Animorphs – Easier To Run

Disclaimer: Animorphs belongs to K.A. Applegate and Scholastic Books… Not me. Except for the entire collection that I own. Linkin Park’s songs are copyright to the band.

Summary: A mid #54 songfic to Linkin Park’s Easier To Run that I felt inspired to write. Tobias POV.

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I wasn’t even thinking as I struggled for lift, carrying the urn that contained all that was left of the girl… no, the woman that I loved. She’d seen me, right at the end, she’d seen me as I cried for her. Told me she loved me, even as I made the decision.

I was human no more.

It’s easier to run
Replacing this pain with something numb
It’s so much easier to go
Than face all this pain here all alone

The sun comes up in the morning and brings with it the heat to create the thermals I loved so much. Thermals I used to soar on with her. Her Bald Eagle morph was male, but that never changed that I knew it was Rachel within it. Rachel’s mind that was thrilling at flight the way mine had. Now flight was just a mechanical thing, as normal and every day to me as brushing your teeth might be to you. It didn’t matter anymore.

Something has been taken from deep inside of me
The secret I’ve kept locked away no one can ever see
Wounds so deep they never show they never go away
Like moving pictures in my head for years and years they’ve played

At night, I couldn’t turn off my human mind, though. I tried, but I couldn’t stop myself from dreaming. Couldn’t stop myself from seeing that Controller Polar Bear morph draw it’s paw back. Couldn’t stop seeing the strike, or the spray of blood. Couldn’t stop myself from hearing my own strangled scream pulled from my throat. Had I screamed when she had died? Had I cried out when her blood sprayed the viewscreen of the Blade Ship? I didn’t remember anymore. A human scream or a hawk’s cry… there was no difference anymore.

(If I could change I would take back the pain I would)
(Retrace every wrong move that I made I would)
(If I could stand up and take the blame I would)
(If I could take all the shame to the grave I would)
(If I could change I would take back the pain I would)
(Retrace every wrong move that I made I would)
(If I could stand up and take the blame I would)
(I would take all my shame to the grave)

Jake hadn’t told us… but I’d known. I’d guessed. I tried for a long time to hate Jake for his decision. But it had to be made… And Rachel was the only one of us who wouldn’t hesitate when faced with what she had to do. When she bit down on Tom’s morphed snake body, I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to do that. After all, we entered into this fight for two reasons: to save Jake’s brother, and to keep all of us alive.

We won the war, but we failed to achieve either of those goals.

It’s easier to run
Replacing this pain with something numb
It’s so much easier to go
Than face all this pain here all alone

The Hork-Bajir have a tendency to shake my hawk’s instincts. It makes it difficult to hide behind the hawk mind any time they wander past. But this is my territory, now. I’ll continue to live here; to hide in plain sight. Ignorant of whatever media coverage there might be. Only one of my former friends knew where to find me, and she knew better than to bother me. Even when she’d show up sometimes an was obviously looking for me, I wouldn’t respond.

I’d given up.

Sometimes I remember the darkness of my past
Bringing back these memories I wish I didn’t have
Sometimes I think of letting go and never looking back
And never moving forward so there’d never be a past

And still, every night, I’d dream. Every night I’d replay those events of the end of the war. I slept fitfully. Sometimes I would catch myself pulling my feathers out in my sleep. That was one of those moments when my human mind was disturbing the hawk instincts and causing me to do damage to myself. One of those rare moments where the hawk mind, so used to living with it’s strange cohabitant after all these years, became overwhelmed with my human emotions.

Sometimes I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I’d morph. I’d morph just to cry.

(If I could change I would take back the pain I would)
(Retrace every wrong move that I made I would)
(If I could stand up and take the blame I would)
(If I could take all the shame to the grave I would)
(If I could change I would take back the pain I would)
(Retrace every wrong move that I made I would)
(If I could stand up and take the blame I would)
(I would take all my shame to the grave)

My talons sink into rabbit flesh, a lucky strike. If the rabbit had turned left instead of right, I would have breezed by it completely. But I knew the panic a rabbit felt in the shadow of a hawk. Knew the terror that could cause it to freeze, or in this case, zag when it should’ve zigged. I’d morphed a rabbit before.

Sometimes I was tempted to do it again. Just morph some prey species… let another predator do what I was too cowardly to do myself. To die… Would I be with Rachel again? Was there anything after death? These were human concerns… Push them away. There’s just the warm flesh sliding down my throat. Life from death, not life after the death; that was the reality of life as a predator.

Just washing it aside
All of the helplessness inside
Pretending I don’t feel misplaced
It’s so much simpler than change

It’s easier to run
Replacing this pain with something numb
It’s so much easier to go
Than face all this pain here all alone

I see a Hork-Bajir again. A Hork-Bajir that I know very well. She was named for me. And I know the wolf that’s running through the woods below the arboreal alien. The only Animorph who would know where to find me: Cassie.

If she’s coming to find me, and is desperate enough to ask for Toby’s help, something important must be going on. I feel my brain attempt to grind to a halt. No more battles, no more pain. Death, yes, always death, but that’s the life of a hawk; a predator. I fluff my feathers and spread my wings, preparing to fly away.

It’s easier to run away from the pain than to face it. I’m afraid of what that running wolf will tell me. I release my talons from the branch I’m clutching and prepare to launch myself into the air. They’re still too far away to see me leave. I could move my territory now and never tell anyone where I am again.

It’s easier to run
(If I could change I would take back the pain I would)
(Retrace every wrong move that I made)
It’s easier to go
(If I could change I would take back the pain I would)
(Retrace every wrong move that I made I would)
(If I could stand up and take the blame I would)
(I would take all my shame to the grave)

Almost without conscious thought, my talons dig back into the bark of the tree and my wings fold against my body again. I wait. It might be easier to run, but Rachel didn’t run. Whatever horror Cassie is carrying toward me, I’ll face it. The way Rachel faced the polar bear Controller’s claws: bravely and standing strong.

It might be easier to run, but I’m not just a hawk. I’m more than that, no matter how much and how hard I try to deny it. I have to live, and if there’s a fight, I have to continue it. For Rachel. Like Rachel.

Today, as Cassie skids to a stop at the base of my tree, I stop running.