“you know, killing me won’t take down the system,” Owen said, trying not to let his voice break. “So… what are you doing?”
To be honest, he wasn’t sure exactly what Curt would do. His hand shook, uncertain, and yet his gaze was unfaltering. His finger was curled around the trigger, the stage was set, and it was time for the final act. Curt’s final act.
Owen watched Curt’s face. There was no denying it anymore; he was afraid. Of what, he wasn’t sure. Maybe it was that looming feeling in the dark, empty pit of his chest that he wasn’t sure he wanted to die, or maybe it was the fact that living would be much, much worse.
He steadied his breath. He was ready.
“I… I don’t know…” said Curt. He lowered the gun, leaving a cold spot on Owen’s forehead.
“...What?” Owen didn’t move. No, no. This was all wrong.
Curt still clutched the gun tightly, but his index finger was no longer on the trigger.
“I… I can’t do it,” he said, turning away. He was vulnerable. Owen’s gun was only a foot away. He could bend down, pick it up right now and shoot Curt in the side of the head. Curt must have known that, he must have.
“Shit,” hissed Owen. “Shit, Curt. You were supposed to…” the mask had been off for a while now. Cool, composed, cunning, witty Owen was nowhere to be seen. The only Owen left was scared, and confused, and he couldn’t hide anymore. “You were supposed to kill me-”
“Well, I can’t, okay?” he retorted.
Possibilities swarmed in Owen’s head. Plans. Alright. He picked up the gun from the floor.
“I’ll make it easier for you,” he said, softer this time. Curt stiffened up. “What are you-”
Owen raised the gun to his own temple.
“NO-” yelled Curt. The gun flew over the steel railing, and fell, down, down, down, until it clattered on the floor 30 or so feet below.
“Fuck,” said Owen.
“What are you doing?” Curt looked bewildered.
“What you’re too much of a pussy to do.”
Owen lunged at Curt, aiming for the gun still in his hand. It darted quickly out of his reach.
Curt grabbed his collar.
“Owen, what’s going on-” he was interrupted by a fist to the mouth. Owen’s knuckles stung in a familiar way as he pulled Curt’s arm over. But the gun wasn’t in his hand. He cursed just as he got a kick to the stomach. Stumbling backwards, Owen tried to get his vision to clear. Curt spat out blood. Owen went at him again.
“Why are you trying to protect me-” he yelled, finally getting Curt in some sort of headlock. Apparently, it wasn’t very good. Quick as a flash, Curt was on his feet. “I don’t know!” His face was sheer panic. Owen managed to get a hold of his arm, twisting it behind Curt’s back. He wrenched the gun away, kicking him down. In a second, the cool metal was once again pressed to the side of his head, beside Curt, who was quickly recovering from the blows.
“Goodbye, love-” Owen said. He pulled the trigger.
He felt nothing. His ears rang, indicating that he still had ears. He was alive. How was he alive? He had fallen backwards, however, and was now sprawled on the stairs. He felt strange, as if he was reliving a memory he didn’t know he had. Nothing was real. Even the quickly growing red stain on his shirt. Curt must have knocked his arm down.
“Oh, god-” said Curt. He fell to his knees.
Owen felt a pair of hands press on a spot on his ribcage. His eyes were closed, he didn’t remember closing them… the ringing in his ears was clearing. He was too shocked to speak.
“You’re gonna be okay,” Curt told him, his voice shaking. “You’re gonna be fine, I’ll get you out of here-”
Owen found his voice again.
“...It’s no use. I’ll die anyways.” He spoke softer now. Things seemed better. He wasn’t afraid.
“No,” said Curt. “You can’t die. Not right now. Hold on.”
Owen gently took Curt’s wrists. The pain was setting in.
“Let me go,” he whispered.
Curt shook his head.
“Don’t you dare,” Curt said. “Don’t.”
Owen took a breath. This was a familiar feeling. Not being able to breathe without pain and effort. He knew it well.
“I’m not letting you die,” Curt persisted. “Not again.”
“It’s alright, love.”
“Oh, God…” Curt was crying. Owen watched him. Curt didn’t like blood. At least, not his own, anyways. That had extended to Owen’s, a long time ago.
“This is all a mess,” Curt said, calmer this time. “That wasn’t you, it isn’t… I’ll get you out of here and we’ll go home, O. We’ll be together again, just you and me. And we’ll retire. And we’ll be happy. We’ll be happy…”
Owen listened to him speak. As incredible as Curt’s plan sounded, they both knew already that that wasn’t going to be the case. Owen had already accepted his tragic ending. Curt clearly hadn’t. Long-repressed memories flooded Owen’s tired mind, like a wave on a beach. Powerful, yet soothing.
“Do you-” Owen coughed. He tried again. “Do you remember… when we spent a whole summer together? Our longest mission. Two months, just us.”
Curt nodded. He was still desperately trying to get Owen to stop bleeding.
“We camped in Greenland. In July.” Owen smiled. He remembered how happy he was.
“Remember the ferris wheel?” he continued. “God, you were so cute… you still are.”
Now it was Curt’s turn to remember something.
“I came to visit you on Christmas in London,” he said softly. “We made turkey. I still have the tie you gave me.”
“The green one?”
Curt ran his fingers through Owen’s hair.
“Remember that weekend in Venice in August?” he said.
Owen smirked and nodded. It had been a great weekend.
Tears that weren’t his bit at his bruised cheeks. He could feel himself growing fainter with each breath. And he wasn’t afraid.
“And the week in Bristol…”
They both smiled at each other. Nothing else mattered.
Owen felt cold. And his heart was beating like odd drops of rain left over after the storm. And it was okay.
“Curt…” he said, pausing to cough a little. “I’m sorry.”
“Shh,” Curt whispered. “It’s okay, O.”
Owen took a shaky breath.
“I love you. Still.”
Curt’s mouth opened slightly. Then it closed.
“I love you too,” he said, sighing slightly. “This you.”
Owen felt something long dead reignite.
“Should I… say goodbye?” He asked, lifting his hand to touch Curt’s cheek just one last time.
Curt shook his head.
“We always said goodbye before leaving… in case one of us got killed. Let’s leave it at I love you this time.”
Owen could feel what was left of him was ready to go.
“I love you, love.”
“I love you too, O.
Owen gently pulled Curt’s face in with what little strength he had left. Their lips touched, one last time. When Curt pulled away, he found Owen’s eyes closed peacefully. He was gone. And it was okay.