Characters: LJ, Kellerman
Notes: set in episode 1 x 17, "J-Cat".
Rating: R [violence]
Summary: LJ's most important life lesson involves shoes. The next most important involves a gun, and he learnt it a minute ago.
Running around barefoot and snot-faced is a bad combination. LJ learnt this after the day the world went crazy, when sometimes he got so damn tired that he stopped crying, then stepped on something sharp and started bawling like the entire inside of his head was leaking out. Then people stared even more than they'd stare at a barefoot teenager anyway.
Then he'd always had to turn his back to them and run in a new direction, because those people might try to help and he didn't know if he could trust them. They might try to kill him, and even now it's hard to make himself believe that.
So LJ had stolen shoes out of someone's backpack. That was what could be called a turning point.
LJ hadn't given it a second thought. It wasn't any worse than the drug stuff he'd done at school, and it meant he could run that little bit faster. It was life and freaking death! It was almost instinct that made him take those sneakers, except that there was a very real and important edge of intelligence to the move - on some level, LJ refused to die because he knew that there was a very important reason to keep going.
The reason is in two parts: one part is heavy (well it is metal, not plastic - this isn't cops and robbers, Burrows), cocked and fully loaded.
--Fully loaded bar one, now. He's just found out that this part of the reason is really loud.
The other part of the reason is in front of him, talking. Talking a lot.
MIB secret agent spy whatever guy won't shut up, and it's crazy, but LJ can't make sense of the sounds; meaning is messed up by the echoes of the gunshot and the fact that LJ had actually pulled the trigger. The guy's touching his ear, giving LJ a look like 'aw kid, did you have to do that?' Like LJ's just admitted he hadn't studied for a test that he'd failed.
The guy's taking a hankie out of his pocket. He's stepping closer.
He sounds like any adult trying to be nice but reasonable when he says, "Hand over the gun, LJ."
The words were clearer than the others but still didn't exactly make sense. LJ tries to figure out what the hell that meant, although the way everything is shaking around him, underneath him and inside his blood makes it difficult to think. But somewhere in him there is the subconscious reason clinging on in raging, dumb grudge that won't go away, and then instinct says that DANGER is getting CLOSER, and it doesn't take much thought to pull a trigger.
LJ puts this thirty-three-seconds-old lesson to good use and his finger pulls cramp-tight for the second shot. It really is loud.
The man in black has no more face. Weird, because LJ's arm is shaking way too hard for him to think he could've aimed right. He really thinks it must have been a mistake, because he couldn't have managed it. But the guy's not talking.
He's not walking, he's not talking. He's not sounding smooth and in control and he's not lying, not killing. He won't do those things again, or anything else. LJ hopes, he really hopes it hurt. It couldn't have hurt enough, he realises as he remembers his mother, bleeding fresh enough to almost taste on the air ... but he hopes it hurt.
The quiet hits his ears like a two-ton weight. MIB guy isn't talking. Won't ever talk again, LJ reminds himself. He'd say it to himself, but his mouth is slack and useless.
Some part of him concentrates on swallowing the surges from his stomach, and another part looks at the clock. Eleven. It's morning. It's a time when people are at work, kids are itching for recess, little old ladies are out shopping. Maybe no one heard. But he was already lucky that no one saw him come in, and it would probably be way too lucky for no one to have heard him.
LJ is driven by instinct and by the conscious decision that he needs to stay alive. An image of his dad's face drifts into his mind, and he realises that he wants to see his dad, now. If not now, he needs to speak to him later, somehow, sometime.
It's okay, is something LJ might say to his dad. It's easy to be a criminal, I know, I understand. Something between a choice you make and the only choice there is, if you want things to go right.
Choice: not getting caught. Not taking the rap for you, man in black. (Dead. You're dead, laugh at the dumb kid now. Dead.) It's two minutes past, and I can move now, and I am gone.
LJ leaves by the back door, pulling his sleeves over his hands so there won't be fingerprints. He doesn't realise his legs or his hands or his stomach are all threatening some kind of breakdown because there's no time, as he ducks around the piles of trash in the yard.
He can't see anyone, he can't see anyone, he can't wait anymore, and he lurches across the backyards of all Chicago. And then he's on the street and anonymous. No one knows that the weight of the gun is dragging down his pants, and all he has to do is walk.
He clenches his hands in the pockets of his pants, hard enough so they stop shaking, and he walks on because his life depends on it.