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Anemia

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Darkness.

Never ending tunnels of darkness.

Footsteps not of his own sounding from the distance.

He picked up his pace, ground wet and squelching beneath his bare feet. Every now and then he would begin to sink or stumble over the uneven surface.

There was a metallic stench that hung heavy in the air, making him cover his nose and grip tighter to the gun in the other hand.

"Show yourself, beast." His growl was lost in the abyss, small and pathetic as he was here.

This was not the first time he had been here. Crawling through the mud and inescapable sticky red substance that formed this world's grounds. He knew what would eventually happen, and he dreaded it with every inch of his being.

As he reached the dim light at the end of the tunnel, there stood the tall figure that seemed so familiar every time. Its glowing eyes stared him down, the only visible detail of its silhouette. Sharp, needle-like teeth poked out as it began to speak, the words getting lost by the unfitting sounds of crashing waves.

When he tried to lift his gun, he found himself trapped in the mud, thrashing himself about. His eyes never left the figure, who seemed to eye him in amusement, mocking him.

The next time the dark creature flashed its fangs, a well-known voice rang through.

"Connor..."

His eyes snapped open, the figure that had haunted him for weeks melting away to show the love of his life leaning over him. Their shapes were sickeningly similar, and Connor flinched as a hand settled on his shoulder.

"G-Gaius?" His body shook, sticky with sweat as he heaved a breath.

"Connor... Are you alright, darling?" For a split second, he swore he saw the flash of inhumanly sharp canines as his lover spoke.

"I-I... Yes. I'm..."

The tall man pulled him up into a sitting position, rubbing his back. "Breathe, love. It was just a bad dream."

Staring at his hands, searching for traces of red, he swallowed thickly. When he looked back up at Gaius, he looked like the same old handsome man he had fallen in love with. No monstrous features.

A comforting figure.

Connor could breathe again.

Chapter Text

A good night's sleep was becoming unheard of in Connor's life. Every night he would cozy up with his dog or his boyfriend and try to relax. And every night his dreams would be shrouded by the shadowy creature.

Some mornings he would wake in his frightened state, only to feel a dull ache throughout his body. He felt heavy and was prone to dizzy spells on the good days. The bad days he felt nauseous just from moving, and the migraines would weasel their way behind his eyes.

Some short Google searches summed up his symptoms to be an iron deficiency, but did not account for the ache or the nightmares.

He had started smoking more to distract himself, now at a pack a day. Gaius had lectured him for it, but it only led Connor to sneaking smokes while the other man was not around. The ache in his lungs only slightly counteracted the pain, but it was good enough for now. He wouldn't turn to hitting the bottle, like Anderson, solely for the fact that liquor made him tired, and sleep was the enemy.

The dark figure swam through his thoughts and refused to leave him be. He had taken to sketching it out to the best of his abilities, with every dream a new drawing, be it on notebook, cardboard, a napkin, or whatever he could find, would be piled onto his table. Looking at them for too long made him ill, and he had decided, rather than removing the sketches from the dinner table, to instead eat his meals at the comfort of his sofa.

Shadows and movement in the dark of the night made his skin crawl.

One night, Gaius had stood in the hallway a little too still, and Connor had just about sobbed, huddling into the corner of the kitchen.

When the light had flickered on to reveal his partner, he had noticed just how ragged his own breaths were. His heart was near pounding right out of his chest as he slid down the wall and curled in on himself.