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 Dead Men Standing

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Jay
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PostSubject: Dead Men Standing   Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:10 pm

It had come in his mailbox, small and eggshell, written on a long folded up piece of paper. He didn't want to read it. He knew what it was, knew what it's implications were. When he took it up, dropping his bag at the front door, he locked himself in his room. It seemed like hours that he sat there, staring at it and watching it stare back, hands crossed over his knees. Finally, he got up, and gave the seal a tear.

Charts and charts and scans; that was what it contained. Logan had sent audio recordings on the request of his mother, had sent mucus samples and descriptions. He didn't want to. He had a set goal. He would stay in Beata Academy and do this by himself, hold up hope so long as there was a light to reach. He was in this tunnel whether he liked it or not. If it were caving in, if pebbles were falling from the ceiling in a precarious rumble, or if the ground shook with the ear-splitting tremors, the soulcrushing vibrations of an earthquake, he was still in that tunnel and he didn't know how long it would be until the roof caved in. It was his to decide. But his mom had taken up smoking again watching him cough every weekend on Skype, and made him forfeit this high ground. This blissful ignorance. He promised himself it would be positive news he got back.

It wasn't.

Logan had work that day at the Infirmary, as he did every weekday morning. Dry-mouthed, he picked up his bag and rushed out of his dormitory. If there were people in that room, if there were people waving to him or saying hi, he didn't see him. He didn't respond. He was in a tunnel-vision, a tunnel with an exit he could see so clearly, and he wanted to stop it from cracking around him. He was walking toward the Infirmary, down the path from his dorm to the large building it was housed under. Around him, what were roses of green summer at one time were unpicked corpses, stems stuck up in a stiff gray, without rightful claim. They were dead men standing. He didn't go to the infirmary.

The infirmary was his hope, a place to hone, but now he had no time, just no time. He practically picked up a sprint, whipping out his phone as he dodged through passers-by, passing by the dormitories around him, sifting through webpages, tapping on ticket prices and exploding through doorways, up the stairs and through the hall and he was there. Dorm 406.

If one could describe the hastiest of knocks, his was that, the ratatat of a train leaving a station.

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:17 am

Visitors.

Between her, Jules, and D'Angelo, Dorm 406 got lots of visitors. A few short months ago she'd filled it up with people. But today, out of all days, she hadn't expected a knock like that. Jane always dressed to impress, but the hurried knock had caught her off guard. She wasn't sure if anyone else was home, and even if Tabitha was lurking in the dorm somewhere, it was probably better that she was the one to answer. Dorm 406 got visitors and she'd have liked to keep it that way; if Tabitha had her way, their door would be shunned like a quarantine zone.

Jane was still drying her hair when she heard it. After a few moments of deliberation, she flicked off the hairdryer and threw on a loose top and some pajama bottoms. It wasn't the flashiest of looks, but it was comfy, and she didn't want to keep them waiting all day. There weasn't any time for make-up. She walked toward the door, pulling her still half-wet hair into a ponytail, and threw open the door.

That was a face she hadn't been expected. A smile lit up across her face, even if he didn't look like the happiest guy in the world. "Logan!" she said, with a new pep in her voice. There'd been a tinge of urgency in his knock, but her face didn't show any concern. "Couldn't stay away from me for long, could ya?"

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:11 pm

"Listen..." Logan tried to look amused by the joke, smiling a short smile as his hand shot to the back of his head. But he coughed a lot from all the running, and the smile faded quicker than a natural one would. He analyzed her, seeing that she seemed to have just dressed, just showered. It was pretty early.

Should he tell her? Logan thought of all the ways that would go, what kind of buzzkill that would be to tell someone as they opened their door. Besides, he didn't want to. That kind of thing exhausted him.

He could feel the death inside him, eating him, a dead man standing. "I know this is a little out of the blue," he said to begin, "And this is not some kind of plea of love. I don't, I mean that, I don't that, and I know you don't to. That's not why I'm here." He held up his phone before he could speak, a confirmation page on the screen.

Two tickets, Paris, $1300. He had his student card on the bill, for the school to absorb. His thumb hovered over the large orange button, Confirm.

"Winter break is coming up. Would you like to go with me to Paris?"

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:37 am

He wasn't going to die on her doorstep, was he? Okay, so he was in a hurry, and it was just a bit of a coughing fit. That wasn't a big deal for most people, but she couldn't help but remember that day back in front of the mirrors. They'd talked so casually about dying. She'd have been a bit upset if he decided to do it here; Jane had learned that explaining corpses was a hell of a headache, and it was too early in the day to go through that whole routine.

A plea of love? Well, he sure had a way with words, at least. She liked his spontaneity, and keeping it vague kept it interesting, but she was wondering when he'd arrive at the point when he just spat it out. Paris. France. Europe. Both of them, Winter Break. There wasn't any ceremony to it. Other people might've been a bit more romantic about the idea, even if it wasn't supposed to be a romantic trip. Other people might've planned something that drastic a bit better too. Other people wouldn't spring thousand dollar tickets to another continent on a person right out of the shower. 'A little bit out of the blue' was a little bit of an understatement. She felt her heart skip a beat.

"Sure!" she said with a casual smile, opening her door wider. Her face lit up with a thousand-watt grin. "It's about time you got around to that."

She thought that he had an A+ execution. That was the best way to surprise someone, by making it an actual surprise. And Jane loved surprises.

"When are we leaving? Oh. Do you want to come in? It's a bit of a mess, but as long as Tab doesn't catch you, you should be safe. I even stocked up on some tea, but there's some coffee if you're willing to give it another shot. Maybe you'll come around." She'd always been a bit of a chatterbox, but even if she wasn't jumping up and down with joy, there was a new pep to the way she talked, and she was rambling even faster than normal. It was an accomplishment, really. Jane put a finger to her cheek and leaned forward with a teasing edge to her voice. "I know you said this wasn't a plea for love, but I feel like I'm being asked out to a middle school dance or something right now. I'm pretty excited, if you couldn't tell."

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Thu Dec 24, 2015 7:04 am

The rush was over, the speech he had rehearsed in his head over the last few minutes gone. He breathed a deep, clattering breath. He felt fine. He felt fine. The coughing ceased. "Sure," Logan said, wary of this 'Tab' character. "I'd love to."

When she leaned forward, Logan instinctively leaned back. Shit. There was something about her. She was annoying, yes, and she was mysterious, but there was always that thing, something, a spark she gave him that made him happy. Was this love? Did he say something he'd regret. Logan remembered the cruelness in her eyes as she gave an apathetic sendoff to the boy in the mirror.

Would that be him?

"Me too."

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Fri Dec 25, 2015 7:29 pm

Paris. France. Europe. She couldn't hold back the small thrill she got at the idea. Jane clasped at his hand, barely noticing how he leaned away from her, and started tugging her into the dorm talking at a million words per minute. "I think we've got the place to ourselves for right now, but who knows." Tab always struck her as more of a silent killer. "Sorry I'm not really dressed. France though. Is it just you and me?" She twirled around to face him, grinning, and then kept on moving, still dragging him along. "I've always wanted to go to Europe. I'm flattered, really. Don't spend too much money on me or I might just fall in love," she teased.

Jane still hadn't let go of his hand as she waltzed into the small mess of a kitchen, light on her feet now. Coffee, right. Or tea. Or something a bit stronger? Maybe water would be fine, she didn't know. It was a weird time of the day for tea and coffee. "Anything to drink? Juice? Water? Tea? It's peppermint, sorry if you're not a fan. It was on sale. Coffee again? Rum? Shot of moonshine? It tastes like apple cider. Strong. Your face will burn for a bit." Jane cracked open the fridge, glanced inside, closed it, and opened it again, leaning farther in. "Hungry?" They weren't exactly loaded on food, but there was still some leftovers from the past weekend and what you'd expect to find in a student dorm. Cheap, fast, instant food. "I'd pop open some champagne for the occasion, but I don't have any."

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:22 am

"I don't have much money to spend, so don't get too disappointed with me," he fired this back teasingly, though it was a little empty. He'd make sure to spend it all; most of it, anyway. Logan sat on the couch as she barraged him with ideas, suggestions of food and drinks and his closed his eyes and smiled through the headache. "Water is fine," he said. Moonshine was temping but the day had just begun. Would he ever have moonshine? He never tried it. There wasn't enough time.

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Sun Dec 27, 2015 10:56 pm

"I'm already disappointed," she sighed, grabbing two glass cups out of a cupboard and setting one under the faucet. "I was being coy. Can't you be a little richer?" She popped open the freezer, struggled with the ice tray for a minute or two, before finally bashing it against the counter-top to knock a few cubes loose. Jane dropped in the ice chips and slid it over to Logan with a wink. "Water is pretty boring, but we can save the moonshine for later."

She poured herself half a glass of something unmarked, golden, fizzy, and suspicious and sat down at the table across from him. It wasn't anything to get wasted on, but a small buzz to start the day seemed fitting seeing the occasion. Jane took a small swig and set the glass down, grinning ear to ear. "Wanna sip?" She swirled a bit of the liquid inside the glass.

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:16 pm

Logan watched her pour herself what looked to be alcohol. He could tell it by the fizz it gave, the strong odor silhouetted on the deep amber smell of whatever-the-hell it was. He grinned, eyes fixed down to it. "It's not even noon," he remarked, looking back up at her eyes, but leaning back, succumbed to a nod, giving an accepting gesture with his hand. "Whatever, alcoholism runs in the family." He wasn't quite sure about that statement, but it certainly sounded cool in the moment.

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:32 pm

"Oh, don't be dramatic," she said, sliding the glass over. "You won't get drunk. Just a bit... cheery." Jane propped up her cheek on her hand and played absentmindedly with her ponytail, smiling. "I'm not one to talk, though. My family's got whiskey for blood." They weren't drunks, or violent, or abusive, but fuck her if they didn't like a good strong drink. "If anyone asks, just say you're filled with Christmas spirit. You should still be able to drive with that much in your system, kinda." If he ever popped down to the arcade again for another race, if anything, it might just make him a better drier. "Something French and fancy for Paris, oui?"

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:39 pm

"Oui." Logan took the glass from her. It seemed that what she said had unleashed a sense of relief, or a sense of something. There was a frustration building in him, an angry panic, the racing mind one could only explain if they were just told they were dying. Logan was that someone. He took that glass, and with the tilt of his head, the propping of it to his lips, he downed it. It wasn't much of a sip, taking a few seconds to complete, and upon this he slammed it to the table.

It broke on impact. His hand hovered over a pile of shards, some embedded in his palm, the edges of his fingers, marked by the scarlet trails and rivers that dripped to the crime scene below. He took a second to process what he did. It didn't even hurt.

"Fuck." It hung in an ocean of confusion and shock, its waves shooting up his hand in icicle splinters. "I'm so sorry, I..."

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Mon Dec 28, 2015 3:16 am

Something was wrong, but she couldn't put her finger on what. It was like watching the start of a car crash in slow motion. You didn't see the signs of a disaster until it already happened. The glass went shattering against the table with a crash that made her jump in her seat with a gasp, and when she blinked, her table was coated in a field of glass, blood, and alcohol. Jane went rushing to her seat and to Logan's side, clasping at his wrist. "Are you okay?" she interrupted, turning the hand over with a sharp intake of breath. It looked bad, and probably felt worse. Did they have a first-aid kit around here...? When one girl in 406 could pop right back up from shattering every bone in their body, and another one could recover from death like it was a video game, little things like bandages seemed so trivial. She wished they'd had the forethought for something like this.

She wasn't squeamish, but something about the way the blood welled up from the glass embedded in his skin made her stomach churn. Jane let out a deep breath and let a small smile flutter past her lips. Right. Right... She lightly started to pick at the glass. They'd need to wrap it up, but first, that had to go. "Don't worry about the glass. Or the drink. I'll put it on your tab." Calm, casual, more or less collected. She paused. "Here, look... When I ask if you're okay..." Obviously he wasn't okay. He had fucking glass in his hand and alcohol in a bunch of open cuts. That wasn't the point. "You seem a little tense." To put it lightly. He'd just chugged half her drink and smashed it on the table. "Ever since you knocked on the door. So... are you okay?" She glanced up and shot him a small smile. "Not nervous over talking to a pretty girl?"

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:16 pm

"I'm fine." Logan began rubbing his other hand over the injured one, like an eraser, warm green light shrouding up the wounds in healed skin. The blood stayed behind, drying and smeared. "I'm sorry, I'm fine, I'm fine." He kept insisting, insisting, wondering if saying it over and over would make her believe it. He didn't want to tell her. He didn't want to ruin their trip before it began. He gave one last smile, rubbing the hand some more. "It was just a mistake, is all. Work has been weighing on me, maybe I needed the drink. I'm fine, though, really."

Work. He jumped up, looking up at the clock on the wall. "Work, shit. I'm late. I need to make money for when you bankrupt me, of course." He began to make his way towards the door. "Make sure to pack, I'm coming tomorrow at 6."

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PostSubject: Re: Dead Men Standing   Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:14 am

Jane took a step back and watched, half in amazement, as the wounds closed and melted away under the soft green glow. If it wasn't for the blood, and for the shattered glass still laying on the table, it was almost like he'd never cut his hand open at all. She put a hand over her hand though as he started to rattle off some excuse about the infirmary. Just because his hand was healed didn't mean he was fine. It was hard to return that weak smile, even with the dumb joke about his bankroll. Even when he mentioned Paris again, even though a minute before that would've sent a thrill racing through her. "Yeah, I'll be ready," she shot back sweeping the glass onto the floor with her hand and flicking the blood and alcohol off her fingers. He already looked halfway out the door. So soon? It felt like he'd just gotten here. "I'll be bouncing off the walls by that time, so maybe you should just worry about yourself."

He certainly had a way of deflecting away the tough conversations.

"Have fun playing doctor, Hawkeye. I'll be waiting."

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