Second Time Around
Chapter 1: Nightmare

A/N- Sketches, my quick, impulsive, plot bunny fic that somehow wound up 3 chapters long, now has a sequel?! I'd like to know how this happened. Oh well. Plenty of angst still (particularly this chapter -_-') but more humor, and maybe even romance, eventually. ^_^ POV will probably end up hopping around each chapter. *shrug* Adam's POV, for now. Ducks belong to Disney.

*****

I hate it when I get like this.

The last time, I did something incredibly stupid. I won't do that again. I learned my lesson. I was lucky.

But, it doesn't mean the depression can't still hit. And now that Charlie's gone off on this supportive-friend crusade, my guard's down, and it's even worse. I can only deal with it at all if I keep telling myself that overall, things have improved. Because they have. It's only times like this, when I'm alone with my thoughts...

Normally, in this mood, I would be drawing. But I can't. It's raining, so going up on the roof is out. And turning on any light would wake my roommate up. (Which would suck. After about the fifth fight, they finally moved me out of the room I was sharing with one of the Varsity players for the rest of the year, but they didn't have space to put me with the Ducks. So I'm with a football player. He's nice enough, but he's also about twice my size and I don't want to piss him off.) So my options are pretty much limited to lying in bed being miserable.

Not the most fun I could be having.

The problem isn't Charlie. We're getting along fine. In fact, we're probably getting along better than we did before the Varsity mess.

No. The problem is the rest of the Ducks. I still can't help feeling a little betrayed by all of them. Betrayed, and used. Like my first game as a Duck. They all hated me... until I scored that first goal. Then they were just fine with it. Using me.

Sometimes I hate myself for thinking like that.

I can never figure out where these thoughts come from. Not an hour ago, other than the fact I was doing homework, I was fine. Fine. That's always when it hits me, so suddenly, and refuses to go away.

I wish Jesse was here. At least then I would have someone to talk to about something, anything, even something completely unrelated to what's going through my mind now. I know, Charlie told me I could talk to him, but I don't want to. And it's hard to catch him anyway. He's too busy with Linda.

I think that so spitefully, but it's not because I'm jealous of her. I'm really not. Well... no more than of Charlie, anyway. And for about the same reasons.

Two in the morning. I really should sleep.

Quietly as I can, I slip out of bed and hunt down my equipment bag. There's some Tylenol PM in there. Don't ask why I keep that with my sports stuff, because I don't know.

My hand clutches something shaped like a Tylenol bottle. That'll be it. Five minutes more, and I'm out cold.

~~~~~
The room's thermostat is trying to tell me it's almost 80 degrees in here. But I'm freezing. Freezing... nothing's going to help that. The cold will only leave when this pain goes away too... the emptiness... and that can never happen, because I will never be dense enough to let my guard down and trust anyone again. The betrayal still stings. Their betrayal. My betrayal. Who was first? I don't know. I don't think I know anything imoprtant anymore.

I finish my drawing. It's another one of those annoying symbolic ones. I seem to be drawing more and more of those lately. But it fits, at least. What's written below it isn't half the story. I can't really describe this feeling. But... it is like falling. Falling, with nobody there to catch you, to slow the fall, if only for a moment.

My roommate's gone. He'll probably be back around 1 in the morning. They'll catch him breaking curfew, probably, but since he's a hockey player, they'll let him off. But it will delay him. I don't care. Why would I want him to be here?

His art supply box is on his desk. I'm not taking art this semester, but I know what the required supplies are. There should be a knife in there. He won't mind if I borrow it, and if he does mind, it won't be my problem anyway.

Everything seems so hazy. I know I'm not thinking straight, but I won't care in a few minutes. I hesitate. Cloudy as my mind may be, I'm still enough with it to be afraid. I can call it off now. Nobody will ever have to know. But... just a little more pain. A slight bit more, and I'll never have to be hurt again. Hell with it. I don't have hindsight to worry about. I can never regret this.

I hardly even feel the first, tentative cut. This isn't so bad, really. And I can keep telling myself that. Until the first few drops of blood trickle down my arm.

I barely suppress a scream. It's like fire just ran across my wrist. For an instant, I see things clearly again. So clearly. What the hell am I thinking? I race into the bathroom and wrap a washcloth around my wrist, holding it as tight as I can. The blood soaks through quickly, but it wasn't a very large cut. I'm going to be okay.

I hope. Old memories emerge, quicker than I can keep track of what happened, just enough for the emotions of the time to resurface. Is this what they mean by your life flashing before your eyes when you die? No, can't be. I'm plenty alive. I see things more clearly than I ever have before...

The memories are starting to fit together. I draw the conclusion I should've come to much earlier. This is beyond selfish. This will only hurt them. Not me, I won't care. And what right do I have to hurt them more, when all of this is my fault?

And that is what I should have realized sooner. All of it's my fault...
~~~~~

I wake up with a start. God, I can be an idiot sometimes. You'd think I would have learned, at some point in my life, that me and medicine-induced sleep do not mix. They didn't when I was 3 and had nothing more to worry about than the monsters under my bed. They didn't when I got older and learned I had to worry about my parents, too. They didn't when I became a Duck, and she... never mind. Point is, they still don't. It isn't the first time I've had that particular nightmare. Of course, the first time was the hardest. Seeing as that time, it wasn't a dream...

Get with it, Banks. What time is it, anyway?

Four in the morning. Good enough for me. Two hours is plenty. Isn't it? I could pull this off, except that for various reasons, I haven't had much more than two hours any day yet this week.

I can't miss classes today. It's Friday. We've got a biology exam. Wait, why am I worrying about that? Mrs. Madigan and her exam can burn in hell for all I care, it's her homework that's kept me up most of the week.

I set my alarm for 6:30. Charlie should show up around 6:45 to drag me off to breakfast, we'll see what happens then.

I don't get to sleep easily in the best of times. With all this, when the alarm goes off, I'll probably still be awake.

*****

I was right about not getting to sleep. Max, my roommate, woke me up (well, tried to, it didn't work for obvious reasons) at 5:30 and told me I was missing practice, was I okay? Like I said, he's a nice guy, as long as he's not mad. I told him I didn't feel good, and he didn't press me.

Charlie showed up ten minutes early and demanded to know what could possibly have kept me off the ice. I explained my sleep problems... sort of. 10 hours in 5 days was enough to get him off my case. I didn't tell him about the nightmare. How could I? After all I went through to convince him I'm over my suicidal kick, that would be awfully counterproductive.

I think I finally got to sleep, or maybe I just spent the entire day in a state of semi-consciousness. Wouldn't surprise me. In any case, around 7 Charlie came in. He told me in no uncertain terms that even though I needed sleep, I shouldn't starve myself, that wouldn't help matters. I allowed myself to be dragged to the cafeteria.

Which is where we are now. Linda comes to sit with us. That worries me, a little. Sure, she hangs out with the team sometimes, but since when does she sit with us at dinner?

Has Charlie told her something?

She smiles at me and starts concentrating on her dinner. Charlie talks. "You missed a great music class, Banksie. She made Cole sing."

I nearly choke. "And I'm upset about missing this because?" Cole somehow ended up in our music class after the first grading quarter. He was probably failing art.

"Portman threw a tomato at him."

"Why did he have a tomato in art class??" I don't think I want to know the answer to that, but at least it keeps us from having any serious discussion.

"Not sure. He was probably planning to throw it at Cole whether he sang or not... or maybe he was saving it for biology, Mrs. Madigan could do with a vegetable in her face now and then. But Ms. Delaney was laughing so hard she didn't even get around to giving him detention."

I force a laugh, and finish my sandwich as quickly as possible. I want to get out of there.

Charlie doesn't go with me, because he's not done eating. That was the idea. But Linda whispers something to him as they watch me leave. I get an odd feeling that they're talking about me.

Stupid thought. Isn't it? ...Isn't it?