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Free online fiction by Alex Draven

Mark was hanging onto control just barely. Shitty little flat. Arsehole landlord. Fucking nightmare week all round. The notes in his back pocket would only go so far and Saint wouldn't be happy, but right now getting some of the fury under his skin out and exorcised before he just lost it all together and ripped the little fucker's head off had priority. The cider was thin and bitter on his tongue - piss and vinegar swarming in his gut - but the ritual down-and-slam had its place, getting him ready to push through the warehouse doors and fuck shit up.

The crowd closing around him was perfect, insulation from the world of officials and complication packaged in speed and spikes and the roar of bass and screaming feedback. Insulation enough that he could let slip the dogs of war, and barrel into the pit, drums directing his movements, voice tearing at his throat and elbows flying. The whirlwind of it all cleared everything else away - clean hard edges in the strobe lights and Drake roaring into a microphone at twenty yards and closing, bodies slamming hard, faces intent on that same release. The impacts felt remote: elbows to shoulders, hips to fists, knees to bodies that were in the fucking way, and the spin and push and growl of anonymous hands, faceless bodies in waves and eddies and crushes took him in, held him up, sent him fucking flying.

The first crack to his face, something hard and sharp and bone - a knee, an elbow, maybe a fist with that much metalwork - sent up flashes of darkness behind his eyelids and he threw his head back and laughed with the bliss of it. The pain came a second later, along with the copper tang that said he'd blown his nose, and if his grin was feral no one would see in the writhing knot of flailing limbs, the joyous rise soaring in all of them as the band crashed into the next song.

His weight was off balance, his leg raised to step back, hands and elbows and unseen faces a wall behind him, and somehow there was a bent thigh, denim gripping his paras, and he took it. Kicked up and back and let a wall of arms and heads and motion take him. For moments that might have been forever he was skimming the maelstrom, head back and arms wide while the lights tore in circles and the bass made his lungs hum and the dry ice burnt his throat and tasted of blood. The music and the voices chorusing it back was so loud it was almost more pressure than sound, and the bright lights of the stage were rushing towards him, each punch of a supporting arm sending him flying. He wasn't anything any more, just a part of this, and the anger in his gut was drowned out in adrenaline and transfiguration. Kita was hammering at her six string, looming and blurred against the lights like some upside down deity, and she filled Mark's vision as the crowd fell away and he was falling.

***** ****** ******

He came round in suspicious silence. He listened, unwilling to open his eyes and make it real, and it wasn't silence so much as calm. The bass from the stage was a small heartbeat throb in the distance under the ringing of his own ears, and there were closer sounds - a running engine, muffled voices, a click that had to be a door opening. Mark swallowed thickly, gagging a little on his muffled nose, and forced his eyes open, pushing himself up to his elbows.

"Hey there soldier."

The lights were blinding white but the tone of that voice was enough to tell Mark where he was. He let himself flop back on the pallet. St Johns Ambulance. One thin foam mattress pad, one flimsy pillow sham, one open weave acrylic blanket trapping his feet. Just like old times.

"Saint." Mark acknowledged the other man, playing things cool. "How you doing,?"

"Better than you, I should think." With his eyes shut again it was easy for Mark to pick out the amused affection in the words, and a tension he hadn't realised had been gripping his ribs released a little. Saint's hands were firm and professional sliding up his bare arms, checking him over for cuts and bruises. "So, how does it feel?"

Mark had to think before he could answer that. His nose was throbbing. His breathing felt thick and sticky around it, and the edges of tape pulled at the skin under his eyes, claustrophobic and twitchy. The buzz was ebbing already, leaving him cold and a little shaky. Even gloved Saint's hands felt good on his skin.

"This kinda smarts." He gestured towards his face.

"Funny that." Saint agreed dryly "One day you're going to have to find a way of dealing with shit that doesn't break bones, you know?"

"Fuck off." Not that he could raise any real energy to put into the words. "Cold." He added after a second.

"Cold like blankets or cold like skin?"


"I'm still on shift, Mark."

"You offered."

"That I did. Just saying."

It was good that Saint knew him; that those grey eyes were sparkling and Saint's thin lips were curled into a smile, because Mark was damned if he had anything left to argue with.

Right now he was empty, all used up and frozen, and Saint's hands, burning on his skin without the gloves, were so damn good, rubbing and stroking and forcing his blood to talk to his veins again, tipping him back towards sleep.

"Thank you." The words came slurred from his lips, and he'd have to trust Saint to know that it was for more than the touches.

Saint's lips were hot for a second against his forehead as the blanket settled around his shoulders.

"Nap now, 'k? Half an hour till I get off. I've got you, babe. I've got you."

** end **

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Storm by Alex Draven is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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