Title: And When the Fear Comes
Rated: T, for swearing.
Genre: ...I'm actually not sure if this is hurt/comfort, lolz. But I guess it's close enough.
Takes place after inFamous 1, but there aren't any real spoilers I think. No spoilers for inFamous 2, either.
Oh man, I am so proud of this fic. Partly cause it's the only one I've finished in months, yeah, but I'm also rather pleased with how it turned out. Feedback/concrit is appreciated.
You ever met the Electric Man?
Yeah, I guess not. You weren't in Empire City, were you? Nah, there's no way you were. You're too... no offense, but you're too clean. Bein' in a hospital will do that, sure. But you still get what I mean. Hospital clean just gets rid of the top layers. The dirt gets in your head, too.
Yeah? Yeah, I've got a point. I'm getting there. So, the Electric Man. I bet you've seen the footage of him. Thing is, it doesn't do him justice. Seeing a guy jump off a twenty-story building an' then start blasting things with electricity... yeah, that's something you gotta see with your own eyes.
And even just seeing it doesn't do him justice. There's... okay, listen. He's still human, y'know? He's...
Alright. I gotta tell you something. I probably shouldn't. It's kind of - it's probably not something he'd want people knowing. But I think - I think someone should know. You're as good a person as any, I guess.
So, okay. Lemme start at the beginning.
It'd been... fuck. I don't even know how long the quarantine was up for. It all sorta blends together after a while, and it's not like most people were botherin' to keep track. But it was maybe - let's go with three weeks. Yeah. I think, at that point, most people'd gotten used to it all. Well - not the gangs. That kinda thing... yeah, you don't get used to that.
But people'd gotten used to the other stuff. Not enough food to go around, so we went dumpster diving. Not enough clothes, so we took 'em off the dead. An'... the Electric Man, of course. Him being around, I think that kept the city together. After word of him started spreading, it gave people hope, kept everyone from going nuts. Everyone could hope that he'd come around and stop whatever crap was happening on their street.
So, yeah. Three weeks. City was pretty clear, by then; you could damn well walk around the block without gettin' attacked by Reapers. So that's what people did. Crowds of people, walkin' around just because they could. I was one of 'em.
An' that's what started the whole thing. See, I had this sweater... bright yellow. Pretty much fluorescent. Obviously a real bad color to be walkin' around in, so of course I hadn't worn it since the quarantine started. After three weeks, though, I thought - well, the district's practically cleaned up, isn't it? And everyone was sayin' Cole'd been spotted in the Neon again. So I figured, I'll put on my only clean sweater and walk around like a big f-you to the Reapers.
Kinda stupid, looking back on it. Still, I didn't get shot for it, so it could've been a whole lot worse. 'Course, I did get spotted by someone else... Electric Man. Obviously. Turns out that neon yellow is really damn easy to see from the rooftops. Who knew?
Okay, really though. It's... to be honest, I don't even really know how it went down. All I know is that people started spotting him way more often than normal when I was around. See, 'cause I wore that sweater for a couple days. Cleanest thing I had, I wasn't getting shot - no reason not to, yeah? Maybe he was following me to protect the idiot who was the first thing any Reaper'd shoot at. Maybe I turned into some sorta Cole magnet. Maybe he was bored. I dunno. Hell, maybe it was just a coincidence. Weirder things have happened.
That went on for... I dunno, let's say a week. Must've been around that. It was a pretty normal day, or as normal as any of 'em ever were. Went out for a walk, met up with some friends, bartered for some food. Not much else to do beyond that, when the city's halfway to bein' a huge pile o' junk.
It was the end of the day when I'd got home that things got interesting. I was getting all settled in for the night - damn, I remember tryin' to decide whether I should make my last bag of popcorn, ha - and then somebody goes and knocks on the door. Well, I figured it was the lady down the hall, comin' around to ask for beer again. So I go to get it, ready to chew her out for a bit...
Yeah, you know where I'm going with this. Course it's Electric Man standin' there. It was... damn, let me tell you, it was one of the most awkward moments of my life. I probably gaped at him for a good couple seconds. Not a clue what to say - what do you say if a hero shows up on your doorstep? An' you have no idea why?
We probably would've stood there all night, I bet. My parents were pretty damn good at drilling manners into my head, though - never thought I'd thank them for that. So Cole's in the doorway, just sorta standin' there, and the manners kick in. I invite him in. That's what you're normally s'posed to do... or, well, for friends an' that. Then again, he wasn't really a stranger, you know? I didn't know him at all - still don't - but it wasn't like I had to worry about what he was like, yeah?
He was as dumbfounded as me, I bet. He's a pretty closed-off guy, but it wasn't hard to see how nervous he was. He was all - scrunched up, sorta, like how you hunch your shoulders up. It was like... like he expected me to try an' kill him or something. Or yell at him, maybe, I dunno. Like he was ready to flinch back and run away. So yeah, I'm pretty sure I surprised him.
He came in anyways, though, so I guess that counts for something. Hey, you know something they never mention about the Electric Man? Wait, let me word this right... actually, forget it, there's no good way to word this. He smells. You gotta understand - a month without a good shower, everyone smells. For him it's different, though. Kinda... electrical. Obviously. Sorta like burnt, with a little bit of acidic or whatever in there. It's not crazy strong, but it's definitely noticeable.
So we're both standing in my living room, and I'm trying not to say anything stupid, and I'm also trying really hard not to react to that smell. I don't think I managed it, but he's so damn hard to read, I dunno... Anyways, I pretty much just went for the first thing that came to mind. That ended up being my popcorn, no surprise there.
I asked him if he was hungry, I think. Guy looked at me like I was crazy. So... I took that as a yes, went to go an' make the popcorn. Then it's back to the awkward, and all I can think is, gotta come up with something else to say. So I went with: "Wanna watch a movie?"
Lookin' back on it, it's no wonder he thought I was crazy. Thing is, I don't think he cared too much. He was kinda happy about it, I think. Surprised, but still happy.
Yeah, so I ended up sitting on my couch and watching a movie with the Electric Man. Heh, I don't even remember what the hell it was anymore. Must've been decent, though, cause he stayed through the entire thing. Left right after, but he definitely seemed happier. More... relaxed, you know? It felt pretty good.
Anyway, I didn't seem him at all the next day. I kinda got to wondering where he slept... hell, I'm not sure if he even sleeps. Didn't think I'd ever really see him again, other than spottin' him on a roof every now and again, the usual sorta thing.
But nahh. Cole magnet, remember? Day after that, he came back to my place. Knocked on the door again, I let him in, we watch movies. It's about as surreal as it sounds. An' that went on for... hell, a couple days at least. He never really talked much, an' I never really wanted to make him. Like - I was sorta being the person he could come an' just hang out with, y'know? I didn't wanna pile any more stress on the guy. I tried to figure out what he liked, what he didn't... Jesus, I must've bartered away more'n half my stuff for him. Food an' clothes an' that sorta thing. I mean, where else was he gonna get it? It was the least I could do, after all he'd done for the city.
I got pretty used to him coming around. Usually he'd show up just a bit after eight, an' I'd try to have somethin' at least started by then. So you can imagine what I was like the one night he didn't show. I was pretty worried, I gotta admit. Sure, he's the Electric Man, guy's practically indestructible... but still.
Found out the next day that there'd been a huge battle down by the southwest piers between the Reapers, an' Cole and the cops. Nobody said anythin' about Cole dying or anything, though, and you can bet that would've been top news. I figured, well, maybe he just got roughed up and couldn't make it before two in the morning or some other crazy hour. I remember thinkin', but what if that's not what happened? What if he's gone?
Heh, 'course that's not the way it went, though. He showed up that night. Later'n usual, way later'n usual, but he showed. He looked fine, had a couple new bullet holes in his jacket, but by then I knew that was nothin'. Still... something was wrong. Guy was... distracted, kinda. Not as relaxed as usual, and definitely not happy. Not angry, just... like he was thinking about something he really didn't want to think about.
So I thought, well, I better get to distracting him. Popped a movie in, just somethin' mindless, a nice action flick, got to making somethin' to eat. Made sure to make somethin' I knew he liked - hah, mac 'n cheese, actually. Tastes a bit weird without the milk, but it's alright.
I thought things were going okay. I mean, he wasn't running off again. Or frying things. But the guy was still... out of it, y'know? Looked like he was a million miles away. I thought, well, I tried, it was a good effort. Maybe I just can't fix whatever this is.
So then... well, yeah, Die Hard had to end sometime. He pretty much just went to leave. Still hadn't said two words to me. Sure, that's not too unusual, but we had somethin' of a rapport goin', y'know? There'd at least be a "hi bye" sorta thing. Maybe a bit of small talk. Not this time.
But he did sorta... hesitate. Just right in the doorway. I dunno why. Maybe he didn't really wanna go, or he wanted to say somethin'. I really dunno. I sorta... I had this impulse. Can you blame me, though? After he'd been in that mood all night?
I got up, went over, an'... yeah. Stood in the hallway and hugged the Electric Man. Sounds corny as hell, I know. But, it's just... Cole needed it. I think he really needed it. I mean, I was sorta worried about whether or not he'd decide to fry me. Oh, hell, I was terrified. The guy was tense. And touchin' him, I could feel the buzz... that electricity kinda buzz. All it'd take was a twitch for him to turn me into a pile of ash...
Obviously he didn't, or else I wouldn't be tellin' you this. For a second there, though, I was sure I was a gonner. Yeah, I was pretty much saying my goodbyes... then he relaxes. And I mean relaxes. All the damn way, so I was practically holdin' him up. He lets out this sigh... no. Can't really call it that, cause it was pretty much just your average breath. But... it was like, with that breath he was finally... I dunno, letting himself not be the Electric Man for once. Just being plain old Cole. Just being an average guy, and an exhausted guy at that.
I dunno how long we stood there. Or, hah, how long I stood there and held him up is more like it. Couldn't've been very long. He started tensing up again, going back into Hero Mode or whatever, so I took that as my cue to let go. He turns to leave again... stops again. Says thanks. An' then he's out the door and down the hall before I can think up a reply. Guy has the mysterious hero thing down pat.
Sorta wondered if he'd come back. Mysterious hero thing and all, yeah? Not wanting to show weakness or whatever. Plus, y'know, bein' a guy. Then I got to thinking. If he's giving the city hope, I thought, well then who's giving him hope? Me. I hate to sound self-centered or whatever, but as far as I ever found out, there wasn't anyone else. He never mentioned anyone, I never heard of anyone... guy was all alone. Hell, it wasn't like I was even the best company. But... I could do as much as possible. So I did.
He came back the next night, at the usual time. Eight on the dot. He was definitely happier, I can remember that. Not... happy, I don't think he was ever actually happy. But not in that mood again, thank God. I didn't mention any of it to him. What would I even say, anyway?
So things went like normal. Movie an' a dinner. Haha, fuck, that came out wrong. Don't get any funny ideas. Me'n him, we were just... ha. Couldn't even call us friends. Hell, I don't remember if I ever even told the guy my name...
Where was I...? Right. So that night, things going like normal. Cole gets up to leave, and I'm thinking, I wanna do something more. I want to help more. So I say, "You can have the couch, if you want."
I remember his expression when he turned around, clear as day. Kinda surprised me - I mean, like I said, he doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve like some people. There's always that mask. This time, though, I could see how surprised he was. Kinda nervous and scared, too, and y'know what? I think I even saw a little tiny bit of real happiness in there. Felt damn amazing.
So that's how things went down. For... however long. Til the end. He'd never visit during the day, we still barely talked, and he didn't stay every night, either. Mostly the bad ones, when he was in that distracted mood again. So nothing much changed, really. Just that I had the Electric Man crashin' on my couch every few days.
Heh. I made him breakfast a lot. Sounds surreal as hell, I know. Felt like it. See, I figured out that the guy can't even touch anything electronic. If it doesn't straight-up explode, it's definitely gonna get fried. Killed my toaster that way, when he forgot - you wouldn't believe how much smoke the thing made. I dunno what he'd been living off of, before, not really bein' able to cook it. Stale granola bars an' willpower, probably. Hell, maybe he eats electricity or something...
Anyway, things went pretty well. It was sorta like havin' a roomie. Minus the annoying habits and, y'know, actually having to share your place. Kinda funny, though - I never let anyone else in after Cole started staying. Partly 'cause the place started to stink. Couch smelled like the Electric Man, and there is no other smell like that around. Would've led to awkward questions, and I really didn't want anyone bugging him at midnight. Guy has way too many fans for his own good, Jesus...
An' then... well. You know how it ended. City gets fuckin' annihilated. Pretty much everyone gets killed. Lucky me, I get to die slow rather'n quick.
I guess Cole survived. Hope he survived. Hey, you don't know, do you? ...Yeah, I guess not. Not like they tell you guys anything, is it? Heh.
...I bet he did, though. He's human, yeah. Can't argue with that, an' you better not start after what I just told ya... ha, didn't think so. See, but the thing is... he's something more than human, too. He'll get through this, even if no one else does. Guy still makes me hope, even after all this bullshit.
...Listen. I kinda doubt I'll ever see him again. No helping that, I know I'm in real bad shape. But if you see him, doc, you help him. He needs it.
He needs it more'n any of us know.