Challenge: Begin the story in media res (in the middle of the action) and the story muts contain exactly two characters.
“Why didn’t you ever listen?!” A punch. “I kept telling you I’m a bad person!” Another punch. Ragged breathing. “Why won’t you defend yourself?!” Yet another punch came but the trembling fist stopped before it connected with your face. “Why… why do you insist…?”
Now that your friend was no longer actively fighting you, you gripped his wrist in the same light way you always did — easy to break free from but strong enough to remind him that you were still there for him. Your friend looked up, revealing the tears streaming down his face.
“Why?” he asked. “I’m not worth the effort… Why do you keep insisting on me? Even after I tried to kill you…”
“Because there’s still hope for you,” you told. “It’s not too late. We can fix this together.”
Your friend shook his head. “But why me? Why me of all people?”
“Because you’re my friend and I want you to remain my friend.”
Your friend laughed. “If I ever were your friend, I would have never tried to deceive, let alone kill you. Don’t be a fool. I was never your friend.”
Your friend tried to withdraw from your grip, but this once you tightened your hold so that he could not break free. Just as you expected, his only reaction was a dumbfounded look on his face. Now was you chance to make your move. You moved his fist away from your face and closed the distance between the two of you.
“Wha-wha?” he stammered as you wrapped your free arm around him. “What?”
“I want to be your friend and I know that we can make it work.”
“You don’t get it, do you? I’m a murderer! I tried to murder you! I can’t be your friend!”
“There’s still time for you to stop and turn back. I’ll be right by your side if you come back to me.”
“You’re a true fool… How could you ever trust me again? I betrayed you. I betrayed you!“
“I’m not saying any of it would be easy. I’m saying that it’s possible and that I’m willing to do the work to make it a reality.”
Your friend started to struggle against your hold. “Well, if I don’t want to do the work, it’s never going to become a reality.”
You tightened your hold in response. “Stop.”
“Let me go.”
“No. I let you go once before. I’m not going to make that mistake again. Not now. Not ever again.” I refuse to let you be the one I couldn’t save. “Long before all this, you wondered what would’ve become of us if we’d met earlier. Whatever we can make of ourselves after this will not be an exact replica, but it’ll be a good substitute.”
Your friend stopped struggling and fell silent. You had a feeling you were finally getting through to him.
“When we first became acquainted, you said that you were lonely and wanted to have friends. I was the same way. That’s why we formed our friendship in the first place.”
“Then why did you turn out so much better than me?” your friend whispered.
“I don’t have an answer for that, other than that I was too little, too late. I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough for you. Still, if you let me help you, I’ll make up for it. Please, let’s stop fighting each other. You know we’re better as allies than enemies, you said it yourself after you joined my team. That’s why you tried to recruit me to your side, wasn’t it?”
“…I… I never did want to kill you. That’s why I tried to recruit you… Just so that I wouldn’t have to kill you. I… I did want you on my side… as my equal… as my… friend…”
“See? There is still hope for you. All you need to do is ask for my help and I will be right by your side, just like before.” You softened your hold. “Please, let me help you.”
For a while, neither of you said anything. Then, quiet sobs broke the silence and your friend wrapped his free arm around you. “I don’t want to continue this. I don’t want to kill you. Please, help me get out of this mess I’ve put myself in.”
You let go of your friend’s wrist and wrapped your other arm around him. “You have my aid, my friend. We’ll get you out of this and finish what we started.”
Your friend wrapped his freed arm around you tight like a clamp. “Thank you… Thank you… I don’t know how I earned this, but thank you…”
“You earned it by being a friend to me.”
“You’re still a fool…”
“And I will always be if it means I’ll get to help you get through this.”
“…I guess I can live with having a fool for a friend… Just because it’s you… Just because you’ll be my fool…”
You smiled. “Words cannot express how much hearing that means to me.” Expressing it would have to wait in any case. “How about we get going and start figuring out how to proceed?”
“How are you going to explain my presence?”
“The same way as last time — you asked for my help. We’ll all figure out how to deal with how things have turned out when it’s time. The mission is our priority now, after all.”
“Fine… but if someone tries to punch or kick me, let them.”
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. The major consequences will come when all is said and done, but… some comeuppance before that would not hurt.”
“Very well. If that’s what you want.”
“That is exactly what I want.” Your friend let go of you. “Let’s go, shall we?”
You let go as well, although you took the chance to take a light hold of his wrist once again — just like the good old times. “Let’s go.”