Author's Note: This is the first installment of what will be a short multi-part fic. I've actually had chunks of this written for a long time (I won't even tell you how long, except I began it before I began Bound), and it's about time I worked out the plot snag and brought it to light. Needless to say, I still don't own these characters, or make the slightest profit from torturing them. More's the pity.

Hope you enjoy it!



I couldn't do this. No fucking way I could do this.

I was more afraid than I'd ever been before, EVER—and that wasn't somethin' I'd normally admit. Even in battle, all I usually felt was cold fury, or hatred, or maybe even simple scorn. An' yeah, sure, if one a' my family members went down, I'd get scared. But this…this was a different sort of feeling altogether, one completely foreign to me. It was like I was bein' squeezed in the tentacles of a giant squid; I could hardly breathe, or swallow, or even function. So completely, intensely scared it almost wasn't recognizable as fear.


As I stared down at the apartment window below me, it seemed like the slices of sallow light cutting through the blinds would cut right through me if I went down there, leaving me to bleed out and die on the fire escape. God, if only. Death would be preferable to goin' in there, and the slower the better—but I had no choice. I had to do this, and I had to do it right now before the shroud of shock lifted and I lost any chance at coherent speech. Even that thought sliding across my consciousness caused my fragile armor slip a little, allowing reality to penetrate like a shaft of cold air and forcing my breath into shallow, pinching gasps of panic before I managed to evict it.

She's gotta hear it from you…there ain't no way out of this and you know it. Better you than the police, and they'll be callin' soon…

But despite the eerily calm urgings of my inner voice, I just stayed there, frozen in mind and body. Numb, except for the fear.

I couldn't remember the trip here, but I must a' hauled shell cuz I could still feel my lungs burning, mask tails clinging damply to the back of my neck as sweat crawled like columns of spiders down my skin. I'd gotten here fast, all right—maybe too fast, cuz I still didn't have a goddamn clue how to do this and I was runnin' out of time. I couldn't even think the words right now, much less say 'em, so how the hell was I supposed to go through with this? And in spite of the stifling warmth of the night air, I shivered all the way down to my core.

It wasn't makin' it any easier that some part of my mind kept whispering that this wasn't real, that any second I was gonna wake up cursing the side effects of Mikey's late night culinary experiments. I squeezed my eyes shut in desperation, willing myself back to the comfort and security of my hammock, willing this nightmare to give up its hold on me…

But when I reopened my eyes, it was to stare down at the window once again.