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fever dream

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Adam was in hell. Or the bathroom— not like they were any different, not really.

He was leaning over the grimy, disgusting fucking toilet near the corner he’d been shackled to, head spinning and pounding as he vomited. Be it from the smell of shit, encrusted on every nook and cranny of the damn thing, coating his arms in a dark, slick layer, or the violent tightening of his stomach, angry and hurting so fucking bad, like he’d been poisoned, but Adam couldn’t tell. Maybe he had been poisoned; maybe the cigarette Jigsaw had left them had really been laced with something. No need to act, not now, not when his spine arched achingly with each awful retch, foamy bile splattering against the soup of human feces much too close to his nose. He was stupid, but that wasn’t surprising; he’d seen the cigarette as a break, relief from the situation he was been trapped in, and took it greedily. It was simple retribution. He just didn’t know why the cigarette’s poison tasted so.. medicinal.

He was crying, but he could barely tell why. It was the pain, probably— lord knows it was bad enough to cry about, as unfortunate as the action was. Adam’s pain tolerance was quite high, but this was his least favorite kind of pain. It wouldn’t be the first time he'd taken too many-.. too many of...

Panting, sweaty hair hanging in his face, the thought danced far from Adam’s grasp. It.. it was the cigarette. This was from the cigarette.

His head spun worse, feeling like his brain was in a goddamn blender. His body tipped before he even realized, before he could do anything about it, before he could catch himself, heavy, unfocused vision muddling the broken-tile wall like a stroke of blue-brown paint. He was alright with falling— maybe the floor, despite its absolutely vile nature, would be cool enough to soothe his skin, burning like it had been smothered in gasoline, layered on like lotion before a thousand matches were held up to the flesh. What he didn’t expect were hands to catch him, ice with each touch, pulling him back to his knees.

He sputtered his fellow inmate’s name, lips useless and covered in wet spittle. How did the doctor get free? There was no one else in here with them; it had to be Lawrence, despite the chain, despite everything. The door hadn’t opened, and Adam’s ankle still screamed, from the cut, the sprain, metal still held stubbornly, unbroken. How was Lawrence here? He was gone— he’d left. He’d crawled away, bloody, walked away, back to real life. Adam had been punished.

Yes, for the cigarette. That was it. The cigarette had made him ill, and he’d smoked because Lawrence was gone, but that still didn’t make any fucking sense. He was in the bathroom. Lawrence had freed himself and was going to shoot him soon. Apologizing— it was for his family.

Adam didn’t want to be shot. He wanted to live, to escape, to be better. He wanted a family like Lawrence’s, but a good one, a happy one. He wanted to be Lawrence’s. He didn’t want to die.

I’m sorry.

“Please don’t.. do it, Lawrence…” he mumbled achingly, desperately, sobbing and heaving over the toilet bowl once more. He could feel the bullet, shocking his system, every nerve screaming, enough to make him faint. He could feel the blood.

“..don’t kill me, please.” Adam begged, quiet and useless, fearful of the hands keeping him upright, waiting for the moment they’d fall away, replaced with the gun, aimed right at him. For his family, Lawrence had said. All for his family.

"…you're okay…right here..”

Adam’s ears were ringing, feeling like they were full of water— was he still in the bath? Unconscious, underwater, filling his nostrils and eardrums, claiming him in the dark? If he was, how was Lawrence out? How wasn’t he drowning?

“..it’s just me, I'm not… hurt you."

Adam bucked in Lawrence’s grip, trying to get away, somehow swallowing the vomit threatening to get past his teeth. Lawrence was.. he was…

God, he didn’t know, he just didn’t fucking know. He only knew there was going to be, there was a hole in his shoulder, there was so much blood. It cascaded down his arm, painting his palm. The shit covering his hands was gone— it was dried blood now, sticky from the saliva that had caught against it. His shirt was black, displaying some fucking band title; it was supposed to be white. White with red. White, stained, covered in blood— his own and Lawrence’s.

Adam sobbed, back hitting the tiles, his shoulder blades, sharp. He’d succeeded, the grasps were gone. He missed them. He missed the fabric underneath his bloody hands, moving away before he could hold tighter. Lawrence said he wouldn’t lie, but he never came back. Adam was there, for days, alone, screaming, screaming until his vocal chords shredded themselves and he could only hold on to the fading, fever-ruined memory of Lawrence’s touch. It was fleeting, young, terrified.

“Please d-don’t leave me,” he mewled, pathetic, covered in sweat, curling on himself, back against tile. Rocking on the floor. Not knowing what to do.

Lawrence’s shape, yellow tie, loose around his neck, hung over him. "I'm not going anywhere,” he assured, voice, image held behind a layer of thick, cloudy plastic. Lawrence wasn’t wearing a tie, though. It was a white shirt, like Adam’s, but an undershirt. “You’re okay Adam, you’ll be okay." An undershirt for his blue button-up, which was gone, not blue anymore, purple, red, used for his leg— tied tightly to protect the gushing blood and damaged stump, to ward against bleeding too much. It had been fruitless, was fruitless; he would bleed out anyway. Adam selfishly liked to think he’d bled out. It was better than being forgotten on purpose. Lied to, discarded like trash, left to starve or die from goddamn infection, but fuck was it taking forever. The blood had stopped, what felt like days ago, and his lips felt like paper, dry and torn. Wheezing, half awake, alone in the dark save for the corpse he’d made, the head he’d cracked like a jaw-breaker, layers of hair and skin and off-white fucking skull with a soft, fleshy center. Covered in so, so much red.

Adam sobbed. “I’m sorry.”

"Shh, it's okay,” spoke the mess of colors above him, next to him, caressing him, pulling him up, like a stuffed toy in a claw machine, if the claw didn’t let go. “I'm so sorry, it's okay."

Why was he apologizing? For leaving? Adam accepted it readily, if it was an apology. He would never not accept an apology from Lawrence Gordon, the man he’d stalked, hated, loved with everything he did. Stupid little things nobody cared about, like the tiny little pout on his face at the ATM after inputting the wrong code; his cute, satisfied smile after the first sip of coffee or bite of food on a chilly morning, sat outside his favorite cafe. The way he kissed, slow and sweet, or possessive, hungry, and how he held you, all encompassing, safe— everything Adam had ever wanted.

He couldn’t make out the blues of Lawrence’s eyes.

“I can’t.. I can’t..” he said, like a gasp, a yelp, bloody hands shaking up, weak, grabbing at Lawrence’s face. The moment was too much— someone was stabbing his stomach with a knife, ten knives. “It hurts!

The blond held him in his lap, arms wrapped around him tightly— like he always did, in the middle of the night after Adam woke, weary and confused from a nightmare. “I'm sorry, I won't yell anymore, I won't swear, I'm so sorry." Lips met the side of his head, his temple, kissing fervently, protectively, desperately. Shaky, emotional breaths wafted across his skin as the kisses stopped, vision blocked as Lawrence pulled his head close, tight, bundled against his chest. "Why couldn't you wait for me to get back?"

Adam shook, heaving with sobs. “You didn’t come back, Lawrence,” he managed, eyes clenched shut, unable to stop the tears now soaking into his.. his lover’s not-white shirt, not bloody. It was blue, pinstriped, a wrinkled dress shirt with hard plastic buttons, layered under an open grey one. Adam’s head pounded— he felt the smooth yellow tie under his face. God, he didn’t know where he was. Why.. why was he here? Nothing made any fucking sense!

“Yes, Adam, I did,” Lawrence hushed, lying, lying like he had to Adam in the bathroom, saying he’d bring help. He hadn’t, not for days, what felt like forever, until- until Amanda appeared. Unphased by the uptake in Adam’s choked, wheezing breathing, the response to the blatant lie, Lawrence continued, words soothing even if untrue. “I’m right here, aren’t I?”

The logic was sound, in theory, but Adam still didn’t know how the fuck he was here. His head was dipping in and out of awful memories, like a bobber, being nibbled on by a fish; Lawrence was supposed to be shackled at the far wall, meters away, out of reach, but he was also supposed to be white as a ghost, gaunt and in shock, promising things that would never come true. He was pulling Adam away from the cooling body of the young, skinny girl the photographer had mutilated in his reckless search for the key, and simultaneously holding him under the weak hose they’d made their shower, bringing Adam back from his drugged, drunken state. That felt familiar, just as familiar as the hospital a year or so after he’d moved away from his family, confused in a hospital bed, confined to some sort of suicide watch. Scott had gotten him out, thank god, barely buying Adam’s insistence that he’d been trying to get high but went a little too far. Scott knew the truth, he always did, but he ignored it. It was better to him than admitting Adam was truly unfixable. Scott was his only friend, really, and his motivation for sticking by Adam’s side for so long was simply to right the inherent wrongness of him, turn him into something presentable. Though, after years, Scott was still never one to admit his failures.

“Why?” Was all Adam could really say. It was a good question in context. Why was Lawrence here? Why was everything so fucking backwards? Why was Adam just some douche’s unfinished, abandoned pet project?

“I promised not to leave.” Lawrence’s voice started to get fuzzier, further away again even though Adam could still feel him right there, fingers sliding slowly, gently through his hair. It was expected for Lawrence to fade away, though. He always promised not to leave, but always did anyway. He would always end up leaving. He’d left even before Adam had taken the pills, not bothering to even say goodbye this time— not bothering to promise.

Adam shivered, damp with sweat, feeling like a sick, wet dog. He was starting to get it now, despite the growing heaviness of his eyelids, the darkness encroaching on his vision.

“Lawrence,” Adam started, slowly slurring, aching to hear him again, “what.. where’m I?”

Lawrence’s voice rumbled in his chest, loud against Adam’s ear. “Home.”