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The Lives We Live

Chapter Text

Part of Quentin had been relieved.

 

Seeing the box, seeing the pictures -of him, of Nancy, of Jesse, of all of them -at least proved he wasn’t crazy. That he wasn’t the way he was for no reason.

 

Of course, at the time, it hadn’t really been more than a passing, almost idle thought. Looking at the much larger hands on his much smaller body, it had almost seemed like it had been someone else.

 

But still, the pieces had started to connect. Why he’d had a panic attack in ninth grade when him and Heather Podanski had ended up shoved in a closet together. Why he felt like he was going to puke every time he went in the basement of the high school. Why flower gardens made him feel a rush of disdain.

 

Why he’d always just felt… off . Like he was an outsider in his own body, watching the world drift by him while he passively watched. Almost like he was watching, first person style, someone else living their life.

 

But he’d realized all this in a sort of… almost detached way. Clinical, as his father would probably describe it. Like these were all realizations about somebody else. Not him. Like the pictures in his hands were of some other curly haired preschooler.

 

Because, at that moment, he’d had bigger concerns. He’d come to the realization that Krueger would never stop. That he wasn’t angry they’d lied, but that they’d told the truth. That he wanted his vengeance, and either Quentin or Nancy or both would be dead before too long. That it wouldn’t matter how Nancy or Quentin felt about this new revelation -this new explanation -because they wouldn’t be alive long enough for it to matter.

 

Of course, as it’d turned out… He’d been wrong. He’d lived another three, hellish months afterwards. Months where his clinical detachment had turned to an all-consuming rage against the monster that’d stolen his childhood. As the memories began coming back to him, in small doses, he’d given up on having any sort of normal life.

 

He spent all of his time chewing Concerta and Ritalin, chasing them down with Monsters and Red Bulls, eating just enough to keep him functioning. Searching down any information he could find on lucid dreams, dream mythology, and the world of dreams.

 

 He slept in five minute intervals, setting alarms on his computer, cellphone, and three alarm clocks, passing out in uncomfortable chairs, all to ensure he would wake up again.

 

It’d been too much for Nancy. The loss of her mother, the knowledge of what Krueger had done to them, the lack of sleep… She’d given up three weeks after the disappearance of her mother. She’d called Quentin from some mental hospital upstate, and told him she was done. That she was sorry, but she just couldn’t fight it anymore. She’d sounded completely and utterly broken, wrecked beyond any and all repair. She told him that she’d given up, and if Krueger was going to kill her, so be it. At least it’d be over.

 

As far as Quentin knew… Krueger hadn’t went after her. When the Fog had rolled in, pulling him into this hellish realm, she was still alive.

 

Whether it was because he was more focused on Quentin -who was actively hunting ways to stop him -or because he’d gotten what he wanted, and broken her, Krueger hadn’t bothered her. Quentin had talked to her every week for those three months, and she’d reported no Krueger-infected dreams. That she was still alive.

 

Technically, anyways. He wasn’t sure how ‘alive’ one could be, drugged out of their mind, waiting to die, with everyone thinking they were insane.

 

Of course, if he actually thought about it, Nancy was probably the lucky one. As far as he could tell, Krueger was stuck here, with him forever, unable to touch the real world. So Nancy was safe. The one upside of this whole disaster.

 

Because the rest? The rest was pretty much all downside.

 

Even beyond the Trials, as the other survivors called them, Krueger could still touch his dreams. While he couldn’t physically harm Quentin outside of Trials, that didn’t stop what the other survivors called ‘The Nightmare’ from shaping his dreams into horrific nightmares. Nightmares of that night in the burned out wreckage of Badham preschool. Watching Nancy, and Jesse die, over and over, a thousand different brutal ways.

 

Of the three of them as little kids, locked in ‘the Cave’.

 

To be honest… There were days when Quentin would pull himself awake, wishing that Krueger could just kill him. Missing the morning he’d woken up after the fire, after Krueger had smashed his face, and stabbed him a few times before throwing him into the wall.

 

Because physical pain… Well, it all ended eventually, even in the real world.

 

The mental torture, however… Well, that was a different story.

 

His new found allies -the other survivors trapped in this hellish realm with him -had quickly realized that there were two different Quentins.

 

The Quentin during Trials was a good ally. Always determined to make sure everyone escaped, even if it meant he’d be sacrificed. Able to find the Exit Gates no matter where they were, and able to scrounge the best supplies from the chests scattered throughout the map.

 

Quentin outside of Trials, however… He was awkward, couldn’t concentrate, and more than a bit on edge. Ready to snap if anyone got too close while he wasn’t paying attention.

 

Despite that, he’d still made a few friends. There was Claudette, one of two ‘doctors’ they had. Claudette, who was always smilling, always making sure he was eating and taking care of himself as much as possible. Mother-henning the hell out of him -an odd feeling, seeing as how he’d never really had a mom.

 

There was Bill, the old Vietnam vet, who was always giving him advice, while keeping his distance. Bill, who always stayed a few feet away after an episode, simply giving him a sad little smile, and telling him it’d get easier some day. Out of everyone, he was one of two people who understood that sometimes, Quentin needed the comfort of another body nearby, without actually physically touching him.

 

The other survivor who seemed to understand was Jake. The survivalist didn’t talk much, but the two of them had an understanding, that they were both fucked up, and didn’t want to the others to suffer because of it. They’d developed a system, where they always slept at least a few yards apart at night -far enough that their flailing wouldn’t hurt the other, but close enough that they could throw a rock at the other to wake them up without touching them when the nightmares came.

 

It wasn’t that he hated the other survivors; the one thing they all knew was that they survived together. Survival mentality ran strong through all of them, and they’d become a -slightly dysfunctional -family of sorts. But he couldn’t stand to be near the others for too long, knowing that his temper was going to slip, and he would either say or do something he regretted.

 

Or worse, somebody would finally ask him why Krueger seemed to take such a personal interest in Quentin during the Trials. Why he would wake, screaming, most nights.

 

But it was a fine balancing act. Quentin knew he was nothing on his own. He was the type of guy who was the ‘sidekick’, the ‘side character’ who helped the main character succeed at their goal. He needed people to be useful -to be anything -but he couldn’t stand to be near them for too long.

 

The juggling act had been made a bit easier by the Entity. It’d carved out a chunk of Its Realm as land for the survivors. Either there had been people living there at one point, or the Entity had pulled houses straight from the real world for them. Most of them were stocked with basic amenities, and even a few luxuries. Electricity was -somehow -a thing, and even beyond having lights, a few of the houses had had televisions, and fully stocked movie cabinets, stereos with a vast collection of music. Closets with clothes that always seemed to fit, and a wide array of styles for everyone.

 

Nobody had claimed a solo house. Kate, Meg, and Feng had grouped up together in the two story suburban house a hundred yards from the Campfire. Dwight, Claudette, Tapp, and Jane were in the sprawling ranch style across the clearing from them. Jeff and Adam had claimed the one furthest away from the fire, and Nea and Ace were in the small cabin down by the pond, next to Laurie and David

 

Quentin, Jake, and Bill were the only ones who hadn’t bothered. They’d found tents and sleeping bags that they set up on the opposite side of the clearing from the other houses, at the edge of the tree line. Although they rarely used them; mostly, the three outsiders found themselves falling asleep wherever they happened to be whenever they were tired.

 

And if it happened to be near each other every night, well, it was what it was. Nobody wanted to be alone -even the ones who couldn’t bear to be with others.

 

It was just another thing that was, there in the unending hellish landscape of their new lives. Another thing that just became part of a routine, like dinner at ‘The Adult House’, where Claudette and Dwight made food with whatever the Entity had stocked their cupboards with that day. After food, they’d split off into groups to play cards, or board games; occasionally, they’d skip the games, and go straight for the alcohol, sitting around telling stupid jokes and funny stories of Life Before. 

 

Eventually, everyone would disperse, making their way to their own spots, and bed down for the night, before the dusky, dingy grey sunrise would wake them for the Trials.

 

There was no pattern to the Trials, of course. Some days, it’d be non-stop Trials, all day long. Other times, only three or four. According to Dwight -who’d been the first Survivor -there’d never been less than three. The record for the most was currently sitting at fourteen.

 

Some days, a survivor would go three, or four days without being taken. But sometimes, one survivor would be in back to back Trials all day long. Ace -ever the gambler -had started keeping bets on who would go in, or how many Trials there would be.

 

They never placed bets on who would survive though.

 

Bets were made with whatever small items they had, or for chores. CD’s, jewelry, who had to dishes… any and all were fair game.

 

It was all just a part of their new lives.

Chapter Text

Quentin dragged himself back to the Fire, the gash in his leg causing him to limp heavily, leaving large pools of blood trailing in his wake. He could already feel the skin and muscles trying to knit themselves back together even as he moved, but the asshole had managed to get a clear shot in, leaving a bloody mess the entire length of his thigh, straight to the bone.

 

He sighed, part relief, part exhaustion, as he spotted the blazing light of the Campfire ahead of him. Nobody knew why, but the survivors were always freezing after a trial, and sitting next to the warmth of the constantly burning Campfire for a while was one of the few things all the survivors did.

 

“Quentin! There you are!”

 

He jumped, pulling his gaze away from the Fire, startled at the hand that landed gently on his shoulder. Through the blood dripping down from the gash on his forehead, he could only just make out the general shape of Claudette standing next to him. Seeing his reaction, she’d pulled her hands back, giving him an apologetic smile, her face concerned.

 

“Sorry, I just… You look awful,” She said quietly, taking a step towards him. Her hands wavered uncertainly, dipping towards his leg before moving back towards his face, then back again.

 

He moved a step back, blocking her hands as she seemed to settle on the wound on his face. “M’fine. No big deal. Already healing,” He said through clenched teeth, trying to ignore the sensation of his jaw bone setting itself.

 

“Quentin, it looks like somebody smashed your face in,” She said patiently, folding her arms across her chest. “C’mon; let’s sit down by the Fire, I’ll take a look.”

 

“Said I’m fine,” He said tiredly. “Got somethin’ for you though,” He added, almost as an after thought. Biting back a groan of pain, he peeled his arm away from his aching ribs, and started digging through his many pockets. Finally, he pulled out his prize: three small prescription bottles, only a little bloody. He peered at the labels, trying to make his eyes focus on the words, before he gave up, and handed all three of them to Claudette. “Vicodin and Penicillin is for the kits. Ritalin’s for me. I got some decent bandages too, but uh…” He grimaced as he pulled the four blood soaked packages from his chest pocket. “Might wanna clean ‘em off first.”

 

Claudette gingerly took the bandages, but Quentin noticed her grip tighten around the three bottles of pills. “Quentin, I -”

 

“Oi! Q! Finally made it out, eh? Took ya long enough, ya bugger!”

 

Quentin groaned silently, David’s booming voice feeling like shards of glass driving into his skull. But he managed a nod as the Englishman approached them, a shit-eating grin on his face.

 

“Good on ya, mate. Ya make the hatch?”

 

“No,” Quentin replied shortly. “Gate. You were three-hooked, right?”

 

David nodded, almost proudly. “Sure was. Meg and Dwight made it back like an hour ago. What took ya?”

 

“Trapper was pissed after Meg kept flashlighting him; the Hatch spawned about twenty feet from the gate, and he just patrolled between ‘em. How ‘bout Dwight and Meg? They make it out?”

 

“Meg did,” Claudette said softly. “Dwight was three-hooked.” Quentin didn’t miss the way her eyes moved back towards the house she shared with her de facto boyfriend, and he figured he wasn’t the only one who’d had a rough go of it due to Meg pissing off the largest of the Killers.

 

“Well, guess it was a draw then. Can I have my pills back?” He asked, holding his hand out towards her. “I wanna go get cleaned off.”

 

“Quentin -”

 

“Please.”

 

She sighed, shaking her head as she handed back one of the bottles. “Fine. But at least come back to my place so I can get you checked out? You can take a shower, and crash on our couch for a few hours. Nobody else has been taken in a few hours, so we’re pretty sure the Trials are done for the day. You could get some sleep before dinner.”

 

His hand tightened on the bottle, the thought of sleep sending a wave of nausea through him. “Said I’m fine,” He muttered, fumbling with the lid on the bottle, before finally cracking it open. He threw back three of the small white pills dry, and recapped the bottle, turning to Daivd. “How’d everybody else do today?” He asked, ignoring Claudettte’s disapproving look.

 

“Not bad. Guess Kate, Bill, Jane, and the peeler had a rough go of it with the Huntress in the hospital; they all got three-hooked, but Tapp managed to make the Hatch. Jake, Feng, Nea an’ Adam all escaped Cow Bell easy on the farm. Guess Laurie danced circles around the Freak at the junkyard,” He added proudly, referring to the Cannibal as most everyone else called him. “Looped him so long, arsehole only got one hook on Ace ‘fore they got all the gens done.”

 

“Good on her,” Quentin said tiredly. He waited until Claudette sighed, moving back towards the Fire, before taking a step closer to David. “Can I borrow your guys’ shower? Wanna get this shit cleaned off without the mother-hen giving me a complete physical.”

 

David grinned, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. Out of all of them, David was the only one who made no allowances for Quentin’s dislike of physical contact. Quentin wasn’t sure whether he appreciated or loathed it.

 

“Sure, mate! Jus’ make sure ya clean up after ya self, yeah? Laurie pitched kittens ‘bout findin’ blood splattered everywhere last time, an’ I ain’t dealin’ with that again,” He said, mock shuddering.

 

Quentin maneuvered himself away from the brawler. “Yeah, sure. No problem. Sorry.” As he started towards the path that lead to David and Laurie’s cabin, he paused, a thought occurring to him as he turned. “David.”

 

“Yeah, mate?”

 

“No Krueger today?”

 

“Nope. Guess the bitch is on the Entity’s shit-list.”

 

Quentin frowned. “How many days has it been?”

 

David shrugged carelessly. “Dunno. Four? Maybe five? Check with Ace or Dwight, they keep track o’ that shite. Been a good minute though, guarantee ya that much at least. Last one I remember was… Think it was Laurie, Kate, Feng, and Claudette ‘gainst him on… Was it the swamp? Pretty sure it was the swamp,” He said thoughtfully. “Why’s it matter?”

 

Quentin didn’t miss the way the older man’s eyes narrowed, almost imperceptibly. For all he tried to pass himself off as a raging idiot, David was a lot smarter than he looked, and observant as hell.

 

“It doesn’t. Just… curious. That’s all,” He said, trying to keep his voice casual. “No worries.”

 

“Oi, Q.”

 

Quentin turned, unable to keep the exhaustion and irritation off his face as he looked at the other man again. “What?”

 

“Didn’t want ta say nothin’ with Mama bear hangin’ ‘round, but uh… well, ya look like shite, mate. Ya sure ya okay?” David asked, his voice low. “I know ya don’t like havin’ Claudy worried ‘bout ya, but Laurie’s home; sure she wouldn’t mind -”

 

“I’m fine,” Quentin interrupted. “I just wanna take a shower, and get the blood off, alright?” He only barely managed to keep himself from snapping.

 

David shrugged. “Alright. Jus’ checkin’. Make sure ya wipe up the blood when ya done, yeah?”

 

Quentin didn’t dignify that with a response, scoffing quietly as he stalked down the path. He returned Feng’s wave as he passed by the Girls’ house, but it was half-hearted at best and he knew it. His head was still pounding, and he couldn’t wait until the pills actually kicked in.

 

How long had he been without sleep now? In a Realm like the Entity’s, it wasn’t like he could die from a lack of sleep, but it seemed like the effects of exhaustion set in faster, hit harder, and lasted longer. Especially with the trials, which -on top of being physically exerting -didn’t follow the normal rules of time.

 

You could go into a trial that took five or six hours, and come out to find only twenty minutes had passed. But you could also go into a twenty minute trial, and find out that half the day was gone when you came out. So guessing how long he’d actually been without sleep was hard to tell, but he knew he was headed for a crash of epic proportions.

 

Shower first. God, just let him get a shower first, and he’d worry about his sleep issues after. Get the blood -both his, and the other survivors’ -off, the sweat, grease and grime that came with every trial, and then he’d decide what to do.

 

Just hold it together a bit longer.

Chapter Text

Laurie heard Quentin walking up the steps to the cabin, the exhausted teenager making more noise than a wounded bear as he tripped and stumbled his way to the door.

 

Since she’d heard him, she was already at the door, pulling it open before he even finished knocking. Helooked startled for half a second, before he pulled it back under control.

 

“Hey, uh… David said… Uh, I could use your shower?” He mumbled, not actually looking at her.

 

She took a step back, motioning for him to come inside.

 

“God, you’re a mess,” She said, wrinkling her nose as he walked by her. “Everything okay?”

 

“M’fine.”

 

Unlike some of the other survivors, she let it go. Clearly, he wasn’t ‘fine’ -even beyond the injuries that were still obviously healing, he looked like he was half a second away from falling over on his face. But she knew better than to push or argue.

 

“Alright,” She said easily. “You know where the bathroom is. Holler if you need anything.”

 

Quentin gave her a muttered reply that she couldn’t quite make out, and stumbled down the hall towards the bathroom. After a few minutes, she heard the shower kick on, and she made her way back towards her chair in front of the fireplace with a sigh.

 

While she hadn’t said anything to the others -even to David, who she shared a bed with - she knew that being in the Entity’s realm was a special type of horror for him. That -like her -he had some sort of personal connection to the killer he’d arrived with, the one they’d taken to calling The Nightmare.

 

The first indication had been the fact that Quentin always called him ‘Krueger’. Other than her brother, The Nightmare was the only other killer to have an actual name beyond what the survivors called them. ‘Krueger’ and ‘Michael’ were the only two that had a name to the evil, rather than a nickname born out of a necessity to call them something.

 

Then there was the fact that Quentin was always a jittery, on-edge mess after a trial with The Nightmare. That he was typically the last one out of the Trial, regardless of who else was with him. That he always had that thousand yard stare after a Trial with The Nightmare.

 

She never pointed it out, to Quentin, or the other survivors; didn’t know if they’d noticed, or put two and two together yet. But she could recognize those signs easily; they described her Trials with her brother, the one the other survivors called ‘The Shape’.

 

She hadn’t done much more than give bare bones basics about Michael to anyone, even David; she hated talking about her relationship with her older brother, the conversations always making her look over her shoulder. Wondering if he was looking at her right then. If he was watching her from behind a tree, or from across the pond.

 

Wondering what his plan was, the next time he found her alone.

 

However… She’d at least found David. The rough brawler had become her lifeline, in this hellish nightmare of reality. He was there to help her after her Trials, to ground her back to reality. To tell her that it was over. She’d made friends with the other survivors, and she knew she had people willing to help her. Whether it was to keep Michael away from her in Trials, or to take her mind off it afterwards, she had people who knew her struggles, and helped her fight her way through them.

 

Quentin was different; he refused help. Hell, he refused to even acknowledge he was suffering, much less let anyone alleviate that suffering. 

 

The others still did their best; Claudette and Dwight always made sure to include him in every conversation going on. Nea and Ace had taught how to play -and cheat -at cards. Feng had taught him the best way to repair the gens, so that -even if you screwed up -they exploded less.

 

But the only people he seemed to be even remotely ‘close’ to were Jake and Bill. Even then, it was more that he tolerated their presence, rather than that they were friends.

 

Which, she supposed, made a certain sort of sense. Bill had seen plenty of shit in his life, things that made the Trials look like just another day compared to the horrors he’d seen serving in Vietnam. He’d told her once that he knew a boy like Quentin. A kid who’d seen too much shit too young to ever be ‘normal’ again. In a way, she supposed, her, Bill, and Quentin were all survivors of their own wars, long before becoming survivors in the Entity’s Realm.

 

And Jake… Nobody was quite sure what Jake’s deal was, other than that he seemed to be half-feral himself. David had told her before that he recognized the signs of ‘good breeding’ as he put it, but that wherever he’d come from, he’d left it behind a long time ago.

 

But the survivalist had taken an interest in Quentin. Or at least, he’d at least acknowledged his existence outside of Trials, which is more than Jake did for most. They’d even developed an odd sort of ritual, always sleeping a few yards from each other. While neither one slept often, and never in one of the houses, when one or the other would eventually fall into a fitful sleep somewhere, the other always ended up nearby.

 

It was something, at least. Dwight -who’d been one of the first Four -said that it was the closest thing to voluntary human interaction he’d seen Jake do since the Four had first arrived.

 

The sound of the shower shutting off pulled her from her thoughts. She waited a few minutes, before she stood, sighing as she stretched a bit, before moving towards the bathroom. Hearing no sounds from inside, she rapped her knuckles on the door.

 

“You need some clothes? I can grab something of David’s if you don’t have any,” She called out, knowing that the idea of what to wear after his shower had probably completely slipped his mind. When she got no response, she knocked again, harder. “Quentin? Hey, Quentin, you still alive in there? Quentin!”

 

Still getting no response, she cautiously pushed the door open. Years of habit had her checking behind the door and out the window, before her eyes located Quentin.

 

“Shit,” She muttered. He was asleep, only a towel wrapped around his waist, slouched on the floor against the cabinet sink. “Quentin? Hey! Quentin!”

 

When the other teenager didn’t move, she cautiously knelt down in front of him, still careful to stay out of range if he suddenly came too swinging. “Quentin?”

 

She couldn’t help the grimace as she noticed the scars: four slashes running from his left shoulder to the other side of his stomach, and another four stab marks over top of them.

 

“Jesus. He really did a number on you, huh,” She said quietly, sitting back across from his sleeping form. She wasn’t entirely sure what she was supposed to do; she’d seen others try to wake Quentin before, and it usually ended with them getting a broken nose or black eye. But letting him sleep, half-naked, slumped over like a corpse in her bathroom wasn’t exactly appealing either. “Dammit, Quentin.”

Chapter Text

“Laurie… Ya can’t be serious, love,” David said, an almost pleading tone in his voice, although it was barely more than a whisper.

 

Laurie arched one eyebrow at him, setting her book down as she looked up at him. “I can’t be?”

 

He sighed as he knelt down in front of the chair she was sitting in, setting a hand on her knees. “Oh, c’mon. It’s… It’s our loo , for chriss’sake. It’s where I shit. An’ now I’ve got two grown-arse men sleepin’ in there,” He complained. “An’ one o’ ‘em is only wearin’ a damned towel! Ya can’t be expectin’ me ta be okay with that.”

 

“Look. Quentin fell asleep in there after his shower. Literally, I heard the shower turn off, and three minutes later, I walked in and he was passed out. When was the last time you’ve seen Quentin sleep, David?”

 

David bowed his head. “I understand that but… Jake ? Laurie… Love, there’s two blokes sleepin’ in my loo, an’ one o’ ‘em’s not even dressed.”

 

“Alright, firstly, I don’t think Jake is actually sleeping. He’s just sitting in there in case Quentin wakes up. Secondly, what exactly did you want me to do? I wasn’t about to try and wake him up; you remember what happened to Meg when she did that?” She didn’t even give David a chance to answer, bowling over his attempts, “And lastly… If it bothers you that much, go and stay with Jeff and Adam’s tonight. Have a guy’s night. Get drunk, play poker. I’ll stay here and keep an eye on things.”

 

David sighed, pulling back to rest on his haunches. “Nah. Nah, I might as well stay, I suppose. If Quentin has one o’ his nightmares, might need me. Like ya said, boyo doesn’t exactly wake up pleasant like.”

 

“Good. Then you can help Jake get him into bed.”

 

“Wait; what bed?” David asked suspiciously.

 

“Our bed.”

 


Quentin opened his eyes, startled to find himself lying on David and Laurie’s bed, wearing just his towel. But after a moment, he sighed, and laid back down, covering his eyes with his arm in embarrassment. He must’ve passed out after his shower, leaving the couple to drag him into their bed.

 

He moved his arm enough to glance out the window, before dropping it again. There wasn’t enough ‘daylight’ in the Entity’s Realm to differentiate anything other than night, and not-quite-night. But his glance told him either he hadn’t slept much more than an hour or so, or he’d slept through the night.

 

And given just how long he’d been avoiding sleep, he was inclined to believe the latter. Meaning David and Laurie had had to find somewhere else to sleep, while he was basically dead to the world in their bed.

 

Perfect.

 

He groaned as he slid his feet over the bed, slowly dragging his body up until he was sitting on the edge, rubbing at the side of his face in an attempt to get rid of the last traces of exhaustion. He looked around the small room for his clothes, and sighed again when he didn’t spot them.

 

“Laurie?” He called out, shoving himself to his feet. “Laurie, did you… Where are my clothes?” When he didn’t get an answer, he growled under his breath as he made his way to the door. “Laurie? David? C’mon guys, this isn’t…”

 

He paused, a familiar sound tickling his ears, just loud enough that he could hear it.

 

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you

 

Three, four, better lock your door.

 

“Fuck,” Quentin swore, slamming the door he’d just opened shut again. “Shit.”

 

He took a deep breath, forcing himself to picture himself, fully dressed. After a moment, he was back safely in his black tee, dark jeans, and sneakers.

 

Five, six, grab your crucifix

 

Seven, eight, can you stay awake?

 

The song was getting louder, and Quentin knew he was out of time. He shot out the window, going straight through the glass, and coming up in a roll on the other side. He barely registered the fact that he was back in the ‘real world’, surrounded by what looked like old industrial buildings.

 

“Nine… Ten… Freddy’s back again. Quentin? Where are you, Quentin?”

 

Krueger’s voice sent a wave of panic through him, but he didn’t slow down. Part of him knew that it didn’t matter how fast he ran, that Krueger could simply shorten the distance between them with a thought. But he also knew that hiding wasn’t an option either, that Krueger knew exactly where he was at all times.

 

He was fucked either way, and at least running made him feel better than sitting down and waiting for it.

 

“Oh, Quentin… Come on out, Quentin. Let’s play. It’s so boring here. And you… you’ve been awake for a long time, Quentin. You know what that means.

 

Boo .”

 

Quentin pulled up short, scrambling to keep from hitting Krueger full on in the chest as the killer suddenly appeared around the corner from him. His attempts left him falling on his ass, still trying to backpedal away.

 

“Hi.”

 

“Fuck you, asshole!” Quentin screamed, trying to pull himself to his feet.

 

“You know, your generation… You keep saying that, but I’m pretty sure that’s the last thing you want,” Krueger sneered, walking easily to keep pace with him. “I mean… I’m more than willing to take you up on that though.”

 

Quentin grunted as Krueger’s full weight was suddenly on top of him, stopping his movements. He struggled to breath, to stop the panic attack he knew was coming.

 

“This isn’t real,” He spat, struggling to get out from underneath the impossibly heavy Krueger. “None of this is real. You can’t hurt me here.”

 

Krueger laughed, a sound that stopped abruptly as he leaned in closer, until he was whispering in Quentin’s ear. “Oh, Quentin… That’s not how this works. I just can’t hurt you outside of here. So everything I do, everything we’re gonna do… You’ll feel all of it. You’ll feel the… exquisite agony… the entire time. It just won’t affect you when you wake up. Which means… we can have lots of fun.”




David was dozing in his chair when something -he wasn’t sure what -pulled him out of his slumber. His first thought -as always -was to check on Laurie. But she was asleep on the couch, huddled up in the large quilt he’d traded Ace for. He pulled himself to his feet, groaning as his back protested the odd angle he’d been sleeping in, and moved towards the front door.

 

He frowned when he saw it was still locked. Nothing appeared to have been disturbed at all, everything the way it’d been when he feel asleep… He glanced at his watch. Almost two hours ago.

 

“David!”

 

He spun, heart pounding in his chest, fist cocked back, stopping only seconds before he crushed Jake’s face.

 

“Jesus bloody Christ, Jake, the fuck are ya -”

 

“It’s Quentin,” Jake snapped, darting back towards the bedroom. David followed, right on his heels. “I went to take a leek, and…”

 

David swung to a halt, his brain taking a second to catch up with his eyes. Quentin was stiff as a board on the bed, his whole body shaking like he was having a seizure. His hands were fisted in the blankets, his teeth clenched so hard, David could swear he could hear them grinding from across the room.

 

“Jesus, Mary, an’ Bloody Joseph,” David cursed, moving towards the bed. “Hey! Quentin!”

 

“I tried to wake him up,” Jake said, the smallest hint of desperation in his voice as he moved to the other side of the bed. “I tried shaking him, I tried talking to him, but…”

 

“Aw, fuck me,” David muttered under his breath. “M’gonna end up with a shiner from hell for this.”

 

“David? Jake? What’s goin’ on?” Laurie asked, no trace of sleep in her voice as she appeared in the doorway.

 

“Laurie, stay over there, luv, alright? Ya hear me?” He demanded roughly, motioning for her to stay put. “Jake, I want ya to be ready, ya? Last time this happened, he broke Meg’s face up but good, an’ I ain’t in the mood tonight.”

 

The Asian man nodded tightly, moving around so he was as close to Quentin as he could get without physically touching him. “Alright.”

 

“I’m nine kinds o’ fuckin’ stupid,” David cursed, bracing himself, before he leaned down. He took a deep breath. “Sorry, Q.”

 

With that, he punched him in the side as hard as he could.

Chapter Text

Jake didn’t panic. Hadn’t panicked in over ten years, when he ran away from home at seventeen to live in the large, neverending woods of the West Virginia mountains.

 

He hadn’t panicked when he’d gotten his leg caught in a bear trap. Hadn’t panicked when his first attempt at shelter had collapsed, with him still in it, during the first heavy snowfall. Hadn’t panicked when he’d come across an angry mother bear guarding her cubs.

 

But he would admit his heart beat a bit faster, watching Quentin wake up from whatever nightmare he’d been stuck in.

 

The teenager moved like a bat out of hell, tackling David to the ground, faster than Jake could stop him. By the time Jake had jumped over the bed, and pulled him off, David’s nose was gushing blood, and his lip was split straight down the middle.

 

Jake yanked Quentin back, pinning the boy’s arms to his chest as they both fell on the floor.

 

“Get off me, fucker! Get off!” Quentin screamed, rage filling his voice as he struggled against Jake’s grip. Jake only grunted, not wasting the breath to try and rationalize with him; obviously Quentin wasn’t seeing reality, but still half-caught in his nightmare. No amount of reasoning was going to change that.

 

David had scrambled to his feet, cussing as he swiped the blood from his face. “Jesus fuck, Q! Snap out of it!”

 

“Hey! Everything okay?”

 

Jake, David, and Laurie all turned towards Ace’s voice at the front door, Laurie letting out a muttered ‘dammit’.

 

“Make them go away,” Jake snapped at Laurie, still struggling to keep Quentin still. The last thing Quentin would want was the entire camp knowing what was going on. To her credit, Laurie obeyed, darting out of the room, thankfully closing the door behind her. Once she was gone, Jake turned his attention back to Quentin.

 

The teenager’s rage was subsiding, his struggles growing weaker as his cursing turned to hiccupping.

 

David cautiously began moving closer to them, crouching down, his hands outstretched.

 

“Quentin… Q, it’s alright, mate. S’just me an’ Jake, yeah? Whatever else ya seein’, it ain’t real, alright? Everythin’ gonna be fine, Q, we just need ya to relax, boyo. S’just me an’ Jake here, nobody else. Jus’ breath, alright? That’s it. Jus’ breath.”

 

Slowly, Jake could feel Quentin’s pounding heart slow, his breathing evening out the longer David spoke. Finally, after what felt like forever, Quentin stopped struggling, practically slumping over in Jake’s grasp.

 

“You with us?” Jake asked gruffly, loosening his hold.

 

Quentin nodded against his arm, swallowing hard before speaking.

 

“Yeah. Yeah, I… Shit, I… Sorry. I’m sorry, I didn’t…”

 

David sat back with a groan, wiping the blood from his face with his sleeve again. “S’alright, mate. Not ya fault.”

 

Quentin pulled himself away from Jake, struggling to his feet. Jake followed suit, unsure of what to do now that the crisis had been averted.

 

“I uh… where are my clothes?”

 

David stood, limping over to the dresser, and grabbing a pile of clothes that he threw at Quentin.

 

Jake frowned, but kept his mouth shut as Quentin awkwardly grabbed at the clothes, and failed horrendously, the clothes falling to the floor at his feet.

 

“Aw, Jesus, sorry, Q, I… Ya know what, I’m gonna go… I’m jus’ gonna go check on Laurie, yeah? Yeah, alright,” David muttered, scrubbing a hand over his scalp as he cautiously brushed by the two of them, and left the room.

 

“You want me to leave?” Jake asked, after a few moments of awkward silence, watching Quentin stare at the pile of clothes.

 

Quentin jerked as if he’d been slapped, looking over at Jake. “Uh… Yeah. No. I mean… I don’t…” His voice trailed off, and he looked like some sort of lost puppy.

 

“I can… turn around if you want?” Jake offered. He’d come out of some hellacious nightmares of his own, and he knew that, although Quentin was feeling embarrassed, he also didn’t want to be alone at that moment.

 

“Yeah. Yeah, that’d work.”

 

Jake simply nodded, turning to face the wall.

 

A few minutes later, he heard Quentin’s -somewhat steadier -voice say, “Alright. I’m good.” Jake turned, and managed a small smile as he saw Quentin sitting on the edge of the bed. Whatever sleep the boy had managed to get had been wasted during his struggle, and he looked exhausted again. “Jake, I’ sorry, man.”

 

Jake sighed as he went over and sat down next to him, still careful to keep a distance. “Sorry for what? Having a nightmare? It’s not something you can control.”

 

Quentin scoffed. “Yeah, well… I’m still sorry.”

 

“The one you call Krueger?” Jake asked hesitantly.

 

Quentin’s foot began tapping up and down nervously, and he started chewing on the side of his thumb as he nodded. “Yeah. He uh… Near as… Near as me and my friends could figure, he’s some kind of… like, dream demon or something.”

 

“Your friends?” Jake couldn’t help the surprise in his voice, but rather than be offended, Quentin just chuckled.

 

“Yeah. Me with friends. Weird thought, huh? But… it started out there were… five of us. We didn’t… We didn’t realize what was happening with Dean; it wasn’t until after he killed Kris that Jesse figured it out.”

 

“Figured what out?”

 

“That if… If Krueger killed you in the dream, you died in real life. He got Jesse next, but me and Nancy, we thought… We thought we’d killed him at Badham. But you can’t kill a dream,” He finished bitterly.

 

“But your friends didn’t come here with you?”

 

“No. No, uh… It was just me and Nancy left, and Nancy… Krueger broke her. After he killed her mom, she just… she just gave up. Checked herself into a mental hospital. But I couldn’t let it go. I started… I started hunting him. Trying to find him, trying to learn to control the dream, you know? Then when I found him…”

 

“The Entity brought you both here,” Jake finished quietly. “Along with the place where you’d tried to kill him.”

 

“Yeah. Hey, upside though: Krueger can’t… I mean, he can still… he can still do things, when I’m sleeping, when I’m dreaming, but… It doesn’t follow me outside the dream anymore,” Quentin said with a shaky smile.

 

“But he still torments you whenever you sleep.”

 

“Yeah. There is that.”

Chapter Text

The next ‘morning’ (meaning it was only severely cloudy and overcast, rather than black) came far too early, and brought nothing good with it.

 

Quentin had refused Jake’s attempts to get him to go back to sleep; after all, he’d only felt worse than he had before he’d fallen asleep if he was being honest. So, after assuring David and Laurie that he was fine, really, him and Jake had left, and made their way down the path, to the Campfire.

 

They’d run into Feng and Bill there, playing cards, which wasn’t unusual; Bill always claimed that ‘old folk like him’ never needed much sleep, and Feng had always been a bit of a night owl -something about the best teams being online at night. So the four of them had passed what was left of the night playing Bullshit, and passing around Bill’s small, but never-emptying flask of whiskey.

 

Jake and Bill had been in a bit of an argument, with Jake refusing to show his cards, when Feng and growled, getting to her feet and pointing over her shoulder. Cards forgotten, the three men had stood as well, and Bill cursed as they all saw the heavy Fog rolling in.

 

He’d yelled out a warning to the others, all the time they’d had, before the Fog had blanketed the clearing.

 

Which was how Quentin found himself, staring around ‘Gas Heaven’ as the sign proclaimed. And, because that was his luck, as soon as he became aware of his surroundings, he heard the small bell chime from the door of the gas station.

 

He swore, looking down to find his foot planted on the string of the bell. While the noise wasn’t particularly loud, this version of the junkyard Realm wasn’t that big either. He glanced back behind him, and his bad luck had balanced out: sometimes, the little gas station windows and doors were boarded up, but they were actually both open.

 

As he picked his foot up, the bell rung again. Deciding to hell with it, he darted through the gas station as quick as he could, not bothering with the garage generator; since he’d made so much noise already, he’d put money on the killer heading there from wherever they’d started.

 

He ran the length of the back, and started around the corner, before he stopped short. He only just barely managed to duck behind one of the sets of tires as he spotted the large, ornate headdress worn by the Plague, moving purposefully towards the gas station. He bit back the urge to curse again; out of all the killers they went against, the Plague was easily the grossest. The crazy priestess woman literally puked all over everything , including survivors, making them slower and weaker, giving her the advantage in a chase.

 

He sighed, trying -futilely -to brush his curls out of his eyes, when a slight sound -barely audible -caught his attention, and he glanced north of him. He spotted Jeff, plugging away at a generator in one of the small mazes of junk cars that littered the area.

 

Keeping low, he started heading that way, keeping an eye on the wide open area, his ears peeled for the familiar sound of a heartbeat. As he got to Jeff, the large, bear of a man gave him a small smile and a friendly nod, but didn’t stop his work.

 

Quentin plunged his hands inside the mechanisms of the generator, the quiet hum eventually growing louder as they got more and more of the pistons pumping. They had settled into an easy rhythm, when a scream from the gas station made them both pause.

 

“Nea,” Jeff whispered. Nobody liked talking more than absolutely necessary during a Trial; it seemed redundant, really, given the noise the generators made, but the point remained.

 

Quentin nodded, and felt around in his pocket. He managed a tired grin when he felt the small, round object; the Entity had been generous.

 

He pulled Bill’s pocket watch out, dangling from the chain wrapped around his fingers. Jeff gave him a thumbs up, returning his smile, and returned his attention back to the generator.

 

Quentin crouched, moving towards the open area, trying to keep behind the wreckage of the cars; he hadn’t seen the basement in the gas station, so the Plague would most likely either take her straight through to the hook in the back, or out to the one in front of the pumps. He’d noticed that the Plague typically went for the hooks out in the open, forcing the survivors to risk an area where there was little or no cover to hide from her vomit.

 

So he headed that way; worst case scenario, he could always cut through the gas station if she hooked her in the back.

 

He watched, as the Plague threw Nea on the hook, the rusty blade cutting through her shoulder. At the same time, to his north, Jeff completed the generator he was on, and the loud ding sounded. Predictably, Plague turned that direction, and began moving off.

 

Quentin took a deep breath. He could already see the green haze wafting off Nea, meaning she’d been infected before the Plague hit her.

 

Meaning he’d be infected as soon as he downed her.

 

Trying to ignore the squeamish feeling running down his spine at the thought, he darted into the open, hauling ass towards the hook. Keeping the watch chain loose in his hand, he shoved it into Nea’s pocket before he picked her up and off the hook as gently as he could while still moving quickly.

 

“Thanks, Q,” She muttered, before vomiting. At least she turned her head, but Quentin could already feel the sickness setting in, a dull ache that started in his legs, and would quickly encase his entire body.

 

“Pass it on; don’t die with it,” He warned, moving back towards the gas station, careful to avoid the stupid bell. He allowed himself a small smile as he heard another generator ding, this one off towards the Killing Shed. Two down, three to go. Not bad for about five minutes in.

 

He barely resisted the urge to run through the gas station; physically exerting yourself made the sickness set in faster and harder, and he hadn’t really even done anything yet. He was almost all the way through the gas station -still not bothering with the one inside the garage, when he spotted it.

 

Jackpot. One of the few chests -usually two or three -that the Entity scattered throughout the map, typically containing gear and equipment better than what they could scrounge together themselves.

 

He carefully pushed the heavy lid up, trying to keep it as quiet as possible as he began rooting through it. 

 

He had just found his prize -a medkit bearing an army insignia on the lid -when he heard it. The steady beating of a heart, moving towards him. About the same time that it registered, he heard the telltale sound of the Plague inhaling sharply. Grabbing the medkit, he didn’t bother to look around; he went straight for the window across from him, leading to the front of the gas station, vaulting through it, and coming up on the other side.

 

He saw the puke go over his head as he started towards the right, and made an abrupt turn towards the left. It wasn’t ideal -there wasn’t much there other than the small junk piles she could easily puke over, and the pallets she’d already puked on, but it was better than taking a direct blast.

 

He heard another generator ding somewhere behind him; as much as he hated to admit it, he hoped the Plague would give up on him, and go after whoever had done the generator.

 

But the one-time priestess was too smart for that; he heard her inhaling sharply again for another shot, and he only just barely ducked behind a pile to avoid it. He shot back up as soon as the spew stopped, and tried to haul towards the trees. He could feel the sickness ratcheting up a notch, knew it wouldn’t be long before she could hit him and instantly down him.

 

He could feel her breath behind him; she was way too close, and he knew that, if she hit him now, he’d be down. And in his haste to find cover, he’d ran way too close to the killer shack.

 

He heard her wind up for the hit. But the heavy blow from her weird incense burner didn’t land. He heard it connect, and he heard David’s grunt of pain, moments before the other man snapped, “Fuck off, ya cunt!” The older man had jumped in front of the blow and body-blocked for him. Quentin turned his head enough to give the other man a small nod of appreciation, before they both scattered.

 

They’d practiced things like this before and knew better than to group up against the Plague; much like the one they’d taken to calling ‘Bubba’, she was easily confused and flustered. So as David went to the left, vaulting through the window, Quentin swung around, and went through the window on the opposite wall.

 

He heard her growl of frustration; crouching on the other side of the window, he dared to look through the window, and he could see her hesitation, moments before she started after David.

 

Another generator popped off to his right. Killer shack generator then. Four down, one left. And he hadn’t done much more than tap the generator Jeff had been working on.

 

Damn . Hoping that David would be okay, Quentin decided to head in the opposite direction the brawler and the killer had taken off in, taking off at a slow jog to his north east. His movement was hindered by his roiling stomach, and he had to stop to puke twice before he actually found a generator.

 

He quickly began rewiring it: blue wires to red connectors into green wires, into the pistons. Yellow wires straight into the motor. Untangle, cross here, straighten there.

 

It was a testament to how tired he was that he didn’t hear the approaching footsteps behind him. But when the hand fell on his shoulder, he instinctively lashed out, throwing himself to the right. He felt like an idiot when he seen Nea’s smirk, moments before she offered him a hand back to his feet.

 

Feeling his face heating up in embarrassment, he nevertheless accepted, and the two turned their attention back to the generator. About a minute later, they were rewarded by the loud siren going off, announcing the generators had been completed.

 

One of Quentin’s ‘gifts’ that he’d been granted by the Entity was that he could always pinpoint the Exit Gates; most times, it seemed like a useless ability, since at least sixty percent of the time he didn’t make it through his matches. But this Trial fell into the other forty percent thankfully, and he motioned for Nea to follow him as he started running in the direction of the Gate.

 

It didn’t take them long to get there, and Quentin pulled down the lever to activate it. Just as the klaxon siren went off, however, he heard David shriek. Moments later, it was followed by Jeff’s scream of agony. With a groan he released the lever, and held out his hand to Nea.

 

“You sure? I’m sneakier,” She whispered, reluctance written on her face as she began rooting around in her pocket.

 

“I’m faster,” He said simply, keeping his hand outstretched. “Just hide until you see us coming. It’s almost done.”

 

She nodded as she handed him Bill’s pocket watch, and he started off. 

 

Neither of the two men had been put in the basement, which was a plus. Conversely however, that meant he’d have to run to the first one, unhook him, and then run to the next. His odds of doing so unscathed were slim, if not nonexistent. So he detoured towards one of healing pools, and began cleansing himself of the disease.

 

Purging it from his system always sucked ass; everything came up at once, the smell nearly enough to make him puke again as he emptied up the little he’d eaten in the last few days.

 

And the Plague would see that he’d used one of the pools; she had the same ability to see her wells that the survivors used to see each other on hooks. Meaning he didn’t have time to waste: either she’d come to eat up the spew he’d expelled and turn her vomit into a weapon, or she’d start patrolling between Jeff and David, hoping to catch him at whichever hook he went to first.

 

After a split second’s hesitation, he decided to hell with stealth. He took off in a run towards the closest hooked survivor -hard to tell which one, since both Jeff and David had the same build - hauling ass as fast as he could through the wreckage of cars and other junk.

 

Jeff was closest; as Quentin rounded the corner of the walls of cars, he spotted the gentle giant on the same hook Nea had been on earlier. However, as he ran, he spotted the giant headdress out of the corner of his eye, moving towards him. Pocket watch in hand, he put every ounce of strength and energy he had into running, getting there maybe three seconds ahead of the killer.

 

He shoved the watch in Jeff’s pocket before unhooking him, angling himself to take the hit they both knew was coming. Quentin grunted in pain as the incense burner caught him dead center of his back, nearly downing him, but he kept moving, darting to his left as Jeff ran straight back towards the Gate.

 

As he’d hoped, the Plague took off after Jeff, hoping to get the easy kill from the still sick and injured Jeff. The watch should get him at least close to the gate; he had to hope Nea had healed and could body-block for him to get out.

 

Luckily, David wasn’t that far, although -ever the fighter -he was busy trying to free himself from the hook when Quentin skidded to a stop in front of him.

 

“Don’t have the watch; gave it to Jeff,” He said with a grunt, struggling to unhook the much heavier man. “Other gate’s this way. C’mon.”

 

David nodded, and started running, while Quentin ran just behind him, making their way quickly to the Gate behind the gas station. Quentin let David open it, still standing behind him, watching warily for the Plague to come through the gas station. It seemed to take forever, but finally the loud klaxon alarm sounded, and the Gate opened.

 

Hoping the other two had gotten out, Quentin shoved David through, before stepping into the encompassing Fog himself.