The coroner's assistant opened the drawer and pulled back the sheet, and Calla saw a living woman. Lucy's face was intact, her eyes closed, her long red hair fanned out around her head. She was breathing softly, chest moving just the slightest bit. Even her clothes were there--gray sweater, dark jeans, a chunk of quartz on a thin gold chain. Calla bit down hard on the inside of her cheek and concentrated on now. The image flickered and blurred and vanished, leaving only the waxy, jawless corpse, naked and autopsy-scarred.

Bodies remembered what they'd been.
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 [Fin] You Can't Sleep When You're Dead, [Closed for Atlas | Present Tense]
Avery Hull
 Posted: Dec 28 2014, 01:54 PM
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Avery Hull
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It is one thirty in the morning and Avery has to be in class in seven hours. He should be in bed (even if he sleeps, he will still feel tired in the morning), or studying (even if he spends the rest of the night wrapped up in his books, he will be too exhausted to remember), but instead he sits across from Atlas in the corner booth of Al's Diner. His hands are still shaking, but he feels alright, despite the bruise rapidly blooming across his rib cage.

He has ordered an omelet and a side of hash browns, and the waiter says it's no charge to add toast, so he says why not, and when the hash browns arrive Atlas stares at him like he's grown a second head but he orders another plate anyway. Avery is hungry, is always hungry, has been hungry for months now, and he hasn't been able to keep the weight on anyway. What harm could it do?

“So,” he begins, trying to break the silence between them. He's seen Atlas like this before, after a fight, but this time the self-satisfied smirk has been turned on its head and he scowls into his burnt diner coffee and doesn't make eye contact with Avery when he speaks. “That's one way to spice things up,” he continues, trying to smile. Still no response, so he picks up his fork and shovels the overcooked eg into his mouth, suddenly conscious that another bruise is beginning to form along his jaw.

'You should have seen the other guy' he imagines he'll tell his instructors in the morning. In reality he won't say anything, but it's nice to feel tough after a night like tonight.
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John Atlas
 Posted: Jan 2 2015, 07:07 PM
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John Atlas
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John Atlas sighs and rubs his temple a little too hard, face screwed up from the effort. His adrenaline is coming down and leaving a vibrant, pulsing headache in its wake, and he has to clench his major muscle groups—one at a time: breathe in, breathe out—to keep from shaking. The unappetizing patty melt and hash browns in front of him are getting cold and he has had two bites of both, and more of his burnt coffee than he probably should.

Avery isn’t getting on his nerves, he just feels jangled, like a cat after someone’s stepped on his tail. “Have you ever,” he begins, feeling more perplexed than agitated, “Avery, have you never been jumped for being gay before?” John gestures with his fork, wishing he could smoke in here. “You seem real excited—glad you finally get to pin your hate crime merit badge to your sash?” He takes a bite of the greasy potatoes, chewing them regretfully. He should have eaten them faster. “I’m sorry, that was mean. I mean, it’s just that doesn’t really make me feel hot. A match I win and people like it, the other we might scrape out of it but you don’t really win physical assault, you know?”

He takes a drink of water, thinking maybe he could have been more articulate. “You just seem awful perky, is all.”
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Avery Hull
 Posted: Jan 2 2015, 07:44 PM
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Avery Hull
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He blinks, and for a moment Avery wonders what he's done wrong before he notices the tense set of Atlas's jaw, and he realizes that maybe he's misrepresented his intentions. 'Inappropriate affect,' they say traumatic stress can cause that, and maybe that's what he's dealing with now. He doesn't feel angry, not the way that he can tell Atlas does, and he knows that's inappropriate and he should be livid, shaking and steaming into the second plate of hash browns, and it's true that though his hands were shaking moments ago and he feels like he could kill something for crossing his path again, kill it with his bare hands and slurp hot, sticky life from its bones, that feeling has mostly passed.

He doesn't put down his fork to speak. It hovers somewhere between his mouth and the plate, dangling from a half-hearted grip as he considers the question. Have you ever been jumped for being gay, Atlas asks, and Avery tastes blood and chlorine and hears the cheers of the rival school's best diver and he swears he hadn't been looking at anything and when they finally pull him out of the water it is by his tangled curls. He starts from the memory and barks out an uncomfortable laugh.

Inappropriate affect.

The memory of blood only makes him hungrier, but he doesn't mention that part. “Sorry,” he admits, eyes cast down at the plate that's much emptier than he remembers, and he feels bad but he doesn't know why, except that he's trying to make light of the situation but John is clearly upset. He should be upset, and Avery should be too, but here they are. “I got my fair share of flack for it in high school. I guess I just, uh.”

He rubs the back of his neck and looks sheepish. “I don't know, I thought I would try to make the best of breakfast?” he tries. “I'm feeling sort of woozy at the moment. Adrenaline, probably.” And that's half of it, but the other half is that he feels like he hasn't eaten in months and the hash browns aren't hitting the spot.
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John Atlas
 Posted: Jan 2 2015, 11:40 PM
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John Atlas
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“I kind of feel like I’m going to throw up.” Atlas grins. “But it might be the food. My delicate stomach,” he says with a laugh, patting his torso. He’s been known to snatch food from the trash at food courts, you know, if it’s at the top of the can. “I think you have the right idea, we should just enjoy our food and the fact that no one called the police or ground either of our faces into the pavement.” That was a victory for Atlas, as far as many previous street-fights were concerned. He picks up his patty melt and tries to ignore how much his hands are shaking. “I probably went a little far,” he mumbles pensively. “I don’t know, bastard got what was coming to him.”

The last comment is halfhearted, but after a match he’s always itching to keep it up, body still pumping endorphins and adrenaline, and this time he just happened to have a reason. His boots are heavy, and you shouldn’t kick a man when he’s down but he wanted the satisfaction of a crunch as he smashed his nose in, wanted to keep hitting and hitting and hitting. John knows he is a very angry person sometimes, that there are certain things that get his blood boiling way too fast. Between the two of them they shook the guys off—Atlas was surprised how well Avery could hold his own—and Avery had the good grace not to say anything if he noticed the hiccup of a sob he choked down. It was just he was so angry.

But, now, with Avery’s stupid grin and the greasy diner with its sticky vinyl seats, everything feels so much more normal. And aching.

“Just, fucking Christ, I’m tired. And everything hurts.” Atlas feels kind of woozy too, adrenaline probably. “Feel like I ran a marathon and then fell down some stairs,” he says around his food.
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Avery Hull
 Posted: Jan 4 2015, 09:15 AM
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Avery Hull
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Well, to be fair, you might as well have?” Avery's never been much of a fighter, nor much of a runner, but he's fallen down stairs and his body aches in places that feel like he might have smacked into every corner on his way down, thump thump thump, and he's felt Atlas's pulse after a fight and done his best to calm him down with a touch touch touch but the man is like an engine and he takes hours to cool off.

“Hey, if the guy couldn't finish what he started he shouldn't have started anything. Pretty sure you've got the moral high ground there.” He tries to look reassuring, but his body is starting to threaten total shut down from lack of sleep. Did he sleep last night? Things have been hazy for the last few weeks and his eyes are burning red hot around the rims.

When their waitress returns, Avery orders a cup of coffee and a bagel. What he's eaten already could fill most people up, but his metabolism has been out of control here lately and none of his doctors know why. “I'll pick up the tab, by the way. You barely got anything.”
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John Atlas
 Posted: Jan 5 2015, 11:41 PM
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John Atlas
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“Yeah, uhh,” Atlas says, failing to contain his perturbed look, “you’re really eating a lot there, Ave. I don’t know if that’s…it’s just maybe more than you should,” he finishes lamely. “You sure you need a bagel?” He takes a swig of his burnt coffee and grimaces. It’s gone cold. “With double hash browns and toast and an omelet. Which took you five minutes to eat.” He sighs, stretching his leg out over the booth. “I mean, eat what you want but if you get a stomach ache in twenty minutes I don’t want you to say I didn’t warn you.”

He smiles a little but he knows tired he is shows on his face, on both their faces. “When’s the last time you managed more than six hours, kid? You look half dead.” When Avery stays the night John feels him get up, hears him wander around his apartment as he paces away hours, when he comes back to bed to toss and turn restlessly trying to fall back asleep. He’s worried about him, thinks maybe he’s sick. Getting beat to hell isn’t going to make him feel any better, but John thinks maybe the piles of food he’s already put away is part of the shock. “I mean, I know you stay up studying a lot but you can’t do shit if you’re too tired to pick up a pencil. Didn’t you say you have a test tomorrow?”
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Avery Hull
 Posted: Jan 9 2015, 07:19 PM
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Avery Hull
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“Six hours?” Avery shakes his head and a chuckle of disbelief escapes him. “I'm lucky if I manage three on a good night, these days.” Six hours sounds like luxury; he thinks of how rested he could be on six hours of sleep, and the thought makes him reconsider whether a trip to the doctor is worth the money. His eyes now have the perpetual red-rimmed sting of exhaustion, but he doesn't have insurance, and he's too far away from Mom and Dad to get one of them to take him. So far, he's been trying to grin and bear it, but....

He feels his heartbeat quicken at the mention of the test, but if it makes him nervous beyond that, he barely notices. “Intro to pharmacology,” he admits, albeit reluctantly—while Atlas has never been keen on telling him how to live his life, sometimes he marvels at the way that Avery shirks his schoolwork, especially here as of late, and the last thing he needs is a lecture on an empty stomach.

(And why isn't the food hitting the spot? Why is he always so hungry? These questions nag, frantic, at the back of his mind.)

“I, uh. Didn't figure I was going to get to sleep anytime soon anyway, so.”
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John Atlas
 Posted: Jan 12 2015, 12:05 AM
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John Atlas
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Atlas sighed, rolling his eyes. He was hardly surprised at Avery’s logic but that didn’t mean he approved, exactly. He laughed a little and rubbed his eyes. “Geez, you make me feel like I’m turning into your maiden aunt, kid. Make me feel bad for keeping you out all night…”

In all honestly John wouldn’t have minded going to bed about forty minutes ago himself. He was feeling tired enough now that driving home sounded like a hassle, and his plate of hash browns was beginning to look like a pretty nice pillow. He finished off the last of his patty melt with a fair amount of gusto—he assumed the energy from the food might combat lack of sleep.

“You gonna crash at my place or go back to the dorms tonight, do you think? You should take it easy for a few hours even if you don’t go to sleep. Don’t want to be too anxious or whatever—unwind for a little while.” Avery wasn’t so much uptight as a fairly well contained tornado of forgetfulness, lack of sleep, and inability to put his clothes on right-side-out. Understandably, that could sometimes get fairly stressful for him, and John assumed if he spent some time before his test watching Netflix and kumbaya-ing that his beau could get to class wearing his clothes the right way. Probably.

“I’ve got a shift starting at 2 this afternoon so I was hoping I could sleep through most of the morning,” he managed around a yawn. “But my couch is yours if you’re restless. Tash doesn’t have work tomorrow so you probably won’t bother her.”
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Avery Hull
 Posted: Jan 15 2015, 03:35 PM
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Avery Hull
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Avery considers his options and shakes his head. “Do you mind if I crash at your place? My roommate is gonna kill me if I stumble into the dorm at 2 in the morning bloody and sleep-deprived,” he admits, somewhat sheepishly. Although they get along the majority of the time, he understands why his roommate's fuse has been so short as of late; medical school is hard enough when you aren't being woken at all hours of the night by a housemate who refuses to sleep, and who spends hours at a time rummaging through the kitchenette for something to satisfy his unsatiable hunger.

He is having a hard enough time of it on his own, and he can't imagine what life would be like if it was someone else keeping him awake.

Sleep is probably not an option at this point, and as he chews thoughtfully on his bagel Avery knows that he shouldn't feel sad that he's been relegated to the couch. Atlas needs his sleep too, contrary to popular opinion. But he's tired and he's always cold and the thought of stretching lazily against someone else's body heat makes him wish he wasn't so damn restless.

He manages to miss the tips of his fingers as he takes the next bite of bagel, but only barely.
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John Atlas
 Posted: Jan 19 2015, 02:05 PM
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John Atlas
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“Yeah! Yeah, that’s fine,” John agrees, nodding as he scoops the last of his hash browns onto a fork. “I figure we can get home and crash in like, twenty or thirty minutes?” He checks his phone, sliding it out of his pocket with some difficulty. “The trains are still running, we’ll just have to head out in the next few minutes.”

He stretches, groaning as his sore muscles tense and relax. “We’re both pretty beat so I figure we’ll just go straight to bed,” he mumbles, running through their travel plans mentally. “And like I said, if you want to get up or whatever you can just chill in the living room.”

Atlas grins, kicking him gently under the table. “Just don’t eat me out of house in home, right? You can have a snack, maybe. You’ll be ready to go soon?”
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Avery Hull
 Posted: Jan 23 2015, 03:15 PM
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Avery Hull
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“I can't imagine I'll be hungry after this,” Avery manages around the last of his bagel, cramming several bites' worth into his mouth at one time. They both know this is a falsehood, or perhaps a naive hope, but he's gotten good at dealing with the hunger as best he can and he thinks that his body might be tired enough to sleep through the night.

He wipes his hands on his pants and lays his card down on the table. The waitress sweeps it off the table as she passes, but pauses and returns to ask him if he'd like any more coffee. He politely declines. Sometimes Avery is a little ashamed that his mother still pays to make sure he eats, but most of the time, like this morning, he's glad he can at least cover breakfast after what has turned out to be a very inconvenient sort of evening. It's heartening.

“Do you think Tash will mind if I drop by after class tomorrow? I've been sort of squeamish about being in the dorm alone lately.” He knows he will pick at his lips, his fingernails, chew on the skin at the tips of his thumbs, and he knows that it's time to do something about that. He just isn't sure what.
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John Atlas
 Posted: Jan 27 2015, 11:06 PM
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John Atlas
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“Uhh,” John hesitates, trying to imagine both Tasha’s schedule tomorrow and her reaction to Avery showing up unannounced. “I mean, probably not…she kind of does her own thing when she gets up so she might ignore you for a while.” Atlas wasn’t really sure if Tasha would be irked by it, but he guessed she might appreciate the alone time. “What, are you worried about ghosts or something? Or is it bed bugs?” he asked with a grin. Their waitresses comes to get Avery’s check card and then comes back with his receipt and the two stand up to leave, stretching sore muscles with a groan.

“Or, or, you’re worried that your roommate is actually hiding in his closet peeking on you while you get dressed.”
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Avery Hull
 Posted: Jan 29 2015, 10:00 PM
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Avery Hull
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Avery stands, and he swears he can hear his muscles creak as he does so. He hopes that John doesn’t notice he’s been worried about him for a while, and adding fuel to the fire is the last thing on his to do list. He chuckles halfheartedly. “No, no, nothing that paranoid, I just—Things have been weird for me lately and I don’t want to end up eating everything in the suite, yanno? Better to be somewhere I don’t feel so compelled to do that.” He smiles weakly. “Don’t want to eat you out of house and home.”

He doesn’t mention the nightmares, or the way the cold has started creeping into his extremities like icy, blooming wetness when he doesn’t have something to distract him from it. Things have been different since the attack, and sometimes his flesh throbs like it’s about to peel away from his neck and his head is always pounding—

But all that stuff is from before. Avery hasn’t told John about any of that, and he certainly doesn’t intend to now.

“Mostly I just get lonely,” he admits.
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John Atlas
 Posted: Jan 31 2015, 01:51 PM
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John Atlas
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Atlas wraps an arm around Avery’s waist, pulling him closer as the two walk out of the diner. “Yeah, I know you do,” he mumbles, face pressed into his hair briefly. It’s cold out and he’s been sitting for too long; sore muscles have gone cold and shake as he tries to stretch them out. He resists the urge to stay like that, knows he’s going to only get colder, so he zips up his coat and pulls the hood closer, heading out towards the nearest station. “Let’s get home and go to bed, we’re both beat. Besides, you’ve got that test in the morning.”

For once he isn’t thinking about how Avery doesn’t sleep, how he eats too much and is still dropping pounds. As they begin their journey home he thinks instead about their punch-drunk laughter, holding hands as they sit side by side on the train.
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