gardensock gardensock wrote in memebells
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1107. The Caged Meme

The Caged Meme

There are all kinds of ways to be confined, whether mentally or physically. There are bars of magical and mundane origin, illnesses and curses.

Whatever the means, something has affected you.

In one way or another, you're trapped. Bound. Caged.

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1. AND I MUST SCREAM - You're trapped within your own mind. You can't move, your cries are silent, but your imprisonment is no less real.

2. IN THIS PLACE - You're chained to a wall. Standing on a solitary rock in a lava field. Captured and hogtied. Whatever it is, you're not moving more than an inch or two.

3. LIKE A BIRD IN A CAGE - You have some little movement, but not much. Are you locked in a closet? In a tiny prison cell? Trapped in an elevator? In an oversized birdcage? Whichever it is, the confines are quite close.

4. THESE FOUR WALLS - You're trapped in a sealed room. Or a magical bubble. Or maybe in a fenced yard. You can move around a bit, but the walls might just start closing in on you quickly.

5. I CAN NEVER LEAVE - You aren't physically confined, but you still can't leave. Are you magically compelled to stay? Is there something vital to your life where you are that you can't obtain elsewhere? The door is open, but you won't fly through it.

6. IN YOUR HEAD - You're simply too ill to leave. Or too afraid of the outside. You long to go, but in the end you simply won't.

7. WILDCARD/OTHER - Pick the option you like, or invent your own.

Originally posted at Bakerstreet on DW by user enthymeme.

Please remember to loop your threads!

Seriously. [He reaches over for his Mountain Dew -- she buys him Mountain Dew! -- and takes a sip.] They kept us separated, so we wouldn't form attachments, you know. Mostly we didn't see each other until we got into the ring.

And so one day, they tell me it's a fight to the death. Most of the time, they don't do that. Werewolves are too rare and valuable for anyone to want to lose one, not to mention the fact that, you know, the wolves don't like doing it. But if you refuse, they'll shock one of you until the other one puts you out of your misery. [He closes his eyes.] It's awful.

. . . oh, Volchok moy.

[There's more to it than that, but it's very vulgar and very quiet and very not-in-English.]

Yeah. [Ben concurs completely.] So. Anyway. They shove me out into the ring. The door at the other end opens up. And it's Ian. We blink at each other for a couple of seconds, and then charge across the sand--

And hug.

[He huffs out a bitter, bitter laugh.] Crowd didn't like that much.

No. I suppose not.

[Maria has a sick feeling growing in the pit of her stomach, because she can't imagine any way this story ends well for anyone involved in it, and she hates, with all of her, that her wolf has so many stories like this, and that he's carried them alone for so long.]

And we've got this quick back-and-forth convo going, because if we hold it too long then one of us is gonna get electrocuted to the ground. I told him I didn't want to do it, and he said we had to because they had Leah.

[He huffs out a breath.] Leah was his Mate. They started dating because I twitted him into finally asking her out.

[His hands are shaking now.] This was a pure hand-to-hand. No weapons except us. And if we didn't make it look good, then they'd punish us and punish Leah.

Hell, at that point, I decided to give him the win. What the fuck did I have left to live for, you know?

[Maria nods, barely, but she doesn't say anything. It's not because she doesn't care, or because she isn't listening, it's because she's listening and she cares and she is horrified and heartsick and knows anything she says will be utterly, terribly inadequate.]

[Ben hardly notices; he's lost in the reminiscence and might be rambling a little.] We gave the crowd their money's worth. Stretched it out, made it last. Came closer and closer to delivering the coup de grace on each other half a dozen times apiece, always dodging at the last second. He'd try to close with me, I'd flit aside, we'd both do some damage. You know.

I'd decided I wasn't going to dodge his next one.

And then he didn't dodge mine.

. . . oh, Ben.

[She sets her tea mug aside, very very carefully, as if she's afraid something is going to break if she moves wrong.

And this is why she doesn't pry, because she hurts for him, and she can't do a damn thing about it, and she is not very okay with that.]

[Except she can. Ben slides off the sofa and onto the floor, and leans against her leg, resting his forehead on her knee. Carefully. He closes his eyes and continues.] He didn't even mean to not dodge. He slipped. Or tripped. And instead of barely scoring his thigh, my claws went deep and hit the artery.

We'd already both lost a lot of blood. And he didn't take long at all to bleed the rest of the way out. I held him while he died.

I can still hear Leah screaming from the stands.

[Maria closes her eyes and reaches out to thread her fingers through his hair, over and over. Nothing she can do, nothing she can say, can undo the hurt she hears in his voice, and this is why she spent such a very long time keeping people at arm's length or better. This, right here.]

Volchok moy. Oh, my poor, poor wolf.

[Maybe she can't undo the hurt. Nothing can. But this, the simple act of non-painful contact, his Alpha petting him and caring about the fact that he hurts, does more to mitigate it than anything has for over two decades. And he is fiercely, fiercely grateful for it and her. He wraps his arm around her legs from underneath and squeezes gently.] It's eighteen years gone. [Doesn't mean he doesn't have tears from it, or that his chest doesn't ache.]

But, you know what? This is the first time I've been able to actually mourn. So, thank you. It helps, that someone else cares. It really does.

I know you're sad that you can't fix it, Maria. But you don't have to. All you have to do is be here for me. It's enough. More. Than enough.

[One corner of her mouth turns up in a sad, flat expression that isn't really a smile. Her fingers never stop moving through his hair.]

Ach. When what I want to do is murder them for you, Volchok, it feels like very little indeed just to be here for you.

But all the same. Here I am.

[A side of Ben's mouth curls up. It's not a nice expression.] Oh, they'll get theirs. I have no doubt. Some of them already are.

[He rubs his face up and down her knee almost like a cat.] Sometimes the best revenge isn't living well, it's living at all. Living well, being here with you? That's a bonus. Because screw them anyway.

The whole filthy lot of them, yes. Pigs and brutes.

[Maria's expression softens, just a little. She's still keeping to strict rules about when and how she touches him, never initiating it, always scrupulously careful not to touch him when it's not wanted. But it does her good to see that on the occasions he reaches out for it, it seems to do him so much good.]

I'll remember him with you, Ben.

[Ben nods against her. He's initiating that touch more and more often.] Thank you. He was a good guy. A good friend. And a good Mate for Leah. [He never saw her again and wonders where she is, and stifles a sob.] I didn't mean to kill him.

Of course not, Volchok. Of course you didn't.

[She brushes the backs of her fingers across his cheek before going back to stroking his hair.]

Leave the blame with them where it belongs, with the barbarians who forced you both to such a thing. Don't carry it, Volchok moy. He would not want such a thing, surely.

I guess he wouldn't, at that. [He rubs his cheek on her again before resuming his spot and picking up the comp.] And you'll remember him, and so will I, and I'll tell his story. Maybe people will even read it.

Maybe they will.

[If not, well, it's still doing him good to write it, to get it out of his system, to talk about it and mourn it and not get hurt for doing that. In that sense, by her reckoning, the project is serving its main purpose.

She retrieves her mug of tea and her book and watches him surreptitiously over them for a bit. Waiting to see if there's more.]

[For now, since he's had his catharsis, he can sit down and write about what happened with Ian almost straight through. He pauses on occasion to find the right words, but he's deep into the memory and wants to get it down while it's fresh.

He looks up an hour and a half later, blinking and a little abashed.] Oh. Wow.

[Maria glances up from her book with a smile. The tea mug is long since emptied.]

You lost yourself in it for a bit there, I think, Volchok.

[He scrubs a hand across his face. It's wet, which abashes him further.] Yeah.

I think next time I write about a good memory.

dipthongs, how do they work

That would do you good, I think. To remember some of the sweet with so much bitter.

[Maria marks her place and sets the book aside, reaches into her pocket for a handkerchief to hold out to him.]

Such a long life, and so many sorrows in it. Es tut mir sehr leid, Ben.

Edited at 2012-07-19 06:53 pm (UTC)


[He takes it, brushing her fingers, and wipes his face.] Thank you.

But, you know. Before it all went to shit, there were plenty of good times. I had a pet dragon once.

[Maria lets out a startled laugh. She can't help it; it's such an unexpected thing for him to say. A joke, of all things, is a good sign; he hasn't really gotten that far yet, that she's seen.]

Ach, such a tall tale. Go on, pull the other. There are bells on it.

[His face is totally serious. Well, maybe not totally. His lips might be twitching a little.] And she mated with a water serpent while we were on vacation in Canada. Laid five eggs. One of the babies had two heads.

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