This time, he's in need of a real vacation. One with sun and sand, one where he can lose himself for a few hours, or even a few days at a time and he's more than excited for it. Hell, he's so desperate for a vacation that he's decided to pay for the rooms of his friends going with him, it makes it easier to get people to come along if they don't have to pay for the most expensive part. They've all separated into their own rooms by the time he arrives in the tropical paradise, and he goes to settle into his own room as well. He slowly unpacks what he needs to, leaves the rest in his suitcase, and settles into the bed, shutting his eyes for a brief moment, the feeling of the warm wind coming through the open windows.

He falls asleep, taking a nap after a long flight from Boston, and he dreams.

He's on a park bench in the middle of the city, a bagged lunch sitting between his legs, as another man sits on the bench next to him. They have small talk, conversation that doesn't exactly matter until the other man asks if he knows him. Joe laughs, a light chuckle, as if he was needing of that laugh and jokes "Oh, I'm just here to fight you to the death." He clarifies that he's seen the other man, the stranger around before. That they both seemed to be looking for this place, a place where it's peaceful and quiet. He reaches in and pulls out some bread, tossing it to the birds who are at his feet. Joe knows he's been coming here a while, to feed the birds, to try to feel at peace with himself.

The other man is talking about how he isn't sure why he comes here, and Joe pulls out a gun, looking at it in his hands. The other man bristles, putting up his hands in protest, and Joe shakes his head. This gun isn't for this man sitting next to him. "I came here to this place to use it on myself. I had it in my mouth...sometimes when I smile...when I smile I can still taste the metal. But then it struck me how quiet this spot was. How..." Joe stops for a moment, looking still at the gun, knowing the other man is just sitting there, listening to him. "Like a gun couldn't be fired here, you know? Like it was the one place in the city where a gun shouldn't and couldn't go off. So, I started coming here, day by day." He talks about how this one little act, of coming to the park, deciding to not disturb the peace, how it ended up turning his life around. How he's happy. But Joe tells the other man, who is looking more and more familiar, that he looks haunted. Joe tells the man, "Don't become who you were before," and it feels so familiar to him but he can't place why. As if he might have had this conversation before.

This place feels familiar, and yet like he's never been here before. The man next to him is talking, but Joe isn't really listening, lost in his own world as he stands up and walks towards the lake, holding the gun in his hand as he does so. He can hear the birds flock over to the bagged lunch that he's brought, and he can hear them slightly fighting over what was left in the bag. It's just bread and an apple, simple things he didn't mind sharing with the birds. Simple things as if it's the easiest thing in the world to just decide to turn your life around and be happy. It's not. There's something holding him back, and he knows it. There's something that's tugging at him.

He reaches the edge of the lake, his feet firmly on the ground, and he hears the other man walk down the small hill to stand behind him, continuing their conversation. Joe doesn't look back, he looks forward at the sun setting. At the peaceful water in front of him. "We just make the most of what we have, and it carries forward. We were here. And that's enough. So, even if it goes away, or goes back to something ugly...maybe that's okay." Joe doesn't know why those words have come out of his mouth, and they leave a weird taste in his mouth, almost copper as if he was tasting blood. Something isn't right. He sighs deeply, the fresh air filling his lungs, as he lifts the gun with both hands and rests the tip of the barrel on his chin. "Then again..." He says thoughtfully, and slowly blinks, his bright green eyes closing for a moment, "We could both just quit while we're ahead," and places the barrel under his chin, inhaling before he chuckles, and he hears the protest of the man behind him, and is about to pull the trigger when he hears a loud boom and turns to look behind him.

It's then that he recognizes the man. It's Bennett, but not quite. As Bennett goes running off, Joe looks at his reflection in the water, his bright green eyes staring back at him, his hands gloved, a purple flower on his suit jacket. but something is wrong. Something is wrong with how he looks.

His eyes are blue, not green.
Joe shoots up from his bed, transported out of his dream and back to the Bahamas, where the sun is still shining bright, the breeze is still warm and calming. He runs a hand over his face, before his hand slips to rest over his heart, feeling the constant pounding of his heart, the pace having picked up from waking up so suddenly. He closes his eyes and opens them a few times, taking in his surroundings. He checks the time, to realize that only two hours have passed, not two days and he takes comfort in that. So it was just a nap. With a strange dream.

But, he knows what the dream was. He wasn't really himself. He was him, but in a very strange moment in his life. Not quite remembering who he was, and for that brief time he was at peace. A strange peace that Joe also wanted, and it felt strange to know that at some point, both sides of him had apparently wanted the same thing.

It takes a while, but Joe finally gets out of the bed. He goes into the shower, to wash off the day of travel and get himself situated into what his life will be like for the next week and a half. Vacation. Relaxation. Taking time to think about what he needs, and what he wants, and what his motivations can be. He takes a long time in the shower, and by the time he exits the shower the bathroom has filled with steam. He grabs a towel and wraps it around his waist as he goes to the sink and mirror to clean up his beard, simple things.

So he takes a nearby towel and uses it to wipe the fog off the mirror, leaning a little forward over the sink as he does so, and it's when the mirror is clear of fog that he can see himself clearly. He looks the same. Nothing has changed. His skin isn't ivory white. His hair isn't green. He has no scars on his face. He's not thinner. He does these little checks, to make sure that he's still just Joe, and it helps to keep his sanity. But on a hunch, on a bad feeling that starts to creep over himself, he looks in the mirror and looks himself in the eyes.

In the eyes that should be a bright blue.

Instead, he sees a vibrant bright green, almost unnatural in their color, looking back at him. He closes his eyes and rubs at them, as if thinking maybe he's seeing something. He tries to flush out his eyes with water, thinking maybe they got infected somehow, as if that changes the color of eyes. He even tries to see if there are contacts in, even though he doesn't wear them.

The color stays green.

With his hands on either side of the sink, Joe hangs his head low and closes his eyes. "Fuck."