Title: The Meaning of Should

Author: pari

pari106@hotmail.com ; ; Disclaimer: "The Bumblebee Flies Anyway" was written by Robert Cormier, the movie was directed by Martin Duffy and stars Elijah Wood. None of that has anything to do with me. Rating: PG-13.

~*~

Author's notes: these lyrics have nothing to do with the fic either, but I thought they would complement it nicely.

"I remind myself of somebody else...

feeling like I'm chasing

like I'm facing myself alone

I've got somebody else's thoughts in my head

I want some of my own

I want some of my own..."

- "Somebody Else's Song", Lifehouse

~*~

"Don't do this," she says, and he almost hates her for that.

The only thing that's kept him together this long is the certainty that, whatever he's rushing towards, there's no one to hold him back. He's got no one left. No one who isn't headed for the same end he is. No one who isn't standing on the same edge, or waiting to watch the rest of them fall off it. And fuck those people. Fuck her. Who is she to tell him what not to do? He didn't do this. She did this. She made this happen. They made this happen. Maybe he helped, but he didn't do it alone.

"I'm going with him," he says. And he means it.

He could have gone already. If it weren't for her. He could have gone a long time ago. He could have gone quietly. Or, if not quietly, at least alone. With no one near to hear him scream, or whimper, or just breathe. No one to care. The only thing that's kept him together this long is the certainty that he's got no one to hold him back, but it's a false certainty and he knows it. He could have someone. He could have had someone. But he had to push her away. Because of them. Because of her. If it weren't for them, for her, he would never have known Cassie. She'd never have been his to push.

If it weren't for them, there wouldn't be a little boy cowering over there in a corner. Wide-eyed and terrified. Watching.

He hates that Billy is watching. He wonders if she had watched, when they'd filled his head with car crashes and images of his dead mother. Erased everything else. He wonders if he'd known her before. Had she been there the day he'd signed his right to a life, and to a death, away?

"Don't do this." She says it again.

The view beyond the edge is a lot prettier without her saying anything. Standing there, above that deadly drop, was a lot more calming before she spoke. He wants to recapture that peace. To pull it back like it's something tangible that's slipping away, but he knows that he can't. He hasn't felt at peace in a long time, but he knows that he can't feel that way again.

Peace is an illusion. It's a lie. And he won't be lied to anymore. He won't give that to them. They've already taken everything else.

Billy's eyes are like a flame against his skin. 'Don't let him watch,' he wants to say, but he won't give them that either. He won't let them think that he cares.

"You have to want to live. You should want to live," she said.

He knows she's trying to sound soothing, and she does.

Seductive almost. It's tempting, to just let himself be soothed. Not because he's afraid to die; he's never been afraid of that. That's why he's here. He's afraid to die on someone else's terms, or to live that way. Like Matzo.

But lies are seductive, no matter what sort of truth it is you fear. And her voice is soothing in that way that a pusher's is, telling little children it's okay. Take the candy. Take the high. A lie can give that to you. A thrill. A brief taste of escape. She's been feeding him lies like bubblegum for how long now?

He doesn't even know. He can't say. How many times has this happened? Once? Twice? A dozen times? He could have lived a thousand false lifetimes in the span of the memories they stole.

"I didn't have so much to lose before," he told her. "I didn't have a family. People I love. I can't let you take that away from me."

He didn't know if she'd understand. He doesn't know if she understands. He doesn't think she can, with her precious detachment. He doesn't think he can survive, if he listens to her now the way he's listened to her before, and it all turns out the same. It all turns out to be a lie. He knows he won't be conscious of the betrayal, but he thinks that he'll be able to feel it. He will feel how much he's lost, this time out of however many, and he won't know why, but he'll whither and deteriorate all the same.

"Your way I lose all of this," he'd told her, "Cassie never happened. Tonight never happened."

"No one can take those things away from you," she'd replied. "We've proven that."

He wants to believe, he wants to listen. But the risk is so great.

"Don't tell me that."

"Make the right choice," she says at last.

The right choice. "Right" isn't a word he is comfortable with. He doesn't know what it means. "Right" and "wrong" are like "should" in his mind. He is a walking contradiction of what should and should not be. Bumblebees shouldn't fly. Children shouldn't die. They shouldn't bleed and suffer and pray for death in the end; pray their death means something. Life and death should always mean something. He shouldn't be alive to ponder the meaning of it all, or the lack thereof.

He shifts his grip on the Bumblebee's handlebars.

"Talk about a blaze of glory," Matzo had said. Yeah.

'Make the right choice.'

He does. He follows his own advice and he follows Matzo's. He lets go. He hears Billy talking. He doesn't know what he's saying, but he's excited. He hears her fall to her knees. He thinks she's crying.

He thinks of Cassie. And a red corvette. And Matzo's sad smile. And his mother's face. And the absence of her screams.

And he never hears the crash.

[end.]

~*~

"Can you see me up here?

Would you bring me back down?

Cause I've been living to see my fears

as they fall to the ground...

Am I hiding behind my doubts?

Are they hiding behind me?

Closer to finding out

it doesn't mean anything...

I remind myself of somebody else now."