The Bloodied Land — Screaming

Midnight, San Francisco, CA

Jonathan was screaming.

Rafe Hollen watched, silent, from the corner of the bedroom, where he’d piled borrowed blankets and an old Army-surplus sleeping bag. He’d insisted on Jonathan taking the bed, had growled and out-stubborned him until Jonathan had given in, and Rafe took over the lone free corner.

He hadn’t had a solid night’s sleep for the past month. He’d done nothing but watch.

The screaming was silent. It always was, small, muffled whimpers deep in Jonathan’s throat, choked off in intervals, and worse…

A month, they’d been back. A month since escaping that hell of insane fairy tales called Kern, a month since finding their soundman murdered, a month of sharing his rat-hole in Hunter’s Point with his band’s walking wounded, trying to fix it, trying to bring it all back to the real world.

There, the catch of breath, another in-drawn gasp of waking. Rafe watched, again, as Jonathan jerked, then lay frozen, staring at the ceiling of Rafe’s bedroom. Rafe turned his gaze away, pretending he’d just woken up, that he hadn’t been awake until just then…

…that he didn’t see the slow track of tears on Jonathan’s face.

Movement at the door caught Rafe’s gaze. Steve Carvalo stood there, watching Jonathan. The faint light from the hall picked up Steve’s face, giving his eyes a feral glint at odds with his dead expression.

“Get out of here,” Rafe snarled, softly. He fumbled in the blanket pile, wrapped his hand around a tangle of hair, blood-stained cloth and broken glass, and his anger suddenly focused, pushed.

For a moment, that odd gaze focused on Rafe, then Steve turned away, and Rafe heard his stumbling back to the living room.

Rafe blew out a breath, wishing he could take away Jonathan’s memories as he was doing to Carvalo, but it was taking everything he had to keep Carvalo in line. He never imagined it would be so hard.

Vicari had done it to him so easy.

Jonathan still stared at the ceiling. Rafe watched the slow flex of twisted, broken hands, the careful trace up the scarred chest, the resting of one of those hands right over the jagged brand. Rafe saw, again, the final realization on Jonathan’s face that, while it had been only a nightmare, that nightmare had been all too real.

I’m sorry, brother, I’m sorry.

Rafe braced himself against the small choke of noise. Again.

“Sorry,” Jonathan whispered.

Rafe only shrugged, settled back into his blanket-piled corner.

“You could take the bed,” Jonathan said quietly, far too quietly. “I can handle the floor.”

Rafe only pulled the topmost blanket around himself.

“Rafe,” Jonathan said.

A pause of silence.

“It’s nothin’,” Rafe said, and settled back into the corner, to wait for the screaming to start again.

———————-
(want to read more? Post a comment — and i’d like to hear comments from the NON-Journey-fan folks on my FL, too, because these are mainstream tales, not the fanfic. :))

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