Self-Inflicted Wounds

Disclaimer: Pete Wisdom and Domino belong to Marvel. Not that they've treated either of them horribly well.... *mutter* Anyway, not making any money off of this. This story is a few months prior to 'After Long Years' and probably won't make a lot of sense unless you've read the rest of the TTaT arc.

TTaT: Self-Inflicted Wounds
by Timesprite

Floorboards were creaking. She could hear it in time with his steps, forward to the window--pause--back toward the door, turn, repeat. Talking to someone on the phone--he didn't normally pace. His voice was a low, unintelligible thrum. With a quiet groan, she pulled blankets over her head, trying to drown out the suddenly too-loud noise. The sheets smelt like cigarettes. Everything did, actually. The entire apartment was filled with an ever-present haze. She wouldn't have minded so much, but it had her craving one, and she wasn't about to get up to bum one off Pete. Not when she could stay here, wrapped in her cocoon of warmth, languishing in the muzzy fog of the best painkillers money could buy. In the other room, the pacing continued.

He never bothered her, coming and going without comment, getting clothes, using the bathroom, occasionally asking if she'd bothered to eat. Two weeks, and he hadn't said a word as she curled up like a frightened kid in his bed.

His voice was a little louder now, penetrating through the layers of fabric and medication, making her squeeze her eyes closed tightly and grit her teeth.

"She's not--look, mate..."

She tossed restlessly, a soft cry of pain escaping unbidden as her shoulder throbbed ruthlessly, peeling back the comfortable buffer of indifference, sense and sensation burning red hot into her brain. "Fuck," she cursed softly, as shame twisted like a serpent in her stomach. The self-inflicted horror seemed to challenge her. Some scars were deeper than flesh and blood, and not a knife in the world could excise brands on the soul.

"Look, I don't care if the bloody pope is looking for her--"

She sucked in a lungful of warm, stale air and forced the memories away. Too recent, and they bubbled like a great dark river, threatening to overflow its banks and drown out everything.

"...lemme put it this way. Unless you want to see th' wrong end of a hotknife..."

She felt sick, couldn't stop shaking, and she marveled that he couldn't hear her scream. But then, it was only in her head, wasn't it? It was only... Bile burned her throat. It was weakness, pure, simple, and disgusting. Her own helplessness made her skin crawl, and she clamped down with a will of iron, forcing the hissing demons in her head back into their wards and lairs in the corners of her mind. Locked away, again. It was simple; she knew the steps by heart. On the other side of the paper-thin walls, the phone slammed down and the pacing stopped.

She threw the covers back. It had been her choice. Her choice, her choice, her choice. There was no blame. The shadows slithered and shut out all the light.

The door creaked open, a flash of light arching across the gloom. She held her breath.

"You alright? Thought I 'eard somethin.'"

"Yeah." Her voice was foreign to her ears, as if heard through water. "I'm fine."

End