Eli tried really hard not to panic, not at first at least. Instead he stepped back in the bathroom, listening the person shuffling downstairs. It was clear by the footsteps though, that the person was not only familiar with the layout of the house but they weren't planning on leaving anytime soon.
Great, just his luck.
The image of Tanner, bleeding and hurt in his arms, flashed through Eli's brain and anger- a pulsing vendetta sort of anger- surged through him. As Eli saw it, the person downstairs could only be Deavon. And that thought alone had him tucking in the needle and string he stole in a small bag before sprinting downstairs to end this SOB once and for all.
"Whoa kid!" the figure he pounced on suddenly exclaimed as they both tumbled to the ground in a mess of limbs and splintered wood.
Eli blinked in shock at the now suddenly bleeding George before climbing to his feet and growling sharply, "I thought Deavon killed you."
George just gazed up at him before snorting and rolling over to his feet, brushing off his pants. Eli tensed, taking a defensive stance that George quickly recognized and held his hands up to pacify the angry teen.
"He can try but this island has its strange and mysterious ways of allowing certain things go by unnoticed," he explained before clarifying, "It will take more than a simple gunshot to kill me."
Eli just snorted, rolling his eyes dramatically as he crossed his arms back over his chest. He wasn't exactly lowering his guard, he just wasn't as tense.
"I'm so sure," he muttered before suddenly remembering why he came there in the first place and took a backwards step towards the door speaking as he did so, "Well since I no longer have any reason to stick around, see ya."
He turned to bolt towards the door, almost making it too.
"Scampering off to fix that kid brother of yours!" George's voice stopped Eli as his hand hovered centimeters over the doorknob.
He felt his teeth grind together in frustration as his hand clenched in a fist and he spun around to glower at the man as he snapped, "What's it to you, anyways?"
"I like the kid," George admitted from his spot several feet away, "He's sweet and still innocent. Something this island has yet to encounter. You're just the idiot keeping him alive."
"What?" Eli finally exclaimed, growing tired of George's cryptic words.
"Tanner," George clarified, "Should have died the second he stepped foot on this island. Yet he has you there, always protecting him from harm and keeping him alive."
"I don't have time for this," Eli growled, turning to throw open the door to bolt, suddenly eager to be near his brother again.
Tanner is fine. Eli just had to get back to him to make sure he'll stay that way. Shot and bleeding but other than that, fine. Now all Eli had to do was keep telling himself this until he believed it.
"Deavon shooting him wasn't some fluke!" George continued but Eli ignored him, throwing open the door and sprinting back to where he left his father and brother, George continuing to yell at him.
He made it back in record time, skidding to a stop just outside the cave. He could hear slight rustling on the inside, Tim shifting uneasily as he tried his best to care for his injured son. And for some reason, that thought made Eli pause.
Maybe it was the island messing with him. Maybe it was George's words still echoing in his head. Or maybe it was just Eli's shock of someone taking care of his brother that wasn't him. There was no way to be 100% certain, all he knew was that he suddenly wanted to be near Tanner.
He ducked underneath the vines, taking in the scene of a shirtless Tim sitting beside a still unconscious Tanner holding a bunched up shirt against the wound. His father didn't even bother to give him a second glance as he kept all his focus on Tanner.
"Do you have what I need?" he asked calmly and Eli found himself tossing the small package he collected from Deavon and George.
Tim caught it without taking his gaze off of Tanner, one hand already working to get the objects out. When he spoke again, he did tear his gaze away from Eli to mutter something about how it would be best for him to wait outside. And Eli wanted to protest, he really, really did but he just nodded and slunk outside.
Half an hour later but what felt like forever, Tim finally reemerged with the promise that Tanner should be fine. Eli grinned in relief before stepping forward to embrace his father tightly.
It'd been purely out of relieved instinct, nothing more, but it stunned Eli and Tim just the same. Tim tensed before making a move as if to embrace Eli back but the boy was already stepping back and away, shaking his head vehemently.
"No," he protested angrily, "No. You can't do this. You left us and Mom died so no."
Then he shoved past his father roughly to go sit beside Tanner. He sat there for who-knows-how-long, patiently waiting for him to reawaken. To his surprise though, Tim never re-entered the cave and, at that, he felt a pang of guilt as he realized that was more than partially his fault. He was just about to rise up to go apologize when he heard it, small and faint.
He froze, eyes falling down upon his weak and groggy but alive brother. Tanner's eyes flickered around the cave nervously before settling back on his brother as he gasped, "What happened? Where's Dad?"
How could he explain that he allowed himself to be a jerk again to the man that helped birth them? How could he explain that to his still weak and tired brother who was recovering from a gunshot wound and really wanted their father back in their lives?
Unfortunately for him, though, Tanner's spent his entire life reading Eli's subtle body messages and instantly realized what was happening. He groaned tiredly, staring up at his brother reprimanding.
"I thought you were going to try," his brother grumbled before hissing at the sudden pain bolting through his injured shoulder.
"I know," Eli agreed rising to his feet, "I'll go apologize."
"No need kiddos," a new voice suddenly purred as Tim was suddenly shoved through the vines, hands tied and gagged. Deavon stepping up behind him.
"Are you kidding me?" Eli exclaimed angrily as he glared at the newcomers.
Deavon just chuckled, now welding a dangerous looking knife as he took in the sight of Eli on his feet in helpless shock and Tanner now sitting up in shock and obvious pain.
"Nope. Sorry boys," Deavon purred as he took in the sight of the tired family, stroking the knife lovingly, "but I think I finally figured it out."
With that said, he bent over to grip Tim's hair tightly and yank him up so his knife could settle underneath his chin delicately. His eyes were now wild and ones of a deranged crazy person.
"Say goodbye to daddy dearest," he continued to coo as he prepared himself to slaughter the man right then and there.
"Stop!" Eli and Tanner shouted at the same time, the latter only wincing slightly as the sudden movement caused a sudden bolt of pain run through his shoulder.
The noise seemed to draw Deavon away from whatever crazy edge he was teetering on as he dropped Tim's head back against the ground, setting his foot instead against the back of the man's neck. He ground it against the dirt before focusing on the boys.
"I figured it out," he repeated again, voice growing cold and crazed at the same time, "I figured it out."
"What are you talking about?" Eli demanded, growing uncomfortable by the way his father's face was being shoved into the dirt so degradingly.
"An escape. I figured it out," Deavon explained as he finally stepped back away from Tim to watch from the entrance of the cave, eyes taking in everything at once.
Eli continued to stare at him uneasily before going over and bending down to check on their father. Tim appeared dazed and embarrassed but nevertheless fine. And Eli was only mildly surprised by the relief suddenly soaring through him.
"Don't you ever get tired of being kidnapped old man?" Eli asked as he freed his father.
Tim just grunted before turning to glare at Deavon and growl, "What do you mean you found an escape?"
"Off the island. I figured it out," Deavon repeated giddily before focusing on Tanner and sneering, "It's him. This entire time, it's been him."
Eli maneuvered himself between the deranged man and his brother as he ground out, "I don't what you're getting at but you can just stop right there."
"No," Deavon laughed sounding deranged, "I'm not crazy. George saw it too. This entire time, an escape right under our noses."
Eli ground his teeth together again, hands folding up into fists as he continued to glare at the man adjacent from them. He was about to snap something rude before Tim interrupted, voice calm but posture clearly revealing the anger and repulsion he felt.
"Explain," he demanded, voice tight.
Deavon's eyes shifted to all of them before he smiled again and explained, "This Island has a knack for destroying anything even remotely pure and good while trapping the bad. Yet you two boys have somehow, against all odds, survived while at the same time something in this island shifted. Nothing major, just less homicidal vines and whatnot. It's like the island knew a light had been placed on it, something so pure and innocent it slowly caused it to degrade. That light is Tanner and he is my ticket out of here."
He then made a step towards the boy, which Tim quickly intercepted. He stepped forward, hands gripping onto the man's arm tightly as he yanked backward until he heard a pop followed by a scream. Deavon fell to his knees, good arm clutching his bad arm as he suddenly screamed profanities and curses up at them.
Eli ignored him, bending down to take in his stunned brother. He gently pulled him to his feet before moving to go wait outside, Tim following close behind.
"Do you think it's true?" Tanner finally asked soundly terrified and hopeful all at the same time.
"Don't know. Don't care. All I know is that I want to get you out of here," Eli replied as he continued to drag his brother away from the cave.
They didn't get very far.
A gunshot rang out and Chacha suddenly came barreling towards them seemingly out of nowhere. He was waving the gun around himself wildly, dried tear tracks running down his face.
"You killed her!" he exclaimed wildly as he shot blindly in the air, "You killed my daughter! She's dead because of you!"
Tanner flinched as Eli growled in frustration, already taking notice of how the vines on the trees seemed to swirl and snake towards the distraught father. Chacha didn't appear to notice though, just continued shouting and ranting at someone unseen by the brothers.
"Eli," Tanner gasped in shock as small fists clutched at his brother tightly.
"I know," Eli agreed as he continued to pull his brother away.
They watched as one of the vines finally wrapped itself around Chacha's arm, yanking him up in the air. He screamed in shock, eyes going wide as he continued to shoot mildly all around him. He was yanked further up until he disappeared in the trees, even his screaming dying away quickly.
Eli made the mistake of relaxing just then.
When asked later, he would have admitted he wasn't even sure what had happened. Only that the next moments happened really quickly and that he'll never forget the terrified look on Tanner's face as Eli felt a vine suddenly circle around his waist and yank him upwards.
"Eli!" Tanner shouted as his brother was ripped from his hands before two vines circled around his wrists and he too was yanked upwards. Somewhere down below, they could hear Tim shouting their names sounding utterly terrified.
Eli just struggled vainly though, suddenly trying to get to his brother. The vines just circled around tighter and he knew it was useless to struggle, allowing himself to go limp.
"Tanner!" he called watching as his brother's face snapped to his, small and terrified and hoping for his big brother to save him. Eli just shook his head though, feeling pain constrict in his chest.
"Don't," he whispered and the message was clear, Tanner allowing himself to go limp as he continued to stare up at his brother trustingly as Eli repeated himself softly, "Don't."
Vines wrapped themselves around Eli's neck, making his eyes bulge as Tanner allowed them to snake down his chest. The kid just blinked sadly though, hyper aware that this was the end. They were going to die.
"I love you," Eli heard Tanner mutter softly before he was engulfed in blackness as a weightless feeling seemed to overcome him.
So this is what it's like to die? he wondered briefly as he welcomed the gentle arms of death to encompass around him as Tanner's last words echoed in his head.
I love you.
And, the next thing Eli was aware of, was a bright light blinding him and chasing away the darkness. The tightness around him suddenly disappeared and he dropped, aware of Tanner falling beside him, the light fading and vines disappearing.
"Eli! Tanner!" someone shouted from far away. Tim, Eli recognized, it was Tim.
He blinked up blearily up at the concerned face of their father. He coughed, aware of Tanner sitting up and blinking dumbly at nothing beside him.
"What happened?" Eli croaked as he too sat up.
Tim blinked before explaining, "I thought you both were dead before a sudden blinding light burst from Tanner, causing the vines to retreat."
"And Chacha and Deavon?" because he really wanted to know no matter how utterly insignificant it now seemed.
Tanner coughed before blinking again and practically tackling Eli in a crushing hug. The kid sobbed in relief as Eli held him tightly, eyes meeting their father's from above his head. He knew they instantly came to the same conclusion.
They needed to get off the island, immediately.
For those wondering, yes, Chacha's entire clan was killed the time Tanner got shot by the vines and he had Deavon's gun. Anyways, until next time!