Sylvan doesn't understand why James doesn't speak these days. Once, not so long ago, he thinks, it was a difficult task to shut him up at all. But now...well. Now is different.

Sylvan knows that something isn't right. He has known this for a long time, but he doesn't let himself think about it much. Instead, he talks to James.

Now that James won't talk, he makes a good listener. Sylvan always thought that if James ever stopped talking himself, he would make an understanding, sympathetic sounding board, and he is glad to know that he was right.

Sylvan lives in a strange place these days. Oh, he knows that he spends half his time locked inside his own head, but even when he leaves he isn't where he thinks he should be. He speaks of this to James, sometimes, but James always just smiles sadly and goes away for a while.

Sylvan hates it when James goes away. When James goes away, Sylvan finds himself thinking about things that he doesn't want to think about. He realises things that he doesn't want to realise. And sometimes he thinks that James won't come back – that James can't come back.

It is always a relief to him when James does come back, but James always looks so sad when he does. Sylvan wonders sometimes if maybe James would be happier if Sylvan let him go.

But Sylvan cannot let him go. It is not in his nature. Sylvan is a selfish bastard, and he knows it. He always has been. James always teased him about it, before. Now, Sylvan thinks that maybe James no longer finds his selfishness as funny.

Sometimes, Jenissa will visit him. He thinks that she has a schedule; that she's coming every certain number of days, but he cannot tell for certain. To him, her visits seem to be at incredibly random intervals. This, he knows, is a result of living in his head half the time.

It's strange, when Jenissa visits. She talks to him, and he listens. Sometimes he even understands what she is saying, though some things he chooses not to believe. Very rarely, he will participate in the conversation with her. He tries to do so more often after the first time, because Jenissa had looked so very pleased to get a response from him.

It is always near the end of the visit that he starts to realise that something is wrong within their conversation (or her monologue). She is…she is not speaking to James.

He will ask her why. He always asks her why.

"Nissa, why aren't you speaking to Jamie? Are you two fighting again? Why are you mad at him?"

Sylvan knows he sounds somewhat like a child when he asks her this. And he is also aware that these questions are the reason she always leaves with tears falling from her large hazel eyes.

He feels guilty, but he does not comprehend.

Other days, it will be Damon visiting. Damon's visits are much different from Jenissa's. Damon, unlike Jenissa, does not tell Sylvan of what he is missing. He does not, as Jenissa does, try to tell Sylvan about that thing he does not believe.

Most times, in fact, Damon does not speak at all. He merely sits in the room and watches Sylvan, blue eyes a strange mixture of piercing and sympathetic.

When Damon does this, sometimes Sylvan forgets that he is there. Damon has always been a quiet person, good at sitting in a room and fading into the background. Sylvan has always thought that Damon would make a good spy.

If Sylvan forgets that Damon is there, he will talk to James. In some part of his mind he realises that Damon is still there, that Damon is listening to their conversation. He cannot bring himself to care.

James always looks hopeful when one of their friends comes to visit. Sylvan does not know what he is hoping for, although he thinks it might be a hope that this time, they will speak to him.

When Damon stays long enough for Sylvan to begin to talk to James, he always leaves in the middle of a conversation. He does not speak, but every time he visits, he pauses at the door, giving Sylvan an expectant look.

Sylvan wishes that he knew what Damon expects from him. He gets the feeling that it is important, that perhaps if he realises it Jenissa will stop crying and Damon will talk to him again.

But Damon always knows that Sylvan cannot give him what he wants. He sighs sadly, gives him a parting nod and leaves. Sylvan wishes that he had thought to ask Damon what he expected.

Sometimes, very rarely, Sebastian comes to see him.

Sylvan finds that he almost dreads Sebastian coming to visit. He doesn't always remember things, and he finds it hard to think clearly, but he knows there is something about Sebastian's visits that upset him.

He thinks about this a lot when Sebastian isn't there. He tries to remember why he dreads these visits from Sebastian. Sylvan never does recall until Sebastian is there again.

Sebastian's dark brown hair is always a matted mess, which is the first indication, to Sylvan, that something is wrong with him. Sylvan has known Sebastian a very long time, and the other man has never tolerated having even a single hair out of place.

Sebastian is a vain creature, Sylvan knows, and he begins to realise why he doesn't look forward to Sebastian's visits. The hair is only the start of things. Sebastian wears his usual black trousers, but the fabric is faded and worn, with traces of mud around the hems. Sylvan shivers whenever he sees this, because Sebastian shouldn't be tolerating such a thing.

Sylvan remembers when even a speck of dirt would spark an hour long rant against the evils of whatever had put it there (often Sylvan himself).

But it is the shirt that Sebastian is wearing that really, truly, ignites a hint of fear in Sylvan's mind. Not fear of Sebastian, but fear for him.

Sebastian is wearing the same shirt every time he comes to visit. For Sebastian, this is almost a crime. It is an old shirt, possibly even more worn than the trousers. It's made of silk, Sylvan knows, because it is supposed to be James's. The shirt is a dark, dark green that accented James's raven black hair and brought out flecks of green in his gold eyes. It does not suit Sebastian as well as it does James.

It is Sebastian's eyes that worry Sylvan the most. Sebastian's eyes have always been the palest of blue, almost grey. When he is happy, Sylvan knows, those eyes become bluer. But now, Sebastian's eyes are a murky shade of grey, and Sylvan has always understood that to mean that Sebastian is painfully miserable.

This is why Sebastian's visits upset Sylvan. Sebastian cannot fake the changing of his eye colour, the decline in his appearance. It is when he sees Sebastian that Sylvan starts to find it so very difficult to ignore the truth of what he does not want to believe.

On Sebastian's fifth visit, he speaks to Sylvan for the first time.

"Sylv, I think you know that I don't want to be here. It's not that I don't care, you know that. It's just…look. Look, Nissa…she thinks that my being here will force you to accept it. Damon agrees, he even thinks it's a good idea. But what are they expecting, Sylv? What do they think is going to happen if you do accept it? You're not going to be okay. Accepting the truth isn't going to automatically make you okay. You'll still…you won't be okay. Like this…maybe you're not happy, but you're…you're content. And that won't last, can't last, but it's more than the rest of us have."

Silent, Sylvan looks across the room. He himself is seated on the edge of his bed, his hands clenched in the pillow resting on his lap. James is standing by the window, he knows, but Sylvan is not facing James. His eyes are on the blue armchair.

Sebastian's stolen shirt is out of place, clashing against the blue of the chair. Sylvan wonders why it is that two so very different colours can seem so similar, and he thinks that perhaps that is why they clash.

Sebastian is watching Sylvan. Sylvan looks into those grey, grey eyes, the murky eyes that, in a way, seem to reflect the mire that his own mind has become. Sylvan does not speak.

"Still…you'll have to come to terms with it sometime. Maybe Jenissa's right, maybe it should be now."

Sylvan looks away from Sebastian. He knows what Sebastian is going to say, and he does not want to hear it. He looks towards the window, almost desperately, but James is gone again.

"Sylvan, James…" Sebastian pauses to clear his throat. "James is –"

Sylvan does not hear the last word Sebastian says. His mind refuses to register it. He shakes his head, automatically, knowing that Sebastian will want a response of some kind.

Sebastian gives a sad sigh. Sylvan does not watch him leave.

A day or so passes and James does not come back. Sylvan tries not to think about that word, the finality of it, and as far as he is concerned, the lie of it. He knows it is not true…he knows. And it's not…is it?

Corey has not visited him before and Sylvan does not know what to expect when the blond man steps into the room. He looks up from the armchair, silent, inquiring. Corey quietly sits on the bed and his aqua eyes meet Sylvan's dark blue.

"Bast tells us that you're being stubborn."

Sylvan tilts his head to the side with a confused frown.

"Sylvan, he's not here. He's never been in this place with you, and he never will be with you again. He's gone, Sylv. James is gone. He's dead."

It is a long time before Sylvan allows himself to think again. Corey has long been gone.

He tries to convince himself that they are wrong, but he knows now what the real lie is.