Dedicated to a lovely friend of mine. Re-edited; will most likely be edited again.

Lucy knows Desmond is slowly succumbing to insanity.

She knows Desmond is losing his mind like Clay—


And she wants to help him understand what's happening to him, and why he sees the things the way they are.

But she doesn't want to tell him.

Rebecca doesn't realize the severity of the situation Subject Seventeen is in. No one really does. Not even Shaun who happens to be better at everything because he's British. But they know he's affected by the Bleeding Effect. That's all they know, that's all they need to know, she tells herself. She can't bear the thought of their reactions or Desmond's own. After all, she's been monitoring his brain behaviors and patterns and it's all hauntingly similar. No it's not, she tells herself. Can't believe. Won't believe it.

She sits through agonizing flashbacks of Sixteen slowly succumbing to brain-rot of the fourth degree; slush of brain matter fermenting in the dark caverns of nightmares and where no hope can touch. Death all an illusion with symptoms never told because brains don't give up anything. Vidic sure as hell knows that. No, nothing she couldhavedoneshouldhavedonewouldhavedonewhywhywhyw hathaveyoudone—

—No, stop it. Vidic said no one would have known. It's genetic: in his genes, hidden in some lines of fragmented code mutated to fit and reproduce. Anything can happen. And so it did.

She recites every word spoken to him on her lips and his replies—He never left.

She remembers the curves of his jawline and the soft features of his face like the back of her hand. Well, when he was sleeping. At any other time his face was marred with the ugly permanence of certain knowledge of death. Everyone is born to die. Covered in his own blood, lying on the floor.

He was smiling then. A faint upturn of the corners of his mouth as a striking resemblance to Altair then. His face was peaceful and untouched by the bruises and broken bones that forced his body to rot from the inside out. Dead before he was officially pronounced dead Everyone walks the tightrope, Dr. Mercer said. Sometimes not all of us make it across. She used to wonder what that meant.

He didn't make it across. Tried to cross the road, only spilt more blood. Broke the pavement with a razor. Blue pavement covered by white skin.

She remembered every event that happened that day in precise order, time, beginning to end. Clock in, clock out. Breathe in, breathe out. Woosh.

Every word spoken, every look, movement, all recorded within her head stuck on repeat with a touch of white noise. How nostalgic. Reminded her much of an old cassette. Sixteen was in therapy with a coworker, who went by the name of Doctor Alex Mercer. Lucy didn't like him.

He was speaking quietly with Sixteen in the morning. Tried to coax him to talk more about himself: eventually to stop cutting his flesh and watching the blood trickle down in threaded ribbons while he wrapped more bandages. Alex was the only one who could talk to him so confidently and force him to hold a conversation for the longest period of time. What made him so special? Did some sort of god just happen to grace him with their presence, give him the tools to fix a broken heart and mind?

Lucy envied that quality he possessed. Jealousy was a childish thing to succumb to; she had wanted to help Sixteen too, but her duties were elsewhere. Vidic refused to allow her to speak to Sixteen more than necessary. Always scorning her whenever she asked with irrelevant answers. So she must act like an acquaintance to Sixteen. Nothing more, the lesser of their 'relationship' the best, Vidic concluded.

Like he knew shit.

The horror of the last of his tears silently trailing down Sixteen's pale face is what ingrained the image of his body into her mind. Lucy hadn't known broken men to cry. She thought the brain-rotting mold would slowly take away every last human trait and keep him from getting into her head. A fungus among us.

He still made it in. Branded there with a permanent and ugly scar. It would always flare dramatically whenever she saw Desmond. Everything about him reminded her of Sixteen. Sixteen, Sixteen, one more makes Seventeen.

And it made her regret every decision she chose. Every. Last. One.

Her last memory of Sixteen was of Dr. Mercer holding Sixteen's body. Angry, angry, angry, furious, livid. Knowing fully well there was nothing he could do. Lucy had stood there, a dainty hand covering her wide-open mouth almost as big as her eyes.

Vidic said nothing as Alex began screaming at him and Lucy, swearing revenge for the boy that took his own life. He had sworn every last one of them would pay for what they had done. Lucy remembered his angry voice like it was only yesterday. Vidic put him on "extended medical leave". He's never coming back. Like the rest of them.

She had done nothing to stop Sixteen's crazed actions.

She had said nothing to Alex when she noticed his entire room was painted with his own blood.

She didn't save him from the man-made brain-death-rot. And she regretted it. Bruises and broken bones of his own design. How can you stand up for yourself when you get altitude sickness from trying too hard?

Every second that ticks by she thinks of him. Thinks of them. What they were, what they could have been.

Now it was time for another decision. Desmond needed her now, and it was her time to act. This wasn't Abstergo goddamn it; Vidic wasn't in her way of making her own decisions this time. Shaun and Rebecca needed to know, but she often fought with herself of the pros and cons, like whether or not to speak with Desmond about his "problem". What problem I don't have a problem you're just being paranoid—

Now as Desmond's scream echoed throughout the hideout walls is the signal for Lucy to speak up now. Or let him die just like Sixteen.

She found herself hesitant though; unsure of what to do. She doesn't know how Desmond will handle it, or how everyone else will, or even herself.

There were tears running down Desmond's face when she rushes in his room to comfort him from the nightmares he suffers from. A haunting picture of Sixteen. He's only a kid; she realizes. She is too. A kid in a big grown-up's world of talking mean and not so nice things.

And so was Sixteen.

It's now or never, Doctor Alex Mercer's voice chides quietly in her mind. Resounding and bouncing.

It's only a matter of time now.