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sunshine and smiles

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The world was hazy. Thick clouds of dirt drifted through the air, ash settling over the rubble like a fine layer of snow.

    Owen crawled over the remnants of the facility, the second to last weapons facility used by Chimera. The explosion hadn’t been planned, their bombs having been sabotaged by another spy who managed to escape before they could catch them, but had destroyed the entire facility and thrown Owen away from Curt in the blast. 

It had been almost two years since he and Curt had first started hearing the rumours about an organization that was developing technology that would spy on everyone, citizens and government officials alike, and a year and a half since they got the mission to destroy them. 

    There were some times in the middle of the night when Owen would lay there, Curt asleep next to him, and wonder if maybe Chimera could help the world. Maybe if there weren’t secrets, people would be able to learn to accept others for who they were. Maybe--

    But Curt was against them, and Owen understood. As long as he had Curt, he would never work with Chimera, because he knew it would lose him the one person who he loved. 

    He gritted his teeth as he dragged himself over the rough stones, feeling the wounds in his leg burn in protest. He could see Curt, only a few feet away now, and called out, his voice rough and hoarse from the dust and ash in the air.

    “Curt!” He coughed, still feeling weak from the blood loss, and somewhat dizzy from the explosion. “Curt!”

    He pulled himself over a slab of concrete and knelt next to his partner, carefully touching his shoulder. He couldn’t see if Curt was injured; there was so much blood and dirt around them  that he couldn’t tell if it was from him. He forced himself not to look too closely. Curt couldn’t be badly injured, not like this, not when they were so close to being done.

    They had a plan to run away as soon as the last facility had been destroyed. They had booked a series of flights and bought a small house on one of the small islands near Norway. No one except Curt’s mom knew their plans, and she had understood. They had a plan to fake their deaths, to vanish and never be found by either of their governments. To get out, and never look back.

    He pulled Curt carefully into his arms. He could feel him still breathing, but it felt weaker and shakier than normal. “Love? Please wake up.”

    He gently shook him, tapping his cheek. “Curt? You-- you need to wake up.” His voice cracked on the last word. He could feel a void growing within him, fear twisting his stomach.

    “Curt.” It was almost a whisper as he looked down. “C’mon, you can’t do this to me.” He shifted Curt in his arms, and his jacket fell open. It wasn’t pretty.

    A metal shaft had stabbed into his side. His shirt was soaked with blood far too much there should never be that much blood and the ground where he was laying was slick.

    He stared at Curt’s face, memorizing the lines. He had to wake up. 

    Curt’s eyes flickered open, slightly hazy, but they were open.

    “Oh, thank god. I was so-- don’t do that to me. Not again, I was so scared but now you’re fine and--”

    “O--” Curt’s voice was weak and was cut off by a wet hacking cough. “I’m not fine.”

    Owen nodded his head frantically. “It isn’t that bad, just-- just hang on and you’ll be okay. I promise--”

    “You’ve never lied to me, Carvour. Don’t think you could start now.” 

    Owen’s smile was weak. “I would never. Just-- just hang on for ten minutes and-- and someone will come or-- or I’ll get you to a hospital and we-- we can--”

    “Stay.”

    “What?” Owen’s eyes were blurring with tears. Curt’s face was pinched in pain, but his eyes were calm. 

    “You may be the one with the real medical knowledge, but I know enough.”

    Owen shook his head. “No.”

    Curt gasped, his head still fuzzy. “M okay, O. I promise.”

    Owen couldn’t speak. Curt couldn’t be dying, not now, not with their whole lives ahead of them. Not now, so close to finally escaping the life, so close to getting to be just themselves. It wasn’t fair.

    “Sing?”

    Owen looked up, meeting Curt’s eyes, his heart spiking as Curt’s eyes started sliding shut. “No, no, none of that. I’ll- I’ll sing if you stay awake, okay?”

    Curt’s smile was soft. “Love you, sunshine.”

    The nickname always made Owen blush, but he was too filled with horror to even recognize it. “You’re my sunshine, Curt. Please don’t--please don’t go.”

    “‘S’okay.”

    Owen shook his head. It wasn't okay. Nothing about it was okay.

    But he knew that Curt was dying, that there was nothing he could do.

    “You’re my sunshine. My only sunshine.” His voice was shaky as he sang, rocking Curt gently. Curt’s eyes kept sliding shut, but with a tremendous effort, he kept them open, looking into Owen’s eyes as he sang.

    “You make me happy, when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.” Owen stopped singing, memorizing Curt’s face. This couldn’t be the last time they saw each other. 

    “Please don’t take my sunshine away.”  

    Curt’s eyes slid shut and the soft breaths ceased.

Owen froze, staring at Curt, a stream of no’s coming from his mouth as he shook Curt gently, and then more forcefully, the tears coming faster as he begged every deity he knew of not to take Curt from him. They needed more time. He couldn’t lose him, couldn’t lose the person who loved him through every mistake, who grounded him, who he would give his life for without a second thought. Curt was never meant to be the one that died. It should’ve been him. It always should be him.

    He didn’t know how long he stayed there, shaking with sobs, still rocking Curt’s body. Eventually, he had to leave. He felt numb as he buried Curt, a steady stream of tears falling down his cheeks as he stood by the grave. He didn’t have anything to mark it with, and eventually gently set a smooth black stone on top of the dirt, staring down at the grave. He couldn’t speak. He had so much to say, so much to apologize for, but he couldn’t force the words out. Owen turned and left, feeling a part of him being left behind as he crested the hill and was out of sight.

    A week later, he sat in a bar, a glass of whiskey in his hands. He stared down at the golden liquid inside. He wasn’t crying anymore, all his tears had dried up, leaving him feeling both numb, and furious. Furious at himself, furious at Curt for getting injured and leaving him, but mostly furious at the government, at the spy who tampered with the bomb, at all the people who set them on this life and on this path and who would never accept them for who they were. Would never accept them being together.

    “Owen Carvour.” 

    Owen stiffened at the cool voice behind him, but didn’t bother to turn around. If they wanted to kill him, he wouldn’t fight it. He didn’t have anything to live for.

    “What do you want?” His voice was flat.

    “We know who you are. Likely one of the most talented spies in the world. Someone who would be invaluable to us.”

    “Us.”

    “Chimera.”

    Owen didn’t react. What had Chimera done to him compared to what the governments and enemy spy had done? He was done fighting.

    “We could use you.”

    “I don’t like being used.”

    He could hear the man shuffle behind him, and then the stool next to him was drawn out. 

    “Think of it as a mutually beneficial partnership. We want information. You want revenge. We can help you with that.”

    Owen brought his head up slowly, bloodshot eyes focusing on the man next to him. “Revenge?”

    “You want that spy dead, as do we. I’m sorry about your partner. He seemed a great man.”

    Owen could feel something break through the numb haze. He could make them pay. Make everyone who manipulated him and Curt, who rigged that explosion, who hated them for who they were, pay. He could still do something.

    His left hand grasped the wedding band on its chain around his neck, finger rubbing slowly over the engraving, eyes focused again on his glass. There was a long pause where no one spoke before he raised his eyes to meet the man’s again.

    “What do you need me to do?”