this is the slow center of the spinning world

Essays in Existentialism: Vegas

ModernAU Clexa. Clarke and Lexa are friends/strangers/enemies (You choose what’s more fitting with the story) and they go with their friends on a Partytrip to Las Vegas. The next day they both wake up in the same bed horribly hung over and… married.

The only things she could feel was how dry her mouth was and how hard her eyes were knit shut. Barring that, it took a moment for consciousness to seep into her existence. It spread slow and steady and with terrible results. Her head throbbed, actually, her brain throbbed, causing her head to feel as if it were ready to explode at any moment in a small little pop that no one would notice at all. Eyes remaining shut, Clarke tested her mouth, swallowed and felt the warm kind of pain ache through her stomach. Breathing hurt, moving hurt, so she remained still and tried to remember where she was or who she was or what she was, but even thinking was painful. 

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It’s something he didn’t realize he missed, something that he just hasn’t done for so incredibly long. Not really since that one time he got so horribly sick in Elementary school after recess and ended up going home after throwing up all over the hallway. Not to mention it’s so obviously autistic.

But John loves spinning.

He was never the most graceful child. His balance was poor even before space, and the gymnastics lessons his mother signed him up for when he was little only helped so much, but at least it wasn’t horribly noticeable afterwards. As long as he concentrated solely on walking he could manage to not drift towards one side or narrowly avoid doors or trip over his own feet that never quite lifted as high as he wanted. After spending so much time in space, though, his balance is so much worse.

He still loves the motion.

Being in the zero-g bubble in the center of ‘Five is… similar, though a different sensory experience at the same time. But the beautiful disorienting spinning motion is wonderful. He manages to keep his mind focused on his job and the joyful feeling bottled in, but every so often when the mission ends he can relax and just exist in that feeling and it is glorious.

He has nearly forgotten what sitting at a desk in a spinny chair felt like. He’s up in space so much and away from the world of normal people, that the information that isn’t essential to day-to-day life tends to be the first to drift into the hazy subconscious. But there is an actual spinning desk chair and he’s sitting in it, and his logical brain says to focus on work.

The temptation is just too much.

When Scott walks by, his brother is sitting in the chair, spinning as fast as it will go with his knees tucked to his chest and his head ducked down and his eyes squeezed shut with the biggest grin he’s seen on John’s face in years. He’s lost completely in the beautiful spiraling feeling of being at the center of the spin. “John?”

John’s eyes pop open and he knows immediately it’s a mistake. The world is whirling by and his brain can’t collect all the information and his vestibular sense can’t tell which way is right and the euphoria vanishes, replaced by nausea-inducing, disorienting vertigo. He makes a desperate grab for the desk, not caring in that moment that the hard, sharp edge is painful and the textured surface like sandpaper as he tries to slow down. Even once the chair stops spinning, his vision is swimming and his heart is caught in his throat from the surprise and the nausea. Scott’s right near by, hastily apologizing for interrupting, and John just keeps his eyes closed as he waits for the world to stop.

“I’m sorry, John. I just haven’t seen you do that for a really long time.” John’s slowly getting his bearings again, and he’s starting to open his eyes a bit.

“It’s okay, Scott,” John says, and there’s no hostility in his voice. He even sounds kind of happy. “I’m not really sure what came over me.” He does too know, however, though he won’t say it aloud. For a short moment, the draw of forgetting the judgmental world and reveling in the sheer, pure joy of being himself was just too strong.

Scott straightens up. “Okay, if you say so.” He smiles at his brother. “It’s nice to see you smiling again. Just don’t make yourself sick or anything.”

John rolls his eyes, his vision and spatial awareness back to normal. “I’m not a kid, Scott.” Scott chuckles at that.

As he leaves, Scott can hear the telltale sounds of the chair spinning again.

The vestibular system is the inner ear, and controls balance and movement. I had this idea that for John, he’s always craved vestibular stimulation- that is, he needs to have that motion feeding him information. Things like spinning in circles, rocking in a rocking chair, riding a roller coaster, or the wonderful dizzying drop of an elevator are extremely enjoyable for him. If he’s not careful, though, he has a tendency to make himself sick. (This partially stems from watching him in the zero-g section of TB5, where he spends a great deal of time making big spinning gestures, not to mention his sweet zero-g backflip in Space Race.)

It’s one of the few stims I’ve actually settled on for him. (While I, like many others in the tumblr fandom, see John as having an aversion to touch, I also feel like he tends to seek out a semi-swaddled state using things like blankets or long sleeves, and used to be a very fussy baby unless wrapped in a blanket.)

For a very good, concise breakdown of stimming, I recommend neurowonderful’s awesome video on it here. (Incidentally, her Ask an Autistic series is terrific for people who would like to understand what it’s like to be Autistic better, and it makes me very happy to watch.)

        It’s weird. Root’s looking in the mirror, but she doesn’t recognize herself. There’s a person staring back at her with wide eyes and parted lips, but she doesn’t know the face. Hands are gripping cold metal and it’s eating into them, biting, hard – but she can’t feel it. Or she can? The person’s face in the mirror looks older than she remembers it, curls framing a face that’s aging rapidly. Stress, maybe. It looks.. too feminine, and as soon as the thought passes through her mind, the face changes. Minutely. Eyebrows turn upward just so, corners of her mouth tip downwards. Not disgust, but something else. Surprise. 

The fingers at the end of what she logically knows are her own arms and hands tighten around  the metal of the sink. Root knows that she’s in the subway, can hear the muffled voices behind her, just past the curtain they pass for a door. Two deep, rumbling voices. Another one interjecting here and there with a laugh. Her friends. Eyes in the mirror flick away and Root’s gaze is turned towards the curtain itself. She hears something like ‘she’s been in there for a while’ and a conversation centering around her. Are they concerned? 

Her head is swimming, the world is spinning and the only thing at the center of her universe in that moment is the reflection in the mirror and the hands on the sink. The cold, hard edge is starting to hurt and cut into her palms. She presses harder, and the face in the mirror doesn’t change. Just a blink. 

A sort of buzzing sound is running through her mind. Like a dial tone from a phone left off the hook. Do people still use wired phones? Another slow blink, and Root leans in closer. There’s a human staring back at her and she doesn’t understand. The human is a woman, aren’t they? But she doesn’t understand. Root shifts her gaze away from the woman’s and down to the hands at the sink. The knuckles are white and the cutting into her palms feels more like nothing. It’s a wonder she can even comprehend this much. 

The buzzing sound changes to actual words, filtering through and commanding her, urging her to do something. And the click of understanding happens. The body she’s inhabiting straightens, and she can feel her hardware whirring to life, even if the software hasn’t quite caught up yet. The system is running, but the system doesn’t know. There’s indents in her palms, bruised and sore, but Root only knows this because part of her is telling her so. The part that only exists in the ether, watching everyone. 

The voice urges her to walk away from the sink, away from the makeshift bathroom. So she does, walking away and into the area where her friends? are standing ( one sitting ) and talking. Eyes see this, but remain unseeing. She sees through the voice, telling her to step forward once, take a right, five steps forward. She’s looking at the cot that someone had been sleeping on just earlier. The voice tells her to sit. She does. 

There’s no extraneous thought in Root’s mind, because Root isn’t Root. She’s a shell. She’s wires and code and electricity. And there’s the voice. Less of an order, less a command —- more cohesive than that. She says move, Root moves. She says shoot, Root shoots. No hesitation, no thinking. Just action. So when the voice starts repeating: REBOOT, REBOOT, REBOOT, she does. Root blinks and the body sags, exhausted, shaking and filled with aches and pains she doesn’t remember having before. 

Root looks down at what were once just not her hands and sees the indention from the sink, eyebrows furrowing together in confusion. When had she..?