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He woke to a fire in his eyes and in his head. The fire in his eyes was quickly explained by the light pouring in through the curtainless window. The fire bursting forth through his head took longer to place, and only as he fully rose from his fitful slumber did he realize it for what it was - another migraine.

With a grunt, Daniel groped blindly above his head and grabbed the first available pillow he touched. The 800 thread count Egyptian cotton fabric felt rough against his eyelids as he closed his eyes and brought the pillow down atop his face to block out the sunlight. He wondered for the hundredth time what had become of the curtains that had once undoubtedly covered the large windows that ran floor to ceiling on the short wall parallel to the bed.

Aspirin. Tylenol. Ibuprofen. Each was essential when he felt a migraine coming along. Unfortunately, each was also a rare commodity around these parts these days, and he had no idea where to begin to try to borrow some. Perhaps from Anna, he thought before his mind went blank to make room for the expanding pain. When he could muster the strength to think once more, he realized that even if Anna still had any of those pills left, she would not be sharing her stash with the likes of him.

William was out of the question immediately. Daniel would sooner blow his brains out than admit to any sort of weakness to him, or dependence as William would put it. If the knowledge of his migraines made their way to William, there was no telling the change in division of labor that would occur, and the only thing that kept Daniel from going stir crazy, apart from the debilitating migraines, was keeping busy in a world where there appeared less and less to do with every waking day.

Finally, a viable name popped into his head, and he blamed his pounding headache as the reason why he hadn’t thought of it sooner. Not only did he know for a fact that Sebastian had a habit of having on hand things hard to come by, but Daniel knew that of all the residents, Sebastian was the most likely to let him borrow a few. So long as it would not put Lenore at risk.

Now that a solution had formed, he had to find the strength to force himself from the comfort of the bed to put the plan into action. This step took twice as long as the previous. It felt as if half the day had passed by the time he summoned enough will power to propel himself from the bed.

With the current state of his laundry, he didn’t bother dressing to occasions anymore. The outfit he wore to bed was the outfit he wore to assignment, which just happened to be the same outfit he wore during his leisure time. The only difference was the added pair of ratty sneakers he added to the poor ensemble when he worked which he didn’t need the rest of the day. He disregarded them now as he picked up his discarded wife beater he didn’t remember taking off during the night, but imagined he must have as it sat on the floor by the bed.

Head pounding, Daniel was suddenly thankful for the compact design of the building. It only took a few strides of his long legs to carry him from the bedroom to the front door of the apartment. Once he reached the hallway it was only a matter of making it down the hallway to Sebastian’s corner unit. Five doors down the hallway, typically a breeze, took a more effort from Daniel than usual as he felt the blood pounding in his face and neck. The hallway seemed to narrow before him as he hunkered down and made the short trek. By the time he reached their door and knocked, a light sheen of sweat threatened to break across his face.

Daniel was just raising his fist to knock a second time when he heard the lock shift and the door opened in towards Sebastian. His unscheduled arrival clearly threw Sebastian off his guard for a moment, but he recovered quickly as he greeted Daniel. Uneasy talking about what could be taken as contraband by some in the group, Daniel tilted his head towards the entryway behind Sebastian, “Mind if I come in?”

Sebastian hesitated, so he added, “It will only take a second.” Sebastian took a few steps back and to the side, and Daniel entered the cramped entryway and hurriedly shut the door behind him. “I have a favor, though I realize it may be out of place to ask. But I didn’t know who else I could honestly trust and who might help, and at this point I do believe I am desperate. Do you have any pain killers I could borrow? I just need one or two and I can return them once we get the next supply in. But my migraines have started up again, and I am ready to take a drill to my temple to release the pressure.”

Daniel knew that Sebastian was likely to be his best bet, but Sebastian’s quick response still threw him for a bit of a loop. “Yeah, sure man. Wait right here.” Sebastian ducked down the miniature hallway and turned right into the bathroom. Left alone to wait, Daniel spent the time closing his eyes and focusing on his breathing.

He could hear Sebastian rooting around in the cabinet or under the sink. Bottles clinked together and pills rattled in their plastic containers. Daniel had to wonder just how many different bottles of pills Sebastian had stored up in case of an emergency. It was not a question he dared to ask, especially not when Sebastian was so willingly agreeing to help him out.

Sebastian returned a minute later with two small, round red pills in hand. He handed them over to Daniel without hesitation. “Just be careful taking these on an empty stomach,” he cautioned, though they both knew that it had been a long while since any of them had had a full one. Daniel had to rack his brain to think when the last time he had eaten was, but if the past few months hadn’t killed him, he doubted two little pills of ibuprofen would. And if they wanted to try, well then at this point he welcomed the challenge.

“Appreciate it, man,” Daniel thanked him.

Sebastian nodded and threw in a brief, “Of course.” Then he paused for a moment and added, “Lenore left a little while ago to go get some water. I bet she’s still up there, if you need water to swallow the pills.”

It was a safe bet for Sebastian to guess that Daniel’s own supply of water was dwindling dangerously low, and he was not wrong.

“Copy that. Thanks again.”

With nothing left to be said, Daniel opened the door and exited quickly. Sebastian followed with a quick, “See you later,” before he shut the door. Daniel heard the lock click into place as he headed to the stairwell, and he couldn’t help but see the irony in the door locking. But then again, he ventured to guess, old habits do die hard.

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