Tick.

I've come to the conclusion that life and death are, although it may not seem so, the same. Because even if they do seem different, opposite even, they are thoroughly and entirely one idea, one thought.

Life is dark.

Death is dark.

And they are both eternal, if only for a while.

Tock.

It's not her smile that burns brightest in my mind now, or her brilliant gray eyes, or even the way she says my name when she needs me the most. It's the thought of her hand in mine, our fingers laced together tightly, her thumb swirling patterns on the outside of my hand. The way she squeezes my hand when she's nervous, or loosens the grip when I can tell she's feeling guilty. That's what I miss now, that's what I want the most. But some other part of me is glad that she cannot see me like this. Burnt up and unaware, dancing along the line of insanity. I am constantly battling against myself, arguing over which memory of her is real, and which one is not. Couldn't someone just answer me? Does she love me? Did she? Shiny, why are my memories so damn shiny? Help, help, don't let me hurt her. Is she here? Am I?

No, no.

Katniss is gone. And so am I.

Tick.

The mundane drip of antibiotics next to my bed is maddening as the bag shivers lightly with each squirming drop. I could watch, if my heart desired. But I'm torn. What if that drip, that dangling plastic bag, is the last thing I see? What if I die right there, right now, and memories that have been made or salvaged wouldn't mean anything, because that drip will linger in my fading thoughts as I wish to see something I love one last time? I won't watch, because I can't afford another memory. My head is already swimming with thoughts that I cannot comprehend, not in any coherent form. So I lay there, my body not really my body, my thoughts not really my thoughts. But maybe they are, and I just can't admit it to myself.

Tock.

Doctors and nurses come and go, adjusting IV's and changing bandages and nodding with a sad smile when they see me, because I am without life and love. Don't worry, they say, You'll be fine. Fine? What is fine? Healed? Awake? Alive? Is that fine? Because if it is, I don't want fine. I want more. I want love, and I want joy, and I want happiness for as long as it could be. But maybe that's foolish. My only guarantee for happiness is with Katniss, and I haven't seen her for some time that I can't keep track of. It could be years for as lonely as it feels. Dr. Aurelius tells me that loneliness is only temporary. I tell him that temporary can last forever.

"Forever doesn't really exist," He says with half a smile, his cheeks wrinkling against the frame of his thick glasses.

"Maybe," I say.

Tick.

They give me paper, lots of it, and pens and paint and more than I really need. Draw, they encourage me, sliding the paper across the little tray that acts as my desk. I usually just watch them, the chipper nurses, pink nails and sparkling hair, tattoos that crawl into undesirable places. They'll stand, waiting for some sort of response, and I just watch them. Smiles always fade, expressions become grimmer. They always leave, mumbling about how much nicer I am on TV. I don't mind though, because I am nicer on TV, or I was. I was nicer everywhere then. This place has drained me of my compassion.

So even though I won't draw when they watch, my scarred hands fly across the clean paper when their demanding eyes have pulled away. Pencils and paints create all sorts of memories. The locket on the beach, the lizards in the sewer, the look in her eyes when the parachutes exploded. I find the latter the hardest to capture, maybe because the memory is always changing in my mind. Funny how even the brightest of memories can be twisted.

"That's wonderful," Dr Aurelius comments when he sees the picture of Katniss lying on the floor next to my bed. He picks it up, examining it under the light. Flecks of gray bounce off the page in the evening light.

"No," I shake my head. "That memory isn't. She is."

Tock.

"Do you feel like your infatuation with this girl is what causes the minor depression you're experiencing now?"

It's the next morning, or maybe not, when Dr. Aurelius asks this, a notepad balanced on his knee and a pen rested between his finger and thumb. The monotone hum of his voice suggests that he is simply reading this question off a paper, the line being fed to him by someone else. I think for just a moment before answering.

"Her name is Katniss."

Tick.

Have I gone mad?

Maybe.

But something tells me that Gale standing in front of me is no trick that my mind is playing on me. This is real, and I'm startled to say the least.

A nurse brings him in, her long fingers wrapped around his shoulder and hand pressed against his back. He towers over her petite figure, and I wonder if he can feel her eyes on him. Her puppy love it blatantly obvious, and when he finally looks down to see her staring eyes, she blushes profusely and tells him she'll be back when his time is up.

"I don't need long," he says.

I shift in the hospital bed, my arms resting across my stomach. The worst of the scars have faded by now, but I can still see his eyes quickly scanning my face for any trace of fire or scars or despair.

He takes in a deep breath, as if he might say something, but then pauses.

"When Posy was born, right after my father died, I was so scared. I was only fourteen." He says, and I'm surprised to hear this, unsure where he might be going with it.

"My mother, she was screaming and yelling for help, and I...I didn't know what to do. But then I remembered Katniss' mother, and how she'd helped Rory before. So I ran there, as fast as I could, banging on the door like a crazy person. And when Katniss opened the door, I was speechless. She's always been so beautiful, you know?" He asks, and I nod. I do know.

"I explained what was happening, and she got her mother and everything was fine," He says with a laugh, but he can't hide the wetness in his eyes. "But that was the first time I really noticed her. And...I just...I owe her so much. For that day, for everything. I don't deserve her, and I'm so sorry. So I need you to take care of her, can you do that?" he asks shakily, and I nod again, assuring him.

"I need you to love her," He says. I smile weakly.

"I already do."