Friday, October 19, 2012

Goodbye To A Good Friend. Part 1.

It was October 5th.

The storm had devoured the afternoon. Pounding the no-name, no-where, no-nothing town with torrents of rain that fell in a chilling blanket. Winds tearing their path down near-empty streets. A howling wolf of a creature in itself as it prowled for its next victim. Whether that be a roof not nailed down quite tight enough to prevent it from rattling, lifting, and tearing off... or just an old window that has seen one storm too many and can't stand to face another. The wind eager the shatter the feeble barrier to turn its protective value into something much more lethal. Adding a blood thirsty edge to its already-sharp bite...

Nature was hungry.

Eager to prove its savage nature to any who utter soft pleasantries on a warm, summer day. Or dare to insist that a short prayer to an unhearing God will protect them from her wrath...

Leave a baby crying out in the middle of the woods.

See what comes first.


Or the wolf. The cougar. The fisher. The goddamn birds...

Now the day being gone and
the night coming on
Those two little babies sat under a stone
They sobbed and they sighed, they sat there and cried
Those two little babies they laid down and died

Pretty babes in the wood

Pretty babes in the wood
Oh, don't you remember
Those babes in the wood

I used to be a God Loving Soul as much as I was a God Fearing Soul. I used to Believe in an Almighty. I used to bow my head in prayer and thank The Lord for all that had blessed me in my life. For my health and my upbringing. My job and the opportunities brought upon me. For His Guidance in leading me to the Love of My Life... and for Leo. I'd pray for Him to watch over my son. To guide and protect him like He had done over me, and to let him grow strong. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. I'd ask Him to feed the hungry. Shelter the homeless. Lead the lost. And to embrace those who deny Him in their hearts - for it is they who need His Guide most of all.

It never seizes to amaze me... how stupidly naive I was.

How... idealistic.

It sickens me.

And it sickens me even more now. For I've let such idealistic thoughts invade my mind even recently. And I've paid the price for such foolishness. As have others...

Dimme would be killing herself laughing by now. The woman barely ever cracked a smirk, but I think she would laugh for this. For all of this. This mess that I created. How I painted myself into a corner... and let myself get Close when I knew better. Let myself think I could Trust when I knew better...

Let myself think that having true friend in this bloodfest... wouldn't come back to bite me.

The Game is lonely.

To call someone a "friend" is, at most, a joke. Only allies exist. Or should exist. And, even then, it's tentative. People are savage by nature. Quick to use and manipulate. Quick to betray. Sometimes even without meaning to. I, of all people, know that. It's what I Do, after all...

And what I Do... what I had Done... put me straight into Sherlock's care. Whether either of us wanted it or not. Admittedly, I liked the man when I first met him. He was a quick one. Sharp as a blade and just as lethal. But he was also very... normal. A common man amongst psychopaths. I liked the contrast. It refreshed me in many ways. And when he was the one I woke to when death nearly had me---

There is a road between Here and There. An Endless Road beneath a Golden Sky...

---I broke and wept at that voice.

I remember the flood I burst through when consciousness slapped me alive again. I remember the feeling. Like jetting up through water from the darkest depths it can offer - breaking through the surface far too fast so that the pressure, the intensity of it, is actually painful. Like a whiplash that starts in the brain and just spreads into every nerve. Blazing heat into muscles that were nearly prepared to go forever cold and stiff. Tearing one memory after another from the reach's of your mind to slap them before your eyes in a torturous slideshow of every failure and success. Every joy and pain. Every moment of suffering and turmoil and uncertainty and rage and sorrows so deep they drive you to your knees. All overlapped and warped around and twisted - mutilated - until even the happiness seems like nothing but a hollow scream. Voices and feelings and touches and smells and PAIN...

And then you're... I... was thrown back into Reality.

At first, all I knew were the tubes attached to me... and thoughts of the Oathbreakers flashed forward first right amongst the cold burn of a memory that was me pinned beneath The Beak's cane. I thrashed. I fought. I cursed... and I pleaded for no more. To be left alone. Begging even as I tried to get up. Tried to rip out the tubes that were the IV. The antibiotics. Even as I tried to hit and scratch at whatever Cultist was trying a new experiment...

And from my weak attempts at freedom... from amongst the hysteria that had sunk its claws into my mind... Winston spoke to me. Holding me down - more so I didn't hurt myself in my mental state than anything else. Never minding how I had raked my nails across his neck. Never minding how I had cursed and pleaded against the hold. He just spoke. I don't remember quite what. I don't think it matters. Eventually, the voice got through. Recognition keyed in over the hysteria... and, after a strained moment's pause, I wept. I curled into myself. Legs pulled up and my face buried... and I wept and laughed and went through every emotion that I had kept locked up so as to handle what my situation had been. So as to handle The Sickness. The Beak. My unavoidable death. Plans left unfinished. Ambitions unrealized. All of it came like a wave from that same water I had emerged out of to grip back onto Life. The water threatening to reclaim me... but Winston just kept speaking to me through it all as I trembled and shivered from shock and relief and everything else that kept coming to the surface. Layer by layer. Shred by shred.

I was a wreck.

And then... I twisted on the bed I was on and heaved. Nothing came up except blood. It hurt. God, it hurt. I felt like I'd swallowed razors and now they were working their way back up. Winston held me from collapsing all the way over off the bed with one arm and rubbed my back with the other. Still uttering little assurances and calming sounds. Trying to comfort me.


A foreign word for any Proxy.

And yet... I welcomed it. It confirmed he was Real. Another human. "Proxy" didn't even come to mind. He was human and he was alive and I didn't want to be alone. I didn't want to be left alone. As if it was his company that was keeping the Monsters from coming back again. Keeping them from finishing me off. As if... there was some part of me that was terrified of drifting back out to sea... and he was Port.

It wasn't until he ripped out a needle in his arm that was still dripping blood and pried my grip off his arm to grip it in his own hand that I realized I'd been holding on at all. That I realized... I had been able the feel the blood on his skin under my fingers. That he had been and still was shaking on his feet. Struggling to keep balance from blood-loss. Blood given to me. He nearly missed the chair at bedside when he went to sit down. Trying to joke. Called me a lazy asshole for my heart stopping for a bit, if you remember. I could feel on my chest where he had pounded with his fist. Trying to encourage the beat to come back. Probably bruised or even fractured a rib or two, but it was a small price to pay...

I spent nearly a week in his company before the world even realized I was still alive.

I never spoke of it. It wasn't something to discuss. There were other, more important matters at hand...

But it was a good week.

An honest to God, good week.

We'd carry on conversations for hours. Usually ending or "on pause" when I got tired and had to rest. We did a little of Quid Pro Quo to learn a bit more about where each of us had come from. Our views and opinions. Stories of Missions Gone Wrong and people we used to know. Going on with "You MUST know so-and-so..." which would always land up taking the topic the exact opposite direction as it was originally intended. We'd go on rants about everything under the sun... irritation slowly working away to anger on certain subjects... and then there would be a comment. One comment. And we'd be laughing. Absolutely killing ourselves laughing. My body would be SCREAMING with the effort of it... but it felt good all the same. It felt very good. Like all the knots I'd tied in myself with work and being Hunted... were slowly loosening up. Winston started looking better as well. We'd both gone through our own personal Hells and got to the other side somehow or another... much worse for the wear, but alive. And still able to laugh... practically a miracle.

And, as my care taker at the time... Winston was absolutely determined that I wasn't going to rush my recovery. Giving me complete hell when he walked in with my lunch as I was attempting to get to my feet for the first time. Asking me if I wanted to fall and crack my skull open. I knew I was weak. Malnourished. And still quite sick. Not as bad as I had been, but some symptoms were still clinging. I was in no shape to be doing much of anything... but I had to teach my body to work again. I had balance to regain. Muscle. Coordination. Sitting in bed wasn't going to give me any of them...

But... I let him talk me into taking it easy. Giving myself time.

At least that was until David arrived.

After my post. And then Joseph's post. Darling David had decided to bless us with his presence...

And I hadn't known.

Winston had. But he hadn't told me. I suppose he thought he'd be able to deal with any "tension" between David and I when the assassin walked in the front door. The only problem with that little plan... was that "Joseph" was busy briefing his squad in the backroom when David arrived. As luck would have it... the door opening was also timed with my first steps on the stairs going back up to my room. Coffee in hand. I turned as I heard the creak and the chime of the bell... and it took only a second for dark, familiar eyes to turn up to me. The unease I felt was instant and deep. I was weak, and David and I were a far stretch from allies since the little Cult/hostage incident...

He greeted me. Asked how I was faring. I only offered a small smile - barely a tweak - before answering with a simple "on the mend - nothing short of a miracle". Going on to inform him that "Joseph" was around back. That he should be out anytime now. My attempt to quickly redirect the assassin's attention... but nothing is ever so easy... 

"Actually, Nightscream... I came to see you."

He gained a few steps up the stairs even before he had even finished his sentence.

I knew.

Father Knows, I knew.

Those eyes of his burned. Each of them like smoldering charcoals. A cooled surface just managing to conceal the fire beneath. A searing heat that I could nearly feel as his gaze lifted over me. Studied me. Sized me. And I was nothing to size. I was thin. Gaunt. Weak. And I knew... I knew right down to my core... just what thoughts boiled behind that gaze. What he wanted. His intent... his purpose... it practically radiated off of him. A hunger for more than blood. More than what scraps were left of my life...

For the first time in a long time... I felt vulnerable.

I felt...

I kept my shoulder open to the stairs above. Not dumb enough to block the escape - my only escape - by turning my own back to it in some false show of strength. I could feel my nerves tightening even as I smiled at the assassin. A smile I've used a million times. One that always came so easily to the surface... and, in that moment, had never felt so fake. So cheap. And yet, I still kept my pace. Swallowing my unease to coo a comment about feeling oh-so-special that he'd make a special trip just to come see lil' ol' me. That I was touched. Flattered. But that, perhaps, whatever it was he wanted could wait. That I was tired and needed to rest. That we could talk later.

I still thought... I could defuse it. That I could redirect him. If only my mind would get back in The Game. If only my thoughts would stop acting like a bloody crossword puzzle...

He rose a brow at me. Pausing on a step just a few below mine. Staring up. And, in those eyes, I could see... that he knew I knew. 

"Please, don't make me chase you. You might get hurt."

My insides twisted. I stole a glance to the backroom, only to quickly redirect my attention as I caught him move out of the corner of my eye - an advance up the steps that I was quick to correct with a retreat of my own. Taking two steps higher. Sloshing coffee from my mug onto my fingers as I did.

It burned.

I didn't care.

Instead, I pushed a chuckle through my throat. Complimenting the joke. Telling him that it was cute... even as I backed up another step. Insisting that I was in no mood for these Games. That "Joseph" would be out any minute. That he should go get himself a coffee. That I was certain... that Jo would be thrilled that he dropped by.

He only chuckled. Following each step back I took. The sound bearing nothing but sweet satisfaction. Commenting on how I was insisting to make this "difficult". That he didn't expect any less from me. And then the smile he wore darkened, words tainted with just an edge of anger as that heat in his stare grew hotter still. Bringing up old business. How I took Ronan from him and put him in danger. Humiliating David. Opening the door for many others to attempt - though fail - the same trick. Growling... how these were things that he couldn't just let go...

Wouldn't just let go.

I had been able to feel myself bristling as I took one step back then another. Thoughts of the lock in my room already flickering to the forefront of my mind. My only chance at refuge if there was one. At sanctuary. But I forced myself to focus on the assassin. An edge cut in my own tone as I corrected him. Reminding him that he was the one who had put Ronan in danger by trying to attempt the impossible. I had merely put David in danger - but nothing worse than what I had myself in. I had been surviving. That was all. If he wanted someone to blame, he needed to blame the Organization. Kidnapping and blackmailing aside, I had kept Ronan safe under my watch. Not letting a thing happen to him. Not a thing. I told David he couldn't deny that. Telling him to think about what he was doing. To consider the consequences. How it would lead nowhere worth going...

He followed each step. Overflowing with an intent that was only getting darker...

He asked if I really thought... that he didn't know about all the things I mentioned while The Mad Ventriloquist - Dearest Venny - was under my care. All the things I spoke about. That I used and twisted around. Making him doubt David's intentions. Making him second-guess his choice of being with the assassin. Second-guess his future. His role. We played music together. He, on the piano. Myself, on my soprano sax. We made it a duet. It was fun... and it built trust. Music is the God of all languages, and we found a center between us. A center that I used to rattle the little part of Venny's brain where the common sense and simple observation are supposed to be. I suggested the foolishness of what they were attempting. Suggested David was using him. Suggested that he should get out while he still could...

With every step, I watched that anger increase. Until his words came out in a poisonous hiss as he lunged at me. Wanting to grab me. To pin me to the wall. I used the only thing I had: my coffee. I threw the mug at him - spraying coffee across in a scalding shower - and spun around. Bolting up the rest of the stairs and down the hall. The only thought pulsing through my mind being the lock on my door. If I had only been in my proper condition, I could have made it into my room, spun, and slammed the door shut with ample time to lock it... but, alas, that had not been the case. I staggered when it came to turning back to the door. Eating up precious seconds before I managed to shut the pathetic barrier - throwing my shoulder against it to hold it as I begun to turn the lock... only for it to burst back open against me. David forcing his way in as I staggered backwards to catch my balance.

He closed the door behind him and locked it.

No comments:

Post a Comment