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Island

The moldering walls and leaking windows of the hall were witness to a pair of monsters, the last of their kind, not an endangered species so much as a thing that needed to die, that should not have existed in the first place. Despite their best efforts, Lamb was gone, along with her prodigal daughter and the only thing that would have kept Delta alive.

It was only mere days since they'd escaped in Sinclair's lifeboat that Delta began to act erratically. He'd stare into space for hours or attack things that weren't there. He'd attack Sinclair, who'd fend him off as best he could. He hadn't had the years of splicing that had made Delta into a hulking, barely-human thing. He was just a man in a suit, a suit that didn't fit him, his veins running with a slapdash cocktail that was designed to shut down his motor functions. With nobody commanding him, it made it a little easier to keep walking, but now, nearly a month after the fact, the effects of his slapdash preparation were beginning to show.

He was ashamed to admit it, but it consoled him somewhat to know Delta had it worse. The old Alpha would leave when it was time for Sinclair to sleep, but there was no hiding from the sounds of his pained howling in this echo chamber of a city. He'd heard that kind of primal mourning from the other Alphas who'd lost their Sisters, but back then it'd been like watching an animal wail from the pain of a broken leg. A useless sound that changed nothing, but Delta, he knew Delta wasn't an animal. It wasn't fair that he had to be reduced to this, and it didn't help that Sinclair knew he was one of the men who'd forced him down there.

There was not enough time in the world for him to redeem himself to Delta, but he did what he could. They were both getting worse, day after day, knowing they were slowly being eaten alive. It wasn't so bad at first, with Delta's lapses in attention. He'd help Sinclair walk and Sinclair would keep him focused. Sinclair did enough talking for the both of them, and their scavenging would go a lot quicker when there were stories about the surface, about Panama and Georgia and the times before he'd realized that honesty would get him nowhere. He could kid himself that it was almost like a camping trip as they sat by whatever piece of furniture they were burning that night.

The only time he could get Delta to stay still now was when the Alpha collapsed from exhaustion at the end of one of his fruitless searches for a girl he knew was not there, whom he'd almost certainly never see again. A girl who was out there, changing the world without him. A girl who didn't need him anymore, who'd never needed him like he needed her. Delta's frantic energy was matched only by Sinclair's fatigue as the suit welded to his skin dragged him down further every day. He had to give the kid credit, though. He always came back to make sure Sinclair was somewhere safe, even if he had to carry the man.

That worked for a while, but the broken bond manifested as more than the compulsive need to search and protect. Sinclair didn't notice the blood at first with how filthy Delta already was, until he felt its dampness his own skin as he leaned against Delta on one of those rare nights when the Alpha was too tired to cry.

Spontaneous bleeding was bad enough, but when things like minor cuts from the sharp rim of a soup can wouldn't heal, he knew it wouldn't be much longer for Delta. Slow breakdown. He'd seen it in the men who tested tonics for his company and in Delta's poor broken brothers as he tore through them to get to Alexander, and now it was happening again, closer than he'd ever hoped to witness it. As they sat together by the warmth of a burning piano, splintered almost beyond recognition, he could hardly lift his shaking arms to give Delta a comforting pat on the knee. It was about all he could do at this point.

"Kid," he croaked. He'd always liked the sound of his own voice, narcissistic as that notion was, but now his smooth drawl was cracked and broken as a dry lakebed. "You remember... back when we met, I said we'd get that island together? "

Delta lowed softly, his breath gurgling in the pit of his chest. He might have been listening, or simply exhaling. Either way, Sinclair went on.

"At the time, it was somethin' of a lie, and I'm sorry... Never did get to say that. You were as loyal a partner as I ever had. Anytime, you coulda' left me to die. Drown in that train car, or just leave me behind..." He paused. Delta was silent. He couldn't even be sure he was breathing. "I don't know where I'll be goin' once this is over but... promise me you'll let me know how that island is, alright?" Weakly, he smiled and let his head rest on the wall behind him. As the fire died and the city moaned its dying breaths around them, he fancied he could almost hear the sound of waves beating a white, sandy shore.

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The Beach House

[ the recording starts ]

“My mother’s house… Sometimes I like to call it Persephone, because whenever I’m there, it’s like winter… no, no. That’s no good. Far too obvious.” She leans back from the digital recorder, a slender hand lifted to her cheek in thought. “It’s like… there’s no life there. Like an empty hospital. Like… oh, blast.”

“Eleanor?” A voice offscreen.

She turns, looking relieved at the interruption. “Yes, Father?”

“Would you look at this? I found this…” A man steps into view. Tall, angular but not frail. The side of his face the camera catches his splashed with an ugly scar from graying hairline to chin, warping his features. He is smiling, and the twinkle in his green eyes takes years off his lined face. In his hands is a branch of coral, bleached white by the salt and sun.

Eleanor smiles as well, taking it from his rough palms to her soft ones. “It’s beautiful, Father. What are you doing to do with it?”

“I’m not sure yet. Maybe…” He pauses and looks into the camera, his brows knitted. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”

“Oh, no, no.” Eleanor says quickly, moving the camera so that it points away. It now faces a wall of her room, painted with a rather amateur mural that features a beach at sunset. Part of a bookshelf can be seen, crammed with books and knickknacks. “No, it’s just a silly personal thing…”

The two of them exit the room and can be heard talking in the distance. Eleanor does not return to shut off the camera for quiet a while, so the video ends with the light slanting fiery orange through the window and finally the blackness of night before she or somebody else finally shuts it down.]

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Failure (cont. wip? )

The sudden squeal of radio static jerked Delta out of the thin slumber he’d just settled into. Half-convinced it was his exhausted mind playing tricks on him, he closed his eyes again, shifting on top of the old mattress he’d fished out of a dumpster. In this suit it was rare for him to find a sleeping position he was comfortable in, with the internal tubing of the life-support system digging into him at every angle. Whoever had designed it hadn’t put much consideration into the wearer’s comfort.

He was just nodding off again when the static returned in full force. “DELTA,” it shrieked. He growled in complaint, pawing at the area of his helmet where his radio’s speaker was located, his movements clumsy in his half-awake state.

“Don’t you use that tone with me, Herr Delta.” The radio scolded. Delta lowered his hand, his exhaustion forgotten. That voice. At least this time he knew he hadn’t been dead for a decade. Hopefully.

The voice continued, terse. “Good to see you’ve managed to stay alive. I was afraid I’d have made the trip for nothing. There is a bathysphere docking station only a short distance from your current location. I will wait for you there. Will this be a problem?”

Delta groaned, not savoring the idea of a late-night trek, but beneath his physical discomfort he felt a sharp prickle of excitement. Tenenbaum. She’d come from the surface. She might know what was happening with Eleanor. Maybe she’d even come to take him out of this place. He’d have to have been dying to miss this chance. Stiffly he got to his feet, picking up his rivet gun on the way. It had been ages since he’d actually fired it, but its weight was comforting in his arms.

~~~

The bathysphere bay was pitch black, cut harshly by the lights on Delta’s helmet. As he stepped onto the docking area around the pool of water, the lights inside the sphere flicked on, illuminating the round portholes along the side. With a hiss of depressurization the door on the front slid open. Delta hefted the rivet gun, not exactly expecting a trap but knowing it never hurt to be prepared.

He instantly recognized the woman who stepped out, though some unknown strain had worn her down even in the year since he’d seen her last. The smile that crept across her drawn face at the sight of him shaved that year away instantly. Delta dropped his gun and walked over, holding his hands to his chest. The first time the glass had been in the way, but now, he could touch her if he wanted. Even kill her. She must trust him. Maybe Eleanor had told her what he’d done.

“It’s been a while, Herr Delta.” Her voice was softer than it had been on the radio. He answered with a quiet lowing noise and bowed his head. She reached out and took one of his massive fingers, pulling his hand away from his body. “There is no need for that. I know you will not hurt me. Come, now. We’ve much work to do.”

Gently Delta pulled away, looking back at the doorway he’d entered through. Doctor Alexander would wonder when he didn’t show up for his treatment. Would he worry? Was there time to tell him?

Maybe they could come back. They had the bathysphere. Alex would understand. He had to.

Tenenbaum tugged at his hand again. He turned back to her, highlighting the angles of her face with the light of his porthole. She lightly touched the metal beside it.

“Perhaps it is time you no longer had to carry this burden. Your daughter has grown up. Now it is time for you to become your own person.”

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Writer's Block: So much for counting sheep

What do you like to do when you can't get to sleep?

I like to read, if I can find a book that's readable. I don't always understand what they say, but just the act of reading the words is relaxing.

Sometimes I fix things. Leaks and things. There are always lots of them around. Or I watch the fish swim around outside.

I don't have as much trouble sleeping as I used to, though.

Delta's Babbies

I thought it'd be helpful to keep a list of all the grown-ass people Delta has adopted.

Eleanor (naturally. meaningbychoice )
Toasty/Walter (ladiesman1959 )
Marlene (gettinplastered )
Kyle Fitzpatrick (i_hate_dynamite )
Cute Jack (1st_protagonist )
Neutral Jack (dangerouswclubs )
Evil Jack (jackfuckingryan )
Kyburz (fuckingbombs )
Rudy (ceilingsplicer )
Kenneth (kentard )
Kowalski (dat_kowalski )
Patrick Atlas (nonexistent_son )
Stanley Poole (poole_party )
Daniel Wales (dozenfeckndoves )
Nina Carnegie (fordemchildren )

Writer's Block: Family planning

If you wanted to have children and had trouble conceiving, would you be more likely to consider IVF, surrogacy, or adoption, and why?

All my kids are adopted anyway, so I don't see any reason to change it. I think it works out best this way, because somebody has to take care of them and it might as well be me, because I like taking care of people.

Besides, they kind of castrated me.

Writer's Block: Past the expiration date

What's in your refrigerator right now?

A dead shark.

I'm not sure what kind of shark it is.

Basis In Fact

The information they’d gotten was second, third-hand at best, but these things always had a basis in fact. Things like this got also tended to get around quickly in neighborhoods full of rich, paranoid parents, the gated community type who kept all their lamps on timers. Maybe the guy had even deserved it, but just try telling his parents that. Their precious angel could never do wrong. It must have been a misunderstanding. Maybe those rabbits had been asking for it. The guys at the pet shop were all jerks, anyway. What was the point of having all those animals around if they weren’t going to allow you to play with them?

The car itself was not recognizable, a gray piece of junk bearing the signs of many attempts at amateur repair. The occupants of the car were far more interesting, or at least one of them was. There was the scrawny kid they knew and bothered frequently. He always got dropped off, but the car that brought him then was sleek and black and shiny as a puddle of oil. It was who was driving him that had their attention.

So the driver probably hadn’t beaten anyone to death, or even to the point of extensive injury, but still, one look at the guy and you knew he wasn’t the sort you wanted to mess with. Not because he was scary or anything, far from it, more like a teddy bear than a grizzly, but there was a very measured strength in his actions, in how he touched the other kid on the shoulder in a brief goodbye pat, and you really could imagine him being angry enough to do all the things people said he’d done. There was more than just friendship in the look he gave the kid’s retreating back, and it was that look that made them realize they’d have to find somebody else to bother from now on.

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Writer's Block: Good eats

What are your three most and least favorite foods?

I eat corpses and fish a lot but I can't say that I really like how they taste. If I had to pick something that I really don't like eating, I'd probably say Pep Bars. I'm very tired of them, and they taste like sawdust with chocolate.

I'm tired of a lot of the food around here, actually. It all tastes pretty much the same, but that might just be my taste buds. I've tried eating other things the few times when I've had the opportunity, but it almost always makes me sick.

I recently found out that I can eat shark. I guess I'll stick with that for a while.