43. Dying

It's stopped snowing by the time the fight ends.

Buttercup lays there, hurting, her body too tired to heal the punctured lung and the wad of internal bleeding gathering in her abdomen. She coughs and out spurts some of that necessary fluid. Away from her, touching feet to feet almost, lies Butch, two holes laser-carved out of his sides, struggling to breathe along with her. Neither of them remembers a fight for survival quite that brutal. Neither of them remembers when survival became secondary to hurting and punching and causing as much pain as possible to the other.

It's cold, but the kind that's bone-deep and not caused by the weather. Buttercup stares at the white-sheet sky, feeling blood forcing its way up her gorge, feeling sharp kinks in her chest as her rib fragments lodge themselves nicely in her lung tissue. Breathing is agony, but a reflex, one she doesn't think about even as her broken body rips itself apart.

She doesn't realize Butch moved until his blood is slick on her arm and steaming in the snow beside her, harsh breathing matching hers beat for beat as he curls himself around her side, his good arm around her shoulders and his bad arm dangling from his shoulder socket. The blackened remnants of his torso aren't healing. She wonders, then realizes, then calmly knows, that this isn't one they're going to make it back from. Not without a miracle, and they both know they'd spent their last wishing penny long ago.

She tips on her side, then clings to his shirt, digging her nails into his chest a little, and his fingertips press with bruising, possessive strength into her forearm as his arm tightens like a coil around her. He's shivering as he twines his legs with hers, then presses dry, cracked lips to her forehead. She plants one in return on the bobbing skin of his throat.

A mutual cough rolls through him and exits her mouth, a dry cough on his part, sputtering on hers. Flecks of crimson against the snow. Sharp stabbing as the motion alone jabs another broken edge into her flesh. A superficial burning in her gut that would be crippling if she wasn't already frozen.

The pressure of his fingers against her skin never wanes, but she can feel when he's almost gone when a strange sound, almost like a dry sob, works its way out of his mouth. She shifts, just a little, and he moves accordingly to press forehead to forehead. One of his eyes has a burst vein, once more crimson against snow, interrupted by pools of deep green. There's peace there, so startling to her when she's used to seeing his eyes overcast and raging with the storms of his moods. It anchors her, somehow. If she'd felt any fear about how sleepy she suddenly felt, his eyes would've alleviated it.

He winces and grunts and shifts his head. Chapped lips rasping against hers. A final territorial bite on her lip just hard enough to draw blood, a cocky smile as she headbutts him and takes another kiss from him, smearing scarlet on his face.

Locked together as they are, she feels it as a rattling breeze when his breath leaves him, feels it rushing through her ravaged lungs and broken body, in every fiber of her being. Her heart gives a final, feeble attempt at creating life-giving blood, but there's no will behind it other than its own survival instinct. Her will died with the boy in her arms. She shoves her head under his chin, resolute that he's not going to leave her behind for long.

A/N: Hello, folks! I'm not dead! And I haven't forgotten about this project, I've just been busy. Please accept this as a token of my apology.

This is the start of another ministory, just FYI; the next two updates will be from the other pairs' perspectives. I do still fully intend to make it to one hundred, don't worry. :) Again, I'm sorry, and I hope this angsty feelswagon will suffice for the time being.

ALSO: It makes all the difference if you read this piece with Sia's "My Love" playing in the background plz and thank you. Also, if you happen to like this chapter, please review and let me know what you thought! Thanks!