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I'm Hanging On If Only By A Thread (Inside My Haunted Head)

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He knows it the second he sees it. He doesn’t know how or why he knows, but he does.

The second he sees that symbol on the door, he knows exactly who’s waiting behind it.

Just like he knows that the door will yield to him when he turns the handle. Possibly because Farah triggered the override. More likely because the other side of that door is where he’s supposed to be and the universe is going to damn well work with him on this.

He turns the handle. The door yields. Damn fucking right.

And as soon as it opens he sees him. Standing against the back wall, eyes wide with fear and confusion that melts into happy disbelief as he realises exactly what he’s seeing. And God, does Todd want to just stand there and drink in the sight of him after so long but there’s no time- never enough goddamn time. “Come on, Dirk- we have to go, now!”

You came,” Dirk breathes, slack mouth breaking into a beam brighter than the sun and for a moment Todd’s just real fucking glad he put shades on for this. “You came to rescue me!”

“Yeah, Dirk- we did.” Todd doesn’t know how or why his voice comes out so stable, so sure when all he really wants to say is holy shit holy shit you’re okay thank fucking FUCK I was so scared never do that again holy fuck. But there’s something coursing through him right at that moment, something propelling him, powering him, a current racing through his veins and everything feels heightened, almost unreal. Somehow the cheesy confidence just… fits. “We came to rescue you!”

“We used a magic rock given to us by Thor to find you!” Farah barks out from behind him.

Dirk’s eyes sparkle. “I knew I could rely on Thor!” he exclaims, proudly pounding his fist into his palm.

Todd’s face falls, jaw tightening. “Yeah. Yeah, he- he helped out.” Didn’t get off his godly ass long enough to come for you himself, though.

“And you- Todd, you-!” Dirk laughs giddily, shaking his head. “I knew you’d come for me! Look at you, storming the gates- you’re like my knight in shining armour!”

“Uh…” Todd mumbles, blushing. “T-thanks, but we really should- yeah.” He clears his throat and tries to recover some semblance of the cool confidence he had when he walked in. “Come on- we have to get to the lost city of gold to collect the sacred algae before it’s too late!”

“Yeah, Dirk, we need that algae!” Farah joins in, muscles tensed, ready to run for it.

“Okay!” Dirk squeaks, high-pitched with excitement and determination. “Let’s go!”

And he lunges forward, diving onto the bed in a graceless tangle of limbs in some misguided attempt at a barrel roll- it would be cute if they weren’t all about to fucking die. It still is cute, honestly, it’s just now Todd has to feel bad for thinking it.

But then he stands up, and anything Todd thought cute about the situation disappears.

“Dirk, what-? Where did you get the-?”

Dirk just looks at him- or at least, Todd thinks he does. It’s kinda hard to tell through the gorilla mask. Where did he even get a gorilla mask? Had he been wearing that a second ago? He turns to ask Farah and instead comes face to face with the blank, staring plastic eyes of a very familiar giraffe.

He flickers his gaze between the two of them, and his heart sinks. “This… this is a dream, isn’t it?”

There’s a small chorus of mumbled assent. Dirk nods his gorilla head at him, Todd’s shades catching the light with the movement.

...When did he start wearing Todd’s shades?

 


 

Todd awakes with a gasp, eyes flying open. He sits bolt upright, casting his gaze about the room.

His room.

He rakes his eyes over the clothes on the floor, the pill bottles on the bedside table, the rough black ‘3’ still emblazoned across the wall. The olive-green paint behind it looks almost black in comparison to the white walls of his dreams.

Outside a car roars past and fades again. Outside a stiff breeze rattles the trees and the quiet cadences of voices on the street drifts up through his part-open window.

And inside, inside there’s… nothing.

There’s no one.

He sighs, scrapes his hands through his hair and then buries his face in them.

“Just a dream…”

He drops his hands and stares ahead. Narrows his eyes. Clenches his fists on his knees so hard his knuckles whiten.

Maybe it was just a dream. But it feels solid, somehow. Tangible. Feels like a lifeline, or a string.

And somehow, in some impossible way, he knows that Dirk is waiting at the other end.

“I am coming for you, Dirk,” he says- to himself, to the apartment, to the goddamn universe, daring it to argue. “I’m coming to rescue you.”

Something settles inside him. Some kind of calm descends, blowing softly across his mind and dispersing the fog and he can really see, he can see clearer than ever before, and he feels the truth deep in his bones.

The truth that Dirk’s alive, and he’s waiting.

And the truth that Todd is going to bring him home.