Lexi stumbled out into the hallway, catching the rim of the full-length mirror hanging from the wall as he passed, dragging himself to stand in front of it. Through the mirror, the clock on the wall indicated it was 1am, but the time wasn't what Lexi was looking at. He appraised himself in the mirror, his teary eyes filled with nothing but sadness, the ones in the mirror glowing with hatred, both gazing into each other over and over. His face contorted and fury and anguish, and he gripped the sides of the mirror tightly, as if planning to rip it from the wall and break it. But no, he couldn't. He couldn't make a sound, lest he wake the girl in his room up.

Storming into the living room, hammering the light switch, closing the windowed door behind him, one of the panes of which was cracked from an earlier episode – yes, this had happened before – he picked up a pile of plain white paper and hurled it across the room, watching the sheets fly everywhere like a blizzard. Lexi caught sight of himself in the dark window opposite, and looked despairingly into it. He wanted to hurl something through it, break the image – no, break himself – get rid of the thing that pained him. He controlled himself with his entire force of will, and slumped sideways onto the sofa.

Staring at nothing in particular, just a spot under the table, Lexi's mind wandered. How easy it would be if he could just slide a knife under the parts of himself that disgusted him so, and remove them. How easy it would be if pills fixed everything, if there was a medication for this… disease. How he wanted to let this insanity consume him, and tear him apart, so he didn't have to feel this anymore. Images of that last act floated in front of his glazed, damp eyes. But, no, this all had to be kept on the inside. The perfect picture of disconnectedness had to be maintained. Emotion - the release of it, at least – was weakness. No, the mask couldn't slip. Nobody could know how bad it was. Of course they had an idea, but, they never knew it was this deeply painful.

He sat up as if a jolt of electricity had run through him. Sleep tugged at his eyelids, dragging him towards the inky blackness at the back of his mind. Gathering up the papers from the floor, he returned them to the table. He walked out of the room, pausing to flick the light switch off once again. Keeping his eyes fixed on the floor in the sudden darkness, Lexi felt his way back down the hallway to his room. Silently, he crept over to the bed, where a girl slumbered yet, her red hair fanning all over the pillows. He silently de-clothed himself, hurling the garments at the window. Turning back to the figure in his bed, he trailed a finger down her thigh, and she moved, creating space. Lexi brushed a final tear from his eye, the last one to fall tonight, and settled down, arm thrown over the girl, stealing the warmth from her body. Thank god the night was over. Thank god for sleep. Thank god for… Escape…

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Morning slashed through a crack in the curtains, alighting on Lexi's skin, sending a line of light across his eye, over the body intertwined with blankets, the body Lexi couldn't bring himself to look at. He opened his eyes slightly, cringing at the bright light in contrast to the blackness of his dreams. He snatched the blankets around himself, covering himself up and laying on his back. The girl opening the curtains merely raised an eyebrow.

"It's nothing I haven't seen before."

"I don't care. The world doesn't need it."

"I disagree," Jess countered, "But I know how you are…"

She sighed, and reached down, pressing the power button of the computer. Lexi turned onto his side and closed his eyes, but something soft hit him in the head and he sat up. He threw the pants back at Jess, who caught them and tossed them onto the floor.

"What was that for?" he asked.

"No going back to sleep. We're going shopping, remember? Get ready."

"Oh hell." Lexi gathered the bed sheets around himself like a bizarre toga, and loped sleepily from the room. He crashed into the bathroom, not bothering to open the door, just walking right into it. Kicking it shut behind him, he reached aside to turn the shower on, letting the sheets fall. Drawing aside the curtain further, he stepped into the bathtub, the bottom of which was, by now, wet and slippery. Lexi got himself decent footing, and turned to close the shower curtains. As he did so, he caught a glimpse of himself in the bathroom mirror. His body. Lexi's eyes narrowed for an instant, and he wrenched the curtains closed with unnecessary force, causing the wet, plasticky fabric to billow and stick to his leg. He kicked it away irritably and turned into the warm spray of water. Would he ever be free of this, he wondered? Doubtful. He ran a hand through his jet black and rainbow hair, water running in rivulets down his body. Still, you had to try and look good. Smoke and mirrors, and all that.

Fifteen minutes later, Lexi emerged, looking not so much like a seventeen year old boy as a pile of walking towels. He walked down the hallway scrubbing at his hair with a plum purple one, eventually throwing it onto his bed to reveal a sham of a hairstyle that pointed in every direction. He felt it all sticking up and the corners of his mouth twitched. Opening his wardrobe, Lexi selected a pair of blue jeans and a black, pinstriped shirt, threw them onto the bed, and marched into the next room, returning with bright blue underwear shorts with palm trees on them, and two pairs of socks. He took one black sock, and one pink sock, and put them on, throwing the spares aside. Jess looked at him, raising an eyebrow.

"What?" he questioned, "What's wrong with this?"

She didn't answer, only smiled. Lexi finished dressing, exiting the room to work on his hair. Black, with rainbow stripes in it, it attracted a lot of attention. Not all positive, mind, but at least it was something to be happy with. Something. But of course he never caught the admiring glances, always suspected the worst from all the stares. He ignored Jess's assertions that there were people looking in a positive light at him. As far as he was concerned, he was grotesque. He even had a shirt proclaiming so. The world laughed at him behind his back. He was sure of it.

Once his hair was delicately spiked into an aureole framing his head, fringe swept into place covering his left eyes, he pulled on his shoes and stood leaning casually against the wall in the hallway. Jess emerged from his room, smiling, dressed, ready to go. Lexi glanced at the clock through the mirror, averting his gaze from his own visage.

"Any minute." She stated. Lexi nodded mutely. A couple more seconds ticked by in silence, broken by the crunch of gravel and the rapping of knuckles on glass. Lexi turned sharply and strode two steps to the door, turned the key and wrenched it open. A tall, blonde boy was framed in the doorway. He smiled.

"Morning, Lexicat."