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When My Fist Clenches, Crack It Open

Chapter Text

David wakes up.

Everything is wrong.

He went to sleep warm in Syd's embrace, but-- Now he's cold. Alone. His body hurts all over, sore down to the bone. There's noise in his head and there's something-- Wet on his skin, sticky as it dries. His throat hurts, like he's been screaming, but he doesn't--

Was it a nightmare? He can't remember. He was with Syd and Amahl and now--

He cracks open his eyes. It's hard to focus, even his eyes hurt. But the familiar lab swims into view. Where's Amahl? He needs Amahl.

He rubs at his face and then-- Stares at his hand. It's covered in blood.

He looks down at himself. He's covered in blood. He's still naked, he's--

He looks for Amahl, for Melanie, for-- Syd. Syd's in the bed beside him, asleep. But whatever relief he feels is immediately erased.

He's in a cot, not his bed. And the two beds there are-- Instead of Amahl and Melanie there's-- Two men in them, asleep, with-- Things on their heads. One of them is an older man he doesn't recognize at all. And the other--

He rubs his eyes again. He must be seeing things. Is that--

"David?" Syd says, sleepily. She looks at him and-- Her eyes go wide. She sits up, looks around, sees-- The other David in the bed behind her. Turns back to him. 'That's not David.'

"Syd?" David says, voice shaky and rough. He pulls the blanket up from the bed and wraps it around himself. "Where's-- Where's Dad? Where's-- What’s happening?"

He struggles to his feet and nearly falls down. What happened to him? He feels awful, like every cell in his body is bruised. Amahl has to be here somewhere. Where is he?

"You know who I am?" Syd asks him. 'He's so young. Could he be-- From the past?'

David turns back to her, baffled. "Of course I— Syd, where's Dad? Where's Melanie?"

"Melanie?" Syd echoes. 'He knows Melanie?'

David steps back from her, bewildered. "This is a nightmare," he tells himself, willing himself to wake up. "It's just a nightmare." He has to wake up. He just has to wake up and-- Everything will go back to normal.

But he's not waking up.

He turns to Syd, but she's at the older man's side now, doing something to the thing on his head. Then she shakes him. 'Oliver, wake up. Please.' She sounds afraid.

And then David realizes-- He didn't see her lips move. Not for half of what she said.

"No," he gasps, staggering back until he hits the wall. He clutches at his head. "No!" They're not his powers, he's not a mutant.

A nightmare, this is a nightmare, it has to be a nightmare.

“David, stay calm,” Syd says, back with him again. 'Where's Kerry? Why hasn't anyone come? They have to be seeing this.'

The older man -- Oliver? -- stirs, sits up, stretches. He looks around, and his eyebrows rise high. "Two Davids," he says, as if he's been presented with a mildly difficult crossword puzzle. "How interesting."

"He knows Melanie," Syd tells Oliver.

"Melanie," Oliver says, and that seems to matter to him. He gives David a curious look and gets out of bed.

"Stay back," David warns them, holding up the hand he's not using to clutch the blanket. "Amahl! Melanie!"

'Amahl? Jesus, what did Farouk do?' Syd says it, but-- It's a thought in David's head. From powers he shouldn't have.

He needs Amahl. "Syd, where is he?" David pleads.

The lab door opens, startling David because-- There's no beep from the card lock. And then-- More people, a man and a woman and--

"Amy?" David says, stunned.

"Oh god," Amy says, and covers her mouth in shock. "David?"

"Why are you here?" David says, loud and angry. She shouldn't be here, he never wants to see her again.

There's too many people in the lab. None of them are supposed to be here except Syd. They're going to ruin Amahl's work. Maybe-- He has to stop them, like he-- Tried to stop Syd? No, no, that-- That was wrong--

"Amahl!" he calls again, desperate. This can't go on. Amahl has to come back or David has to wake up or-- Something has to save him. He can't save himself.

There's a rattling sound, and everyone looks to see-- Objects in the room are starting to shake. The woman rushes over and grabs-- His rocket lamp? How did that get here? He hasn't seen it in years. No, the colors are wrong-- And it’s in pieces—

"Not good," says the man. "Amy? Syd?"

"David," Syd says, and takes a step closer. "You have to stay calm. You don't want to hurt anyone, right?"

"It's not me," David says, pleading for her to understand. "It's the monster. It's back."

"The blood," Syd says. "Are you hurt? Just-- Let me see, okay?"

It's Syd, David should trust her, but-- She seems different. And nothing is right. He backs away from her, but that pushes him closer to--

The other David. He's still asleep. Now that David's closer, he can see-- This David is older. David grabs his leg, shakes him, but he doesn't wake up.

Amy looks older, too. Is he-- Did something go wrong? Was he in a coma again? Is he old, too? He touches his face but he can't tell. Wait, Syd’s still the same age--

"David," says the man, in a soothing tone. "I know-- Things are really confusing right now. We're confused, too. But we can help you. Just-- Tell us what you need."

"I need Amahl," David says, angrily. The rattling had started to ease, but it flares up again. "What did you do to him?"

"Amahl Farouk?" the man asks.

"Of course Amahl Farouk!" David says. "This is his lab, you're not supposed to be here!"

He has to run. He has to get away from these people before they ruin everything. Maybe-- No, not the bathroom—

There's no lock on the lab door. He could-- He could run? But what if this is another test? What if he fails again? He can't fail again, not after-- He'll never be Joonam if he keeps failing.

"Who is he?" he demands, pointing at the other David. "Why won't he wake up?"

"He needs help to wake up," Syd explains. "If you let me, I can help him and then-- You can talk to him." She slowly steps closer.

It feels like a trick. "No," he says. "No, don't touch him. Stay away!"

"Shoulda put a remote control on that thing," the woman mutters.

"David," Amy says, stepping closer. "We're looking for Amahl, too. That's where we were just now. Trying to find him. Because-- He took some friends of ours, some very good friends, and we need to get them back."

"Why are you here?" David asks. It hurts just to look at her, she hates him, she shouldn't be here.

"I don't hate you, David," Amy says, worried. "Why would you think that?"

"How did you hear that?" David asks, alarmed. The shaking gets louder, more urgent. "Are you doing this? Make it stop!"

"David, you're doing it, with your powers," Syd says. 'Could he be from after the amnesia?' "Do you know about your powers?"

"I don’t have powers!" David tells her. She knows this, she should know all of this.

The noise in his head keeps getting louder. There's so much fear around him, anger and violent thoughts. He clutches at his head but he can't make it stop. He feels like he's falling apart. He puts his hand over his heart. "I'm safe with Amahl, I'm safe with Amahl, I'm safe with Amahl," he chants, but without Amahl there-- He's not safe at all.

Amy and Syd are too close. He has to get away. He inches along the wall until he's around the bed and then--

"Catch him!" Syd shouts.

David's halfway to the door when someone grabs him. It's the man and he's weirdly strong. He pins David down, and then Amy’s on him, too. Why is she so strong?! David flails wildly, desperately. The blood on his skin is drying, tacky, and that makes it harder for him to get free.

"Get off!" David screams. The air starts to smell like ozone, like the air during a storm. The monster's powers are vibrating under his skin. His heart is racing too fast, frantic with terror.

"He's gonna blow!" someone says. "Oliver, knock him--"

David screams as everything explodes. Everything flies away from him in a huge rush. Electronics spark and light bulbs pop. He whimpers, curls in on himself. The monster—!

And then it stops. He looks up, panting, shaking, stunned. There's a cleared space around him, and then everything else is-- The aftermath of a bomb. The lab is ruined. The only home he has is ruined. There's blood and-- Limbs?! Oh god. And then he realizes--

The blood isn't coming from the limbs. Because they're not human. Amy and the strong man are splayed out on the floor, their robot bodies shattered. The blood is coming from Oliver. He's whole but-- He's hurt.

"No," David says, reaching for him and then pulling back again. He didn't— It was the monster. It was the monster. It’s tricking him, making him see things that aren’t real, making him—Hurt people. Amahl said he killed it, but— It must have tricked him, too.

Fear for Syd finally forces him to his feet. “Syd?” he calls. What if the monster— What if she’s hurt? “Syd! Syd!”

He struggles through the rubble, goes back to where he last saw her. The beds and cots were blown over during the explosion, even-- The one with the other David in it. Is he a robot, too?

“Syd!” There she is, thank god. “Syd, I’m here. Wake up, please wake up!”

He kneels down beside her and touches her cheek. They were just— They were together, in love— And now everything’s ruined. Amahl’s gone, the lab, all his work— Everything David cares about is gone. Except Syd.

“Syd, please,” David begs, stroking her cheek the way she always strokes his. And then her eyes flutter open.

She goes very still. And then she stares up in shock.

“Syd?” David says, worried. “Are you hurt? I didn’t— It’s the monster, it’s back, I don’t— I’m seeing things again. You have to tell me what’s real.”

“What are you?” Syd asks, afraid.

“You hit your head,” David realizes. “Let me see—“

When he tries to turn her head, she pulls away, sits up. “No,” she says, firmly.

“Oh,” David says, and pulls back. “I’m sorry, I know— You’re my doctor, but I thought—“ No. of course— He shouldn't touch her now. They can’t be together when he’s sick.

There’s a groan from the other side of the fallen bed.

“David?” Syd calls, worried, but— She turns away from him. She grabs the bed frame and pulls herself up, looks over it. “David!”

It’s the other David she’s worried about. Not him?

She climbs over and David follows her. The other David is laid out in the floor, but he’s waking up. There’s blood dripping down the sides of his neck, from— A crown?

“Hurts,” the other David moans. “Syd?”

“I’m here,” Syd tells him. “Davids, there’s— Someone’s here. We need your help."

'What's going on?' the other David thinks, his voice noisy in David's head even though he's lying still. 'The lab blew up? Oliver! Amy! Ptonomy! Oh my god, what-- Who-- What the hell?'

There's two of them. Two other Davids in his head, and they sound-- Familiar. And then David realizes--

The monster is back.

"No," David gasps, and pushes back against a fallen cot. "No!" He grabs his head.

"Farouk did this," says-- Divad, low and angry. His voice is outside of David's head now, moving around the room.

"Yeah, no shit," Dvd says. He's outside, too. "We need this crown off yesterday."

"Davids?" Syd calls. "Can you hear me?" 'If Clark sends in soldiers--' "David?"

The other David groans again, then struggles to sit up. Syd reaches for him, then pulls back, letting him sit up on his own. He looks around, dazed. And then--

Their eyes meet.

"It's me," the other David says, shocked.

"Whatdya mean it's--" Dvd's voice cuts off.

"David?" calls Divad's voice, quiet and worried and-- Afraid. 'Oh my god.' His voice gets closer. "David, can you hear me? It's Divad. We're here, okay? We're right here."

"Stay away from me!" David warns. He slaps at where Divad's voice is coming from, but there's nothing there. He stands and stumbles back.

'Not again,' Syd thinks. "We need to keep him calm," she warns. She can hear them, too?

"David," Dvd says, his voice full of emotion. 'God, he looks just like—' "It's Dvd. You can't see us, but-- We just wanna help."

"You're never 'helping' me again," David says, angrily. "Stop trying to trick me! I know what you are!"

There's a pause.

"What do you think we are?" Divad asks, cautiously.

"Masks," David spits. "You're just masks. Like King. You blew everything up and now you're trying to trick me!"

'I'm going to kill Farouk,' Dvd thinks, in David's head. 'I'm going to take a knife and gut him slowly.'

David eyes the door. He has to run. But he can't leave Syd. He grab's Syd's arm and pulls at her.

"David, stop!" Syd orders. "Let me go!"

David falters. He's supposed to do what Syd says, but-- "We have to go!"

"He can touch her skin?" Divad says, astonished. "What the hell is going on?"

"He's not real?" Dvd says, uncertain.


Everyone turns. The woman with the lamp is standing in the doorway, and there's another man beside her, with a huge scar across one side of his face. And there's soldiers behind them, lots of them.

The scarred man presses a button on some gadget he's holding. And then-- The other David staggers as the crown on his head retracts its spikes.

"Oh," the other David breathes, eyes wide, and then--

Divad and Dvd appear. They're older, like the other David is older.

David stumbles away from them, heart racing. "Stay away!" he warns, feeling the power building under his skin again.

A paralyzing force grips him. David struggles but it's so strong. The rubble around him starts to rattle.

"I've got him," Dvd says. "David, the crown!"

"Make it snappy!" Divad calls.

The other David hurries over, as fast as he can. He holds up the crown, but pauses, looking right into David's terrified eyes.

"This better work," says the scarred man.

"This is going to hurt," the other David says, regretful. "I'm sorry."

David struggles, but the other David places the crown on his head. And then the scarred man presses a button, and--

David screams in pain as spikes shoot out of the crown and drive into his skull. He collapses but the force holds him upright. "Amahl," he cries weakly, and then-- He passes out.