Author's Note/Disclaimer: I own nothing!

One shot that was all it took, all he needed, or so Five's told himself as his clammy fingers fumbled with the hypo-gun. Pressing it against his leg he pretended not to see the tiny angry welts that trailed down his calf. It was a silent warning that he tried so hard to ignore.

I'll sleep once the mission is over.

It was a lie and deep down he knew it. Though he was no longer a shiny Fives continued to push himself well beyond his physical limits. It was not just about proving his worth to the 501st but to himself as well.

After spending months on the frontlines without a moments rest between missions, Fives found it increasingly difficult to maintain pique efficiency. It was not his only concern.

He could not remember the last time he actually slept without the tormenting nightmares. He longed for the peaceful rest he knew when he was still a shiny. It was an impossibility now and so he learned how to cope with it.

The medics had long since forbidden him use of stims forcing Fives to find more innovative ways to supply his needs. Street stim was far more potent, enabling him to remain alert and on duty-at times-for up to 36 hours straight.

Coming down was another matter entirely, there was something for that too, though he knew better than to use it often. Sleepers enabled him to sleep, but it also meant there would be no escape of waking up should the nightmares and memories become too much.

His brothers did not speak of his sudden stamina but Fives knew they were suspicious. Yet, who were they to judge? Chopper had his war trophies, while Jester had his habit of cleaning his rifle for hours at a time. Even Shiv used to write letters to his dead friend before the war took his life too.

They all had their own ways of keeping it together, how was his any different?

With a frown Fives jammed the gun against his bruised flesh and pulled the trigger. He tried to ignore the soft click of the hypo-gun and the chill that it sent down his spine.

After this mission I'll rest. he promised himself again, as the liquid fire filled his veins. Drawing in a deep breath Fives covered the evidence with black trousers and the scratched white plating of his armour.

Grabbing his helmet the young solder tried not to acknowledge his reflection in his visor. It was impossible to ignore the red rims around his eyes, the pallor of his skin and the gauntness of his cheeks. The harsh reality of his situation was becoming increasingly difficult to deny.

Shaking fingers clutched his helmet so tightly that his knuckles turned white. What was happening to him?

"Fives you ready? Commander's expecting us in C and C right away." The sound of Echo's voice snapped him out of his dark thoughts.

With a stiff nod he put on his helmet. I'm in charge now. I've always been in charge, he silently repeated as he followed his brother out.

The unspoken mantra could not silence the haunting whisper that told him that he was falling apart.