lungs. Her sister Amber was her only relative left alive. Amber had flown in from Princeton, New Jersey for the funeral arrangements and everything. Her family had been small to begin with, and her mother had died last year. She should've had more people here, more people and more family. She should've been able to have "Wife," "Mother," "Grandmother," and more added to her ribbons and flowers. She should have a circle of crying children and a crowd of reminiscing friends surrounding her.

Instead, the funeral home was nearly empty. Just him, and maybe one or two other people, and her sister standing there by the casket. Her sister looked just like her; if Amber hadn't had reddish hair and golden eyes, the two of them could've been twins. It made his heart ache. Not in the cliché way that novelists romanticize; but in the real, physical, tangible way that only those who have to live with experiencing pain, anguish, and loss on a daily basis can describe. That feeling of being empty and thinking that nothing can ever fill you up again. The feeling of being broken, cracked inside, and nothing and no one can ever quite fix you, can ever make you whole in the same way that you were before.

Such was the loss he felt as he stepped forward on trembling legs to look into the casket.

He really didn't want to.

The morticians had done a remarkable job. You could hardly see the scars and wounds beneath the layers of funeral makeup, the rouges and blush designed to give the skin a lifelike appearance, the shades of the covered eyes to make it look like she was sleeping. Almost all traces of the accident were gone.

Almost.

He wondered if anybody besides him and the morticians themselves knew that all of it, this illusion of peaceful sleep, was all a lie. They want to make the body look good for the bereaved, but the truth is that it doesn't look good. Corpses by nature don't look good. He wondered if her sister knew that they broke her jaw and bolted it into place with steel rods; that they put little covers over the eyes to be sure that they stayed closed; that the fluids in her body, her flesh and blood, had been replaced with formaldehyde and so many other toxins to slow the body's decay, and that those same toxins would later run off into the groundwater around the cemetery. No amount of funeral home illusion could change the fact that she was dead, and she was never coming back. This thing in this box wasn't her; it was a cadaver, plain and simple. This thing would go into the ground, and before long, it would be as decayed as the wilting roses on top of her coffin, cut off while still budding, dead and dying long before their time.

Lucinda Barry was gone.

He fought off tears as he looked down at the little object in his hand, as he reached over and tucked it into the casket beside her. She would appreciate the tribute, he thought, or, more likely, she would've just shaken her head and scoffed. But she would've been pleased on the inside.

It was too late, now, wasn't it? Too late to change what has happened.

Too late to say and do all the things that he should've said and done a long time ago.

It was all his fault. She had been in that position because of him. If he had made a different choice, if he had made a different choice just one year ago, while she was still alive and happy and thriving in Santa Barbara...if he had just not made that fatal mistake...she would still be there.

And he knew that, even though time would heal the pain a little---because time numbs all things, even the worst wounds---he knew that he would never forgive himself.

He never had dealt with death well. He'd never been able to cope with losing someone like this. And losing her---he knew that he'd never truly move on. He would never forget her for as long as he lived---and he didn't want to.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked out without looking at anyone or saying a word.

*********************

The funeral home director was a short fat man with dark eyes, a tiny mustache, and a pale but kind face. He crossed the room, leaving his place by the door, to stand beside Amber next to the casket.

"Do you think they knew that they were doing the exact same thing?" she asked quietly, glancing over at what was left of her sister.
"I don't believe so," replied the funeral director. His name badge read "Paul." He shook his head, chin wobbling. "I've seen it before. Especially with sudden deaths like this. Such a tragic accident... They're probably in shock. I doubt if they noticed any of us."
"It's so strange," Amber said. "So strange for the two of them to just walk in like that, at the exact same time, to walk in the exact same way, put something in there, and then leave. All exactly the same."
Paul nodded in understanding. "Especially since they seemed so different. Who were those men, anyhow? Do you know them?"
"Vaguely. I know that the tall one in the suit was Carlton Lassiter. She talked about him all the time. She used to send me pictures whenever he took her somewhere. They were so in love. It made me jealous. And the other one, the one with brown hair, that had to be Shawn Spencer. For a couple months, she would just go on and on about him and this motorcycle he had. She could talk about him for hours, like he was the center of the world. She sent me a photo of them riding on a motorcycle together the last time she wrote me." Then Amber shook her head. "I guess everyone warned her that motorcycles are dangerous, but she never listened. She's so headstrong and stubborn. Once she sets her mind to something, that's it, and she lives her life however she wants to, no questions asked."

Paul smiled sadly, waiting for the moment when Amber would realize that she was speaking of her sister in the present tense and then correct herself.

He didn't have to wait long.

"Was," Amber said finally. "She was headstrong and stubborn." She glanced over at the casket again, almost anxious in her movement. "I wish more of her coworkers could be here. I know that cops have to work, but..."
"You did say that it was part of her last wishes for no one to be put out by her funeral, and for none of her colleagues to take off unless they had to," Paul reminded her gently, trying to be comforting.
"Yes, I know that, but still, it'd be better if more than two of them showed up. She deserves better." Amber shook her head. "Well, I guess at least the most important people came, right?"

Paul said nothing; he simply nodded.

"I wonder what they put in there with her, anyway?" Amber stepped closer to the casket, looking down in curiosity.

Two objects lay side by side next to Lucinda's folded hands. One was a silver ignition key on a gold keyring. The other was a diamond engagement ring.

Amber slipped the two objects beneath Lucinda's fingers, twining them into the cross necklace already wrapped around her sister's hands.

*********************

Two men got into their cars and made the long drive back to Santa Barbara in silence.
Chapter End Notes:
Amber and Paul are Easter eggs, by the way. One is related to Psych directly, the other indirectly. Let me know if you recognize them.


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