A/N: This is for FearlessHardy, because she made me feel like the greatest person on this planet. Because of that, she gets Jeff. Lots of different POV's in this one. Adds to the edginess. (HA! EDGE)

My lungs made of concrete, I struggled to breathe.

Sometimes they were accordions, in and out, in and out, faster than my mouth could move, faster than my chest could heave. I'd be breathing in when my lungs were breathing out.

But now they were heavy, dripping into my stomach, into my spine. I tried to move but the shadows reached out to grab me, to take me into their corners. It was everywhere I turned, to the ceiling, to the window, to the door. Hands went to snatch me, tie my wrists behind my back, slam my face to the ground.

I lay there in silence, as silent as I could be with the running motor in my chest. My head was swimming in fear, I could taste it at the back of my throat. The sweat running down my neck. The fingers clenching between my knees.

They were there, right on the edge of the sink, your safety blanket. Your babysitter for me while you were gone. They were like an exhibit at a museum, locked in a case, so close I could only touch the glass.

My head hit the floor, the sweat poured into a river.

I closed my eyes and waited to drown.


"I left Jeff," Hayley said reluctantly, the second she walked in the door. The rain was coming down even harder than before, mud splashed up on her jeans.

Matt sprung over his couch. "What? Why?"

"Why do you think?"

"Hay, you're makin' a big mistake."

She went for the liquor stacked up in the corner of his kitchen. "I made a mistake"­—the cork squeaked, popped when she tugged it out—"getting together with that asshole in the first place."

Matt frowned at her, sitting in the chair adjacent to her once she sat at the table. He grabbed her hand when she went for the bottle again.

Her eyes were red. "Please don't tell me I should go back to him."

"The only person who can tell ya that is ya heart." He wrenched the bottle from her clenched and thin fingers, thumping it at the corner. "Don't listen to anyone else."

She pressed her palms to her cheeks, to her eyes. "I can't hear it."

"Yes, ya can. It's right there, thumpin' inside a ya."

"I can't feel it," she whispered. She pressed a hand against her rib, looking up at Matt with dead eyes. "I can't feel it at all."


1999

It was his smile. His incisors were crooked, his teeth were too big for his mouth. He smoked too many cigarettes, I could smell it on his clothes, in his breath. His teeth permanently dark.

But those lips parted that one quiet night and I knew he was the one.

"What's cho name?" he asked, and I wondered if he was drunk or he actually talked like that.

"Hayley."

"Ya got a pretty face to match that name a yours, Hayley." He put his beer on the bar. "Ya want a drink?"

"Nah, I'm okay."

"Ya want a husband?"

I was taken aback, the Yankee from the north. Was this how southern gentlemen were supposed to act?

He smiled again, like an asshole, his nose wrinkling, eyes telling a dirty joke. "I'm just playin' wicha, darlin'. I like the little line girls get between their brows when they don't know what the hell I'm talkin' about."

"Oh." I turned away from him. He was weird. Different.

He took my arm. "Why ya hidin' from me? I won't bite unless ya ask me to."

"I'm just looking for my friends," I said weakly.

He saw through it. His eyes sparkled. "Ya got a friend right here. Don't need nobody else."

I turned to him fully, smiling slightly. "What's your name?"

"Finally." He grinned. "My name's Jeff."


THEMATTHARDYBRAND: *HurricaneHelms *TheShannonBrand She's asleep on my couch. I don't know where he is.

THESHANNONBRAND: *THEMATTHARDYBRAND Well, the problem is obvious. How long she been there?

THEMATTHARDYBRAND: *TheShannonBrand Since 10 maybe. I just hope he realizes what an idiot he's being so I don't have to do something drastic.

HURRICANEHELMS: *THEMATTHARDYBRAND *TheShannonBrand It's been seven years.

THEMATTHARDYBRAND: *HurricaneHelms *TheShannonBrand When you type that out... seems like a long time.

HURRICANEHELMS: *THEMATTHARDYBRAND ...Because it is.


2002

I was walking on air. Up to the sky, I sang with the angels in the clouds and smiled down on earth with God holding my hand. People were waving, from the ground, from the mountains, from the planes. They all smiled and welcomed me.

"Let's try somethin' heavier," Jeff whispered.

I looked at him, back on earth, back in the basement. "Heavier?"

He nodded. "Heavier."


­"We came over as fast as we can," Shan said, the second Matt had opened the door. His eyes were practically translucent, hair dripping. "Is she still asleep?"

"Yeah."

"Where is she?" Shane asked, moving so he could close the door.

"In my room. She looked uncomfortable on the couch."

They followed him down there, to that room with the dancing shadows of trees fighting outside. She was asleep in the beam of light coming from the hallway, the yellow slice of reality.

Shane frowned. "God, she's had to put up with so much shit, man."

"She don't deserve it," Shan agreed.

"No one does." Matt shook his head. "Should we go check on Jeff?"

"You can," Shane said quietly. He stepped into the dark room. "I wanna stay with her. Make sure she's gon' be all right."

"I'll stay with Shane." Shan moved away from Matt. "He's your brother. You should be the one who tells him he needs to stop."

"I've told him a million times already."

"Well, he needs to listen this time." Shane glanced at Hayley, eyes gold when he turned back to him. "Because he won't just lose her—he'll lose all of us."


Early 2003

"Jeff, I don't want to do this anymore."

"You don't know what you want," he growled. "Just do it."

"Don't make me do something I don't want to do."

"You want to do it, you're just a fucking pussy!" He glared at her angrily, grabbing the stuff out of her hand. "Fine, if you're not going to do it, I'll just take your half."

"Jeff, that's way too much!"

"That's half of its appeal."


The grass was wet.

Matt stupidly went without shoes, walked right out the front door barefoot. The rain was coming down faster, slicing through the air, hitting the ground hard. It was only a couple minutes to Jeff's house, a minute to drive, but he wanted the time to think about what he was going to say to his brother.

You're a fucking idiot.

You've done this before.

You've hurt the people who matter most.

You've hurt yourself.

You gotta move forward.

You gotta take control of your life.

You gotta stop.


Early 2003

Dear Mr. Hardy,

I regret to inform you of this unfortunate news, but my company can't be associated with drug abuse. Your infrequency and erratic behavior has come to my attention, and the fact that you've missed ten out of the last fifteen shows makes me wonder why I even decided you were good enough for the WWE in the first place. So I'm giving you one option: Rehab, or termination.

The choice is yours.

Sincerely,

Vincent Kennedy McMahon, Chairman of WWE


"I don't need fuckin' rehab."

"Jeff, please. It'll help you. We'll help you."

"I don't need a fuckin' quack tellin' me that I'm hurtin' my body. I don't need nobody tellin' me anythin'!"

"Jeff, please"

"I was doin' fine on my own. I was handlin' myself well, I was goin' on like normal. It's when ya start goin' up on your high horse, tellin' me what to do. You think you're helpin' me, but you're not!"

"Jeff, come on"

"I'm gon' do this on my own, Matt. I'm gon' do this on my own with no one to help me and no one to pick me up except myself."

"Are you strong enough?"

"I have to be."


Dear Vincent Kennedy McMahon,

You can take your rehab and stick it up your ass.

The only person who can help me is myself.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Nero Hardy, former jobber of the WWE


The front door was open. The lights were off, the house a cage. Matt could smell Jeff's own desperation, his fight to survive. His blood was in the boards of this house, built into the walls. It was a shame to see what it had become.

The floors were creaky, slick with something unidentifiable. He felt the walls, grimy with sweat, kicked past the clothes on the floor.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

The bathroom, door ajar, candle light blinking.

Jeff's face against the bathtub, eyes open wide.


2006

"I'm gettin' my job back!"

I blinked at him. "What?"

"Yeah! Vince called. He said he saw my progress, how I overcame my addiction, and that he'd be happy to have me return!"

I just couldn't believe it. Was our lives finally falling back into place? Was that missing puzzle piece found?

He picked me up and spun me. "Baby girl, I'm so excited I could just scream!"

"Then scream, Jeff." I smiled and touched his face. "Scream your heart out."


"911 Emergency."

"I NEED AN AMBULANCE!"

"Just stay calm, sir, what's your emergency?"

"My brother! He's... I don't know!"

"Is he conscious?"

"No!"

"Is he breathing?"

"No!"

"Does he have a pulse?"

"I can't tell! Oh, for the love of God, just send someone! He's gon' die!"


A voice.

But not the one.

I can tell it's the end, I can see the light, the tunnel's mouth. It swallowed me up and took me to a paradise with grass and trees and the ocean. The colors faded, turned to gray, melted into black.

Teeth came out and sank their fangs into me.

I gasped, and there it was again, the boat motor, chest heaving, lungs running a mile.

And there I was, amongst an earthquake, and the frothy waves were beating over my head.

"Jeff! Jeff, oh my God!"

It wasn't the one I wanted to hear.

I wasn't coming back until the angel saved me.


2009

Hayley dropped her bags. "What's this?"

I couldn't help but smile. It's all I did. My head rolled back against the wall and I looked at her, eyes barely open. "Hi, baby."

"Jeff. What is this?"

"This..." I licked my lips, tried to focus. The band around my arm hurt. "This is my life, baby."

"Jeff, you fought this! You conquered this!"

"I buried it. I drowned it." I shook my head. "But there's only so much you can do before the water covers your head..."


"Jeff!"

She wasn't going to be there in time. The train was leaving.

"Jeff, can you hear me? It's Matt! Jeff, it's Matt!"

He pointed to my hand, to the ticket. One last chance, I let someone go ahead of me, let someone else disappear into the other side.

"Jeff, the ambulance is coming. Jeff, open ya fuckin' eyes!"

People rushed past, stomped my feet, pushed my shoulders. And then...

"Jeff!"

Then the crowd parted. It was a light that broke them, that had them stepping aside. She was smiling at me in a white dress, her hair curled back, with flowers behind her ears.

"You're not supposed to be here," I said quietly.

"Neither are you."

"Do they know?"

"Not yet. They must think I'm just sleeping."

I smiled and she smiled, and our hands locked together.

He took out tickets and ripped the stubs.

And we rocketed back to our fondest moment, beneath the trees, where the leaves fell like rain and the summer sun warmed our faces.

We smiled with death in our eyes.

And stayed like that for all eternity.

A/N: I never said she got Jeff alive. No one should. Thank Bright Eyes for that bout of depression. Review.