"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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dmboogie
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A Delicate Machine
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Cass quietly watched the storm die down around them, knowing they'd already done too much. Crossed their arms, gripped them too tightly in an effort to stop their trembling. Mostly, it just hurt. That didn't stop them. They had seen the way that Trav looked at them before he had argued against Vanessa, knew the pity he had to be feeling for them, knew they didn't deserve any of it.

Their feelings weren't any more deep or valid or intense than what anyone else's on the rooftop; or anyone else's in the island-wide-morgue, period. Cass had just flinched first, hadn't been strong enough to keep everything safely bottled up where it wouldn't affect anyone else, wouldn't make them worry. Wouldn't interrupt Vanessa perfectly justifiable ranting, wouldn't force her to apologize when she had done nothing wrong. It was too late to take any of it back now, though, Jae and Vanessa were already leaving; driven from a safe haven back into a universe of unfriendly eyes and sudden ends. Whatever happened to them next, it'd be Cass's fault, all because they couldn't have just bit their tongue for one goddamn minute.

Vanessa's farewell was too gracious, too forgiving. Cass wished they could have responded, but their veins were ice and their hands were still shaking even now that they were leaving marks on their arms and they did not trust themself in the slightest to speak and be redeemed, to taint the air with their ill-thought words that would betray a new quiver in their pathetic voice, on the verge of tears for no discernible or sane or rational reason, not when everyone else had it together, not when everyone else was strong, always stronger than them, how could it ever be different, why would it, now, why would the introduction of death to their environment change or free Cass in any way or give them any strength at all beyond the manic flailing of a brain firing off neurons during its last moments?

Years of familiar self-hatred passed through Cass's mind in minutes. They inhaled. Exhaled. Unclenched their hands, winced a bit at the pain. It was quiet, now, at least. They felt a bit silly. Everything they thought had been a familiar truth. No need for dramatics, no need to stress out over what was already known.

Cass glanced in Trav's direction, still unwilling to look at his eyes. Was scared to see themself reflected in them. "...So. What now?"
a tribute for the dead and dying

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Five Finger Death Punch · The Rooftop