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Author: rustydragonfly
Challenge: Vanilla Custard 13 (This is not socially optimal!), Orange 19 (the wrong place at the wrong time), Red Hot Cinnamon 6 (where there's smoke)
Wordcount: 874
Rating: teen and up. Warning for mentions of death/parasites.
Story: Manifestations (Arc 12)
Summary: "I don't know if you need someone to stop you killing one another lately, but I didn't ask for it to be me!"
Notes: Cheery. So cheery. Dhaymin, you're being a dick. Stop it. (And seriously, do this lot get stuffed into rooms to talk a lot, or is it just me?)

The stink of burnt flesh was gone now, but the smell of dirt and ashes hung thick and heavy in the air. The floor and walls were blackened, coated with charcoal dust that clung to her hands and made her skin prickle at the dryness. She did not sit down, for there was nowhere clean to sit. She was trapped in a cellar, burnt out and lit only by a single fire by the door, turning the air harsh and smoky. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, all too aware of the difference now that her familiar gun was gone from her back. Hartavin had taken it away before herding them down here. She'd tried to take Cinn, too, but Rosa had insisted the dog stayed where she was. She was sitting beside her now, licking her paws like a cat.

"I wish I could have a coin for every time I've been stuffed into a room with nothing to do but talk about what happens next," said Jen. He was standing at the opposite end, almost in shadows at the far side of the fire, leaning against a seres of shallow alcoves.

"Yes, and that don't change things," said Dhaymin, who was standing beside him, one elbow resting on an empty shelf. They were all empty. Rosa had checked. Nothing had escaped this room untouched by the fire. "If they try anything, I'll kill them. Simple as that."

"Mhhhhmm. And whose fault is it that we're here?"

Rosa stroked Cinn, her fingers lightly brushing the fur between her ears. It was strange, when you looked at conversations, properly looked, not just listened to the words people said. On the outside they were talking about the circumstances that had led them to this place. But there were layers, just under the words. Layers that she didn't know, because they were a part of a world she'd never walked in. She stroked Cinn again, and stayed quiet.

"What was I supposed to do? Walk on?" Dhaymin stood upright again, his hands held outstretched. "We don't walk on! You know that! Walking on… isn't what we do!"

"What I'm saying," Jen said, "is maybe there's things we need to leave alone for once."

Cinn slunk closer to Rosa's feet.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Dhaymin turned, slowly, to face his brother. "I forgot about that, see, you have to be patient with me, since I couldn't see the piles of bodies outside!"

"And what good are we going to do if-"

"What are you going on about?" Dhaymin's voice echoed in the cellar, and, in the gloom, Rosa saw him step forwards…

"Stop it!"

The brothers froze, light dancing around their shadows.

Rosa felt down Cinn's back, and clung to the dog's harness with trembling fingers. "I don't know if you need someone to stop you killing one another lately," she went on, "but I didn't ask for it to be me!"

Dhaymin was the first to respond, his shoulders sagging in the firelight. "I… yes. Yes, you're right. Sorry, Jen, Rosa. I…" He stepped aside, resuming his place leaning against the empty alcoves. "I wonder, if we'd come here earlier…"

"Wasn't anything we could have done," said Jen.

"Suppose there was?" Dhaymin said.

"Doesn't change where we are."

"Maybe not. I remember you at midwinter. Remember how you always thought they'd come back, right to the day. Used to think you were being silly, having that much faith in them. Hah." Dhaymin tilted his head upwards, as though staring at a sky that was not there. Rosa relaxed a little, and let go of the harness. The conversation had gone back to those layers that she didn't know, but it was quiet again.

"Some of us became fed up with waiting," she said, to nobody in particular. A gnawing in her stomach brought her back to the present. "What's there to eat?" It had been a long time since she'd last eaten, and they'd been on the road at the time. It had been daylight then. There'd been no tracks…

"Oh, shit," Dhaymin immediately crouched down and began rummaging through his pack. "You're hungry? Both of you? Should have said." His hands vanished into the bag as he felt for the contents. "It's oatcakes again. I'm sorry."

"Anything to go with them?" said Jen.

"Yes," Dhaymin said. "More oatcakes."

"I think I'll leave them for later," Rosa said. She walked toward the door, tapping it in a few places, even though was nothing she could do. There was no more faint, secondhand daylight streaming from the gaps. "Do you believe her?" she said. "About why…"

"Think I'll believe anything at this stage," Jen said. "Looks like it's night outside."

"We should sleep," said Dhaymin. "If you're not interested in eating, anyway."

"I'm not-" Rosa was cut off by a noise from outside, a muffled thump. "Shh!" she hissed, and pressed her ear to the door. There were voices outside, but they were muffled too, blocked off by the door and the stairway beyond, and as quickly as they had arrived, they were gone again. The brothers moved closer, trying to listen in too, but there was no more.

"Maybe," Jen said, "we shouldn't."


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2013 01:32 am (UTC)
Haha, I think that happens to people like them :P I feel like I do it to my characters a lot too. This is, um, yes, cheery :P Rosa is trapped in the middle a bit, isn't she? Curious, as always, to see where this is going!!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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