torch, December 1997

Disclaimer: The characters belong to CC and 1013; I'm just torturing them for fun. Sequel to Awakenings I and II; the last story in the series. Anyone who places all three subtitles spends too much time reading poetry. Do not archive this story without permission.

Awakenings III: The waste remains

I have come to dread mornings. There has been too much pain, in waking up alone, in not waking up alone. Too much confusion. Last night, though, I barely slept at all. I thought and thought, in the forever between three and four a.m., about where I am and where I can go from here, as though I deserve rational thought, as though I could make a rational choice.

He came again last night, rushing into my life and my apartment like a storm front. Lightning struck us both, as it always does. I ache all over. His touch bruises me, inside and out. His mouth tastes like salt water. Trying to assuage lust by kissing him is like trying to slake thirst by drinking from the sea. When I thought about telling him, he pulled me close again, and I was lost.

So he doesn't know, and I can't say it now, just as I couldn't tell her. Which one of them am I betraying with my deeds, with my silence? Both, I know, I know.

I didn't deserve her. When I yielded to her touch, my corruption was final; I didn't want to believe I could disregard my own moral standards so completely. Since that night, things have been strange between us, words in the wrong places, silences where there should be speech. I knew while it happened that explanations would not put things right, and I haven't even tried. Something else is required, something more final. Words can always be taken back, reinterpreted, their meaning reconstructed.

The moment I touched him, I started lying to myself, to the world. The moment I touched her, I knew I couldn't do it any longer. I have to break free of all this, put an end to it before it changes me out of all recognition. Before it changes me into someone who doesn't understand why it has to stop.

My hand tightens fractionally around the familiar grip. It's solid and reassuring, something to hang on to, the shape and weight of it anchoring me and confirming my purpose. It amazes me that he doesn't wake up; there should be something, smell, sound, some other more intangible warning that his sixth sense for danger could pick up on. But it has been like this from the beginning. In my bed, he sleeps in utter, heavy relaxation. She slept, too, with that same look of blank contentment on her face.

I can't stand this any more.

And I know I'm the one who has to end it. That was the choice I made last night, the choice I still abide by this morning, as gray-fingered dawn reaches in through my bedroom window yet again to light the chaos of this bed and the chaos in my mind. In my heart. I have made my choice, and I will carry it through.

All I have to do is pull the trigger.

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