Bleed Out.

Author's notes: This is probably one of the least ship-based stories I've ever written. After a weekend of fun with some fic-friends, I ended up with Scott in my head just yakking. I really like how this one turned out because while it's really dark, it's also really hopeful.

***

Bleed Out.
by A.j.

***

In. Out.

In. Out.

In.

Colors hurt in the morning.

Blue. Green. Yellow. Purple. Orange.

They were pretty once. Soft and so breathtaking that you never really noticed until they were gone. And when there was only one left, and the rest were reduced to nothing but shades, you remembered it all and your chest ached from the recalled beauty.

Your chest is aching now. Looking down at your wife and the man who could very well be your friend. The chemistry and the fire and the thing that you wish you could give her. It's all there, in the open.

And you know that someone, anyone, is watching you because you can just FEEL the pity surrounding you like a misty little cloud. Even though they know it's been coming--how many times have they warned you?-- they're still loyal. Still amazed that you pushed so hard that Jean - JEAN - let go. That she's with someone else.

You think maybe the fact that you're crying doesn't exactly help.

"You're such a perfect couple!"

What do you do when you feel everything let go? When you're falling up and can't tell when the ground is going to reach up and crush your lungs into your diaphragm? Or stomach.

It's doing that now, isn't it? The slightest pressure at the back of your eyes warns to the boundary that you're about to cross. Pain and fear and resentment ball in your mouth, bitterness lying heavy on your tongue. It's never enough, is it?

No. It's not.

You wanted so little from life. So pitifully little. Someone who loves you. `Warts and all', isn't that the phrase? Someone to whom it doesn't matter that you can destroy a mountain, or create a son who isn't a son, but is an uneasy acquaintance. Someone who can see the little boy who screams in the woods for his mother and father, no matter that his voice's given out.

But life doesn't give us what we want. It gives us what we need.

Red is a very bad color. It's bright and intense and can burn if you don't keep your eyes open. But when everything you are, all you can see and feel, is red, what then?

Breathe it down, push it away. Let it go, because if it's yours, it'll come back.

But you've been waiting for a very long time, haven't you?

She left, didn't she? So many times, in so many ways. Death. Anger. Death. Anger. It's a cycle with you two. Push and pull. You watch it come and go and you feel it, but sometimes, you just don't. Sometimes, in the dark with her head on your shoulder and her mind far, far away, you think about how ridiculous this thing is.

You love her because you don't know how not to. And you know that even though you can feel her in your mind and your heart, and even your soul, she's just not enough. She doesn't love you like you need her to. She loves you because she doesn't know how not to. She knows it. You know it.

But neither of you can take the chance of finding more.

Because she never really came back, did she?

"You two were meant to be together!"

Words spoken with the best of intentions wound and twist, binding you tight to something that isn't a mistake. That makes it worse though, because somewhere in this little knot that's you and her there's something that's at times more and less. Because on those lost single nights, you know that this bed and this life and this thing between you isn't right. It never was.

You know, deep in your bones, that there's something more out there. Someone.

But you couldn't leave. Because words are binding. Promises. Commitments. Responsibilities. Vows.

Red crushes you. Surrounds you. Smothers you. Comforts you.

It's all the same thing, really.

Ties that bind chafe. Even silken ones. And even the youngest novice knows that moving and pushing makes the pain worse.

But you couldn't let it alone. You couldn't live the perfect little life. Not after dying. Death has a strange way of clarifying things for a person. Because after you stop breathing, and moving, and living, you really get the chance to think. To take a look at what and who you are. And to realize that who you are, isn't who you are.

And she isn't who you need.

"We know that no matter what the trials life puts you through, you'll face them together and come through them stronger."

Your darkest and worst fear isn't of the power that bleeds through your every cell. You've come to terms with your powers. Strangely, they're the part of yourself you're most comfortable with. They're there and natural and easy and when you don't like something, all you have to do is open your eyes wide and wish it away.

No, your darkest fear was always that she didn't love you and need you like you need her. Because down there in your darkest corners, you knew that if she didn't, no one else would. Or could. And you needed SOMEONE, even if she was just your best friend.

And that grated at every part of your being. That little fear, until it became and shaped everything you were and are. So much a part of your being, you forgot it was even there.

You knew when you woke up though. After. You realized just what was wrong and how little you really needed the woman leaning over you sobbing. And in that instant between life and death, you felt love. But it wasn't the kind that brings someone back from the dead.

You were staring your worst fear straight in the face... and it didn't really matter.

So you don't mind the pity, or the anger or even the disappointment from the others. Because they aren't you and the never had those nights. And you know they want you to be sad or angry or less of a bastard. You are. You just don't want them to know. Because baggage carries and none of them would believe that when you look down at your wife and the man who could be your friend, you feel all those and more. You feel, for the first time in SO long, free.

Because you did this. You pushed and pushed until she ran and you're left with nothing. No promises. No commitments. No responsibility. And broken vows.

So you breathe deep, drawing the pain and the resentment and the bitterness away and out. Your chest aches with the remembering of beauty, but at the same time your legs and arms and heart and soul sag in the relief that comes only after a deep pain ends. Because it has. All of it. It's ended.

And you let her go.

"Be happy, both of you. You deserve it."

-fin-