Broken Circles
(By "Wow, this wasn't supposed ta turn inta a fic." Zarla)
(Warning: I am not responsible for any mental damage caused by reading this fic.)

It's this strange kind of pain.

It's hard to explain in a way. There aren't many things in one's life that can truly prepare someone for the emotional hardship, the constant turmoil. The guilt.

The guilt.

It's hard to tell the time anymore, hard to know exactly what has happened since. What happened before. It's as if time stopped at that moment, along with all emotion and all connections to other people. That was it. That was the end. In that moment, not only one person died, but two.

That was as much as he felt comfortable saying. He only knew from one end for sure. He only knew that the emotional strands that connect him, extend him, give him eternity, are not present. He only knows that he's unable to get caught in the great web of humanity, his only promise of "immortality" through children a complete impossibility. It ends with Edgar. He ends. There is no one else that he can reach, no thread he can pull or sever or tangle as he goes down. He's alone, and in a way that is a good thing. There are few, if any, that would be affected by his death. Those momentary glances from people don't denote a connection. They wouldn't convey the guilt, they wouldn't allow his death to have meaning outside of a cheap news story pulled for an interesting tidbit on how no one had found him.

It was a fact that had been brought to his attention. It wasn't something he liked to face. He was not opposed to being alone, he didn't crave or desire human attention or connection like most, but he did not like the idea of his mortality. He'd rather not die, when it came down to it. The thought of it, the thought of being swept away so quickly and completely, was disturbing to him, despite the fact that none would be adversely affected by his death. The great human instinct for self-preservation.


It was a strange kind of pain. He had gone through so much and for such a long time. The exact date when he had first met the psychopathic murderer was hard for him to say. Once he had entered his life, it was as if he had always been there. Like the figurine on his desk, which was silent.

He hadn't spoken much since.

He had suffered and thought over his words. He had carefully controlled his emotions, his responses, and relegated his feelings to himself. He never told him anything. He never said anything that he thought would wind up with his premature execution. In a way, Nny had a goal and Edgar was quite dedicated on helping him reach that goal, although not exactly for the same reason. Nny wanted to be happy, and Edgar had to be dead for that to happen. He didn't fight this. Perhaps he didn't believe it would happen. That wouldn't be too unusual, considering Nny's previous history of depression and suicide attempts.

That one connection. That thread that connected Edgar to someone. Anyone. It was precious, although he didn't like to think of why. It mattered to him, despite the incredible amount of setbacks this relationship entailed, and he fought to preserve it. That was why he held his tongue so many times. That was why he allowed Nny to do the things he did and say the things he said without any kind of retribution. He had been compared to a doormat once, and maybe that wasn't entirely false.

He was willing to do that for this relationship. To keep in contact with this one other person. He couldn't say for certain that it was for entirely selfish reasons. He did want to help Nny. That was because he cared, despite every logical process that screamed its dissent, and he did want to help him.

He always seemed to be in such pain.

He hated being alive.

Edgar knew that. He knew that from the beginning. But he didn't listen. He never found it plausible. He didn't understand, and perhaps that was why this hurt as much as it did.

The guilt never stopped. The guilt and the unending questions.

Scriabin had told Edgar, long ago, that maybe Johnny loved him. Maybe. Edgar didn't want to think about that. Think about what that would do to the thread that connected the two of them. Such a connection was so blasphemous for one thing...

And Edgar of course didn't know what to do. Ever the clumsy, yet articulate scientist. There were laws against that, he was sure. A therapist and a patient. And he realized that was how he had viewed and treated their relationship for so long.

Relationship. He recoiled at that word once. He couldn't remember when. Nothing mattered to him anymore in terms of time. It had become meaningless in the face of what had broken his internal clock.

He didn't go out. No one knew why, because Edgar had never mentioned his relationship with Nny. Of course not. Why would he? It meant putting people at potential risk, and he found it embarrassing. Imagine. Coddling a maniac. Indulging his desires and answering the phone so late at night. How do you bring that up around the water cooler?

Edgar had never connected with anyone at his workplace anyway.

He didn't want to answer questions. No black for him. He didn't want the concerned stares, the cursory questions of "What's wrong..." and the pause as they struggled to remember his name.

He didn't know how to explain himself.

How do you explain this relationship? He couldn't sum it up in one word. He didn't feel comfortable lying about it. How would he lie about it anyway? He didn't even know exactly what their relationship had been. It fluctuated to such extremes and was so fragile. Every minute with Nny was a chance that a wrong word could break that thread. Every wrong movement could literally mean death.

How genuine can you be under those conditions? Edgar wasn't sure himself. He had thought and thought about his own reactions and decisions for so long for someone else that he found it hard to analyze them himself.

Scriabin was still quiet. That was unusual. That kind of sympathy was not expected.

He had never been prepared for this. He knew about death. He liked to think he understood death. And he had been prepared, or at least he thought he had been, to accept death when he had no other choice.

He was wrong.

The guilt.

So many questions. They never gave him a moment of rest. They kept repeating themselves, loud and insistent. He couldn't answer. He didn't want to answer.

Was it my fault?

Through everything, there was that detached part of him. The part that didn't feel, that usually helped him through such troubled times. It didn't work now. He could hear its words and understand their meaning, but he couldn't believe them. Not anymore.

Maybe this was just going to happen all along. Maybe I just postponed it.


Was it my fault?

It was impossible to tell. Edgar remembered the last time they had met so indistinctly because it had seemed too normal. Normal for them, anyway. Careful conversation in a secluded place, Edgar's apartment. There were so many of them that it was hard to remember which instance was the real one, which one was the last. Details from others blended and mixed to create the perfect melodrama. He began to reject almost everything he remembered about what he thought was their last meeting. He wasn't sure how long it had been. It felt like his entire life was over. He was walking undead.

Maybe Johnny loved him.

Maybe he did.

He couldn't say it out loud. He could hint at it. He often spoke of killing him, which Edgar had taken to mean "I love you" in a fashion that never struck him as twisted until he really thought about it.

Several times he had leaned in close to him, but he had always pulled away. Maybe he was scared. That wasn't unusual. Johnny often said that he was scared of him. That was why Edgar had to die in the first place. Johnny was scared of losing him, and no amount of talking or gifts or late nights spent over the phone in dead silence could cure. It was something that Edgar had to accept. He was scared. Maybe that was why he never thought Nny would kill him. He thought that with all that fear, he would never get close enough to his goal without pulling back first.

Edgar assumed a lot.

Of course, Edgar couldn't make the first move. That was ridiculous. Of course he couldn't do that. Making the first move at any time with Nny was just a bad idea all around. He was so unpredictable. He never explained himself. And despite how much Edgar could tell himself otherwise, he could never figure him out. He could never understand Nny, as much as he wanted to. As much as he wanted to help Nny, as much as he wanted to make him happy, he didn't dare risk it. He didn't dare risk crossing some invisible line, some boundary that would finally break their connection.

He was just as afraid as Nny was. He was afraid to make the first move because he was sure that Nny would reject him in his own way, and he feared that rejection. It could have meant bodily harm and it could have meant being alone again. It was not a choice that Edgar wanted to make.

And maybe he did want to close that distance sometimes. Maybe when Nny pulled away from him at that last moment, he was just a little disappointed. He didn't like to think about that. Or at least, that's what he told himself. He found it occupied his thoughts more often then he would have liked, and his dreams more then he would ever feel comfortable telling anyone.


But did he?

Was it my fault?

He was concerned for Nny's welfare. He had been for such a long time that the concern itself never felt alien. It was as if he had always felt for him this way. Concern.

Did he find him physically attractive? Not in the least, and he was sure that Nny felt the same way. Neither of them felt remarkably blessed in that department.

But he cared. He could not deny that. And more then anything, he wanted to provide Nny a few moments of happiness in his life. He had seen and heard Nny's life in his broken speeches and rambling metaphors, and he could see the emptiness, sadness, disappointment that mirrored his own. He had no one, but he had Nny. He had no purpose in his life, no outstanding work, biological or otherwise, that would outlast his death. The only way of preserving himself was to make Nny happy. It was a goal that he didn't think was too outlandish. He was alone so often. He may as well help someone. He wanted to help him.

There were few moments in the day when he didn't cross his thoughts. Things that Nny had said or done. The hints he gave of what had preceded his psychosis. That intellectual capacity that fascinated him, but was so rare. Nny was in his thoughts almost all the time.

Was it my fault?

Was there something I could have done?


Their last few meetings had been so normal. They had done all of their normal things together. Several times Johnny had attempted to say or do something, but then broke away. Several times Edgar wanted to say or do something, but could not find the courage.

He raised his hand to touch Nny's hair, but rested it on the couch.

Nny leaned over close to him, then grabbed the popcorn bowl.

He watched Nny fall asleep.

At that point, he had nothing to be afraid of. However, in the end, there was still one more hurdle to pass, and that was his sense of propriety. It was wrong to touch or do anything to Nny while he was sleeping. He couldn't violate his personal space, which Nny treasured so highly, without his knowledge like that.

An opening closed by his own roadblock.

He wanted to. He wanted to brush the hair from his face. He wanted to pick him up and put him in a real bed. He wanted to do things that showed that he cared. He wanted to show Nny that he did care, that he did want him to be happy.

But he was too frightened. The thought of a caring gesture being twisted by his broken mind into an insult was too much. It had happened before. That was something that had burned into his memory, along with the feeling of the bone underneath thin skin.

He dreamed.

Was it my fault?

Was there something I could have done?

It was a spiral, a cycle of unfinished beginnings and weakness. Every time they met, they circled each other but never touched. They were both too afraid of what they might lose to risk it for what they might gain.

Frustrating was an understatement.

He dreamed. Or at least, he thought he did. Scriabin had mentioned some times that he could control or influence Edgar's dreams which meant that perhaps they were not true reflections of his desires as he felt. They had an effect on how he acted though, and perhaps that was what Scriabin wanted.

Was it my fault?

When he dreamed, he wasn't afraid. He wasn't scared. Nothing held him back, not the fear or denial or faith or anything. There was nothing to be frightened of in his dreams. Sometimes they were simple. Watching TV as they tended to do, or acting out the mundane plots of soap operas they had seen in a nonsensical fashion.

His dreams were a respite when they were occurring and a torment when he woke. When he was awake, he realized what he didn't have, what he couldn't have, and what he wished he had, and Edgar could never make peace with any of those.

He wasn't cold in his dreams. No. Johnny wasn't as thin as he normally was. While his aloof, frightened personality remained intact, in his dreams there was no risk of breaking that thread. In his dreams, Nny could not run away from him. He could not leave or hurt him.

He simply had Nny without any of the psychotic tendencies that made their relationship such a minefield. Sometimes he had to make the first move. Sometimes when Nny leaned over, Edgar would complete their connection. He wasn't afraid to do so and in some way, it thrilled him.

A doormat. In his dreams he had such control. It was a sudden change and one that he liked, although he felt guilty about it when he woke up.

Was it my fault?

When he dreamed, there was no fear. He had control of himself and his actions, and there was nothing governing his actions except his desires. Sometimes, he took complete control over Nny, holding down his wrists and watching with intense satisfaction as he closed his eyes and groaned. Perhaps it was a sign of something that so many of Edgar's sexual fantasies involved control. It was something he didn't like to think about, although Scriabin loved to bring it up.

Although those fantasies in particular were not Scriabin's favorite topic. No. Scriabin was just as fascinated with control as Edgar was, although he was more open about it. He was more interested in the dreams where Edgar relinquished all control to Nny.

It's strange, don't you think? Scriabin would say to him. That the thought of Nny not being afraid of your "relationship" is as equally arousing to you as the thought of you not being afraid.

He couldn't deny the fact that both kinds of dreams did make him shiver. They both had a certain appeal, although different, that Edgar could and would never find in reality. Finally being able to control Nny, to some extent, after all this time of being completely in the dark. Even if it was as simple as coaxing an orgasm out of him, it was still something that Edgar had some amount of control over. Although he was ashamed to think about it for long periods of time, he could understand why they would appeal on a logical level. However, the counterparts to these dreams were more of a problem.

While Scriabin had no issue with them, Edgar refused to understand why they occurred. He blamed them on Scriabin occasionally, as he did a lot of things.

He often couldn't move much in those dreams. Leather and ropes. Scriabin loved to mention those in respect to their time in the white void. Hands tied to a bedpost, caught behind his back in metal circlets. That sadly familiar tightness around his throat. In these dreams Edgar was completely powerless, completely at Johnny's mercy. This was a mirror of their real relationship, excepting the fact that in his dreams, Johnny wanted to and had the strength and courage make him happy. Johnny wasn't afraid in these dreams. His promise of love did not end in death. His promise of love involved the surrender of control, and to do that Edgar had to trust him. And he did trust him.

In his dreams anyway.

Was it my fault?

He could never answer that question.

They never had kissed in real life. Edgar thought Nny wanted to. And he was pretty sure he wanted to as well. But that invisible boundary, that wall of fear and trepidation, kept them apart.

Edgar was stressed out. His dreams became more frequent. He couldn't focus.

He had no idea how Nny was handling it.

He had no idea.

You can never plan for something like that. You can hear it for years on end, you can hear it talked about for months. Edgar heard it from his mouth more times then he could count.

I hate myself.

I want to kill myself.

He had heard it. He had imagined what would happen if it did occur. He imagined how he would react. He thought he had prepared himself.

You can't prepare yourself.

Was it my fault?

He couldn't remember their last meeting. He couldn't remember if there were near misses, if there was an awkward word or phrase that he hadn't noticed until too late. He couldn't remember with enough clarity to answer the one question that would not leave him alone.

Was it my fault?

He had tried it before. He had tried it before, and Edgar remembered how it felt back then. It did not prepare him.

Now he was more invisible then ever. He had fallen through the web of humanity and he was fairly sure there was no way he could ever come back.

He didn't notice anything unusual before Nny went home. He wished he had been paying more attention. He wished he had done something, anything. He wished he had the courage to ask. He couldn't even get the words out of his mouth, not for fear of triggering something that Nny hadn't thought of yet.

Maybe I could have done something...

He handed Nny his coat. He always did this, so he had to assume he did it the last time as well. Nny always looked at that coat with such fondness. Inanimate objects were safer that way. Edgar knew what it meant to him. If only he had asked. If he had noticed. If he had paid more attention. What was it that Johnny said? He couldn't remember. He couldn't remember how he replied.

He watched him leave and went back to his normal life. Only if. If he had done something, if he had mustered up the strength to get over his fear and finally break through that barrier, finally push him against a wall and kiss him like they had almost done for months, then maybe.


Maybe things would have been different.

But then again, was this something that could have been prevented at all?

The phone rang for so long. Edgar counted each ring back then, but he had by now forgotten how many he let go by before he began to worry. To seriously worry. To pick up the keys to his car.

He could find his house now.

Did he know before he found him? Maybe somewhere inside him he did.

Was it my fault?

It was the same gun from before, reloaded. This time, Johnny had made sure the bullet would take out the entirety of his brain. He was planning it.

This was what he wanted to do. It was not an accident.

That was when everything stopped for Edgar. When he saw the brains and blood that had spattered across the wall and floor, long dried. Rigor mortis.

Was it my fault?

Could I have done something?

There were so many questions that Edgar could not answer. Why didn't he call earlier? Would that have helped? Would anything have helped at this point? Why was he so afraid? Why didn't he do something? Why? Why? Why?

He called an ambulance, who told him there was nothing they could do. He said he already knew that.

When he thought Nny was dead before, he was swept up in a cloud of emotion that didn't last long before his trip to the white void. Now, there was no escape for him here. There was nothing to distract him, and this time, there was no coming back. Maybe the first time was a dream. Maybe it wasn't.

Johnny stayed where he was buried.

That void never filled.

People generate and gather relationships like spokes on a wheel, various connections that lead elsewhere. A multipointed star of sociality. Edgar had one spoke that broke itself off.

If he had experience.

If he knew what he was doing.

If he had any friends, any relatives, anyone to turn to.

Maybe that would have helped the pain. Maybe they could have helped him with his questions.

Scriabin did not help. He didn't talk much now, no matter how much Edgar talked to him.

All he could do was ask himself the same questions over and over and over again.

Was it my fault?

Everything that he had ever done in their relationship he ran over with a fine-tooth comb. He tried to remember how it started, how it really began, the key points where connections were made and reinforced.

All this time he had spent.

All this effort, all this regulation, all these rules he made himself.

All of it gone.

He had no one to talk to. His phone was silent, as it used to be, even at night. He didn't want to tell his coworkers what happened. He had no words for how he felt.

There was this insistent pain everytime he thought about him, and that was all the time. Everything in his life was associated with him now. Nny had worked his way into the vast empty space that was Edgar's life and now, his presence could not be erased. The lamp, his clothes, the soda in his fridge, the boxes of crackers. Edgar kept Nny's Die-ary, but he never read it.

He thought about what he should have said. All those things he should have done. The thought of his own death barely mattered to him anymore. He should have finished what Nny started. He should have closed that gap between the two of them, he should have done something. Maybe things would have been different.

Maybe he could have changed things.

It was all because of his self-preservation. It was because he was selfish, and this thought would not leave him alone. If he really had been ready to accept the sacrifice he would have to make for Nny's happiness, he would have done something. He wouldn't have been so afraid of death and afraid of mistakes. Action.


There were so many things about Nny that Edgar now could never know. He had never explained his past. He had never explained how he felt to Edgar, at least, in direct terms. How loose was the definition of "I'll kill you" and how often had Edgar misinterpreted it?

Questions he could never answer.

These questions would not rest. He could not will them to the back of his subconscious by pretending to accept their essential nature as a question, as he had done with others.

They wanted answers he could not give.


He still had the occasional pleasant dream. Perhaps that was Scriabin's influence. He wasn't sure. He couldn't really tell when Scriabin was changing things in his dreams. He was subtle when he wanted to be.

Occasionally, they'd be dreams where he'd be relieved, ecstatic in their duration, and yet feel more regret and sadness when he woke. Those dreams where'd he'd walk to his hospital room with flowers and Johnny would smile at him. Say how that was a close one. Apologize. Everything would be on the table for once, and they'd talk. Honestly. And then that gap would be gone, there'd be no fear, and...

Everytime he woke up from these dreams, they made him feel worse. He felt stupid hoping for something that could never happen. It was pointless and pathetic. Johnny was dead. To picture him recovering so nicely, and behaving so intelligently and calmly, was the saddest kind of fantasy. He felt disgusted with himself afterwards, as if he were defacing Johnny's memory with conscious effort.

More often then that were the guilty dreams. They varied in their content but not their message. Whether or not it was Nny dissolving in his arms or him holding a smoking gun over Nny's body, the message was always the same.

You could have prevented this.

Why didn't you do anything?

It is your fault.

And at least when he woke from these dreams, Edgar did not feel ashamed. He felt as if he was being honest with himself, as far as that definition could stretch. He couldn't remember what happened that day.

What if.

Could I have done something?

There were so many questions that he could not answer. There were so many days when Edgar lay on his bed and tried to cry. He stared up at the ceiling like he had done for so long and he tried to cry for his friend, he tried to mourn for Johnny's passing, so pointless and so unwarned.

But sometimes he just felt nothing except that deep sense of regret. Of weakness. How could he cry over his own shortcomings? Particularly when they resulted in the death of another human being.

The anger was there. He didn't like to think about it, but it was there. If there was something he could have done, if this was some kind of revenge by Johnny, then...Edgar didn't believe that. He didn't like that train of thought. But still, moments of rage randomely persisted throughout his days, and he couldn't explain why. He didn't want to feel angry about this.

And unlike usual, he did want to feel something about this.

Was it my fault?

The unending question.

Sometimes he said yes.

Other times, he said no.

Neither answer seemed to satisfy him.


What could I have done?

I wish there was something I could have done.

Whenever his thoughts wandered to that territory he felt disgusted with himself once again. There was nothing he could do. Entertaining such thoughts was pointless. A waste of time. It just reminded him that he hadn't accepted this yet. He hadn't accepted what happened. He never faced the reality.

Why did you kill yourself?

Edgar wished he knew. More then anything, he wished for an answer to that question. It would be more then a relief to know why. To know for certain whether or not it was his fault. To know whether or not his finger had pulled the metaphorical trigger.

He couldn't let go.

Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. He had never been acquainted with death on such an intimate level. He didn't have pets. He never connected with anyone. He hadn't connected with anyone for so long. He had no idea how to handle that connection being cut so abruptly and without explanation. He couldn't handle the idea of holding the scissors.

He couldn't stop wishing. He couldn't stop thinking about what it would have been like. If only. If only he had called earlier. If only he had been more courageous. If only he had noticed. If only he could remember. If only Nny wasn't crazy. If only Edgar wasn't so wrapped up in himself he didn't even notice that his best friend was going to commit suicide.

Could he have noticed? Why didn't he notice?

If only. If only his dreams could become reality. If only he could snap his fingers and bring Nny back to life. Bring some clarity back to the haze that now covered everything he did. He could barely wake up in the mornings. He had trouble falling asleep. He couldn't remember anything that happened the last week. The last month. Time stopped when Nny stopped because he was the only reason Edgar had to tick at all.

He was still ticking, but not counting anything. Anything worth measuring.

Nothing mattered.

The happy moments his dreams brought him were so brief and followed by such guilt. What did he have?

Nny didn't leave a note.

The End
(Author's Note: I originally started this with the intent of it being some emotional venting, but within two paragraphs it moved from my feelings to Edgar's. Haha, that's healthy. After that, I just let myself go with it. Turned out rather interestingly I think.)