Mary shook slightly as he stared at his reflection. He slowly lifted his hand to his face, pressing his fingers gently against his cheek. There was a sort of buzzing beneath his skin, something static crawling inside of him as he looked at himself in the mirror. The teen blinked and for a moment he was back in 1955 watching as lightning struck Doc down. Watching as Doc fell to the ground and never got up. Marty furiously shook his head, willing those thoughts away. Doc was alive. He was safe and alive and Marty didn't need to worry at all.
A sharp knock startled Marty away from the sink and he looked at the door in worry. Silence stretched for a few moments until Marty heard his mother's voice drift through the door.
"Marty? You alright, sweetie?" Marty let out a sigh of relief, slumping slightly. He wrapped his arms around himself and walked towards the bathroom door. He shoved down at the buzzing under his skin, doing his best to ignore it.
He could do this. He would be fine.
Emmett watched as Marty shuffled around the garage, eyes downcast. The teen had been distant for a while now, ever since Marty had returned from that awful 1985. Emmett knew that this past week had been stressful for the teen but Marty seemed to have taken things pretty well. Still Emmett watched as Marty wandered aimlessly, randomly touching a few of the inventions scattered around the garage.
"Marty?" The teen snapped his head up, turning towards Emmett with a blank gaze. Emmett smiled weakly at the teen, inching closer to Marty. He had never seen the teen like this, never seen this sort of emptiness in Marty's eyes.
He finally stood before Marty, looking down at the unnervingly still teen. Marty's blank gaze stayed trained on Emmett's chest, never changing, never blinking. Emmett carefully reached a hand out to the teen, gently resting his hand on the boy's shoulder. There was a brief shock and Emmett suddenly found himself in that horrid alternate 1985. He stood next to Marty, the teen still concerningly still. However, what was more concerning was the scene that acted out before them.
Emmett watched in confusion as another version of himself stalked through a graveyard towards Marty. What was going on? What was this?
The alternate version of himself shoved at the alternate Marty, pushing the boy to the ground. The alternate Marty fell so easily, doing nothing to stop that alternate Doc as the man crawled on top of him.
Emmett watched in horror as the scene played out further. Watched as that alternate Doc pushed into Marty ruthlessly against his father's grave. As that alternate Doc took and took and took and just used Marty like he was a willing hole. Like Marty wasn't sobbing futilely, like Marty wasn't trying to scramble away. Emmett looked down at Marty, wondering if he should do something. If he should tell Marty that he would never do that. If he should tell Marty he was sorry.
Emmett felt a hand slip into his and glanced at the Marty next to him. His Marty. The teen smiled weakly at the man, tears falling down his face.
"I know you would never- that you didn't mean-" Marty sobbed, clenching Emmett's hand tightly. Emmett swiftly wrapped his arms around Marty, pulling the teen to his chest. Marty sobbed, clutching tightly to his Doc as he cried. Everything was okay. Everything was fine. He was fine.
Doc kept his arms firmly wrapped around Marty, eyes clenched shut as that brief shock washed over them again.
They were back in the garage once more, wrapped up in each other's arms as they stood there shaking. Emmett couldn't believe what he just saw. What was that? Where had that awful scene come from?
Was that a memory? Was that Marty's memory?
Doc looked down at the teen again, running his hand through Marty's hair. This poor boy, what had he put him through?
Marty kept his face buried in Doc's chest, trying to regulate his breathing. He hadn't meant for that. Hadn't meant for Doc to see. But he had and Marty knew he needed to explain himself. Explain what he was.
"Doc?" Emmett kept his hand in Marty's hair, pulling back just the slightest bit to look down at the teen. Marty tightened his grip nervously. He never thought he would tell Doc about this, never thought he would talk about this out loud. "I haven't- I didn't tell you the truth."
Doc shook his head, trying to pull Marty back into a hug. They could talk later, when Doc still wasn't reeling over what he had seen. When the need to hold Marty close died down.
"Whatever it is Marty-" Marty sobbed softly, hand coming up to wrap around Doc's neck. He had to tell him. Had to say something before it was too late.
"You died." Marty held his breath, watching Doc's face. He needed the man to know what had happened. What Marty had done for him.
"What?" Emmett stared at the teen in confusion. He knew he had died. He knew that Marty had seen his death in the original timeline but he hadn't thought much of it. Was it still affecting the boy?
"In 1985, you died and I went back." Marty hummed softly, doing his best to calm himself down. He wouldn't get anywhere if he couldn't tell Doc the truth.
"I know that Marty, what are you-" Emmett was more confused than ever. He knew this. He'd known about this since 1955 after Marty's letter. Why was Marty telling him this now?
"You died in 1955 too, I watched you die on City Hall's steps. In 2015 you were shot again and I lost you. And in Biff's-" Marty bit back a sob as he tried to tell Doc everything. Tried to tell Doc all that Marty had been through. "I thought you were dead. I've seen you die so many times."
"Marty?" Emmett wasn't sure what to think. He had died, he was supposed to die and he had always known that. His death at the hands of those Libyans had been erased from every history but Marty's. But now, knowing that his death had come so many times and each time Marty had stopped it was jarring.
Marty shivered against him and Doc wrapped his arms tighter around the boy. This teen was his saving grace, the only person who had ensured that Emmett Brown lived throughout all of time. Emmett pressed a gentle kiss to the teen's forehead and Marty felt some of his courage return to him. He could do this. He could tell Doc the truth.
"I kept going back. I would bury you and go back and pretend like nothing changed. Like you were still here." Another sob tried to force its way out of Marty's throat and he shoved away at his emotions. He wouldn't break down again. He had promised himself that he would never let his emotions get the best of him. Not ever again.
Emmett could feel Marty shaking in his arms and gently tilted the boy's head up once more. He needed to know. Needed to know how many times Marty had changed history.
"How many times have you gone back Marty?" Emmett smiled weakly at the teen. He could see how much just talking about this was taking a toll on Marty but he had to know. He needed to know how much Marty had saved him. How many times Marty had defied time itself for him. "I need to know how many times you went back Marty. Please try and remember."
"I don't know. Twelve times?" Marty ignored the sharp intake of breath Doc gave, trying to focus on not falling apart in the man's arms. All this talk of Doc's death was too much. Doc was alive. He was here and alive and that's all that mattered. Whatever Marty had to do to make sure of that didn't matter. "I- I had to save you Doc."
Emmett fought off the headache that lapped at his heels. Twelve times. Marty had gone back twelve times for him. Defied the fabric of reality for him. Emmett wondered if he should be worried about the effort at which the universe wanted him dead. But right now he was more worried about the teen who had traveled through time far more than Doc had ever thought to measure. Who knows what could have happened to Marty? And all for a selfish old man who didn't even think about what he was putting the teen through.
"Thank you Marty, thank you so much. But-" He could see the fight rise up in Marty. The teen ready to avenge him still, despite the toll it could take on him. Emmett warmed lightly at that protectiveness from Marty but it was banked by the knowledge that Marty could seriously damage himself and the timeline if he kept doing this. There was no knowing what could and would happen if Marty continued to time travel. "But you can't go back, not anymore. No matter what."
"But-" Marty balked at the idea of stopping now. How could Doc even suggest that? Marty had to go back. No matter what, no matter when. If it would save Doc's life then he would do it in a heartbeat.
"No matter what." Doc frowned at him and Marty would fight to the ends of the earth, even against Doc if it kept the man safe. "Marty, please. If you go back anymore you could get hurt."
"I can't- I don't-" He wouldn't let this happen. He would save Doc every time. Keep time from taking the one person that mattered most to him.
"Please Marty. I just want you to stay safe. We can't travel again, I won't let you get hurt anymore." Emmett knew when to concede as did Marty. They would stop, for now. Neither wanted to fight and to argue over that safety of each other was pointless. Emmett knew he would need to do everything in his power to repay Marty for all that he had done. For making sure that Emmett Brown lived to make it to the next timeline. He would make life perfect for the teen.
Marty stood before his mirror again, staring at his reflection. The buzzing was still there, still crawling beneath his skin like some sort of parasite. It was more intense than before, churning and swirling and Marty nearly gasped as that buzzing streaked across his vision in a wash of gold. He could almost make out something in the golden buzzing, something moving. He tried to focus on the image and fell back as the buzzing slammed into him again. It engulfed him, swallowed him whole and Marty let the buzzing take hold of him.
He didn't know where he was. It was so bright and warm and Marty wanted to let himself be cradled by that comforting feeling. But something tingled in the back of his mind and the teen forced himself away from that warmth.
He was inside that buzzing feeling somehow, surrounded by gold and warmth. Marty wondered if he should be afraid, if he should feel something other than an empty contentment but it was just so warm.
The buzzing cradled him, whispered to the teen about time and space and everything he could ever think of. Marty let himself drift along the buzzing, let it hold him close and invade every part of him. It just wanted someone. Someone to consume, to become.
Marty wondered if this was his death. If everything had finally caught up to him and time wanted to write him out of existence.
The buzzing receded finally and Marty felt himself fall back into his bathroom. It wasn't gone, not by any means. Marty could still feel the warmth and buzzing blooming throughout his whole body. Still feel it inside of him, merging with him. That soft warmth had found a home in him and Marty smiled.
Time had found a new host.