Title: The Soccer AU Part 3/?
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.
Author note: Sooo, I've been sitting on this chapter for months, sorry about that. Couldn't bring myself to reread and edit it. And, well, this story suddenly got annoying and long. *grump* Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Esca didn't end up telling Marcus much. More about his douchebag team - some of whom Marcus already knew - than anything else. Vague details about his foster family and running away seemed to be enough to satisfy him.
It still made Esca uneasy and out of sorts though and he eventually escaped the lounge room claiming he needed to go to the loo.
He didn't, but he needed to hide; he'd had his fill of human contact for the day. His heart was pounding, his palms sweating, and he could swear he was shaking all over. He just couldn't handle the questions, or the way Marcus was watching him. He needed to get away from him.
He flipped the lock and sat down on the toilet, closing his eyes so he didn't have to look himself in the mirror opposite. Honestly who put a mirror across from the loo? He buried his face in his hands, digging his fingernails into the skin of his cheeks.
He had to either calm down or get out. Preferably both. He couldn't stay here. His head was more messed up than it'd ever been before. But where the hell was he going to go? He had no home, no food, no money, no anything. Marcus would probably offer to put him up for the night, but Esca didn't want to stay with him.
Well, he did want stay with him. He really, really wanted to stay with him. Which was precisely why he shouldn't. And wouldn't. And he would tell Marcus no when… IF Marcus offered. Because staying with Marcus would be a bad idea. He was already doing everything wrong. Marcus pitied him. Esca didn't want pity. But that was what happened when you told people your family was dead and your foster parents hated you.
He startled when he heard footsteps in the hall followed by a gentle knocking on the door. "Hey Esca?" Marcus said. "I just called my uncle and he said it's alright if you crash here for the night. I'm going to order us some Chinese, ok?"
Esca let out a strangled acknowledgement, then cursed at the receding footsteps. "Shit, bugger, fuck, shit!" He whispered furiously, standing up to pace back and forth in the tiny room. "What the hell was that?" Yes, what the hell? Now he was talking to himself. He threaded his fingers into his hair and tugged furiously. Man he wished he had a knife. He had to calm down.
Taking a deep breath, then letting it out slowly, he ran his eyes over the room, searching. He needed something sharp, something sharp enough to cut. Something that wouldn't be missed if he had to dispose of it. He was immediately drawn to the disposable razor that was sitting on top of the soap holder in the shower, but that obviously wouldn't be overlooked and was probably less than hygienic. So he left that as a just in case and took heart in the fact that it meant there should be more of them around somewhere. They came in packets, there should be a whole tonne.
He checked the medicine cabinet, finding pill bottles, mouth wash, and toothbrushes, as well as a half empty packet of condoms and some lube. No razors.
The cupboard beneath the sink divulged only cleaning supplies and a bundle of rags. The bathroom had no other forms of storage space.
Esca kicked the tiled floor in an effort to stop himself from kicking the cupboard. Damn, damn, damn. He tucked his hands beneath his armpits and gripped the material of his jumper.
Could he get to the laundry without being seen? Probably not, and Marcus would follow him. No way he'd have time to get into his bag, cut, put it back, and treat it. His eyes flickered back to the razor in the shower. That was still a really bad idea.
He searched hopefully down around the corners of the room. Something, there had to be something. There were sharp things every where when you didn't need them.
He glanced up at the light bulb wondering how plausible it would sound if he told Marcus it'd blown and he'd broken it trying to remove it. Not very? It was worth a shot considering he'd already spent ages in here. It was a better explanation than any of the other reasons Marcus could suspect.
He was about to haul himself up onto the sink so he could see if he could actually reach the light bulb, when he noticed a corner of plastic protruding from the top of the medicine cabinet. Standing on his tip toes, he stretched up and tugged at it with his fingertips.
An almost empty packet. One razor left. Score. He flipped the empty plastic bag back up onto the top of the medicine cabinet, twirling the razor in his fingers. Three blades, ultra smooth shave.
He stepped over to the bathroom door, listening carefully, trying to determine where Marcus was. He didn't want him coming back and surprising him. It was very faint, but he caught the words ‘rice' and ‘dumplings'. Which meant he was still on the phone to the Chinese place. Good, he had time. Not much, but enough. He could cut fast and then be back in the lounge room before Marcus finished the call, then he wouldn't have to explain why he'd been in there so long.
There was no bin in the bathroom so he tucked the plastic razor cover into his pocket, then looked around for something to break it with so he could remove the blades. Finding nothing useful, he lodged the razor head in the cupboard door, crushing it.
Broken pieces of plastic scattered across the tiles. Esca pocketed them as well.
Holding what was left of the razor head carefully between his thumb and forefinger and forcing his hands not to shake, he gripped the back of one of the blades and wiggled it until the plastic screws came loose. The blade broke free, glinting brightly under the fluorescent lights. He studied its dented edge, no longer perfect, but still a sharpened flake of metal. Any thought of discontinuing left him, he was now too focused on getting it done.
He sat the remainder of the broken razor head on the edge of the sink then hitched his shirt up. Quickly and without thinking about it, he pulled the razor blade across one side of his stomach in short sharp jerks directly beneath the cut he'd done yesterday. He didn't look, he was already breathing hard from the anticipated pain and he could already feel the cold trickle dribbling down his his side as he dropped his shirt. Razor cuts always ended up deep and scary. He didn't want to see what he'd just done. He couldn't possibly bleed through three layers though. It'd be ok, he'd check later. He needed to get back to the lounge room.
He bit his lip trying to ignore the flare of throbbing pain in his side and looked around for something to wrap the razors in. Toilet roll was too soft, cardboard, no, paper! He had the paper Marcus had written his number on yesterday. He scrabbled to pull it out of his pocket, unfolding it and dropping the razor into it. It stayed stuck to his finger for a second before peeling off; he'd sliced his fingertip as well, dammit. Quickly gathering up the rest of the broken razor, he dumped the pieces in the paper as well and rolled it all up, sliding it back into his pocket. He checked himself in the mirror, hoping he didn't look too ruffled. He was breathing heavy still, but the pain was slowly taking the edge off. He'd be ok. It was fine.
Marcus wouldn't notice.
He paused at the bathroom door before opening it, running his fingers through his hair. He couldn't help but smile slightly at the fact that Marcus was still on the phone and was now talking about soccer? He apparently ordered from this restaurant often. Esca slipped out the door and descended the stairs, ducking back into the lounge room. He felt slightly panicky when he felt the damp rim of his boxer shorts cold against his waist when he sat down, but there wasn't anything he could do about it now, he'd have to wait until later. He resisted the urge to look.
A good thing, too, as Marcus wandered in seconds later.
"Oh hey," Marcus smiled at him. "I don't know what you like, but I ordered our usual, plus some extra." He flopped down onto lounge, the nervous expression he'd been sporting for half the day back yet again. "You like Chinese, right? ‘Cause as long as you like your Chinese you should be right. Everything they make is awesome."
Esca smiled reassuringly, the adrenaline buzz still rushing through his system. "Sure."
"Oh, good." Marcus ducked his head and then made a point of looking around for the remote.
Esca hoped he liked it, he'd never had the opportunity to eat it before.
Dinner was probably the strangest family meal Esca had ever had. And he'd had quite the number to compare it to. Marcus' uncle turned out to be a fairly relaxed, jovial man with a faint undercurrent of hurt-my-nephew-and-die, which made conversation both very personal and stressful to endure. If it was some kind of test, Esca felt he'd surely failed. He could practically feel the sideways glances, and the disapproving yet nonchalant glares bouncing around the table. There was some kind of silent war going on between Marcus and his uncle and by half way through dinner Esca regretted accidentally agreeing to stay the night.
But unfortunately, every time he even thought about telling Marcus ‘Thank you for the clothes, I'm going now, see you around.' His mind was invaded by an incredibly vivid image of Marcus, absolutely devastated; his body hunched and arms folded, his face a picture of such absolute and utter dejection that Esca's throat immediately closed off and his heart clenched making him incapable of speaking at all. He didn't even know why it kept happening, he'd never seen Marcus look like that.
As a result, Esca missed most of the conversation leading up to the end of dinner and nearly started out of his seat when Marcus' Uncle thumped him on the shoulder in a friendly manner and left them to clean up the dishes saying he was off to make some calls. Marcus couldn't stop smiling the entire time they were packing up the kitchen, which was hell on Esca's insides. He could feel his world shifting and could see his freedom of choice about to disappear again, but when Marcus looked at him out the corner of his eye, just like that, he had a strange feeling that things might be ok, just for once.
They spent a couple of hours watching TV after the dishes were done and then Marcus showed him to the guest room and went off to take a shower. It was a small room with a single bed and a lot of boxes stacked up against one wall. The one window looked out into a sunroom off the side of the house and the lack of escape options made Esca feel trapped. Whoever had done the renovations on this place had some strange ideas on design.
A soft knock on the door startled Esca. He turned to find Marcus' uncle peering around the frame.
"Esca, do you mind if I have a word for a moment?"
Esca nodded, hoping he wasn't being asked to leave while Marcus wasn't there to protest.
"We can talk here or in my office."
"Here's fine, sir." Esca said quickly. This room was small and cramped and far too shut in, but Esca suspected that Marcus' uncle was the type to have an intimidating office. He was a professor. They had big desks and lots of books and guest chairs designed to make people feel small. He was feeling small enough already.
"You can call me Aquila if you like." Aquila sat down on the corner of the bed, gesturing for Esca to do the same.
Esca leant against the windowsill instead, thankful that Aquila hadn't closed the door. He didn't care how nice these people seemed, or how old and fragile this guy looked, he wasn't putting himself in that position.
Aquila didn't seem to register Esca's small act of rebellion, though, he looked like he was too busy trying to figure out how to say what he'd come to say.
Esca got the feeling that he didn't usually talk much.
"I'm afraid Marcus told me what's going on with your foster family and your team mates and such." Aquila looked at him sternly. "We've got a bit of a situation on our hands here."
Esca tucked his hands into his pockets and looked down at his feet.
"In future, if you intend for him to keep secrets for you, you should probably know that he can't lie to save his life and he's usually too honest to do so anyway." Aquila chuckled a bit. "But in this case it's a good thing that I know."
Esca really couldn't see how this was a good thing. But what was one more person knowing going to do? He'd be leaving tomorrow, unless Aquila intended for him to leave now. Which didn't seem to be the case.
"I called the police and social services-"
The rest of what Aquila had to say came to Esca in a blur of sounds. ‘Stolen goods.' ‘Sort it out.' "Can't stay here.' ‘Pressing charges.' ‘Don't ruin your future.' He was sure he wasn't getting everything that was being said, but he couldn't concentrate well enough to sort it out. He began feeling short of breath and his head began throbbing again.
Were the police coming now? Were they taking him away again? No. Aquila was talking as if he and Marcus were going to be regular friends. Did he not know that Esca intended to leave tomorrow?
Aquila seemed to notice that he'd lost Esca's attention. "Are you listening? I know it all sounds dreadful but as long as your honest it can be fixed."
"I didn't steal anything. It was my stuff." He said, angrily. "You can't steal what you already own. And they didn't give it to me, it's stuff from my family. They can't have it."
Aquila raised his hands placatingly. "Ok, see. We can get that sorted out. I'm sorry to make you worry and we can't do anything until Monday, but until then you're safe here and nobody is going to hurt you."
Esca clenched his fists within his pockets and looked Aquila in the eyes. "Nobody has hurt me."
Aquila looked at him far too knowingly. "I don't believe that for a second." He held Esca's gaze for a moment before deflating slightly, sighing. "Get some rest." He pushed himself to his feet wearily. "You look like you need it more than I do at the moment." He smiled gently before exiting.
As soon as the door was closed Esca buried his face in his hands. This was not a good thing. He stood up and started pacing the room. How did he get out? And did he wait until tomorrow or did he leave now?
If he left now then Marcus and Aquila wouldn't need to go to all the trouble of talking to people or doing things for him and he'd feel less guilty about not being able to pay them back.
If he left now he wouldn't have to worry about the police showing up, or running into his foster parents, or running into his team mates again.
If he left now he'd probably never see Marcus again.
Esca fiddled with the paper wrapped razors buried in his pocket wanting to cut again but too afraid to. Marcus might choose to come talk to him again, to say goodnight, or make sure he was ok after the talk he'd just had with Aquila. Marcus would do that kind of thing, right? Make sure he was ok? Unless he thought Esca was already asleep.
Esca flipped the light switch off so Marcus might assume he was asleep and leave him alone if he came to the door and no light shone from beneath it. He continued pacing. He wished the window led to the outside instead of just the sun room. It felt like a cage. He wandered over to the window and tested it just for kicks but it was firmly painted shut.
A window that was no longer of any use in a room that was no longer occupied, ever.
He sat down on the edge of the bed.
If he listened carefully he could hear Marcus and his uncle moving about the house. Locking doors and getting ready for bed.
Esca stood up again when footsteps approached his door.
"Esca?" Marcus said softly, knocking on the door.
Esca wrapped his arms around his middle. "Yeah?"
The door opened revealing Marcus in boxers and a shirt, holding Esca's duffel. "I thought you might want your things." He squinted into the dark, probably unable to make out Esca in the dark.
Well, that was one less thing for him to collect before he left.
He was leaving. Tonight. Staying would just lead to stress, and worry, and people he couldn't fight, and things he was too ashamed to face.
Marcus dropped the duffel by the door when Esca didn't move to retrieve it from him. "Goodnight."
Esca let out the breath he hadn't even realised he'd been holding. "Thanks, Marcus."
The door closed again, enveloping him in darkness.
Esca waited until the footsteps had receded and the door down the hall had closed before sitting down on the bed again.
He'd wait a while. Wait until they were asleep and then he'd go.
Wind buffeted the walls of the shed, whistling through gaps and rattling the door. Esca tipped the last bucket of water into the trough in the sheep pen, watching them huddle in the corner. A lamb stumbled over to see what was going on then decided it wasn't worth it and fled back to it's mother. Esca smiled as he dropped the bucket back near the barrels. He loved seeing the young animals so clumsy and new.
He pushed the shed door open just enough to slip outside, shivering as the chill wind pulled at his hair and clothes. Spots of rain, ice cold, ripped into his skin. Esca cursed and quickly shut the door. Dropping the latch back in place and giving it a shake to make sure it was firmly closed before putting his head down and marching back to the cottage.
The lamps shining in the window were too dim to light the way across the yard but at least Esca knew he was heading in the right direction. Too bad if there storm had blown anything in from out in the paddock though. He couldn't see the ground and was guaranteed to trip on anything in his way.
Mud squelched between his toes, catching his feet and making him stumble. That along with the intense winds that kept catching his clothes, dumping rain on him, and pushing him about meant that he was soaked through by the time he reached the wall of the cottage. Well away from the door as well, the wind was too strong and unpredictable for him to counteract.
They needed a wind break, this wind was ridiculous.
Esca cleaned his feet off on the grass and wrenched the cottage door open, almost falling on his face as he stepped inside when the wind slammed it shut again behind him.
Marcus looked at him from across the room, startled. He laughed. "Where'd you blow in from? You looked like you've rolled all the way across the paddock."
Esca glared at him. "You're planting trees for me in the spring."
"Trees?" Marcus placed the pot of steaming stew he was holding on the table and wandered over to Esca.
"Yes, trees." Esca shook the water from his hair. "Unless you want me to get blown away in the future. " He tugged on the corner of Marcus' shirt. "I think I'm done growing. When I get frail the wind will pick me up and carry me away."
Marcus smiled and wrapped his arms around Esca, pulling him in tight, ignoring his wet clothes and running his hands over Esca's chilled skin. "I won't let you fly away, Esca." He murmured, breath hot against Esca's neck.
Esca snaked his arms around Marcus' middle and held on. "You might not have much of a say in it if the wind nicks off with me between the shed and the house."
Marcus chuckled and kissed he side of his jaw. "Ok, in the spring." He released Esca and led him towards the table. "Let's get you fed so I can thaw you out."
They piled every blanket they had on top of themselves that night, falling asleep to the sound of the rain pouring down outside. With the bed solid beneath him and Marcus warm against his back, Esca had never felt so safe.
Esca woke up shivering.
Marcus was gone.
He felt around behind himself finding only cold sheets.
All the blankets were gone, and he was curled up on the side of the mattress with his feet hanging off the edge. He'd fallen asleep while waiting.
Waiting for Marcus?
Marcus was hurt?
The room smelled all wrong. Dusty. Stagnant. Dead.
He pushed himself up off the mattress and let his socked feet rest on the floor.
These weren't his clothes and this wasn't his home. He needed to get away.
Esca felt his way to the door and found the light. It was harsh and bright, making his eyes hurt. He blinked the grit away, rubbing his hands over his face. The sense of wrongness lingered.
He picked up his duffel and tipped everything out on the bed, cataloguing all his possessions again. The knife gave him a certain sense of comfort and he ran his fingers over the hilt before wrapping it in a shirt and stuffing it back into his bag. All his stuff smelt like washing powder and Marcus, which was weird. He hadn't noticed at first, really. He'd smelt it when he'd put Marcus' jumper on in the locker room, and when he'd been sitting next to Marcus all day in Marcus' clothes on Marcus' couch, but this was the first time he'd associated it with belonging to Marcus. Esca wasn't sure whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.
It wouldn't matter anyway, the smell would disappear in a couple of days.
Packing everything away, Esca donned both the hoody and jacket Marcus had leant him and then slung the duffel bag over his shoulder. He felt guilty that he was taking off with Marcus' stuff but he knew that he really needed it. Besides, it wasn't like Marcus would begrudge the fact that he'd taken them, he could always buy more.
To make himself feel better about it he started coming up with scenarios where he could pay Marcus back or return the favour again. One day he would have the means to do that. Help other people. One day.
He flicked the light off and opened the door.
It was easy making his way out of the house. His shoes were by the door and there was a set of keys sitting on the side table to unlock the deadlock. He pulled the same trick he'd used at the social worker's office, locking the door once he was outside and slipping the keys back underneath.
The air was bitterly cold, making his chest hurt every time he breathed in. He pressed the collar of the jacket over his nose and mouth and made his way down the footpath.
He got as far as the front gate before doubt hit him.
The minute and half he spent staring at the latch on the gate was enough time for Marcus to show up and help him doubt some more.
"Esca?" He stopped halfway down the path, seemingly afraid to come any closer. "I understand if you want to leave, I won't hold it against you and you don't owe me anything, but please don't go."
Esca stared at the footpath, refusing to look up as he listened to Marcus talk. His low voice and halting words sounded so familiar even though they shouldn't and seeing him again, even in the dim light cast by the street lights, was more than he could bear.
"I know you're scared and that facing what's right in front of you is worse than anything you can imagine out there in the unknown, but there's people here that can help you, that will help you. I'll help you. And if you suddenly decide that it's not worth it in a couple of days, or a week or a month from now, then I'll..." he paused for a moment and flailed a bit. "Well, to be honest, I'll probably still try and convince you to stay, but I'll sort you out for better gear than you've got now." He gestured to Esca's duffel bag and grimaced a bit.
Esca frowned, trying to find words. He just didn't understand what Marcus could possibly want from him. "Why?"
Marcus didn't seem to know what he wanted either. "Because I can?" He shrugged. "Because you need it? Because I don't think it's fair that you've been dealt such a crappy hand?"
Esca shook his head. "You decided to help even before you knew any of that."
Marcus shrugged again, tucking his hands underneath his armpits and hunching over. "Because I like you?"
Esca snorted and reached for the gate latch. "It's not a test, Marcus. I don't know the answer." Esca didn't even really know what he was asking.
"Well it's true!" Marcus took a step closer. "Besides which, you play a mean game of soccer and it rubs me up the wrong way watching you run away from that. Your team has never lost to ours the entire time we've been in high school and that's because of you. I remember watching you run on field the first year I made it onto the team. I never made it off the bench but there you were, the midget of the team running circles around all the other guys. Tell me that's not what you want to be doing. Tell me that's not where you really want to be. All you need is for a scout to see you. You need to play."
Esca shook his head and looked up at Marcus. He couldn't go back. No matter how much help he got from Marcus, he wasn't ever dealing with those guys again. They'd sabotage him all the way to a shallow grave. "I'm never playing for that team again."
Marcus smiled at him. "So come play for ours." Previous Next