Kevin was tired.
His reflection on the cracked bus window showed a young man’s face with features aged prematurely and permanently etched in misery. There was no laugh lines around his eyes or a natural upward curl to his lips, instead worry carved wrinkles upon his brow and sadness tainted even the fantasy of a smile. His eyes, “such pretty blue eyes” his mother had complimented before the world turned upside down, were empty marbles in his skull. There was no spark of life, no shine of joy, no light in his gaze. It was dark and hollow and soaked in exhaustion.
Kevin stared at his dirty reflection and wondered if this is what everyone saw when they looked at him. If anyone even looked that close or if their eyes just passed right over him.
Kevin closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the seat.
God, he was so tired. It was a bone deep wariness that ate at his soul and chewed on his mind.
He was tired of all of it. He was tired of always being afraid and never being able to see what lay ahead without terror wrapping around his throat and suffocating him. He was tired of living fragmented memories and dreaming vivid nightmares. He was tired of never being alone and yet drowning in loneliness.
Kevin was tired of being broken.
He hadn’t always felt that way. When he was younger and his life had been at its most horrific, he had been grateful for the shattered pieces of his mind. They existed just for him; to protect him, to help him, to be there for him when there was no else.
He loved his pieces. He loved the easy grin Barry wore, the way Luke laughed with his entire body, the purity in Hedwig’s eyes, and the affectionate bickering between Mary and Ian. He loved Dennis’s strength, Orwell’s wisdom, Rakel’s logic, Felicia’s imagination, Polly’s confidence, Bernice’s warmth, Ansel’s serenity… How could he not love them? How could he not love the songs Patricia sang while she carefully watered all of Norma’s plants? Or the way a little gift from Mr. Pritchard could make Kat’s eyes glow? Or how Samuel felt so protective of Jalin he had somehow become his voice of reason? How could he not love the mountain of praise B. T. doused Goddard with when he tried a new recipe? Or how Heinrich’s excessive gestures made Jade laugh for an entire day? Or how she’d then spend the next few days helping Heinrich make them more realistically romantic?
How could he not love each and every one of them?
They were his family, his home, and the only reason he had woken up every day without completely hating his life. They were his everything.
Kevin opened his eyes and stared at the too bright lights lining one side of the bus’s ceiling.
He loved them, but a part of him was always jealous of them. They each knew who they were and existed for a reason.
Kevin used to think he existed so that they all could. He used to be comfortable with that idea, used to take pride in it even, and used to hold that belief close to his heart because they were good and it made him worthy.
Tears prickled at his eyes and he didn’t even attempt to wipe them away when they began to roll down his cheeks.
He didn’t feel that way anymore. Now he felt worthless.
The feeling had been so incredibly insidious it had taken a while for Kevin to realize what that heaviness in his heart was, but when he did…
Kevin swallowed back the sob that bubbled up his throat.
Life was supposed to have gotten better after they left his mother’s house. It was supposed to be a new start. They had started seeing Dr. Fletcher and she had helped them get a decent job at the zoo.
Life was supposed to be better.
But his skin was still draped in scars and his mind was still broken. The wounds weren’t healing, despite Dr. Fletcher’s efforts and Barry’s optimism, instead they were festering and none of them seemed to notice.
Hedwig had been the first casualty and it had broken his heart.
The boy he always to be was no longer protected by the others the way he had been before. Instead, comments were made, comments that were meant to hurt and confuse. Words here and looks there and suddenly sunny Hedwig shied away from the light. Suddenly, he didn’t take his turn with the same enthusiasm and he sat a little too quiet in his chair.
Then fell Patricia, with her stories becoming too fantastical and her soft smile showing too much teeth.
The others banned her from the light and tried to ignore everything she’d say in the hope she would stop talking. She never did.
Patricia’s banishment shook Kevin to his core and sometimes when she spoke, it was another woman’s voice he heard.
It was Dennis that really broke Kevin in the end.
His greatest protector, his most dependable companion, his first friend. Kevin lost them all the day Dennis was banned.
Maybe things weren’the way they appeared. Maybe Dennis hadn’t tried to hurt the girl like the others believed. Maybe there was a reason… but the others were so quick to judge and Dennis’s eyes had been glassy with betrayal even as his mouth remained shut.
Kevin’shand wrapped around the warm metal in his jacket's pocket.
Life was supposed to be better. They had survived hell together and they were supposed to be stronger now and better.
Kevin leaned his head forward and rested his forehead against the seat in front of him as the bus neared the final stop and the remaining passenger dwindled down.
He knew what he had to do. What had to be done before there weren’tany more of his pieces left.
He existed so they all could.
His heart pounded in his ears and his breathing slowed with purpose.
So maybe it was time they all stopped existing.
Kevin carefully withdrew the gun from it’s hiding place and sighed as he wrapped his lips against the barrel, his teeth scrapping against the metal and the taste of iron and sweat filling his mouth.
He loved them, every piece. He just didn’t want them to keep hurting, he hoped if there was a God, he understood.
Kevin’s finger inched down and clicked off the safety.
He hoped they understood.
Kevin squeezed his eyes as his finger caressed the trigger.
The panic in a voice always so calm made him freeze.
Then the world went black.