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so you better run

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Will had always loved to run.

Since he was a little kid, since he was still picking the locks on his father's metallic smelling police handcuffs and exploding out of the backseat. His heart caught in his throat as he burst free, from the car, from the cuffs around his wrists, from the little girl clawing for help inside of his head.

When he felt the seizing need to be a policeman, racing inside his chest like the pound of his heartbeat after a long run, he took to the streets, wearing out pair after pair of new sneakers. It was tradition, his escape, his freedom.

Now, running is a way for him to see the world. He's Lito, breathing in summer air, feet kicking up dust. He's Nomi, in a flurry of love and palm trees and sunshine. He's Sun, feeling his heart pound with anger as well as his feet against the grass. He's Wolfgang, which actually weirdly feels the most at home, with about three weapons tucked in securely against his skin. He's Kala, in a sea of color, the blue sky shining up above. He's Capheus, and his cheeks burn from smiling as much as his muscles ache from the continuous whapwhapwhap against the pavement.

He's Riley, and he's breathing in the ice in the air, and he's giddy with love.

 

Sometimes, after a long run, after seeing the world, he'll collapse into bed and she'll be there, knees tucked up underneath her chin. They're always bruised, although he can't place what it's from, why she's littered with black and blue, and he'll rest his hands on either side of her face and feel their heartbeats line up and he'll kiss her.

"Where did you go today?" Riley whispered, her voice melodic.

Will folded himself around her, linking their hands. She bit her lip, the color of her heartbeat. When Riley is next to him, he's in a dream world.

"Everywhere."

 

When Riley's asleep, she doesn't so much look like a hurricane, begging to leave Will shipwrecked. She's the color of the ocean at dawn, and her hair is messed like the waves. She had a little dip in between her eyes, a ridge of worry and hurt and pain. Will smoothed it out with his fingers.

He traced constellations on her back while she slept, daybreak poking through the window at oddest times. Will has been terrified since the first time they met that he could snap her in half; that she was so tiny and he was so strong and so he touched her like butterfly kisses, angel-soft.

"You're not going to break me," Riley whispered one night as they lay together, her skin illuminating through the dark. She giggled, heartbeat-lips pressing to his as she rolled on top of him, nipping at his neck.

But you just might shatter me, Will thought, time and time again. Every morning, he woke up and left Riley sleeping, dashing our the front door and into the winter air and breathing in the crystallization of moisture in the air. It was so all encompassing, so Riley, that he secretly favored Iceland more than all the other places his feet touched the ground. He could walk into the mountains and sudden to be surrounded by her, feel her ghosts, her pain, her loss.

So Will ran and ran and ran and made sure he pushed out every last shred of Riley's hurt back into the mountains that took so much from her, and every time when he returned he could see the little ridge in between her eyes was just a little bit softer.

 

"You love her?" Wolfgang asked once, showing up in the middle of Chicago, when Will was lonely and Riley was at one of her dad's concerts and the train rattled the windows. He felt like he could break in half, missing her.

"Yes," Will answered steadily, easily, like it was the most natural and pure thing in the world.

It was.

"I can tell," Wolfgang said, his voice soft, his features a little les sharp than usual. He was much less acidic when he was alone with Will, with all of them, and he breathed a little more like his lungs were made of whole tissue instead of shredded by broken bottles and taking punches and half-chanced grenades. He was softest when he was with Kala, his heart pure, and Will watched Wolfgang with flitting eyes as much as Wolfgang watched him.

"You love Kala?" Will whispered back, half-afraid Wolfgang would be gone, just like that, leaving him with the rattling windows and the whistle of the train.

"Yes." Wolfgang echoed, and for a second he looked like a child, lost in the muddle of terror onstage, thrust into the spotlight. Then his face cleared and his smile returned and he thought, she makes me want to sing, and Will heard it and felt it reverberate though his body like a hollow thrum of a low musical instrument, a buzzing to remind him he was alive.

"Fuckin' sing, man," Will chanced, and Wolfgang smiled, half cut by razorblades, half full of sunlight, and then he was gone.

 

Diego didn't understand why Will's head was so in the clouds; couldn't. He was so focused, on saving, on doing his job, on making sure Will didn't get killed while he was with one of the other eight, helping and loving and being a boyfriend, and Will could never work up the nerve to tell him that he was seeing with the most clarity than he ever had.

"Are you still talking to that girl with the weird accent?" Diego asked one night, beer poised in between the question marks of his lips.

"You ever get a headache and then it clears and you feel like you're seeing clearly for the first time?" Will explodes in response, feeling Kala from somewhere behind his shoulder, beaming at him.

"Yeah?"

"That's what she's like."

"Shit, man," is all Diego responded, downing Will's untouched tequila shot, which he ordered out of habit from being with Lito. "Marry her."

Will ran that night and it was alongside Capheus and neither of them said a word but Will could feel Capheus's heartbeat bursting with joy alongside the one he carried in his own chest, and the sun shone, it shone, it shone.

 

Will jogged in circles around Sun as she fought, being her human revival every time she accidentally got pounded into the mat.

"Get up," he whispered.

"I am," Sun always hissed back, sometimes with a mouth full of blood, and Will grinned every time she rose and she conquered. It was high profile, high anger, high emotion, but Will loved it. He felt alive.

He knew Sun appreciated his little dance around her as she fought her battles. Most of the time, it was in their dreams. She had to keep her fists off of others once she finally broke out of prison. But she always smiled up at him afterwards, as if to say thank you.

 

"Riley," Will thought from Chicago, "I love you."

"Where did you go today?" Riley's voice pulsed into his head, sleepy and lazy, her accent thicker than normal.

Will sighed; wanted to span the countries and continents and wrap her in his arms like it was a need knocking in his chest.

"Everywhere."

 

Lito and Hernando and Daniela loved to work out, and some nights when he was cold and he missed the feeling of Riley was up beside him, he'd flash to them on their balcony, laughing and drinking and lifting weights. Lito always had the familiar, original sparkle in his eye, something Will called the We-Had-Sex-Flash, but he never breathed a word about it to Will. Both of them fought through their adrenaline rushes; their demons in living their heads.

"Go to her," Lito always mumbled as they wiped sweat from their foreheads, his thought flicking to Hernando. "She's your heart."

 

Will loved running in San Francisco too, loved the weight of the air and the scenery and the buildings, and he thought that somewhere hidden in another life he could have been an architect. Nomi blatantly hacked in front of him, as if daring him to close her laptop and repeat his sullen, worn out catchphrase of I'm A Cop, but he never took the bait.

He'd run until his lungs nearly collapsed and then always showed up at her apartment, streaming with rainbows and sunlight and Amanita's hair, and he grinned at her even though he ew she couldn't see him. Amanita was the closest though, and Nomi was an excellent other-self-to-girlfriend translator. Sometimes, he felt that maybe he could stand in the light of the window and Amanita would see him, and her smile would spread over her whole face and she'd make some quick-witted remark about him being The Cop.

She didn't, but when Will let himself out the front door and pounded his feet against the paved streets, he could almost feel her seeing him. It felt like home; like a lost ship of family that he'd been circling around for as long as he could remember.

He pushed his feet into the ground so hard that he thought he could fly.

 

When Will ran, sometimes Kala would show up on the sidelines, cheering for him, usually with a glass of water in her hand. He never had the heart to tell her that he'd break the glass if he dropped it. She was sunshine and smiles and love and she smelled like happiness.

"Keep running!" Kala cheered, her smile so big it might burst. "Run to Riley, Will!"

So he did.

 

Collapsing in Riley's bed, in their bed, was a kaleidoscope of wonder and need and desire and haunted past and oh my god I love you I love you I love you. His heart caught in his throat every time he saw her, sprawled under the covers, earbuds in one ear.

He woke her up, usually, by peppering kisses to her skin and she'd awaken in a fit of giggles, pulling him in close. They were a puzzle, their limbs jigsawing together to make the most beautiful picture ever painted.

"Hi," Riley whispered, and her voice sounded like angel wings and the sunshine and the revolution of triangles and xylophones and flutes, like a the flutter of an eyelash, like music.

"Hi," Will breathed back, stroking through the blue streak in her hair.

"Where did you go today?" Riley asked, smile spreading wide across her face, because she could taste the familiar answer on the top of Will's tongue.

But he felt her heartbeat against hers and he leaned in close again and he thought with all of his might, "we're gonna make it, baby," and Riley grinned again like the gleam of sunlight in between clouds, and he breathed a new answer into her vena-cava mouth.

"Home."