A/N: Hello, this story was written for SashaFey using her characters, she owns them in all their awesome-ness; not I.
Images of sharp metal teeth and blood flash in a twisted symphony of pain. Familiar, disappointed, and angry faces cloud around him and he feels as if he's suffocating. The violent sounds of yelling drown out his thoughts. He is surrounded by horrific scenes of blood and cruel eyes. He struggles to think of a way to survive; not just for him, but for all involved. No matter how much they torture and belittle him he cannot bring himself to see a future where they don't get out alive and together. As each stab of pain and each drop of red liquid rolling across his skin; time lurches backward, making him feel seasick with every reset. He racks his brain and his desperate eyes move quickly back and forth, solving the puzzles that will save his family. He feels as if it will never end; and maybe it won't. Maybe this is his destiny, to be beaten down and despised by those he cares for as he maddeningly gives his own life over and over to find a way to save theirs.
It certainly seems to him to be what he deserves. This was, after all, his fault; his traps. He had to turn to coercion and manipulation, becoming no better than the people who made him feel inferior since birth. Because of what he believes he's done, he welcomes this fate. His hope of being accepted, if he can just endure this long enough to find their path to freedom, dwindles with each restart. The realization that none of this would have happened in the first place if he had never existed pulls him deeper and deeper into a drowning pool of guilt. Though no matter how deep in despair he falls, he will not give up. He will die again and again, forever searching for the safety and love of his family.
Blue looked up from the book he was reading and glanced over at Hal's sleeping form. He was curled up in a ball with a pained little pout on his face. Blue smiled warmly thinking of how much like a child he really was. His brown hair was ruffled and sticking up in a few places, cheeks flushed as he breathed softly, his legs curled into his chest and hands opening and closing as he grasped at his dreams. So naive and genuine, undeserving of the suffering he had to endure before they met. Since that day when Blue found him in that horrendous parallel world full of bitter people and metal death traps, he swore to protect and love him. Family or not, he would not let these people corrupt Hal's innocence.
And that's how it all started. His days that were filled with searching and lost memories, convincing others they had a reason to live when he could not find one for himself; were now filled with Hal's smile, warm embraces, and laughter. Blue took him to all kinds of new places, malls and amusement parks, movies and restaurants, he even took Hal to the circus once just too see that wonderment in his eyes. Seeing Hal's child-like face light up at the new places he took him to, seemed to flicker the smallest of flames in Blue's soul. He seemed to momentarily forget the emptiness that has resided there for so long while in Hal's company.
Blue chuckled softly, remembering little moments of fun between them. Hal's first roller coaster, going shopping for new clothes when Hal left his family; tonight they stayed at home and played cards. Blue couldn't help but take a little advantage of Hal's naivety and cheated each round of cards they played; it was almost too cute to see Hal's determined little pout every time he lost. Blue smiled to himself and absent-mindedly covered Hal's sleeping form with a blanket to make him more comfortable, unaware of the ever-growing pain etching across his closed eyes and dreaming face.
He tried to control the crowd once more; each time an uproar surged, it seemed to get harder and harder to calm it down. If only he could just find the right way to end this. If only he was smart enough or fast enough. He tried to block out the yelling and harsh words as he anxiously leaned into a vicious looking contraption to reach a peg he could loosen and cause the machine to fail. He almost had it when a scuffle breaking out between his uncle and father knocked him head-first into its pointed metal teeth and grinding gears. He felt the sharp sting of his flesh being ripped open and the warmth of his blood flowing across his body for a few moments before the terrible lurching feeling gathered in the pit of his stomach and he was sucked backward as the game reset. How many times was that now? His father and uncle of course had no memory of what just happened and continued to argue.
It was always a little different, some of his relatives remembered and some of them didn't; causing mass confusion and growing suspicions amongst the crowd. He heard himself speaking, though it sounded like a stranger's voice emitting words of manipulation and coercion. If they could just understand that being at each other's throats was only making it harder to get everyone to safety. He felt trapped, suffocated by the never-ending situation; just when he thought he was close to the perfect ending someone would kill another family member they were suspicious of or deviously gang up on him and killing him before he had a chance to set the last piece of this hellish puzzle in place. He was so tired; tired of running back and forth repeating the same actions just to get back to where he was before the most recent reset, tired of coming in between or being the target of his family's fights, tired of the pain, tired of the blood. All he wanted was to see everyone make it out alive… and to rest.
Blue thought about his desire to be erased from existence. He had wanted it so badly for so long. He didn't know why he wanted it, but the yearning for obliterating his presence was set in deep. Though the memories weren't there to tell him the exact story, he wouldn't feel so strongly about it if it wasn't absolutely important. That is why he met Hal in the first place, that reason all but forgotten as he vowed to protect the childlike boy. And he did; he protected him form the pain of the traps, he protected him from his conniving relatives, he protected him from loneliness, and from fear.
A pained gasp woke Blue up from his deep thoughts. He looked over to Hal expecting to see him awake and surprised Blue was still here, as he was every time he arose in the morning and found he had not been abandoned overnight. Blue opened his mouth to reassure Hal as he turned his head towards the kid but stopped before a word was spoken as he realized that the other boy was not awake at all. He was still asleep, tossing restlessly as if batting away unseen foes. His face was sticky with sweat causing a few stray strands of hair to adhere to his forehead, eyebrows furrowed in anguish and fear, his mouth opening and closing in a desperate attempt to cry out for help. Blue was momentarily stunned as he gazed at the helpless figure lying down next to him.
For a lack of any better ideas, Blue bent over and shook him a little hoping it would be enough to wake him from his troubled slumber. It did nothing to rouse him Blue shook a little harder, saying his name in as soothingly as he could. When Hal verbally cried out at his touch but remained deeply asleep, Blue became concerned. He was torn. He didn't want Hal to endure the terrifying images playing out in his mind, but he didn't want to hurt him by trying to wake him like that again. All of a sudden he felt powerless, a feeling he wasn't quite used to in the form of existence he resided in now. As a Death he could change his corporeal form to suit whatever obstacle he was overcoming, so feeling like he couldn't do anything was not something he normally had to deal with. Sitting here though, watching Hal writhe in fear and agony, he felt like there was nothing he could do to stop it. Every touch seemed to make it worse, and there was no response to Blue calling out his name or softly speaking words of comfort and assurance. Blue could protect him from physical pain and from the family that hurt him, but he couldn't protect him from his own mind. He couldn't protect him from his past. All he could do was stay by his side.