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Author Topic: Vanishing Blue [Neph!]  (Read 49 times)

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Offline Lion

Vanishing Blue [Neph!]
« on: March 24, 2018, 01:04:43 PM »
How many times had his eyes traced over the same letters, the same lines over and over again? You’d think with the number of times he’d read that note he’d memorized it word for word not, line by line. He did. Of course he did. Glover got fixated, would read it again, carefully fold it up and then keep it in his breast pocket, close to his heart right next to his smokes.

Then he’d fish one out, feel the paper and then pull both out. The doctors wanted him to quit smoking. Said he wouldn’t heal right if he kept on like he did, but what did they know? Them and their medical degrees, healers could only heal with their Mordecai and his was gone. A westward came in through Tynova and took Wil along with it.

The hollowed out feeling from inside Glover’s chest was continuously scraped and scratched at by his good arm. His only arm. No, the doctor’s didn’t see what he saw, didn’t know what he knew. They don’t know the thing that took his arm off, that tried to take Sevrin. They could keep telling him to quit lighting up all they wanted, and he’d keep musing along with them as he popped another painkiller, washing it down with actual water and tucked the smoke into his lips, flipping open the cap of his Hippo lighter and igniting the end of it the Atrade Light.

Rose gold eyes blinked and stared at the blank lifeless TV on his wall in that rundown apartment. If Wil was here, they’d probably complain about the dust building up in the corners. About the week old noodles he’d probably forgot about again. Glover grinned, taking a long drag from the corner of his mouth of that cigarette and blowing it out and laying his head back, staring at the ceiling.

Holding the smoke in his mouth, he reached and felt his hand graze across the itch on his chest again, where it was hollow, where the skin was already wearing away to raw patches of new flesh underneath. The place where Wil was. The ache should have felt dull by now. The skin could have started healing over if his hand didn’t keep picking at it.

Funny, how the doctors said he would mourn for the return of his arm. That he’d still feel it and try to reach for it only for it to not be there. Phantom pain they called it. Glover’s hand fell to the side of the couch and could feel the weight of something beside him, as if someone was sitting there. He could smell them so close, the little wisps of Wil’s hair when they took it down from a long day’s work.  The little cap that would somehow slip off from keeping that wonderful head warm on cold Tynova nights, and find itself on Glover’s own head.

The rustle of Wil’s jacket when it was taken off and Glover bet his whole remaining pack of smokes that if he opened his eyes right now, he would see those deep luscious browns. The kind he could fall right into when he looked at them, that made his heart leap up and beat in his throat when they met his. And he knew he would see those thick lips curl into a small smile, just this side of crooked when heat touched Wil’s cheeks. Those warm cheeks.

“I love you,” he found himself saying.

And nothing answered him right back. Glover opened his eyes and tilted it to the side, where Wil was sitting. Slowly, like water diluting water colors, Wil melted away. And the ache in his chest returned, his hand instinctively reaching out to touch Wil’s cheek before they faded and were gone.

“So that’s what they meant by phantom pain,” he murmured, blinking at his delusion.

His new arm was scheduled to come in the day after next. When he’d be reassigned and meet up with his new partner. They could reassign him, it wasn’t like had had any choice in that matter. They could do whatever they wanted, he wasn’t going to be there.

----
This was his last fucking pack of smoke. He’d have to make it last as long as he could. Just the thought of that was enough to make Glover’s skin itch and he wanted to scratch at his chest again. But it was already so red, splotches were actually starting to bleed out now and he sniffed in discomfort. No use crying about it now. Bleeding out here in the Frontier was likely a bad fucking idea.

“You sure you wanna go out there? Alone? There’s bandits roamin’ ‘round. I’m sure y’could hire someone in one of the settlements to go out and find ‘em.”

“They’re a friend of mine is all. They’re birthday is coming up and I wanted to pleasantly surprise them,” Glover chuckled as the horse went along slowly. Regular horse. He’d heard of the terrors that other people tried to ride that were the Badari. Scary fuckers. He had to admit he was curious. He wanted to ride one. Maybe he could lose the other arm and become ramen noodle man.

“Must be real ‘mportnt t’come out here then.” The other rider glanced back to him and then his arm, scowling thick grey brows together that made the lines in his face so thick the sweat from his forehead collected in them like little aqueducts. The hat on his head sat loosely, despite of it. “What happened t’yer arm there, pal?”

“Rabid squirrel.”

“Huh?”

“A really mean fucking rabid squirrel. Yup. Bit it right off. Clean through the bone,” Glover smirked, favoring the end of his curren smoke and taking a small drag on it.

“Err….ok.”  They said nothing the rest of the way, cresting where the well-worn road was going to turn in toward the next town. “Well, pal, this is your stop. Can’t go no further for me. Y’sure I can’t convince ya to come with me still? Ain’t nothing much that way. I saw a cabin once. Or I thought I did. But the heat does terrible awfuls to the brain.”

“Oh my brain pretty much looks like swiss cheese now, Jonboy,” Glover mused, hopping off the horse and looking up at the old man.  He grinned and dashed the ashes off into the red dirt. Yeah he really didn’t have the gear for this but if the directions were true, then it wouldn’t be that far off. He shrugged his backpack on his shoulder and tried to secure it there as best he could.

The old man pulled the hat off his head and placed it on Glover’s dirty blonde waves, pushing them out and over his face.  “I reckon ya’ll need that more’n I will, pal. Well take care. Tell your friend I say hello.”

Glover said nothing, watching the horse clop away and Glover finally turned and set down the path.  The hat was already juicy with sweat but the miniscule shade did wonders to alleviate the pain of bright reflective sun on his vision. He was close, he had to be. He didn’t think about anything else. About the sweat on his own brow, tried not to focus on how hot it was as he trekked further into the rocky red landscape.

Didn’t even care if there were other wanderers like him trying to find someone they knew. Gods fuck it was so hot. It was so fucking hot. And his water...the last drop had gone onto his tongue somewhere between that big red fucking rock ahead of him, and the horse he’d seen with an old man that gave him a ride for a few dollars more.

Somewhere there had to be Wil. There had to be water. Maybe...maybe he could just take a little nap. Find a nice shady place to lie down in and settle there for a while. Then he wouldn’t be so thirsty. He wouldn’t be so tired.

Glover’s knees buckled underneath him and he collapsed on that burning red dirt, his hat coming loose from his head as he could barely keep his eyes open. The butt of his cigarette had been hanging loosely from his lips and fell into the dirt as well. He blinked, his vision doubling in and out, blurry, and he could see a cabin, and the door opening. That was all he saw before everything went black.

Offline nephero

Re: Vanishing Blue [Neph!]
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2018, 12:14:35 AM »
   Out in Sweetwater, you didn’t get very many visitors. That was kind of the idea, get away from the hustle and bustle and overcrowding in the cities, cut out a piece of land that was yours and yours alone and make it into something wonderful. There were no grand plans to make it into the next megacity, or even a travel hub. It was just somewhere people could live, and their children could live, and gods all willing, their children’s children.

   Which, of course, meant that it was a prime target for troublemakers. Out of sight, out of mind, it wasn’t uncommon for some ne’er-do-well to roam through and try to make an easy target out of the folks who were settled there. Especially with how widespread the homesteads were: with the town’s “main street” at least a half an hour away by horseback, it was no wonder that the first reaction to spotting some poor schmuck, laying face first in the dirt and very visibly not belonging anywhere near Sweetwater, was to call the goddamn Sheriff.

   Which is how Sheriff Bill Logan ended up 40 miles away from the slice of pie he’d just been about to dig into, and 40 miles away from where his dog would no doubt figure out how to get on top of the counter again to eat the whole plate of it. Goddammit. Goddammit. Always when he was eating. It never failed. Not even once.

   At the very least, the call came in about someone on their belly in the dirt rather than actively in the middle of trying to rob a rancher of their livestock. Which was why Logan hoped they could just scoop the dead guy off the side of the road and be done with it.

   No one ever would make the mistake of calling him a… warm and fuzzy man. Or a fool. So even though the call mentioned only one most-dead man, the added detail of mage ports in the man’s skull had him taking a bit of extra precaution.

   Which was why Mina was there. The town doctor trailed behind them a small ways back with a cart to move the body (in whatever state it might be in), while Deputy Lambert rode beside him, a rather stern look on their face. Which… was not anything particularly new. But even after so little time, Logan recognized extra stern when he saw it.



   And oh, Mina was feeling extra, extra stern. It’d been… some months since they’d first made it out onto the frontier. And some months since they’d had to deal with anything weird and suspicious. There was just the little things: a dumbass bandit here, an neighbourly altercation there, a missing goat over there and the never-ending mystery of just how the hell do you work fuse boxes it was worse than trying to hook up a new video player.

   Some random mage washing up near-dead? Not exactly high on the list of “totally quaint rural shenanigans”. Which meant that, even here, even now, even after everything, they couldn’t have a single moment’s peace.

   They’d… thought about the letter they’d written Glover. A lot. A lot, a lot. Too much, maybe, for someone who had wanted to never think about Glover or Tynova or Sevrin or what had happened ever again. But they couldn’t help it. Every night, alone in their house that smelled like too much wood, alone in their bed that smelled too much like cigarette smoke, with not even the distant sounds of the city below to lull them to sleep. No, out here it was either the wind, nothing or the faint scratching of some wild animal burrowing into their vegetable garden for the fifth fucking time and Mina was starting to consider emptying a box of buckshot into the whole goddamn thing.

   Because whatever they’d hoped the frontier would do for them, it wasn’t this. It wasn’t constantly wondering if Glover had moved on. It wasn’t constantly feeling sick to their stomach to think that he had. It wasn’t spending their lunch breaks out on the porch tearing through their pack of the day. It wasn’t how comforting the smell was on their clothes, or how their heart gave a little skip when they caught a whiff and thought, maybe, for a moment—

   No. They’d told Glover not to write them. They’d told Glover not to find them. They’d told Glover to just leave them in peace, and yet there they were, anything but at peace. Because what if it had all been a mistake? Coming out here, running away, abandoning the love of their life and— no. No. It was too late. It was too late. Glover would get on with his life, and Wil would have to get on with theirs.

   And god, but that just felt so empty.

   Empty home. Empty nights. Empty desert landscape. Dumbass bandits and neighbourly altercations and missing goats and mystery fuse boxes. Lunchtime smoke breaks and vegetable ruining varmints. Burnt cookies. Shitty coffee. Burying their face in their pillow and trying to pretend the smoke smell wasn’t their own doing.

   The peaceful life.

   This had been a mistake. But there was no going back now. Just forward, up the drive and to Mrs Daggett’s little ranchhouse, where she stood waiting along with her teenage son, who was fiddling with something shiny on the other side of the front porch. Wil narrowed their eyes a bit, but followed the sheriff off their horse and up the porch stairs.

   “Amelia,” Sheriff Logan said, pulling his hat off after the first step, “I was told you had yourself a bit of a surprise today. He uh, still in the dirt?”

   “No, Davey brought him in. He’s in the guest room now, but he ain’t made a move since we found him.”

   “Guy’s cooked to shit,” Davey piped up, flicking the thing in his fingers open and shut with a sharp, metallic click. A sound that had Wil’s heartbeat pick up to a gallop. A sound they really never expected to hear ever again.

   Faster than a bat out of hell, they moved up the steps and across the porch, and plucked the Hippo lighter from Davey’s thieving little mits. Whatever protest the kid was about to make died in his throat the second he looked at Mina’s face.

   “This. Does not. Belong to you.” They hissed, before pocketing the lighter and turning back to Mrs Daggett and Sheriff Logan. “Guest room, you said?”

   “…Yes? Inside and to the right. Just down the hall there.”

   “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll go ahead, sheriff, keep the place neutral.” They said, already in the front door and barely able to hear their own footsteps over the thunder of their heartbeat. It couldn’t be— it couldn’t be— how would he even have known where to look— and cooked to shit— oh, god, how long had he been out there before the Daggetts found him?

   And then there he was. This wasn’t the first time Wil had walked into a room to see Glover unconscious and looking like reheated shit. Hell, it wasn’t even the twentieth time Wil had seen that. But gods all, in that moment Wil wouldn’t have wanted anything else. Well, aside from maybe Glover not sunburnt to hell and back and looking far too pale underneath the patches of splotchy red. That would have been ideal.

   Wil moved over to the side of the bed, glancing to the side where Glover’s belongings sat on a wooden chair. Had that been all he’d brought with him? How had he lived this long? It would be classic Glover Daniels, though. Half-cocked and always cocky and running off with the first fool impulse that gripped him.

   “Oh, Glover, you idiot…” Wil breathed out in a sigh, leaning over the bed and brushing sweat-soaked blonde hair away from his forehead. His terribly clammy forehead.

   “Deputy Lambert, we all clear?” came an amused voice from the doorway, and Wil straightened up to see Logan leaning against the doorframe.

   “Yes, sir.”

   “Okay. I’m gonna get the doc in here. But the Daggetts are gonna want this guy gone as soon as possible, so. Any thoughts on where we can move him? Just… off the top of your head?”

   Wil narrowed their eyes a bit, and Logan quirked an eyebrow just so, before shoving his hands in his pockets and heading back towards the front door.

   “Well, let me know if you think of something. Otherwise he might have to stay at your place. Jail’s just full to bursting as it is.”

   Wil sighed again, and looked down at Glover’s face, thumbing the Hippo lighter still in their pocket. And continued to do so for the next several hours, and then all the way back to town, all the way back home, all the way back to their room that was no longer so empty, even once the doctor had left the man in Wil’s care. It was only then, somewhere in the early morning hours, that they pulled the Hippo lighter out and flicked it open, lighting a cigarette and taking a deep pull as they sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at the sole reason for so many sleepless nights.

   “I love you.”

Offline Lion

Re: Vanishing Blue [Neph!]
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2018, 11:59:51 PM »
They had told Glover not to find them. They had made it clear in the paper that still lingered in the breast pocket of his shirt. The one that hang aloft next to the bed as he slept like the dead. Was he dead? It would have been a grave relief to be so, and somewhere in that deeply rendered unconsciousness, he truly wished he was. It’d just make everything easier for everyone else wouldn’t it?

All those unanswered questions would still remain the same. But there’d be nothing left to hide, and the truth would be free to roam as it was. Sevrin would be all right. So would Wil and everyone and everything else. He wasn’t so much of an asshole to think that his sheer presence would make any real difference at all. Everything that had gone wrong was his fault. Sevrin wouldn’t have been born to sit in a wheelchair the rest of his life. Wil could go and wouldn’t have had to clean up his mess, to deal with the aftermath.

Maybe no one would have had to lose their arm…

Maybe if he just quietly slipped away, disappeared, everything would be better. Yeah, just go to sleep into that deep dark blackness. Fade away. Everything would be better. Everything would be fine.

If only the scratching at the fucking dirt outside would give any sort of easy release into death! And the ungodly howling outside. Fucking coyotes! Didn’t they know he was trying to let himself die here! What the fuck, inconsiderate butt-munching pricks.

Glover made a loud groan and grunt of discomfort that had him writhing in that bed, feeling where his arm should have been, the stub reaching out and flailing for an alarm clock to smash, to chuck at the wall to throw at a neighbor to keep their dog quiet.  In those early morning hours, that stub reached for nothing and hit nothing more than empty pillow.

“I’ll shove a stick so far up your ass you’ll turn into a popsicle! Fucking dogs!” he groaned and instead gripped the sheets right where he laid and instead turned over, from his stomach onto his side, shifting his armless stub over and curled his chest. There was a familiar scent in the room. Cigarettes. A smoke….Gods above he needed a smoke bad.

Slowly his eyelids opened up, blonde lashes fluttering beneath blonde brows and rose gold eyes settled in on the person sitting across from him. His breath caught, palms sweaty. He died, and before him was a ghost. They were ghosts together, and in the early morning gloom Glover couldn’t think of this as anything but the afterlife. If there was one. Maybe the Glover of years past wanted to believe in second chances, that there was life after it was ripped away from you…  That Glover didn’t deserve second chances, and neither did this one.

So the only logical conclusion was that he was dead.  Because the figure sitting at the edge of the bed retained a familiar yet unearthly glow to them. Dark doe-shaped eyes were hooded. And most of their features would otherwise remain dark were it not for the faint ignition of the cigarette at the end of those thick full lips. In the gloom that light highlighted the lipstick painting those lips, and the dark circles that were forming underneath brown eyes that he would be damned if he ever allowed himself to forget.

Glover’s breath remained caught until he felt the smacking of his heart on his chest and the desperatin of his lungs for breath. His legs were cold save for the boxer shorts that covered his lower half and the blanket that was splayed over him. He felt his head pounding, the pain making it hard to focus on any one version of the Ghost.

Maybe the Ghost would have answers. Maybe the Ghost would know if he was dead.

“Wil?” he asked, unable to believe his eyes, slower than molasses in winter, managing to push himself up into a seated position. “Wil is that really you? Did I die?” Gods he hoped so.  And yet that faint ache in his chest, that itch where Wil belonged never itched more than it did now.

Offline nephero

Re: Vanishing Blue [Neph!]
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2018, 01:03:25 AM »
   Did I die?

   There had been many, many times where Wil had feared that very same thing. That somehow This Would Be The Day and Glover would have opened his mouth at the wrong people and taken a bullet or twenty for his trouble. That he’d finally done something stupid enough that his considerable luck couldn’t cancel out. That this would be the day that Wil would have to deal with the fact that Glover Daniels had finally left them far, far behind.

   And that was a part of it, wasn’t it? Wil had tried to make it about Sevrin, about the things Glover had done, but another part of them had been terrified of sticking around to see just when that day would genuinely come. And then all Wil would have left was the remnants of themselves, the parts they hadn’t traded up for just one more day, the parts they hadn’t made allowances for and the parts they hadn’t sold just to ease the call of their own guilty conscience.

   But hearing Glover himself say it, ask if he had died, that was… something altogether new. And Wil was not prepared for it. Glover had always been quick to brush off his misdemeanors, to say his black eye wasn’t that bad, or to assure Wil that it had only been a bum fight and nothing genuinely serious. To hear Glover taking it serious, and even more so— Glover had sounded so glad of it. He had sounded relieved at the concept of his own death, and no matter what Wil had tried to save themself from, it didn’t save them from the frozen feeling they had right then.

   “Wil is that really you? Did I die?”

   Wil took a breath, pulled the cigarette from their lips, and reached over to snuff the smoke out in the ashtray on their bedside table. Partly because Wil didn’t want Glover to see how badly they were shaking. Partly because Wil also didn’t want Glover begging for a puff, because Wil wasn’t entirely sure they’d be able to say no.

   They’d had a hard time telling Glover “no” since they’d been assigned as partners, after all. Glover Daniels with his gorgeous eyes and his charming, shit-eating grin and his complete lack of any fucks to be given had Wilhelmina Lambert wrapped firmly around his little finger. And probably didn’t even know it, the idiot.

   “Don’t move so much. You’ve been baking in the sun for half the day, you’re lucky you’re alive at all.” They said in a clipped, stern tone, trying to keep their voice from wavering as badly as their hands.

   “Just what the hell were you even thinking?” They continued, pushing past their own horror at Glover’s resignation to death and replacing it with some wild, primal anger. They hated hearing him sound so hopeful about so terrible a thing, they hated the idea that they might have had a hand in causing it, and they hated how no matter what else they’d said or written, they were so, so wonderfully painfully happy to see him again. And all of that translated into bristling heated anger. Not even entirely directed at Glover, though he was indeed a target. “You could have died! Did you seriously just waltz out of Tynova with a jacket and nothing else? For fuck’s sake Glover, what if no one found you?”

   That part was the most horrifying of all. The idea that Glover Daniels would have met his end like that, lost and alone in the brutal Edani desert sun, left to the scavengers to pick clean and without anyone ever knowing he had been out there in the first place. Least of all Wil. Wil would have never known, would have gone their entire life believing Glover had respected their wishes and gone on to live his life as he saw fit. Wil never would have known Glover had died looking for them.

   The thought was too much to bear, and so they stood up a bit more forcefully than was probably necessary, moving around the small cabin to pull water into a tin and find a suitably clean ladle. They brought both back, and sat down again, full lips pressed into a thin line as they moved the ladle to Glover’s mouth.

   “Small sips. Drink.”