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ryder, dragonofthepen, flynn

To Pull Us Through {Apocalyptic AU, PT. III}

 Rain had come again. The endless forecast called for heaviness with a chance of precipitation, and with the chances around Westfield, rain would always fall.

 The ghetto gutters dripped with the liquid, slowly slithering onward down to the pipes under the city--the only area of the world that seemingly remained free.

 Sitting under the alcove of an abandoned hotel in the fenced-in vicinity of the city’s limits, Tegan Hobbes slowly lit up a cigarette with a hand that twitched and flinched of its own accord. Littered with bruises and scratches, the hand had once been designated to routinely examine chemicals and maintain a healthy balance of cigarette smoke and food. Food he was now denied at least twice a day, which had shrunk his spirit and body considerably. Rail-thin ribs were visible under the soaking, stained fabric of a once-white shirt. Matted black hair swept back from the slick moisture (half of which had to be oil at this point) occasionally fell to shadow the light he was trying to make in his hand.

 The lighter clicked with an executioner’s dull finality before winking out entirely.

 “You’re fucking useless, you know that?”

  Glancing up tiredly, Tegan studied the towering figure overhead, sprawling back against the wall of the hotel with a confused expression of exhausted dismay. One hand on her hip and the other tapping chipped, once-fine nails to her side, Helena Par raised both eyebrows and pursed full lips with a mocking expression of intrigue.

 “Yeah, I’m talking to you, dickhead. Why the fuck can’t you light up your cigarette correctly? Jesus Christ,” Helena added, sitting down beside him on the pavement and making a face. The beep of her tracking anklet resonated in the brief moment of silence between them; her hands busying themselves by finding her own lighter in her purse. “You’re such a fucking baby.”

 “Thank you, Helena,” Tegan murmured softly, holding his cigarette over the dancing flame the ballerina produced beneath his coffin nail. “I needed my daily pep-talk.”

 The notion of coffin nails drew a sad pinch to his chest, clenching a heart that still beat despite his best efforts to halt its endless progress. Weathered features lifting in the rain to observe the nearby fence, Tegan stared out into the moistened darkness as Helena lit up a cigarette of her own, her face contrite for the briefest of moments over her cancerous charm.

 “The fuck are you doing out here anyway?” Helena asked after a moment of silence. Turning and canting his head towards the woman idly, Tegan raised his eyebrows at her innocently. Hooded eyes grew sharper as Helena narrowed her bedroom gaze to a torture chamber stare instead. Hearing the all-too-familiar warning bells in his head, Tegan braced himself for the next barrage of irritation.

 “Not this fucking infatuation again,” Helena snapped, fingers curling tightly around the cigarette pursed between her lips. “He’s not coming back for you. Just like Eli isn’t coming for me, just like nobody gives a shit anymore. Max is dead. Nobody’s on our side. How many fucking times do I have to drill this into your thick skull until you get it? Moron,” Helena added in a more halfhearted way. “Fucking moron.”

 “He’ll come,” Tegan said simply, blinking and swiveling to face the fence once more. “He’ll be here, Helena. And he’s going to find Kaelan and set this right. He’s the first of us to make it out of here alive.”

 “How do you even know he IS still alive?” Helena pointed out flatly. Tegan flinched and hunched up his sloping shoulders as Helena pressed on. “For all you fucking know he could’ve been picked up by the police by now. Or worse, by that cunt in corporate who runs this town. You never know.”

“I know he’s still out there, Helena. I would know if he wasn’t, too. It’s just…” Tegan shut his eyes tiredly, listening to the synchronized beeping of their anklets, the tracking device clinging firmly to his leg in the rain. “It’s just something to keep me going, if nothing else. Don’t you hope that Eli is still out there? That Jesse is?”

 “Don’t give a fuck about Jesse,” Helena snapped, closing her eyes as well and sitting back against the Mariott wall. “I barely knew him before all this shit went down anyway. Eli can go fuck himself, he promised to get us out of here and he hasn’t yet. So count me out in the faith department.”

Diligently ignoring Helena (as he always chose to do when she was in one of her particularly venomous moods), Tegan calmly blew smoke into the air with a gentle unfurling of stratus afterthought. Studying the column as it faded away into the atmosphere, Tegan shook his head and scratched at the unshaven side of his face. How long had it been since he had a decent shower--rain not included? Evelyn’s cruelty apparently knew no bounds. The experimentation never ended; nor did the ideas she pumped out every week to keep the gifted on their toes.

 The cursed, more like.

The damned, as he had always been.

 “Do you know what they did to Petroleum Screw-Skank or whatever her face is last week?” Helena said aloud, never one for enduring terribly long pauses of silence. Picking his head up, Tegan swiveled once more to face her as he settled back against the curve of the building.

 “Petronella Soucek?”
 
 “Whatever. Anyways, I heard Evelyn was going to melt her plasma down or something and inject it into anti-cancer cell samples. Fucking grueling process to do it, anyway.” Licking her lips after lifting the cigarette away to breathe, Helena coughed and pinched the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes tightly. “Fuck. I just--I don’t wanna think about this shit anymore. I want it to go back to the way things were.”

 “Robbing and pillaging?” Tegan asked dryly, earning himself a shove in the process. Making a face, Helena settled once more and shrugged sullenly.

 “Yeah, maybe.”

Their talk was interrupted by a gentle whistle, followed by a soft coo of sound by the barbed-wire fence. Springing to his feet with a splash of moisture (startling Helena into a fresh wave of curses when mud splattered her formerly-fine dress), Tegan scrambled over to the fence and slipped, crashing against the edge of it with a clink of chains. His fingers thrust themselves through the barrier and rough hands found his own, reaching where they could.

 From out of the darkness emerged a pair of deep brown eyes half-hidden by the murk of makeshift camouflage. Shooting nearer to the fence, Tegan felt the press of soft lips to his weathered hands and the mellow, slurring voice of the man he’d almost lost hope for slip through the links in the fence and into his ears.

 “Oh baby,” Aiden Wolfe muttered softly, one thumb colliding roughly with the mountainous terrain of Tegan’s busted-up knuckles, “baby, what’ve they done t’ya?”

 Tegan, eyes welling up with indescribable emotion, laughed thickly, feeling congestion build in his nose an his throat beginning to close with the effort of withholding what he felt. Fingers squeezing steel and flesh, he clung to the moment, letting Aiden’s husky voice envelop him with more warmth than he’d felt in weeks. He’d come home the minute Aiden showed up. Aiden was home, and he felt safe again.

 “It doesn’t matter,” Tegan murmured hoarsely, leaning into the hands that softly strained to hold onto his hands and touch every part of them they could reach. “It doesn’t, Aiden. You’re here now, that’s what DOES matter. You found me. You came back for me.”
 
 “Always would,” Aiden said simply, one hand raising to gently brush back Tegan’s forelock with a soothing motion--as best he could manage through the multilayered fence. “Always will. Ain’ nothin’ keepin’ me ’way ’cept yer situation, an’ even so, here I am.” Aiden swung out a hand to gesture to himself and promptly socked the figure walking up behind him squarely in the stomach. With a wheeze, the dark-haired man doubled over and Aiden swung around in place with a stumble in his crouched position. “Oh shit--sorry, Kaelan…”

 “No problem,” the teleporter gasped, holding up a hand to stave off Tegan’s shock and Aiden’s further apologies. “I’m used to it. Look, you two. We don’t have a lot of time. Hey,” Kaelan snapped, gently waving a hand in Helena’s direction, “I’m talking to both of you. Could you come closer, please?” Helena flipped up a hand in a dismissive gesture and raised her eyebrows at Kaelan defiantly.
 
 “I can fucking hear you from over here, asshole.” Rolling his eyes, Kaelan shook his head and turned back to glance at Aiden and Tegan, locked in one another’s gaze. Trying not to make a sound of disapproval or annoyance, the teleporter exhaled and tucked his fedora tighter down onto his head.

 “Please tell me you’ve come to rescue me,” Tegan whispered morosely. Aiden started to reply, but was cut off by a quick clap to the shoulder. Kaelan’s fingers tightened softly and the former hitman hesitated, then hung his head. Peering between the two, Tegan gradually lifted tired eyes to Kaelan’s pristine features in the mist and shadows.

 “We can’t get you out tonight,” Kaelan said shortly. “But Aiden and I have been working on a technique to set people free one at a time. It’ll be like a domino effect.” Tegan glanced up thoughtfully and Kaelan elaborated. “Basically, I transfer myself in and out of people’s devices to disable them. It has to be one at a time for that reason, obviously. And I’ll need time to recover between spurts. Aiden will be waiting on the outside to get people to a safe exit.”

 “When?” Tegan whispered, staring at Aiden desperately from behind a wall that suddenly felt too thick; too constricting. “When will you come for us?”

 “And why the fuck can’t you just take us now?” Helena snapped. Her question was answered by the distant barking of dogs and splash of hard-soled feet through water. Shifting sharply in place, Tegan turned as Kaelan backed off into the darkness once more, vanishing into the rain. Aiden started to pull away as well, but Tegan snagged his hand through the barbed wire fence and stared at him. Gold met brown and faded to bruise-colored blue as Tegan forced a trembling smile to his lips. Aiden, squeezing his fingers, returned the expression just as shakily.

 “Promise you’ll come back for me.”

 “Who’s out there?”

"Aiden, we have to go," Kaelan snapped from nearby in a hiss of frantic concern. Aiden glanced worriedly between the gloom and his lover, trapped in time behind the wired fence. Desperately, Tegan clenched the links and fingers between them and swallowed hard.

“Aiden, please just promise.”

 “I promise,” Aiden whispered hoarsely, blinking away the rain that had gathered around his dark lashes. The crunch of boots on concrete was getting nearer. His fingers squeezed Tegan’s own and retreated, sliding away into the muddy darkness once more. “I ain’ leavin’ you behind Tegan. I promise, sonly temporary…” His voice drifted off into the fog as Helena, heels clacking, withdrew in the opposite direction down an alleyway.

Tegan, left alone in the rain, stared out through the fence and slowly wound his fingers through the fence links. The stray. Always the stray that the pound debated between killing or feeling sorry for. His fingers tightened slightly at the thought and quivering lips pulled themselves into a hard, thin line. Barking dogs and skidding claws on cracked concrete could not pull the chemist’s focus from that fading voice.

 “It’s all only temporary after all,” Tegan whispered, and felt the sharp sting of the electric buzz in his back from a tazer, mind blanking from the interlude of pleasant thoughts to an all-encompassing darkness that had naught to do with the rain. His heavy-limbed body hit the ground and the police force swarmed to surround the special; the “gifted”--
 
The cursed.
 
 Night sticks reigned and the night rained, and everything ran back to normality in the ghetto gutters.

Comments

...I feel my heart breaking.
The interaction between Tegan and Helena made me smile and laugh so much - and the interaction between Tegan and Aiden broke my heart so cleanly it's painful. I could /feel/ Tegan's desperation - could /hear/ Aiden as he worried over Tegan. I could feel Helena's dropping optimism, could sense the desperate hold Tegan kept on his own slipping hopes. Kaelan here, also - quick and blunt, no fancy words to hide behind anymore.
This was painful and beautiful and your world is amazing. It kills me inside, but it is /amazing/, and I love reading about it so much I could cry.
;A; Aigan. And Telena and it was all just beautiful and lovely and heartbreaking. ;A; AndyouwroteAidenperfectlyanditwaswonderful even if my heart broke for them. Ohmygoodness.