Holding my Breath (I)

"I'm just saying… Shouldn't he know?"

A whisper, a refusal.

"I would tell him if I could- I can't. You can't."

Dark locks fell to the floor, the smooth blade severed them bit by bit until a choppy pixie-esque cut remained. Next went the bandages, no matter how strongly her husband had objected…

It wasn't healthy, it wasn't safe. She couldn't afford to be seen. The price was dreadful, her son would have screamed had he seen her. He hadn't, he never would. He would never see her after this day, neither would her husband. She had never told them-

"You keep him safe, as best you can. If there's one thing you do for me when I go Gem- it's keep him safe. Keep him safe." She forced every word, forced every breath to remain calm. Forced herself not to scream because-

"You know I can't." It came like jagged glass.

"Tell your damn superiors to transfer him off that damn task force them! Tell them he isn't fit, he isn't well he isn't-"

"If it was that easy he wouldn't be there." He interjected, sharp and sure, "If I had a say in it then he wouldn't be there."

"Damn it- Try."

She wished it could continue. One last argument, one last little spar with Gem.

Oh how she wished. Wishes don't come true in this world.

He nodded in silence, even if all his paperwork and statements would be for naught. Every word brushed off as nothing more than a groundless concern filed by a paranoid parent. He hadn't even begun work yet, he'd never be able to convince them his son was unwell.

She slid on the suit, every curve and trace of her figure swallowed by dark fabric. It wasn't perfect, but it was enough to stop a person from thinking twice when they saw her. They would see her, and then what?

If all went well, nothing.

It would not go well. She was alone on a suicide mission, and she was going to die. She was going to be caught, and cut open like some poor animal on a butchers chopping block. She'd watch organ after organ be splayed out for her to see if the pain didn't drag her into the dark first, watch her own blood leak out and be swallowed up into the dark fabric they wouldn't bother to strip from her before they cut her up.

Recon. It was simple recon- and the thought of the turn it would take brought her to her knees.

It brought her to her knees as bile flowed up and out of her, and hot tears streamed down as she choked on her own vomit.

It burned, it burned and it tasted sour and she couldn't breath.

Her husband couldn't hold her hair, she'd already sliced it off. That was a comfort she'd never feel again, she would never feel her Gem hold back her hair when the panic took hold and screamed that everything was about to turn on her. She would never have him to hold when her heart dared betray her and try to burst from her chest while she laid sobbing in a pool of vomit and urine as she lost the sense of just what was going on around her.

Had it not been for the suit, her nails would have drawn blood as she dug them into her arms, breath after breath burning and tasting like bloody bile and something saccharine sweet she'd eaten earlier.

She couldn't do it, She couldn't do it, She couldn't do it.

She'd woken up in bed, dressed in simple cloth pajamas as she reached up to rub her head.

~Just a dream, Just a horrible simple-~

Her hair was wet, and it was choppy and short.

She smelled like the lavender soap she'd bought just last week, her skin still felt somewhat damp.

She sat up. She sat up and dared to look in the mirror across from the bed.

Not even an hour had passed.

Her hair was wet and choppy, once soft brown locks now looked akin to her sons self-done makeover when he had been 6. Her face was puffy, and red. Sunken eyes and a face dyed rouge highlighted every line and wrinkle on her face, and emerald eyes threatened to cry tears that had long since run out. Frail, and somehow still able to hold her own. She was old, she could retire whenever she wanted, she should have retired long ago and didn't.

She stayed so she could avoid thinking of the child she betrayed.

She stayed to take her mind off of a child that was about to make the same mistake as her. Her mistake now fell to her son, and she almost screamed as she realized-

Her son would have never said yes if she hadn't ignored him as a child, hadn't thrown a damn ring at a 12 year old for looking at a classmate while screaming about chastity and how wrong homosexuals were.

He hated her, and now he was making her mistake.

Thrill-seeking to forget about a mother who never gave a damn. So akin to dangerous recon work to forget about a son she left to rot.

The panic didn't set in, she was too exhausted to go through it once again. She didn't have the energy, her body was as drained as her mind and for once in her life she fell asleep and stayed asleep.

She hadn't slept when her son was a child, a little 6 year old who cried over shadows on the walls and so-called monsters in his room.

She hadn't slept when he went off to college, visiting often and refusing to speak of anything but his concerts and recitals.

She hadn't slept the night he left, the night she sent in her application to the UN funded agency so she could work and never think of her sin again.

She hadn't slept the night Jannik brought home the news, that his superiors had sent his son an offer to join a new MTF in Italy to expand the reach of the agency.

Tonight… Tonight she slept. She took a breath as her head hit the pillow, a soft and shallow breath.

She held it, the air never left those brittle lungs until her husband knocked on the door and stepped in.

Wendel Ryans was removed from active duty on March 27th, 1958.

She was buried a week later.

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