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This Is the Way the World Ends, Part 20

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Aug. 27th, 2004 | 11:44 am
mood: contentcontent
posted by: semaphore27 in monaboyd

Author: Semaphore
Pairing: Billy/Dom
Rating: PG-13, violence and language
Summary: It's the end of the world as we know it and no one feels fine. The world of Lotrips mingles with Stephen King’s The Stand. The gang gets ready to leave the mall post Wolf-attack, and Dom wishes for the past and the future.
Feedback: longed for and appreciated. So many thanks to all who've commented so far!
Disclaimers: This is entirely fictional. No disrespect intended. The people involved belong to themselves. The Stand was written by Stephen King. The title comes from T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men."

This Is the Way the World Ends, Part 20

“Our car burned up,” Sean says, sounding offended.

Only the SUV’s not merely burned up, Dom realizes--it’s melted. Reduced to so much fucking slag. As is every single car in the car park. That’s what his lovely, useful visions have shown him: there’s no transport to be found, and none ahead for more kilometers than he likes to think of.

They’re on the edge of the wilderness and he’s scared all at once, in a way he hasn’t been before. Sweat burns his skin, and the world’s narrowed to nothing but dust, heat, exhaustion. It’s like being trapped in a swamp that stretches on and on with no end that anyone can see—except that swamps are wet and this place is so dry Dom can feel the moisture being sucked out of his skin. His fingers, where they touch one another, seem to be made of old, brittle paper.

Tomorrow a sun that's invisible to him will glare down until they’re all sick and dizzy with the unrelenting hotness, the walking, the despair.

“We’ll find a new car at the next town,” Sonja says. Her voice is low and firm, not to be argued with, except that Dom knows she’s wrong: there won’t be another car, because there isn’t another town. There isn’t another town because this is the End of the World.

“We’d best walk,” Dom says. “Whilst it’s dark. We’ve supplies?”

“Yeah,” Sean tells him. His voice sounds tense, because he’s something beyond stressed. In fact, Dom can feel the tension vibrating from every inch of his body.

“Seanwise,” Billy says softly, sounding scarcely happier than Sean himself. “We’ll make our way, you’ll see.”

“I’ll get…” Sean swallows. “Get the packs. We put things together, Sonja and I. And Toni. We all put things together.” Despite his words, everything in Sean’s tone says, It’s falling apart. Oh, God, it’s falling apart.

Dom wants a good hotel room, or better yet his little house on Oahu, where he stays when he’s not on hiatus from Lost. Well, he’s on hiatus now, isn’t he? He’s on sodding lifetime hiatus, and blind to boot.

He’d not complain about his place in LA, either, or going to the set by moonlight every morning, or his hours of having blue makeup airbrushed onto his skin until feels as if he can’t breathe, or his prosthetic feet and hands and tail. He’d not complain about his yellow contact lenses, or the dental appliances he wore to make his normal teeth into Nightcrawler’s fangs, or the flying harness crushing his testicles, or the longs hours, or anything. He’d not complain at being in the house in Glasgow, dusting the neglected furniture and Hoovering the carpet in the lounge until his eyes are streaming and he’s sneezing his bloody head off.

Dom wishes he was in Idaho now, with Viggo. With someone who has experienced life, and can be fatherly, which Viggo can, in his own slightly-spaced-out way. Dom thinks he’d give up twenty years of his life just to hear his own father’s voice one more time, only he’ll never, ever hear his father’s voice again, and there’s something hot and salty running down his face but he doesn’t know if it’s tears or blood.

Whichever it is, he forces it back inside himself. This isn’t the time, can’t be the time to break down. They have walking to do, ground to cover, a whole journey ahead of them.

Still, he wants to be sitting at the kitchen table with his mum and dad, drinking sweet, milky tea as his dad reads political bits from The Guardian, commenting between the pieces he’s read.

Did Austin suffer, dying? Dom hates to think of his dad suffering. He hates to think of his mum so far away, and of his father never coming home to her again with a snog and a smile at the end of the day.

The world’s been tipped sideways and he’s falling, falling, arms pinwheeling as if they might somehow allow him to fly, only there’s just space and cold and the strangeness of it all rushing past him. He’d like nothing more than to sit again on the tarmac, knees pulled up to his chest and brow pressed against them, doing his Yogic breathing and counting slowly, slowly, back from one hundred until everything’s righted itself again.

Of course dad suffered, Dom thinks. Of course he did. That’s what Captain Trips was best at—taking innocent people’s lives and their dignity all at the same time.

Dom realizes his breathing’s gone funny. The others have left him, he’s afraid. He can’t hear their voices, or feel them near, and for a moment he drops into wild panic, his heart thumping rapidly against his ribs.

“Elijah!” he calls out sharply. “Lijah Lij, wake up. Wake up!” His voice is trembling and he realizes that the dead aren’t the only ones whose dignity has gone. “Ah, God, Lij, speak to me.”

“I feel sick,” Elijah’s voice answers him, still from down on the ground.

Dom’s shaking all over now, and his mouth is a desert, as if it’s filled up with sand and stinging things. Sand and scorpions. “But you’re okay, right? You’re okay?”

“Yeah.” Elijah’s moving now, shifting anyway: Dom can hear the rustle of his clothing, the scuff of his trainers on the tarmac. “It stinks to holy hell out here.”

“Well, yeah, but we’ll be going soon.” Dom still wants to sit down, but won’t let himself, and then Billy’s wrapping his fingers round a canteen, instructing him to drink a bit. Despite the dryness in his mouth, Dom doesn’t want to drink; his stomach feels uncertain, to say the least, but he drinks anyway, because that’s what Billy wants of him and Billy’s arm is wrapped round his back, Billy’s hand clasping his shoulder, only a little too tightly, so that it hurts more than it’s comforting.

“I’ll carry Max,” Sean says quietly. “Sonja, Toni, can you get Elijah on his feet?.”

“I’m up, I’m up,” Lij protests. There are scuffling sounds, then the scrape of cotton across nylon—most likely Elijah shouldering his pack. Similar noises come from all around.

Dom’s own back remains unburdened, and that’s not right. It isn’t. “Where’s mine, Bills?” he asks.

“Where’s your what, daftie?” Billy asks, though he knows very well what it is Dom’s saying.

“My pack. Where’s my pack?”

“Dom,” Toni puts in gently. “We didn’t think you should…”

“Where my fucking pack?” Dom explodes, feeling sorry the moment the words are out of his mouth.

“Dom said a swear,” Max says, his little-boy voice choked and hoarse. He’s been so quiet, Dom has no idea when he awakened.

What does Max think of this? Dom wonders. Of what he’s done, what he made happen, whatever bloody thing they want to call it?

“We didn’t make a pack for you, Dom,” Sean tells him gently. “We didn’t think…”

“I’m blind, not incompetent.” Dom doesn’t mean to sound bitter, but he does, and though he’s ashamed he doesn’t take it back. “So if you either want to find me one and redistribute whatever the hell it is we’re carrying, or lay in more supplies, that would be good.”

“You’ve been ill, Dom,” Toni says.

“Have been, not am, and I’d like to get out of this bloody place.”

Billy’s grip loosens a bit on his shoulder. Dom can feel Bill facing him and then he’s off in another place, running and running with someone pulling him along, only he can’t see who it is. The earth is cracked and the air smells of dust and sage and his pack is slamming with bruising force against his shoulderblades. He knows Viggo’s close, a matter of a day or two away, at the most, yet he’s shit-scared, terrified, because there’s something behind him that he’ll never see. He may be glad of that, though in general he likes to at least be able to name the things that terrify him. He tries to see more, to take in all of the where-and-when from the vision, but for once it eludes him. He’s back in his own body, and Billy’s washing his face with something wet and lukewarm, which feels good, but at the same time, annoying.

He steals a line from Billy himself, growling, “Gerroff,” and jerking his head away, but Billy only squeezes his shoulder again, gently this time, then helps Sonja to thread his arms through the straps of a pack. Dom knows it’s red. Heavy red nylon with black webbing straps and leather reinforcements. He knows it’s loaded with water and medical supplies—only he doesn’t know how he knows these things.

Billy pulls away. Dom can hear clicks and slides that say “gun” to him, and he thinks how odd it is, for both of them to have grown up where there are no handguns, yet for Billy to seem so adept at using one. Perhaps it’s something he picked up for a part once-upon-a-time, or perhaps it’s an inborn knack, a hidden talent he was born with and never discovered until everything came to an end.

Dom feels tired, drained. A memory comes back to him of a beach in New Zealand, lying with Lij and Billy and Orli and Sean beneath a vast black sky that sparkled with stars, his wetsuit pulled down round his waist and Billy’s head pillowed on his shoulder, even though they weren’t in love yet, oh no, not two blokes in love at all, just mates, even though it wasn’t the night air that made Dom shiver as he ran his fingers through Billy’s salt-stiff hair, feeling the silk beneath.

Dom vows, then, that if there’s a time when they’re all safe again, he won’t stay on in America. Orli will be with them, and Vig, and they’ll make their way back to the U.K. They’ll find his mum, and Margaret, and they’ll all, somehow, someway, make their way back to New Zealand, where they’ll work out where Fran is, then everything will be all right, as much of the Fellowship as has survived together again, in a country where they had a magic time, falling in love with the land and with each another.

Dom realizes he’s walking, stumbling on the uneven tarmac, whilst Billy leads him in wide circles round things he knows quite well he wants to avoid. His pack drags on his shoulders and makes his back ache, but he’s damned if he’ll say a word, a single word of complaint. He asked for this, he’ll take it. That’s just the way things will be.

They’ve walked what seems quite a long way when Billy tugs him to a halt. There’s heat flickering over Dom’s face, and the stench of flaming petrol’s so strong it makes him dizzy, the smoke sticking in his throat and making him cough.

“How do we get through?” Sean asks.

Elijah seems to be crying, softly and miserably.

“Max,” Dom says. “Are you able?”

The little boy answers, “’Max said ‘BE STILL!’ and tamed them.’”

There’s a strange pressure in the air. Dom’s ears pop violently. For an instant he can’t breathe, but then the heat’s gone--except for the heat of the tarmac rising through the soles of his trainers.

“Which way?” Sonja asks, her voice soft and deep with tension.

Dom holds himself still. It’s dark, and he can’t see, of course, but still he knows. The old woman’s voice speaks in the back of his head, saying, “Tha’s right, little English boy.” Her voice is gentle for once, instead of mocking. Gentle and kind. “You lead ‘em, little English boy, you lead ‘em through the wilderness and keep ‘em strong. You keep yourself strong, too. The Dark Man hates you, but you’ll show him in the end. You’ll stand and show him there’s more inside you than even your mama, or you, or your Scottish fella ever understood. You be able to do that thing, English boy?”

“Yes,” Dom answers quietly.

In the dark, always, he raises his arm, pointing out into a direction he can’t see, that might be the wrong direction altogether, but isn’t. Dom knows it isn’t. He knows it’ll be hard, painful, strange, but it’s the only path they can possibly follow.

“Just there,” he says. “We’ll walk that way, for as long as we can, not stopping ‘til we can’t go on anymore.”

“You’re sure?” Sean asks.

“Yes,” Dom answers. He feels very tired, very sore, and wishes more than anything that he’d just wake up and find this has been some sort of dreadful dream, most likely the result of an excess of drink, amd that the worst consequence he’ll have to face is being late for his before-the-crack-of-dawn makeup call.

Billy urges him over some small obstacle, and then his feet are on hard-baked earth nearly as hot as the tarmac has been.

“We’ll see Viggo in a few days,” Dom tells them. “Only a few days, and we’ll be safe.”

For a while, he thinks, We’ll be safe for a while.

The visions stir inside him, warning of dangers in the road ahead, but Dom refuses to listen to them anymore, not just now—he’ll suffer when he needs to suffer, not before.

He gives Billy’s hand a little squeeze. “We’ll be okay,” he says, for Billy’s ears alone. “We’ll all be okay."

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Comments {17}

(Deleted comment)

Set phasers to fabulous!

(no subject)

from: cincodemaygirl
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC)

::to your icon::
I want a group hug!

After that, who wouldn't?! Poor Dommie!

[and also, impending!Viggo! Squee! And I've certainly never squeed over Viggo before but I can't wait to see what you do with him, Sema!]

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(no subject)

from: ziyal
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 12:00 pm (UTC)

So great and well written!!!

Congratulations sema!!


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Still learning to be me

(no subject)

from: canciona
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 12:07 pm (UTC)

My hair is literally standing on end. Well, not straight, or that would be sort of terrifying for my poor coworkers, but as I sat here and read, I could literally feel all the hairs stand up stiff on my scalp and arms and legs. Wow.

Thank you, dear. I can't even express how excited I was to see another chapter posted. I've missed it so much, and this is so...there aren't even words, just so brilliant and fierce and perfect. I love it.

Thank you.

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(no subject)

from: deaver
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 12:15 pm (UTC)

Good chapter. Love Dom wanting to be strong, but still falling in and out of the visions.

In the dark, always, he raises his arm, pointing out into a direction he can’t see, that might be the wrong direction altogether, but isn’t. Dom knows it isn’t. He knows it’ll be hard, painful, strange, but it’s the only path they can possibly follow.

Excellent line. Gives us hope for where they are heading, but doesn't fool us into thinking it will be easy.

Can I say that Max and his powers kinda creeps me out?

Also, I am very excited to have Viggo join them! Thanks for the chapter, and keeping this WIP going!

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(no subject)

from: piratesorka
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 01:14 pm (UTC)

Yay! Viggo is coming..and I bet its on Hidalgo!

Its always so much fun to read your fics Sema, even when they are creepy and/or sad.

Thank you so much!

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scandal in the ink

(no subject)

from: laughingdryad
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 04:37 pm (UTC)

Again - I love this fic. I don't know what else to say. You write these characters beautifully and keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

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(no subject)

from: ms_maree
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 04:49 pm (UTC)

Viggo..yes, yes, how can you not feel safe with Viggo If the world went mad he'd be the first person I'd want on my side. He's a little batty yeah, but still ;)

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(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 05:23 pm (UTC)

He's batty in a good, comforting way, though, and I'm sure he knows all sorts of useful things.

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(no subject)

from: ms_maree
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 11:27 pm (UTC)

Of course he does, Viggo is like MacGyver, but not so corny.

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(Deleted comment)

Carbohydrates! Now in people shapes!

(no subject)

from: juniper200
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 09:18 pm (UTC)

Oh squee! More of the boys at the end of the world. This is my favorite story, Sema. Thanks for keeping it up!

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(no subject)

from: redneck_hobbit
date: Aug. 27th, 2004 09:32 pm (UTC)

Yeah!!! I was so excited to see this posted! I've been waiting for a new chapter to any of your stories! Wonderful job as always! Can't wait for more!! I love everything you've written! You write all the characters so brilliantly & the quality of your writing is excellent!!

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The randomness, it is excessive.

(no subject)

from: freedomfry
date: Aug. 29th, 2004 11:34 am (UTC)

Yay! More of the most addictive WIP currently going! I love, love, love this story--the way you keep ramping up the tension and keep all the characters distinctive and just, guh. I swear I just can't be coherent commenting on your stories...but I'm very excited to see how Viggo adds to their mix.

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(no subject)

from: crycrywolf
date: Aug. 29th, 2004 03:11 pm (UTC)

I wandered here from your website...

I just wanted to say that I LOVE this story, and I cant wait to see what happens next.

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Alys Scarlet

(no subject)

from: alysscarlet
date: Sep. 11th, 2004 07:29 am (UTC)

Oh I do so hope they can get to Viggo soon. This paragraph just said it all:

Dom wishes he was in Idaho now, with Viggo. With someone who has experienced life, and can be fatherly, which Viggo can, in his own slightly-spaced-out way. Dom thinks he’d give up twenty years of his life just to hear his own father’s voice one more time, only he’ll never, ever hear his father’s voice again, and there’s something hot and salty running down his face but he doesn’t know if it’s tears or blood.

So, so very sad. :-(

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