Here it is. The very last chapter of Look for Blue, a submission for Self-Induced Disease's December prompt. It's a bit harsh and a little jumbled, but I did my best. I'm sorry I couldn't maintain the 24hr submission that I was trying to do. Wasn't easy.
I wanted to get a couple more pictures drawn, as well, but only ended up with the one for Amadeus, and that has become the cover photo. Eventually, I'm sure, I'll start a collection and do another tumblr or a deviantart. We'll see.
Anyway, I'm prepared for the hate. But I love you all, and I love Amadeus and Omarion.
I just noticed that the formatting is being a dink. I tried a couple different methods, but FP just keeps deleting it. So, when you're reading and notice strange jumps in time, from one situation to a completely different one, know that there's supposed to be a break in there to let you know, but Fictionpress is being a DINK.
Grey morning was cold and dreary, mounds of snow limiting available roads and alleys. Curfew had let up just moments before dawn and already people were milling about. Shop owners shoveled walks and doorways, crews hustled through streets to clear paths big enough for carts and what few motor vehicles puttered around outside the wall, and people hurried off to work.
Day had teased Omarion awake minutes before the curfew bell had sounded, giving them enough time to shower, though both were too exhausted for much else. They had a cup of coffee each, the substance thicker and richer than what Omarion had inside the wall, and Day explained that it was cut with other things as the quality of their coffee was generally shit. Omarion didn't mind. He was growing accustomed to the myriad of flavors in unexpected places. Inside the wall was becoming so bland.
They yawned as they approached the grate and Day reached out, Omarion willingly sinking into him for a tight, warm hug.
"Little fuck, you get to go home and sleep. Kept me up all night, horny bastard," Day teased softly, voice amused.
"I'm sorry," Omarion mumbled.
"Mn, sure you are." He pressed a kiss to Omarion's cheek and released him.
"Can I see you tonight?"
Day grinned. "Hard up again already, are you?"
Omarion flushed. "That's … that's not why," he said sheepishly. The semi-admission made Day's teasing grin turn into a bashful smile and the man kissed him again, different this time, more meaning behind the gentle press of lips.
"You can see me tonight."
"Should we meet and have dinner at Clary's?"
"Sounds like a good deal. Go on, now I've to get to work," said Day, giving him a little nudge. Omarion grumbled and stepped reluctantly toward the grate, earning a laugh. "Go. I'll see you tonight." With that, Day turned and hurried off. Omarion wondered how much time the man had wasted with him.
The water in the 'moat' and filtering through the grate was noticeably warmer. Not that he wanted it against his skin anymore than usual, but the shock wasn't as fierce and the tunnel through the wall maintained some of the heat. He paused on the inside, staring into the wintery wonderland of the haven that was his home. The park was lit up still, still dark enough thanks to the towering barrier, though the outside had lit up rather quickly. Lights twinkled from trees and lamp posts and bushes, making the snow sparkle and glitter. It looked like a dream. So unreal. Just a lie.
After wasting a few minutes digging his bag out of its place, Omarion didn't even bother changing, wandering home in his grubbier clothing and Outtie-made boots. The streets were quiet, his only companions on the walk home the twinkling lights that covered the city, window displays of Santa, elves, and snowmen, punctuated by statuettes of Mary and Jesus. Christmas music played softly through city speakers, street lights flickered and changed colors for absent cars, and Omarion was depressed. Soon, everyone would wake up and rush to work, or run around to buy their useless gifts, argue and scream at each other …
The apartment was silent when he wandered in, lobby empty, and he rode the elevator up in silence. If he were to go all the way to the top, he could easily see down to the outside, with its smoking chimneys and bustling streets. The people would be like ants, from there. Omarion wondered if he could pick out all the familiar places.
His apartment was just as quiet as the rest of the city, allowing him to enter unnoticed and unquestioned. Nothing looked different and he wondered if his parents had even noticed his absence. There was an empty bottle of gin, which led him to believe his mother had been oblivious to life since he'd left the day before, and his father's suitcase, shoes, and overcoat were all gone. The man hadn't even been home.
Even more depressed, Omarion pulled off his boots and trudged into his room, changing into his bedclothes to rest awhile longer. He was spent and couldn't believe Amadeus had the energy to go to work.
That was a silly thought. Amadeus probably didn't have a choice.
"Did you get anything?"
Omarion looked up from inspecting a few nicknacks, fighting through the din of Christmas cheer echoing through the whole shop, to focus on Derex. "What?"
"Did you get your 'gift'?" Derex pressed again, giving him a look that Omarion figure was supposed to be 'subtly hinting' to his meaning.
"What? No. What do you want?" he grumbled, turning his attention back to the bright bangles on the shelf. They were something his mother used to enjoy, but in her usually inebriated state, Omarion wasn't sure if she'd even know what it was.
"What do you mean you didn't get anything?" Derex scoffed. "I have mine."
"Yeah, that's nice," Omarion mumbled, and he moved along, Derex on his heels.
"So what, you gave up?" Derex goaded. Omarion didn't answer. "You'll be mocked forever, you know, if you don't have something to show tomorrow night." When he still didn't receive a response, Omarion looking casually at another piece of jewelry, he huffed. "I'll tell them all if you buy something stupid from inside. You think you can get away with it, guess again."
Omarion heaved a sigh and turned to Derex, bored. "And what did you get, Derex?"
The boy blinked. "What?"
"What did you get from outside?"
Plastering on a self-satisfied grin, Derex crossed his arms, looking smug. "I found myself a pretty little Christmas gadget just the other day."
"You were only there once and Lin said you didn't find shit."
Smug expression wavering, Derex scoffed. "What? Who said that?"
Instantly, the boy fumed, his pretty features screwing up in rage. Omarion was unimpressed. "My name is Derex."
"Good. Derex," Omarion placed a hand on the other boy's shoulder, startling him into silence. "I don't give a flying fuck about your 'Christmas Challenge', okay? So you can take your worthless threats, and shove them up your ass." Derex just blinked, expression flitting between stunned and enraged. Omarion gave him a little pat. "I'll let you work that one out." He turned, and moved from the store.
They hadn't meant to end up back and Day's apartment again, writhing together on the man's bed, hot hands and lips and desperate kisses, but they did and Omarion was far from complaining about it. He moaned Day's given name, as it seemed to make the man even more passionate, and gladly took the given pleasures. Omarion didn't think he'd ever get enough.
"I have something for you," Day mumbled to him between kisses to swollen lips and sweaty skin.
Omarion grinned. "I thought you wanted to take a break?"
Day chuckled. "Horny bastard, I wasn't talking about my cock." Omarion laughed and Day shifted, rising slowly from the bed and shuffling over to his desk. Omarion eagerly watched, taking in the beautiful expanse of dark skin, still glistening with sweat and stretched over work-hardened muscles. Day fussed for a minute, pulling a little box from a drawer with a blue ribbon tied around it. He moved back to the bed and Omarion sat up, shifting over to give the man room to sit. Day held out the box and Omarion took it, gingerly.
"What is it?"
"You sorta have to open it to find out," Day teased.
Omarion gave him an irritated look. "Thanks. I meant, is it supposed to be a Christmas present?"
"No, damnit, we don't do Christmas. It's just a gift for you, because … Because." He pressed a quick kiss to Omarion's cheek. "Open it."
Omarion rolled his eyes and pulled off the ribbon, flicking the lid of the box off. His eyes widened and he reached carefully for the little ornate ornament inside, nestled carefully among strips of cloth. "Holy shit, you found something," Omarion said in disbelieve, and he lifted out what was a delicate snowflake charm. It was made of floating metal rings of diminishing size, held together by intricately woven thread, dotted with tiny glass beads to reveal the snowflake pattern. The entire piece was comprised of different shades of blue, the beads sparkling prettily when the sunlight from the window struck just right.
"Didn't find it," Day said, cheeks tinting.
Omarion scowled, not looking up from the charm, no bigger than a golf-ball. "What do you mean you didn't find it?"
Day shrugged. "I made it." Omarion gaped, finally tearing his eyes away to fix instead on Day's glowing face. "It's the paperclips I got, see? And the thread. You was with me for most of it, but I didn't think you noticed at all. I know it isn't fancy, but … is it all right?"
"It's fucking amazing!" Omarion exclaimed, looking at the snowflake through completely different eyes. "Holy, shit, Day, this is incredible. I can't believe you made it."
"We make all our own fineries, here," Day said with a shrug.
"Amadeus," Omarion mumbled, setting the charm back in its box. The man shivered next to him, and Omarion turned to him, leaning in to press a kiss to waiting lips. "Amadeus," he whispered again, voice a low growl of his own, and again Day shivered.
"Now ya done it," the man whispered. Omarion grinned and continued on to find out exactly what it was he'd done and provide a proper show of appreciation.
Fingers were in his hair and Omarion was so relaxed and satisfied he didn't want to move. "Hmm?"
Day sighed. "Don't come down tomorrow."
Instantly, the good feelings fled, and Omarion pushed up, looking down at Day in disbelief. "What? Why? I mean … I thought … it's Christmas Eve, and -"
"That's why you shouldn't come," Day continued, voice soothing. "Christmas isn't for us out here. You should spend the day with your family. Hell, you been here every day since your first, you been with me so much. You should spend some time with your family, and why not Christmas Eve? 'Sides, I'll … I'll be workin'."
Omarion frowned heavily. "All day?"
"But I … I wanted to be with you."
Day almost looked irritated. "Theres other people can fuck you if that's all you're lookin' for."
Omarion balked and fumed. "What? I said I wanted to be with you, jerk, I didn't mean it like that. Fuck, don't get all angry at me," he brooded.
"I'm sorry," Day grumbled, and Omarion knew he meant it. There was something strange about the way he'd said it, the expression on his face …
"Is something wrong?"
"Don't fuckin' lie to me."
"O'ho, look who's got an English problem now," Day teased.
Day grabbed him, pulling him down into a tight, possessive hug. "I'm sorry. Please, Ari … Don't come down tomorrow."
"What if I told you I'd been planing to wrap myself up naked in a pretty blue ribbon for you?" Omarion suggested. Day laughed at that, but it wasn't long, was almost pained.
"That's all right," Day mumbled. "I'll take you just as you are, right now, and pretend there was a ribbon."
The walk back to the grate seemed to draw out, Day's movements slower than usual, distracted. He kept his fingers laced with Omarion's, tightly, as though Ari would slip away, but his eyes were distant each time Omarion glanced his way.
They stopped in the alley and Omarion was surprised by a desperately tight hug and a sad kiss, tight to his lips and so very final. He gripped Day hard when he pulled away and searched his face, his amber eyes, marred by sadness.
"Everythin'," Day whispered.
"Please meet with me tomorrow? Please?" Omarion begged. It seemed more urgent now, more necessary that Day meet him, be with him, and Omarion didn't know why. Something felt very wrong, like the man was already drawing away, even as they clung so tight to one another.
Day shook his head. "Not tomorrow, Ari. Stay home tomorrow."
"I don't … I don't want to go back there. Please? Amadeus, let me stay with you," he nearly begged. He watched something break in Day's eyes and the man nearly crushed him in a hug so tight, a kiss so full Omarion could barely breath, but he didn't want to anyway. Just as quickly as it came, it went, and Day turned away from him, reluctantly letting him go, fingers running together, desperate to stay locked.
"After Christmas then?"
Day pressed light kisses to Omarion's fingers. "Goodbye," he mumbled again, and he headed back down the alley, glancing back once or twice. He hesitated at his turn, Omarion getting one last look at his beautiful dark features, his bright blond hair illuminated from behind by the setting sun, a vibrant halo of light, and Day was gone.
There was a deeper emptiness on the walk home. Something hadn't been right, not at all. Omarion could feel it in his body, a nagging irritation, and it made him ache in a way he'd never felt. He made it home, but locked himself up in his room, just holding his little snowflake charm, trying to work out the emotions running through his head. Fuck Christmas, he thought. He didn't care about any of it anymore. Being in the wall made him nervous and unhappy, his head aching dully, the food and drink flat and flavorless. Carefully, he rotated his snowflake, watching the beads spin and sparkle, and resolved that no one else could ever see the masterpiece Day had created.
And fuck it. He'd go down if he wanted. Omarion couldn't imagine spending the whole day stuffed up in the apartment with his drunk mother and his absent father, couldn't take another day of ridiculous Christmas carols and people fighting over nothing.
Exhausted and unsettled, Omarion carefully hung the charm on the bedpost by his head and huddled down beneath his covers.
It was madness inside the city. With only a few hours left to get their supplies before the partying began, Omarion could hardly blame the Elites for their screaming and shouted and general disarray.
All for worthless shit. Because that's all it ever had been and he'd just been too blind to see it.
He splashed through the moat, the water still tepid as the ambient temperature was enough to freeze it still, and was surprised to see a lack of footprints in the snow covering the usual patrol route. He brushed it away and hurried down the alley just the same, turning for their usual meeting spot first, just in case Day was with Lee and Lin, or Hoot and Rift.
There was something terribly wrong. Even before he reached the center, he knew it. Everything was eerily quiet, save for the shouting of one man, commanding, almost speech-like. Omarion turned down an alley to see people standing at the end, all huddled together, some visibly seething, others barely holding back tears. Their sight was trained on a center point and Omarion shifted through the people enough to see what was happening.
A group of people were stood in a line along a building wall, Retainers pushing observers back from the center, others in an opposing line, their weapons ready. One man marched back and forth, speaking loudly to the crowd about civil disobedience and laws, but Omarion didn't hear him.
Because there was Day, standing in the line. His hair was bright blue.
Lee was beside him, dressed in poorly dyed blue clothing from head to toe, and there was Rift, equally dressed in the illegal hue. There were others, people he didn't know, men and women alike, old and young, all wearing blue, all facing death.
Day looked out into the crowd and his amber eyes met Omarion's. Day smiled the saddest smile he'd ever seen.
A hand came up and covered his eyes, others grabbing him and hauling him back, and the bangs echoed through the center and the streets, bouncing off the walls to leave his ears ringing. Instantly, people started screaming in shock, pain, and protest.
"You have to run, Ari!" Lin was saying to him through her tears. "You have to run!"
"Get out of here, now!" said Sky, voice firmer, but moisture on her cheeks. She pressed something against his chest and he grabbed it reflexively. "Go, run, run!"
He ran, heart racing, blood pounding in his ears. At some point his vision blurred as tears poured from his eyes, but he didn't stop, gripping tight to what Sky had given him and flying through alleys and back through the gate. He stumbled once or twice in the water, soaked up to his waist by the time he was through, but he didn't stop, leaving his bag where it was as he hurried back to his apartment. No one stopped him or questioned him, which was just as well, as Omarion wasn't even aware that it was his apartment he was running to until he was there, dripping went and stumbling into his room.
He blinked into the silence, the emptiness. Everything looked different, foreign, and wrong.
He dropped to his knees, shivering, and wailed.
"Omar?" A knock on his door. Omarion didn't move from his place on the floor. He hadn't moved since he collapsed there, shivering from cold and shock. Now he was just numb, though his head throbbed.
His father knocked again. "Omar? There's some boys here to see you, open the door."
Slowly, Omarion pushed to his feet, legs and arms stiff, and palmed at his sore eyes. His movements were sluggish, but eventually he made it to the door and opened it, glaring murderously at the small group on the other side.
They did this. The Elites with their stupid rules.
Taken aback by Omarion's state and stare, his father cleared his throat uncomfortably and motioned to the two boys. One was Derex, expression unsure, and the other was the leader of the challenge, smug and self-important. "These boys are here to talk to you about something. Come down when you're finished. And for god's sake, change out of those clothes into something decent. He wandered back down the stairs and likely back to his television.
The challenge leader, his name irrelevant to Omarion's rage, shifted. "Here to investigate your -"
The crack echoed down the hall, Omarion's knuckle splitting like the boy's lip against teeth, and he didn't wait for him to recover, grabbing his shirt and driving a knee weakly into the boy's stomach. Derex hollered in alarm, but all the other boy was able to do was sob and gasp.
Omarion seethed. "I don't give a flying fuck about your fucking Christmas. And I swear it I will fucking kill you, both of you, if you so much as fucking look at me wrong. Do you fucking hear me!?" he raged, slamming the boy in his hands against the wall. He didn't know where his strength had some from. All he felt was a numb sort of pain and an anger so deep it would never leave.
"Yes, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," the boy begged.
Omarion tossed him at Derex's feet and glared up at the stunned and silent boy, shaking and staring at Omarion as though he was insane.
Omarion pointed and Derex cowered. This sort of violence just wasn't done.
"Say her name."
"Say her fuckin' name."
"L-Lin. Lin," Derex mumbled.
"Get the fuck out."
With that, Derex helped the boy at his feet and they stumbled down the stairs. Omarion didn't wait to listen for their exit. They wouldn't tell a soul what had happened. It just wasn't done.
Omarion turned back into his room and shut the door, making sure it was locked. He stumbled back to the place on the floor, heart racing, fully exhausted, and stared at the envelope he'd been laying on. It was what Sky had shoved into his hands before he ran.
Ran like a coward.
He dropped to his knees and carefully opened it, hands shaking as he removed the letter inside. His vision was blurry even before he saw the words, but he swore and angrily wiped the droplets from the page. He knew it was from Day. Knew it from the smell alone, the scent that was the apartment, the comforting, arousing wafts of spice and musk that had been clouding his brain for days. He hugged it to him as he sobbed again, unable to read it, unable to get a grip on himself.
It took a good ten minutes of blubbering for him to finally wipe enough mist from his eyes to discern the neat scrawl on the paper in his hands. It was written in blue ink.
"Ari. I wish you hadn't come, but figured you would. It's why I had Sky looking for you. I didn't want you to see it and I hope you really didn't. I'd have looked away, too.
I'll have you know this was planned for months. Long before you came down. There's a lot out here that you don't understand, but I think you could if you looked. You saw so much in just a few days. I thought you'd break, but you didn't, and you amazed me, Ari. Fuckin' amazed me. I hadn't planned on getting so close to you, on ruining you like I'm sure I have, but I'm an idiot, a damned fool, and you were so sure and inquisitive. You learned quick, and you were good to everyone. Broke my heart, you did.
You saw the evils and the hardships. It can't be a surprise to you to know that we're tired of it. That's why we did what we did. Lee, Rift, and I. And the others. All the others. Wasn't just us, neither. The other sections had their own.
Please, remember me, Omarion. Ari. Remember all the good of the people you met. And learn. Look and listen and use your status to try and help these people. You're so smart. You can change things, I know it. I know you'll do something good.
I care about you deeply, you know. I know it didn't seem like it, but I do. Still do.
And I always will, I'm sure.
P.S. Remember when I asked you about vantage from inside the wall? About looking down at us from up on your hill? Look for blue."
"You're an asshole," Omarion mumbled through his tears. He hugged the letter to his chest, crunching the paper, head throbbing. It was dusk now. He reread the last line, trying to remember back through their conversations, clinging to the sound of Day's voice in his memory, his beautiful face, his hair, blond hair that now he would always remember as blue.
He pushed to his feet and grabbed the snowflake, wrapping the cord tight around his hand, and he marched from the apartment, ignoring his father, the man's shouts for him to see what was on tv, shouts about the Outties having finally gone mad. Omarion hurried down the hall and slid into the elevator, punching the button for the topmost floor and nearly swearing as it took its grand old time getting him there.
Omarion stepped out and looked out the windows toward the outside world …
Everything was lit up in bright blue lights.