Title: X Amount of Words, Chapter 6: Remember Me...
Game: Mass Effect
Characters/pairing: Female Shepard/ Joker Moreau
Disclaimer: Angst, tiny bit of suicidal stuff...>> No Joker. ;_;
Worlds collide in the strangest ways, often in the places you least expected them. Lives entwined; similar threads weaving their way inside and out of others until they knot back together at the ends. I would have never thought anything from my past would come back to haunt me, to show me what could have been, what could be me. Never would I have thought to be looking into such like eyes, flinching as my own reflected so clearly in their dull surface. It was baffling to see a complete stranger and to be immediately wounded by their very presence. Her voice echoed pain, her shoulders bore heavy burdens. The girl looked at me through broken eyes in anger, her cries echoing in my head 'lies, lies, lies!'
"She won't go back! Not to that place with the pens and chains, the master's fingers always poking and prodding! She won't!"
She cried out in defiance, the broken girl would fight, refuse her fate. For too long did she suffer, for too long did angry men abuse her, degrade her to nothing more than an animal. Her defiance resonated within me, compelled me to help her. But the gun she pointed at me would keep me at bay, not for my safety, but for her own. She seemed more likely to shoot herself than anyone else. The more I watched the girl, her face constantly sliding from one emotion to the next, the more I realized...I knew this girl. I had seen her, talked to her, played with her when she was just a simple child. As I looked at her, studying her eyes, I could see a small girl before me, bright blue eyes and long, flowing brown curls. I could see her, the girl she used to be...
"Talitha, I know you're in pain, I know you've been through so much, but what your doing is not the answer!"
In anger at my words, she pulled the gun away from me, slamming the barrel against her head, now devoid of the curly mess of hair, any trace now diminished to a dark fuzz. I would never be able to understand her pain, what she had been put through, I could just look at her eyes and see the hurt that was reflecting back at me darkly. I could never begin to imagine the horrors she went through. My own self-disgust began to well up, I had to do something, anything, to save her. I had watched my parents die, my brother taken...I couldn't watch this girl end her life because I was too stupid and blind to see.
"You were so young, but the bad men aren't here Talitha, they can't hurt you...I won't let them." Taking a step forward, she flinched, causing me to halt my advancement. Her eyes softened as tears began to flow freely down her face. Thirteen years...Thirteen years of suffering and hate, how could you save someone from that? I could hardly keep my own head above the water, how did I mean to keep hers up as well? I was more likely to drown in my own personal hatred, taking anyone that got too close with me. Talitha would just become another regret, another mistake on my part, another statistic on the chart of my own fuck ups.
The thought of that was eating me up inside.
"They dig in your brain, make you not you..." She grabbed at her head with her free hand, remembering the pain. Seeing her self-suffering made my mind break away from her to thoughts of my younger brother. Did they do this to him too? Did they beat him into submission? Did they break his spirit, strip him of his humanity? Oh God...My eyes were damp now, I wouldn't let Talitha become another number, for my brother's sake.
What if Talitha had been him?
But no matter how much courage I kept mustering to save this poor girl, apart of me was still too afraid. What if, no matter how hard I tried, all I did was push her into pulling that trigger? What could I do to stop her from herself? My feet carried me forward, disregarding my own self-doubt. I was never trained for a situation like this, a soldier talking a civilian out of suicide? If anything, most of them would want to go out together. You see things you never want to see again...what kept those soldiers going? My sudden movement startled the girl, causing her to stumble backwards, the heels of her feet finding almost no surface to support herself with. Her arms flailed about as she nearly fell off the edge of the docking platform. "Talitha!" A panic hit me as I stormed forward as the girl began to fall back, the gun falling from her hand as her back arched, there was no fear on her face as she fell, she seemed almost content which terrified me. She nearly fell from sight, I lunged my body forward, slamming down hard upon the docking platform, dangerously close to the edge myself.
"Shepard!" I could hear feet slamming on the platform behind me, I ignored the voices, throwing my right hand out and grabbing Talitha's forearm before she could slip away. A gasp rushed from her mouth as she looked up at me, angry.
"Let go! Let go!" She squirmed, trying to pry herself from my grasp.
I would never let go.
"Stop it! Stop fighting yourself Talitha, your life means more than what your doing!" I cried, I struggled to hold on to her. She did all she could to get me to let her go and I wasn't in the most prime of positions to be holding onto a girl to save her life, especially when the hand holding her was injured. Talitha was hellbent on me letting her die. I couldn't, I let too many people die, I've watched the life escape too many people I loved. I'd be damned if I let this girl go. She was shaking her head, trying to ignore my words. "You're still human! You're still worth something! Please Talitha I want to help you!"
Talitha tried to use her other hand to pry me off, hitting at the ceramic gauntlets as hard as she could, "Please, just let go! She's worth nothing! No one will miss her, the masters said so!" I tried to grab her other hand with mine, attempting to pull her up but she fought. Her free hand eluded my own, finally finding a part of my suit that wasn't covered in hard armor. She dug her fingers into my wrist, twisting as hard as she could. She was doing a damn good job of trying to get me to assist her in suicide, the pain shot through my arm, making it harder to keep a firm grip. Fingers began to loosen, I felt her arm slowly start to slip through my hand. I tried my best to ignore the shooting pains Talitha was inflicting on my arm. No longer could I try to grab her other hand, I was too busy trying not to let her go. All I could hold tight to was her own wrist, but still she fought. She was so determined to die.
It'd be easier to just let her go.
As I felt her hand slip out of mine, I let out a scream in anger. It was like slow-motion, her fingertips grazing my hand as she began to fall away. I had lost. So busy in my own mind I hardly noticed the body that had slammed down next to my own, white and pink flashing past the corner of my eye. Somehow, Talitha had stopped falling.
"Shepard!" Ash's voice had pulled me out of my trance, the sharp tone reminding me that we were in an urgent situation. As Talitha began to cry I grabbed her arm, Ash helping me pull the girl up and back onto the platform. As we fell back, I watched as Talitha curled up into a ball, hiding her head beneath her arms, muffled sobs filling my ears. Williams rose to her knees, placing a hand carefully upon the girl's back...
I had been like that.
Reduced to nothing more than a sad little girl, vulnerable and broken. "Talitha..."
"Why does it hurt so much...?" She sobbed, cries muffled. Her back heaved as she sputtered out words, Ash's hand still firmly upon her back. I shook my head as I inched closer to her, I reached out my hand to touch her shoulder; to comfort her. But something stopped me, held me back. My hand hovered over her shoulder, hesitating. I couldn't figure why. I glanced over towards Ashley, her dark eyes cast downwards to the back of Talitha's head, staring at the scars upon the back of her neck. I shook my head, pushing the hesitation away from my mind and lightly pressed my hand upon her shoulder.
I heard something slide across the metal floor towards me. My eyes caught the sight of a small metal tin coming my way. It stopped as it hit the edge of my boot. As I reached for it, my eyes sought the person that sent the tin my direction, they fell upon the man that had convinced me to come talk to Talitha in the first place. He waved, pointing at Talitha and I realized what was inside the tin. Opening it, I saw the tranquilizers. Furrowing my brow, trying to figure how I'd get Talitha to take them, I shook the tranquilizers onto my hand. My hand went to her back as I leaned forward, "I know it's painful, I lost so much after Mindoir, I never thought I'd be able to move on."
The girl lifted her head, looking over at me, "Y-you...you were on Mindoir?"
I nodded, I wanted to tell her that I knew her as a little girl, that I remembered playing with her and my little brother. But everytime I found those words I choked and they'd float away to the back of my mind, "I watched my parents die...I watched my brother get taken away. I remember I was so scared, too scared to move and too terrified to do anything." Shaking my head, trying to forget that feeling of helplessness, "Apart of me wanted to fight, to help my brother, but that fear held me back."
"What did you do?"
"For the longest time...nothing. I did nothing, all I could feel was anger towards myself, disgust. I couldn't look at myself in a mirror without feeling sick from my own reflection." I saw a familiar look in Talitha's own eyes, that same self-loathing, "Eventually, I had to move on. I pushed myself, promised I'd never let it happen to anyone else. I just...had to let go." Closing my eyes, I laughed on the inside, the words were hollow inside me, "I had to be strong. I remembered what happened, I always will, but I keep it in the back of my mind, to remind myself what I lost so I could keep pushing forward."
Talitha began to wipe the tears from her face, I wouldn't remove my gaze from her, I didn't want to see Ash staring me down.
"Be strong Talitha, don't let your pain consume you, force it to make you better." Funny how easily those words came out, how could I give such words of encouragement when I could barely manage to keep my own pain from completely tearing me apart? Regardless, the words seemed to have some kind of impact on Talitha as she stopped crying, her body more relaxed than before. I held my hand out to her, revealing the tranquilizers and she stared down at them, lost. "Take these, they'll make you sleep."
Her eyes snapped back up to my face, startled by the concept, "She doesn't want to have bad dreams..."
I shook my head, "You wont. They'll make the pain go away."
"She'd like that..." she took the tranquilizers from my hand, examining them for a moment before she put them in her mouth, tilting her head back to let the pills slide down her throat. They were quick to react, I reached out for her as her body began to slide forward. Slumped in my arms, she closed her eyes with a look of peace upon her face, "She doesn't want it to hurt anymore..."
"What don't you want to hurt anymore Talitha?" I asked as Williams stood up and waved Lieutenant Girard over.
Her face twitched for a moment as her breathing became deeper and shallow, "When she-" She cut herself off, "When I...remember me..."