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I opened my eyes to a blinding, white light. I felt numb, and groggy.
Where am I?
The side of my head pulsed with an ache like none I've ever had. A static filled my mind, drowning out everything happening around me. Everything sounded muffled.
My vision started to adjust, and the blur went down. The static started to fade, but still lingered. I heard beeping, and talking. I took in my surroundings. Everything was sleek and plain. That familiar sterile smell hit me with all it's power. I felt nauseous.
Am I in a hospital?
I looked down at my wrist. It was bandaged, stains of blood seeping through the otherwise clean fabric.
Ugh, what happened? Where's Kay? KAY!
My eyes went wide, darting across the room.
Memories flashed behind my eyes.
God, no, what have I done? No. I couldn't have.
"No", a lump formed in my throat. The beeping progressed, more consistent each time. That was probably the heart monitor, although at this point I wasn't sure I had a heart. How could I have killed the one person who meant the most to me? At that point, I wasn't even phased by the fact that I'd committed murder, losing Kay was all I was concerned with.  Panic took over, I thrashed my body, almost as if I was being held down.
"KAY! NO!". A woman in a long, white coat rushed into the room, followed by two rather burly men, both dressed in all black, patches on the bicep areas of their sleeves. The two men - security guards? - held me down. Only then did I realise how weak I'd become, I was no match for them in my current state. The woman stepped up to me, preparing a syringe. She tested it, squirting out a drop of clear liquid. The cold metal penetrated my skin, I could almost feel the fluid coursing through my veins, reaching for control over my conscious. I tried to fight it, but I could feel myself slowly drifting away.
Stay. Awake.

I awoke in a hazy state, able to think clearly, yet completely out of it. It was almost as if my mind and body were no longer attached.
How long was I asleep?
I lulled my heavy head to the right, and spotted the woman from earlier. Her dark, brittle hair spilled over her face, and into her eyes. She pulled the majority of it into a low, neat ponytail, but her bangs remained free. The woman looked to be in her early thirtys. She turned her gaze toward me, her mouth moving, but I didn't hear a word.
"Who are you?", I tried to say, but barely anything managed to escape my chapped lips. My throat was dry, and as a result, my voice a hoarse whisper.
My voice.
I reached for my throat, but couldn't move my hands very far. They were bound to the hospital bed, by metal cuffs. A puzzled look crossed my face, and then it hit me. They'd figured it all out. They know it was me. They know I killed Kay. Sweat beaded on my forehead, pigment draining from my complexion.
"Why am I cuffed?", I asked, afraid of her reply. She took a quick glance down at her clipboard, seemingly unsure of something. That just scared me even more.
"Don't worry, it's just a safety precaution. You were getting pretty restless earlier, so we had to put you to sleep. And you know, the handcuffs were for when you regain conscious, we weren't sure how you'd react. I'm sorry if we scared you, it's protocol.", she said with a roll of her eyes. I let out a breath I didn't realise I was holding. Good. I'm safe. I glanced at the woman's name tag, but I was too far to read it, especially in my fuddled condition. She noticed me squinting.
"Dr. Grey, Nea Grey. And you're Cailen Hood, I presume?"
"Uh, yeah...", I said in a trailed off murmur.
"How? How did I get here? What happened?"
"Well Cailen, some friends of yours found you passed out, and bloody. I was hoping that maybe you could shed some light on that. Earlier you mentioned someone. Kay, was it? Does this all maybe have something to do with her?", she replied. My mind went blank. I couldn't tell her the truth. She looked sympathetic, worried even.
"I, uhhh...", shit, shit, shit! What do I say? I began to panic, but then thought of a solution.
"My uh.. my girlfriend.", I winced, for it pained me to even lie about her. I felt as if I was betraying her yet again.
God, I'm a horrible person.
"It was my 2 year anniversary with my girlfriend." I hated myself for antagonising Kay, but I went through with it.
"Instead of having a romantic night with me", tears flooded my eyes, but not for the reason Nea thought, although it helped my case.
"She ran away with another guy". I looked away, my face ridden with shame. Dr. Grey gave me an understanding look, almost as if she'd experienced the pain I feigned.
When did I become such a good actor? Or is this even me?
"Look, Cailen. I don't know anything about you, this Kay girl, or anything you guys been through. But you seem like a sweet boy. Compassionate, caring, and smart. Don't let her take over your life, even if she's taken your heart. You'll heal, just like the cuts I just finished stitching up. Sure, there might always be a scar, but it's an experience, a lesson. She did you wrong, so don't make yourself pay for it. It gets better, I promise.", she said, ever so slightly rubbing her wrist. Now I was sure she'd gone through something similar. She wasn't just using her "wisdom", she was talking from experience.
"Thanks doc", I said. If only she knew what I was really going through... She'd never be able to help me with that. She stopped me.
"Nea.", she said. "You can just call me Nea", she shrugged, her shoulders giving a slight bounce on her small body. She crossed her arms, trying to find comfort in her own skin.
"Doesn't seem like it got much better for you", I said, probably coming off as snarky, although it wasn't my intention. Nea looked like I'd just slapped her.
"I-", I cut her off.
"It's okay Nea, I get your point. Maybe it's just about time we both felt better", she nodded in agreement. I really liked her, she was genuine.
"Thanks by the way". I said sitting up straighter.
"For the talk, you know. It really made me feel a lot better". She gave me a small smile. The curve of her lips provided a familiar comfort. I couldn't place the memory, but I knew it was there. I shook off my surprise, still unsure. She looked down at her clipboard, bighting her lip. She looked worried.
"Uh, Nea?", her head bobbed as she raised her gaze toward me.
"When do I get to leave?", she face palmed.
"Ahaha, I completely forgot about that", she checked her file, and looked out at the hall. It seemed as if she was gesturing for someone to approach the room we were in. She turned back to me.
"Well, your friends, you know, the ones who found you? Ethan, and Bryson are here to take you home. And before you leave, I wanted to give you some medication." She handed me three small, blue containers. Each had a white label, immersed in a small black print.
"What are these for?", I asked. Nea pursed her lips, making them appear smaller than they already were. She glanced down at her clipboard, and back up at me.
"Painkillers". She almost said it too firmly, and it made me uncomfortable, but I decided not to ask about it.

Bryson walked in, followed by Ethan. They both looked tired.
"Hey man, how you doing? Feeling better?", Bryson said, reaching his hand out. We performed our signature handshake. It was simple, but it was ours. Slap. Slap. Fist bump.
"I'm alright. Don't worry 'bout me", I said humbly, hiding my true intentions. I was nervous, I knew they'd ask what happened. I couldn't just lie to them like I had with Nea. They knew me too well, and they also knew Kay. They'd see right through it. Ethan walked up to me, seemingly unsure of something. He seemed anxious, more than usual. The thick frames of his glasses shielding his darting eyes, slipped down his nose. He pushed it back up in one quick movement. He was always a little jittery, but today was worse.
"I tried calling Kay, knew you'd want to see her. She uh, didn't answer"
"Kay's dead to me", I said firmly. Little did they know what I really meant. Ethan's jaw dropped, as Bryson's eyes widened, creases forming on the dark skin of his forehead. They stared in disbelief, seconds turning into minutes, feeling like eternities. Nea awkwardly sunk into a corner of the room, writing something down. I finally ended the prolonged silence.
"That's a story for another time". They both nodded in agreement, but only because they knew I wanted them to. Everyone in the room felt uncomfortable, the unpleasant atmosphere surrounding us. Questions raised in each of our minds, but no one dared speak them aloud. Although I knew what their unsaid words would be. I just hoped they'd remain quiet. Tension remained drifting in the air, engulfing us in yet another feat of silence. A dropping pin could've sounded like a grenade.
"I brought you some clothes". I was surprised that Ethan of all people would be the one to speak up. It wasn't like him, but then again no one was being their normal selves at that moment. He handed me a polyester bag. I pulled at the opening, loosening the drawstrings. Inside was a black pair of joggers, a white tee, and a black zip up hoodie. I went to the washroom, and changed into my new outfit, feeling fresh, and more relaxed. Nea handed me a plastic bag, containing my clothing from last night, blotched with strange shades of brown. Dried blood, I assumed. A separate bag contained my phone, wallet, and keys. I stuffed them into the otherwise empty bag, that had previously contained the clothes that Ethan had brought for me. I slipped on my shoes, and pulled the bag closed, before swinging it onto my back.
"Let's go?", I asked, although it sounded more like a command than a request. Bryson walked out of the room, and down the hall without a word. Ethan followed suit. As I was leaving, Nea stopped me with a firm hand on my shoulder. She looked straight into my eyes, staring into what was left of my deteriorating soul.
She knows.
"If it trys to take over again, come find me". She handed me a piece of paper. The edges were jagged, other than a clean cut corner. I looked at her clipboard, and there was a chunk missing from the top sheet. In a familiar scrawl, it read:

nea grey

347 - 886 -3925

I gave her a curt nod, folding the paper, before storing it in the pocket of my sweats. I walked out, switching to a light jog, so that I could catch up with Bryson and Ethan, who were already a long ways down the narrow corridor. I joined them just before the elevator door came to a close. No one spoke, or raised their gaze. When we reached the main level, the doors before us opened, and we walked into the lobby. I signed myself out, as the elderly woman at the desk wished me a good day. I thanked her, but my words were empty.

It took a few minutes, but eventually we found Bryson's car. It was a black jeep, matted and clean. He slid into the drivers seat, and started the engine. Ethan sat on the passenger side, without a word. It wasn't the right place, nor the right time to call shotgun. I climbed into the back seat, slamming the door harder than I'd intended to. I winced, but only slightly. No one else seemed bothered. We pulled out of the parking lot, and onto the main road. The radio was off, an unusual occurrence. I looked out at the bland view of my window. The static in my head grew, blending with the sound of cars passing, and engines roaring. It all blended into a dull hum, and endured the entire ride.

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