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It's five in the morning. I've been awake for a few hours, got maybe three hours of sleep last night. I wrote this a couple of nights ago when I couldn't sleep. It helped almost nothing, so that went well. Either way, I cleaned it up and slapped it up here. I'm just doing this before I take a shower, I'll deal with the comms later or whatever. I feel like I had more to say about this, but forgot it all.

Title: To The Grave
Author: [livejournal.com profile] ofvanity
Pairings: Gen
Word Count: 958
Rating: R
Warnings: Extreme gore, PTSD, mentions of: real world situational trauma, child prostitution & trafficking.
Disclaimers: Inception does not belong to me.
Author's Note: This was a fill for this prompt and this prompt, concerning PTSD and a specific action, based very loosely on Hero of War by Rise Against. This is almost a character study.
Summary: Arthur thinks he is dying now, his head is thin and the air is stale.

-

There is a well in the desert. Its bricks, caked with mud, were worn and half broken under the weary sun. The bottom stretched black across the blond of the sun and the sand. Arthur’s hands were shiny with blood, held against his M-16 and wondering
what is at the bottom at the well.

This village has long been abandoned, the well must be dry. There must be only more brick and sand, smooth and congealing black. Arthur pushes his fingers against the brick and bends his nails until they break, until they rip at his cuticles. He watches the blood run into his fingers and curls them into a fist. His palms are sticky with blood of boys. Pre-pubescent and wide eyed boys who dance with their bare feet scarring the sand, their blood scarring his hands.

Whenever he feels like he’s dying, Arthur fists his hands and thinks of those boys and the men who kept them. They only exist in Arthur’s mind now, in his memories and his anger. The sand blows over their bodies and the vultures tear at their flesh. Arthur thinks he is dying now, his head is thin and the air is stale.

Eames is screaming at him, in fear, most likely. Arthur can feel it, the crack in his skull in his brain and basic motor functions, crushing the inside of his lungs and his body, bending outwards for the cosmos. His black hole of a body, scoring hot blood down his back, his nails digging uneven half-moon prints at his knees.

The well in the desert, it had to have dried up after the village was abandoned. The village had to be abandoned after the Taliban moved in. After they stirred families out of their homes to pop bullets into healthy men, they corrupt boys; they traded children for war and exploitation. Any one left had to run. The bricks are caked with mud at the bottom, dark and Arthur broke his hands against them, weary with the sunshine in his mouth.

They’re hurtling through this city, Arthur doesn’t remember how’s he’s gotten here. He thinks he’s supposed to be seeing his mother, her bony wrists and crow’s feet eyes. She’s supposed to be here, cooing at him, being proud of the medals adorning his shirt. She’s supposed to be proud of him for watching men die, for sticking Swiss army knives into the belly of an insurgent.

Arthur gnaws his teeth around his knuckles, resting his head against the glass of the passenger side window. Eames leaves for a minute, admonishing Arthur to stay exactly where he fucking is.

Arthur isn’t sure where he is, the glass is pushing his face cold against the heat on his back. He thinks he’s dying and he’s okay with that. Death is simple and unapologetic; death is running down his back and breaking his hands so Arthur couldn’t crawl away even if he wanted to.

Eames returns and pulls him out of the car, pushing him into a yellowed room with graying edges. It smells like formaldehyde and kerosene and the airport when he came home after his first tour. He can see footprints on the walls and ceiling. He is about to protest and say that he’s forgotten something in the car when Eames snarls directions and leads Arthur into the bathroom.

He turns the shower on and pulls Arthur’s shirt off. Arthur watches the water turn from pink to angry red, as Eames gently touches all the unstitched bone marrow inside his head, the vortex of his black hole body, probing. “Arthur, you’re not even bleeding.”

Arthur says nothing, because he is bleeding. There is black tar congealing inside his lungs on every exhale, his tongue touches metallic at his teeth and he swallows it down, he is collecting like a well. Eames keeps touching him, rubbing through his military buzz cut, searching for the mouth of the wound.

“Where did you get all this blood, Arthur, whose blood is this, good God, Arthur.”

There is a slaughterhouse three miles outside of the city, it’s not even difficult to find. Arthur remembers now, scrubbing his fingers through the vat of pig’s blood, the sunken and forgotten life of another being, scrubbing his eyes with it until his eyelashes clumped together with it. Pouring it down his back and laying in the hot gravel of an empty road. He doesn’t know how Eames found him, but Eames must know now.

He must know what Arthur is. His arms were slick with it when Eames showed up and some of this blood is bound to be his, he remembers the rip in his skin, it had to be his skin, this time, it felt like it was him.

Arthur’s supposed to be at home with his mother, sitting in a dry room with their beaming smiles and his adoring family down his back. Arthur has to go back, they’ll be waiting. They’ll be sitting around, with sand between their teeth, waiting for Arthur to show them the shrapnel scars in his chest and on his neck.

Eames scrubs at Arthur until the water is chilled and then holds him against the countertop as he presses butterfly bandages on his cheeks and his neck, his brow bone. He watches Arthur with diamond eyes, glassy with the sweat of someone else’s labor. He talks like he’s been repeating his words. “Please, Arthur, tell me what I can do to help.”

Arthur feels like he’s dying in his hollow body with memories of boys and abandoned villages, the sand clumped red in his broken hands, the curl of his ribs as they bend into his body as they tried vainly to suck in and breathe. “Water,” he rasps with a dry throat, “Water?”
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