Disclaimer: I don't own AMC's The Walking Dead or any of its characters. Wishful thinking aside.
Authors Note #1: See original chapter for a complete disclaimer, explanation, and warnings. - Rated for: adult language, adult situations, discussions of scars, pre-slash leanings, and manly adorableness.
Authors Note #2: Please read and review. I am excited to see what you all think. I am open to comments, advice, and constructive criticism.
Redefining the Gyre
"Look kid, I don't need to know. And I sure as hell won't press 'ya. - Either way it ain't nobodies business but your own. Don't let anyone tell 'ya any different." He finally offered. Flicking a piece of bark off the moss covered side as he got comfortable. Deliberately not looking at him as the kid shifted beside him. Spine straight edged and defensive, like he was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Christ. How long had Grimes' been working on him anyway?
The kid sat silent for a time, as if considering his words. And for a long moment he thought the kid was going to call his bluff. But like he'd suspected all along, with all the subtly of water breaking from a failing damn, the kid slowly started to talk. It was gradual at first, the words halting and unsure. - But soon enough the man's tongue was all but tripping over itself as he spilled it all. A veritable deluge of words, like vomit from the soul.
...As if once started, the words simply couldn't be stopped.
"There was this guy, back in Atlanta. Just a guy. Normal. Ordinary. Probably around the same age as you..." Glenn started, voice halting, but gaining confidence as a pale hand ghosted down the length of his side. The action almost unconscious in nature as the kid's fingers rubbed thoughtlessly into the worn fabric of his jeans, following the hard ridged line of the scar from start to finish. - To anyone else, in any other situation the action might have even looked enticing. - Luxurious, tactile, and far too close to his johns to be anything other then deliberate.
..But he knew better.
"He saved my ass and I don't even remember his name." The kid nearly hissed, voice hinging on shrill as he snorted in self disgust. Hand abruptly clenching atop his thigh as his throat worked. Clearly struggling with himself as he cleared his throat almost convulsively.
For his part he just blinked; face impassive as he let the kid talk. Already having an idea as to where this was all was heading. – He probably should have guessed it would have been something like this. The scar was too new to be anything else.
"If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have made it. It was in the beginning. You know how it was. All that chaos and confusion. When things were going to shit and no one knew why. It was only two or three days before the air strike. – Still, no one really understood what was happening. Hell, I was still out making deliveries when it happened." The kid remarked, flinging a hand into the air like an exclamation point as he swung his legs in a particularly vicious burst of energy.
"Someone clipped the car as I took a green near the St. Loganville and Barrow intersection. Ended up T-boning me and slamming the car into an electric pole. …Whoever it was didn't stick around, but the guy behind me did. - And when I came to, thigh all ripped up, scared out of my mind... That guy was just there. Telling me it was going to be alright. Telling me that help was on the way, that he wasn't going to leave me. -...His hands were everywhere, drenched to the wrists as he kept pressure on the wound. - I don't know, it was surreal. But he made me believe it you know? Believe that it was doing to be okay." The kid continued. Shaking his head almost imperceptibly as he snuck a glance at him from underneath the shaded brim of his baseball cap.
He simply nodded in response, threading a piece of bark between his fingers as he let the kid talk.
"I was hurt pretty bad, so he ended up pulling me out. – I think he said he was pre-med.. I don't know. I'd lost a lot of blood by then, so he just started patching me up right there on the side of the road as we waited for the ambulance. The police...anything.. Only no one came. – Hell, I don't know if he even got through. Maybe he was just lying so I wouldn't panic.." The kid mused, staring out at the water for a long moment before he continued.
"You know how it went. Everybody had heard the rumors; all the bullshit they were talking about every night on the news. First it was civil unrest. Rioting, protestors and anarchists. Then it was a virus, a super bug. Like SARS or the H1N1, only worse. – But the CDC still hadn't released any information on how far it had spread, or how it spread… That it wasn't safe." Glenn bit out.
"And that's when they came, the geeks, the people that were running from them. It was a fucking stampede coming up from the subway. – Turns out the people that hit me probably knew. They had the right idea at any rate. – …Because we heard them before we saw them. Heard how the people were screaming… It was echoing up through the gutters and steam vents…- The sound of it..It was nothing I'd ever heard before.." The man nearly whispered, wincing at the mere memory.
"We just looked at each other. We didn't even have to say anything. We just ran. - He used his jacket for a tourniquet and dragged me to his car. I don't know how we made it out of there. They were everywhere. People, geeks, you could hardly tell who was dead, dying, or alive.. Everything had just gotten so fucked up. – I couldn't get a hold of my parents and he couldn't-." The kid cut himself off abruptly, dying out in mid word. And he couldn't help but stare. He hadn't heard Glenn speak a word about his folks in all the time he'd known him. - Not even fucking once.
"..We tried to make it to the hospital but the roads were thick with them, the downtown core was a fucking war zone. We were trying to take the back roads, get to this doctors clinic I knew when one of them smashed through the window. This one geek just leapt out from behind some garbage cans as we were skidding around a corner. Hanging onto the side and digging through the glass... - Nearly got me too, but the guy swerved at the last moment, taking out the one that was trying to sink its teeth into me with a parked car." He finished. Trailing off for a short moment as his gaze turned inward. Remembering.
"He ended up taking me to this vet clinic, I think he must have volunteered there or something because he had the keys. – Anyway he stitched me up right then and there and we spent the night inside. Listening as the whole world went to shit. The next morning, when he figured I could move without pulling the stitches, we decided to make a run for it. – I guess he knew we couldn't stay there, too vulnerable. Anyway, we'd heard about the blockade the army was putting up downtown on the radio, figured we should try for that. – We agreed on it." The man affirmed, throat working with a hard swallow as he pushed on.
"He got me to the car but dropped the bag. All the meds and shit. ..I don't know why he went back for it. I yelled. But he didn't listen. - It was stupid. It wasn't worth it… - They cut him off; I don't know how he knew. But god..his face…" The kid bit out, lips twisting as his nails dug into his clenched palms. Almost vibrating at his sides in an effort to compose himself.
"He tossed me the keys. Yelled at me to just go.. And then they just.. - It was the first time I'd seen them do-.." The man trailed off with a disgusted shudder. Dark eyes going haunted in a way he hadn't seen since the first few weeks. Before the kid had finally grown a pair and started developing a thicker skin. Realizing, just like the rest of them, that things weren't going to be changing anytime soon.
"It just isn't fair…He didn't deserve that, he didn't-.." The kid began, voice rising in frustration as he ground his heels into the mouldering bark. Stirring up a coating of chalky soil and ripped up moss as he pitched a handful of pebbles into the fast flowing water. Fluttering down past his swinging heels to pebble across the surface of the water. - Flighty and unpredictable, like nature's own unique form of paper rain.
"A lot of people died that shouldn't have." He pointed out roughly. Too roughly. Breaking the silence in his usual grating fashion as the kid shuddered beside him. Running a shaky hand through his stark black hair before he mashed his hat back on with a vicious swipe.
He sighed at that. Knuckling the back of his head and hunching his shoulders inward as discomfort tightened in his throat. - He wasn't good at this kind of shit. Hell, for all he knew he was probably making it worse. But he figured he had to say something.. He had to try.
The kid deserved that much at least.
"Look, life ain't fair kid. – And it doesn't owe you shit either. Don't go mistaking that for anything different. Everything else is just bullshit and wishful thinking. – Life ain't cold or unfeelin', it just is. Nothin' more, nothin' less." He cut in. Figuring that since he'd opened his trap he might as well say what he'd meant to in the first place.
"You can't waste your life on what ifs and maybes. If you do, then what he gave you won't mean jack shit. ...Either way, you've gotta live with it. - It's your choice." He finished. Appeased in spite of himself when he realized that the kid was meeting his gaze for the first time since he'd sat down. Eyes fixed on his face with a sudden intensity that probably would have unnerved him if it had been under any other circumstances.
But not today.. Because this was important. The kid had to know that all that sentimental, 'selfless hero' bullshit Rick kept pushing on them had its faults just as much as it had its merits. – You couldn't keep dwelling on the past, especially these days. There were far too many ghosts roaming around already, then to bring their own into the mix.
There were some things you just had to let to of. Otherwise, a man could go mad with it. …Grief, loss, regret. Holding onto shit like that served no purpose. - It was poison, pure and simple. The kid had to let go of that man, whoever he'd been. He didn't have to forget him, but he had to learn how to let the memories rest. It was a fine difference, but a desperately important one.
One that he'd been forced to learn close to a dozen times over.
He ground his boot heels into the chalky, riverside clay, reveling in the smooth slide of the muddy soil as he found his feet. And for a long moment, he simply enjoyed the simplicity of the action, stretching in place as he shouldered his cross bow and bent down to retrieve the kid's pack. - A sudden smirk stretching across his face as he took the pack in hand, pinching the straps between his thumb and forefinger as he wiggled it around teasingly. Swishing it back and forth just inches from the kid's chin as the man leveled him with his best death glare.
'Now that's more like it.' He thought with a grin. Huffing out a raspy, rough edged laugh as Glenn batted it away with little success. The fire slowly coming back to his eyes the longer he kept it just out of reach. Grunting out a half muffled sound of amusement when the man made to pounce for it.
But it wasn't until the kid scrambled off the log and turned the brim of his hat around to the back of his head that he realized that the man was intent on challenging him for it. – And for his part he just grinned, setting his crossbow to the side as he dug his heels into the slippery clay. Motioning the kid forward with the flat of his palm as he crouched low, inviting the kid to try.
It appeared that the game was on..
It was only when Glenn nearly brained himself slamming into the curve of his chest. Barely missing the jut of his shoulder as he jabbed surprisingly sharp little elbows into his gut in an attempt to snatch it, that he figured they'd both had just about enough. – Putting an end to their impromptu contest as he skilfully tripped the kid in mid leap, sending him sprawling, firmly but gently into the soft mud before he bent down and collected his crossbow.
He was wiping dirty hands on equally as dirty pant legs when the kid finally pulled himself to his feet. Already bitching up a storm about the muck that now coated him from head to toe; having to muffle an amused snort when the kid only ended up smearing the rich brown clay deeper into his pores the harder he tried to brush it off.
Close, but no cigar kid...
He let the kid grouch around for a bit. Slithering and flailing about in the muck for a few pointed moments before he got tired of listening to the kid bitch. Finally catching him by the shirt collar and towing him in like a prized river bass. Keeping him upright as the kid skidded around for a few worrisome seconds, a tangled mess of jumbled up limbs and fish tailing lips as the kid kept up a running commentary of complaints as he man-handled the Korean back towards solid ground.
Well, at least he wasn't sulking anymore.
"Com'on Asia, we got mouths to feed." He finally purred, flicking him a half smirk as the man's face scrunched up in frustration. Figuring that was indication enough that the kid's mood was improving as he finally tossed the man his backpack. Strategically moving away from the muddy patch as the kid flashed him a look that was halfway between murderous and mischief.
Either way he wasn't taking any chances. China man or not, the kid was a crafty little bastard.
He squinted up at the skyline as he started towards the path that led back to camp, giving the kid a minute to sort himself out as he cocked his head towards the horizon, trying to judge by sight how much daylight they had left. - Figuring they could fit in a quick supply run and even some hunting along the way if they were lucky. – It would give the kid time away from the others at any rate.
But even as he turned, he tried his best to ignore the small smile that was only just starting to flirt with the curve of the man's lips. All slow stretches and toothy grins until that hesitant little smile had sudden grown into a full blown grin. All Cheshire bright and over brimming with barely constrained laughter the second before realization hit.
Because before he could counter it, the kid already had a big glob of that thick Georgian clay firmly in hand. – Barely giving him enough time to consider the fact that perhaps the kid had actually played baseball after all, before said projectile was suddenly streaking towards him with all the polish of a surface to air missile. - Catching him squarely in the back of the head and drenching cold him with the tangy stink of frothy river bile and mouldering undergrowth as the muddy mixture started dribbling down the length of his spine.
Son. Of. A. Bitch!
He had only about a half a second to contemplate the fact that he'd probably deserved that, before he found himself taking off after the kid. Boot treads eating up the distance as he cursed out a blue streak at the kid's retreating back. - Determined to get his as he barreled down the forest path. Gritting his teeth into the wind as the sound of the kid's teasing laughter lilted off into mocking echoes. Egging him on as Glenn's hitching whoops of childish victory made him see red.
Cocky little bastard.
…But either way, all thoughts of revenge and retribution aside. Even then he couldn't help but admit that it was the memory of that small, hesitant little smile the kid had given him in the beginning that ended up staying with him. Haunting his thoughts for far longer then he cared to admit…
So maybe the next time he had the kid pinned like a butterfly to a dartboard against the side of the closest tree. The both of them flushed through with victory, hilarity, and that strange, niggling little emotion that couldn't quite be explained away as that of adrenaline or the thrill of the chase. He might do something more then simply threaten the kid within an inch of his life if he ever much as even looked at a mud puddle in his company again…
A/N: - So I didn't quite manage the smut this time. Oops? – I regret nothing! A bit of woobie and ridiculous shenanigans is good for the soul! – This story is now complete. Please let me know what you think? Reviews and constructive critiquing are love!
"Never mind. The self is the least of it. Let our scars fall in love." – Galway Kinnell