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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Season 3 ending.

I've Been Dying Just To Feel You
By gilligankane


Every once and a while, she wakes up sweating and short of breath, her fingers clenching the sheets, twisting them and her knuckles white. Every once and a while, she finds herself drowning in the darkness, lost in a solitary headlight in the night.

Every once and a while, she dies in her sleep and when she wakes up, she has trouble remembering that she's still alive.

Because she doesn't really feel alive anymore, in this dark bed, in this dark house, in her dark city.

Every once and a while, she has to remind herself that she's grown up (27 next month), so far from home (because 199 miles was as far as she could go before her parents really started to give her hell), and supposed to be living her own life. She still has moments in between sleep and waking when the possibility of the last ten years of her life being fake is still real and palpable.

On the days when she dies, she reaches to the other side of the bed and tries not to flinch when she finds nothing but cool sheets and the book she fell asleep reading. It's those days that don't hurt her body as much as it hurts her heart. The ache of her ribs are nothing compared to the aching in her chest – the desperate longing and the absence.

Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder. It makes the heart grow colder and broken and just a little dark.

A lot dark, she corrects herself as she turns on the coffeemaker, flinching at the grinding noise of the machine.

The house is empty – almost as empty as the day she moved in – save for a few couches, some tables: the simple stuff that people like to fill four walls with. She has no pictures hanging on the walls, nothing to remind her of home or of her past – she feels like a shell of a person and the not having pictures helps to make her feel less like she's living a lie.

Her mother calls every Sunday, and sometimes she picks up, but most of the time she doesn't.

Her father stops by once a month, but she shuts off all the lights and doesn't answer the door.

Her little sister doesn't do anything: doesn't write, or call, or stop by and she sometimes wonders if the 10-year-old even knows if she exists, but after a few minutes of caring about, she doesn't anymore.

She doesn't turn on the TV or do much of anything, just sits in the silence of the two bedroom house and stares at her empty walls.

In another life, one before hell, she would have smiled across the kitchen table in a yellow kitchen – because yellow is sunny and bright and even though she never really liked yellow, it seems appropriate – and laugh about how ridiculous Regis looks in his old age. In another life, she would hop into the shower quickly, giggling as another body slid in next to her, only half-serious when she would complain about being late to work, the other half of her content to be in that moment forever. In another life, she would come home to a smile and dinner on the table and the prospect of having the whole night to themselves.

But this is this life and instead of a yellow kitchen, it's all steel and gray; instead of lingering shower kisses, she turns the water to cold and tries to ignore how it doesn't bother her; instead of a waiting dinner, she eats takeout and frozen dinners.

She shivers every other breath – shivering at the idea that her life could have even been different, because she stopped dreaming when everything fell apart and she was left with nothing but physical scars that had people cringing; when she had nothing left but emotional scars that had her crying every night.

She wakes up some mornings and in between the seconds before waking is the only time she lets herself dream of the life she could have had, the life she was denied because someone lied when they said high school couldn't kill you.

Every once and a while, she has that dream where she dies, and when she wakes up, she's faced with the nightmare that Sam died for her.

Every once and a while, she wishes she could dream that Sam lived for her.

Every once and a while, she wishes she had died too.

The End

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