The End of the Tunnel
"The easiest thing to do in life is break a promise made."
Promises. Everybody made them. They were so easy to make...and just as easy to break. The hardest thing in life was to keep a promise, especially the one young Daniel had made just a few days ago. Why Lancer had agreed to let him continue down a path that would only further harm the poor boy, he didn't know. All he knew now was that he wanted to place trust in him. However, he also knew Daniel wasn't likely to hold his promise for much longer. Drugs messed a person up and yes, the boy was very much addicted. He hadn't stopped, he was still hallucinating, and he still looked like a walking corpse. This alone proved to Lancer that he wasn't eating like he should be. But...something kept gnawing at his conscience... Not only was there a reason for this bright young lad to stoop to illegal drugs, but it was the simple fact that he wasn't eating enough that kept Lancer on edge. Something about his weight just didn't make sense... While MDMA could screw up a person's metabolism and appetite, this was clearly getting out of hand. This was happening much quicker than any drug could do. There was something else going on and it was becoming a huge problem for Daniel. And it wasn't just the drugs and the rapid weight loss that bothered Lancer. The bruise on his neck that he'd seen when he had confronted the boy about his issues a few days ago was still there and he couldn't stop thinking about where he had gotten that. It was a nasty one, that was for sure, and though Daniel had specifically told him that he had no involvement with gangs, he couldn't help but wonder...
And this was exactly why Daniel was sitting at Lancer's desk right now. It was during his next class, but just like before, he had promised the boy that any trouble would be blamed on himself.
"Daniel," he began. "I-"
"Mr. Lancer..." the boy interrupted. "I n... I-I need..."
The boy took a breath and swallowed before continuing. "I...need...a p-place...to stay..."
A place to stay? Why in the world would Daniel need a place to stay? He had a home already. Was it that his depression was getting the better of him and he felt like he couldn't stay under the same roof his mother had lived in? That actually made sense. And if this would help him, then absolutely! The boy could stay at his house as long as he needed. Anything... Anything to get him off this drug. It was too painful to watch a boy so young destroy himself and genuinely believe that he was doing just fine when he clearly wasn't.
He heard the boy sniffle quietly as he awaited an answer.
"Daniel, I would be more than happy to offer you the guest room at my house but please tell me why," the teacher said softly so as not to further upset him.
The boy shook his head. "I...I just...can't..."
"M-My..." Why was Daniel so hesitant to answer such a simple question? "I just can't...I can't... I mean I can't...because if I...you know? I... It's not... I can't..."
He obviously wasn't on the drug right now otherwise he wouldn't be so disordered. He wasn't making any sense whatsoever. And now he was crying. Why? What was happening to him to make him this way? This had to be something with the reason behind drugs.
Daniel began to gently rock himself back and forth in the chair, apparently attempting to calm himself. It was heartbreaking to see him like this.
"Daniel, is there something you're not telling me?" the teacher asked.
The boy bit his lip. Lancer was no fool. He had been teaching for many years; plenty long enough to figure out the minds of teenagers. Biting their lips was the easiest to read. The body language he was showing meant that he was hiding something, but would probably refuse to confess whatever it was.
"You need to tell me, Daniel. I only want to help you, but I can't unless I know what's wrong," he continued.
He only shook his head. "I...ca...can't... I need a place...a place to stay...and...because back...and I just...and I can't..."
The teacher sighed in response to his jargon. For all he knew, the boy had gotten even worse but hadn't let on until now.
"Are you still on drugs?" he asked.
His student nodded and stopped rocking. "But I'm still in control. I'm fine. I'm fine, remember? You know, because I promised, so I'm fine now. And you know, I always have been. Doesn't really...you know...matter though... It just helps me. I can't...I can't...no... It's not out of control. I kept my promise, remember?"
He most certainly was not fine. He sounded off, but it didn't mean it was from the drug. In fact, it sounded more like he was too shaken by something to produce proper sentences. His mind was too far gone right now and there was no way Lancer could reach out to him. Daniel could start lashing out or breaking down, whichever one. This was how it typically went with depressed teenagers. If Daniel chose to lash out, harsh but empty words would be thrown at Lancer. If he chose to break down, he would be too choked up to talk. Either way this went, it would be bad. Depression went much deeper than the other youths thought. It was capable of cutting its host's soul and corrupting their mind. It held great power over them and at times controlled them and their emotions. No matter what Daniel did next, this was merely because he was depressed and had no other way of expressing it.
"It's all right, Daniel," the teacher said. "Let it out."
At this, the boy hugged himself and curled over his arms, shaking and hitching and just wanting the pain to go away.
"It's...so...h-hard..." he hiccuped. "I don't...don't want...t-this...any...anymore..."
Lancer remained silent as his pupil carried out his decision to break down.
"S-So...tired of the...of the bruises and...and all the fighting..." he choked out. "It's too much... H-Help...please..."
Never before had a student begged for this kind of help, nor had they asked for a place to stay. Something was happening, that much was all too obvious, but there was absolutely nothing Lancer could do (and apparently Daniel couldn't get out of this problem on his own) until he knew what was upsetting him enough to force him into this level of suffering.
"MAKE IT STOP!" he suddenly screamed, cupping his hands over his ears.
It was a wonder how Lancer was able to not jump ten feet in the air.
"Shut up, it's not true..." he whimpered. "Make them go away...!"
Wait a minute here...
Lancer grabbed a ruler and used the end of it to lift the boy's chin, exposing his face. They were deluded by a teary film, but his eyes were huge, dull, and glazed over. Daniel wasn't staying neutral, he was getting worse. He said he never used it in school but Lancer wasn't stupid. He knew that at some point the boy would give in and seek more frequent "highs". He also knew about certain instances where pleasure gained from the drug turned to what the kids called a "bad trip". The drug was in its fullest and it was clear he was having a "bad trip". There was no doubt that he was hearing voices saying something severe enough to upset him. Part of him didn't want to know, but another part wanted to know so he could reason with Daniel. It was impossible to do that with him so messed up. Trying to reason with him now would only result in confusion or misunderstandings.
"Daniel, tell me the truth," he said. "Did you use MDMA in school today?"
"I don't play basketball!" he shouted, jumping from his chair.
"Did you use a drug in school today?" he corrected; or rather, rephrased.
He shook his head yet produced a contradictory answer.
"Yeah. I'm fine. I'm...I'm fi- SHUT UP!"
He wasn't just hallucinating, he was suffering badly. The boy took his hands from his ears and scanned the room, nervously swallowing. His hands shook every now and then, which Lancer didn't remember happening the time before. He could only hope Daniel didn't chase after a higher dosage...but it was very possible. It could've been that he was growing too used to the effects and needed to step it up a notch so he could get the same feeling. Coupled with his weight problem and assumed dehydration, this drug could kill him. If he took it too far and got clean too late, he could suffer permanent brain damage. Nothing good was coming from this.
Apparently he didn't realize this.