Fandom: Steam Powered Giraffe
Characters: Becile Bots (Primarily the Skull, but mentions all three of them)
Rating: PG-13 (warnings for swearing, violence, and consideration of self-harm)
Summary: Some things you can only do alone, in private, with a gun in your hand.
Author’s Note: Happy birthday to me again. I wrote myself a sad.
So I really, really love neckreductionsurgery's character The Skull, just for the way he looks. And after I wrote Things Seen and Things Invisible, I’ve been wanting to write more about him, fitting him into amuseoffirebane’s Becile’s Boys story-line again. This story isn’t a happy one, but that kind of goes without saying for this character.
They all know you like guns. Hell, they’d have to be blind not to know, and while your family (for lack of better word, for what is blood to those who have none?) is a lot of things, none of them are blind.
So they know you like them, and they’ve got to know you have at least a couple; Father gave you one for Christ’s sake so it’s not like it’s a big secret. And there’s only so much you can do about the stench of gunpowder and burning oil from your little… exercises.
What you don’t think they know is how many of them you’ve collected over the years. The Thompson they all know about (Father’s sneering little gift, a nod of acknowledgement to your being his little assistant, his loathsome pet), and maybe about the neat little Schmidt M1882, since you bought it yourself instead of stealing it, paid a whole thirty bucks in some back-alley bargaining when it was new and have treasured the thing ever since.
But about the others, no, you don’t think they know. Hare might have an idea; the little rat’s full of so many half-baked theories about what everyone else thinks and does that it wouldn’t surprise you if he thought you maybe had one or two more. And you know now that he’s got himself convinced that you’re out shooting people, out there killing for that jackass you call Father or Master.
You let him think it. Just like you’ll let him go forever thinking that you kicked his narrow aft to hell and back without regret, that you don’t hate yourself for almost killing the stupid shit in your rage. It’s easier to let him think what he wants because he’ll never understand anything else.
To date, you have collected twenty-six guns of various firing speeds and size. All but the first two you’ve stolen from passed out drunks in bars or plucked from the hands of trigger happy brawlers looking to plug lead into something they can’t kill. A couple you’ve hustled in dark corners of seedy sub-markets, trading or bullying for something you want more than what you’ve already got.
Some of them are tiny things; they feel like toys in your hands for all that they could end a life with a careless gesture. Others are complicated, none quite as powerful as the Trench Sweeper but still intimidating in your grip. You’re particularly pleased with the Winchester M97, the severe click-snap of the pump-action striking a base chord in your processor that’s very much like pleasure.
It’s never been exactly made subtle that you look threatening. Unsmiling, stiffly postured, you look colder than your brothers, quieter and more insidiously menacing. From all three of you violence is expected; you’re thieves and bullies and thugs, and of the trio, it is from you people expect the most evil, for you are quieter, more restrained, clearly calculating while Hare is all direct action and Jacky is a mad whirligig of untamable, unpredictable energy.
In reality, you don’t care enough about most things, most people, to be calculating anything. Hare’s the ambitious thief, plotting ways to put money in his pocket. For you, you’d rather just watch, just remain in the backdrop. Failing that, you have no problem reinforcing the idea that you’re the measured one, the scary one; you keep your silence, photoreceptors boring into the eyes of anyone stupid enough to start staring at you.
But contrary to the image you project of the clean-cut criminal, you’re not looking for a fight. Hare will willingly scrap with anyone stupid enough to pick a fight with a metal man, but you’d just as soon walk away. And even Hare isn’t out looking for the fights, even Hare, who wants so badly to let out some of the aggression that been ground so deep into him it might as well be hardwired, isn’t going to provoke a fight.
Because the truth of it is, you’re not programmed for it. You’re perfectly capable of lying and cheating and hurting if you have to; it’s not going to break you to break them, but nine times out of ten, a glare can suffice, or a puff of dark smoke – hell, a raised fist if you must, but that’s enough to send most humans scurrying. And at the end of the day, you’re all of you cowards. You don’t have the guts to be killers; you’re pickpockets and hoodlums and low-down societal dirt, yeah, but none of you are killers.
It makes you feel just that much more complete to have a gun in your hand.
To be clear, you have no desire to become some mindless weapon, to be pointed and fired. You do not romanticize or moon over the idea of killing humans. The idea is actually in its own right quite repulsive to you.
With a gun in your hand, though, you are not the same automaton who must do as Master Becile wishes. You are not the bot who has come to the realization that the only way to keep your brothers in any semblance of safety is to pretend to be their enemy. With a gun in your hands, you wouldn’t have to watch your creator mete out punishment, knowing that anything you did against him would only worsen the situation. You could stand up for your brothers, finally be really on their side instead of quietly placating and suggesting and politicking your way through your Father’s moods.
“I would kill you in a second,” you growl, voice low and muttering though there is no one to hear you. Your hand snaps out, sweet little Remington clutched against your palm, the crack of gun fire shattering the silence of the evening. The barrel smokes, the bottle your bullet crashes through seems to explode off the fence. Roughly seventy yards between you and the target, and it’s nothing short of perfect. You feel good, but it’s a dark good, muddied with pent up rage, a sort of budding mania that often overtakes you on these little outings.
Fanning the hammer, shots fire rapidly, the line of rusting cans and glass bottles disappearing as they either burst or fly off the fence. The harsh grind of your voice raises with the thunder from the gun, biting out words buried deep inside yourself. “Shoot you down like a rabid mutt.”
The Remington is only a six shot, and you toss it, not quite carelessly, back down when it’s spent and grab another handgun. Though this little piece of land is quiet, out of the way and inhabited only by the occasional vagrant, you’ve never taken out either shotgun, and especially not the Thompson. Besides, power aside, there’s something so much more personal about the handguns.
It’s something about how they explode in your hand, smoke and thunder and the acrid stench of gunpowder; each pull of the trigger like hooks inside you, dragging out emotions you pretend not to have. All the anger, all the rage, all the built-up bitter hatred, ripped from you and screaming through the air, ripping into metal and glass and dispersing into nothingness.
It becomes rhythmic, automatic. Fire, fire, fire; six shots, gun spent, drop, new gun. Begin again.
Shots tear through the little field, rocketing into the targets you’ve meticulously placed on the surrounding fences; on stumps and hanging from the crooked branches of nearby trees. As you fire, you talk to yourself, voice rising and falling. Growling and shouting.
You curse your Father, the only man you ever expected to give a single fuck about you or your brothers. The more anger you pour into your words, the hotter your furnace burns, until you feel fire spitting from your maw with each word. And still you scream. You call him a bastard, you call him selfish; you tell him (though you’ll never say it to him, never in life) you wish he would die, that you wish you could kill him. Why, and you want to know so badly; why build us if you hate us? Why keep us around if we’re such garbage?
The words spew out of you, a vomit of wasted emotion. All your hate, all your rage, every single negative thing that you’ve turned back in on yourself, twisted in your guts like barbed wire. And that’s exactly how it feels, it hurts exactly that much, like you’re wrenching barbed wire from your guts and out your mouth. But it must go on.
At some point around the time you’re picking up the sixteenth gun (Smith and Wesson .32, for what it matters) you realize that the words aren’t so much coming out as words anymore; just an increasingly harsh yelling. Giving in to that is good; no more words, just the energy tearing through you, all the blackness pouring out like the bullets, like the flames.
In the end, by some mistake or some unconscious fluke, you’ve expended every target and you’re left holding a gun with one bullet. The gun is your favorite, that little honey of a murder machine, the Schmidt M1882.
Suddenly the intake of air required to keep oxygen on your flames is ragged, your grip on the gun too tight. Your arm is actually shaking from the exertion of the last fifteen minutes’ shooting, or maybe from the weight of the gun in your hand, and you find yourself staring at your hand, willing your fingers to release or at least slacken, but they don’t.
With measured slowness, as if you must be very careful in the action, you lift the gun, turn it, and press the muzzle against your temple. It’s hot; a perfect circle of heat, and you shudder.
Photoreceptors click off, the gun steadies. Why not? What exactly have you got going on that’s so wonderful? Your father is a selfish, moody prick who cares absolutely nothing for you or your brothers; your brothers, one of whom is as close to a drunk as he can be and hates you, and the other who is glitched beyond help and terrified of you. And you care so little for yourself. You’re nothing, a shadow of a man, not particularly successful in your endeavors to protect your brothers and there isn’t one single thing you can think of to redeem the hateful, horrible things you do in your father’s name. You deserve to eat this bullet just for your little meeting with Hare, even if the rat was looking for punishment.
So why not.
Just why the fuck not?
With a sigh, very soft and rasping with embers and soot, you lower the gun, hand finally relaxing as your photoreceptors click back on.
You sit on the grass and pull out the maintenance kit from the bag in which you stash your little collection, fingers glancing fondly over the barrel of your Winchester, still securely folded away in the bottom of the bag. Before you can go, the guns must all be cleaned, oiled, and reloaded; made ready for the next time your anger reaches a point where it might escape in some other way.
As you clean, you do not think about your actions prior; you content yourself with the repetitive action of breaking the guns down, cleaning, oiling, tending to them. You don’t want to go there. You don’t want to think about what you may or may not have done, even though the smell of your overheated system is accosting your olfactory with the reek of burnt oil. It’s better not to go there, not to try facing it. Bury it, throw all the other dark things in on top of it, and shoot it down later.
Because you are a coward, and you are unjustifiable, and you are too low to bother wasting bullets on.
Because you love life even if yours isn’t worth anything.
Because maybe somewhere in that pit of hate and venom, Becile doesn’t hate you. And maybe Hare will understand one day what you try to do, why you’re the bastard that you are.
Because maybe, just maybe, there’s a point to it. You just have to find it.
A/N: Again, please don’t be mad. I’m sorry I’m a sucker for a sad story and I take it out on other people’s characters.