Miles to Go Before I Sleep
Dedication: To the Moonshadow Tribe. Don't know what it is, but you guys inspire me to write about death!
Teddy had *made* him promise.
Anybody in his situation would have done the same thing.
He couldn't think about it any more. He would go crazy. He needed to sleep. He hadn't slept in days. He collapsed wearily onto the frozen ground and tried hard not to think about it. But he couldn't stop the images of those last horrific hours from invading his head yet again.
Curling into a tight ball, he pressed his fists hard against his eyes in a desperate attempt to exorcise the obscenity that was his memory, but failed. Teddy falling down the ravine. The sickening crack of Teddy's leg breaking. The sudden, dark rush of blood from the severed artery. His own frantic and futile attempts to make a tourniquet out of an inner tube. They couldn't spare the clothing; the cold was of the killing variety.
He had held Teddy throughout the night, but as dawn broke over the forgotten landscape, it became clear that he wouldn't last the day.
It was then that Teddy had reminded him of their agreement.
"Emmett, you have to. Don't be stupid. I want you to live."
But Emmett had shaken his head vehemently to deny the reality in which they found themselves, and collapsed on top of his friend where he had cried like a broken child.
"Don't leave me, Teddy. Please. I need you. Please. Oh God."
And Teddy, ever the court's fool, had made an attempt at humor.
"Can't you wait till I'm dead to start marinating me?"
Emmett had reeled at the words. Had fallen backwards, gasping and choking.
"Stop it. Don't talk like that. You can't *talk* like that." His voice had been strangled and his eyes wide with the shock of it.
Teddy had apologized, and Emmett had been sickened by the sound.
Not long after, Teddy had slipped into unconsciousness, and didn't speak again until right before the end.
Emmett had jerked and woken with a start. Cramped and cold and holding Teddy tight. The side of the barn had been so hard against his back, and the wind bit cruelly through the ancient wood.
Teddy's eyes had been fever bright and unfocused, but he had found the strength to grip Emmett's arm one last time and implore through cracked lips, "Promise me."
And Emmett had promised. He had too. After all, Ted was his best friend.
Lost in his grief, he reached up to rub the bruise that Teddy had left him. It had been eight days now, and it still ached. Emmett made sure of it. He touched it constantly, prodding and pushing to keep it fresh and to stop it from fading. He drew comfort from it, and he couldn't imagine not having it.
He pulled the thin horse blanket tight around his shoulders and tried for some of Teddy's gallows humor, "At least I'm not hungry anymore."
And he did laugh. Laughed for the first time in six weeks. Laughed for the first time since they had run out of food. He laughed long and hard as he rocked back and forth on the hard-packed earth.
And the sound was that of a mad man.
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