This takes place before Marc takes on his free name.
September 7, 1968- August 1 1969 (Age 18)
“It’s my boy’s birthday!” Rick called out to the smoky bar around them, wrapping an arm around the boy’s shoulders. Even with Marc sitting down, Rick had to stand up on his toes to get his arm around him.
Marc grinned, a cigarette hanging from his lips, one arm around Rick, and the other hand holding his beer. He smiled down at the man, his heart filled with complete and utter happiness, and love. He had come to love his friend, and was currently pushing back less than pure thoughts about him.
“So, you’re a man, Kid,” the man said against his ear. “You gonna chose one of these lovely ladies to bed tonight?”
Marc laughed and shook his head, a bit of sadness touching his face. “Thinking of just spending the night with you, my friend.”
“What, you’d rather spend your eighteenth birthday with an old man like me?”
“You’re not old, but yes,” Marc grinned, downing his beer and standing up. “Who’s up for a game of pool?”
The bar was loud well into the night, everyone in a generally good mood. It was a rougher crowd at the bar (at most of the bars the two of them frequented), but no one could bring themselves to ruin a birthday. Especially when the bartender was giving discounts left and right.
When final call rolled around, Rick stumbled out of the bar with Marc close behind him, his laughter filling the air. “Oooh that was so much fun! How’re you not drunk? I’m drunk azfuck, an’you’re not.”
“I dunno, I just don’t get drunk,” the younger man said with a shrug, grinning as the other man lit a cigarette with a bit of difficulty.
“Christ, it’s been two years,” Rick muttered happily. “Two years since I found you on that highway. You’re the best stray I’ve ever rescued, Kid.”
Marc grinned, watching Rick as he drunkenly babbled. That was when he noticed it, the way the man would look his body over, or the way he would lick his lips when Marc would smirk or brush his shaggy hair out of his face.
The youth was sure he was imagining it all, and began to wonder if for once he actually drank enough to feel some effect.
“C’mon, Kid, let’s go to bed. We got a long day ahead of us tomorrow,” Rick said with something that was close to a giggle.
“I think you’ll be sleeping off quite the hangover tomorrow, hun,” Marc smiled, helping the man back to their room.
Rick pulled away from the younger man once they entered and undid his pants, letting them fall and stepped out of them. Marc shut the door and went about getting ready for bed as well.
Standing by his bed, Marc pulled off his shirt, and began working on slipping out of his pants when arms slipped around him.
“Happy birthday, Kid,” Rick whispered against the youth’s back, his breath hot. Marc couldn’t exactly feel it, but the energy was electrifying, making him shudder.
“Thanks, Rick,” the teen said, turning around in the man’s embrace, unaccustomed to this sudden closeness. Marc sucked in a breath at the dark look in his friend’s eyes (not to mention the man was completely naked), and took a step back. The man followed his movement, a lustful smirk crawling up his left cheek before he slumped, throwing Marc off balance.
He stumbled backward onto the bed, sprawled out with Rick sound asleep on top of him and between his legs. Marc sighed and pulled a pillow over to him because he knew there was no moving Rick now.
The world seemed to go silent, calm, and just right. For once in his life, Marc felt normal. Rick’s drunken snoring against his chest grounded him, even the puddle of drool that was forming brought him deep comfort. The boy dragged his fingertips lightly up and down the man’s back, smiling at the sleepy shivers the movement caused.
Slowly, Marc drifted off into blissfully dreamless sleep. He woke up some hours later, though he was sure it wasn’t that much later, seeing as it was still dark out. He wasn’t sure at first what had woken him, but the reason very quickly became apparent.
They had rolled at some point, and Marc was half on top of Rick’s smaller frame. The man was awake and staring at him, eyes like a deer caught in headlights, his mouth slightly open.
“Why am I naked?” Rick whispered slowly, eyes not leaving Marc’s.
“You got undressed?” the youth laughed slightly, rolling slightly so he wasn’t crushing the man.
“And you let me sleep with you naked?”
“I don’t…mind,” he replied cautiously, watching Rick’s face with growing anxiousness.
Marc shook his head, laughing happily as Rick lifted his head to press their mouths together.
Everything after that was all sweat, skin, and energy crackling through the air. Marc stayed a bit disconnected the whole time, so he didn’t blow anything up, but he was able to enjoy how Rick’s face contorted with pleasure, how his eyes would widen, staring blindly at the ceiling as he gasped and groaned, how his entire body convulsed beyond his control.
When morning came, Marc sat on his knees, looking down at Rick with a huge, tired grin. The man looked up at him, slowly unwrapping his legs from around the younger man’s waist, a tiny smile on his face.
Marc leaned down and gently kissed the man, and Rick murmured, “I love you.”
In that moment, Marc knew he’d found the love of his life, his soul mate, and he felt blessedly normal.
- - -
It was just under a year later when Marc and Rick were in Nebraska. That place holds a special place in Nitro’s heart today as the place he would like nothing more than to blow off the face of the earth.
Everything had been normal at first. They arrived at a bar they had visited every year. The bartender, Sandra, greeted them enthusiastically, asking them about their travels. They both had a beer, and Sandra’s son, Greg joined them for a smoke outside.
They unpacked in the hotel room, planning on settling down for about a week. Nebraska used to be their favourite place. It was where they met three years before.
In a horrifically poetic way, it was fitting that they went their separate ways there.
Marc left to fill the jeep with gas and pick up food while Rick went back to the bar to hustle some pool. They were getting low on funds and Rick hated gas stations with a passion.
Everything was as normal as it could get, right down to how Rick would nibble the right side of Marc’s bottom lip as they kissed goodbye. Nothing could have warned Marc about what was going to happen.
It was when he returned to the bar that everything went to hell in a hand basket.
He walked in the front door and stopped short with a horrified gasp. Sandra was sitting on the floor next to Greg’s body, sobbing and screaming into the phone, the cord pulled tight over the counter behind her. The boy’s head was destroyed, a brutal gun shot at point-blank most likely. Blood was everywhere, other patrons cowering, waiting for the cops to come.
Rick was nowhere to be found.
Sandra looked up at him, her make-up smudged down her cheeks.
“Where’s Rick?” he whispered, stepping forward, his heart breaking. He knew it was cruel to be so selfish when her only child lay dead on the floor in front of her.
“They took him. The bastards that killed my son took him!” she cried, sobbing harder into the phone. “Y-yes, sorry. I was just…yes.”
Marc admired her for trying to calm down enough to communicate with the police. He turned to one of the other patrons.
“Who took him?” he asked, trying to stay calm.
“Uh, some local thugs. Billy was the one that shot the kid. They probably took him to Billy’s,” the patron responded dully, obviously in shock. He gave Marc directions and the youth took off, jumping into the jeep and tearing out of the parking lot.
He’d save Rick. He had to. He had to. He couldn’t let anything happen to him. Not when things had been so wonderful, not when Marc had finally found a home with Rick.
He arrived at the sorry excuse for a house (it was more of a shack really) out in the country, jumped out of the jeep and kicked down the front door.
The sight that greeted him had him stumbling backward and almost fleeing.
Rick was lying on the floor, his face unrecognizable, his body covered in bruises, lacerations, and his limbs laying at horrifying angles. The three men standing around his lover looked up at him, shocked.
They didn’t even stand a chance.
Energy crackled through Marc’s entire body, traveling to his arms and focusing in his fingertips. With an enraged howl, the youth lifted his arms to point at two of the men. A crackling sound filled the air as the energy shot from his fingers and hit the men square in the chest and sending them flying through the back wall of the shack.
With a close of his fists, the men burst, fire and gore flying everywhere.
The third man backed away from Marc, terror written on his face. Without a word, as a dangerous calm filled him, Marc walked forward until he was standing in front of the man, bending down so their noses were almost touching. He locked eyes with the swine, and he could see the fear roiling in the man’s eyes.
“You Billy?” Marc asked in a deadly voice.
The man swallowed thickly, nodding and whimpering.
The young man’s hand shot up to grab the pig’s throat, and he poured energy into him. Direct contact was always better when he wanted to make sure something was going to definitely explode. Plus, the energy was agony when he poured it in like this.
He dragged the man outside, hand still around his throat, energy still flowing through his fingers.
“You will suffer,” Marc snarled, dropping the man on the ground. “You will not have a quick death. You will wish you never stepped foot in that bar. Before I am through with you, Billy, you will rue the day you were fucking born. Do you understand me?”
The filthy excuse for a man blubbered on the ground, and even had the audacity to beg for mercy.
“You dare ask me to let you go?” Nitro folded one finger against his palm and the man screamed in agony, eyes wild. “That was your left kidney.”
“Please, just kill me!”
“Already? Hmm, I wonder how long Rick begged for you to kill him, yet he still lives in that agony!” Marc screamed, folding another finger to his palm.
The man couldn’t scream as his right leg was blown off. Too much pain at once.
“Hmm, I was going for the dick. Guess I have to work on the fine-tuning,” Marc said, his tone bored. “Tell me why, swine.”
Marc folded his third finger, impressed that his target (the man’s left hand) was what actually exploded. He ignored the man’s screams as he paced. “See, I had a feeling it had to do with money. You filthy, stupid humans.”
He curled his pinky in slowly, and the man writhed on the ground as a crackling filled the air.
“Rot in hell you piece of shit,” Marc growled through his teeth, bring his thumb down to finish the fist.
Fire engulfed the area, torching the field around them, the flames surrounding the youth for a couple moments.
When they fell back, Marc patted out the little flames that caught on his clothes and walked back to the shack, back to Rick.
He fell to his knees, looking down at the man he loved, and cradled his head in his lap. To his horror, Rick’s eyes opened slightly and looked at him. He had been silently hoping that his lover was dead, that his agony wasn’t actually prolonged like this.
“Rick, I’m so, so sorry, baby,” the boy whispered, tears running down his face. “I should’ve gotten here sooner.
The man just blinked at him for a moment. “Neat trick,” he whispered hoarsely.
“I was going to tell you. I was, I just…I thought we had all the time in the world,” Marc sobbed, letting his head hang.
“You did good, Kid,” Rick coughed. “I love you, Marc.”
The boy choked on a sob and leaned down to kiss his lover’s bloody face. “I love you, Rick. Don’t leave me!”
When Marc pulled back, he was gone, his eyes lifeless, a tiny smile on his lips forever. The youth began to pant, his breathing becoming painfully restricted. He couldn’t get enough air, he couldn’t see straight, he couldn’t even cry at that moment.
He felt something snapping inside him, he could feel something breaking. He held Rick in his lap, running his hand through his blood-matted hair, staring dully at the wall, feeling the snake in his gut coiling tighter and tighter.
He would never feel Rick’s embrace ever again. He’d never feel his energy, his near-heat. He would never hear him laugh, never feel that little nibble on his lip.
Rick would never ruffle his hair again.
Marc’s soul cracked into a million pieces and he screamed, the sound full of agony and loss. He was vaguely aware of the sound of an explosion and the flames that began to engulf the house. When the flames began to lick at Rick’s body, Marc moved, picking up the limp form and carrying it out of the house.
He refused to leave him to rest in that horrible place.
Marc drove for a while, Rick lying in the back seat. He finally got to his destination just as the sun set. He had arrived at a rather nondescript mile-marker on a lonely highway in Nebraska. Pulling over, Marc slid out of the jeep and grabbed a shovel out of the back.
He dug for quite a few hours, silent tears rolling down his face the whole time. Finally, it came time to put Rick to rest. Grabbing one of the blankets they always kept in the jeep (Marc’s favourite blanket to be exact), he wrapped Rick in it, and lowered him as nicely as he could into the hole.
Sobbing, Marc wiped his tears away and began to shovel the dirt back into the hole.
He was dead inside when the task was done. There was sunlight just beginning to show up on the horizon, so he threw the shovel back into the back and climbed into the jeep. He drove back to town, eyes straight ahead and dull.
When he arrived at the hotel, he walked straight to his room and stepped inside. He looked around and his eyes feel on a package on the bed. He walked over to it slowly and picked it up.
It was a good-sized box, and it made him curious what was inside it. Opening it, he found clothes. Several t-shirts, a couple pairs of pants, some socks, three packages of boxers, and a pair of sneakers. There was a card at the bottom of the box with the words “Love, Rick” and Marc stared at it as if it were evil incarnate.
He picked it up slowly and stared at the envelope, not wanting to open it. Tears came to his eyes again as he tucked the note away in his backpack. He began to pack everything up before taking a long shower.
When he was done, he grabbed the shirt Rick had shed as soon as they got into the room the day before. He sat down on the bed, brought it to his face, and inhaled before falling over and crying again.
His heart broke, and tore, and ripped, his soul aching as if it had an open wound. He shuddered, howling into the shirt he held against his face, his sobs wracking his body painfully.
He didn’t know how long he laid there, crying and inhaling the scent of his lover, but when he broke out of the grief and the pain, he knew he couldn’t stay there. He couldn’t stay anywhere. The only home he knew was dead in the ground. That day, he knew that Marc Brawnson had died too. Everything that made him Marc had been beaten to death by thugs.
He was no one, he had no one, and he belonged nowhere.
- - -
It was a slow process, but slowly he found himself, found his centre. He began to heal, to live on his own. He even began to smile again after a few months.
It was about a year later when he took on the name Nitro. He began to function normally, laugh again. He found amusement in everything eventually.
After losing something that profound, he felt stronger, like nothing could truly hurt him anymore. He refused to let something ever truly hurt him ever again.
He wore the scars on his heart and soul like armour.
He shed almost everything from his life as Marc. There are only three things that Nitro still has from Marc’s life, aside from the clothes Rick bought him.
The first thing is Rick’s favourite blanket. It was the blanket that was kept in the jeep at all times, just in case they got too tired to make it to a hotel. It was the blanket he called dibs on the first moment they saw it at the store.
Second, is the shirt Rick had worn the morning of the day he died, the one that Nitro had spent the next day holding. Sometimes, Nitro was sure he could still smell Rick on it, no matter how absurd that sounded.
Lastly, he still had the unopened note from the bottom of the box.
If he didn’t read it, then part of Rick was still alive, still part of this world. If he didn’t read it, he could still feel like maybe he’s coming back, that he only went away for a bit.
Almost two years after the worst day of his life, and he still looked at the dirtied envelope, debating reading it.
Someday he’d read it, he vowed to himself. He owed Rick that much.
But right now, he just wanted to pretend.