Reblogged from droil
Originally posted by airportlife
Posted on Jun 18th, 2013 at 6:40. Permalink. 1,688 notes
There’s a moment, Byron turned away to dig through his closet for something that doesn’t come covered in belt straps and wings of varying degrees of usefulness—practical clothing is in short supply around here right now, and there may be a time for heroism again soon but right now they just need to give the monsters less to grab onto—when Bill lets himself have a little bit of a breakdown.
It’s an abbreviated thing: just a flare-up of emotion, a blend of pain and relief and revulsion and gratitude and heart-stopping panic. He lets himself feel the terror and everything else, lets it wash over and crest and recede while he bites down on the ridge of his knuckles, presses his eyes closed. Then he puts it away again.
“Any luck?” he asks, over his shoulder.
“Not… as such.” A deliberate sigh. “Didn’t ever expect to get stranded here for very long, you know?”
“Six days’ worth of liquor,” Bill deadpans, “But a change of pants? That would be excessive.”
More rustling, and Byron’s only visible from the waist down; he’s digging deep. Miscellaneous objects that really have no place in a closet—a lamp, a pillow, a curtain rod, a box of crackers—rain down, tossed out over his shoulder. Speaking of which… “Where’s your gun?”
The rustling stills, aside from the delayed thud of a displaced boot falling from somewhere high. It’s comical. “Why?”
“To defend yourself with? We’re still under siege here, it’s just a matter of when they bust through.”
“There’s a reason,” the voice echoes out of the closet, muffled, “that I didn’t take it out there with me. It’s useless against them.”
“Actually, the radio’s saying that if you manage to get a head shot—”
“Bill.” A pause, and then Byron backs out of the closet. He’s got what looks like a pair of black work pants in his hands, wrinkled from being balled up in the corner. “There’s never been anything but blanks in that thing.”
Cover me, he remembers saying two weeks ago, about to duck into a building on the trail of money-launderers. Byron had laughed, and it hadn’t made sense at the time, and no one had been hurt but Bill still feels his mouth fall open, can’t quite find the words.
Byron shakes his head a little, grins. “What, you don’t know me well enough to know that? Why would I carry a loaded gun? Would I ever use it?”
“No,” Bill says, because he does know better. “You wouldn’t.”
“It’s to scare people. Make the crooks think twice about pulling their own. Keep things from escalating, drawing innocents in. That’s it.”
So, yeah. Useless, because these things don’t scare, even if they should, even if they can be killed just like any other wild animal. It reminds him of the year there’d been rabies loose in the coyote packs, and how grim an affair dinnertime had become. Three today, his father would report, dutiful, stinking of blood and gunpowder. One of them was in with the sheep.
“All right, well,” Bill says, not sure if he should be feeling betrayed or not. He nods to the pants, kind of remembers the undercover mission they must be from. “Did you find anything to go with that?”
“Not yet. Seems like everything else is costume parts.”
“What’s this?” Bill reaches into the pile, picks up a rejected garment at random. How anyone can be so picky about what they wear is beyond him. “Wouldn’t this wor—oh.” He holds it up, narrows his eyes. It’s just a plain black shirt with a high neck, but… “This is way too small for you.”
“It’s… borrowed. One night when we were going out, and I didn’t have time to go home first.”
“This would have looked ridiculous.”
“It was very popular, actually.” The suggestive wink doesn’t work as well with just the one eye. “Anyway, it was a dare.”
Fine—Bill tosses it aside. “What about this?” he asks, picking up another wrinkled mess of cloth. Shaken out, it’s the electrician’s shirt that went along with the pants. Now he remembers more about that case; he’s still got a full plumber’s getup stashed away somewhere.
Byron grins. “Ah, the uniform of the working class. Dignified as always.” He’s right; the thing is a horrid shade of puke-green and mustard, but who the heck cares?
“Got any better options?” Bill challenges.
“Nope. Electrician for hire it is.”
“Okay, then—” and he’s about to suggest Byron make a visit to the downstairs showers, because he really does reek—mostly blood and adrenaline and fear, but it’s still pungent and unpleasant—when there’s a sudden shouting from the hallway outside.
“Damn it,” he mutters, balling up the shirt and tossing it vaguely in Byron’s direction. He’s halfway to the door when the general alarm goes up, a drunken-sounding klaxon. “Go on, get those on.”
Bill throws the bolt, turns back to see Byron gesturing vaguely at himself, distressed. He’s never been one for privacy before, but now—
“Oh, for God’s sake,” Bill says, and he shouldn’t talk like that but circumstances are what they are and no one’s shut off the siren, which means it’s probably for real. “It’s nothing I haven’t seen, just get dressed.”
“By,” he says, trying to be patient while the racket outside intensifies. “We are being attacked.”
Byron nods, drops the robe, shimmies into the pants and shirt as quickly as he can—the grotesquery of his condition disappearing under rolls of fabric.
Scooping up a pair of boots by two fingers, Bill tosses them toward Byron, and they head, together, for the door.
If you did not intend for me to take Silhouette’s trench, fedora, and cravat in Before Watchmen to mean that she was the badass fashion icon that heavily influenced a young Walter Kovacs, too fucking bad.
I won’t hear a word otherwise.
Well, that ‘create something every day’ thing has not worked at all, but I’m still making things SOME days.
All of these flowers are made from real bones of mice and rats. Japanese artist Hideki Tokushige states that the collection, called “Honebana” (bone flower), is the result of a ceremonial process that honors the cycle of death, decay, and rebirth, even as modern society becomes increasingly detached from this spiritual reality.
HWAAAAAAAAAAA SO PRETTY AND FREAKISH
Birds are beautiful creatures, but man, do they never shut up.
AN: This seems like a good time to point out that for various reasons, I’m playing pretty fast and loose with the canon/timeline. I’d love to write a long post getting into all the details and what I’m grabbing from where and what’s changed, because I am a geek for meta; someone please give me an excuse!
Sally spends the five-minute’s walk downstairs to the basement armory fluttering between anger at Zandt for being so damned abrasive and unforgiving all the time and shame at herself for not being the better person. It’s not something she usually concerns herself with when dealing with this particular annoyance, but goodness, she’s lost people too—everyone has. There’s a point where being a grown adult means letting people do the things that annoy you because their position is so bad than anything they do is forgivable.
Then there’s Eddie, grinning up at her from the low bench near the gun rack when she walks in, and all thoughts of tolerating people’s bullshit go right out of her head.
“Mornin’, sunshine,” he says, dropping the last round into the frankly massive revolver he’s been carrying around. He gives the cylinder a theatrical spin and snaps it into place.
Sally rolls her eyes, goes to the next cabinet over. Pulls down a heavy box of shotgun shells, then another, contemplating shot versus slugs. She’s never been much of a gun person, doesn’t know much about them, but circumstances have a way of making a person reevaluate, sometimes.
“You looking to make as much a mess of ‘im as possible,” Eddie says from behind her, and god but she’s got to stop letting people sneak up like this, “Or put ‘im down quiet and fast?”
Sally closes her eyes, counts to three. “Who’s ‘him’?”
A huff of laughter she can just about feel on her neck. “Them. Sorry. The ones outside?”
She sighs, frustrated. There are times when she almost—but then he’s got to go and turn creepy on her. On all of them. That business in the kitchen, for instance, and she’s suddenly got a headache, a sharp throb between her eyes.
“The front door is what we’re worried about, I think.” She turns around so that she’s facing him, both boxes still in hand.
He seems to notice the awkwardness of how close he’s hovering all at once, and he backs away until he’s leaning against the explosives locker, the one that’s been mostly empty for two years. This isn’t much of an armory, really, and this is a dance. One step, two. Turn. He grins, stretches, tries to look unruffled, like a cat might after it’s fallen off of something.
“So,” he says, smooth as anything; on another day, she might have noticed how precious he is when he’s pretending to not be afraid. “That’s a choke point. They can only get through one at a time.”
“I guess so, yes.”
“Slugs, then,” he says gesturing to the box in her right hand. “And a good aim.”
“I’ve got that.” She does; it’s almost frightening what a natural she’s turned out to be. “Anything else?”
“A willingness to take the shot.”
“Why would that be an issue?”
“Because,” he says, holstering the pistol, “This all might hit closer to home than we’re expecting.”
A careful pause, as Sally fingers one of the shells, loose in the torn-open box. Then she laughs, sharp.
“Eddie,” she says, and she shouldn’t be smiling because this isn’t funny. “I’m not going to stand here and talk with you about murdering one of our teammates. And if you think I’m going to be a nice quiet little lamb about it…”
Maybe that’s what’s funny. She closes the box, presses her thumbs in over the lid—moves to push past him, on her way out. Is stopped with a jolt when he reaches out and grabs hold of her arm. It’s not hard enough to hurt, but— “Let go.”
“I’m not talking about murder,” Eddie says, cajoling, pitched low to avoid eavesdroppers. “What kind of monster do you think I am?”
Sally pulls her arm against his grip; he relents, lets it go. Holds the hand palm out, placating. “I’m just talking about defending ourselves. Responding to a threat, when it presents itself.”
“Yeah,” he says, and he’s not even hiding the fear, now. “Not if. When. He’s going to turn on us, and when he does, someone’s gonna need to pull the trigger.”
Sally chews on her lip, gives it a few seconds’ honest thought despite the distastefulness of what he’s proposing. The rules have changed a lot in the last week, and there are concerns beyond good taste.
“Nelson’s military,” she says, musing. “And Hollis has his service revolver—”
“Hollis is a lost cause,” Eddie sneers. “He’ll stand behind his dead little buddy until it’s his turn to get eaten, and then it’ll be too late. And don’t get me started on Captain fucking Pisspants.” He knocks on the side of his head. “Nothing upstairs, nobody home.”
Sally narrows her eyes. “That isn’t fair,” she says, “You know he—”
“If he’s so busy mooning over his fucking boyfriend that it gets the rest of us killed, believe me, honey—fair is the last thing I’m gonna care about.” Eddie shakes his head, lowers his voice another notch. “No, it’s gonna come down to you and me.”
Despite her public persona and the frills that go with it, Sally is not a frail woman. The box in her hand still feels heavier than it should, heavy enough to weigh her down to the ground. The casings jostle against each other when she shifts it side to side.
“If someone threatens any of us,” she says, “Anyone. And I have a shot, I’ll take it.”
A smile so wide and so sunny he really looks like the teenager he is, for a moment; he’s good at faking sincerity. She smiles back, not hiding the sharpness. She’s never had a thing for masks, and anyone means anyone.
“So how you doin’ otherwise, darlin’?” he asks, riding out that smile for all it’s worth. “Holding up?”
She sighs. “As well as anyone. I managed to get a hold of Larry before the phones went down and he said he’d try to track down my folks, since I have no idea where they even are anymore. I think he’s putting a call in to Bill’s family, too.”
“The hell is he, anyway?”
“Upstate, I think. Visiting with his lawyer, he said.”
“Must be nice, sitting out the fight.”
“Oh, come on now,” Sally says, laughing a little. “It’s not like he knew this was about to happen. Besides, the way this is spreading, I doubt anyone will be sitting it out for much longer.”
She flips the box in her hands open, idly counts the shells for something to do. It’s only when she gets to fifteen that she realizes the room’s gone quiet. She glances up to see Eddie looking down and off to the side a little, anxiety screwing up his face, and like the fear—this is real.
“Yes,” she says, because it bears repeating even if he doesn’t want to hear it. “It’s going to be everywhere, they’re saying.”
He looks up, takes a breath through his nose. The anxiety breaks into a grin like it’s the only shape it knows. “Makes you wonder what the fuckin’ punchline’s gonna be,” he says, laughing it off. But it isn’t funny, and they both know it.
Then: a wrenching from upstairs, a repetitive shriek of twisting wood. Raised voices, anger escalating very quickly into panic.
“Oh god,” she says, and Eddie swears something foul and jams the revolver into his belt.
They take the stairs at a run.
“I got a fan letter from a young lady. It was a suicide note.
So I called her, and I said, “Hey, this is Jimmy Doohan. Scotty, from Star Trek.” I said, “I’m doing a convention in Indianapolis. I wanna see you there.”
I saw her — boy, I’m telling you, I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was definitely suicide. Somebody had to help her, somehow. And obviously she wasn’t going to the right people.
I said to her, “I’m doing a convention two weeks from now in St. Louis.” And two weeks from then, in somewhere else, you know? She also came to New York - she was able to afford to got to these places. That went on for two or three years, maybe eighteen times. And all I did was talk positive things to her.
And then all of the sudden — nothing. I didn’t hear anything. I had no idea what had happened to her because I never really saved her address.
Eight years later, I get a letter saying, “I do want to thank you so much for what you did for me, because I just got my Master’s degree in electronic engineering.”
That’s…to me, the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
I don’t know which part’s better: Rorschach’s eager little smooch or Hollis’s continued general awesomeness.