*This is one of two verses I shall be working on between my larger, multi-chapter fics. This one is called the Broken!Verse. The title comes from the song I thought of as soon as the name for The Broken was revealed, We Are Broken by Paramore. Which, when you listen to it, is eerily TP reminiscent. Go check it out. Now. This is separate from Just Like A Tattoo and the Headmaster!Verse. Enjoy.*

Your Arms Like Towers

Food runs were the worst job, and the one no one ever wanted to do. Which of course meant that Gabe, the slowest at nose-goes or whatever the hell other way of deciding who did what they had, ended up going on more than he felt was right. He really had to learn to react faster.

"Or you know, just learn to stay out of the room when Ian says he's handing out duties for the day," a voice remarked behind him.

Gabe turned, glaring at the dark haired girl, "And how'd that work out for ya', Suki?" He hadn't realized he'd been voicing his thoughts aloud.

"Excellent every day but this one," Suki said lightly, shifting the burlap bag stuffed with food in her arms so that she had a better grip on it. "Which simply means I'll have to find another hiding spot in the future."

"Or, you know, stop giving in when Ian threatens to send Ray out instead," Gabe snorted, rolling his eyes, careful not to trip over a protruding forest root as he walked. He didn't need to fall on his face. For the thousandth time.

Suki made a face, "Ray is hurt," she exclaimed, exasperated. "He shattered his wrist in that last fight with the Gnomes!"

"Why do you say that as though I missed him accidentally punching a brick wall instead of Gnome face?" Gabe asked, scowling. "I was there, Suki."

"Cowering in a corner," Suki smirked.

"Ian told me to stay out of the way!" Gabe protested hotly, offended. "And besides, that's not the point."

Suki blinked, pausing in her steps so that she could maneuver around a particularly annoying boulder, "And what was the point, exactly? Besides you whining."

"The point is that Ray is annoying," Gabe said after a moment of thought, "Enough said."

"You're just saying that because he get's to stay behind while you have to do actual work. Oh, woe is Gabe, using his muscles for once in his life is so tiring," she put a hand to her forehead, as though exhausted, and Gabe had to marvel at her skills balancing the sack of food against her chest with only one hand.

"You find great joy in mocking me, don't you," he said darkly, sighing as she nodded in confirmation. "My life is a living hell," he grumbled.

"You don't know what you'd do without me," Suki grinned.

"I'd replace you with someone nicer," Gabe informed lightly. "I need nicer friends. You mock me, Ian makes me work, CJ is taller than me which is just plain annoying, and Ray is a dick."

Suki handed him her bag as she scrambled up the steep incline, the rock with the Red Fang stencil at it's top, catching it as he tossed the sack up to her when she reached steady ground again, shortly followed by his own bag before he scaled the slope as well. "You just acknowledged Ray as a friend," she said once they were moving again, amused.

Gabe frowned, "I acknowledge him as an acquaintance," he corrected, "That hardly makes him my friend."

"It should," Suki muttered, rolling her eyes, "You're such a stick in the mud, Gabe. Why don't you like him? Ian likes him."

At this, Gabe made a choked noise, as though he'd swallowed his own spit wrong. He turned towards her, walking backwards, "Ian doesn't like him. Ian listens to his advice, and for some stupid reason takes him seriously when he has an idea."

"AKA, he likes him," Suki summarized, "And you're jealous."

"Jealous of what? Their obvious lovey-dovey fluff?" He grinned when Suki looked absolutely mortified at the idea, "If I had anything to be jealous of, I'd have decked him ages ago."

Suki rolled her eyes at the idea, "Maybe in some really messed up alternate universe you would," she muttered. "Ray could flick you, and you'd fall over."

Gabe, still walking backwards so that he could face her, echoed in his girliest voice, "Ray could flick you, and you'd fall over." He stuck out his tongue, "I'm not that much of a wimp, Suki. Is that so hard to believe?" She nodded, and he growled, "Fine, so what if I am? I wouldn't fall I'd just-"

Karma had the worst sense of timing, Gabe decided, as he tripped over one of the Latin marked grave stones, falling on his butt with a huff before he could finish what he'd been about to say. "Fall over," Suki finished for him, smirking in triumph, "You seem to have this natural affinity with the ground, Gabe. Don't worry about it, I won't tell anyone."

"I loath you," the bespectacled teen decided as he stumbled to his feet, "So much."

"And I think you're adorable," Suki sing-songed, walking on ahead. "Especially when you're in complete denial."

Scrambling over the fallen tree, his shoes sliding on the slick moss, Gabe snapped out a, "Denial? What's there to be in denial of?"

Suki shrugged, putting down her bag so that she could hook both hands around the bars of the door to the hideout, pulling hard. "Oh, I don't know, the way that now because Ian has an entire secret society of resisters to look after he pays less attention to you," she smiled at him, tossing her sack down into the darkness before jumping down as well, Gabe close behind.

Shutting the door, Gabe glared at her though he knew she couldn't see it as their eyes adjusted to the shadows, "Ian's a busy guy," he said after a moment, "He can't be bothered with me all the time, nothing would get done around here."

Suki snorted, picking up her bag once more and shuffling down the dark tunnels, "Whatever you say, Gabe." She laughed softly at his raised eyebrow, shaking her head, "You see, there's this big river called Denial, and you're so deep in the center of it that it's over your head." She raised a hand over her own as if to emphasize her point, "The water goes to like, here for you. Try not to drown."

"I can swim just fine, thanks," Gabe scowled, pushing past her. She laughed, long and loud, before she followed him, prancing into the throne room with their spoils of the day.

The throne room, as it was unofficially referred to, was the largest room in the hideout, the ceiling stretching far overhead and the edges of the walls as free from debris as humanly possible. They held meetings here, with the dim candles and single light bulb that lit it making it the most friendly looking place in the whole underground area. But it was also the coldest, the most chilled with it's space, and Gabe wasn't as fond of it as some were. His eyes traveled to the throne, the chair at the head of the room where their leader sat, deep in conversation with Lieutenant and Ray, the latter cradling his splinted left hand gingerly to his chest as he spoke.

Ian hadn't changed much since they'd joined the broken, Gabe thought to himself, eyeing the blond lounging in the chair, seemingly carefree in his attitude as he talked. His legs were pulled up, his back against one arm of the throne and his feet hanging over the other end, chin propped up on his hand. Just as before, his eyes were still that soft hazel, glinting with hope and schemes to keep his companions alive, his outward appearance light and without fear, while Gabe could still pick out the tenseness in his muscles giving away his internal unease. His dirty-blond hair was a little longer, hanging just over the edges of his eyes as he murmured something too soft for Gabe to hear, and his clothes, once kept smooth and pristine by the school washing machines, were now wrinkled and dirty, but beneath it all he was still Ian.

Gabe thanked whatever higher power there was every day for that.

He'd heard about the previous Red Fang, of course, everyone knew about him. He'd believed in the fa├žade of the monster so much, he had become it, slinking away into the night and never seen again.

Gabe figured the Gnomes had found him. That's what happened to anyone who simply vanished. Where they went after that was anyone's guess.

Maybe they became Gnomes, too.

Ian looked up then, noticing that the Food Runners of the day had returned with fresh stocks, a smile quirking the corners of his mouth. He waved a hand, motioning for Gabe and Suki to approach, "Back so early?" he called, lowering his arm again so that his fingers brushed against the ground, "Did you run into ay trouble?"

"None," Gabe said, squeezing in between Lieutenant and Ray and puffing out his chest, though it did little to improve his height compared to the two much taller teens. "The woods are quiet and besides the new passcode on the kitchen store doors, nothing went wrong."

Ian raised an eyebrow, "A little early for them to be changing the code, they must have noticed some food missing. Did you have any trouble cracking it?" "Piece of cake," Suki spoke up, still standing behind the three boys crowding around the throne, "As with any Sato System's lock. I don't know what they think they can hide from me if they keep using my father's technology." She grinned, immensely proud of herself. Ian nodded to her in acknowledgement of it, glancing back at Gabe, "The back of your pant's leg is torn," he remarked lightly, smiling as he voiced his silent question.

"Well you see-"

Suki punched Gabe in the shoulder before he could begin a raving lie, as usual, "He tripped on the graves," she informed instead, ignoring Gabe's embarrassed whine of protest.

"Big surprise," Ian chuckled. He glanced at Gabe, "Let me take a look at them later, okay? A little patch and they should be good as new."

Lieutenant, blinking at the offer, frowned, "Sir, we have plenty of other people that can fix up Mr. Forest's ripped pants, it is below you to-"

"I am no above going about the same tasks everyone else must do," Ian growled, making the shorter teen pale. "I will fix Gabe's pants." Turning his attention back to the raven haired boy in question, he asked, "Anything else to report?"

Gabe scuffed his feet against the dirty floor, "No," he sighed, stepping back so that Ray could speak again, but the other stopped him, prodding him with his uninjured hand.

"Where are you going? This is an important meeting, Forest."

"Exactly," Gabe said shortly, "I don't want to be in the way."

"You're hardly in the way," Ian smiled, motioning for him to return to the little group surrounding him, "I could use your advice. I could always use your advice."

Gabe blushed, allowing Ray to draw him back into the group, a hand on his shoulder, "Thank you," he whispered.

"We are all broken," Ray murmured, "Together we are whole. Quit acting like you're the only one left out."

Ian grinned, "Right. Now, as I was saying before you came, Gabe, we're planning to move the base at the end of the week."

"Wha?" Gabe started, surprised, "How come? And where would we move it to?" He liked it here, it had been their home for nearly a year, and it's passages and cluttered rooms were already familiar to him. The thought of moving made him uneasy.

Ian sighed, "Well, from what we can tell the Gnomes are starting to bear down on this place, with the number of attacks we've had recently so close to the base," he gestured to Ray's broken hand grimly as an example. "So I think it would be best if we packed up and found somewhere else, no matter how convenient it may be. We're still unsure if the Gnomes are controlled by Headmaster, and I would rather not risk getting captured by them if that's the case."

Ray shook his head, "It is inconvenient, and some of the younger ones will hate the idea entirely, but I agree, reluctantly, that it's our safest bet for now."

"I'd rather fight," Lieutenant growled in response, "why isn't that an option? We've been searching for the Gnome bunker for months now, and I think we're getting close. Couldn't we continue with that plan and get to them before they get to us?" He crossed his arms over his chest, pursing his lips, slight British tone disagreeing and cold.

Ian frowned, "Lieutenant, you elected me as your leader in the old Red Fang's place-"

"I did," the spiky haired blond agreed sourly.

"And I appreciate your suggestions and ideas as part of my council, and I trust your judgment on many issues," Ian went on, undeterred by the interruption, "But you're putting the lives of our people at risk with continuing on that course." He raised a hand for silence when Lieutenant opened his mouth to protest, "We will continue it, eventually, I assure you, but for now I would like you to think of safety before war, if you would."

Ray, shifting from foot to foot, spoke up, "Um, do you remember that section of tunnels that were cut off from the rest when the south exit near the cemetery collapsed? We could use that area, if we reinforce the cut off and pack it in tighter, closing us in from the main tunnels to the school."

"We could set up teams on both side of the collapse to work on it and double the strength to insure it will hold," Gabe added thoughtfully, "And we could probably have it done by Friday or Saturday."

Ian rested his chin in his hand again, "That could work. There are main rooms in that area where we could store things, like here. It's not ideal but it's our best option aside from digging a whole new base ourselves." His three listeners shuddered at the thought, and he smiled. "Ray, Lieutenant, you can lead the two parties to begin work on reinforcing the collapse that will cut us off from the main school tunnels tomorrow, and report back on how much time it's estimated to take so that we can be prepared to leave as soon as it's finished."

Lieutenant nodded solemnly, obeying orders as always despite his opposition to them, "As you wish. We should split up the people with attack type powers between here and there though, so that neither is without a defense if the Gnomes choose to come after us while we're divided between places."

"And that's why you are the person I consult when I need war strategies," Ian said brightly. "And speaking of war, I'm giving you the duty of handing out supper for the night."

The other blond blanched, "What? Oh that's just great. Why am I not above menial stupidity like that?" He stomped his feet and trudged off, shoulders hunched with the dread of passing out rations to the horde of hungry former Tower Prep students.

Ian simply laughed, rising from his chair and putting a hand on Ray's head, "Start a roster for tomorrow's endeavor, would you? I'd like to approve those leaving before you head out."

"Of course," Ray agreed, nodding to his leader, "I'll get right on that."

"See that you do," Ian said curtly before he turned his attention to Gabe. "Do me a favor and go round up the kids, would you? They decided to make a fort in the bunk room."

Gabe laughed, "Yeah, sure, I'll go grab them. Just make sure Lieutenant saves me some food."

In The Broken had a total of seven children in their care. Five runaways from the Elementary division Ian didn't even know existed until he'd joined the secret underground society, and two from the Junior area.

The eldest, a pair of twin boys about twelve years old, were always at the head of whatever mischief went on during the day, and it was no surprise to Gabe when he caught them standing guard outside their new makeshift fort, the elected leaders of the little gang. "Well well well," he smiled, crossing his arms, "What have we here? Captains Percy and Luke, I presume?"

Luke, the older twin by exactly six minutes and twelve seconds, as he insisted on telling everyone, puffed out his chest, "You can't come into our fort, no grownups allowed."

"None," Percy echoed, trying his best to seem as threatening as his brother.

Gabe threw up his hands in mock defeat, "Too bad, I guess you don't want your dinner then." And that was all he needed to say, Percy and Luke dropping the sticks they were using as weapons and dashing down the tunnel, calling over their shoulders for the other kids, who scrambled out from the blanket fort hot on their heels. Gabe followed at a slower pace, scooping up Marshal, the youngest at six, when he tripped in his effort to keep up.

"Whoa there, no need to get those clothes dirtier than they already are," he chided, balancing the boy on his shoulders as he walked, "Try and coordinate your feet better."

"Don't listen to him," Suki said as they passed into the dining room, "Gabe falls over himself more than anyone, he can't give advice."

Marshal laughed and Gabe made a face at her in response.

Dinner went as it usually did, people complaining about what little they got, Fenton entertaining the kids afterwards with a harrowing tale, unfortunately accompanied by a song, Emily taking nightly attendance to make sure no one was missing or unaccounted for, and Ian assigning the guards for the evening before chaperoning the children off to bed, Ray following so that he could take up his usual place as their watchman.

Gabe, left to his own devices, wandered away, grabbing Senior Guapo from his nest of blankets and heading out of the tunnels, nodding to the guards of the night as he did so to show he had no ill intent. Once outside, he made his way to the fallen tree that helped mark the way to their base, taking a seat on it with a heavy sigh just as the moon began to rise.

He wasn't sure when his life had moved from the goal of escape, to simply survival day to day, shifting between places when things got too hairy and slowly drawing in more forces. If he thought about it really, the ultimate end was the same, freedom from Tower Prep, but the obstacles were different. He couldn't help but wonder if they would have been better off staying inside the safety of the school, ignorant to it's evils forever, if only because it was safer that way.

"You don't really believe that, do you?" a voice asked, startling the raven haired teen from his thoughts.

Gabe craned his neck back, catching sight of Ian standing just behind him, a candle in one hand a blanket in the other. He smiled, "Sorry, I seem to have the habit of speaking my thoughts out loud today." Rubbing the back of his neck nervously, he murmured, "But it's just an idea, Ian. I don't . . . I don't regret being here, if that's what you're asking."

Ian nodded, swinging his legs over the edge of the mossy log and taking up root beside him, placing the candle on the forest floor. He glanced at his friend for a moment, watching the light of the fire dance across his glasses before he threw the blanket over his shoulders, draping it over the both of them. "You'll freeze to death out here," he scolded, smirking when Gabe shivered on cue.

"I wasn't planning to stay too long," he argued in reply. "I just didn't want to hang around for the usual bedtime fight of who's taking up the most space on the floor and 'scootch over your foot is in my ass' sort of thing." He grinned and Ian laughed in agreement, shaking his head.

Ian put his elbows on his knees, head in his hands as he looked out over the forest from their higher vantage point on the hill, "I think CJ regrets it. She wanted out, and I brought her here instead. She doesn't say it, but I know that she feels she would have been better off staying at the school." Gabe narrowed his eyes, staring pointedly at the ground, "It's all she's ever known, of course she feels that way. I probably would too, in her position." He shrugged, his shoulder brushing against Ian's as he did so. "But she followed you because she believes in what you do, and that eventually, even if it's not now, you'll get us all out of here."

Silence settled for a moment, and Ian closed his eyes, "I wish you all wouldn't put so much faith in me. I'm blundering along just as blindly as anyone here."

"But you do it with style," Gabe said lightly, amused at this admittance, "You make it look fancy enough that no one notices."

Ian chuckled, "I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not. Should I be offended?"

"Take it as you will," Gabe smiled, turning his gaze to the sky again. In the moonlight, he let his eyes roam over the messed up constellations, reassembling them in his mind the way Suki had taught him to after they'd made their first phone call home. "What time is it, do you think?" he asked in the silence that had stretched.

"Umm . . . Almost ten, maybe?" Ian guessed, rolling his shoulders so they brushed Gabe's once again, "Why?"

Gabe smiled, looking at the ground again, "Just wondering if I was too late." He leaned down, picking up the candle that sat at their feet and holding it up, "I know everyone's busy, and that we lose track of days and time a lot when we're out here, and we're all stressed, but don't think everyone has forgotten, okay?"

Ian blinked, "Forgotten what?"

The other shook his head, putting a hand on the blonde's knee, "Merry Christmas, Ian," he whispered.

Taken aback, Ian stared at him for a long moment before he laughed, the sound soft and choked, though Gabe pretended not to notice. "Thank you," he said, almost inaudibly after a pause.

"Make a wish," Gabe grinned, holding the candle out to him.

Ian blew it out, enveloping them in darkness as he fumbled for his lighter in his pocket, setting the wick aflame once more. He placed the candle on the ground again at their feet, putting an arm around Gabe's shoulders and pulling him closer, "Don't know what I'd do without you," he murmured, squeezing the other's arm.

"You'd be ungodly bored, and I'd have no one to fix my pants," Gabe replied smugly.

"Which reminds me," Ian shoved a hand into his pocket, groping for a minute before drawing out a small sewing kit, holding it up for his companion to see in the dim candle light.

"Tiny sewing kit for the win," Gabe laughed, "so what, you want me to strip?"

"I'm good, thanks," Ian snorted, patting his legs, "Just put your leg here and I'll stitch on the patch. It'll only take a few minutes."

Gabe did as he was told, twisting into the required position and finding his head leaning on Ian's shoulder while Ian hunched over him, getting to work. "Yay, cuddling," he mumbled against the blonde's coat, his eyelids starting to droop.

"Don't get too comfy," Ian teased, "Or I'll leave you out here for the Gnomes."

"Yeah right," Gabe yawned, tucking Senior Guapo between his chest and Ian's arm, "You're too much of a softy."

"You ever know," Ian warned, shaking his head.

They were The Broken. But together, they were whole.

RANDOM AUTHOR RAMBLE

I adored 1x10, in case you can't tell. The whole Merry Christmas thing was so cute, and the overflow of Ian/Gabe fluff and jealousy as well. If only CJ would butt out. B

This is one of two mini-verses I'm currently working on, and am having more fun with than I probably should, actually. Hahaha. Basically, this one is where the Gnomes never found The Broken's hideout and Ian became their leader, as promised. The blond kid who gave him the deets didn't seem to have a name in that ep, or if he did it was never said. So I shall call him Lieutenant, because of his uniform-ish dress. And unlike the Headmaster!Verse, in this verse, the Broken!Verse, Ian and Gabe are NOT together. Yet. (lol, why would I split them? That's a stupid idea. This is just another slow and pleasant build)

Also, I KNOW there have to be more divisions than the Senior division at TP (that's what I'm calling the High School area in all my fics) because CJ has been there all her life, and Fenton said he got there when he was eleven, AKA, fifth or sixth grade. So there have to be other divisions. Also, I just really wanted to bring a bunch of cute little children into the mix for the gang to oversee. B]

The kids, thus far, are:

Percy and Luke, the eldest at twelve named after two characters in the Percy Jackson series (that I never read but liked the movie cause Percy looks like a fuckin' girl).

Marshall, the youngest, named after Marshall in How I Met Your Mother.

Christian, third eldest at ten. Named after no one.

Mary, nine, named after Mary Winchester in Supernatural.

Rosie, seven, named after no one.

And Adam, also seven, named after Adam Milligan (Winchester) from Supernatural.