A/N: "God loves three (types of people): he who sleeps less, eats less, and rests less."

He lost his tie somewhere, sometime in the last twenty-four hours. He isn't sure how or why, but it doesn't matter much because now there's nothing wrapped around his neck like a hangman's noose. But that don't make no difference. It still feels like there's something there, some rope pulled tight, strangling him. He tugs at his collar, trying to loosen it up and get rid of that invisible garrote for the thousandth time that evening, but it doesn't do any good. Now that he thinks about it, it isn't so much a string as it is a pair of hands – a pair of fat, rat-fuck hands wrapped tight around his windpipe.

He has no trouble conjuring up an image to go along with rat-fuck balled-up bastard, but he doesn't know if it's the right image or if he's even on the right track. Just because he hates the guy doesn't mean Colin Sullivan actually is a goddamn rat – Dignam knows he's a fucking prick but he's never done anything that wasn't one hundred-percent bulletproof. Innocent until proven guilty. Even fucking cunts like Sullivan deserve the benefit of a doubt, 'cause that's what this country was founded on and it's the principle to which Dignam has devoted his thirty-some years of life (along with one marriage; he just wears the ring because he can't bear to get rid of it). It's why he's lost at least one decade of living to insomnia and a dark habit that borders on alcoholism, not to mention all the cigarettes that must have stained his lungs black as tar.

Fine. Let his lungs be black. They can be black, just like his heart.

But that's not right. His heart isn't black. It's just broken, like his favorite toy train he had in the first grade, the one that his older brother crushed under his tricycle. He feels like crying just like those thirty-odd years ago, but he's a grown man now and grown men don't cry, especially not grown Irish men. So he holds it all inside and clutches the glass of scotch tight enough to turn his knuckles white, and tries not to think about anything.

It doesn't work. It has never worked. He can never stop thinking.

Queenan's corpse will haunt him for the rest of his miserable fucking life. Dignam's seen dead bodies. He's even laughed at a few. It's just a whole-nother-fucking-ballgame when it's a dead – murdered – friend. He knows better than to expect to see Queenan around anywhere, and now that he's handed in his papers he knows he probably won't ever see Billy Costigan again, either.

But the kid is safe behind a locked file, and he can maybe keep himself safe long enough for Dignam to do what he should have done in the first place – find out who that fucking rat is. He can ask the tough questions the tough way, and he knows all about the games cops play so he's pretty fuckin' sure he's gonna get away with it. Ellerby's bright, but he's not as smart as Queenan, and Dignam can run circles around those fuckin' jokes in SIU until they all give up or die.

He feels those hands around his neck again, and tugs once more at his collar. The buttons come off in his fingers and he stares at them for a second before dropping them one by one into his drink. Plop, plop. He knocks back the last mouthful of scotch and swallows everything, hoping the burning sensation of the alcohol will get rid of his ghostly killer. Once the room stops spinning and he opens his eyes, the dread realization hits him that there's nothing he can do to get rid of the weight on his chest, around his neck, crushing him.

He understands, too, in a sudden stroke of lucidity, that a simple arrest will not unfuck this mess. There can be no judge, no jury. There must not be any possibility of escape, no second chance, no goddamn fucking parole. Queenan is dead. The rat must die. He must die, and by Dignam's own hands, no less. He owes Queenan that much, at the very least. He knows how to do it – he knows exactly what needs to happen. In order to make things right, he must kill himself.

Not literally, of course, but it's close enough to the truth. His trigger finger twitches as he imagines lifting the gun and squeezing off that fatal round, imagines blowing blood and brains all over the fucking wall as the rat collapses into a shocked, crumpled heap on the floor. He knows he's thinking of Sullivan when he lives out this (sick) fantasy, but the sense of satisfaction he feels is so overwhelming he can't berate himself for it. It just fits, and right now, he doesn't give one fuck about sin or karma or any bullshit like that.

He feels the floor tilt under him, sees his feet slipping off the metaphorical cliff, but he just spreads his arms and laughs as he falls, 'cause it's not just about revenge anymore. Oh no, not revenge – it's about what's right, and no one can fucking argue when he goes through with it because the world will be better off without one more fucking rat running around. Queenan wouldn't be proud of his Staff Sergeant right now, but Dignam honestly doesn't care. Queenan's dead and Dignam will now sacrifice himself for the sake of all that's good in the world.

After all, that's his job, right? And he's the guy who does his job.