HALLUCINATIONS

Another concert over.

His ears were still ringing with the screaming of the fangirls, though they were screaming for Liam, not him. Always for Liam. Never for him.

He'd been on the website before; the polls were always the same. "Who's sexier, Sinjin or Liam?" "Who do you want to keep your bed warm, Sinjin, Patrick, or Liam?" "Do you think Liam has any hot brothers?" They crushed him, and what was worse, they didn't even know they were crushing him. "Charlie Pace. . .who the hell are you? Oh, you're in DriveShaft?! My bedroom's this way. . ." And they never cared, they never even remembered him the next day when they woke up hung-over. But this was every guy's dream, right? All the girls you could ask for, sometimes more than one at once, and no commitments! No responsibility, no holding hands when the baby wants out, no heroic sacrifices, no nothing. Just fun.

At first, the girls had been his only vice. That was when Liam still cared enough about him to lie, that was when he felt like he really was contributing to the band. Without you, Charlie, there is no Driveshaft. Yeah, right. Liam was right when he said nobody even knew his name. Just another forgotten bass player. Sometimes he wondered if that was such a bad thing after all.

But then he figured it must be, since he lusted for the fame he could have had every day, and never came nearer to his unspoken dream. Churn out the music, Choir-boy. No, you won't be credited on the album cover. . .neither will any of us. That's why he had turned to the drugs. He needed to feel like he was useful, or not feel at all. He needed to be needed, but they never even tried to hide the fact that he wasn't. Well, at least when he was high as a kite, the words didn't hurt so much.

Angry at the world that didn't hear his bass in the jumble of rocking DriveShaft songs, he slammed the door to his dressing room and dashed over to the mirror. His stash was stored in a film capsule, which he quickly popped open and turned upside down. He twitched as he took in the substance which he both loved and hated. His eyes flickered upward and he surveyed his image in the spotless mirror. What have I become? he wondered miserably. All his values, all his pride, sacrificed for a quick solution to a lasting problem.

A soft giggle drew him from his agonizing thoughts to reality, and he spun around quickly. There, on the second hand pull out he kept in there for. . .ahem . ..emergencies, sat a beautiful blonde girl with wide blue eyes and an even wider smile. A small scar marked her round chin. She was pregnant, but for once in his life he wasn't scared. He'd need to have words with his dealer, he realized. There had to be something other than heroin in that little baggie. . .

"Uh. . .I don't think you should be in here. . .uh. . .I have a photo shoot. .. uh. . ." he trailed off. There was something strange going on; this girl was affecting his mind more than the drugs ever had. She smiled again, and he felt his legs tremble. What the hell is wrong with me? he wondered. No girls ever made him feel like that, especially not mothers-to-be. He stepped towards her, but just then she faded from sight. Hallucinations. Great, Charlie.

He shrugged and walked over to the sink, wondering how a hallucination could affect him more powerfully than any girl he had met before. Maybe this was just some new level of addiction. His emotions were controlled by his life-line, his wretched habit. Love became as much a part of the drugs as hate.

As he shook his hands dry, he spotted her again in the corner. She was leaning against the wall for support, and the child inside her seemed to be causing her some grief. He darted over to her, afraid she might spontaneously go into labour on him. This time she didn't fade away. He grabbed her hand, and though she squeezed with such intensity that she may have broken it, he didn't mind. The pain seemed to pass, and she smiled up at him, relieved. That smile enchanted him; he was caught like an insect in resin when she laughed. She pulled his hand over to her stomach, and when he felt the baby kick inside of her, he felt something he hadn't known in a very long time. . .pride.

But even as he grinned at her, she began to disappear again. He stumbled forward as her round stomach faded away into mist, and his hand felt only air where human warmth had been. "Why can't you stay, love?" he asked the empty room, on the verge of tears from loving and loosing yet again. He told himself he was being ridiculous, he told himself he was crying over a creation of whatever mind he hadn't traded for drugs. But some part of him knew there was more to this beautiful blonde than he could comprehend. More to her than just hallucinations.

He staggered over to the couch, confused about all that had happened. Had he really fallen in love with a pretty pregnant illusion with a scar on her chin? Was that even possible? He wished she would appear again, just so he could hold her close before his high wore off, for he still believed this was some trick of the drugs. He wished she would stay with him; he wished they could run of together to some unknown island and never think of bands or one night stands or drugs again. Just the two of them, for all eternity. Well. . .three, in time. Maybe a doctor too, because he didn't want her labour to be too painful. And a hunter, because last time he tried hunting he had been too kind to kill the poor innocent deer. And-

What the hell is WRONG with me? he wondered suddenly, glancing nervously around the room as though someone might have seen him going crazy. I'm populating an imaginary island with all the people I'd need to make my imaginary love happy. Bloody hell, I've GOT to stop using. He put his cold, calloused hand against his forehead in attempt to relieve some of the mental strain, but (a/n: surprisingly!) it failed. He heard a sob and ran his fingers over his cheeks, thinking surely this insanity must have lead him to tears, but he wasn't the one crying.

She was sitting next to him on the couch, and time had, evidently, passed since he last saw her. The scar on her cheek was gone, but there were two fresh gashes on her pale cheeks. Her face was buried in her hands, and her hands rested on her shaking knees. Her stomach was flat; the baby within her was gone.

"Hey, none of that now. . .don't cry," he whispered gently, putting his arm over her shoulder and pulling her close to him, protectively. God, this felt right. How could holding on to a dream feel so bloody perfect? He kissed her forehead gently, brushing her hair aside with his now warmed hands. If she had been anyone else, he would have had her in nothing but skin right then and there, because that was the only way he knew to take a girls mind off her troubles. She was different.

This time, when she faded away, he didn't feel so wretched. He knew then that one day, someday when everything had changed completely, he would find her for real. Fate would lead him to her, he had no doubt about that.

"Until then, love," he whispered as her warm glow faded. All that was left was the cold air of the room. Once, he thought that room heartless and icy. Now, he found it to be paradise on earth, because the memory of her still lingered there. Just as it would linger in his mind until at last he found her, until he held her for real.

Until then. . .