|loki laufeyson (toberuled) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2013-07-26 21:11:00
|Entry tags:||cheshire cat, loki|
Who: Lin and Louis
What: Lin stops Louis from doing something very stupid.
Where: Louis' apartment.
When: Immediately following Louis' meltdown on the journals.
Warnings/Rating: Theoretical violence?
Louis had his nose set by the doctor. While the doctor was out of the room, he soaked a few kleenexes with blood from his nose, drying crayon brick red on his fingers and the cotton, and he tapped on the tablet sitting on his knee with varying degrees of intensity.
By the time the doctor came in, Louis knew what he was going to do. It had come to him while he was talking to Sam, and while his sharp movements and erratic behavior had made the nurses nervous when he first came in, by the time the doctor arrived it had all dissolved. He was breathing slowly, and his heart had slowed down, and he was even able to keep still while the local was applied and his nose was set with a wrenching crack. A steri strip was applied over the bruise, and Louis was sent home half an hour later with a clean bill of health.
Louis hadn’t felt a calm like this in a very long time. Ages, really. There was no room for calm like this in his life, but this was the quiet place where everything slowed down and seemed sensible and right. It was a decision almost like finding one’s vocation, or staring down the barrel of fate. He had worked it out. He knew what it had all been for.
He took a cab home. It was late by then, and the city was lit up like Christmas lights on the perfectly manicured tree when he’d been young. He watched them stream by with blank attention, rapt, until the cab dropped him at his building.
Louis went up to the apartment. He didn’t realize he’d left the door unlocked, but even if he had, it didn’t occur to him that anyone might be waiting for him there. It was dark inside the main room, all the lights off except the one above the stove, casting a thin light against the closed curtains. His nose was a mess of spectacular purple bruising that was still red and fresh at the edges, but thankfully still numb enough that he barely felt the pain.
He moved through the living room with a singular purpose, until he reached the trunk that served as a coffee table in front of the television. Louis knelt down beside the trunk, tipped it gently open, and pulled out a small black case. From that case he removed a Walther P22 and a pack of magazines. Then he stood, tilting the gun to go about the business of loading it.
There was such a clamor. Lin’s heart kicked and screamed in his chest, a terrible racket of muscle on curved bone and valves fluting open and closed like teeth gnashing, cracking, demanding to be set free from this nonsense of a body that was constantly putting it through hell. Like, constantly. A light salting of sweat held close under the mess of black curls and made the boy feel about 5,578K degrees hotter than he had any right to feel—dressed in a skin-thin V-neck and whatever pair of shorts had found their way into his hand as he ran from Daniel’s apartment, but he ignored the heat, along with the relentless drummer jailedin his chest and the urgent slickness of pressed palms. He sat on the sofa in the near complete blackness of Louis’ apartment, the same place he’d been before the night they’d watched Titanic. That seemed like Old Rose’s lifetime ago.
He didn’t ask himself why the building was unlocked, just as he chose not to pursue the train of thought down the scattered, rusting out tracks as to all that could go wrong or already have gone wrong—Louis could already be hurt, he could be anywhere, he could be at the clinic still, he could be driving up to Neil’s for round two. There was just no fucking way to know, and it wasn’t worth trying to tick of four or five possibilities from the infinite list that burgeoned to fill the cramped space in Lin’s skull.
So he didn’t think about it. He sniffed. He decided he would wait a half an hour before beginning to hunt the man down. In the meantime, he counted the books on the bookshelf, went through their first few exponents, muttering the mathematics aloud under perpetually caught breath to keep his mind from turning over every ‘what if’ stone there was.
Until he heard footsteps. With a jolt of unexpected fear, Lin hurried from the sofa to a more shadowy area of the apartment near the wall. It was an instinctive scuttling, a rush away from the impending danger he could feel fretting at the hairs on the back of his neck. And from the corner, he watched with eyes white.
Louis came in quietly. Which was scary enough, considering Lin had expected frantic, erratic, or lunatic. Anything but calm. And he looked... terrible. His face was a mess of colors no face should ever be, red and purple, usually such nice hues, but not on Scottish skin. His nose was swollen and set.—But that wasn’t what disturbed Lin, what had him stirring like a mouse in its hole before a starved cat. There was something about his eyes that just wasn’t right. It was almost like... the uncanny valley come to life. A cognitive dissonance that stuttered the mind to a stop. The stark irises were human, in a human face, but all traces of humanity were replaced by a very, very eerie calm. Like the sound you hear when it’s too quiet, and the silence fills your ears with a distinct buzzing of nothingness.
And, of course, then there was the motherfucking... the... Jesus Christ, the gun. Lin sucked in a breath without thinking, then hurriedly strode into the weak-tea light, before his synapses could even fire. Being shot was like, not at all on his agenda right now.
“Louis.” The name came out softly, but with the certainty of gravity, and Lin slowly orbited in nearer from where he’d began, some five feet away. His hands were raised, just in case. His heart continued to swear and promise revenge. It did not deserve this shit.
Louis turned as soon as he heard footsteps on carpet, the gun coming halfway up until he realized who he was looking at through the almost nothing light in the apartment. The magazine was halfway into the gun.
He stayed there like that, looking at Lin as if he were an alien that had been dropped from the sky onto his carpet. He didn't even seem altogether cognizant of the fact that he was holding a gun, and that this might be frightening to Lin. He was thinking about what he'd said to Sam.
"I told Sam not to call you," Louis said. His voice was thick. He finished sliding the magazine into the gun with a satisfying click, but didn't lift it, just held it in both hands, comfortably pointed at the floor. "Why are you in my flat?" That calm remained, but there were ripples in it. “You shouldn’t be here,” he added, averting his gaze. He didn’t want Lin here. He didn’t want him to see him looking like this, and he didn’t want to talk to him, not right now. He couldn’t bear it. Besides, he had work to do. He tried to remember that, tried to focus on it, because even if it didn’t bring euphoria with it, it did bring evenness, and peace.
“She didn’t. Neil did,” Lin replied with the overly-strained calm of a person who’d stumbled in on a half-naked man with a noose he was just throwing over the rafter, one foot on the chair. If his eyes shined with unwanted tears of fear and surprise and if his nose reddened just at the tip from the leap of his heart, he didn’t notice. His skin was hot, his breath was short, and his steps were small, but distinct, each a measured test. When would Louis flee?
Lin had never... he knew nothing about guns. He’d never been shot, for one. But also, he’d just never been around them. To him, they were weapons one amassed in video games for the sake of a higher score or a cooler kill. They were not real, heavy black pieces of metal men clutched in desperate moments in a dim apartment in Vegas while he fluttered breathlessly only feet away. But, since the universe was intent on fucking him over and fucking him up, here he was and there the fucking gun was, in the hands of a glossy-eyed Scotsman.
He forced his thoughts toward the Beast and Chloe, and he felt his fear shrink like the Berlin Wall before the Great Wall. He forced his hands to his sides where he could keep them from shaking.
“I know you have... something to do. Business to attend to,” said the boy with eyes that dipped every few syllables to the weapon and back. His normally robust voice was nothing more than a whisper under a supercell before a fucking F5 tornado. A lemon wedge of a smile flashed in the nothingness. Lin reached a hand out and dipped his chin. “But, would you mind indulging me for a moment? Please?”
“Neil,” Louis snapped, cutting and intense, but then that faded, expression going from briefly, wildly disgusted back again to calm.
This particular weapon had been in Louis' possession since just before he'd emigrated to the states. He had known before he came that he would be trying to support himself as a private detective, and with the lax gun laws in the country it seemed the smart thing to pick one up to defend himself, should someone's philandering husband get tetchy. Those reasons, now, were silly, small, and far away. Fear had been put in perspective for him many times since he'd come to this country, and the object he held now in his hands was an offensive piece of machinery. He could work some real good with this black creature, almost a live thing, cold under his fingertips. He could make right what he'd failed at over and over again. He could protect his family. He could protect them, one last time, and then it would all be done, and what happened after that wouldn't matter. His failures before would be wiped clean.
He watched Lin, and it took him a few moments to register that he was actually coming nearer every few seconds. Louis watched him, cautious, and edged back a little. It dawned on him that Lin must have a reason for being here, and his words confirmed it. He felt a bubble of panic in spark and burn in his chest. He stared at Lin, then nodded, fractionally. Yes, he would indulge him.
But Louis didn't realize what the hand was for, or why Lin was offering it to him, too distant from the words to really let them hit. On closer inspection, though his expression was flat, his fingers were trembling. He took another breath. “I have work to do,” he repeated, as if it was a charm that would ward off whatever it was Lin wanted to do. In the watery light, it became obvious that his eyes were wet as well as glossy. “Just one more thing.”
Lin did have a reason for being there. And that reason was mainly keeping Louis from coming to any more harm, whether at his own hand or someone else’s, and though, for a split second there, he’d thought he’d had the man hooked, what with the nod that spanned no more than a single fucking electron, ultimately, it looked like “checking in on Louis” was going to turn into something much more proactive; it looked like the man was determined to do whatever the ominous fuck his ‘work’ was.
But his body was finite, Lin’s was. It was small, and though life skittered across his skin like electricity, the poor little thing was near to full of emotions engaged in simultaneous civil war, nuclear war, petty arguments, and revolutions. There was no time to sigh or to ponder disappointment or irritation. There was no time to remember he’d said he wouldn’t mention Neil. He just acted in a swing of muscle compelled by electric impulses and the genetic encoding of his species, evolved, so plastic, over hundreds of thousands of years. His amygdala argued over dinner. It said: run! But, the muscles established martial law and took Lin closer to Louis.
“Louis, please,” the boy asked again, a straight-up, unabashed appeal to the parts of the man he knew hadn’t been consumed by... whatever this was—self-hatred fermenting in anger and a desire to help? He blinked quickly, still wary of the gun. His heart shuttered, phi phenomenon-fast. “I need you to do something for me.”
It was Lin’s left hand that extended into the disarray of atoms that spanned between them, a small brown flag, a distress signal of the plainest kind. Help! Fucking help! He needed Louis to take the step. He couldn’t do it for him. Fingers fanned outward.
Louis stared at Lin's hand. It looked like a plea written in skin, and he looked back up at Lin's face again. His own knuckles were swollen, and one on the right was still thick with scabbed over blood where it had split against Neil’s face.
He didn't know if Lin knew what he planned to do. He knew, though, that Lin wanted him to stop, and that tore at him. He'd made a decision, and he was meant to stick to it, to be true to it. He was meant to succeed so that things could be right again and people would know better than to prod everyone in his family with knives until they all started to collectively fall apart. This was his job. He was the only one who could do it, the only one who should. If anyone else did it, it would be a waste. But he had failed so many times already. What could he offer, if not penance in the shape of one good act? What did he have left if he couldn't make it right?
Louis looked down at the gun. "It's mine, you see," he said, of the gun. "I bought it for protection. That's what I'm going to use it for." His thumb trembled on the safety. "It's - a Walther. A P22. They're very good. I looked into them before I spent the money on one." His voice was shaking, now, words bubbling up like tar. "I needed one. I'm not much good in a fight." He tapped his swollen, black nose with his finger, and he cracked a smile that wasn't so much a smile as a widening and then collapsing in. He started to breathe a little faster, and he handed Lin the gun. Then he sat down on the floor, and began to cry, covering his face with both broad, long-fingered hands. They smelled of gun oil.
“I need to go...and kill him. It’s important.” A promise, a chant. “It’s important.”
Louis was an atom split. He was nuclear fission, the freeing of neutrons and photons in the form of gamma rays, an exothermic reaction, a release only existing as either the outcome of natural decay or as the outcome of the thoughtless, curious shattering of building blocks at the hands of man. And it made Lin feel almost ill as he stood and watched the man in front of him gutted by his own motivations.
Politely as possible in a state of near panic, Lin listened to the little talk about the gun. The violent shape of it repelled his eyes, so he stared at Louis’ battered, beautiful face and let himself feel the mammoth shift of emotions as they moved underneath him and over him, tectonic plates grinding over one another, fear breaking against hatred, hopelessness sliding underneath profound sadness in a transform boundary (dextral, probably), until a smile was flashed bewilderingly and the gun was pressed into his outstretched hand, searing his palm with murderous cold.
The man before him puddled to the floor and cried. That gave Lin’s fiendish imp of a heart pause. It froze. Then it broke. Boom, boom, boom.
Since he didn’t know how to unload the creepy-ass ‘Walther P22,’ the boy set the gun onto the sofa nearby with excruciatingly careful haste. However many pieces his heart was currently in, Lin didn’t want it to be shot through due to a poorly handled firearm. Sam would kill him.
But no thoughts followed—the depositing of the weapon and the way Lin’s knees then folded underneath him. He sat on the floor next to Louis, head empty. Ginger fingers came up to curl around the man’s hands where they covered his face, and they pried, because Lin always pried. They peeled away the protection and the mechanical stink of oil.
“I know it’s important. I know it is,” he said quietly, a spider’s thread of understanding, a tenuous reach across a fracture psyche, a hope that he wouldn’t, you know, be killed for it. But Lin understood that his fear was nothing right now, and he knew the importance of bucking it aside, regardless. So he tried. He did. He came so close as to butt his knees against Louis’, and leaned forward to wrap his arms around the man’s neck, to touch his forehead to Louis’, and he held him there.
Louis kept his head bowed, but he let Lin pull his hands from his face. It was ugly, crying, and embarrassing, and something he had always tried to head off to avoid accusations of being even weaker and more pathetic than people must assume looking at him, but he had let it start. He didn't want Lin to see his face. He didn't want anyone to see him. The act of crying twisted his face and made his broken nose ache even through the haze of painkillers they'd given him before he left the clinic. "It is," he said, almost a whisper.
The weight of Lin's arms around his neck was warm. He felt like something had cracked in his chest, and the only thread tying him to the future was slipping through his fingers, faster and faster. "I should," he said, of the act he had assigned himself. He pressed his forehead back against Lin’s. He couldn't even think about drawing away, as miserable as it was being seen like this. It was wrong of him to cling, wrong to want it, but he just wanted someone to stay close to him right now. He could apologize to Lin tomorrow. "I can't just...it's too horrible. I said I would,” he said, looking up, his hands fallen into his lap, fallow and empty. “They're all going to think I'm mad." His voice cracked at the end, and his stomach clenched tight as he resisted the urge to sob. "Weak. And mad.”
“Oh, girl, no.” Lin’s silly leprechaun smile exposed itself, then fled. He shook his head, his skull and skin rolling against Louis’ forehead. The boy wanted to fold the man in his arms up and carry him to some room kept far away in the back of a cottage decorated only in gingerbread browns and reds, and fucking tuck him in. There was nothing shameful, he didn’t think, about crying. There was nothing wrong with needing and there was nothing wrong with wanting. As he had said again and again, it was human, and that was more important than just about everything else in his muddled little mind.
His blood was running hot as the fear ebbed and low tide pulled it back to the reservoirs. The tips of warm fingers, all five from his right hand, slipped away from Louis’ neck to touch the wetness on his cheek. He didn’t brush it away. He just touched it, trying with all his might to get the man across from him to lock eyes.
“Baby, if you were weak, you would have walked away or given up a long time ago.” It was Sam’s word, usually, ‘baby’ was, but Lin had been known to employ it when he comforted. It was soothing, he thought. It was a blanket offered for cold shoulders, the barest sliver of intimacy. Again the boy on the floor shook his head no. “You’re okay.”
Maybe it was an American response, but it wasn’t meant to minimize. It wasn’t meant as an eraser dragged across a chalkboard to cover whatever had been drawn upon it. Lin knew Louis wasn’t okay, just as he knew Louis knew it too. But, fuck, if sometimes you didn’t just want to hear it.
Louis looked up when Lin touched his face, eyes dull and wet, still cringing inside. "I don't think so," he said, thickly. It was as honest as he could make himself be, right now. He wrapped his hands around each other, clenching tight. His shoulders shook, and, finally, he sobbed, "I don't think I am, no."
But he wished he was. He wished he was, and those words were kind, and Louis shifted his head, settling against Lin again. "I'm sorry," he said, almost without breath at all. "This is - you hardly know me. I'm so sorry." He pressed his hands tighter together. "You won't tell them I failed again, will you?" It was begging, naked and bare, and he sobbed again. "I have to - I have to get myself together," he said, clearly trying to convince himself it was possible even as he began to lay it out. "I have to get myself together and get things...back to normal." He heaved a short breath. "But I don't know how I can. I don't know. And if they know I failed-" He shook his head against Lin's, squeezing, squeezing his hands together until his fingertips turned white. "How can I face them?" he asked, breaths quickening again. "How?"
The pinched fingers flared like a match in front of Lin’s eyes. His nose filled with sulfur. He frowned. Louis’ words, barely breathed, were hot on his face, but his weight was almost nothing. It was as if the man was hardly there at all. The boy tightened the grip of the hand that still circled his friend’s shoulders and reeled him closer.
The hand still baptized with tears moved now to cover, palm over fist, the bloodless fingers Louis held so fast. He made no attempt to stop the compulsion, the manifestation of self-destruction (you know, the crushing of oneself in anxiety, a literal extension of pain) he recognized as a mirror-image to his own. His heart ticked faster, an unconscious attempt to match the quickness of Louis’ breathing.
“You can’t do to Ian what he’s doing to everyone else, Louis,” Lin said softly. He understood the intent that lived as a bullet inside the barrel of the gun that sat behind him with deceptive innocence, and he understood Louis had a mark. It was revenge. Right? “It won’t make you feel better.”
"It's not about feeling better," Louis said quickly, looking up again. "It's about-" He stopped for a moment. He hadn't realized how hard he'd been squeezing his hands, he'd had no idea, and when Lin slid his hand over them he forced himself to stop. He was still shaking, and it had seemed like, if he just clenched down on himself hard enough, he could stop this. His breath caught. "It's - it's about keeping this all from happening again. It keeps happening, Lin, it keeps happening. Other people do it or we do it to ourselves. No one needs Ian. If he was gone, things could work. We could get sorted. We could be family." He blinked, hard, and choked down another sob. How embarrassing. "Someone has to, and it should be me. It should be."
Lin would have frowned and sighed in nearly any other situation, but here, now, on the floor of Louis’ apartment, he just looked, eyes heavy and brown on Louis’ face, watching the gathering of pain and heartache. He felt the man shudder beneath the embrace as a leaf in wind and it tore his heart out all over again. Quietly, he just ran his fingers down Louis’ jaw in a soft, repetitive motion, remembering how well it worked on himself as a child.
“You are a family, regardless of Ian’s machinations, girl. You are. You all look out for each other, inspite of the fights and -- punches. Maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s your family, yeah?” He tipped his head to the side, scooching closer to more fully encircle Louis in a one-armed hug. “Come on. You want to lie down in bed with me? Hm?”
Louis couldn't make himself resist leaning into Lin's touch, the careful tracing of his jaw, and his shoulders loosened a fraction. "I...suppose so," he said, though he didn't seem altogether optimistic about that fact. His voice was still thick,but the shudders were coming a little less frequently. God, he was so tired. It wasn’t so much a realization. Just about everyone knew how tired he’d been, how snappish, how stretched-thin. He had been up so many nights, worrying, spending sleepless hours sketching out the trees of how he might react to every eventual problem, every attack, and the consequences it might bring. He would lie awake in bed, remembering his mistakes, unable to sleep until he’d turned them over and over to understand how he’d failed, where he’d gone wrong. How long had that been going on? He couldn't say. This had been a long time in coming, so long that he couldn't even remember anymore when he'd started to get so tightly wound. Now he was rusty, slow to react, brittle and breaking when he needed to bend. Fixing it was beyond him, but maybe it was time to stop insisting the family weight be carried by its weakest member.
When Lin asked if he wanted to lay down with him, Louis met his gaze balefully, slate blue eyes watery and unfocused. He knew Lin was only offering as a friend, but it was still so kind. Later, he might feel guilty. Right now, he was grasping selfishly for all the comfort he could get, and he nodded, wordlessly. He liked Lin’s arm around his shoulder. He liked Lin being there. He only wished - and so often, it seemed, did he wish this sort of thing - that the circumstances were different.
If Lin had known guilt would ever be involved with giving an affirmative answer, he wouldn’t have asked. Or he might have, but with a qualifier or two, or a mini-lecture on why that wasn’t necessary. But, he didn’t know, so instead, he smiled bracingly at Louis and, after climbing to his feet and offering a hand up, led the both of them to the man’s bedroom. (Yes, he knew where it was. He’d had a cursory search of the apartment upon arrival, after all.)
The gun was abandoned. For now, Lin was preoccupied with finding as much comfort as possible for the nearly-inconsolable Louis. The bed was a good place to start. Low to the ground in the dark room, burdened with pillows, it stood, ready and waiting. Without bothering to remove his own, or Louis’ shoes, the boy got them both on the mattress. Immediately, he curled up, but rather than take his usual position of the little spoon, he wrapped around Louis with a hand on the man’s hip and a nose to his neck.
Lin was all warmth and he closed his eyes just a little. He said nothing for the moment. He listened to Louis’ breathing and thought about nothing.
Louis couldn't actually remember the last time he'd laid down with someone like this. Even with Evan, it hadn't been altogether common. He didn't even think about removing his shoes, just slid onto the bed, onto the soft comforter between the many pillows. He liked his bed comfortable and easy to shut away from the world in. It didn't always work, but he tried.
He tried to get his breath to stop hitching. When that didn't work, he tried to focus on breathing - first his own, then Lin's, soothingly regular behind him. He could feel the bridge of Lin's nose against the back of his neck, and just the idea that there was someone there with him calmed him down, slowly but surely. That someone was there, and he didn't have to talk, or try to explain anymore. He listened to Lin's breathing, and tried to match it, and before long he was getting drowsy. He'd almost altogether forgotten about the gun, and about hunting Ian down. Exhaustion wiped it all away, until all he was really thinking about was Lin behind him, the bed beneath, and breath.
Louis was already half asleep when he reached back to touch Lin's hand where it clung to his hip, fingertips lighting along Lin's knuckles. He took another soft breath, reassured that Lin wasn't leaving, and drifted toward sleep.
It faded—the mental blackness inhabited by the gun. A metallic coldness shaped like those parts in scary movies where you wince and cover your eyes, it clung to the hippocampus, eroded only by the passing of time. Lin forgot about the gun as the bed enveloped him and he enveloped Louis, and as the man’s breathing leveled, slowing and losing its gut-wrenching, dizzying height of mania. It was only then that his own heart tamped its valves and he swallowed, semi-certain that nothing more was going to happen.
He needed to talk to Neil and to Sam, to let them know everything was okay. And he would. Later. The dusting of fingertips on his hand elicited a small squeeze from Lin, a little more pressure, a little less distance, and he too closed his eyes.
Everything else, they could deal with in the morning.