Something the Boy Said
Notes: This is a little one-shot. XD; Please stick it out and do not be put off by the morbidness of the beginning. I get really weird inspiration sometimes and this time it came from a song by Sting called Something the Boy Said. Though the song is not used within the story, this story wouldn't exist without it. The characters, title, and the book Raphael is reading are not mine, the story is, and this is friendship cuteness!
The field was spacious and once had been alive with multitudes of bursts of color—the lush green of grass, the dancing pinks, lavenders, and blues of wild meadow flowers, and even the simple sandy hue of wheat—but now its predominant color was red. It was everywhere. It had painted the blades of grass, the flowers, the wheat . . . even the weeds were crying tears of crimson. The carnage was atrocious and horrible.
He walked among it all numbly, seeing the dead and mutilated bodies, and tried desperately to remember the cause of it all—but he could not. The most that would come to his mind was that this had been the result of a long and unfair battle, one that he had been involved in. His clothes were torn and bloodstained; he had several minor wounds that he had discovered and treated after regaining consciousness in the grass. But now, as he watched the blood pooling under the lifeless forms and saw their vacant eyes staring up at the sky, the horrible thought occurred to him that he still had not seen the other two who had been with him. It didn't look as though the enemy had taken any prisoners. Therefore, those he sought must be in this devastation somewhere!
He continued to grasp at the hope that there were still survivors, though all he had seen so far were corpses. He was still alive, after all! Surely he wasn't the only one? He paled at the thought. Once before he had been the only survivor in a horrid calamity, but that time there had been no dead bodies that surrounded him. In a way, this seemed even more horrible and nightmarish than the previous occasion. As he took another step forward, he heard bones crunch under his feet and he realized in sheer alarm and revulsion that he had just stepped on a hand. Quickly he gazed down, but upon seeing that it was another lifeless form, he moved on. There was no assistance he could offer now. He may have accidentally crushed the man's hand, but someone else had already deliberately crushed his life.
It took many ages to travel over the entire battlefield, and long before he reached the end, his strong resolve was crumbling. He couldn't hide his abhorrence for what he saw all around him. And never once had he found a living person. It seemed that everyone on both sides, save him only, had been exterminated. And still there was no sign of his friends.
In despair he at last sank to his knees, gazing blankly at the destruction around him. Death had been busy today, wielding his scythe madly into every living thing that could be found. The lone soul remaining clenched his fists tightly, drawing blood. His friends had to be somewhere nearby. They wouldn't have run off and left him. Neither was a coward. They would fight to the very end if it came to that. And, most likely, it had. But where were they amidst all the corpses and blood?!
Then he saw a weak, bloodied hand hanging limply from underneath the fierce, muscular body that had crashed unceremoniously on top of the hand's owner. His eyes narrowed suspiciously and he reached out, carefully pushing the corpse away to discover a small brunette form sprawled prone in the grass. Blood dripped from a gash on his left temple and his goggles, perched on top of the fluffy brown hair, were awry. His clothes were also badly torn and grave wounds had been inflicted in his shoulders and back. He was recognized instantly.
His voice came out in an aghast whisper. Carefully he reached out, pulling the limp body into his arms and shakily checking for any signs of life. This was Valon? . . . He had always been the cheerful one, constantly talking. . . . Now his voice was stilled, his blue eyes closed. He was so young . . . not even Alister's age of twenty. . . . But he was lifeless. Raphael felt numb.
Valon had been so naive in some ways, though in others he had been more wise and knowledgeable than most people ever were in their lifetimes. But still Raphael had felt the need to protect him, the same way any elder friend or surrogate brother might. Raphael had struggled to protect both Valon and Alister as best as he could, but it obviously hadn't been good enough now. He had lost his biological family years before; now he would lose his adopted family as well.
The cerulean eyes cracked open just slightly. "Raph?" Valon choked, moaning without meaning to. "Hey . . . how 'bout that. . . . You made it." He gave a weak smile, barely aware of anything. He was dying, though Raphael had managed to find him before he did.
Raphael swallowed hard. "Yeah," he agreed, "I made it." He gave his younger friend a scrutinizing look. "You don't look so well."
Valon shrugged. "Oh well . . . that's how it goes. . . ." Then, as if suddenly recalling something previously forgotten, the eyes widened in alarm as the brunette bit back a cry. "Raph . . . Alister's dead. . . ."
Raphael stared at him, though the news was not unexpected. "How?" he asked finally. And where was he? He raised his gaze to the area around them, suddenly noticing a body half-hidden by the stalks of wheat and the weeds that had fallen over it. The form was on its side, turned away from him, several arrows having pierced the flesh. But Raphael recognized the midriff-baring tank top and the magenta locks.
Valon shut his eyes tightly, trying to ignore the angry tears that sprang into them. "To protect me," he said brokenly. "And I guess . . . I tried to return the favor." He gave a weak smirk. "That bloke over there wound up crashing on me instead of him. . . ." The truth was that the person who had been sprawled over Valon had been about to deliver the final arrow to Alister's wounded form when Valon had interfered. They had then engaged in a fierce mortal combat, each sustaining many wounds, until the rough man was dealt the finishing blow and had fallen on top of the poor Australian, trapping him.
Raphael had already guessed the rest of Valon's story. He narrowed his eyes, trying to ignore how his heart was racing. "You fool," he said at last. Valon would know he didn't mean it.
Indeed, Valon just laughed, an action which turned into a coughing spell. He groaned then, blood coming to his lips. "Hey, Raph," he said softly, "I'm awfully sorry 'bout this. . . ." And he meant it. He knew he was dying. Raphael would be left alone. Valon had always been certain that he would be the one left all alone in the end. Instead it would be Raphael. And Valon didn't find it fair at all. Raphael didn't want to have to be alone either. "I don't think I can keep stayin' awake. . . ."
Raphael looked down at him. They both knew what Valon really meant. "Don't stay on my account," he replied gruffly. "Put yourself out of misery." He felt Valon's blood run down over his hands and a chill go up his spine. Yes, he would be unselfish and allow Valon to go. There was no point in him having to pointlessly suffer when he wouldn't be able to get better. They were days from any kind of towns or cities. Valon would never last that long. But Raphael wasn't sure he himself would last very long either.
Valon shuddered. "Just . . . promise me somethin', Raph. . . ." He studied him through half-closed eyes. It wasn't that he wanted to die; it was that he knew when he had been too injured to live. This fierce fighter had fought his last.
"Keep livin'," Valon told him.
Raphael gripped the weak form tighter. Valon was asking a lot. He would be alone again, with no one to care about him. And suddenly, in that instant, he understood why Alister had been so reluctant to open his heart to their fellowship. He had been afraid of the pain. It was overwhelming Raphael now. He hadn't experienced losing loved ones for over twelve years, when his family had all perished in the shipwreck.
"Promise, Raph." Valon grabbed Raphael's muscular arm.
"Fine!" Raphael snapped. If it would help Valon be more at peace, he would promise. But he didn't want to live alone again. . . . The thought was horrifying and made him feel almost desperate to be struck dead as well. He didn't think he could bear to go through life alone again . . . not after he had at last discovered that not all of humanity was evil. But in one day he had lost both of the people who meant anything to him in this cruel world.
Valon relaxed, not speaking for several moments. When again he did, his voice was barely there. "Well . . . I guess . . . I'll see you around, chum. . . ." His grip on Raphael's arm loosened. After a moment his eyes sank closed and his body fell limp. His breathing slowed and then stopped. And Raphael stared at the body, then at Alister's, completely broken.
He allowed himself a few tears for his fallen comrades as he shakily stood and then knelt again beside the redhead's lifeless form. Slowly he gripped at one of the arrows, seeing that it was in deep, and then let go, knowing that he would never be able to remove it. And yet . . . he couldn't just allow the weapons to remain buried in Alister's flesh. Somehow, he had to remove them.
Again he took hold of the arrow, after first laying Valon on the grass, and pulled. Slowly it came out, dripping red with blood. And as Raphael stared at it, he realized all the more that he was completely alone now. The feeling only increased as one by one he recovered all the other arrows. When he gently turned Alister onto his back and saw the vacancy of his gaze, Raphael found that he couldn't bear it.
The blonde man gave a start, abruptly pitching forward in the chair he was in. The book he had been holding dropped to the floor with a loud thunk. As his eyes snapped open and took in the sight of the room in its dimly-lighted splendor, he realized that he had been dreaming. Not only that, but there was a very strange song playing on the radio, speaking of a battle and mass carnage. Shakily Raphael snapped the device off. That was the last thing he needed to hear about. He growled. That song, coupled with the battle he had just been reading about in Return of the King, had probably been responsible for the morbid, horrible nightmare he had been experiencing.
He looked around, wondering where the others were. Of course they were alive. Any fear that they were not was childish, merely brought on by the dream. But that rationalization didn't quell his concerns. Slowly he stood, starting to wander through the house in his quest to find Alister and Valon. When he found that they were not anywhere in the house, he allowed himself to admit that he was worried. A glance at the clock revealed that the hour was late—almost two in the morning. Wherever they had gone, they should have returned by now!
Without his allowing it, the absurd thoughts started flooding his mind. What if the dream had not been nonsense, but instead, prophetic in a way? Or perhaps Alister and Valon had both gotten into some kind of trouble that they couldn't get out of and they were trying to send Raphael a message from the next life? Oh how ridiculous could he get? They were both fine, and if they didn't come in soon, Raphael would go out to find them and prove it!
The minutes dragged on and they didn't return. Raphael tried to settle back in the chair with his book, but he couldn't concentrate. All he could think about was the disturbing events of his dream and the fact that Alister and Valon seemed to both be missing in real life. What if they truly were dead and Raphael was alone again? Or what if they were hurt but could still be saved if he could find them? At last, with these thoughts in mind, Raphael stood up with every intention to go out looking for his friends.
At that moment, as the clock read quarter of three, the door was suddenly flung open and two weary young men stumbled in. Raphael was certain that his eyes betrayed his immense relief, even though otherwise he thought that he appeared perfectly calm. "Where have you two been?!" he demanded, going over to assist when he saw that both were limping and looked as though they'd just come out of a fight. Hopefully not with each other.
Valon looked up at him, revealing that his left eye was half-closed and sore. There was a bad gash on his temple, just as in Raphael's dream, but the Australian didn't look as though he would be passing on anytime soon. He grinned weakly while Alister shut the door behind them. "Hey, Raph, you look like you're seeing a couple of long-lost chums. You'd think we'd been dead or somethin'." Now he rubbed his shoulder, which was also bleeding. Raphael could see other wounds on his friend's chest and on his right leg. Alister was wounded similarly, though both of his eyes were wide open.
Raphael grunted. "You almost look like you could have been," he retorted gruffly. "I'll get the first aid kit and then I hope you'll both do some explaining."
Five minutes later the tough blonde was tending to both of his friends' wounds. There had been a slight problem at first, as each had insisted that the other was hurt the worst and should be tended to first. Raphael had finally solved it by remarking that they both seemed to be hurt equally bad and that he would treat the most serious wounds first. Alister, always independent, was now cleaning a cut on his leg while Valon jabbered away, telling Raphael some of what had gone on as the gash on his temple was cleaned.
"Alister and I started havin' a row," the brunette announced, to which Alister grunted a confirmation. "And so we both went our separate ways. You'd dropped off by then so neither of us bothered to wake you up to tell you. Then I kinda got in the way of some local gang and they got ticked."
Raphael sighed at this. So far, everything sounded normal. Alister and Valon were always quarreling. And Valon getting in trouble was nothing out of the ordinary. He bandaged Valon's shoulder while the Australian continued.
"We started fightin'," Valon said now. "There was about six of them and one of me, but I was sure I could take 'em." He smirked slightly.
"But he couldn't," Alister put in dryly as Raphael came to get the bleeding in the redhead's arm to stop. "When I found him, he was being beaten to the ground."
Valon cuffed him lightly on his uninjured arm. "Hey, I got some good punches in before that happened!" he retorted. But he did admit that he had finally been overpowered and had been repeatedly kicked and struck. Then the main abuser had suddenly groaned and collapsed to the ground. When Valon had looked up in confusion and surprise, Alister had been standing there with a rough piece of wood in his hand. Together they had managed to defeat the gang and send them running, though the both of them had been badly injured themselves.
"Valon was unconscious when it was over," Alister said darkly. He was the same as ever, feeling that things should be told in a flat, matter-of-fact tone, but Raphael could discern the emotions that Alister wasn't readily showing. "The blow to his head did it. But I wasn't much better. I tried to revive him, but grew dizzy and passed out myself." He reached up, running his fingers over a bump on the back of his head. It was strange, but in all the confusion he hadn't even remembered that he had been struck until he had blacked out moments later.
"I woke up with him crashing on top of me," Valon said in what sounded like an indignant tone, though Raphael knew that once Valon had realized that Alister had been hurt, he would have ceased all feelings of indignation towards his friend and instead been worried—and indeed, that was the truth. "Well. . . . After I got him to come to, we kinda talked a bit 'cause we didn't have the strength to get up yet." He leaned back into the couch, relaxing into the softness. It felt good to be home.
"We soon struggled to, though," Alister said now, "because we didn't know if the gang might come back or if they had associates who would try to finish the job. Somehow we made it back without any more encounters." It never ceased to amaze him how much trouble Valon could get into. The Australian wasn't either very old or very tall. It seemed to Alister that he should be able to easily blend into a crowd. And yet Valon was always winding up in some ridiculous mess or another. I guess it's true that strange things come in small packages.
Raphael leaned back when he was finished, watching his two friends. That was something his dream had right—though Alister and Valon often argued, they genuinely cared about each other and would always come when one or the other was in trouble. They would each be willing to die if that was what it would take to protect the other—or Raphael. And he knew he would do the same for either of them.
"So . . . that's what happened to us." Valon shrugged. "What about you, Raph?"
Raphael grunted. "It was very uneventful here. I fell asleep reading Tolkien, as you knew," he replied. There was no need to tell them of his nightmare. It hadn't been reality. Alister and Valon were alive and well. They would recover from their wounds. Raphael was certain that soon he wouldn't even remember the dream well. They always faded into the recesses of his mind after a while.
"Sleep sounds awfully good to me, mate," Valon remarked, folding his arms behind his head and gazing up at the ceiling. He yawned, presumably showing just how good it sounded. He was grateful that Alister had come to help him, and he had told him so during their conversation earlier. Honestly, he couldn't imagine his life without Alister and Raphael, now that they were in it.
The two lingered downstairs for a moment more before both heading upstairs to their respective rooms to sleep. After a brief spell of meditation over the events of the early morning, Raphael soon followed after them, content to forget morbidity and concentrate on reality. If he was to take anything from the dream, it was only that he was immeasurably grateful that it wasn't real and that he had his surrogate family with him still.