A/N: Yes Hello. It is I, back writing Talon Fanfiction, because apparently, that's all I write on a good day. This takes place before the events of Talon, and is canon compliant (even if it does include some things that aren't stated in the book concerning backstory)— Tristan is eighteen, Garret is fourteen.

Enjoy this short(er) oneshot.

Tristan wasn't a fan of close combat. Everyone knew that. He was proficient with hand-to-hand and close-range shooting, of course, but he had never found the natural flow of the fight that everyone else did. And after his last partner died, it had only gotten harder. The Chapterhouse councillor called it PTSD, but he just called it annoying. If it weren't for the option of becoming a sniper he'd probably have to be moved to a job off the field. But he was good at sniping— he could think, breathe, calculate, and fire. He had a 96 percent hit rate, and 80 percent of those shots were lethal. That was more than the average sniper of five years.

But damn, if he didn't want to get down to the battle at the moment just to keep another partner from dying in front of him.

One dragon— a young adult about the size of a pickup truck— and over ten humans, six of which were dead via sniper round to the head. Fifteen soldiers, including Garret. Three were busy keeping the Talon humans at bay. Another seven were out of commission already, whether dead or just severely injured, he didn't know. He knew that Garret was still fighting— he wasn't wearing a helmet due to a close call with dragonfire— but he was exposed, and the dragon seemed to know it.

"C'mon…" he whispered to himself. The goddamn dragon wasn't giving him a clear shot. Tristan moved his scope to shoot down another Talon agent before he could fire on Garret's exposed skull. "Give me something, you goddamn lizard."

The dragon swiped it's paw and caught the soldier standing beside Garret on the side of the head before trying to blast dragonfire at his partner. A near miss that made Tristan go rigid for a moment as his partner dodged out of the way, uniform smoking as he raised his gun to fire controlled shots into the thing's chest. The dragon roared blasting fire at another soldier before preparing to leap.

Right onto Garret.

Shit.

Before his partner could move, the dragon was on top of him, jaws gaping. His partner was going to die at fourteen years old.

Tristan knew, logically, that snipers weren't supposed to give away their position, or take shots that they knew wouldn't do any damage. But he was 150 meters out, and he was about to see his partner get his head bitten off. He fired a shot that landed in the dragon's jaw, making it snap away from Garret. Tristan fired another two shots, nowhere that would make a difference, but gave the dragon a more pressing enemy than Garret. The still standing soldiers continued to fire on the dragon and the surrounding humans, but the dragon was now more interested in him.

Come and get me, asshole.

Tristan fired another few shots this, time around the less protected legs. The dragon roared and leapt into the air, beating its already damaged wings.

Their eyes locked.

150 meters apart, dark blue met a copper brown, and Tristan knew that he was screwed.

The dragon shot towards the sky, high above them all despite the damaged wing membrane. Tristan raised his gun and continued to fire until the dragon fell into a dive, wings tucking, claws outstretched, sailing right for the tree that he was hidden.

Tristan did the only thing that he could think of. He jumped.

For a moment time slowed down and all he could hear was the wind rushing in his ears. The ground was too far away— probably should have thought about that earlier— but with any luck he'd make it.

He managed to roll on the impact, but still felt his right leg give and felt a sharp crack as he rolled to his knees. Bad plan— his leg collapsed on itself and he pitched into the dirt, heaving for breath. He fumbled for his sidearm and tried to find a way into a defendable position, but any movement below the waist was stiff and hurt like a firing canon.

If fractured my spine I swear to God…

Tristan heard a roar above him and scrambled onto his back, sidearm drawn in front of his chest. The dragon perched in the tree, slitted eyes glaring down at him. It looked awful— bleeding from its nose, and the numerous bullet holes— but still alive and full of rage. It inhaled, neck preparing to strike, and draw dragonfire, right where Tristan lie prone.

Tristan raised his pistol and fired two consecutive shots to its stomach, aiming right underneath its foreleg. It hit, sinking into the bit of flesh that was unprotected. The dragon lurched and shuddered, fire dying out inside its throat and suddenly hanging onto the tree for support. It roared one last time, but it sounded more like a scream. Then it collapsed, caught on the branches of the tree, and the sound of its breath stopped.

Tristan closed his eyes and let his arm drop.

"What the shit."

Garret was thinking the same thing. He was sure he was dead. This was his consciousness, making up a reality where he lived, right before the dragon bit his head off. He was so dead. There wasn't a single reason he should have survived.

Not when so many others were dead. He had seen Talbot take five bullets to the chest before he died, he had seen Avery clawed through like a paper bag, he wasn't sure how much blood was on his uniform, but he knew most of it wasn't his, and it didn't all belong to the dragon, either.

The dragon that was hanging dead in a tree.

"I'll… I'll radio in, get cleanup crew and medic in here," Benny said. "Angelo, Garret, you both think you'll stay alive for the next few hours?"

"Yessir," Garret whispered, ignoring the feeling of broken ribs at his breathing. He couldn't take his eyes off the dragon. What the shit. That had to be Tristan that it was aiming for, but had it hit? Was Tristan…

"Garret, find St. Anthony, radio me when you get him," Benny ordered. Garret nodded and ran towards the treeline as quickly as he could. Tristan couldn't be dead. He had gone through sniper training for the specific purpose of not dying. What had the last thing Tristan had told him?

Try not to get your arm bitten off this time, partner.

"Tristan!" Garret yelled as he neared the dragon, pace slowing to a struggling limp as adrenaline wore off and was replaced with aching pain. The dragon, dead in the tree, was covered in blood. He couldn't see Tristan in the branches, or a burned corpse of him, but he still couldn't see a way that he survived. Dragon dive-bombing wasn't something a human lived through. "Tristan!"

"Garret…" The call was faint, barely above a whisper, but Garret could still hear it, not in the tree, but on the ground, in the bushes. Garret could just barely see the division of the natural forest to Tristan's camouflaged uniform, but it was enough. Garret closed the distance between them, taking his knife to cut through the briars that separated them.

Tristan was on his back, body bent on the ground, eyes closed tightly, and bleeding. Garret swore and knelt next to him despite his own pain.

"What happened? Are you okay? Can you move?"

"I killed a dragon… no… probably not. God, ow… are you okay? Dragon didn't kill you too bad? Take off your arm?" Tristan said. His speech was short and clipped, but he forced open his eyes and gave a smirk.

"No, no, I'm fine, thanks to you. What were you thinking?" Garret's voice turned to a hiss. "Snipers don't try to draw dragons towards them, idiot, you could've gotten yourself killed, you… oh my god, your leg."

"I think what you mean to say is thank you. You're welcome, by the way. It's not too bad," Tristan groaned and tried to push himself upright only to fall back with a screech.

His leg was badly crooked in two places, forming a horrid Z in bone that meant to be a straight line. His pant leg was soaked with blood. His knee was bent to the side. His ankle… it was twisted near backwards. And that was only his left leg. His right was also hanging at on odd position, bent at the knee.

"Shit…" Garret whispered. "How did you…"

"Apparently, there's a reason you're not supposed to jump from trees," Tristan gave a tight smile. "I suppose I have to learn the hard way, huh? The damage isn't as bad as it looks, barely hurts… don't touch it please—" He broke off with a groan as Garret brushed his hand over one of the crooked areas. He felt hard bone where muscle was supposed to be.

"Shit," Garret whispered. He took out his knife and carefully cut away the cloth around the pant leg, ignoring the pathetic whimper that his partner tried to muffle at the movement. "Shit." He didn't even know that it was possible to have two compound fractures in the same bone. His leg was bruised and fractured, pale bone splitting through his skin in two places. Garret unlaced the combat boot with shaking hands. Tristan spasmed when he took it off.

"Garret, Garret stop!" He pleaded through ragged breaths. "God, ow… fuck. Please tell me it's not as bad as it feels."

Garret swallowed thickly and pulled the boot off the rest of the way. No blood around his ankle, but it was a small comfort.

"You're going to be fine, Trist."

Tristan tried to smile again, revealing tightly clenched teeth. "Never gave me a nickname before, partner. I'm touched."

Garret pulled his bandages out of his pocket and pressed one to the first fracture, wincing when Tristan tried to jerk away from it.

"Sorry," Garret muttered as he wrapped the site in gauze and moved to the lower fracture. "For a veteran of two and a half years worth of dragon fighting, you're not taking this very well."

"I just jumped fifty feet and have two compound fractures on the same bone. Fuck you," Tristan said. "I think I prefer burns."

"I'm supposed to radio this in. Do you think you need immediate—"

"It's just a broken leg, Garret. It's fine," Tristan said. He pushed himself to his elbows with a grunt, but his arms were shaking with the effort and his pupils dilated noticeably from the sheer amount of pain he had to be in. Garret winced. "Ow. Maybe hip. Damn, I'm eighteen, if I broke my goddamn hip I'm fighting Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad."

"Anvil, this is Infantry 7, I've found Longshot, he's alive and conscious, but needs a medic. Over," Garret said over the radio.

"I hate hospitals," Tristan muttered. He dropped back from his elbows to laying face-up, shivering slightly. It had to be shock.

"Dammit, can you move him? Over."

Garret felt his lip tremble as Tristan's eyes clouded in front of him. There was already blood seeping through the bandages. Of course he would be losing blood, there was so much blood in bone. Shit. There was no way Garret would be able to move him— his ribs were too damaged to do any sort of heavy lifting, and there was no way Tristan would be able to stand on his own.

"No. Over," Garret said. He couldn't lose Tristan. He couldn't. Tristan was the one that was supposed to stay out of the line of fire. Tristan wasn't supposed to make the sacrifice.

"Where are you? Over."

"By the dragon, right beneath the tree. Longshot had to jump from his position."

Garret heard a string of curses over the radio.

"Okay, there's a medic coming over to you. Stay with Longshot, go with him on the medical tent and get yourself checked out when they have time for you. Anvil, out."

Garret put down his radio, and focused his thoughts back on Tristan.

"Tristan, a medic is on her way," he whispered. Tristan cracked a weak smile, hand reaching clumsily for Garret. Garret took it and let Tristan clench down on his hand, knuckles white from the force.

"Don't worry, Garret. I'm fuckin' invincible, you'll see," he said through clenched teeth. Garret sniffed. "I'm more worried about you… that dragon didn't do too much, did it? Third time in the field and you've had two near-death experiences…"

Garret's lips twitched, but it was more for Tristan's sake. "And I assume your first mission went off without a hitch."

"Jeezus, no, it went horribly. Not as bad as this. Damn, it hurts," the last part was said at a whisper. "Seriously. You good?"

"Better than you. Just a few cracked ribs," Garret assured. He was lucky. He had been sure that he was about to die, he could still see the dragon, feel its weight on top of him, fangs preparing to sink into his head. Garret felt his breathing pick up and reached up to his chest, just to make sure he was, in fact, still breathing. He was still alive. The dragon hadn't killed him, nor had it killed Tristan. It was dead.

He could remember Talbot jerk back, surprise written all over him before four more bullets slammed into him, one cracking through his helmet and making him drop to the ground as a corpse. He could remember Avery screaming in genuine pain and fear as the dragon slashed his neck and chest open. He remembered the dragon pouncing on him, claws digging into his shoulders to keep him pinned. He remembered seeing it dive towards the woods and the sick realization that Tristan was hidden there.

"Hey, hey, Garret. It's over. You're fine, I'm fine, it's going to be fine," Tristan said. "It's over. We lived."

"But everyone else… Talbot and—"

"Talbot's dead?" Tristan's eyes sharpened for a moment. Garret nodded. "Shit. He shouldn't have gone like that." There was a moment of silence, filled with Tristan's increasingly laboured breathing and Garret sniffs.

"You made it. That's most important. Talbot's been— ow— fighting the good fight for eleven years, now. It's and honorable way to go."

Garret nodded. Tristan's words were starting to slur, and his complexion had turned from brown to ashy grey. But he couldn't do anything— his bones were too broken to move to a better area, and if he tied a tourniquet that would risk Tristan losing his leg. So he sat there, letting Tristan clench his hand. As long as he didn't break it, it was okay.

Eventually, he could hear someone approaching behind him. He turned around to face two medics, one with a stretcher, who took one look at Tristan and swore.

"'Not pressing', he said. Fucking..." she muttered. She set the stretcher beside Tristan and looked at Garret. "I assume you're in well enough condition to wait to be treated?"

"Yeah, it's fine. Do I need to—"

"No, you don't need to do anything. Tristan should make it out fine," the other said. They lifted Tristan onto the stretcher, with the only protest being that Garret's hand remained in his vice grip. After a few seconds he managed to release, but his hand still remained tense.

"St. Anthony, could you rate your pain from one to ten?" The woman asked.

"Four," he ground out between clenched teeth.

"Dammit, St. Anthony, try to take this seriously."

"I'm just estimating. Three-point-eight?"

The woman sighed as they lifted the stretcher into the air, ready to move him into the armoured truck to take him to the medical tent two miles away. Tristan's hand dangled off of it as he attempted to reach for Garret again. Garret followed at a slower pace, right behind him, trying to avoid how much everything was starting to hurt. The ride to the tent passed in a blur, sitting in the bed of the truck with Tristan, as one of the nurses asked the both of them questions for assessment. A doctor took Tristan away and another medic led him to a seperate area in the medical tent, stripping him of his outer armor and stitching his lacerations shut. Garret didn't process anything through the examination, instead watching the doctor across the tent who was in charge of keeping Tristan alive. His own medic eventually sent him back out, telling him to head to the van.

It was a long trip back to the Chapterhouse. A few of the survivors tried to talk to him, tell him what he already knew— Tristan was a fighter, he wouldn't let a simple fifty-foot fall kill him.

Talbot wouldn't let five bullets stop him, either. He's dead. They're all dead.

He couldn't get the sights out of his head.

No one had died in front of him before.

The moment they were back in the safety of the Chapterhouse, Garret went to the infirmary, looking for an occupied bed. A training-doctor came to him before he could find what he was looking for.

"Sebastian, correct?" She asked. Garret nodded. "St. Anthony is in the last bed on the right. He said you'd be around pretty soon; he's been asking to see you."

"How is he?"

She sighed. "He'll live, if that's what you're wondering. He suffered two compound fractures, he shattered one of his ankles, dislocated one knee, and cracked his hip on his left side. He sprained his ankle and broke his femur right above the knee on the right. We've put everything back in place, but walking will be out of the question for a long while. He has…" the medic paused, expression becoming pained. "We managed to put him under while putting in the screws to hold his leg together, but he's conscious now, and has refused all forms of painkillers. Went as far as to rip out one of his IVs."

"Yeah, that sounds like him," Garret sighed.

"Do you think you could convince him to take any? Without them, moving him is going to be hell for everyone. Especially Tristan."

"Trust me, he'd rather walk out of there on his broken legs than take prescription painkillers," Garret shook his head. "But I can talk to him."

The medic gave a short nod and allowed him to find his partner. Tristan was in one of the three occupied beds, lying immobile on his back just like in the forest. Garret walked over to him and silently sat in the plastic chair next to the bed. Tristan gave a tight smile and reached for his hand, which Garret let him take. It was freezing.

"Hey, partner," Tristan whispered, and slowly made to prop himself up on his elbows. "Sorry to keep you waiting, but I had to fight the doctors to give me a pass on the morphine."

"You should really let them give you painkillers, Tristan," Garret said. He knew it was pointless. He learned very early on that Tristan hated painkillers, but it had never been an issue until now.

"I don't like those. They're too disorienting. This… this is fine."

"No it's not," Garret whispered, voice cracking. He tightened his hold on Tristan's hand. "I— I thought you were dead. I thought I was going to die. And then I found you, and you were bleeding, and— and Talbot…"

"Hey, hey…"

Garret used his free hand to wipe his eyes. He didn't want to cry. He hated crying.

"I can't get them out of my head, Tristan. They're dead. They were fine this morning and you were fine this morning and— and now—" he hiccupped.

"I know. Garret, these things happen."

"You were supposed to be safe…"

Just like that, he was crying, and he couldn't stop. He could barely breathe through the tears. The world was collapsing, and he was sitting in a plastic hospital chair, sobbing his eyes out because nothing would bring them back. There was going to be a funeral tomorrow, and he would never, never see them again. Tristan almost died. Garret almost died.

"Okay, you're okay…" Garret heard the laboured shifting of Tristan's body and then felt an arm wrap around his back. "You're gonna be fine. It'll pass... I thought you were going to handle this better, considering that you didn't cry when you nearly lost your arm."

That only made Garret cry harder.

"Shit, sorry, my bad. Ow."

Garret tried to steady his breathing to no success. The battle kept replying in his mind. Talbot, Avery, Luka, Jack, Terrell, and Dann were all dead. Monique still wasn't in the clear. Garret could smell the burnt skin from the battle, still lingering on his clothes. And Tristan…

"Shh, shhh," Tristan held him tighter and let Garret bury his face into the hospital clothing. He tears wouldn't stop. The memories wouldn't stop. He felt like there wasn't anything left in the universe that was solid. There was just him, and the smell of saline, and his broken partner. And the names of the dead, nothing more than a memory.

It took thirty minutes to calm Garret down enough to stop crying and clinging to Tristan like a lifeline. Not that Tristan could blame him— he remembered the first time he saw someone die, and it wasn't a pleasant experience. He hadn't been able to speak for two days afterwards. So he managed to grit his teeth through the pain of physical contact and tried to be the calm to his partner's storm.

However, as grateful as Tristan was that Garret had stopped crying and let him lay back down, calm Garret didn't seem much better than crying Garret. His eyes were vacant and puffy, he wasn't responding to any of Tristan's questions, and he didn't seem to register any movement that would normally put him at alert. He still was letting Tristan clench down on his hand without any sign of pain.

"Garret," he rasped after about ten minutes of silence. "You still in there?"

No answer.

"Look, I know…" Tristan paused to take a breath and try to keep pain out of his voice. "I know that this sucks. And saying it'll get easier doesn't help now. I'm sorry that this is a part of your life. I know that Avery was fond of you…"

Garret didn't respond. His hand didn't even twitch.

"We… the funeral will help. It always does." Tristan said.

No response.

"What do you need me to say, Garret?" Tristan adjusted his grip on Garret's hand. It was starting to get sweaty, but it was also one of the few things keeping him grounded. "We both lived… that was more than I thought was going to happen for a few minutes there. Isn't that good enough for now?"

Silence.

Tristan sighed, clenching and unclenching his free hand.

"Give me something, Garret. I'm… kinda depending on you right now… with the whole 'distraction from broken legs," Tristan said. Garret blinked slowly, but still didn't respond. "If you say something, I'll take the goddamn morphine, how about tha— shit."

And Garret was crying again.

It was an awful sound— stuttering and hiccuping and more broken than Tristan had ever heard his partner. Garret covered his face with his free hand, whispering something to himself that was too quiet for Tristan to hear.

"Okay, partner," Tristan whispered, trying to settle into a position that better supported the weight of his own broken legs. "Let it out. I'll be here when you're ready to talk."

When Garret woke up, his back had cramped, the stitches over his chest felt too tight, and his hand may have been broken. He was sitting a the plastic hospital chair, head leaning against the mattress. He straightened, ignoring the pops of his spine, to see the infirmary dark and still. A dim yellow light overhead was the only illumination.

"You… need water."

Garret blinked and looked down at Tristan. His face was still drawn in pain, hand clenched around his so hard that Garret was sure it had bruised. When he spoke his voice was clipped. So no morphine yet.

"You've been out for a few hours. I asked the doctor to let you stay," he continued. "Sorry about your hand." A few seconds the death grip released, leaving circulation to do its work and send pins and needles up his arm.

"What time is it?" Garret tried to stretch the rest of the stiffness out of his body and rubbed his eyes, feeling the telltale sting of salt on his eyelashes.

"Um… one o'clock? Two, maybe? I… I dozed in and out for a while," Tristan shifted his his bed and bit back a groan. "I swear, I've been trying to get comfortable for twenty minutes and everything just hurts."

Garret sighed. "You know what would help with that?"

"Don't you dare say it, Garret, the doctor has told me a thousand times already."

"Accept your morphine, Trist."

Tristan smirked, but his eyes were heavy. "Again with the nickname… I could get used to that." He paused, taking a few breaths as if trying to steel himself. "You should really get some water. I think you've cried… half of the ocean onto my shoulder by now. Seriously. You can get dehydrated from crying. It has been done. By me. Not a fun time."

"I don't want to leave you," Garret said. Tristan snorted. "Seriously, Tristan. I… nevermind." He sniffed and felt his eyes prick.

"I swear to god if you start crying again then I'll start crying and we'll wake up the doctor. Neither of us want that. You've already been crying off and on since 8:00." Garret wiped his eyes a bit guiltily. He didn't have a reason to cry. He was alive. He wasn't injured. His partner was alive too, even if injured to the point he couldn't walk.

"Why don't you want to leave?" Tristan asked and closed his eyes tightly.

"It doesn't matter. I'm not going to leave you," Garret shook his head.

"Humor me," Tristan tried to smirk again as his hands balled the hospital blanket hard enough that his knuckles turned white. Garret winced as he looked at his own hand. Even with the lighting, he could see dark bruising from his partner's grip.

"Here, take my hand," he offered. Tristan did so without protest, and Garret bit his lip to hide his wince. This couldn't be anything compared to breaking both of his legs and refusing painkillers. "Why are you so scared of painkillers, anyway?"

"I'm not scared," Tristan squirmed a bit. "I've already told you. I get too disoriented, can't process what anyone is saying… ow… shit, okay, I should really stop trying to move my legs…" He raised his hands to wipe harshly at his eyes as his breathing picked up.

"Please just take painkillers. If you can't sleep, you need them."

"No painkillers. I hate those things. If I can just figure out how to take pressure off..." He moved again and immediately covered his mouth with his hand, tears leaking out of his eyes. Garret felt his eyes burn. Give him a dragon, give him a battle, but spare him seeing his friend in so much pain.

"I'm fine. It's fine, Garret. Just a little twinge," Tristan tried to reassure him, which wasn't at all helpful, considering that he was crying. Garret felt a pop of one of his knuckles as Tristan tried to clench down harder on his hand. He released it a moment later.

"Sorry," he said. "I— I didn't break anything, right? That would be really inconvenient for both of us."

"No, nothing's broken. Just… really bruised."

There was a silence, filled with Tristan's uneven breathing and soft whines as he tried to stop crying. Garret put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it softly. Eventually, the breathing evened out a bit, and he quieted.

"Talk to me, Garret," Tristan said after a silence. Garret blinked away the mist in his vision and looked into Tristan's eyes, almost black in the lighting. "You know me. I'm not going to judge… I know how this feels. I've lost people too."

Garret pursed his lips, blinking harshly.

"I thought I was going to lose you. You're… you're my best friend, now. And you were supposed to be safe, you're a sniper, you— you— shit, I'm not supposed to cry…"

"Yeah, you're really not," Tristan sighed. He slowly scooted further away from him. "Come on. Sit down, lay down, whatever. I'm not doing this again if you're going to remain seated and I have to struggle upright every time you need a hug or whatever shit."

"Tristan…"

"Come on, Garret. Just don't touch my legs and don't let the nurse know. But I really don't want to move," Tristan whispered, hand reaching up to tug his sleeve weakly. Garret wiped his eyes again. He was so sick of crying. He had cried six times since he found Tristan, lying prone on the ground, the dead dragon hanging above him.

Garret took a few breaths to try to steady his tears before he crawled on the bed next to Tristan, feet hanging off the side and head resting on Tristan's shoulder. Tristan's hand found his again, and the dull throb of the bruises intensified.

"I feel like you're going to die," Garret whispered.

"That feeling goes away, eventually. Or, you figure out how to keep it reserved for the battlefield," Tristan whispered. "I'm not going to die, Garret. Not tonight."

"And you did this because I couldn't get out of the way in time… what happens if you can't walk? That would—"

"Hey, hey, don't do this to yourself. It's not your fault. I did this. I saw the risks and I decided that they were worth it. I… Garret, I've already watched one partner die in front of me. Eight months ago. I'd rather take another jump right here, right now, than see you die, too," Tristan said. "And besides, you nearly lost your arm because I was body slammed by a dragon. Time to repay the favor."

Tristan ran his thumb over Garret's knuckles.

"And don't ask those what-ifs. It's bad enough being unable to sleep because of the pain, I don't need… to be kept up with those. It might take a month or two, but I'll be up and walking."

Garret closed his eyes and bit back a sob. Tomorrow there would be a funeral for the soldiers that died, and he would go. He remembered Benedict's funeral as if it was yesterday. But these were friends he had seen die. Their bodies were burnt and slashed and mutilated, and he remembered it happening. He would never be able to see their pictures again without imagining their corpses.

"It's okay, Garret. I won't judge. You can cry…" Tristan said. "It'll get easier. Trust me on this."

"H-how do you live with this?" Garret asked. "I know, I know that people die. My parents and my sister and Benedict and— and now Avery, and you nearly did. I nearly did… how do people live like this? They were alive this morning. And now—"

"Garret," Tristan interrupted, putting his chin on top of Garret's head. "I'm going to tell you something, and I want you to fucking listen, because I don't think I can say it twice without breaking down as bad as you are." Garret sniffed and nodded and Tristan took a few uneven, raspy breaths.

"There is nothing in this world that will last forever. Not an object, not a person, not even… not friendship or love or family. Everything is temporary, everything can be taken. I had… I had siblings, Garrett, before I joined St. George. I thought we'd be together until the end of times. Now…" he took another shuddering breath. "I'm not going into that. But I learned early on that sometimes… usually there isn't a warning in our lives. It's there and then it's gone."

"You're not helping," Garret whispered.

"Fucking… look. Cherish this, Garret," Tristan rubbed his thumb over Garret's knuckles again. "This is all temporary. I don't even know if you believe in an afterlife. Hell, I'm not sure if I believe in an afterlife, and I go to my partner's grave every month. But cherish this while you can… have friends, make a family, fall in love if you think you can. And grieve when you need to. But please, please never assume that something will last forever. Avery didn't. Talbot didn't." Tristan took another breath. "My last partner didn't." Garret heard his partner's voice crack. "And I won't, either. Doesn't mean you can't have emotions or connections. You should have those. Every human needs their other humans. But you have… you..."

Garret closed his eyes and buried his face further into Tristan's shoulder, feeling it shake beneath him as his partner tried to pull himself together.

"You have to be ready to let go when it's time. Otherwise the weight will drive you insane."

"Is that how you live?"

"No. I try, but I'm told that I'm loyal to a fault. Even when everyone who I get attached to dies. And I'm already depressed, so… not much anything can do to save me."

Tristan sighed deeply, releasing Garret's hand with some struggle. He wrapped his arm around Garret's shoulders, squeezing his arm. Garret knew it would probably bruise if he left Tristan continue, but at least it was his arm and not his hand. He was getting tired again, the whirlwind of emotions finally leaving him. The only question was if it would come back in the morning.

"You can sleep," Tristan whispered. "I'll wake you before we can get caught by the doctor."

"You really should take some goddamn painkillers," Garret whispered, but he knew it was a lost battle. "Tristan?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm glad it didn't end today." Garret put his hand over his partner's

"Yeah…" Tristan whispered. "Get some sleep, partner. I'll still be here in the morning."


A/N: So... Happy? Not really? I promise that I'll write something happy at one point, just... not any time soon. (Talon is turning into another angst fandom, I can feel it). Please, please please review, they give me love, they give me life, they give me a will to keep on writing for this amazing (yet tiny) fandom!

Also— if anyone knows how to add more options for character selections, could you tell me? We have an option to select Calvin as a character, but not Wes NOR Tristan NOR Jade. Those are pretty important characters. I want to be able to include them on the character list.