A/N – This is rather dark. I intended it to be. I hope you like it, and would like some reviews to know if I should continue this. I can say right now that it's been difficult to write – kind of freaked myself out a few times as the images came into my head.

Disclaimer: Don't own the characters. Not happy with the show right now anyway, so I wouldn't want to own the characters or anything to do with them.

A/N 2 – The quotes used in here (the Gettysburg Address and Preamble to the Constitution) may not be exactly right. I had to memorize them as a kid, and they ended up part of the story. If they're not totally right, I apologize, but they should be rather close.

A/N 3 – Just saw the show. Actually have a little hope. I'm taking the optimistic view, especially since my story Bitter Sorrow actually fits the letter she wrote pretty well.

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Dead Me, Living Me

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He was angry, worried, guilty – every emotion possible. She'd been smiling when she came into work. He'd seen the pain in her eyes, but she'd been smiling. Now she was gone with nothing but a damn note. Her choice. He was left with only his work and misery. He was too stunned to find her, because he must not have been enough. Little did he know…

She pulled out her journal and checked off her supplies list. She'd left him, not knowing how to explain. She had no home now, because she'd left him, and he was home.

She'd stopped only at a survival shop. She bought only what she needed, and wore only the clothes she left in, save a heavy military-issue coat and hiking backpack. Still, she didn't know why she was here, but she had already unloaded her supplies, paid the cab driver, and was left alone – in the desert.

"I'm here," she whispered into the dark.

She laid on the cold ground and wept until exhaustion overtook her.

When she woke, aching, she'd set up her camp. She opened the case of water bottles and took one out, then opened up an MRE. She left the tarp folded neatly on the ground.

"Okay… we're in the desert. Why the hell did you bring only twenty four water bottles and 36 MRE's?" she asked herself.

The answer came quickly, overwhelming her. She pulled out her journal and began to write.

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Journal Entry – Day One – Morning

I died here. It's where I belong. I may die here again. The dead me says it would be a relief. Because I'm already dead. He doesn't see the dead me. He sees the living me. He sees the part that aches for him – for me – for us.

There are two of me. The dead me is getting so much stronger. The living me was fading – too hurt to fight anymore. The dead me wants to stay here, cold, alone, and angry.

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She stood, eyes empty, looking out across the desert. A single water bottle in hand, she began to walk – off in the direction she'd walked before.

Dust and dirt shuffled around her feet before the panic began to overwhelm her, and she turned, running back as fast as possible, collapsing, gasping from breath under a creosote bush. Sobs racked her body, shuddering, making her skin grow cold and clammy. She'd only made it three hundred feet.

For hours she shook, lost and whimpering. When she finally came back to herself, the sky was dark. She lay awake, cold and alone in the desert.

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Journal Entry – Day Two – Morning

I died here. I tried to step beyond the bounds yesterday. I'm too afraid to walk into the desert. The dead me says to sit still and be peaceful. If I do that, the rest of me can die, too.

But I don't think I came here to die. I wish I knew why I was here, but I don't think it's so the dead me can be at peace.

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After she wrote her thoughts in her journal, she picked up her purse, pulled out her identification and buried it deep into the desert floor.

She was tired, cold, and aching.

"Okay, if we're going to do this, we need heat. Warmth. And we didn't bring enough water, so you better start thinking."

Looking around her make-shift camp, she saw desert floor, broken branches, tall creosote bushes like the one she slept under. Looking just thirty feet north, she peered at the cluster of Joshua trees. To the south lay the barren desert.

"We need to move to the trees and higher ground."

After moving her camp, she gathered wood. Pulling the lighter out of her purse, she lit some scrub, watching the spark turn to flame. She fed the flame to a blaze, and held her hands out.

"It's going into winter. We'll be cold. We need heat."

For hours and hours, she stockpiled brush and chunks of wood.

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Journal Entry – Day Two – Night

The night is fading. I'm hungry. I forgot to eat. I've only eaten two MREs. I have 34 left. That may not be enough. I saw some wildflowers not far off… it looks like desert clover. Near it is some snakes head – a white flower, as well. I can eat those for now. The plants are fading. The night is growing too cold. I'll eat those first, and save the MREs.

I was busy today. When I can be busy, I can't think. When I can't think, the living me is awake.

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When she woke in the morning, she decided to fix up camp, staking the tarp between two Joshua trees as a shaded tent.

"We'll be dry, and we'll have shade," she muttered.

Then, in a rage kicked in the side of the tent, screaming, "What the hell is the point!"

Stunned at herself, she dropped to her knees, her hands trembling, and pulled the tent straight again.

She stood, took a deep breath, and said, "The point is we're here. That has to be enough," then shouted, "Leave me the hell alone!"

Turning and staring south, she saw a shimmer of herself from that day, stumbling through the desert. A shiver ran up her spine.

"Okay. We're going to go there today," she said resolutely, squared her shoulders, removed her coat, and stepped in that direction.

She walked the path on which she had watched herself stumble. The farther into the desert, the more her chest hurt, her lungs ached, and her head spun.

"Two plus two is four. Four plus four is eight. Eight plus eight is sixteen," she whispered into the breeze, her entire body shaking from something other than cold.

When her body couldn't take it anymore, she lay down on the desert floor and stared up into the sky, letting the late-season heat sear through her.

When she looked back at her camp in the distance, she realized she'd made it nearly a mile.

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Journal Entry – Day 3 – Afternoon

I walked out there today. I followed the same footsteps. I had to come back. Dead me doesn't like it when I leave this spot. So I crawled on hands and knees, but the living me wants to keep going.

The dead me picked up a bottle of water, unscrewed the cap, and drained it onto the ground – why not. I'm going to die out here anyway. Then I cried over it, because I don't have a lot of water with me, and I'm scared I'll die of thirst. I'm getting low on water, and I don't know what to do.

I'm scared. And I'm starting to smell.

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The fire just outside of her makeshift tent was blazing, providing just enough heat and shelter to give some comfort. She closed her eyes.

It was the first night she dreamt of him.

The next morning was much like the last, but she smiled.

"We're going to have a good day," she said to herself, and ate. She still had a few wilted flowers, and pulled a bit of bark off the tree. She nibbled on those for an hour or so, looking south again, and wondering.

Once the coals of the fire were stoked and the blaze set, she looked south.

She retraced the path she'd taken yesterday.

"We'll get there," she promised herself. "We won't crawl back."

The promise didn't keep, as she crawled back on hands and knees, scared, shaking, and sobbing – her limbs a boneless mass.

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Journal Entry – Day 4 – Afternoon

I'm so tired. I don't want to be tired anymore.

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She lay huddled in her tent, shivering, covered in her leather jacket and the thick Army coat.

When she finally ate an MRE, it was with little appetite. She simply had no hunger.

Her eyes became dull as she looked across the landscape. For hours, she just stared off into the distance… watching the horizon, and not even noticing the sunset.

She woke that night screaming with a nightmare.

Picking up her journal, she read by firelight, wanted to write something, and decided she simply had nothing to say.

The next morning, she prepared for her day again. It was becoming pretty typical to eat bark after waking.

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Journal Entry – Day 5 – Morning

We will make it there and back.

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Staring south across the flat dusting planes, she pulled her shoulder back and marched, reciting the Gettysburg address as she walked.

"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…"

When she reached the point to turn around, she stared back at camp, the familiar trembling surging. The powerful heat of summer had faded to a lighter winter heat of blazing desert sun. Shaking her head, she began to march back, reciting the preamble to the constitution of the United States.

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty…"

By the time she was done repeating this a dozen times, she realized she'd gotten nearly a quarter of the way back, and began to laugh.

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Journal Entry – Day 5 – Noon

I made it back to camp. I was laughing. Apparently the preamble to the constitution is more powerful than I thought.

I'm starting to get low on water. Typically, I would drink six bottles a day, but I've had to cut it back to three or four bottles a day. I need to find a source of water before I run out.

I really smell.

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She spent the remainder of the day performing the camp chores, muttering to herself, "We did it, we did it, we did it!"

For the first time, she felt even slightly victorious, a smile gracing her lips.

She slept well that night, her body having already built grooves in which to fit into the tarp covered sand.

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Journal Entry – Day 6 – Morning

If the guys in the lab could see me now, they'd laugh. I think perhaps the smell of myself and my clothes woke me from my comfortable sleep.

I miss their laughs and jokes.

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"We'll do it again," she announced after her morning meal, and the stoking of the fire.

"While we walk, we need to find something to eat," she muttered into the air. "We need more than bark and MREs."

She stopped along the way to her southern destination, just a mile south.

When she'd left him, she'd been wearing a shirt, with a matching sweater. She used the sweater now to gather up what might be considered edible. And with a scowl, she picked up a few bugs, as well. He had told her more than once they were a great source of protein.

Turning back on her well-worn path, there was no trembling. She gathered on the way back, as well, munching on a few live beetles, and gagging each time she put one in her mouth.

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Journal Entry – Day 6 – Early Afternoon

It's Thanksgiving, I think. There is nothing to be thankful for. I ate live beetles.

Live beetles are terrible, so I am going to try to fry one over the fire. I am getting used to the bark. It has provided the fiber I need. I've lost weight, though. He would chastise me and worry over this. He would ask me what was wrong – where my appetite went, then hold me while I told him about my crappy day. I never reciprocated. I never asked him about his crappy days.

God, I don't deserve to be happy. I certainly don't deserve him.

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She dreamt of water running over her, down her throat, and choking her. She saw the ghost of her father standing over her, a knife in his side.

She woke up screaming – and it was raining.

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Journal Entry – Day 7 – Morning

It's raining – I even dreamt it was raining, but in the horrific way I usually dream of water. I'm stuck here in my tent. I want to be in the open. Maybe I should go out there. I'll wear nothing, and let the elements take me wherever I should go. I'm so cold.

I have too much time to think. I need to be busy.

I only have four bottles of water left. I need more water. I know where I can get it.

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In a flash, excited by the idea, she ran outside the tent, pulled the stakes holding up her tent, and yanked it down. Digging as fast as she could, she made a pit into which she placed the tarp. Then she stripped to nothing but bare skin. The cold fled, and heat took its place.

Within minutes, a pool of water began to fill. Grabbing sand, she watched as the tarp filled. With sand in hand, she began to scrub at her body, pulling off days of filth – sweat and dirt. When she was done, she moved under the Joshua trees, and giggled at the sight of the gallons of water filling up in the tarp.

Laughing, she danced around the trunks of the trees.

"It worked, it worked, it woooorrrrrrkkkkedddddd," she sang.

Running out into the rain, she laid on her belly and slurped up some water, flipped onto her back, and simply opened her mouth.

For a moment, she was a child.

She grabbed the empty water bottles and began to fill them, feeling clean and giddy. She lined them up, and drank as much as she could.

As the adrenaline faded from her victory, the cold began to set in again, and she dressed in damp clothes, shivering – the only protection from the never-ending rain being where the branches of the two trees met, keeping her only partially dry.

The fire was out. She was cold and alone in the darkened day. All energy gone, she wept alone, terrified to move, and unwilling to make her journey south.

That night she dreamed of rabid coyotes, snarling and baiting her.

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Journal Entry – Day 8 – Morning

I wonder if I am a monster. I come from monsters. I once told him I felt sorry for the monsters in movies. I think because I understand those monsters – as snarling and destructive as they may be. I have always been alone, like a monster. I wonder if I am a monster. He says I'm not, but I don't know if he understands that dead me feels like a monster.

Dead me has a rage that wants to destroy.

The rain stopped yesterday in the late afternoon. I have plenty of water for now. The sun is shining, so I am sitting out naked in the sun, even though the morning stillness is chilly. My clothes are laid out, drying. I can put them back on soon. I'm shivering as I write.

Why can't I just let life be easy?

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"Life is never easy," she muttered as she looked south. Resolute, she glared south and made a decision.

"We can't stay here," she said, looking at the tarp laid out to dry, as she dressed.

"We can't stay in this place."

It only took her minutes to pack her belongings into the backpack. With one last look on the cloudless sky, she headed south… to her place.

A copse of trees and bushes provided a place to build. So for hours she built, eating leaves and bark, and then finally an MRE.

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Journal Entry – Day 8 – Evening

My fire is going again. The pit I made is bigger, so the blaze is higher, holding more wood, with more coals, and hotter.

I ate more bugs. I hate bugs.

I can see off in the distance the tops of those two trees. Now I'm looking east. East toward the highway that is so far away. I'm angry I didn't make it far enough, that I found my way out, but didn't make it. I can feel this rage in me building – against myself.

They found me, but I didn't have faith in them. I don't know how to have faith. The last time I had faith in anything, she stabbed him to death. My team has faith in me. I don't understand why they could have faith in anything I touch. If they knew what I came from, they'd probably be afraid. I know I am.

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Her fitful sleep on the hard cold ground was interrupted by the calls of wild dogs in the distance.

She stirred the nearly dead coals, pulled found some damp wood nearby, and brought the blaze up. It was still dark and chilly, so she warmed herself, rubbing her hands together.

Closing her eyes, she listened to the tones of the wild dogs. For just a moment, she thought she understood them – their calls from one west sounding regretful, the calls from the south sounding mournful.

"At least we don't hear them in the east," she said.

"Do me a favor, and don't go out," she said to the fire.

As she lay out on the ground, she thought of the calls as a melody, and fell back to sleep to music.

When she woke shortly later, she packed her belongings. She felt restless – like a shadow that stood behind her, snaking up her back and whispering to her to move.

She could see that day… how she stumbled. She knew the path she took. It became a snapshot in her mind. She knew the exact steps she had taken.

She took them now.

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Journal Entry – Day 9 – Noon

I made it half a mile today, before I couldn't move farther. I know the sand. I know the bushes. The landscape changes with every stormy or windy day, but I could feel its caress, trying to drag me under. I knew my steps. I could feel my heart beat beneath my feet, and part of me wanted to dig a hole and bury myself until I choked to death on it all.

The dead me is in a rage right now, because I wouldn't just lay down where I was. I wouldn't just stay put anymore, but I moved. So the dead me is angry. I don't know what to do with it. Am I the monster in the movies? Is that why I feel sorry for myself?

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She lay on the ground. The days were getting colder. She was freezing and alone, shaking and sobbing, until sleep overtook her under the cold sun. She woke screaming in the evening.

"We have to eat," she muttered, standing on rubbery legs and opening the backpack.

She pulled out an MRE, ripped it open, and consumed the contents, along with half a bottle of water.

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Journal Entry – Day 9 – Night

I found more bugs. Even in the cold, they come out at night when I light the fire. They must need the heat as much as I do. That must be what I am – a bug scurrying from one place to the next. I couldn't stay. I couldn't even tell him where I was going. I could only leave him. The dead me wanted me to leave him before I totally cracked, and broke apart.

I miss him… my heart beats to the rhythm of the desert, and it's not in synch.

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She didn't dream that night, because she didn't sleep.