I just decided to go ahead and upload this despite having been editing it a lot over the past couple of days. I don't like the last half at all, but I don't know how else to finish it. Which is probably evident when you read it. XD
Anyway, this is dedicated to the wonderful Sapphy. Hope you had the most amazing birthday ever (you old person!) and I'm sorry it's late! (and just as crap as I predicted)
Characters mentioned are all Sapphy's and mine.
It was only as each member of his family treaded lightly by the doors of death, oh-so close to falling, that he realized just how fragile they were. Close family only that is, as in the family he arrogantly thought of as the family he'd created himself (no mention of his wife contributing unless he was thinking entirely negative things, naturally).
And with these thoughts came others, joined hand in hand: no, it wasn't just his family, but every family. Every family member, in fact every human being on this planet (regrettably including himself), was fragile. Humans were intricate machinery that lived and respired, very carefully manufactured yet ultimately weak and easily broken, just as long as you saw the design faults. And they often weren't hard to miss.
Some people were vastly more faulted than others; it was evident that some people were so much weaker. And then, just like that, he was back to his family again in his head. It always seemed to come back to them, it was an inescapable cycle that just went round and round in his head.
Then he realized that whenever he verbally mentioned his family he spoke in present tense.
Each of them had been dead, even if just mentally to him, at least once upon a time. Cat was currently the only survivor. Even so, her presence in the living realm was little more than the buzz of a faraway insect to him. He was aware she as alive, but barely spared a thought to it. Just another 'innocent' human, if humans could be innocent anymore, not wanting to gain a bee sting.
Oh how weak ordinary, boring humans were. It was almost cute.
Back to weakness, it seemed. Cycle, cycle, cycle. Or maybe even a tornado in his mind, obliterating all of the weaker and human thoughts, whilst he calmly sat in the eye of the storm, observing the chaos with nothing but a grim smile.
He just didn't want to be human anymore. It was as simple as that. It was nothing close to a suicidal statement; he just didn't want humanity and all the design faults that came with it. Whilst Mia was dying (cycle, cycle, cycle) he had decided this in the split second he had had to register the fact that in moments she would cease to exist anymore aside from memories. That had been an odd thought.
Zeb wanted to avoid the sting, basically. He wanted to wash away his feelings with a washcloth. It wasn't so easy; behind his frantic sheath of emotions there was just a numbing sensation. Icy water spread through his arteries and veins, freezing his brain and stilling his heart almost to a stop. Almost. Almost.
As he tried to cleanse his body from weakness, parts clung to the human inside of him. The weaker, sentimental parts. They had to be destroyed. He didn't want feelings and the pain and stupid, pathetic weakness that was carried with them. But... but... there couldn't be any harm in just reviewing old thoughts, memories and feelings... right?
Just a few minutes of weakness, all he needed, a few more minutes in which he could recall, reflect and then destroy all the weakness. He needed to destroy it, it clogged to his arteries like old cholesterol, and weakness caused death as sure as cholesterol caused athero sclerosis. It was as if his flaws and all his frailty was solid matter that he physically had to scrape away. Only instead of an operation the only way he could think to rid him from this was just to go back.
He would go back and he would surrender completely to all the faults he had, and hopefully he'd eventually emerge victorious.
So, Mia. Mia. Mia. Her name sounded odd in his mind. It was overused vocabulary that soon will just mean nothing, when this is all done. His personal dictionary definition will crumble into non-existence. She is his light. The present tense would never be a mistake for that. She is his light, forever and in the past, now and tomorrow, yesterday and on the day he will take his final breath. Even Zeb did not believe he was immortal; there was no point in hoping for impossibilities, after all. As she took her own final breath, the light dimmed to pitch black. That did not stop her being his light, though. She was the only light he had, so without it he just lives in the dark. Hidden from the truth, from everything, maybe that's where the numb sensation is coming from?
She is his light and she kept the scars in their relationship, the wounds that reopened and never faded, so very clear. But the light kept her eyes in focus, too, and that was enough to confuse him and cause him to be angry and sad at the same time without really understanding why. The last time he'd seen her eyes he hadn't seen them. With his light turned off, what could he possibly see them with? The eyes he glimpsed seemed dull and grey, but then again he had made the point to not look directly at them.
Oh Mia. He remembered many things. They were all jumbles of positive and negative that joined to make thoughts that he just couldn't properly judge or comprehend. Oh, it was all a mess but all he could see were the flickering images:
Her wedding dress; the way her screams went shrill when he hit her harder that one time he had completely lost control; her arms wound tightly around him when they were just kids; the way she screamed at him and said she was leaving for good; her lips tasting strongly of salt from the sea as they kissed in the FAYZ; the way her eyes would crinkle when she laughed; the way her eyes crinkled as she snapped the manacles round his wrists; her voice as she accused him of being the weak one; thick hair feeling so heavy when he gathered it in his hands; holding her at night in the first days of their marriage; the way her skin was so pale, so so pale, against her dark red blood; the dark bruises up her arms, on her torso, that remained hidden for so long; faded memories in a park, her trying to take pictures whilst he just kissed her, causing her to drop the camera onto the bench, unable to resist her for even a moment; whispering threats in her ear; watching her on the stage before Darkness had interfered, brighter than any spotlight could have been; and finally just the look of betrayal she had given him the first he had hurt her.
The look she had given him had been branded in his mind, and now it was all he could see, feel, now she was overriding all his senses, tasting blood in his mouth, tasting acid in his mouth as he felt sick to his stomach, the scent of her shampoo as she crawled into bed next to him after a hard days work. Mia, Mia... I... can't... do this... anymore. Oh, Mia, what happened to us...? We were a doomed love story from the start, just too devoted, just too sick with feelings that kids could never properly comprehend...
His whole world was then awash with the sea and the smell of coffee, vanilla and, oddly, peppermint from that little cafe they had visited when they were sixteen and trying to escape the world just for a day...Mia. Mia. Mia. Present tense. I lo-
The light flickered on for just a second, and then it went off. It would never shine again. Zeb had immersed and risen victorious, blank and numb. He had stepped out of the pain and now was dry and free of it all. By the time the name Mia rose in his thoughts again it only came with the detached feeling that the name had once meant so much to him. He remembered her, of course, just not in the same way. Her name wasn't bound with pain anymore, nor conflicting feelings.
He wasn't completely strong yet; he still had two more to go. He had dealt with one of the three, and was happy (well not happy, a non-human being wouldn't feel that, would he?) to note that the thoughts of his deceased wife were no longer default set to the present, aside from the unlit light that hovered right in front of him.
Steve was next, the other dead one, despite the fact the boy was still living. Unlike with his former wife, there were no positive thoughts in the mix. There weren't many memories, or conflicts, just resentment and irritation. He'd never been fond of his son (in fact even referring to Steve as his son brought bitter feelings) but any positive thoughts had vanished years ago.
Just a waste of space, Steve was. He was weak, pathetic and whiny. Essentially, he had the worst of both his parents, yet still had stolen Zeb's appearance so Zeb was constantly associated with the boy.
Steve was dead to Zeb. His existence was less than a speck of dust. He wasn't a threat, just an annoyance. He no longer lived with Zeb, and so he didn't have to bother with him. Irritating, certainly, but not worth making a fuss over. Steve was just a corpse that Zeb would have to kick out of his way.
So thinking of Steve wasn't much effort, and it didn't bring on much pain, nor weakness.
So, one left... Cat.
He wasn't even sure what he felt. There were no bitter thoughts, and there weren't really many happy ones, either. It wasn't the numbing feeling that had been seeping through him ever since he'd watched his ex wife's corpse fall, not quite, but it was just... a lack of understanding. A lack of understanding what he should feel towards his daughter, the girl who he'd seen in the first moments of fatherhood and recognized her as the fighter. This girl will be so strong, so wonderful, he had thought.
Though that had been back when he had thought he would be immortal with his wife at his side forever. That had been back when he thought their happiness would be immortal, too.
Memories didn't assault him this time. They seeped down, slowly, one by one.
He'd been so proud, so impossibly proud, when he had seen her interest in weapons, her fascination by the Darkness. At a young age, she was entranced and wanted to be the strongest. He respected that. He couldn't help but respect that.
Being kind to her had always been so hard, he felt as if he wasn't cut out for being a father. That didn't matter though, Cat was special. She was special and she was strong, and together, father and daughter, they would one day be invincible. So he had once thought.
Watching her grow was rather fascinating. She grew stronger and more talented, and along with that was eager to impress. Training hard, she exceeded his expectations. And again. Over and over again. Soon he learnt to not expect, just let her get on with it and be proud afterwards.
Never could he properly show his pride though. At the time he'd seen pride as just another weakness, on top of Zeb having difficulty of praising his family back then.
It toughened her up. Maybe.
Everything smashed into pieces.
She weakened, her affection for a boy and his wife's mind meddling didn't help. He didn't want to dwindle on this, though; it was all too recent and too raw. So strong, she had been. Special, right? Cat had been special. He couldn't even attempt to muster up some present tense in his head.
Now she was stuck, wasn't she? Frozen between two realities and neither were completely true.
And stabbing... she had stabbed... stabbed... her...
He expected more pain, but no, he was still numb regarding his ex wife. His life companion (because he could fuck other women, but when would any ever be up to the standard of his ginger?) had gone for now, the memories barely lingered in the back of his mind.
Still, hadn't Cat's actions weakened them? But she may have saved lives by doing so... but she let the Resistance members go... but so had he.
It was all so confusing in his mind.
Cat still wasn't an issue he could truly resolve, so he doubted he was able to reach full strength. So her existence buzzed away again. It was rather stupid, maybe, but leaving the issue for later seemed to be his favourite method with dealing with Cat.
He'd sort it all later, right?
Now he had to just remain numb, numb and cold.
The tornado died and Zeb smiled.
Round and round and then to a stop, it went. Like a car crash his family had been everything and then nothing, as if they all had literally died in that second. It was so peaceful now. Buzzing was in the distance but that hardly mattered; he was basically free. Free to walk without fear of harsh winds sweeping him astray. Free to think clearly, to get revenge, to make his master proud.
The cycle had stopped. Weakness and family, they all were the same. And he'd grinded both to a halt, not forever, but for now. It was long enough to bide him time to finally clean out the irritating, stubborn stain that was the Resistance.
And maybe Zeb Cray had died right there and then, metaphorically, by the side of his family. Maybe he had died years ago when he first accepted Darkness. Or maybe, he'd died when his beloved had fell, and all that had been left until now was the annoying ghost of himself who had been haunting his body.
Maybe he wasn't dead at all. But really, who was left to care anymore? He certainly didn't give a shit.
He was no longer so fragile, and now wasn't completely vulnerable. He'd taken the machine and sealed over all visible faults in the design. Apart from one; that was hidden though, he wouldn't have to worry about the last one until later. All that was left visible to him was the cold, empty light that caused him to be plunged into darkness. Left in the dark with Darkness.
My family had been so fragile...
No. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered.
He smiled a smile that only reached his lips, a smile that promised nothing. It was a lack of anything.
No pins and needles, no rush of blood and panic, no ice and no freezing.
Oh, if he could feel emotions he'd of cried with joy at what had happened to him now. He would have loved this, fucking loved this, almost as much as he had once loved the scent of shampoo and the feeling of her warm breath tickling his neck.
His family had fallen, or would fall, one by one into death's doors. They would be just part of the long chain of pathetic humans who took their turns, trying to prevent inevitably falling down.
But he wouldn't step in line so easily. He knew better.
The empty smile dropped. This was it. Tomorrow he'd wake up and life would be the same as it always was, because no matter what happened to your mental state the world continued to spin round. The good guys continued to fight the bad guys, and the bad guys had to keep up to keep everyone entertained.
Though the dead light would never leave him, he managed let everything else about her go with one final thought.
Mia, oh Mia, I loved you. I can say that now. A shame, really, that this all happened, but I guess it made me stronger. It made me realize what I had to do to stop all these silly weaknesses. So thanks, I guess. I really did love you. Past tense.