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Self sacrifice

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The duvet on his bed did nothing to bring warmth to his shivering body. Still, Tyler curled it around himself as tightly as he could. He should've seen this coming when he'd decided that his body could handle 3 days without food. This wasn't the first time he'd done this and it was far from the last but even so, every time he fasted, he felt worse and worse. Maybe it was because he wasn't supplying his body with the energy it needed to survive, Tyler didn't care.

He just wanted to fall asleep already, that would make him feel better. When he was unconscious he didn't have to feel anything, the hunger pains would subside, his headache would disappear and most importantly; he wouldn't have to think about anything. He hoped he'd be lucky enough not to have nightmares tonight,  if he managed to fall asleep.

His thoughts were exhausting and overwhelming. Tyler's body could barely function and he didn't need his mind willingly giving up on him too. His mind was the only thing that could save him from the dark hole he'd dug himself into over the past few years. But unfortunately, it had also gone to shit.

The door to his room creaked open and Tyler didn't move. Soft footsteps made their way over to the bed, accompanied by the heavy stench of perfume. Jenna drowned herself in it every morning, Tyler used to think it smelt good but now it just made him feel sick.

He listened as Jenna paused, the sound of clothing dropping to the floor could be heard and then he sighed softly as his girlfriend gently slid into bed with him. She probably knew he was still awake but as always, she didn't bother saying a word. Actions spoke more.

It wasn't rare that Jenna got home late, she worked long shifts at the hospital. And it was inevitable that she'd work overtime at least twice a week, she was extremely dedicated to her job. Tyler was proud of her, proud that all that time at med school had paid off and that she was now doing something that she loved. Tyler hoped he'd do something with his life eventually, he still had time to figure that part out, if he graduated and if he even survived the year.

Her arms wrapped around his waist, bare chest against his back and her legs tangled with his underneath the sheets. Jenna's legs were soft against his and he wished he had the energy to roll over and pull her closer. Unfortunately, Tyler's body was so heavy with exhaustion he could barely move.

Jenna kissed his neck, a parting gesture because she was going to sleep while he spent the next 7 hours wide awake. He was fine with it, she needed to rest anyways and it wasn't like either of them would benefit from her staying awake. Tyler wouldn't have anything to say anyway, he felt like shit.

*

When morning came, so did the difficulty of standing up. Tyler managed, despite it taking him 5 minutes to shift into a seated position on the bed. His mouth was dry, he needed water.

He spotted his usual water bottle on the floor beside the bed and quietly reached down to grab it before looking back at Jenna. She was so beautiful, he had no idea how he'd gotten so lucky. Let alone how he was dating an older woman while he was still in high school.

They'd met a year ago at the hospital. Tyler had passed out at school, his iron levels beyond low and somehow his condition had been bad enough to land him into the hospital for a few days.

Jenna had just been volunteering at the time, she still hadn't graduated yet. But she'd been aiding his nurse, so he saw her a lot. She had probably pitied him at the time but she was nice. She stayed with him in his room and talked to him when his family never showed up. He'd been so grateful. She'd taken him in when they'd both realized that Tyler's parents weren't going to take care of him in the way that he needed, Jenna promised she could provide that. They were both proven right when Tyler hadn't received any messages from his mom or dad.

Tyler groaned, he was so fucking empty and he felt a head-rush coming his way the moment he began to stand up properly. He curled his toes to make sure he could still feel them and slowly wobbled to the bathroom, his knees ached with each step.

On the bathroom counter, he found his cigarettes tucked away behind a towel. Jenna had tried to hide them again and as per usual; she'd done a shitty job. For a nurse, she didn't seem that persistent to get him to quit smoking. Maybe she understood that, that would kill him just as much as starving himself would. He needed something to dull the pain from his constant hunger, or more so suppress it. Jenna would never understand.

Once he got the shower running and a lit cigarette was stuck in his mouth, his fingertips suffering from small burns, Tyler felt a chill swarm across his skin. He felt each individual hair on his body stick up and he realized that he was trembling, the biggest downside to not eating was being cold. The shower would definitely help if he could manage to stay standing up for the long. He wouldn't need to be in there for a long time anyways, he had school to go to.

"Ty?" That was Jenna, Tyler sighed as the bathroom door slowly opened. He didn't bother removing the cigarette from his lips.

Her blonde hair had been pulled up into a clean pony tail, she already had her scrubs on. "Good-morning," Tyler replied, leaning against the counter. "I thought you'd sleep in today, you don't have work for another hour."

She shrugged and grabbed her toothbrush out of its holder. "It's weird to not have you in bed and plus, I can't sleep without you."

Jenna looked at him and rolled her eyes, pulling the cigarette out from between his lips before throwing it into the sink and washing it down the drain. "No smoking in the bathroom."

"Then don't leave my cigs in here." Tyler sighed.

She smiled in defeat. "Did I really?"

Tyler nodded at the cigarette pack. "Yeah."

Jenna just shrugged.

"Do you have time to shower with me?" He asked, nothing was being implied. He didn't want anything other than to shower. They both knew that he just liked having her around, he felt safer showering with someone else. She always washed his hair for him and made sure he didn't fall. It comforted him in the best way possible.

"Not today love," Jenna said sadly as she begun brushing her teeth.

Tyler nodded, she was busy and already ready for work. And the shower water would go cold if he didn't go in soon anyways, he quickly stripped himself of his clothes and by the time he was stepping into the shower Jenna had already kissed his cheek and left the bathroom. She had to be organized and Tyler was fine with that, he liked that she was busy and he liked that she was in charge of their relationship.

It made their relationship easy, he didn't really have to do much. She kept them both on track and that was just one of the many, many things he loved about her. It was nice not to be stressed about Jenna because just about everything else stressed him out.

He felt dizzy as he pushed back the shower curtain, and it only worsened as he used the wall to stabilize himself. Tyler could be considered crippled, except he didn't have any broken bones or injuries.

He was just sick, really fucking sick and it wasn't the type of illness that would just go away. No amounts of anti-biotics or white blood cells could fight against what he was dealing with. He'd learned to accept that the only way out of an eating disorder was to put up a fight and want to recover. Tyler didn't want to do either, he'd given up and he knew that he'd probably die from it. He didn't care, unlike Jenna. Who cared too much.

She tried really hard, she thought she understood how to fix this. She was a nurse, it was in her nature to want to fix him, cure him like he was ill. But even with all her efforts, she'd never truthfully gotten through to him and probably never would. Tyler wouldn't let her, no matter how selfish he was being and no matter how much he loved her. He didn't want to get better and until he did, no attempts to cure him would work.

Considering that Tyler's hair had stopped falling out, he did think himself to be better. Tyler was able to survive long days at school without falling asleep in class and mostly, he was okay mentally, he hadn't had a breakdown or panic attack in weeks. And he'd continue being okay as long as Jenna didn't force him to eat more than a cracker or two a day, he knew exactly how much his body would allow him to eat even though his mind was truthfully the one in charge.

Because his body definitely wanted more, it wanted sugar, glucose, it didn't want to eat away at his fat to provide energy to keep him alive, that couldn't sustain him. Tyler gave himself no other choices though, he didn't care and he'd passed the point where being hungry bothered him years ago. So he barely ate and his body had to find other methods to keep him alive.

When he got out of the shower, he hadn't dried off properly in favour of going to his room to get changed. He didn't look in the mirror as he got changed. He couldn't, and he was glad that this was the only other mirror in the apartment other than the one in the bathroom.

Tyler never looked at himself in the mirror, the very thought terrified him. He probably hadn't seen his reflection in at least 2 weeks and the last time hadn't been pretty. He'd looked awful, Jenna had started crying when he'd looked away as fast as he'd seen himself. It was painful to see, his skin was heavily discolored, he really did look ill, he looked like he was dying and he shouldn't have been surprised because he actually was.

Whenever he thought about his appearance he thought of himself before he'd developed an eating disorder, not after.

Jenna was holding her morning coffee with one hand, while the other balanced a book when he walked into the kitchen. She was perched on the counter, she looked comfortable and Tyler smiled at her when he saw his black coffee in a to-go mug sat right beside his lunch for the day.

He stared at his lunch, it looked like she'd made some soup that was now stuck in a thermos, and that was it. That was all she'd given him. Tyler could easily dump that down a toilet at school.

"You are going to eat that soup today," Jenna told him, knowing exactly what he'd been thinking. She hadn't even looked away from her book. "Just letting you know."

"And if I don't?" Tyler asked, because he definitely wasn't going to eat today, he could survive another day without food. He grabbing his coffee before sliding up onto the counter beside her. She didn't smell like perfume today and Tyler almost frowned.

She sighed and flipped over a page. "It's been days, I can get you admitted into inpatient if you don't cooperate you know."

"You'd never send me there." Tyler said, hoping his words were true. Part of his arrangement to being allowed to live with her was that he'd try to get better. Another part of it was that he'd allow her make big decisions for him, like setting him up in therapy or sending him to inpatient.

"Tyler, I won't hesitate to if this gets any worse than it is. I love you too much to let you die because you're being stubborn." She said softly.

Tyler rubbed his eyes. "Fine, i'll eat the fucking soup."

Jenna carefully put her book down as she brought her coffee to her lips. "Good, and if you don't i'll punish you."

"You would never," Tyler said easily, playfully. Jenna was much too nice. "Besides, what kind of punishment would you use on me? I'm incorrigible."

"That's very true, but i'll find something." Jenna laughed, kissing his cheek. "I could put you in a corner for a timeout, take away TV privileges, that type of stuff."

Tyler groaned. "You sound just like my mom." A pang of regret resounded through him instantly but it was too late to take it back. Jenna hated his parents even more then he did, Tyler didn't think they were that awful but Jenna did. Somehow she was angry at them for abandoning him in the way that they did, he wasn't even angry about it anymore. He was so much happier now, he didn't see why he should hold grudges.

"Sorry." She said, hopping off of the counter, embarrassed. "I really don't mean to."

"Jen." He sighed, following her lead, coffee in hand. Jenna quickly walked to their bedroom, presumably to get her car keys. She was going to run way just like she always did when she felt uncomfortable, even though she liked keeping them organized as a couple. They still had some tense moments.

Tyler wiped at his eyes as he slowly made his way to the bedroom, Jenna was pacing around the room, looking through all of their things. She always freaked out when she couldn't find anything or when something hadn't gone exactly like she'd been expecting it to.

Tyler got up behind her and pulled her into a tight squeeze, she needed to calm down. Jenna froze before she sighed and practically melted in his arms, letting him hold her. Tyler rested his chin on her shoulder that was no longer bonier than his.

"I'm sorry." He murmured into her ear, resting his hands on her waist. "You know I love you right? I love you so so much."

Jenna blushed and kissed him softly, blue eyes bright. "I'm sorry too." She whispered against his lips, turning around so she could hug him properly. Tyler welcomed the hug and stumbled back slightly, he couldn't take a lot of force. He could barely stand properly half the time, but for Jenna, he tried his hardest. 

She leaned into him completely and Tyler kissed the top of her head. This was another thing he liked about their relationship, they were able to be intimate without having sex.

Tyler jumped in surprise when an alarm on Jenna's phone went off, Jenna laughed and pushed Tyler off of her with a playful shove. "It's time for school, you're gonna miss your bus." That was the first of many alarms that were set on her phone, the next one would go off in five minutes and that one meant that he'd be really late.

"Can't you drive me?" He pouted.

"Nope." She smiled brightly. "Go grab your lunch and leave, ill see you tonight and if I'm home early i'll try and help you with your homework."

"Yeah?" Tyler asked, ignoring the weight of the headache that was forming.

She nodded. "Obviously, what's the point in dating me if you can't use me for my university level education?"

Tyler pulled her in by her hips and kissed her again, Jenna gasped in surprise but the sound went unnoticed as Tyler's mouth pressed to hers. "I can think of a few." He whispered.

Jenna groaned and pulled his hands off of her hips. "You're hilarious and I love you but you're going to be late."

"Fine, i'll leave but i'm not going to be happy about it." Tyler said, picking his backpack up off of the floor before slinging it onto one shoulder.

He looked at Jenna. "I love you."

"Don't forget your soup." She smiled.

Tyler just sighed, today was going to be a long day.