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Addicted to You

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Stepping out of the therapist’s office into the brisk Manchester Autumn, Dan pulled his jacket tighter, keeping his head down. He shivered, always feeling shaken up more than usual after a therapy appointment. His mind always raced after these appointments. Should I have said that? She’s going to think I’m a freak. Why do I keep going to these? It’s all just in my head. Hell, it’s all in mum’s head too. Fuck, I’m going to end up just as crazy as her. I’m never going to succeed, I’m always going to be crazy, I’m never going t- “Oof!” Dan stumbled back and pulled out his ear buds. “Watch where you’re going, mate!”

“Excuse me?” The guy stood up a bit straighter, correcting his askew glasses and running his hands down his jacket to straighten it out. “You were the one who was spacing out. You weren’t even looking up!”

Dan closed his eyes and internally groaned, his hands balling up into fists in his coat pockets. “Which means you also weren’t paying attention ahead of you.” Dan pulled his hands out of his pockets and pulled up his hood, beginning to walk off again, slipping his ear buds back in. “Fuckwad…” he mumbled under his breath.

 


 

“Mum!” Dan called out as he walked into the house, tossing his jacket on the hook and kicking off his faded black converse. He walked into the kitchen, not hearing any noise in the rest of the house. That wasn’t unusual, sadly, for his mother not to be home. But-

“Danny!” A drunken voice slurred from the back porch. Dan’s jaw automatically clenched. Calming breaths, D. Don’t need to knock him out today.

“Uh…Hey Weston. Where’s mum?” Dan glanced back at the man as he buttered a piece of bread.

“God, who knows. She went out maybe an hour ago.” Weston took a swig from the brown bottle that Dan had grown to hate.

“She’s your wife.”

“And she’s your mother. What’s your point?”

Dan took another deep breath and rubbed his hands over his face before turning around fully and leaning against the counter, picking at the crust of his bread. “Don’t you ever ask her where she’s going? Or how long she’s going to be gone?”

“You know exactly where she is, Danny. If you’re so concerned, why don’t you go hunt her down? I’m her husband, not her gatekeeper.” Weston tossed his empty bottle into the recycling. Dan flinched as he heard it shatter amongst all the other bottles.

“You’re a real bastard, you know that?”

Weston winked and walked towards the fridge, pulling out another beer and heading back into the direction of the back porch. “It’s all part of the charm, Danny.” He said with a wink before disappearing out the door.

Dan let out a soft sigh, finally letting his body untense as he tilted his head up towards the ceiling. “Why is everyone being a fuckwad today?” He questioned out loud before tossing his bread and butter in the bin and grabbing Weston’s truck keys off the kitchen table. Fuck him.

 


 

Dan climbed into the nasty old truck. It was probably older than him. It definitely smelt like it had been rotting at least 18 years. It took a few tries for the truck to come to life before Dan pulled out of the driveway and began his journey across town. That asshole married her. This shouldn’t always be my job. I can’t fucking do this anymore. This isn’t fair. I should be out with my friends making stupid decisions, not dragging my mother home who’s made enough fucked up decisions for the both of us. If I drove myself off this bridge I wouldn’t have to put up with this anymore. Dan chuckled quietly and turned the radio up higher, rolling down the windows and mumbling quietly to himself. “I’d have to fucking put up with this in every timeline…”

 


 

As Dan made it to the other side of down, he turned his radio off and kept glancing around, looking for anyone he knew. When that plan flopped, he parked the truck on the side of the road and went behind one of the old crumbling restaurants Gracie’s. He has always loved the little diner, the fluffy American pancakes always being his favourite. But once he was old enough to realize his mum’s “extra powdered sugar on the side” wasn’t powdered sugar at all, he decided to stop joining her for breakfast.

It may not have been powered sugar, but it still gave her that sweet release.

Luckily, a few years back, the restaurant had been shut down due to someone ratting out the “powered sugar” deal, which also lead to Gracie’s arrest. She was always kind to Dan, giving him extra slices of Canadian Bacon and a free milkshake for his car ride home. A few others had been arrested, too, but luckily his mother didn’t get caught. After the closing of the Diner, though, the town druggies needed a new place to find their own sweet release.  

Dan continued down the path, deep into the forest behind the diner. He passed many middle-aged men and women huddled together, sticking themselves with dirty needles and others using an old tuna can as a table to snort their own powdered sugar.

“Daniel!” A man grabbed the boys arm, and Dan jerked away, his heart racing before seeing Gerry. “Y’gotta drag ya mum home, kid! She had a lil’ too much today!” Gerry let out a loud belly-laugh as he dragged Dan over to his mother, who was curled up and shaking beside a garbage bin.

“Shit mum…” Dan knelt down in front of her and brushed her hair out of her face. She let out a soft hiss, which is when Dan noticed the darkening mark around her eye. He looked back at Gerry. “How the fuck did this happen?”

“Dunno, kid, she showed up with it, I swear!”

Dan groaned and sat next to his mother, pulling her into his arms and running his fingers slowly through her brown curls. She was beginning to go grey, but that made no difference to Dan. No matter what happened to her, no matter how she aged, no matter how much mental and emotional pain she caused him, he still loved her more than he would ever love another person.

Chapter Text

 

Dan brought the tea into his mum’s room, setting it on her bedside table before sitting on the edge of her bed. He held her hand lightly, gently stroking her knuckles.

Weston wasn’t home when Dan managed to get his mum into the truck and back home. Dan figured he probably went out with his buddies to the pub, considering Dan had his truck.

“What time is it?” He heard a wear voice ask. He looked down at his mother and smile softly.

“About 11pm.”

“Fuckin’ hell…” She groaned, pulling her hands away from Dan and pulled the duvet up more. “Be a dear and go fetch me some

Dan picked up the tea that he had already made and gently handed it to

“Always one step ahead.” She carefully sat up and blew on the tea gently before taking a sip. “Thanks again,

“Mum…Mum you gotta stop doing this. This is the third time in two months. I can’t keep saving your ass.” Dan said quietly, avoiding eye contact. He loved his mother to death, but with exams coming up, he needed to be able to put his focus into school and not on his fucked up

She set her tea cup aside and cupped his cheeks, smiling sadly. “Babyboy, you don’t have to worry about me. I promise you, Danny. This isn’t going to happen again.” She gently pulled him forward and kissed his forehead. “I’m done messing things up for you.” She whispered softly against his forehead.

Dan let his eyes close as a small smile found its way to his lips. “Okay, mum. Thank you…”

 “I love you, Danny.”

“I love you too, mum.”

 


 

A few weeks passed. Weston had returned home, and Dan never mentioned the bruises that kept appearing on his mother. His mother had stopped going out, though, and Dan was now deep into revising for his exams. He had finally began applying to Universities. Dan finally felt like his life was getting back on tack.

Dan had decided to reward himself one Saturday night, allowing himself to go to a friend’s place for a few drinks and some greasy food. He took his mind off his mum and his exams. He drunkenly kisses his friends, jokingly gave a lap dance which ended up giving him and the recipient a reason to escape to privacy for a little while. All in all, Dan had an amazing night.

When Dan arrived home the next morning, it was eerily quiet. More quiet than usual, he decided. He wandered further into the house and hissed loudly when something sharp went into his foot. He hopped over to stairs and sat on one of the carpeted step, pulling off his sock and seeing a small slice along his big toe. He stared at his sock in confusion before looking down the hallway to the kitchen, seeing the floor littered with tiny shards of glass. In another mind-set, Dan would’ve thought it looked beautiful with the way the sun reflected off of each tiny sliver. Instead, he got up and carefully tiptoed to the kitchen, the amount of glass increasing greatly the closer he got to the back of the house. Dan had a funny feeling in his stomach, and he didn’t think it was from the alcohol the night before.

He made it to the kitchen, fairly certain his feet had gotten even more sliced up. The recycling bin was knocked over, mostly the beer bottles spread out on the floor, all smashed to bits. Dan felt his heartbeat quicken up, seeing a dried up puddle of blood in front of the fridge and a splatter of blood across the fridge door. The sight made Dan feel sick.

His toes and fingers felt numb as he stumbled to the back door and slid it open, going to the edge of the porch and vomiting violently. He felt light-headed, his limbs felt too After a few minutes of deep breathing, Dan carefully went back inside and explored the house. No one was home. It was dead silent. It made Dan feel even more uneasy.

Dan pulled out his phone and ordered a taxi. He paced in his front yard as he repeatedly tried calling his mothers phone, getting no answer. When his taxi arrived, Dan climbed in and told the cabbie where to go. Fuck fuck FUCK! Dumbass! You shouldn’t have fucking left last night! What the FUCK made you think it was a good idea? You should’ve stayed there. You should’ve fucking murdered Weston when you found out he was hurting mum. You should’ve taken care of mum. Mum needed you most, dumbass. You should’ve just fucking stayed at home. You fucked up again, Dan. You always-

“Here we are, champ.” The cabbie turned around and smiled warmly at Dan, oblivious to the nightmare Dan was currently living through. Dan blinked a few times and glanced out the window, noticing the vehicle had stopped. He pulled out a handful of notes and handed them up to the cabbie before climbing out and running behind the crumbling building of Gracie’s.   

Chapter Text

She was just…laying there. She looked completely lifeless, but not much different from when she was alive. She looked just as miserable, but more empty behind the eyes. Dan kept staring, his body feeling completely numb and cold.

Finally, the realization hit him, probably as hard as his mother had been hit in the face. He barely recognized her, her face and clothes bloody and various areas of her body deeply bruised. Part of Dan didn’t want to believe that this was his mother. Surely, it couldn’t be? His mother was alive, probably just at the pub or something, right?

His breath quickened as he stumbled backwards, his head going fuzzy as he began screaming. Screaming out of fear, screaming out of anger, screaming out of heartbreak. How could his mother, who had kissed his cheek and told him to have fun at his mate’s house, now be possibly dead in the middle of a forest.


 

“Graydon family?” A nurse called.

Dam blinked rapidly for a moment before cluing into what the nurse was saying. He got up and stumbled to her. “Hi, yeah, Daniel Howell, her son.”

“Howell? Are you sure? I called Graydon, sir.”

Dan rolled his eyes. “Of course, I’m sure, I’m the only person in this damn waiting room!” Dan exclaimed, gesturing to the room behind him full of empty seats. “She changed her name when she remarried…” Dan mumbled softly, rubbing at his arm awkwardly, feeling guilty for snapping.

“Is her husband on his way?”

“I sure fuckin’ hope not.”

“Excuse me?”

Dan sighed heavily and went to sit in the closest chair, burying his face into his hands. “He’s the one that did it. The…the one who beat her…”

The nurse nodded slowly, gently placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “We will have the police here shortly.” She said softly before crouching in front of him to be at eye-level. “She has been pronounced dead. She suffered from internal and external bleeding, and a drug overdose. We don’t know which one happened fir-“

“The bleeding…” Dan answered coldly, his hands clenched into fists. “The bleeding and the bruises…it was all him. He did this to my mother.”

“Just wait until the police come, Mr. Howell. You can speak to them then. Would you like to see your mother one last time?”

“Fuck this…” Dan stood up and pushed passed her, heading out the front doors of the hospital. He didn’t want to see his mother. He didn’t need to see her all black and blue from the bruises. He didn’t need any of this. It was all complete bullshit. Complete, utter bullshit.

Chapter Text

A few months passed. Police were in the house every other day, asking Dan what felt like a million and one questions. They couldn’t find Weston. Knowing that he was out in the world, living guilt free after driving his mother to her suicide, Dan couldn’t sleep more than 20 minutes at a time. He hadn’t attended school since that tragic week, and the school had given up trying to make contact.

Dan felt empty. He felt alone. So, he did the only thing that he figured could take his mind off things.

He called up guys he had hooked up with previously, joined some hook-up apps, started messaging whoever he could, sleeping with whoever was willing.

He just wanted to stop feeling.

That’s how he ended up under some twenty-something year old guy living in his parents’ basement. It reeked of weed and cat piss, but Dan was too caught up in the moment to notice or care.

Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door leading into the basement. “Lance!” A male voice called.

The man above Dan, Lance, groaned softly and buried his face into Dan’s neck, panting heavily. There was another loud bang.

“Lance!” The voice shouted.

“The fuck you want?” He yelled back, lifting his face from Dan’s neck.

Dan froze under him. His eyes glued on the closed door. He knew the voice. Why did he know that voice?

“Can ya go out and buy me some more beer? Your cow of a mother didn’t grab me any.”

Dan felt sick. He got shivers down to the bone.

“Fuck off, Wes! Go get your damn alcohol!”

“You’re under my roof you listen to my goddamn rules!”

“No, Weston. You live under my mother’s roof. So, fuck right off.”

“Fuckin’ good for nothin’ brat…” Dan heard him mutter as he walked away from the basement door.

Lance looked down at Dan and raised an eyebrow. “Sorry about that. Mum’s boyfriend’s a shithead. Are you okay?”

Dan managed to scramble out from under him, backing up against the wall, his breathing quickening. “I-I have to go. You have to call the police. Call the fucking police.” Dan hissed before turning around and standing on his tip-toes to look out the basement window, not seeing Weston’s old ratty truck, but a beige car that looked like a crappy piece of garbage Weston would buy.

Lance slowly sat up and sat on the edge of the bed. “What are you on about?”

“That man,” Dan pointed towards the door. “Weston Graydon. How long has he been around?”

“Uh, I don’t know. Few months, half a year maybe, why?”

“I-I can’t explain. Is there a way I can get out without him seeing me?”

Dan and Lance both redressed before Lance showed him how to sneak out of the basement window. “Are you sur everything’s okay? Did I do something wrong?”

“You did absolutely nothing wrong, I promise you. But I need to leave. Now.”

Lance nodded a bit and helped him out. “I had a great ti-“

“Yeah this isn’t the time for pleasantries.” Dan said as he quickly slid out the window and onto the front yard.

Lance nodded a bit and closed his window, pulling his blinds.

Dan pulled his hood up and began walking across the yard. He was nearing the end of the driveway when he heard the front door open. He briefly froze before continuing.

“Lance!” He heard Weston call. “Please, I’ll give you extra cash.”

Dan kept walking, closing his eyes tight.

Dan could hear footsteps behind him. He began walking faster.

Weston grabbed him by the arm and jerked him around, and within a blink of an eye, Dan had punched him across the face. “You fucking asshole!” He screamed.

Weston groaned and held his jaw, stumbling back. “Daniel what the fuck are you doing here?”

“Me? Me?! What the fuck are you doing here, Weston! You fucking murdered my mother and then what? Decided you were gonna just ruin some other perfect family? You’re fucking pathetic Weston!”

Weston charged at him, knocking Dan to the grass and beginning to punch him repeatedly in the face, chest, arms and stomach.

Dan managed to get a leg free from under him and kneed him hard in the crotch, sending Weston rolling onto the ground next to him. Dan took this chance to straddle Weston’s torso, beginning to throw his own punches. His mind went blank and next thing he knew, he was gripping Weston’s hair and smashing it against the curb. Once Weston stopped fighting back and blacked out, Dan climbed off of him, his hands shaking violently. He sat on the grass and sobbed into his knees, thankful none of the neighbours had come out.

Once he caught his breath and sorted through his thoughts, he called the police.

Chapter Text

“Local man, Weston Graydon, arrested for the murder of his wife, Penny Graydon-Howell…”

Dan groaned and clicked the tv off. He was sick of seeing Weston’s face plastered everywhere. Done with the messages saying he’s so strong for calling the police on his step-father. How did that make him strong? Because he got a murderer arrested? He didn’t give a shit if he ruined Weston’s life by getting him sent to jail. He deserved it. He murdered his mother.

Dan decided to continue his hook-up streak. He slept with at least half a dozen guys in a week. He had stopped going to his therapist after his mum died, not being able to afford it anymore. He had stopped his anti-depressants. He had stopped caring altogether.

He met up with one guy he really clicked with. They had the same sense of humour, the same music taste, and luckily, the same taste in alcohol. They hung out a lot after their first hook-up. Dan slept at his house more than he slept at his own lonely house.

One Saturday night, Dan and the guy, Henry, were laying in his bed, taking turns at sipping at some fruity vodka drink that Dan didn’t know the name of, but it made his taste buds and fuzzy brain happy.

Henry climbed out of bed, stretching his arms above his head before going to sit in his desk chair. “Join me for a line?” He asked, glancing over at Dan. He pulled a small baggy from his desk and used a credit card to begin making a few thin white lines. He had done this around Dan a few times, but Dan usually excused himself to the bathroom. Fuck it, he thought as he began climbing off of the bed and slightly stumbled over to Henry’s desk.

And that was just the beginning.

Dan began going to parties with Henry, getting high as a kite every other night. He felt weightless and happy, even though he knew deep down that it was all artificial. So eventually, he decided it wasn’t going to be artificial. He was going to keep that feeling for as long as possible.

Getting high, whether through a joint, coke, or injecting himself with the cheapest shit he could find, finally brought back happiness. Henry had decided that they should stop seeing each other when Dan began getting out of hand, but Dan was too high in the sky to notice anything going on around him.

Dan was across town, getting more coke from his dealer in exchange for a blowjob and letting him fuck him a few times a week. He decided to walk home, it was finally starting to cool down towards the end of summer.

He was lost in his own thoughts, his eyes glancing around. They eventually landed on the old and broken Gracie’s sign, and Dan immediately felt completely sober. He quickly crossed the street, not really checking if there were any cars coming. As he made his way behind the old diner he heard distant car horns and the sound of cars colliding, but none of that mattered now. He was on a mission.

He wandered deep into the forest, to where he had found his mum countless times, passed out, on the verge of an overdose. He had sat with her many times, holding her until she regained consciousness and he could help her back to the dirty old truck and take her home. It’s where he had found her for the very last time. Beaten and bruised, looking so small and fragile curled up in the dirt. He hadn’t taken her home in the truck that night. He didn’t get to. She was already too far gone.   

There were a few remains of candles, from her friends, Dan assumed. All those selfish fuckers who let her do that to herself. Who let her kill herself.

Dan’s breathing got shallower as he carefully moved the candle scraps and sunk down into the small area between a garbage bin and a fence. He felt small, insignificant to the world around him. He didn’t matter. Nothing fucking mattered anymore. He had nothing and no one. No warm house to go back to, no happy family to greet him, hug him, ruffle his hair and embarrass him. He’d never get that again.

He pulled the cocaine from his jacket pocket and gently shook the baggy before hauling himself up. He opened the baggy and pulled out his credit card as he began making thin white lines on the top of the garbage bin.

Chapter Text

“Mr. Howell?” Dan heard a soft voice say. “He isn’t responding.” The voice said, and Dan could feel many pair of hands pick him up and then put him down on a softer surface. “He has a pulse, we still…” and that was the last thing Dan heard as he let sleep consume him again.

What the fuck. Dan groaned softly and tried to blink his eyes open. He hissed softly, feeling like a bright light was being shined directly into his eyes. My fucking head…my fucking stomach…

“Mr. Howell?” He heard a man say. Dan laid there for a moment, contemplating whether to open his eyes or not. He could just pretend to still be asleep, couldn’t he?

A soft, barely audible groan came from Dan. “Mr. Howell, you are at the Lighthouse Care Rehab Centre. Do you know why you are here?”

Dan didn’t move. He didn’t react or answer. He didn’t want to give this doctor the satisfaction of having Dan answer him. Dan knew exactly why he was here, but at the same time, he didn’t. He didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be anywhere but here, honestly.

“We are here to help you, Daniel.” The doctor said softly, not quite sure if his patient was awake or not. He got up and began walking out of the room.

“Why didn’t they let me die?” Dan’s voice croaked.

The doctor stopped in his step and turned to face the boy in the bed. “I’m sorry?” he asked, stepping back into the room more.

“Why…Why didn’t they let me die? Out there in the woods, I mean. I…I wanted to die. Why did they have to save me?” Dan’s eyes were still shut tight, the blinding grey of the walls being too much to handle.

The doctor sat down on his chair again and looked over his notes. “Two joggers found you. Paramedics were called and you were rushed to the local emerge. They almost lost you, but you should be very grateful that they saved you. Not everyone is that lucky.”

“Yeah, I fucking know…” He mumbled, pulling the thin sheet up further to cover his shoulders. “When can I go? Can I have a mate pick me up?”

“I’m afraid it isn’t that easy, Mr. Howell.” The doctor scribbled another note on Dan’s file: Suicide Attempt

“What the hell do you mean?”

“We know about your family situation, we know that you use to attend therapy, and we now know why you were out in the forest that night. You were brought to us because we believe you have the opportunity to have a fresh start. Clean your slate and start over. We spoke with the local police department, too. We came to an agreement after looking at all the info on you, that if we could rehabilitate you, stabilize you, help you become a new man, that they were drop the charges for the illegal drug use and possession. But, you can leave. Once you are stable enough, you can sign the papers and go, but you will still be charged.”

“I…I don’t have money…”

“I’ll give you some time to think about it. Get some rest, Daniel.” The doctor smiled warmly even though Dan wasn’t looking at him, before getting up and walking out. It only took a few moments before Dan began drifting back to sleep.

Chapter Text

The doctors worked with Dan for about two weeks to get him slowly off cocaine. They worked slowly, lowering his dosage every time to slowly work it out of system without sending his body into complete shock. He still went through withdrawals, though. He woke up in the middle of the night, feeling cold as ice, but sweating, or feeling like his skin is absolutely uncomfortably hot, but his body was cool to the touch. He had insane nightmares, lots of weight loss and vomiting. He felt like he was going to the deepest, darkest parts of hell for nearly two weeks.

Once he was worked down to being completely off, it got even worse. He felt more depressed than he had ever felt, he could barely sleep, he began overeating, and felt irritated towards everything and everyone.

After another week or so of being completely clean, he suffered from mood swings and his food cravings became even more intense.

“Daniel, you’re 18, correct?” His assigned therapist, Zana, asked him one day during one of their sessions.

“Yeah…” Dan was never very talkative during these sessions. He usually gave her enough bullshit answers to get them through the hour.

“You’re pretty lonely in here, aren’t you?”

“No shit.”

“Language. Anyways, the rehabilitation centre is looking to start up trial run for a new type of counselling. Well, more of a mentorship.”

“What does that mean?”

“We are hiring ex-addicts to come here, hang out with you for at least an hour every few days. Men and women who have been in the same situation as you.”

“Would I have to put up with a different crackhead every time?”

“No. You would get your own person, depending on factors like age, gender, drug, what lead them to ending up in here.”

Dan nodded a bit. “Um…sure. Why not.” He shrugged and rubbed his face. “Are we done?”

Zana sighed and glanced at her watch. “The hour is basically up, so I’ll head out. I will sign you up for the test trial and hopefully by tomorrow or the next day, you will have your mentor!”

“Perfect!” Dan said, his tone thick with sarcasm. “Oh, and Zana?”

“Yes, Daniel?”

“Could I get some pizza?”

Zana sighed before walking out. That boy was too damn much.

 


 

The next day at the same time, Zana came back with a big smile. “Good afternoon, Daniel!”

“Oh no, am I dying?”

“Excuse me?”

“You are never happy when you have to come put up with my bullshit.”

Zana chuckled softly. “Oh Daniel, you are definitely a special one. But no, you aren’t dying. We were able to find you a match with the mentorship program!”

Dan raised an eyebrow, sipping on his apple juice and leaning back into his uncomfortable pillows. “Oh really?”

“Yes! Her name is Lilly, she’s 24 and recovered from heroin. After our appointment today, she is going to stop by for a little meet and greet and maybe you two could chat for a while?”

Dan shrugged and chucked his juice box towards the recycling bin, “Sure. Why not. Sounds like a gay ol’ time!” He rolled his eyes over-dramatically and grabbed another apple juice from the package beside his bed.

“Daniel, please just try. I think this could benefit you greatly.”

“Whatever you say, Doctor Zan.”

Chapter Text

Dan met Lilly after his appointment with Zana. Dan immediately decided he never wanted to talk to this girl again.

“-and then I practically OD’d at my 21st birthday party! And again at my best friend Jennifer’s 21st birthday party! Oh and then-“

She had been talking for…at least an hour, surely. Maybe two? Could it even be three?

Dan didn’t know anymore. He was going crazy. This girl was going to make him insane. Does she know how to shut the fuck up!

Dan glanced at the clock on the wall by the door, realizing she had only been there for 20 minutes. Dan internally groaned before deciding to fake a yawn, stretching his arms above his head. “It was really nice to meet you, Lilly. Sorry to stop your story. I’ve had a long day and I’m afraid to fall asleep! It was really great to meet you though.” He said, giving her the warmest smile he could despite wanting to be anywhere else but there and would rather rip out his ears himself instead of ever having to listen to her speak another sentence.

“Oh! Well okay then! It was lovely to meet you! I’ll see you soon!” She got up and kissed his cheek unexpectedly before walking out. Dan rubbed his face and groaned, pulling his knees to his chest. I should’ve just agreed to leave. Anything else would be better than being stuck in this hellhole.

A soft knock came from the door and Zana poked her head in. “Hey, Daniel. Lilly told me you were feeling tired. Was she really that horrible?”

Zan! She never stopped talking. I could barely think!” Dan whined, letting his head fall back against his pillows.

Zana chuckled softly. “The second I met her today, I knew she wasn’t going to be a great fit. I’m sorry Daniel. I’ve already entered for you to be reassigned a mentor.”

“Please just…not another Lilly.”

“No promises.” Zana said with a wink before walking out.

 


 

A few days passed, therapy appointments came and went, and Zana had still not found Dan another mentor. Dan was so close to giving up hope, ready to withdraw his name from the trial program and just live out his days as a sad, lonely coke addict who only talks to his therapist and doctors.

It was Saturday afternoon, Dan didn’t meet with Zana on weekends, so the knock on his door confused Dan completely.

Zana poked her head in the door and smiled brightly. “Good afternoon! I have some great news!”

“They want to give me the death sentence.”

“Daniel, I like you a lot. But please shut up. We found you a mentor!”

Dan chuckled softly and turned down the volume on the tv that looked like it was from 1995. “Who’s the poor bastard that has to put up with me now?”

“His name is Philip. His assigned patient just got release yesterday, so I nabbed him before anyone else could! He’s 22, recovered coke addict like you, and he has had quite a few patients that he has mentored for and has been extremely successful.”

Dan hummed softly, nodding as he listened to Zana. “Stop trying to oversell him. If you think he’s a good fit, then cool. Set it up.”

“No witty comments? No arguing? What did you do with my Daniel?”

Dan rolled his eyes. “I swear to god, Zan, by the time I get out of this place, my eyes are going to be stuck permanently eyerolling.”

“That sounds like a you problem, sweetheart.” She smiled sweetly. “Would you be up to meeting him tomorrow?”

“Fine, sure, whatever. Just make sure he isn’t here before noon.”

“Sure thing.”

“And if he is annoying like Lilly, I don’t want another mentor.”

“Oh, I think you are going to like him, Daniel.” Zana flashed him one last smile before leaving.

 


 

Around 12:30pm the next day, Dan heard a soft knock on his door. He groaned dramatically. “Whaaaat?”

Zana poked her head in, smiling. “Morning, Sunshine!”

“Didn’t I say I didn’t want to meet him before noon?” He whined, pulling the blankets up over his head and letting out an annoyed huff.

Zana giggled softly. “Technically, Daniel, it is past noon. It’s just about 12:30.”

“Fuck…is he here?”

“Not yet, he got held up in traffic, lucky for you and your sleep schedule. He should be here by one, though. I figured you’d want to be somewhat presentable before meeting him.”

Dan pulled a pillow over his head and spoke, but it came out as a muffled sound. Zana pulled the pillow from his grip and raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

Dan whined loudly. “Fiiine. I’m getting up.”

“Perfect.” Zana tossed the pillow back onto his head before walking out.

 


 

Nearly half an hour later Dan was awake and dressed. The rehab centre had given him a few hours one day and took him back to his family home to grab a few things. He was supervised, of course, but they let him bring his clothes, laptop, and a few other little personal items. He decided to finally shower for the first time in almost a week and pulled on a plain grey jumper and a pair of his black jeans.

For all he knew, this mentor was going to be a flop, too. He had high expectations, but also wasn’t expecting too much out of this guy. He was probably a scummy guy who managed to do his time in the rehab and needed some extra cash and took this job.

Zana poked her head in before opening the door. “Daniel! You’re actually dressed!”

“You make it seem like I’m naked whenever we meet.” He mumbled, fixing his hair in a little hand mirror he had brought from home.

“I just mean, I don’t know! You are never in normal clothes, usually just pyjamas. It’s nice to see you all dressed up. And you showered?” She asked, noticing the boy fixing his damp hair. “Wow, you’ve never tried this hard for me, Daniel. Gotta say, I’m a little hurt.”

Daniel rolled his eyes but giggled softly. “You know all of my deepest and darkest secrets, Zan. I didn’t think I needed to get dressed up for you.”

“Well I guess I’m flattered you feel that way. Philip is just signing in, I thought I’d let you know.”

“Thanks. I figured if I dressed nice and…I dunno. Attempted to have a positive attitude, maybe this would actually work out this time.”

“Trust me, you are definitely going to like him. Well, I don’t know how much you two will have in common, but he’s already done something that is going to win you over into liking him.”

“What’s that?”

Zana shrugged and winked before walking out.

Dan paced his room. Back and forth. Back and forth.

This has to work out this time. It just has to. I’m going to go fucking crazy if I don’t find someone else to talk to. Zana is going to drive me crazy, Therapy is exhausting. I need someone I can shoot the shit with. Even if this guy is absolutely lame and boring, he’d be better than Lilly. Better than Zana. Wait what’s that?

Dan inhaled deeply. “Oh my gosh Zana did you finally get me a pizza?”

A tall man with shaggy black hair walked in, holding a box of pizza and chuckling softly. “Not Zana, sorry to disappoint. But, I did bring you a pizza!” The guy said, setting it down on the little coffee table by Dan’s couch. “You must be Daniel.”

“Dan, please. Are you Philip?”

The guy laughed softly. He was already a billion times better than Lilly just with that angelic laugh, Dan decided. “Yeah that’s me. But you can just call me Phil. Or Philly-D, but people don’t find that as catchy.”

Dan laughed, genuinely laughed, for the first time in nearly a month. “Guess Zana doesn’t just enjoy annoying me with Daniel, she calls you by your full name, too!”

“Oh my gosh I know! I told her over and over again to call me Phil while I was here. She couldn’t be bothered. She was my therapist for three damn months!” Phil laughed, plopping down on Dan’s couch and opening the pizza box.

Well he’s making himself comfortable, Dan thought before sitting on the other end of the couch and grabbing a slice of pizza. “Thanks for the Pizza. I’ve been-”

“Craving it ever since you got clean?” Phil finished, grinning brightly.

“Yeah! Did Zana tell you that?”

“Nope. It’s what I craved when I got clean and they wouldn’t let me order pizza either. The pizza here just isn’t the same.”

“It tastes like cardboard! I’ve wanted Dominos so badly, you are literally a life saver.”

Phil chuckled and took a comically large bite before talking around his mouthful. “When I got out, I ordered so much pizza. My favourite thing was meat lovers. I gained at least 20 pounds within my first month out of here.”

Dan laughed and relaxed back into his couch. “So, you were trapped here for 3 months?”

“Oh, I wish! I was here almost six months.”

Six months?” Dan said in disbelief, a string of melted cheese hanging from his lips.

“Yeah. I wasn’t very cooperative.” Phil said with a hint of embarrassment, scratching the back of his neck. “I wasn’t even in here the full 6 months. At the beginning I checked myself in, and I was only here two weeks before I decided to check myself out.”

“Why did you leave?”

“I missed being high. I hated being so irritated and miserable from the withdrawal, so I checked myself out and went right back to my old flat and fell directly back down the deep dark hole again. A week later I checked myself back in. That happened two or three times before I finally decided I needed this, and I stayed for the three months.”

Dan stared at Phil, engrossed in his story. “Wow. You’re even more stubborn than I am. I like it.” He giggled and ate a few more bites of pizza. “For my first week or two here, I wouldn’t even look at Zana.”

“Did you check yourself into here?”

“No. I uh, I was found in a forest after I overdosed. They made a deal or some shit with the police that if I got clean or whatever, that they would drop my charges. I’m pretty damn broke right now, so I really had no choice but stay here.”

“Wow. That’s intense, but at least this is to better you and your future. There are some pretty amazing people here. They can teach you a lot.”

“The only people I’ve met is Zana and the trillions of nurses and doctors that parade in here whenever they feel like it. I haven't learned anything besides not eating the Chilli on Thursdays.”

“That's probably the most valuable thing you will learn, though. But the patients here are amazing, they all have their stories and their knowledge that they love to share."

"Yeah, the only time I leave my room is so a nurse can watch over me while they administer my meds." Dan said with a small shrug.

"You haven’t been to the commons area? Or the Games Room?” Phil asked in surprise, setting his pizza down in the box, pulling out his phone and going in his calendar. “I am so taking you one day!”

“Wait there’s a Games Room? What’s in there?” Why had no one mentioned this to him? Did everyone here WANT him to be miserable all damn day watching repeat episodes of Ellen?

“It has pool tables, foosball, and a few sitting areas with different consoles! I spent most of my time there. I mean, there’s a library and a music room and quiet areas too, but the Games Room is the greatest place!”

“Holy shit! Okay, yeah! We can go next time.”

“Perfect! I’m back here on Wednesday. We can go then! You are gonna love it. It’s basically the only reason I survived in here.”

“I haven’t played video games in so long!”

“What do you enjoy? Personally, I’m into the Final Fantasy games, I got special permission to have my copies from home when I checked myself in.”

“Oh, I like just about anything if its challenging or has a good story line, or even just Super Mario. First person shooter games are fun too! Literally anything that can keep me distracted.” Dan said with a shrug, his mind already racing with all of the games he could play.

A nurse poked her head in. “Hey boys! Sorry to interrupt, it’s time for Dan’s medicine.”

Phil smiled and stood up, glancing at his watch. “It’s okay, I should probably be heading out.” Phil smiled brightly down at Dan and reached his hand out to shake it. “It was really great meeting you, Dan. I’m looking forward to Wednesday.”

Dan shook his hand and stood up too, his smile as big as Phil’s. “I can’t wait, Phil. It was really nice meeting you too.”

Phil flashed him one last smile before heading out. Dan sighed softly and let his posture drop, glancing at the coffee table and noticing the half pizza that Phil left for him. He smile and closed the box before going with the nurse to take his anti-depressants.