Somebody Else

"About -" Elric paused, millions of thoughts blinking in and out of existence. Reasons not to tell her, old insecurities bubbling to the surface. Reasons he should tell her, flashes of things the mist had shown him, images and conversations already passed. Sitting in the rain, so close together but worlds apart. But always returning to his last memory of her, the way she'd looked at him in that moonlit study, the way he'd talked to her. "About -"

A sound like a semi-truck blasting through a mailbox made him whip around. His nerves were all but raw after the time he'd had, and if he'd had some kind of incredible ability like nearly every else seemed to have... well, he'd probably have blown something up.

"What was that?" he said barely above a whisper, inching toward the door. He wasn't sure what to expect, so he expected the worst. Those army men back with avengeance, the front of a tank smashed through the door, gunfire could begin at any moment. That was, of course, before he heard the laughter.

There was no point in trying to mask the confusion as he shot a look at Corby. If she knew anything, then she was the best actress the world had ever seen. She looked to be about to say something when she thought better of it. Her mouth hung open for a moment, then another.

"Corby?" he tried to speak, but his mouth wouldn't work. Something was going on, and he didn't like it. Not at all. He tried to move, but his limbs were frozen right where they were. He couldn't even glance to the side, his eyes were fixed, looking straight at her. And the unmoving clock behind her. The second hand was frozen in place, just as he was.

"Elric, " Avak's voice sounded hollow and far away, but was just as distinct as ever. "You disappoint me. You sit at a table drinking hot chocolate while your friends are in mortal peril. What kind of person does that make you? Or have you simply decided that if you leave everyone else to die, you'd have a better chance of making it out alive yourself?" His voice seemed to clear, as if someone had just adjusted the tuner and turned up the volume. There was a clack, then "is that it?"

At that moment, Avak walked into Elric's line of sight, shoes clacking on the hard floor. Elric wasn't sure if this was just an image projected into his mind or not, but he certainly seemed real. The insults Elric had been thinking up died in his throat once he saw the disappointed look in Avak's eye.

"Maybe, " Avak continued, dropping to his knees beside Corby's chair. "It's not you that your worried about? Maybe you're doing this for someone else? The problem is my boy, I need to make sure that the job gets done. And if you go and get yourself killed, you'd ruin all my plans. So maybe, " he flashed a dark grin in Elric's direction as he ran a strand of Corby's hair between his fingers. "I should find somebody else?"

"No!" Elric slammed his fists against the table, his only wish that it was Avak beneath his clenched fingers and not the hard wood. It took him a second to realize that Avak wasn't there, that he had just moved, and that Corby was looking at him like he'd just gone insane. And really, that's about what he felt like. Had Avak really been there, or was that an illusion? It didn't matter, he couldn't stay any longer.

Elric took one last look around the kitchen, if only so he didn't have to see Corby's face for that instant. "I'm sorry, I have to go." He made for the back door of the kitchen, and with every ounce of willpower, didn't look back.

The End

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