(Mizore Soryu and Julian Avery continued from That Morse Code Thread
Raidon. Bleeding. In the swamp.
No. No, no, no, no, no.
He was slumped over in the water, and Mizore's thoughts were twisted and swampy and black; terrible anger at him and incredible terror that he was dead.
Knife boy, she had seen. Knife boy was dead, half-sunk into the water, too much blood in a pool around him for Mizore to entertain the idea he was alive. She hadn't been able to bring herself to flip him over, and she hadn't been able to bring herself to mourn.
But to Raidon, she rushed over, splashing through the water. The knife floated near him. She paused once, to pick it up and throw it hard towards the trees.
He wasn't dead. She could hear him breathing, ragged and shallow.
She didn't say it out loud.
She picked up his head, brushing back his hair. His forehead was hot, beads of sweat clustering on her hand. He looked up at her and she wanted, suddenly, very very badly, to kiss him on the forehead.
Can't have that.
She pushed him up, supporting his head, supporting his chest. He gasped, coughed hard, and began breathing easier.
She leaned him against a tree. He tried to say something, mouth something, but no words came out. She didn't care. He had nothing to say.
Then she took his gun.
It wasn't difficult, although it involved a certain amount of ruthlessness on her part. She pulled on it, from his hands, and he clung to it like a sick kid to a teddy bear. White-knuckled. This wouldn't do.
Her first aid kit had alcohol wipes inside. She used one to sanitize her right hand, making sure to get the dirt out from under her nails. She made sure everything was spotless.
Then she pushed her hand into the wound in his shoulder, as deep as she could go.
The reaction was immediate. He seized up, tried to scream, but his throat wouldn't make it. Instead he breathed out, spasmed forward, but she pushed him back, away from her, and on his gun hand, his fingers went slack, and she took the pistol. Easy-peasy.
His face was red. She suddenly wanted to slap him, very, very hard. Even went so far as to bring her hand back.
But no. That made no rational sense. That was petty.
He didn't betray you. Stop acting like this.
Somehow, figuring out how to open the gun was easy. Clips and rounds, she knew these things. They were pedestrian fixtures of movies. Comic books.
She could peel the bullets out of a gun.
Clips of seven. She dropped the bullets in the water. A pile of metal beads under the murk. She stirred with her hand until they seemed scattered.
One bullet left now.
Julian would come. Raidon had started shooting. No sane man would let him live. No man who's made it his mission to kill the killers would let him take another shot at this.
One bullet for Raidon then. For Maxwell Lombardi, maybe, in Raidon's mind, if he could aim well enough. Really, though, it was so Julian couldn't shoot him. Wouldn't shoot him. Mutually assured destruction.
A stupid plan. But Mizore couldn't think of any better.
One bullet left for Raidon's gun.
It made her sick.
Raidon was still awake. He was amazing. He should have passed out from the pain. He wasn't using his energy talking anymore; he wasn't a fool. He was watching her.
She had taken the bullet out of the clip. Bullet, clip and gun. She held them in her palms now, at Raidon's eye level. Best not to make him work.
"I'm giving you one bullet. You say you want to kill Maxwell Lombardi? You've had a lot of practice. One should be enough." She couldn't keep the nasty edge out of her voice. "Until then--watch who you shoot."
And she lifted his head as he tried to say something, because now, perhaps, he had something to say.
A snapped twig. A crack in the thicket. Mizore nearly dropped the gun, turned, stood, her leg throbbing. No more killing today.
Julian was standing there, cold disbelief and disapproval on his face.
"So we're giving him another bullet now. That's what we're doing."
Something like disgust in his voice. Mizore, tense and annoyed, couldn't help but imitate his tone. "Yes."
That was the wrong answer, the wrong way of saying it. They were injured. Julian had been their ally. She couldn't afford to alienate Julian now. Julian would shoot them both, or leave them to die in the swamp. She shivered.
"Really. We just saw what happens when he has bullets." Julian's tone of voice hadn't changed. Why would it?
You really think I'm going to leave him without a fucking deterrent when you're around? You'll kill him if he's helpless. It's your fucking moral duty.
Her voice was sharp-edged, brittle. "You two seem to have your brilliant plan of killing Maxwell. Shouldn't I give him a chance as well? Or do you just want me to turn him over to you without a chance of--"
And Julian stepped toward her, and he was much bigger than her, and much less injured, and Mizore would have fought him then and there if he had tried to get through her, because Raidon's not going to die today.
But he spoke instead, right over her words, and his anger matched hers.
"Shut up. There's no plan, there was never any plan, and you fucking know it. This was about keeping him from killing anyone else, and it didn't work--"
"So what are you going to do now? Kill him?" Adrenaline and anger let Mizore stand without flinching.
Voice over hers, but more level this time. "I had a clean shot at his head while you were fucking around with his gun. I didn't take it."
She wanted to cough. "Why not?"
"Because someone told me not to kill people, and I listened."
"Will you continue to listen?"
That was unexpected.
Tactics, Mizore. He's doing this to get under your skin. He knows this is what you want. He knows and he knows and how could he not kill Raidon right now? Raidon just killed another person. Unprovoked.
No sane man would not want him dead.
Raidon had fallen unconscious now, finally. He looked gentle that way, asleep.
She turned to Julian.
"The rest of the rounds for this gun are gone, unless you decides you're going to go digging around in the swamp; I don't think he's capable of it. If he's careful, you get your plan, he and you kill Maxwell Lombardi. If he panics, he shoots at the first person we see, he'll miss with this kind of fuckery on his shoulder. And if he panics, you'll have plenty of chance to kill him."
She didn't like playing games with other people's lives like this. It was cold. It was based on too much she couldn't control, the probability that Raidon couldn't repeat what he did to knife boy with a fucked-up shoulder, the probability that he was even capable of not being terrified of every living person they happened to bump into. The probability that Julian wouldn't just shoot them both now, in disgust, his clever words aside.
He waited. For a long time. When he spoke, his words were cold with loathing.
"You're not. Fucking. Listening."
Pause. He licked his lips, then continued speaking. "All due respect, I don't think he's really capable of being careful right now. You wanna tell me killing Roland was part of some rational master plan, I'mma call bullshit on that. I've seen him kill twice now. Both times were sudden. They were instinct. They were for no fucking reason. You give him another bullet, you are literally throwing another innocent person's life away. Unless you wanna bet that we don't stumble into anyone else who looks at him funny till we find Max."
"Then what do you suggest I do?"
Julian looked pained. Then he exhaled, and held out his hand. "Give me the gun."
"What are you going to do with it?"
"Haven't thought that far ahead yet." He sighed, seemed to realize how that sounded. "Not gonna shoot him with it." Sighed again. "Not gonna shoot him with my other gun either."
"Please think that far ahead. I will sit here as long as necessary. Given that Naoko is injured, I suspect he will too."
Julian's words exploded from his lips. "Fuck, I dunno. Maybe give it to someone who'd only use it in self-defense." Shrug. "Maybe throw it into the water. Or maybe you can just cut out the middleman and do that yourself."
He looked at her. Pointedly. Not falling for it.
Narrowed eyes. "And then how am I to keep you from shooting Naoko as soon as I turn my back? I have seen him more than once on this island. I trust his ability to be pragmatic
more than your ability to forgo doing something that--that if I gave you the gun would be both gainful and moral."
A few seconds of silence.
"You're pathetic. I can't wait to hear who he kills next."
And he turned.
And he walked away.
She didn't want Julian to leave. She was injured, Raidon was injured. That wasn't the reason. She didn't want Julian to leave. If she could keep Julian here, that meant she was right. That meant she was doing the right thing. She wasn't supporting Naoko blindly because you're in love with him like a crazy person, you've gone cracked on this island, you're clinging to the one person you shouldn't be clinging to, some pacifist you are--
But Julian was leaving.
And she started to cry.
She could hear noises behind her. He had stopped. He was kicking a nearby rock. "Fuck!"
And he turned around and Mizore could see him, and he really did look pained now. "I'm sorry."
was sorry? She wasn't doing something right. She wasn't sure what the right thing was, yeah, but she likely wasn't doing it, she was likely displaying bad judgement, irrationality, the odd strainings of a cracked mind. And she didn't feel very good about herself anymore.
And she told that to Julian. "What? You're right." She scraped her arm over her eyes. Weeping sucked. "I'm just trying to make--make the least people dead, okay? And I don't want you--I don't want you killing him. I don't want--I don't want--he saved my life. Maybe I feel like he doesn't deserve to be shot by someone of the likes of you. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm absolutely pathetic, and deluding myself beyond--beyond all rational human belief. Just leave, leave, okay? Leave!"
And Julian wasn't shouting over her, but his words were damn close. "Listen to me, LISTEN to me. I am NOT gonna kill him. It's taking everything I have right now to not just shoot him dead right now, but I'm doing it. And if he doesn't get his gun back, it'll get a lot easier. Mizore. Please. Just give me the - fuck it, just throw it away yourself. I don't even want the damn thing."
It's taking everything I have right now not to just shoot him dead right now, but I'm doing it.
That kind of resolve, she could appreciate.
And she needed Julian on her side right now. They needed Julian on their side. Raidon, when he woke up--it would be better if Julian was there.
Mizore hardened her face.
Then, undramatically, she tossed the bullet to Julian. Underhand.
"There. No more bullets. Happy now?"
Julian nodded. He seemed to be staring at the metal. Good for him.
She put the gun back on top of unconscious Raidon. "He can use it to scare somebody when he wakes up."
Injuries. He was sinking deeper into the water. She pulled him up, then put a hand on his forehead. It was still burning.
"Let's go to the infirmary. There'll be things for my legs there, and his injuries. And we're as likely to find Mr. Lombardi there as anywhere else."
Julian saluted his assent.
So I guess I'm party leader now. Weird.
She flipped out her first aid kit, started cleaning Raidon's shoulder. He was floppy when he was unconscious, not so much deadweight as rag doll. Julian came over and put his bag, her bag over his shoulder. Good man.
She spoke up. "So. What happens if I ask you now to surrender all your bullets but one?" She wondered if she should be surprised that she could speak to him in a friendly tone after her defensiveness earlier, and decided she was not. Anyway, she was trying to get something from him. "They won't defend you. They just kill others. And right now, the only other to kill is him, which I'm trying to prevent."
Pausethink. "Or me. But that would be pointless."
Trying to explain. "If you want to go into Lombardi's hideout with a full clip or seven, relatively fine by me. But until then--" How to say this? "--I want to be able to sleep tonight."
Julian's response was a little too fast. "Fine. When we're making camp for the night, you get the gun. You can put it wherever you like. In your bag. In your clothes. In a hole in the ground. Nobody needs to worry about getting shot in their sleep. In the morning, I get it back again."
"Why do you need it back?"
Julian sighed, snorted. Looked at Mizore like she was naive. "Because if you think one bullet is enough for a firefight, or if you think we're gonna have time for you to hand me back the ammo if we happen to run into Max or whoever else wants to pick a fight with us, you're not being very realistic."
Julian had perhaps put himself at a major disadvantage by letting Mizore get comfortable with him, Mizore reflected. At the very least, it allowed her to speak honestly. And pissily.
"You think you can defend yourself with a gun, then? Or you think we'll come on Maxwell by surprise? Because if the latter is the case, perhaps I should start trawling the swamp for Raidon's bullets. I wouldn't want him to go undefended either." She winced. That hadn't come out right. Or rather, that had come out nastily sarcastic, which wasn't wise.
Time to come straight with him. "Julian. I can't trust you. I'm sorry. I'm tired. I'm injured. You could shoot him a thousand times during the day. You could shoot him whilst I'm limping. You know he's helpless. I could do nothing to stop you. Please
Look at him. Look at him. Don't turn away. Look at him. If he shoots you now, if he shoots Raidon now, you're going to be looking at him. You're going to face the consequences of your decision. You're going to face being wrong
She wasn't wrong.
It took him a while. But he took the gun out, checked that the safety was on, and finally tossed it to her.
"Don't do any bullshit where you take bullets out. Just don't. It's a stupid fucking idea that ain't gonna do anything but get us killed. And if we see Max, or we see someone who's maybe gonna try and take us down, you give it back to me. That's me. Not Raidon, not keeping it for yourself." He sniffed. "How's that for trust?"
Mizore was pathetically grateful. Not that she was going to say
that, of course. But she did let a smile show up. "Thank--thank you." She wiped her nose with her wrist. No use dripping all over the swamp. "And I understand. About the gun thing."
God, how can I approve of that?
Maybe she didn't. But relief was a powerful force.
And Julian scooped Raidon up in his arms. "Let's go."
(Mizore Soryu, Julian Avery and Naoko Raidon continued in Riddles Of Monsters
(All GMing approved)