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HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY

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Sawyer walked out into the rooftop hurriedly and cussed themselves for not wearing a jacket over their sweater because tonight was particularly cold and they didn’t want to get sick.

Their eyes squinted at the silhouette that sat on the parapet wall, feet dangling off towards the street and a cold shiver ran down their spine but this time it wasn’t from the cold. Their best friend, hell their person, was sitting there seemingly unfazed by the fact that a light breeze could send him falling off the roof, they walk carefully and slow as to not spook him and have him fall accidentally.

      - Isn’t it beautiful? – Alex speaks after Sawyer stops by his side, he doesn’t even have to look to know that it’s his best friend standing there – How quiet and peaceful the city is at night. Isn’t it beautiful? Not a single soul that dares to disturb the night’s death threat as it goes in to day again.

He looks to his side noting Sawyer’s observational eyes on him as they take in his words. They have been best friends since middle school and he was the first person Sawyer told about being Non-binary as soon as they started High School and of course they were the first person he told about being a Transgender man just last year, they both have each other’s back and there isn’t a thing they wouldn’t do for each other and that’s why he hates himself more for what he is about to do.

He tries to remember how he ended up there, how did he even managed to get through with sitting there for hours? How many hours has it been? Two? Four? He didn’t even know if it was still the same day, the night seemed so dark maybe it’s well past midnight and he didn’t even acknowledge it, his mind still caught up on why he ended up there.

Sawyer is still looking at him, their eyes squinted in a scrutinizing way, analysing him, boring into his soul dares he not look away, so he does. They know him well, too well, and he fears they will see right through him and his intentions, so he looks out into the cold night, into the lifeless buildings.

 

No, not lifeless.

 

There are people with lives in there, some asleep next to their partners, gone to sleep with “I love you” and “sleep well, dear”, some just next room to their parents, some checking in on their kids after a trip to the bathroom, some alone, some awake but didn’t dare to speak.

The night was quiet, too quiet, making him believe he chose right (more like someone chose for him). The only sounds heard where of the few cars that passed by, their shuddered breaths and Sawyer’s constant moving to shelter themselves from the cold; sighing he shrugs off his large coat and puts it around them, they smile worriedly at him and he gives them a small genuine smile, the cold doesn’t faze him anymore but his thoughts do.

      - What are you doing here Al? – Sawyer speaks for the first time looking at him face scrunched in concern, they probably know what is going through his mind.

      - I needed to get some air.

He looks up at the sky and notices the uncharacteristically amount of stars that graze it, the moon hangs there pale and beautiful and big. And he sighs, maybe he didn’t choose the right night, maybe it was already decided, after all he planned for it.

Sawyer shoots him a pleading look and he tries his best to ignore it. They know, of course they know, they are his best friend after all the person that knows him better than anyone so they know and he hates himself more now because he is doing this to them.

      - Want to tell me what happened? – they question, voice low and ever so soothing.

And he knows that all it would take is one look at them and he would be speaking the secrets that are buried deep inside his soul out into the night so he doesn’t look.

He trains his eyes on a particularly lit apartment on the building across from theirs, there are people awake inside, they look like they are dancing but it could be just his wrongful perception, but he knows that both are women ones slightly taller than the other and he liked to believe that they are a couple dancing the night away without a care in the world, because it would make him feel better, it would ease his mind knowing that someone was living and loving, and that they are happy even if just for a moment.

And he doesn’t look also when Sawyer places their hand comfortingly over his own, he doesn’t look also as a sob rips violently through his body and Sawyer takes in a shaky breath afraid he will fall, he refuses to look when Sawyer circles their arms around his waist and buries their face on his back trying to comfort him with their presence.

 

Because he loves Sawyer he doesn’t look as he prepares himself to say what sent him up there.

 

Again.

 

      - I went to therapy today, again. – he stops at Sawyer’s surprised squeak – She said maybe I would do better if I was inpatient in a mental health facility.

He stops to let the heaviness of his words sink on his best friend.

Sawyer releases him and takes a step to his side again, they can’t believe it, they don’t want to believe in it, they know how bad it is for some people to be in a mental health facility, heck they were in one and was the happiest they’d ever been when they got out, but they know how bad it would be for him to be sent to one, again. They keep quiet as he picks up on speaking, eyes still trained into the building across the street.

      - I went to HR today to fill in the form to change my name and gender marker on the system. – he stops again at Sawyer’s happy squeal – They said I couldn’t do it. – he chuckles bitterly – Something about not being able to without proof from court, even though they initially said I could do without it.

Alex looks up again, willing the tears to stop, because he hates crying in front of people and that’s why Sawyer looks away.

He can feel his chest starting to squeeze around his heart again and his lungs get deprived of air, he hates the anxiety that curses through his veins in a familiar way that never really goes away, the feeling only grows and on days like this it gets so much worse; so he does the best he can to shut down everything.

He wakes up and the feeling is there creeping up on him, so he goes through his morning with loud music blaring to control his thoughts and keep them at minimum, but it doesn’t stop. He goes to work and it’s worse, gods it only gets worse, because there are people there, people that look at him like he committed a crime, people that always comment on his appearance, people that say how when he started he was “such a pretty girl”, people like his boss; so he sings to himself and he wills the feeling to go away but it keeps growing and at some point he sees black, his mind goes blank and the voices grow louder, voices that sound suspiciously like his mother’s and he exiles to the bathroom and throws up, because the feeling grew so much and he wishes his binder fit tighter around his chest. So he leaves work and on the way he stops for dinner because it’s his day to make dinner, but he can’t cook in this state so he goes to order a pizza and the cashier calls him “ma’am” and everything goes black again and the feeling grows bigger, stronger, tighter and he wants to throw up again, so he leaves without the pizza he ordered.

 

And he gets home.

 

He got home he should be safe.

 

But he’s not.

 

The feeling is still there, he’s still seeing black, the voices are still loud and his mind is still blank.

The conversation with his psychiatrist plays in his mind again and he thinks, not for the first time, that maybe she’s right maybe he isn’t fit for society. And it only makes the feeling grow, and the anxiety stirs into panic. His hands are shaking, heart hammering in his already constricted chest, he can’t breathe, he wheezes and debates against himself; he should take the binder off, it’s been more than eight hours and it should come off.

 

But he can’t.

It’s grounding.

 

The pain that comes from it is the only thing keeping him there, the last bit of him that is still standing, so he keeps it on and tries to push through the darkness but it is so much different today, so much stronger. He stumbles, almost falling, to the bathroom he shares with Sawyer and fears as he walks in that they would come and find him like that but he makes it to the bathroom and throws up again, the last bit of his breakfast and he heaves out throat burning.

Alex pulls out a razor from under the cabinet, it’s hidden there so Sawyer wouldn’t find it, they have a habit of throwing out sharp object’s Alex could self-harm from.

 

But he still finds a way.

 

Pulling up the sleeves of his sweater he cuts without restraint, opening old scars, cutting into unscarred skin, he starts with shallow swipes across his skin that turns deeper the angrier he gets at himself for being weak, pathetic and the disappointment his mother always pegged him to be. He stops when there’s too much blood for him to see clearly and soon he realizes that the blood isn’t the only reason why he can’t see clearly, he’s crying.

 

He hates crying.

 

With difficulty he stands up, his lungs are on fire and his head is dizzy, but he does so anyway and cleans away the blood tending to his cuts, he bandages his arms and afterwards cleans the bathroom as much as he can. The feeling never left and he knows it’s dysphoria and anxiety and profound sadness or better yet depression, none of it betray his diagnosis, that he spent so much time exploring to try and prove his psychiatrist wrong.

 

But she is right.

 

And that’s how he found himself sitting in the rooftop of his apartment complex building staring into space for hours in a dissociative state.

Sawyer touches his arm but he seems too far gone for them to reach right now, they get concerned, he hasn’t gotten that far off in a while, a shorter time than they would like it to be. So they go back to hugging him, tighter than before, because they know Alex appreciates the pressure ‘it’s grounding’ he says.

They start humming loud enough for him to listen, his all-time favourite song, How to Disappear Completely by Radiohead. They can feel him relaxing and melting in their embrace so they keep humming louder this time, that is until they feel him patting around the jacket and they get the clue and pull out his phone handing it to him and they sigh at the familiar strung of the guitar and the voice oh so known by them.

 

“That there, that's not me

I go where I please

I walk through walls

I float down the Liffey

 

I'm not here

This isn't happening

I'm not here, I'm not here”

 

Sawyer lets out an exasperated breath and Alex knows he should reassure them that everything will be fine, even if he knows it won’t for a very long time.

He pulls their arms around him again and the moment they let out a sob his heart shatters, the last thing he wants is to make their best friend cry let alone over his messed up self so he gently pushes them away and gets down from the parapet instantly feeling them crush against their bruising chest releasing sob after sob in a pleading cry.

 

“In a little while

I'll be gone

The moment's already passed

Yeah, it's gone”

 

They stand in that position for minutes until Sawyer’s sobs quiet down. They were always emotionally fragile even if they do pass the image of being strong, they break easily and Alex hates himself for being the cause of their cry.

      - You can’t do this to me again. – they say fist full of his sweater and eyes pleading – I can’t do this without you.

 

“I'm not here

This isn't happening

I'm not here, I'm not here”

 

He clads their face in his hands gazing straight into their eyes, their beautiful brown eyes, sometimes he forgets that they are more than just best friends because he sometimes can’t believe that someone like Maggie Sawyer can love someone like him, let alone be in a relationship with him. Their foreheads collide softly and soon it’s their lips crushing in a desperate kiss, Sawyer pulls him close as closer as they can be and he relents, letting them, the felling fades momentarily as he is in Sawyer’s embrace but he knows it won’t last, for as much as they love each other, they both know being in a loving relationship alone is not enough to send away and extinguish mental illnesses.

 

“Strobe lights and blown speakers

Fireworks and hurricanes”

 

They both pull away eventually, foreheads still touching and hearts still hammering loudly in their chests, they are both crying he notices. Sawyer cradles his face in their hands and kisses his tears away softly, like he always does to them when they cry.

They hold his hand and pulls them away from the parapet gently guiding them back inside, in the safety of their home, a place that they crafted for themselves after being told many times how it wouldn’t last, how they wouldn’t last, they still did it, took something fragile and built into a solid five years’ relationship.

Alex lets himself be guided inside their home, he feels it, the darkness is still there picking at his brain, cutting through his bones and squeezing his lungs shut.

Everything is still black, so dark, he barely acknowledges Sawyer directing him to the bathroom, stripping him of his clothes and off the constricting material that is his binder, he doesn’t have time to process the relief because as soon as it’s gone the dysphoria settles in and he’s on his knees throwing up again on an empty stomach, bile burning his throat. Sawyer helps him up and steps into the shower with him, they clean him taking special attention for his cuts, they step out of the shower and he doesn’t remember how they managed to dress him so quickly because they are already in bed.

      - Everything will be alright. – they promise in his ear – I am here, we can do this together, you are not alone.

That’s how he falls asleep, with his head laid in Sawyer’s chest listening to their heart beat and their voice whispering soothing words in his ear.

 

“I'm not here

This isn't happening

I'm not here, I'm not here....”

 

He wakes up again.

Disoriented and confused, he glances to his left towards the digital clock on the nightstand.

03am.

It reads, he only slept for two hours. But somehow it made things worse, the feeling is still there, stronger, cutting through him, pushing him over into the abyss, it is taunting he never felt it that way, the walls feel like they are closing in and he can’t breathe.

He needs to get out.

Sawyer is still sleeping, peacefully beside him. He looks at them longingly, at how beautiful they look with their chestnut brown hair sprawled on the pillows, their mouth slightly open and a serene glaze over their features. He stops the sob that wants to rip from his throat and feels the burn the tears leave on their trail down his cheeks, Alex runs his hand through his short hair and another wave of tears falls down his face as he remembers the day they finally let Sawyer cut his hair, how excited they were, the look of pure glee on their face while they did it was priceless, endearing.

A silent sob cuts through his throat and he gets desperate again, he needs to get out, it’s so hard to breath, the darkness is closing in on him at a fast pace and he can’t push it down for much longer.

So he silently gets out of bed, pulls a baggy hoodie over his head and slips on his sneakers.

He is out of the room.

 

YOU NEED TO BE INPATIENT!

 

Out of the apartment.

 

YOU ARE SUCH A PRETTY GIRL!

 

In the street.

 

GIRL, MISS, MA’AM, LADY

 

In the middle of the road.

 

SHE, HER

 

His head is hurting; the voices are too loud.

 

FAUILURE!

 

WEAK!

 

PATHETIC!

 

DISAPPOINTMENT!

 

NOT ENOUGH!

 

EVERYTHING IS YOUR FAULT!

 

YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF!

 

It’s too much, his head is spinning, he’s dizzy, the darkness is swallowing him whole, taking control over his mind. His chest hurts, he can’t breathe.

 

There’s a light somewhere.

 

So bright.

 

So welcoming.

 

There’s a sound as well, loud and obnoxious, it makes his head hurt more and the feeling gets worse.

 

He is still walking?

 

No, he stopped.

 

In the intersection, there is the light the sound, it’s coming his way.

He should walk, get away from it, go back home to his hidden razor blades, to his many bottles of scotch, to his lousy job, to his unaccepting mother, to his perfect sister, to the psychiatrist that thinks he’s not fit for society.

But he can’t go back to that, everything hurts in there and he is tired, he’s so tired he can’t move, because if he goes back the blackness will still be there, the pain, the anger, the hurt will still be there laughing at him, taunting him.

So he stays.

And the light gets closer, the sound gets faster and suddenly everything stops.

There’s no sound, no light, no pain, no hurt, no disappointing feeling, no lousy job, no unaccepting mother, no perfect sister, no psychiatrist that thinks he is not fit for society, no more razor blades, no more alcoholic sleep.

 

There’s only silence.

 

And darkness.

 

And Sawyer’s beautiful eyes and perfect smile telling him it’s okay to go, he’s safe, everything will be alright, he’s not alone.

So he lets the darkness take over him…

 

“I'm not here

This isn't happening

I'm not here, I'm not here....”

Fin.