“Oh, wow, that looks really, really messy.”
Looking up from where he was desperately pressing his hands against the doctor’s chest, Zebediah stared at the figure of Ben crouching down next to him.
His neck was pulsing blood, the bullet wound that had slowly killed him stark and real and there. He was paler than paper, his hair matted and his hands boney and covered in blood and gunpowder. In his hand was Zeb’s nickel-plated Colt, cocked and ready to fire at a moment’s notice.
Looking up at Zebediah, he grinned, teeth smeared with blood and tinting them a dulled pink.
“I don’t think he’s gonna make it, big bro. I mean, just look at him. Gettin’ hard to breathe…looks like he can’t even see you at this point…it’d really just be best if you took him out.” He stood, holding up the Colt and aiming it at Allen’s head. “Want me to do it? See how good your lessons were?”
Zebediah’s eyes widened and he shook his head, knowing this was a dream but fuck if he cared Allen was bleeding Allen was dying Allen was going to be dead because of him becauseofhimbecauseofhimbecauseofhim –
– and Allen was clinging to Zebediah’s shirt as the man tried to walk away, shrugging out of the doctor’s hold and glaring back at him.
“I would just let him go if I were you.”
The doctor spun around, still clutching onto the gunman, staring at his father as he sat back in a conveniently placed armchair and sipped lazily at a glass of wine – looked white, but Allen really didn’t care for specifics just then.
He shook his head, fingers tightening onto Zebediah, wishing for once that his hands would stop shaking enough so that he would have a steady grip on the other man.
“He obviously doesn’t want you anymore, Allen – and really, what did you expect? You can’t be loved, I thought you would have realized that.” Robert Townsend stared thoughtfully at his wine glass, narrowing his eyes as he studied the quality of the drink. “Not even your own mother properly loved you.”
But Allen continued to shake his head, knowing that Zebediah was different, he was different; he promised he wouldn’t leave him he promised he promised he promised –
– but it didn’t seem to matter. Allen was convulsing under his hands and try as he might Zeb couldn’t stop the bleeding. It was impossible to stop it because there was so much blood and he didn’t even remember how Allen had gotten hurt. But that wasn’t important. He just needed to save him.
“Oh come off it, big bro, you can’t save a damn soul; everyone who knows you and bothers to love you is fucked.” Ben rolled his eyes, drawing the Colt back and using the muzzle to scratch what was left of the back of his neck. “I’m surprised Ezekiel’s lasted this long. I’m surprised Adiel’s lasted this long – I totally thought she’d be dead by now. Sweet girl like her? Totally hiding suicidal tendencies. Or maybe she’s more into the anorexia thing.”
“Shut up, shut up, shut up.”
“Rude.” Ben rolled his eyes, before walking over to Zebediah and pressing a hand on his head, shoving it forward; the weight of his dead body making him bow over Allen’s twitching body. “Ya sure you don’t want me to handle this? It’d be a kindness.”
“H-how would it be a k-k-kindness?”
“He’s probably tired of you, Allen – can’t you see how he longs to get away? He flinches at your very touch!” Robert made a ‘tsk’ noise, shaking his head as if empathizing. “Love is a dreadful business, really it is. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Caring is not an advantage – I thought you would have learned that from our family. How else did we become the way we are?”
“A-and what’s that, d-deranged, greedy, s-s-selfish individuals?”
Robert snorted, putting down his glass and folding his hands over his stomach, watching Allen with a cool eye as he continued to struggle with the larger gunman. Always watching him as he struggled. Always waiting for him to screw up so that he could shake his head and tell him what he did wrong. He wouldn’t do wrong this time, he wouldn’t – he would do right.
“You’re gonna do right,” Ben scoffed, pushing Zeb’s head further down before stepping back, allow the gunman to raise his head and look back at him. The sight of that throat disgusted him, but Ben lifted his chin as if showing it off. “Look how well doin’ right by me did, huh? Jeez, you’re hopeless.”
Turning away from his dead little brother, Zebediah looked down to see Allen watching him with glazed eyes, mouth open, skin paler than normal. It was just so wrong.
“Oh, I got an idea!”
“What if you shot him?”
Ben strode forward, dragging Zebediah up and away from Allen. Zebediah cried out, yanking away from Ben, but for a dead man he sure had a tight grip. Pulling him farther and farther away from Allen, Zeb could only watch helplessly as the doctor reached out weakly, looking for him, blood bubbling from his throat and spilling over his mouth.
The cold press of metal from the Colt jerked his eyes away from Allen, and Zebediah watched as Ben pressed his gun into his hands and turned it so that it was pointing at Allen’s forehead.
“Let’s put the guy down, all nice and gentle-like.”
“No, no, no, no –
– no, no, no!” Allen said forcefully, digging his heels into the ground and attempting to force Zebediah to stop. He fell forward when he finally did, his face pressed against his back, before he stepped back and watched him warily. The gunman stood stock still, barely moving, and Allen couldn’t help but feel tension crawl up his back.
“It’s a very bad idea to trust him, son,” Robert said softly, Allen’s eyes turning to look at his dead father. “He’ll only hurt you.”
“…Z-Zeb would never h-hurt me.”
“Then why is he pointing a gun at you?”
Confused, Allen turned to see Zebediah facing him with the Colt’s muzzle pressed against his forehead –
– and Zebediah flinched when Ben forced his finger to pull the trigger –
– and all he could hear was the echo of a gun when he woke up.