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Thursday's Child; private
Topic Started: Oct 14 2016, 02:18 AM (957 Views)
Iceblock
Survivor
[ *  * ]
"Heads up, Slattery."

((Melanie Beckett continued from Call Me Maybe))

"Right behind you."

Her grip was firm on his shoulder. She hadn't paused; she hadn't hesitated. She'd only thought about the consequences of startling him for a second and then she'd already reached right out and pulled him back.

It hadn't been a good night, or a good morning. It'd been hard to get any sleep - something she ought to have stuck with the others for, maybe. Guarded by a landmine, instead of the back of a building, some grass, and the shield of darkness. It might have been worth it, to have said what she was thinking and have seen if they had thought the same way too. Just because she didn't want to do this with others didn't mean she needed to do this alone.

But, y'know, no time for regrets.

No time at all, the way people had dropped. It'd frustrated her. They'd given in. So easily. One by one. The terrorists framed the situation and gave them fear and gave them hope and they slaughtered each other.

Feeling like that was probably also part of it. If the terrorists cared at all, they wanted to frustrate everyone who heard the announcements, wanted to make them scared or sad or angry. It wasn't just delivering news. And telling them who the killers were, that just made it easier to point fingers and shove the blame at the wrong person.

She'd let it all wash over her like a wave. The names, the faces, the people. Reframed it - it wasn't what they wanted her to feel that mattered, but what she wanted to feel, what was natural for her to feel.

Grief. Frustrated, helpless anger.

She could see the ocean from here, had seen it when she'd crossed the bridge and skirted the asylum, but Aiden was what held her attention right now. This was something she wanted too - to talk to him. She'd known that as soon as she'd spotted him in the distance.

"I don't think it'll help to see who it is," Mel said, and there was no reason to hide the unease that she felt. "Maybe we should- you wanna step away for a bit?"
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Iceblock
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[ *  * ]
"Better now that I've scared you half to death."

Mel grinned, the familiar smile curving across her face. Sure, it was a dumb question, but it was only dumb because it was asked here, in the situation that had been set up for them. It was the sort of question and answer that he'd have asked and she'd have given anywhere else.

What were they gonna do, blow her up for pleasantries?

"You kinda look like shit, though." That was an understatement if she'd ever made one. Now that she got a closer look at his front, he was absolutely covered in blood - dried blood, all over his shoulders and his sleeves and the upper part of his shirt. But not hurt. Not visibly.

It wasn't that she believed the terrorists and what they said. About who killed, about who was dead. They could pick and choose their truths to manipulate her classmates if they wanted to. She didn't see a reason for them to lie when the truth hurt more, but trusting them - that was a fool's game.

She simply chose to believe that Aiden hadn't killed.

Wrinkling her nose, she placed a hand on her hip, on the grass-stained side of her jacket. Tried to keep her eyes on him and not the body behind him, so that she could ignore the morbid curiosity that nagged at her.

"Smell terrible, too." Her grin didn't falter. "So, y'know, it's good to see you."
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[ *  * ]
"Yeah," Mel echoed, and fell into a short silence.

Now was when her smile faded, too. She'd poked at what hurt him, and he'd poked right back.

If splitting up had worked so badly for him, what was to say it would work out better for her? How long had Vinny and Tessa kept the peace without some sort of mediating influence? And if they had fallen out and fallen apart in all the wrong ways, or if someone else had stumbled upon them in the meantime and changed the dynamic for the worse, Cameron wouldn't have fared much better.

That wasn't her responsibility - she couldn't even presume to be any sort of mediator, couldn't have said for sure that if she'd stayed she'd have been a positive influence on them. Probably not. Her specialty was in poking at bears, after all, relishing the possibility that it could all blow up in her face. Then maybe she'd have to backpedal. Maybe she'd have to make a peace. Here, the stakes were higher. Here, it wasn't just Astrid, glaring at her as if to wither her away.

"I left," she finally said. "Haven't really heard of them since, so I guess that's good news. Just... had something else I wanted to do." And that was the truth, she guessed, more of the truth than she'd given to Cameron.

Cameron had said she'd wanted to see the ocean, too.

She changed the subject abruptly. "You wanna see a tower? Let's go see a tower."

And she started walking without another thought, moving towards the corpse - moving to move past the corpse, moving quickly enough to fool herself into thinking she wasn't going to try to figure out who it was.
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[ *  * ]
"Sorry." She meant it, because she was being hypocritical, doing what she'd kept him from doing and doing what she'd said wouldn't help. He'd lost someone, lost Scarlett, and she was dragging it all back up without even thinking about it.

Mel slowed down a bit, enough for him to catch up, but not enough to come to a stop by the corpse. No way was she doing that.

Except it wasn't just a corpse anymore, because she'd caught a glimpse now - it was Harold, and as her heart felt like it'd been squeezed tight, she knew she should have listened to herself. Knowing who it was didn't help.

Her feet kept moving, almost automatic, and soon she was at the tower. She took a deep breath. Looked up, looked down. Looked back at Aiden as she pressed her hands against the door. The metal was cool against her palms.

"If you don't wanna go in," she said, "we can stop."

And maybe this time, she'd listen.
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[ *  * ]
"Hey, what-"

All Mel could do was stare, hands still suspended in mid-air, after the figure in flight, someone evidently more scared of her than she had been scared of them. Of him, as she vaguely recognized his retreating back. Tall junior. Wade something or other. The door swung closed behind her as she watched him disappear into the distance.

Unfortunately, she had an inkling of what had happened to him, what else there might have been to spook him. There had been something there, lurking in the background in that moment the doors had been flung open, even as the motion of Wade's exit had caught almost all of her attention. There had been something that didn't quite belong. Unnatural, foreboding. Ominous.

Her hands were once again on the metal door, and she heard it creak as she began to- No. Not yet.

She forced herself to turn towards Aiden - and what seemed like another figure in the distance, approaching from a different angle than Wade had left - and shrugged helplessly in response to his almost forgotten question.

"Someone else's behind you, too. Guess we're popular all of a sudden."
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[ *  * ]
"You call her Rena?"

Okay, that maybe wasn't the most important thing at the moment.

Mel gave a small nod, even though she knew he wasn't likely to see or notice it, focused as he was on Serena in the distance. He was right, anyway, in that Serena was as nice a person as you could find at Cochise - friendly, quiet, and private enough that she had never really stuck out to Mel at all.

Now she was stranded here, too.

"Yeah, I'm with you." She waved as well, a bit more enthusiastically than Aiden (although it wasn't a competition), and couldn't help but keep wondering exactly what she had seen behind that closed door.
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[ *  * ]
Mel rubbed her temples.

"It's not a happy story. Trust me."

She'd been more than tempted to cover with thoughtless sarcasm again, say something like "Course it's not his blood, can't you see he was in the middle of murdering me?" - but really, Aiden didn't deserve that. Once upon a time they had enjoyed an easy camaraderie, punctuated by verbal jabs and playful teasing. Now it was shadowed by the feeling of certain doom, and every word seemed that much more serious, that much more likely to be twisted and taken differently than it was meant. Tessa and Vinny again.

It felt good to deny the hold that the terrorists had on her, to deny the situation they had thrust on her, but not at the cost of hurting others. Serena had the right idea - asking if Aiden was hurt before anything else, even if she had suspected him.

"Hey," Mel said, letting the moment run away with her again, to a better place this time, "that's a good point, though. We can't just let you run around like that."

Her arm was already halfway out of her jacket sleeve.

"Maybe you can squeeze into my jacket. Just zip it up. You got a change of clothes?"
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[ *  * ]
"Jerking a monkey's dick aside, I'm not giving up either," Mel said, a bit more grumpily than she'd intended. "I'm not gonna freeze to death. Besides, you can consider it as doing me a favor back by not having to see all that blood every time I look at you."

Or worrying about what someone with less of a good head on their shoulders would think, seeing him like that. What they would do.

She swung her jacket up and over her shoulder in a quick, neat motion. Aiden had said he wouldn't be convinced to take it no matter what she said - and he sounded like he meant it - but she wasn't going to drop the subject and put her jacket back on that easily.

"Yeah. I guess... we might as well take a look." Maybe she was hesitating. Maybe she knew what she'd likely find.

Screw it. She opened the door.

She might have been expecting the worst, but it still took her a moment to process that she was really staring right at it. The corpse. It? Him. Barry - and she thought she remembered his name on the announcement, something about Alvaro pushing him, and his neck was bent at a terrible angle, enough that it almost looked silly, almost looked like something she might have painted when she was younger, when she'd had no real sense of how human anatomy worked.

Barry inside, Harold outside, and Aiden and Serena behind her. Mel suddenly felt her stomach lurch dangerously as she pushed the impulse to vomit down - Cameron in the hunting lodge, the smell of vomit in the air, she'd just fucking abandoned her to Tessa without a second thought once Vinny came along - and her grip on the door wavered before she fought herself back to reality. Back to the sight and smell of death.

"I'm going to close the door," she said, and that was all she could manage.
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[ *  * ]
They were going to end up the same way.

That was the certainty that sunk in deep, that came together as a hard, twisted pit in her stomach. She'd known her death already, even thought about it, but only abstractly, like a looming specter, storm clouds in the distance, the darkening of the sky after sunset. Seeing this was taking a soccer ball to the gut. When Serena spoke, Mel wasn't sure at first whether Serena was blaming Alvaro or Wade or the terrorists, but it was suddenly too hard for her to say anything in response.

No way to lighten the mood, really. And no honest answer that satisfied her, only imaginings of fear and anger.

"I don't know," she finally said, so quiet that her voice didn't feel like her own.

Alvaro had done this, and she thought she knew how that hurt - to see her classmates give in, to suspect that this sort of evil had been within them all along. But it always came back to one thing: the terrorists had created the situation. It was their fault in the end. Maybe that was some small comfort.

"But we can't stay here. We can't just give up." Mel held out her hand, though she hardly expected Serena to take it as anything more than useless solidarity. "You're with us now, so... come on."

For now, they'd go somewhere else. Even if they couldn't escape this, they could try.

((Melanie Beckett continued in Aluminum Bicycle Rods))
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