Title: The Dreams in Which I’m Dying


Author: Funkyhigh


Disclaimer: Story based on Without a Trace characters. I own nothing.


The Dreams In Which I'm Dying

Oh god, it's happened again. Another case taken from us, another person we were supposed to find is gone forever. It's days like this that make me regret working the Missing Persons Unit, upon applying I expected these situations to occur, but talking and reading about it in theory is one thing, seeing it for real is another altogether. But I have no choice, as I said it's my job, and I'm forced to deal.

That's what I've been telling myself everyday for the past five years, that I can deal, but now with the rising crime rate, the number of bodies has been piling up on me, and my words have begun to lose there meaning.

The cases that cut me the most are the ones involving children, they rarely have a happy ending, for even if they're found there's always lasting mental scars. Although this job has taught me one thing: a body is better than nothing. At least then you know, the family can find closure, and everyone can move on, but what happens to them if they don't? They will forever cling to the slim crescent of hope, stuck to never move forward with their lives, for maybe, just maybe their loved one might return home. Yep, hope can be a real bitch.

Whether we lose our mp, or fail to find them, both always have a way of laying heavy on my conscience, and as many times as I'm told it's not my fault, the message never seems to get through.

This case has been extremely difficult, Carrie Mathews, a sweet little four year old girl, taken right from her mothers hand in an over-crowded shopping centre. We had no leads; the only logical explanation we could come up with was that the kidnapping was a spur of the moment decision. But how could someone simply take a child away from their mother, their family, I really can't understand it; the ways of humanity are certainly slipping fast.

Cold: very, very cold. I rock gently back and fourth, my body curled up in the foetal position, trying to gain some warmth. My face is wet, stained from tears, cried from my eyes out of fear. The need to be comforted, to be held close in the arms of someone I trust is so strong within my soul. My whole body aches for this one person, but the face is blurred in my mind.

Heavy boots fall on the ground outside my door, my heart beats faster in my chest, and I bury my face deep within the thick carpet, in a vain attempt to hide. Fresh tears flow as I hear the door being jerked open, the boots approach. My body tenses, I curl further up in my ball, my eyes burning from the force they're closed with. A freezing rough hand touches my shoulder, my body serges with fright.

I jolt up in my bed, my breathing ragged, and droplets of sweat cover my forehead. I take a few quick breaths trying to slow my racing heart, only then are things put back into perspective. A deep sigh escapes my throat, as I realise it's only a dream, but this is no sigh of relief. I'm actually scared, I can feel myself slowly breaking at the seams, and every time I try to fix the stiches, my needle snaps in half. It's these dreams, they've been happening more and more often, and I don't know how much more I can take.

I'm pretty sure I know why I have them, but I can never seek help, or tell anyone, it'll only make things worse. If Jack found out he'd make sure I take time off work, and right now it's the last thing I want: to be alone, alone with only my thoughts.

"Morning Danny," Vivian cheerfully greets me, as I enter the bullpen.

"Hey Viv, did you see the Mets win last night," I quickly turn with some good-natured teasing; I can't help but rub in my team's victory.

"Yeah, yeah, enjoy it while it lasts." We share a small smile, before I settle down at my desk.

The day drags on; everyone avoids the Mathew's case, that is until Mr Mathews himself appears outside Jack's office.

Minutes later Jack approaches.

"What was that about?" Sam asks with much curiosity.

Jack hesitates before replying, his expression unreadable, "He remembered a few things he was hoping would help, they were irrelevant."

"He does know we're off the case, doesn't he?" Martin questions, obliviously feeling for the devastated man.

"Yeah, but it's going to take some time for him to accept anything at this stage."

I can't help a disapproving grunt escape my throat, the action drawing the other's attention to myself.

"What was that for?" Viv questions, her eyes daring me to answer.

"I just don't see what good anything he does now is going to do," I reply, not backing down from the challenge.

"The man lost his daughter! You think he should just get over it?"

"Yes," the others stare in wonderment at my blunt reply, causing me to extend my remark, "Otherwise he'll live the rest of his life under the false hope that his daughter will come back to him."

Viv's expression softens, "Sometimes hope is all that keeps us going."

I don't acknowledge her last comment, preferring the conversation to end before it turns into an argument. My colleagues depart, returning to their own tasks, and letting my opinions be.

Don't get me wrong; I use to have hope, my positive attitude knitted closely with my soul, allowing me to believe every case would have a happy ending. Imagine my shock, when I found out just how wrong I was.

My first bad case was a failed find; it took Jack a lot of time trying to explain to me that sometimes the cases have to be let be.

George Cameron, a twenty-five year old male, last seen leaving his house for work by his pregnant girlfriend, he hadn't even known about the baby yet. A family in the making, ripped apart for reasons I will never know, or even begin to understand.

I sigh, the jobs been eating slowly away at me, but recently the process has sped up, and now I'm not only physically tired, but mentally exhausted too. I rest my head in my hands, and let my mind wander into the unknown.

Another cold night, or is it day I've been down here so long I have seemed to have lost track of time, and with the lasting shadow covering me like a thick blanket how is one to tell? How is one to tell- one? Ha, do I even count as one? The concept seems so foreign, as though it now as no meaning, as though I have no meaning. I sit and wait, waiting, waiting for someone to come, for something to happen, it used to keep me going, the thought that I couldn't possibly be alone forever. But now as I wake I no longer wait for those I crave, I no longer fear the empty shadow of my fate, I have finally accepted it. Now I only wait for hunger or cold to claim me, and take me away.

"Danny!" A sudden screaming in my ear disturbs me from… was I sleeping? Oh well, I try to put my head back down. "Danny?" There it is again, that annoying little voice, I guess the only way to make it go away is to answer it.

"What?" I glance up through sleep-hazed eyes, to see that the culprit is none other than Sam.

Her features show a mix of expressions, definitely amusement, but there's something else, maybe a hint of concern. "No sleeping on the job."

My thoughts are instantly disturbed, and now only one emotion shines clearly across her face. I open my mouth to protest, but before I can reply, she scuttles back to her desk. I send her my best 'I-hate-you-so-much-right-now' glare, she just smiles, seemly very pleased she ruined my rest.

These dreams are taking a toll on me, more than I care to admit. This one was familiar, but different at the same time, as though I've been there before, but the thoughts and feelings were new. Then it hits me, is it possible that I'm living through, within my dreams, what my subconscious believes to be the fate of our failed finds? The familiar scenes in my dreams are a continuation of the matching one before, the process of their lives…nah.

Thankfully I make it through work without falling asleep again, I was lucky it was only Sam who caught me, the boss would have been much worse.

Putting my feet up, and lying back on my soft couch, I try to relax, but my mind keeps travelling back to the job. I'm sure my co-workers have noticed my mood change, usually I can wear my mask the whole day, and no one can see through, but lately it's been rubbing thin.

Vivian didn't talk to me again after our earlier discussion, I guess I'm not the only one who feels an obligation to these people, Viv just wears a thicker skin than me, must come with experience; I hope I get mine soon.

I don't know how much longer I can go on like this, that little girls smiling face shining through my mind, making my heart even heaver with guilt. Why does life have to be so cruel? That I live on, while a helpless four-year-old girl finds her end. I can understand her father's hope, his heart won't allow him to see the truth, to feel the cold harsh lash of the real world, but it would be better if he excepted her as gone. For if she is alive, she's more than likely in a place of terror, death is better than knowing she is suffering.

My eyes string with the presence of oncoming tears, we were suppose to save her, I was suppose to save her, Carrie's parents intrusted us to find their daughter, and return her to them safely, and now they'll be lucky to find a body.

Unable to take the images my mind assaults me with; I flick on the T.V, a desperately needed distraction.

As my head clears and fills with the useless information, my eyelids begin to droop. As much as I fear the onslaught of nightmares, which are surely ahead, I can no longer deprive my body of the rest it deeply needs.

"Drip, drip, drip," the sound echoes through my ears. The air is thick with moisture, making breathing difficult. I'm trapped within a net of dark, my own little prison, deadly cold in its castle of rock.

"Splash, tap, tap, squash," the footsteps on the ground are the only substitute for the long absent chatter of voices. In this place all I have is my mind, but it won't be long until that too departs. Morbid thoughts control every action; shadows of death are the only approaching friend, for the end is now a comfort. Unable to take my own live, yet unwilling to continue in this hell, plagued by memories of happier days, times so long ago they barely seem real.

I open my mouth to speak, to throw pointless words to the eternal darkness, just to hear the sound, but no noises emerge. A coughing fit begins, choking, splattering on nothing, but a dry, empty throat, the need for liquid, a burning desire that's never shone brighter.

I feel as though it'll never be over, that I'll be doomed for eternity, lost forever, never to escape. I sit and wait, praying I'll see that light, whether it be from rescue, or death, I do not care, I only wish it would hurry.

I really don't know how I managed to get up this morning, I feel like some kind of zombie, dead on the inside, yet somehow still walking around. It's the dreams, they're getting worse, becoming so vivid, so real, I'm left with the emotions long after I wake. I place myself in the position of these victims; I see through their eyes, their pain becomes my pain, their fear, and their devastation, I feel it all as my own, as if I'd just lived it. It's not normal, the raw emotions from these traumatic experiences are haunting me, my guilt, and my self-hate is torturing me in the form of these people.

I think it's time I did something about it, before it's too late, before I can't turn back...

Yeah, it's weird.I had ideas to add things to it, and make it into a story, but I'll leave it at this for now. So it's probably the end, but maybe not.