(New story TBA. In the meantime, here’s a cute kid AU you can read.)

peccantdiplomacy:

please stand by.

==> Long Way Home

peccantdiplomacy:

perniciousinnovator:

Just a few moments ago, you would’ve been inclined to agree with him. You recall spilling your silly notions of immortality to him fairly recently, and thoroughly believing it to be true. But you don’t anymore, and not just because you feel entirely too far from okay.

You blink slowly, images returning that first came to you while you were unconscious. A smiling face, laughing, telling you that you were wrong, so, so, wrong…

You breathe in slowly, trying to suppress some coughing that is wet with blood and racks your whole body with fresh pain just from the movement. “I w-was wrong,” you repeat to him, raspy and desperate. “I-I was wrong. I fffucked up.”

You cough again, blood splattering on his sleeve and dribbling down your chin, staining your collar.

There’s a familiar sinking feeling. It shouldn’t be familiar, but it is. It’s the same dragging sensation that came along with every failed suicide attempt, not so failed after all, just canceled out. It’s not as freeing as it used to seem. This will be the last time, and that terrifies you.

You know what waits for you, but what’s worse is that you don’t know what waits for him. What’s going to happen to him, because of the deal, because you’re gone, because he couldn’t handle the thought before? What’s going to happen to Bawd and to Doxy, to Delly and Sonhearst, to your cat?

What if everything you built dies with you?

You and Scofflaw have spent your entire post-exile lives trying to stabilize one another. You need to do it one last time. You try to. You open your mouth and try to tell him to hold it together, to take care of things instead of exploding, to find the girls and Delly and Sonny and Chai, and to keep them all safe.

You try to, but no words come out.

Your vision turns blotchy and fades, until there is nothing.

"No," you say, and then you keep saying it. "No, no, no—you’re okay, Inny, you’ll be okay!"

He isn’t okay.

He stops breathing. You shake him and slap him, but that doesn’t change anything.

You wait. He’ll come back, right? He came back last time. He has to come back, you need him. Not even in the same way you always have—although the fact that he keeps you alive and out of jail on a daily basis has not changed—but you have no idea what will happen to you now that he made that deal with the Horrorterrors.

There’s no way they’ll let you walk away from this.

You’re shaking, and you don’t know if it’s because you’re scared or because of something else. It’s getting cold, maybe it’s that. When did it get so cold?

You sit there for a long time, holding your brother, waiting for him to start breathing again.

You started crying at some point, and you’re not sure when. There’s ink on your hands, on your face, and you’re shaking more than before. You can hear the whispers. They’re coming for you. It’s dark, and it’s cold, and the one person standing between you and the Furthest Ring is laying dead in your arms.

You guess it couldn’t have ended any other way. The Horrorterrors never would have let you go if they thought that you could stay away for long. This, like so many other things, was just another way to torture you. To give you hope before snatching it away.

You were an idiot to think you ever stood a chance.

==> Long Way Home

peccantdiplomacy:

You didn’t teleport far. Inny’s in bad shape and you’re already terrified of what you might have done to him with the magic you used already, teleporting back to a hideout would have been too much.

Even teleporting here, to this empty alley, may have been too much

You kneel over him while he’s unconscious, petting his hair and begging him to come back to you. He does, screaming your name and reaching out. You take his hand.

“‘s okay, Inny,” you say. You’re pretty certain that it is not, in fact, okay. Those thugs really fucked him up. Still, you hold his hand and try not to sound like you’re panicking. “I’m here. You’re gonna be all right.”

Just a few moments ago, you would’ve been inclined to agree with him. You recall spilling your silly notions of immortality to him fairly recently, and thoroughly believing it to be true. But you don’t anymore, and not just because you feel entirely too far from okay.

You blink slowly, images returning that first came to you while you were unconscious. A smiling face, laughing, telling you that you were wrong, so, so, wrong…

You breathe in slowly, trying to suppress some coughing that is wet with blood and racks your whole body with fresh pain just from the movement. “I w-was wrong,” you repeat to him, raspy and desperate. “I-I was wrong. I fffucked up.”

You cough again, blood splattering on his sleeve and dribbling down your chin, staining your collar.

There’s a familiar sinking feeling. It shouldn’t be familiar, but it is. It’s the same dragging sensation that came along with every failed suicide attempt, not so failed after all, just canceled out. It’s not as freeing as it used to seem. This will be the last time, and that terrifies you.

You know what waits for you, but what’s worse is that you don’t know what waits for him. What’s going to happen to him, because of the deal, because you’re gone, because he couldn’t handle the thought before? What’s going to happen to Bawd and to Doxy, to Delly and Sonhearst, to your cat?

What if everything you built dies with you?

You and Scofflaw have spent your entire post-exile lives trying to stabilize one another. You need to do it one last time. You try to. You open your mouth and try to tell him to hold it together, to take care of things instead of exploding, to find the girls and Delly and Sonny and Chai, and to keep them all safe.

You try to, but no words come out.

Your vision turns blotchy and fades, until there is nothing.

==> Long Way Home

peccantdiplomacy:

You take your time in the store. You grab Inny’s whiskey, then browse a bit before settling on a bottle for yourself. You pay, chitchatting with the cashier a bit and trying not to laugh at how much the poor clerk looks like he’s going to shit himself with fear.

You stroll outside and see two thugs kicking the shit out of your brother. You shout at them, throw the booze at one, and throw a fireball at the other. You pin them both with shadow tentacles, and you think you’re about done here, when you just barely dodge someone trying to hit you in the head from behind.

You whirl around, and push him away with a fireball. You back up, kicking the unconscious initial attackers away, putting yourself close to Inny so you can keep him safe. The guy puts out the fire on his shirt and advances again. You cringe at having to use your magic again, knowing that you’re hurting Inny while he’s already down. You use another fireball, a better one, and the guy goes down. You breathe a sigh of relief, and kneel over Inny to see how he’s doing.

"Inny, y’ okay?"

You pull him up and support him on your shoulders. You look up, and see more thugs approaching, and these ones have guns and knives and there’s just no way you’re going to be able to fight them off. You’re not skilled like Inny is. You hold Inny tight, and teleport the hell out of there.

You are not okay. You feel every fireball he throws. It feels like getting hit with the pipe all over again, each time a crushing pain and the frightening sensation of falling even though you are already down, each time more disoriented and disjointed and drifting. Your perception of the world is gone, now you’re just fighting to grasp the edges of awareness, but it can’t last.

You drop.

—-

When you wake, it feels like you’ve been still for a hundred years. You may as well have been in a grave. Your whole body is stiff to the point that you just can’t move, and that does nothing to help the terror that comes along with consciousness. Your old fear of unknowing, the fear that your attackers might still be there, the fear that you might never recover.

You can’t move, but you find that you can still scream.

“Scoff… Scoff!

You drag your hand forward. It takes so much out of you that your vision takes on the characteristics of raindrops on a lake. You’re not sure if you can hear properly, but at that moment, you’re aware of a painful ringing that would overpower anything else. The back of your hand scrapes against something rough, however, so you figure you’re still on the pavement. That is the only thing you’re certain of right now.

==> Long Way Home

peccantdiplomacy:

You really wish he’d quiet down. You don’t need people noticing you.

It occurs to you that this is probably how Inny feels whenever you get overexcited and carry on, and you chuckle a little.

"Okay, but you ain’t keepin’ it if y’ steal it," you say about the pet thing. "You jus’ havin’ th’ one cat’s enough for me."

You stop outside the store, and roll your eyes. You take a few more drags on your cigarette, then drop it and stomp it out.

"Oh, how can I say no to that face?" You pat him on the back and step away from him. "Arrite, jus’ sit tight."

"Make sure it’s honey flavored!"

You give Scofflaw a kiss on the cheek, and then send him off into the store to obtain booze for you. In the meantime, you hang back, hugging the corner of the building and trying to keep to the shadows so fewer people will equate a tall man leaning against a wall with a tall magical mobster.

Bored, you fold your arms. You kick your feet. You’ve just started rummaging in your pockets for your phone when an iron pipe smashes into the side of your head.

You never saw it coming, and once it happens, there’s nothing you can do. No magic. Not even full awareness. You hit the ground hard, the sense so thoroughly knocked out of you that you don’t even try to break your fall, and you have no way of knowing if you lost consciousness. Everything is a blur. A few pairs of feet come down on you over and over, or maybe it’s just one and your reaction time is slowed down to a snail’s pace.

You can do nothing. You try to roll away, but the world around you is fluid and painful, and you can’t tell if you’re moving at all. You try to scream, it feels like you’re screaming, but you can’t hear it.

==> Long Way Home

peccantdiplomacy:

You have mixed feelings about being out and about. You’ve been going nuts cooped up in your apartment and hideouts for as long as you’ve been. If you could, you’d be out as much as possible. But you also know how much the entire city wants you dead, and being out in the open is enough to make you pretty antsy.

You’re puffing on a cigarette to calm your nerves while Inny raves.

The meeting did go well. That one guy spoke out of turn, but you put him in his place. Inny’ll feel better if he has time to bitch about it though, so you let him, and you walk along while he leads you along a path that you know ends in booze.

"Th’ fact that he talked back t’ you ‘t all proves he ain’t ‘xactly a picture ‘f mental health," you add.

Thank you!

You probably shouldn’t be carrying on and throwing your arms up in public like this. Respectable businessmen-mobsters don’t squabble like children. But that guy was such an asshole.

“No, you know what it proves? That he’s hot-headed, impulsive, ill-prepared, and oblivious. His temper’s bad for business, he makes rash, potentially dangerous decisions, he walked into that meeting clearly without a clue of who we are or what we can do. We should have him replaced. We should have him dumped in the river and then replaced. No, no, we should find out if he’s got a pet and then fucking steal it.”

You’re off on a tangent now. You’re not serious about most of these things, barring having him replaced. You don’t want him in your operation simply because you don’t like him. However, tomorrow you’ll have to present Scofflaw with a written, in-depth game plan along with the minutes from the meeting and whatever figures you’ll have to work out later on. Might as well vent now via empty threats, right?

You find yourself standing next to a liquor store, but going inside right now feels a little daunting. You already put up with a meeting, that was enough human contact for one day. Instead, you lean on Scofflaw and try to bat your eyes like a flirty dame. “Scoff, will you please go buy me some whiskey?”

==> Long Way Home

“But how dare he say that? Who is he to call me crazy, to imply that I’m not capable of running this operation just because I have a few disparities upstairs?”

You never thought you would so much as think this, but it feels good to be out and about. Like before, you’ve been laying low, confining yourself and Scofflaw to hideouts as much as possible. His continued existence is no longer a secret, of course, but you are still wanted for televised murder, as if the footage of Scofflaw’s rampage didn’t fit that criteria.

“As if his rumpled suit and flop sweat screamed competence! Tch.”

It’s been weeks, but you finally attended a meeting tonight, and it went… well. For the most part. Except that guy calling you crazy really pissed you off. You’re walking it off now, literally, making Scofflaw take the scenic route home with you to ensure you pass your favorite liquor store.