She is dead.
The thought hits him like a wave, pushing him under and deeper until all he can do is gasp and blink the salt from his eyes. He is distantly aware that there are people around him. Do they care? Do they even know that she is dead?
He breathes in raggedly. Somehow his feet are moving, he is walking, and all he can see is her, five years old twirling in her ballerina costume. Laughing with Minnie and Liv. Kissing him in that club.
Where are you, Grace?
His feet stop moving and he blinks.
"Rich, you twat, I've been saying your name for ages." Alo's red hair is sticking out at all angles today, his freckles seeming extra bright against his pale skin. Alo sees his face, shakes his head.
"Ah, it's another day, mate. Just another day." Rich can barely feel the arm around his shoulders. He can barely feel anything, just a weird sort of spinning inside his head. He remembers Mr. Blood sitting on the steps, crying. That terrifying man was reduced to a child, curled around himself, sobbing inconsolably.
At the end of the hall, lights flicker. Candles. A giant picture, all pink and brown and white, takes up half the wall. As Rich walks closer, the image comes into focus.
He knows it is supposed to be her face. He can tell from the way the lines connect that the photo is Grace. But it is not really her. She was always in motion, always full of feeling and warmth and light. This photo is cold, flat, unemotional. Not Grace.
Suddenly, the hall is full of sound and people, all in movement. A bell rings, lockers slam, papers flutter everywhere. People rush past the picture that is not Grace without a second glance.
Rich is still drowning, alone in the cold ocean of people. He struggles for a gasp of air. He is running, he realizes, as his hands push open the metal doors. The sunbeams down, harsh and bright and all he can think of is the sunlight in Morocco, lying there with her, completely and utterly content.
There are no people any more, just cars and cement, but he is still buried beneath the weight of it all. He still cannot get enough air. A car horn blares and Rich sees that the light in front of him is red and he is in the middle of the street and probably he shouldn't be there but he just keeps running, his feet slapping loudly against the pavement.
Ahead of him, the river looms, brown and grey and cold and Rich pushes forward, knees aching, nails biting into his palms, shallow breaths burning in his chest. Her face is in his head, her smell and the taste of her lips and the feel of her curls and her laugh and there she is right there in front of him.
Right there. So tangible that he can take a deep breath, not drowning anymore.
I found you. He thinks as he jumps forward.
And then the river rushes up and the water crashes over him and he doesn't think anything anymore.