Surely, at some point, I'm going to go 'right, I've written enough post-Until Dawn
fanfiction about traumatised teenagers and I am free
This is not that point. Here is my fifth work of post-Until Dawn
fanfiction about traumatised teenagers.Title:
Moving OnFandom: Until DawnRating:
Sam and Mike do not have the healthiest coping strategies.
Sam stares out of the window of the helicopter, at the burning lodge, although she’s not really taking it in. It takes her a while to realise someone’s talking to her.
“What was that?” she asks, looking up.
“The distress call came from an Emily,” the man says. “Was that you?”
So Emily did
manage to find help, at some point between setting off with Matt and showing up in that thing’s larder. If Sam weren’t too wiped out to make logical connections, she’d have realised that already; it’s not like a rescue helicopter suddenly appeared by coincidence. Emily probably saved her life.
She should feel grateful. She guesses she’ll start feeling grateful when she starts feeling her life is something worth saving. Right now, with her life expectancy suddenly extended from hours to decades, she doesn’t really know what she’s supposed to do with all that time. Not after this.
Mike is here. Mike is alive, sitting next to her and gripping her hand; he hasn’t let go of her since they got out of the lodge. That’s something to be grateful for.
“I’m not Emily,” she says.
“Do you know where we might find her?”
“She’s dead,” Sam says. The words seem to clog her throat. Somehow, even after she saw the bodies in the mines, their deaths weren’t real until this moment, saying it aloud. “Everyone’s dead.”
Mike shifts closer to her.-
She’s invited to join what feels like a thousand different Facebook memorial groups. She refuses them all, and then she unfriends everyone from the mountain, so she doesn’t have to see the messages everyone is leaving on their walls.
A day later, after the fourteenth message of concern from family members or people she vaguely knew at school, she deletes her Facebook.
She avoids the news. She spends as much time as possible concentrating on her studies. She steps up her climbing sessions. Two times a week. Three. Every weeknight. Every night.
She asks if she can climb without the safety harness. They won’t let her.
The climbing instructors are starting to worry about her, she’s pretty sure. God, everyone’s always worrying about her. She’s fine
She starts heading down to an old rock quarry sometimes. Somewhere she can climb and clear her head without all the stupid safety equipment getting in the way.
Mike sends a few texts. Tries to call.
She doesn’t answer. She doesn’t need him. She can manage on her own.-Sam,
the message reads. This is Mike’s father. Mike has been missing for two days. We’re very concerned. Has he been in contact with you?
She’s hitting the ‘call’ button almost before she’s finished reading, a thousand horrible possibilities flashing through her mind. Did he go back to the fucking mountain? But he obviously left his phone behind, if his dad is texting her from it. Did a wendigo get him? Maybe the two of them never really escaped; maybe those things have been tracking them ever since they got off the mountain. Maybe—
It’s Mike’s voice that answers. “Oh, hey, Sam.”
For a moment, Sam is speechless with outrage. “Did you just make me think you were dead?”
“Missing,” Mike says. “Not the same thing.”
“Why the hell
“Look, I’m sorry,” Mike says. “It just didn’t seem like I was getting you to talk to me any other way.”
“You know, after everything we went through together, I actually forgot for a moment that you were an asshole.”
She should hang up right now. She shouldn’t let his stupid ploy to trick her into a conversation actually succeed
. It’s just...
God, it’s good to hear his voice.
Mike clears his throat. “Anyway, you want to tell me how much of an asshole I am in person?”
“You’re not subtle, you know,” Sam says.
“I don’t care. I want to see you. I just...” He sighs. “With everything the news is saying, I’m starting to wonder if I’m remembering it right.”
She’s been staying away from the news; it’s just been non-stop coverage of the Blackwood Incident, and she doesn’t need that. Incidents in the news are meant to be things that happen to other
people. She hates the journalists constantly pestering her for an interview, the candid photographs of her on the front pages of newspapers, the headlines about the ‘brave and beautiful Blackwood survivor’.
At one point she caught sight of the headline ‘Survivor Sam: did she murder her friends?’ in a store. She actually preferred it to the ‘brave and beautiful’ ones; it felt more true. Chris and Ash could have stayed in the safe room; they might have survived until dawn. But no. She dragged everyone out after Mike, and she kept pressing on ahead, couldn’t even wait to make sure the others were keeping up with her. She didn’t even realise they were dead until she saw their bodies in the lair.
“What’s the news saying?” she asks.
“Blaming it all on the flamethrower guy,” Mike says.
Chris would hate that; he took the guy’s death hard, kept blaming himself for it. But it doesn’t matter what Chris would hate, because Chris isn’t here.
“I don’t know about you,” Mike says, “but I remember monsters.”
“Yeah.” She doesn’t want to talk about this. “You’re remembering right.”
Mike lets out a long, shuddering breath on the other end of the phone. “Okay. Good. I mean, not good
, just... I needed to hear someone say that.”
There’s a long silence. It’s not awkward, exactly, but it presses in around them, and something is lurking in it.
“Are we alive?” Mike asks, quietly.
“I don’t know,” Sam says.-
She agrees to meet up. She’s not sure about it, but... it’s for him. It’s not for her. She’s coping fine, she doesn’t need other people. But he does, and she guesses she can be there for him.
When she opens the door to him, they just stare at each other for a moment. He’s back to being clean, tidy Mike. He looks like a different person. For a moment, she’s half-convinced that everything on the mountain was a dream.
And then she looks down at his hand, the missing fingers there.
“Can I, uh, touch you?” he asks.
She doesn’t know what he means. She nods anyway.
He touches her shoulder, tentatively. Lets out a breath. Slides his hand up to rest against the side of her neck.
“You’re real,” he says.
She’s not sure she feels real. But his hand is warm, and she leans into it a little. “I guess so.”
A moment passes. He takes his hand away, wipes it against his jeans, suddenly awkward. “Uh, sorry. I wasn’t trying to...”
“It’s okay,” she says.-
She tells him she’s planning to go climbing, because she’s always planning to go climbing, and he offers to drive her there. She thinks about going to the climbing centre, pretending she always does this properly, safely, with equipment and supervision.
She gives him directions to the quarry instead.
They’re stuck in traffic to begin with, but when they’re clear of it he starts driving too fast. Way too fast. She thinks about saying something.
She doesn’t mention it. It’s nice, the wind whipping through the open window, the scenery flashing by outside.
And then Mike slams
on the brakes and she nearly hits the dashboard, the seatbelt catching her hard enough to wind her.
A car just pulled out in front of them. They almost hit it. Sam can feel the thunder of her own heart in every part of her.
They sit there for a long moment, stopped in the middle of the road.
“Christ,” Mike says. He rubs his hand over his face. “Christ, I’m sorry, I was going too fast, wasn’t I?”
“Just a little.”
“Shit,” he mutters. “I shouldn’t have risked it. Not with you in the car.”
“It was good,” she says. And right now, with her heartbeat spiking, with the two of them breathing hard in this enclosed space, with the image in her head of twisted metal and wailing sirens, it’s better. “It’s the adrenaline, right?”
Mike sighs. “I don’t feel real without it.”
The cars behind them are starting to honk. Mike pulls over to the side of the road and switches off the engine.
“I’m sorry,” he says, again. “I think I need a moment.”
“Sorry?” she asks.
“Your climbing,” he says.
She’d forgotten they were actually going somewhere. In her head, they were just driving to drive
, for the speed and the risk of it.
She’s still trembling.
Mike closes his eyes and tips his head back and lets out a long groan. It stirs something inside her. “God. I could have killed you.”
“Do you do this often?” she asks.
“Put my friends in danger?” He opens his eyes, but he doesn’t look at her; just stares blankly through the windshield. “You already know the answer to that.”
“Drive,” she says.
“Like this?” He turns to look at her at last. Hesitates. “Sometimes.”
For a few seconds, there’s silence between them.
“I’ll stop if you ask me to,” he says.
“Take me with you,” she says.
He shakes his head. “I can’t do that. I can’t risk you.”
The pounding of her blood is easing, and she can’t stand the thought of not feeling it again. She can’t stand the thought that Mike might drive off and get himself killed without her.
“Then take me somewhere
,” she says.
Mike frowns. Studies her face for a few seconds. “You’re not asking me to take you to a restaurant, are you?”
“Just... away,” she says. “Everyone knows who I am. Everyone thinks they know what happened. I can’t take it.”
“Are you serious?” Mike asks.
But he’s thinking about it. She can see it in his face. They were speaking without words by the end of that night, and that connection hasn’t frayed. They’re bound together; he’s a trap she’s been caught in, or maybe it’s the other way around. It was stupid of her to think she could cut ties.
Mike shakes his head. “It’s international news. Where would we go?”
They’re going to end up back at the mountain, Sam thinks. They’re still up there. They never really escaped.
“I don’t know,” she says. “Somewhere.”Part Two