((GMing approved by Rockythetiger))
Aidan’s face was plastered with a grimace. Every slimy little movement that Gene took, made Aidan’s skin crawl. His mere existence felt like a cascade of cockroaches hissing and violently scurrying up the small of Aidan’s back. Gene’s words were painful, shrill hisses that agitated as the crawled into his head. No matter how much fortitude he could fake, Aidan couldn’t shake of the figurative cockroaches and they violated his flesh with their insidious, vile, scurrying. Aidan’s body was tense, feeling every inch of Gene’s prescence crawl across his flesh with itch provoking, rapid strides, but his face could only show rage.
Aidan wanted to lash out. To fire back at him with the righteous fury that was becoming and fitting of him. But Aidan restained himself. It wasn’t for camera presence, or for some fleeting concept of vanity. But he needed to know something. Why?
“I didn’t steal anything. You should consider the paltry amount we took from you, asshole tax.” Aidan tried to sound confident, secure. Certainly he should be. He was the one with the gun here, while Satan himself was armed only with a pink pogo stick. If Aidan could have watched this moment from across the screen, he might have found it funny. Aidan wasn’t in a laughing mood.
“I’m surprised you care enough. Yes. Laura’s fine. Still with me, in fact. Still with us.
She’s doing a lot better than I can say you will.” Aidan didn’t need to explain himself. An approaching step, gun held at a stiff mast towards Gene’s chest spoke volumes. The boy had proven himself to be a killer already. Any hesitation would just delay what needed to be done. He didn’t need his dad to tell him that. He didn’t need Dr. Warren to tell him that. He didn’t need the captive audience shouting at their televisions right now to tell him that. Gene Steward was a cancer that needed to be removed.
“Yeah. I’ve heard. You pushed that poor girl down a flight of stairs.” The poor thing died such an unnecessary, morbid death. Without any explanation other than that she was “good at surviving.” The way his words flowed so eloquently was truly haunting. How could he talk about another human being like she was so insignificant? The building they were in was completely insulated, a bit stuffy actually. Yet all Aidan could feel was that cold chill on his nape.
“You know, I always thought you were a bad actor. You were always too stiff, too committed. It always seemed like an act with you.” Aidan took another step closer. The tip of the rifle practically within a short rush to Gene’s chest. “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe you were fucked since day one. Were you always this type of person? Someone with so much hate, so much ugly inside? People don’t just kill with such… such a…blasé attitude about this.”
He was a monster. Gene Steward. Mediocre actor, wallflower and deserter, was actually the most cunning, cold-hearted cockroach. There was something inhuman about him. He spoke about death and pain as if they were inconsequential factors that ultimately amounted to nothing. As if Valerie had no family to return to. As if Laura and Aidan were in the wrong for trying to defend themselves.
Aidan should have shot him dead then and there. He almost did. His finger flirted with the thin metal trigger. Aidan didn’t have time to read the manual in full, but how hard could it really be. Just pull the trigger a couple times, and Gene Steward would be dead. Valerie’s parents would have closure, and Aidan would be a hero for stopping such a cold blooded monster. But he had to continue.
“You’re lying.” Aidan’s immediate gut reaction snapped forward. There was absolutely no way that Gene could have hurt Will. Aidan ran as fast as he could. He was going to be there in time to stop Gene. He made a promise the second he heard Will’s name called directly after his in homeroom. Aidan was going to get him out of there. Somehow, they’d escape together. It didn’t make sense logistically, but in his head, it was clear as day. Gene tried to complicate it with a twisted, sadistic lie, but Aidan couldn’t be fooled. “Maybe I was wrong about you. That’s a damned sad little lie.”
There was that voice. A voice spoke softly, yet completely outweighed any drivel that Gene could spew out. It would have been a comforting, familiar voice, but it had an unnerving tone. Aidan’s head whipped around in the direction that it came from.
Bella Bianchi was a seemingly unapproachable beauty. She stood proud, svelte, and intimidatingly quiet. Anyone who didn’t know her might have some preventative guards around her. Anyone who didn’t know her was a damn idiot, as far as Aidan could judge. Bella was unshakably loyal, kindhearted, sweet. If Aidan had days to think on it, even then he couldn’t remember seeing her look so solemn and broken. Not like this.
Everything clicked. Bella’s tears. Will’s cries. Gene’s malicious lies. No. Truths. Gene wasn’t lying. Aidan wasn’t quick enough. Aidan could have dwelled on the implications of what this realization meant. There was so much blood. Will couldn’t. No. He couldn’t be dead. Not after Aidan had gotten so close. Fate couldn’t be that cruel, right? To give him his friend, only to yank every small fledgling of hope out from under him?
He didn’t get the time to think about it, as that unintimidating pogo stick launched right towards his face. Aidan’s reflexive blink couldn’t stop the stick from flying full force towards his jaw.
Aidan faltered. His gun was drawn upwards, away from any discernable target. Before Aidan could even contemplate developing a semblance of attack, a hand grappled with the gun. Aidan tried in a meager attempt to bring it down, but Gene’s weight pressed it up and away. Aidan struggled to regain the grasp on the gun, grapping at the tender trigger.
Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.
Aidan indiscriminately fired four shot into the ceiling as he struggled to regain control. Blows were traded to quickly. Aidan was taking a brunt of a beating. The pogo stick found its way on the floor almost as quickly as it had drawn that horrendous copper taste in Aidan’s mouth. Flurries were matched, striking Aidan square in the ribs, right on his chest, lower onto his gut, and a well placed stomp on Aidan’s boat shoes.
After the third volley of blows, Aidan could hear Bella’s shuttering voice. Sorry Bella. Aidan loved you dearly, but this was a fight that needed to happen. Aidan needed to be able to do this.
Without hesitation, Aidan jostled the gun sharply upwards, away from Gene’s scrambling grasp. As soon as it was drawn up, it clattered to the ground. Aidan instinctively turned to retrieve it, only for Gene to take the undefended opportunity, sharply striking Aidan on his hip. Aidan couldn’t get to his gun, but by no means did that make him powerless.
The boys faces drew close together as Gene went on the offense. Aidan didn’t have some calculating plan of attack as his hands contorted in Gene’s wild hair. He didn’t think to sharply tug and tear at the strands, ripping scalp away with each violent jolt through his arm. He certainly didn’t think about capitalizing on their proximity, as his teeth sunk into the apple of Gene’s cheek. With a malicious jerk of his head, Aidan liberated his snarling jaws away from Gene, tender, bloodied flesh still coating his lips.
As a parting grace, Aidan fired an unexpected shot right to Gene’s temple. The boy contorted inhumanly. Aidan was no boxer. Consciously, he was absent throughout the altercation. His thoughts were fixed solely on Will. If Gene had seriously hurt him, so help him God. Aidan would make it hurt.
Gene was stunned, giving Aidan just enough time to scramble wildly across the floor towards his rifile. Without missing a beat, Aidan’s legs propelled him to his gun. His weapon made an audible cut through the air as Aidan whipped it back in the direction of Gene.
Gene had spend the entire last day trying to make a name for himself in this game. He played just like they’d wanted him to. He’d been the perfect little cog in the grand, televised machine that broadcasted their sensationalized murders. He was the perfect piece. None of this was real to him. Every motion, every heartbreak, was this unimportant consequence of him getting through this game. Gene stood a good couple feet away from Aidan’s unshaking steady grasp. The gun once again found it’s home securely fixated on Gene’s chest.