Everything was white.
The walls. The guards. The chair. My skin. My clothes. My hair. The guards positioned at the door watched me passively but warily. A shattered pair of round glasses- my glasses- lay abandoned in one corner. It's OK, though. I don't want to hide anymore. I'm sick of running from the truth. I've destroyed everything.
I've lied to himself for this long. And where did that get me? Locked up in a white room with a bunch of burly idiots who thought they were so great but really didn't know what they were talking about. I want to get angry at them and scream at them and throw chairs at them and chase them away, but I'm just so drained of energy. There's nothing I can do anymore, physically or mentally.
That terrible night. It seems so long ago, but it isn't. A mere twenty four hours. Twenty-four hours, as I now know, can make all the difference. Lives lost, bodies damaged, friendships torn apart, friends dead.
They can't hear the voices. They can't hear Glen when he whispers in my ear, hour after hour, day after day. He's always there, waiting, watching. I want to say that he's evil, but he only speaks the truth. He is the truth. The truth is always dangling in front of your face, looming over future, watching your every move. You can pretend all you like, you can never escape.
Do not forget, Glen whispered. Do not forget that you did this.
How can I? I thought numbly. The murder of a close friend. The close friend, the only person who has ever mattered to me. Gone.
Gone because of me.
I know the truth. I've known it for a long time now, but I've hidden behind lies up until now. I'm so sick of hiding. Lying has gotten me nowhere. Every time I closes his eyes, all I see is him, head thrown back in a staggeringly large pool of his own blood, sprawled out across the floor. It's just another reminder of what I've done.
Me. I murdered Elliot Nightray.
Forcing Elliot into signing the Contract with Humpty Dumpty in his darkest hour had done nothing. Yes, I saved his life with my reckless actions, but in saving him I also damned him. It couldn't end well. When did relationships with illegal Chains ever end well? For a brief moment I thought of the Vessalius boy and his Chain, the fearsome B-Rabbit. I banished the thought dismissively. The boy was doomed, just as Elliot was… had been. That boy could hide behind his passive, cheery smiles for as long as he liked, but I knew just as well has he did that his clock was ticking. And when it finally spun the whole way around… Tell Elliot I say hello.
It's a silly notion, almost laughable. 'Hello'? If I ever did have the chance to see Elliot again, I dare not think to hazard a 'hello'. How could he ever forgive me for what I had done? Making him sign that Contract was the second worst thing I had ever done to Elliot. The worst thing was lying to him about it. I always knew he was The Headhunter, the man who had killed his brothers and then his sister. But I didn't tell him because I wanted to protect him.
If you wanted to protect him, Glen told me. You would never have let him go into the hole in Sablier in the first place.
He's right. I was a reckless, incompetent fool for letting Elliot run off on his own to find those children. Their long dead smiles lingered in front of my eyes. Even if we had somehow managed to save them without getting hurt, they would have been doomed to the life of an Illegal Contractor anyway. Tick tock, tick tock… dead. Just like Elliot.
That day in Sablier had haunted me ever since. Every time I looked at him, I remembered that I had damned him. I told myself that I would tell him, but I never did. Even in his dying moments, I had never apologized, or confessed, or anything like that. He had been left to figure it out on his own. Elliot was never meant to be on his own. I decided that the day I swore myself to his servitude. He was my responsibility. I was supposed to protect his life with mine, supposed to watch his every move, supposed to be by his side every minute of every day.
Protect his life with mine…? I wish I could have had the guts to sign that Contract inside of forcing him into it. Perhaps I could have told Humpty Dumpty to save him, and then turn myself into Pandora. Elliot would have told them to do everything in their power to save me from my fate… As if. I was a coward. And who was to say that Humpty Dumpty would opt to save Elliot anyway? It was all a silly fantasy. There is no way to reverse the effects of the needle of the seal of the Illegal Contractor. A bit like matrimony.
Elliot was always rigidly against self-sacrifice and self-righteousness. I followed his beliefs to his dying day, but I have come to realize that this was just another lie. When I tricked him into that Contract, I was saving myself, not him. I would be lost without Elliot, as we can all see now. I was unprepared to lose him, not there. If making him sign an Illegal Contract meant keeping him by myself for that little while longer… So be it. It was all for me, from the beginning. I told myself that it was an act of bravery and loyalty, but these self-appointed delusions have crumbled to dust before my eyes. What an idiot I had been to think that that was true. It was sheer cowardice. I was too scared to have to survive without Elliot. Even if I'd never really told him directly, he had always been like a left arm to me. It doesn't feel right without him.
Things were rough, but the best friendships usually were. I remembered the first time he asked me to become his servant, and the look on his face when I refused. That would have been a picture worth taking, for sure! A smile crossed my face, but only very fleetingly. The last full conversation we had had wasn't exactly what you would call friendly. I called him annoying. I told him I hated, and all these horrible things I didn't really mean. I never got to apologize- for everything.
I never got to thank him, either. He had given me something I would never have received if I stayed in the orphanage. The years I spent there were lonely. I shunted everyone, I hid behind a lazy curtain of hair, I dumped my sadness on the piano keys and yelled at people when they stared at me while I played. I spent my days alone in the library, devouring book after book in solitude. Elliot could never give me my childhood back, but he had somehow made up for it. I made my first real friend, someone who could make me laugh and smile no matter what. Someone who I got angry at all the time, but relied on heavily. Someone who meant the world to me, even if he never realized it before he died. Elliot allowed me to become someone else, and so I paraded as Elliot's mysterious, quiet, scholarly understudy, always sensible, always level-headed… until my guilt became too much and I snapped. Elliot had gotten used to it, eventually, which meant a lot to me. No-one had ever managed to control me before. Elliot was a bit of a loose cannon himself, but I reigned him in when I had to. I had never seen anyone as an equal before I met Elliot. I had never regarded anyone as important before he welcomed me into his life.
I sighed, and Elliot's body flashed before my eyes. Glen's voice weaved its way through the gory scene like a broken record.
Do not forget… Do not forget that you did this.
I know, Glen. I won't. Just shut up… Go away.