Her response got a smile out of him, a genuine curve of the lip on the un-ruined side of his face. The touch, the non-violent skin-to-skin contact had him doubting his decision a little, hesitation making him pause, but she'd sat beside him, leaned against him, opened herself to him.
The SMG was a foot, maybe two away.
But he squeezed her hand, revelled in this moment for a second, treated himself to human emotion. He turned his head to face the top of hers, the tangled, matted hair that slithered and snaked around her skull in an unpredictable mess of tendrils, and pressed his mouth against it slightly, breathed deep. She smelled like sulphiric smoke and raw sweat, fire and blood.
He pursed ruined lips against scraggily scalp, leaned back, his free hand reaching slightly for the SMG, hesitating, hovering.
The way out, he decided. The only way out. She knew it as well as he did.
His free hand curled into a fist, the slight movement for the gun exhausting him, sapping his energy.
His eyes slid closed, the back of his head resting against the wood again as he gathered strength for that final, long stretch to freedom. Just a few moments more, and it would be over either way. But which way? Which one of them would be able to walk? Who would the barrel turn against in its final moments?
Either way, it was up to him.
It was all up to him.
"I wouldn't change anything," he said, his voice soft, contemplative as the sun slid behind the treeline, dusk becoming night, the world sliding into sleep in preparation for a new, irrevocably changed day.
"Not a goddamn thing."
Gather your strength, Hansel. Decide either way.
You can't be wrong.
Hansel died sixty seconds later, still deliberating.
This time, when the train car pulled up, he had made his choice. The bag sat soundly on the bench, splintering the concrete and digging a hole in the tile floor. He left his shirt, too, and his belt, neatly folded beside them, eagerly anticipating the arrival of his new life. His fingers shook with anticipation, the harsh light beaming onto his tanned skin, watching as he bounced lightly on the balls of his feet.
The train car made no noise as it slid smoothly into the station stop, and the boy in white stood at the train car doors, smiling at him as they slid open.
"Ready, I see."
He nodded, grinning, and took the boy in white's outstretched hand as the boy in white pulled him into the car. Suddenly, he was bathed in warmth - a soft, light glow that surrounded his body. On the car were dozens of people, smiling and waving at him, offering cheers and congratulations as he stepped into their circle, their hands caressing him, comforting him, consoling him.
He smiled into their grins, laughed into their mirth, as the train car doors slid closed. He closed his eyes, smiled at the ceiling as the train car started to move, their hands securing him among them, taking him amongst their number.
In the instant before the car slid on soundless wheels into the dark tunnel, in the moment before the world went black, his eyes opened.
Their smiles had turned sinister.
B067 - Hansel Williams: Deceased
1 Student Remaining