Here's to the Broken Kids | Part One | Chapter Eight
Posted January 4th, 2019 by Zelda
in a perpetual predicament
A/N: Finally! A new chapter! You guys really get the short end of the stick when it comes to updates, tbh, I make myself write five chapters before I start posting to any other site so they always get regular updates even when I haven't written anything. Kidpub has to wait for me to get off my lazy writer butt. Sorry Kidpub :/
I hope you like the story anyway ~
Is it super difficult to tell who the kid in this chapter is? I feel ilke I'm relying too heavily on context clues and that there aren't enough clues for me to get away with that. Also I apologize for the shouty caps later, I felt they objectivly were the best fit for the situation, even though subjectively I hate them :|
Warning: Violence and mild gore ahead. Also a swear word that I censored out specially for KP.
Thanks so much for reading!
The coffee room was tucked into a cramped corner of the main building. A narrow row of counterspace and cupboards lined one wall, ending in a banged-up sink and a faucet that showed the first signs of rust damage. A huge square table dominated the room, surrounded by mistmatched chairs. Xena curled up on one of the two roller chairs, one leg propped up on the seat, the other dangling off the edge. It felt like there were bands around her chest and the air tasted like stale oil. The room spun, but the tilting was getting better already.
Sam had found himself a seat on top of the counter and sat swinging his legs, his heels tapping this cupboards.
“Alright, rules,” Jacob clapped his hands, startling Xena. She flushed when he shot her a sideways look, “Don’t drink the tap water, don’t wander around the junkyard, and don’t feed the cat. I know she acts like she’s starving but we feed her everyday.”
Samuel raised his hand like a kindergartener, waving it until Jacob noticed.
“Are we allowed in the warehouse?”
Jacob thought for a second before rolling his eyes and agreeing reluctantly, “Yes, sure, whatever,” he reached over Samuel’s head and opened the cupboard above his head.
“Wear these,” he plunked a blue helmet on Samuel’s curls, “and these,” he dropped a pair of highlighter orange vests in Samuel’s lap. “stay out of the way, I don’t want to get fired,”
“Of course,” Samuel grinned, the mirth faded before the smile did. “Of course,” he repeated with total seriousness. Jacob made an indecipherable noise and spun the other helmet on his hand before setting it beside Xena.
“I have stuff to do, I’m done around five,” and with that, he left. The moment he was out of sight, Sam hopped off the counter. The helmet tilted sideways. He held out his hand.
“If you’re feeling well enough, I can show you around,”
Xena hesitated for a moment before taking his hand and letting him help her up. The room tilting sparked again, throwing her off balance. Sam’s gripped on her hand tightened as she staggered. She steadied herself, pulling away from him. She was hyperaware of how sweaty her palms were, and even more conscious of Sam watching her.
“Do you want something to drink?” he asked, tugging on a fluorescent vest that had impossibly brighter yellow stripes. He handed her a hardhat identical to the one he wore.
“No thanks,” Xena said.
“Alright, then it’s time for an adventure!”
The warehouse made up a majority of the building they were in. It was a huge dusty space with fluorescent lights dangling from the ceiling and scaffolds that lined that walls and split the massive floorspace into four sections. Xena ran her hand down a metal bar that was supporting a shelf stacked with parts. Sam walked just ahead of her, talking about wanting to do an art project using some of the materials in the warehouse. His voice echoed in the rafters, the only sound aside from their footsteps.
Nausea still crushed her stomach, but her head pounded less, and her skin wasn’t as hot as before. The quiet and cool were helping.
“Thank you, for bringing me here,” she said, filling in a gap in Sam’s space-filling chatter.
“No problem,” he shrugged, “everyone has bad days, right?”
Bad days, Xena grimaced at the thought. It felt more like bad weeks. Or bad months. They took a corner and Xena stopped just short of beaning herself on the edge of a spoked gear that stuck out a little too far from the shelf.
“Woah,” she huffed, reaching up to shove the gear into place. Her sleeve slipped down just a little too far and she dropped her hand to correct it. Too late, she caught Sam staring. His sudden silence was too noticeable in the echoey warehouse. Of course those were what got to him. If it wasn’t Matt scaring people off, it was her hideous fucking scars. She knew he’d felt them that day in front of the library.
“Why are you friends with me?” she spoke before her mind caught up with her mouth. But the moment she heard the question she knew she had to get the answer. Sam looked taken aback, his eyebrows disappearing beneath his curls.
“You’re a nice person and I like being your friend,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. He said it like he meant it. Xena tugged her sleeves, wishing she could just believe him and move on.
“I wasn’t nice when we first met,”
“You weren’t terrible,” he countered feebly. He ducked his head, turning away on the balls of his feet, “Why do you want to know?” he was already walking away, forcing Xena to catch up with him. She hurried, ignoring the spike in her pulse that was making it harder to breathe.
“Why did you help me today?” she demanded, voice catching on the last syllable. It was a slight snag but they both noticed it. Sam spun again, walking backwards now.
“You needed help, it’s not that complicated,”
But it was complicated, Xena thought, it had to be. Nobody in their right mind wanted anything to do with someone who shot them down in the first conversation. Her hands were shaking now. Her head spinning, the headache was back with a force. Nobody figured out as much as Sam had and acted this calm. “I know you saw my arms,” she blurted, and that brought the conversation to a standstill.
Sam froze, eyes on her. She could feel his gaze like two points of heat on her skin. The trembling in her hands seeped into her torso. He was deciding to leave. Sweat dripped down her temple while she started to shiver. She was going to puke. She pressed the back of her hand to her mouth. That moved knocked Sam out of his shock, he shifted his weight and for a moment Xena could see it all. He was going to leave. He was going to leave and she would puke and she would be stuck here forced to explain to the brother of a boy who was no longer her friend why she had made a disgusting mess on his floor.
Matt had left and so would Sam. And this time it would hurt like a knife in the chest because she’d known better from the start. She had known better.
“Xena,” Sam said, drawing her thoughts back to the present where she didn’t want to be. She shuddered, biting back the rising nausea. The pause was too long, and it was driving a spike into her scattered thoughts. What was he waiting for, why was he still here? She couldn’t make herself look him in the eye. Instead of leaving, he held out his hand,
“Come on, let’s go back inside.”
The trip back to the coffee room was ten times longer than it had been coming out, marked by silence and the heat waves that Xena was pretty sure she was hallucinating. She could see them rising off her shaky hands.
Four Neurontin pills and she still landed herself a panic attack.
Inside the coffee room, she made a beeline for the nearest chair. She had to sit before her knees gave out. Walking was like slogging through cold syrup. She always had to sit for panic attacks, which made them worse because all she wanted to do was run and run and run until she couldn’t feel her body.
Samuel wandered off and returned with a cup of water that Xena accepted gratefully.
“Do you need anything else?” he asked softly. She shook her head, if she opened her mouth she was going to vomit everywhere. She would just ride this out and call her parents when she got her voice back. It wasn’t a good option, but it was her only one. She couldn’t ask Sam’s brother to take her home and she couldn’t walk all the way back on her own.
The minutes ticked by and Sam took up residence on his original perch on the counter. The water helped some, not a lot, but some. By the time she had sipped the cup dry she was feeling steady enough to talk. As she reached for her phone, Sam spoke up,
“Can I ask you something?”
"Yeah,” Xena said, swivelling to see him better.
“Matt bullies you a lot,” he worried at the sleeve of his jacket, tugging on a loose thread. Xena sat up, ignoring the vertigo. She saw where he was going and didn’t like it.
“That’s not a question,” she said.
“Is it—is that why—” he groped for words, reaching his hand out as if he could catch them by their tails. He squirmed, propping his leg up on the counter only to jump down a moment later and pull up the other wheely chiar. They sat facing each other, knees brushing. Close enough that Xena could see the remnants of sleep circles under his eyes. “Is Matt the reason you cut your arms?”
She grabbed the ends of her sleeves and pulled them over her fingers. She hated the scars. She hated this. Cold pebbles collected in her stomach, sending shivers down her arms. She hated this.
She was interrupted by the crash entrance of a scrawny, putrid child. Ink black hair and a prominent nose were all Xena had time to notice before the child hissed and staggered farther into the room. Xena and Samuel sat in stunned silence while the child bent over the sink, flicked the tap on, and began to chug. The child had limbs made of popsicle sticks and clothes with more holes than fabric. The reek coming off of them could have stopped a train.
“Hey, um, can we help you…?” Samuel started, casting a confused glance at Xena. The child ignored him, straightening and wiping their mouth. “You really shouldn’t be in here,” Sam reached out, his hand brushed the child shoulder and chaos exploded into the tiny room. Without so much as a peep, the child snatched a knife from the sink and jammed it blade-first into Sam’s side.
Sam screamed and the child ripped the knife out, splashing blood across the floor.
“Sam!” Xena screamed. The child’s attention snapped to her, they brandished the knife. Green eye glinted behind choppy thick bangs, and the snarl on their mouth made them look more animal than human. Xena stood, too fast, her vision blacked out for a second leaving her defenceless. She saw movement as her vision faded back in, and threw out her arms to block the child just in time. Searing pain ripped the back of her right arm open. She had no time to scream, the force of the child colliding with her shoved her back into the edge of the table, knocking her breath out. She fell, her head bouncing off the concrete, and rolled under the table as fast as she could.
What the hell. What the hell. What the hell.
She was bleeding everywhere. She could hear Sam a mere few feet away, wheezing, ragged and wet.
“HELP!” She shouted, “HELP US, JACOB, HELP!”
The child dropped to their hands and knees and scrambled under table. The knife clattering against the floor. Xena shrieked, loud enough to make the child wince. Rolling out from under the table, she jumped to her feet. The tip of the knife flashed out, slicing her ankle open. She kicked reflexively. The point of her sneaker met flesh. There was a muffled crunched and a thud from under the table, and then silence.
“HELP!” She screamed again, her voice was going hoarse.
She couldn’t think straight. She couldn’t think. The room was spinning and her arm was bleeding and—Sam.
She staggered across the room, clutching her arm. Never had there been a longer five feet.
Sam was slouched against the cupboard, head lolled to one side. Both his hands were bloody and gripping his side. Blood pooled under him.
“No, nonono, Sam. Wake up, wake up,” she crumbled to her knees at his side, hands flying to add to the pressure on his wound. There was so much blood. His skin was going ashen and she didn’t know what to do. “Sam? Sam come on,” Where was Jacob? “Sam you have to wake up,” she couldn’t see, tears were pouring out and she couldn’t stop shaking. She couldn’t stop shaking. She couldn’t stop shaking.
Where was Jacob?
“I heard shouting,” the voice belonged to someone behind her. Jacob, finally. Xena turned, she could make out a blurry form in the door way.
“Oh my God, Sam!” Suddenly the form was much closer. Jacob was beside them. He was fumbling for his phone. He was swearing a thousand miles a minute, and his words were getting drowned out by Xena’s own sobbing.
She couldn’t answer.
“Hey! What happened?”
She couldn’t breathe.
“Nine-one-one what is your emergency?”
She blacked out.
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