“You’re an idiot,” I whispered. “A goddamn idiot.”
“And you’re an asshole.” I hated her uncertainty, the way she said something and damn well didn’t believe it herself.
She watched me with her self-proclaimed morality, her eyes so judgmental, so... angry. I was pretty sure it was because of me. I’m no guardian. I don’t protect people, and she knew that. If anything, I hurt people - part of the job description, after all. Her head laid awkwardly on my lap and her blood ebbed from her like a waterfall. She was beautiful, no damn doubt about it; a beautiful idiot.
“How many times do I gotta watch you fall, kid? You’re not a damn rookie anymore.” I felt like a father scolding his child. It made me realize how much I hated the thought of family. Since when do I care when someone messes everything up? It didn’t... sit well.
She smiled. I think she smiled. “Fuck you, Reno.”
Yeah, fuck me. I didn’t know what to do. I never really knew what to do in those situations - I run from those situations; I make every half-assed excuse I can think of to get away from things like that. Killing someone’s one thing, but watching... No, I can watch them die. Maybe that’s the easy part. It was watching someone I know. Damn, but I knew that look. I knew it and it scared the shit out of me.
“I’m sorry. Maybe I deserve it... all the things we did. Oh God, Reno, that kid... I’m so sorry.” She was crying and for some reason it made me angry. I could feel it there, burning a hole in my chest. For a moment I couldn’t breathe. Why the hell did women have to cry so damn much, anyway?
“Compassion doesn’t suit a Turk, Elena.” But it wasn’t as if she exactly suited one either.
Her teeth clenched and I thought she'd say something, but she must've decided that staying silent was the better response to it all. More tears and blood and... I couldn't take it anymore. Realizing that death was nothing, that blood and gore and the end of world was more funny than it was frightening, I began to think I was invincible. I forgot that while I'd think myself indestructible, the damn idiots around me weren't. I thought it didn't matter. I wanted to be jaded, that nice numb feeling... Yeah, I wanted that again.
“My head hurts...” she mumbled.
“No shit. He got you good. I mean real good, too.” She went back for that damn kid. All those times and she chose now to regain a conscience. No. No, she always had one. I just never paid attention. Before, when she tried to act like us, before, when she tried to pretend that she could be us, was just a cover. Maybe if I had looked harder then... “Rule number fucking one: You never go back.”
“What the hell are you? The damn Turk handbook?”
“Rule number two: Leave your damn conscience at the door.” I could see anger in those big eyes of hers. Hell, I’d take that over self-pity and pain. “Rule number three–“
“I get it, Reno...“
I didn’t listen; I never wanted to. “Rule number three–“
“I said I get it! I’m not a child!”
“Could’ve fooled me.” And she had, a number of times.
“I know what I did. I messed up. I really messed up. I shouldn’t have gone back. But that kid... He was in the middle of it. He would’ve been killed, Reno.”
He was killed, I just didn’t have the damn heart to tell her. “You’re a real fucking hero.”
“I shouldn’t have... gotten in the way.”
Damnit. I wished she would’ve stopped talking. I didn’t want to hear it anymore. Didn’t she know that you could hear someone die? I think Rude told me that once. You could hear someone’s soul leave their body if you listened well enough.
But I was never a good listener.
I think it actually harmed her more, talking to an asshole like me. I lifted my hand from her chest and more blood welled from beneath her shirt. That all too familiar and acidic smell filled the air. I loved it and I hated it. Blood was everywhere, all over me and her, all over the cramped and nearly claustrophobic hallway. The light was too dim to make it out, but I could smell it. Hell, I could feel it, too. It was right there, beneath my fingertips, beneath her body. My pants were soaked in it. And it killed me because I knew it was all hers.
“Yeah, well maybe next time you’ll use your head.” I’m a hypocrite, I know.
She smiled. Damnit, she smiled. “I did use my head.”
Remembering her practically head-butting the wall to try to save that kid was almost funny. Almost. I couldn’t see very well, everything seemed to grow steadily darker, but I was sure she was smiling still.
“It’s okay, though. You’ll save me.” She was still smiling - at least, I wanted to believe she was - and maybe it was because she knew that I couldn’t save anyone. Hell, I couldn’t save my own ass. That’s why Rude was there. Damn. Where was Rude when you needed him?
I really needed a cigarette.
She coughed more blood.
Shit, I really needed one.
The silence that had been waiting with us for the last few minutes was growing impossibly... thick. It was like there was nothing but the blood’s trickling sound as it hit the floor, one drop at a time. How many drops had it been? I looked around and knew that help wouldn’t be coming anytime soon. My damn cellphone had been completely obliterated (just when I figured out how to work the goddamned thing, too) and I couldn’t find hers. Pounding on the neighboring doors, demanding that someone let me in to use their phone, didn’t work. Typical of the damn city. I actually thought of going back in that room, wade my way through dead bodies and try to use the phone in there (didn’t I break it when that one asshole threw me into the night stand?), but if I left her there...
Didn’t matter, really.
Plenty of our jobs didn’t go well. Plenty of times I had my ass beat real good. I didn’t care, though. It was me. Hell, I probably deserved some of those beatings, anyway. But this wasn’t me lying on the floor, filling up the hallway with my blood. It wasn’t me who was dying. It never was. Why the hell wasn’t it?
“How much longer?” I think that’s what she said. I couldn’t hear her too well.
I didn’t answer.
“It’s sorta cold, Reno.”
I didn’t feel anything.
“Did you fall asleep or something?” Tears were streaming down her face.
“You’re a damn idiot...”
She snorted. “Yeah, I know, but how much longer?”
“Until what?” I knew. Goddamnit, I knew.
Silence. Fucking, beautiful silence.
“Forget it, Reno.”
I couldn’t. It was her fault, it was all her fault. If she hadn’t gotten in the way, if she hadn’t gone back for that kid... that damn guy wouldn’t have shot her... and she would have been fine... and she would have been driving us back, telling me to put the damn cigarette out because she couldn’t breathe...
I couldn’t breathe.
Why was I so lightheaded?
More silence. Then, “I don’t wanna die here, Reno.”
Neither did I.
“You’re not dying. Quit bitching. We’ve been through worse.” Haven’t we? “Rude’ll come once he realizes how long we’re taking... then you’ll be fine. You’ll be back to gettin’ on my damn nerves in no time.” She may have been too innocent, she may have had too much of a conscience, she may have been too damn beautiful to ever be one of us, but she was a fighter. That counted for something. It had to.
I wanted to save her...
She coughed again and I leaned over her, pressing my hand on her chest (no more blood, no more blood) and I heard boots pounding on the stairs. Voices. Yeah, I heard voices. I was sure. One of them I knew was Rude’s. He always came when I needed him. Maybe he was clairvoyant or something. The bastard sure as hell knew how to make a man wait, though.
I really wanted to save her...
More feet, more voices. I finally realized that I was losing blood, too. Damn. They had gotten me and I never notice - wasn’t that rule number three? Everywhere I went there was always blood on my hands. Funny, I never noticed before she came along.
“Elena...? We’re idiots, Elena. All of us.”
By the time Rude was there, everything was already spinning. It didn’t matter. We’d make it, barely. Just like always. Just like a Turk. I leaned over further and kissed her red stained lips. I would’ve been the one to save her, too.
But I’m no hero.