- Genre: Angst
- Word Count: 1,899
- Pairing: First Person x ???
- World: Acceleracers
“I’m a mess” by Bebe Rexha is a good theme song for this chapter.
I jolted awake, my glassy eyes squinting in the darkness. I glanced at the clock, wondering if it was time to get up but the bright red digits were flashing, waiting to be set. I could’ve sworn it was set before I fell asleep.
I rubbed my eyes and listened for the sound of the realm alarm, but I was greeted only with complete silence. I shrugged it off, falling back onto the bed and stifling a yawn.
You know that strange sensation of being awake yet being asleep at the same time? It’s kind of like you’re teetering between the two. That’s where I was at, about to completely cross over when my brain picked up a faint whisper. It wasn’t enough to pull me back, but it was certainly enough to prevent me from advancing.
Another whisper, this time more clear.
My name. It was my name.
I groaned tiredly, rolling over so that my back was facing the source of the sound. I figured it was just Mark, so I muttered for him to get lost.
A few moments of silence and then another whisper. It was different this time, though. It sounded angry, demanding even. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up as goosebumps erupted across my skin. I was completely yanked from sleep.
My body was now alert and ready. For what, I couldn’t be sure.
I slowly sat back up, turning towards the door. I could feel my blood run cold like ice in my veins. My heart hammered against my rib cage as if it were trying to escape. I honestly didn’t blame it. I tried to speak, but it was as if something was lodged in my throat.
“Hello, Tiger. Surprised to see me?”
Surprised was the last thing I was feeling right now. “Kadeem…? Is that… is that really you?”
“You should know. You did kill me, after all.”
I swallowed hard, shifting so that my back was against the wall. “No… I… I didn’t have anything to do with that…”
His eyebrow rose as he approached my bed. “Perhaps you’re right. You didn’t actually pull the trigger, but you certainly did nothing to help.”
“There was nothing – ”
“Don’t!” He growled in anger. “You saw me go over the edge. You could have said something. So tell me, Tiger – ” he leaned down, face inches from my own. “ – why didn’t you?”
My heart clenched tight inside my chest and I snapped my eyes shut tight, clutching the dragon pendant in my hand. It took so much effort for me to answer, and when I finally managed to speak, it was nothing but a whisper. “I’m so sorry, Kadeem.”
“Let me tell you why.” He stood straight, a wicked grin spreading across his face. “You’re a coward. You’re weak. You knew you couldn’t save me and you were too afraid to try, too afraid to show your precious Taro how weak you really are. Just like the swamp realm.”
As soon as the words left his mouth, vines appeared out of thin air. They wrapped around my wrists and ankles, dragging me down flat against the mattress. I couldn’t move no matter how hard I struggled against my binds.
Kadeem threw his head back in laughter. “You’re too weak to break free! This is why your family threw you away. Why all of your friends threw you away. Did you honestly think things would change here? Soon, the Metal Maniacs will come to realize how weak and pathetic you really are and they will abandon you just as everyone else has.”
“You… re… wr… on… g…” I managed to gasp out. It caused the vine around my neck to tighten, making it harder to breathe.
“You think so?” He leaned down again, his lips right next to my ear. “Your own father killed himself just to get away from you.”
A scream ripped from my throat and I squeezed my eyes shut tight, begging for him to stop. My hands balled into fists so tight that I could feel my nails breaking the skin. I could hear Kadeem’s laughter grow louder and louder, threatening to burst my eardrums.
A cry of pain left my lips.
And just like that, everything stopped.
I shot up in my bed, breathing heavy as a thick layer of sweat drenched my forehead. My eyes darted around the room, looking for any sign of Kadeem or the vines. I found nothing to indicate their presence.
My eyes shot to the red digits illuminating the darkness. Half past two in the morning.
I swallowed hard, bringing my knees to my chest. My arms wrapped tight around them and for the next thirty minutes, I sat there chanting the same phrase over and over again in my head.
It was just a dream.
I felt fear at the thought of lifting my head. What if it wasn’t a dream and he’s just waiting for me to lift my head? The thought had me frozen to the spot.
You’re a coward.
Kadeem’s words echoed through my head. He was right, I am a coward.
Taking a deep breath, I slowly forced my head up, eyes quickly darting around for any signs of life. Once again, I found nothing but the clock digits basking me with faint red light.
I knew there would be no getting back to sleep for me which was perfectly fine. I lowered my feet to the ground, slipping my boots on before leaving the room. I didn’t know where to go, but I knew I couldn’t stay in that room a minute more.
The other members aren’t like me; they can’t function properly without sleep and I really didn’t want them to see me like this, either, so I decided to leave the dorm area for the garage.
I went straight to the Maniacs side. All of the cars are beefed up and mean looking. Metallics in faded browns and orange, black and red. They’re tough just like their owners, but as I ran my fingertips across the black metal of my car, I didn’t feel the confidence that it usually offered me.
It felt cold and distant.
I held back a sigh and approached the Teku’s side. It was a great contrast between the two styles. The Teku cars are bright and vibrant – shades of white, blue and orange mingling together like old friends. They’re shiny and look brand new – unlike the faded and rustic colors of the Maniacs.
I ran my fingers across them as I walked by.
Vert’s car. Nolo’s. Kurt’s. Karma’s.
My fingers hovered near the car belonging to their shortest member. It felt kind of sacred like it was taboo to touch it without asking. I took a second to admire it for the very first time.
It’s actually a really beautiful car.
Even though it felt wrong, I let my shaking hand rest on the hood. The sleek metal was cold, but it felt nothing like my own had. I didn’t feel a sense of rejection or disgust. I just felt… a sense of calm rush over me, but it didn’t last long. I felt as if all the negative emotions I had been burying over the years were bursting from the dirt, demanding to see the light of day.
I stared at my reflection in the window – at the tears sliding down my pale cheeks. I can’t believe I’m crying…
I sunk to the floor, leaning my head back against the car.
I’m actually crying…
The last time I cried… I can’t even remember.
Crying makes you weak.
Maniacs aren’t weak.
Maniacs don’t cry.
Maniacs don’t feel anything but anger or excitement.
If Tork saw me right now…
Oh god, if Taro saw me like this…
They’d all get rid of me, just as everyone else in my life had.
I flinched at the pain shooting through my hands. Unclenching them, I found dried blood around half-moon cuts lining the length of my palms. Great, now I have a physical reminder of how weak I am.
I groaned, throwing my head back as I held my pendant up towards the ceiling. The stainless steel shined brightly, even under the dim lighting in the garage. My thumb ran over the engraved features from memory, having followed the same path a thousand times before.
A sigh passed my lips and I closed my eyes, letting the pendant drop back against my chest. And everything faded away.
I grunted in annoyance as I felt a hand on my arm. I swatted it away, but it continued. My eyes peeled open, blinking repeatedly until my vision stabilized. I expected to see Mark and I was prepared to chew him out for waking me up, but I stopped short when I noticed who was actually in front of me.
The shortest of the Teku was kneeling in front of me, looking at me with curiosity. His headphones, usually on his ears, were around his neck. This struck me as odd.
“Are you okay?” He questioned.
I sent him a strange look. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You’re sleeping on the ground next to my car.” He smiled lightly, almost as if amused.
I quickly sat up straight, almost hitting his forehead with my own. True to his word, I was sitting on the cold cement beside his car. I don’t even remember falling asleep. I groaned, rubbing my face with my hands. “I can’t believe I fell asleep here. Totally gonna feel this later.”
“What happened to your hands?” He asked suddenly.
“What?” I glanced at my hands. “Oh, forgot about that. It’s nothing, Teku.” I pulled myself to my feet too quickly, losing my balance if not for the music-loving guy that grabbed my arm. “Why are you being nice to me?”
He smiled, releasing my arm once I was steady. “I don’t care if you’re a Metal Maniac. I have nothing against you.”
I scoffed, thinking he was joking or playing a trick on me. When I looked into his eyes, though, I knew he was being honest. It caught me off guard and I looked at him with a blank expression. “You’re serious.”
“Is that really so strange?” He laughed. “You’re friends with Vert.”
“Who said we’re friends?” It was an automatic response I had built up to avoid conflict with the other Maniacs. They all know I talk to Vert, but friendship? That changes things.
“Vert did. He talks about you a lot.”
He considers me a friend? He even talks about me to the other Teku?
The Maniac side of me wanted to deny it, but something stopped me from doing so. All I could respond with was a soft, “Oh.”
“You should go to the infirmary.” He suggested, motioning towards my hands.
“Yeah. Yeah, I should.” I moved around him but stopped after only a few steps. “Hey, what’s your name?”
He looked back at me with surprise. “Shirako.”
“Shirako.” I tested the name out on my tongue before offering him a small smile. “I’m Tiger.”
And then I walked away.
I honestly don’t understand why I asked for his name or why I was being nice to him. I just… I feel like I can’t be mean to him.
Or rather… I didn’t really want to be.
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