A tie. It felt strange and slippery between his fingers. It was a hideous yellow that did horrors for his complexion, it was stupid, it was too long and then too short, he had never worn it before, he never wanted to wear it, it was a gift from his mother and it was the only tie he owned. It stubbornly refused to be tied properly, and really, what was the use of a tie that didn't tie? To be tied was its one purpose in existence, and if it couldn't do that, did it deserve anything more than the garbage? But it was his only tie, the only tie he had, and the tie he had to wear. Maybe it wasn't the tie at fault here; maybe it was his hands. His hands rebelled against wearing a tie. They hated the feel of the smooth fabric between their fingers. They hated the way it bunched when they tried to pull it through a knot. They hated how, when they did manage to get the knot looking passable, the wrong end would be far too long. They hated how they couldn't exactly remember if they were doing this whole tie-tying thing properly. They hated that they needed to know. It was strange, how those hands that were always so comfortable with a camera in their grip were so lost. Confounded by a scrap of tapered yellow fabric.

They had all assumed it would be Mimi. After that nightmare on Christmas Eve, who could blame them? She was barely clinging to life. She would be the next to slip into the ground. No one ever dreamed it would be him. He seldom even seemed ill. He looked and acted like a perfectly healthy young man. Although they couldn't forget what lurked inside of him, they were able to push it to the back of their minds. That had been dangerous. It made this all the more difficult. They had all, subconsciously of course, braced themselves for Mimi's death. She was so frail, and even her brighter days were touched with the dark knowledge of disease. But not him. He seemed so strong. He was an anchor, a torch burning through the night. So, really, it made perfect sense that they should have known it was him all along. The torch that burns the brightest is the first to sputter and die.

He planned this. He must have. April 28th. It was so like him. Almost six months to the day that they lost Angel. And April. It was always April, wasn't it? Everything he was always came back to April. She destroyed him. She never knew it, but before April, things were alright. There were bad days, there always were between friends, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with. Then along came April, a whirlwind of life and color, making everything change. April came, and with her came loud friends, loud life, parties that weren't just all-night--they were all-week, and smack. And then April was dead, and they were all left stumbling in her wake, blinking in the daylight, the bright blur they had been accustomed to rendered motionless. April was gone, and she left them to deal with mood swings, apathy, withdrawal, and, of course, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

His hands surrendered, after nearly an hour of struggle. He would ask Joanne to tie it for him.