It feels like I'm constantly apologizing for the long time between the chapters. So, I'll just do that again and also for the short length of this chapter. Originally, it was supposed to be longer but it'd probably take me another month for that aaaand... that's not so cool. So, here is the first half and I'll honestly try to hurry up with the second half.
Ughh, sorry! And thank you for the amazing comments.
The DVD scene was what made me doubt this whole fic. I don't want things to send the wrong messages. So, thank you for the reassurance there. It means a lot.
Dropkicking Bullet Shells
Thank you so much. And four in the morning is always the best time for dark!fics. ;)
Aww, thank you, that's so sweet of you. It makes me all fluffy inside~
"Come on, don't die, don't die."
The pet's head sways uselessly to the side as the car takes a sharp left, smearing more blood onto his shirt. Deacon brushes the hair out of his eyes, hoping for a sign that he heard him. But the pet stays silent, chest barely rising, blowing faint huffs against Deacon's shoulder.
"Don't die. Stay with me", he mumbles and presses down onto the bleeding wound. Thick blood pools through his fingers, running over his wrist. The smell wakes the predator in him and he feels the Thirst scratch at the walls of his mind, demanding it's prey.
But Deacon knows better than to satisfy his needs now, knows of a better use for this human. If he only makes it...
The heart that once pounded so quickly in his chest, fastened by fear at the sight of Deacon, is only a slow, breaking stutter. With each faint ba-dump terror takes more and more hold of him and his grip involuntarily tightens around the pet's bony shoulders.
He presses a finger to the human's carotid and the rhythm of life, shy but still there, calms him. He concentrates on that, closing his eyes and feeling for the small heartbeat.
"Don't die, don't die", Deacon whispers, leaning his head against that of the pet and feeling his breath ghost over his own face.
The heart jumps as if to reassure him.
He wakes into darkness. The familiar, all-swallowing pitch black and Scud doesn't need a window to know it's night. It's always night when he wakes. The only thing different about this certain one is the unusual companion. There's a weight next to his, heavy and unmoving. Even in the black of the room Scud knows there is no rising and falling of a human looking chest, the slow but steady beat of a living heart or an emotion besides anger in those light blue eyes. Deacon is looking at him. He's frowning. Scud knows, he's frowning all the time.
"You're awake", he says.
Scud nods. His fingertips press into the soft of the mattress, but he keeps silent. Deacon can see him perfectly fine in the darkness.
He keeps his expression steady when the weight shifts and the dip in the mattress disappears. Light falls into the room as the door opens and stings in his tired eyes.
His heart skips a beat when Deacon is about to step outside.
"Can you leave the door open?"
Scud doesn't want to stay behind in black blindness.
Deacon doesn't turn around to look at him or bothers with an answer. He leaves the door wide enough open to let some light slip in and fall onto the spot where he lied seconds ago. Scud brushes with his knuckles over the spot.
It's completely cold.
"This is your big toe, this is your pointy toe, this is your middle toe, this is your ring toe and this...", his mother laughs when Josh giggles and tries to pull his foot away, "...this is your pinky toe."
"There's no pinky toe", he protests and wriggles away from her hands when she pinches his sides, pulling another laugh from him.
She sighs, brushing the longer strands of hair behind his ear.
"Oh baby", she mumbles and her gaze gets lost again, something that happens more often now. "There are so many things you wouldn't believe exist."
There have often been times, dark times, when Scud had the wish to give up. When his mind was about to drown in chaos and his heart felt like it was tied to stones, dragging it down into the dark that threatened to fill him up until his insides grew cold in terror, that's when Scud had stopped for a moment and thought. He usually wasn't much of a thinker, not when he could prevent it because thoughts were so easy to slip free and suddenly a spark became a forest fire that gnawed on the tightropes keeping him bound to sanity.
But there have been times... and Scud remembered every one of it. The first was on his fourteenth birthday, in the orphanage, when he had found himself crouched down in the kitchen at midnight, staring at the clock hanging over the oven as his shaking fingers held the knife in a tight clutch. He had wished to end his life then and there. There was no sense in struggling when there was no reason to keep on. Scud had already known this back then.
Then he turned eighteen, and he was finally, finally, able to leave the orphanage and it's walls clotted with memories of dead eyed children, coldness and the smell of antiseptic. But he also left his only safe haven and after years of seeing the world through poorly cleaned windows it seemed so different.
Scud had expected to find hope with his first steps back into life. But what he found was betrayal, violence and a weak recall of what it should have been.
There have been many times when Scud found himself on the edge of something he could never undo. But there has always been something to keep him from pulling the trigger.
Hope. Weak, unsteady and nothing more than a faint flicker in the back of his head. But it had been there and it had been enough to keep his legs moving, to keep his heart pounding and the chaos inside of him tamed.
When everything that ever defined him had left, this flicker of hope had been the last thing, the last part of him.
Now, what is he without it?
The chilled night air does nothing to cool him down. Deacon Frost feels on fire, angry flames licking at every muscle, twitching, flexing in preparation for a fight that must never happen.
"Fucking bastard", he hisses and tosses the stub of his cigarette over the balcony's edge.
How could MacHorvath... how does he even dare to? It's an open provocation and it was meant to land a hit on him. On him. That twat should know better than to play with someone like Deacon Frost. His chest tightens though there is no heart pounding in rhythm to his anger.
"Blind wrath won't get you anywhere now."
Deacon doesn't turn. He grits his teeth, almost swallowing the words right back down again as he speaks.
"I know. But I can't just-"
"Ignore it?" Mercury interrupts him. "Exactly, that's what you shouldn't do."
"I was gonna say lose my head, but I guess you meant something in that direction, too."
Mercury presses her lips together before smacking them in a way that infuriates and somewhat amuses Deacon at the same time. It's a habit of hers she carries since her human life, taking it into the other one, into this. Seeing something so familiar is a soothing anchor between the tides that have been crashing around him lately.
"I'm glad you came", he says, quieter.
Mercury turns back to him, hands pressed into her hips and looks him over a few times.
"It's not like I had a chance", she mumbles.
They contemplate each other for a moment, both remembering easier times, when things were not as blurred as they are now. The lines were clearer.
"I made a mistake", Deacon says and that's when he notices the tiredness swinging in his voice.
Mercury tilts her head. "Which one do you mean? The one where you broke your contract with MacHorvath? Or the one where you stole his pet, simultaneously insulting him and pulling even more of his hatred onto you? Or maybe when you decided to keep the pet, for whatever reasons I'm really not interested in at this point? Or of course, my personal favorite, the one where you got emotionally involved with a human?"
She makes a pause, clearing her throat to shake the angry tremble off her voice.
"So, yes, you could call it a mistake, Deacon."
He ducks his shoulders, like a child intimidated by it's mother's tongue-lashing.
"What am I supposed to do, Mercury?" he asks quietly.
"Get rid of him", she replies without any doubt disturbing her tone. "Maybe you can sooth MacHorvath this way. Give back to him what belongs to him."
When he doesn't respond Mercury takes a step into his direction.
"Anton had always been a manipulating piece of shit, easily picking out his opponent's weaknesses and then going down on them like some starved bloodhound. You think he will stop? Deacon, he will not. You have to do something. Now! You cannot wait any longer, the next attack might k-"
A wind blows by, just a distant whisper as it glides past the tall buildings. The sky is illuminated by the city's lights and no star is able to break the wall of clouds. Back then, when Deacon was still human, he had often looked up and counted the stars above his head. But there had been too many and they all looked so similar... still every one of them had been beautiful.
The night, together with the stars, lost their magic when he died.
"Give me time", he says, his voice firm, "to think."
He doesn't look at her when she answers, but her small "of course" is full of regret.
Time is of no matter anymore, nothing is. And so Scud keeps his eyes closed and lets the thoughts wander for the first time since years. The pillow under his head is soft and warmed by his own skin, but it smells like Deacon. He must have carried him over during the night. His fingers bury into the blanket as his mind remembers.
"Why don't you just leave him?"
Josh tries to blend out the voice of his aunt Madge. It's too high to be pleasant listening, but only when she's angry about something. His father always says it sounds like someone stepped on a mouse when she talks.
Above his head a spoon clings against the thin side of a cup filled with coffee. The strong flavor wanders through the kitchen. Josh likes the smell of coffee, it has something calming. The whole flat smells of coffee.
His mother pauses before she answers: "It's not that easy."
"Of course it is", Madge hisses and her voice slips even further up. "You pack your things, grab that kid and leave. Why are you waiting for him? He's a bloody bastard!"
The leg of his mother twitches nervously, almost prodding his side as he sits on the floor under the table, in his hand something he fished out of his father's bin.
"Stop, you stop now", she says and Josh can imagine how her grip around the cup tightens. "I love this man, I loved him from the first minute I met him and I still love him after everything that happened. How dare you judge him? He's not perfect, but who in this world is?"
"Oh, Eli! How can you be so naïve? That's not you, girl, take off those pink glasses and face the truth, dammit."
The response of his mother is a hiss and Josh cuts his finger on the thing's side. He flinches, but keeps silent as a drop of blood pools at the surface. He licks it off, like he has seen his mother do when she pricked her finger while sewing and the taste makes his face cringe in disgust.
But Josh doesn't complain. Something in him knows this is best for his mother.
He doesn't respond. Nothing in him feels the need to. Instead he keeps his eyes closed, focusing on his slow steady heart beat.
"I know you're awake."
The voice seems weirdly distant, like from afar through a thick fog. Scud listens to that voice but the words don't make much sense to him.
The shadow on his shoulder disappears after a moment. Or some minutes? Maybe an hour even? Scud's eyes stay closed as he slips back into a dream filled with distorted pictures.
"He won't get up. I talked to him but he plays dead meat."
"Of course he doesn't move, he's probably slipped into some... mind-protecting-survival-mode. No wonder after what happened. How could you even-?"
"Missouri, cut it. Just tell me what to do."
There is a short pause at the other end of the connection.
"Give him time, some room for himself. Or else you will lose him completely. Give him time."
But time is what Deacon doesn't have.
He stares at the smoking joint pointing into his direction. The other boys look at him expectantly and so Josh takes it, closes his lips around the warm end and inhales. His head floats in clouds and everything just flies away like that. A pleasant feeling, a new feeling.
"You' can't keep silent like that forever, Scud."
He wishes he could tell him that this phrase got old long ago.
"Three days, Missouri!"
"He needs time-"
The phone shatters as it hits the wall, leaving a small hole next to the large one. He stares at it furiously, then leaves the apartment to yell at a wide-eyed Petty to get someone to cover that up.
"I wish you would never have to cry, my sweetheart, but... that's not how things go. I love you."
Everything is standing still. Even his own body seems to have frozen, the sound of his heart beat and the rush of blood in his ears only a faint background music, something he doesn't recognize as his anymore. Not even the shadows move, they don't scare him anymore.
Scud doesn't know whether his eyes are open or closed. But that doesn't matter, the world wouldn't look much different anyway.
When a slice of light falls on his face and breaks onto the wall Scud follows it's path with lazy eyes. It almost looks like it's running down the surface like water, sinking down into every pore and covering the smallest cuts. It's bright, but it's cold and Scud wishes he had a blanket to blend it out.
Then his body moves. Confused at first Scud doesn't realize the cold hands grabbing his shoulder, his arms and when he does it's too late and he's in the air and the world turns upside down.
His hands slip over a soft surface on their search for a halt.
"...down", he rasps, his voice thin and weak from not being used for such a long time, "let me down..."
And the world turns again. Stars explode in front of his eyes and he gets sucked into the ground. But the hands are there to hold him, they don't let him fall and he sinks down onto the couch, his whole body going slack like a rag doll's.
"Look at me."
Slowly Scud cranes his head up, lets it sink against the backrest because it's too much of an effort to hold it on his own.
He looks at Deacon through tired eyes. But his are awake and bright.
Scud can see his jaw clench in frustration and his hands are hidden in the pockets of his slacks because they tremble in anger. That's what Deacon usually looks like, angry, frustrated. It's no different now.
When Deacon speaks again, his voice isn't shaking or angry. It's firm, but the words seem unsure, like they never found their way over his lips before.
"My father was a known man, not exactly a lord, but he had his people and his people loved him. He was good and strong. Like my mother. Many women died after they gave birth to their second child, but she just seemed to grow stronger with each day my younger sister survived. I was with them until my 28th year of living, and then... then I met my creator. It happened as I traveled back home from a nearby village. People had told me not to go by night, they said men mysteriously disappeared to never be seen again. But I was cocky, convinced my sword and experience would protect me... and so I lost it all in one night. My life, my family, my name. At first I fought it, this gift, as my creator called it. I didn't want it. But neither did I want to die, and after the first time I fed on a living human..."
He stops, takes a step back, then seems to change his mind, shakes his head and clears his throat.
"But I didn't leave. My father, he sent his men to look for me, I heard them call my name in the nights. They searched so long... and all this time I watched my family, watched them grieve for me until one day they gave their hopes away. I watched my father grow old and tired. And how my mother got sick and passed away. And all of my father's people cried for her, it was... it was like they had lost their own mother. I watched my sister grow up to a woman, marrying a man I didn't know but of I was sure he would never treat her as well as she deserved-"
Scud didn't notice the excited jumping of his heart until now.
"I became cold, gave myself to the night and turned into what my creator had planned for me. A monster. I wasn't the man I used to be, and so I gave the name away... I can't remember it. From all the things, the name is what I forgot. Some day it didn't belong to me anymore, it just seemed unneeded to keep it in my memory."
After he ends, the room is completely silent. Only the quick pounding of Scud's heart interrupts the still of the moment. Carefully, limbs still stiff, he pushes himself up on the couch. His head feels heavy but he manages to lift it up enough to look at the other man. Deacon seems to be frozen in place, but he doesn't look away, doesn't avoid his gaze.
"Why do you tell me this?" Scud asks quietly.
Again there is a pause, a moment where nothing seems to move between them.
"I made a mistake, Scud. I gave up and turned away from life. It seemed impossible, like a far away shore and I felt my legs and arms get tired. Instead of fighting what was forced onto me against my will I let it bent me, let it overtake me and corrupt me until everything that had ever been me was erased and dead. I gave up, gave it all away, didn't care anymore... that's not how it should have been."
If any of this was true, if any of this was right, then Scud caught a glimpse oft what had been before the night. Before the dark there was light and it had been bright and full of life.
He stares up at the man whose name he doesn't know and never will because he gave it all away. His heart stings at the thought, that he will forever be lost. Scud would have liked to know him.
"What I want to say is-", Deacon begins, stops.
"...it's worth it", Scud mumbles. "It's worth it."
Deacon swallows, but nods.