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Posted: Jan 21 2017, 12:49 AM
Washington 32 League Official/ Thief
He curls in on himself, dazed and half-delirious. There's a livewire crackle beneath his skin, an electric twang of too-raw nerves that jerk him back from comforting black, over and over again, until all he can do is sit still and try not to breathe too heavily. He puts his head in his arms, drenched in ice, drenched in fire, blinking past the sweat. In the brief reprieves between breaths, he swallows back bile and tries not to choke.
In the back of his head, his parents are watching. He can't be in pain, because his pain doesn't matter. If it doesn't matter, it doesn't exist.
In the back of his head, fingers stroke through his hair, coming to rest on his jaw. When they touch him, bone knits as if it were never broken. When they touch him, he's home. There is no pain that he can't endure, because those hands make him stronger for it.
He's lost those hands. Can't quite figure out how to find them again, in this cage of steel and cold and spinning lights.
Teeth click by his ear. He thinks it's the ghosts, finally come to eat him up for good, but then he sees fiery eyes and a furnaced breath. There's a hellhound standing over him, blood dribbling past sharp, sharp fangs, skeleton tail lashing out in the dark. Arlie thinks he should be afraid. He should be a great many things. Instead, he sits up straighter.
"I'm lost. Looking... Can you help?"
The monster rubs its head in his hand. Bits of skin tangle and snag; he can't tell if it's his or the hounds, and doesn't want to think about it. He gets to his feet, one hand on the creature's sleek neck, reassured by blazing hellfire.
The elevator dings, opening to admit another lost soul. They're very small. They look like a child. Arlie feels a swell of pity; hospitals are no place for children. He takes off his jacket and holds it out, a peace offering.
"Are... Are you lost too? Don't worry. I can help you find.. Who're you looking for?"