|By The Walking Inferno||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
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Chapter 10: TBA
Flynn sat on the edge of his bed listening to the faint echo of the waves hitting the bottom of the boat. It was strange, the first bed he had slept in in week and it was harder than Andra's infamous quick-fix rock slabs with grass on them. The room was only makeshift though, the boat wasn't supposed to be a people carrier for too long, but considering how long they had been going they had done well.
Flynn dragged his hand down his face and sighed. It had been a long day for both him and everyone else on the boat and without any sleep it was starting to take its toll. Without the constant adrenaline surging through him as he was being chased and attacked he tired quickly and had time alone with his thoughts. This was what he didn't want. He was calm whilst his mind was in shreds; only able to process the information he had in that situation and not left with the memories of the past.
He wanted to forget the past, everything. His mind however had different ideas and wanted to torment him like everyone else did in this world. Flynn would give anything just to be rid of who he was now, just to forget everything, even himself. Something inside him said otherwise, saying it was the easy way out, that he should survive until the bitter end.
A nice sentiment he thought with all the doubt he could muster. The light above him hung lazily by a wire started to swing side to side, creating a sickening motion that backed up the swaying of the boat. The shifting light got too much and he walked for the door. He paused, hesitant to even place his hand on the handle. Flynn slowly placed his ear by the door and was ashamed to hear the cries and moans of pain coming from outside, causing him to draw back and drop his head.
Flynn Grant: Bullet dodger, firebender, can't even open a door to face all of those he did wrong. He let out a light chuckle at his own thought and scraped his feet to the small bathroom at the back of the room. He shut the door firmly behind him and rested upon the back of it, sighing again. Guilt was the only thing on his mind again, just when he thought it was expelled into the repressed part of his mind. Water. Water could wash it away, surely.
He filled the sink and splashed his face with a hand full of ice cold water. It certainly woke him up, but this water wasn't like Khana's, it didn't fix problems like she did. How weak had he become? He was always the overconfident one, the daring one until someone finally pulled a gun on him. Then his friend Will stood up to the plate and saved him. At least he thought he did, he would have never known how powerful the Authorities were. Will died thinking he had saved his best friend, Flynn was envious of that, he didn't have such a luxury.
The only friends he had were now gone. Even the bond between siblings was broken by secrets and deception, all delivered courteously by the Colonel. What would Flynn do if there were two of the Colonel? Nothing was the answer, not by himself. He was equal to maybe one on a good day. Andra could beat him easily with her powerful attacks and Jake... Jake wouldn't even give him a chance to react before the Colonel would be on the ground.
He laughed as water dripped from his hung head. He couldn't of done anything without them, yet here he was, wallowing in self-pity as the tormenting voices from outside pierced his mind.
Flynn looked back up at the mirror and jumped back when he saw someone else's face. More specifically it was his face, but more... Corrupted. Fire pronounced from his eyes and smoke slowly slithered out of his mouth, spreading into the air like an industrial tower. His mouth was tweaked with a sly grin. After the initial shock wore off Flynn moved in closer, squinting his eyes as if he didn't want to believe in what he was seeing.
His reflection abruptly banged his fist on his side of the mirror and a splitting pain went through Flynn's head. He had the sudden migraines before, this one however hurt more than his guilt and his scars combined. Flynn grabbed his head so hard that his nails dug into his scalp and drew a little bit of blood, almost as if he was trying to pull the pain out of him. Vertigo instantly kicked in and Flynn stumbled back against the tiled wall, cracking one on the back of his head as his world span uncontrollably around him.
Flynn sank to the floor and drew his knees in like a young child would do when they were in any form of pain. "Stop it! Please!" He shrieked. Some normally functioning part of him was wondering what people were thinking outside; whether they thought he was crazy or in any pain. although there were screams like that all over the ship. The pain only increased as he thought, so submission was his only option.
"What do you want?!" He pleaded as if to some merciless leader.
"You have something I need, a certain power," the gravelly voice in his head said with an absolute tone of power and authority.
The voice didn't know that his pain made his request that much more futile to ask to the immobilised Flynn. "I don't know what you're talking about!"
"The flame! Give it to me," the voice demanded. Flynn unlocked one of his hands from his head and shakily held it in the air, a small amount of blood dripping from his fingernails. A small, extremely unsteady flame sprouted in his palm and almost instantly the pain in his head numbed down into nothing. "Yes, that's it," the voice said with a small sense of satisfaction.
Flynn managed to sit back up, balancing out his hand so the flame wouldn't go out. He then realised tears streaming down his eyes. Had he been that bad? "Is that good enough for you?" He asked as if he was a servant talking to his master.
"Yes, for now. You will keep it up until I am satisfied, understood?" As if to prove a point, a pain vaguely similar to a hand squeezing an orange clasped his head. Flynn nodded in obedience and made the flame in his palm even stronger, even though it was still out of control. "Good, you are learning."
Flynn shuddered and sat in the bathroom, not even attempting to stop the tears.
The Colonel was awkwardly sat in between two people in the middle of an operators surgery. He was in the seediest hospital he knew, and ironically it was Authority owned. A far greater contrast to the Ministry of Defence, this small room was dark in every sense of the word.
Bloody surgery equipment lay exposed on tables and chairs as if taken from a horror film. The seats the Colonel and the other two patients sat on were old, wooden and rickety and the floor they stood on was unwashed and had a thin layer of dust covering it often coloured by black stains of blood and grime accumulated over the years.
The other two patients seemed slightly shaken by the sight and it told on their creased faces and their need to concentrate on their hands rather than their surroundings. The Colonel was used to this room though and had become accustomed to its usual look and smell. He stared dead on for what seemed to him hours instead of minutes and he started to tap his foot rapidly on the floor, drawing the attention of the other two patients. They seemed to grow more nervous as his tapping filled the usually silent room. It was much like a clock ticking and luckily for most people who came here the clock was usually broken.
The only thing that was clean and made any sort of sense was the door leading into the next room. Many rumours circulated that room, mostly ones of horror and suspicion. This was mainly due to most patients going in there and not returning. The Colonel never believed them at the time he heard them, but like everyone's mind it was there, niggling at his conscious. Much like when someone says don't think about flowers, you automatically start thinking about them whether you want to or not.
The Colonel blamed it on himself and his lack of self-control, instead of his natural human instinct. A small memory came back to him at that point; something a bender said to him just before the Colonel killed him. "You're not human! Your a monster, a machine! You think there's a mind in that head of yours, no it is all clockwork programmed by the Council. Yo-"
The Colonel cut him short after that sentence. A benders pathetic attempt to appeal to his non-existent sympathetic side. It wasn't the first time he had heard it, many begged for their lives in that way, none of them got to finish. The Colonel's foot stopped dead on the floor when he heard the click of the door latch. A shaded figure barely left the brightness of the other room. "Colonel?" The Colonel stood up and went to the door, much to the dismay and worry to the other two patients who watched him enter as if they were looking at a man being sentenced to death.
He took a quick look back and snickered before entering the room and meeting the doctor face-to-face.
Jake closed the door behind him after returning from his trip to Andra's room to apply the medi-gel on her back. Not six hours after he had gotten the life saving gel, it had almost gone. It was all worth it though, it was to fix her.
It still shocked him how fast they went through it, no he went through it. There was no them any more, just him. He would still watch over her though until the bitter end. A silent guardian fulfilling his promise to protect his sister no matter what.
He took the backpack off and slung it across the room in a sudden burst of rage before returning to his usual calm, collected self. He took a deep breath in and softly sat down on his rock-solid bed before hitting it with all his might. Control was what made Jake, his entire life was based off it. He controlled his sister so she wouldn't get in danger and he controlled himself so he wouldn't break down and show any sign of weakness.
But now he was alone and had nothing to prove to any one, except the feeling of his father watching his every move with criticism. Now he pictured his father's face to be one of disappointment for everything that he has done. "Well who are you to judge, dad?" Jake whispered to himself, gripping the mattress of the bed. "I wouldn't have to do all this if you didn't run away that night. You could have protected her yourself instead of making her a burden on me. You have no right to judge me at all."
Jake felt tears starting to breach his iron controlled face and the usual choking up feeling that accompanied it. For a second he was willing to let it all go, then his father's invisible eyes cast another glare. "You're right, I shouldn't be like this. And I'm sorry for what I said, dad. Just gets a little lonely sometimes without you here." Just thinking about his father made the feeling return and he then had resort to his usual calming technique that he had adopted since he started secondary school.
Calculation. It was all about calculations. The bag he threw into the corner had the potential t knock someone out with its current weight, if it was hit and the right part of the head. It would also make a suitable carrier for a nice family pick-nick.
The bin in the corner would be able to stun a person for approximately 1.2 seconds if it was thrown at them, allowing him to follow through with an attack if he was capable of doing so. It was also big enough to fit a football inside and would probably last for 2-4 days without being filled depending on who was in the room at the time.
Everything could be used for something, depending on how Jake was thinking at the time. Now he had to focus, to figure out how to protect her and himself. He then remembered when the truck crashed into the car and how he and Andra were caught, never to escape again. Then the doors opened and the most unlikely hero stepped in. Flynn proved himself a good acquaintance that day. he protected them both and even put his own life on the line to help them escape.
Flynn was the key.
Without Jake even knowing he had become an integral part of Jake's escape plan and he still needed him to finish the promise he made. Jake chuckled to himself slightly at his own ignorance. One moment he was Flynn's enemy, the next his ally, all the while not knowing that it was Flynn who put his plans in motion.
Jake now had to swallow his pride and apologise to both Flynn and Andra. He looked over to the corner and saw his father standing there with a slightly happier expression. Jake smiled, now knowing that he had done the right thing. "This is going to be the most difficult thing I have ever done, dad."
This sucks Andra thought to herself as she looked up at the ceiling whilst lying on her bed. She had been in the same position since she had arrived on the boat and the ceiling patterns were starting to become boring. I should have asked Jake for some water, I'm dying of thirst. I should probably get it myself. She tried to roll over but was stopped by her repairing muscles beginning to tear apart.
Jake did advise against moving, but Andra was never a fan of following his advice. Much like a rebellious teenager, she did the exact opposite of what he told her and usually paid the price for her mistakes. Of course, she did not view them as mistakes as she was doing them, but afterwards they seemed like very important life lessons. All of them learnt through some form of pain.
Jake was always there though, patching up her wounds and acting as a councillor when things got bad. Just like he did now with her back. The problem was he always put on a fake smile when he did her bandages, never angry or condescending, it always looked like he understood her pain. Now it looked like he shared it instead and it pained Andra to actually miss the smile he would always put on for her.
That was all just a front though, a façade for his Authority ties. When she was sick that was the only time he was never around her. Her mother always said he was 'out with friends', but Andra knew better; Jake had no friends and neither did she. Both were the loners in the uptight neighbourhood they lived in.
Now Andra saw through all of his lies. All the times he was nice to her was to draw her in until he could strike and send her in to the Authorities. He was probably a sleeper agent who had yet to be activated. Was he even her real brother?
Her thirst seemed to become more irritable the more she thought. Andra had to get some water. The pain was the only problem to her, another challenge to pass she assumed, no Authority agents were bursting in to her room and taking her without a fight. She took one deep breath and propped herself up on her elbows. Another breath helped her sit fully up and null out the pain that was so desperately trying to claw its way up her spine.
Okay, that's the hard part over. She thought with a sense of accomplishment. Maybe she didn't need Jake after all. She then gingerly swung her legs around until they dangled off the side of her bed, completely numb. The lack of movement blatantly cut off the blood circulation to her legs and now her gallant attempt to stand was cut short for several minutes as she sat there and waited for the feeling of rushing blood to return.
Sitting there was as annoying as lying on the bed. She was now looking at the white-washed walls and picking up the faintest vibrations from the waves hitting the boat. It was more annoying since she couldn't turn the waves off as well as the fact they had no usual pattern, making it impossible to predict. The best part was that nobody was moving on the outside of the room, so that had no effect on her over active senses.
A sudden feel of the carpet beneath her caused her to grin. It was time for phase two: walking to the sink. Andra rose with the utmost confidence and wobbled slightly. She took a second to hold her arms out wide to keep her balance before taking her first step.
Andra make a nervous smile and went for another step, only to fall flat on her face. "Ouch," she murmured in to the carpet.
Flynn finally extinguished the flame that had remained in his palm for an hour. He was hesitant at first, hoping that the voice would not punish him for doing so. It did tell him it was okay, but Flynn couldn't tell if it was joking or not, whether it was scheming to give him more pain. Much to his relief, it didn't and he finally stood up from his crippled position on the bathroom floor.
A slight sense of vertigo then brushed passed his vision as he stumbled over to the bed. Another brush followed when he slammed his head on the hard mattress. Then the wooziness came. His stomach churned and bubbled whilst his head buzzed and swam, causing him to run to the toilet yet again and relinquish what small food he had left in his stomach to the sea.
His world then seemed to stabilise around him and with a slight bit of confidence he walked back to his bed. Flynn did not make it to the next room before he passed out and collapsed on the floor.
"Where am I?" Flynn asked himself as his eyes wondered around a seemingly black void. "Where do you think you are?" His own voice seemed to reply from the darkness.
Flynn looked around the darkness again, overly exaggerating his movements to tell the void something. "I have no clue where I am," he concluded.
"Then observe." Flynn then saw Jake appear from the darkness and look like he was looking down on someone, not sure whether he was thankful or annoyed. Jake started to speak but made no sound, leaving Flynn to try and fill in the blanks. It then became familiar to him; it was just after the truck incident and Jake took the time to thank Flynn with a subtle warning added on to it.
A few seconds later Jake disappeared and then Andra snuck her way through what seemed to be invisible objects to sit next to a orange-glowing figure that seemed complaisant in the moment. Flynn watched her react as the silent conversation unfolded. It was another memory; the time they watched the sunrise in the forest. From his new perspective he saw different things that he missed before; her nervous disposition becoming slightly more shy and confident at the same time.
Before the memory ended she disappeared in a cloud of smoke and Flynn was left standing in the black void, looking even more confused than he did at the start of this little epiphany. "Do you see?"
"See what? All I see are past times, useless memories with no context," Flynn replied with a heavy tone of assertiveness.
"Useless?" After the void's question several figures of Jake and Andra flooded the dark space, making the place around him more visible with a cold, soft blue glow. "All of these memories may seem small, but who has just lightened your mind with their presence?" Flynn looked around as he saw Andra laugh and Jake fight as he usually did, all of them had the orange glow next to them in some way. "They were with you at the beginning, just like your friend, Will. He died trying to protect you when you yourself were unable to. And they would do the same."
"Why?" He shouted back to the void with his arms spread wide. "They think I'm a mindless killer!" Flynn looked up to the never ending sky of darkness above him. "I have no grievances with them, it's them with me! The only thing I can do now is move on, as I always have."
Flynn went to turn away as if to escape the dream he was in. "Then why don't you?" Flynn paused and turned behind him to try and see the voice. "It's because you don't want to. You have always been attached to any one you meet and they aren't an exception; you want them, you need them to live."
"How do you know all of this?" Flynn asked, still frozen at the door to leaving.
"Because, I know what you really want." The voice was no longer echoed, it sounded less deictic and more human now. More precisely, it sounded like him. Flynn turned to see his assumptions made true as he stared himself in the eye. The other him handed a picture over to Flynn. He looked down and smiled at his family who were printed on it.
"I'm never going to let this go, am I?" Flynn asked himself with a smirk. The voice nodded with a smile and dissipated into the darkness yet again, only to be vanquished by a burning light.
Flynn's eyes shot open along with the rest of his body as he finally came to. He looked down at his hand, hoping that the picture was there, but it wasn't. It was a little saddening to him to find it gone, but it was there in his memory from now until the end of time. They were too.
How Flynn got such a powerful vision from passing out, he did not know. What he did know was the need to carry on, to live and the only way he could do that was with them. He dragged himself up and went to the door, stopping as he touched the handle. It felt colder than it should have done, maybe it was still fear of the faces outside.
No, he had to go out, live with his mistakes and hope that he would be forgiven by those he had done wrong. He then turned the handle slowly, his body still reluctant to follow. Another mental push got Flynn past the handle and through the door. Then it all hit him. Not two inches from his room were people who had been suffering as a cause of his mistakes. As he looked from left to right everybody looked the same.
The same bloodstained hands. The same dirt covered faces. The same tears that cut their way through the dirt. Forgiveness then meant something more to Flynn, because for him, he found no forgiveness for what he put these people through, but he could get forgiveness for what he did to his friends. It was all down to her first. If Andra could forgive him, then Jake may follow. That was if they were still on good terms with each other.
That was it then, it was first off to Andra's room. Flynn would just have to endure the walk from his room to hers and pass through two whole corridors of pain and suffering.
Andra still lay on the floor, both not bothered to move and in too much pain to do so, though it was the former that stopped her drive. The carpet, she noted, smelt of rust and wax, something she would never have guessed before falling over. It was pungent and she didn't even want to think about the numerous crumbs and hairs that lay around her, stuck into the carpet for weeks to come.
A knock at the door got her to raise her head. Was it Jake again? She hoped not. "Jake?" She wheezed. Her voice sounded so much more different now.
"The other guy," the voice said through the door. For some reason, Andra felt more scared than she had been when Jake was in the room. He made her feel guilty and angry, Flynn made her feel... Unsure.
Andra hesitated. What could she do? Invite him in? What did he want? Maybe he would go away. "Come in." Where did that come from? No, no, no.
When Flynn entered nothing seemed out of the ordinary, then a pair of legs across the floor came into view. His body then went on automatic: his legs sped over to her and his senses went on full alert, hearing all and seeing most things. An assailant was not one of them. Kneeling down, he put a hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay? What happened?" His questions were desperate, rushed.
Andra couldn't help but feel sorry for his worries. "I-I just fell that's all." Her head stayed down to hide her embarrassment, and her fear. This is it, I'm vulnerable. He's got me...
She felt the hand go through the air and for a moment, her life flashed before her eyes. It was cut-off when a second hand went on her other shoulder softly. It wasn't a forced grip; it was meant to support. "Then let's get you up." His voice was as soft as his hold and Andra couldn't help but give in to the assistance. It could have been a ploy, a trap to get her to rise so he could see her face before he finished her.
She tucked her legs in as he gently rolled her back to rest against the bed. Here it comes... He took a step away from her and looked in another direction, seemingly pondering on something else. His gaze and voice was too serious for her liking. There was no smirk, no snarky remark. And for some reason, that made Andra shiver internally.
His eyes then set back on her and he knelt down the get to her level. "Andra..."
"Just-just... Make it quick. Okay?"
"What?!" He looked at her more closely now. Her head was turned away. Eyes clamped shut to stop the tears that racked her body. She was afraid. "Andra, I'm not here for that. I didn't think I'd need to say it, but you obviously think I am what the Colonel said I was."
She nodded her head, still holding her breath. Still holding the tears to save her dignity. "I didn't come here to say I'm innocent. I did those things, there's no denying it. I just came to apologise." That got her attention. He chuckled at himself. "Well... It's more of a confession really." He sat down beside her and she tensed up from shoulder to foot.
"I know how you feel, really. Fear. It's the same feeling I get when I see the Colonel. Anyone can say they understand, but they don't. Not until they have actually felt it." Andra's shoulders did not loosen, but her mind had started to and she could finally make sense of his words. This was what he felt every time he saw that ruthless soldier? It was... horrible.
"I think I understand," she whispered hesitantly.
"And I'm sorry for that. To put you through it. That's what I came here to do, though: to make it right." Flynn adjusted himself to face her and she couldn't help but look into his orange irises, memorised how they seemed to dance like the flames he spawned. "Andra, I'm sorry. I kept things... hidden and at the time it seemed like a good idea. If I told you what I did straight off the bat, you would have just left me." Andra felt something then: that feeling she had the time she sat beside him outside of the forest.
That was the last time he was the open book he was now. He was calm. "That was part of the reason I came here. So you wouldn't leave me again."
That got her attention. When did he stop being a killer and start becoming that boy again? How could he play with her head so much? "Do you mean it?" He was close enough to her to hear her whisper.
That smirk then returned to his face and he slowly recoiled back. "Of course, I need a door kicked in every now and then." Andra's face dropped and just like that, the magic was gone. "Do you need anything whilst I'm here?" He asked.
"A drink, please," she said in her raspy voice. He nodded and rose to go to the bathroom. A question then hung on her lips, something she couldn't help but ask. "And the truth." Well, it didn't turn out as a question.
Flynn froze there, holding a cup underneath a running tap and letting it overflow on his hand. That was a low blow, but he was ready to dish it all out. After the outburst he had before, a small part of him feared telling her, as if it would lash out at him again. He senses finally felt the burning cold on his hand and turned off the tap, slowly. It took Flynn the seemingly long walk back to Andra to make his decision. He handed the cup to her and she drank it eagerly, finishing it off with a large gasp of air after five seconds of continuous drinking. "So what do you want to know?"
"Everything." And so he told her just that. From losing his family, to the voices and everything in between.
The doctor's room was another contrast to what lay outside. The walls were immaculately white-tiled and several boards were dotted on the walls showing X-ray images of broken bones and other injuries. A patient's bed lay in the middle of the room and next to it was a next littered with different surgical tools and one pen. Small tints of blood tipped one of the scalpels and they tray it was lay on.
Light footsteps approached from behind a green curtain and with them carried the very epitome of a doctor. His white coat hung low, much like the Colonel's own, except the Colonel's didn't have a red hand print smeared across it and wasn't as worn. Glasses tilted at the edge of the doctor's nose and his hair was slicked back, almost like his creepy smile.
"Ah, Colonel! Sorry it took so long, my last patient insisted that he needed to keep his left kidney and then he said he wanted to be asleep for the operation." The doctor shook his head and then sat on his big chair. "So, take a seat, make yourself at home!"
The man's German accent had annoyed the Colonel the first time he had met him, but the only thing that stopped him from silencing his mouth forever was the fact the doctor sat before him was the best in his field at, well... everything. The Colonel complied and sat down, causing the doctor to continue. "So, what brings you to my services again? Out of pills already?"
The Colonel clenched his fist. "They don't work," he seethed.
"They don't work!" He roared, standing up and leaning over the doctor. He did not flinch. "You said they'd stop it, so I take them. But it keeps coming back!"
"I said the drugs would repress the tremors, not rid you of them." The doctor got up and walked over to his sanitary sink. "They are the strongest I have for your condition. That must mean the tremors have manifested since I last diagnosed it. It's more aggressive than I thought it was." He sighed.
The way the doctor said it so matter-of-factly annoyed him... And scared him. Were they getting worse? And if so, how long would it take before others would find out? He had to stop it. To capture Flynn and retire with his dignity intact. "How can I stop it?" He asked weakly.
The doctor turned and made a smile that rivalled the Cheshire Cat in both wideness and mischievousness. "I was hoping you would ask that question."
Andra didn't know what to make of what Flynn had told her. All along she wanted to get to know him, to ask about what he did before. Now she wished she didn't. She wasn't looking at a murderer now, she was looking at a survivor. He had been through the worst and more. Now he was almost insane; the voices he told her about proved that, yet he could still think.
But when he got mad, then he would be insane like he said. He lost control. Andra wouldn't have understood it if she hadn't felt the same way a few hours ago. So there she sat, staring at him whilst he glanced at a wall, wondering what to say to him to make it better. "You know, I'm here whenever you nee me, right?"
His face seemed to light up. "So you'll stay?" She nodded and he broke into laughter. "For a second I thought I might as well put myself in a straight jacket and lock myself in a room forever. It sounded more crazy when I said it out loud. Thanks." He paused. "And Andra, I'm here for when you need me. Whenever, whatever just tell me and I'll be there."
There it was again: that tingly feeling in her stomach and before she knew it, heat was rising to her cheeks. Luckily he didn't see as he got up to leave. Wait, to leave? "Well, see ya, Andra. I better be off before your brother comes back and tries to kill me."
As he reached for the door she was on him in seconds, ignoring the pain of her back and his strange stare. Her arms wrapped around him in a tight embrace and Flynn's arms hung limp at his side. "Ummm, Andra?" He pretended to clear his throat. "Andra?" He repeated.
She then looked up at him and realised what she did. She quickly withdrew her arms and glued them to her sides, dipping her head away from his amused face. "Oh, sorry... I, um, yeah..."
He chuckled warmly. "See you when we dock." And with that, Flynn was gone.
Andra fumbled around and lay down on the bed again, mentally cursing herself for what she just did. Well done, you blew it.
As Flynn quickly made his way back to his cabin, the cold stare of Jake found him and he approached clutching onto his rucksack. Flynn saw him out of the corner of his eye and stopped just outside of his door. "Flynn," he snapped.
"Listen, I'm not here to make a heart-felt apology."
"I wasn't expecting it," Flynn countered. "But I'm glad you understand what I do."
Jake looked down at Flynn and saw the same understanding he did. The conviction was all there. "Yes. We need to survive till we get to safety. Then, that's it."
Flynn nodded with a blank face. Jake went to carry on, but Flynn called him. "I know we aren't friends, hell, I'm sure you would have hit me ages ago. But for now, Partners?"
He held out his hand and Jake firmly grasped it, a gesture of his strength. "Deal. Now, I have something to attend to."
"Of course." Flynn entered his room and Jake carried on to Andra. The last treatment available until she was on the road to recovery. At least Flynn understood now; it wasn't a case of friendship, it was survival. A one-way trip that he got them into.
It had always angered Jake in the short time he knew Flynn that he was always the one that got them in danger. If it were not for him, they wouldn't be on the boat. If it were not for him, Andra could have been... It was a fine balance of equal danger and safety with Flynn. He was strong when he needed to be, which was all of the time with the amount of people chasing him.
Then Jake had to pick up the slack that Flynn and his sister left behind, both domestic and in battle. They often charged forward and the ones they missed along the way would find their way to Jake. He had no scars yet, but he would never show them his bruises. They were the reminders that he had to be better, faster.
All of his training, all of his attempts to steel himself of emotion could not help him now. Now he had to connect, to amend. Words were never his forte, and this required more than words to fix. Maybe that's why he stood outside Andra's door for five minutes, thinking about what he could say.
His hand shook nervously as he twisted the handle and entered with a lowered head. Andra was shaken for the second time in the space of thirty minutes as Jake entered without announcing his presence. Her hands clasped the bed sheets until Jake lifted his head to face her.
"It's you," she spat.
"Yes." Jake held up the medi-gel case, noticing the decrease in weight. "This will be the last treatment you need, then you'll be okay again." Andra scoffed and looked away. "I-I'm... It was necessary at the time, you know?"
"I don't want to hear it." She saw his wince and started to elaborate. "All you had to do was tell the truth. You always expect me to do the same, but I never really had a good example to follow."
"It was necessary..."
"Was it? I know you wanted to help, but didn't you think there was a little something wrong when they started to train you in weapons?"
"No!" She yelled. "I want a reason for it Jake! Not 'it was necessary'. That's no justification." Her stare scolded him more than her words as she tried to burrow holes in his head with her eyes. "They came after us, Jake. They hunted us and you said nothing. Nothing that could have helped us."
"I said I wasn't sure at first..." He struggled to find the words even now.
"Come on, Jake! You're stubborn, not dumb! You knew, you-"
"Okay, I did know!" His face became enraged and his hands clenched into tight fists; the young eighteen-year-old suddenly looking older. "You know what I wanted? Huh? I wanted to just keep on going. They gave me the push to leave that town, and you know what, I thank them for it!" Andra shrank into herself, scared by his rage. Never before had she seen him react like he did now. "Telling you would have stopped that. You would have stalled, waited, stayed; and as much as I wanted to leave that place, I couldn't leave you behind."
"Why not?" She asked, quieter this time.
"Because I have an obligation: as a brother and a carer. I swore I would protect you just as he did!" Jake slammed his eyes shut and purged his rage-wrinkled face of emotion.
"You did it for dad?"
"And for you, Andra. You're my sister, and I love you. Just..."
She felt slightly touched. Jake had never said he actually loved her before; it was always little hints of affection: making her bed, sometimes carrying her up to her room and tucking her in when she passed out over homework. She chuckled to herself. "Why is it every person I know needs me in some way or another?"
"Nothing..." Why did she seem to give in when people needed her help? Was it because she wanted the attention? No... It was something more subtle, something she did not know of yet.
"Andra, please... If you want me to go when we get to the South Pole, that's fine. But, just make sure that you're safe. If you were to - on the way." Jake cringed at the thought. "I couldn't live with myself. Just let me protect you until we get there."
"Okay. It would be nice to have a bodyguard who kicks-ass."
"Let me just apply this last batch, then you'll be okay. It won't heal straight away, but it will be stable unless you strain it tremendously." The emotion was gone from his voice again and professional, unfaltering Jake was back. This did give Andra some comfort, though she still did not trust him.
The Colonel left the room slowly, wondering on what to do with the information he was just given. It was life-changing, revolutionary. Just the cost and what could happen if he acted upon it haunted him. It clouded his better judgement, and in that, made him weak in his own mind. The costs were never of his concern before. He just went in and got the job done, but this was different.
This was him. The Colonel gazed down at his hands, twitching his fingers and constantly curling them into fists, making sure that they functioned properly. Then it started to shake. No, NO! He clenched his fist to try and stop it by himself, but it only made it worse. His whole arm now shook and it rattled his teeth as he gritted them together in desperation.
The pills, he needed them. He didn't count them before he chugged them down his throat, ignoring the fowl taste of off-milk as they slowly made their way into his bloodstream. The tremors then went slower and slower until they eventually died down. The doctor was right.
They were getting worse.
His shakes put him into his own world and when he went back and turned around a spry-looking man was standing before him with a quirky look. His buzz-cut was black and short and his eyes were deep and blue. A five o'clock shadow adorned the bottom of his face and connected with his short hair. The Colonel frowned: he must have seen the whole thing...
"Who are you," he asked with a small hint of a threat.
"I'm Commander Tiberius Traynor, sir. I'm here to replace your last lieutenant." The Colonel's frown deepened. "Don't worry about that little thing, sir, I won't tell the troops. Last thing they need is a doubt in their leader. That... and I'd rather stay in your good books. Don't wanna end up like the last lieutenant you had."
The Colonel's questions were all answered in a quick speech. This made him slightly abashed and dumbfounded. The last one who could read his face like that was the last Grant, and he defected. "So your here to replace him, hmm?" He started to pace around Traynor, observing his stature. The commander had a thick build that did allowed for agile manoeuvrability without losing its strength. He wore a short sleeved T-shirt that was shaded a light blue and clung to his body. Over it, a large combat vest provided him with bullet and knife protection, allowing space for spare ammunition and a pocket to sheath his knife which was currently absent.
"You look capable," the Colonel said too himself. "Tell me, what weapon do you use?"
"M8 Shotgun, sir. Self-modified and packs a helluva punch."
"Yes..." he muttered whilst setting himself in front of Traynor. It had been a while since the Colonel had seen a specialist like himself, and he enjoyed it. "And not a word will be spoken?"
"No, sir. I'm sure you've got a lid on it anyway, or else, why would you be here to see the doc?" His naivety was amusing.
"It is refreshing to hear you speak the words, though if you do speak, you will meet a swift end, be assured of that," he hissed.
The commander seemed unfazed by his threat. He was true to his word. "I don't doubt it, sir." He held a fine salute and walked off.
This Tiberius Traynor was certainly going to be interesting indeed...
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