Title: FP: Sand Castles (1/1)
Summary: In which Krit is the bearer of bad news.
Characters: Krit, Tinga, Charlie
Spoilers: "Hit a Sista Back" through "And Jesus Brought a Casserole"
Distribution: Want it? Take it.
Disclaimer: Cameron and Eglee.
Date: Dec. 9, 11, 2001.
His blood was humming--he was going fast, so fast, fucking fantastic!--individual spots of lights passed with such speed that they blurred into nearly unbroken lines of wavering gold and red. Sounds were brief shocks of awareness before the hard press of air the steady drum of his own heartbeat sent the outside world spiralling away. That was the same, still, slight variation of a memory he'd made new a hundred times. The feel of the motorcycle beneath him, pounding blood and air and exhilaration, that he remembered, and nothing else was what it was, what it should be.
It had been raining that night, Krit recalled--hard and steady and the streets had turned wet and slick. He had been fourteen, maybe fifteen--he wasn't quite sure how old he had been then, or now, old enough to fight and kill and die and birthdays had never really mattered--and he had stolen the motorcycle. Music had been pounding, audible even from the streets, above the thrum of the rain and fuck them all, Krit had thought because the world owed him something, anything. He had taken the motorcycle and the rain had slicked his hair flat against his skull, had stung into his eyes as he sped away from the sound of music and laughter.
He had gone fast, as fast as he could, and thought about training sessions under Lydecker's watchful eye. He had been hooked to wires and cords and his body had hurtled through air--fantastic! incredible!--and he missed the feel of that, even if they were supposed to hate everything marked Manticore in their memories. Krit had thought about flying and had sped faster and faster across rain slicked streets and he had nearly laughed as he lost control of his stolen motorcycle and was lifted and tumbled into the air and towards the ground.
Mid-afternoon, now, the day clear and bright and he had bought this motorcycle second-hand. Fast, fast, but in control and maybe he had gotten smarter since then. That night, he had held his broken arm against his aching ribs and had weaved and wavered down the darkened streets, through the occasional pool of light cast by the random unbroken street-lamps. Tinga had caught him with a small huff of surprise as she struggled to adjust to his sudden weight. Her face had been cast in grim disapproval as she half guided, half dragged Krit into her box of a home.
"Idiot," Tinga had said as she stripped off Krit's shirt. "I can't believe you," Tinga had sighed and shaken her head as she wound bandages about Krit's ribs and tugged his arm back into place. She rose and packed her first aid supplies back into their kit, but left in on the table at Krit's elbow. Tinga's hands were at her hips, drawing her nightgown tighter against her chest, her hair wild around her shoulders. "You could have gotten yourself killed."
"I didn't," Krit had said.
"Not this time," Tinga muttered darkly. She shook her head and touched the top of Krit's tousled head. "Oh, Krit. Krit, you idiot."
"Hey," Krit said and ducked out from beneath Tinga's hand. "I can take care of myself," and he could feel his bruised body and the bandages itching against his skin. "Usually," he amended to the urging of Tinga's lifted eyebrow.
"Sure," Tinga had said. "I can see that."
"Well," Krit shrugged and scrapped his nail across the table's surface. His stomach rumbled and Krit ducked his head and smiled as Tinga turned towards the refrigerator without any urging. He never quite understood what feeding people satisfied in Tinga, but he wouldn't complain, not with the scent of chicken in the air.
A bowl of chicken salad was thumped down before Krit. "What were you thinking?" Tinga demanded and pointed the fork she held at Krit.
"Tinga," Krit said.
"No. Really. Tell me," Tinga had said.
Krit shrugged and sighed, peeled aside the saran-wrap and used his fingers to catch at the chicken. "I wanted," Krit said, "to have a bit of fun."
"Fun. Now, for the first time, while I still can." He licked mayo from his fingers. "This is good."
"Fun isn't worth getting killed for," Tinga said, amazed at Krit, at fun.
Krit shrugged again and knew that the gesture irritated Tinga. "Hey. You know what they say: live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse."
Tinga's eyes fluttered shut for a moment and she drew in a breath. "You," she said and scrambled in silence for words. "You don't believe that. You can't."
Krit chewed thoughtfully, swallowed and licked at his lips. "Maybe. Yeah. I don't know, Tinga. We aren't going to live to a ripe old age, Tinga, not any of us. We'll get killed, or captured, or our own bodies will turn against us. Why bother with any of this if we aren't going to live, let loose, have fun?"
Tinga settled against the edge of the table, no other chairs available. "Fun," she said again. "I understand. I do. But," Tinga shook her head. "I want meaning."
"I want my life to mean more than," she waved her hands about, a curiously loose and directionless gesture for Tinga. Krit understood. "That's what I want."
"Fun is easier."
"Easy is meaningless."
"Says you," Krit said, grinning.
Tinga looked down at her hands, blinked. "Here," she said and passed the fork to Krit.
"Oh. Thanks," he said and let it clatter in his empty bowl. "Tinga. Hey. It's good seeing you again."
"It is," Tinga said and smiled at him for the first time that night.
She had a pretty smile, Krit thought, one not born out of the deliberate attempt to charm. His was, most of the time, and he thought that they were so different that they wouldn't have been here together right now if there weren't barcodes blazed across both of their flesh.
"Let's just hope you're in one piece next time around," Tinga had said, and maybe there was some sort of irony in that because he was astride his motorcycle, wind whipping at his face and Tinga with her husband and child was gone, gone, dead.
Cheap beer was a liquid burn down his throat. Sloshed against rounded walls of glass bottle as hand and beer fell away from his lips, landed on his jean-clad thigh. Licked at damp lips. Eyelids felt heavy, a slow dry drag over his eyes as he blinked. Edges of his vision were fuzzy, like peering through fog. Could still make out the man on the chair across from him, so he took another swig from the bottle. Cool brown-tinted glass gone warm from the heat of his hand, he'd been clutching it like it was the only thing left in the world that he understood.
Hadn't needed an introduction--he'd known when he opened the door wide enough to find the other man's eyes. Penny's eyes, and they had been given separate bodies but shared the same eyes between them--that look, something there that went beyond named emotion, something he hadn't seen in Penny's until he had found it in her family's. Opened the door when all he wanted to do was slam it shut and forget, because there had been other emotions on Krit's face, things even he could understand.
He had watched old war movies when he was a child. Solemn men at the door: I regret to inform you that. . . Krit's hand had been at the back of his neck, head dipped forward, trying to rub away tension tight in his muscles. His hand had fallen to his side, dark eyes lifted, and his voice had been low and drawn out as if words had to fight their way past his tight throat. "I have to talk to you about Tinga." Hurt and awkward, twitching beneath still exterior, as if he didn't know what to do with the words he had carried to Charlie's door.
Charlie hadn't asked for details--hadn't wanted to know, cared only that Penny was gone, was never coming back, not ever. He had walked straight and stiff towards the kitchen, carefully opened the refrigerator, drew out the first of a new pack of beer. Metal ridges cut into flesh at the pad of his thumb as he flipped the cap off, shaking hand leading beer to his trembling lips. Worse, far worse this than not knowing.
Krit hadn't moved, still and silent at the kitchen table, not looking at Charlie. Looked young and lost with his hands clasped on the table, head bent, eyes lowered. Charlie didn't care, didn't want to--Penny had been his wife, the mother of his child, the woman he loved with all of his heart--and it had been this still and silent man and his kind who had taken Penny from him, who had given him Tinga and pain and sacrifice in her place. And he had been a fool, clinging to the promise Max had made.
Tension was nearly tangible between them and Krit fought not to react to the burnt scent of anger and sorrow emanating from Charlie. He didn't want to be here, in this home shaped by Tinga, though she had never seen it, faced with the emotions of the man she had chosen to risk her safety for. Anger bubbled within Krit, and he wished Syl was here instead of him, because had never had to deliver news such as this to someone who didn't know death as intimately as they did life.
Charlie was reaching for another bottle of beer, and Krit rose from the table and gave his back to the other man. There was a picture in the living room, on the bookshelf. Krit navigated his way through the room, around the puzzle on the floor, the stuffed toy abandoned by the coffee table. Tinga and Charlie and Case, and Tinga was smiling in the picture--she had a pretty smile, Krit thought, happy and sad all at once and it had been too long since he had made time to see her.
"I'm sorry," Krit said.
Behind him, a bottle slammed down onto the table. "You're sorry," Charlie said, his voice hard and so angry it shook. *"Sorry."*
Dreams die all the time. You get used to it, Jondy had said once. Except he wasn't, and he had talked about living fast and dying young but it shouldn't have been Tinga--Ben, Brin, Max, Zack; God, he was tired of this, all of it.
"She was my sister," Krit said, quiet. "I loved her."
"I don't know you," Charlie said, his voice lowering, his eyes still hard when Krit turned to face him. "I don't know you. I don't want to. I don't care."
Krit didn't strike back, didn't respond at all for a long moment. It would feel good--for a while, and a while was better than nothing--to let anger wash over loss so deep and sharp and solid he couldn't even mourn. Tinga had loved Charlie, and Krit hadn't been able to do anything for her, so he held back a bitter stream of words because Tinga had loved Charlie and he would not hurt someone Tinga had loved.
"You were lucky," Krit said and stuffed his curled hands into the pockets of his coat.
"Lucky?" Charlie said, incredulous, voice rising again.
"You had time with her--you got to know her and love her and be with her." He hadn't really had that with Tinga, or Ben, Brin, Max, Zack--wouldn't ever have that, not even with Syl.
"We should have had a lifetime."
We don't do happily ever afters, Syl had told him. He didn't say anything. Charlie was figuring that out by himself.
Charlie rubbed his hand across his face. His shoulders had rounded, tired, defeated. "Just leave. Now."
Krit nodded, silent. There really wasn't anything else to say.
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