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Sun Baked

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How does one go about truly changing? When the water pooled in his lunges and dread was a constant companion he made plenty of self-promises. That if he ever got out of there he'd change. He wouldn't be such a dick, he'd be nicer to Pepper, call Rhodey more often. He made a lot of promises. Funny, it wasn't till Yinsen laid broken and fading his declaration to make his life worth it that he really thought it was something he'd actually have to do. Rather than something to placate himself with while being repetitively drowned. Now that the weight of someone as good as Yinsen at his back he wasn't sure how he'd actually go about doing so.

It was easy to say that if he got back home, he'd turn a new leaf. Be a better person and all that jazz. It sounded ridiculous to him now. No one can change that easily. Even the trauma he went through, was it enough? Could he live a life where he wasn't alone? After all he's done? Yinsen was dead. He was not. Now he had to make sure that sacrifice was worth it. What could he possibly do to make up for that? It was impossible. While he thought and let the dread flicker ever closer he stumbles and falls heavily on the sunburnt ground. Worrying about that was well and good and all but he didn't see himself getting out of this place alive. He was in the middle of bum fuck nowhere hurt and probably half delirious. He almost wished was getting a face full of water again, that's how much his throat throbbed. Almost. He rolled so he was facing the too bright sky. He was going to perish here, Yinsen died for nothing.

He wished he could change. Be a person worth looking up to, walking beside. Be a hero, like the man his father wasted his life on searching for. He'd scoff if it wouldn't hurt so much. Right now, it was hard seeing that when all he wanted was a burger and to sleep for three weeks.

But really, he wanted a glass of hard liqueur it didn't matter what at this point. He felt his gritty eyelids slide gratingly up and down. Drinking was something Yinsen would probably frown at. Right? If he was going to change he'd start by quitting. He held back a laugh, that would be too painful to try. Quit drinking? After this, he'd deserve a drink. Or two, or... You know what. He kinda wanted someone else to take his place on the path of redemption. It sounded like a road that he was destined to fail. Changing wouldn't be so hard if he wasn't on his own. He couldn't drag Pepper into this and Rhodey, he... They barely put up with him as it was. It was sad that the number of people he might say cared, at least in part for him fit on just one hand. For the man who had everything yet nothing indeed.

Change, he'd change for Yinsen, he could. Though at the moment he wished he was someone else altogether.

Honestly, he wasn't surprised when he started to hear voices, a voice actually. He'd been baking out in the sun for longer than his mind was capable of telling him. Hallucinations and all that shit were bound to happen sooner or later.

So, this is death.

It sure felt like it.

Can't say I'm surprised.

A glint of exasperating acceptance and the taint of sorrow came to be in the back of his mind. Fragments of a place he'd never been, the bitter taste of ashes on one's tongue. Blood caked underneath nail-beds and the death rattle of someone passing on. It was all there even if he wasn't familiar with it. There we go people, he's finally snapped. Although why his mind conjured up something somehow more depressing than his current predicament he'd never know. That sorrow, that overwhelming sadness hidden away but vast enough he felt it. Made his dread and worries pale in comparison. He felt kinda pissed by that. Like what the hell brain, way to make what he'd been through a footnote. That presence in the back of his mind seemed to shake itself and focus better.

...What is this? Alternate dimension? Purgatory? Mind trap?

Whoa, buddy slow down. You, my friend, are a hallucination that yours truly conjured up. Please, make yourself at home. I mighta made you so I wouldn't die alone.

The presence got closer, at least that's what it felt like to him, it felt more real. Which should be freaky but he couldn't be bothered to care. A spark of curiosity, a healthy dose of suspicion and an underlining feeling of critical assessment. Whatever was going on was practically a beacon of feeling as opposed to its more dulled emotion of moments ago. Any feeling other than the acceptance of his death was welcome.