Hell hounds on your Trail by icd
Story Notes:
This is a story for the PretenderForsaken 'Four Seasons Challenge'

Challenge Criteria - Write a fic written from Gem's POV, after he met Jarod (can be before he's "rescued", in the plane, years after, your call.), including the following words : darkness, present, watch, fair, scream.
Chapter 1 by icd
Author's Notes:
The idea I originally had totally got away from me and I ended up with this (which admittedly I think is better than what I first planned *smirks*)
Hell hounds on your trail

"You didn't save her. I'm disappointed, Gemini. You'll have to be punished now. It needn't have come this far. It was in your might to save her."

Lips sealed against pleading. A single syllable uttered would prolong the punishment. He had learned the hard way. Mr Raines does what Mr Raines wants.

Muscles coiled with tension to keep from flinching upon the sight of the syringe, the entry of the needle into his flesh, coldness seeping into him, freezing his blood. Quiet gasps escape that just wouldn't stay hidden.

Distorted images. Muffled sounds. Acid in his veins.

He'd done what he could. Please, there hadn't been anything he could have done differently. He couldn't save her, not her, not all the others. He had tried, but blue moon had come too fast.

Please, he couldn't take this anymore.

Turning his head, he recoiled when dead eyes stared accusingly at him. He hadn't saved them...


Waking to nightmares haunting you ...

* ~ * ~ *

One... battle your demons alone

* ~ * ~ *

Bolting upright, scrambling backwards and ending up with his back pressed into a corner, Gem's eyes flashed around the darkened room, glancing over the watch and taking in the time. A scraping on the window drew his panicked gaze to the glass. It was the wind, slapping the branch of a tree against the house.

Gem drew a shuddering breath, raking his hand through sweat slickened hair.

This always happened. Once he thought he was getting better, settling in, everything was turned upside down, inside out, the ground sucked out from under his feet.

Drawing his legs up, Gem rested his forehead on top of his knees, drawing himself into a tight ball, trying to sort the images away. The dead eyes of the girl, light gone from them, a mere shadow of the photographs he'd had to work with. He'd tried, but it hadn't been enough.

Mr Raines had been angry, so angry. And he'd been punished.

His fingers found invisible track marks. He remembered them, knew where they had been and knew the effects of what had entered his bloodstream. Gem winced when the branch once more slapped against the glass, frightening him, confusing him.

Tears welled up in his eyes even as he fought them. He couldn't show weakness like that. He wasn't allowed to cry.

But he wasn't at the Centre anymore. He was safe. Mr Raines couldn't hurt him anymore. Jarod had promised he couldn't get to him. Jarod kept his promises.

* ~ * ~ *

Two... looking for comfort

* ~ * ~ *

Gem bolted upright and looked around the darkened room, trying to drag himself from the nightmare, trying to stow the images away. The feel of the syringe remained though and Gem scratched at the crock of his elbow to dislodge the feeling.

Tremors continued to shake him, racing through his body like the contents of the syringe had.

Swallowing hard, he jumped out of bed, barely managing to keep his footing when he was still tangled in the sheets. The air was cool against his sweaty skin and Gem shuddered, then quickly crossed the room and headed down the corridor.

He didn't knock, merely slipped into the room, instantly feeling more settled when the familiar scent of his sister reached him. Her breathing was even, indicating sleep, and Gem felt bad for turning to her. He should be able to get through by himself. He shouldn't need anyone. It wasn't fair to drag her into his troubles as well.

The figure on the bed shifted and before Gem could decide to retreat and fend off his demons alone, Emily's eyes blinked open. He nodded wordlessly when she inquired if he'd had a nightmare. The gesture that followed was simple and familiar, the way she shifted backwards on the bed and lifted the blanket in front of her. He shouldn't crave this, shouldn't need this, but the simple gesture made some of the weight fall off his shoulders.

Sitting down tentatively on the mattress, he smiled slightly when Emily guided him under the sheets in front of her, the motions familiar and soothing.

His sibling was fast asleep just a few minutes later and Gem struggled to match his breathing to hers, eventually finding himself winding down.

* ~ * ~ *

Three... running

* ~ * ~ *

Gemini bolted upright, a silent cry on his lips. Sucking in gulps of air, he struggled to distance himself from the dream - nightmare.

His gaze flew around the room. They'd been living here for a while now, but still, the room felt unfamiliar, as if it was a stranger's room, someone else living here instead of himself. There was no comfort in this room, no safety for him.

Jumping from the bed, grabbing a pair of jeans - still unfamiliar when all he had ever known were the thin grey pants of the Centre - Gem struggled into them and threw on a shirt before he dashed out of the room, racing down the stairs, feeling the nightmare follow, the dead eyes behind him, haunting him.

He bit back a whimper. Fear was a weakness. Gemini knew fear. It had been a constant companion over the years.

Feeling the walls close in on him, he barely stopped to open the front door, hand shaking on the handle. He had to get away, had to get out, leave this place.

His bare feet hit the asphalt from the street and Gem skidded around the corner, his feet losing their grip. He went down hard, air whooshing out of his lungs. The darkness that had followed him threatened to engulf him and Gem once more had to fight the scream that rose to his lips. Scrambling, he tried to get his feet back under him and took off, trying to outrun his demons.

He needed to get away from the dead eyes that haunted him.

* ~ * ~ *

Four... comfort finding you

* ~ * ~ *

Gemini recoiled when the dead girl reached out a hand and grasped his shoulder, dead flesh making contact. He screamed and bolted upright, trying to get away. He was caught though, drawn closer into a firm hold. Gem started struggling, trying to break free but the grip was too strong. The warmth of the hold was at odds with the cold images and feelings of the dream.

Sounds slowly seeped back, carrying the soft timbre of a well known voice. Gem drew a shaking breath, catching the familiar scent. It took another few moments before he managed to unlock his muscles and carefully returned Jarod's embrace.

He forced his attention away from the images of the dream, forced himself to listen to Jarod's voice, allowing his brother, his older self, to guide him back to safe ground.

This had happened before. Once he thought he was getting better, settling in, everything was turned upside down, inside out, leaving him shaking again.

Jarod seemed to have a sixth sense for those nights though, turning up a few days earlier, waking him from the nightmare and grounding him afterwards. Gem clung to him now, just as he had done often before, allowing himself to be weak, allowing tears to form and run down his face. He hadn't dared to at first, but Jarod had never judged him, and he wouldn't either today.

Jarod's hand moved down his back, soothing him and encouraging an even breathing. Once his breathing settled and he felt less shaken, Gem drew back slightly.

The smile Jarod shot him was familiar, part of the dance, and they both stood from the bed at the same time, Gem moving in front of Jarod, safe in the knowledge of his older sibling's protection. They headed downstairs and towards the kitchen where a package of ice cream would be waiting for them in the fridge - another familiar part of this routine.

* ~ * ~ *

Five... giving up

* ~ * ~ *

He sat up with a gasp, his eyes straining to focus on his surroundings, the familiar and at the same time unknown room around him. He had been living here for most of the time since Jarod had freed him from the Centre, but it would never be his room. It had a strange feeling to him, was too open - there were windows, and the doors would open under his hand.

Everyone said that this was better, that the freedom was right, but to Gemini it felt foreign and try as he might, he couldn't get used to it. He had grown up to locked doors and rooms alight with artificial lights. The sunlight hurt his eyes, rain felt strange on his skin and the feeling of grass under his bare feet wasn't right either.

They said it would get better. He didn't know.

They said he was doing alright. He wasn't sure.

They said one day he would know what to do with the freedom. The present showed their words to be a lie.

It wasn't for the lack of trying. He had tried. Just as he had tried to save those girls, just as he had tried to keep the light from fading from her eyes. He had failed then, and Gemini got the feeling he would fail this task as well. He wasn't meant to be free.

The world wasn't a safe place. It was foreign, frightening and more than once, Gemini had longed for the comfort of a bare walled room, a locked door and for the pressure of choice to be lifted from his shoulders. He hadn't ever learned to make a choice for himself and he didn't know what to do with such a thing. They say with choice comes responsibility... but he isn't strong enough to bear that responsibility.

Raking a hand through his sweaty hair, Gemini sighed softly.

He was tired. Tired of the pressure, tired of the nightmares and tired of trying.

Maybe it was time to stop trying.

Reaching for the cell phone on the nightstand, Gemini dialled a number he had looked up a few weeks ago.

He was done trying. It was time to go home.

This story archived at http://www.pretendercentre.com/missingpieces/viewstory.php?sid=5483