Ugh, I swear, I struggled through this in like, a sentence a day for some parts. It would not cooperate. Sorry if it gets a little confusing…and implausible. It also apparently doesn't want to end yet.
Title: The Soccer AU Part 2/?
Fandom: Eagle of the Ninth
Characters: Marcus, Esca
First prompt: Self Harm
Summary: Esca wants to run away from the entire world, things keep getting in the way.
Warnings: Contains descriptions of self harm as per the prompt, might be a little triggery for some people.
Words: 4300 Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Blue skies streaked with grey, as far as he could see. Grassy hillocks, short leafy trees dotted about amongst snarls of blackberry. A rose bush.
It felt familiar yet completely foreign at the same time. Like he belonged here, but not yet. Or just maybe not at this time.
A gentle breeze picked up behind him carrying with it the smell of woodsmoke and newly turned earth. There was something else there as well, something he couldn't quite identify, something that made him smile.
He closed his eyes and let his head fall back as he breathed it in. He heard a low chuckle as someone stepped up behind him, a warm chest coming up against his back, but not quite touching, an infinitesimally small space between them. He knew that laugh, but for the moment, he couldn’t quite place it’s owner. It eluded him, flitting around the edge of his memory.
A face nosed at the side of his head, breathing him in deep. Esca shivered. He tried to press back but hands came up to hold his hips, steadying him, swaying with him, forcing him into a slow dance whilst making his blood run quicker. A stubbled chin came to rest just above the collar of his shirt. Lips nibbled at the base of his ear.
Cold fingers crept underneath his shirt and dipped beneath the waistband of his trousers, sliding around his waist and crossing his stomach. One hand going up, the other going down; searching out sensitive skin, fingernails catching. Then Esca was pulled backward and pressed firmly against the chest behind him.
The man whispered his name, hot breath sweeping down over Esca’s collarbone. Esca tried to respond, but the words got stuck in his throat, and the name, what was his name? He knew it, he could feel his tongue forming the syllables. They moved with each other and Esca reached up behind him to grasp his partner by the back of the head. Pulling and pushing, arching upward, curling inward. Eyelids fluttered against his cheek, moist lips mouthed his neck. Esca’s breath shortened. His fingers clenched. His toes curled.
Esca jerked back into consciousness. Almost. Short of breath, his skin tingling, he reached out sluggishly trying to find something he’d lost, something that should be right there. His heart rate shot up when his hand hit the wooden back of the booth and he realised he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, was he? Things smelt wrong, the light was strange and where was…?
Esca’s vision swam as he tried to lift his head up, but his body wasn’t cooperating.
“He’s coming around.” A voice said. Whoever it was stepped closer and Esca could hear them trying to get his attention, soft but demanding. They rested a firm hand on his shoulder and the weight pressed him back down against the table. Esca blinked up at him, trying to ignore the pain lancing through his head.
He didn’t know this person. He didn’t recognise any of it. He did however feel the overwhelming urge to snatch at the piece of paper the man was holding, carelessly crumpled in his fist. He pushed himself upright and curled himself further into the back of the booth instead, tucking his hands under his arms. What was paper though, and why would he want it?
“Good, he’s awake. Can you get rid of him now?” The coffee guy said from across the room. He opened his mouth to say something else as well, but was interrupted by the tinkle of the bell above the cafe door.
The guy standing over him turned to great the old man that walked in. “You’re the guardian?”
The old man shook his head. “Nope, social worker. Sorry the kid is being such a brat.” He said.
The guy held out the piece of paper. “This is all he had on him.”
The old man took it, glancing at it briefly before folding it in half and dropping it on the table in front of Esca. “Come on, Esca. We’ll get you sorted.” Then he turned and strode back out the door.
Esca tucked the piece of paper back in his pocket, clenched his fist around it, and followed. He had a social worker, and foster parents. He’d run away because they’d hurt him.
He tried to hold on to the image of the windy field and the warmth of another person, but the harder he tried the faster it trickled away. He didn’t understand why it made him want to cry. It wasn’t a real memory. He’d never lived on a farm. And he’d never had someone hold him like…that.
He shook himself. It would all be OK. It would all be OK eventually. They couldn’t send him back.
Esca was given a blanket and directed to the scrappy lounge in the corner of the shelter office. Curling up on his side to avoid putting pressure on his bruised back, he tucked the blanket up over his ears and tried to go back to sleep.
He’d been told that his foster parents had refused to take him back (thankfully), but they were claiming he’d stolen some items of value and run away that afternoon. The social worker had looked at Esca carefully from across the desk and told him the only reason he hadn’t been sent straight to the police was because Esca had never done something like that before. The foster parents had graciously agreed to drop any charges if the items were returned by tomorrow.
Esca scowled when he saw the list, which consisted of his mother’s ring, his father’s knife and the necklaces that had been his brother’s. He was suddenly very thankful they’d been nicked. Even if he never got them back, he could still be glad of the fact that he’d never have to hand them over. He couldn’t stand the thought of his foster parents in possession of them.
A rather perfunctory young woman named Beth had checked the back of his head and helped him clean up. She’d also handed him two paracetamol which he hadn’t taken, but had tucked into his pocket to save for later. She made him sign the book, then sent him away. If he moved his head slightly, he could still see her reading by the light of her lamp in the other room. He’d have to sneak past her in the morning, he didn’t think the social worker had believed him when he’d said you couldn’t steal what you already owned and there was no way in hell he was ending up at the police station, especially not for something he hadn’t done.
He was woken in the early hours of the morning by the sound of the toilet flushing. Out the window, the sky was just turning grey and with great reluctance, Esca knew it was time to go. He briefly considered taking off with the blanket, but knew that would be unacceptable. Stealing a blanket would be a minor infringement, but he hadn’t stolen anything in his life and he wasn’t about to start now. Unless you included the fact that he was probably never going to return Marcus’ clothes, but then again, Marcus had never specified whether they were a loan or for keeps so Esca was less worried about that.
The key to the front door was dangling on a hook in Beth’s office and since she seemed to be taking forever in the bathroom, it was easy enough for Esca to duck in and pinch it, sliding it back under the front door once he’d let himself out. He pulled his hood up against the chill wind and tucked his hands back in his pockets, heading for the park. Maybe he’d be lucky enough to find his stuff.
It was daylight by the time Esca found his way back to familiar streets and the sun was high enough in the sky to be pleasantly warm against his back. The air became frigid as soon as he walked beneath the shade of the trees though, so he ducked out onto the grass instead as he headed across the park to the pond. He could feel the damp from the melting frost seeping into the canvas of his shoes, but given how sunny it was they were likely to dry off fairly quickly so it didn’t worry him too much.
He immediately wished he’d stayed beneath the cover of the trees though when he topped the hill and the pond came into view. He hadn’t expected anyone to be out and about yet, save maybe the occasional hardcore jogger and he was surprised and a little bit annoyed to see that there was already someone standing on the bridge that led to the island in the centre of the pond. Someone who Esca had been hoping to never ever see again, sort of. At least, he thought that’s what he’d been hoping. His body seemed to be having other ideas though, if the warm flush and the tightness in his chest was any indication.
Marcus waved to him as Esca made his way down the hill. When he joined him on the bridge Marcus leaned over the railing, pointing into the water.
“I think that’s your bag, I was just going to go and get a stick.”
Esca peered into the brown water. There was, indeed, the rope of a duffel bag floating amongst the water lilies. Esca was surprised by the relief that flooded through him. He just hoped all his gear was inside.
They both went off and found suitable sized branches and with a combined effort, managed to lift the waterlogged bag out of the water. They dumped it on the bridge and Esca bent down to open it up and rummage through it. Satisfied that everything was relatively intact, he pulled the drawstring up tight and stood up again. He wasn’t about to dump everything out in front of Marcus.
Unfortunately, it didn’t look like Marcus was about to leave any time soon. He was watching Esca nervously.
“You’re still wearing the jacket.” Marcus said, looking oddly pleased.
Esca looked down and flushed.
Though he knew it wasn’t Marcus intention, he suddenly felt ashamed at the fact that he hadn’t been able to change. Here he was, exactly as Marcus had left him last night and still unable to repay him. He’d known that it was unlikely that he’d be able to return the clothes let alone reciprocate the action, but he hadn’t actually expected to have to face Marcus and tell him so. He was hoping to disappear. And you know, magically reappear at some time when Marcus was in need of help so that Esca could come to the rescue. That way they would be even without Esca ever having to wonder what kind of person Marcus was; without ever having to question Marcus’ sense of morality.
Having someone indebted to them seemed to change people, they always expected something in return even when they said they didn’t and sometimes demanded it be repaid in a manner not always entirely acceptable. Esca didn’t want to think that of Marcus.
“Err, yes. Did you want it back.” Esca pulled his hands out of the pockets and went to undo the zipper, but Marcus shook his head in protest.
“No! I mean, it’s fine. You can keep it.”
But Esca already had the jacket off and was handing it over, tugging the collar of the hoody back into place where it had been pulled down as he’d removed the jacket.
Marcus didn’t take it. He looked confused. “That’s my jumper.”
Esca stared at the bridge railing. What the hell? Did he want him to strip in the middle of the park? Was he going to demand his shoes and fluffy orange socks as well? Esca nearly reached for the base of the jumper to take that off too, but that would’ve been dumb considering he could already feel himself getting cold; the jumper did nothing against the wind and even the heat of the sun couldn’t diminish the effect of a chill northerly.
He looked up at Marcus to try and figure out what he was thinking only to find himself being studied.
Marcus’ eyes flicked back up to his. “You’re a bit of an idiot, you know.”
“Sorry, but you are.” Marcus gestured to the jacket, “You should put that back on before you freeze.”
Esca paused for a moment before complying.
As Esca struggled to get his arms back into the sleeves, Marcus bent over and picked up the sodden duffel bag, holding it out at arms length to avoid the dripping water. “And maybe you should come back to mine and we’ll see if we can’t do something about this.”
They’d put Esca’s soaked duffel in a garbage bag in order to transport it to Marcus’ house and when they’d arrived Marcus had marched Esca straight to the laundry and told him to sort his gear out. All the clothes and the duffel went into the washing machine and Marcus gave Esca an old canvas school bag to transfer the rest of his stuff into once it’d been rinsed. Then he’d passed Esca a towel and another set of clothes and directed him to the bathroom telling him to come find him when he was done.
Esca, feeling slightly paranoid, had locked the bathroom door while he showered. He’d checked the window was locked as well, even though it was on the second floor. He laughed at himself when he realised what he’d done, but left the door locked until he was fully dressed again anyway. He technically still didn’t know Marcus that well.
He was annoyed to discover the jeans Marcus had given him were way too big and not only dragged on the floor, but dipped dangerously low around his hips. He was showing off more than a couple of inches worth of boxer shorts (Marcus had assured him they were a new pair that he hadn’t worn yet and Esca was inclined to believe him given that they were covered with very strange looking smiley faces) and he felt like they were going to fall off all together. Thankfully both the shirt and jumper were overly long.
Rolling up his other clothes to take down to the laundry, Esca tried to think of a way to ask for a belt, but it turned out he didn’t have to; Marcus had already thought of that. When Esca found him in the lounge room he was busy trying to put new holes in one of his own with a nail and a hammer.
He looked up sheepishly when Esca walked in. “I’m sorry I didn’t have anything smaller.” He passed the belt over. “My uncle donated all my old stuff.”
Esca took it warily, turning his back to thread it through his belt loops and do it up. He wasn’t really surprised that he had to hitch it right up and that the extra holes really were needed. Though he was a little bit weirded out that Marcus had judged where to put the new holes correctly.
Boy he hoped Marcus was just an overly nice guy and not some freak. Wearing the guys clothes made it much more apparent that Marcus was actually huge in comparison to Esca. He didn’t want to have to try and fight him off.
Glancing around the room quickly, he was relieved to note the fact that his shoes, well, the shoes Marcus had lent him, were still sitting in the hallway. He’d have to grab them if he had to make a run for it.
“So,” Marcus rummaged down the back of the couch for a moment, pulling out two video game controllers and a remote control. “You wanna play?”
They spent the majority of the morning kicking each other’s arses in everything from Soul Calibur to Gran Turismo 3, taking a break at morning tea time to raid the kitchen and another a bit later on when they remembered Esca’s clothes needed to be transfered to the dryer. Esca slowly began to relax, slumping back into the chair and getting into the game instead of sitting stiffly at the end of the couch and staring fixedly at the screen. Marcus had even managed to get a few smiles out of him.
Esca was still waiting for the questions to come though. He knew Marcus was going to start asking, he could see the guy assessing him and making the decision to wait. It was alternately making Esca feel safer and then annoyed. He was happier sitting around and not thinking about it and the games were a great distraction, but because he knew the conversation had to happen, he was cranky that they couldn’t just get it over and done with. He was beginning to think it would be better to volunteer the information, but he didn’t want to make things awkward and he didn’t want Marcus to know, and he didn’t know what Marcus already suspected, or what he’d think of Esca when he did know. So Esca kept his mouth shut and enjoyed himself. He was thankful for the opportunity to forget for a little while.
As the day went on though, Esca began to notice things that he was surprised he hadn’t picked up on before. Less surprising, maybe, if you considered the fact that he’d been trying to avoid looking at Marcus, but once he’d had the chance to watch him he realised how very obvious it was.
“You’re injured.” Esca couldn’t help but point out when Marcus disappeared into the kitchen to find them biscuits and then limped back out again.
Marcus nearly stumbled, fumbling with the plate as he slumped back down into the couch. “I was,” he said cautiously. “My thigh. Last year.” He picked up the controller again, but then looked over at Esca and put it down again. “It’s been fixed.” He held out the plate. “Biscuit?”
Esca shook his head. “What happened?”
“What happened to you?” Marcus countered.
Marcus fidgeted for a moment before placing the plate on the coffee table. He folded his arms across his chest and looked Esca directly in the eye. “Some of your team mates thought it’d be a fun idea to run me down with a car.”
Esca tensed, suddenly realising this wasn’t the most brilliant of situations. Was this why Marcus had lured him here?
“Cracked my thigh bone and tore up the muscle. It was four months before I could even run on it. Six months before the physio would let me play again.” Marcus glared down at his leg. “Still hurts sometimes.”
Esca’s eyes flickered around the room, calculating the quickest way to get across the room and out the door. The window was out, it probably hadn’t been unlocked for months and it was no good heading for the kitchen behind him, it only had the one door. It would depend on how fast Marcus was and whether or not Esca could get past him to the hallway before Marcus could get up to stop him. He changed his grip on the game controller still clutched in his hand, wondering how much use it would be as a weapon.
He kept his eyes on Marcus, waiting, watching, studying him, trying to figure out what he’d missed, what Marcus was going to do.
“Did you get them back?” Esca asked.
Marcus shook his head angrily. “Not yet.” He kicked the coffee table, looking back up at Esca, furious. “I will though.”
Esca tried to stay calm.
“I doubt taking it out on me would do you any good.” Esca said quietly. “As a matter of fact, they’d probably thank you for it. Crippling Esca is one of their favourite games.”
Marcus’ reaction was a bit of an odd one but Esca didn’t stop to analyse it. He’d seen too many angry people coming at him to sit around and wait to see what he was going to do. He shot out of his chair the second Marcus moved. Angry people meant one thing, pain. And he’d already had enough of that. He leaped over the coffee table and vaulted straight over the back of the couch Marcus was sitting on. He could hear Marcus scrabbling to get up behind him.
“Whow, hey!” Marcus yelled.
Esca’s socks skidded on the wooden flooring and he crashed into the wall as he stooped to pick up his shoes. He flung the controller back through the lounge room door as he stood up again, hearing Marcus curse as he was hit. Stumbling toward the front door, he reached out trying to wrench it open.
It wouldn’t budge.
Esca dropped the shoes, one hand twisting the door knob, the other on the deadlock. It wouldn’t turn. It was locked. He shook the door, rattling the frame.
“No, no. Hey!”
Esca spun to face Marcus, his breath catching in his throat. Marcus held his arms up, blocking the hall. He moved forward slowly, hedging Esca in.
“Stop, Esca. Just stop.”
Esca knew he wasn’t going to make it past him; the space was too narrow, Marcus too large. He tried anyway and wasn’t particularly surprised when they both ended up on the floor, Esca flat on his back, Marcus’ weight coming down on him hard.
He couldn’t breathe past the pain seizing up his chest. He let out a choked whimper, hating himself for such a weak sound, but unable to prevent himself from crying out.
Marcus jostled him, one hand gripping Esca’s wrist and pinning it to the floor. Esca blanked himself out as he waited for the beating to come. One day it would be over. One day he would escape.
The light was bright in Esca’s eyes. He squinted, crinkling up his nose, watching the tall grass wave above him. He was enclosed on all sides; secluded. Hidden from the rest of the world in a bed of reeds.
The warm weight pressing up against his side shifted. A hand slid up his chest to rest on his lower ribs. The head resting on his shoulder lifted.
“Hey.” Esca looked up into smiling brown eyes. He reached up to run his fingers through already mussed hair.
“Hey yourself.” Marcus leaned down to kiss him briefly. “I should probably go and fetch the sheep.”
Esca slung an arm around the back of Marcus’ neck and pulled him back down again. “Cub’ll come get us when it’s time.” Esca mumbled against his mouth, concentrating very hard on ignoring the fact that Marcus was laughing at him, albeit silently. He considered enacting some form of revenge, but he was too relaxed and boneless try. It was warm and he was comfy. And he had Marcus to play with.
A sharp intake of breath from Marcus made Esca pause. “Leg?” He asked.
“Hang on.” Esca gripped the back of Marcus’ tunic and tucked one bare foot behind Marcus’ knees. “Ok, roll.” They tumbled over.
Marcus groaned softly as Esca settled on top of him, running a hand up and down his thigh, squeezing gently. When he opened his eyes again, Esca was the only thing he could see. Dark grey eyes, so very gentle. A smile nothing short of amazing. He reached out to run his fingers gently across it. Tracing the curves he knew so well and wondering how it could be so fascinating every single time.
A rustling in the grass broke them apart moments later and Cub nosed his way into their hideaway.
Marcus snorted and buried his face in Esca’s neck, nipping at Esca’s collarbone.
“See,” Esca said brightly. “Cub’s smart.” He dug his fingers into Marcus’ ribs to make him let go and leaped up as soon as he was released. “Time for sheep chasing.” He reached down and hauled Marcus up, then flitted away into the grass, Cub quick on his heels.
“Esca!” Marcus called, watching him disappear. “Wait up. Esca!”
“Wake up! Esca!”
Esca frowned at the distress that had suddenly arisen in Marcus voice. He tried to turn back to reassure him, but his balance suddenly went and his vision swum viciously. The next thing he knew, he was on the floor, in a house. A very odd house.
Marcus was above him again, but sitting awkwardly on the floor, one hand gripping the front of Esca’s shirt.
“Esca, I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Marcus rubbed his thumb gently against Esca’s collarbone, soothing. “Geez you scare easy. You thought I was trying to get back at your team?”
Esca had to fight the urge to roll over and crawl into Marcus’ lap. What was going on? There were some very mixed up feelings marching through his chest. He reached out with one hand and tucked his fingers into the folds of Marcus’ jeans which at least held the overwhelming urge to touch at bay.
“It’d have to be a pretty damn elaborate plan if that was what I was up to. Are you ok?” He gave Esca a small shake. “Esca?”
Esca closed his eyes and groaned. "Chan eil fhios agam."
Marcus stilled. He rubbed Esca’s chest again. “Hey?”
Esca blinked up at him, closing his eyes when Marcus leaned in close.
Gentle fingers combed through his hair, probing at the back of his head. “Are you hurt?”
Esca choked on a laugh as all his bruises suddenly said hello. He hissed when Marcus hand came into contact with the cut on the back of his head. “No more than usual.” He groaned. “Am I bleeding?”
Marcus let out the breath he’d been holding as he checked his hand. “No, no blood. Can you get up? Or do you want to stay on the floor?”
“Up.” Esca said shortly, then using Marcus for leverage he climbed back to his feet.
Marcus guided him back to the lounge.
“So you’re not hell bent on taking the members of my stupid soccer team out one by one then.” Esca mumbled. It was strange knowing that that was the reason he’d run but feeling as if the conversation hadn’t really happened. Marcus enamoured with him and Marcus angry were blurring. He tried harder to concentrate on the Marcus in front of him.
“No, my revenge plan was much more subtle, you know.” Marcus smiled crookedly. “Make them ashamed to be alive and playing soccer. We were going to beat you guys yesterday, but my stupid leg…” He trailed off, digging his knuckles into his thigh.
Esca wanted to ask if he’d had one operation on it, or two. He didn’t though, because he couldn’t determine where the thought had come from. Nor why he suddenly remembered Marcus laid up and asking for water.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” Marcus said, looking at him intently.
Esca nodded, feeling stupid.
Marcus thankfully took him at his word.
“So are you going to tell me now? An answer for an answer?”
Esca buried his face in one of the cushions and considered his choices. This was going to be hard. He took a deep breath and started to talk. Previous Next