there's no Blue without Gold
By the time that Michael tells you he's on his way over to see you, that he's worried about you, you've gone five days without sleep and you've officially lost it. You have one person who won't leave you alone, acting selfishly (in your sleep deprived mind, which isn't completely right but you don't know that) in that she won't shut up, she won't let you believe what you want to believe and it's driving you insane, it's making it worse. You tell her that she's already made this week a lot worse, that she's already made everything worse, so why is she still trying to cause you pain? She has a point, but you're not seeing it because you're already too scared. Another friend is telling you that it makes sense that you're so devastated, that you can't accept things; there is a large part of your world that is thrown into disarray. At least one of the women you're talking to gets it, and if you were of a saner mind, you'd just tell them to talk to each other and cut to the chase.

But you're not of a sane mind. You're rambling, you're repeating shutupshutupshutup and can't complete full sentences. Even your ribbing on Michael's costume isn't as heartfelt and humorous as it usually is, because you don't think you have any time left. Because you know how the universe likes to take what it's owed, and you know it's owed a death. And it either has to be you or Michael and you don't want to be the reason he's not around. And he doesn't want to be the reason you're not around, but as far as you're concerned, it's going to happen anyway. Maybe it's the lack of sleep, but you think, you think that it's going to end soon. Your heart has been going so fast lately that you're certain you're just going to die of a heart attack.

And you're scared.

Michael finds you in your living room, sitting on the couch. You're sitting in the middle of the couch, hugging your knees to your chest, staring at the wall. The TV isn't on, and you're staring at the photos on the wall. Of this 'Thad' guy and this 'Jon' guy, laughing and making dumb faces. At 'Thad's' brother and 'Thad's' friends. The person that you're sure can't exist, because this isn't real. No one is real. Not a single person that you've talked to this week is really real, right?

"Dude, are you alright?" You hear Michael ask you, as he flops down on the couch next to you, but you don't react. You don't move. "Dude, you're scaring me..." He says again, trying to keep himself calm, and you can hear that in his voice. You think that maybe he knows it's the end too.

"I can't be back," You quietly get out, and you finally turn to look at him. So you know he sees how awful you look, your bloodshot eyes from not sleeping, the way you're just shaking and vibrating, your body begging you to let it rest and sleep and you're scared to do that. Because when you close your eyes you see Max and the gun. Your brain won't shut off. But, you're scared. More than anything, you're scared. "I can't be back, it''ll die, Mike. I can't go through that. I can't..."

"And I can?" He says, frustrated and upset, "I don't know but you staying's worth the risk. I've lived through you dying and trust me when i saw that i never want to go through that again. I can't go through it. We don't know if it's going to happen, so let's just wait it out?"

He seems so hopeful, and you feel so broken, and this isn't you. You know this isn't you but the consequences are too real. "We've fucked with the timeline somehow!" You cry out, and you shove your hand to his arm but you're too weak to actually hurt him. You need sleep. You need food. "You always promised me you wouldn't do that! Did you do this?" You know he didn't. You know Michael, you know Booster Gold well enough to know that he would have gone through all the timelines to see if he could save you, because you've both already done this.

He tells you that he didn't do this, and he didn't bring you back, but dammit, you're here, and maybe the timeline is good now. Maybe everything is okay now. He's so hopeful. And you...are so terrified. You're tired, you're frustrated, you're scared.

And it's a long silence before everything just overwhelms you and you break down. Your legs drop down over the edge of the couch and you lean forward holding your head in your hands and you sob. There is nothing manly about sobbing but you don't care because everything is overwhelming. That you've lost so much time, so many years, and if this is all real, then you're the person invading the life of this 'Thad' guy, you're the body snatcher, you're the evil entity. And that's not something you're willing to face. Because you're a good guy. You're a good guy who has good friends and a messed up social meter and a lack of a love life, and a best friend who would literally do anything in the world for you. He depends on you as much as you depend on him, and you realize that you never asked him what it was like for him when you were gone. That you were selfish. That makes you feel worse. But he's the only one you feel bad about not asking. Because you know there's no Beetle without Booster. He's practically your brother.

You feel Michael's hand on your back as you cry, and normally you'd make a joke about this, tell him to back off cause you're into women, and all of that, but you don't. You just cry harder because you're exhausted and you still feel so broken and you're not sure what to do. You're not sure how to make it feel better, because if you're stuck here, then you...have a lot to deal with. Therapist, that would be a start. And despite your better judgement, you turn and you hug Michael, in a totally not manly but in a very platonic way, and he just hugs you back tight and you realize that maybe all you really needed was a hug. Maybe all you needed was his reassurance, above all else. For once, he has more knowledge on something than you do. He's been at this longer. You've been gone for a long time. Maybe he has to be the brains of the least where this is concerned.

And later, the hug will part (he'll make a crack at you being a girl, and you'll weakly punch him in the arm and he'll pretend it hurts because you both know you're not in good shape right now) and you'll create distance and he'll go and get you both beers. And you'll watch a really stupid Will Ferrell movie and laugh, and everything will feel like it's normal. And then, when it hits 11:59 on Saturday, the exhaustion will completely overtake you and finally, after five, going on six days of pain, fear, and a crippling self-doubt, finally you get to sleep thinking that maybe...just maybe...this is all over.

But there's no Blue without Gold, and you don't want to go.