Somewhere far away, probably, a young woman of twenty-one was screaming her head off so loudly she very nearly missed the ring of her phone. She resolved to ignore it when she chanced to spot the name on the caller ID.
"MAMA!" she shrieked into the phone, not a single decibel lower than she'd been screaming before. Sylvie Morin had a flair for the dramatic much like Vivien himself, and poor mama Marie was momentarily deafened in one ear. Marie Morin did not watch Survival of the Fittest, she refused to bear witness to the depravity of children, but she did call for the occasional update from Sylvie, who wanted to be the first to know if- and if she would admit it to herself, when- she would lose her baby brother. He'd handled most of Survival of the Fittest with a certain self-confidence and panache that most people, including herself, would never manage- particularly with regards to fashion sense. And she was right there with him crying when he'd discovered Carol and found out about Aislyn.
"Mama...Vivi, he- no, no, he's not dead, but not- I mean, it can't be much longer, there's so much blood- I CAN'T! No, mama, I can't, I really can't ex- what do you mean, what do you mean? I just said- turn on your TV if you need to know, I really-"
Sylvie was crying again. Sylvie cried a lot, to the point where it almost seemed insulting to be crying over something that seemed to demand something more.
"Mama...no, don't turn on the TV, don't watch, Vivi wouldn't want...No, mama. Yes. Yes, mama, I'll come home. I promise. Just don't- promise me you won't-"
Don't watch this. Please, don't watch this.
There are no words for this.
Vivien couldn't find the words for it either, not like he was thinking in words anymore, not that there was room to think around his writhing body and the shrieks ripping through his throat and the dark, suffocating pain radiating upwards from between his legs. His arms thrashed completely out of his control while he tried to cover himself back up with white noise, absolutely hating himself for his moment of weakness, for allowing himself to come back to the garden just in time for this.
The only words were screaming, mind-numbing agony but that wasn't enough, either.
There's a grief that can't be spoken. There's a pain goes on and on.
A lyric from a song otherwise completely inappropriate for the situation went swirling through his head in a way that made him dizzy. Thinking of musical lyrics at a time like this! He couldn't even remember the next line. It all seemed so wrong in the mind of the person who wasn't, could no longer be Vivien Morin.
"If you wanted to be a girl, Vivien, you could have just ASKED!"
Botched communications. that was what it was, botched communications because Vivien didn't want this. Well, obviously he didn't want to be bleeding out on the dirt ground, but that was so besides the point. Everyone made assumptions about Vivien, his whole life. It was something he knew he'd have to get used to since not even adults who should know better, he thought, would taunt him or make inappropriate remarks or at least not sit next to him on the bus. But honestly, his friends, his sister, his mother, anyone who knew him for real knew the truth.
Vivien didn't want to be a girl. Vivien wanted to be Vivien.
Why was that so difficult for people to understand? He was content. He was happy. He was absolutely different and unusual and unique and beyond anything else, that made him happy. He put up with the taunts, the mocking, the bullshit that came out of it because fuck it, fuck their prejudices and their ignorance and their goddamn stupidity, Vivien Morin was fabulous and utterly, totally himself.
And suddenly he wasn't. Not really.
Fuck you, Liam Brooks. Fuck you for thinking you know what I want. Fuck you for being just like them. Fuck you for all of this.
He wished he could control his flailing arms. He knew his chances of getting out of this alive were beyond zero and his chances of doing any serious injury to Brook were nearly as low, but really one good blow was all he wanted, a solid CRACK that would register as the boy's nose breaking. That would really feel good, right about now, because his overwhelming emotion, for one of the first times in his life, was anger. This wasn't fair. This wasn't fair and he wanted Brook to fucking pay for his assumptions and his prejudices and the sick joy he was clearly taking in all of this. Vivien usually took revenge with catty comments but now, for definitely the first time in his life, he wanted someone to hurt.
"You've lost so much blood, Vivien..."
It wasn't that he'd retreated again; he was kept squarely in his place and time by rage, but the other boy's voice still felt far away. He knew why, this time- his consciousness was fading. He felt the blood pooling under him, and he knew it was supposed to be warm but somehow it felt like nothing, like a lukewarm puddle of nothing. His screams were stopping, not because the pain had deadened even the slightest bit but because the constant shrieks were tearing his throat apart- in his final moments he was losing his voice, which was really shitty because Vivien would've loved to give Brook a piece of whatever remained of his mind. His arms had stopped twitching and lay useless at his sides, and he hated this body that had betrayed him, even if it wasn't his to hate anymore.
"I should probably hurry. You must be so weak, practically unable to move. That's okay... I'm going to need you to lay very still for this anyway, kay? I'm not good at this, not one bit, because I've never done it before, but we're gonna spice you up before you go away! ... Well, part of you. Your body is staying riiiiiight here!"
Part of him was more than happy to stay perfectly still. He was getting to be completely exhausted, what with the choking sounds that were all that was left to escape his throat and the rapid blood loss making every breath more and more of an effort. But one arm twitched in a pathetic effort, this need to make him hurt, this need for Brook to bleed and scream and cry, this rage burning through him. It was useless; his arms were as depleted as his legs.
He cracked open an eye- as sure as he was that whatever this was couldn't be good, he was still somewhat curious as to what the fuck Brook was talking about. He was quite surprised to see Brook rifling through his makeup bag. For a short moment all he felt was a quick burst of pleasure, the relieved feeling that maybe he wouldn't go to his death looking like...well, death. That pleasure was quickly dissipated by two thoughts.
Number one, there were things wrong with him that even makeup couldn't fix.
And number two, there was no way Brook had any idea how to put on makeup.
He held completely still. He could at least make this a little easier on the other boy, and though Vivien longed to make more attempts to make those arms that weren't his move, any movement at all would guarantee that he'd go to his death looking like a fucking clown. He did wish Brook hadn't picked eyeliner, though, that wasn't something you wanted in the hands of a beginner, and the boy's shaking hands were not going to make it any better. He tried not to blink- screwing his eyes back shut from pain would guarantee failure and probably piss Brook off, which would be all kinds of not good.
He took a moment to reflect, instead.
Who's going to miss me? Sylvie and Marie, naturally. He was near positive Sylvie would be watching this- she didn't watch it, as a rule, she couldn't stand violence or blood or icky things like that but she did love Vivien more than anything and he was sure she wouldn't miss a moment. Marie, he was less sure- she loved him just as much but she hated Survival of the Fittest. He'd watched it occasionally, mostly with Sylvie, but Marie wouldn't touch it.
He hoped beyond hope that she wasn't watching this right now, watching her little Vivi get turned into a monster. Sylvie could cope, maybe, but mama...
He wondered if they'd miss him at all, now that he wasn't himself.
Brook's hand was shaking more now, not that he really noticed.
That was pretty much it, he realized pathetically. His mama and his sister- he didn't know his extended family well enough to believe they'd give two fucks. And his friends? They were all seniors at Bayview Secondary School. Several of them- his Carol, his Aislyn- they were already dead. Others- Sammy, Sapphire, Claire - they'd be going in the near future, not that he'd be around to see it happen.
Empty chairs at empty tables, now my friends are dead and gone.
Right, that's the next line. How apropos.
Brook was shaking yet more and the look in his eyes suggested some sort of internal struggle. Good. Let him struggle. He wanted to spit in the boy's face, but there was no saliva left in his disturbingly dry mouth and besides, his makeup would be horrific enough as it wpop.
Somewhere far away, probably, a young woman of twenty-one's screams had only gotten louder.
Vivien himself, he could only throw his mouth open, choking and gurgling but unable to scream at the nuclear pain erupting from what was once an eyeball, the intense heat radiating from that spot while the rest of his body'd gone cold.
"Y-... You could have just cooperated..."
He sounded pathetic, pathetic, somewhere far away, the other end of a tunnel again. Something was wrong with him besides the obvious; he was upset for some reason, and there was some clarity about that that struck Vivien as a bad sign, even as the phantom limb of his dull right arm clutched at what was once an eye.
"But no... all of this just wasn't good enough for you, was it!? WAS IT!?"
Who the fuck was he talking to? The boy moved elsewhere, throwing a wave of panic through Vivien, who did not want to be left here alone to wallow in inexplicably cold blood, crying phantom tears and screaming phantom screams now that his body had betrayed him completely. But there was something in Brook's voice besides anger, rage, all of that- there was pain, there was pain there. Faint but there. Present and accounted for. He heard footsteps coming closer, and the smallest wry smile twitched onto his face.
He hadn't quite managed to break Brook's nose, but he'd made him hurt, and that was enough.
Well...not enough, but the best I could do, I think.
"V... Vivien...I have a present for you..."
He would've giggled, he really did have the urge to, but he couldn't get his mouth to make any more sounds. He settled for a silent goodnight, Sylvie as he closed his remaining eye.
And this time when something cracked, it was his face.
RANK 131TH [VIVIEN MORIN] - DEAD