A/N: This one-shot is a retelling of Diego's "death" scene in the first movie. This was originally meant to be run like my other fanfics, which would start from the beginning of the movie entirely in Diego's POV whilst running around the Diego/Soto pair concept. I had originally posted two chapters until the idea began to deteriorate around the middle. The beginning was great, but as I got around the middle of the story, the feel of the story became repetitive until at the finale. So instead of trudging along a few bad chapters to get to the last good one, I made a big cut and skipped towards the one scene that really counted. As much as I like to emphasize on Diego and Soto's bromance, this is the best I could do that can become a finished product. Without further ado, enjoy.
Warning: M/M. Hurt/Comfort.
Disclaimer: I do not own Ice Age. This also has no relation to my Life Unprejudiced series.
What I Did For Love
"Diego's the only one I can trust."
I understand. I know why you're upset. Half the pack – they just had to be the ones that meant the most to you. You lost everyone…
Even to the point that even I wasn't enough. And now I'm standing in front of the two guys hoping I'd done enough to be worthy of their trust.
This baby… it was supposed to be just another prey. A squirt. Just hunk of flesh to serve. But this… herd… made things different. This herd changed everything.
"What do you mean ambush," In the blistering cold of the blizzard, Manny's temper boiled up as his voice acquired a tone of disdain "You set us up…"
"It was my job!" I wanted to make Soto smile again. "I was supposed to get the baby, but then -" Everything changed… I didn't want to get my hands dirtier than I needed to. If only you two were out of the picture. If you two weren't involved…
"You brought us home for dinner!" Manny retorted.
"That's it - you're out of the herd!" Sid cried.
"I'm sorry-" I just wanted him back… the person I loved. Not… this monster…
"No you're not!" Manny bent down to scoop me up with his tusks and slammed me onto the cave wall with his tusk. Not yet."
The crushing pain in my throat made me wish Manny would finish me off right now to clear away all my guilt. But if I didn't do anything now, they'd be helpless. I have to do something. "Listen… I can help you…!" I struggled to say as I was choked.
I can still fix everything.
"Stick close, Sid. We can fight our way out."
"You can't! The pack is too strong…" I'll do whatever it takes… "You have to trust me."
Manny's anger wasn't from being tricked into this supposed trap; it was because he did trust me. I could see it in his eyes. That frustrated look when you realize that an honest companion had been a snake in the grass all along. I can never bring myself to have Soto look at me that way.
"Trust you?" Manny said angrily. "Why in the world would we trust you!"
As if it was an act of piety, I acted on what I knew was the only possible solution. If I don't do anything now, they're all gonna die. And I'd give my life to stop that from happening. The only way they'd be safe is if Soto would be stopped.
And the only one who can stop Soto now is me.
"Because I'm your only chance…"
"Hey look who decided to show up," snarled that ever-disbelieving Oscar.
That voice. That voice I heard a million times as I laid in blissful sleep, dreaming about him. That voice that rumbled through my deepest thoughts and made me follow whatever it said.
"I was beginning to worry about you."
But the moment I saw his face, I knew that he wasn't the same person from long ago. The person I can only see in my dreams.
If there was only some other way to do this...
I ducked my head away from his gaze, relaxed myself from the tension of a lie I was always capable of making, but never did. Until now. Until I needed to.
"You don't need to worry," I craned up my head to look back with a fake grin. "In about 2 minutes you'll be satisfying your taste-" I almost hesitate to a suspicious tone, but manage to keep my cool"-for revenge."
"Very nice," he sounded pleased.
You don't see me the way you did before. I'll never get you back no matter what I do now. So even if I die trying…
"I see the sloth!" Zeke cried in carnal excitement, just as I expected. "And he's got the baby!"
…I'll save you.
"Okay. Follow me!"
The plan worked. I need to get everyone out of here. We have to run now and bring the baby to the humans before it's too late. I need to get them all to safety.
"We'll pick up Sid and get out of here while we can-"
My thoughts dwelled to a distant land to maybe somewhere I would be hiding from Soto and the rest of the pack. But then, just before I could turn my back to follow those earnest thoughts–
"Come on Diego."
"No…" I shuddered, wishing it wasn't true. I turned to see him right behind me.
Soto came up with a fierce look in his eyes. He couldn't even look at me the way he used to do, treat me as he did back then. "Let's bring this mammoth down."
For the curtains were yet to close, I improvised like an actor on a stage. I followed beside Soto, snarling at growling at the giant slab of meat in front of us. It kills me to realize that I could change my mind right here and now. That I could go back to following Soto, and live the rest of my days next to him. All I have to do now is kill the mammoth, then the sloth… and then the baby.
Damn. When it came to that little squirt, I cringe. I can't do that. Even if that happens, I know Soto will never go back to the way he used to be. He won't listen. No matter much I wish for just to feel him beside me again and feel nothing but comfort.
I probably won't feel that ever again.
So I walk forward and turn around, facing my fears. I breathe in resolution with eyes that braved off the tempest in front of me.
"What are you doing!" He gave me that shocked twisted stare I feared all this time. Somehow, knowing his behind me gave me enough strength to face him despite that.
My chest tightened, but claws quivered, but if anything I knew I was doing the right thing. "Leave, the mammoth, alone."
It's time we put a stop to this. I bare my teeth and claws only to save you from hole of despair you've ended up in.
As Oscar and Lenny come up from behind, Soto turned his gaze towards me with a cold unforgiving stare, as if one looked at a stranger.
I quiver in remorse, as if I were attending his funeral. And all that thought of what I used to be to him suddenly changed. His eyes glared at me as nothing but prey. It made me feel slightly pitiful.
"I'll take you down first.
Soto circled around me. I always knew he was the strongest in the pack. But if he taught me anything it's not the strongest who wins, but the strongest willed. He taught me a lot. So if there was anyone in the pack who was gonna stop him, it could only be me.
He snarled at me, as if asking if this was what I really wanted to do.
I growled back, answering exactly as I meant. I knew that he intends on killing me.
As he pounced towards me, I met him with my claws to wrestle his momentum away. I threw to the other side but my efforts went to no avail as he remained standing, still staring intently at me. I clawed as he clawed back, and to what I've felt so far it seemed like he wasn't even putting in any effort.
Perhaps, I woke up a part of him that right in front of him was me. The one he cared about the most.
But as I slew a direct claw towards his face, he finally started to fight back with full force. Overwhelmed, I could only try to defend myself from his brute power.
While Oscar and Lenny kept Manny at bay, I had to rely on myself and my own capabilities.
As he pushed me down making my back land on the snow and aimed for my neck, I quickly kicked him out and hoisted myself up. I tried to same thing to him, but he only pushed my away like I was a rag doll. I began to doubt ever being able to bring him down.
Maybe there really was no one I could, that all I had was a bit of false faith.
My distraught courage led me to an unfocused defense as he charged in towards me. I wrestled him away but as he grabbed me with his claws he overpowered whatever strength I had and threw me away. I skidded through the sound to feel my head pound against a hard rock.
"Come on… get up…" I commanded to my body. There was no way I shouldn't be able to get up now. The frigid cold of the snow crept up around my body. It felt my body growing numb, but I forced myself not to fall into unconsciousness.
But my body wouldn't get up. And as Soto and his pack are probably cornering Manny into a wall, I can't help but stay down in an unwilling position.
The sound of the blizzard's wind caught up in my ear. My auditory senses heightened, enabling me to hear everything in torment. As the growls grew more prominent, I finally managed to grab myself back to consciousness. With blurry vision I could see Soto, fiercely aiming for that specific part. A flash of memory reeled into my eyes.
"How do you take down a mammoth Diego?" Soto asked me.
You tire him down! I guessed.
"Mammoths don't go down easy," Soto explained as he chuckled in the ridiculousness of my answer. "There's only one way to do it."
I listened intently to what he learned. I loved hearing the sound of his voice.
"First you have to force it into a corner," Soto said as he walked up towards me, wearing an almost menacing look. Surprised by his sudden act, I was somehow made to walk back, staring hypnotized by his gaze. My hind paw hit the end of wall of rock. "Cut off its retreat."
"And when it's trapped," he wouldn't stop creeping up to me, so I was also made to sit up while having my eyes locked onto his. "You go for the throat." He suddenly licked the fur on my neck, reaching down into the skin. His tongue worked around a tingling sensitive part he discovered during our "intimate explorations".
H-Hey! Stop it!" I blurted before he suddenly aimed his lips towards mine. I paused to savor the kiss.
"But that's something you can't do alone," he then said after releasing the kiss, planting a paw down mine. "Something you have to do with someone else."
"You want to go hunt a mammoth together then?" I said in a smile and he smiled back.
In a drastic attempt, Manny waved his tusks around. Unknown to him, Soto nimbly evaded the attack and saw an opportunity – one all predators could see.
Not today, Soto.
I kicked my paws up as I jolted towards him. Against the heavy pounding in my head I staggered and leapt into his way.
I felt teeth sink into, feeling myself as the prey I always followed in silence and stealth. All we were in the end were just time bombs waiting to explode and shut down. And I almost thought that right now my own timer had just set off.
I sank down onto the snow, feeling myself go cold and lifeless. From the corner of whatever blurry vision I had left I could see Soto raising a claw, willing to finish me off - when suddenly a small cry erupted from the repetitive chorale of gusts and growls.
I could only mutter in my mind. I could see Soto avert his gaze towards the human child before my eyes finally clamped shut.
All I could hear was the angered trumpet of a mammoth's horn, and a loud thud that followed a chime that rang into my ears.
And finally, it grew quiet. Even the snowstorm had subsided into its conclusion.
I could hear Sid cheer in, "we did it!'
Forcing to open my eyes, I could see in front of me Soto's near-lifeless body. And as I could hear footsteps waddling towards me, I knew that at least in the end, we were victorious.
Pinky was safe. And so were those two.
"We were… some team… huh?" I muttered, stopping myself from rasping in pain of the wound on my body. The snow fell gently; so sadly that it made me think if tears could fall as gentle and sorrowful as this. It's so peaceful. Enough to make me rest.
"Were?" Manny repeated in a correcting tone. "Come on. We're still a team."
"I'm uh… sorry I set you up…" I said. At least, it's all finally over.
Sid walked up. "Ah you know me, I'm too lazy to hold a grudge."
Heh… I guess this is why I liked you guys. You always were admirable, despite your attitudes.
I guess you're thinking the same for me too, right?
Sid set down that little hairless bundle of joy we all had trouble babysitting. I looked at him as he rubbed his soft palm down my nose.
"Hey, knock it off squirt," I said, trying to keep that confident front I always wore the moment we met. I toughened up, despite the situation. But I guess it's just instinct.
"You gotta be strong," I tell him. For a moment, as we stared eye to eye at each other, it seemed as though he understood what I was saying. "You have to take care of Manny and Sid…" a drop of humor fell to my tongue, "especially Sid…"
"Come on, you can lick this," Sid said in a wishful tone. "You're a tiger. Look, I'll carry you. Come on, what do you say?"
I think I'll be just fine Sid. But right now, I hope you won't mind me with one last convenient lie.
"Come on Diego, come on," Sid pried in desperation. "Tell him he's gonna be okay, Manny."
I lifted my head to see that big furry elephant shed a tear.
"Look… you have to leave me here…" I muttered. "If those humans get through the pass, you'll never catch them." I lay my head back down in a limp tired show.
The mammoth gave me that look. That caring look only a family would ever give you. I guess I missed that. "…you didn't have to do that." Manny mentioned.
It's what I wanted to do. It's what all I could do. It's what I had to do. Because…
"That's what you do in a herd…" I finally fall back, placing my head down in rest. The winds never felt so cold. I close my eyes and feint my death. I hear them leave through the snow. They're gonna have to hurry.
Once I could no longer hear them, I finally lift myself.
I'm not proud of what I'm doing. But at least in the end I need to do this. And I'd sooner wish I was dead than have this conversation in front of them.
I walked up to Soto's almost lifeless corpse. I see his wounds and look away. Perhaps he only had a few breaths left. I rested my paw on his, feeling it for the last time as I remembered all the tender memories we shared. I couldn't help but cry. What used to be so warm was now in lying frigid under my paws. Nothing more but snow.
"Diego…" he muttered. I drew my breath back as I neared my head towards his. "What… I…" with the confused amount of words he had to choose from, I brushed my paw over his mane.
"It's okay hon… it doesn't matter…" I uttered to relax him.
"I'm… so… sorry…" A tear rolled down his cheek. To hear him speak, even in this disheveled tone, I knew that I was at least, even for these few moments, I had saved him. He was back the way he was. The alpha I grew fond of and cared for.
"I was… too angry…" he muttered, holding back his grunts of agony. "I couldn't see… what I had left… and what I shouldn't have lost. I'm sorry… I hurt you…"
I tried to comfort him. "If I were you… I might've ended up the same way, and you'd do the same for me…"
"I wish I hadn't ended up this way…" Soto muttered before coughing up in all the blood and remorse he had left. "Diego… I… I…"
I leaned closer, resting my forehead onto his. I wrapped my paws around his as he clenched onto them.
"I love you…"
Tears poured down like rain.
"I love you too…"
And as he slowly closed his eyes to everlasting sleep, his paw grew limp and lifeless in my grasp, feeling him slip away as his gruesome death had finally passed.
I kissed him on the forehead goodbye, as if kissing him goodnight, only never to kiss him or be kissed by him ever again.
As I rose up on my paws and wiped the tears off my face, I wondered where to go next. I heard there were other packs up north, and east and west there was some fair game around.
But right now, I wanted to head south, right into that pouring blizzard. There's one last moment I don't want to miss.
I step forward to trip and land on the snow. I pulled myself up before trudging towards my heading. With each stride the pain coursed throughout my body. I looked back to see my beloved resting gently, forever.
But only once. He'd get angry if I tarried any longer.
And I managed it all. The goodbyes, the hellos, everything that meant having to walk onwards to a new future.
"That's right, where's the baby!" I heard the sloth banter.
"Come on, Sid. Let's head south-" The mammoth had spotted me like I was shining gem in the middle of gravel. But my eyes were locked onto that baby's hands lifting from his eyes.
I'm glad at least, that we saw each other one last time as well, never seeing someone that meant to you ever again. I want to spare that feeling from you, kid. I replied by putting a paw over my eye, and lifted it open. There he is.
"Goodbye… goodbye…" I could hear Sid almost breaking down in tears.
I finally opened my mouth to speak. "Save your breath, Sid. You know humans can't talk."
"Diego?" He turned to march towards me. "You're okay!" he cried.
I reply in a humorous tone. "Nine lives, baby." As he charged towards me, I was expecting a tight hug when suddenly he lifted me up (didn't know how he's able to) and turned me over, grabbing me as he noogied my head and punched my head. I wondered what place of society did that meant as a way of saying hello.
But maybe it was just Sid.
"I could kiss ya'!" Please don't. In the end, he ended up kissing my head disgustingly. I was gay, but that was just gross.
Getting a taste of my fur, he drew back and spat. "Yuck!" He desperately tried to wipe the taste of his tongue. Maybe he should try kissing his own fur to see what "yuck" really means.
Manny came up looking glad and happy to see me as well. "Well welcome back, partner," he smiled before gesturing towards his head. "Wanna lift?"
"No thanks," I quickly replied. "I gotta save whatever dignity I got left."
After that entire deal with Soto, I don't have much with these two guys.
"You're hanging out with us now, buddy. Dignities got nothing to do with it." In a sense, that was a sweet thing to say coming from Sid. But I guess he would never change. "But I'll take that lift."
"Yeeeaah, climb aboard," Manny said, lifting his hoof to help Sid up.
"Yehaw! Mush!" Sid cried in a commanding tone. Manny looked up in annoyance, clearly indicating that Sid was going too far. "Or not mush. Either way." Manny rolled his eyes and shook his head as he walked forward. I followed whilst doing the same, only smiling at the appeal.
As we headed on south, Sid cried in excitement "This is gonna be the best migration ever…!"
Well, I guess this is as good as it gets so far. So far at least…
But hey. I'm still breathing. I'm sure that someday… love will find a way for me.
But even then, I'll always love him.