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 [18+] Fractured Memories, Shattered Souls [For Fox], Tattered Lives
Bleedpretty
 Posted: Jul 20 2015, 12:41 PM
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There were some moments, like the one he was now suspended within, that he felt a strange sense of familiarity. It was as if there was something important that was trying to bubble to the surface of his consciousness yet it remained veiled, tucked away in the recesses of his mind. It was not unlike a passing unidentifiable scent, one that he had smelled before yet could not place despite the desperate attempts to do such. Nostrils flared as he drew in a deep breath, eyes fluttering shut as he tried to concentrate on summoning the partial thought to the surface. A fruitless attempt. It was settled too deeply beyond his reach, as it usually was, and when his eyes reopened they took to scanning over the yawning expanse of the dilapidated city that stretched out around him. He had been here before, yet he had never stood atop this building and he was certain of it.

The city was crumbling and most of the denizens lived in absolute squalor. Cedric couldn't even see that anymore, he was so far removed from the people who occupied this filthy space that he hardly even considered himself human. Towering unstable buildings made up most of the city, the spaces to walk along on at street level less than optimal. Puddles of questionable nature lined the sides of the walkways, debris and muck too plentiful to avoid entirely. The air carried the stench of sewage and decay, a smell that most everyone had adjusted to by this point, or at least everyone who occupied this portion of town. To Cedric it smelled like freedom, even if it truly wasn't. It was as close as he came to being free though, he lived for this. He lived only for the hunt.

Cedric no longer existed. He had not known the person that went by that name for some time now, he'd long since forgotten how to feel as he once had. Now he only went by one name: Four-fifteen. It was branded into the left side of his neck right over his company's logo, he was labeled and claimed. There was no going back to what he had once been, he had been four-fifteen for far too long. Actual freedom was a laughable concept, and not one that he had given thought to for a very long time. He carried out his orders with methodical precision, loyally fulfilling his obligations and returning to his owners like a dutiful dog.

The truth was that it had absolutely nothing to do with loyalty or duty.

No, once upon a time four-fifteen would have liked nothing more than to turn on the ones who had claimed him, those who had molded him as one might clay. They had twisted and crushed him until he fit the shape they desired, not above employing any method necessary to accomplish this feat. His resentfulness had been torn from him though, his mind having partitioned itself off from who he'd once been. He had quite simply forgotten. Four-fifteen didn't remember the before, when the only one who'd owned him had been himself. That seemed like a distant pinprick of light in a blanket of inky darkness, maybe just as far from his outstretched fingertips as the half formed thoughts that kept trying to push their way into his head.

If ever there was a beloved pet of the company it would be four-fifteen. In the beginning, when he had been pitted against his peers, he had fought them with little hesitation, stopping only when commanded to. Four-fifteen had been a fast learn, mostly because the lesson had been a simple one. Succeed or die. There was no room for mistake or hesitation, weakness was the disease that would consume and destroy. He only knew how to succeed. How to live.

Had he been more cognizant of himself, more self aware, perhaps he would have been inclined to examine his quality of life. What was it to live when one lived in such a manner as he? He was saturated in death, the blood on his hands stained his soul. He was addicted to Haze, crippled by his own body's inability to function without it. This was no life, not one worth living anyhow, but he was incapable of even that amount of self examination at this point. He only knew the ritual. The hunt. Stalk, kill, return, repeat. He was rewarded with his Haze, and sometimes his owners let him stay out of stasis, apparently as a treat. It was all the same to him though, he cared little if he was in stasis or not. Sometimes it was better to be stuck in those glass prisons, put away like a valuable toy until they were ready for him once more. At least in stasis he didn't dream, and that was worth something. Quite a lot of something as it would turn out.

Haze was nearly always at the forefront of his mind, the company had trained them to be reliant on the drug, their bodies now craved it, their thoughts corrupted with the desire for the injections. It was not the same as some fabricated drugs, there was no real high, nothing that might possibly muddle their senses or make their work sloppy. Instead, Haze only offered them a sense of relief, not unlike the feeling one might get when sating hunger. It was simply something his body needed in order to function now, and going without was deadly at this point. A daily injection was ideal, though he could skip the occasional day. Any longer than that was risky at best, there were small variations amongst individuals of course but they all usually started to shut down at about thirty-six hours. The detox had not yet been survived, but then again if a pet failed they typically did not bother to return to the company. They were disposable, the company had an endlessly running program set up for training, and an endless source of bodies to forcefully recruit and break. Failure meant severe punishment, usually they were put down, but sometimes they were sentenced to a particularly torturous form of stasis, the mind left active but the body unresponsive. Neither option was exactly appealing.

The bionic implant in his eye streamed a steady influx of numbers to him as he scanned the streets. Most of it was worthless, basic information about the denizens. He paid little mind to it unless it was flagged. Most people did not know what he was by passing glance, not unless they caught sight of his mark, the brand to show that he was corporate property. He did not look unlike most of the others wandering the streets, pale for the lack of exposure to actual sunlight, and dressed casually. More often than not four-fifteen opted to wear a jacket or high necked shirt of some kind to cover the markings on his neck. It would not do for company property to be revealing itself to watchful eyes. He could not betray himself while he was attempting to move quietly amongst the populous. His hair was kept well trimmed and neat without real style, it was cut back to keep clear of his features. It was still short from being shaved, but after the last phase of training the company opted to let them grow it out some to help their pets blend in with the rest of the commoners.

Once he'd returned to street level, four-fifteen paused to smooth his fingers along the chunky steel railing that lined the sidewalk, gaze trailing after their movement. It was gritty and his digits brought away grime as they lifted. He rubbed his thumb to them idly, musing. He was a patient pet, which made him invaluable. He had just a touch more slack in his leash than some might, having proven to have a positive pattern of behavior. Four-fifteen never made mistakes. He never followed the false trails set up for him, he never wasted time. He executed his orders with adamant diligence and knew no other way.

This prey had been something of a challenge for him though, which was both exciting and frustrating for the hunter. He was far too used to having snapped his jaws about the one he pursued by now, crushing the life from their body without thought or hesitation. After all what was one more when there were already so many? This band of insurgents had been particularly difficult for his owners, and they had set the best of their assassins on their trail. In the last decade the uprisings had grown to be nearly too much to handle, the assassins were their means of control when fear and intimidation failed.

He was close. He knew it. He could feel it within his heart, he had been a predator for too long to not recognize and appreciate his instincts. The last flag had shown him a location just down the street, which he watched carefully without moving closer. He had no interest in giving himself away by being overly eager.

--------------------
And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
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White Fox
 Posted: Jul 22 2015, 08:54 AM
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Dark eyes locked on the screen in front of him, he just stared, his pale face the only thing cast in its sickly glow – around him, a raw blackness, echoed only by the darkness and desperate isolation in his heart. He was a shadow – without form, choking out the light – even, steady, calculated. Cold – and still, the cracks in his facade were palpable, heavy on the longing, lonely air. Emptiness, too, was an echo - more obvious in the bags under his bloodshot eyes than in the eyes themselves, but filling the room around the motionless figure and threatening to drown him all the same. He was hardened, but broken – vicious, but vulnerable.

Then, he almost smiled. A snarl, made twisted and crooked, rough and raw by the stench of alcohol...and blood, eyes narrowing as he spotted it – a flashing dot that meant one thing – a fight. Another one of them was tracking him – but he was tracking them, and he had a job to do, just as they did. The same job, in reverse. He was a rogue, a mercenary almost - neither human nor machine – always watching from the outside, closer to the enemy than to the people he now led. More soldier than person – more full of sorrow than he would ever be allowed to show – a silent, shattered soul where there should have been none. He lived only for the bloodshed and the beer...

“Oh, look! I guess I have an appointment to keep...”

The excitement in his voice was electric, but behind that there was also a sense of duty – of obligation – of dread. Alcohol brought joy to a task that never should have been joyful – a hot, ravenous heat to a task that should have made him cold as ice. Right now, he was almost giddy - but later, the guilt would swallow him and he would drown himself in alcohol all over again, to stop the nightmares forever on repeat. He was supposed to be free now – whole somehow, as if time alone was enough to heal all wounds – but this was not freedom. He was still plagued by what they had done to him all those years before – still held captive by his dreams – still not human. At best, he lived life in the grey - a hazy blur of alcohol and computer screens – the routine an odd comfort. Still, he knew he was already living on borrowed time and he couldn't bring himself to care...

With the spark that still stubbornly clung to his insides – his undeniable thirst for revenge – came a sharpness he just couldn't shake. He was erratic and unpredictable, with an edge to him that kept others at a distance. There was a toughness to him that often covered his hurt with unkind words and hate – more for himself than he would let on. Somehow, though, he was good at what he did – so they kept him around, despite his lack of any real manners or social skills. It was that simple, really. He had a place here, but he would never belong....He felt so much, but it could never be true happiness.

It was simply time to kill...or be killed – rabid dog eat rabid dog, in a world where everything and everyone had gone mad so long ago. He was still very much a pawn in their games - he just played on the other side of the board now, the only one who knew enough about their plans to stop them. What he did felt half-hearted, but needed – a necessity that he was unwilling – unable - to give up, despite the pain and discomfort it caused him every time he closed his eyes.

It was time to fight his way through the corporate pollution – to join the fog...

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Careful planning and some tricky tech work had him waiting, early for his meeting – a cobra, waiting and ready to strike – quick as lightning. Staff in hand, there would be no hesitation. Compassion and concern had already cost him too much. If he faltered, others would be harmed. He'd been taught to act without thinking – to follow orders – a tool, no longer a person – no longer himself, following the whims of someone else. He had not changed. His heart was still heavy. He was still hurting innocent people – people without control – people who had been taught – tortured and tormented into – following orders without thought. People whose lives had never been theirs to choose. People like him – only cogs in the corporate machine.
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Jul 23 2015, 07:27 AM
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If his prey was a cobra, then he was the mongoose. The problem was that four-fifteen didn't imagine the one he hunted to be anything more than a simple rat, something easily disposed of by a predator such as himself. It was not arrogance, far from it, instead it was the norm that he'd come to know and accept. Sure, plenty had attempted to defend themselves against him, that was not abnormal necessarily. In fact, four-fifteen liked the ones who gave him a challenge, it gave him a little rush that he really had no ability to place, all he knew was that it made him feel alive and that was something. That was really something. He had not yet had the pleasure of encountering one who could hold their own against him, not since he'd made it out of training at least. The ones who did fight never lasted long, it was like holding a figure cut from paper too near a flame. He was the fire that consumed.

The flag was moving, and four-fifteen followed with little thought and no hesitation. He could not know that it was a trap of sorts that he was being led into, but even if he had known it wouldn't have mattered. Nothing would have changed, four-fifteen still would have followed along, he would have gladly fallen, gladly have thrown himself into steel jaws because there was to be only one of two outcomes. Success or death. The latter was what awaited for him no matter the end, the only real variable was when.

It was another dilapidated building he was led to, nothing different than any of the others that were crumbling about him, yet it seemed familiar in some distant sense. Four-fifteen paid no mind. It didn't matter. It was only that pesky haunting feeling again, and not one he had time to indulge in at this point. The air about him was heavy with dust and the musty scent of decay could be faintly noted. The building was on the fringes of where most of the denizens lived, empty, long since abandoned. Debris crunched beneath booted feet as he moved to where his beloved little rat now stood. He was not a rat at all, it would seem.

There was some high pitched whine in his ears as he laid his eyes upon the one with the staff in his hands, it rattled about in his head imitating an insect as he took in the sight of his challenger. Four-fifteen stopped. The stance was not that of one who had simply taken up a weapon and thought they knew how to fight. He cocked his head, it was an almost mechanical sort of movement, quick and sharp. The implant was spewing an endless stream of numbers, flashing orange and lighting the target up obnoxiously. Four-fifteen's lips cracked, and he bared a toothy grin, hollow eyes never strayed from the one who stood, ready for him.

It was a lateral move he made, beginning to circle in. He was accustomed to fighting a variety of weapons, but he had a special sort of hatred for the staff that he didn't understand. Disarming as quickly as possible was usually his choice plan, but that didn't always go as planned. The wicked knife at the small of his back was easily accessible, and he pulled it out to flick it open with one movement of his wrist. It wasn't as if he carried weapons for dueling while on a hunt, his style was usually brutal and quick, effective for those who occupied this city. Four-fifteen wasn't worried though, he'd been training since he was a child, and there was a very good reason why he was still alive- considered old for what he did.

He may not have a larger blade, but what he did have was the mostly metal and leather contraption on his left arm. It held another knife, though four-fifteen cared more about how it would serve as a makeshift shield of sorts. He would have to keep it at a very specific angle to catch blows, but it would be preferable to trying to use his forearms alone.

There was no further pause, making a stunted lurch to test the reaction time but quickly followed it with the true attack. Light on his feet, he shifted his direction last minute to try and throw the other off, his left arm was quick to move, wanting to take the brunt of the strikes. Four-fifteen kept his blade close and controlled, making it difficult to keep an eye on before it came cutting through the air.

Four-fifteen used no elaborate moves or superfluous flourishes, he was efficient instead, a flurry of quick forceful movements. He only really needed one to hit as he intended, the serrated edge of the nasty little knife made for damage. Relentless, he would take whatever strikes were thrown his way, liable to catch a few good knocks for the cause of disabling his opponent. He wouldn't hesitate to try and use that staff to pull the other off balance, anything to get the weapon away. His first movements were mostly testing for reaction, blocking what he could in order to get a read on his prey's speed and style.

Kill, kill, kill

It replaced the high pitched whine, echoing in his skull and timed with the rushing beat of his heart.
Kill.
He had to kill.
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White Fox
 Posted: Aug 3 2015, 10:51 PM
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Cold, narrowed eyes caught sight of the one he was here to kill – darkness, gaze locked on the figure and refusing to let go. Nothingness – a black hole – only death, destruction – devastation, where there should have been life – love and light. He was havoc - forced to fight the only ones that had any chance of understanding what made him tick – a machine, carefully programmed to kill. Still, this was all he knew – the killing itself his most hated duty, a part of the job description he would rather forget; the fighting, an escape. Breaking up the daily grind of computer screens and coding, it was the only thing that made him feel anywhere or anything close to alive. Like two sides of the same coin, though, there was no separating the two. Fighting meant death – and yet, whether he fought or not, people would still die. All he could do was try to control who came to harm the only way he knew how. His fate, too, was tied to that coin. Win or lose – live or die...no one had the upper hand. One misstep, one miscalculated movement, meant throwing his life away – and he couldn't care. He knew the risks – he was never safe – and still, even staring down his enemy felt routine.

As his enemy began the spiral approach to his left, nothing changed at first but a slow pivot on his heel. Small and light, this fight would not be won with brute force. The first feint was met with nothing, simply vanishing back and to the right, a silent and deadly dance. More fights than he wanted to remember had taught him patience – precision - persistence, and soon enough the real attacks began to come.

The other wasted no more energy with unnecessary movement than he did, except for keeping his left arm up to shield his face – useless against a metal staff, simply an invitation to an easy target. It didn't matter. Each swipe of the knife was both a threat and an opening, and after nothing at all he suddenly let his staff swing out, a low shot meant to catch the other's inner leg and either sweep or crack it. With a heavy thud the metal aimed true, but rather than staggering back his enemy plunged forwards with knife in hand. In an instant, the blade ripped just past his cheek and down across the skin and flesh of his chest even as he twisted to keep it from piercing his ribs.

Blood pounded in his ears and probably poured from his wound, but his mind was clear. Before his attacker could take another shot, he shoved the staff violently forwards, pushing the other off-balance once more and freeing the reach of his weapon. The rod blurred in his hands, whistling faintly as its tip reached maximum speed and crashed down on the side of his enemy's right wrist. An audible snap was quickly followed by a clatter, as the injured tendons spasmed and the knife slipped from the other's lifeless hand. Without a pause he continued his strikes, the aggression still ice cold and carefully calculated, forcing the other back inch by inch until the knife was now under his own left foot. A quick kick backwards spun the weapon deep into the unkempt grass and out of reach.

Each blow now carried his full strength as he pressed his advantage. Within seconds the other was pummeled with a hail of metal, forced to choose between broken bones or bruises and lost ground. With an overhand swing that vibrated through his own shoulders, he brought the staff down straight on the protective arm and was met with a second sound of snapping – but less organic than metallic.

The other reacted less with pain than with a complete change in tactics. As if the blow had snapped his mind and not his arm, his attacker's eyes flickered for an instant before he suddenly lunged forward in a reckless charge. This was his chance – his perfect shot, the blow that would end the moment of adrenaline and flip the coin again. Almost slowly he coiled himself like a spring, staff now in his favoured left hand, and let the tip of the staff fly out like a blunt lance to catch his enemy deep in the soft tissue below the breastbone-

-But the metal rod, now slippery with his own blood, bucked in his hands and flew uselessly to the ground. With no time to recover, the other's charge hit him full in the ribs, knocking him off his feet and slamming his back and head into the unforgiving soil. The breath fled his lungs in the impact even as he gasped for air, and in moments the other's weight had pinned him to the ground. He tried to raise his arms to protect his face, but inexorably his enemy's greater strength forced his elbows back again. Now he could feel his own blood hot against his skin, his shoulder screaming as he forced the damaged muscles to strain for life, but his enemy would not be dislodged. In the instant that he felt angry fingers close around his throat, he looked up into the snarling face of death and -

He could feel himself fading away with every heart beat - life slipping away through his frozen fingers and out of his grasp. Vision blurred and dizzy, he knew the end was closing in - cloaking him in its haze. There was nothing he could do. He'd taken a chance, and this time, his luck had simply run out – the last grains of sand in a long-tormented life, clawing him away from the here and now... Then he saw it – a single, familiar scar on the other's left temple – and letting go was no longer something he could let himself do. Wide, wild eyes locked on the other's – dark and light, faces changed both by time and by the suffering that both had had to endure at their hands – eyes still the same, despite the masks they had both been forced to wear so long ago. It wasn't that he was afraid to die – he just refused to let the only person who had ever made his life worth living be the one to end it. He was afraid to leave the other with that guilt and shame – even the slightest chance of it – just another where there were too many ...They both shouldered enough burdens already – they always had. He needed to try, to give them both a chance at happiness. He needed to change this, but he had nothing but his voice now – and that, too, was leaving him.

It wasn't his life he cared about – it was the prospect of actually getting to live again.

Ignis!...Stop!...” he choked without thinking, his voice a weak whisper, almost falling away into nothingness.

Desperate for air, he could only hope that some part of his friend was still in there - that something would make the other stop – the same something that had made him stay behind all those years before? He had fought with only warm words – now fear gnawed ravenously at the edges of his composure as time itself seemed to slow.
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Aug 9 2015, 01:21 PM
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Though most of the action itself could not have lasted for more than a few moments, time seemed to slow greatly for four-fifteen. It was a shock, really, to realize that his opponent was better matched to him than any that he'd faced out here before. That shock was so distant from him currently though that it hardly even registered for the moment. All four-fifteen knew was that this was a threat that needed disposing of, a realization even more intense for the recognition that this one could fight. Was this the individual responsible for the deaths of his brothers and sisters? Four-fifteen could not know if that were the case or not, but he knew that this was not someone that could be allowed to continue to live. The company would not like it.

Each blow rained upon him was taken in stride, pain resonating through his frame as the metal connected again and again. Adrenaline kept him numb enough to endure, but it was misplaced hatred that actually fueled his continuation. This was the only release for him, and he accepted it freely with open, eager arms. It was not the will to live that drove him, he was far too gone for such motivations. Instead four-fifteen had found hardened determination in the space of the small cracks that had been left for him, compartmentalizing in order to cope.

When the steel of his knife bit flesh, four-fifteen felt a little rush of something akin to euphoria, a small release for the pressure that had built up in the space between his ears. It was almost dizzying and his eyelids fluttered, but he had no time to indulge himself in the moment. Four-fifteen was reminded of the intensity of the situation when he was rewarded for the split second of sloppiness with a sharp crack to his wrist, his knife skittered away and was kicked beyond his reach. No matter... there were other ways to end this. Instinct had him bringing up the protected wrist of his left arm to use what little vantage the metal beneath his shirt could gain him, which was unfortunately not much. Both of his arms were aflame now, but four-fifteen was so removed from the the burning throbs of his own tendons and bones that it was almost as if he were watching another fight instead of actually participating in it himself.

Something broke figuratively in time with the metal of the makeshift shield, the snapping sound seeming to offer a miniscule warning for what was to come next.

There wasn't much else he could do aside from use what advantage he had, which at this point only seemed to be height and weight. Weaponless and desperate to at least go down with one hell of a fight, Cedric lunged forward. He'd have to hope that brute force and the aggressive charge would be enough to get him at least a few good hits in before he was pummeled in the head. As it would happen, four-fifteen lucked out. The staff was slipping from his opponent's fingers and four-fifteen saw it fall in his peripheral, gaze too intently set to actually glance to see where it'd landed. This was his opportunity.

A rush of heat unfurled in his chest as he felt the feeling of flesh beneath his fingers, hardly even noticing that the weight of him had knocked the two of them to the ground. His knees had found appropriate places to dig into on each of his enemy's arms, ignoring the wet warmth of blood between them. Digits dug in, crushing and grinding into the soft skin of unprotected neck, and his features warped into something almost unrecognizable, feral and damned near inhuman. This was the only control he was privy to and he lost himself to the moment with fervid abandon.

The intent could not be broken, not for begging, not for fruitless words. If asked, four-fifteen would have said nothing could have dissuaded him from literally squeezing the life out of the one beneath him. That wasn't really the truth though, and when uttered, the single word 'Ignis' cut through the fuzzy red haze like a knife through butter. It was a breath of cool air to the raging, nearly uncontrollable flames.

Pausing, one could almost see his mental process as his thoughts turned, and some form of vague recognition passed through his eyes. Slowly, one by one, each finger loosened and lifted as if he were hesitant to release. In all honesty, he was hesitant to release, arguing internally with what had become instinct and what he was struggling to recognize as familiarity. That feeling had returned, like he was tiptoeing around the edges of some massive hole in his memory. It was probably a bit awkward, the extended pause where he simply sat with his knees still digging into the one below him, hands hovering threateningly. Four-fifteen only stared at the one below him, trying to wade through his muddied thoughts. “He's dead.” He said, but he didn't sound as certain as he could have, almost as if he were asking instead of stating.

It was all starting to crash in on him, a grain of sand subjected to the relentless power of the waves that washed over him. Only one person knew that nickname, only one person had ever called him that. His memories were fragments, barely recognizable and so far beyond piecing together currently. Still, something cut through all of the fog that clouded his thoughts and touched upon some part of him. Some real part of him, buried though it might be.

It was too difficult to handle all at once, and four-fifteen... Ignis... Cedric? Whoever he was, he felt something twist uncomfortably in his gut. He made a low sound, a panicked noise that sounded as if it could have been the start of a word but then perhaps he'd lost it. Hands raised to clench at his dark crop of hair, tugging at it almost frantically. He was standing, abandoning the fight, abandoning the moment to instead pace about. Processing something like this was more than slightly difficult, and he was now making a desperate attempt to line his thoughts up properly.

“Aeris is dead.” He informed the other in a hurried whisper, but again, he didn't seem very assured of this fact. Four-fifteen paced and pulled at his hair, making short little loops back and forth. He couldn't seem to stop moving, more little odd groans escaped him. That high pitched whine was back, rattling around in his head, making his eyes squeeze shut. Abruptly, he stopped pacing and crouched, turned slightly away from the other. Slipping from his hair to support him, he leaned forward on a palm and retched. He was going to be sick. His frame trembled and he emptied the contents of his stomach. Mostly bile, sour and biting.

What was starting to slowly form in his mind was the fact that neither of them were dead and he'd almost just killed the only person who he'd ever truly been close to. He heaved again, the very idea roiling and grinding at his chest.
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White Fox
 Posted: Aug 13 2015, 11:15 PM
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He was trapped in a kind of hell. Darkness took the edges of his vision – time slowed and stretched to breaking... He was breaking, and he couldn't turn away, check out or change the channel – forced to watch his own end, powerless to stop the torture. Fear overtook him then – the other's grip around his neck firm, and then loosening too slowly to save him – any semblance of stability he had left slipping away, overshadowed by the turbulence that flooded his heart just as it was ready to give up – just as he started to give in to nothingness...

Blackness – fire – pain.

Flames filled his insides as he struggled to breathe again, air finally allowed to fill his lungs – sudden, searing, sharpness, swelled to bursting – pain. He choked, coughed - gasped and gagged – hacked and heaved - his throat racked with spasms as he fought to make his body move. His chest felt heavy, held down by his own muscles' stubborn refusal to move – oxygen both his only rescue and his sworn enemy. He strained to find steadiness – balance – a rhythm. In – out...slow, relaxed and even – though his thoughts raced right along with his heart. A surge of reality - tough - as hard to swallow as the air fighting to find a way into his lungs – terrible and traumatic – impossible to hush – rejecting silence as oxygen gave them a chance to scream. He had been so close to death – too close to handle...and the tension building inside him was too much for him to hold.

He saw nothing – heard nothing of the other's suffering and torment – failed to take in his words, to properly comprehend their meaning. Nothing made sense to him but the overwhelming urge to soak the ground beside him with the contents of his stomach. Scrambling clumsily - uneasy - he somehow managed to roll over before spilling a mixture of acid and alcohol all over the grass.

And still – the pressure was too much – threatening to crush him, even before he could ever mend things with his friend. Words wouldn't come to him. His body slumped and collapsed – he had no energy left to try any more. He just surrendered – cried – a fit of hot tears that had been sitting just under the surface for far too long. Curling up and letting go, he just sobbed – writhing with pain of every possible form – still just as unable to breathe as he was to bite down on his internal pain like a bullet, of holding it back or trying to hide it. Now both shock and blood loss were risks to his safety – afterthoughts for his attention – neglected, though desperately needy despite the many other concerns pressing in on his mind.

Maybe the other would just put him out of his misery, like an old dog no longer useful to his master?... That was his job, after all, and he'd already failed to perform it twice. They really wanted him to die – he was still so ready for things to explode, to end any second – and he worried about what would happen to Cedric if he didn't do what he was told. Three strikes, you're out?...
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Aug 22 2015, 05:29 PM
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Trying to process what had just happened, what was still happening was like attempting to run through quicksand. He understood distantly on some level, but the disconnect was so strong that he could hardly face it directly. For too long he had been four-fifteen, he hadn't been Cedric in years and he hadn't been Ignis in even longer. Letting his identity dissipate had been the first and most important step in coping with a situation that he had next to no control in. Now his carefully segregated portions of his mind were bleeding together and the influx of carefully forgotten memories threatened to tear him into two.

With his mind all but crumbling, decaying and sloughing off, there was little cognizance for external input at this point. He no more saw the other than the other saw him. Not now. Not yet. There was nothing left for his stomach to give, and so he spent a good portion of time simply dry heaving uncontrollably. There was nothing graceful or elegant about it, on his hands and knees, body trembling with exertion as it tried to rid him of all that he had.

There was no telling how much time had passed, he had lost himself to staring ahead at some spot which supposedly existed past the walls. Eventually he seemed to come around, stirring himself as he realized he had been kneeling there with only the beat of his own heart in his ears. There were no tears for him, only a dull throb of pain as Cedric realized that he'd stopped existing for a while, that he'd nearly just killed someone he'd cared for so deeply that it pained him. In all fairness, he hadn't known that the other was alive, he'd imagined that the company had hunted him down by now. This was a little shining moment of clarity, and one that would not last. His mind was spotty at best, relapses were bound to happen.

A moment passed and he realized that it was the sound that had shaken some sense into him, brief or not. He turned to rest pale eyes on the other, a wave of dysphoria washing over him as his implant lit the other's form up in orange, flashing obnoxiously. Four-fifteen had to jerk his gaze away, hands coming up to tug at the dark shock of hair once more. He made a strangled little noise, frustrated and confused.

It was a few moments before he could turn back towards the other, and Cedric noticed the blood this time. There was a lot of it. He'd been in autopilot before, he hadn't even realized what he'd done. The ache in his own forearms was all but ignored. Every passing moment saw it hurting a bit more, but his mind was too busy to really pay attention just yet. It was likely that he had some hairline fractures, or in the very least some very severe bruising to deal with. It'd be more painful later... when the adrenaline had worn off more fully.

Cedric stood, finally, inching closer to the other in a way that suggested that any sudden movement might see him taking off. Every last thing about his body language screamed tense, his frame all but wound like a tightly coiled spring. His hair was sticking up in every which way, short though it was, it was messy for where his hands had tugged and abused it. Though he was naturally fair anyhow, he was especially pale at the moment, his eyes stood out for it.

When he tried to speak all that came out was an odd sound. It was choked, as if his tongue didn't want to cooperate with him. “Nngnh.” Cedric shifted his weight, a shiver ran down his spine, and his hands found their hold in his hair once more. Four-fifteen... four-fifteen... he willed four-fifteen away, though four-fifteen really wanted to be there. He tried to be Cedric. Had to be Cedric.

Speaking wasn't going to work. He sank to his knees, let go of his hair, and crawled a little closer. Extending a hand, Cedric lightly touched at one of the other's shoulders. His hand recoiled as though he feared he might be burnt. It took everything in him to stay where he was, to not just let himself slip back into the comfort that was four-fifteen and let his mind turn off once more.
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White Fox
 Posted: Sep 7 2015, 06:57 PM
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One brief touch brought with it so much – heavy and hot, sharp and raw – real and impossible to escape - his mind flooded with memories as his body recoiled and fled the fingers in shock and fear. Even love was entangled, entwined – inseparable from cruelty and venom. Angry flames licked at his insides – ravenous – engulfing him in a world he wished desperately he could leave behind – one that still made him restless and robbed him of so much sleep. Ice crawled away from those fingers and quickly covered him, cold and biting at his skin even as his insides burned. It rendered him powerless to move, to run away like he had all those years before – though his mind had never really managed to break away from their grasp, even as his body was freed from the many physical beatings he'd endured then. The mental and emotional anguish – the torture and torment – had always been too much for him to bear. Those were the things that still denied him stability – and happiness. Those were the wounds that still felt fresh and exposed – excruciating, even as his chest spilled red. He gasped. He wanted to scream – to cry out, but he knew better and didn't dare to let them see his suffering.

He was a child again, dark eyes wide and begging, desperately biting back his fear – though it still clearly clawed at his insides, just waiting for him to slip up. He wasn't broken yet, but even at this age he was already bleeding – pieces of himself chewed up and bruised by a system that was bent on spitting him out wholly shattered, his pieces rearranged for a purpose not his own. He'd been taught to not make eye contact - but this time, he stared longingly into familiar blue – deep, lonely ocean – despite himself. He needed the other to know it was okay, that he accepted what was to come – though there was no denying the anxiety and apprehension that threatened to destroy his composure, and devastate them both. There was no avoiding what was going to happen, but he'd wished it was a dream that he could wake from, then – now he only wished that he could sleep.

It'd been some small infraction, and now they were using it as an excuse to make an example of them both – for each other. Now they would force one to punish the other - callous and calculated, ruthless and relentless, they sought to maim two fledgling birds with one brutal motion – never once lifting a finger in harm or aid, meticulously manipulating them until they clipped their own wings and crushed their own spirits. If the other didn't act quickly, the waiting – the dread – would just drag on. They had to be swift and sure, even if there was a good chance that they would intentionally insist on dragging out his suffering – a show made entertaining only by its coldblooded extraction of innocence. He could only nod and lower his head to protect his face from damage.

“Just do it!” A young voice, fierce but fearful, doing its best to be detached from the here and now, echoed what he had heard them say time and time again - the same words escaping now adult lips, voice raspy and broken – dazed and disconnected. There, but not there.

In his discomfort, much of him still waited for death - like his younger self had waited for the first blow to land, friend and foe all in the same fist. He could never find his footing – learning to expect anything other than some vague sort of misery was a waste of time and energy. His life was pain and punishment – and though the aftermath was never pleasant, it was that that he lived for, if only because he still had his flame. After that went out, there was nothing. Though he hoped as much that the alcohol would act as fuel for a heart now in pieces – cold - as he did that it would keep him numb, nothing could really replace what had been missing for far too long.

Drawn to the flames – death and destruction and in the same breath, energy, life and light.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The same fingers that wounded him now warmly, carefully checked up on the damage they'd done. For once, they were alone to pick up the pieces, to clean up a mess that was never really made by them in the first place. Half asleep, he could pretend that nothing else in the world existed – that they were alone and that no one else could hurt them. It was almost like a dream, where everything else was like some kind of nightmare – and as much as he wished he could stay in dreamland, something pulled him upwards, pulling at the edges of his consciousness. Pain hit him suddenly, piercing, even through the pleasant haze that still plagued his mind – thick and heavy, protective but pernicious.

A soft whine finally escaped half-swollen lips – holding back was no longer an option. It hurt too much, just to breathe. It hurt too much, just to breathe...

“...Ig-nis?!...” he called, soft but insistent, longing – frantic and hesitant. He was half dazed, struggling for air – present and past mirroring each other once more as he fought again for awareness. Just as before where he'd been so unsure of the face the other would wear, so he was now.

Somewhere, he half heard the other respond, but at the same time, he also knew that it couldn't really be like that. Good history never repeated itself – only bad.

“Come on, Aeris. Come back. It's over...You're safe.”

He looked down and saw only red...
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