Characters belong to Nick Santora and Matt Olmstead. Any similarity to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental. No copyright infringement intended.

Author's Notes-First freakin' episode, and here I am, nearly midnight, with work tomorrow and a story that's bouncin' around my noggin. Here goes. Also, this doesn't deal with the omigosh moment 'cause I'm still processing that one. Depending on insomnia and this week's schedule, perhaps Lloyd's point of view will surface, if the muse is willing. Unbeta'ed.

Spoilers-Season 2 premier, An Unjust Death

Jules, of Denial-Better living through chemistry... or is it?

She stared at the empty bottle, a cold fear gripping her. It couldn't possibly be so. There was just no way. She was absolutely meticulous about things like that, about having all of her prescriptions called in and refilled so that there was never a chance that she would run out. But there it was, a bottle that seemed to mock her. No matter how hard she shook it, nothing fell out. There wasn't one capsule left, not even any residue left on the inside that might tide her over until Monday.

Because, her doctor was out for the holiday weekend. Three whole days, he'd be gone, unavailable.

Her hands shook as she tried to set the bottle, back in its position among her ordered collection.

She thought about calling her pharmacy, but they weren't open at nearly midnight. Even if they were, they'd take one look at her file, one peek at the previous scrip and note that she was out of refills, that her doctor had very specific orders not to refill anything without his express say so.

She'd thought it silly, his concern over her filling her medications early. She would never do something like that, given her fear of the counteractions, the side effects. Why would she dare overdose on her pills? The pills that kept her relatively sane and mostly peaceable to be around?

What was she supposed to do?

She tried to come up with every conceivable way to remedy her situation, pacing the length of her bedroom floor. This particular medication wasn't readily available on the street, and even if it were, she had no idea how to go about doing something like that. She'd have to talk to Shea about it, and that was a conversation that would go horribly badly. She imagined there would be much laughing and little knowledge being shared.

Maybe Erica could track down her doctor. He was probably on vacation, maybe spending the weekend in the Hamptons or something. If anyone could locate him, she had no doubt that Erica could accomplish it... excepting, of course, that she was locked up in Maybelle Minimum Security Prison up in Hudson.

She stopped in her pacing when her thoughts landed on Lloyd. If he still had his medical license, he could write her another prescription, make sure she had enough to last her through until she could see her regular doctor again. Although, that was what had gotten him into trouble and, at the very least, he did seem like he had learned his lesson. At that moment, however, Julianne wished he hadn't.

Charlie couldn't be bothered with the trifling situation of her mental health. So long as she showed up, did her job, what did he care? Did it matter how many pharmacological compounds flowed through her veins? And Ray would just tell her to woman up, to deal with it, to suck it up and be a good New Yorker.

All night, she paced and, all night, she came up with no good answer to her puzzle.

At a quarter to eight, she arrived at work, first as always, with a large coffee, extra shot of espresso, from the only cafe she trusted. At the top of the hour, when Charlie and Ray both strolled in, neither noticed the dark circles she had masked with concealer or that there were a dozen extra rubber bands on each of her wrists. As the day wore on, neither noticed that her scarf had changed knots eight times, or that her hands shook when she spoke.

It was like there was nothing wrong, nothing different.

It was like she hadn't needed it.

That realization was startling as she sat down in her bedroom again that night. A whole twenty-four hours before, she had been panicky, freaked out that there was something wrong, but she had survived an entire day without it, without passing out, without falling down, without anyone paying any mind.

Could the solution to her life be that easy?

She tried it again on Saturday. It wasn't a work day, there weren't any runners out, nothing pressing, so she ventured to the park. It was one of her safe locations, well within her comfort zone. Lloyd's words kept rolling around in the back of her head, his suggestions on how to break out of the protective shell she had lived in for so long. Little by little, step by step, she worked her way out of her space, into the great unknown beyond her precious, fragile bubble.

To her surprise, the world didn't end. It didn't tilt off its axis or spin wildly, madly into the sun. There was no earth-shattering destruction. The tectonic plates didn't shift, break, or swallow her whole. The birds still sang, traffic still sped by, and life went on.

Could it all really be okay?

She tested it again on Sunday, exploring even further. She took the subway for the first time by herself, spoke to complete strangers, gave a homeless man money, and made it home in one piece. Again, at the end of the day, she returned the security of her bedroom to look at the bottles lining her desk.

They looked like soldiers, all ready for battle. But, what were they fighting for? What was she?

The conclusion seemed extraordinary. She'd done okay. She'd made it. If she could live two, three whole days without, did she really need to go asking for more pills, more things to make her feel like she had to live confined in a box of her own design and construction?

On Monday morning, again she arrived at work. Her coffee was different. Same shop, different flavors. The rubber bands on her wrist were down to the usual three to five. The scarf, she left hanging in her closet. Her hair, normally pinned back and tucked away, was flowing down her shoulders. The wind had teased it all the way to the office.

Ray stopped when he started to pass her desk and looked at her.

She almost caved under the scrutiny. "You, uh... You need something?" she asked, her voice sounding every bit scared, every bit hesitant that she remembered. She had honestly thought she had gotten past it, her need for medication. Hadn't that been marked, vast improvement?

Just when she thought her world would come crumbling down again, Ray smiled at her, giving her a lopsided grin. "You look good today, Jules. That's all."

Her heart nearly burst with pride, with hope. The smile that dawned on her face was huge. It was so big, even her cheeks hurt from holding it up, but that sensation was interesting and new. "Thanks."

Maybe, she decided, the doctor was wrong. Maybe Lloyd was wrong. Maybe it was even some kind of miraculous healing. Whatever had caused it, she realized that the medicines were only holding her back. The bottles that lined her desk in her bedroom would have to go. She didn't need them anymore.