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Written for a challenge on Hardtime100.


by sistersleep

Love was a drug.

It was a popular sentiment usually spoken without thought, but Tobias knew a thing or two about both. Especially now, his education furthered while trapped within grey walls, where enhancement was needed just to see a spec of hope on the horizon, a bit of color.

First discovering powdered white lines snorted off of the warm flesh of a new version of friendship that had nothing to do with being a husband, or a lawyer and the bar, the old boy's club and cigars, and more to do with feeling less hunted and more human for a second. It was all about that needed buzz of the only comforts in here.

The come down was all shaking and spiraling down and hell in a bucket. Like any drug...you always had to fall to those depths and come clean, or die chasing the ethereal feeling that you were forced to manufacture to fill other holes.

Until something real came along. All that lightning, all that buzz, that heaven in every beat, that relief that felt so sweet when you gave in to it. Love. That same high...that same fear of it fading that was buried and denied under the rush. You were too busy clinging, too busy riding it, to really judge the world around you. So far from lucid, you didn't even realize how high you were, didn't realize what was really going on. Like a beautiful, crazy dream you believed in with every fiber of your being, until you woke up and it saw it in its blurry, senseless, ridiculousness.

Beecher learned the hard way, with the shock of a body crashing through a windshield, leaving him in his own body cast, that the only love in these stone walls was just as manufactured as that white powder.

But at least O'Reily had never lied about the high he offered, that he had shared as he grasped for the same thing.

Tobias was left coming down again. That falling that never stopped as he was trapped still in itchy stiff casts. Trapped with only the loss, the ridiculousness, the hollow eating its way through his heart. Only the need for revenge left in its tracks, the only thing keeping him warm now in the chill of the hospital ward.

It made Tobias miss heroin withdrawal, being strapped down sweating, swearing and crashing. That pain had stopped; it had been a swirling, confused, jumbling rush storming through him recklessly. This one burned its own clear, unstoppable path through his veins, as he was trapped within the lucidity of the reality now that the high had been killed by the sharp crash of it. This one was...all clarity. Unending.

Even the painkillers couldn't dull it, couldn't bring that haze back, the one Tobias ached for. The veil of beauty dropped by love that had made everything...livable. It was shredded by the truth, and the remembrances of it just stung all the more. Day after day of white coats, blue and green scrubs, and that enveloping whiteness of the hospital ward and stiff plaster, Tobias was left with that burn. Those voices in his head, ranting on about his stupidity even as he plotted against others, burying him in his shame for letting it happen as well as his hatred at the perpetrators. He could see each mistake, each lie, now that the desperate high wasn't blinding him anymore.

The lesson not to trust had been drilled into him that first week. But he had let it slip, tugged from him, bit by bit, for a taste of that warm enveloping buzz he was always desperate for in its many forms. He had needed it too much. Trusting in here was like convincing himself that he could have those drinks on the outside, even before he got in the car, that he could do that line of coke, that he could judge safety, that he would never swerve, that he *knew* how to handle it.

The lesson learned this time was just as bloody, but now it was him splattered on the windshield...and he knew he deserved it.
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