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Requiem for the Apostle

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ANCIENT REPTILIAN BRAIN — Well, isn't this a treat? You get to bathe in warm, primordial blackness. You got your wish. You found what you were looking for in the inky depths of despair. A nugget of truth. A sprig of madness. You've done it.

YOU — What…?

ANCIENT REPTILIAN BRAIN — You're scared, but that's alright, little man. Let the darkness wash over you. Don't think. Don't breathe. Let the memories wash away like rain on glass windows.

YOU — I'm not little, and I'm certainly not scared. What the fuck are you? What memories?

ANCIENT REPTILIAN BRAIN — Don't you see, little man? This ain't your world. No need to worry about anything anymore. Forget the rules, forget the pain and suffering. Make the darkness your friend, your lover. Hehe…I'm sure he'll treat you right.

LIMBIC SYSTEM — Your tired, old meat sack is but a whisper in the wind. It's thin, pale, weak. Past its prime. With the crimson dawn, rubies spill from your lips and stain your chest with all its rich, delicious spoils.

YOU — Wait, are you saying I'm bleeding?

ANCIENT REPTILIAN BRAIN — Concentrate on the pain, little man. Don't worry about the past. Let the memories all spill down into the drains, feeding the maggots and the insects.

YOU — Enough of this. You’re hiding something from me. Spill it.

ANCIENT REPTILIAN BRAIN — You sure?

YOU — I said, spill what you know, now!

ANCIENT REPTILIAN BRAIN — Oh no, Kimchi. I’m afraid I can’t do that. See, I don’t hold the answers, I just tell you the truths you know deep down. I know everything you refuse to remember. The horrible snippets of your life, the unpaid sacrifices, played and replayed until your body slumps dead in a ditch somewhere.

I remember all that you remember.

And baby, you’ve already forgotten.

YOU — Forgotten what?

ANCIENT REPTILIAN BRAIN — See? You don’t even know what you’ve forgot. You’ve forgotten what you forgot about.

You’ve already lost.

And you’ll keep losing.

Every loss, a cut. Every cut, a bit of you is taken away.

Piece by itty bitty piece.

Better remember quick, Kimchi. Don't wanna lose control, don't you?

ENDURANCE [Godly: Success] — Your heart pumps. Life filters through the tiny vessels of your body. A surge of energy surrounds you and soon your eyes open.

YOU — You jolt up and find yourself in a hospital bed. Your skin is sweaty and clammy and the world is blurry. Whether it's from your tears or something else, you have no idea.

PERCEPTION (SIGHT) [Trivial: Failure] — You can make out some drab blue walls and what looks like more empty beds, but that’s all. The world is undefined at the edges, colours and shapes merging together. You can barely make out the edges of objects.

LOGIC [Challenging: Success] — You only know it’s a hospital because there are fresh bandages near your throbbing head, and this is the only other place you can conceivably wake up in outside of your apartment.

COMPOSURE [Godly: Failure] — You’re not sure your vision is blurry if it’s because of the tears streaming down your face or not.

PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT — It’s unbecoming. Sissy behavior. You really are a faggot.

YOU — I…what are you guys? Why can I hear these voices?

LOGIC [Impossible: Failure] — You don’t know where we come from, just that you can hear us now.

CONCEPTUALIZATION [Medium: Success] — You’d remember if you heard these voices before, but you don’t.

INLAND EMPIRE [Medium: Success] — Somehow you know that we will be here from now until death or eternity, and that you will never be able to get rid of us.

We are a part of you, and you are a part of us.

Forever.

YOU — No, wait. This can’t be right. I had thoughts; normal thoughts that didn’t involve random voices speaking in my head. I’m not a psychopath. I’m normal.

AUTHORITY — Hell yes we are.

YOU — No, not you. Just me. You guys don't belong in my head.

REACTION SPEED [Hard: Success] — Your mental debate is interrupted by someone opening a door just outside of your peripheral vision. You quickly snap your head at them.

PERCEPTION (SIGHT) [Trivial: Failure] — You still can’t see them even when they get right next to your bed. All you see are patches of green and white and the occasional black. Even from this distance, their face is a blur.

????? — The mysterious figure reaches for something next to you.

HALF LIGHT [Easy: Success] — Your muscles tense in anticipation, and perhaps even fear.

????? — But the figure gently grabs something on the bedside table beside you and and places it gently into your prone hand. Something small but familiar.

INTERFACING [Trivial: Success] — Your precious glasses.

YOU — You chuck them on and are greeted to the sight of Lieutenant double-Yefreitor Harry du Bois. Your partner. Your confidante. Your best friend.

RHETORIC — How far you've fallen, Kim Kitsuragi, to consider this mess of a human being your closest friend.

HARRY DU BOIS — “Good to see you’re finally awake, Kim.”

EMPATHY [Challenging: Success] — Harry is relieved to see you’re OK. Not relieved enough to suggest you were in anything serious by the fact that he isn’t sobbing into your chest right now, but relieved enough that he felt the need to crouch down so he was at the same head level as you.

AUTHORITY — He might cry anyway if you let him. Don't make him.

PERCEPTION (SIGHT) [Trivial: Success] — Now that you have your glasses on, you can now see the detective properly. His hair is clean and combed, and both his face and clothes look neat, if tacky. The only thing marring his appearance (aside from said clothes) are his ugly mutton chops, and a dark bruise right under his left cheek bone.

YOU — You reach up to your face, wondering if you’re bruised yourself…

PAIN THRESHOLD [Legendary: Failure] — …and touch a very sensitive and fresh bruise, making you hiss in pain.

HARRY DU BOIS — “Nasty scrap you were in, eh?”

YOU — Scrap?

HARRY DU BOIS — He points to your forehead, as if reading your mind. "You got walloped by a bat. Quite nastily, too. Everybody's surprised you didn't get anything worse than a mild concussion."

INLAND EMPIRE [Impossible: Failure] — You don't remember getting into a fight…

COMPOSURE [Medium: Success] — …but you don't show it. It'll come to you. It should.

YOU — "How long have I been out?"

HARRY DU BOIS — "Five, maybe six hours?" He shrugs. "Not sure specifically."

EMPATHY [Medium: Success] — He hasn't been paying attention to the clock at all. You doubt he knows the time of day himself.

YOU — You stare out the window, seeing the sky flushed orange and purple and pink. A few clouds hang low in the sky, but otherwise the weather is relatively clear.

LOGIC [Trivial: Success] — It must be sunset, putting the current time at approximately 17:00-18:00 hours. If the detective's statement is correct, you were unconscious since 12:00 today.

CONCEPTUALIZATION [Formidable: Success] — The colours shift and swirl like blood floating in a pool of water.  

YOU — Seriously, I don't know what you voices are, but can you shut up? I can barely think.

INLAND EMPIRE [Impossible: Failure] — No.

AUTHORITY [Impossible: Failure] — No.

COMPOSURE [Impossible: Failure] — Never.

YOU — Geez, thanks for the vote of confidence.

HARRY DU BOIS — He is looking at you curiously, his lucid eyes locking onto your gaze firmly and never letting go.

PERCEPTION [Medium: Success] — Harry hasn’t been drinking or doing drugs since your first case together. Everybody says it's a miracle he hasn't relapsed.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY [Challenging: Success] — Instead, he’s gotten addicted to two little things: work and you.

YOU — He may be addicted to work, but he's not addicted to me. That's ridiculous.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY [Easy: Success] — Oh, but it isn't, is it? You've gotten closer to him, and he's gotten closer to you. You can’t deny that. Don't you know you're one hell of a drug? He craves you, and you're putting him in withdrawal.

AUTHORITY [Formidable: Success] — You are both cops for the RCM, and partners. Relationships between colleagues is strictly forbidden, and you will not sully yourself by associating yourself with the Detective anymore than necessary.

HARRY DU BOIS — "Are you alright, Kim?"

EMPATHY [Challenging: Failure] — Is he talking about your injury?

LOGIC [Challenging: Success] — Or perhaps he’s talking about the fact you haven't said a word in over a minute.

YOU — "I'm fine. My head doesn't hurt if that's what you're asking."

HARRY DU BOIS — "That's not what I'm concerned about. I'm asking about your partner."

LOGIC [Easy: Failure] — Partner?

INLAND EMPIRE [Easy: Failure] — What partner?

YOU — "I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Aren't you my partner?"

HARRY DU BOIS — "No. I mean…well, yes, I was, and I am again, but…"

He pauses for several seconds, his lips pressed tight.

EMPATHY [Easy: Success] — He knows something you don't, and he's worried about how you'll react.

ESPRIT DE CORPS — His suspicions aren't entirely unfounded.

HARRY DU BOIS — "Do you remember what happened earlier today? What lead to you getting walloped on the head?"

COMPOSURE [Formidable: Success] — You steel yourself, keeping your face carefully blank.

DRAMA [Legendary: Failure] — But Harry is an extraordinarily perceptive man, and he sees through the masks you wear, bixia.

HARRY DU BOIS — "Do you remember why you were at the abandoned factory at the Burnt Out Quarter?"

YOU — The Burnt Out Quarter? Abandoned factory?

HARRY DU BOIS — Harry frowns pensively. "What about your friend? Do you know what happened to him?"

YOU — "Friend? Do you mean Eyes? What happened to him? Is he here?"

HARRY DU BOIS — Harry shakes his head microscopically. His brows furrow.

EMPATHY [Challenging: Success] — Your friend isn't here. He's never been here. Harry thought you knew where he was.

YOU — But I don't. I don't know what friend Harry is talking about.

HARRY DU BOIS — He slides something towards your hand. Another item from the bedside table.

INTERFACING [Trivial: Success] — You'd recognise your trusty notebook anywhere. Even by touch.

YOU — Flipping through the notebook, you see notes from your past cases. The last few Juvie cases you did, the Hanged Man case where you first met Harry, the extortion case, and many others you've solved over the last few months.

You flip over to the last couple of pages, detailing the case of a mysterious corpse found near the river, covered in strange, ritualistic cuts over their torso. These notes would make sense with context, but for the life of you, you can't remember a single thing about it. Not how the corpse looks like, not how you made the jump between the corpse and the Burnt Out Quarter, nor how it all connects to the abandoned factory.

LOGIC [Challenging: Success] —You must have been in a hurry to not write it down. That, or you were distracted.

HARRY DU BOIS — "Kim," Harry says slowly. "'What's the last thing you remember?"

YOU —You open your mouth, then close it.

COMPOSURE [Formidable: Success] —You swallow tightly, not making a sound.

YOU — "I remember…it was night. We'd just finished a case and you took me to a local bar to celebrate. And then you did your depressing karaoke song again and they kicked us out for upsetting the mood."

HARRY DU BOIS — "So you don't remember the new transfer?"

AUTHORITY — Is Harry trying to undermine you? He doesn't need to know you don't remember. Let him connect the dots himself.

YOU — "No," you admit. "I don't remember. What transfer? Did we get a new cop?"

HARRY DU BOIS — "I was worried about this," he chuckled. "Welcome to Amnesia town. Population: us fuckers."

YOU — "I don't have amnesia…I think."

HARRY DU BOIS — He smirks, making his ruddy cheeks ruddier. "I'd think I'd know the symptoms of amnesia, Lieutenant. Do you at least remember what happened? Any details?"

YOU — "I'm certain I'd remember if you got us both kicked out of a bar."

HARRY DU BOIS — "Humour me. Do you remember what happened?"

YOU — You roll your eyes at him, then close your eyelids.

AUTHORITY — We can speak for you in moments like this. Let me do it. I'll make sure the Lieutenant knows our memory is excellent.

YOU — Not a chance. I'm not letting some psychotic voices in my head take control of my body. I'll relay it, not you.

LOGIC [Medium: Success] — It's become a ritual of you and Harry to head to a bar to relax after a case. If you remember something specific, perhaps it will convince Harry to cease this line of questioning.

VISUAL CALCULUS [Medium: Success] — Harry gave you the choice of the bar that night, even though you've never drunk in front of him during these outings. You were tired, so you thought of the one place you could: La Mer. A quiet bar that is, shall we say, very welcoming of the homosexual underground.

PERCEPTION [Medium: Success] — Harry sees someone with a drink, thinks it looks cool, and gets it himself. He chugs it down, barely remembering to savor the taste. He promised himself only one, and you're going to make sure it stays one, and he's already drunk it in five seconds.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY [Medium: Success] — When Harry finds the karaoke machine, he's in his element. He croons his love song, seeded with all sorts of dirty innuendos, and you think for a moment that he might be capable of the things he sings about. When he dedicates the song to you, as he always does, he does it with a suggestive little wink.

COMPOSURE [Legendary: Failure] — Every time he dedicates a song to you, it's to make some part of your body blush. Every time he winks at you, he's trying to get a reaction out of you.

Unfortunately, he's succeeded on both accounts.

YOU — He did not get a reaction out of me. And anyways, his next song got us kicked out of the bar.

ENCYCLOPAEDIA [Medium: Success] — To be fair, Harry didn't seem to be aware the second song he was singing is attributed to Captain Novac, a government officer who led numerous campaigns against the alternative sexuality communities.

SHIVERS [Easy: Success] — The days of homosexuals being forced into hiding for their lives may be over, but the scars still remain.

VISUAL CALCULUS — Harry apologised, then offered to take you back to his apartment, as it was closer.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY [Medium: Failure] — But you refused. You got yourself a taxi, headed back home.

YOU — You open your eyes to find Harry observing you quietly, eyes half-lidded.

EMPATHY [Challenging: Failure] — Is he…is he falling asleep on us?

YOU — "Did my story bore you, Lieutenant?"

HARRY DU BOIS — "N-no, no. I'm just surprised you remembered all that. If that's the last thing you remember, then you don't remember that detective from your old Precinct transferring over the next morning?"

YOU — "Next morning?"

HARRY DU BOIS — "When he found out you transferred here, he wanted you to teach him. You begged Jean to let someone else do the job, but when he found out what the story is and how you both knew each other, he basically forced you both together, the asshole."

EMPATHY [Easy: Success] — There's the lightest hint of a smile on his face. If he was in a higher position and he felt cruel enough, he might have done the exact same thing Jean did.

AUTHORITY [Formidable: Success] — Jean's jealous you get to work with a sober Harry, but makes up for it by gossiping about you both to Judit.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY — More than once you've heard them call you and Harry born-again lovers.

YOU — "So who was I forced to partner up with?"

HARRY DU BOIS — He smirks. "Guy by the name of Lars Langley."

YOU — "Lars…"

COMPOSURE [Legendary: Failure] — LANGLEY?!

AUTHORITY [Formidable: Failure] — That creep followed you into Precinct 41?!

HARRY DU BOIS — "You made that exact same face the first time you were told," he smirks.

LOGIC [Trivial: Success] — He's talking about that pained, constipated look in your eyes.

CONCEPTUALIZATION [Formidable: Success] — Like a fish in a pet shop, knowing and unknowing, trapped in a cage.

YOU — "I had to babysit Lucky?" You shake your head. "Sometimes I wish that guy got lost."

HARRY DU BOIS — "Funny you should mention that, because uhh…well, he's gone."

YOU — "What do you mean?"

HARRY DU BOIS — "I get a call from you directly to my place 08:00 in the morning. Don't know why you were up so early, but I assumed it must have been for a case. By the time I got patched through, you've already hung up on me. When I head to Precinct 41, Jules tells me you called the Precinct. I put 1 and 1 together, arranged a search party, and that's how we found you in the Burnt Out Quarter, unconscious and bleeding on the floor of the abandoned factory."

EMPATHY [Legendary: Failure] — There's something else in his story. A detail he chose to omit. But what?

LOGIC [Legendary: Failure] — It couldn't be anything important.

HARRY DU BOIS — "We searched all over, but we couldn't find your partner. We know he was with you though, according to what you told Jules. We think whoever bashed your head in kidnapped Lucky."

REACTION SPEED [Formidable: Success] — There's a twitch in his lips. A microscopic frown that plays on his lips.

LOGIC [Legendary: Success] — You know what the Lieutenant is thinking. Best case scenario: Lucky got kidnapped. Worst case scenario: Lucky got kidnapped and killed.

YOU — And I have no way of knowing who, or how, or why.

HARRY DU BOIS — He stands up slowly, brushing his disco pants off. He moves slowly, hesitantly, as if he feels like he should leave but he doesn't want to.

VOLITION [Medium: Failure] — You don't want him to either.

YOU — "So I guess the case is still on?"

HARRY DU BOIS — He nods. "Jean wanted me to check your condition. Thought that if you woke up and punched somebody, I could take the blow best."

YOU — "So he's afraid of getting punched by me?"

HARRY DU BOIS — "Are you kidding? You'd give him a run for his lunch money if you tried. Plus, I think he was hoping you'd punch me."

YOU — The faintest of smiles creeps up your face. "It'd knock some sense into you."

HARRY DU BOIS — He leans his head forward. An open target. "Give it a try. It might work."

YOU — If anyone needs some sense knocked into them, it's me for having these weird voices in my head.

You raise your fist up, clenched tight into a ball, and thrust it towards Harry's exposed head.

PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT [Formidable: Failure] — But it's no more than a lovetap. Like a teddy bear threw a punch.

HARRY DU BOIS — He laughs softly, standing up properly. "Does this mean you need to stay here any longer?"

YOU — "Fuck no. I'm fine, really, Detective. This is my case, and I'll see it to the end."

AUTHORITY — Show him who's boss. Show him you mean business.

YOU — You take your glasses off and place them back on the bedside table beside you. Then, you tug at the bandages wrapped around your head in one swift motion, letting it cascade down like blood-stained ribbons into your lap. They spool down, spiraling, spiraling, until the bandages are all neatly in your lap.

COMPOSURE [Trivial: Success] — Harry thought that was cool.

EMPATHY [Trivial: Success] — Harry likes that.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY [Trivial: Success] — Harry more than likes that. You might have turned on his light switch right there.

YOU — You put your glasses back on quickly and hop out of the bed, bandages still in your hands. Harry takes it from you—

REACTION SPEED [Heroic: Success] — He shivers slightly when his fingers grazes yours—

HARRY DU BOIS — And he scrunches it all up and throws it at the nearest bin. It lands square in the middle. A perfect shot.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY — You like that.

YOU — The two of you slowly walk out of the hospital ward and down to the parking lot where, to your relief, your Coupris Kineema sits, untouched and undamaged.

HARRY DU BOIS — "You alright to drive?"

YOU — "I should be fine."

PAIN THRESHOLD [Medium: Success] — Your head still feels a little sore to the touch but it's no longer bleeding, and you didn't feel dizzy at all keeping up with Harry's brisk walking pace. You're good to go.

HARRY DU BOIS — "So…because Lucky is gone, and you seem to be all good to go—"

YOU — "—I'll need a replacement partner?"

HARRY DU BOIS —He smiles warmly. "I'm just saying, I just finished up my case earlier today before coming over here, and I'm offering my services. It'll be like the good old times of last week."

EMPATHY [Trivial: Success] — He wants to monitor your condition just in case your head injury is worse than it looks. He also likes spending time with you.

YOU — You smile. "Sure."

HARRY DU BOIS — "Wait, really?"

LOGIC [Trivial: Failure] — Wait, really?

YOU — "I might have forgotten the case, yes. I might not remember anything in the last week or so. But I've had to deal with you while you had a midlife crisis about your forgotten identity. Now you'll have to deal with mine."

HARRY DU BOIS — "Is this extortion?"

EMPATHY [Trivial: Success] — The smile on this face suggests he's playing along.

YOU — "Let's call it returning the favour." You adjust the glasses on your face. "Tomorrow morning we'll meet at Precinct 41 and discuss our next step. We might be able to retrace our steps from there."

HARRY DU BOIS — "The corpse you were investigating might still be in the Morgue. We can take a look there."

YOU — "Perfect." You head for your beloved Coupris Kineema and pause by the door. "I'll see you tomorrow, detective."

HARRY DU BOIS — Harry smiles one of his secret smiles. "See you tomorrow, Kim. And…good to see you're alright. I was worried."

DRAMA [Easy: Success] — It is an understatement. He was seriously worried and he is seriously glad to see you are well and good, bixia.

LOGIC [Easy: Success] — You could tell him about us, the voices in your head. It’s surely not the same thing as what he claims to have, but he’d understand…wouldn’t he?

VOLITION — We can’t give him the satisfaction. He already thinks we’re weak enough as it is. We don’t need to make him even more concerned.

YOU — You shake your head, chuckling softly. "Don't be," you say. "I'm made from hard stuff."

With that cool line under your belt, you slip yourself into the driver's seat of the Kineema, let the engine purr underneath you, and drive off into the streets.


KIM'S APARTMENT — It's nightfall by the time you enter your apartment. You flicker on the lights, lock the door behind you, and let its humble atmosphere overwhelm you.

PERCEPTION (SIGHT) [Easy: Success] — The furniture is sparse, but the place is far from lifeless. There is a huge collection of books near a comfy couch and an even comfier reading chair. The walls are a light cream colour that resembles eggshells, or bird poop. Behind the closed door to your bedroom are the softest orange bedsheets settled amongst fluffy light-green pillows.

YOU — You head to the fridge and scrounge up the quickest dinner you can muster: a simple omelette, and eat it quickly but politely, making sure to chew with your mouth closed, never lingering on a particular flavour tone for too long.

INLAND EMPIRE — A stern older woman looks down at all the young children before her, all different races and creeds of life before coming into her care. She pulls a girl by the top of her ears for chewing too loudly. All the other children look down and continue eating, trying not to swallow too loud. It hurts, but the children would rather endure her punishment compared to the punishments of her husband.

YOU — You finish up your dinner quickly, wash it and dry it in the sink. You head for the balcony, hands already reaching for the chestnut-scented cigarettes you always keep on hand. You take the cigarette up to your lips, flicking the light of your lighter on.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY — Oh yeah, that's the good stuff, isn't it? The sweet, sweet nicotine. Your daily bit of sin. The one addiction you will give yourself.

AUTHORITY — But we all know your true addiction is to control. You like the idea of controlling when and where you can take your daily cigarette. You crave the idea of dominating this one bit of weakness, of curbing it to a small routine that you control. You can quit any time you want, but you don't. Harry's addicted to physical things. You're addicted to concepts.

YOU — You take a slow drag from your cigarette, the grey plumes rising up to the clouds, taking away all the sadness and bitterness of Revachol and Elysium and turning it all into ash. With every puff, you feel your mind get a bit clearer, like whatever was congesting your head is now disappearing. You've felt this before, but it feels more extreme now. Like your senses are heightened.

CONCEPTUALIZATION [Impossible: Success] — Colours you couldn't see before shimmer in front of you. The night and the day join as one in holy matrimony.

PERCEPTION [Impossible: Success] — The tiniest speck in one of the apartment buildings. A man, pressed against the curtains, making love to another, bigger man, their silhouettes obscuring their depraved act from all but the peepers. Well, that, and the most observant people, such as yourself.

INLAND EMPIRE [Impossible: Success] — You see a clear picture of Harry in your mind's eye, impossibly detailed right down to the leather shoes. He gives you that tired smile, the one when he's had enough, when he knows he has to try something stupid, and then he grabs your face and kisses you square on the lips.

YOU — In the real world, you take another slow drag.

In Kim's World, you force his lips away, only so you can kiss him properly yourself. Harry submits pitifully, weakly, beautifully.

INLAND EMPIRE [Impossible: Failure] — Before your imaginary counterpart might slide Harry's mouth open, let their tongue plunge deep into Harry's throat and give you an idea of how Harry might taste like without booze and drugs on his breath, the vision vanishes, and the dark skyline of Revachol opens up for you once more.

LOGIC [Challenging: Success] — The nicotine's initial kick has worn off. The world is slowly returning to normal, as are your senses.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY — You can't deny it. You got a bit excited from that image. Of Harry kissing you so tenderly. So desperately.

YOU — Perhaps…but nothing will ever happen between us.

AUTHORITY [Medium: Success] — Of course you'll never let Harry get that close. You are partners. Members of the RCM. Fraternising with your half-brother like that is incestuous and wrong.

VOLITION [Medium: Success] — Even if you weren't, you won't let yourself be so weak as to let Harry kiss you first. He needs to let you know you're in charge. You're the one that calls the shots in that relationship.

HALF LIGHT [Medium: Success] — There'll be less pain that way.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY [Medium: Success] — But you do want him. You've never fantasised so much about kissing one man before in all your life.

AUTHORITY [Medium: Success] — You only allow yourself one addiction. What will it be? The cigarette, or Harry?

SHIVERS [Heroic: Success] — Both will lead to an early grave.

YOU — One final drag of the cigarette, one final plume, before you butt it out into the smoking tray. You take a cold shower, dry yourself off, and then throw yourself at the bed, curling up under the covers, naked like the day you were born.

As you close your eyes, you wonder for a minute what would happen if you were given that choice. A cigarette a day, or Harry from now until eternity, sober and kind and at the peak of his prime.

You think of the rigidity of your life structure. How Harry has disrupted it from your very first meeting. You think of the cigarette, always the same, never better or worse, a stark comparison to Harry, who has his fair share of good days and bad days in the short time you've worked together. You think of Harry's horrible penchant for karaoke, and his terrible taste in clothes, and the way his sweat stinks of booze, even when he hasn't been drinking.

You want to say you'd prefer the cigarette.

VOLITION [Impossible: Failure] — But you know, deep down, that if you are given that choice, you will always choose Harry.