He could see in his mind, what was probably going to be inevitable. He didn't want to see it, but part of him honestly believed there could only be one outcome for this whole nightmare. He wasn't ready to believe completely there wasn't another way, because he just didn't give up that easily. He'd fight until there was no other option and pray that if and when that time came, there'd still be enough of himself left to do what needed to be done.
Every Monday that rolled around the last few weeks had made him feel more helpless, more desperate. He barely remembered the other days of the week anymore. They all blurred together. Whether it was from the lack of sleep or the stress, he didn't know. Probably both. He hated that Lydia had to live like that, too, because of him. He knew that his leaving wouldn't even relieve her of that. It would just make her safer physically. From him.
Never in a million years would he have thought he'd have to make this kind of decision. Part of him wondered if it was all just part of a dream. Maybe when he'd crashed his jeep that night after the sacrifice, he'd slipped into a coma and none of this was real at all. He had to resist the urge to count his fingers when the kiss ended. He needed to be strong here. He'd told her once that if she died, he'd lose his freakin' mind. If she died at his hands? There would be no coming back from that. Not ever. He wouldn't even try.
"I know," he whispered, keeping his eyes squeezed shut. He pressed a tender kiss to her cheek, letting his lips linger there for a few seconds longer than necessary. He couldn't tell her that everything was going to be okay. She wouldn't believe him anymore than he believed it. He swallowed hard, feeling sick. He didn't want to leave her anymore than she wanted him to go, but he had to. And he had to do it soon before he either let her talk him out of it, or before he managed to talk himself out of it.
The image of her falling on the lacrosse field all those months ago when Peter attacked her flashed through his mind and he shuddered, pulling away from her. As bad as that had been, as terrified as it had made him, the idea that he would do something worse to her, was more than he could stomach. "I love you."