Chapter One: Genesis

His arms screamed at him angrily. The wire line in his hands bit into gloved fingers, threatening to pull him over the railing that was already protesting under his weight. Tired muscles hissed for him to let go, but—He couldn't. He had to pull him up, keep him from falling.

Footsteps.

There were footsteps growing nearer, and his heart stopped, arteries pumping ice, because he wasn't supposed to be here.

"Looks like today, I get to kill two birds with one stone."

A laugh sounded, bloodcurdling.

Fingers tightened around the line on instinct. I have to save him. He'd never forgive me if I didn't.

"What are you going to do, little birdy?"

Click.

The safety was off.

He was too close, no time to dodge, to counter; it was going to be over in a matter of moments.

Have to. Can't let him...

"Die."

Movement came without thought, his whole body spinning and pulling the line away, away from the danger that lay underneath. A silent prayer was sent up that the kid would fall somewhere safe, out of the way long enough for...

I'm sorry. I wish... I wish I could've done more.

The spinning momentum carried him, standing wide-eyed in front of a gun and slick metal. The barrel stared him down, eyeing him apathetically, coldly. The trigger was pulled, and time slowed.

It's too late for me, but...

The gears of the gun clicked, slid into place mechanic and deadly.

Don't let it be too late for him.

A voice in his head said this wasn't supposed to be the day he died. He was supposed to die as

No, I can't.

A flash of fire, sinewy tendrils of smoke and gunpowder clogging the air.

I can't leave yet.

The thundering boom.

Move!

Falling backward, back hitting on something hard, trouble breathing, thinking. He couldn't see, couldn't process. He was aware of someone screaming.

Someone laughing.

I never told him.

Everything was fading, fading fast like sand slipping through the choked neck of an hour-glass, grain by gain until there was