43 - And We All Fall Down

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THE COUNTDOWN had begun. 

Day Three

They're not real.


My eyes shot open, searching the darkness for the sound. The dim light of the TV made it easy to spot Siggy, still dozing on Rian's chest. Everything else was silent. For a second, I thought I'd imagined the pained cry that had pierced the air.

"N-no. I'm sorry."

I hadn't imagined it.

I glanced down to the sound's source, my gaze falling on Rian's head in my lap. His forehead was beaded with sweat, his hands clenched into fists. 


I brushed the hair off his brow, rubbing his arm soothingly. "Rian," I murmured. "It's okay. You're alright." I paused, swallowed. "They're not real."

His jaw worked. It was a minute before his eyes fluttered open, staring at the ceiling emptily.


My fingers curled in his hair, traced the ink pattern on his chest. Anything to reinforce the fact that he was here, in the real world. Not there.


"They won't go away."

My throat went dry at the break in his voice. I took his hand from where it was lying prone on his abdomen, intertwining it with mine. Then I leaned down and pressed my lips to his forehead.

"I know," I murmured. "You'll feel better soon."

At my touch, his eyes closed again. We stayed like that for a long time, weathering our demons together. It was only when his breathing evened out that I realized he'd fallen back asleep.

I smiled, disentangling myself from him and standing up. I lifted Siggy off his chest and moved him to his cot before rolling up my sleeves to prepare for the day.

Day Two

Our happiness was temporary.

"Hanna, get this dog off of me!"

I glanced out of the kitchen, looking on with surprise as Rian emerged from his bedroom. He'd woken a little while ago and disappeared to go shower. Now, he stomped towards me. I didn't see what the problem was until he pointed down.

Siggy was latched onto his leg. 

He barked when Rian tried to pry him off, to no avail. I raised a hand to my mouth, trying my best not to laugh, but Rian saw my expression and his eyes narrowed.

"Oh, you find this funny, do you?"

I couldn't stop a giggle from bubbling out of me. "It's a little funny."

He took a step forward, invading my personal space. "Is it?"

I smirked up at him. "Indeed it is. What are you going to do about it?"

He leaned forward, my breath slowing. He brushed his lips against my own, trailing them over my jaw. His hands circled my waist. We locked gazes, and he hesitated, that same indecipherable glimmer making its way into his eye.

Then he grabbed the whisk on the counter behind me and whipped around, chucking it to the other side of the apartment.

I blinked as Siggy shot off his leg, bounding to go retrieve the thrown item. Smirking, Rian turned back to me, watching my face redden.

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