Wasted Chapter 7
Beyond the Edge
Ever the observer, it didnt come as a surprise to Rude when Reno changed, after the incident with Tseng. Talks of escape lay in the past. Reno still dressed slovenly, but without the rebellious vigor of before. He seemed to be desperately trying to cling to something- to some part of the man hed been before while he sunk inevitably further into the grim routine of Death Row.
Gone was Renos fire. In its place was fear. Fear of himself.
At least, that was what Rude surmised. He had no way of knowing for sure, because any time he tried to bring up it up, Reno refused to speak of it. But Rude knew his fellow Turk-in-training was deathly afraid of the nightstick. No, that wasnt quite right. Reno wasnt afraid of the nightstick so much as he was afraid being forced to use it again.
Perhaps the only compensation for the whole ordeal was Tsengs departure. His training was complete. Kaiser wouldnt tell them where hed gone, but Wat mentioned that hed be working in the Shrina building itself, since he was a full Turk now.
In the end, Reno appeared to put the incident behind him, but he still occasionally fell into dark depressions he couldnt be roused out of. In those times, he was thoughtful and quiet, and when disturbed, even more sarcastic than usual. Often, then, Wat would let him have it- beating him more severely than ever. It didnt do a lot- Reno wouldnt speak a word throughout the ordeal, and even Wat would eventually tire of the monotonous punishment merely served to strengthen the bond of hatred between the two men.
In short, life returned to normal- or what was normal in Death Row. Reno was still Reno, even if he did seem half-crazy sometimes. Rude was still Rude, more or less. But as for their third ally
Lynn seemed worse every day. Rude had never seen her like this. It was like shed lost the will to live. She went through her routines like an automaton, face blank and unreadable. He wasnt sure how or when it had happened, but her sprit had been broken.
Or that was what he thought.
One night, about a month after Tseng had left, the three rookies arrived for their usual bowls of gruel. As they sat down, Reno sarcastically muttered, What, no barbecue sauce?
Rude gave a rare smile and sank down next to him. Cmon. Youd pour it on this stuff? He indicated the greasy bowl of slop.
Reno rolled his eyes. Hell no. Id chuck the bowl away and drink the sauce instead.
Lynn sat silently across from them, not eating, simply staring into her bowl. Naturally, Wat decided to take it upon himself to cheer her up.
Why arent you eating, Lynn? he asked conversationally as he plopped down beside her. Its pretty good. Isnt it, Reno? He glanced to the red-haired man innocently.
Reno gave him a bored, disinterested look and didnt answer.
There, you see? Reno likes it.
She didnt look at him. Get the hell away from me, Wat, she said quietly.
Lynn, youve got to eat, he insisted. A mocking smirk grew on his face as his fingers curled around her right breast. Unless you miss me already.
Lynn froze. Suddenly, she clamped her hand over Wats wrist and flung him aside. Before anybody could react, she jumped to her feet, knocking over the table. Gruel splashed all over Rude and Reno.
Get away from me! she screamed at Wat, her face flushed, her eyes narrowed into slits. I hate you, Wat! Ive always hated you! Just go away!
He slowly climbed back to his feet. Okay, maybe youre just not in the mood-
She punched him in the face before he could get more out. He had to use both hands to slow the onslaught of blood that spurted from his nose. Kaiser was making his way over, but Lynn paid no attention. She grabbed Wat by the shoulders and slammed him into the wall, putting her face close to his.
Im pregnant, you goddamned bastard, she whispered in a voice as cold as ice.
Wats hands slowly dropped away from his face. His eyes were wide. Oh, shit, seemed to be all he could say.
Forgotten, Rude and Reno looked at each other. Reno looked at the bald man questioningly, but Rude shook his head, indicating they stay where they were. Neither of them could do a thing.
Wat looked like he was having trouble figuring out what to do. I I think He honestly seemed to have had no idea that his reckless actions could have actual consequences. Rude almost felt sorry for him. Almost.
Listen, Wat, Lynn said desperately. Let me go. Her fingers dug into his shoulder. Just let me out of here. Ill disappear. I wont tell anyone anything.
By now Kaiser had reached them. He pulled Lynn off Wat to slam him into the wall again himself. You idiot! he shouted. What did you do?! Youve ruined a perfectly good Turk!
Wat seemed to be rapidly losing control. Shut up, Kaiser! Shut the fuck up! he screamed.
Lynn stood off to the side, hands balled into fists, watching. Rude wanted to go to her, but he was afraid shed cry if he did. Hed never seen Lynn cry and didnt want to see it now. Lynn in tears would push him too far. Hed already fallen off the edge, but was managing to cling tenaciously to some remnant of sanity. He didnt want to fall into that pit of madness that seemed to have claimed the rest of them. He didnt want to find out what he might do.
Reno looked like he felt the same way, but he knew what would happen if he lost his frail grip on sanity. He glanced at Rude helplessly. What the hell could they do?
Absolutely nothing. Rude finally stepped over to Lynn, and put a hand on her shoulder. He didnt speak a word. Silent comfort was all he had to offer.
At last Kaiser turned away from Wat, muttering under his breath. He seemed to be looking around for something to lash out at, and at the sight of Reno and Rude, found it.
Out! he roared. Giving Wat a look that plainly said, Ill deal with you later, he practically shoved the two down the stairs. Rude scrambled into his cell just as the door clanged shut behind him. He hadnt gotten to his feet before Kaiser went charging back up the stairs.
Silence descended over the basement, and with it a choking sense of hopelessness. All it took was Kaisers bad temper, and they were locked up again, powerless to help Lynn. Now they were stuck in cells, unable to affect events even as they transpired on the upper floor.
Rude leaned against the door, looking helplessly at Reno.
I cant believe this, Reno sighed, running a hand through his red hair. Rude wanted to scream at him for making such an idiotic understatement, but merely shrugged.
The movement caused the door he was leaning on to swing open. Rude stumbled and barely caught himself, staring in shock. Kaiser had forgotten to lock his door.
You lucky son of a bitch, Reno said slowly. He pushed experimentally on his door, but it didnt budge. He cursed, then looked back at his friend. Why dont you go up and see whats going on?
Theyd probably kill me, Rude muttered.
There was a thump from the upper floor, then a shout of pain from Wat.
Sounds more like theyre killing each other, Reno observed.
Rude hesitated. Lynn was up there
Dont try it, man, Reno cautioned him. I wasnt being serious. He sighed. Hate to say this, but theres nothing we can do.
He was right. Rude shut the door and sat down heavily on the floor. The only thing to do was wait.
Time passed. There were no more sounds from above. Rude grew impatient. He heard Reno pacing and muttering to himself, and considered telling him to shut up, but didnt bother. Reno was only handling the tension in his own way.
Eventually the weight of the evenings events took their toll on him, and Rude dozed off. He had no idea how long he slept, but he awoke when the door clanged open. Slow footsteps descended the steps. Rude jumped to his feet as the individual came into view.
It was Wat, but in the near-darkness Rude had trouble recognizing him at first. His steps were slow and dragging, his head down. He walked like an old man, a completely different person. Rude might even have enjoyed the sight, if not for what he saw next.
Wat was carrying Lynn in his arms.
The door to her cell creaked as he pulled it open. Rude saw him set Lynn on her pallet. She gave a little gasp of pain, the first sound shed made since their entrance.
She was hurt. That was why Wat was carrying her. Rude felt a wave of anger. Theyd hurt her. Not as part of her training, as a Turk, but for punishment: malice. Rude gripped the bars of the door, remembering it was unlocked. He knew he could kill Wat now. Now, while he was in that broken-down, defeated state. He should kill him.
Yet, he didnt move, merely watched to see what would happen next.
Wat didnt leave. He looked down at her, silent, for the longest time. At last he said, Im sorry this happened to you, Lynn.
Her voice was little more than a reedy whisper. A little late for that. Fuck you.
Rude saw him nod. Finally he turned and walked out of the cell. At its exit he looked back. You know, he began, rather hesitantly, then stopped. Rude waited for him to continue, but he never did. Wat lapsed into an uncomfortable silence.
At this angle, Rude could see him more clearly. Wat didnt look to be in the best shape, to put it mildly. His face was dark with blood, and the area around one eye was black. Apparently Kaiser didnt only punish rookies.
For the first time, he wondered who had trained Wat. He couldnt have been a Turk forever. He had to have been a person, once, as absurd as the idea seemed. Somewhere, inside his mocking, sadistic exterior, there had to be a human being, much like Reno and Rude themselves.
Rude almost laughed at the thought. Maybe a person, but not like himself or Reno. He couldnt imagine Wat as anything but sarcastic, cruel
standing there looking like hed broken something dear to him. Almost like the stupid child who throws his toy across the room in a temper, then cries when he cant put it together again. Defeated.
Wat never finished his sentence. After a time, he slowly walked back up the stairs. As he passed, Rude again toyed with the idea of breaking out of his cell and fighting him. But, suddenly, it really didnt seem worth it anymore.
As soon as the door clanged shut Reno stepped to the front of his cell. Lynn? he called.
She said nothing. Reno had the good sense to say no more, realizing she didnt feel like talking.
A hush fell over them once more, thick and impenetrable as a fog. Reno said nothing more, and Rude certainly wasnt about to break the quiet. Like the last shred of sanity, it was something to be abandoned only when no other options were available. Precious as gold, but not half as beautiful. Some silences were beautiful, but this one was ugly with hatred and fear.
After a time, through the silence, Rude heard a soft gasping, whimpering sound. It took him a while to understand what the sound was.
Lynn was crying.
The realization hit him like a dagger through his heart. Lynn never cried. In all the time hed known her, hed never seen her shed a tear.
He opened his door and quietly slipped to the outside of her cell. Lynn.
Lynn lay on her back on the pallet. She stopped crying abruptly when she heard him.
Lynn. Are you alright? He felt stupid asking such a thing; it was obvious she wasnt. But he didnt know what else to say.
She turned her face toward him so he could see. Do I look alright?
Her face shocked him. Bruises and cuts marred her once-smooth skin; her hair was soaked with blood. Combined with the dark circles under her eyes and the unnatural pallor of her flesh, she seemed to resemble a corpse. Rude knew the rest of her body had to look the same.
His anger flared again. What happened? he demanded.
She turned her face away. Kaiser was angry. He hit Wat a lot, slapped him around. Then he decided to punish me. He hurt me. Hit me everywhere. I was sure I was going to die. I think Wat got upset, tried to stop him. Kaiser threw him against the wall. Then he went back to beating me.
She looked back toward him, gave a lopsided grin. Against the gruesome backdrop of her destroyed face, the effect was quite frightening. I was pregnant. She emitted a dry, rasping laugh. Not anymore. Kaiser made sure of that.
Rude grit his teeth. He wanted to kill Kaiser, at that instant. With his bare hands. But that wouldnt take back what hed done to her. Lynn, Im going to get you out of here, he said vehemently, wishing he was as certain as he sounded. I swear it.
She sighed, as if she didnt believe him. Dont bother. Slowly she reached through the bars, offering her hand. He took it gently. Theres no point. Theres no goddamned point in anything anymore. She began to cry again, little gasping sounds like before. Why couldnt he have killed me, Rude? It wouldve been so much easier
Rude had no idea how long he sat there, holding Lynns hand. The anger within didnt burn itself out, like it usually did. It stayed and grew. He knew Lynn, knew she didnt deserve this. Nobody deserved this.
Kaiser had done this to her. Wat had done this to her. They made her suffer so much she wanted to die, then didnt let her. That was probably the worst thing you could do to a person.
The night passed before he knew it. Kaiser arrived to let them out of their cells the following morning, right after the alarm rang. Rude waited for him.
He stopped at the sight of Rude out of his cell. A snarl grew on his face.. What-
Rude hit him before he could finish, slamming his fist into his stomach. Kaiser doubled over with pain. Rude grabbed him by the hair and threw him to the floor, then stood over him, breathing heavily.
You hurt her. His voice was thick. I wont let you hurt her anymore.
With a growl Kaiser threw himself at Rudes legs, sending him down. Rude fought wildly to overcome his opponent, oblivious to Renos cheers and Lynns hoarse shouts. He never found out what came over him that day, but he later thought he mightve turned a little crazy. Maybe became a victim of that same madness that had come over Reno that day with Tseng. That came over them all.
Inevitably, the more experienced man began to gain the upper hand. Kaiser shoved him into the wall, locking both of Rudes fists behind his back. Rude felt the Turks and grip him by the neck and twist his head back.
Kaiser spoke directly into his ear. Dont try to fight, Rude. You know very well I could snap your neck like a twig.
Rude knew he was right. He set his jaw in frustration, but didnt move. He could feel Kaisers hot breath by his ear.
Tseng was smart. He knew that fighting was useless. Its like trying to outrun death. It just doesnt work.
Ive trained more Turks than you could know. Its always the same- at first they fight, but over time they gradually realize they cant win. Tseng figured it out quickly. So did Lynn, after a while. So did you I thought.
It was true, much as Rude hated to admit it. Before Renos arrival, Rude had given up. But the red-head had awoken something inside of Rude, something that wouldnt die. Rude knew that no matter how much he was trained or tortured, he wouldnt revert back to his old self. He couldnt.
Maybe it was that stupid slum drunk. I knew Wat shouldnt have brought him in. Kaiser tightened his grip. There are some with Turk discipline, potential. And there are some who are weak. Too weak. Like Lynn. Kaisers voice lowered in pitch. Dont think she didnt deserve what she got. That skinny little bitch had it coming to her.
It was then Rude lost his tedious grip on the edge.
He looped his leg around Kaisers and twisted, breaking free of the Turks grip. Kaiser fell back, caught off-guard. Rude went for him, sending both of them down. He got in a few good hits before the other man kicked him off. Rude rolled and shot back to his feet.
Kaiser flew at him. Rude just had time to register the sight of something shiny in his hand before Kaiser was upon him.
Even though he now had the knife to avoid as well as Kaisers strikes, Rude fought furiously, with everything he had. But it wasnt enough.
The knife caught him a glancing blow on the shoulder. The cut was shallow, but it slowed Rude a bit. Enough for Kaiser to find the opening he needed.
He slashed again, going for the face. Rude looked up, but he was too slow. The knife cut deep across his right eye, continuing over one temple. Rude let out a cry of pain and fell to his knees, blinded by his own blood.
He didnt look up, but heard Kaiser give a snort of contempt. You responded to deliberate provocation. Stupid.
Rude couldnt think, let alone speak. Through the haze of pain he heard Reno shouting something as Kaiser unlocked his door.
What the hell do you think youre doing, you bastard? Hey, lemme go! Im not going anywhere with you!
Rude felt himself losing consciousness. Renos voice was fading. Rudes own thoughts were fading. The only thing that wasnt fading was the pain; that stayed, pulsing and unbearable.
Youre just going to leave him there? Hell die if he doesnt get help, you idiot!
Then, Lynns voice. Rude? Rude!
She mightve said more. He didnt know. He was already lost in the darkness.
When Rude woke, hours later, he didnt know where he was at first. The cement floor beneath him was slick with his blood. He could feel more crusting around his face.
He tried to move and was a little surprised when he couldnt. He couldnt even find the strength to lift his head.
So he simply lay there for a while, not really doing anything. He faded in and out of consciousness, waiting for something to happen.
At last, something did. He heard the door slam open, and hurried footsteps rush down the stairs. He didnt know who it was, but didnt really care.
He sensed someone kneel beside him, speaking in a rapid whisper. Hey, Rude. You alright?
He managed to turn his head enough to see, but dried blood obscured most of his vision. Reno ?
Yeah. Reno gripped him by the shoulders and helped him to stand. Cmon, lets get you cleaned up.
Rude still felt groggy and weak; he had to lean heavily on his friend as they took a few cautious steps. Lynn His voice sounded harsh and pained.
Shes asleep. Renos tone grew angry. I dont blame you for going after that bastard. Hey, watch it. Were at the stairs.
With Reno guiding, Rude managed to mount the steps. He wavered a little at the top, but Reno caught him and practically dragged him down the hall.
Were here. Through his hazy vision, Rude could see that by here, Reno meant the washroom. He allowed Reno to haul him a few more feet, then heard the tap running. He staggered to the sink and dipped his head under the faucet, allowing the cold water to numb the angry laceration.
I dont know how bad youre hurt, man, Reno said nervously while Rude cleaned out his wound. I still don t. But leaving you there in a pool of blood it scared the shit out of me. How is it?
Rude clenched his teeth and rubbed at some of the dried blood along the injury with a paper towel. It might heal. But I dont think Ill ever see too well out of this eye.
Reno exhaled, running a hand through his hair. After a moment, he said, Weve got to get out of here, Rude. Wats a jerk as well as a moron, but Kaisers frickin nuts.
Rude started to nod, but staggered a bit and had to grab at the sink for balance. The blood loss was starting to take its toll, and cleaning it out had started the flow again. He grabbed some more towels to stanch the wound and sat down next to his friend. How did you convince them to let you back down to help me out?
Reno grinned. When it was time for me to switch from Kaiser to our curly-haired imbecile, I happened to come across Wat outside, taking a piss. He never knew what hit him.
You know, you passed up a perfect opportunity to escape, Rude said, surprised.
Reno appeared both amused and insulted. Now wheres the fun in getting drunk by yourself? I told you: You, me, and Lynn. Weve still gotta go to that bar.
Rude was silent, thinking of Lynns words the night before.
Theres no point. Theres no goddamned point in anything anymore.
I wonder, he said slowly. Would she even come, if we managed to escape?
Reno gave him a look that managed to convey both contempt and pity for his stupidity. Of course shell come. He nodded confidently. Youll see.
Rude rubbed his head. Reno hadnt mentioned escape for weeks. Now he was suddenly talking of it again? Now? Reno, Id thought youd given up on the idea.
Reno lowered his gaze. Well, since last night, in between the more dramatic notes of dinner and watching you try to take on Kaiser, Ive been thinking. And yeah, its true I dont really know whats happening to me. I mean, that day with Tseng Ill never forget it. He looked up. But Ive decided we owe Wat and Kaiser a little something. A little thank-you.
Reno smirked coldly. Oh, yeah.
Rude put a hand over his face, then pulled it away. It came away wet with blood. I dont know. His voice was shaking. Dammit, Reno, Im scared to death. Look what theyve done to us. Look what theyve done to me.
Reno brushed aside his lengthening hair. You want to do worse to them, same as me. You know it. He looked at him calmly. Cmon. You in or not?
Rude hesitated. He thought of Lynn, of her tears. In the end, that decided him. Im in.
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