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[OS] Spoiled, Selfish Little Child, Went out to Play out in the Wild
PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Jan 6 2014, 02:41 AM
A bead of sweat slid into one of the finer line’s of Vincent’s forehead. It quivered there, for a moment, then drifted down into his hair, collecting amidst a mess that clumped like fur in the rain. He didn’t react.
Vincent Albright was stretched out on the small mattress of his minuscule cubicle, unmoving. Somewhere along the line, he had nudged the twin-sized bedding into the center of the room, and he now lay upon it with feet and arms alike hanging off either side, bare skin against the cement floor. He only wore a pair of sweatpants, a size too big, and ripped in the knee; his clothing had been taken the night he had been to “further the disguise, or some shit like that”. Across the pieces of flesh that were his body, pencil-lead scars criss-crossed like road maps to nowhere.
His fingers twitched. He dug badly-gnawed nails into the cement, then stilled.
One hand was badly beaten and crusted with blood, still healing. Its counterpart, the green metal door, was streaked with something brown—his blood—but showed no damage. The other hand, though unmarred, jerked back and forth in a series of jarring tremors, like a boat trying to settle itself on rough seas. His right foot’s toes curled idly, and occasionally he shook his head without opening his eyes. Locks of hair quivered against his forehead when he did this.
Inside his head was the only safe place anymore.
If you had asked Vincent where he felt safe before the December full moon, he would have said anywhere where he could exist entirely outside himself. In intimacy, in anger, in substances and liquids meant to channel energies into entirely physical outputs. Being anywhere but in himself had equaled relief. He hadn’t wanted to be with himself, because with himself was every last memory of failure.
You spend all day, replaying those memories… listening to the voices seared on your mind… the sounds, the tastes, the smells… you spend all day living inside of them, and you find yourself detaching from any element once tied to them. Heart, kindness, courage, love, hope—it can’t exist behind a wall. And you start building a wall, because being bombarded by your own brain every single goddamn day takes one hell of a toll. Even if it’s interspersed with the things you love. Because they stop being relief, too, and start being a reminder of who had to pick up the pieces when all was said and done, or who had been hurt because of you.
Everything he had done, or had done to him, to Norah, to Mackenzie, to his sister and brothers, all those things—he hadn’t been able to live with them anymore. Hadn’t been able to cope. So, he had make tracks, had gotten out and run away. Everything that had made him a good man—his endless desire to lift other people up, his laughter and smile, his hunger for justice and his belief in right and wrong, his tender and sweet ability to love—had fled for the sake of their own continued existence. Down a dozen dark tunnels, across the empty, fallowed fields into the very depths of his flesh, where they fell into deep sleeps and drifted into space.
If he lifted his hand, he could seize them and bring them home. They were lonely little stars, and he could gather them up again, but he never did. All that was left was so badly wounded, so maimed; he just didn’t have the strength. All his muscles were riddled with holes and torn to shreds. Beetles had bored into his pupils and left caverns in their wakes. And he forgot, completely, how to smile. Because all his battle scares were his own, all his wars had been fought because of only him.
The only sliver left to him was his hope. But it had mutated. He had hoped, not for the good or the right, but to an end of things. A man whom, when faced with death before, had smiled when he left, and when he opened his eyes again, because life had been so full of contentment for him it didn’t matter whether he was coming or going—now thirsted for death like it was the only thing worth having. He had wanted to die a hero’s death, sure, because he wanted to leave something to Mackenzie and Norah worth having… but it was all selfishness in the end. He had wanted it because dying like a hero meant he could say one last good thing about himself as he went. But everyone left behind, whether he believed it or not, wouldn’t be comforted by that fact. He had been delusional to that. If he wanted to leave in a blaze of glory, he’d be leaving the ash and cinders behind.
So… here we are.
A shudder passed through Vincent’s body, from his head to his toes. For all the food that passed through the minute gate at the bottom of the door, it seemed to not be having much of an affect on him. Truth be told, he had rejected a lot of it, leaving it there, or kicking it back through the door with a clatter. He wasn’t stupid; not eating served no purpose, and benefited no one, least of all him, but sometimes the idea of eating was simply incomprehensible. One night, he had taken a bite and promptly threw up hands-full of that bite and bile into the commode. Other nights, he chewed the food and spat it back out, unable to swallow it down.
Even what he did eat wasn’t rich in protein, or fat, or really anything, and it was beginning to show.
Vincent had no idea how the others faired. Sometimes he talked through the little gap, trying to catch their attention, but either their gates were closed, or they couldn’t hear him. He heard them, sometimes; far away little snatches of conversations, though with whom they were having them, he didn’t know. He worried about them, unconsciously in the sense that he didn’t realize he was worrying until the moment passed, and the instances that resulted were the reason the floor and walls were streaked with his blood.
Sometimes he simply sat against the wall and nibbled his nails down to the quick. His fingertips were raw because of that.
Vincent’s eyelids trembled, then opened.
A dozen-dozen seconds passed. He lifted his hands and ran them, gingerly, over his stomach and ribs. Checking, really, that he was still concrete. Still existed. His ribs provided a bumpy ride for his wandering palms.
His voice cracked softly. He considered sitting up, and even went so far as to flex the muscles necessary to pull his body into a sitting position, but he didn’t. His eyes roved over the organic curlings of the smooth, rock ceiling above him. They swirled, and sometimes they swam before him, making shapes in languages he would never know.
What he didn’t understand in any of this was why. He knew, intellectually that he had made a long line of decisions culminating in this point. But he didn’t know why he was here. So much had carried him here. So many moments… but why here?
He closed his eyes again.
He thought of Mackenzie, small and sweet, hiding in the library. The books had smelled so strong to him, musty and dusty, and covered in a thousand other passings of people, putting their individual scent to the pages while they read the words they loved so much. But, amidst it all, Mackenzie’s fragrance, so much like his own, yet so fragile and small… carrying that little being, just eight years young, home to Norah because how could he ever let her go again? She had chosen them, but Vincent would be a liar if he said he hadn’t fallen in love with her stubborn strength and bright eyes the moment he laid eyes on her. She had touched in them a knot that had been begging to be unraveled, and together, their hands had tried so hard to gently shape this tiny girl into the person she wanted to be.
His chin lifted a little. His hair was getting so long, and it fell over itself, off the edge of the bedding. He sighed.
He thought of Norah, so lithe and fierce beneath his hands. She had spoken to him in frankness, with a blunt honesty he had fastened to like the trail of a comet. She had flirted with unknowns, took risks, and breathed in the frankness of reality, and Vincent hadn’t been able to say no. Her happiness had become more important to him than his own. How can you love someone so much that was so damn different from yourself? The way her gears were at all right angles to his own, and yet he would always turn back to hear that voice, soak up that knowledge. How he had always found her, waiting, believing in him, even after all his moments of insignificance. How he had wanted to live up to her expectations, how he had wanted to think as she did. How connected with her he wanted to be.
Vincent’s eyes scrunched closed. His whole brow fell upon itself, and his hands clenched into fists without any obvious provocation.
He had just wanted…
How memories taunt us. He had seen that happen a dozen times. He remembered the look on Bradley’s face when his brother had spotted his surgery scar after a year of silence. He remembered the look, again, when it was his brother’s broken body he was carrying to the hospital, instead of someone carrying him. He remembered how long the barrel of Sinclair’s gun had looked, pressed to the flesh of his face like that. He remembered Anna, cowering and covered in blood; the feeling of Sylar’s face shattering beneath his fist; Ragan’s hand on Mackenzie’s stomach, and the burned flesh of a silver heart left on her skin. He remembered Bree’s eyes before she went up in flames, and Jason’s eyes before he died by Jacob’s hand, and Sam’s gaze before he buried that silver knife into Vincent again and again. Sinclair’s. And Quinn’s father. He remembered it all. He had bedded with the agony, and it had torn into him.
So much fucking pain. And death. And endings. Failures without closure. Victories, but with a price. Even when good conquered evil, he couldn’t say they walked away happy. People weren’t meant to be killers. If they were, it wouldn’t plague them all so goddamn badly. Wouldn’t haunt them until the end of days. Wouldn’t leave them like a shell. Everyone hurt, everyone got bruised, but some just lost it. A memory like that was insidious, and infected everything it reached. And some people’s souls just went and became affected with that gangrene.
Baby girl, I miss you so bad. Nor. You’re my… I’m sorry. I’m sorry I loved you and reviled you at the same time, I’m so sorry. I hated how much you mattered, how bad it hurt to see you… how you were my everything. I lost fucking sight of that.
All he wanted, consumed by the fire and the flame of it now, burning him with a passion too powerful to breathe in, was to touch them. To see their faces. To take them in, again and again, and run his hands over the details until they were all smooth and right again. Even his damn stupid brothers, and his brilliant, but broken, sister. He wanted that. It was a deathbed conversion, a realization that yes, you do know exactly what you had once you’ve lost it. That what you need is what you can’t replace. But he wanted them. He wanted to be with them. He didn’t want to be so alone—so goddamn empty. He didn’t want to live inside his head anymore, with the darkness and decay, knowing full well a world waited for him out there, and refusing it.
How hollow his lungs felt in this moment. How empty his flesh.
Vincent just couldn’t think of what was next. What was supposed to happen after, or whether he would get to go home when it was all said and done. That was a pipe dream if he ever saw one—going home. Ha! None of them knew what was expected of them (or just their cadavers, maybe), or why Deucalion had gathered these particular wolves here. That’s what he presumed, anyway—but there was no way in hell home was an anticipated result when it was finished. All he knew was that, without anybody’s voice but his own, he couldn’t comprehend what anyone else was thinking, and his own thoughts circled endlessly. He knew they were all of one pack, all… but when Deucalion had had his daughter, the plots and plans had been clear. Lord, how clear they had been. Now, the blinded wolf played some other game, with some other hand of cards. No doubt death was in the deck, as absolutely ridiculous as that sounded, but how? And when? It had been so long already. What was he waiting for?
Once the prey, now the bait.
Would they get out?
Vincent lifted both hands to his face and tucked his feet up, with legs bent. After a moment, he rolled onto his side, curled up upon himself and clenching his own limbs so close. A gnarled, scarred kneecap peaked through the sweatpants’ fabric. His bright blue eyes shown, past drawn skin and grizzled cheeks. Day in and day out of this, thinking, ruminating, dreaming, reflecting… he still dreamed the dreams that had haunted him, but he couldn’t face anything but himself when there was nothing else to face. Nobody came—that’s why his guesses went unconfirmed, and his questions went unanswered. He might have spent those first few hours—days?—shouting at any sound, demanding, demanding an explanation. But Deucalion wasn’t looking to ply their minds, he guessed. He didn’t care. He just wanted his means to an end when he needed it.
Here I am, Vincent. Here I am.
He touched his hand, where his wedding ring used to be, with his thumb, and closed his eyes. Sleep took him away.
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