Ciaran pressed his hands to the glass wall, looking out across the burning, light filled city. Here in the safety of the building, behind the walls of steel, he watched as the night burned on; the city caught up in a fervor that he had only felt once before and of that time, he only had empty memories of pain.
Arik was out of the apartment getting their next orders. Ciaran snorted. “He already knows our orders. He’s just doing this to placate them.”
‘He could plan to kill us when this is all over,’ the thought passed through his mind, he was recalling the incident with the gun.
“Perhaps. But not me. I make him think for himself. He wouldn’t want to give that up.”
He dug his music player out of his coat pocket and put on his earphones. Turning it on he skipped to track six and turned up the volume. Going into the other room he flopped down on the couch and threw an arm over his eyes as the music tried to break his eardrums. He let himself go, riding the waves of notes as he freed his mind from the tight control he had it in. The city burned, the people screamed, and he had watched it with indifference. He watched and danced through the intricate borders of insanity.
With a grimace he dragged his mind back to reality. He had sold everything for this. Mind. Body. Soul. His whole existence wrapped up in a soundless void. But the void was breaking, the masks slipping. He was hearing voices again and this time he had nothing left to sell.
Cool hands trailed up his chest, his throat, his face, tangling through his hair. ‘You’ve got a choice, Ciaran.’
“And that would be?” he whispered, eyes closed.
‘You know what.’
He kept his eyes closed, feeling the coldness wash through his body. A memory, a hallucination, he didn’t know which. But it didn’t matter anymore. He turned the music back to track five, his voice falling into the silence like shattered glass.“Here I come...”
In the end, it didn’t really matter. They were fucked from the beginning and none of them knew it, not even Arik. An explosion and water and now here. Dry, clothed, and in a hotel room. Far too normal for Ciaran’s tasted. But he never got what he wanted anyway so it didn’t matter. They were free of their contract for the moment but none of them doubted that they’d be called back into service. If not today, then tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then soon. They had pledged their lives to the council. They couldn’t escape a contract written in blood.
But they didn’t know when and he had time to think, time to choose. He still didn’t know what he wanted. No, he corrected himself. He knew what he wanted, had always known what he’d wanted. They had cleaned him of all but one addiction those many years ago and that one addiction was standing in front of him with an annoyed look on his face. And he didn’t care, couldn’t care, which made it all the worse. But Ciaran knew that already. Eight years of trying. Eight years of losing. The walls were crumbling inside.
“What do you want, Ciaran?” Arik asked.
‘Something that I can’t explain, but what everyone else has. Something that makes me want to scream every time I look at you,’ he thought to himself as he shrugged and said, “Just came to see how you’re doing. I was so hoping you’d be angry and full of self-doubt but I was asking for too much.”
Lies. All of them.
“Pity,” came the cool reply.
Ciaran shook his head, red hair spilling around his face. He was dressed in baggy jeans and a tight black, short sleeved shirt. He hated short sleeves but it was all he had. The lack of fabric bared his arms, bared his scars, bared his failures. They were crossed over his chest defensively, as if he was holding on to the last thing that mattered, when truthfully, nothing did anymore. Pale limbs curled close to hide the marks of abuse. Scars never went away.
“Anything else?” Blue eyes strayed to the laptop on the desk.
Warmth. Acceptance. Want. Words. Truth.
He smiled, feeling things crack inside of him. Eight years of trying and nothing to show for his efforts. Everything to survive. Everything to live. Everything for him. Everything...
“If that’s all, why don’t you leave? I’ve got things to do.”
Ciaran shrugged and rolled his eyes. “Whatever.” He hesitated only a moment before pulling something out of his large pocket and handing it over to Arik with a diffident gesture. “Here.”
Blue eyes briefly glanced at the lines on white skin before he took the black player. “What’s this for?”
“No reason,” Ciaran said as he turned around. “I’ll be in my room.”
He left without a backwards glance, shutting the door behind him. He leaned against it tiredly, wearily, eyes closed. With a shake of his head he pushed himself up and away, walking to his room which was two doors down. Pulling out his key he slipped it into the lock and turned the knob, opening the door. He let it fall shut behind him as he padded to the bed and sat down. Bending over he pulled a knife out of his left boot and stared down at the blade with empty green eyes. It was time for him to choose again. Silence or noise. Life or death. It turned out to be an easy choice after all.
After so many cuts in his life, what was one more?