Looking Upwards
Series: Gorillaz.
Rating: G. Nothing dirty or offensive.
Disclaimer: Albarn's and Hewlett's.
Warnings: Character death. Very mild slashy/romancey hints. Angst.

Notes: This was just a short, quick little thing I felt inspired to write by Death Cab For Cutie's song "Passenger Seat". The lyrics didn't really do it for me. Moreso the music. Very somber.
Though, if I ever wanted to write what happened BEFORE this little fic took place, I could probably make the lyrics fit. x3
Well. I got the title from the lyrics, anyway.
Hope you like.

The sun didn't seem to rise as high as it normally did, that morning. It seemed to hang half-way and linger there, bright but dull at the same time.

She knew it wasn't good to look for too long, but she couldn't really help it. It was strange, and her young mind wondered if it was possible for the sun to mourn the way people did. She wondered, if the sun had a heart, could it break? Could it be heavy with sorrow and drag itself down in the chest with its weight?

She had cried, off and on, for almost a day straight. Her body felt slow and unhealthy, her mind was foggy, and she was unable, surprisingly, to place her thoughts together long enough to think logically about what had happened in the past couple of days. Every time she tried, one of those thoughts somehow managed to slide loose and everything scattered and fell apart again, like a gust of air hitting a house of playing cards, and she'd be back to burying her face into her pillow and waiting for the aching in her throat to ease.

Nothing could have prepared her for what she felt not only in her heart and mind, but deep within her soul, as well. She had been known for being frighteningly intelligent for her age, wise beyond her years, but there were some things mental intelligence couldn't do for her. Her emotions were still young and at her age, they were becoming more sensitive and perhaps a little haywire, at times. She'd chalked it up to puberty, something Russel had to explain to her because the other two couldn't (and didn't know how to) handle it, and she felt better being able to put the overreacting emotions into a category.

This was something she could not group. This was something deep, too deep, deep enough to reach into her very core and pull out physical pain and anguish. It was something that hurt her in way more than one place, and it was almost frightening. She had not been properly prepared for personal loss. It almost seemed nonexistent in her universe until now.

Being a tomboy and naturally rambunctious, she had seen her fair share of wounds. It was nothing but the barely-there twinge of a splinter in the hand, compared to the way her heart felt when it was breaking. It was unbearable.

She had not seen her other two comrades for quite some time. Russel had been through this sort of thing (and then some) before, but it'd still hit him hard in the gut, and he'd closed himself off, locking his bedroom door and curling up, alone, in his own misery. Noodle couldn't, and wouldn't, blame him. He was unstable enough as it was. He didn't need to add another death to the list.

And Murdoc? Who knew where he was. Through the whole ordeal, Murdoc had been stone-silent and uncharacteristically detached. He had settled everything with an emotionless, blank stare, and hadn't said very much at all. Noodle fought the urge to feel angry with him. He'd stood by, leaning against the doorway in the hospital, hands in his pockets, and watching as Noodle and Russel lost it together, clinging to one another and trying to pretend it wasn't happening, hadn't happened, would never happen. Clinging to each other and trying to reassure themselves that it was a dream they would wake up from soon enough.

And Murdoc just stood by and watched. Apathetically.

Noodle wasn't sure if he was just handling it the only way he knew how to, or just honestly didn't care. She wasn't presently in much of a condition to analyze him, anyway.

While most of her mind fought to deal with the sorrow, and tiny stray bits and pieces clung to vivid parts of her memory, the other small portion of the brain had to question: Why. Why did this happen, why him, why now, why that way, why. He was a remarkable person underneath the bruises, the dark bags hanging under the damaged eyes, the sickeningly pale skin, the slow way his mind worked. He had a beautiful soul despite all the hardships his life had remorselessly thrown at him.

He didn't deserve it.

Noodle's throat tightened.

He didn't deserve any of it.

She kept her eyes up, in hopes that focusing them on something would keep them from brimming with tears all over again. The sun hadn't budged. It still seemed to loom halfway, and it still seemed to lack light.

She heard the studio door open behind her, but she didn't turn to look toward the source. She figured it was Russel, and she didn't want to disturb his now-apparent calm by showing him her heartbroken, wet eyes. She remained still on the steps, her fingers twined together in her lap, her gaze skyward and unwavering.

For a few quiet moments, there was nothing.

Then, a deep, gruff voice she hadn't been expecting, "Noodle."

She broke her stare from the sun and turned.

She was shocked to find that Murdoc looked much rougher and older than he normally did.

"Are you, ah..." He shifted awkwardly. The fingers on one hand were picking at a fingernail on the other. "...hungry or anything?"

She shook her head. "No." Her voice was lifeless and flat.

It only made him more uncomfortable. "Are you sure?"

"You have not spoken to... either of us in days," she pointed out in that tone, and turned back to the sky.

He didn't respond. None of the responses that came to his mind seemed appropriate, for the moment.

After some time of no talking, Murdoc moved from the door and slowly sat down next to his guitarist. She let her eyes drift again and watched him settle himself down.

He met her gaze and said, "We couldn'ave stopped it, you know."

It was almost a wince, but not quite. "...perhaps we could have."

"You can't stop a brain aneurysm, Noodle," he replied.

"We could have made sure. Made sure he took care of himself."

"We weren'is parents."

Her eyes hardened, but it was half-hearted. "You were more like the... the abusive older brother."

He looked away. Watched the cement of the steps. Folded his hands between his parted knees and tried to think of something to say.

Long minutes ticked by in complete silence. He could feel her watching him, but he refused to look back. She had made a point, and even though he didn't like it, right then and there, it was true. There were reasons, of course, but she'd never understand them. How would he ever be able to explain that sometimes 2D preferred it that way? Enjoyed it? Asked for it, on occasion? How could he ever say, 'Yes, but did you ever notice how just fine he seemed with those bruises? I had permission to do it.'?

He just couldn't imagine a way.

However, although silence was all he had to work with, Noodle's intelligence caught up and she relaxed. She let her bitterness melt away as she confidently reached across the distance between them and gently placed her hand over his, still tightly folded together.

He looked down at her hand before raising his eyes to hers. He lifted an eyebrow.

"You cared about him," she said, as if telling him something he'd never known before.

After a brief moment of staring, he somehow managed to crack a barely-there smile. The slightest upward twitching of his lips.

"Don't tell anyone."

She didn't smile, but her eyes did. Sadly. "I won't." She withdrew her hand and returned it to her own lap. "I just wish-..."

Murdoc watched as she struggled to swallow, hitching her breath and cutting off the words as a fresh batch of tears unexpectedly welled up in her eyes.

"I wish..." she took another breath and almost choked on it. "...it never..."

"I know," he said, and this time, he was the one to touch her hands.

A tear slid down her cheek and she nudged it away, stubbornly, with her shoulder. "He never knew. I just wish I... told him and..."

The rest was lost as she let down her guard. It came quickly. Broke down and started to cry, leaving the wise pseudo-psychiatrist at the door and exposing herself as the vulnerable young girl that she was, body shaking and face drawn together with grief. She tried to turn her head from Murdoc, but the man had shifted closer and wrapped an arm around her trembling shoulders.

Her direction changed, and she turned to bury herself against him, balling his shirt up in her hands. He was uncomfortable, and he had no idea what he was doing, but this wasn't the time to turn his back.

His other arm came to wrap around her and he held her, watching the sky as she cried herself hoarse against his chest. When she was done, and left to nothing but hiccuping breaths and sniffles, she spoke, voice muffled against his shirt.

"I never... got to tell him. How much I loved him."

Neither did I, Murdoc almost replied aloud without thinking, but he caught the words before they could form and swallowed them back.

Instead, he settled for giving her shoulders a squeeze and replying, "He knew, luv. He knew."

Nothing more was, or needed to be, said. Together, lost in their own thoughts, they watched the sun - ironically half-masted and somehow dimmer than it used to be.

(on an unrelated (somewhat) note, chapter nine for The Thing About should be up by the end of the week. I apologize for the wait.)