How do you sleep at night, asshole?

It isn't an unusual question. It isn't even an original question. More than once, some do-good district attorney or intrepid reporter type has spat the inquiry in his face; usually on the steps of the courthouse or the deli just around the corner where bailiffs, judges and jurors nosh on bagels and funnel coffee between cases and watch without interest as he stands and receives his curbside judgement. They probably think he deserves it and they wouldn't be wrong.

For his part, Elliot's answer is usually the same.

"How do I sleep at night? Easy. Organic suvin 600 thread count sheets."

If the response makes him an asshole (which it does), so be it. Far be it from him to correct the assumption that he's heartless, hard-hearted or any other euphemism for lacking in compassion that you like. His discernment and seeming cruelty has won him his fortune, after all, and secured the lifestyle that ensures his mother's comfort and, in some small part, even his own. He isn't paid to be compassionate. He's paid to win.

Sleep evades Elliot of late, however. Even he is not immune to insomnia. Adrift in those expensive organic sheets, he is restless and his thoughts a torrent, one toppling over the other, each more abstract than the one before: Vibrant green eyes peering back at him from beneath heavy lashes. The despondent faces of countless victims on the other side of the aisle, their lives in shambles with the crash of a gavel. More recently, the absurdities of the present. The styrofoam and plywood oddity in his garage. Chicken scratch in a battered binder labeled "Sunnydale High School: Property of Captain Shithead". The lingering taste of peppermint, sticky and sweet.

Groaning into his pillow, Elliot rolls onto his back and huffs a sigh, willing his mind to settle and succumb to the creeping dark of what he hopes will be a depthless, dreamless slumber. And in his slumber, he is transported.

The house stands just as it had when he was a child: modest if not altogether a touch too quaint for his father's taste, paint chipping, shutters fading, shrubbery overgrown. His mother's prized seasonal wreath hangs on the front door but all the little various trinkets and baubles which she'd fixed therein to mark the holidays are missing. Distantly, he tries to remember the last time he saw the tacky thing. Had it been that last Christmas in this house before they moved to Chicago to live with his uncle Thomas? Or had it been Thanksgiving, or perhaps earlier in October; just around the time his father opened his wrists in the narrow bathroom beneath the stairs.

Elliot knows the blueprint of the home blindfolded. He doesn't need to cross the threshold to know it's every corner intimately, but he's passing into the home just the same. Too late he realizes he's already standing in the living room. The fading cream-colored carpet wears an ochre hue, tinted bloody by the setting sun. The fading daylight is hardly so warm as it's gloomy; a portent of things to come? Panic seizes him then with the belated realization of his surroundings. He is not simply returned to his childhood home but to the very afternoon when he'd stepped off the bus from school and discovered his father in the bathtub. The sound of a dripping faucet invites his curiosity, and his surroundings shift.

He stands in the hallway.

The carpet beneath his feet is damp. There is no sound in the home save for the steady drip drip drip of the faucet behind the door ... like a telltale heart beat beneath floorboards. He reaches as if by some will which is not his own with an arm that seems too long, too boneless, to open the door. The tub is empty, bone dry save for the occasional droplet of water pinging lightly against the drain. Drip drip drip.

"Who were you expecting, Wayne? Dear old dad?"

The sound of the man's voice takes him by surprise, not for it's familiarity but rather it's air of seeming ease with all things considered. Dennis Crawford stares back at him from the hallway, blocking the door. Dressed in the threadbare suit Elliot'd last seen him in, the attorney appears far more intimidating in the landscape of his dreams than he could ever hope to in reality. Short and rotund by his own recall, Dennis seems broader somehow, more imposing... sinister. His smile does not reach his eyes when he leans against the doorjam and crosses his legs at his ankles, as unnerving a presence in this place as the absence of his father's pale corpse.

"Sorry, pal," he says, affecting a pout. "It's just you and me." His bushy brows arch over black eyes. Elliot doesn't remember Crawford having black eyes. In fact, he remembers very little about him at all save for that he'd effectively castrated him in and out of the courtroom, unearthing his secrets with Elise's aid. The man seems to remember this, too; all this and more and there's a certain twinkle in his shark eyes.

"Actually," he chirps, straightening. He fills the doorway now, broader than before. "You and me and the dead kid makes three."

Elliot has not noticed how the water around his ankles is rising. He does not see how the tub has filled to brimming, or that the body of a young man floats near its surface. Turning, he wades to the edge of the tub, peering down into the murky water. He does not know this man and yet something in his face seems familiar. His milky eyes are wide, and unseeing. He is missing a boot; the bare foot is purple. The flesh on his arms seems to float, almost dripping. His lips are locked in a wide, terrifying smile. The cause of death is unclear but Elliot knows that he is dead just the same, smile or no. The same way he knew his father was dead.

"Who is he?" he hears himself ask.

"You don't recognize him?" Dennis laughs at that, a laugh that sends a chill down Elliot's spine. "No, of course you wouldn't," he continues. "He's just another one of the countless lives you've ruined, same as your father. Same as me. You never saw me. You never cared enough to see me. Why would you see him?"

"I don't know him," Elliot snaps.

"Look closer," he suggests with a flippant, dismissive gesture - as if there isn't a corpse in the bathtub. "And really see."

Elliot looks. Elliot sees and what he sees makes him stagger back, the water nearly to his knees now. The cracking linoleum beneath his feet affords little traction. He fumbles blindly for the toilet seat, catching himself as the water rises and rises and rises and the body in the bathtub oozes over the edge, grinning that terrible grin, seeing without seeing. Atop a crest of a wave, Elliot sees what he had not seen before: the tattered jumper. The R displayed proudly at the chest, just above the heart. Trapped between the rising water and the man who fills the doorway, he has no choice but to brace for impact as the young man's body floats towards him; a piece of driftwood nearing a cliff's edge.

Somewhere behind him, Dennis opens his mouth wide to drain the bathwater from the room. It churns a whirlpool around him, locking him in a spin. The boy still smiles like he's just seen an old friend. Or, perhaps, something good to eat. Dennis' voice is in his mind now, thundering in his skull as he circles the drain that is his mouth once, then twice.

"This is going to hurt you a lot more than it does me, Bruce."

Elliot is reaching for the boy when the darkness comes.