Day 069: Not Over
Summary: Arlin and Britt have a craptastic argument about closure after they deliver the corpse of Cage Wallace to his final "resting" place.
Date: 2016 Aug 07
Related: Allowances and Give It Time
Arlin Britt 


Where Bodies Are Dumped
Somewhere in the woods outside of Tondc is a place where mutant insects eat the corpses of those the Trikru execute. This is that place.
69 Days After landing

It took four hours for Cage Wallace to finally die. Indra gave the first cut, then those who were rescued from the Mountain, and then those who lost people to the Mountain — including the Skaikru — lined up to give the cuts. Each cut was short — no more than 4 inches — and shallow, despite the desires for some to cut deep. Even Arlin kom Trikru stayed his hand enough to only take his allotted share.

Unlike most Death of a Thousand Cuts, where the convicted is allowed to die whenever his or her body can no longer take it, Cage was given respites and chances to be revived by the medic. It wasn't the pre-execution 'quality time' that had been requested of the Heda, but prolonging the killing process was a form of torture itself. And if Lexa had been concerned about Arlin's mental and emotional state a week ago, the sublime serenity with which the task was diligently undertaken likely was unsettling in the way only zen-like sadistic delight can be.

Despite the healer's best efforts — and did he ever give his best — Cage was unrevivable by the six-hundredth cut, as by then he had lost his tongue, eyes, and hands and had many of his wounds cauterized. The cuts continued to the thousandth, which was delivered by the Commander's own sword. The body was then taken into the woods and left to the insects. It was a less-than-procession overseen by Gustus, at the absent Lexa's behest.

So it is that, with an utter lack of ceremony, Cage Wallace, final president of Mount Weather, starts his new (after)life as mutant bug chow and future mutant bug dung — and the Grounders assembled don't at all care.

Except for one of those present, who lingers, as if settling in to watch the inauguration. For Arlin kom Trikru, it's not quite over yet.

While many of the other Grounders took their cut and wandered off to join the party, Britt was among those who stayed until the bitter end. It's not because she took any real pleasure in it - those paying attention would have noticed only a grim resolve and no joy when she took her turn cutting on the Maunheda. It's not even because she's in no mood for partying, still being in mourning over Ibem. No, the subtly-worried looks she slants to Arlin throughout the ceremony are evidence of the real reason she lingers until the heda delivers the final blow. It's also why she accompanies the medic when he brings Wallace to his final resting place.

It's one of the other Grounders who first notices that Arlin isn't following when they prepare to leave. There are a few odd looks. Do they stay? Do they go? It's settled by a derisive scoff from Gustus. "Come, we are not waiting for him to stop crying over Cage." Britt murmurs something quietly to him. From her expression, one might presume she said something akin to I've got this. Then Gustus snorts again. "Fine. He's your puppy, you take care of him." And then they're moving on, while Britt remains behind. She moves over to lean on a tree near Arlin and just stands there, watching him quietly with arms folded.

"My bladder has no shortage of tears to shed," is what Arlin quips to Gustus, seemingly unperturbed by the odd looks he's being given by the others, if one were to judge be his insouciantly droll smirk. "I'll save some for you, if you'd like."

The expression on Gustus' face only broadens the medic's smile, and smugly so. "Be sure to mention that in your report." Because everyone knows the Heda's bodyguard is totally going to tattle. And Arlin gives zero fucks, going so far as to offer a finger wave as he bids farewell. "Toodles."

Having enough sense to not prolong this, especially when there is revelry in which to revel, the other four depart, leaving Britt behind. "You never struck me as the dinner theatre type," is what Arlin wryly tells her, walking to her horrible horse so he can retrieve his rucksack and medical satchel. (Someone came prepared.) "Or are you just afraid that I'll get so drunk that I'll end up dessert?"

"Something like that," Britt replies vaguely, frowning when he retrieves his stuff from the horse. "Come on, Arlin, let's go. He's dead. It's over." She hasn't moved from her spot by the tree, her eyes just tracking him as he moves. "We can get drunk back in town." Well, he can. It's been years since Britt was properly drunk off her ass, and she's not likely to buck that trend tonight.

Everyone mourns differently, and Arlin has no shortage of unresolved grief about many Mount Weather inspired ordeals that he simply doesn't discuss. It's as if he learned, early on, that no one cares and no one wants to hear about it. (Boo hoo, bucko. Suck it up and shut up.)

So apart from recent episodes of rage when one of those raw nerves was struck, Arlin has upheld a long-standing policy of acting like his damage ain't no thang, even though it absolutely is A Thang. "Only person keeping you here is you," he blithely points out, as if watching the corpse of Cage Wallace slowly being dissolved and devoured by acid-secreting insects was as normal as watching a bar fight or some manner of sporting competition or someone sexy dancing a sexy dance. "Me? I'm gonna enjoy the show." Because it's not over, yet. Not for him.

Britt's frown deepens, her eyes narrowing slightly at Arlin's declaration. "Arlin. This is…" She comes close to saying insane but after a moment's chewing on the word settles for, "Fucked up. He's gone. The way we punish him now is by ignoring him. Forgetting him. He's nothing. Remember those we lost - don't give power to the ones who took them from us."

<FS3> Arlin rolls Resolve-2: Great Success. (7 8 4 7 7)

Arlin doesn't debate or deny that it's fucked up. Might have something to do with the fact that, on some level, he's acutely aware that he's fucked up and has been for most of his life. In no way, shape, or form will he confirm that, though. "This isn't about him." It's not a lie, but the truth is multifaceted and complicated, and the medic's offhanded tone belies its complexity.

Shouldering his gear, he nonchalantly starts climbing a nearby rocky outcropping that will (1) give him a better view of the dinner show, and (2) save him from becoming dessert should he end up getting passed-out drunk. "But hey, if you don't wanna stick around, then don't," Arlin tells the archer, tone again blithe. He presumably knows his way back and has no problem hiking. "But if you insist on staying, do me a favor and don't tell me how I should honor those I've lost." Settling into as comfortable a position as possible, he smiles then, with the impudence of someone unwilling to have their buzz killed.

"No, it's about you. I'm worried about you, Arlin. So's the heda." No, the heda did not speak to her directly about such things. Britt may be reading into things too much there, or exercising a bit of wishful thinking that Lexa would give a shit. "Honor? You think there's honor in watching a corpse being eaten by bugs? No. This isn't healthy. This isn't honorable. And I am friend enough to tell you so where others will just snicker and walk away." She waves a hand to the departed Gustus and company. "You're letting yourself be dragged down into the Maunon's darkness. You're better than that. Better than them."

Derisively, the medic snorts and smirks before leveling a look at Britt that is a mingling of incredulous and 'you are being daft'. The number of fucks that Arlin gives is zero. If it were possible to give less than zero, he would. "Hate to break it to you, Red, but I stopped giving a damn about the opinions of others a long time ago." Opening his rucksack, he rummages a little and pulls out a bag containing some high quality jerky. He also pulls out a bottle of really good booze.

"Tell you what. When I raze entire villages and abduct people to make Reapers, then you get to compare me to those…" Arlin's mouth presses into a 'dunno' line as he mildly shrugs, vaguely shakes his head, and makes a flourishing gesture towards Britt with his empty hand. "…fill in the blank with whatever you find the vilest descriptor."

Opening the bottle, he smiles in a needling manner and flippantly notes, "If you're dead set on some sort of heart-to-heart, though, get your ass up here so I can cry on your shoulder. Maybe we can slow dance later. I might even braid your hair while you tell me all about your dreams." Then he takes a drink and lets out a rounded exhalation that ends in a licking of his lips. It burns so good. "Damn, that's awesome." Appreciatively, he ogles the alcohol, then imbibes some more.

Then it's Britt's turn to make a derisive noise when he starts talking about braiding hair and crying on shoulders. Yeah. Right. She glowers at him for a several seconds, wordlessly mulling over her options here. Reason is quickly crossed off the list. Walking away would be easy - the only problem being that Britt gives more than zero fucks. Drastic measures it is, then. "You can drink yourself senseless back in Tondc." She crosses to the outcropping, climbs up on a foothold and makes a rough grab to try and snatch the bottle from his hand. If the precious booze is sloshed in the process, she considers it a tragic casualty of war.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Arlin=Melee Vs Britt=Melee
< Arlin: Failure (3 6 4 3 3 6 1 4 6) Britt: Good Success (5 1 5 8 8 3 4)
< Net Result: Britt wins - Solid Victory

> <FS3> Arlin rolls Resolve-2: Success. (6 5 3 2 8)

The problem with enjoying really awesome alcohol is that Arlin's not paying attention, especially when he lowers the bottle between swigs and has his eyes firmly upon on the insects and their feast. Sure, he likely hears the sound of Britt starting to climb, but he's not expecting her to make a grab for his liquid treasure. Which, really, he could then reframe the scenario as: the problem with trust is that someone will betray him and steal his beloved booze.

"Hey!" Arlin angrily snaps, his patience visibly starting to wear thin. "Give it back." It's not a request.

That's Britt. Betrayer extraordinaire. She hops down from the rock to get quickly out of reach. Ow. Shouldn't have done that. Neither her bad knee nor the two broken ribs appreciate said maneuver. But smothering a grimace, she starts walking back to the horrible horse. "I will. Back in town." At some level she realizes that she can't really stop him, sort of thunking him on the head and dragging his ass back. But she'll surely do her darndest to convince him to end this silliness.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Arlin=Melee Vs Britt=Melee
< Arlin: Great Success (1 6 8 7 1 7 3 7 1) Britt: Failure (6 2 5 4 1 6 1)
< Net Result: Arlin wins - Crushing Victory

"Noooo," Arlin counters in his rough baritone heated from potent drink and the onset of simmering ire. "Now." He'll even make it easier on her by not dallying in closing the distance, the sound of earthiness crunching underfoot.

The knuckles of his dominant hand are scabbing and bruised beneath some tidy bandaging — injuries acquired during some 'sparring' with a few Azgeda warriors at the training grounds a few days ago — but that doesn't at all hinder him in most decisively reclaiming what is his. From his posture to his expression, Arlin is clearly ready to throw down, going so far as to loft his brows in unspoken challenge.

Damn it, Britt thought she had a tighter grip on that bottle, but he yanks it just so and you'd think the dang thing was coated in oil from the ease with which he snatches it back. She turns back on him though, brow furling in irritation. She's seen that expression on him before, albeit never (at least, not ever that she can recall) directed at her. It gives her pause for a moment, but then she steps closer. Not quite to in your face distance, because that would entail staring up at his chin. But close enough to challenge while still making eye contact. "You going to fight me now, is that it? I'm your friend, Arlin. This?" She points to the rock perch. "This is twisted, and you need to stop." She is, she grabs for the bottle again, this time intending to grab it and hurl it at the nearest tree.

< Arlin: Failure (6 2 5 5 3 5 6 4 4) Britt: Great Success (7 2 8 7 2 7 1)
< Net Result: Britt wins - Crushing Victory

<FS3> Arlin rolls Resolve-3: Failure. (3 4 6 2)

Being ready and willing to throw down (which he is) isn't the same as actually throwing down (which he hasn't yet initiated). "My friend." The mildness of how he says it somehow makes it sound extra incredulous and derisive. "If you were my friend, you'd either shut up and keep me company while I do what I need to do — not what you think I should do — or you'd fuck off and leave me alone to do what I need to do. Because it's not about what you want or what they want."

But then she's going for the bottle — and getting it — as if there is no resistance. Glass parts from palm and unfurled fingers, and then it shatters against wood, liquid and shards erupting in a declaration of war.

In that aftermath, something slides and locks into place behind Arlin's hazel eyes, the gold-rimmed green more muddled with brown than usual, gaze simultaneously intense and flat. It's not a look she's seen from him before, whether leveled at her or someone else, but it's a very dangerous look. A tenuous one of impending wrath that she might nonetheless recognize. Lowly, Britt is told, "Leave now while you still can 'cuz I won't handle you with care when I send you packing." Fingers stretch and slowly curl into fists as a tick at his jaw is visible from the clenching of teeth.

"Yes, your friend," Britt reaffirms, her tone clipped. "A friend who won't just sit back and watch you crawl into a dark pit just because that's what you think you 'need'." One can hear the air quotes in her voice there. "I'll buy you all the booze you want back in town. Don't even expect you to drink it with me. Stop being an ass." Her feet shift a little, balancing her weight in case he should make good on that threat, but otherwise she doesn't move.

<FS3> Arlin rolls Resolve-3: Success. (5 5 8 1)

Not feeling entitled to his feelings — to his anguish, to his anger, to his grief, to his anything — is nothing new. Tonight, however, Arlin's not going to accept that.

A few heartbeats ago, he was poised to pounce in non-sexy ways. He still attacks, though, but verbally, with an artfully mocking expression and tone to match. "So what kind of dark pit do you recommend?" Quizzically, he cants his head towards his right shoulder. "Maybe repeatedly fucking someone I don't love but who I know is in love with me, while the person I'm too chicken-shit to admit I love — and who loves me — is laid up, feeling less of a man, grieving for what he's lost and told to get over? I could make it extra classy by doing it while they're both in the same town. Would that meet your approval?" Seems that Arlin's heard certain rumors and expounded on them with what he personally knows.

"Or maybe I should just suck off Erson myself. Tap that sweet ass. Let him tap mine. Prove to him his worth. Help us all out. 'Cuz I'm such a good friend." And he smiles one of the smuggest, most beatific 'go fuck yourself' smiles to have been smiled by anyone ever. Truly it is one for the record books and annals of history.

That his attack lands solidly is obvious from the pinched look that plays across Britt's face briefly, and the sad look that settles in her eyes and the in the curve of her mouth. "So you don't want to wound me with your fists, you decide to use your words instead?" Her throat bobs visibly, voice growing taut. "Fine. You're right - I fell into a pit. I fucked up. Maybe if I'd had a friend -" Now she's the one practically spitting the word back at him. "Looking after me, willing to knock some sense into me, things might've turned out differently. But my friend was too busy fucking off babysitting a dead man." Well, a dead man walking, anyway. "You want to fuck Erson? Go for it. Maybe he'll have you in his bed. Maybe you can prove to him he's still a man. I sure as hell can't." And that knowledge is a wound far worse than any Arlin could inflict.

"I can still punch you until you can't open your mouth, if you want." No longer does he sound or seem rankled. If anything, he's gloating. Hurting those who hurt him is safe and familiar, dysfunctionally comforting even if only comfortable in the most twisted and unfortunate sense. She was warned, though, and Arlin's lacking the capability to back down. He simply is one of those people who is unable to feel compassion and empathy when he feels that his own feelings have been belittled.

"And don't put your shit on me, sweetheart. You knew where I was. If you were so concerned about my well-being, or if you were in such need of my help, you could've come to me. But you didn't. And that's allllll you." Because Arlin is a champion when it comes to turning things back on other people in this manner.

He scoffs then and smirks. "Of course I want to fuck Erson." It's emphasized with a magnificent eye roll because the medic's hots for the man has never been a secret. "Have since I first laid eyes on him a while ago. Shamelessly eyeball banged him the moment I saw him and many times since. Never made a serious move because I realized you had…" Vaguely, Arlin gestures with his bandaged hand as his lips quirk, "something, and I know better than to shit where I eat." Also known as being a decent person who cares about (even) the (denied) feelings of those he would call friend. And it's not like he has many of those. Friends, that is. There is no dearth of repressed and suppressed emotions. "Word of the wise? It's kinda impossible to do that," make Erson feel like he still is a man, "when you're busy fucking someone else."

Mic. Drop.

"I'm not putting my shit on you," Britt counters. "I fucked up. I take responsibility for that. I'm trying to protect you from a shitty decision the way I wish someone had done for me." Wish, not blame. It's an important distinction in Britt's mind even if it doesn't come across as such. "But you know what? You want to lash out and hurt the one damn person who's trying to stand by you? Fine. Go fuck yourself. Go fuck Erson. Go fuck Wallace's corpse for all I care." He 'wins'. Britt turns and starts stalking off to her horse.

"Riiiight. Because saying if only I had been there when you needed me isn't laying blame." Cue another eye roll. And whatever important distinction Britt is trying to make is drowned out by the sound of 'you didn't let me know when I was preoccupied with something that was important to me' that's blaring full blast in Arlin's bitchy brain.

"And you're not standing by me." He doesn't sound angry as much as he's calling her on (what he believes to be) her bullshit. For the sake of full disclosure, however, let it be noted that he nonetheless is angry. "See, if you were standing by me," punctuating the words with two-fingered jabs at the air, "you would've let me enjoy my damn dinner show. Instead of telling me that I should get over it and how I should get over it, you would've just let me fucking get over it in my own way. But nope. You'd rather tell me I'm grieving wrong. That it should've been finished for me when it was finished for you." Now, his voice raises a little. "Well, it won't be finished for me until that piece," a two-fingered jab points in the direction of Cage's corpse, "of shit is turned into actual, literal shit." The rough timbre or Arlin's baritone matches his increasingly defiant tone. "I'm gonna see it to the very end. And then I'm gonna put it behind me." He'll try to, at least, but this much life-defining trauma doesn't just abruptly go away. "And I don't give a damn if that doesn't work for you or anybody else."

That all said, he does absolutely nothing to stop Britt. Instead, the medic turns around and starts clompy-stomping back to his rocky perch. Blithely, he calls out in farewell, "You're the one who should be fucking Erson. So you go do that." As Arlin starts to climb, he closes with, "And you owe me two bottles of fanfuckingtastic booze, Brittastic." Which probably means they're still friends, at least on his end. Probably.

Britt reaches the horse, and swings herself up into the saddle with a restrained grimace. She lets most of his tirade pass without comment, her face twisted up in a mask of anger and hurt. "Enjoy your damn show then," she spits back, before wheeling the beastie's head around - a hard jerk of the reins that would probably get a glare from Afaye - and riding off.

"I'd enjoy it whole lot more if I still had my bottle!" Yeah. He's sour about that, but it doesn't prevent him from settling in and taking out his anger on a piece of jerky that he shreds with gnashing teeth while he enjoys his damn show.

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