A/N: It's been a bleak three years for all of us, and withdrawal isn't good for anyone's skin tone, really. Especially when it concerns Naomily, Christ! Updates, updates, updates tho'! Skins Season Seven on the Ides of March! Rumors, rumors, rumors. Here's to praying they're true. ;)

That said, here's my latest piece-its loaded with angst, and while it'll be painful to write, and I can only imagine, read, it's something that's been plaguing my mind for years. My old account is lost, loves. Lost beneath the proverbial sea. I cries. Here's to hoping you're still here with me though!

Multi-parter, this one. Bear with me, support this, and I promise updates every few days at the latest. ;)

This one's got a soundtrack, I'll post it in a bit as an accompaniment. Alright, this one's dragged on long enough. I won't prolong your agony any longer. Enjoy ;)

She was gone.

She sat up then, her blood pulsing hard, and hot, and heavy underneath her skin; matching the frantic rhythm of a heart beating too fast and too syncopated, too early in the morning.

She was gone.

She had not known fear like this since Emily had stood on the rooftop ledge and looked down, and over, mulling over the futility of her agony, wondering if perhaps death might be the only respite from the ceaseless pain.

She remembered. She could not forget. She cried herself to sleep most nights.

She was gone.

She nearly leapt from the bed and swiped at a pale blue button down slung over the back of her desk chair. She fumbled with the buttons for a bit, and flung it across her shoulders, barely registering the fact that she wasn't wearing anything underneath at all.

She crossed the room in three long strides and hurled open the doors of her wardrobe, her heart hammering so hard in her chest she feared it might burst. Then, her pulse seemed to still; she could feel its irregular beat inside the skin at her neck.

It was empty.

With trembling hands, she leaned over and pulled down the top drawer, pulling with all her weight, watching numbly as it crashed to the floor at her feet.

It was empty.

She proceeded to pull down the drawers, her movements impulsive and violent. She spun around and began flinging her wrist watches and bits of jewelry across the bedroom, eyes flitting over the lacquered wood in increasing frustration.

It wasn't here.

She was gone.

The last photograph they ever took—the last one she remembered being genuinely happy in; authentic grins and soundless laughs frozen in cold paper—was on the floor, the glass sliding out from underneath the frame. She stooped and turned it over: the photo was gone.

She upended the trash bin and found it, rolled into a tight ball, wedged between the wrappings of a Garibaldi she remembered eating before bed last night, and a damp tea bag she remembered Emily using. She smoothed it out, her fingers slipping over the creases and folds.

She shook violently, trembling from head to foot—she nearly ran to the bathroom and drew a shuddering breath. There was only one toothbrush in the cup over the sink.

She couldn't bring herself to look at her reflection in the mirror. There was madness in the eyes that would inevitably stare back at her—she knew this much without seeing it for herself. She located her phone amidst the chaos of her room, and dialed; her breath came in short gasps and hitches, in broken sobs and in hisses.

The number you have dialed is unavailable at the moment. The phone may be turned off or is—

She snapped it shut and ran out the door, down the flight of stairs, through the kitchen and out the threshold. The cement was cold underneath her bare feet; her muscles began to tauten of their own accord as a sharp blast of wind blew against her. She bit back a curse and pulled a switch to her right.

The garage door clunked to life and began sliding, up and back. She slid into the space between door and floor and flipped on the light switch.

Her moped was there.

She couldn't believe her luck.

She made her way over, past boxes of Styrofoam peanuts and empty crates. There was an envelope on the seat, underneath the goggles she'd bought for her all those months ago.

She ripped open the top flap and shook the envelope, letting the contents flutter and curl, out and away and onto the floor. Without bending over, she read the first sentence she could make out:

Flight Itinerary

British Airways

Flight GL-107 Bristol to New York (5:45 am – Boarding Time, Gate 19-A)

She sagged against the wall, her knees giving out beneath her. The sun had risen, bright and high in the morning sky. She staggered out and whirled around wildly, her fingers tangling into her hair. She spun once, twice, her eyes raking the suburban sprawl before her, the sparse forest, the warm asphalt.

There were no cars, no bikes, no passersby.

No Emily.

She cried out, a single, harsh bark—an anguished sound an octave higher than a wail, but not quite a scream. She sank to her knees and pulled at the roots of her hair, sagging forward until her forehead touched the cold cement, her features twisted grotesquely into a silent scream, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Her face was flushed with the effort of keeping the inhuman sounds from breaking out. Her lips formed a soundless whimper—a hastily stifled cry.

The panic rose in the back of her throat, searing raw flesh, inside and out. She retched, doubling over, but nothing came out.

She couldn't keep it then, the agony of it all: She screamed, her voice rasping—powerful and painful.

Oh, so painful.

She clawed at the ground, and staggered to her feet, swaying side-to-side precariously. She looked like a mad drunkard, and anyone who might've been peering out from their curtains would draw no other conclusion.

She made it onto the street before sinking back down to her knees, the gravel digging painfully into her flesh.

She threw her head back, and wept.

A sound ripped from the back of her throat—a guttural, unnatural noise—so quickly, so frighteningly not her own, she was startled. It came back to her suddenly, of a moment when her world had fallen apart and contracted into nothing but anguish; anguish so real, it was substantial, descending into her chest, contracting and expanding all at once.

Her mind drifting back to remnants of the day on the rooftop, of a door slamming shut before her.


She leaned forward, palms pressing flat against the blacktop.

"Emily!" She screamed; a moped drove past her. She knew the horn was directed at her.


She was gone.


Chapter One

She thinks I cannot hear her, but I do.

She is awake, but she dreams—if nightmares can be called dreams.

She is a lucid dreamer most nights; the dark circles that color the skin underneath her eyes a purple bruise are nothing short of an indication of her sleepless state. She induces her own nightmares; drawing on her deepest fears and most painful regrets to create a space between her thoughts that is, in and of itself, so agonizingly painful and frightening, it is nothing short of masochism.

She dreams of me.

I know, because she says so.

I hear it, in the soft whimpers and stifled sobs that escape her lips—a slew of incoherent, mumbled words. The words are wet, nothing else to describe the sound that she makes out to be my name. She murmurs it amidst her tears, her shoulders rolling and quivering underneath the blanket that covers us both.

She turns on her side when she thinks I am asleep, her back to me.

I lie awake, listening to her cry herself to asleep, my eyes raking back and forth across the ceiling, my breaths coming in, deep and even—one of mine to every two of hers.

I listen until I cannot hear any longer.

Eventually, her breathing evens out: her shoulders slacken, her head dips forward on her side of the pillow. Her grip on the bed sheets loosens, and she sighs.

I know, then, that she is asleep.

I prop myself up on my elbow and lean over her.

She is beautiful.

Her hair spreads out across the pillow, unpinned. Her lips are parted slightly. Her hand curls over the top of the blanket.

I bite my lip and lean forward further. I tuck my head into the crook of her neck, and shift, pressing my nose against the skin at the curve where her neck becomes her shoulder. I breathe her in. She smells like everything I once dreamt of. Had. Lost.

Might be losing.

She smells faintly of bath soap, a scent that can only be vanilla or lavender—I wouldn't know. I would perhaps, if I was Katie. But I am not.

But she smells of coffee, too. Not the sweet, heady scent of the coffee my mother tips into her morning mug, shaking out the packet until the last bits of powder drift across the water. She smells of the coffee I brewed last night, to drink with a slice of the fondant Panda brought over two nights back.

I close my eyes and take deep, calming breaths.

Proximity to her turns my breathing erratic; my heart palpitates in my chest, and tonight, it isn't because I don't want her next to me.

I curl my arm around her waist, an inch above her skin, not touching.

Never touching.

I wonder, sometimes, what it would feel like to hold her close again, to pull her tight against me.

She shifts in her sleep and I hover over her to watch. If she wakes, I will curl back, away from her.

But she doesn't.

I lower myself slowly again. From here, a faint scent reaches me, and it draws me closer.

She smells of Garibaldi, but it isn't the only thing. I look at her, and something inside me stirs. It clenches deep in my gut, and twists my insides, not uncomfortably. I press the tip of my nose to her temple and breathe in, softly.

Last night, she fell asleep momentarily on the wrapper of a Garibaldi—I peeled it off her. She smells of it now, faint and sweet.

But she also smells of me.

I screw my eyes shut, tightly, and turn my head away. I bite my lip.

Tears spring to my eyes, unbidden, and I hastily swipe the back of my hand across them to stop them from spilling.

I miss her.

I press a feather-light kiss to the skin underneath her ear.

I roll off the bed, taking the top sheet with me. I fumble about in the dark until I find her blue button down across the back of her desk chair. I lift it to my nose and close my eyes. I slip it about my shoulders and work my fingers over the hard plastic, catching it on the slips, leaving the last three at the top undone.

Sometimes, I think about leaving early one morning and staying out until ten thirty. She wakes up around eight. It would give her plenty of time to get worked up into a panic. I would pretend to have left, just to spite her.

But I don't.

Because I know the mere thought of it frightens her witless.

Because I know it is the very fabric her nightmares weave.

So, I don't.

I glance at her before opening the door and slipping through it. I close it shut, softly, and sag against it, tipping my head back against the wood.

I don't understand the sudden exhaustion that courses through me.

I have never felt so tired in my entire life.

It is 3:52 in the morning, and I make my way towards the kitchen.

I start the coffee pot and let its slow monotonous drip lull me back to lethargy.

Reviews are fully, wholly, welcomed and graciously appreciated! Please take the time to tell me how you feel about this one ;) Cheers to fellow author, Cloverfield, for the tagline on this piece.

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