I Wish You Weren't Here
rating: +23+x

Gabriel was not exactly a novice when it came to Kit’s suicide attempts.

He tried to believe that this change in behaviour couldn’t possibly be due to the over-exposure to amnestics, because then guilt gnawed away in his gut. Instead, he found himself staring at the back of pill packets as he brushed his teeth – ‘If you, or your houseguest, down the whole bottle, call emergency services.’

Something like that, anyway.

At some point in time, cuddling in the dim moonlight, Kit’s tone had gone from a sultry but satisfied one to something very quiet, and very grim.

‘Pills are so unreliable. Next time I try, it'll be a sure thing.’

Gabriel thought maybe Kit thought he was asleep, but the assumption was wrong. He heard the words, and felt his heart tense up, beating empty, then beating hard; panicked. He hid all the medication in the house, though that didn’t seem to faze Kit, who had often turned up at his place high on something that he could never identify.

Regardless, their relationship ended the next week.

But thinking of that time reminded Gabriel of the scant amount of Kit’s stuff he had left behind. One of his more well-worn sketchbooks, which contained embarrassing sketches of them both, naked and exposed. The ‘Free Tibet’ t-shirt he used to sleep in sometimes, even though Gabriel doubted Kit cared at all for Tibet in any sort of meaningful way. A half-crushed pack of cigarettes that had littered the coffee table for a while, until Gabriel summoned up the strength to put it all into a bag.

A bag, of course, that he was holding now.

What was he doing with his life? It seemed so desperate, to want any chance to see Kit, that he would collect up such meagre belongings and prepare to take them over. Instead, Gabriel schooled his face into a neutral position as he walked down the street.

He wasn’t going there for him, not for a hope of catching Kit just out of the shower, draped in a towel and nothing else. He wasn’t going there hoping Kit would invite him in for coffee and maybe, just maybe, it would all end up okay.

He was going there for Kit. He worried about Kit constantly – all he had to do was remind himself of the times Kit had scared him before, and it was easy to change his outlook from a selfish one of need, to a more concerned ex-boyfriend outlook.

The locking mechanism outside the block of flats had been broken for some time, so Gabriel let himself in and tried to control himself into a casual stride up the stairs to Kit’s flat.

He knocked, three times, a pause, then two more. A code, so Kit wouldn’t hide away and pretend he wasn’t home, scared of who was on the other side of the door. When the door didn’t open after that, Gabriel pretended not to be bothered. He had come all the way here, so he may as well try the door, and dump the stuff, and then go home, and try to forget all over again.

Gabriel wasn’t alarmed when the door was unlocked. Most of the time, it would be, because Kit would forget his own name if… well, he forgot his name on a regular basis, and that’s why the door was rarely locked.

He stepped in, nose rankling at the smell of stale cigarette smoke and a cat who he never saw but had been assured was somewhere in the flat. After all, having a cat was like having a poltergeist – Kit would shrug and say she was around there, somewhere, and later they would hear mysterious crashes and see mysterious messes, like a little kitty crime scene, with the perpetrator nowhere to be seen.

Gabriel kept his shoes on, acutely aware of the filthy floors beneath his soles, and headed into the combined living room/kitchen.

He saw the chair laying spilled on the floor before he saw the bare feet, suspended in mid-air. He felt the bag drop from his hand, felt like he left his own body for a moment.

’He’s done it. This time, he’s really done it.’

The thought echoed in his head as he momentarily disassociated, his mind trying to protect itself from the sight of Kit hanging like a puppet on a string. It occupied him for maybe a few seconds, but it felt like minutes before he leapt into action.

He grabbed the same chair and picked it up, pulling himself up to nearly where Kit swung, having to stand on his tiptoes to cut the rope with the handy folding knife he always kept in his back pocket. Gabriel’s arms grasped around Kit’s body before he could fall to the ground, and, just for a second, it was like they were dancing.

It was a New Year’s Eve party, something oddly formal that Gabriel had been invited to.

It was in-between amnestic administration number three and number four. Kit wasn’t that crazy, not yet. But Gabriel knew he was only there for a job (I don't want to want him)

It was Kit who had grabbed his hand and dragged him onto the dance floor during a slow song. It was nearly midnight, and Gabriel felt acutely aware he had no-one to kiss. It never normally bothered him, but, with Kit’s head on his shoulder, his breathing soft, it felt like maybe (I don't deserve this) he was missing out.

It was Gabriel who took the lead that night, after the dancing, leading him outside where the fireworks had been exploding all night. He led him gently into a kiss, which Kit greedily accepted. They were both tipsy but not drunk; Kit was quirky, but not crazy; and Gabriel was breaking who knew how many rules.

Afterwards, Gabriel held Kit’s hand, gave it a squeeze and let go, allowing it to fall between them again.

Ignoring how much he wanted to keep holding it.

To hold it forever.

Kit’s head was lolling on his shoulder again, but that soft breathing was absent. His face was dark, purple almost, and his neck was covered in scratches – the body had known nothing but to fight in its last moments, even if Kit had truly wanted to die. The silence in the room was tense and oppressive.

And then, it was broken.

Something slammed into the front door, and there was yelling, a garble of words that didn’t reach his grief-stricken ears. Gabriel barely noticed he was now kneeling on the floor with Kit held close until someone grabbed his shoulder and spoke, softer this time.

“Let go of it, Romero.”

Gabriel recognised the voice as Neil Hull, one of his teammates. That meant the Alpha team he was regularly on was here, but why? Gabriel couldn’t arrange his thoughts properly, could only hoarsely whisper.

“Him. Kit. Not it. Never it.”

Agent Hull knelt next to him.

“It’s not him. It was never him.”

Gabriel looked back to the body in his arms, and it wasn’t Kit. It really wasn’t Kit. It was a being that looked more mannequin than human, with a blank face, stiff plastic limbs. He still didn’t want to let go. That image was still burnt into his memory.

Later, Gabriel would learn that this uncontained threat had a twisted version of playing with people. It could manipulate its voice, so someone would believe a phone call about a loved one dying in an accident; it could become a scent of the cigarettes a grandmother used to smoke; and it could transform into a person and hang hopelessly from a rope. It prayed on people with rocky relationships, and the Foundation had been tracking it for some time.

But that would be later. That would be after they pried him away from the ‘body’, after they attempted to debrief him, after they argued amongst themselves what to do with him. All Gabriel could see the entire time was Kit’s face, cold and dark, and all he could hear was muffled. Eventually, they decided to send him home, on leave for ‘possible memetic contamination’.

Gabriel stood in the shower for an hour, trying to wash the memory away. He found he had, on automatic pilot, taken the bag of Kit’s belongings back home with him, and he slipped into the ‘Free Tibet’ t-shirt even though it was too big on him and stunk of smoke and something undefinable; the smell of Kit.

When his hands stopped shaking so much, he typed in Kit’s number, despite knowing how rarely the flaky young man checked his phone.

“Hey, Kit, it’s me.” He let the awkward silence fill the air, just glad that it wasn’t as heavy as the air in that terrible kitchen scene. “I, uh. I just wanted to check you were okay. And uh… to say I miss you. A lot. I was just… I wanted you to know someone cares for you because I know that’s… that’s easy for you to forget. Uh. You don’t have to call me back, just… I’m here, if you need me. I’m not a million miles away.” Gabriel hung up the phone and buried his face in his hands, breathing hard.

Back at Kit’s flat, and the man himself stumbled in, two days gone on a Bloom high. He was more than a little confused about the state of his kitchen – immaculately clean, as if someone had gone through and disinfected everything, cleaned up every little thing. Someone had even replaced the lightbulb, which was nice.

He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, surprised he even had it on him, and fished it out to look at it.

‘One new message.’

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