Spoilers: "Flesh and Blood"
Author’s Note: Another episode (or, in this case, scene) from Lyle’s POV. This is a tie-in (sequel, perhaps?) with my other fic, Thumbless in the Desert, but this can stand alone as well. Not beta’d.
Summary: Lyle’s been secure in his new position in The Centre, but then, in an instant, his life is in danger and it’s Jarod with the gun this time. What does Lyle think about all of this?
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"You seem angry, Sydney." I smile slightly at the older man, looking up to him from my perch on a wooden chair. His son, Nicholas, stands next to him and Sydney's at the other edge of the table, glaring at me. It's not like I'm surprised or anything. After all, I did free his son from the militia group and bring him to safety. So, of course I deserve to be glared at! Why, it's the ultimate "thank you" for saving someone's life. A simple, hate-filled glare. Nothing like it to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
"You're using Nicholas as a bait to capture Jarod," Sydney accuses me. I stare at him for a bit, trying to figure out if he’s senile or just that stupid.
"Hell yes! Two birds, one stone. Victory from the jaws of defeat. Lemonade from lemons," I reply, using several rather familiar euphemisms that I’m sure even someone as old as he is could understand. He looks a little taken aback though. I wonder why. Could it be because I actually admitted to doing something devious? Hmm. Even the simplest changes can throw people for a loop. I’ll be sure to file that away for later.
"You've endangered my son's life." There’s that damn accusing thing again with the glare! What the hell is up with this? There is no fucking way I ever endangered this sorry excuse for a human being over here! He endangers himself, for Christ’s sake.
"Endangered? You're not listening. I saved him from the bad people." I put a slight, humorous emphasis on the word "bad," knowing full well the irony of the situation. And, from the looks of it, Sydney does too.
"Sydney, Mr. Lyle is the reason I'm safe—that we're all safe. He's a good man." Damn straight I am. I‘m a motherfuckin’ perfect angel, for all this idiot knows. He’s worse than the sheriff in that hicky little town I was in a year ago. I didn’t even know that was possible.
"Except for the fact that he's a murderer." A familiar voice just said those words, and I’m unable to contain my surprise. How the hell did he get in here? Where’s the sweepers?
"If you're looking for Willie and the others. . .they're a little tied up right now." What, is he a damn telepath now or something? He just answered my question, much to my annoyance. I should have offed him back in Dry River when I had the damn chance. Oh well, too late now. Now I can only hope to stick a bullet in that pretty little—and I mean little—brain of his.
"Revenge: the great equalizer." The great equalizer? Oh man, he just gets dumber every day. I glance at his hands as he comes into the light and notice an AK-47 in them. A quick glance to my gun tells me everything I need to know: I’m outgunned and out manned in this one. Shit.
"Go ahead." Is he. . .taunting me? Probably. I would not be surprised in the slightest if he was. I glance up at him, then return my focus to the gun. I know that there is no way I’m picking up that gun without getting a hand shot off, at the very least. So I shake my head, and in the most sincere voice I can muster, I reply to his taunting.
"I won't give you another reason to kill me, Jarod." Yeah, because he’ll really kill me for picking up a gun. He’s not that petty, no matter how stupid he is.
"You think I need another reason?" No, I don’t actually. I’m not an idiot, genius. I meet his gaze, refusing to give up any power. There is no way this guy is gonna hurt me, despite what he may be thinking right now. Jarod just doesn’t have it in him to kill me—or anybody else, for that matter.
"Sydney, take Nicholas and go upstream. Find the others. They may need some help." Always thinking of others, even when he’s holding a gun on his most hated enemy. Yes, yes. I presume I’m his most hated enemy, but hey, come on, I killed his brother! Who wouldn’t hate me for that?
Eventually, his altruistic tendencies are going to be his downfall, and I’m going to be there to see it. No doubt about it.
"I don't understand." Ooh, the idiot child speaks again! If that guy were any dumber, he’d be a cockroach. Wait, cockroaches are pretty smart creatures. I don’t want to offend them by putting this dolt in the same category as them. Perhaps he’d be better suited in the rock category. Yes, he’s definitely dumb enough to be a rock.
"Your father will explain everything to you. Now, go."
"He's right, Nicholas. Come." Come? He treats his son like a dog. That’s hilarious. I’m doing everything I can to keep from laughing, so I just end up watching Sydney back away. That man always was a yellow-belly. He never stands up for himself.
"Who the hell is he?" Hey, maybe there’s hope for Nick yet! He’s actually standing his ground, wary to leave me. Good doggie. Here’s a treat. I suppress yet another laugh, and thankfully no one notices.
"Someone we need to listen to." Bye-bye now! Just leave me here to die. Ah, it’s not like I expected anything less of those two. They’re both idiots anyways. Wouldn’t know what’s good for them if it hit them in the ass.
Nicholas leaves, but Sydney’s still standing there in front of the door. Kinda like a guard dog. Father and son, guard dog and puppy. I suppress yet another fit of laughter at the image of Sydney as a dog and Nicholas as a puppy. That’s just too good.
I take a deep breath to stop the laughter and turn back to Jarod, arms crossed. I believe this is the universal symbol for "you don’t fuckin’ scare me." If not, I’m going to make it that.
"Jarod, you're sure this is how it has to end." Is he. . .defending me? Naw, I gotta be imagining things. He’s probably just worried about what it’ll do to Lab Rat over here if he kills me. Actually, I’d like to see what happens to him if he does that. Maybe I can stay out of Hell long enough to haunt him. Wouldn’t that be fun?
I continue to stare at Jarod, and he stares back. It‘s kinda eerie how his eyes are so full of hate. Not that this bothers me or anything, but it‘s just eerie. He finally replies to Sydney, after staring at me for almost a minute. "I'm sure."
Sydney leaves and I rock back on my heels slightly. Now the fun will begin! I wonder if Boy Wonder, as my sister so affectionately calls him, will actually shoot me. Not to kill me, of course. Probably just enough to cause me pain. Oh well. It’s not like I haven’t been shot before!
"I'm a little curious." Oh, are you now. You‘re always curious. Too damn curious. I still swear I‘m gonna be the one that lops of that prying nose of his. I really will. "How did you know where the militia was holding him?"
I stare at him for a bit. He‘s really, really, really stupid. He’s been in the Centre, he knows what goes on in The Centre, but he can‘t figure out how we knew where the militia was? Somebody forgot to take their smart pills today.
"The Centre has strange bedfellows. Even among our inbred brethren." Inbred. Heh. That’s a frickin’ understatement when it comes to those militia boys.
Jarod just stares at me. Is that how he’s going to kill me? Staring me to death. Boy, that’ll be a good one. I can see the headlines now: "After 82 years, man finally stares man that killed his brother to death!"
I keep a calm exterior and refuse to make eye contact with him so I don’t burst out laughing. That would not go over well in this situation. Even I’m not stupid enough to start laughing while being held hostage.
I begin curling the fingers on my good hand and say to him, "Needless to say, this. . .this is not how I had things planned." I laugh slightly at this. The irony of this situation is killer, literally. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to die here. No, no. Like I said before, Jarod just doesn’t have it in him to kill anyone.
"Oh, this is exactly how I planned it. In my mind. Every day. Since you killed my brother." Oh, and we’re back to the Kyle thing. Yes, yes. I killed your moron of a brother. Well, he actually just got in the way. I was really aiming for Jarod. Wish I had hit Jarod instead. Oh well. No time to dwell on the past.
"I never meant to hurt Kyle."
"No. You wanted to kill me. Kyle just got in the way." I rear back slightly at this. Genius Boy actually got it right for once. Good Lord. They must be ice skating in Hell as we speak.
His tone of voice is starting to scare me a bit. He sounds like he really might hurt me. But he wouldn’t, would he? Perhaps if I make the same offer as I did a year ago, he’ll back down. Or, at the very least, shut up for a while. I like it when he shuts up. Doesn’t hurt my ears anymore.
"I told you once. We can do great things together." I make sure I look desperate when I say this. I’m supposed to be pleading for my life, right? "That offer's still on the table."
"You think you can bribe me?" No, of course not. That’s not the goal here. The goal is to make you think that I think you’re going to kill me.
"Jarod, it's not a bribe." Boy, am I glad I took those acting classes when I was a kid. They really come in handy now. I’m making myself out to be desperate, and I’m obviously very convincing, judging from Jarod’s responses.
"Mr. Lyle, do you want your last breath on this planet. . .to be a lie?" No, but if I tell you the truth and you let me live, which he’s going to, then The Centre will send me off to Renewal Wing. If there is one place I’m scared of, it’s Renewal Wing. I do not want to end up there.
I take a deep breath for effect and cross my arms, waiting for his next moment of idiocy.
"Now, step to the center of the room." Is he fuckin’ nuts? Oh wait, he is. Never mind that. But still. He’s really going all out here, isn’t he?
Jarod uses the gun to motion for me to move, and I look over to where he wants me to go. It looks. . .dirty. Yuck. They really need a good maid around here. I look back at him, still stunned that he’s doing this. I move over there, never taking my eyes off of him. There’s no way I’m turning my back on him, at least not willingly.
"Now turn around." What? Now I’m starting to think he just might be serious. . .
I‘m about to object but am cut off by Jarod. "Turn. Around." I comply, knowing what a man of his training is capable of. I saw the DSA’s of the martial arts classes he took. I myself am quite well versed in the martial arts, but I haven’t used them in a while. I don’t particularly want to be testing them out on a guy with an AK-47.
"Drop to your knees."
"Please, Jarod." Begging always enhances the "I don’t want to die" effect, right? Besides, that man is a sucker for people in need. I can make myself to be pretty needy, don’t you think?
"On your knees!" Ow. He just shoved me down by my left shoulder, jarring my thumb. Er, what’s left of it. I hate that.
I make myself sound incredulous and scared, and deliver my next line perfectly. There is no way he won’t be a bit sympathetic now. He’s all about justice, after all. "So is this how it's going to be? An execution without a trial?"
"You didn't give my brother a trial." Oh yeah. Shit. I’m starting to see all these images of my life before me. That’s life flashing before my eyes, right? I’m so fucking screwed. I almost feel like crying now. My last line of defense has been knocked away, and now all that’s left is this cabin in the middle of fuckin’ nowhere, Jarod with a big gun, and me. So fucking screwed.
"I didn't. . ." I honestly can’t believe this is happening. "It was self-defense!" Damn straight it was. Oh look, there goes my high school sweetheart. I never did get to take her to prom. I regret that now.
"So is this." What? This is self-defense? Killing me is self-defense? Since when? It’s not like I’m going after his family or anything, unlike him. Family. . .
My eyes widen as an idea hits me. Why the hell didn’t I think of this before?
"Jarod, I know things. There are things I can tell you. About your family. About who you are. Things no one else knows. If I die, all those answers die with me. Just let me walk outta here." I’m gonna milk this for all it’s worth. It’s not like he couldn’t get the answers from someone else, but if I make him think that I’m the only one that knows this stuff. Well. . . Then my ass is no longer grass.
Jarod is silent for a while. I just knew this would get to him. Perfect. I think I really will be walking out of here. Overhead, the sound of helicopter blades can be heard. I look up and then realize who it is. Yes! Thank the fuckin’ Lord!
"A Centre chopper! How's that for karma?" Oh my God, I‘m going to live. Damn fucking right I am. Relief is flooding through me and I’m sure it’s evident in my voice. I’ve never been so glad to hear that sound in my life.
"Bad." I hear the gun flick on again. Oh shit. He wouldn’t really do this with The Centre so close, would he?
"Ready." I gulp, finally ready to face my death. I may not have been a perfect man, but still. I’d like to think I was pretty nice to some folks, especially my mom. I feel the gun shoved into my back and close my eyes. I hear Jarod hiss out, "Aim."
"Don't. Jarod," I quietly plead. I know it won‘t get me anywhere, but at least I‘ll know I tried. Maybe he‘ll be wracked with guilt afterwards. That’d be poetic justice, in my opinion.
"Fire!" Jarod shouts, shoving the gun harder into my back. I go flying forward, landing with a grunt. I didn‘t feel a shot, but I could be wrong. Hell, I didn‘t hear one either, but with everything that was running through my mind, I‘m not surprised. I put my hands over my head, waiting for the sky to fall on me.
Suddenly, I realize that I’m not in pain. Not even in the slightest. I glance up from my cowering position on the floor and realize that Jarod’s gone. I’ve never felt more relief in my life. My hands drop back to the floor and I attempt to catch my breath. This was just too much for me.
I’m interrupted by my sister querying, "Lyle?"
I immediately respond, "Miss Parker," but am a little slow at getting up. I’m shaking slightly, I notice with disdain. I crack my neck, trying to make it look like I fell or something.
"You been talking to Jarod?" I think I’m flipping out as I run over to Broots and grab him, shoving him in front of me. Just the mention of the Pretender’s name is scaring me shitless. God, I hope I get over this soon.
"He's here! He went out that door!" I shove Broots towards the door, and he continues on, slightly flustered. Then again, when the hell isn‘t he slightly flustered?
"Well, he's not here now." Gee, duh, genius. If he was here, I’d be just a body on the floor and he’d be in handcuffs, let me tell you that.
"Well, find him!" I insist. There’s no way I’m letting that bastard get away now. Not after what he just did to me. I want him back in The Centre and I want him back there now.
"What?" I am stunned at this. Another day? Hell no. He‘s probably a little ways into the woods. If we hurry we can catch his sorry ass.
"Broots picked up a transmission from an ATF unit flying in."
"But-but he was right here!" What, are we afraid of the ATF suddenly? We can buy them off easily. I want to get Jarod and put the fear of God into him, just like he did to me.
Miss Parker looks at me curiously and asks, "What did he do to you?" Like hell I’m gonna tell her. She’ll just laugh at me, and I do not want to be spending time trying to live this down.
"Nothing. I had him and those idiots outside let him escape!" Does that sound as half-hearted as I think it does? I think I’m going to be spending quite a significant amount of time in the woods, hiking.
"Whatever you say Lyle, but now it's time to go." She doesn’t sound like she believes me. Oh well. But there is no way I’m leaving yet. I want to throw that bastard into a cage and, I don’t know, get him acquainted with a set of jumper cables. Yeah, yeah. That’s a good one.
I run up and grab her arm, swinging around to block her path. "No. We can't just go."
She looks annoyed, but when doesn‘t she when it comes to me? "Listen to me. When the ATF walks in, we don't have an explanation for anything that's happened in the last two days. We don't go now, the trail gets back to The Centre and you know what that means." Is she talking to me like I‘m a child? I think she is. I’ll make a mental note of it and come up with a plan to annoy her late.
We stare at each other for a bit, but then Broots breaks in. "Huh. Can we-can we go already?"
Broots turns and heads out the door, making for the helicopter. That guy just gets jumpier every day. Miss Parker hands me my gun and I take it, still glaring at her. I sigh softly and leave the cabin, stepping into the bright sunshine.
One day, Rat Boy is going to pay, and he’s going to pay dearly. I’ll make sure of it, if it takes me a lifetime.
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