This story contains references to drug use.

Mature audiences only, please.


NOW

Love is a battle axe.

You left me mutilated. Hacked into a million tiny pieces. Damaged to the point of no return. Cradled in a bloody puddle of things that are all my fault. My battleground is mud and lust. My barbed wire is sharpened spikes of temptation and greed. My enemy looks just like me and knows every move before I make it.

My weapons are useless.

It wasn't supposed to be this way and I still haven't worked up the will to face it. Still haven't pulled myself out of the wreckage. Still haven't admitted that I caused each and every small disaster that got us to this place. I still haven't even wrapped my head around it, because everything is just so silent.

Hindsight is such a bitch.

THEN

I was fucked up the first time we met.

In some rank, party-weary drug den and you shouldn't have been there. It was wrong, in so many ways. Not because you managed to land yourself in my peripheral vision, though that was as good as pinning a target to your back. Not because you put yourself right in the path of my storm. Not because you showed up at that dirty, shitty house looking better than a mouthful of clean air. Better than an unbroken horizon. Better than you had any right to.

People only came here to rough up their souls, but you showed up fresh as a fucking daisy.

You were dressed in cobalt and I was coated, inside and out, in black.

You were a bluebird and I was as haunted as a graveyard, tripping over tombstones.

I held you off for over an hour, even though I knew you were looking for me. Moved when I needed to, finding another dark corner, another companion offering another bump of something to ease the comedown. You flitted through the squalor as though you didn't even notice it, the only person there whose face wasn't slackened by time or gluttony or greed. Everyone else here was rushing double-time toward death and you were skipping in the opposite direction. You only caught up with me because I was too far gone to evade you any more. Pinned me to a corner and I winced when all the darkness was pushed back, just for a second.

Like you had the sun on a string, bright enough to blind.

"What did you come here for?" I asked and you did something extraordinary with your mouth. Let your eyes fall to my feet and then crawl all the way back up to my face before your lips pulled back and you smiled at me. One that started soft and sweet, but ended deeper and dirtier than I thought you were capable of. You were a bluebird and a sunbeam and you weren't supposed to want certain dark things like me. If you did, you were supposed to keep it a secret.

"I don't know, but I think I'm looking at it," you laughed.

A mouthful of you would be my next addiction, I was sure of it. You looked pretty enough to eat, all in one bite. Enticing enough to burrow ulcers right through my stomach. Decadent enough to make me sick, because I was a glutton who could never make myself stop.

Sweet enough to make my gums bleed, because my heart just couldn't do that shit anymore.

"You're too good for me. I'll ruin you." I tried to be honest, but I think it was your drug of choice. Honesty. I'm sure it burns in ways that powders just can't. Numbs in ways that pills just won't. Hits heavier than the slow melt of gelatin capsules, or the even slower settle onto the bottom of a bottle of liquor. Smokes harder and stronger and faster than any combination of narcotic with any method of ingestion.

Smoke.

Sniff.

Swallow.

You took what I offered and downed it whole.

"You're exactly what I want."

NOW

I only fuck girls who look like you.

Dark hair, dark eyes. A light in their souls that I know won't rub off on me, but I still try.

I still try to find you somewhere beneath their skin, but they all pale even before comparison. They're always so wrong. The way that they move or moan in long dramatic bursts, like actors strangling their monologues, bony death-grip-fingers around every last gasp of air. The way they whisper my name, rasping through smoker's lungs, caught up in sticky phlegm and self loathing. The way their flaccid faces look like the pounded-down heads of nails. In between their legs, smelling of sweat and week old flowers.

They all taste like shit. They all taste like death and they definitely don't do what I need them to. They don't let me revive you. They don't make me forget. They don't get me high enough to suffocate on stars or space, and they sure as shit don't get me low enough to just dig my face into the dirt.

To just let me rot.

Every effort to find you is a failure and, when it's over, I always feel worse.

THEN

In your room, a place that deserved tenderness and face-to-face, I took you from behind.

I felt like a splotch of dirt on your white and pale pink life. A blur of charcoal against your bone-colored walls. A ghost of fog and smoke wafting through the rooms of your home, unable to put my feet down. I drifted, keeping you at a distance but unwilling to stay away. I hadn't had a hit of anything decent in thirty two hours and twelve agonizing minutes and I was tongueing the taste of the inevitable comedown. It had been a while since I had been this sober, my mouth gone dry and my will gone soft and gummy.

You took advantage of me.

Used your pink bedroom and your pink lips to get between my cracks. Used my weakened self and my uncontrollable tendency to get addicted fast and fucking hard. Shoved your unbroken self up against every ragged edge I possessed and split yourself open all over me. Exploded in an indigo snowfall of feathers.

When you kissed me, I broke.

I knew you would taste the defeat behind my teeth if I let you lick them too long and I had to get away from you. Your mouth only made me want your pussy. That particular sort of soft and wet that they both hide away. The kind you had to go digging for to find. I pried myself from your fingers and let you leave gashes on my face like warpaint. Spun you around and gripped your ass. Pushed you to your palms and buried my face between your legs. I had to be deeper. Had to get myself into you and you only egged me on. Dancing on your toes, bones grinding against my face, panting my name like a meditation. I stood and shoved parts of myself into you that were starting to ache, even though that might have been the comedown. When you reached between your legs to get your fingers between my thighs, I spewed filth and demands like a second language.

I let you dig around for that same dripping wet that I was. Let you grip it in your hand and squeeze something from me felt like death by fire, but I didn't burn. I didn't have to fight off the urge to consume. To tie you down. To bite you hard enough to bring up your blood, or punish you for making me feel something that smacked strongly of desire. Didn't have to fold away on myself, or go running toward the next drug to forget you.

Didn't even want to.

"I've never-" I caught every word like the last drops from a bottle, letting them burn a hole through my tongue and eat away at my teeth, scorch through the enamel. It was better than letting them out.

"You've never what?"

"I've never done that sober."

What I couldn't tell you was that I'd replaced my soul with a demon a long time before you showed up. That I'd dowsed my humanity in enough chemical matter to render it unrecognizable, nothing but a scarred and traumatized version of its former self. That I'd banished my hope to a faraway place I'd never be able to reach and that I'd shoved every important emotion into the spare inch of space between my brittle, sugared shell and my bitter, rotten core.

All of that shit just pushing its way to the surface.

My skin had been crawling for so long with the effort of holding myself together, everything just scratching at me, that I'd turned to the even stronger crawl I got from the drugs to ease the itch. Doped myself to the point of blissful ease, enough to put a blurred edge around every day and night until they all just blended together. Enough to leave me without a reflection and to control the urge to just split apart.

To ground my thoughts like blackbirds.

To subdue my dreams like vultures.

Looking for something bright in the middle of all that black.

Like a bluebird.

In a graveyard.

NOW

I see you sometimes, if I fuck myself up enough.

It takes a lot. Some day it will be too much, but I still see you if I push myself far enough. Standing in the hallway, naked and gnashing your teeth around something you'll never be satisfied with, always wanting just a little bit more than I can give you. Beckoning me to bed with the faint promise of sweet and pure in the middle of all this filth.

Your body is the only salvation I can see.

The single star left burning in my big, empty sky.

I've snuffed out every last one of those stars, and it was only a matter of time before I did the same to you.

THEN

In a room meant for hard fast fucks, the kind that are over before they begin, you took me slow and soft and agonizingly close to infatuation.

"I'll end up in hell for this," I whispered as I licked every inch of your tits, speaking my words into the space in between them.

"I'll follow you there."

You slid up and down every exposed inch of me and pulled my hair hard enough to wrench me back from dancing hallucinations of fire and brimstone. I was the devil but you were an angel, heedlessly stripping yourself clean of feathers. Plucking your wings bare and clambering down the red hot path to hell on feet that you rarely used.

"I'm falling," I said.

"Take me," you sighed.

You could have been talking about your oncoming orgasm, or about your freefall from a place somewhere above the sun. Could have been talking about plummeting head over feet into something much deeper than just reckless fucking. Could have been talking about a lot of things but I didn't really give a shit.

You were ditching your robes and your sainthood for demonic possession and I would be your damnation.

If this was hell, I would sell my soul.

NOW

The first time I got high, I was just a kid.

I didn't mean to do it, it just happened, and there's been no going back. It's all been downhill, unstoppable as a landslide, and I've been buried at the bottom of it for so long I can't even remember what the sunshine feels like.

Then you showed up. So fucking bright. So fucking pure. A burning ball of undefiled beauty that covered me in prickly heat rash. Kissed me sunburned. Licked me dehydrated, looped out on bliss and fire.

The last time I'd felt something like that, I was nine.

I was behind a shed in some weedy backyard with a couple of friends trying to figure out how to hold a pipe and light it at the same time. It hit me so hard it almost knocked me on my ass and we went tumbling through the back alleys, high as fucking kites and happy as goddamn clams. Racing our bikes and our fates through the gravel, laughing when it took us down. It's really the last time I can remembering being happy.

I've been chasing that feeling ever since.

You were the thing that finally gave it back. The drug that finally compared. Some sort of golden elixir that rubbed out all my dull and grey. Gave me enough of a gilded patina that I transformed from pewter to fool's gold in one molten hit.

Sunshine, in a single sniff.

Sunshine is all fun and games until it burns.

THEN

I had been fighting you off since the day we met.

Holding you off like a bull, skirting your horns with a white flag instead of a red one. Defending your shop full of china, since you weren't gonna do it for yourself. Denying you the last thing you wanted from me, a hit of something dirty, when I only wanted to keep you clean.

You didn't care about my refusals, just like you didn't care about my warnings in that rancid drug den. Didn't care that I was slowly but surely marring your life, a splatter of black thrown down in the middle of all your pristine white like a goddamn Rorschach blot. One that reminds you of something sinister and satanic.

Promises of destruction that you insisted were butterflies, or even flowers, when they were really blooms of powder and blue flame.

You sabotaged me, again. Got to me when I was limping the line of sobriety. You were hell fire when you put your mind to something and you knew just when to take me down. There would be no fighting you off this time. I knew it because you did that thing again where you shed your clothes and crawled all over me and brushed me down with gold. Made me special for a moment and got what you wanted.

"Don't say no to me."

I hadn't told you yet, but I loved you too much to deny you anything.

"Fine. You win."

I watched you do it, and I didn't stop you. Didn't grab it from your hand and throw it hard enough to embed that damn needle in the wall instead. Didn't pick you up and storm away from the downward black hole-suck you had drifted into only because of me.

I didn't make myself better for you.

I didn't actually do it, but I might as well have. Watched you shove that needle right into your arm like you were a voodoo doll. Watched you sink every last mouthwatering ounce into your blood. Watched you smile at me when it started to hit. When I shot myself up, you were just a few steps ahead and starting to giggle. I wanted to be there with you. Wanted us to be numb together, to get your smile wrapped around my own. Your pussy wrapped around my fingers and your arms around my neck.

I wanted to peel off your clothes and set my poisoned teeth to your skin.

Instead, I became a witness. A spectator to your demise but, by the time I realized what was going on, it was too late.

I fell behind only for a moment, but you got so far ahead.

NOW

You only hit what you head for.

Our blind hurtle toward the looming brick walls of reality was entirely unhindered by your self preservation. You slammed your foot on that gas pedal and we hit at a million miles an hour. Without seat belts. Without airbags. You left me, fleeing into a wild, fuming world of softened cells and burned-through brain matter.

Better off without me. Better left untouched.

I should have never let you smile at me like that. I should have never let you follow me home, or keep showing up. Should have told you to fuck off. Should have scared you or hurt you. Should have run away. Should have done something, anything, other than what I did.

Which was fall for you.

That was the worst thing I could have done.

THEN

Neither of us died the night we crashed, even though it seems that way.

They had to exchange all of my blood with someone else's, a stranger now living inside of me.

They had to replace your lungs with machines, mechanical air keeping you alive.

I didn't visit.

There's no getting back what hasn't been lost.

There's no resurrection for what is not dead.

NOW

The first dose is for me.

For all the times I've tweaked so hard I damn near chewed off my tongue. For all the times I woke up somewhere, wrapped around someone, and didn't remember their name. Or mine. For all the nights I wasted on powders that promised fairies, but never destroyed those nightmarish vultures.

For murdering something beautiful, like a trophy for my wall.

The second dose is for you.

For that soft flicker of light I snuffed out. For that last lone star I pulled down, plummeting to earth with enough destructive weight to usher in another ice age. For the bluebird and the graveyard and for the way that you ground yourself down on me as though you were searching for something.

For never giving it to you.

The third is for the burning in my stomach that just won't go away.

For the moment the machines that replaced your lungs sputtered to a stop and they just let you fucking suffocate.

The fourth is for the journey, because that's really the most painful part. It's not the start, or the finish, it's the stretch of space between that defines everything. When you fill up that stretch of space with nothing but damaged substitutions, the journey is like dragging your soft naked self across a bed of broken glass. Arriving at the finish line in a mangled, bloody mess. I've tried everything I can to ease the ache. Fallen into bottomless holes of heroin and gin. Plowed into any girl who crossed my path and was unlucky enough to look like you. Drowned every moment I couldn't sleep with enough medication that I could never really tell if I was dreaming or not.

The lone survivor of this tragedy, but no one ever talks about the people who get left behind, sifting through the rubble.

Five is for the destination. To fling my worthless, broken body over that big black line. Choking on seconds that feel like centuries, salivating on the edge of a blissful sea of white. Empty and infinite, full of nothing but roaring silence.

Six is for my guilt.

To calm the raging gunfire of remorse that terrorizes my brain like third world genocide. To put my scorching anger and my reckless sorrow to sleep like a sickly dog. To give into life and death, wasted on a single suspended second. One that not only validates your existence but wipes you from it at the same time.

The register bottoming out. Flatlining at zero. Time of death: two weeks, four days and three hours too late.

You always said you'd follow me. I never told you that I'd follow you too.

I hope you made it.

I'm on my way.

AN:

This one hurt.

I made myself cry. A lot.

I made Hadley cry even more.

She usually fixes my mistakes, this time she picked me up off the ground and dusted me off so that I could finish.

It still hurts to read.