Title: Swimming Through Sick Lullabies
Author: J Rease
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Glee. This concept does not.
Summary: What happens when you find your girlfriend cheating on you, with your alter ego? Prompt fill. Song fic. Dark fic.
Author's Note: This fic deals heavily with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). A prompt fill for an anon on Tumblr. Song: Mr. Brightside by the Killers (however, to set the mood, please listen to the acoustic cover by Monsters Calling Home on youtube). After listening, this is the plot I came up with. I hope I do this justice.
I listened to the song on repeat throughout the entire fic.
Swimming Through Sick Lullibies
It always starts with a coin flip. You always see it overturning soundlessly in the darkness; a gold coin teetering on decision somewhere in the dark spaces in your head. The void. It only exists when you're sleeping. Oblivious to your surroundings, lost in limbo in the recesses of your own mind. It's quiet and dark and it's where you wait when Andy takes over. And when the darkness ends, you watch from somewhere inside yourself for the coin flip; waiting for it to fall heads up when his time is over- when you can wake up back in your own body.
Dr. Holliday thinks the coin flip is symbolic-that sometime when you were younger, something might have happened with a man you can't remember and the coin was something that signified freedom. You think that Dr. Holliday is full of shit. You agree to disagree. You've lived with DID for a lifetime. No doctor or therapist or specialist could pinpoint the origin of your problem. No treatment made Andy go away; no medicine made him fade into the background. You and Andy had managed to share your body for as long as you can remember- and no court appointed sanction would get you to believe otherwise.
You open your eyes.
You're still at the McKinely Mental Rehabilitation Center (which only reads like loony bin to you). Nothing's changed. You hoped your latest blackout would land you out of this joint, but it seemed like Andy had only gotten you into more trouble. There are two orderlies standing by your bed, Dr. Holliday is looking over your chart at the end of it. When she notices that you're awake, she closes the folder and she smiles at you. God, you hate this bitch.
"Miss Lopez, good to see you with us again. How are you feeling?"
You scoff before rolling your eyes.
"I'll feel great when I'm out of this place."
Dr. Holliday smacks her tongue against the roof of her mouth.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk, Santana. You know I can't discharge you until we get Andy under control. The harder you try, the easier this will get. Open wide?"
It sounds like a question, but you know better. You open your mouth for the orderly, and you dry swallow the pills piled into the little white cup.
"Good girl. Now, as long as you promise to behave, I can get my friends here to loosen your restraints?"
You can't count how many times you've thought about wiping that stupid smile off Dr. Holliday's face. You shrug in defeat and Dr. Holliday nods at her two goons before they untie the buckle restraints and leave.
"Now. Yesterday morning, Andy assaulted a fellow patient with a cafeteria lunch tray. Are you aware of the reason why? Andy seems to feel that he was well within the rules set here at McKinely."
You rub at your raw wrists before sitting up and crossing your arms over your chest.
"You know damn well I don't know what happened. I blacked out right after that giant freak Hudson grabbed my ass. Whatever happened, the jolly green giant deserved it."
Dr. Holliday opens her folder again, 'mmmhmmming' for good measure before walking to the side of your cot. She pulls out a flashlight and waves it in front of your face. You sigh heavily before giving in and following the light, turning away in annoyance as Dr. Holliday scribbles bullshit notes in your file about not cooperating. She clicks off her flashlight.
"Alright, Santana, another violent outburst from Andy will warrant a higher dosage. The faster you start participating in your recovery, the faster you can get out of here. Andy got you in here Miss Lopez, but you're the only one who can get yourself out."
You ignore the speech, choosing to just watch the peeling yellow paint crack and dangle off your room wall.
The doctor accepts your nonchalance and leaves after checking your mouth for hidden medicine. You stand up and walk the length of your single cell (you don't care what the judge calls it, this hellhole is worse than prison). Your legs are stiff and your joints crack a bit when you walk. The medicine was going to kick in soon, and you wouldn't feel like moving too much, then. You never liked what the medicine does to you; it was the main reason you never refilled the first prescription.
You stretch a few times before going over to your door. You jiggle the handle, finding it locked.
You really hate that bitch.
... ( ) ...
Six months, two weeks, and three days. It's how long you'd been at McKinely. Today you are getting discharged. It had taken four different cocktail trials, thirty group therapy sessions and weekly appointments with Dr. Holly Holliday (you still think she's a bitch—now you just think she's a bitch with a ridiculous name), to finally get the judge to sign off on your release. They give you this stupid white trash bag to put all your stuff in. There isn't much in your bag—mostly bottles of pills you'll never use, your first day outfit, and the wallet you had in your pocket when you'd been carted off.
Quinn is waiting by her shitty car when they buzz open the door for you to leave. She's wearing huge sunglasses, and leaning daintily against her little lemon in her way too girly dress. She flicks her cigarette by the time you make it down the steps, standing up straight when you finally
manage to throw that stupid trash bag into the back seat of her car.
"Glad to know you missed me, Q."
Quinn slides into the car and waits for you to slide into the passenger seat before answering you.
"Santana, don't think so highly of me. I just showed up because you owe me six month's rent."
You smirk again.
"So, how was your little mini-vacation?"
Quinn pulls away from McKinely, speeding down a road you hope to never see again. You shrug.
"Shitty, as usual. Third times the charm I guess—I'm not coming back next time."
Quinn chuckles, turning down streets that start to feel familiar.
"Well, tell that to Andy. What'd he do anyway—you never got to tell me."
Quinn is one of the few people who know you; one of the few who know about Andy.
"Well I had to find out second hand. I blacked out like usual. Andy got me into a bar fight. Apparently breaking beer bottles over an asshat's head is grounds for assault. Didn't expect the little pussy to press charges."
Quinn lights another cigarette.
"Chain smoke much? I thought you quit?"
You lower the window as far as it will go (which is still way too high since Quinn's car is still the same piece of shit since last you saw it).
"Well, I did quit. But not having you around—didn't have anybody complaining about smoking in the apartment, so...."
You just shake your head. You're staring out the window, enjoying the freedom different scenery gives you.
"Feel like celebrating your release, San?"
God, you missed Quinn.
... ( ) ...
Brad's Piano Bar is the same as it was when you left. Mike still knows how to make your sex on the beach (with orange juice—not pineapple juice, thank you very much), and Mercedes still brings you an unlimited amount of breadsticks when you sit down at your usual table. It's happy hour, and the place is packed with regulars. It's Tuesday, so it's karaoke night. There are a few random strangers lingering around the song book; and someone you've never seen before catches your eye as she jumps and squeals excitedly next to her obviously gay friend.
Quinn is by the door with Sam, flirting shamelessly with the large mouthed bouncer. You would be sickened if you weren't preoccupied with the energetic ball of hotness in the little black pleated skirt. She and her fruity friend introduce themselves at the mic as Rachel and Kurt, and she opens her mouth to sing some little Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand ditty. You're smitten by the time it's over; and you make a note to work up the nerve to talk to her the next time she shows up at your favorite bar.
... ( ) ...
I'm coming out of my cage
And I've been doing just fine…
She shows up every Tuesday with Kurt. And every Tuesday since the first time, you've found a reason not to talk to her or find out which team she plays for. You aren't a social person, it's hard to keep the friends you do have with the shit Andy pulls. The fact that Andy hasn't made an appearance since you were released has you a bit on edge—not that you're complaining… because with him gone; you feel semi normal. DID has made life harder than it should be; and you're sure that Rachel will be one of those girls who can't date someone with a history of mental illness. So until you find a reason to think otherwise, you just watch her from afar. She rarely talks to anyone at the bar. She never lets any guy (or girl for that matter), buy her a drink. She buys mostly light liquor from the top shelf, and she never drinks more than three drinks a night.
No matter how cold it is, she's wears a skirt. No matter how grey the sky is; her skin is always flawlessly tan. She only picks at the vegetables on Kurt's plate, and she never uses the bathroom at the bar. You only know what she sounds like when she's singing. You're never close enough to overhear conversation. That's okay, because every Tuesday night, you sit patiently through throngs of non-talented people just to hear her voice.
... ( ) ...
Gotta gotta be down
Because I want it all…
You didn't realize how much you liked her. And honestly, you chided yourself for taking this long to talk to her. For taking this long to either confirm or deny your potential rejection. You didn't realize how much you wanted her to be yours (which bothers you because you don't even know the girl enough to know if she'd get on your nerves). You are forced into action when some dick named Jessie St. James (you only know his name because it's emblazoned on the back of his jean jacket in studs—the little spazz) from one of the art schools down the street asks to buy her a drink. Rachel refuses like she always does, but Jessie doesn't take no for an answer and follows her back to the table she and Kurt normally sit at alone.
By the time you reach Rachel's table, your breath is shaky and you don't know what you trudged over here to say. You're sure that Quinn is snickering at you from where you left her at your table, but you ignore her long distance mockery to ask Rachel to sing a duet with you. You haven't sung since high school, but you need a reason to take Rachel's mind off the persistent son of a bitch sitting beside Kurt.
Your let out the breath you'd been holding when she smiles at you, and says yes.
... ( ) ...
It started out with a kiss…
You asked her out the same night you got onstage with her. When she accepted, you breathed a sigh of relief. You expected her to give you the "I'm not gay" spiel, but she beamed brightly at you and told you that she'd be delighted. Your ears were ringing by the time you got her phone number, and Quinn made fun of the "stupid smile on your face". The date had gone well, and you'd been standing on the sidewalk of her apartment complex at the end of the night, finding reasons for her to stay outside for a little longer.
"It's getting late, Santana… Maybe I should get inside. I had a wonderful time."
You duck your head, letting your fingertips grip blindly for hers. You pull her closer; you feel bold. Her head tilts sideways, and you inch closer together, letting the air between you wait for the meeting of your lips.
"I'm going to kiss you now…"
Rachel says it with her eyes closed, millimeters from your mouth. You chuckle quietly, and your lips touch like whispered words over covered ears. Your hands cradle her face and her hands are resting on your hips. It feels like the ground is falling beneath your feet; you get this heady, stomach dropping excitement. You deepen the kiss, letting your tongue run over the lusciousness of her bottom lip; your thumb brushes over her jaw when she moans out loud, and pulls back—suddenly flushed.
You're both breathless.
... ( ) ...
It was only a kiss
It was only a kiss…
You see Rachel at the bar every Tuesday. Every Thursday night you find yourself at her apartment or vice versa. Every Monday and Friday afternoon you meet her at the food court across from her job for brunch. You've been wrapped up in Rachel and you couldn't convince yourself that her lips weren't made of magic…that her kisses weren't addicting. Today was Wednesday, and you and Quinn were sitting on the couch, waiting for something interesting to come on the television. Your phone buzzes, and you smile at the picture that Rachel sent you. Quinn snatches the phone and claims quality friend time.
"Are you going to tell her?"
You know what context Quinn's question fits in. You shrug, turning up the volume on the television set; drowning out the judgment in Quinn's heavy sigh.
You turn to face her, fully prepared to tell her to mind her own damn business. Quinn looks concerned; it's a look you rarely see on her face. You sober up.
"Andy hasn't—he hasn't been here since I left McKinley. Why tell her if it won't be a problem?"
Quinn sighs again, her eyebrows rising with the swig she takes from her wine cooler.
"I mean… she's your girlfriend. Remember what happened when Brittany found out she—"
You really don't feel like this conversation.
"I know what happened when Brittany found out. Another reason I would rather put off telling her for as long as possible."
"Stop making me feel bad, okay? I really like Rachel—I want her to get a chance to know me before she gets to know Andy."
Quinn swallows what's left of her wine cooler. And she drops the conversation.
... ( ) ...
Now I'm falling asleep
And she's calling a cab…
You wake up from the coin toss, breathless. You check your cell phone on the bed side table and sigh in relief when you realize that Andy had only been out for a few hours. You're in Rachel's bed, tousled in her sheets and she is gone—somewhere that isn't where you are and you're suddenly nervous that she fled. You rub your hands over your face and trudge to her bathroom. You grip the edge of the bathroom sink, and you lean back on the balls of your feet. What if Andy did something? What if Rachel left because she couldn't deal with whatever happened while she was waiting for the toss?
You stare at yourself for what seems like forever. You try to pinpoint anything that isn't the same since you woke. Nothing is out of place, no bruises, no mess. Andy must have come and gone sometime during the night. You never knew what Andy did when he had control over your body until after you got back. Andy was usually the embodiment of your anger—emotions you couldn't deal with brought him out of you. You were afraid of the calm your body felt now; so unlike how Andy usually left you. You could never talk to him. He never talked to you. You always assumed he went to the same void that you visited when he was in your body. You breathe deeply, before washing your face, and you try to calm your nerves before Rachel gets back. You stare into the mirror and you try to focus on the darkness you often have to recover from.
You're on the couch when she unlocks her front door, grocery bags piled in her arms. She kicks the door shut, and kisses your forehead good morning on the way to the kitchen.
You won't let Andy mess this up for you… it's the start of something perfect.
... ( ) ...
While he's having a smoke
And she's taking a drag
"Whose cigarettes are these? I know Rachel Berry doesn't smoke cigarettes… they'd mess up her precious vocal chords."
You wave the box of Malboro menthol lights in front of Rachel's face. She slaps playfully at your hand. She's looking over some script from some show she's auditioning for, and the little green and white box caught your attention on her normally pristine coffee table.
"Hmmm? " She looks over to you when she flips the page.
"Oh—I don't know, I um… I thought they were yours."
You toss the box back onto the coffee table.
"I don't smoke, Rach."
"Well, I didn't bring them in here."
She sounds like she isn't telling you something. You try to shake off the feeling you have in your gut, and you let Rachel memorize her lines.
... ( ) ...
Now they're going to bed
And my stomach is sick
Sleep is a blurry jumble of incomplete thoughts and fuzzy insecurities. You've never loved anyone as much as you love Rachel, and you are terrified at the thoughts that cross your mind sometimes. You start finding random things that don't belong to her around her apartment. Things that don't belong to you and things that Kurt would never be caught dead with. You find men's hats and sweaters and cartons of cigarettes. You try to tell yourself that she has other friends, but the more you stay over her place, the more you find things there that she can't explain.
When you are at your own apartment, you can only think of the guy she must be talking to behind your back. You've never been a jealous person, but the knot in your stomach is getting too big to suppress. You can't lose her. You won't. You try to stop your thoughts.
... ( ) ...
And it's all in my head
You thought you were being insecure. You let the feeling drop and you enjoyed the happiness you shared with Rachel. Everything was actually going pretty well, and the sex was great—win, win. The coin toss hadn't flashed across the back of your eyelids in a long time. Everything was fine.
... ( ) ...
Let me go
And I just can't look it's killing me….
It was like a nightmare. And it wouldn't go away. The nagging feeling over your shoulder that kept reminding you that something wasn't right. That no matter how happy Rachel made you… she wasn't being honest. You start to think more about all the things you'd overlooked… all the things she couldn't explain away. You needed to know and you were so afraid of finding out at the same time. There was just so much going on that you had no control over.
And that terrified you.
... ( ) ...
But she's touching his chest now
He takes off her dress now…
Evidence. Hard, tangible evidence that Rachel was seeing someone else. Proof that you'd been right. It knocked the wind out of your chest when you found it. It was a short, simple conversation. You had needed to use her computer and you found it there, like a slap in the face. You read it again.
MrBrightSide: I miss you…
Made4theStars: I'll be there soon…once she leaves I'll be there—I promise.
MrBrightSide: I'll be waiting in your bed…
Jealousy, turning saints into the sea
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis…
You turn immediately to the bed behind you, sheets messed from the night you spent there with Rachel. You push away from her computer desk, angry and upset and disgusted that he'd been in her bed; that he'd been with her; Rachel—your Rachel. You can't stop the tears. You can't stop the faceless guy from taking your girl—images twisting in your stomach like bile bubbling upwards… spilling outward. You can't stop thinking about the signs. He left his clothes there… his cigarettes.
You feel like your drowning, all rational thought swirling down the drain as you connect the dots. Those nights Rachel had other things to do. The excuses she made to go see him. You're dry heaving, your body not prepared to brace for impact.
You believed her… You trusted her.
You can't breathe… you feel like you're suffocating.
... ( ) ...
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
You watch the coin turn over in the dark; it shimmers in your line of sight and it clatters to the floor—heads up. You open your eyes. You are sitting on Rachel's couch. She is sitting in front of you, tissues clenched between her fingers. Your face is wet; like you'd been crying. Her mascara is running. She refuses to look at you. Your chest hurts and your ears are ringing and you don't know what to feel.
"Who is he?"
Your voice is raw; scratchy and rough like if you'd been screaming. You clear your throat and Rachel answers.
"He asked me not tell you. He made me promise not to. He said if you knew, you'd start taking your medicine again and then he wouldn't—we wouldn't be able to be together."
She turns to look at you. Her eyes are broken; lost.
"Who is he?"
Rachel stares down at her hands. She wipes a tear from the corner of her eye.
"Andy. Andy made me promise not to tell you."
You stand up and step back. She reaches up to follow you but you put your hands out in front of you to stop her in motion. You can't breathe.
"Do you know how wrong that is? How fucked that makes you? You think it's okay to have an affair with my alter, Rachel? You can just use me like that? It's not fair game! Ho-How could you?"
"You think it's okay not to tell me that you have DID? You leave it to Andy—and you expect me not to love someone inside of you? And—and he told me how much better things were this way—you weren't even realizing when he was here. He told me about the darkness… he told me about all the time he spent waiting. He told me how angry he used to be. He told me how he fell in love with me second handedly—"
She reaches forward to touch you and you flinch. The tears are crowding your chest and you can't swallow. You hate him so much and he needs to be gone.
For good this time.
... ( ) ...
You write him a note. You put it under your cell phone with the single sentence on it. He'll see it.
You can't have her...
When you watch the coin toss the next day, you wake instantly and reach for it. You crumple it partially in your hand, and you pull the edges back to read his answer.
Then neither will you.
His handwriting was fast and angry, written with a different slant than hers.
You don't know what to make of it.
... ( ) ...
How did it end up like this?
It was only a kiss
It was only a kiss…
The coin isn't gold anymore. It flips in the darkness a dirty bronze. It's rusted and it glints in the light and it makes you want to look away. You watch it clatter to the floor, rounding out on its edges on the steady heads up. But you're afraid to open your eyes. It's bright when you do, and there is pain; an aching bite rubbing against your wrists. Your eyes adjust slowly, and you stare downward, buckle cuffs chafing. There are white bandages covering angry blots of red. Your throat aches, and you feel groggy from medicine you don't remember taking.
"Hello there Miss Lopez. Glad to see you awake."
It's this bitch again.
"Why am I here?"
Dr. Holliday stands from the seat in the corner of the room. She has a folder in her arms and she looks up and down your body before stepping closer.
"Andy was brought here after an attempted suicide."
"When can I leave?"
Dr. Holliday steps back, scribbling something down before going back to the chair for her flashlight. You follow it as best you can, still squinting at the light.
"You've been committed, you can't leave, Santana."
She gives you the first empathetic look she's given you since you've known her. She puts away her flashlight and she pulls the syringe from her pocket, ignoring your meager attempts to pull at your wrist restraints. She pushes it into the vein before you can scream out. She leaves you in that room, and you wait for the medicine to kick in.
The paint on the wall beside your bed is peeling. You can reach up through your restraints, edging letters into the wall with the edge of your thumb nail. The medicine tires your sentence at the end. He'll see it; he'll know it's there.
I was here first
You succumb to sleep.
... ( ) ...
Cuz I'm Mr. Brightside
You don't need a coin toss to know he was here this time. You wake up in a haze of medicine induced confusion, sure that Andy had been here longer than you can account for. Your restraints are gone, but the bandages covering your wrists are pink now, changed recently. You don't know how many days have passed, but you remember to search the wall for his response. The sentence is unanswered on the wall where you left it. There are pictures on the table beside your bed. They are loose, recently developed photos with no frames. There are pictures of Quinn and you in your McKinely scrubs. There are pictures of Mike and Sam and Mercedes. They came to visit you. But Andy was out. You see the snatch of paper tucked beneath the last photo, turned face down. You tug out the paper, and you read the words over a dozen times before they make sense to your eyes.
But I'm here now…
The last photo is of Andy and Rachel, sitting on the chair in your room.
You blink. You swear it's only a fraction of a second. Your eyes blink closed and suddenly the coin is tossing in your vision, overturning in the vast space of nothingness.
When it falls, it's tails.
... ( ) ...