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down to earth then sinks the sun

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You are alive. You are standing on a cold ground with numb, battered feet, and it hurts enough to bring tears to your eyes, but you are alive. Tobias is not. He is laying on a bed of leaves and twigs, staring up at the sky with empty eyes. Taking your place at the grave. He is dead and you are not, even though it feels like you are. You killed a person and stole drugs from him and you are already itching for them. You sit in the back of the ambulance and let them check you over. You tell them you are fine. They do not believe you. You do not believe yourself either. You are cold and in pain and all you want to do is sleep but every time you close your eyes, you can see Tobias' body, spread like he is sleeping, because of you. Your hands are shaking. You cannot get them to stop. You look up, look into the darkness of the trees beyond the safety of your family and the bright lights of the ambulance. For a second, you see someone standing there, a hundred feet away. They are staring right at you. You can feel their eyes on you even from this far away. There is blood soaking their shirt and a gun in their hand and something in your chest clenches. You blink. They vanish.

You shudder, and Morgan asks if you are cold. You nod your head. You are exhausted and drugged and seeing things that aren't there. You are not cold. He drapes a shock blanket over your shoulders like it will help, like you are something fragile he is trying to keep from falling apart. It is not enough. It would take more than a blanket to achieve that. You can feel the vial of Dilaudid through the fabric of your pants, and it calls out to you, until you’re scratching your forearm as a substitute for the prick of a needle and wondering if anything could hold you together anymore.



It is three days later and you are standing in your apartment bathroom. This is the first time you have looked in a mirror since Charles and Raphael and Tobias. You finally understand why your team is so concerned. You look different than you did before. There's a weight on your shoulders, one of guilt and regret and whys and what ifs. There is a needle in your hand. It is full of refuge and sin and something that feels inevitable. You have a belt around one arm and previous needle marks clearly standing out against a backdrop of pale skin on the other. You stare at the crook of your elbow. Like this, you can almost see them as constellations.

"I'm not weak," you say, staring at your face in the mirror. Your entire body is trembling and every inch of you is crying out for rest. You want this. You need this. You don't deserve this. You let your eyes slide off your face and down to the sink below you. You could dump the vials down the drain and end this right now. It would be so easy, to stop it all before it begins.

"It helps," you hear a voice say. Your eyes flick upwards again and you stare into the mirror. In the reflection is Tobias, standing behind you, leaning up against the bathroom door. He looks even smaller in the harsh light. He is not looking at you, just staring down at the floor tiles. He is supposed to be dead, and yet here he is. You turn around slowly, keep your eyes on him, wait for the moment he disappears. He does not. He stays there, hands tucked into the pockets of his hoodie. You must be dreaming, you decide. This is a dream and nothing more. There is no other explanation. (You knows there is another one, but as soon as your mind begins to drift in that direction, you shut it down. You are fine. You are fine.)

"I don't want it," you tell him. You grip the syringe in your hand tighter, scared you will drop it. You are dreaming, you are dreaming. It's just a dream.
Tobias looks up. He pulls back his hood with one hand and then you can see his eyes clearly. There is something in them, something dark and full of shadows. They look like Charles' eyes. (And maybe like yours.) "Yes, you do," he says. The voice is Tobias. You shut your eyes and open them again and sure enough you are alone. Of course you are, you don't know why you expected (hoped for) anything different. You are standing alone in your apartment in Virginia with a syringe full of Dilaudid. You are scared and in pain and dying, slowly, bleeding out through the track marks in your arm.

With a syringe full of Dilaudid.

There is really only one path open to you, after watching someone die because of you and feeling your life slip away like water through cupped hands and staring down the barrel of a gun, wishing the next shot would be the one with the bullet. You think of your mother, sleeping in bed, hair fanning out from her head, forming a halo. You think of Elle’s eyes, shattered and full of flames. You think of your absent father, of rope binding you to cold metal, of a single lightbulb swinging above your head that turned shadows into monsters and monsters into shadows. You never really had a choice. You slide the needle in and feel yourself fall into a place of no return.

You can almost hear laughing as the drug begins to spread through your veins.