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Burn On; Open
Topic Started: Jun 15 2011, 12:39 AM (6,248 Views)
ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
[[Erik Laurin continued from Pull My Daisy, Tip My Cup))

Oxygen burned like fire in Erik's lungs as he crouched at the summit of the mountain. His breath came in great heaving gasps; whatever semblance of control he'd had over the slide of air in and out of his body long since stripped away by the climb. He braced his palms on his thighs and concentrated on the ground in front of him, dimly aware that he felt like vomiting, more occupied by the desperate need for air.

He'd been running for what felt like forever. Originally he had planned to search the island in grids, slow and methodical in his search for Brendan. He'd gotten fairly far as well - still dodging any action, but not before scoping it from the trees just in case that was where his quarry lay. But then there had come the escape and he'd hauled ass, running until his legs gave way and pitched him into the trees and even then he got up and staggered on because that was where Brendan was, he knew it, it had to be, it all made sense...

He'd been right, of course.

Not that it had helped. He arrived too late. Too slow. Far too slow. And now Brendan was dead. His firm grasp on the newfound feeling of serenity had slipped and fractured and now he clung to it with all he had, because if he stopped to think about Brendan dead he would start to think about blood and bodies and seabirds pecking open eyes and then, then he wouldn't be able to think anymore and this time he wasn't sure he'd be able to stop himself from taking that long slow dive from the edge of the sweet-salt cliffs.

So instead, he ran.

Most of the time he kept it slow. He lost himself in the steady repeating rhythm of footfalls, of trying to predict the terrain below his battered sneakers. He settled into the floating ocean of calm (or tried and tried and tried) and made himself measure each length until he was like clockwork with his steady long-distance pace.

But sometimes it failed. It had failed at the base of the mountain and he punished himself with the fire in his calves and thighs, made himself run harder and faster and more because maybe this time he would be fast enough and there would be bright eyes and big hands waiting for him and he would be okay and he wouldn't have fucked up so bad if he just ran a little faster.

All it got him was agonizing cramps and black spots swimming in his vision, though. He remained bent over and gasping until the worst of the nausea had faded and it didn't feel quite as much like he was drowning on dry land. He didn't both looking up, still concentrating on the frantic beat of his pulse, trying to use it like a mantra; the steady drum-beat of not dead yet.

Not. Dead. Yet.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
He jerked hard when she first spoke, almost losing his balance in the sudden shock of voices. It had been so long since someone had addressed him directly that he almost felt like the hapless straight man in a comedy routine; who, me? But of course there was no one else on the top of the scrubby mountain. Just himself and -- Kimberly, it was. He let a surprised smile cross his face. That wasn't bad. Kimberly was. Well. They'd never been close but he knew her and he thought, he thought maybe that would be okay. At the very least she probably wasn't going to try and shoot him.

He took in a long gulp of air and exhaled until it hurt, pushing each and every scrap of panic away from him. Old techniques therapists had taught him, how to school the mind and body into believing that everything was going to be alright. Denial doesn't work in the long term but oh, oh it is sweet in the short.

Another breath and he was ready. He straightened, limping a step forwards on feet which had finally given up and sprouted painful blisters under the rough canvas of his shoes. "Erik." His own voice sounded hoarse and strange in his ears and he grimaced, clearing his throat. Had it been that long alone?

"Laurin. The gay track guy or whatever. Not playing." He leaned his hands on the bench when he got there, not sitting yet but merely propping up his weight as he stretched a leg behind him. "Bit of a rarity these days."

The attempt at humor sounded sad even to him, and he closed his eyes for a moment, concentrating on the serenity he knew was floating somewhere in the chaos. You re-entered the game, Laurin. You've gotta play by its rules now.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
The bench was small enough that Erik was folded almost double with his elbows propped on the back, chin resting in his hands. He watched Kimberly through half-closed eyes, oddly fascinated with the conversation. It felt so -- calm. Relaxed. Another brief oasis of calm. He hadn't realized how much he'd missed just being able to speak with someone.

Even if it wasn't under the best of circumstances. He chose to ignore the first question because how did you answer that? Oh, not bad. Stuck on an island with a whole bunch of trigger-happy murderers as dead classmates but hey, I think I got a tan! Answering it in a socially polite way would feel ridiculous. He focused on the second half instead. "Hartmann? Yeah. A couple days back, I guess." He absent-mindedly swiped a lock of dirty blonde hair out of his face. "Didn't stop for a chat. Kinda like my blood where it is."

Even as he said it he winced internally. Gallows humor had an uncomfortable habit of becoming real here. "She the one," pausing to gesture at the swathe of slightly dirty bandage covering her arm, "who winged you?"

He didn't quite look at the match in her hand. Everyone had their coping strategies. No sense drawing attention to it, and no point doing so either. Abruptly straightening his back, he swung around to the front of the bench and sat, stretching long legs out in front of him and tugging on a stray thread coming loose from the ragged holes over his knees. His shoulders hunched into the familiar half-hiding position, every physical movement designed to minimize his height. He hadn't been as self-conscious with Brendan.

But then, that didn't matter now. The past was the past and it was going to stay there until he got off this godforsaken island and found a hole to crawl into and just scream. Brendan wasn't important. Kimberly was in the here-and-now (made him think of Kimkim back home smiling but that was in the past too) and he had to stay here with her if he didn't want to get swept off his feet.

Conversation was good for that. Probably the only thing that was. He indicated her arm again. "Should keep an eye on that. Apparently coastal rainforest isn't actually sterile."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Erik mostly stared at her when she first started laughing, but it was contagious and soon enough he was laughing as well, muffling his snorts of amusement in his hands, trying not to make too much noise but the absurdity of being stealthy on a mountaintop making him laugh all the harder. When their mirth eventually died down he was sitting a little taller, inexplicably more comfortable than he had been only minutes before.

He kept silent as she talked, though, eyes dark. His fingers pulled busily at the loops of string encircling his wrists, testing their strength, smoothing the abused fibers back into some semblance of normality. It sounded so strange. So alien. Someone had shot her, had pointed a gun and pulled the trigger. He couldn't seem to imagine it properly in his head without it looking like a scene from a movie -- without it being a scene from a movie, two-dimensional figures who didn't laugh unless it was photogenic or cry unless it was a single perfect tear.

He let the moment hang as she finished talking, bobbing his head once in a nod of acknowledgement. What to say? Hell, what could you say to that? It had taken him uncomfortably long to realize that she was talking about killing Kris, and longer still for him to admit that the thought didn't repulse him as much as he thought. Where had his old morals gone, the crippling fear of death and dying that had hung over him since his mother's cancer? It seemed like the island had devoured them.

It had been longer in his mind than in the world. Eons lost in thought translated to seconds, and he shook his head, lifting it to catch her eyes. "Feel like I oughtta try and talk you out of that, but." The smile twisted for a moment, something awkward and a little confused. "Hell, after the shit she's done maybe it's not such a bad thing."

Had he ever thought like that before? Even when he fought at school, he'd never felt like it wasn't a bad thing. A necessary evil, that's what it had been. Was that what this was? Killing couldn't be right, he knew it wasn't, but someone he didn't think this battered girl in front of him, steel to the core, was going to want to hold hands and talk it out in a sharing circle.

His shoulders twitched in half a shrug. "I'm sorry, though. Must've fucking sucked." Should have sounded patronizing but didn't because hell, he meant it. Sincere. That's what people said. An open book. "Give Kris one hell of a kick from me when you find her."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Erik's breath caught. Just for a moment. His fingers clenched briefly in his lap and he glanced away, focusing on the distant treeline. "Yeah." His voice was rough again. He hated that. "I guess 'got away' is one way to put it." His gaze was flicking around, searching around for something to occupy his attention. Fuck. He'd gone this long without thinking about it too.

He needed a distraction. He turned back to Kimberly in one fluid motion, angling his body towards her and realizing only at the last minute that his height and weight would probably make the gesture look threatening. Swaying back slightly, he reached out. Tried to ignore the way his fingers shook slightly.

"Here." He cleared his voice, and the next time he spoke it was steadier. He'd always been a little better when he was busy, when he had something to do. "Let me see that. Don't want an infection throwing your aim off when you get Kris in your sights." Part of him squirmed in guilty anguish at the words coming out of his mouth, at the fact that he was actually helping someone to kill someone else - but another part painted blank denial overtop so he could cling to the goodness that was helping to keep someone safe once again.

"I've just - I've only got my first aid, but I've got like a million siblings and they all had this thing with tripping and scraping themselves up. It's probably a little grosser than a scrape but fundamentally it's all kind of the same thing, right?"

He was talking too much. He made an effort to close his mouth, dropping his hand back into his lap and staring awkwardly at the stained and damaged leather cuff. Words just kept bubbling up, frantic after being shut inside for so long, and he swallowed them back with difficulty. "Uh, sorry. Not trying to - I mean, I don't wanna be - ah, fuck." His cheeks felt like Kimberly could probably use them to read in the dark. "It's been a while."

Another abortive movement of his hand. "Since...since people, I guess."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
As he slowly begun to unravel the bandage, trying to be as careful as possible to avoid hurting Kimberly, Erik felt the first tendrils of relaxation beginning to spread through him. This was okay. Or it was -- it was as close to okay as anything got, these days, but it wasn't fighting or crying or talking about what he couldn't talk about so that was pretty good. His hands were steadier.

"Lots of crazy going around these days. Kinda makes you wonder if you'd even notice, y'know? Like if I slipped off the deep end, how the hell would I know?" He peeled the last section of the makeshift dressing away, revealing the messily sewn wound. It was red and swollen along the suture marks, but at least it didn't seem to have a bad smell or be oozing anything other than clear lymph and the occasional brighter red of fresh blood. "Maybe I'd get lucky and go like Liz." Or maybe, he thought idly, he was already there. They said insanity was doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Wasn't that just an extension of his running?

He sat back, belatedly realizing that his hands weren't clean. "You got a first-aid kit on you? I lost my stuff a while back, but I can clean this up pretty good with just the basics. And some -- I guess you wouldn't have hand sanitizer?" The thought seemed absurd. An image flashed through his head of one of the big names delicately washing blood off their hands with rose-scented hand sani. Ridiculous. "Alcohol, maybe. Don't wanna make it any worse with whatever shit I've got on my hands."

The thought of her pack immediately sparked another reaction. His stomach growled softly as Erik abruptly realized that it must have been coming up on a day now since he'd eaten. He'd drunk at a small stream earlier in the day, but now his body was desperate for nutrients and his mouth felt dry with the talking.

First things first, then. He'd clean her up and then scrounge around for some foood...he'd seen abandoned packs lying around, and even if he couldn't find one there had to be...berries or something, right? He'd seen people on TV eat bugs before. There'd be something.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Erik paused midway through washing his hands, long fingers hesitating as they moved over each other. He didn't look at her as he spoke, focusing on his simple task instead, but his tone was steady and sincere. "I don't think it's so crazy. I think -- I think it'd be more crazy if you didn't want to hurt her." He shrugged a shoulder, going back into what remained of the first aid supplies. The gloves were purple latex and wouldn't fit, not a chance. He ignored them. "You seem pretty normal to me. But I guess normal's relative right now. I mean, you're not actively trying to blow my head off or talking with an invisible friend, so on the scale of things wanting bloody revenge is pretty okay in my books."

There sure wasn't much left in the makeshift first aid kit. Erik eyed the bandaids dubiously, sifting through the meager contents until he was eventually able to locate an almost-empty tube of Polysporin and a couple of alcohol wipes. Had to be better than nothing, right?

"This is probably gonna sting like a bitch. You can punch me if it really makes you feel better, I guess." The same words he'd used on his brothers and sisters through all of their injuries, both minor and major. Kimber had actually slugged him a good one more than once, including a memorable occasion when a bagel-slicing incident landed her in the ER for stitches and the poor nurse had almost called security after Kim threw a gorgeous right hook into Erik's face. Pinning his tongue between his teeth, he bent over the wound and began swabbing it with the alcohol-soaked towelette, gently at first but increasing slightly in pressure as he tried to make sure the entire area was completely clean. Throwing the dirty wipe over his shoulder -- he usually felt bad about littering but it wasn't really the priority at the moment -- he tore open the next one and continued to clean the wound.

"I don't really want to put Band-Aids on here, but I'm not seeing much else in there. You got any clean clothes? Something I could use to cover it?" He reached for the tube of antibacterial cream and began patiently squeezing out the last few drops. "I guess worst comes to worst I can put them on and then cover it with my shirt or something."

A flash of a smile in her direction. "Although running around with a shirtless blonde man might be even more crazy than wanting a bit of revenge."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
"You're too kind. After -- however long it's been - I'm pretty sure there'd be less ogling and more gagging. I need a shower like you wouldn't believe." Except for the part where she probably would, because she'd been here just as long as him and been through worse to boot. Still, a smile played around his lips as he located the shirt and began methodically tearing the seams, ripping it into long, clumsy strips. "Lost my deodorant along with the rest of my pack too, so I'll try to keep my arms to my sides."

Tucking his tongue between his teeth, he quieted to concentrate on wrapping the makeshift bandage. It sure as hell wasn't beautiful, but by the time he'd finished it was firm and tight and he was pretty sure that any germ trying to get through it would have one hell of a time finding somewhere to set up housekeeping. "There." He sat back, looking decidedly pleased with himself. "That'll hold." Turning immediately to packing what was left of the supplies (more for something to do with his hands than anything else), he busied himself folding the remaining strips of shirt. "Just be careful with it, try not to get it wet, you know the drill."

She'd made it this far after all. She had to have a pretty good head on her shoulders -- that, or the kind of luck leprechauns would kill for. The kind of luck that he was sorely lacking in. Or hey, maybe not. Maybe it was lucky that he'd been on his own almost the whole time. He hadn't seen much death. He hadn't gotten in fights. He'd lost himself for a while, sure, and there had been the moment at the edge of the cliff where he thought he might just tip off the edge and soar -- but that had passed. And the first person he'd really bumped into seemed relatively sane, revenge motivation notwithstanding.

That was awkward. The first time some really damn good luck passed his way, and he didn't even have access to the lottery. Not that he really wanted money; at this point he'd settle for getting home in one piece. And maybe getting Kimberly home in one piece too, or as close to one piece as she already was. She had a pretty decent set of balls on her, getting this far and being this way, but he got a sense of something like lost off her, one that was maybe how she was feeling or maybe him reading into his own emotions because being with someone else, someone like this...

He'd forgotten. How to be human, maybe, and now it was all coming back and the realization that this was the happiest he'd been since Brendan almost ached.


Edited by ifnotwinter, Jul 9 2011, 07:02 PM.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Such a fucking surreal conversation. Erik could almost fool himself into thinking he was just on vacation somewhere like maybe their class trip was to an island instead, and here they were all sitting up on a mountain trying to be deep and introspective but really just shooting the shit and tonight there'd be a campfire and marshmallows and discreet booze in hot chocolate that the teachers would ignore.

If only.

His hands were empty again. He turned back to his bracelets, alternately twisting the threads and flipping the buckles on the stained leather cuff. "Nothin' big." His voice was low. He didn't quite look at her. With the attempt at first aid completed, there wasn't a valid reason for them to stay together anymore. She was looking for Kris. She could leave, and that would be that, and he would be alone again and he shouldn't care about because he'd been alone the whole time, pretty much, but...

But. He shook the thought out of his head and found to his surprise that there were words in his mouth. "I'm looking -- I was looking for my boyfriend. Brendan Wallace." His voice was trying to break. He steadied it. He'd left his tears behind. Whatever was occupying the hole in his chest now wasn't grief, or at least not the kind that would try to tear him apart with sobs. "He was trying to escape. I guess he's gone."

Was it deliberately ambiguous? It was the only word he could think of to use. Vanished grief or not, he still couldn't bring himself to use the word 'dead'. It felt too final, too strong, too real. Gone could be any number of things.

He tried a smile. It didn't seem to fit, stretching his lips in all the wrong places, not reaching his eyes. "You want a bodyguard?" Bullet shield. "I hear there's some crazy people out there."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
He looked at her for a long time, head cocked to one side.

His hair was greasy, dirty, spotted through in places with pine needles. Most of it was still caught back in a knotted ponytail, but strands had escaped and fell across his forehead, obscuring his eyes. Looking at her through the tangled blonde locks, Erik found that he wanted nothing more than to say yes.

Kimberly. She'd gone on and on about it while she was in one of her nihilistic phases. How people were all motivated by instinct and biological urges meant to protect the species - love is just another way of getting people to fuck, Erik - and how they were naturally pack animals. We don't have any natural defences so we band together. All the strongest predators are alone. But we're naked little wusses without claws or fangs and so we have to be together. He'd probably have given her more credit for an interesting though if she hadn't followed it up by shrieking about how the best form of rebellion was ignoring her biological imperative and shunning all human contact. At the time he'd just rolled his eyes and tried to figure out what was really going on to make her so upset, but now he found that the thought had stayed in his mind.

Should he? The pros and cons, his usual way of examining a problem, ran in dizzy circles through his head. He wanted to be with someone. He wanted to be able to talk again and laugh again and if it came down to fighting, as it inevitably would unless the rescue team came back in force, he wanted to be able to have someone at his back. Someone to protect. Someone to save. Someone to complete him, because alone he was just another naked little wuss with nothing to protect himself with. But he'd seen the look shadowed at the back of her eyes. He'd heard her talk. She was clinging to sanity with her blood-slick fingertips, he thought. If she lost her grip, did he want to be there? If she took a bullet and went to the ground in front of him with her life bubbling through his fingers in great crimson gouts, could he handle it?

She was still watching him. Her hand still waited.

It's because we're animals. We breed and we fight and we join together like animals, Erik. It's disgusting. We should be better than that.

But what was wrong with animals?

The smile that curved his lips was somehow more real than the one before it. He clasped her hand in his own, giving it a firm shake and a light squeeze. He nodded once. Raised his other hand to brush the loose hair from his face and away from his clear blue eyes.

"Yeah. Okay. Partners."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
The thought running most clearly through Erik's mind, overshadowing the beginnings of panic and the familiar too-clear feeling of adrenaline dumping into his system, was a simple one.

This isn't fucking fair.

The world slowed and compressed to the space between heartbeats, a moment of surging anger because it wasn't, he'd just found someone, things had finally started to look up, he'd been able to think that everything would be okay and believe it, at least for a moment or two -- and now this. Kris. Out of nowhere, like a bad dream, like a nightmare, like some sick irony. He wanted to scream. For one fleeting second he wanted to kill her himself just for destroying the fragile semblance of normality he had found.

But then the world expanded once more and Erik was still standing there, watching Kris on the ground.

His stomach twisted. She didn't look dangerous. She looked pathetic. Like a fish out of water, flopping awkwardly forwards. Unconsciously he took a step back and then just as quickly forwards again, sideways, shifting his body so that he was between Kris and Kimberly. Partners, she'd said, not bodyguard or meat shield but the wounded animals were the worst and he hesitated, words dying on his lips as he stood in the stretched-out seconds of a moment which could go either way.

This, he thought dimly.

This could be it.

Oh.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Everything was happening too fast. Kimberly was behind him and then she wasn't, slipping forwards instead and telling him to wait and that he shouldn't get involved and that she'd be back and then she was smiling (an unbidden picture rising in his mind of those bloody fingertips slipping one by one off the edge of her cliff of sanity) and launching herself at Kris. He stumbled backwards and watched in horror as Kris came back to life and Kimberly wavered under her assault. His body froze as adrenaline flooded in great waves through his veins, caught in that horrific moment between flight and fight where there was nothing but the world and the knowledge of not doing anything--

And then there was a grenade launcher.

Had it been there the whole time?
It must have been.

And there was another boy. He had a gun. There was a grenade launcher and there was a gun and they were being pointed at each other and there was Kimberly, right in the middle of it all. Partners, she'd said. Partners. Partners stick together. They protect each other. And yet here he was standing stupid and frozen in fear. No. No. Couldn't let this happen. He had to go help her. He had to.

He bent down, one hand grabbing for a rock. It fit his palm snuggly -- not much of a weapon, but the best under the circumstances. He was already planning how it was going to go as he stood up, already seeing it in his mind's eye the way he used to visualize his runs. He had height and probably strength advantage over everyone. It would be okay. He could do this. Partners. Protection. He could--

The gunshot was the sound of a whipcrack in the air. The pain was a line of white-hot fire across his ribcage (that wasn't fair, he thought dazedly, they always said shock took care of the pain but this fucking hurt) and the blood that came immediately was a tiny waterfall that soaked his shirt. His knees buckled and dumped him to the ground.

Shot. He'd been shot. He'd been hit by a bullet. Someone had pointed a gun at him or somewhere near him and a bullet had gone into his skin or his body and there was blood. There was blood. He'd been shot. His eyes were squeezed shut but tears still forced their way out hot and wet and salty copper where they mingled on the lip he'd bitten. He'd been shot. And Kimberly was still there and maybe she was dead now or shot too but he didn't know because he. Had. Fucking. Been. Shot.

His mind was blank. His hands were both pressed reflexively to the wound, slipping in crimson. When the explosion came in a wave of hot air and blown-up dust, he couldn't even be sure what it had come from. Someone was screaming but they were far away. Or maybe just sounded far away. The ringing in his ears distorted their voice. It was a boy. He thought he knew that much. The world spun and slid around him. Shock? Blood loss? Maybe. He pressed his face to the earth. Thought dizzily, the bracelets are going to be ruined and choked on a laugh that felt like swallowing razor blades.

Someone was crying. The boy again. Or was it? Kimberly was out there still. And Kris. Kimberly and Kris. He'd been her partner. He was going to protect her. Sorry, Kimberly. He hadn't done that. Was she dead? The explosion. Maybe it had been her.

His eyes opened. The world swam into focus just in time for the knife to come down.

Oh.

Oh.

Oh. Kris was dead. Oh. The panic was gone now. Everything was calm. Kris was dead and someone was dead or probably, anyhow. He thought you might need more limbs or less charred skin to live. There was another boy crying over the corpse. And there was Kimberly in the middle of it. Swaying. Dirty. Alive.

Still alive. Blood from his lip washed around his teeth as his mouth curved into a smile. Still alive. Still there. And okay she'd just killed someone but normal, what was it they'd said? Normal was relative. Lot of crazy going around. People were dead but, but Kimberly wasn't and they were partners and that meant that it was still okay.

He could feel the wound on his side with his fingers. Deep, but not too deep. A graze. He'd gotten, hah, lucky. They'd all gotten lucky. And hell he hadn't done much, or anything to help, but now that part of their lives was over. The piece of shit that was Kris in the fucked-up crapsack of their life was gone. And that was good.

He was slowly pushing himself to his feet when he saw the gun leveled at Kimberly's head. The other boy was shouting something at her and now she was talking back, angry, voice dripping sarcasm but that didn't matter because someone was pointing a gun at her and no, you know what? She wasn't allowed to die now. Erik had just taken a goddamn bullet and still hadn't done shit-all to help and that was not the definition of partners.

She was saying something to him over her shoulder even as he pushed hard and managed to stand. Swayed for a moment, finding his feet again. But they wouldn't let him down. He wrapped his right hand around his side and took a limping step forwards, ignoring the way the world pulsated delicately around him.

"Hey!" Was that really his voice? It was hoarse and strange-sounding and it almost made him pause but no, no, he had to help. Had to protect. Had to keep her safe.

"You heard the lady. Put the -- put the fucking gun down. Just put it down." Or what? He wasn't sure. He took another few steps, drawing level with Kimberly. Under his breath to her, "Sorry. Got, uh. Held up." A bark of not quite laughter again. Considered saying more, decided against it. He thought he sounded like enough of an idiot already.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
It all seemed a bit anticlimactic when the other boy just...walked away. If he'd been in a movie, Erik thought, there would have been some dramatic last stand. It was perfect. Him and Kimberly outlined in bright blood, facing off against a stronger enemy amidst the carnage lef behind. Oscar bait for sure. Starring roles. But the tension had gone out of the moment like air from a balloon, and there was just him. And Kimberly. Just partners, standing unsteadily together against...what?

Who knew.

He gave her a shaky smile, one hand splayed firmly against the torn place where blood leaked sluggishly between his fingers. It wasn't all bravado -- the warmth of shock and adrenaline in his veins helped enough that he didn't feel particularly panicked. That would come later. Later he would think about blood and bullets and knives and two dead people at his feet where there had been two live ones earlier. Later he could scream and cry and break down but in the here and now there were things to do and people depending on each other and he was one of them, so.

"I'm okay," he said. And meant it. "It's not so bad. I think it just winged me. Week and a bit on this stupid island and -- first one to get me wasn't even aiming, it's just," he choked on a nervous laugh, "um, funny. I guess."

Besides, he knew how this went. He'd seen the movies. He was supposed to be the one tending her. "Are you?"


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
No, she'd said, and wasn't that just the truth? No. Of course she wasn't. Beaten half to hell, no glasses, bullet wound she'd been carrying for days and that sure as hell wasn't okay. Those bodies lying in front of them -- one lying, anyhow, one sort of scattered -- they weren't okay either; they were dead. The boy who'd left probably wasn't even close to okay. The whole world around them or at least the little bubble world that was the island was no, no, no.

But he'd said yes.

And he was, Erik thought. A little band-aid of yes over a torn flesh wound leaking no, scraps of no ragged against gleaming white no-bone, no spurting from arteries and no hardening and drying under his nails -- but yes still holding the ripped edges of no together. That was what came to mind when she said Frankenstein, when literature crept into the morbidly visual effects invading his subconscious.

He shook himself briefly, like a dog. Pinned his lips around no and said, instead "Uh-uh. Well." This was easier. Conversation. Something where he wasn't thinking grandiose and stupid thoughts that would disappear like smoke on the wind or will-o-the-wisps when the shock wore off and cold hard reality set in, bringing pain as a permanent house-guest. "Read bits of it. Did Lit but we never got so far in, just analyzed the hell out of it and then got in trouble when someone wrote a four page essay on it being about repressed sexual issues."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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