Pennies for the Dead

Scott lay on his back, staring up at the cracked paint of the ceiling. The bottle of scotch Logan had handed him sat unmolested just next to his head. If he were willing to move his head, his hair would brush against its smooth side. He was still in his uniform, though it was tattered and dirty. There was dust in his hair too. It coated his skin, but better dust than blood.

The split in his lip dripped the flavor of pennies into his mouth. The scotch could wash it away, but he took the metallic flavor as his due. He pressed his palms against the hardwood floor and fought the scream of rage that caught in his throat. Someone had destroyed his home – again.

He pulled his knees up and took a few quick breaths. The nausea was sadly familiar, as was the sour-sick feeling the back of his throat. It was anger, impotent rage, that had no target. His team was smart enough to leave him alone. He wished one of the newer members would wander in. He needed to scream at someone.

The copper and dust mixed with the bitter bile in his stomach until he was dizzy with it. It expanded in his mind, even as his throat cramped to keep it behind his teeth. Pain lanced through his head in jagged knife-thrusts of agony. Light flashed behind his tightly closed eyes. No matter how the red quartz dug into his nose and pressed against his temples, his instincts screamed that the visor wasn't strong enough.

He clenched his jaw, but didn't notice until the grinding noise assaulted his ears. His fingers twitched and fisted. He wanted to scream, to kick, to bite, to scratch, to tear, to batter, to demolish, to destroy as he'd been destroyed. But he was an adult. No tantrums for big boys.

Footsteps, calm and measured, entered the room and crossed the floor. There was a quick, sharp pain in his arm. "Ouch. Jesus fuck, Hank," he snarled. It would offend the doctor. Maybe even get him the fight he wanted.

The warmth tingled along his nerves. "No, don't want to... to..." His brain went fuzzy at the edges. The rage faded under the chemical onslaught.

"Sh." Hank soothed. His fingers were gentle, soft, not with fur, but warm, rough skin like a dog's paw against Scott's forehead. He brushed his fingers through Scott's hair and coaxed him onto his side and slipped a pillow under his cheek. "Go to sleep, Slim. We'll talk about unimaginative language in the morning."

In the end, the anger gave way to the drug and Scott slipped into sleep, one hand reaching for the woman who wasn't there and never would be again.


XM Bedroom