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Too Heavy For Me

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There were times when Pete got things right. Times when he didn’t forget anything, wasn’t late, didn’t fuck up at work. Times when he wasn’t annoying, didn’t get in the way, and was where he needed to be. Most days weren’t good days, but this one was.

They closed a case. Their supervisor had actually smiled at them, and said, “Nice work, Lowery!” to Trent, which didn’t exactly happen everyday. Trent was in a great mood as a result, making jokes and smiling at Pete when he laughed at them.

Traffic wasn’t too awful on the way home, and they arrived earlier than usual. Pete had really been trying to keep the house in decent shape, and so far he’d been doing okay. He’d already made a casserole for dinner which only needed reheating, and that gave him a chance to dust everything in the main rooms. Dust really bothered Trent.

Pete set the kitchen table and dished up the meal. Trent came out of the study when he smelled the rolls Pete had warmed up in the oven, and smiled when he saw dinner laid out on the table.

“Did you get the butter out of the fridge?” Trent asked once he’d sat down, and Pete’s smile faltered.

“Sh- uh, no. No, I forgot.” Pete grabbed the butter out, but it was too late now. It would still be hard. “Sorry. I forgot,” he repeated.

Trent sighed and scraped a little butter onto his knife. “Forget your own head if it wasn’t screwed on,” he said fondly. “What would you do without me?”

Trent laughed, and Pete laughed too. Of course he laughed. It was funny. It was a funny joke. “I have no idea,” Pete said.

It was a good day.

***

The thing was, Trent had seemed like the best option at the time. Pete had been in the Navy for two miserable years, and the prospect of another four before he could even request discharge was too much for him. And just when he needed him, Trent had been there, twice Pete’s age and gearing up to leave the military and pursue a nice, quiet civilian career.

Even then, Pete had known that there were better Sentinels out there than Trent. He was picky and short tempered and couldn’t accept criticism from anyone. He wasn’t all bad – there were moments where he could be thoughtful and patient. There had been more of them, back then. Pete had weighed the choices, and knowing that four more years might pass and he might be denied a discharge from the Navy had convinced him to accept Trent’s offer.

That was rather more than six years ago, and sometimes Pete reflected that he could be out of the Navy now, an unbonded Guide working with a Sentinel who, well... wasn’t Trent. Sometimes he wished he could go back in time and punch his younger self in the face.

Today had not been a good day. Pete had fucked up. Trent had gone into a zone, and they’d lost some evidence. His fault. Trent was pissed.

They were going home, Trent driving and cursing at the traffic, Pete biting his lip and trying to decide what would be worse: reminding Trent that they needed trash bags, or waiting until they got home and he noticed the bin was overflowing.

Better to just remind him. He wouldn’t be any less angry if he thought Pete was trying to hide the fact that he hadn’t done the shopping.

“Um...” Pete cleared his throat.

“What?” Trent barked.

“Can we stop? At the corner store, to get some trash bags and a few other things?”

“For fuck’s sake!” Trent swerved lanes abruptly. “Why didn’t you pick up some more over the weekend?”

Pete didn’t answer. He’d meant to go shopping on the weekend, and then Trent had decided that the walls were dirty. Pete hadn’t had time. No use pointing that out.

Trent jerked the car into a parking space. “Hurry the fuck up, I want to go home,” he snapped.

It was quiet inside the store, but only one register was open, and Pete was stuck behind someone who appeared to be shopping for a household of twenty-five. He held in a sigh and got into the line. The wait wasn’t going to improve Trent’s mood at all.

He’d been waiting for a few minutes when Trent stormed in from where he’d been waiting out in the car. “What the fuck’s taking so long?” he muttered furiously to Pete.

“Sorry,” Pete said, nodding towards the huge pile of groceries beside the register. Trent’s face twitched with irritation, but he kept quiet. The effort of being reasonably pleasant in public made a vein in his forehead throb.

Once they were finally outside, Trent strode ahead of Pete towards the car. “Hurry up!” he snapped. Pete followed reluctantly, away from the eyes of bystanders who forced Trent to act vaguely human. Last time he’d been in a mood like this, he’d dislocated Pete’s shoulder.

Trent’s steps faltered and he came to a stop. “Trent?” Pete asked. He didn’t respond, and Pete sighed. He’d zoned again. That made twice in a day, which was a lot for Trent. It was probably something Pete had done; fucked up his laundry or something. It didn’t matter, Trent would figure out a way to blame Pete for it. He always did, and Pete was just... he was tired of it.

Then a few things happened very quickly, but as far as Pete could tell, it went like this:

He put his hand on Trent’s arm, to talk him out of the zone.

He heard a screech of tires.

He looked up to see a car speed around the corner and veer wildly into the street.

For about ten hours, everything froze while Pete tried to choose between two warring ideas.

He should get out of the way.

He should push Trent out of the way.

He should get out of the way.

He should push Trent out of the way.

Pete threw himself violently backwards and landed on the pavement, ripping a hole in his shirt and scraping all the skin off one palm.

Later on, he would describe what happened to the police. He would say that he’d frozen, panicked, hadn’t had time to think. No one would notice that Pete was lying through his teeth.