Gordon exhales shakily, pressing his arm against the tiled wall of his shower and leaning on it. Every single inch of his body is straining just to keep standing. He watches blurrily as the blood and dirt and radioactive goo and dried sewage and sticky powerade all rinse from his body and swirl down the drain. Every single reminder of the past week disappearing in overbearing silence— the only sound coming from his own shaky, labored breaths and the shower raining down on the tile.
(Well, not every reminder.)
Gordon squeezes his eyes shut and tries to take another deep breath. It doesn’t work, his lungs stuttering and his throat choking on the air. His mouth still tastes like blood, ash, and powerade. He quickly takes in a mouthful of blessedly clean and hot water and swishes before spitting.
Something in his gut feels like it’s dragging him down, every second passing he felt more and more heavy. He blinks and realizes the water has gone clear. With a trembling arm and a great deal of effort, he turns off the water and stands there as his hair drips down his shoulders and back.
Gordon runs his hands down his face and, after a moment deliberating if he should get out or just lay down and pass out in the tub, he carefully steps out of the shower. He grabs a towel and just barely dries the water off of himself before dressing in basketball shorts and a loose shirt.
He doesn't look at the HEV suit in the hamper that took 3 hours and seven different tools to remove. He ignores it, grabs his glasses from the counter, and leaves the room; not even having enough energy to shave or brush his teeth.
He falls into his bed face first, dropping his glasses onto the carpeted floor without a care in the world. It’s still quiet. It’s so, so quiet. Peaceful. The most satisfying feeling in the world right now. He sighs and presses his face harder into the pillow, his eyes rolling back into his skull before he’s out.
It feels like only seconds have passed when he opens his eyes again. He blinks awake and has a moment of calm before he inhales sharply, sitting up so fast his stomach lurches.
“BENREY?!” He cries out as he looks around the dark, empty room— trying to find the threat as he holds up his right arm as if aiming it.
It takes him a second. He breathes out heavily as he remembers. He’s not at Black Mesa anymore, not in alien dimensions, not being attacked by peeper puppies or soldiers or skeletons. He has his right hand. He’s in his home.
Gordon groans and falls back onto his bed. He presses his palms against his eyes as he bites back a scream. He can hear his own racing heart in his ears. “God. Fuck. It’s— it’s fine. He’s—“
Gordon does scream, this time. He flinches so hard he falls off his bed and right onto his glasses, breaking them with an almost echoing snap. He looks up at his doorway and sees... Benrey?
He blinks and squints harder. “Benrey?”
“What, dude.” Benrey says back, almost irritated.
Gordon’s throat closes up and his breathing stutters. “You— you fucking— you’re alive?! You—“ He makes a high pitched noise as Benrey takes a step towards him and scrambles back, pressing himself against the nightstand. “Don’t— don’t come any closer! Don’t— how are you even here?!”
Benrey stares at him. “Hey, man, you need to chill out.”
“DON’T YOU FUCKING— don’t tell me to calm down! Shut up! You fucking tried to kill me!”
“I’m just saying—“
“I don’t wanna hear it!”
“—you seem kinda—“
“Where the fuck is my gun?!”“
“—tense, dude. Do you wanna—“
“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD, MOTHERFUCK—“
Gordon is cut off when a spew of blue lights and an odd song come out of Benrey’s mouth and phase right into his open mouth, making him tense up. The effect is immediate, his heart rate slows and his breathing comes easier. Gordon exhales as the physical feeling fades— the gentle tingling sensation right on the back of his neck. He smacks his lips, tasting the blue raspberry as he glares up at Benrey.
“Don’t— don’t do that.”
“Calm down, then.” Is Benrey’s immediate response.
Gordon’s sigh turns into a groan and he shoves his left hand around on the floor in the dark until he closes in on his glasses. He pulls them up to his face and examines them, groaning harder when he finds them nearly snapped in half.
“Are you kidding me, man?!” He complains towards Benrey. “My glasses are broken now because of you!”
“No they aren’t.”
“Wh— uh.” Gordon looks down at his fully-repaired glasses. He squints and frowns and turns them around in his hands. “I. What the fuck?”
He puts them on and looks up to see Benrey in perfect clarity now. He’s wearing casual wear, jeans and a t-shirt that’s a check list of ‘Male, Female, and Gamer’ with ‘Gamer’ as the only one checked. Gordon wants to snort at the absurdity of it but swallows it and scowls.
“You. What did you do?”
“What do you mean ‘huh’?” Gordon presses, standing up. “How the fuck did you do that?”
“Pretty rude of you to not thank your best friend for fixing a problem.”
“We aren’t— you know what? Nevermind. Thank you.”
“Gordon Freeman more like Gordon… Meanman.”
“Are you fucking—“
Benrey leaves the room before Gordon can finish the sentence. He quickly follows him down the hall. “What are you even doing here, man? This is my fucking house, you can’t just break and enter!”
“I didn’t break anything.” He says and goes into the kitchen. Gordon stands right in the entryway and watches as he opens his fridge.
“You are supposed to be dead.” Gordon says, crossing his arms. “Why aren’t you dead?”
“Why aren’t you dead?”
“Wh— because I beat you!”
“ You beat me?” Benrey looks up at him from behind the fridge door.”
Gordon pauses. “We— we beat you. The Science Team beat you. We killed you.”
“Dude I just- I wanted to play Heavenly Sword with- with my friend— and you come in with your--“
“Oh don’t fucking start with this shit again.” Gordon hisses out. “You’re still alive, you can go fucking play Heavenly Sword all you want. No one is stopping you!”
“No I can’t.” Benrey says as he pulls a seltzer out and examines it.
“Yes, you can!”
“Y— okay, fine, why not?”
“‘Cause my friend’s not gonna have any free time until this weekend.”
“Oh.” Gordon pauses. “I mean, yeah I guess you can’t. Sorry, man. But that doesn’t explain what you're doing in my home!”
“Huh?” He cracks open the seltzer and sips at it before making a face and putting the full can on the counter to abandon it. “I dunno. I was in the neighborhood.”
“In the neighborhood.” Gordon clarifies critically. “Uh-huh. Yeah. Let’s just say that I believe you for a sec. Again, why aren’t you dead?”
Benrey levels a look at him that makes Gordon tense. It makes the hair on the back of his neck stand up, like he's looking at something very… very dangerous. His gut sinks more with every second he looks at him.
“I can’t die— I’m not human.” He says, his voice clear and loud like he was standing right next to his ear despite being 10 feet away. His eyes are unmoving, untwitching, unnervingly still as he maintains eye contact for a few seconds after he says it.
Gordon swallows thickly. The feeling of impending doom fades as Benrey looks away and begins to root through his freezer.
“Yeah, okay.” Gordon squeaks out. “That— that tracks.”
“Yoooooo, you got moose tracks?” He pulls the icecream pint from the door. “Nice.”
“You—“ Gordon squeaks again but stops and clears his throat. He tries again. “You’re just gonna… bum around, then? Eat my food?”
“You gonna try ‘n stop me, Meanman?” The silverware clinks together in the drawer as he doesn’t even look in an attempt to grab a spoon.
Gordon blinks. “...No.”
Benrey huffs out a laugh and moves past him with the tub of icecream and the spoon. “That’s what I thought, lil’ dumbass baby.”
Gordon follows him into the living room, and stops dead when he sees the unfamiliar console already hooked up to the TV. “How long have you been here?”
“Huh?” He falls onto his couch and starts digging in to the ice cream.
“I said how l—“
“You wanna play? I got— I got another free month— we can playyy… uh. Call of Duty 3.”
Gordon blinks slowly at Benrey, who is looking up at him expectantly.
“Yeah,” He sighs. “Yeah, sure. That sounds nice right now.”
“Hahahaha, you fucked uuuuuppppp.”
“You’re fucking cheating, I know it—“
“Stupid shitty baby idiot says what.”
“I’m not falling for that—“
“STUPID SHITTY BABY IDIOT SAYS WHAAAAAT.”
“Oh fuck off, you’re fucking with it— NOOOO, FUCK!”
Benrey laughs and throws his head back as Gordon falls off the map all on his own, no effort on Benrey’s part at all. Gordon yells out in frustration and throws his hands up and goes to do his angry little bitch walk around the living room.
Benrey grins as he watches him rant about cheating and janky controls and just snickers. He does the arm waving thing the whole time, yelling animatedly but with a barely-suppressed smile on his face. The tub of ice cream is long empty, sitting on the coffee table, two spoons resting at the bottom.
Gordon ends his rant when he slams the pause button. “Fuck this, I gotta pee. Gimme a sec.”
Benrey leans back and waves him off amicably. Gordon goes down the hallway and into the bathroom, leaving Benrey alone.
He slides a hand down the side of his face as his good mood drops. It really ain’t great, this. Not ideal.
Stupid fuckin’— Feetman. Stupid Benrey. Stupid. Stupid.
He wasn’t supposed to be here. He knows this. He wasn’t supposed to be able to eat ice cream and play video games with Gordon. He shouldn’t. He—
He really wants to. Fuck, he wants to do this forever if he could. He spits out neon pink almost involuntarily and uses his palm to scrub at his cheek. Fucking stupid.
It wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be right, it could go so, so bad. And the last thing Benrey wanted to do was drive Gordon away from him. Or make him scared of him again. Not when he was called here by him in the first place.
He’d been gone. Not dead, gone. Away. Somewhere in between the here and the now. He always only has— vague memories. Disjointed and fuzzy. He was going to sleep for a while, let them be. Let— let them have their party or whatever.
He hadn’t expected to be pulled back into himself through Gordon’s ragged cry, his name being shouted into the dark not out of fear but out of—
Stop. Stop, Gordon doesn’t fucking think like that. He’s being stupid and just being here is dumb. He should— he should go. Gordon’ll laugh and joke for a bit but he gets tired of him. He always gets tired of him. It happens everytime. Everytime he comes back into himself after a while with only vague memories of empty, bony eye sockets and the smell of rot.
Something tugs sharply at Benrey— something deep in his gut, right behind his navel— and before he knows it, he’s standing and moving down the hall without thinking. Something pulling him closer and closer like a hook and chain and he feels a foreign sense of dread as he walks down the hall.
Something’s wrong. Something— Gordon’s in trouble.
The thought slams into him. He can feel someone calling for him, Gordon calling for him. Benrey comes a standstill in front of the door to the bathroom. Sweat beads down his face, and while part of him wants to just go inside to make sure Gordon’s okay, he forces himself to just knock on the door.
“Hey, uh, Feetman—“
There’s no answer. Benrey takes a deep breath. He knocks again.
“Yo, the— the game is…” He trails off. There’s still no answer. There’s no sound at all coming from the bathroom. He clenches and unclenches his fists, going through the pros and cons of trying to invade his privacy like this.
He knocks a third time, harder and more insistent.
He growls out a “Fuck this,” and pushes through the door, not even bothering with being physical as he does.
Benrey sees Gordon, immediately, sitting in front of his sink with his knees brought up to his chest. His eyes are wide and staring at the hamper with his HEV suit in it. He glances up at Benrey for only a second before going back to staring at it.
Benrey exhales some green to grey and relaxes. He sits down next to him, carefully not touching him. Carefully mimicking his pose.
“...Sorry,” Gordon says, quietly. Subdued. It startles Benrey, just a little. It doesn’t sound right. Gordon is loud. He’s supposed to be loud.
“Uh. Yeah.” Benrey mutters. “‘S cool.”
Gordon looks over at him without moving his head. “I don’t even know why I’m apologizing to you, of all people.” He chuckles a little, bitter and soft and yeah— that’s. That’s better.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s over.” Gordon admits. His gaze fixates right back to the hamper. “Not— not even when I thought you were dead for good.” He pauses and frowns deeper. “Especially not then.”
Benrey doesn’t want to think about what that means. He shifts in his seat on the floor.
(He has no fucking clue what to say here.)
“You… you’re alright when you aren’t trying to kill me. Or harass me about paperwork.” Gordon tells him. “You’re funny. You’re fun to hang with. You’re surprisingly good at being friendly. You’re—“ He cuts himself off for whatever reason and shifts ever-so-slightly closer to Benrey. “Yeah, You’re an okay dude.”
Benrey swallows.“You— you’re a good cool.”
Gordon laughs. “What— what does that even mean?”
Benrey smiles and shrugs, and Gordon smiles right back. He jumps when Gordon touches him, his shoulder pressing against his. Something spasms dangerously in his chest and he feels so dizzy, all of a sudden. He exhales harshly as Gordon turns to look at him, his warm eyes underlined with dark circles. His cheeks are stubbled and overgrown from when he’d first seen him. His hair is out of it’s ponytail, dark hair barely going past his shoulders.
Benrey is so tense, like he’s preparing for an attack he can’t see, like Gordon’s going to suddenly shove a gun into his face and unload on him again and again and again. And he’s going to have to feel it again. See the vicious anger in his eyes again. Even if he doesn’t remember why. Even if he’s not even sure that he did it.
Gordon moves his left hand. It’s like slow motion, every movement layered with meaning. He swallows thickly, eyes darting between watching his hand move up and looking into his eyes. Gordon rests his palm right on the underside of his jaw. His thumb brushes his cheek and something warm pools in his stomach right next to the fluttery feeling. He’s drunk on Gordon’s everything, nearly swaying while he sits, ready to just surge forward at a second’s notice just to try to get a taste.
Gordon’s eyes search his own for something with an odd intensity and he does his best not to keen and push his boundaries. He can’t— he can’t let himself fuck this up. Gordon brushes his thumb right against his bottom lip, his warm brown eyes flashing to look at them for just a second before looking back up. He wets his lips. He leans closer, just a little. His eyes blink and go half lidded.
Benrey lets his own fall shut gently. He leans forward, inching at a snail’s pace.
The pressure on his jaw and shoulder are gone as Benrey’s eyes fly back open.
“No. I— what am I doing? I can’t— this is—“ Gordon looks so absolutely sickened as he backs away so suddenly it gives Benrey whiplash, making him flinch back at the same time. His stomach lurches and he knows— he knows what’s going to happen.
Gordon stands up and moves away from Benrey quickly, almost like he’s scrambling to get away from him. “What the fuck am I doing?” He laughs to himself incredulously, running a hand through his hair. “Was I really—? He tried to kill me!”
Benrey feels the warm pool that was building suddenly go cold. Ice replaces the butterflies and everything is so suddenly crystal clear. The sudden pressure in his chest feels like it’s splitting him down the middle.
“You fucking— what are you doing to me?!” Gordon demands, turning on him all loud and angry and seething and so far away from the soft-spoken and introspective man he’d had the priby of seeing only seconds before. “Fucking stop! Get the out of my head! ”
He sees the anger. The vitriolic hatred. The way his right arm is raised and pointed at him. Tensed. A motion that Benrey recognizes so viciously. The attempt at blame— the notion that Benrey is such a horrific person that he would dare to even try to do something like this— is so bitter in his mouth that it makes him scowl and grit his teeth.
He stands up, the ice very quickly turning to stone. “I’m not doing anything.”
“Bullshit!” Gordon spits like venom. “I— I know you! You love to fuck with me! I know you’re manipulating me to— to want this like— like I’m some kind of freak !”
Benrey inhales so sharply that it makes Gordon flinch back. “I’m— I’m not doing shit .” He snarls, baring his teeth. “This is alllllll you . How’s it feel? To know that you’re a big enough freak to want to pucker up with some thing like me ?” He gestures at himself, shame and regret immediately curling in his stomach at the sight of Gordon’s horrified expression.
“No,” He croaks out. “No, nonono— you’re— you’re always fucking with me— why would now be different?! What other reason would you be here?!”
“You called me here!” Benrey confesses, inches away from outright yelling.
“I—“ He stops and makes a face. “When did I ever do that??”
Benrey crosses his arms. He doesn’t answer. He can’t bring himself to.
“Benrey. Answer me, you fuck .”
He looks away.
“If you don’t answer me— Wh— hey!” Benrey shoves at Gordon as he passes by him to leave the bathroom. “Why the fuck are you such a dick?”
“Nmehmehehmeh.” Benrey parrots him mockingly as he goes to the front door and forcefully slips on his sneakers and PS1 hoodie.
“You always fucking do this—“
“Do what?” He snaps. “Do what ?”
Gordon goes quiet, his face remaining thunderous. He keeps eye contact for a few seconds before looking away in defeat, crossing his arms.
Benrey scoffs and spits blue at him. “Whatever, Gordon.”
He doesn’t look up to see the look on his face that he knows is there. He slams the door behind himself as he goes, leaving Gordon alone.