Title:  Alius

Author:  CeilidhO

Summary:  It seems to me that you've done this before.

Disclaimer:  Nothing here is mine.  It all belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox, etc.  No copyright infringement intended.

Rating:  Rated R for violence, very mature themes, and coarse language.

Author's Note:  I got the idea for this after watching The Gift.  Sorry if it offends anyone.  PLEASE review.  Criticism is welcomed with hugs and cookies.

P.S.: The "I" used is an omniscient narrator.         

*                   *                   *

He's just a boy, smashed from the outside in, labouring to breathe as you crouch down next to him.  You even wipe your glasses as you gaze into his ruined face. 

He thinks that he's safe now, that it's all okay, but you and I both know better.  We both know what's coming.  Your face is as blank as the pre-dawn sky behind you as you clamp your hand down on his face.  Your eyes are a grey curtain, as if you were reading an uninteresting book, rather than watching his thin blood bubble up between your fingers and well over the rough skin.

And it seems to me, as I watch you do it, that you've done this before.

You know it too, and you're back there in an instant.  You can feel the changes; your hair, your clothes, your eyes, even the skin that houses you.  You're back there, in the draughty house, with all the smells and sounds and sensations that only you would know.

You're tired.  You're so desperately tired that it overpowers the hunger, the thirst, the lust; it's only that sweet craving for unconsciousness that fills your soul.  You know you can't, that none of you can, not until He's come and gone again.  You don't know where Deirdre is, but while she's gone none of you can sleep.  When she's back He'll go, and all of you can collapse back into slumber, satisfy the devouring need that's robbing your body.  Sleep is almost a violent thing for you now.

In the meantime, you're tired.  Tired of all the arguments, of the cold, of the unhappiness, and most of all, tired of the hungry way Ethan's eyes move up your body when he thinks you can't see.  Of the way that just sometimes, you want him to, the way sometimes you wait for it and love it.

You're tired of the people, of the sights and smells the same the day after day, of the endless circuit of drugs and blaring music and strangers walking in and out of the others' beds.  You want out, you want in, you want something to give.

You know, and don't know, that tonight it will.

You take a final hit, the pleasure slamming through your body in a tearing glee, and suddenly you're up so high that the entire fucking country's under you, just watching you float above them, wishing they were you. 

You're so immune now that the height lasts only a few seconds, and then you start slowly falling, clawing and dragging at the air until you're back on the filthy floor, Philip lying in a drugged-out heap next to you, his mouth slack and his eyes glazed, murmuring words that matter only to him.  Disgust fills you to the brim in a heartbeat, and even though you're still shaky you pull yourself to your feet and stagger to the door.

The night air caresses your face, as sharp as the needle you've been using. 

Back with the boy, your expression shifts, almost imperceptibly.

You and I both know what's coming.

The cold London street reels under you, and you bring to your mind's eye what it looked like from so far above, only minutes ago.  A tiny landlocked constellation, glittering like a diamond, icy clear and clean, beckoning and winking.

Bloody fucking drugs, you think.  Yeah right.  Fucking cesspool's more like it.

The streetlights are trapped suns, burning above you, surrounded by halos of their own brilliance.  The open-air market looms ahead, a few brave vendors still out and selling, made courageous heroes by their chipped flasks and smooth barrelled shotguns.  You make your way to it, your steps surer than before, your eyes clearer, but it's not out of you yet. 

When you get close enough to actually see the faces of the vendors, a stinking gust of wind brings you back down to the sidewalk, back down to earth, with a shattering jerk.  All of the anger and exhaustion returns to you with bruising force, and your teeth clench and grind.

You just want something to give.

And that's when you see her, standing by the orange stand, her delicate fingers stroking the small round fruit like a lover, nimbly flicking them to the ground and under her skirt.  The streetlamp glows in fiery gold across her chest.

You want her.

You're over to her in a few steps, your hand on her elbow, her eyes turned to yours.  She wants you too.  You lead her a few feet away to a damp alley, where you throw her to the ground and take her almost before she knows its happening.

She's quiet when it's over, almost reflective.  The milky line of her throat is so delicate, and her nose so fragile.  Her chest flutters when she breathes, as if she doesn't need much air at all.  How much? you're wondering, and before you know what's happening, your hand is over her mouth and pinching her nose, pressing down so hard you can feel her teeth against your palm, clear through the soft cushion of her lips.

Something gives.

All your anger and exhaustion is pouring into her, lightening you, so that you might just float back up to the sky again, see the diamond against the Thames.  You want so badly to be free of it all.

Her hands smell like the Christmas tangerines she was stealing as her fingers scrabble frantically at your face.  You can see the pale oil like scales on her knuckles. 

Your eyes are a grey curtain, as if you're reading an uninteresting book.

It's not real even after she's still, quiet and unresponsive.  It's not real even as you leave her there and stagger home.  It's not real even as you cook up another hit to delay thinking about it.

It's not real until you sleep, and the nightmares don't stop for years.

And so it is that as you and I watch the boy go still, we both remember. 

And it seems to me like you've done this before.