summary; Rachel might have been clever enough to code the messages, but Teddy, Teddy was better than that. He could decode them. He could decode them, it, him, her, Chuck.
Uh, this sort of, sprung to mind after the Shutter Island read? Hands down, it's one of the best books I've read. The best psychological thriller I've read no doubt, perhaps because I never had the motivation to finish them, and thus have read very few of them. Nonetheless, one of the best reads I've had in a very long while. Uh, I'm naturally a slasher, it was sort of intended to lean against Teddy/Chuck, but eh, what the hell. I'm known for gen fics as well, I think…
Uh, and oh yeah. SPOILERS. Seriously, there are some spoilers in here. Uhm, not really sure how heavy they are, they are sort of spoiling the end, okay, yes they are. So, unless you don't care for spoilers or have read the book or seen the film or whatever, you might not want to proceed further. Otherwise, read on.
The ferry never came to get them, naturally. One day, it simply vanished. A thick, seemingly impervious mist settled over the endless sky-hungry ocean, clung to the horizon like the fog of breath on a cool glass surface, and gone it was. Teddy had no time to think about it, not really. They were too busy moving about to notice, to care.
He tasted it carefully, put his tongue between his teeth and moved his lips around it, twisted and curved the word as though the term for the first time really mattered to him. Like Dolores and her flowery, outdated tie and orange smelling tongue and fucking and love had never really mattered to him like that. It was as though he'd for the first time taken a step towards forgetting. Putting Dolores on a shelf for her to gather dust, like a captured on film movement in a frame. Perhaps of a once upon a time happy family, the children grinning toothily and rubbing their noses, faint outlines of scars and scabs cluttering their elbows and knees, eyes shining with youth and innocence and life. The two parents – her in a knee length skirt and summer blouse with the sun glinting off her hair and freckles dotting her fair skin lightly, him with a shirt unbuttoned at the neck, untied tie slung around his neck and dentist smile. That picture would've been frozen in time, so that once the parents grew old – no, older – and split up, the kids scattered around town and married or in the navy or on the streets scraping up the dirt and failing to repair old mistakes. It would be put on a shelf and gather dust, eventually growing so thick it'd obscure most of the picture.
That's what he'd do with Dolores. Obscure her behind a layer of ignorance, forgetfulness. Put her there and hide behind a layer of moving on-ness.
But Teddy would never be able to move on. Not really.
However, he was becoming easily more forgetful as the days passed. More paranoid, more dependent on Chuck's endless supply of cigarettes and jokes about a future at the Catskills. How Teddy could be the opening act.
The opening act.
There was something that worked his mind all the time, shrunk it, and sharpened something in it that made it hard to think, well, normally. Normally, as most people would say. He thought in numbers. Had done ever since he'd reached the lighthouse. The last clue, he'd never figured out. It was there, at the back of his mind, probing, fingers poking at his brain, rearranging the nerves and sending off jolts of pain whenever he thought too much of it. A warning sign.
Don't go there. Don't take those pills. Don't do that. Don't go there Teddy, just don't. don'ttakethosefuckingpillsTeddy. DON'TGOTHERESONOFABITCHLEAVEIT.
There were a lot of them.
The lighthouse was a warning.
It was all Greek to him, essentially. It made no sense. No, fucking sense, what so ever.
It was all 67 and Andrew Laeddis and Rachel Solando, but after that–
Don't probe. Don't search. Just forget it Teddy, let it go.
Don't go there baby.
So much for forgetting her, eh?
At one point, they'd hidden in an old cottage down by the beach where they'd found Rachel. The high tides had swept her stones away, the smooth rocks at the bottom of the sea weed and rat corpses cluttered sand bottom. Her footsteps were long since erased, like even the sea wanted to forget.
The tree was rotting and the roof had fallen in, mold smelling sweet and salt clinging to their lips and tongues. Chuck had lit a cigarette, thrown one at Teddy. It'd bumped into his forehead, just like that. Been a bullet he'd been dead now.
But he trusted Chuck. He'd always trust Chuck, for some reason. Perhaps war hadn't taught him anything, or at the very least not what it ought to have taught him.
And the rain started to fall. At first it was a mere quiet drizzle that dripped – drip, drop – through the now nonexistent roof and sagging walls. Eventually, it grew stronger. Like a lash from a whip, it drummed sharply around them. Not on a particular concrete, like the roof for example. There wasn't much left to be called that, after all. It just, strummed out of sync around them, everywhere.
"Weather's crazy." His voice felt calloused, rough, strained. His throat was sandpaper, and no water could help it.
Chuck chugged the lighter at him, laughed softly. It drowned in the rain. Everything drowns in water.
It's the sea. Some men take to it. Some men it takes.
"Yeah well, add that to the list of things that are crazy on this island. What's left?"
You and me. Us. Them.
But Teddy said nothing. They were partners, they should be able to work this mutual, silent communication between each other.
The nightmares had come back.
He'd gone too deep. The migraines were surfacing with lesser time in-between them, stabbing behind his eyes and forking his senses and gutting his brain and punching and kicking and shooting and drugging and aiming for the center, aiming for those few nerves to shut it all down.
Sometimes Teddy wished it'd happen. His notebook was gone, his jacket was gone, gone was his badge and his identity and life. They had stopped in the village this time, in an old and rugged building housing a long since forgotten watermill. The cogs were corroded, and the building housed rats. Lots of rats.
Chuck chuckled at them, threw Teddy a cigarette and a dry comment. It sounded like tobacco, if it would ever sound like anything, it would sound like Chuck did. He was tobacco, drugs, 4-18-21-7-19, a code.
Chuck's hands were baby soft, smooth without scars or bumps or imperfections. There was something about them, something that had to do with the code, something that was not right.
"I trust him. That's the only way I know how to put it."
"Then they've already won."
Chuck's hands weren't reminiscences of the African deserts. They were moist, the skin was dry but alive, they were the hands of–
"We really should get outta here. Rain's coming, water, you know."
"They're looking for us outside, there's no point. Either we run out, they get us. Or they kick in the door, and we can hide. In here, with the water."
"But we're the ones kicking in the doors."
"Yeah, yeah we are."
Rachel Solando was gone.
Somehow, Teddy'd known he'd never see her again. At least not while awake. His dreams were full of her, as they were filled with Chuck and the set slightly too wide apart eyes of a woman – he knew her name but somehow it grew foggy and overshadowed the more he wanted to reach it, couldn't, don't go there – and his father and water and a calm ocean and wet overcoats.
There was the Cocoanut Grove – clear as the day he wasn't sure he'd ever see again – and a white and black checkered corridor, a green and pale room, cells and broken roofs. There were seashells and the smell of stale smoke and seaweed.
There was Maggie Moonpie. She smiled at them, the licorice scar slashed obscenely – in the dream Teddy thought it was rather fascinating, actually – across the pale and lined skin of her throat constricting with the motion. But she seemed to pay it no attention, as though she'd gotten used to having it ensnare her like that.
"Laugh. Laugh, I want to see you laugh. It's good for the soul. I want to remember you that way – laughing."
And Chuck smiled. One of those grins he'd flash most of the time. Those which were soft as the ocean breeze and soft sunlight filtering through maple twigs and onto fallen apples around a garden.
He cocked his head at Teddy, smiled wider.
"Why you all wet, baby?"
He awoke sweaty and clammy and breathing harshly to Chuck's even breathing and calm eyes. Dark, calm, endless. Teddy felt his throat constricting harshly, and he bit his lip until the tang of copper on his tongue brought him back.
"What we do about Andrew Laeddis, boss?" His voice was quiet, restrained, calm tides a summer evening in Seattle, didn't belong here. As detached to Chuck as Chuck's borrowed hands. Had no scythe shaped scars, or even straight ones, or curled ones, or sharp ones, in his voice. It was unmarred and light, bore but never bringing pain, soothing but never hurting.
"I don't know." Teddy wiped his forehead, caught a brief glimpse of the numbers and letters scattered across his wrist.
"Just so you know, you pursued your lips again. Like that." He nodded towards Teddy as though he'd understand by it what he meant. He did.
"I…" He trailed off, Chuck gave him half a halfhearted grin.
Teddy kicked the table. Looked at the carved out numbers, the letters, the hyphens between them.
There was something blocking in his brain. The lighthouse, the clue, the solved mystery, the final stop.
Don't go there.
He clenched his teeth, raking a finger across his chin, feeling the growing hairs drag raggedly under his fingertips. Frustration digging its claws into his temples, a dull throb hacking relentlessly behind his left eye.
It always came back to Chuck.
"All up to you and me, innit?" He murmured, a contemplating sound, from where he sat across the table. His feat were propped up and crossed at the ankles on the flat surface, his eyes straying over the rocky shores beneath them. The pine trees were swaying gently in the growing wind, giving faint whines when it swept by the shells of their ears. Teddy shivered, but he knew it wasn't because of nature.
You and me.
Himself, and his partner.
"Or up to them." Teddy answered at last.
"We kick down the doors, remember?"
"It's an island, no one escapes an island. Teddy."
His name rolled off of Chuck's tongue like sweet water. Not the salt, eroding that bit into the flesh of his lips and to his rapidly growing hair. Neutral, sweet water. Seattle water, perhaps.
"Except you and me." Chuck's gaze was… approving, of some sort.
"Except you and me, yeah. Yeah that's right Teddy."
And suddenly, everything fell into place. You and me, you and him, them, us, I am me, he's he, Teddy is Chuck is Rachel is that woman with the eyes is Andrew is everyone.
You are him
And the world came crashing down on him.