Snakes and Pills

155 - swell

Cold. The pavement was cold. Wet, dirty, uneven. It was all of these things. But Jasper's thoughts kept coming back to how cold the black asphalt felt against his face. He had forgotten the temperature outside in the heat of the moment.

Propping himself up on his elbow, he struggled to lift himself off the street. His head was spinning and his vision was but a blur. Still, he could make out the shadow of a man standing above him. The man who had laid him up like this.

Jasper didn't know why Billy just stood there. He could finish Jasper off now, while he lay dazed on the ground. Jasper tried to focus, to bring the world back into order. His efforts were partially successful, but strained him enough that his neck could hardly support his head.

The ground was in focus now, as his eyes dropped back towards it. Add "bloody" to the possible descriptions of the pavement, Jasper observed.

He craned his head back in the direction of the shadow. He could see Billy clearly now, staring at him and breathing heavily. Still huffing and puffing? Each breath threw up a cloud of steam from his mouth and nostrils.

"So this is it, then? Every great partnership has to end," Jasper blurted out in labored clumps of words. He hurt. He couldn't remember ever hurting like this.

Billy showed no reaction at all. Jasper was regaining a bit of his senses as he had a moment to recuperate. Damn, it really was cold. He looked at Billy's face, and saw more in his steady stare. Jasper saw a look of confusion. Disbelief.

What could Billy be confused about? Jasper was the one who had a right to feel that way. Nothing was easy in this life, but up until today, he had felt like he was doing the best he could. Helping the world with his abilities. Billy had been right alongside him in that, sworn to keep their secret.

Then, this afternoon, without a word of warning, all of that had been pulled out from under him. A sense of betrayal hardly had a chance to develop within Jasper, he was still stuck in the daze of being smacked with a bag of bricks. Figuratively, at least until Billy accosted him about fifteen minutes ago.

He wished that he actually had been whacked by a ton of bricks, instead of being taken down by the fists of someone he considered to be one of his true allies. A true friend.

"Come on. You've already gone this far. Here I am. You were never one to leave an unfinished fight," Jasper goaded him. He successfully struggled to his feet. His legs wobbled under the weight, eventually finding balance. He now looked Billy eye-to-eye.

Jasper brushed some of the grit off his chest, not that it mattered much.

"You see a ghost or something?" Jasper asked, truly not sure what was wrong with his former comrade. He wasn't sure why he was so worried about someone hesitating to deliver a final death blow unto himself, either.

Billy smirked at that, nervously. "Yeah, kinda. I saw you fall down. I watched you bleed. And I was the one. I knocked you down. I drew your blood."

"Do you want an award or something? My corpse would be a good enough trophy, if you're willing to come and claim it," Jasper challenged him.

"It's just," Billy hesitated, "That's not possible. How is it possible?" Billy asked.

Jasper felt weak, too weak to talk, much less to fight. He didn't want to explain. "You knew all along, the powers were only as good as a secret kept."


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