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Grim Wolf
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The Very Best
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Raidon stood completely still, and kept his mouth shut, and listened. His body felt tight, tense, unstable--he imagined a volcano struggling towards eruption might feel the same way. Julian had killed, and as it turned out he did have a hero complex; he was standing there with a gun.

One move, that gun could be on Raidon. One move, and all the sins he'd committed would be null and void, because he wouldn't even keep his life as a result.

He relaxed as he listened to the two of them--as he listened to Julian's desperation to make the island an even slightly-more survivable place and Soryu's high-minded, unflappable and utterly certain rhetoric--and wondered idly whether other people on this island were having this conversation. How desperately they were struggling with their choices. It was precisely the abstract character of the argument that struck him--they'd encountered so few people, really. Those few they'd actually dealt with constituted the minority of the island's inhabitants.

But Soryu was right, wasn't she? Cycles of violence. Cycles of vengeance. He'd already engineered some himself.

His name came up. All the potential violence of the moment returned to him, and he went rigid.

"What is a saved life worth?" she asked.

Nothing.

His violence died as swiftly as it had come, and it left no sense of danger behind it; the last shreds of his fear were dispelled when Julian turned to him and asked him, with a politeness that was in no way forced, "What made you decide to save her, Raidon?"

Decide?

Saved lives. Decisions. Foolishness, stupidity, pride, desperation, life. Without his anger, fear, and adrenaline, his words weren't flowing like he wanted them to. He wanted to flabberghast them both, he wanted to make them understand...!

Soryu was looking at him expectantly. Julian was watching him with interest.

We could die at any moment.

"She keeps insisting," Raidon said thoughtfully. "That there are no bad apples. That we are only turning to killing because of the fear of our circumstances. She keeps believing in other people, and she keeps understanding why they do the unforgivable things they do."

Keeps understanding why I do the unforgivable things I do.

A moment of silence. Julian looked taken aback; Soryu had the faintest smile on her face, and the sweetness of it was such that Raidon ached.

"She's wrong, though."

Find the words, make them flow. "Not that the people on this island don't deserve to live," he said quickly. "But about what kind of people they are." He was thinking back to his last encounter with a fellow killer--with Clio Gabriella.

"I ran into Charles Dawson twice," Raidon said. "Once in the Tunnels on the first day we were here, and once..." He trailed off. "When Clio killed him."

And now Clio Gabriella was dead herself. Odd, now that he stopped to think about it.

"He was with Maddy Stone, that time," he added. "Before she tried to kill me. Before I..."

Don't let the words be stopped my memories, by thoughts of the gruesome death he'd inflicted on her--a bullet to each limb, mocking the stigmata, Christ, what had he been-?

"She and Charles had hatched a plan," Raidon said quickly, struggling to force the images from his mind. "They wanted to stop everyone on the island from fighting for a whole day. They wanted us to commit collective suicide." His fists tensed at his sides. "That was what they came up with. That was..."

What was he trying to say? Did he even know? It was nebulous, a Gordian knot in his heart and mind and throat, and the only way to untangle it was to keep picking at it. He'd held his peace; now he had no choice but to speak if he wanted to say anything worth saying.

"People have died by my hand," Raidon said. "Some of them died because I was afraid; others died because they were just as twisted as me. And one...one died because I hurt someone she loved."

Stay honest. This isn't for them, it's for me.

"People are going to keep dying by my hand," Raidon said. "Hopefully not...not as many. Scott..." He forced himself to look into Julian's eyes, saw the other boy stiffen and then straighten out, something hard and dangerous in his gaze. "Scott didn't have to die." He reached for the bloodstained hat on his head, his fingers alighting on the brim, and then retreated back to safety by his waist. "Neither did Alison. And Victoria Logan..."

He trailed off. From the corner of his eye, he saw Soryu's gaze narrow a little--saw the hurt and the mute accusation. Neither of them had spoken yet, though.

"Victoria Logan came after me, and I killed her," he said simply. "But she had every reason to come after me. If there is such a thing as righteousness in a place like this, she had it."

He looked down at his missing finger.

"The things we've lost and cannot regain leave nothing but regret and rage," Raidon said. "And regret and rage are the cornerstones of righteousness."

He stared at his missing finger.

"Loss is inevitable," he said simply. "No matter if we find some way out of this place or not. If Liz Polanski busts us all out, we've still lost over a hundred people. We've consumed ourselves. We'll keep consuming ourselves until we're absolutely sure we don't have to anymore." He paused, then offered Soryu a weak smile. "You're right, in a way," he said. "We're not bad apples. Just desperate ones." He nodded at Julian, then at Soryu, then indicated himself. "Out here, though, there isn't a difference."

His fear had cost two people their lives; his anger had cost the life of a third; his certainty had cost the lives of another two. Innocence was long gone, and God was nothing but a remote asshole who'd built flawed, wretched children and left them to destroy themselves. He'd lost his morality, his God, his finger, and his friend. And in spite of the breadth of it, he had still more to lose.

On this island, where only one person would walk away, and there was no chance of them doing that intact. On this island, everything was loss.

I don't want to leave her.

I don't want her to hate me.

I don't want to be alone again.

I don't want-

I need to survive.


Right.

"She's closer to it than you are, though," he said, jerking his head towards Soryu. "Towards good or...or whatever it is you're looking for."

Julian spoke for the first time. "Good?" he repeated. "People are killing, stopping them is good."

"There isn't any evil in this game, Julian," Raidon said. "Just people trying to do what they think is right. I think she's doing the best job. She's the only one who hasn't betrayed everything she was." He paused, considered his words. "Everything she is."

Do what you think is right.

"Someone's going to get out of here alive," Raidon said. "I'd like very much for that to be me. I don't think I deserve it anymore than you or...or any of the people on this island. But I'm going to try it anyways." He grabbed his bag from where it was and tossed it over her shoulder.

"You mentioned a name," Raidon said. "Maxwell Lombardi."

The name that kept coming up on the Announcements. The name of the of the man who was quite possibly the most dangerous person on this island. The name of the man who had killed Simon Grey.

He slipped his gun into the waistline of his pants. "Much as I want to live," he said. "I have to go put an end to him."

He didn't look at Soryu. He didn't want to think about cycles of vengeance just then. He didn't want to think about the violence she so hated.

"You're not going to kill me now, Julian Avery," he said. "We're going to walk away without hurting each other. You're trying to be a good person and you have a gun and an idealistic idiot like her is going to die without someone like you to protect her, so you're going to take her with you."

He forced his features to remain neutral, as something cried out insdie him.

"Because neither of us is going to make it if we stay together."
Edited by Grim Wolf, Feb 18 2011, 08:33 PM.
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