a void

r | graphic violence



It was like a bomb going off.

Don't worry. Just trust me.

Pulling the trigger was easier than she thought. It was frighteningly easy and she could only pray that it wasn't a live round, that the barrel was far enough away. Even with a blank, there would be a blast wave. It could be enough to shatter someone's - Sigma's - temporal bone. Enough to leave a void where his brain had been.

She didn't wait to watch; she dropped to her knees, tears flowing freely.

Sigma wasn't screaming. He wasn't speaking at all. He wasn't saying it's okay, Diana, I'm alive, you didn't murder me, everything is okay. There was a beep and the computer voice said, "Incinerator door ... is open."

Phi.

If she hadn't pulled the trigger, she would have been murdering Phi. But she did and now maybe she murdered Sigma because he still wasn't speaking. Why wouldn't he say something? If he was alive, he would have said something. He was dead. She killed him. She hadn't heard the ... the ... splat ... of ... of ... but the sound of the gun firing was so loud and she could get the answers she wanted if she just opened her eyes, if she just looked up, but she couldn't, because if she murdered him, if he was dead, she couldn't, she just couldn't.

I'm so sorry, Sigma. Please, forgive me.

"Incineration process ... terminated."

Terminated.

Her knees hurt from where she hit the floor and her hands were shaking and if she murdered him, she needed to look up, she needed to face what she had done. She had to accept responsibility.

Maybe he was still alive.

But if he was, why wouldn't he just say something?

"Sigma?"

Phi.

She sounded ... anxious. But not ... not angry. Wouldn't she be angry?

At least she was alive. Diana hadn't failed them both.

"Sigma!"

She cried out his name again, and this time she was ... was that ... was that relief?

Diana allowed herself to look up, just for a moment. There was no blood splattered on the ceiling, the wall. His shoes, his pants, his shirt, nothing was bloody. His face ... oh god, he was fine. No bullet hole. No blood. He looked stunned, and was wincing, as if in pain, but he just had a gun go off next to his head. Of course he'd be in pain. She probably blew out his eardrum.

She dropped her gaze back down to the floor. Even knowing she hadn't murdered him, she couldn't stop shaking. Or crying.

She had her patients' lives in her hands every day. If she misread something or miscommunicated something or wasn't paying attention, she could cause someone's death. But that was nothing like taking a deliberate action that would directly cause someone's brain to stop. It had been so easy to depress a piece of metal and it could have shut down his brain, stopped his heart.

Phi was shaking him and Diana wanted to tell her to stop. If the blast of the gun had jerked his head it was possible he had a neck injury. You had to be careful with people who had neck injuries. You couldn't shake people like that.

"Hey! You all right?! Are you hurt?"

"Ow..." The low groan was the first thing he had said since she shot at him. She wanted to ask him where the pain was, but she couldn't speak. Her mouth moved but nothing came out.

"Huh...?"

"Damn, my ears really hurt. They're killing me."

Diana gasped at his choice of words. She could have killed him. There had been a fifty percent chance that she would have put a bullet in his brain, and part of her hadn't even believed Zero had been telling the truth about that. He had slipped up during his speech, saying the odds of a live round were six-to-three, not three-to-six, and it made her fear all the rounds were actually live. There was no time and no way for her to examine the gun. She wouldn't have known what to look for, anyway.

"That might have ruptured my eardrum."

She managed to whisper out an apology, but it was drowned out by the restraints popping off. Metal clattered to the floor. One hundred and eighty-eight pounds must have been the magic number to activate the chair. The door wasn't locked, so she could have left and gotten heavy items to put on it. She could have fired a gun into that stupid Force Quit Box or a pile of cans or something and saved everyone without risking Sigma's life. Instead, she had been foolish and impulsive and had sat down, then encouraged him to do the same thing.

Phi sighed in relief and threw her arms around him when he rose up out of the chair. He murmured something to her that Diana couldn't make out. Phi said something back. She was angry. They both seemed to be. She couldn't blame them. She had almost killed one of them. She had pressed a trigger that could have killed him, and if she hadn't done that, Phi would have been burned alive. Whoever this Zero person was, he was a sick, twisted bastard and even though they were all alive, how could -

"Hey. Diana?"

She lifted her head. Phi was gone and the exit door was sliding shut. She must have left. Sigma was in front of her, holding out a hand, as if to help her up. When she didn't take it, he crouched down and gently pulled her up. Once she was standing, he withdrew his hands.

"Let's get the fuck out of this room."

Instead, she touched the side of his face, the side she could have destroyed if it had been a live bullet. He flinched, as if she had just slapped him. Maybe he was thinking the same thing.

"P-P-Perforated eardrums usually heal by themselves, without treatment," she whispered. "But you s-s-should still see a doctor when you get out."

She couldn't stop crying and she saw his eyes shining as well. Her knees wobbled and he grabbed her, pulling her close, gasping her name. She kept apologizing, over and over. He was silent, but she felt him shuddering, felt dampness on her scalp from where his tears were falling. She couldn't understand how she could feel so ... so bonded to these two strangers who she had only known for a few days. The thought of losing either of them was devastating. They shared some kind of connection and she had felt that way even before they were put in this place.

She could tell he wasn't entirely relaxing in the embrace - his body was stiff, as if he was uncomfortable - but her tension was easing. She was no longer shaking as violently and her legs had regained their strength, so even though she didn't really want to let go, she stepped back, hoping that would lessen his discomfort. When she met his eyes, she was startled by his expression. The immediate danger had passed but he looked terrified.

But only for a moment.

He went stone-faced, rubbing his cheek as he cleared his throat.

"I'm going to check on Phi," he said, his tone angry, frustrated.

He was out of the room before she could reply. His rapidly shifting emotions had her head spinning, but it was probably just the trauma getting to him. This was all too much. She wiped her own tears from her face, which was when she noticed the smell of what she assumed was gunpowder. There was a bathroom in the lounge - if not on the map - where she could wash her hands. She didn't want to be reminded of this every time her nose itched.

The door opened again; Sigma must have returned to check on her when she didn't follow him.

"You saved our lives, Diana." His voice was rough, but no longer aggressive. "That's what you need to remember. Come on."

He waited for her, his foot in the way so the door wouldn't slide closed. With a final glance at the gun, the chair, the restraints on the floor, she turned to go.

As she passed by him, she saw his fist unclench, his fingers reaching towards her as if he wanted to take her hand.

But he didn't.

(fin.)