My name is Carolina.
“Look at me.”
She does so, but reluctantly. Her glassy eyes leave the blank spots on the wall to find the source of the new voice. She stares at him for a moment with a look as though she doesn’t recognize him. A dead weight latches itself around York’s heart and tightens. Oh please, God no…her lips twitch. They curl upwards ever so slightly and she places her hand on top of his. York beams, letting out a breathy sort of laugh. For that one moment he can breathe easily again, knowing that his voice has broken through the conflicting A.I.’s voices-that they hadn’t eaten away at the one thing his little bluebell has left.
My name is Carolina.
But it’s getting harder to get her attention. The dark circles under her eyes continue to grow. Her tanned skin becomes as white as paper, red hair becoming washed out and unkempt. She’s stopped eating. And those unfamiliar, confused looks get longer. He doesn’t trust Carolina on her own anymore. He pulls her out of missions or begs and bribes Texas into allowing him to take the black armoured soldier’s place.
My name is…Carolina.
His heartstrings tighten and pull every time her hands fly up to her head, fingers bunching up her red hair, nails digging into her skull. Too many voices. That’s what she would always say. There are too many voices. And York reaches up to pull her hands away as a knife seems to lodge itself deep in his throat. Blood comes back with her hands. Crusted on her ragged nails, glistening on her already stained skin. She’s been hurting herself. But York still keeps his smile, cupping her cheek in his palm. A thumb brushes away the tiny diamonds glistening on her eyelashes, lingering a little on the dark circles under her eyes. He ignores the blood beading at his fingertips.
Stay strong for her. That’s all he had to do.
She rests her head on his shoulder, eyes distant. “It’s all going to be okay, right?” she whispers into his shirt.
York strokes the back of her head. “Of course it will. I count my life on it.”
But he can’t do anything to stop her mind from being ripped to shreds. He can’t save Wash from slowly losing his mind. He can’t bring Connie back. And she knows it. But the thought is comforting nonetheless.
My name is…Alpha. Wait, no…Carolina?
Nighttime is especially troubling for both of them. York’s arms stay around her all night. Close to him, her head moving with his chest, rising with each inhalation then lowering with each exhalation.
And he egoistically loves each heartbeat against his arm-each breath against his skin. Because it means she’s still alive. And each day York operates on less sleep than the night before. And soon he’s pulling all-nighters just so he can continue to feel Carolina’s breath; to convince himself that her heart hasn’t stopped beating or she hasn’t slipped away to silence the voices once and for all.
It’s not long before York is struggling to smile as well. Carolina is fading rapidly with each passing day and York can only helplessly watch. He smiles but they don’t reach his eyes.
And then he just stops smiling all together. And he goes back to sleeping in his own room.
He just stands against the railing, head pressed against the cold glass as his eyes fixate on the leaderboard. Staring but not staring.
His name gleams innocently where Carolina’s once was.
My name is…I don’t know.
She hates him.
She hates him because he’s there. She hates him because he’s not.
She had always wanted a quick death.
Texas normally shows mercy with her opponents. Just one shot; one bullet right where it would surely kill them, to save them from having to die in pain. It was a last act of kindness. The most humane thing a killer could do. Her own killer had not been so merciful.