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Judas; Open
Topic Started: Nov 29 2016, 04:47 AM (836 Views)
Slam
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Mr. Danya
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Nate Turner came out of the closet))

How long had it been since he’d ran into the lobotomy lab and crawled behind the stack of boxes to hide? Ten minutes? An hour? Six? There was no concept of time right now, only fear.

He was tucked into a tiny ball, cradling his knees in his chest as every muscle in his being was in a panic. His heart was high and swollen in his throat, whilst his stomach was so tight it threated to rip itself apart at the slightest twinge. He couldn’t move from the spot, but he couldn’t stop shaking either.

He knew Alvaro was coming down the hallway for him, ready to blow his brains out. Any second now he’d hear the door open, Alvaro would pull the boxes away (because, really, what a stupid hiding place this was), and put a bullet in his face like he’d tried to however long ago that had been.

Like he’d done to Ben.

The only thing that eclipsed the terror was the guilt. His friend, who had been keeping him company in this nightmare, who had let him cry in his arms when it was all too much, was dead. Matt was probably dead too, and it was all his fault. If he hadn’t been in the way and made Ben save him, or if he’d just been able to talk Alvaro down like anyone who knew the first thing about talking to people could, then there’d be four in their group instead of just him, who was only taking up space. If he'd just stayed, then at least he wouldn't have died a coward.

He would’ve cried again, but he really couldn’t anymore, and he didn’t want to either. He had to stay silent, had to stay alive even if it wasn’t worth it. There wasn’t anything he could do to help anyone anymore, but he still didn’t want to die.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
There it was: the sound of the door opening. Suddenly he couldn’t breathe anymore, frozen as he listened to the footsteps moving about the room, Alvaro searching for him and ready to finish him off. Everything started spinning, and if he weren't in such a state he might've supposed that this must’ve been what passing out felt like.

Asuka’s yell as she banged her foot broke Nate out of his panic, though. At first he had to race his hands to cover his mouth, to stop him from screaming out, but quickly he realised that it was a girl’s voice he’d heard, not Alvaro’s.

He started to breathe, but still in rapid, short breaths. What did he do now? What if this person wanted to hurt him, just like Alvaro did, and (he was starting to believe) a lot of other people wanted to as well? What if it didn’t matter that it wasn't Alvaro who'd found him, that if this girl found him behind the boxes she’d be the one to put a bullet in his brain instead?

In spite of his terror, though he was still drawn to the new arrival, wanting to know who it was. As carefully as he could, moving slowly so as not to trip on his own unsteady hands, he peeked around the corner of the box and saw who he saw.

Some Asian girl, not someone he knew. Not in any of his classes, he didn’t think, but he could’ve been wrong. Definitely not in any of his clubs.

Definitely a stranger.

Would it have been better to have stayed hidden? Probably. Then again, she might’ve been nice, and not out to kill everyone. He could really do with meeting someone like that right now: someone to talk to and get a bit of consolation from. Someone who could maybe convince him that he wasn’t a complete coward who’d left his friends for dead.

She looked pretty small, too, so she probably wasn’t about to try and beat him up or something. Of course, Alvaro was small, but he also had a gun. This girl didn’t look like she had a gun, and that was good enough for Nate. The thought that she might’ve been concealing one had yet to cross his mind.

He had to take this chance: he needed that friendly face right now. Getting up, he revealed himself from behind the boxes, still a jumble of nerves and shakes.

“Hi.” he said, almost in a whisper as his voice caught in his throat. “Are...are you…”

He was trying, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask if she was about to kill him.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Asuka was not the reassuring presence that Nate had been hoping for, but he’d take her over Alvaro. She was a bundle of nerves, just like him, but maybe that was a good thing. Being able to relate was more comforting than someone who waltzed in here and claimed to have the whole situation in the palm of their hand. Probably. Maybe.

Of course, it was a relief that she wasn’t hostile, that he wasn’t going to get shot just yet, but her forward nature put him on the spot. He’d wanted to talk, but now that the opportunity was facing him, had he really wanted to talk about what happened? He wanted reassurance, but was he willing to just admit to someone that he had left his friend to die?

He gripped his arms, looking at the floor even as he spoke. “It’s Nate,” he started, wanting to keep up his friendly habits, but more importantly wanting to put off the real topic. “that’s my name. Nice to meet you, Asuka.”

He bit into his lip, making quiet ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ to himself as he tried to start speaking, trying to say that he’d been crying in a ball for the past three days, the he got robbed by a guy because he tried to help him, that he got his friends shot in the face because he tried to talk down someone with a gun but couldn’t do it.

Yeah, not something he wanted to put into words.

“I was with my friends, and…”

More staring at the floor. More stalling. Did he have to?

“…and we got separated.”

No, he supposed, he didn’t.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Nate couldn’t help but give Asuka something of a dirty look at her flaccid response. Ok, he’d not wanted to make a big deal out of him saying he’d gotten split up from his friends, but it wasn’t hard to sound sympathetic either.

Still, he tried not to make it too obvious. She may not have been perfect, but she was still listening, still there. Driving her away was the opposite of what he needed right now.

She redeemed herself shortly afterwards anyway, and if Nate had any energy left he might have even smiled at her offer to listen. Clunky, but it sounded genuine, or at least genuine enough to someone desperate for such a thing.

Asuka’s metaphor dialogue on her own story was almost entertaining to hear in spite of the obvious anger that it was expressing, even if it was a bit hard to follow. Jerry Fury wasn’t a familiar name, and he didn’t remember hearing him on the announcements (but then, could he remember every name anyway?), but there was no reason that Asuka should have had to put up with nasty people, all the same. No reason anyone should have to.

“I’m sorry, he sounds like a jerk.”

He tried to smile at her, give her some comfort, but it still wasn’t possible. Besides, he realised, what he’d just said probably didn’t matter that much. He wasn’t any good at making people feel better, after all: Alvaro had proved that and left no room for doubt. He couldn’t talk down one of his good friends, what chance did he have of perking up a total stranger like Asuka?

“Sorry, you probably don’t care about me saying that, huh?”

Butterflies were building up in his knot of a stomach. Normally, he didn’t have trouble holding a conversation, even if he didn’t know someone that well, but this was so far from normal that word didn’t even exist here. He wanted to help Asuka perk up, see the bright side and get over Jerry, but how? How could he ever try to talk anyone into feeling better when it’d gotten his friend killed?

He stood there with an uncomfortable look on his face, trying to think of something to do, something to break the tension. He scanned her words again, looking for something to follow up on. Thinking about what to say was just so alien, though.

“I mean, lots of people on the island are being like that, I think.”

It wasn't working at all.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
“Um, well, I mean…”

He was desperately avoiding looking her in the face now. Of course he’d met someone who was being a jerk: he’d met someone who’d robbed him of all his stuff. He’d met someone who’d tried to kill him and had killed his two friends. He’d met the terrorist who started the whole thing up on that stage.

For one of the few times in his life, not only was the thought of meeting more people wasn’t just unpleasant: it was overwhelming.

“I’ve met some bad people, I guess. I mean, like, I said I got split up and stuff. And, well, I don’t have any of my stuff anymore, so I don’t have a map so I don’t know where the danger zones are, and I don’t have anything to eat or drink, and I haven’t eaten anything all day, and my friends are dead, and I really don’t know know- and I- I-“

Fresh tears ran down his face as it all spilled out. Why was it that as much as he didn’t want to, he still found himself crying again and again? Why was it that he was stuck here, dying slowly, just because he went on a school trip? Why did his friends have to die because of him? Why did he have to make Asuka stand there and watch him act like a big stupid cry-baby? Why couldn’t he just do better and be actually useful for once?

He wanted to apologise to her for acting so stupid, but he couldn’t form words right now, as they were lost amidst the sobbing. He had been so scared, so sure that Alvaro was going to kill him, but that didn’t justify anything. He was stupid, useless, and should’ve just stayed in that room and let Alvaro get it all over with.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
It wasn’t’ that Nate didn’t appreciate Asuka’s offer, really, but it just felt so awkward. He didn’t know what to say to her playing therapist, and he definitely didn’t know what to say to her offering him stuff. ‘Thank you’ was the obvious answer, but how was he supposed to say that when he just felt so much like he was being a burden?

Unfortunately, the gnawing pain in his stomach got the better of him, and before he could stop himself he’d pulled a protein bar out of her bag, chomping it down his tight, parched throat. The tepid water that followed felt heavenly, and within moments he’d drained a whole bottle.

He let out a gasp, sniffed up some snot, and stayed where he was crouched over the daypack, trying to compose himself. Asuka’s kindness was more than he deserved, really, but he still didn’t really know how to show it. Even if he did thank her, then what? He couldn’t repay her, and he probably would just keep being deadweight who’d make her life harder.

Rubbing his eyes that were once again so red, he got to his feet, nodding at her, the best appreciation he could offer. He gripped his arms, still shaking just a bit, as he thought about what he should say next. If she wanted to help and hear him out, he wasn’t going to pass up the chance, even if he felt like he should.

“Well, it was-“ another sniff, another swallow, another moment to compose himself. “It was Matt, and Ben. We were looking for stuff, then Alvaro showed up, and-“

He had to keep stopping himself, catching the sobs before they started spilling out again. He knew this wasn’t what Asuka had asked, but this was what was coming out. He couldn’t even think of his favourite hobbies or shared secrets with Ben or Matt: they were his friends, he’d told himself that, but he barely knew them beyond their time on the island and from drama club. What kind of friend did that make him?

“Alvaro shot Ben, and then I ran away. I didn’t mean to leave them, really I didn't, but I just got so scared, and I wanted to help Alvaro too, cause he looked even more scared than we were, but I just got everyone killed.“

He brought his hand up to his mouth, biting on his fist, pulling out the stops to avoid yet another outburst. He continued, words muffled by his own hand but needing to come out all the same, to punish himself like he deserved.

“I’m so useless, Asuka. It’s all my fault.”
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Nate felt that brief moment of rising hope when Asuka started to say that it wasn’t his fault. He wouldn’t have agreed with her, because of course everything was his fault, but external reassurance had always meant a lot to him. So when Asuka cut herself off, he dipped right back down under that faint disappointment.

Solidarity in how useless they all were felt just a bit better, but Nate still couldn’t agree. Even if everyone else was dying, and their friends were getting killed, and there were people out there feeling as bad as Alvaro and doing worse, he still knew that he was the most useless. Asuka could give a good effort, but it couldn’t change facts.

He peaked his head at her direction to follow, nodded, and did so. It probably wouldn’t help, but it beat standing in there forever waiting for Alvaro to show back up and kill them both.

He gulped at the thought of that and checked four times as they left the room to make sure Alvaro wasn't standing behind them with his gun. He walked along Asuka whilst still checking behind themselves every few steps, heading away from the scene of his betrayal and towards whatever she was going to show him to try and lift his spirits.

((Asuka Takahara and Nate Turner continued in The List of Adrian Messenger.))
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