Technically, Eilen wasn't a worker of L'ombra, nor an acrobat -- a vocalist whose vocal chords really should've been protected from the toxins and haze of smoke and embers, regardless of what other stresses he submitted it to.
Technically, he could've stayed at home, sat in his traincar, and smoked a cigarette, while the rest of his compatriots saved what they could of the rival circus.
Technically, he had no reason to travel across China to save anyone --
It was a dangerous scenario, the combination rent by smoke, fire, color, sound; blended and mixed into too many sensations all at once; too many people, too many voices.
So, instead, he looked for a pair of legs.
Avi sat on an overturned crate, examining the damage done to her nails and her heels, washing the grime from her face (even though it was sure to return.)
The good witchdoctor had long since discovered her utter uselessness as a nurse and kicked her away from the wounded, including the daredevil and his pieces which had been salvaged from inside the burning tent. (au contraire to what the dragonlady had predicted).
Eilen matched the legs to the girl and walked up to the whore with a question that had no greeting.
And though Avi could've taken up some of his time with idle chat ('hey, eilen, good to see you, man.' 'hey, eilen, are the rest of the fags in your circus on their way to come save our asses?' 'hey, eilen, how's the weather, man?' 'hey, eilen, you want to give me some cocaine?'); she didn't.
"At the traincars with the wounded. The fire broke out just after his act."
The vocalist didn't bother with a reply.
Barely breathing and almost dead, the daredevil, having evaded the majority of the witchdoctor's wrath by way of eventual healing, lay collapsed in the wheelbarrow that Avi had seen fit to use in his transport.
There was smoke in his eyes,
and black scrawled across his lungs,
and blood crawling like maggots across his lips,
across his chin,
across his crackled chest.
(it was, however, fortunate that Jin kept his hair uneven and unkempt,
because the subsequent damage would go relatively unnoticed.)
even though the breath was shallow, it was still there,
and that's all that, essentially mattered
(nevermind the BBQing of human intestines.)
He looked terrible, and this time, Eilen knew he wasn't even remotely thinking of what it looked like to see a hollowpoint through a stomach.
(Iza wasn't the issue -- Iza was never the issue.)
Eilen found the wheelbarrow and its edge, and, examining the rest of the wounded, took up the practice of cleaning wounds with what water there was to be had.
at least that shallow breath was still there --
because that was all that mattered, period.
"Jin. Can you hear me, man?"
There were signs of life, somewhere in the stratosphere,
where Jin's eyes rolled when they opened
like ashes in the wind.
it was amazing, that you came.
i'm so sorry that
(despite these things i would have asked you to talk and talk and talk and talk.)
Phantom breath and phantom heartbeats.
"You're going to be okay, right, Jin?"
I've seen it -- -- this shit has to heal itself.
Eilen the murderer had been useless in the past, but now, he felt moreso than ever.
The daredevil nodded
but faltered on the third repetition,
grimacing and tilting his head back over the edge of his self-claimed wheelbarrow.
it has to work out,
and fix itself.
I wouldn't have been saved otherwise.
"Good." Replied the vocalist softly, relief creeping in contrast on his features as he sank into a seat near the daredevil and his roasted (but healing, thank whatever there was left to be thanked) pieces. "...I was worried, when I heard."
The cracks in burnt skin were slowly closing,
and the flesh of roasted intestines,
slowly began to retain a somewhat natural colour.
A charred black arm began to
pull and replace
pieces of himself
back inside his body.
Pained with a constancy and shuddering from the effort, the mute managed to silently close his body around his parts, in an attempt to become whole once again.
Eilen ran the cloth across his best friend's forehead, frowning slightly as he repeated what'd already been assured. "You're gonna be fine, man."
(possibly for his sake, more than Jin's.)
"....is there anything I can do to help you?"
"...t-take me... somewhere else."
The hoarsest of whispers crawled up the back of the blonde's neck and spilled over the side of the wheelbarrow, spreading across the slightest hints of grass and the dirt that covered it.
"...this wheelbarrow's pretty uncomfortable."
"...shh. alright." Agreed the vocalist, who, after taking a look at the artist in an attempt to decide whether or not he'd survive the trip, settled for leaning over to scoop up his fellow dealer with little debate.
And after that, he quite promptly made for the train -- heading off to the car which, if memory served him correctly, was Jin's humble abode. "Let me know which room is yours," Eilen noted quietly, "because I'm not carrying your ass up those stairs right now."
Upon passing it, the mute banged on his door-- this one. A silent respect and a sound trip. The blonde looked appreciative, underneath the grimace of pain and stoicism that masked his features like a second skin.
The vocalist, then, swung the door open and set his companion down with the sort of care that usually wasn't part of his behavior, taking a seat on the bed's edge. "I'd ask you what happened, but that'd require talking. And you really need to save your energy." Eilen noted finally, shoving his hands in his pockets because his fingers itcheditcheditched for a cigarette.
(NO CAUSE FOR PANIC.)
"...so we'll save that for later, I guess."
There wasn't much to explain.
Tent + Fire = PWNED.
End of story.
Numbly, and only half there, the daredevil nodded, staring up at the ceiling as he held his stomach shut, his right eye twitching in time with the bobbing of the apple in his throat as his skin unburnt and uncrackled without so much as a hint of effort.
L'ombra's Noire turned then, resting his back against the headboard as he retrieved a cigarette and twirled it between his fingers, though he didn't light it, figuring that somehow, Asile'd had enough fire for one night. The air felt heavy; tasted thick, and he swallowed, trying to make light of the situation -- not that such a thing was really possible.
"Tough crowd, huh?"
Yeah. Just a little.
Jin almost wheezed out a laugh, but Som wasn't having it. It came out far more pitiful than the healing man had intended, and he immediately wished that he'd maintained his silence.
Just a little longer.
(just a minute, or two, or ten,
to get the grill marks off his insides.)
"...sorry," Eilen apologized, awkwardly toying with his cigarette. "I'll ... uh ... shut up now."
A hand on a forearm,
almost as good as new
(just a couple raw spots here and there),
was offered as the blonde shook his head.
Well, if it was what Jin wanted, Eilen would oblige. "...I guess Ciro got the call because she fucking split, man. Cancelled our shows and handed the reins over to Doc and fled. I haven't seen her yet though -- and then the rest of us got organized and headed over here. She made the girls stay home, but that's probably a good thing. Doc's good, though. He'll patch you guys up."
The synaesthete was rambling, but it was better than sitting around silent and worried with the colors in his eyes and the tastes in his mouth.
"Njoki takes pretty good care of us," the blonde offered, quietly. "...but I think this might... be a little... much for her."
Without thinking about it, Eilen had a finger against Jin's lips, effectively silencing him again -- before looking down at the blond's recovering hand on his arm.
"Seriously, man. Be quiet and heal or whatever the fuck it is that puts you back together again. Save your energy?"
Surprised at the sudden movement and the resultant impromptu contact, Jin was, indeed, effectively silenced. Staring, a little wide-eyed and a little taken aback, he pressed back into his pillow and simply nodded his agreement.
What to think?
What to do.
But he already knows.
Eilen promptly dropped his hand and returned to the task of twirling his cigarette into oblivion between musician fingers.
So much circus experience and
no way to make anything disappear --
in the past
in the present
to the future.
Forced up on two locked elbows and two healed hands, the space-cadet mute with the extremist's martyr syndrome passed his look to his friend,
wondering what he was sorry for.
Nothing. Eilen was sorry for nothing, because, clearly, there was nothing to be sorry for. The excuse he made up tasted lame as it slipped out, and the synaesthete made quick study of the patterns on the walls which weren't there.
"...for snapping at you, kind of. Whatever."
"Why're you so nervous? I get roasted and things get awkward...?"
Apparently, that's just how things went in these here parts.
The vocalist's brow furrowed, lips curling into a faint frown as he fixed his eyes on his cigarette.
"Dude, I was just worried -- and unless you're one hundred percent unroasted, you shouldn't be talking."
Settling back with an exhausted groan, the mute grudgingly did as requested, though the answer given wasn't completely in the clear-- after all, Jin was going to be fine and Eilen, no matter how unused to it he was, was fully aware of that.
But a dealer who kept no comrades,
who refused all potential friends,
a criminal who worked alone...?
Why was there a reason to worry?
"I'm smoking." Eilen announced after a moment or two of silence in the red, lifting his cigarette to his lips before lighting that shit.
Jin felt like smoking, too, but the irony of the act was probably something to be completely and utterly avoided. He did, however, turn to his side, staring at the wall from a two-inch distance, eyelevel with a crack in the plaster.
(there was no reason).
It was probably for the best, as the vocalist had no intentions of letting him do such a thing until every molecule was whole. Turning away from his friend, then, Eilen took a long drag from his cigarette, sucking back the smoke before watching every little vapor curl and disappate up towards the ceiling.
What was there to say?
So to honour his healed intestines, the blonde lit up a cigarette, because there was, really, nothing better to do.
"You shouldn't be smoking that," Eilen noted, finally, "unless you're back to normal and all patched up."
Really, he made for a terrible nurse, so it was probably for the best that he'd slipped past the rest of L'ombra's crews in tending to the other wounded or in seeing the injured circus to their meet-up point.
"...and in that case, you should be resting."
Jin shrugged shortly and took a deep drag, shutting his eyes.
Just like it should've been.
Eilen took advantage of the opportunity, closing his eyes and convincing himself again and again that he didn't care.
It was an easy thing to do when you were a dealer on the run, wasn't it?
"...You still got my sketchbook or did you toss it yet?"
Well, it was certainly easy to think so.
"I have it."
Keep it, please.
"...I'd offer you some coke, but it doesn't seem right, considering the circumstances. Do you want to go out and help the others?"
"....do you want me to?" Came the reply, kept down in muted tones painted with grey in the lines of his vision.
The truth of the matter was simple: Eilen didn't care about any of them.
"Not really, but it's getting kinda weird in here."
A pale look.
"...I don't ... really know what you want me to say to that," confessed the other dealer, sitting up to put out what was left of his cigarette in the daredevil's ashtray. It hadn't been so long since he'd had any friends, really -- hadn't been so long since he'd seen them all dead.
Hadn't been so long since he'd sworn off any others in their stead.
...stay or leave...
"It's like every time you see my intestines, things get a little weirder," the ex-bounty hunter joked, sitting up and putting an arm around his knee, considering a change of clothing. "Not that seeing the aftermath of cookie tossing isn't weird in itself..."
"I don't think I wanted to be intimately familiar with your insides." Eilen replied, allowing himself a hint of a smile as he slipped back into the safety of a joke.
Fuck. The synaesthete paused and painted the truth in a pale sort of green.
"...I'm glad you got out of there."
"Thank Avi. I would've been content to die, I think."
Or at least I'd accepted it.
The pale green was reflected in the artist's hands-- a tense sort of backwards stretch warranting the snuffing of a mostly unsmoked cigarette.
"I think I'm overdue."
"I'll give her cocaine. She'll think we're even." Noted the brunette, though they wouldn't have been in any case. "And aren't we all?"
"Not really," the blonde mused as he slipped down to sit on the floor, his shoulders square against the mattress. "You're still alive for a reason-- you haven't been killed yet."
"Neither have you. A penchant for survival's nothing to hold against yourself."
"A penchant for survival and an immunity to mortal wounds are two different things, I think." The experiment paused for a moment before he stood and started rifling through his drawers, pulling on a new, uncharred shirt and changing his pants without so much as a thought. "There's a difference between healing and hiding."
"I don't think they are as much as you think. It's not like you can't die. And nanotechnology's becoming more and more common. Eventually we'll all be in your shoes and then it won't be the exception, but the rule. So maybe you shouldn't define your life by its failure to end, but by what happens inbetween to give you reason to trudge on."
Eilen promptly considered all which he'd spat out, just then, and decided it was time to shut the fuck up.
Lip bitten, the now dressed daredevil didn't even dare to speak.
w r o t e.
Yeah, well. I have a circus full of acquaintances and a dealer I hang out with who isn't my friend.
How's that for in between?
"Is that your impression?" Eilen snapped quietly, watching the characters change colors on the page. " -- I'll have to figure out why I showed up, then, since I don't give a damn about anyone else here."
Frustrated, the blonde shoved open the door so he could, inevitably, crash in the hallway against the other wall.
"You should go. Hang out with your circus."
Because I'm afraid of what will happen if you stay,
"Fine." Replied the synaesthetic dealer -- reminded suddenly why the fuck he didn't want friends, anyway.
Out the door.
Past the artist.
Another cigarette lit up in the doorway,
and enough cocaine in a pocket to
forget all this fucking shit
A N Y W A Y.
"See you around, Jin."
"Dude, hold on. Stop."
Let him go.
It's better that way.
Let him go,
Let him go,
Let him go.
...if he's the one who's leaving, you're not running away.
"... I just ..."
Eilen froze, framed in a traincar door and the last hazes of tentsmoke fire-embers.
"You just what?"
"...I think I'm afraid of the things I see in you. And I'm even more afraid of what you might think. I said, a while ago, that you reminded me of Ren. You looked at that sketchbook. You know what me and Ren were, don't you?"
The reply was simple, even if the problem wasn't.
"Yeah, Jin. I know."
A bit more hoarse now, the daredevil hushed his reply as much as he could.
"I don't wanna pretend like I'm protecting you just 'cuz I'm scared of shit, but that's pretty much it. I guess."
"I don't want to worry about it, right now. You want me to stay or leave?"
The answer was, essentially, selfish. The wrong choice for this situation.
It didn't matter -- the vocalist closed the door, turning back into the relative safety and shadow of the traincar.
But for fear of saying anything else, he promptly stopped, because that just wouldn't do.
(wouldn't want to ruin a perfectly good friendship
like you almost just did, would you Jin?)
He did, however, offer the other dealer something that could've been mistaken for a grin.
Close enough to count, anyways.
"Nnh. You're welcome."
And Eilen moved from the door to help his friend back to his room, because no matter how unwrecked his shit looked, Jin could still probably use the rest.
It wasn't quite a promise,
but it was close enough to count.