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You And I Will Not Be Shaken (By The Winter Sound)

Chapter Text

The months following were painful. That stubborn part of Owen refused to accept his conclusion and it festered an infected wound of fury and hatred.

Ironically, he didn't follow his own advice of moving on, he took Curt's and found solace in the bottom of a bottle.

Alcohol had never been his favorite and Curt used to laugh at that. Even after he became the Deadliest Man Alive, he hardly touched the stuff. Now though, the burn was enough to fizzle out the ember of heartbreak he had been nursing.

Of course, what ended him and his plans would be Curt Mega. Everything he did was for him.

Too bad it took to long to realize that.

~~~

Curt's eyes used to be kind and affectionate.

He drank some more.

~~~

No, Curt wouldn't want him to do this. Besides, he had better things to do.

Chimera had to burn. Owen had to be the one to do it.

But for now, he would go to sleep with the whisper of Curt's voice he had managed to salvage through his drunken haze. That was good enough for him.

~~~

They were burning and he was numb. Should he be feeling something?

The thought was boxed away and put in the closet at the back of his mind. He made sure to lock that door.

~~~

Chimera were gone and he wasn't.

Curt was gone and he wasn't.

There was irony in that somewhere. Owen didn't think about it.

~~~

So, Mrs Mega still came down to Curt's grave. That was nice.

There was another pair there too. White poppies. If Owen remembered correctly, it meant peace.

He hoped Curt was at peace, where ever he was. Then Curt could have enough for the both of them.

His were gardenias, pink carnations and marigolds. An odd choice, even the florist had looked at him strangely but he didn't care.

They meant something, all of them, things he'd never get to say again. Even things he would never admit to out loud.

Maybe Curt would appreciate his effort.

~~~

On good days, the moments before Curt's death would play out with the same hatred and fire in his eyes that Owen had in his.

But on bad days, most days, there were three things. Love, forgiveness and resignation.

Never had Owen wished Curt had more fight in him than he did when he saw those memories play out. The corners of his mind would scream, cry and beg for Curt to be more careful and less trusting.

They never won, because they all ended the same.

A bang. Owen always did have perfect timing.

Then, a thud. Dull, lifeless, heavy. Blood, so much of it. And the crushing pain of his heart would send him bolting upright in bed.

He needed a drink.

~~~

Sometimes, the Deadliest Man Alive liked to poke at his mind and his rage would return. Owen managed to keep it down for the most part.

Nothing terrified him more than hating Curt Mega again.

~~~

Two years it took for Owen to come to the conclusion that he shouldn't be grieving. Not only had he sent Curt to his grave, but he'd spent a good few years despising the man.

Something made him put down the bottle and he decided to think.

~~~

Was time travel possible?

~~~

Mourning was like seeing the world through semi-opaque curtains. It covers most of it, enough for you not to be able to see out of it but just translucent enough to let the light in.

Unfortunately for Owen, it must've been dark outside or something because the curtains weren't letting anything in. At least it hadn't been. Not until recently.

Now, with the thinking he'd been doing, there was that smidgen of sunshine managing to seep through the cracks.

But it wasn't enough. He had nothing. No anger not after Chimera had burnt. No sadness, that had just been replaced by the guilt.

But most importantly, no Curt.

It was the most alone he had ever been. The crushing loneliness was driving him insane.

There were only two options now. Doing nothing and waiting for however long it took before his mind was able to pack Curt into his very own Pandora's box, with warning signs written all over in permenant red marker.

(Yes, it was oddly specific).

Or, and this was his personal favorite idea, going back and saving Curt. Turning his life around. Burning Chimera from the start with Curt by his side.

For that, he'd need a time machine.

And whilst Owen was clever, he wasn't that clever. But he knew someone who was. Someone who would give anything to see Curt again, just like him.

And that was where he found himself. Outside her house--she had a house?--with an apology on the tip of his tongue.

The door opened and he readied himself.

It was Tatiana. Of fucking course it was. Why would it be anyone else?

"You," she snarled, fixing a mean glare onto her face. Years ago, when he'd been the Deadliest Man Alive, he wouldn't have flinched. Now though, now that he had something to lose, he almost backed off the porch.

"Tatiana, I've come to see--"

Her eyes narrowed. "Get the fuck away from my house."

It was now or never. Tatiana would never let him in unless she knew. Steeling himself, he reached out for the door as she went to shut it.

"I want to get him back."

Simple. Short. Fact.

She didn't seem pleased. "He died, there is no 'getting him back'. You would know."

Ouch. Low blow. Although, Owen thought he deserved it. "What if we could?"

That was what caught her off gaurd and her face of thunder faltered. "You can... get him back?"

"Maybe. I was hoping to speak to Barb. She still does live here, right?"

Looking around, she pulled him inside. "She hasn't been feeling well."

He went to open his mouth but Tatiana beat him to it. "Since... uh, Curt, I mean."

So, that was why she reacted with such open hostility. Tatiana was looking out for Barb. It seemed to make sense.

"She might not be very happy to see you."

No one was nowadays. Cynthia, when he'd first met her four years after the 'Russian Incident', she had been seething. He'd mostly been zoned out because it was... Curt's funeral but he remembered it.

Something about how dare he still be alive, how dare he put Curt through years of mourning when he wasn't actually dead, how dare he not save him.

Little did she know what had actually happened. And thank God she hadn't because he probably wouldn't be standing in Barb's hallway.

It was all he could do but shrug. "I get that a lot."

And he deserved it. After everything he'd done, after the hundreds of innocent people he'd murdered, after he'd shot Curt.

He deserved it. But Curt didn't.

Tatiana agreed, although she didn't voice it. She didn't have to, her accusatory gaze said it all. "She's in bed."

Leading him through the little hallway, Owen had to steel himself. Over the past few years, he had had barely any contact with anyone he used to know. It goes worse after Curt's... death and he no longer kept tabs.

When the door opened to reveal how much of a mess Barb was, Owen realized he should have. "Sweets, there's someone here to see you," Tatiana said softly.

Maybe if there was anything beside the guilt squeezing his insides, he might have raised an eyebrow at Tatiana. But, he didn't.

"Tell them to go away."

Her voice was so small, so quiet, so not Barb like that it made his heart clench with something else. Grief. Sure, she never had with Curt what they had but it was something close to.

Owen had killed more than his lover that day, he was starting to realize that.

"It's about Curt."

That was enough to get her sitting up, although it wasn't much. "What about him?"

She looked to the door and saw him. Unlike Tatiana, she couldn't manage a glare. Her eyes just watered and she bowed her head. "Why are you here?"

"I'm--I want to get Curt back. There has to be a way, right?"

If the look on his face in that moment was convincing then he hoped his voice was. It was desperate, dissonant, despairing.

He needed her to agree, he'd go mad if she didn't.

Who was he kidding? He already was.

"And you think I have the technology for that?" she shot back. Maybe it would've had more fervor or anger a long time ago. But it only sounded weak, as if it was a wounded animal's last attempt at escape.

"I'll do whatever you want, Barb--" The look in her eye stopped him-- "I can get that technology, I just need you to think."

What made her lift her head again, he didn't know and he was content in never knowing, but she did. She did and she stared him straight in the eye. "You think we can bring him back? Alive?"

A nod. That was enough for her.

 

~~~

In the years after, inbetween breaking into weapons facilities for materials and technology, Owen had plenty of time to think. About a lot and nothing at the same time.

At night, it was phantom touches he could barely feel. The echo of a warm body beside him or the ghost of a person long dead.

Any other time, it was just about people. Barb had gotten better with him, she no longer refused to look at him and maybe, on a good day, she would hold a lengthy conversation with him.

He learnt a lot. She loved him, of course she did. That he knew from Curt worrying about it. ("I don't want to get the poor girl's hopes up but she's great at what she does, Owen.")

(And maybe, just maybe, he also remembered that Curt had said his name with such love and trust that Owen's heart melted.)

Tatiana took longer. It was two years before she could pass him without a glare and another two before she could talk to him like anyone else.

The hardest one was Mrs Mega. A.S.S. had gracefully left out what had happened to her son and it seemed everyone else had kept his involvement in it a secret. All she knew was that he was dead, which was so much worse.

Meeting her again was awful. One look at him and Mrs Mega was sniffing, beckoning him into a hug. She had asked if he was there when Curt died, why he let her precious boy think he was dead.

His answer wasn't truthful.

"I'm sorry, Mrs Mega. He just--one minute he was running behind me and the next he was--"

(What he had wanted to say went differently. "I killed your son because I blamed everything bad that had ever happened to me on him and spies and I shot him in the head. But I didn't mean to. I lo--")

(That was enough).

When she'd heard about their plans, she insisted they all stayed with her. It made their little team of three a four and Owen and Tatiana no longer had to walk out the door in fear of being recognized.

For that, Owen was thankful.

A couple more months, maybe years, and he'd see Curt again. That got him up in the morning.

~~~

The Deadliest Man Alive had been dormant.

There was hope.

~~~

Nine years since Curt died and here he was. Seven years into his project and it was finished. Thirteen years since his fall and he was ready to love him again.

This was the day. The day he was going to get Curt Mega back.

Barb, bless her soul, was trying to get the rules and plan into his head so he could never forget but there was no room. His heart was racing, pounding in anticipation.

"Remember, you'll be in your younger body, all we're doing is projecting you onto... well, yourself. If it goes to plan, this will never have happened."

Yes, yes, he knew that. It was all he had had to wait for in the past seven years. "Thanks Barb."

He nodded and made sure, as she leaned in for a hesitant hug, to whisper a, "If you fuck this up, I will get Tatiana to do the same to you."

Surprisingly, he believed it. Hell, he'd even help them.

Tatiana gave him a brief nod and a taut, stretched, slightly psychotic-looking smile.

If it went to plan, he'd be with Curt again and he'd have no memory of the past thirteen years.

Stepping into the machine, he hoped he was right.

~~~

Waking up to see a dead man was jarring, but not a sight Owen was unaccustomed to. It felt like his dreams again. Seeing Curt alive with the practiced ease and swagger he always had about him.

This time, though, he realized as he pulled at Curt's bindings, this was real. He was real.

It took all his strength to not burst out into tears.

Holy fuck. Holy living fuck. Barb was a genius, he was going to have to tell her so next time he saw her.

"You're even stronger than your reputation suggests, Mr Mega," he said, slipping into his Russian accent. In all honesty, it was one of his best, although Curt had never thought so. "Perhaps a more serious method of extraction is in order."

"Do your worst," Curt shot back, "I'm like a Russian nesting doll."

Owen remembered hearing that for the first time and thinking, what the fuck?

"You may break me down but there are four more of me waiting inside. Pretty soon, you'll be left with a tiny little version of me."

Now, he was no longer amused by anything Curt said because it had gone round and round in his head like a carousel. All day. Every day.

"I... do not understand what that means." Moving in close, he couldn't help the way his eyes swept over Curt. He was real, actually sitting there. The same smell of whiskey he always reeked of (not that Owen ever minded) and the same determined look on his face.

"But what I do understand the sound of a man in pain." Curt raised his eyebrow at that and Owen almost scoffed.

He meant that more than Curt would ever know.

And as Curt leaned away from him, if only by a bit, Owen realized he was still interrogating him. "Do you fancy nursery rhymes, Mr Mega?"

Snapping for Oleg to replace him, he moved back into the shadows to recuperate. Curt Mega was there.

Curt Mega was sitting in front of him.

Curt Mega was alive.

Somehow, it hadn't really registered yet.

A sound of pain drew him from his thoughts. How could he have forgotten? Amongst other things, Curt was great at breaking other people's fingers. It was a skill he had perfected especially when tied up.

He almost laughed at Curt's 'little piggy' story but stopped himself. Torture, he was supposed to be torturing him.

"Well, that's a version I've never heard before," Owen said. Although, he had, hundreds of times, behind closed eyelids. "Ya know, it would be really, really nice if you just, uh, told us about the blueprints."

"How about I use American sports metaphor?" When he had said that the first time, it had been so funny to him. A subtle dig at Curt that he would've laughed at if he was aware that it was Owen.

"Are you ready to, how you say, play ball?"

Curt spat at the floor next to him, drawing it out. The next part was quite hilarious to him even now.

"Oleg, crush his testicles."

Maybe if things had worked out, Owen would've laughed about it with him. Although, Curt seemed to be enjoying himself.

Particularly when Oleg managed to fuck up. Which was another thing. How did he manage to hit himself with the bloody hammer?

"God, no! Enough! Enough of this circus!" Grabbing Curt's face, making him look at him and finally seeing all of him for the first time in nine years was almost too much. Still, he persisted.

"How can you be so cool and collected when you are staring death right in the face. Where do you get off?"

"Bedroom, shower, maybe the backseat of a limousine," Curt shrugged.

Oh, that was a night. No, no. Focus.

Shouting over his shoulder, Curt shot him a glare. Venomous and vile. "But I don't think we're there just yet. Maybe on our next date, I'll let you get to second base."

It took all his self-control not to remind him that on their first date, Curt had let him get all the way to third base.

Although, it still got a small laugh from him but he managed to cover it up. "Hm, so that's how you want to play this game, huh?"

Watching as Oleg made a move, he held up his hand. "Oleg, stand back."

Pulling out a feather, he watched as Curt started to squirm. "Shit."

If he remembered correctly, he was ticklish behind his neck. All he had to do was drag it over the skin, gently and like a fleeting kiss. That would test his theory.

And... bingo! Crazy, uncontrollable laughter filled the air and Curt tried his hardest to move away from it.

"Stop! Oh, God. Please, please! Ok, ok."

He stopped.

"I'm working for the American Secret Service."

The feather moved again. More laughter.

"W--Wait! W--We need pictures of the new weapons you've been developing so we don't--"

Started.

"Please, stop!"

"No, no, no. Not until you've given me every last bit of information."

And he started again, causing Curt to let out one last choked laugh. "How could you possibly know I'm ticklish deathly behind my neck and ears?"

Because Curt trusted Owen more than anything and they'd had their fair share of tickle fights.

Turning away, he said something entirely different. "Hm, well, personal history does have it's benefits, Mega."

Finally, time to reveal himself. "Oleg, we're finished here."

Two shots. From the corner of his eye he saw Curt flinch away.

He hadn't done that when Owen shot him on those stairs.

Taking off his hat, he turned to Curt fully, watching as his face scrunched up, an inquisitive brow raised. "Sorry to cut you off, old boy. Thanks for a lovely afternoon of letting off some steam."

Yeah, nine years of it.

"Owen Carvour, you limey bastard."

Christ, his name had never sounded so amazing. Curt was alive. "I knew it was you all along."

Ha, yeah, right.

"That accent sure could use some work though," Curt commented, a playful glint in his eyes. It was an invitation to play along but Owen knew if he was to shake his head then Curt would be much more solemn for him.

Not today. He wasn't going to do that today. Curt was going to be Curt.

"Oh, sod off! It fooled twenty Russian security officers and our dear friend Oleg over here."

And then, although he was weary of Oleg, Owen did something he had hardly ever initiated. He kissed him.

It was short, mainly because Curt was gently and half-heartedly trying to pull away, but also because Owen couldn't manage any more than that.

"That was new," Curt whispered, his eyes sweeping over to the Russian henchman in the corner. Oleg still had a face scrunched up in pain. "You okay?"

Putting on his best smile, Owen brushed a hand over Curt's cheek, barely a ghost of a touch. "Always, love."

Now, his attention turned away from Curt. Getting them out of this facility, both of them alive and with all bones intact, was his top priority. Mess this up and there was no going back.

Curt probably noticed his change in mood, although he didn't mention it. This was all the confirmation he needed that he could be harsher, more on edge.

Talking to Oleg was so much more fun when he wasn't holding back.

"Make another sound and it won't be another bullet in your leg," he taunted, crouching down beside him. From the corner of his eye, he saw Curt flinch.

The Deadliest Man Alive keened.

Owen straightened up. "Stay silent and you'll be one of the only people to survive. Take my advice, find a new job, this isn't your forte."

Oleg was out cold within a second. It almost gave him whiplash.

"Owen, are you sure you're okay?"

It once again reminded him that Curt Mega was meant to be alive and boisterous, not dead and subdued or quiet and small as he had been in that moment.

"I'm fine, my love."

Right, he was. Curt was alive.

This is what he wanted right? Right?

That voice he had managed to keep down prodded at him again. All this pain had been Curt's fault hadn't it? All the grief, the anger, the guilt. If he hadn't just fucking killed him in the first place.

But Owen could fix that, he argued to himself. In fact, he was here to fix it.

Telling the Deadliest Man Alive to shut up, Owen's face pulled into a stoney, stoic mask. All he had to do was get out the facility and it would be over for him. He never would've fallen so he never would've existed.

Then he and Curt could continue being partners and he could live with that. Because living without Curt was worse than dealing with his agency and knowing that he was working for lying, deciteful bastards who didn't care.

He had to keep him safe. He had to get them outside, both alive and both without harm.

Owen Carvour was ready to live for the first time in a decade.

Chapter Text

Owen was acting strange. Sure, Owen could be intense even on good days, but he was acting as if he'd lost it or was in the process of losing it. It was... concerning, to say the least.

"Ow--"

When Curt finally saw the look on Owen's face, he almost tripped over the chair he'd been sat in. Usually, there was some part of him that was on the edge but he always looked confident, suave, Curt had once said. Now, his eyes were crazed, unfocused.

He didn't like it. No, he really, really did not like it.

"Owen, are you okay? Wh-Where are you going?" he called after him as he walked away.

There was a glance thrown his way. "Getting out, come on, love!"

How his voice could sound so laid back when he looked so wrong was beyond him. It was just going to have to be something he asked Owen about later.

Their movements seemed robotic since they'd done it so much. It was second nature by now. Going through the hallways, taking out guards when needed and grabbing the blueprints were all in a regular day's work. Unsurprisingly, it didn't take long.

Although, Cynthia's call wasn't usually in the routine. Oh, he'd done something hadn't he? What was it now?

"Cynthia?"

The comm cracked with a bad connection. "Mega, stop your tom-fuckery and get me my nuclear weapon blueprints."

If it was anyone else, he would've been snarky. However, Curt quite enjoyed his life at the moment and he didn't want it to end too quickly. Thankfully, he didn't have to answer as Owen took over for him, slinging an arm round him. "Consider it done, Cynthia. You'll have them on the double."

"Is that Owen?" Cynthia asked and Curt could hear the smile in her voice. Sometimes, he wished she would react like that to him.

Then, he felt himself being shoved down harshly. A yelp escaped his mouth as Owen shouted, "Curt, get down!"

That was odd. Oh, it was getting so much weirder. "O--"

Laughing, Cynthia cut him off. "Funny and focused, you know, if you ever want to leave those red coats, the door's open."

Were they flirting? It wouldn't be strange, in fact, it happened a lot, but Curt hadn't been so good at picking it up.

"I believe they call that treason, my dear."

A beat. So, they definitely were. Or, at least he thought they were. Maybe, it might cheer Owen up a bit if he did interject them. He did enjoy teasing Curt about his jealousy.

Faking a sigh, Curt went to hang up. "We've gotta go."

"Well, the door's open!"

Surprisingly, Owen laughed, brushing his knuckled over Curt's cheek. It was subtle, barely noticeable and could easily be passed off as an accident if needed. But Curt knew better and it was another thing that just solidified how strange he had been acting.

Following in Owen's footsteps of being bold, Curt decided to pull out all the stops to get to the bottom of the issue. "Babe, you sure you're okay?"

Nicknames were never things he used a lot, not unless someone specifically asked for it. To use it now, not in the comfort of their own home (or, well, rented hotel room) was a rarity and one Curt knew Owen would not take lightly.

Still, he did not break. "Fine, love."

Owen then reverted back to the playful demeanour he'd had, sending him a wink. It almost gave Curt whiplash. "Besides, shouldn't I be asking you that? You sounded jealous."

The tone was teasing, light. That was what Owen was usually like during missions and Curt couldn't help the fond smile that pulled at his lips. He really tried to keep the grin from his face because he was still concerned and it seemed Owen hadn't realised that yet. However, the urge to play along was too strong.

A teasing smirk graced his features. "And what if I was? What would you do?"

Glancing around, Owen stalked forward like a predator eyeing its prey. It was exhilarating, knowing that they could be spotted, they could be found but they still decided to take that risk.

"Well, I'd have to tell you that I'm--"

There was a bang at the end of the hallway, bringing both of their attention away from the other. Before whoever was coming toward them, they had jumped apart a good distance; enough space between them that it could be considered friendly.

Pulling out their guns, there was hardly any room in Curt's mind to be concerned about Owen's strangeness. There was just enough for him to be conscious of what he was doing and how he could keep Owen safe.

That was the most important thing. Always.

~~~

Never before had Owen been more scared in his life. He was constantly alert, watching Curt from his peripheral vision to make sure nothing was going to hurt him. Before, when that guard tried to shoot at them, his heart had spiked with anxiety. Maybe he was a bit harsh but he'd rather him a bit bruised than dead.

Anything was better than the nine years he'd endured--alone. Anything.

So, when Curt tossed the banana on the floor, Owen was much more forceful. This singular moment would determine everything. It would render his seven years of work worth it or useless. This was it. Everything he'd ever worked for.

"Don't leave it there, love," he said, "wouldn't want anyone slipping on it."

"It's a banana peel, Owe," Curt laughed. "If you slip on that, I'd say you have a couple loose screws."

The anger that he'd managed to keep at bay for nine years fired up again and he had to grit his teeth. They grinded together. "Curt, love, it could happen to anyone. Just listen to me, for once."

Uncharacteristically, Curt was silence. When Owen looked over, he was staring straight at him, eyes burning with concern.

Owen had to look away before the fire became too hot and he cleared his throat. "Listen, please."

A beat.

"Okay."

~~~

Never before had Owen gotten properly angry at him. His voice had dropped an octave to that quiet fury he often saved for the most tricky of targets.

Now he was scared. Owen was wrong. Really fucking wrong and it was sending alarm bells ringing in his head.

This wasn't his Owen, but who else could it be? Something had happened. Something so terrible that it had skewed him. He was angrier, bolder and downright terrifying.

Curt couldn't bring it up, not without the risk of bringing something up that may set Owen off again. For now, he had to get out of the facility and then it would be time to interrogate.

He didn't know what he would do when he found out what was causing it, but he knew he had to do something.

They continued on.

"Pass me one of the charges, love," Owen called out to him, motioning.

No, Curt didn't trust him. But the part of him, the part that he listened to more often than his head, screamed at him that this was his partner. His Owen. What would he do?

He passed them the charges.

"What's our record, six minutes?"

A spike of familiarity jolted through him, like he'd said that before. But it couldn't be true, their record was set on the last mission they'd had together.

Owen turned to him. If Curt hadn't had known him as well as he did, maybe he would've said he looked just as playful as usual.

But, no. There was a haunted look in his eyes, like ghosts had come back for revenge.

Instead, Owen smiled. "I don't like that look, yes, six minutes."

Why was he still playing along? It was clearly hurting him, why wasn't he saying anything?

"You love it," Curt shot back.

There was nothing to do, he had to play at Owen's game. It was the only way to play it safe.

"Think we can do it in five?"

Owen looked like he was considering it. "Make it four."

And, despite his problem with Owen, he felt like he could push himself. Take his mind off of everything by just focusing on surviving.

He set the timer to three minutes.

It began ticking.

Just as Owen finished setting the bombs, the door next to him flew open and he backed away, whipping his head back to Curt. Then, another one swing open and men began to slowly step in, forcing them to put their hands in the end.

No words were said but an agreement was made.

Another door opened and the pair made a sprint down the hall way.

All thoughts left his mind as he pushed as hard as he could go. It was exhilarating, it always was and probably always would be. He was an adrenaline junkie through and through.

They didn't take into account that there might have been people waiting for them at the end though and as they were nearing the exit, they were surrounded.

Their hands raised.

Oh, they were so fucked.

But, then, the ground shook beneath them. Those surrounding them were knock to their feet but Curt and Owen managed to balance themselves against each other, pushing heavily into the other to stay upright. A neat trick that a great partnership will give you.

But that was besides the point.

Owen was now staring at him with disbelief in his face. "Curt?"

A flash of fear and guilt. "I lied, I set the timer for three minutes."

Instead of gnawing at his teeth again or lowering his voice, Owen only shook his head, exasperated. They both took off for the stairs.

"Curt Mega, you're going to be the death of me!"

Unlikely, Owen was just as untouchable as he was. And, the only thing that would ever get Owen killed was maybe his inability to dodge attacks. Seriously, the man would just stand there and take it.

They burst out if the facility with only seconds to spare. The heat of the explosion came a little too close for comfort and it barely touched the back of Curt's neck.

It was enough for Owen to grab at his hand and pull him further away, though.

They both doubled over, panting and laughing occasionally. Although, most of the chuckling was from Curt.

Three minutes! Three minutes and they'd gotten a new record.

That was something worth celebration.

But as Curt turned to Owen, ready to wish him a job well done, there was a whimper.

Holding his head, Owen was staring at the floor, his eyes screwed shut. "Owen?"

No, no. Nothing had happened, surely. They were okay, he was okay. This--No, nothing could be happening.

Reaching out, Owen fell into him, now holding back his tears and still keeping his head in his hands. "Tell what's wrong, what's happening?"

There was no answer.

"Owen, please."

It was sudden when Owen finally went spack in his arms. And his stomach dropped.

"Owen?"

No answer.