A/N: Funny how life can sometimes get in the way of my creativity. I have been meaning to finish this chapter for a long while now, but every time something happened and I had to leave it for another day. Well, here it is at long last, the last part. Blake's thoughts are more haphazard in this, and I hope the weird format of this part will not put you off (the original format had differnt font size for some paticular lines, but it seems ff. net does not support that formating, so I had to change them all). I also apologize for any mistakes you may find, for as much as I have proofread it, I am not a native English speaker, and mistakes are bound to happen. Thank you everyone for reading and commenting. This little story would have not existed without your kind words.


"the only thing that's permanent is destruction

we're all going to disappear

trying to leave a mark more permanent than myself"

SARAH KANE- 4.48 Psychosis


Part IV

The air is stale and stagnant; there is no window to let the fresh air in, and thick dust has gathered on the fingerprints you had left on the desk. If I had those magical sunglasses of yours, I would have perhaps found evidence of your presence on every fucking spot of this place; maybe I could track your smell all the way back to Washington; maybe I could even drag your scrawny ass all the way back here; not sure if the glasses could do that, or that I would even want that; to have you here with me, looking at me like the way you did that day, like every other day that you came back or went away, with contempt and a badly-concealed hurt expression, like an orphan slapped in the face too hard, or a fallen man kicked in the chest too much. Your mouth was dripping blood when you said, 'Jesus, Blake, it was a fucking joke. What, do you honestly think I could fall for you? I'm not that desperate yet. Plus, I hate the way you fuck me; hate the way you treat me, like I am a piece of junk, or a personal property that you could trash as you please. It's not love, and it never will be. I'll fucking make sure of that.'

You were pathetic; mouth bloodied, shoulders shaking, eyes watering. Your words were the worst, though; they sounded like they had come out of a sickeningly sentimental novel-highly emotional, with fanciful words that were more decorative than meaningful; they were meant to hurt as they hurt you; they were meant to make me feel sorry for you; to pity you and hate the monster you thought I was. But I didn't feel sorry for you; those were not your words; you had not intended to say them. You had been high on your fucking Tripto, said some crap that didn't mean anything, got on the wrong side of me, and I blew you off. In a way, you had it coming to you, and whether you kept your silence because you actually believed in what you said or were just trying to protect your goddamn pride, I don't give a fuck. We were hardly a match made in heaven. You were distant, cold, and confusing. I was demanding, coarse, and cruel. Sometimes I wonder what kept us together for as long as it did, what brought you back after the Origami case was over, but I lack your psychological insight, and always draw blank. You said you had come back to cut loose some strings neither of us knew had been attached in the first place, as if those strings were a pair of shoes you had left behind and now had come back to retrieve it. But instead of cutting those said strings, you let them be. You claimed to be on some sort of a sick leave, you stayed for about a month, and we fucked every other night. You said you needed a distraction, a different kind of pain that tasted so awful you would never become addicted to, but in a way you did become addicted, didn't you, Norman? All kinds of pain are addicting; you should have known this better than anyone.


Crawling your way into my bed, you beg for the release, sobbing into the pillow, you scream my name. You tell me this won't happen again, over and over, like a mantra, too many times it starts to sound hollow even to your own ears, and I almost want to believe you because you're hurting and I am turned-off by your self-inflicting pain, but I don't, because you need this and I need you and suddenly your pain starts to wear off like old paint coming off a dilapidated wall...


I liked to see you stripped to your bones, vulnerable and exposed not because you were doing something you were disgusted at, but because you loved doing it in all its abhorring glory that was beyond your comprehension. In a way, you were pathetic: clinging to your self-hatred as if your sanity depended on it. And yet, you impressed me: craving something that would destroy you, your ability of loving what disgusted you. If I was the monster in your closet that kept your wounds fresh so you wouldn't forget they were there, you were the lethal virus that got under my skin and turned me inside out. I kept you anchored in your fears so you wouldn't slip; you pushed me under desire and let me choke.

"Sometimes I think our relationship is like a seesaw; when you're up, I'm down. when I'm up, you're down. And when either of us is high and least expecting, the other suddenly gets up and leave, inevitably sending his partner crashing to the ground."

It was a tasteless joke, giving you such a pigsty for an office; Perry wanted to hear you moan about it like the bitch he thought you to be, and it made him resent you with a new kind of passion when you didn't utter a word. But I always thought you had to be grateful for it. And I think you were. It was a pigsty, but even without your fancy sunglasses, I think you still loved that place. It was your haven where you hid all your dark secrets in all its dusty corners. It was where you would break down, concealed from every wandering eye; its door still has the imprint of your back on it. There are little dots of blood on the tiles that I sometimes find myself staring at for several minutes; thinking about you, imagining you standing there on shaking legs, your hand slipping into your pocket, hesitating even with so much pain gnawing away at your sanity. Thinking about you, thinking about loving you, missing you, hating you, wanting you, has turned into a habit, and habits die hard, if ever.

"I have to admit, it hurts more than it heals; but then again, so does you fucking me. You're not asking me to quit being your little fuckbuddy any time soon, now are you? So just lay off and let me snort my fucking life into oblivion."

Sometimes I worry about the amount of time I spend thinking about you, worrying that I have become obsessed with something that is not here, will never be here, and maybe, has never been here in the first place. I frequent your abandoned office like a regular does a favorite bar, and get drunk on the thought of you. Maybe I have become sentimental in my old age; maybe I have lost my fucking mind, but there is something about this place, something so utterly intimate, so fucking wrong, that it makes me feel as if I have walked in on you jerking off to the picture of your first flame. There is a pull in here that keeps dragging me back, a kind of black hole that sucks me in, a shameful memory that keeps tormenting me until I am a fucking emotional mess. This place is bare, dusty and cold; but I feel your presence as if you are still here, have never left, have become a permanent resident in every goddamn flicker of dust that enters my mouth and makes me cough up my most hated memories…

("I'm leaving for Washington tonight." You announced in a grim voice, giving me a sideway glance, gauging my reaction. I shrugged, and blew my cigarette's smoke out of the car's window. In truth, I couldn't care less whether you left or stayed, and I made sure my body language said as much. I was numb; the cold had seeped in too much. Every motion had halted around me, time had frozen. I found myself standing still among the ruins of a once grand metropolis destroyed by a hurricane; everyone was dead; there was no sound but the low whispers of whatever used to be. It did occur to me how ironic it was, now with the Origami case closed and all, to feel like everything has died along with it, but I had never been one to fully comprehend irony, let alone appreciate it, like the way you did all the time. I looked into the rearview mirror, and sure enough, those damn colorless eyes of yours were staring back at me. I wanted to look away, to get away from that haunting gaze, but everything with you was a fucking challenge, and I refused to be defeated. It was funny that you had brought it up, knowing that I was the one who had seen to your complete removal from the Origami case. What were you expecting me to say? That I was going to miss your scrawny, bureaucratic ass? Were you hoping that I would beg you to stay a little longer, or that I would promise to write love letters to you every goddamn Saturday, just because of one misplaced fuck? And to think that you had been already obsessed…

But the look in your eyes was anything but hopeful. You didn't even look desperate, as I imagined you, almost wanted you, to be. You looked apathetic, too blasé and pale in your gray suit you almost looked dead. But you still had said those words, and you were still looking at me expectantly, and even if I was shit at reading your expressions, it didn't mean you hadn't any. Maybe you thought I was angry at you for killing Scott, and you were keeping a neutral face to avoid my wrath; perhaps you thought I was jealous of you for being the one to close the case and were trying to look humble through your nonchalance. But the truth was, I wasn't feeling anything. To you, it was a case successfully wrapped up in less than three days; maybe you even felt like partying. But to me, it was a sudden halt to a case that had dragged on too long, maybe I was even feeling nostalgic about it. And now, after all these years there remained nothing. Surely there was going to be a lot of paperwork and the press trying to poke its big, ugly nose into our business for days to come, but these things annoyed me more than anything. I guess I just needed a closure, but Scott's death only led me to more untrodden paths which I didn't dare venture yet. But you…you ended it all. You were a hero; an ill-fitted title that hung loosely around your frame and made you look sick instead of strong. What were your thoughts, Norman? Did you like your title? Were you happy now, even if you didn't quite look it? You must have felt contented, at least. You did what you had been supposed to, what you had been risking your life and sanity for, and I…

I almost wanted to tell you how I felt about it all; wanted to tell you about my reaction when I learned about the identity of the killer. Perhaps, in another context, in a better state of mind, I would have even invited you to a bar, spent some drunken time with you like pseudo-friends, and told you about the days when Scott and I used to be partners. I almost wanted to open my mouth right then and tell you I had such a great time back then with Scott, we were such great partners that you could only dream of, I bet you never had such a partner in your whole life, but I didn't give a fuck now that he was dead, and that I was relieved that you were not. I almost wanted to tell you that you had been the shittiest partner I'd ever had, never liked your ways, never appreciated your meddling in my affairs and questioning my methods, but I was impressed nonetheless at how gracefully you handled the case. I almost wanted to congratulate you for that, maybe even give you a pat on the back, because you were sourly underappreciated, you had almost died and everyone seemed to have forgotten about that fact already. Maybe I even felt like yelling at you for not having asked for a backup, for not having told me that you had found the killer, it could have been simply you falling into the grinder, and it is true that one time fuck did not mean anything, but you had been an idiot, and we were partners. But I stubbornly keep my mouth shut and let the silence devour all the raw, unwelcome feelings the thought of you stirred in me. And it wouldn't have changed a thing, anyway. You were too far gone, and I was too stubborn to reach for you. It all came back to square one; all the steps we took forward were reset. It was just one fuck, but it wasn't even about that, was it? At times I just wanted to let go, fuck it you weren't even worth the headache, but for some goddamn reason you kept holding on, looking for something that had never been there, and I pulled at the rope in our childish game of tug of war, because everything with you was a fucking challenge, and I refused to be defeated.)


These thoughts are driving me crazy; these infectious thoughts and the absence of you; my haunted hours and this unresolved guilt. There is a rotten stink of stillness in here, as if I'm sitting on a pile of a thousand corpses, rotten flesh, gallons of congealed, infected blood, and I'm getting sick of it all.


Do I regret ever letting you go? Yes. But do I want you back?

It's true that I miss the sight of you; miss that smile-less mouth, those colorless eyes, that tasteless skin, for whatever goddamn reason there is. It's true that on some goddamn rainy nights, I wake up disoriented, thinking you're in bed with me, straining my ears to hear your pitiful moans that had disturbed my sleep, but the sound of the rain against the windows are the only thing I hear and then I remember you haven't been here for months, almost a year now, and I crave you with a tragic kind of hunger that lingers at the back of my throat, almost repulsive in its raw intensity, never truly satisfied. But apart from that, things have not changed that much. Your absence is less felt when I am immersed in a case or completely drunk out of my mind. It's only when I'm alone sober, or fucking other people that I think of you; but I am working on that, and in a few months time, things are going back to normal. I'm going to forget that you ever mattered to me, and I won't even bat an eyelash when I read about your overdose in some fucking newspaper. You can go to hell, and this time I won't try to stop you. You can die in a shithole, drugged up to your fucking eyeballs, and I'll be down in a fancy bar, drinking fine champagne and feeling up a hottie. And you will not matter one-third of a fuck to me then, and I will move on.


You make an effort to swallow your pain, you say it burns your throat as it dribbles down your windpipe, but once it's down there, it'll be easier to deal with. I have a hard time believing you, but you don't bother convincing me, so I let it go. Arguing with you loses its appeal when you're not in the mood to argue back.

But it's the blood you drink, to relieve the pain; a kind of painkiller that kills you instead of the pain; or is that you have become the pain over the years? It's hard to tell you two apart, almost impossible.


But until then, I will keep thinking of you and imagining you do all the impossible things, like smiling for one and being genuinely happy. I will frequently watch the TV to see if there is any news yet about a legendry FBI agent no longer in existence, and grumble under my breath when I don't hear anything. It's not that I yearn to hear about your death; It's just that this constantly thinking about you, this bitter taste of always being reminded of your absence, is pulling me apart, and I need a closure, your permanent absence perhaps, a kind of forgetfulness that your death will inevitably bring, in order to settle down and give my mind a rest.

Sometimes I see you on TV when I go to the bar; that's the closest I can get to meeting you these days. Your eyes are bloodshot, and I don't know if you had been drinking or bleeding or both. Your body language reads that you want to be anywhere but there; you look awkward and restless in the spotlight. Your answers are curt and almost rude, and in my head, I am trying to put you in your place with some well-placed scathing remarks. Suddenly, I blurt out, 'Hey, I know this guy. He used to be a royal pain in the ass back when we still worked together, and one of these days he's gonna get himself killed, but I won't be invited to his funeral because he doesn't give a shit, but I'll go anyway just to piss him off.' I'll regret these words later in the morning, but for now it's ok. I am drunk and you look so fucking miserable you remind me of that one night you almost killed yourself and we almost fucked; but we didn't, because you were coming apart at the edges I was trying to patch you up the best I could, and I was so busy worrying about you I was thinking about you in a different way, looking at your bloody mouth I felt like I cared, the way that you bled, so freely I thought you were going to bleed out all over the car seat until you were a pile of bones floating in thick blood. And all the way to the hospital, with the strong stink of your blood in the air, I didn't even think about fucking you, for I was scared; scared for you.

And then it occurred to me that you meant to me more than a sloppy blowjob and a quick fuck; more than rumpled clothes and half-hearted insults in the morning; beyond your humiliation and my utter satisfaction. And I thought about what it really was I felt for you, and then I remembered your words.

"What else could it be, Blake, if not love?"

And then I was scared.

But I am fucking tired of always being scared, and I am trying to let you go; I never truly understood you; I never understood your motivations behind your seemingly selfless sacrifices. What pushed you to do the unthinkable when you went after the Origami Killer alone? What makes you use ARI time and time again, even though you know it's going to cost you your sanity and life? Do you even think twice before plunging headfirst into the clutch of death? Does the thought of death comfort you in your lowest hour? Do you even feel anything when you pursue death, or is it exactly why you do it, to feel something?

Once you tried to explain, to make me understand. You said you used ARI to save lives but forgot to mention that it takes your sanity away. You said you used Triptocaine to save your sanity but forgot to mention that it takes your life away. You are caught in the moment of constant choosing between your sanity and your life, but you soon realize that insane people often take their lives and dead people unexceptionally lack sanity. You realize that the war between ARI and your Tripto is a lose/lose war, but you choose not to acknowledge it for all the good it does. You are a broken man and justifiably so. I don't know if I'm going to forget you, I don't know if I'm going to always remember you, but at the very least I know that I'm never going to blame you; never going to accuse you of taking poor care of yourself, of making a mistake greater than your whole lifetime. There has been a price for being a hero, a decision that most of us will not dare consider, and you have paid it willingly, knowingly, with your own sanity, with your own life. And I respect you for that, and even if I hate you for that, you will always be my little Norman, and I'll remember you...


Many men before you had failed in their success, but you have managed to succeed in your failure.


And I almost wanted to say it, when you were not listening. And I almost wanted to show you when you were not looking. And I almost want to feel you now, but you're not here.


Epilogue


"The room feels too small, smaller than I remember it to be; I think the walls keep closing in when I'm not looking at them. I am not even wearing ARI, but the reality has become something relative to me. The clear surface of the windowpane suddenly gets wet and I ask the Barman if it's raining. He says it hasn't rained for months now. I say if we were in Philadelphia, it would be raining. He gives me an odd look, 'But you don't like rain, sir.' I don't. I think I just miss him."

The End.

Le pont Mirabeau

Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine
Must I recall
Our loves recall how then
After each sorrow joy came back again

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

Hands joined and face to face let's stay just so
While underneath
The bridge of our arms shall go
Weary of endless looks the river's flow

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

All love goes by as water to the sea
All love goes by
How slow life seems to me
How violent the hope of love can be

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

The days the weeks pass by beyond our ken
Neither time past
Nor love comes back again
Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay *


* The poem is, of course, by Apollinaire, and the translation is done by Richard Wilbur, which I found the most pleasing out of the three versions I have read.