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A Chef's Nightmare; (Open)
Topic Started: Nov 20 2016, 08:23 PM (414 Views)
Iceblock
Survivor
[ *  * ]
((Wayne Cox continued from In A World Of Shit))

He'd made choices.

It had been an offhand thought at the time. He'd been off balance from dealing with Clarice. The other girl there hadn't followed him when he'd left, which was for the best. He would never know exactly what she had wanted. He would never know her name, either. Wayne hoped that if he had ever known it, perhaps heard it in a busy school hallway once, seen her face in passing, that he would never remember it.

Names were all that were read out on the announcements. Just names. Not people unless he knew too much.

He was just a name to somebody out there, too. To most people. Not to his family, but he had disappointed them enough already. Not to his friends, but he had driven most of them away already. So he only wished he was a name to himself. Then it would be easy. Scratch it out. Forget him. Damnatio memoriae.

He paused on the steps, one foot forward, before moving upwards once again. Figured that the one thing he'd gotten right in a long time was a history term that he'd memorized freshman year.

But bring him back from that tangent, bring him back from all the aimless drifting he'd been doing ever since crossing that bridge, and he was here (hating the walls closing in, the stairs that marked the only way down, penning himself in to die so easily, all to make sure that Asha and Dorothy wouldn't think to find him here right now), thinking about the idea that was slowly taking root.

He'd made choices. Bad choices, wrong choices, but despite everything, still choices.

That simple fact had been muddled and confused under everything else that he'd done. Shoved aside by doubts, the fear of death, and that growing sense of disgust in himself. He was a bad person. Naturally. Instinctively. Surrounded by people that were genuinely good, he had let that take over his thoughts and batter away at him.

Yet he had known he was responsible for what he'd done, that he'd chosen to do what he'd done. Look at when he'd started out. Stealing. Mugging someone, if not for his stupid luck. It'd been to gain an advantage. That was that term he'd used. Some advantage. Some plan. He was starving. He hadn't been able to steel himself to dig into the supplies he'd stolen. His own stock was almost out.

That was a choice, too. He held himself back.

No applause. Congratulations, he was somehow less of a shit than he could have been, in a way that helped no one and only hurt himself - but absurd as it was, it was starting to be one of his only lifelines.

Leaving what he had stolen for last - a choice. Stealing Asha's bag - a choice. Lying to Asha, to Dorothy, to Clarice a day later, right to their faces, treating them like they didn't deserve to be treated - all choices. Even if he would always fail, always fall back to selfishness and thievery and treason, he had the power to choose. Always.

He rolled that around in his mind for a while, wondering why that seemed so important all of a sudden, and then he found himself at the top of the stairs. He opened the door in front of him, the expression on his face hardening as soon as the world came back into view, his hand slipping to his hip.

Another sword. Great.

"Hey," he said.
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Iceblock
Survivor
[ *  * ]
Wayne repeated her words slowly, his eyes never leaving her sword.

"What I want from you?"

The words certainly made sense. But at the moment, the question itself was baffling to him.

Another thought came to him, that his back was still exposed where he stood in the doorway. He shrugged. Moved a few steps to the side, his hand still ready to draw his knife at any moment. For now, at least this confusion was better than having a cause for actual concern.

"I just came up here. How would I even be looking for you?"

She was unfriendly, and that was almost a relief. She hadn't treated him better than he deserved, even though she knew as little as everyone else about what he had done. Even back in school, he'd never had much contact with Maria - he'd heard, among other things, that she looked down at slackers. That was who he was, he guessed. Slacker. Someone who didn't care. Someone who pretended not to care. The truth was that he had wasted his life away all the same.

If he hadn't done anything wrong, he'd have thought her rude.

He had. So he could deal with it.

He chanced one more remark. "What if I ask- what do you think I want from you?"
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[ *  * ]
It was unfair. No need to think about it at length. It was just unfair. He had pulled the wool over the eyes of so many who had deserved to know what sort of person he was, and it was Maria who blundered into the truth, who was just rude enough to accuse him of it directly. Unlike even Clarice, who had suspected but had held herself back.

"Yeah, sure," Wayne said, and he knew it was the closest he'd ever get to admitting his guilt. To someone who didn't matter to him, at the wrong time, when nothing was in its proper place. "You can believe what you want."

"But even if I had wanted your stuff, I wouldn't have gotten your attention first."

He glanced to his right, still not breaking eye contact completely. As he did, he made sure she saw the knife on his hip.

"You can see my weapon, anyway," he said, voice still even, out of habit, out of not really caring so much anymore. "I'd be crazy to pick a fight. And if you're thinking about picking one yourself... we'll both lose."

She had the advantage, of course. A sword could reach where his knife couldn't. If they fought, it was almost guaranteed that she would get the first strike. She could very well kill him, like Alex and Asha and Dorothy and Nancy and everyone else he had met - a sword cutting through him, an axe to the chest, a push over the side of the bridge.

But now the panic was faded, the static all too familiar.

If she attacked him, there was no way she would kill him before he managed to retaliate. Close in, a knife could do real damage.

He probably would fight back, too. He was in no position to choose, no position to judge anyone for anything, but if he was, he wouldn't have chosen Maria to survive this. But even she must have had more of a reason to go back home. Something more than just... not dying.

He would fight back because he was an asshole who screwed everyone around him over. Because he was scared to die. But also because even if she deserved to live, if she attacked him, perhaps she deserved to live a little less than someone like Asha and Dorothy. Perhaps he still made that judgment, buried deep, deep down where no one else could see.

He tilted his head to the left for just a moment.

"I'm staying, so if you don't trust me, there's the door."
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[ *  * ]
Wayne exchanged one last glance with Maria as she headed down the stairs. He didn't know why she'd looked back. Perhaps she'd wanted to save face, to make that last threat count even though he didn't see how the situation would change if they saw each other again, supposed hesitation or not.

Then as quickly as that, he was alone.

That was familiar, too. He was always driving people away. He always told himself it was better that way, because he'd wanted to fix himself, because it wasn't right to ask other people for help when he couldn't help them in return.

Better for them, too. Maria had been busy insinuating that he'd stab her in the back if given the chance. Pleasant of her to suggest. But not something he would put past himself. Not after what he'd done so far.

Wayne stuck his hands in his pockets, and looked out over the island.

((Wayne Cox continued in Forget-Me-Not))
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