A gay jaunt into the memories of how Sirca's favorite couple came to be, as transcribed by CrossroadsPony
Verse 10: Piece of My Heart
The darkness was closing in around Andee and he wanted to give into it. He was tired and his emotions were leaving him strained as fuck. Not to mention it was a little goddamn frustrating that a couple of broken bones and a possible concussion were making him look weaker than Samael, who was bleeding from four or five fucking holes in his body. The little bat clenched his claws into a fist and stared through the window as Samael sped through the night-drenched jungle. "You shoulda fuckin' left me, Samael..." he muttered, forcing the coldest tone he could.
It must have worked, considering the way he saw the chupa's body crumple in his peripheral. "I couldn't, hon," he murmured.
His words still echoed, but Andee refused to acknowledge them. Samael was just punch-drunk, riddled with adrenaline. He hadn't meant it. "...I don't understand why," Andee grumbled as he wrapped his good arm around himself, turning away from the rebel as his nose ring clinked lightly against the truck window. "I ain't given you a fuckin' reason to. Ain't like I forgotten 'bout that shit in Lamtha. I don't want your fuckin' dead body lyin' at my feet..."
Samael sighed and Andee could see him struggling not to reach over. It hurt him, somewhere deep and buried in his anger, to watch the stupid puppy have to restrain himself. Andee didn't care. He deserved it. "Andee. I ain't forgotten, neither. What you said to me, what you felt, that shit been hauntin' me every fuckin' minute since then..."
Andee closed his eyes and took a moment to remind himself of the pain. The real pain, easier to deal with than the intangible kind. "Then I don't get why you came out here. Did you think I was just gonna jump into your arms, sob, ask you to forgive me? You think I'm gonna forgive you? You fuckin' figure if you risk your life for me again, it's just gonna fuckin' make everything better again??"
He had to fight to not look at Samael when the chupa trembled and sunk even lower into the driver's seat. "Of course I din' think that, Andee...c'mon, I'm...I'm stupid but...I ain't come out here lookin' fer no damn forgiveness." Andee shifted his eyes over enough to watch Samael bite his lip and shrink his shoulders together. "I came out here 'cause how I feel. An' 'cause...the thought'a you dyin'?" He shook his head slowly. "Nah. No fuckin' way. I ain't never gonna jus' stand by 'n watch that shit happen." Andee opened his muzzle for a icy reply, but Samael added quietly: "The idea of you dyin' is worse to me than you hatin' me. An' I'm sorry if that bothers you."
"Of course it does," Andee spat out, regardless of the truth behind the words. He hugged himself tighter and then gripped firmly into his broken arm to flood himself with endorphins again. Unconsciousness was sliding closer and he didn't want to give Samael a goddamn inch before that. He began to sway against the door and closed his eyes tightly again. "Fuckin'...fuckin' wake me up when we get to Xulod...I don't...fuckin' need you...past that..."
But he might as well make the fuckin' most of this sap, first.
Samael covered his muzzle as he watched Andee drift out of consciousness, stifling his broken sob as his entire body fell into a violent shudder. As the bat slumped against the door, Samael released all the constraints on his emotions and let out a miserable moan while his fingers clenched painfully into the steering wheel.
He really wasn't expecting for Andee to just forgive him...but...but goddammit this hurt. It shouldn't have been a surprise -- Nelson had warned him. Andee had made it clear enough. His own goddamn heart told him what to expect. The seven or eight bodies he'd left bleeding, broken and breathless in the jungle whispered reminders to him from their early graves, that he should have known to receive this cold reception.
It didn't change the fact that this cut him to his core. It was his own fault for letting himself care so much, for listening to Paneko, for getting himself fucking shot for...for this little bastard...
He trembled as he turned his gaze back to Andee, swallowing painfully and rubbing his eyes clear. It wouldn't have mattered. He would have done this anyway. That was the whole goddamn problem, wasn't it? It didn't matter what Andee said or did to him. His heart made the decision a long time ago, and now he was just trying to catch back up.
He wondered if he should have been glad that Andee was passed out, unable to spit more fiery accusations and bark questions Samael couldn't begin to answer. The only sounds to distract him now were the thump of the tires over the roots and damp soil, and the crash of his own heartbeat still reeling from the emotional storm. Except he was used to noise with Andee, the constant symphony of their banter and their jabs, their playful murmurs and their impassioned outbursts. Now the quiet was deafening.
He wasn't sure if he preferred the silence over the thunder.
It was nearly three hours before the headlights swept across the hidden entrance to Xulod. He'd stopped only once to grab the small kit of medical supplies he'd thrown into the bag he'd brought from Sidewinder. Five minutes spent tossing some ugly wrappings around his arm and the bullet holes in his chest -- enough to stop the bleeding, at least -- and then it was back to speeding through Lactan.
Countless memories rushed past Samael but he forced himself to ignore them, to pay no mind the tears that again threatened him. He felt exhausted from the last few days. It was a numb realization to think back to Tracer's death, how even that hadn't left him this emotionally thin. He supposed it might have been the way it unfolded...he'd run for god-knew-how-many-hours after that fateful moment in Kaprime, through the snow and right into the wastelands of Qoppa. Even his well-worn pads were bruised and ragged after racing across two territories, and it had kept his thoughts from wandering into too dark of a place.
Meeting Nelson and her crew as they were fleeing their headquarters a mere hour or so after they'd been raided by HADES hadn't given him much time to process, either. She'd allowed him to shed a handful of tears, but practically started his training before her own near-mortal wounds had even stopped bleeding. There wasn't time to mourn, only time to prepare so what Samael, what Nelson, what they'd all experienced didn't come to pass again.
But this...this was different. He'd had all the goddamn time in the world to think back to Lamtha, to see Andee's face again and again, hear his words over and over. They hurt every time, too. Every awkward one-night-stand he'd had, every soldier and civilian and everyone in between he'd drawn in and bedded, even their worst reactions were chicken-shit compared to this. Nothing had made him feel this hollow and broken before. And yet...
Nothing had ever made him want to work so hard, either. The little bat didn't just feel like someone he was close to, like the way he and York were such intimate friends. Andee was more than that. Samael wanted to live and die by this bastard's side. And as his eyes shifted to Andee once more and the shiver again ran through his stocky frame, he knew this was what Tracer had warned him about. This was the forbidden bond, this was the shit that got people killed for...for all the wrong...
Samael stared back through the windshield and took a deep breath. No. Tracer, he...didn't know everything. The thought made him ache but he knew, somewhere deep in his heart, that the man he'd loved...the man he still loved...the man he admired, revered, placed on a pedestal as the single-most important influence of his life wasn't right about everything.
It didn't make his echoing disapproval, even from beyond the grave, any easier to imagine.
That quiet whisper trickled through his mind as he stopped the truck and looked at Andee again. His heart was in his throat, the way it was every time his eyes took in the little bat. It had started to rain outside and the muted patter against the hood and windshield drowned out the rest of the world for a moment. Samael's thoughts went back to Lake Krainen...to the shitty bathroom in the subway...those moments all felt like this. It didn't matter how things stood between them, because when he was with Andee, everything else faded away. It was a sensation he never wanted to let go of.
It wasn't that he hadn't listened to Andee's demand to wake him up, to not continue beyond this point. He had heard it all too clearly. But Samael still climbed out of the truck, letting the rain immediately soak into his bare chest as he walked around to the passenger's side and opened the door while pulling his emotions back as fiercely as he could. He was going to make the effort every time, damn the fallout. Andee was worth it.
He slid an arm carefully under the bat's limp body, murmuring an apology even as he pulled him gently against his broad frame and curled over him to protect him from as much of the precipitation as possible. Samael's own wounds had mostly stopped bleeding under the sloppy bandaging, but his mind wasn't on them, anyway. He'd survive, the way he always did. Nelson called it a curse they shared, but Samael wasn't sure about that anymore. Now he had someone worth surviving for.
Samael's breath was ragged as his paws slapped wetly through the dark tunnel, Andee clutched to his chest as his jog carried them swiftly to the guards positioned halfway down the corridor. Their weapons were brandished out of instinct, but their eyes lit up with recognition a moment later. One of them remained cautious, his teeth bared and pike still half-raised, though the other two quickly set aside their weapons and called out a greeting. And upon seeing Andee still unconscious in his arms, the chupa was waved through to continue his hurried pace into the underground city.
The plaza was bustling with activity and Samael felt several pairs of eyes on his drenched frame as he headed toward the healers' corner. Most of the bats quickly shuffled out of the way to let him pass, but more than a few cast a suspicious eye on him that he tried to ignore as his heart pounded away nervously. He just wanted to get Andee to safety and then...then he could care about everything else.
He felt stirring against his breast and he stumbled to a walk when he glanced down and saw Andee opening his eyes. For a precious moment, the two stared at one another and Samael's soul jumped with hope. Andee reached up and clutched into his thick chest fur and Samael started a hesitant smile...
Andee jerked his head to the side and shut his eyes firmly before muttering sharply: "Put me down."
Samael twitched, his heart sinking back into his gut. "Andee, yer leg...please, lemme take you to the--"
"I said put me down, Samael!" he snapped as he twisted his head back around, yellow eyes opening once again to burn into Samael. A few bats around them gave the two wary looks and moved to provide a wider berth.
Samael trembled but gave a numb nod and moved toward a nearby bench to carefully lower Andee into it. Andee glared past him and then hissed to a passerby: "Go get the fuckin' healers!"
The female bat frowned but nodded, casting her eyes over them both before shuffling off. Samael dropped down to a knee next to the bench, his eyes full of desperation. "Andee, please don't shut me out," he whispered.
Andee shifted on the bench before letting his eyes draw briefly over the chupa, over the water running through his grey fur, trickling over his muscular form...carrying crimson stains that bled through the gauze stretched across his broad chest. Andee clenched his jaws and then suddenly stared into Samael's eyes. "I already fuckin' told you -- there ain't room for me."
"Andee, that ain't true, you...I care 'bout you more'n any--"
"Tell me what you did after Lamtha," Andee interrupted quietly. Samael blinked, muzzle open mid-sentence. The bat glowered up at him before running his tongue along his muzzle and repeating lowly: "What the fuck did you do after Lamtha?"
"I...I went with York to L-Base..."
Andee's eyes narrowed. "Yeah. With York. The fucker you jumped in front of a bullet for." Andee looked away, something flashing across his features for an instant. It might have been guilt, but it was quickly replaced with ice when he glared at him once more. "You fuck him to feel better?"
Samael's eyes widened and he nearly fell onto his rump as shame screamed through his entire body. "A-Andee..."
His reaction only seemed to give the bat strength even as he saw Andee tremble. Andee leaned forward as his voice became louder and caused the surrounding crowd to peer at them with growing discomfort. "You did, didn't you? You fuckin' get shot for that asshole, and then you're so torn up about me that ya fuckin' jump on his dick to make it all go away?" Tears began to form in Samael's eyes as the bat grit his teeth but continued to seethe. "That's what I fuckin' thought! Do you really give a shit about me, Samael!? Or am I just another fuckin' goal for you!?"
He threw his good arm out to the side as his little body trembled violently. "Another fuckin' bastard to throw yourself in front of, on your fuckin' knees even now, ready to fuckin' take a bullet or a fuckin' cock, you don't give a shit as long as your fuckin' need to feel useful is fulfilled, right? You don't give a fuck whether you get used as a shield or as a fuck-toy, whether you're a whore for the fuckin' cause or just everyone in it, right?!?" he shouted while the uncomfortable circle of onlookers around them spread wider still.
Samael choked down a sob as he shook his head weakly. "Andee, please, that ain't fair..." he whispered, reaching out only to have his hand shoved away despite the way Andee's own eyes looked wet even through the dark stare he leveled at the rebel. "You...you know me, y'know me better'n that..."
Andee opened his muzzle to retort but seemed unable to form the right words, his arm slowly lowering to his side. They stared at one another and Andee bit his lip while a rush of bewildering emotions flickered over his features. But then a gruff voice interrupted them both as the crowd parted. "You assholes get out of the way, let us through!"
Andee closed his eyes and Samael fell back onto his haunches with a pleading whine. Mutt shoved his way past a few bats and then immediately glared at Samael. Behind him, three bats wearing longer, flowing outfits maneuvered a small cushioned cart on wheels. They moved swiftly to ease Andee off the bench and onto the makeshift gurney, and Samael pushed himself onto his paws. Andee snarled up at him but he moved to follow anyway...only to wince as Mutt stepped in the way and shoved a claw into his stomach with a cold expression.
Samael licked his lips and looked up again as the healers wedged back through the crowd to take the injured bat back toward their building. "Mutt, I...I needa--"
"Go home, surface-dweller," Mutt interjected sharply. "This is Xulod business now. You are outsider."
The words slammed harshly into Samael and he stiffened up before taking a step backward as the tears flowed uncontrollably again. It hurt more than he could begin to explain and Mutt stared him down for another moment before twisting around and taking flight to quickly chase down the healers. The onlookers began to dissipate as the usual bustle and hum of the plaza drifted back into place, leaving Samael to stand alone in the crowd with just his tattered emotions and Nelson's echoing reminder that these were not his people.
Samael rubbed a hand silently over his chest, for once avoiding one of his oldest scars in favor of letting his fingers trace over the faintly scented bandaging that looped across his pectoral muscle and around his neck in a far more effective wrap than his hasty job in the truck. After standing mutely in the center of the plaza for several minutes, long after the streaks across his cheeks had dried, two bats had approached him and quietly tugged on his arm to lead him to a small common area away from the crowds. He didn't recognize either of them, but they'd spoken to him in kind voices while an older bat chided his recklessness as she removed his bloody dressings, slathered a soothing ointment over the raw wounds and then covered it all up again with something he was pretty sure had been hand-woven.
It'd brought on a whole new slew of quiet sobbing as the trio patted his arm and offered him the same tea he'd been given his first day in Xulod, inside the jail cell. When he'd asked why they were being so generous to him, the only response had been that they were merely repaying the favor for something he'd given them several days ago. He'd tried to think back to what it had been -- he and Andee had brought back all sorts of trinkets and materials nearly every time time they'd gone out on a job together, and he couldn't remember anyone being so specifically thankful. And after he attempted to apologize to them for not being able to recall the particular exchange, he'd only been given a smile and a cryptic reply: "That's why we are returning the kindness."
It was the only bright moment since he'd carried Andee into the caves but it was a precious moment, one he clutched close as his legs dangled over the side of the roof while he gazed morosely down across the lively town. No one had actually threatened him to leave...but he wasn't sure why he hadn't slunk out, all the same. Maybe it was because while some of the bats had only cold shoulders for him, some of them were...
A flutter of wings and a breathy wheeze made him blink and suddenly seem to realize his vertical position as he stared down in horror and gave a squeak. A gnarled bone cane slapped across his chest, however, preventing him from tipping forward, and he whipped his head around in surprise to find Juwo smiling at him kindly as he caught his breath. "Mind your balance, young one. The weight on your shoulders...seems to be quite uneven."
Samael exhaled in relief even as he looked sheepish and crossed his paws while bowing his head respectfully. "Sage. I hope I am not bother you..."
Juwo chuckled softly before grunting as he dropped down next to the chupa. "Your ruk-kediwo has come quite far, Samael. But we can converse in common, if you like. I imagine you have much on your mind as it is." Samael smiled faintly and nodded his appreciation before glancing away and rubbing at his arm.
"Thank you, sir. I...I swear I ain't stayin' long, I'll be on m'way soon, j-just...jus' wanted to...to look around 'fore I got outta y'all's home..." he murmured as his tail curled slowly around his own hip. "I don't wanna stay past my welcome..."
Juwo regarded him for a moment before his eyes followed Samael's out across the sprawling subterranean city. "A deaf fool presumes he is always welcome, but it is a different fool entirely who assumes he is not," the chieftain proffered as he placed the ivory staff across his lap. "For all of your raucous laughter and boisterous presence, you are actually quite humble, Cakkco Fif."
Samael trembled at the moniker and gripped into the additional wraps that had been secured around the gash in his arm. "I ain't worthy'a y'all's hospitality. I hurt one'a yer people real bad an' I don't think I c'n humble my way outta this one, Juwo."
"Come now. You obviously care very deeply for Andee, but he does not represent all of our people," Juwo chided gently. "For every quibble, there will always be two sides. That is merely our nature as creatures of the ring. Some will side with him, others will be there to embrace you, instead." He grunted and then inclined his head slightly toward the bustling crowds below. "You may not feel welcome, but the people of this place, they speak of you fondly." The old bat smiled briefly over at the chupa. "It was not me who came up with your name, after all."
Samael's fingers tightened around his arm for a few seconds, then loosened before his hand dropped into his lap. He looked down and sighed. "I know yer right. But...the...the whole reason I'm here 'n got to know yer people so good, it...it was 'cause'a Andee. Otherwise I never woulda come to understand y'all the way I do."
"Nonsense," Juwo retorted, his tone as inoffensive as ever. "You don't give yourself enough credit. The people of Xulod rarely embrace outsiders, you have earned their affection because of who you are. You are a genuine young man, and you have made an honest effort to ingratiate yourself with our way of life." Samael looked away quietly but didn't try to argue as he clasped his hands together in his lap. "I doubt I need to tell you the last surface-dweller who was so beloved by our community."
The rebel swallowed thickly and looked down at his chest. "Tracer..."
"He was called Demut by these people," Juwo explained while smiling slightly up at Samael. When the chupa looked at him inquisitively, his smile grew a bit broader. "Ah yes, all the time spent learning how to curse in our tongue, no room for a more complex vocabulary." Samael flushed and rubbed the back of his neck, but the elder bat only laughed and reached up to pat Samael's arm. "So shameless, yet so self-conscious. I see why he chose you." Samael shifted his weight and Juwo gazed back across the cityscape as he grasped into his cane with both hands. "Demut means 'nomad'. And few souls roamed as freely as Raymond's. Our people warmed to him nearly as quickly as they did to you -- for all he had seen and all he enjoyed talking about to us, he remained open and always ready to learn more. I daresay that for as much as he passed onto the people of Xulod, so too did he accept into himself."
"He...never told me 'bout y'all," Samael murmured, his shoulders slumping again as he thought of Tracer's grizzled features. "An'...an' he'd be. He'd be real upset to see me now, all tore up 'n broken down over someone, someone who ain't even part'a the resistance..."
Juwo chortled bemusedly. "To be young again and flow so effortlessly between self-depreciation and self-defense." Samael gave him a confused look and the chieftain eyed him pointedly. "Just because Andee does not fight the same way you and the others do does not mean the fires of rebellion do not burn just as brightly inside him." Samael opened his muzzle before slowly shutting it as he blinked and then looked down at his hands thoughtfully. "I can tell you still carry many complicated feelings for your old mentor," Juwo added quietly.
Samael shifted a hand up to rub uncomfortably at his shoulder but could hardly protest as Juwo continued. "Raymond was a dear friend to me, but that did not make him without his flaws. I have no doubt what you say is accurate, that he would have many stern words for your emotional quandary," The chieftain lifted his cane and then reached over to gently but firmly poke it into Samael's arm. The chupa blinked again in surprise and turned to look down at him. "His disapproval should not have any bearing on your own feelings, young one. You don't need to shut him out...but you also don't need to live your life by his standards. Your heart beats differently from Raymond's. If you keep trying to dance to a rhythm that isn't your own, you'll only continue to frustrate yourself...and your partner."
A tremor shook Samael to his core and he lowered his head shamefully. "Juwo...I...I ain't thinkin' that Andee...he ain't..."
Juwo grunted and planted his cane against the rooftop before using it to slowly push himself up to stand. "You are both young and you are both children of passion. Yes, what was said to you in the square was...cruel. But you know as well as I do that those words were spoken hastily and through impulse. If you truly care about him, give him time." Samael looked up at the chieftain, who gave him a half-smile. "Furthermore, if he truly cares about you, trust him to show you. And if it is not meant to be?" Juwo shrugged easily as his smile became gentle yet teasing. "We have many other caves. Surely you will find another small, angry bat as decorated as you are to pursue so doggedly."
Samael blinked a few times before giving a dumb laugh despite himself, flushing and shrinking a bit at the edge of the roof. "G-geez, old man...c'mon, give...give a guy a break..." he mumbled, his tail flicking as the piercing jingled a few times. "I'm heartbroken over here..."
"You are," Juwo agreed softly, nodding and then leaning in closer. "But it is your decision whether to cry over these shattered pieces, or to pick them up and put yourself back together." He offered a coy smile. "Andee has fine taste, but as with most treasures, they are far more attractive when they are intact." The chieftain tapped a claw against his own breast before bowing his head to Samael and then hopping off the roof.
The rebel leaned forward a bit, pushing aside his vertigo as he watched the elder bat spread his wings and glide across the plaza and toward the other end of the city. His self-esteem wasn't really in the mood to see himself as any sort of 'treasure'...but Juwo's words still pulsed insistently in his thoughts. As much as he wanted to not give up, to keep chasing Andee, he also wanted to trust him. Trust meant a lot to Samael. He might have loved half the damn ring, but he wouldn't put his life or his heart in most of the hands he allowed to glide along his well-traveled body. Andee's trust in him was even more important than his affection, knowing the bat believed in him to be there, that meant the world to him.
Samael took a deep breath and then pushed himself up to his paws while slowly brushing off his hindquarters and letting his eyes drift across the strings of cheerful lights and colorful awnings that festooned the buildings around the plaza. This might not have been his home...but it felt like a second one, one he would always hasten to return to. And one he now knew he didn't need to run from with his tail between his legs. He could just see the healers' quarters from his vantage point and his heart faltered for a beat or two, but Juwo's advice wrapped around him securely, and his desperation shifted enough that he was able to take a step back from the edge with a silent nod.
If Andee had feelings for him, he knew it wasn't because of his goddamn endless tears. Crying wasn't going to get him anywhere. He needed to get back to being himself, and then just try to...trust. Anything less would be a disservice to them both.
Andee watched as the distant smudge of grey rose and then slowly disappeared from the rooftop. He took in a harsh breath and forced himself to look away from the plaza outside as the healer muttered a warning to him to stop moving so much. "Doin' my fuckin' best," he grumbled back before glancing up when Mutt moved between him and the window. "What?"
"You want me to go chase the bastard out?"
The desire to reply with an immediate "fuck yes" was powerful. But Andee found most of his anger dissolving even as he tried to gather it. He blamed the narcotic tea the healers had ordered him to down -- not that it had taken much coaxing. He was a fan, to say the least. Mutt's inquiry made him hesitate more than he liked, though he had little choice but to accept the rush of emotions as the cocktail of hallucinogens and natural painkillers washed across his veins like a chilly rising tide. He eventually sighed and then shook his head. "Nah. 'S fine. I'm sure the li'l fuckin' crybaby's already runnin' home to his broken-ass mama..."
Mutt eyed Andee for a few seconds before snorting softly. "Your eyes didn't look all that dry, either." Andee's head whipped back up to glower at him but the burly bat only fixed him with a poignant expression. "You know it isn't a bad thing if you do have feelings for the stupid puppy."
"Ain't in the mood, Mutt," Andee mumbled. His eyes widened and he growled as his broken arm was swiftly reset before a splint was pressed to his limb as several padded bands were folded over on the opposite side of where his wing's membrane attached. "Fuckin' rough motherfuckers, christ..." The healer squinted at him but only shrugged. Andee supposed it didn't matter if she spoke common or not, since his tone was probably enough, anyway. "If I never see that asshole again, then it'll be a good fuckin' life after this point," Andee added under his breath.
But he couldn't help glancing past Mutt and toward the distant tower again, where he and the dumb puppy sat together and enjoyed that goddamned flank steak. What was almost a...date, even if he refused to ever say it. He could still feel Samael's muzzle so close to his own as those first moments of curious, hesitant affection had started to unfold. Andee swallowed as his friend took a step closer before Mutt sighed while reaching down to squeeze his shoulder. "Andee, you know I got your back even if you're the biggest asshole in Xulod. But you gotta make up your mind. That dumbass puppy looked fuckin' haunted out there. Whatever you two did in the jungle..."
"I didn't do shit except have my fuckin' ass beat the fuck up with a fuckin' wooden bat," Andee interjected coldly. "No one asked him to fuckin' show up and be a fuckin' sacrificial lamb. If it was my fuckin' time to go, then fuck it, that's that."
Mutt's features hardened as he frowned at his friend. "No offense, Andee, but fuck you. We fuckin' grew up together, you don't get to pretend you're just fucking fine with dying like that." Andee's temper wanted to flare up, but the numbness continued to spread as the healer started to examine his leg. He glowered up at Mutt while he swallowed quietly again. Mutt met his eyes and then crossed his arms. "You say the puppy's suicidal -- you realize you sound the same fucking way right now, right?" Andee opened his muzzle to retort, but Mutt was faster, adding in a low voice: "Honestly, ya sound even worse. At least he's got a reason he's willing to die for. I get it if you don't want to be that reason, but then don't tell me some bullshit about how 'if it's your time time, it's your time', that's bitch-talk."
Andee closed his maw after a moment and then grumbled and shifted a bit on the soft chair as the healer prodded his swollen leg before calling for one of her associates to bring a few different supplies. He scowled at the list but kept his eyes on Mutt with a huff. "Fine. But that doesn't change the fuckin' fact he shouldn't have showed up at all."
"I brought him."
Andee narrowed his eyes as he and Mutt both turned their heads to see Paneko approaching them with a guilty expression. Andee bared his teeth to the chagrin of the healer in the midst of draining some excess fluid from his leg. "Yeah, no fuckin' shit, Pan, I sorta fuckin' figured. What the fuck, man, you know I didn't want fuckin' shit to do with that inbred motherfucker!"
Paneko shifted his weight but then frowned at Andee. "Yeah, but." He sighed and glanced at Mutt as well. "Xulod wasn't going to send anyone out. And...Mutt and I..."
Andee's eyes slowly widened as he turned with disbelief toward his old friend. Mutt met his gaze evenly before slowly raising both hands. "Yeah, alright."
"Oh...fuckin'...are you fuckin' kidding me?" Andee seethed, earning a sharp reprimand from the healer. "You fuckin' back-stabbin' asshole!"
Mutt raised an eyebrow at him. "Only reason I ain't knockin' your skinny ass out right now is because I know you're on a shitload of drugs, so you ain't thinkin' straight," he replied soberly. Andee scoffed but Mutt only leaned down and pushed a claw lightly against his muzzle. "Sorry, Andee, but just because all three of us are fuckin' on-board to fly into hell together doesn't mean we're just gonna let you go get yourself killed on a bullshit deal. Even if Pan was watching your back, the minute those fuckers got the drop on you, you were fucked." Andee glared at him furiously but couldn't bring himself to find a retort that didn't sound just as goddamn suicidal as the fucking redneck. Mutt gave him a thin smile. "And if you think I was gonna call those Freelancer fucks, another fuck you for the books, because I don't trust 'em to give a shit about you for a minute. But Puppy..."
Paneko took a step closer and added quietly: "I'm not gonna apologize, Andee. You're my friend, too, and." He glanced away for a moment. "We knew he would come. No matter what, even if it..."
"Even if it killed him," Andee concluded icily.
Mutt grumbled as Paneko joined him at Andee's side. "Hey, man, we weren't trying to get him killed, we ain't that bad of assholes..."
"Even if you acted like you wanted it," Paneko added softly, adjusting the half-poncho while giving Andee an expression torn between bemused and concerned.
Andee gnashed his teeth before wincing as the healer slammed her palm into his injured leg, then grunted in satisfaction and started to wrap it snugly with a bandage. "Fuckin' ow!" he hissed before shifting his eyes up to his companions. "The whole point is I didn't want that fuckin' asshole gettin' himself killed for me! You fuckers went behind my back, I didn't ask for no fuckin' rescue!"
"Of course you didn't, you dumbass," Mutt snarled, leaning down with enough force that Andee actually flinched. "You never fuckin' do."
A twist of guilt that Andee forced down as he opened his muzzle...then thoughtfully paused when the healer gave him a horrible glare from where she was still wrapping his leg. A few seconds of awkward silence passed while she finished before she scowled and then glared between all three of them. "Bunch of asinine drama queens," she muttered before jabbing a claw at Andee's arm. "You need at least four days before you put any strain on it. Don't wander off to any ambushes in the jungle. Stupid craw-baits..." she grumbled as she squinted at them and then ambled away to join the other healers at the wash basins near the back.
Andee felt his anger spilling back over despite all his hesitation, raising his good arm to point accusingly at his friends. "I don't ask for help because I don't wanna be in any fucker's debt! You fuckin' know this shit!"
Paneko sighed as Mutt glowered darkly. The smaller bat reached out to gently push Andee's wrist down. "We love you like a brother, Andee, and you know we respect your stupid way of doing business...but fuck, there was no one else. And..." He rubbed at his arm and glanced at Mutt for a moment before looking back down at Andee. "You shoulda seen him. It was like I'd told him HADES was on the way." Paneko shifted his eyes away from Andee to avoid seeing the snarl. "Puppy's the only reason you're--"
"I fuckin' get it," Andee growled through clenched teeth, turning his head away from his friends. "Thanks for nothing, assholes...leave me the fuck alone."
Mutt snorted and took a step toward Andee, but Paneko quietly grasped his arm and pulled him back. "Get some rest, Andee," the mail bat murmured. "We'll check up on you later."
"Don't fuckin' bother," Andee muttered even as he closed his eyes and wished the words back into his muzzle. What good did it do him to drive away the last two goddamn people who put up with all his shit? He waited for the sounds of their claws to fade through the entrance before he slumped into the chair with a long, miserable sigh.
Well, at least he was alone again. The way he said he always wanted. He turned his head slowly back to the window, opening his eyes to gaze morosely across the plaza, silently hoping to see another distant grey smudge.
Yeah, this was just what he wanted.
Andee rubbed at his face slowly as he stared at the stupid thing. It was so...red. But it was almost the same goddamn hue as those stupid fucking piercings and...
He sighed and leaned against the window frame while looking out across the quiet square below. He didn't know what he'd been thinking. He still didn't know. The last thing he'd wanted to do was apologize to Wulok...and yet there he'd been, hobbling his broken ass down to the old fucker's store and squeezing out something that vaguely resembled an "I'm sorry". And of course the magnanimous bastard only smiled and asked him what he wanted. As if Andee was incapable of doing something other than for some personal gain.
...He had, of course, mumbled and pointed to the display in the corner, where the item he wanted for personal gain was standing proudly. He'd had to clear all his counters with Wulok and -- even worse -- swear he'd be available to assist on a future job. Fucking hell he hated owing favors. But what the fuck else was he supposed to do? Christ, he needed the fucking scales to tip evenly before he could even start to pretend shit was okay.
And it had only gotten worse after that, because guess who else got an apology? Fuckin' Angel. Apparently she'd been offended, too, what a crock of shit. So then he'd had to ask for someone to have her come by his place because hauling the fuckin' gift from Wulok's had made his sprained leg sore as fuck. And the conversation at his window had been one of the most goddamn uncomfortable moments of his life, since she'd spent the whole time grinning cheerfully and asking him if he knew just how cute he was being. He'd been only a few seconds away from chucking his coffee mug at her stupid bitch-ass face, but managed to hold himself together long enough to mumble a request for a small favor.
And now. Now he had to wait. Fuck he hated this. He slumped against the wall and tore his eyes away from the plaza below to instead study the dreamcatcher hanging on the wall next to him. That old fucking bastard was responsible for every goddamn headache and shed tear and furious rant over the last three goddamn weeks. He'd gotten Andee into contact with the fuckin' surface-dwellers. He'd made the stupid redneck what he was today. Andee narrowed his eyes as he reached up to the stiff loop of wood.
But his fingers only gripped gently into it to pull it off the wall so he could hold it in his hands and run his claws along the taut strings. He'd left so many fucking holes behind, some that had been neatly boarded up but some that had only crumbled inward and grown to become deadly chasms. Andee didn't know how he'd ended up at the edge of the biggest one, why he couldn't just fly past it, why he couldn't simply admire the jagged, fucked-up mess from a safe fucking distance like everyone else. He chewed on his tongue silently for a moment and then carefully placed the dreamcatcher back onto its hook with a shake of his head. This all still felt like a terrible idea, but he was tired of the goddamn back and forth in his own thoughts.
He didn't want to think about it because this shit was exhausting. But he wasn't just pissed off anymore. He was frustrated and he was confused and...
Andee sighed and idly straightened the dreamcatcher before his eyes skimmed his apartment. It was full of stuff. Because he was good at what he did, he ran a fuckin' good business, he made good deals, he knew how to work anyone over and come out of every goddamn transaction on top. His place was decked out and it was his own little paradise and it had everything he'd ever goddamn need in it, and then some. But it still felt...empty.
Andee grumbled quietly and glanced back at the window before widening his eyes with a curse. Oh fuck he'd lost track of time, the last thing he needed was that fucking inbred bastard sho--
His head whipped around at the hesitant rap at his door. Goddammit. He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth together before peering through the window again. Wasn't too late. He wasn't supposed to fly but the healers hadn't said anything about gliding. He could still slip out, pretend this whole goddamn thing hadn't happened, let the furry motherfuck--
"A-Andee? Are...are you...it's..." Andee reached up to rub one of his ears while slowly turning toward the door. "It's...Samael."
Of course it was. Who else would have such a dumb drawl. Andee sighed again and then forced himself to limp across the room. He wasn't sure he was ready to see him, to try and talk to him instead of just doing what felt natural and ripping the doe-eyed bastard another new asshole. The problem was that every rant he'd spouted in the last few days hadn't done shit to make him feel any better. It'd just pushed the emotions around, stirred them up and presented them in a new but equally confounding fashion.
He adjusted his cap and then reached out with a slow breath to turn the knob and crack the door open. It didn't matter if he knew who it was, old habits died hard. But sure enough, he was greeted with gentle blue eyes that would have drowned all of Sirca if they were given the chance. Samael immediately stepped backward with a respectful bow of his head and Andee made a face when he heard the crinkle of tissue paper. What had he...
Andee let out a long breath as he opened the door wider to see the chupa gazing at him with both hands awkwardly clutching something to his bare chest. There was no longer gauze on his arm, but he still sported the bandaging across his muscular breast. Andee chose to ignore it in favor of meeting Samael's eyes. The seconds ticked past as yellow and azure locked together, the mess of complicated emotions seeming to make the very air thick with a tangible ponderance. Finally, Andee glanced away and then sighed while pulling the door open all the way and jerking his head silently. "Come inside, Fiffy..."
Samael looked close to tears even as he nodded rapidly and raced through the door. Andee shut it behind him, then smiled faintly despite himself at the sight of Samael's gasp and the way his eyes widened as he slowly looked around the apartment. This fucking idiot...every goddamn thing like a new adventure to him. He was so...frustratingly genuine. Andee hated that he realized it was something he'd come to crave. Samael had such a front, such a cheerful, easy facade for the whole world...but he was always so real with Andee, in ways he probably never even realized.
"Your...your place is...amazin'," Samael murmured, his hands still curled around whatever he held to his chest. "You got so much neat stuff. I..." He spun around to stare down at the bat and Andee's temptation to snap at him melted almost instantly at the vulnerability in those big stupid eyes. "I came as fast as I could. I um..." He looked down at his hands before hunching his shoulders a bit. "I brought you somethin'. It...it ain't much, but..."
He dropped down to his knees and hesitantly pushed his hands forward while opening his palms to reveal a bunch of tissue paper that had been wrapped around...pebbles?
Andee blinked and took a step closer. "Sammy, I know you're a fuckin' moron, but..."
Samael gave a dumb little laugh as his features drooped. He shook his head quickly, though, and gazed down at his hands. "It's...it's what my piercin's are made from. It's this really rare mineral from our caves back in Sampi, an' I...I been holdin' onto it for years in case I wanted to get some more made, but...I ain't never used it an'. I know you like rare stuff that no one else has, so. I thought...I thought maybe you..."
The bat studied Samael's features for a moment before he moved forward and plucked up one of the small pieces of crimson stone. He ran his thumb over it slowly, watching the way the light caught the smooth surface and cast a deep red glow around itself. He exhaled quietly and then smiled faintly up at the wide-eyed chupa. "Bullshit, Sammy. Someone else does already have it." Samael's muzzle worked stupidly for a moment before Andee gestured toward his tail. "You do." Samael blinked and twisted his head around to stare at his own tail piercing. "My...dumb fucking jackass of a puppy," Andee murmured as he accepted the small cachet of mineral, along with the flood of feelings that rushed across his rocky shores.
Samael's eyes lit up, a whimper of happiness escaping as he swooped forward on his knees, only to freeze as Andee held out his injured arm to shove a claw into his muzzle. "Hey, hey...easy, Fiffy," he muttered, closing his eyes and reminding himself of the plan. He couldn't just lose himself to emotion, that would make him just as bad as the goddamn redneck. "This..." He glanced at the bundle of tissue paper and stones, then tossed it once. "This whole thing, me callin' you out here, it...it don't mean that...everything's just okay." Andee didn't want to look up at Samael, but he made himself do so regardless. "You get that, right? I...I fuckin' meant everything I said, Sammy..."
He pulled away from the rebel and his heart ached to see the way Samael wilted and dropped back onto his haunches. The bat closed his eyes but turned and walked a few paces so he could set the package on the kitchen counter. Samael's voice quavered behind him. "Every...everythin' you said?"
Andee shifted his weight and then looked down for a couple of seconds. It would be unfair to lie. More than he had to, anyway. "You denyin' that you're...sort of a whore?" Andee murmured, looking over his shoulder with an expression that was unexpectedly soft.
Samael met his eyes before rubbing at his shoulder and then shaking his head mutely. Andee smiled a bit, however, sighing as he trudged back across the apartment to stand a few inches away from the chupa. "Good," he continued softly. "'Cause...you kinda are." Samael looked away and Andee reached up to gently grasp his muzzle, pulling it back to focus Samael's shameful gaze on him again. "Didn't say I cared, Fiffy. Like I didn't see that about you from the first goddamn minute you started eye-fuckin' me..."
Samael swallowed thickly but managed a sheepish smile. "I...I guess, but...I dun want you to think I ain't meanin' what I said to you. It's true, I...I do l--"
Andee quietly pushed his muzzle shut, effectively silencing him as he shook his head briefly. "Hold it, Sammy." He could feel the tremble from the chupa and he let his hand move down to push against his chest. "I'm. I'm not saying you don't mean it. I just...gimme a fuckin' minute to get my thoughts out before you go slingin' that emotional shit at me. Okay?"
Samael stared at him before nodding silently as he hesitantly brought both his hands into his lap. "Okay."
Andee nodded back, letting his claws linger for a few seconds in Samael's thick fur before he took a step back. "I'm still. I'm still fuckin' pissed at you. 'Cause I know you understand how much it bothers me, you jumping in front of shit for me." Samael moved to speak, and Andee gave him a sharp look. "Hey. Lemme...lemme fuckin' get this out, Sammy." When Samael flinched but nodded obediently, the bat looked down at the bindings along his slender arm. "It ain't just about me. Or York." He paused and let what was certainly not the bile of jealousy sink back into his gut. "You'd throw your ass in the way for anyone, wouldn't you?"
The way Samael cast his eyes to the side was enough of an answer. Andee shook his head slowly and dropped his arm back to his side. "I don't care if you go around and fuck the whole ring, Sammy. But I don't wanna sit here 'n wonder if you're fuckin' dead every time you go out there, to...to do your fuckin' job."
Samael stared at the floor for several seconds, then lifted his head to look at Andee. The bat met his gaze evenly, surprised more than he wanted to admit to see that instead of trembling and being on the verge of tears, Samael looked...strong, his expression staid even if his broad shoulders drooped and his tail laid flat behind him. Andee's breath caught in his chest as the rebel spoke. "I know you don't, hon. An' I wouldn't ever wish that on no one, but especially not you..." He should have cast his gaze down, but the bastard kept his eyes up even as his voice cracked slightly. "But...y'know I can't jus' give up what I do, no more'n you can."
Andee wasn't shocked by the words, just how much they hurt. He wasn't supposed to be the emotional one. He grit his teeth and balled his hand into a fist, feeling himself tense up...just to deflate slowly as his small frame grew limp. "You're just like him." He saw Samael flinch and he had to clamp down his own pained quiver. "You really are."
He expected to hear a broken sob, stunned when instead a gentle hand reached out to grasp into his good arm. Andee stared up dumbly as Samael slid closer on his knees. "He didn't have you, Andee."
"He had you," the bat retorted even as he gazed into the painfully enchanting cerulean pools, begging for something that made sense.
"He never..." Samael hesitated before steeling himself. "He never loved me. He cared, but...he..." Samael looked to the side and a single tear finally ran down along his cheek to splash against Andee's feet. "Yer my reason to come back alive. Every time. It ain't the job, it ain't Sirca..." He slowly brought his muzzle back as he looked at Andee, features drenched with raw honesty. "It's you."
Andee didn't want what he felt but god, he could only pretend to be emotionless for so long. His throat clenched as he took a step forward and then reached up to cup Samael's cheek. "Then...goddammit, puppy, why don't you stop and...and just come live with me?" His own words made him feel a pang of terror, but he surged forward all the same. "We could work together, you...you've done real fuckin' good on our jobs and...all these other stupid bats, they all like your stupid, smelly ass..." He trembled as he looked desperately up at the rebel.
Samael's eyes were full of emotions Andee knew he wouldn't have time to parse and the bat shifted his gaze away even as he kept his fingers pressed into his companion's cheek. "I just don't fuckin' get it. I understand why ya do it, but. If you really cared...then..."
The unspoken words left Andee's maw and collided with Samael to make the chupa lower his head and close his eyes. His own fingers silently gripped into Andee's shoulder. "Do you really want that, hon? If...if you honestly want me to quit..."
Andee's soul screamed 'yes, for fuck's sake!!' but his heart was quiet, because it knew the simple but agonizing truth too well. He sighed heavily. "It's. It's who you fuckin' are..."
Samael's eyes flicked up to him, overwhelmed by a powerful ache that Andee could feel inside the grey rebel. "Yeah. It is," Samael murmured as his shoulders slumped. "I'm sorry..."
"Quit that shit," Andee ordered softly, lowering his hand from Samael's cheek as he looked at him for a few long seconds. "Got enough fuckin' shit to apologize for, kinda fuckin' stupid to say sorry for the one fuckin' goddamn thing you can't control." He bit his lip as Samael stared at him searchingly before he at last sighed and stretched his arm around the back of the chupa's neck to pull him into a silent hug. Samael's arms were around him immediately, returning the embrace gingerly as Andee closed his eyes and forced Samael's head into the crook of his neck.
He could feel Samael's heart pounding through his chest and Andee basked in it for what felt like an eternity before he finally pulled back. Samael was reluctant to loosen his strong arms, but he did so after another second or two and the two locked gazes again. "Look, Fiffy...I don't know where this leaves us. This..." He shifted but refused to look away. "This ain't exactly my thing. But." He grimaced before sighing again. "I. I like when you're around, alright? And I seriously mean that shit about you getting yourself killed, for fuck's sake, I can't make that fuckin' clear enough..." Samael's expression tipped toward guilty and Andee didn't say anything to stop it, simply wallowing in the chupa's self-consciousness for a moment. "But no one else has gone fuckin' half as far as you have for me. And..." He rubbed at his shoulder while grumbling. "I know I wouldn't be here if your stupid fuckin' suicidal ass hadn't come for me. I just don't want this to be a fuckin' cycle, Sammy. I don't wanna look at you and wonder 'is this the last time?' because that fuckin' blows."
Samael swallowed but nodded all the same. "I don't know if I got no easy answers fer you, sweetie, 'cause...'cause this ain't exactly an easy life we lead."
Andee looked resigned and then grumbled while trundling past Samael and toward his favorite armchair. "Yeah, don't fuckin' remind me," he mumbled. He felt Samael's eyes on him as he crossed the room, and he stopped next to the furniture. "Look, Sammy..." He glanced back over his shoulder. "There's...a big celebration in Xulod next quarter. I. I want you to be there." He looked down momentarily. "You belong there." He then muttered incoherently as he reached behind the armchair and grasped into the stupid-ass gift he'd sacrificed his own pride for.
...It was worth it to see Samael's eyes bulge and his jaw drop as the bat produced a bright red guitar, clutching it by the neck in his good arm while thrusting it toward the chupa with a grunt. "Here, asshole."
Samael struggled to get to his paws, stumbling forward with his eyes still wide. "Andee...Andee, you...you shouldn'ta..."
"Yeah, no shit, I'm the one who's gonna hafta hear your shitty redneck songs about incest and syrup," Andee complained even as he felt a burst of relief at how moved the chupa was. Samael reached out to gently accept the guitar and Andee scowled while he adjusted his cap sheepishly. "Anyway, this...this fuckin' makes us square, yeah?"
Tears streamed down Samael's cheeks as he beamed down at Andee and hugged the guitar to his chest. "Aww, Andee, y'...y'really didn't hafta, I wasn't never expectin' nothin' fer what I did, I jus' wanted to see you alive 'n see yer smile 'n be close to you again, this...this's too much..."
A heady rush of desire and nervousness crashed together in his chest and Andee shrugged it all off the best he could. "Don't fuckin' make a big deal of it, jackass," he insisted before he met Samael's eyes again. "Hey. I know what you're hopin' to hear. But. Ya know I can't...just fuckin'..."
"It's okay," Samael whispered as he held the instrument close and rubbed at his eyes with the back of a wrist. "Jus'....jus' gimme a chance, Andee. Lemme be there fer you..."
Andee took a deep breath. Fucking hell, but he wanted to be soothed. He wanted to relent and let the waves of reassurance crash over him. But he knew it wasn't going to be that easy -- it never was for people like them. But he smiled faintly all the same and took a step closer so he could grasp into Samael's waist. "I'm...I'm not gonna stop you, puppy. You wanna keep throwin' yourself at my feet, I'd be a fuckin' moron to pass that up. And maybe it'll eventually work and you can finally see the bat dick you've been gettin' yourself fuckin' shot to pieces for these last few weeks..."
Samael blinked before giving a choked laugh as he nodded and smiled through the grateful tears. Andee smiled back and then shook his head bemusedly as he let his wing drag gently over the chupa's thigh while he limped past him. "C'mon, dumbass." His eyes briefly flicked up to the dreamcatcher before he exhaled quietly. "I'll make us some coffee and then we gotta go over the plan for sellin' those ID cards, got it?"
He didn't know what the fuck he was doing, but...if they were going to try and make this work, then he'd be damned if he didn't make it clear he was gonna be the one behind the wheel, goddammit.
Red vs Blue © Rooster Teeth. Halo © 343 Industries. Concept by Myshu, assisted by The Department of Chupapology.
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