Alex wandered through the night across mansion grounds. From the woods to the tunnel entrance, down to the beach and back outside the Mansion. Every where he went, he marked down the broken cameras on his map. All throughout the night, he wandered and kept to himself. Left alone with his thoughts the entire time. At least, he hoped he was alone. Out in the dark there, where he couldn't see. Behind the trees and in the shadows, where he couldn't see.
"It really is lonely out here."
Alex muttered to himself, making camp there in a place he knew was on the grid. There was no reason to make the operators mad by remaining where they couldn't see him. He certainly didn't want to risk his life by crossing Danya. Not yet at least. No, he would follow the rules. He would follow all of them, for as long as he could stand to. There wasn't any other choice in the matter, really. He either followed the rules or he died, simple as that. Follow the rules and you can survive. Break them and you die. That's the way it was.
"Still no sign of anyone else and it's damn near morning."
The fire was warm and the sticks he'd gathered were sturdy enough. He just needed a way to sharpen them. The rocks weren't going to be enough to bring them down to points, and there was no point in throwing a dull stick at someone. No, he would need a proper blade to turn these stick into javelins, or at least a decent stone one. Heat the rocks and that'll change the way they break, that's what his Dad taught him. Get a couple of good hits in and you can get a decent edge out of most rocks. Good enough to cut skin, to shave off fur, or to use as a hand axe. Use it to cut good, healthy sapplings and you can use them to make a signal fire, or create shelter.
"I remember your lessons. Every one of them, going back to when we were still little and the teaching are more for Micheal's sake than it was for mine. It's a little fuzzy now but I'm sure I could figure something out."
Alex was talking again, speaking with his father as if he were there. He wished he was. Every time he woke up, he wished he was in camp with his father, waking up to a nice meal of freshly caught fish and pine needle tea. Or coffee, if he allowed it to come with. They would love it out here under any other circumstance, spending the week out here with the ocean all around them and plenty of time to spend together, talking and laughing and just enjoying themselves. They could fish in the rivers or maybe get a boat, go out and try their hand at fishing on the ocean. They'd love that, his family.
But he was alone.
"I really wish you were here. You and Micheal. I could use your help."
With a heavy sigh, Alex prodded the fire. Once again, he was left to sit and stare at the flames for who knows how long. Sitting there with his thoughts, in silence with nothing but the crackling fire until the announcements came about and for hours after. It was nice to sit and wait and rest, but it was a waste of time that he couldn't afford to waste. But despite that, he just sat there and waited. He listened as Danya called out more names and listed off the danger zones. He sat and waited for a few hours after the announcement came. Just sitting there, staring at the fire.
But not alone.
[Boy #61 - William Hearst. Continued from In Theory, This Should Be Easy.]
Will was done.
Weighed down by the three bags he was carrying, Will had been moving slowly through the woods, along the shoreline and toward one of his former campsites. Without realizing it, he had started to retrace his footsteps. He was going back to the places he visited with Tiffany, to the places they slept and the places they passed. Every one of them had some memory. Even now, as he took his focus off of the notebook in his hands, he remembered how they had run so far and so fast on all but empty stomachs. He shifted the notebook uneasily, trying to hold it with one hand that was already full.
She was dead, and Will blamed himself. If he hadn't put his gun away when he did, if he would have had it in his hand instead of in his backpack, maybe it would have gone differently. No, no. He shouldn't think about that. There was nothing he could do to help her, no matter what he thought. And it didn't do any good to think back on it and doubt himself. To think about what could have happened. If only, if only. Will shook his head. It wasn't going to help. He tried to focus on something else.
But the only other thing that came to mind was Aislyn.
Will watched two people die in his time on the island. That said nothing for how many corpses he'd seen, but just watching people die in front of him. Watching Tiffany and Aislyn alike bleed out before his very eyes. It was a sight he would always remember. Tiffany lying there in the dirt, lying in her blood. Aislyn tumbling off the docks and the blood in the water. And of course, the death he was responsible for. Trevor's corpse in the woods. That horrible scene and the events that caused it. Will shook his head again.
But nothing was working. The thoughts were still there. The images were still there.
On top of it all, William kept thinking back on the paranoia that had been driving his actions. Always holding the gun and always keeping an eye on the shadows, even when he had Tiffany at his side. Jumping at every little noise, like he had at the docks. Because of that, Kimberly had gotten away. He had to stop that. He had to relax. He had to trust in his own strength and the power he held to protect him and stop worrying about what was around every corner. Unless he ran in to a certain few people, he would have plenty of time to react. Plenty of time to pull the gun and end the threat.
But still he watched the shadows.
When the announcements came, Will was still walking that dreadful slow pace he'd been walking at for a while now. He listened and he wrote, he wondered at some of the names but one in particular struck him hard. Peter's name was called out again, and Colin's as well. But the shock of Peter outweighed the shock of Colin for the moment. Peter hadn't simply died, he'd gone off and killed again. Jessie Anderson fell foul of Peter Siu, huh? The way it was, it sounded as if Peter killed the girl in cold blood. Hell, he might have done just that for all Will knew.
Perhaps it was for the best that Will left them when he did. Maybe... maybe Tiffany was the only person he could trust. The only person.
He couldn't trust Peter. Hell, he doubted if he trusted him after they met. Will had been so uneasy around him and Eiko when they met on the street. Either he was silent or he said the wrong thing and caused awkward, uncomfortable silence in the whole group. It was just... strange, to run in to Peter when they did. But if he couldn't trust Peter, then who could he trust? Peter was the only one he had left, really. The only one who he'd actually found on the island. They were friends before all of this but still, Will couldn't trust him. It hurt to think about that though. If he couldn't trust Peter, who he was so close to before they came to this island, then who could he trust?
Maybe he couldn't trust anyone.
Maybe he would be better off dead, like Tiffany or Aislyn, like Trevor or Colin. Maybe it would be better that way, to leave everything behind and finally be free of this god forsaken island and Danya's nightmarish game. Maybe...
No, that wouldn't help anything.
Will had to survive. He just had to. He had to keep fighting and he had to make the people on this island pay for what they've done. But he couldn't hesitate any more. Aislyn died because he hesitated. Because he didn't react the moment Kimberly started acting strange. No, he had to act immediately when the signs appeared. He had to act, not react. Before anything happened, he needed to do what was necessary to stop it.
No giving up.
Survival at all costs.
Trust no one.
But... could he really do that?
...It can't be.
There, just ahead. A fire. A warm, crackling fire and a familiar face. But could he really be so lucky? Could it really be him? All this time, all this pain, just to find him at the eleventh hour? It... it couldn't. It just couldn't happen. This was... This was...
Will couldn't help it. After a week on this horrible island, dealing with death and pain at every turn, he finally found him. Peter wasn't the only he had left. No, there was someone else. Someone more. Someone who could save him from this place. Someone who was always so much stronger than he was.
It was really him.
It couldn't be, but it was. Earlier this week, Alex was obsessed with protecting him from everything that could happen on this island. Thinking that if he only did this or only did that, he could prevent the worst from happening. But then his name was called and Alex wasn't needed for protection, and Alex started to slip. And now there he was, standing not thirty feet away. An arrival at the eleventh hour, indeed. Alex had to rub his eyes and look again, but he didn't disappear.
It really was Will.
Things moved so quickly from there. Alex was up and alert and then they were in each others arms, and Will was crying and Alex was trying to quiet his partner from so long ago. And they stood like that for so long, just standing there and reveling in the moment they shared, a moment they had both been waiting so long for. A week spent on this island for each of them, with pain and death and loneliness all around them the entire time. But now it was over. It was finally over.
They had found each other. And everything would be okay.
It would have been the perfect, storybook ending to this nightmare. There in that grassy field with a flickering fire behind them, a moment in time that neither of them wished to end. Now would have been the time they woke up at home and put this all behind them. This terrible dream should have ended...
They sat by the fire and Will finally wiped the tears from his eyes, took a moment to compose himself. He had a lot to share and didn't know how much time they would have before they would be on the move again, and he wanted to share all he could. He told Alex about his first day on the island and they even laughed for a moment when he brought up Tiffany and her screaming of 'Zombie'. With his eyes locked on the ground, he told him about Trevor and that terrible morning when Everett's name was called. The tears came again but there was no shame in it, and they soon passed.
So much more was yet to be shared.
Will went on and on, about traveling across the island with Tiffany and things they saw, the things they went through together. The night by the sea and the night in the woods, their nights by the fire as they talked and confided in each other. How silly Will felt when Tiffany brought up her feelings toward Peter and how embarrassed he was to have even hinted at his own. The things that seemed so normal when they were back in school, rendered so strange and awkward there on the island. He talked about the close calls they had and the fear he felt when he heard his collar start beeping that morning, how he ran so far and so fast to escape it.
And yet, there was still more to be shared.
Will got to the day in the town and their trip to the swamp as a group. What happened with Tiffany and Brook, and how he reacted. How he took a pretty hard knock to the head and then Brook was gone and Jason was taking off, unscathed for the most part. When he brought up how badly he wanted to kill Jason, Alex paid attention. When he talked about the anger and the rage he felt whenever he thought of Jason, Alex paid attention. Alex paid attention to a lot of things, but to hear William talk of murder and rage... it was different.
William had changed so much.
But still, there was more to be shared.
Alex held his tongue and listened on and on as William spoke, enjoying friendly company for once and forgetting all about the paranoia he once held toward every person on the island and every sound outside of sight. When it came turn for him to speak, he spoke his fair share. When it was time for him to listen, he kept quiet and listened to every word that William had to say. Even here on the island, they had something in common. The fear they felt since they woke up here. The paranoia that drove their actions.
Alex didn't expect him to say that. Even after everything that had happened, he didn't expect that. For William to come to such a conclusion...
"Do you really mean that?"
"What about Peter?"
Alex knew Peter. Probably not as well as Will did, but well enough. He also knew that Peter had killed twice already, and neither one of them sounded as if they were mere accidents. Hell, he found that boy, Lucas. Not too far away, in fact. That wasn't an accident. No, his throat was slit from ear to fucking ear. You couldn't say that was an accident. Trevor was an accident. Lucas was murder.
"He's killed twice now. Should he pay for it as well?"
How could he trust Will with that gun he held so tight?
"Will? May I have the gun?"
So this is what it came down to?
Alex stood up from where he had been sitting this entire time, listening as Will prattled on and chiming in only when it was necessary. He stood up and he looked down on Will and he demanded the gun, his hand held out. But Will couldn't just let the gun out of his sight. He couldn't just hand it over, just like that. He promised that he wouldn't let it go again. If he let it go, something bad might happen again. If he let the gun go, someone would die. He knew it. When he let the gun go last time, Tiffany died. He watched her bleed to death. He couldn't let it go.
"I'm sorry, Alex. I promised that I wouldn't let it go... you understand, right?"
"I can't. I need it... you know I need it. Brook and Jason... they have to pay. I need it to make them pay for what they did. I need it to make Kimberly pay for what she's done. I need it to protect myself. You know we can't trust anyone out here, I can't defend myself any other way."
Will tried to explain why he needed the gun. Tried to reiterate the points he brought up earlier. Taking revenge on Brook and Jason for Tiffany, on Kimberly for Aislyn. Protecting himself from everyone else on the island. Protecting himself from the people he couldn't trust anymore, like Peter. But still, Alex wanted the gun. Alex kept insisting. But Will just kept backing away, holding it close and holding it tight. Nothing he said seemed to change Alex's mind. Why did this have to happen? He was supposed to be able to trust Alex. But it seems he should have followed the rules. Don't trust anyone. Not even those closest to you.
Will held the gun up in front of him, not quite believing that he was actually aiming it at Alex. His hands were shaking and his breath kept catching in his throat, but he still held the gun out, aiming it at Alex. It was the only thing he could think of. The only way he could keep safe. But even with his finger on the trigger, Alex didn't stop.
With his eyes shut tight, Will pulled the trigger.
He didn't mean to hit Alex. He didn't want to hurt him... he just wanted it to stop. He wanted all of it to stop.
The moment he heard the gunshot, Alex was on Will. He didn't wait and he didn't hesitate. He was alive and he would make that little bastard pay for shooting at him! After all he'd done to try and protect that fucker, and how does he get repaid? With a bullet! Fuck that! Fuck him! Before he knew it, Alex was on Will. The second gunshot barely registered when he tackled the other boy, grabbing at his wrist and trying to wrestle the gun from Will's grasp. Slamming his hand against a rock. Again, and again.
Will screamed and the gun slid just out of reach. Punch after punch and hit after hit, Alex took out his anger and frustration on the boy. Every blow they traded was another dose of fuel for the fire and soon enough, Alex was done with holding back. His blows were heavier, delivered with more force. He'd opened the cuts on his knuckles, but there was already blood on his hands before that. All this over a gun. All this because they couldn't trust each other. But it was too late to go back. That plastic shiv, the one he'd made out of his toothbrush, was sticking out of Will's chest. He didn't know when it got there but didn't care anymore. He just needed to keep Will from getting the gun.
Will struck back hard. Took the opening it afforded him.
For a moment, it registered in his mind that he was holding the glass shiv. But just like that, the moment passed and he wasn't holding anything... but now there was blood.
So much blood.
And the knife was sticking out of Will's neck.
He didn't mean...
He didn't want to...
What... what did he do?
"No no no no no no no no no."
Soon enough, his words were nothing short of hysterical as he stared down at Will, at what he'd done. It wasn't supposed to happen. Not like this. Not here. He wasn't supposed to do this. They... they weren't supposed to be fighting. What did he do? What did he do?!
Heat of the moment.
He couldn't stop it.
It wasn't his fault.
But he did.
"Oh god... I... I..."
This is how it goes.
Will had spent a week there on the island. He'd probably traveled across the entire island and back with Tiffany. Occasionally, they were actually going somewhere. But most of the time, they didn't have anywhere to go. They still traveled though. They were always on the move, always making camp somewhere different every night. They tried to make the best of their situation while they could, and they tried to hope for the best. They talked about getting off this island, about finding Peter and Alex and everyone else and finding a way out of this game.
Everything was going to be alright.
Oh god, it hurt. It hurt to talk. It hurt to breath. He tried to gasp but it just made the taste of metal worse. He didn't recognize his own voice. He could barely see. But he knew Alex was there. He could hear him. Funny... he never heard him act that way. In all the time they knew each other, he'd never actually seen Alex cry. But that doesn't seem to have changed. He could hear him, but seeing was hard. Everything was kind of... hazy.
"Promise me... for Tiffany."
Why was he bringing that up? At a time like this, no less. Funny, the things you think about. The island was first. The past few days and their events. They were the most important. Later, the time they spent together at school. Being stood up at prom when they never really had plans, but making the best of it. Silly little things. Could he have more time to spend with them? No... no, he couldn't. He had to be leaving soon.
How much longer?
Oh god, it hurt to breath. But it hurt to cough so much more.
Was Alex even listening? Probably. He hoped, at least. It hurt to breath, and it hurt to talk, but it hurt more to stay silent now. He had so much to say in so little time. But no matter how much he commanded it to, his body refused to respond as well as he wanted it to. There just wasn't enough strength left, and what little there was... well, it was slipping away fast. Will never was the strong one.
How much longer?
Such a horrid taste. Hopefully, he'll never have that taste in his mouth again. Hopefully he'll never have to be on an island again either. All that salt water and all the wandering through woods. Sure, it was nice... but it was a pain. At least his legs weren't sore anymore. Nothing was. It was kind of nice. A welcome reprieve.
Seems kind of strange, holding his hand now. He could barely feel it, but he knew it was happening. How he wished for one more night. Could he have one more night, just one? Under the stars and by the fire, a night to call their own? No... no, he couldn't have one more night.
How much longer?
I love you.
I still love you.
I forgive you...
I want you to survive.
I want you to keep fighting.
Promise me, okay?
Boy #61 - William Hearst. Deceased.
That... that's it?
What was he going to say?
What was he going to say?
Alex grabbed Will by the shoulders, tight as he could, tried to wake him.
"Not now! You can't just... you can't..."
Again and again, he shook him. Tried to wake him from that sleep.
"You're stronger than this!"
Again and again.
"You can't just give up."
"You can't just leave me."
He couldn't hold on anymore. He couldn't keep shaking. He had to let go.
"You can't... You just can't."
But he did. And it was Alex's fault. He did this. He was the reason Will was dead. It was his fault. His and his alone. Protect the ones he loved, isn't that what he said the other day? He was doing this to protect the ones he loved. His friends. But he didn't protect Will. He killed Will. If it wasn't for him, Will would still be alive. If it wasn't for him, he would still have someone to protect.
It was his fault.
But sorry would never be good enough.
"I promise. I promise you everything. I just... I'm sorry."
It would never be enough. But still, he said it. He said it and he stayed by Will's side, reluctant to leave. He was alone now, just as he was before. Alone with his thoughts and his guilt. Alone with his actions and the consequences. Nothing he did or said would bring Will back, but that didn't stop him from trying. Sitting there alone, he had plenty of time to tell Will how he felt. Apologize for the things he'd done and the secrets he'd kept. He made promises that he knew he probably wouldn't be able to keep, and told him his reasons for fighting as long as he had.
But it was never enough.
Alex was alone.
But not alone.
He didn't hear her approach.