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Shades of Grief

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Duck had never really lost someone before.

His grandma died when he was 6 but he never really knew her besides the fact that she would always give him peppermint candies and that she never questioned why he always hated to wear dresses and why he didn’t like to be called his “name”. So, when Duck came back with Minerva and saw that Ned, his FUCKING friend, his drinking buddy, the first person in Kepler besides his sister that he came out to was dead, he didn’t know how to react.

He barely remembers anything that happened after he saw Ned on the ground, red blood surrounding him like sap pouring from a maple tree and his eyes gazing upwards to the sky, the laugh lines around his eyes that were made from jokes and puns told at 3 in the morning while he laughed at bad 80s movies with Aubrey and Duck. The next thing that Duck remembered doing was coming home and telling Minerva to sleep in his room while he stayed on the couch, then sitting down on his old Goodwill couch, covered in cat hair and tea stains and then starting to cry.

He remembered crying for a long time, one of his hands covering his face and the other running slowly back and again through his hair in a effort to calm himself. He remembers Minerva slowly and as quietly as a 6’6 person can coming up and sitting next to him and just slowly with a small frown on her face getting Duck into a hug and holding him for a long time till he eventually ran out of tears to cry and fell asleep.

(Duck doesn’t know that Minerva held him even when he fell asleep, just looking out the window at the stars in the sky and silently crying to herself remembering the first time she also lost a part of her soul, one of her friends, one of her soulmates).

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Mama had lost a lot of people in her life.

14, the number of past Pine Guard members who had died on her watch but Ned was the only one who she held in her arms as they died. Mama had always been cautious around Ned, she almost hated him after the Bigfoot video got put out but Aubrey liked him so he got to stay.

She slowly started to warm up to him after every bom-bom (which Ned and Aubrey had gotten stuck in her head) hunt where he risked his life and wasn’t just a sleevy, old ex-con. She didn’t really care that he stole Shade Tree, she had hated it for what it stood for (her loneliness for so many years) and she knew, despite how untrustworthy Ned seemed that he didn’t go on TV and spill the beans to all of Kepler.

So, when Mama heard the gunshot ring out and saw that Dani was still going and still tearing at Barclay’s arms and she saw Ned on the ground with a hole, the size of dollar coin in his gut and blood, the color of red poppies in spring starting to spread around him did Mama react. She yelled at that fuckin’ sheriff to get help, and she ran to Ned and just held him in her arms, gently like a child and she yelled his name twice but she saw it happening before her own eyes. The joyful, mischievous, hopeful light that was always in Ned’s eyes flicker out and she looked up to where Ned’s final gaze was and she saw the stars, twinkling on, like life had not just changed forever and Mama looked at Ned, a faint smile on his face and she just said two words,

“I’m sorry.”

(She never knew how much that old man meant to her till he was gone and till her self-proclaimed daughter, walked out the gate and looked at Mama with Ned in her arms and begin to cry).

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Aubrey had only really lost one person in her life, and that was her mother.

Aubrey remembered the funeral, the stuffy church filled with people who she had never met before in her life, the fake flowers surrounding the coffin and the cold, dead look in her father’s eyes, so when she realized that Ned was involved in all that pain, suffering and guilt that had hung over Aubrey’s life like a blanket, she was super fucking mad.

She yelled at Ned, told him that she hated him, that she never wanted to see his face again.

She instantly regretted those words when she stepped out the gate with her new double orange eyes and she saw Ned on ground, now as cold and hollow as her mother was did she finally truly break down. She sobbed and she tried desperately to bring him back but it didn’t work and he was truly dead. She kept replaying her last words to him and just wished that she could tell him that she loved him, that she cared so, fucking much about him, that he was the only thing (along with Duck) keeping her from just drowning in her sorrow and grief but she couldn’t because he was dead and she was still alive.

As she was running through the forest towards Mount Kepler, as it floated into the sky, she continued to cry and think that she could of done something, anything to save him, she would of sacrificed anything to save him, but she couldn’t because he was gone and her last words to him were filled with hate and anger, not the love and joy that she felt every time she saw him.

(When she read the letter that he had wrote her, she cried even more, even though she thought she had no tears left and she refused his final wish of her because she couldn’t hate him. She couldn’t hate him because she loved him too goddamn much).

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Pigeon had never lost someone close to her, but she made someone else lost someone instead.

Pigeon didn’t even really know Ned that well but it didn’t matter. He was dead and it was all Pigeon’s fault. She had been too goddamn trigger happy and too fucking angry over the monsters who had killed people she didn’t even know. She had saw the monster fall from the light and begin to attack so she just shot without even looking.

The next thing she knew, the monster was being ripped away from the ground by some man who Pigeon never learned the name of and Ned was on the ground bleeding. She saw a woman, who she had heard be called Mama by Duck once or twice start to yell at the sheriff and run to Ned, holding him in her arms and Pigeon just collapsed. Her shotgun fell onto the ground next to her, still smoking at the end and Pigeon began to sob. Uncontrollable heavy sobs, filled with so much anguish and anger that everyone flinched away from her, almost like a force field had went up around her and Pigeon cried, she cried and cried and cried till she didn’t have anything left inside.

(Pigeon joined the group of people as they ran away from the clearing, away from the mountain in the sky but for a moment, she considered staying in the clearing and accepting her fate because she deserved it. A life for a life was a good trade, what she took, she must give but she didn’t. She became a true coward and ran).