Asleep at the Traffic Light
A 17 People Post-Ep

Jane Harper

Rating: G, believe it or not
Synopsis: Dreams crumble if you let them.
Archive: Sure. Let me know where. It'll already be at
Disclaimer: Not mine. None of 'em. No Sarah here. Tip o' the
keyboard to Jackson Browne, The Pretender from the 1976 recording of the
same name. Not gonna bore you with all the lyrics; if you're interested
they're at the following URL:

**Is this it? Is this where it ends? Have we done all this, worked
these years, sacrificed our time and our energy and our relationships,
to be brought down, caught in a self-serving lie, co-opted into valuing
survival above principle? Is Toby right? Have we betrayed the very
things that made us want to come here to begin with?**

Leo gave up the struggle for sleep, tossed the covers off, and got out
of bed, putting on a robe out of habit, even though the apartment was
empty and he was alone. He wandered into the home office where he spent
most of his weekends and switched on his computer; while he was waiting,
he flipped on the radio that sat on the bookshelf opposite his chair.
As the system automatically booted up and logged him remotely into the
server, he flipped through FM channels with the radio remote: classical
(too quiet), opera (too shrill), then a young man's voice that niggled
at the back of his memory.

Ah the laughter of the lovers
As they run through the night
Leaving nothing for the others
But to choose off and fight
And tear at the world with all their might
While the ships bearing their dreams
Sail out of sight

**Was that what happened? Have we lost what connection we had to what
makes us human, to the love and laughter that gave us the courage to
stand apart from the political lemmings headed for the cliff of
expediency? When was the last time any of us laughed until we cried?
Is that what happens when youth crumbles and we forget what passion is,
when we stop striving and become content to run in place?**

He got up and went into the bathroom and threw on the light, looking at
himself in the mirror. **God, you're getting old. You're pale, and
sallow, and when did the corners of your mouth start to turn down?
Where did those furrows in the brow come from? How long have they been
there? When did they get deeper than the laugh lines around your
eyes?** He reached up to scratch the side of his neck and caught the
reflection of the back of his father's hand. **God, no. That's my
hand. When did it start to look like his?**

Coming back out of the bath, his eyes fell on the valet next to the
closet where he had put his clothes out for the morning. Regulation
dark suit, figured tie, shirt with subtle stripes, all impeccably
tailored: handmade, expensive, and dull. He threw open the closet door,
turned on the light and walked in. **Where did all the colors go? Just
last year I had a gorgeous blue shirt...** Brown shoes, black shoes,
oxfords and loafers. **Where the hell are my tennies?** He scratched
his head. **I can't even remember the last time I wore them. Or needed
to. The only thing I have the time to exercise these days is my jaw...**.

He looked at his watch: four-thirty. Might as well give up the idea of
sleeping. He threw off the robe and turned on the water in the shower,
then stepped in and stood with his head bowed under the falling
droplets, suddenly aware that some of the water on his face wasn't
coming from the wall.

Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender



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