rumpelsnorcack: (Rory/Amy hug animated)
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Title: Alive in a Void
Fandom: The Raven Cycle
Author: rumpelsnorcack
Rating: PG
Characters: Noah, with cameos by Gansey and the other boys.
Word Count: 1336
Summary: Noah tries to come to grips with being seen, but not really known.
Notes: Extremely grateful thanks go out to [livejournal.com profile] flyingcarpet who is the most helpful beta ever, particularly in regards to taming my wild Britishisms.  Any mistakes that are still there were most likely inserted after she saw it, and in every case entirely my fault.

Noah sighed.  They never saw him, his friends.  Not really.  For goodness’ sake, he told them, regularly, that he was dead and they still never noticed.  Today, Declan’s newest girlfriend had made some comment about his hands and Noah had told her he’d been dead for seven years.  Of course that was directed at Gansey.  Of course Gansey didn’t even bat an eyelid.  No one did.  Noah wished this was the first time, but it had been over a year now and not one of his comments had been picked up.  One day, he wanted the evidence to be unavoidable.  In his fantasies, Noah saw someone (a date, a study group; it didn’t matter who) look right through him.  In those fantasies, Gansey noticed someone look straight at Noah and see nothing.  In those fantasies, Noah’s friends finally understood.  Unfortunately, fantasy had never became reality.

At first, Noah hadn’t minded hiding the full truth about himself.  He was just pleased someone could even see him, so his hints had been just that.  Hints.  With a grin he remembered the first hint he’d made; it had been the first time he’d met Gansey.

“Hey, how are you?” Gansey had said as he passed Noah on one of the pathways at Aglionby.  Just that quick greeting, but it pierced Noah.  He had been seen.  He had been acknowledged.  No-one else had ever shown they’d seen him in the several years since he’d died.  The feeling was overwhelming.

“Hey man,” he’d said back.  “Thanks for noticing me.”  Gansey had waved a benevolent hand, flashed his smile, and moved on.  Gansey had clearly thought the comment was about his obvious wealth, his in-built prestige, and shrugged it off.  But his first words had been enough.  Noah had been seen and acknowledged.  Noah was finally, indisputably, real.

Noah started following Gansey around, falling slightly for the other boy.  He was attracted to his intensity, his dedication to his cause (despite its similarities to the one which had killed Noah), his innocence, bordering on arrogance, about money.  And of course, above all else, to Gansey’s acknowledgement.  He had weight and solidity to Gansey.  He could touch and be touched.  It was intoxicating.

Noah began a study.  Who saw him and when did they see him?  Where was he when people seemed to see him most?  What were conditions like when he was noticed?  He took notes, though was careful to hide them from the few friends he actually had.  Gansey approved of note taking, but Noah knew he wouldn’t be able to deal with these notes.  Not when he skated over every single hint Noah made about his own condition.  Not when it seemed his mind refused to accept that what Noah told him was the bare truth.  Notes in black and white would almost certainly be too much for Gansey.

As his notes grew, Noah began to piece together the conditions of his new life.  The closer he was to Henrietta’s ley line, the more solid he was and the more likely people were to see him.  Aglionby was right at the far extreme of his ‘apparition zone’ as he called it.  Nino’s was a few steps closer, but he was still never fully solid there – except when the pretty waitress was working.  Then he felt almost real.  Gansey could see him because Gansey was sensitive to the ley line for some reason, and somehow the power of Gansey’s connection had infected Ronan and Adam: they could see Noah too, no matter where he was.  At least, Noah thought it was Gansey’s influence.  Occasionally, he thought there might be something more to the other boys for all they appeared so ordinary.  Most other people did not see him, unless he was right on the line.  Monmouth was not directly on the line, but it was close enough that Noah was almost always ‘real’ here.

For a while being seen was enough; it gave him a thrill every time it happened.  But soon enough Noah found himself craving true acknowledgement.  He wanted someone to know about what happened to him.  Every year or so, a column would run in the local paper, wondering grimly about his fate.  The year he met Gansey, the article was particularly strident.  It cried fake tears over his parents’ pain and the fact that they had no way to ‘lay him to rest’ because they didn’t have his bones.  The soppy, overwrought tone infuriated Noah so much he faded unwillingly for the first time in a long time.

When he came back, he carefully placed the paper (folded with the article out) where Ronan or Gansey would be sure to find it.  If he’d had a heart it would have been hammering as he waited for one of them to come home.

“What’s this crap?”  Ronan had sneered, picking the paper up and glancing at it briefly before tossing it aside.  “Noah, have you been reading trashy tabloids again?  The garbage they try to make us weep over!  It’s enough to make even you come out of your cave.”

Noah shook his head, not quite confident enough to say, “hey!  That’s my death you’re joking about!”  The half-formed hope that one of them would notice the picture, notice the resemblance to Noah in the grainy black and white, and look closely at the name, was dashed.  He wished Gansey had been the one to find it.  Surely Gansey would have paid attention.

Dragging his mind back to the present, Noah sighed again.  What did he have to do to call attention to himself?  What were the magic words, or deeds, which would make Gansey (or Adam or Ronan, but preferably Gansey) really see him?  Obviously, “I’ve been dead for years” wasn’t going to do it.   If bluntness didn’t work and subtle hints didn’t work then what the hell could he do?

In the time he had been zoned out he realized Declan had left, dragging his conquest in his wake, and Gansey was in full presidential mode – his guns turned on Ronan.  Preferring to avoid the conflict, Noah started to move back towards his room.  He felt safe there though the others never even noticed, when they came in, that it was bare, barren of personality.  There was no hint in this room of who Noah Czerny really was and shouldn’t that have alerted them?  No, after all this time … Noah shook his head.  He already knew it was probably useless.  If they ever did pay attention, he would laugh and tell them he’d told them.  But it was slowly becoming obvious, even to someone as hopeful as Noah, that it wasn’t going to happen.  Not any time soon.

Noah was stalled in his progression to his room by Gansey’s voice.  This time it was authoritative, in control.  This time it had changed enough that Noah knew it was directed at all of them, not just Ronan.

“Let’s go to Nino’s.  We’ll get pizza and I’ll call that psychic and the whole goddam world will sort itself out.”

Noah shook his head again, “I’m not coming.”

But he knew he would.  It was a token protest, meant only to let Gansey know he couldn’t be controlled.  Besides, the pretty waitress might be working and Noah might have a shot at being fully solid for a few hours.  That was worth putting up with Ronan’s cracks.  As Gansey turned towards the door, confident that his friends would all follow, Noah grabbed his jacket.

As he crossed the threshold, tonight suddenly felt different.  Noah could feel things clicking into place, as if they were all rushing together towards something they now couldn’t stop.  Somehow Gansey’s words had set something in motion: putting Nino’s and the psychic together had created a sense of promise.  Noah’s fingers tingled where Ashley’s had held them, and the air around him seemed to crackle.  Noah left his final thoughts whispering behind him in Monmouth’s echoing depths:

Is this it? Is this the time?
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