Disclaimer: I own nothing except a great affinity for everyone and everything having to do with Sanctuary.

It's like suffocating in an empty room. It's the emotional equivalent to when Will locked me in a single cell in the sub and drained the air of all oxygen, leaving only poisonous carbon dioxide. Except in the emotional manifestation, there's no way to turn the oxygen back on.

Every moment I'm struggling to breath, struggling to live. Every moment, it's not my life flashing before my eyes, but hers.

I'm strong. And even when I'm not strong, I'm still strong. Or well, I'm pretending to be. Those on the outside don't see it, and those on the inside don't admit that they see it. I know that they know that's the only thing I'm clinging to at the moment. It's the proverbial sweaty palm on the ledge of this life, where one more drop of sweat could be my breaking point. So they let me go on pretending I've got it all under control, and I let them because reaching out would mean acknowledging the pain, and I'm barely breathing as it is.

I'm suspended in a constant state where the pain is too much and not enough all at once. One moment I can barely catch my breath as it overwhelms me, and the next I'm yearning to feel it more, because each painful memory is like an emotional lashing to assuage the guilt. It's my fault. I wasn't strong enough, fast enough, good enough. It's my fault.

And yet, each painful memory is like one short burst of oxygen dissipating the carbon dioxide, allowing me one more moment of life, one more moment of strength to carry on with this burden that is placed solely on my shoulders. And rightfully so.

Every part of my being chants her name to the rhythm of my breathing.

Ashley. Ashley. Ashley. Ashley. Ashley.

This is how it has been since the moment of her birth. And this is how it will be 'til the moment of my death.