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Twists of Fate

Chapter Text

Mike was cracking, everyone could see it as plain as day. Whether it was the pressures of leadership finally getting to him or more something to do with the situation at hand no one could be sure. Whatever the reason, Emily had revealed her bite from the Wendigo and Mike had immediately pulled out a gun and pointed it at her. The situation was on a knife’s edge and Ashley’s constant feeding of his paranoia was only exacerbating the problem. In another time, a few years or even a few hours ago, Sam wouldn’t have known how to handle the situation or Mike in general for that matter, but their time on the mountain both together and separately now gave her some insight.

Mike was a lot of things, or at least put forth the image of being a lot of things. The “cool guy”, womanizing mask that he constantly wore hadn’t ever made him her favorite person, but even that guy that he wanted everyone to see him as wasn’t cold blooded enough to shoot someone he cared about without hesitation. The Mike that she had caught a glimpse of as he peered at her through the grate, a comforting smile on his face that told her that he was going to do everything he could to get her out, was something else entirely. What she had been able to see beneath the veil in that moment still wasn’t something that she could entirely understand, but it was enough to tell her that for all the bravado he was currently putting on, he cared too much to just kill someone without exhausting all other possibilities. It was her job to remind him of that before Ashley pushed him over an event horizon he could never come back from.

“Mike,” she said his name calmly. “You don’t have to do this, we’re not even sure how this whole bite thing works.”

Mike’s hand suddenly started shaking at her words, but Emily still wasn’t entirely out of danger as long as the gun was pointed in her direction.

“You’re not this guy Mike,” she said.

For a brief period of time Mike just sat there staring at the gun in his hand, now safely pointed away from Emily. Sam was about to approach him and remove the weapon from his hand for good, but a sudden grunt followed by Mike exiting the room with a haunted look in his eyes stopped her in her tracks. She took stock of the rest of the room and noted a grateful look on Emily’s face and a dissatisfied one on Ashley’s. After weighing the options in her head she turned to follow Mike with the hope that Ashley and Emily could remain civil and act like adults without her supervision.

She found him sitting on a crate with the same haunted look in his eyes as he continued to stare at the gun. She approached him cautiously, not wanting to do anything that would put her on the other end of that gun. Her movements didn’t draw any reaction from Mike one way or the other until she plopped down on a crate next to him. His eyes briefly darted over, met hers, and then returned to the gun. She hoped that he wouldn’t just shut her out. They were in this together now and if they weren’t on the same page none of them were going to survive.

“Don’t feel bad,” she settled on saying to break the silence. “We’re all under a lot of stress given the circumstances.”

“You didn’t just point a gun at one of your friends,” he said sounding dejected.

“No, but if it ever came down to that I trust you to do the same thing that I just did,” she said. “This kind of situation can make us all forget ourselves sometimes and it’s important to have someone who can remind you about who you really are.”

“You’re a good person Mike,” she continued.

He wasn’t so sure about that. He had just pointed a gun at one of his best friends with the full intention of pulling the trigger. He wasn’t sure if he could have actually done it, he had slowly began pulling the trigger back while he continued to debate with himself internally. If time had run out on the debate and he had actually ended up pulling the trigger completely, would he have been certain that he had made the right choice? He would never find out the answer to that because through all of the chaos raging inside his head and in the room as a whole he heard a voice that overpowered everything around him and brought him back to reality, Sam’s voice. If she hadn’t been there to stop him Emily would more than likely be dead.

“Thank you,” he said. “For not letting me shoot Emily.”

“Thank you,” she said. “For not letting this fucked up situation make you do something you’d regret.”

“We’re in this together Mike,” she said after several minutes of silence. “We need to make decisions together so it doesn’t turn into what happened in there again.”

“Yeah,” he said.

“I’ll continue to call you out on your bullshit if you call me out on mine,” she said sticking out her hand. “Deal?”

“Deal,” he said taking her hand and shaking it.

“Here, you should take this,” he said handing her the gun as they walked back towards the room that still contained the others. “I don’t think I trust myself with it anymore.”

The tension in everyone else’s shoulders visibly dissipated at the sight of the two of them entering the room as a united front. Emily and Ashley still looked like they wanted to tear each other apart, but they were putting their personal feelings aside for the time being. It was as good a time as any to discuss what to do next.

"I'm going after Josh to get that key so that we can get off this mountain and back to civilization,” he said.

“I’m coming with you then,” she said.

“No,” he said. “We shouldn’t risk any more people than we have to.”

“Well I don’t think it’s a good idea to have someone going off on their own given the situation,” she said shooting him a look of disbelief. “Besides, I am the one with the gun now.”

“Fine,” he relented before slinking away towards the door.

“Don’t kill each other while we’re gone,” she said directing her attention towards Ashley and Emily.

“Make sure they don’t kill each other,” she directed this at Chris.

With no protest from anyone she moved to follow Mike out of the room. As they walked back towards the sanatorium and the mines where he had already experienced one Hell, Mike felt a calmness that he couldn't quite explain. With Sam by his side he felt like he could take on the world. Whatever sick and twisted creatures crawled out of the world's dark reaches next they would figure out how to deal with them, together. Standing only a few feet away gun at the ready Sam couldn't help but feel the same way.

Chapter Text

Sam sat curled up in bed staring at the screen of her computer and trying to will the words out of her mind and onto the page of the Word document she was currently typing in. A sneeze briefly racked her body and she found herself cursing the cold that was currently plaguing her for what felt like the thousandth time that night. She hated being sick. Granted you’d most likely be hard pressed to find anybody who actually liked being sick, but that didn’t make her hatred any less valid. She liked lounging around with calming music and a good book as much as the next person, but she much preferred her sinuses to be clear for either activity. Also, and she wasn’t one to ever actually believe the self-diagnosing sites on the internet, but if her quick search out of boredom was anything to go on then the Bubonic Plague was making quite the comeback.

At the very least her current sickness was giving her a chance to get some work done that she had been putting off for far too long, there was only a limited amount of times you could push an article to next week before the editor started handing out ultimatums. The migraines she was currently suffering from weren’t making it any easier to come up with the words to get her point across, but she was powering through. Procrastination wasn’t usually her style anyways and she really did want the public to know about militarization in Africa. A quick check of the clock told her that it had been an hour since she had sent Mike out to the store to buy cold medicine. He hadn’t called or texted since his departure and while deep down she knew that he was probably just running late she couldn’t help the feeling of worry in the pit of her stomach from welling up.

Her therapist would probably say that it was her PTSD from the experiences on Mount Washington that was discouraging her faith in people coming back to her after they left. Her therapist was a bitch though and what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. The pistol in the top drawer of the nightstand was a precaution that anyone that valued their continued existence would take. The same pistol that had almost taken Emily’s life. She shook herself in order to keep her mind from going down that dark train of thought. Her therapist may be a bitch, but she did have some good points when it came to not dwelling on things she couldn’t control. Two years, it had been two years since those events that changed all of their lives together and they were lucky to have gotten away from it all as unscathed as they did.

Another hour later though with still no sign of Mike and that voice inside her head that told her that something had happened was not so easily tamed. Against the advice of the more rational voice vying for attention in her head she opened the drawer, pulled the pistol out, and made her way downstairs in order to get a better idea of what was going on around their small apartment. She had always had a small loathing for the location just because of its confined nature, she was an outdoor girl at heart after all, but they weren’t exactly rolling in cash and sacrifices had had to be made. Now though, the two buildings on either side of theirs meant that the only possibility of a security threat came from the front door. She took a seat at the bottom of the stairs, gun in hand and blanket wrapped around herself, and waited. In her weakened state there wasn’t much she could do for Mike if something really did happen to him but she could at least hold down the home front.

By the time hour three rolled around she had actually started to doze off despite her worry. Noise from the direction of the door was enough to put her back into a state of heightened alert though. Logic probably dictated that it was just Mike returning after taking far too long to find cold medicine. If there was one thing that Mike Munroe was known for in high school it wasn’t his decisiveness or quickness to confront things, but he wasn’t that guy anymore. After what happened on Mount Washington he had nothing to prove to anyone least of all her. Still the possibility of him running late was much more likely than something happening to him. None of that stopped her from raising the gun in her hand and pointing it in the direction of the door though. The look on his face would have been cute had she not been holding a gun on him.

“Nice to see you too Annie Oakley,” he said with a wry smile once he regained his wits.

“Three fucking hours Mike,” she said relaxing her stance. “I sent you to get cold medicine.”

“Yeah well,” he said rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “I thought you might want some food and then it all kind of spiraled downhill from there.”

“You didn’t tell me people in the organic foods aisle could be so judgmental,” he continued.

“You didn’t actually buy anything did you,” she said.

“Well,” he said holding up the bags she hadn’t noticed before. “It’s not all for you.”

“Mike you don’t know anything about vegan food,” she said cautiously.

“Well we’ve been dating for over a year,” he said. “I made logical guesses.”

“That doesn’t instill me with a lot of confidence,” she said. “Did you at least actually get the cold medicine?”

“Mission accomplished,” he said tossing the bottle in her direction.

“If only you hadn’t decided to go on so many side quests,” she muttered to herself before getting up to pour a glass of water.

“Why were you camping in front of the door anyways,” he said following close behind her.

“Three hours without calling or texting Mike,” she said. “I was worried about you.”

“I wanted to surprise you,” he said.

“Surprise me with food I didn’t even want,” she questioned as she popped a pair of pills and downed the water.

“Yes,” he said sounding unsure. “It’s the thought that counts anyways right?”

“Not when we have a very limited budget as it is,” she said.

“Thank you though,” she said after a beat.

“Anytime,” he said moving to pick her up bridal style. “Now I think it’s time you got back in bed.”

“You shouldn’t overwork yourself when you don’t have to,” he added.

“I think I fell asleep waiting for you anyways,” she said just reveling in the fact that he was home and he was safe.

“How did the article go,” he asked as they made their way upstairs.

“It’s finished,” she said.

“I’m sure you knocked it out of the park like usual Sammy,” he said.

A few moments later found her back in bed, this time with the company she had been craving throughout the day. Whatever else Mike bought at the store that he thought she’d like would have to remain a mystery for the time being. Perhaps he somehow got lucky and actually got something that she wanted, but she wasn’t going to get her hopes up. If worst came to worst she could talk Mike into eating most of it and throw whatever remained away. At the end of the day he was trying and she couldn’t fault him for that. What happened on Mount Washington was horrible, the kind of experience that no one should ever have to go through, but it had introduced her to this Mike, the selfless and compassionate guy who wouldn’t let anything happen to those he cared about. For better or worse that night on Mount Washington brought them to this moment and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Chapter Text

Emily leaned back against the brick wall that had been supporting her weight almost singlehandedly for the better part of an hour. She was at the very back of a large group of people surrounding a small podium and she liked it that way. Initially she had tried to give the appearance that she cared about the event she was attending and pay attention, but by now the cigarette in her hand was far more enjoyable than whatever political jargon that Washington's newest State Senator was spouting during his victory lap. Jessica had come with her, partly because she had been the one to convince her to show up in the first place and partly because since everything that went down on Mount Washington they seemed to be spending much of their free time together, not that she was complaining. Jessica was nowhere to be found now though and she was resigned to waiting until they met back up at her car to see her again. She took a quick drag and sighed, he was still talking.

Another twenty minutes and his speech was finally wrapping up. They brought his new fiancé out to the podium and had her stand at his side, the perfect image of a power couple ready to take the political world by storm. A look of determination and calm professionalism dominated her features but Emily could tell that beneath it all she was nervous. Fake smiles were plastered on, pictures for the newspapers were taken, and Emily found her cigarette dwindling down to nothing. She flicked it to the side and leaned back further into the wall. A few more quick photographs and the people of the hour exited the stage. The crowd began to disperse and Emily found herself relaxing, it was almost over. She stuck her hands into her jacket pockets, felt for the knife she kept on her right side, closed her eyes, and began counting backwards from fifty.

“There you are,” Jessica’s voice disrupted her calm at 35.

“I’m in the same place I was when you left me,” she said not bothering to open her eyes.

“I didn’t leave you,” Jessica said. “It’s just, someone had a dog.”

“Right,” she said. “You’re the one that wanted to be here and you didn’t even watch.”

“I watched,” Jessica said. “And regardless of what either of us wanted we needed to be here as a show of support.”

“I would have been fine with just hitting the after party,” she said.

“It’s not every day someone you know gets elected to political office,” Jessica said. “What do you think it would have said to Mike and Sam if we only made the after party.”

“That we’re happy for them, but want to use the opportunity to have fun too,” she said. “That’s how it works Jess.”

“I’m sure Chris and Ashley were here somewhere,” Jessica said. “Matt too.”

“And,” she questioned.

“And I shouldn’t have ran off on you like that,” Jessica said resigned. “Clearly you didn’t have a good time without me.”

“Crowds and political speeches are two of my least favorite things so yes the whole event took a nosedive without you,” she said.

“Right of course, you said that before,” Jessica said.

“Don’t blame yourself,” she said. “Though I will certainly blame you for dragging me here in the first place.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better,” Jessica said.

“Only if you have something to feel bad about,” she said smirking. “Now, how about we make it to that after party before the political bigwigs get there and ruin it.”

Mike and Sam’s apartment wasn’t exactly the kind of place one expected a decently sized party featuring the state’s political elite to be held, but this wasn’t the kind of party where people stuck around long and Mike and Sam were far from the typical political class in any case. Red brick, which was becoming all too familiar to Emily this day, surrounded a sturdy wooden door that may have been mahogany. A similarly sized building with peeling white siding stood on the right side as she approached it and a smaller one with a lot of front window space that may have once been a storefront adorned the left. She had seen the scene multiple times before of course, the first being the day they bought it, but rechecking one’s surroundings to make sure that nothing sinister was going on was a survival skill that she figured more people should develop without the help of a crazed friend and urban legends come to life.

A quick ring of the doorbell and Mike, dressed in a suit and tie that didn’t look entirely out of place on him, motioned them in. The inside of their place was simple enough, carpeted floors and white walls. A set of stairs heading up sat to the right of the door and a main hallway that led off to the majority of the lower floor’s rooms was just left of that. There were a couple of unfamiliar, similarly well-dressed, people nursing drinks in the hallway itself but for the most part it was empty. The majority of the party’s “guests” as it was were congregated in the kitchen and adjoining dining room where the food and drinks were. Chris and Ashley arrived shortly after them with Matt also making an appearance after an hour. She made friendly conversation with them and tried not to be too much of a bitch to Matt’s new girlfriend with limited success on both fronts. Someone introducing themselves as Mike’s campaign manager made several haphazard attempts at hitting on her which she politely turned down. Overall it wasn’t that bad considering the majority of the company. Eventually though the party died down and there were only a few stragglers left.

“Look at you Mr. Class President,” she said when she found herself standing next to the man of the hour. “You’ve finally made the big time.”

“Having to pretend that I like people that I actually despise for the majority of my day,” he said. “Can’t say that I completely love it.”

“But you like it just enough to keep coming back which is all that’s really required,” she said. “I didn’t just mean the new job though.”

“Oh,” he said nonchalantly.

“Don’t play dumb with me,” she said. “You know I’m talking about you and Sam.”

“Oh yeah,” he said with a hint of nervousness. “I guess things are going well between us.”

“You’re engaged now,” she said a smile breaking out across her face. “I certainly hope so.”

“Why do you have to say that like it’s a big deal,” the nervousness was palpable now. “We’ve already been living together for three years.”

“Are you trying to convince me or yourself,” she said smirking.

“You of all people should know that I don’t have the best history with commitment,” he said. “I didn’t even want them to bring it up at the event today but they said it would help my continued appeal or something stupid like that.”

“I of all people also know that Sam’s different for you though,” she said. “You love her and she loves you so it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“I never thought I’d see the day where Mike Monroe settled down to the quiet suburban life, but now that it’s here it’s a good look on you,” she continued.

“You’re not doing too bad yourself,” he said indicating Jessica and she knew immediately what he was implying.

“It’s not like that,” she said.

“Look,” he said downing the drink in his hand that she hadn’t noticed before now. “I know you’ve never had a girlfriend before or even really a girlfriend for that matter, but that doesn’t mean you have to be afraid of it happening.”

“Just something to think about,” he added before moving to talk to someone else on the far side of the room she didn’t recognize.

He was going to make an excellent politician with that kind of smooth talk, not that she was surprised. Three years removed from the events that could have easily resulted in all of their deaths on a frozen mountain top never to be found again and he had his life together better than he had had it before they went to the mountain in the first place. By comparison her life both personally and professionally was nowhere near where she wanted it to be. She longed for the control of her life that she had once enjoyed. A 4.0 GPA and a clear idea of what she wanted to do with it made it so that she could enjoy her last year of high school as much as she wanted to without feeling the weight of an approaching college education. She could still apply to any college she wanted to now and get in, but something about it just didn’t feel right anymore. Whatever was going on with Jessica meant that her personal life wasn’t faring much better. She had known from the beginning that what she and Mike had had wasn’t the kind of thing that would last and that what she had had with Matt wasn’t much different, but both had been fun while they lasted. She didn’t have a good track record with commitment either and she was afraid that if she gave it a try she might screw it up. That probably made her a hypocrite after everything she had just said to Mike, but she had always been better at dealing with other people’s lives than her own.

It was just like on the mountain all over again, Mike and Sam were taking whatever life threw at them in stride and becoming leaders while the rest of them were all scrambling around like chickens with their heads cut off. She made her way outside and fumbled with another cigarette, it was all too much to think about at once and she needed something to calm herself down. She took a drag, closed her eyes, and tried the number counting thing again. A tap on her shoulder that turned out to be Jessica pulled her out and she mindlessly passed the pack from her jacket into her waiting hands before returning to what she had been doing. She didn’t know what the future held for her, in fact the possibilities scared her more than the nightmares that visited her every night. Mike and Sam were getting their shit together and she had once been the kind of person that would have sprung into action to match or outdo them just because she could. She wasn’t that person anymore, wasn’t sure who she was at this point, but for now she was content with the cigarette in her hand, the numbers in her head, and the person next to her. Maybe that was enough.

Chapter Text

The grey walls and ancient furniture of her therapist’s office never felt very welcoming.

“And what about Josh Washington,” her therapist said in an overly prodding tone.

“What about him,” Sam responded defiantly.

“You’ve certainly put a lot of thought into this Wendigo story,” it wasn’t any secret as to where she stood on the validity of said story. “And yet you’ve given me very little to go on about where Josh fits into the whole ordeal.”

“Josh was grieving his sisters and picked a shitty way of dealing with it,” Sam said. “If it wasn’t for your profession failing him in the first place maybe we would have never even ended up back on that mountain.”

“I see,” she said quickly writing something down. “And your relationship with him was?”

“None of your business,” Sam replied defensively. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Well, it seems he carried a certain fondness for you,” she said. “Was it reciprocal?”

“We were friends,” Sam gritted her teeth. “Nothing more, nothing less.”

“It seems he wasn’t content with being just friends,” she continued to prod. “Even in the midst of his mania he deferred special treatment to you.”

“So what,” Sam said.

“And what about the fact that you ended up being the one to kill him,” her therapist droned on. “And saved Mike in the process.”

“I wasn’t going to just let him kill him,” Sam said.

“No, of course you weren’t,” she wrote something else down. “How is Mike by the way?”

“Good,” Sam replied as genuinely as she could muster.

“That’s good,” somehow Sam didn’t think she actually cared. “You two live together now?”

“Yes,” Sam replied.

“And you’re planning on getting married,” the questions continued.

“Eventually,” Sam said shyly.

“Interesting,” something else was jotted down. “And you don’t think that your avoidance of most things pertaining to Josh during your ordeal has anything to do with with that.”

“No, I don’t,” Sam said.

“Here’s what I think,” the only saving grace in this was that this meant that the conversation was almost over. “I don’t think you’ve come to terms with what happened between you and Josh on that mountain or what happened between you and Josh that led up to that and I think you’re using this Wendigo story as an excuse to avoid dealing with it.”

“Fuck you,” Sam said unable to hold back her anger any longer and stormed out.

That was it. She wasn’t ever going back. She could deal with her therapist not taking her description of everything having to do with the Wendigo at face value. The police didn’t even believe her and they had access to the “crime scene” as it were. No, she could understand that, it wasn’t the kind of thing that she’d take at face value either if she hadn’t lived it. She could even deal with the condescending attitude as long as some sort of helpful advice followed. She’d be lying if she said that some of her therapist’s advice about letting go and not dwelling on the past wasn’t part of the reason she was mostly functional so soon after the ordeal. She wasn’t going to sit there and listen to someone who didn’t even know a fraction of what she thought she did try to paint her as if she was somehow responsible for Josh’s behavior that night though. He was responsible for his own behavior just like they were responsible for their own behavior on the night his sisters died. Beyond that the blame clearly laid with his own therapists long before it came anywhere near her.

She made her way back home on foot, she still didn’t trust herself to drive. Luckily the apartment that she and Mike picked was within walking distance of most of the amenities that they needed to feel comfortable. The therapist’s office was slightly further away but she was used to hiking trails that were miles long so the flat sidewalks of the city were nothing. If she was really in the mood to get home fast she could even break out into a run and save herself from having to run the treadmill at the gym later, but then she wouldn’t get to enjoy her surroundings as much. There was nothing more calming to her than fresh air and the ambient sounds of the world even if the sounds that echoed throughout the city weren’t the same ones she’d hear on one of her trails. By the time she was standing in front of their door, fishing in one of her jacket pockets for her key, she wasn’t even thinking about the therapist or her assuming words anymore. She made her way up to bed and tried to will her mind into shutting off until Mike got home from his campaign meeting. As she laid her head down though images that she had happily been keeping buried since that day on the mountain began flashing into her mind.

It was cold and dark, two adjectives beyond all of the horrifying things that happened to them that she would use to unequivocally describe their time on Mount Washington. Mike was leading her back towards the sanitorium and mines in an attempt to locate Josh and retrieve the key to the ski lift so that they could get off the mountain without having to wait for outside help that might never come. He was quiet, marching along without so much as a word of conversation, and she couldn’t say that she blamed him. He had just been moments away from cracking under the pressure of leadership and sentencing Emily to an early grave based solely on his own fear. She didn’t want to think about what would have happened if she hadn’t decided to step in and talk him down. She wasn’t feeling very talkative herself as her apprehension about leaving Emily and Ashley together with only Chris to separate them if things got heated combined with her anxiety about what was going to happen when they eventually found Josh created a cocktail of emotional turmoil that only made the gun in her hand feel heavier.

It was only when they set foot on the grounds of the old and ominous looking sanitorium that Mike began filling her in on his first experience within its walls. He told her about almost having to amputate his fingers and he told her about making friends with a certain wolf that was prowling the grounds. They made their way through the crumbling interior trying to find any evidence as to where Josh went, hoping to avoid the mines if they could. It wasn’t long before they reached a central courtyard that had probably once been used as a recreational area for the patients that spent their lives there. It was the very definition of outside without actually being outside. It was open air for one thing with all the benches and stone walkways framed by plants that were heavily overgrown these days to create the illusion that one was in any number of city parks. It was in this place that had been designed with creating a false sense of security in mind that Josh made his move. Maybe he had been following them the whole time. Maybe they had just stumbled into his hiding place. She could never be sure. The only thing that mattered in the end was that when they got there he decided that it was time to attack.

A 2x4 quickly found purchase on the back of Mike’s head and he went down hard. Before she even had time to react the gun was knocked out of her hand with another swing that could have broken a few fingers if it had hit any lower. Mike wasn’t out but he was woozy and he wasn’t moving quickly to get up. The look on Josh’s face when he saw this was one of animalistic joy as he moved to mount him like an MMA fighter. Her hands were still vibrating from the force of the blow that knocked the gun away but she charged forward to knock him off without thought. If she had been thinking she might have been able to tap into her own MMA skills in order to turn the tide in the fight and put Josh on the ropes. Josh may have watched a lot of MMA fights in his day, enough to pick up something, but she had actually trained at a gym for self defense and should have easily been able to put a stop to the whole thing before it even started. Needless to say her mindless charge into the fray was not the way to go and he easily saw it coming. An elbow to the side of the head was enough to send her into her own delirious state as he quickly began raining punches down on a defenseless Mike.

The words were muffled by the ringing in her ears as she struggled to get up but she still heard them clear enough, “You two think you’re so smart.”

“This is my mountain,” his pontificating continued. “And you’re not leaving my mountain unless I want you to.”

“Did you think you could just get away with murdering my sisters and go about your lives as if nothing happened,” the punches continued to rain down. “Of course you did because you only care about yourselves.”

“None of you cared about them while they were alive,” he sneered. “Why would you care about them when they were dead?”

“That’s my fault,” he said. “I thought too highly of you and you couldn’t even bring yourselves to check if I was okay after everything happened.”

“That’s not true,” she fought to get out through the haze clouding her vision.

“No, no, no, no, no,” he quickly said. “You don’t get to do that.”

“You don’t get to act like you were my friend,” he continued. “Because no matter how much I loved you Sam, you still only ever saw me as someone to be pitied.”

“That’s not true,” she repeated clearer as she started crawling towards the gun.

“I didn’t need your pity then,” he acted as if he didn’t hear her. “And I sure as hell don’t need it now.”

“Is this who does it for you now Sam,” he returned his attention to Mike. “Some wannabe tough guy who’s too afraid of who he really is to actually act like he gives a damn about anything other than himself.”

“He does have a nice face,” he said with a sickening smile. “Won’t be so nice when I’m done with it though.”

It was at this moment that a wolf shot from one of the upper balconies on the wall and sunk its teeth deep into Josh’s arm. Mike hadn’t been lying about that. Josh tried desperately to kick the creature off of him or at the very least loosen its grip. She knew that this was her best opportunity to grab the gun and put a stop to this whole charade once and for all. She crawled her way over to where the weapon had landed as her vision slowly returned to normal. By the time she actually had her hands on it the wolf was nowhere to be found and Josh was back to raining punches down on Mike. She fought with all her strength to bring herself into a standing position and aimed the gun at the man who had once been someone she considered her best friend.

“I know you’re not going to shoot me Sam,” he said. “That’s not who you are.”

“So why don’t you just let me finish off Magic Mike here and then we’ll get around to the main event,” she didn’t even want to know what he meant by that.

“That’s where you’re wrong Josh,” she said. “That isn’t who I was.”

“But you’ve helped me find of a version of myself that’s stronger than I could have ever imagined,” she continued. “And I’m sorry that it took you losing yourself for me to finally find myself, but that’s where we are.”

“It didn’t have to be this way,” and with that she pulled the trigger and put a bullet right through his heart.

He toppled to the floor in a heap and she quickly moved to check on Mike. He was unconscious and his face had certainly seen better days, but he was alive and he was breathing and for the moment that was enough. A brief search of Josh’s pockets yielded the key that they had been searching for and she counted that as a victory even if everything hadn’t turned out the way they had been hoping. She slipped the key into her jacket pocket and slipped the gun into her waistband before moving to carry Mike bridal style. He was heavy and if she could have avoided it she would have gladly never found out just how heavy, but time was ticking and if they didn’t get moving fast they’d be easy prey for the Wendigo and their friends would no doubt put themselves in danger trying to look for them. No, they had to get back to the lodge now, so she tried her best to mentally block the ache developing in her arms in order to focus on the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other. The wolf following behind her was a welcome companion.

When she finally snapped back to reality tears were streaming down her face and Mike was giving her a concerned look.

“I, uh, just got back,” Mike said nervously scratching the back of his head. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Something my therapist said,” she said. “Made me think about what happened with me, you, and Josh.”

“Oh,” he said nervously.

“Could you just hold me for a while,” she said.

“Of course,” he was already moving to lay down next to her.

“You’re okay Sammy,” he whispered in her ear.

“Yeah,” she breathed out. “Yeah I am.”

She wasn’t okay, not really. Maybe she’d never be. Maybe what they went through on Mount Washington was just too fucked up for a normal person to ever fully recover. She was functional though and Mike’s embrace was enough for her to finally start feeling the pull of sleep.

“I love you,” she said maneuvering to get comfortable. “You know that right.”

She felt his heart rate speed up at her declaration.

“I, I,” he briefly tripped over his words. “I love you too.”

A smile lit up her face at that, “Good.”

It was all she could really ask for at this point. It was more than enough.