He sits beside you, holding the hand that's not holding the pendant. You look away, out the window. "Ash," he says, and you're pretty sure this isn't the first time he's said it.
"What?" Your voice is still scratchy from the tube.
He squeezes your hand. "Please. Don't do that again."
"You know what I'm talking about."
"I will not take strange drugs again."
"Stubborn." He squeezes your hand again. "Or familiar drugs."
"You know you almost died, right?"
His voice is shaking, and you turn to look at him. The strain is showing - every line of his body, his face. You know that you did this to him, that this is your fault, and for the first time you wish you hadn't done it, not this time. "I'm sorry."
"Promise me. That you won't do it again."
"No more drugs."
"No more looking."
"Aaron, I can't -"
"Why not? What is so awful about this world that you can't be in it? I know about Jason, I know about his father, but Jesus Christ, Ash, they're dead. They are both gone. They can't hurt you anymore."
The bitter laugh that comes out of you surprises you both. "I wish. You have no idea how much I wish."
"Jason shouldn't have died -"
"I beg to differ."
"Not yet! When I dreamed about him that night - he said he was sorry -"
"In your dream. Did he ever say anything like that in real life?"
"Sometimes. A long time ago."
"He needed my help! I was the only person who'd been to his elsewhere, I was the only person who knew what his father was doing to us. I was the only person he could talk to. I was the only person who understood him. He would ask me - every time, after everything that hurt me, he would say he was sorry, he would beg me to stay, he said he needed my help -"
"And that's how he did it." Aaron is quiet, withdrawn. "He made you think you could help."
"I failed him."
"Oh, Ash, no." He takes my hand in both of his. "You were not the one who failed."
Steampunk Compass Rose necklace by Anita Allen - Mixed metal, mixed media, all lovely.
They do this all the time, people like Jason. For serious all the damn time. I am just saying.
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