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All this time I've been afraid

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It was one of the only times that Teacup allowed herself to be scared; as she heard a gunshot ring in the air followed by a sharp, hot pain from her abdomen. Fear flooded through her as she looked down and caught sight of the blood beginning to soak her shirt, her pale skin a contrast to the vibrant colour of the red that began to stain her hands as she pressed them to her wound as a futile attempt to stop the bleeding.

She was aware of how cold it was as she collapsed into the snow, her teeth beginning to chatter. But her thoughts were snatched away from the cold as pain radiated through her body. Teacup had been scared before; during the waves when death had seemed inevitable, always around the corner and ready to strike, she had been scared during Squad 53’s first (and last) mission, when they were racing through the streets dodging bullets and all of those events had one thing in common.  Teacup was afraid of death. No, she was more than scared; she was terrified of it.

And here she was, dying alone in the snow.

With most of her remaining strength, Teacup shifted so that she was curled into a ball. She could see the snow shifting colour beneath her, tears stinging her cheeks as she bit down on her tongue and held back a scream as pain pulsed. She found herself pushing any notion of dying out of her head on instinct. Those were bad thoughts and Ringer always told her not to have bad thoughts, that it would make them soft and if they were soft then they died, but that didn't mean anything anymore. She hadn't had bad thoughts, she hadn't gone soft, but she was still dying and so she stopped pushing the thoughts away and welcomed them. She tried to comfort herself with the thought that if she died then she would be with her mother and her sister again. But that was overshadowed by another thought. What if she didn't see them again? What if there was nothing after death? Cold. Teacup was cold; the snow was melting around her, making her clothes wet. Her thoughts were everywhere. She couldn't focus.

Was Ringer okay? There hadn't been another shot since the one that had hit Teacup, so she guessed so. But whoever had shot her was still out there and what if they stumbled across Ringer and did the same to her as they had to Teacup? The squad needed Ringer. She was their best shot, she was able to keep her calm when everything went to shit. They would miss her way more than they would miss Teacup. She had really tried during training, appearing tough. But it turned out when she was placed in the firing line, she couldn't handle it. Teacup found herself wishing that she was more like Ringer. 

Ringer, who Teacup completely idolised. If anyone deserved to live through this, through the terror of the Others, it was Ringer. She was the best of them all, the glue holding the squad together. It had been her who had helped them rise up the leader board during training, allowing them to go out on their first mission. Although now, Teacup wasn't exactly sure if that was a good or bad thing. She remembered their disastrous game of chess, ending up in a burning cheek and tear filled eyes for Teacup and then a discussion about the rats after the tension between them had dissipated.

The rats.

They had driven Teacup crazy every night with their chewing and scratching at the walls. At least she was dying in silence, away from the damned hotel and the vermin that had made the stay there worse than it already was.

No. It wasn’t silent; someone was coming. Snow and brittle leaves crunching under boots.

She turned her head.

It was Ringer, kneeling beside her and speaking in a whisper.

Alongside the pain now was a feeling of relief. At least Teacup wasn’t going to die alone.