Burn, Baby, Burn
rating: +27+x

Until five 'o' clock PM, Jacob R. Dylan was the kind of guy you wouldn't think about twice. He lived with his father in a tiny Manhattan apartment. He worked at his uncle's floundering hardware store, helping people far richer than he was load up expensive toys. His dad worked an equally dead-end job. They had determination, but so did everyone else in the armpit of New York. If you saw Jacob, you'd think he was just like every other snot-nosed kid in the city. Too good to join the military. Not good enough to make anything out of his life.

Two things changed at five 'o' clock. First, the hardware store closed down. Then, the discotheque opened up.

Jacob was a disco dancer. A natural since birth, eyes were always on him at the dance floor. He danced for the most sensational gang of hoofers Manhattan had ever seen: the SCP Foundation. They had it all: intricate moves, flashy outfits, and synchronization like no one else. Jacob's girlfriend Evelyn Elijovich was the leader. His best friend, Ben Barker, was the heart. Of course, Jacob was the brains. Together, they secured the beat, contained the crowd and protected the night from ever getting dull.

There were other gangs in the cities, but none of them even came close to the Foundation. The Global Occult Coalition was always one step off of the beat. The Serpent's Hand's style was below par, even on a good hair day. The anomalies, especially the Indestructible Lizards, were just a bunch of posers. Every time Jacob and his friends went on the dance floor, the crowd cheered for him. The music accentuated his moves. The lights always shined on him and lit up his haute couture like the Fourth of July.

The only time Jacob felt alive was when he was on the dance floor.

The Foundation sat around the fountain, their unofficial meet-up spot. Jacob took a drag out of his cigarette. Ben motioned for him to share, and Jacob handed the cigarette over. They stared mutely into the monolith of buildings that made up the western horizon. The summer sun was finally setting, casting the gang into a cool shadow.

Ben breathed out tobacco smoke. "I've got a buzz on, now." He put out the cigarette. "I'm ready to hit the floor."

"Great," Jacob replied. "Let's get going."

The three young adults stood up and walked down the street. The Seabird Discotheque had an annual contest, the winner of which would be crowned the best dance gang in the city. The Foundation had won the last year's contest, and they were determined to start a dynasty. If they could secure a win, the city would talk about them for years to come.

Contrasting that exciting proposition, an unnatural silence hung between the trio. Years ago, they would be alight with conversation. However, months of grinding out dance routines and dead-end jobs had taken their toll on the group. They were colleagues now, only "friends" in name.

Jacob audibly sighed. When no one responded, he spoke unprompted. "My uncle's closing down the hardware store."

"That bad, huh?" Ben replied.

Jacob nodded. "I'll be out of a job soon."

"You'll still be able to dance, right?" Evelyn asked.

"Yeah. I'm just going to need a place to stay."

"Is your dad doing alright?"

Jacob shook his head. "He's still striking up-state. Let's hope that bastard gives him the pay he deserves."

"At least your dad works for a living," Evelyn responded. "Mine's still upstate with the cult doing God knows what."

"It's not even that," Jacob said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. No one's hiring."

"It'll give you more time to focus on dancing."

Jacob paused for a second. "I guess. But what happens after?"

"What do you mean?"

"Once we're done with this— the Foundation— what do we do next?"

"You shouldn't think about that now," Evelyn said in a matter-of-fact manner. "We've got to win this contest."

Jacob didn't respond. After a few minutes of navigating New York's treacherous sidewalks, he spotted a hulking figure in the distance. Jacob recognized him from a mile away. He sighed a genuine sigh. It's these punks again.

The Indestructible Lizards were the Foundation's rival. Out of all the groups in New York, they were the only ones who came close to matching them in terms of style. SCP-682 was the ringleader. He was built like a tank; a six-foot-five behemoth of rippling reptilian muscle. SCP-1013 was his lackey; short, scrawny and quiet. Normally, they would be accompanied by SCP-3637, a beast of a lizard with surprising mobility for a skeleton. However, Jacob couldn't see him anywhere. Was he not here?

"Well, well, well," said SCP-682 in an scraggly, deep voice. "If it isn't the Found-dunces. Ready to lose, nerds?"

Evelyn smiled a malicious smile. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're trying to get under our skin."

SCP-682 chuckled and gestured at Evelyn. "This gal thinks that, just because the judges were nice to her last time, she's got a chance."

"Blame the judges. Classy." She turned to her teammates. "Ben, what does 'SCP' stand for again?"

Ben belted out "Secure the beat! Contain the crowd! Protect the night!" with the rote memorization and energy of a football player memorizing their team cheer.

"I'm sure we can 'contain' your rotten dance moves, though," Evelyn continued.

At this point, Jacob realized that there was a third member of the Lizards, nearly invisible in the dark. He was shorter than Jacob, with skin the same color as the moon and neck-length blonde hair. He wore a black suit covered in red stars capturing a sleek figure. He was staring at Jacob, but redirected his gaze when he noticed Jacob looking back.

"What happened to 3467?" Jacob asked in a mocking tone, trying to figure out what happened. "Did he finally get too salty for ya'?"

"It turns out he has kids." SCP-682 replied. "Child support's a bitch. He's got to take care of 'em."

Jacob was slightly taken aback, but Evelyn took the opportunity to cut deeper. "What, was he worried you would steal his kids like you stole our acronym?"

SCP-682 laughed. "You think you can still win? In case you haven't noticed, we've got a new member. SCP-6118 here will barf you out like Sunday dinner."

SCP-6118 opened his mouth to say something, but SCP-682 cut him off.

"Words are cheap," he interrupted. "I'll see you at the Seabird."

The two groups walked off in different directions. After they'd left, Evelyn chuckled a little.

"The new guy was as pale as the moon. We're gonna take that trophy home for the second year in a row."

Neither Jacob nor Ben said anything in response. Jacob didn't have the heart to say that SCP-6118 was kind of cute.

As the lights of the discotheque came into view, Jacob's brain chemistry shifted. The sound. The feel. The smell of the disco floor. Suddenly, Jacob stopped thinking about everything that was going wrong in his life. He no longer thought about how his job was on the ropes. He was no longer concerned about his dad fighting for his paycheck, or that he had slowly grown to hate the two people he was dancing with. The music hypnotized him and the lights entranced him. This was his element.

Judges were flown in from around the world for the tournament. As fate would have it, the Foundation's first match-up would be against the Lizards. Due to the business that they'd had with the Lizards earlier, they'd shown up late. The trio frantically ran to the locker rooms to throw on their flashy dance outfits. Thankfully, after the Foundation had changed into their flashy costumes, the Global Occult Coalition had just finished being humiliated by the Chaos Insurgency's devious dance moves. The record stopped, the crowd applauded, and the competing parties shook hands.

"Up next," said the announcer, "we have the Foundation versus the Indestructible Lizards. Give 'em a hand, folks!"

The crowd cheered like they'd just seen a home run. Evelyn took her place on the dance floor, followed by Jacob and Ben. SCP-682, SCP-1013 and SCP-6118 followed suit on the other side of the floor. They stared intensely at each-other, staring into each-other's souls. This was no ordinary dance-off; this was a battle of wills between two sets of rivals.

"Let's get this started!" the announcer yelled. "Three! Two! One! Go!"

The record spun, filling the room with the sounds of the Bee Gees singing their signature tracks. The instrumental synced up with Jacob's heart rate, and he immediately came alive. He stuck a finger in the air; an iconic dance move recognized across the world. As rehearsed, his two companions followed suit. Their synchronization was incredible; it was like they all shared one mind.

As the trio thrusted their hands and advanced towards the Lizards, they responded in turn. All together, they took a step back with their right foot, then their left. Pretty soon, they were all doing the Bus Stop in tandem, filling the room with a youthful energy that could only be described as "groovy". The crowed exploded; they didn't know who they were rooting for yet.

Jacob found his eyes drifting to SCP-6118. The Lizards were well known for their intentionally mechanized choreography; they moved and strutted a little like robots to emphasize their moves. SCP-6118, on the other hands, was a step above the rest. Every move seemed to come as naturally to him as breathing. He was a natural dancer, and it showed. Jacob couldn't help but stare. He—

Then the music cut in, and a switch in Jacob's mind was thrown. He wasn't dancing for fun, he was dancing to win. This contest wouldn't be won by simple moves that everyone knew. No, it had to be won through group choreography, the likes of which the crowd hadn't seen before. Jacob met eyes with Evelyn. He knew she was thinking the exact same thought.

Without a single spoken word, the Foundation broke into a new routine. Jacob began doing the Retro Hustle; one of the staple moves of any discotheque. However, before they finished the move, Jacob and Evelyn quickly transitioned into a tango fit for two. Ben, who was standing behind them, rearranged his Hustle to continue rotating around them. The crowd was stunned. Their "oo"s and "ah"s were like morphine for Jacob's soul. He got tunnel vision. He was no longer dancing in the discotheque; he was tangoing with Evelyn in a sweet dream made out of glitter and gold.

The only part left was to stick the landing. Evelyn was six foot two; easily taller than most of the men Jacob knew. Lifting her into the air was not going to be easy. However, they'd rehearsed this move a thousand times. Jacob grabbed Evelyn's waist and began to lift her into the air. The crowd roared ecstatically. Jacob's heart beat like a Geobukseon war drum.

Suddenly, he felt a crack! in his knee. He screamed and fell to the ground, taking Evelyn tumbling down with him. Jacob clutched his right leg and curled up on the ground. His knee was dislocated. Someone had kicked it out.

Standing, right next to him, SCP-6118 had his hands covering his mouth from sheer shock. He muttered "sorry sorry sorry" over and over again. He had been the one to cripple Jacob.

The music suddenly shut off. The crowd booed. One of the judges stood up and ran over to the group, inspecting Jacob's knee.

"This man cannot dance anymore," the judge said in a calm voice.

Jacob opened his eyes and looked up. Ben looked concerned; Evelyn looked annoyed. The grin on SCP-682's face confirmed Jacob's suspicions. The injury wasn't an accident; it was a rehearsed part of the Lizards' act.

"SCP-6118 is disqualified," the judge continued. "The remaining members of the team will continue this match."

A hand extended out to help Jacob up. Jacob grabbed it, expecting it to be Ben or Evelyn. He was surprised when he looked up to see SCP-6118 being the one helping him get on his feet. Hopping on one foot, Jacob and SCP-6118 slowly walked off the dance floor and out the front entrance. The crowd started at them with a mix of bewilderment and anger.

After being shunted out onto the street, Jacob motioned towards a bench outside of the discotheque. SCP-6118 helped him over to the bench and sat down next to him. The shock had started to wear off, and the full pain of the dislocated knee began to throb throughout Jacob's body. He winced.

"Sorry," SCP-6118 said. "I did not mean to…" he trailed off.

"Thanks," Jacob said absentmindedly. "Got something to bite down on?"

SCP-6118 reached into his suit pocket and pulled out a green patterned towel. Jacob took the towel, balled it up and put it in his mouth. He placed his hands on his knee and began to push. The excruciating pain seared throughout this entire body. With a sickening pop, the knee slid back into place. Jacob screamed into the towel, muffling it such that no one could hear.

The music started back up in the discotheque. Their respective teams were likely dancing on without them. The two sat in roaring silence for a few minutes. Cars passed by the road in front of them. The sun had submerged below the horizon, and the streetlights obscured the view of the nighttime stars. Jacob took out a cigarette and lit it using his lucky lighter. Not so lucky now, he thought to himself.

Jacob decided to talk first. "I don't blame you," he said. "I know that asshole SCP-682 put you up to it."

"Thanks," SCP-6118 responded. "682 said it was how we needed to win. I guess I just didn't think about… what would happen." He looked down at Jacob's knee, which had begun to swell.

Jacob sighed and stood up again. From inside the club, the announcer said something over the megaphone, but Jacob couldn't make it out over the throbbing in his head. He looked at SCP-6118, who had stood up with him.

"We need to get you to a hospital," SCP-6118 said.

"I can't afford it," Jacob said. "I'm fine. I just need some rest."

Jacob started walking home. SCP-6118 tried to follow him, but Jacob said "I'm fine" in an exasperated manner and continued on without him.

As Jacob was walking home, he thought a little about Evelyn and Ben. Would they be fine without him? Jacob had always worried about being the weak link in the group. If they decided to dance without him, Jacob wouldn't know what he would do.

Jacob felt his mind wandering back to SCP-6118. He began to regret not walking with him. Why do I feel like this? Jacob asked himself.

The elevator in the apartment building was busted, as usual. Seven flights of stairs were especially painful with a busted knee. Through sheer willpower, Jacob was able to make it to the top of the stairs and crawl into his apartment.

He took a bag of frozen peas from the fridge, laid down on the couch and put the peas on his knee. The cold did wonders for the pain. Despite the swelling, his leg wasn't hurt that badly. As long as he didn't over-exert himself, he'd be fine in no time. Jacob took the time to relax on the couch, staring at the blank TV screen. He didn't bother to turn it on. The cable had been cut a long, long time ago, and it's not like there was anything good on anyways.

After a few minutes of much-needed rest, Jacob realized that the LED indicator on his answering machine was on. Making sure not to shift himself too much, he reached over and pressed the play button.

"Hey son," a voice said from the machine. It was Jacob's father. "How ya' doing? Are you out partying again? Nice. I hope you're having a good time."

Jacob smiled. He hadn't seen his father in weeks, but he did need to hear his voice. He continued to listen.

"Negotiations are going south. President Reagan's called in the National Guard to try to scare us back to work. Morale's pretty low out here." He chucked over the phone. "Goes to show how much power the working man has in this country, when they need the military to put us in line."

Dad was always a union man, Jacob thought. He'd never let the government push him around.

"Anyways…" his father seemed to trail off. "I hope you're doing alright. Say hello to Evelyn for me." He paused for a second. "I love you, Jacob." The harsh beep of the machine signaled the end of the message.

Jacob sat in silence for a few minutes. If he was on strike any longer, they'd run out of money. They were already getting by on scraps; surely once Jacob lost his job, they'd be homeless.

He sat still on the couch, pondering if it was worth it to walk to his bed or to just fall asleep there. Before he could drift off, Evelyn opened the door and came into the room. She didn't even knock.

"Hi, honey!" she said in a faux-cheerful voice. She looked at his knee and winced.

"It's alright," Jacob said defensively. "It's not that bad."

"I like to hear that," Evelyn said, "because we're going to need you for the rematch."

"Wait, rematch? What happened?"

Evelyn smiled. "After you left, we lost to the Chaos Insurgency. We were a man down, we didn't stand a chance. Plus, they've been rehearsing; it looks like they were poised to win."

"Wow," Jacob said. "Good for them."

"But then, in the finals, the Insurgency collapsed out of nowhere. They ran drug tests. Turns out they were collectively on enough DMT to kill a polar bear."

"Ouch. Is that why they're doing the rematch?"

"Yes. The judges were embarrassed because they got that far. They're hosting a new contest this Wednesday."

"Wednesday? That's in two days!" Jacob massaged his knee. "I don't know if I'll be ready by then."

Evelyn said nothing and began massaging the knee herself. Jacob winced in pain.

"Are— are you sure you know what you're doing? That kind of—"

Evelyn pushed down on the knee. Jacob started to scream in pain, but Evelyn quickly moved to cover his mouth. She shushed him and pressed down harder. This time Jacob held in the scream, even though the pain made him want to shout. After pressing down for a few seconds, Evelyn let go. Jacob was breathing heavily.

"What? Why?" he asked.

"It was your fault you got hit by that, Jacob," Evelyn said softly. "Your head should be on a swivel. That lizard shouldn't have caught you at all."

"What? He—"

In response, Evelyn harshly pushed down on Jacob's knee. Jacob held in his scream, but only barely. The pain was excruciating.

"The only thing I learned from my father is that what goes around comes around." She pushed down harder. Jacob couldn't hold in his scream anymore, and Evelyn placed her hand back on his mouth. "Someone doesn't just hit you. You also got hit."

She let go, leaving Jacob more confused than ever. He wanted to stop her, take her hand off his knee, but he couldn't. He just found himself frozen in place, speechless.

Evelyn stood up and smiled. "I'll see you at the Seabird tomorrow for rehearsal. We are winning that trophy."

Without another word, she got up and left the apartment. Jacob's knee still stung like hell, and after that incident, the swelling had gotten even worse. What had he gotten himself into?

The best part about menial labor is that it gives you time to think. Jacob dismantled the shelf from the wall and collected its component parts into the wagon. The new owner of the building had decided that he wanted to turn it into a restaurant. He'd demanded that the entire main room be "clean enough for my mother to eat off the floor", and if it wasn't, he'd sue. Not even the shelves could stay up.

Jacob had spent years of his life practicing, training and competing on the dance floor. Everyone in the dance scene respected him. Now, he was finally at the peak of his game. But the only thing he could think is that he'd rather leave it all behind. Never dance again. The actions of Evelyn laid heavily on his mind. They'd been together since high school; Jacob knew that she could get bad sometimes. He couldn't decide what was worse; that this was the first time she'd acted like this, or if she'd always been this way.

So lost in thought was Jacob that he barely noticed when SCP-6118 came into the store. Under the impression that SCP-6118 was just another customer, Jacob recited "Welcome to Dylan and Co, how can I help you?" dully. It wasn't until SCP-6118 asked "What are you doing?" that Jacob turned around and realized who he was.

Jacob was shocked and recoiled a little. "Ah, wow!" he said, less out of surprise and more from amazement. "How'd you find me?" Ouch, bad question, he thought to himself after.

"Ben told me you'd probably be here," SCP-6118 said.

"Not for long," Jacob replied, pointing to the "going out of business" signed draped over the storeroom floor.

"Oh. I just wanted to apologize about your leg."

"Don't, it's okay." Jacob moved his leg about to demonstrate its mobility. "682's been a world-class dickhead since high school."

"You know him?"

"Unfortunately. He always had a penchant for picking on me, Evelyn and Ben." Jacob took a box of nuts off of the wall, making sure to not put pressure on his leg. "Why'd you team up with him, anyways?"

"They were the only ones who would take me. I danced professionally back in the U.S.S.R, but that makes people think you're a communist."

"But you're not a commie, right?"

SCP-6118 blushed a little. "Oh no, definitely not, I—"

"I'm just kidding around," Jacob said. He locked eyes with SCP-6118, and they shared a smile.

Just then, Jacob realized that he suddenly felt a lot better. The questions of Evelyn and his job and his future suddenly seemed to be far away now, where they couldn't bother him. He felt like he was on the dance floor.

Oh God, I'm in love, aren't I?

Before Jacob could even process this thought and how it related to Evelyn, his uncle burst out of the back room of the store. Tears were streaming down his face as he bawled uncontrollably.

"The Air Traffic Controller Strike—" he managed to stutter out. "The National Guard opened fire on them. My broth— your dad's in the hospital!"

The news hit Jacob like a punch in the face. His heart dropped and he lost his breath. After standing there frozen for a second, he ran out of the store in the direction of the hospital.

Jacob paced back and forth in the hospital lobby, hands clenched on his temples, dangerous thoughts running through his mind. His father had been shot. His father had been shot by the U.S. Government. His father had been shot and the people involved are going to get away with it. He started hyperventilating.

"Calm down," SCP-6118 said. "You can get through this."

Jacob looked at SCP-6118. He'd followed Jacob to the hospital. Jacob hadn't even bothered calling the Foundation. Evelyn was working her job at the zoo, and Ben was probably smoking something illegal. Jacob appreciated having an anchor in this time of crisis. He sat down next to SCP-6118 and said "thanks."

"Everything's gonna be fine," SCP-6118 said. Jacob nodded, his face red from weeping.

The nurse came out of the operating room. "Jacob Dylan?" she asked. Jacob stood up and walked over to her.

"How is he?" Jacob asked.

"I'm sorry," the nurse said. "but the bullet hit him…" She sighed. "Your father is dead. He died on the operating table."

In an instant, Jacob felt like his soul had been sucked from his body. Every bone in his body turned to sand. The shock sent his recoiling to his knees, crumpling up on the floor like a piece of paper. He couldn't even breath anymore. He started sobbing.

SCP-6118 put his hand on Jacob's shoulder, but eventually withdrew it. As Jacob wondered why, his question was answered: like a switch being flipped in his head, that sadness suddenly turned into anger. Anger against the government, the soldiers that did this. Anger against the world. Anger against himself. His face contorted into a snarl. SCP-6118 recoiled. The energy surging through Jacob's body enticed him to scream.

When Evelyn opened the door to Jacob's apartment, he was sitting down on the couch, stewing in the emotions contained within him. He had taken out his lighter and was staring into the flame. It flickered back and forth like a pendulum. He didn't even look up when Evelyn walked in.

"Jacob," she asked, "are you okay?"

"I'm going to kill Ronald Reagan," Jacob muttered, not even looking up. His face was locked into a vacant look, like he was somewhere else.

Evelyn wasn't even taken aback by this, which came as some surprise to Jacob. "Ben told me about your dad. That must be hard for you."

"He killed my dad. He doesn't deserve to live."

"Jacob, you can't stay stuck in this. You need to move on."

"I'll cut him up while he's talking. That'll make the news. That'll make the news every day of the week." Jacob was still muttering; mentally, he was stuck in his newly found cathartic fantasies.

"Jacob, stop. You can't think like this. Even if you could kill Reagan, it wouldn't bring your dad back."

"So what else am I supposed to do?" Jacob shouted. This finally broke him from his trance; he tossed the lighter across the room. It landed with a wooden smack against the cheap drywall. "Sit here and roll over? I— I can't even do that, because I have to 'vacate the premises' by the end of the month!"

"Jacob, we have to rehearse today. If you want to win—"

"What if I don't want to win?"

"What are you saying?"

"What happens when we can't dance anymore? Ten, twenty years from now? Will we still be working the same dead-end jobs?"


"My dad, he— he never wanted me to— he always wanted me to do something with my life. He wanted me to— to…"

Jacob found himself clammed up and broke down into tears. The dam had shattered and all of the emotions were pouring out. He just needed some warmth, anyone to hold him. Evelyn still stood there, observing him. She kept her professional distance.

"Jacob," she continued, in the same measured voice she always used. "You need to focus. We have to win this contest."

Jacob looked up at her, but didn't say anything. She just stared back at him, coldly. After an awkward silence, she turned around and left the apartment with only one more word: "Idiot."

Jacob felt like a piece of shit.

For the next few hours, Jacob aimlessly wandered the streets of New York. Nothing to him made sense anymore. It felt like he wasn't real. The sights and sounds of the city passed him by like he'd somehow been transported to Pottersville. People walked by, some paying attention to Jacob's plight but none willing to interrupt their day-to-day routine to give anything more than an odd glance.

I have to get a grip, Jacob told himself. His head spun; walking around was like trying to make your way while wearing kaleidoscope goggles. At the edge of his vision, there was a park bench in the street; he grabbed the base of the bench and lowered himself into its seat. He didn't even realize how hard he was breathing.

I have to get a grip, Jacob repeated to himself. He reached into his jacket pocket and took out his pack of cigarettes. He then reached for his lighter, but then realized he'd broken it at his apartment. Frustrated, Jacob threw the pack of cigarettes out in the street, but quickly realized his mistake. He leaned into the street to try to grab the pack, but had to suddenly lean backwards to narrowly dodge a passing car. By the time Jacob leaned back in, he could only salvage a couple of cigarettes that hadn't been flattened.

Content to just suck on the cigarette, Jacob took the opportunity to look around. He'd realized that, inadvertently, he'd returned to the neighborhood where he'd gone to high school. Looking around, he recognized the shape of the buildings. There's Mr. Mannix's corner shop, where he'd look the other way while the kids bought some cigarettes. There's the old pool hall, where unbreakable friendships were born. Of course, that's unmistakably the old movie theatre, where he'd take Evelyn on their first date. He smiled a little at the memory.

Then, Jacob's vision began to sober, and he realized how things had changed. Mr. Mannix had gone out of business years ago; that building was now a chain store. The pool hall was bought out by a real estate developer; the sign in the front promised an arcade coming soon, but it had been there for years. The movie theatre was replaced with an apartment building. Even the streets, where Jacob and his peers learned their first hard life lessons, were now sanitized and patrolled by the police.

Something suddenly occurred to Jacob. Wait, Jacob told himself. He squinted and read the name of the apartment building. A fragment of a conversation he'd had with SCP-6118 came back to him. He'd brought up where he was living… that was the name of the building! SCP-6118 lives here.

Trying his best to steel himself, Jacob stood up and staggered over to the building.

"I'm sorry," Jacob said, sitting on SCP-6118's surprisingly comfortable sofa. "At the hospital, I wasn't myself. I don't know what came over me."

"Hey," SCP-6118 said. "You do not have to apologize. If I had a father, I think I would have done the same thing."

"Right," Jacob said, probing his memory. "You're a clone."

The tea kettle whistled. SCP-6118 and Jacob both started to stand up to grab it, but SCP-6118 motioned for him to sit back down. "I can get it," SCP-6118 said.

Jacob sat back down as SCP-6118 poured the tea. He massaged his temples as he tried to think of why he'd brought himself here.

"I just don't know what to do," Jacob said. "Everything's collapsing. I keep asking myself 'what's the point?' I feel like I did something wrong, years ago, and now I'm stuck in a parallel reality."

"Do not say that," SCP-6118 said, bringing back the cup of tea. "You're here for a reason. You're a great dancer. Everyone loves you for that."

Jacob took a sip of the tea, but found it too hot. He set it down on the table. "That's my problem. I keep thinking: 'what if dancing is the reason I'm in this rut?' I've spent my entire life dancing. I've never had a real job."

SCP-6118 put his hand on Jacob's shoulder. "You're more than what you're able to do," SCP-6118 said. "You're your personality, your strengths. Your past doesn't need to be your future. I know you, Jacob. You can be more than who you are now."

After that, Jacob's head felt clearer. He looked into SCP-6118's eyes and smiled. "Thanks. You had no idea how much I needed to hear that."

SCP-6118 smiled back. "For as long as I can remember, I have had to tell myself that, too." He looked down at the floor. "I always pushed people away from me. Just a little too toxic. Like a disease, I guess."

"I don't know," Jacob replied. "I'm not feeling sick at all. I'm feeling pretty nice, actually."

SCP-6118 looked back up at him. "I'm glad. I've always wanted to get better."

The tension hung in the air for a few moments. In the spur of the moment, Jacob leaned in for a kiss. Surprisingly, SCP-6118 kissed back.

They clutched each-other tightly, bringing them close. Jacob was overwhelmed by the feeling of being close to another person. After a few minutes of making out, they detached and looked at each-other with an air of bewilderment. Excitement filled their eyes.

"My roommates aren't home," SCP-6118 blurted out.

"You really want to—" Jacob asked, before realizing that the answer was "yes".

As they brought themselves together last night, both SCP-6118 and Jacob didn't feel dead or alive. They were something that they hadn't been in years: they felt content.

The next day, Jacob found himself nervous. As Jacob walked in the direction of the fountain, he put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it. Earlier, he'd managed to fix his lucky lighter. That being said, it was crudely put together at best. Jacob was worried it would explode in his hands.

He'd slowly begin to psych himself up for tonight. He was going to win that contest, but it would be the last contest he'd ever compete in as the Foundation.

Once Jacob saw the fountain, he noticed that the atmosphere felt somewhat hostile. Evelyn was staring him down from across the plaza. Ben was looking down at the ground in shame. Once he'd gotten close enough, she stormed up to him.

"I can't believe you've done this," she said. "I'm very disappointed in you."

"I'm sorry I missed rehearsal last night," Jacob replied. "It won't happen again."

"I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about you cheating on me."

"What? I didn't cheat on you," Jacob lied.

"Ben saw you go into SCP-6118's apartment. He told me everything."

Jacob stammered for a second. "We were just clearing the air, after he dislocated my knee. We're all good now. No bad blood."

Evelyn scoffed. "Do me a favor. Next time you lie to me, don't make it so obvious."

Jacob was speechless; he didn't know what to say. Evelyn continued, "After everything I've sacrificed for you, I just can't believe you would do this to me."

"You've done nothing but hurt me for the past two years," Jacob said. "When was the last time we even— even talked? As far as I'm concerned, it's been over for a long, long time."

Evelyn seemed shocked for a moment, but soon returned to her composed self. "As far as I'm concerned, the Foundation is over." She walked closer to Jacob, standing above him. "I can't find another college reject on such short notice, so we're still going to dance together tonight. But after that, you're fired."

"Good, replace me. That'll make my day. After tonight, I'm out of the dance scene."

"And go where? Run off with 6118? You're a nobody."

"I'd rather be a nobody than who I am now."

Evelyn scoffed and walked away without another word. Ben looked sympathetically up at Jacob, as if to say "sorry". Jacob couldn't bring himself to complete eye contact.

The Seabird was packed to the gills. The crowd was going berserk; this was going to finally be the contest to end all contests. The Foundation and the Lizards were up against each-other again. The judges had designed it to be a carbon copy of the last contest in every way, save for the exclusion of the Chaos Insurgency, who had invalidated the last contest's results.

Jacob stood in front of the mirror in the locker room, styling his hair with a comb. If this was going to be his last dance, he was going to make it count. The idea gave him an electrifying yet surreal feeling: this was it. The last dance, before moving onto new beginnings.

SCP-6118 walked up behind him. "You look good," he said.

"Thanks," Jacob replied. "This is it, huh?"

"I guess it is," SCP-6118 said. "I hate to admit it, but I'm going to miss this."

"We don't have to," Jacob said. "I've been thinking. I'm already leaving the Foundation. If you leave the Lizards, we can form our own team."

"Really? I thought you were done with dancing."

"Maybe not." Jacob turned to SCP-6118. "We could be the best. Not just in New York, but the world."

SCP-6118 blushed. "That sounds crazy. Not to say that I wouldn't want to."

Jacob chuckled. "I know, I'm talking nonsense. I'm just saying, there's a bright future after this."

SCP-6118 smiled. "I'll see you on the dance floor, then." He left the locker room.

Jacob turned back to the mirror to finish his styling. It was at this point that he noticed an odd figure in the mirror. Behind him, in the locker area, SCP-682 was talking with SCP-1013. They hadn't noticed Jacob yet.

"—pay raise," Jacob heard SCP-682 mutter. "My boss is an asshole. If I don't make some money soon, I'm going to need to move in with you."

"Why don't you just go on strike, then?" SCP-1013 asked. "Like the air traffic controllers did."

"I'm no commie," SCP-682 said. "I'm not going to let some union boss tell me what to do."

"I agree," SCP-1013 replied. "Unions are just as bad as the bosses, if you ask me."

"Not as bad as the workers. Fuckin' commies," SCP-682 said. "I haven't had a raise in years, why should they? They deserved to get shot like they did."

"Jesus, man. That's a bit harsh."

"Not to me. Reagan did nothing wrong. Come on, let's get ready."

Suddenly, Jacob started to see red. A well of anger that he'd hidden within himself suddenly uncorked. He couldn't believe it. He knew SCP-682 was awful, sure. But this? White-knuckling the locker room sink, Jacob found himself seething. The music was back. The feelings were there. However, this time they were different.

Jacob was no longer competing to win. He was competing to slaughter.

"Up next," said the announcer, "we have the Foundation versus the Indestructible Lizards. Give 'em a hand, folks!"

The cheering out the crowd was drown out by the hate and rage coursing through Jacob's body. He stared down SCP-682. Dangerous thoughts rushed through his head again. Jacob made eye contact with SCP-6118, and some of his sanity was restored. He was disgusted by those thoughts, observing them from a more rational perspective. Then he looked at at SCP-682 again, and the rage returned. He relished in those thoughts. The catharsis alone was enough to make him smile.

"Let's get this started!" the announcer yelled. "Three! Two! One! Go!"

The Foundation launched into their usual routine of the Disco Finger while the Lizards entered their dance. All except for Jacob, who strolled over to SCP-682 and kicked in his legs. SCP-682 fell to the floor. The crowd gasped.

"You son of a bitch!" SCP-682 yelled. He stood up and threw a punch at Jacob. The punch hit Jacob right in the chest. It felt like being struck by a truck; Jacob saw stars.

Before Jacob could punch back, Evelyn and Ben had grabbed him from behind and was pulling him backwards. But, that wasn't enough to stop him. He reached into his jacket, took out his lucky lighter, and threw it at SCP-682. It hit dead on and caught fire; within seconds, SCP-682 was engulfed in flames, screaming a horrifying scream that echoed throughout the discotheque.

It was only when the music stopped and the fire alarm came on that Jacob realized the full scope of what he had done. The crowd was speechless. His legs buckled underneath him. Once again, Jacob was terrified of himself.

He saw SCP-6118 standing near the fire exit, motioning at him to escape. Jacob ran over, pushing through the shocked crowd, and made his way out of the discotheque. Jacob and SCP-6118 fled into the night, leaving the panicked night club behind.

Ben sat at the fountain, staring out at the horizon. The sun was setting earlier now, so it was already pitch black outside. He ached to smoke a cigarette.

Jacob came out of the alley, wearing jeans and a baseball cap in order to remain incognito. Ben nodded to him as he walked over.

"How are things?" Ben asked quietly.

"We're doing good, actually," Jacob replied. "6118 and I finally scraped together the money for a car."

"Nice. Where are you going?"

"California's sunny this time of year."

"That's good."

"Thanks. You should see 6118. He's so excited." Jacob smiled. "I'm excited, too. We're going to make it."

"Yeah." Ben looked at his feet. "It's probably best for you to get out of New York as soon as you can."

"Are the cops still looking for me?" It was a good thing everyone at the discotheque competed under a pseudonym. Otherwise, Jacob probably would've been arrested by now.

"Not only that," Ben replied. "SCP-682's finally out of the hospital. If he or his family sees you, they'll probably kill you."

"I figured as much. What about Evelyn?"

"She hasn't said much about you. Honestly, I think she's trying to speak no evil."

They stood there for a minute, an awkward silence hanging over them. Both of the friends wanted the other one to say something, anything, to see each-other off. But neither could muster the courage to cross the wall that had been erected between them over the course of the past two years.

Ben broke the silence. "You know, I was the one who originally introduced you to the disco floor. Kinda funny, right?"

Jacob forced a chuckle. "Yeah."

Another silence fell between the two former friends. "Well, stay frosty," Jacob said. Ben just nodded as Jacob walked off into the alleyway. Jacob and SCP-6118 set off in the direction of the setting sun, more remarkable than he had been before.



This tale was written for RomCon. Thank you to tiredsn0wtiredsn0w for lending me SCP-6118, and NielleiNNielleiN for lending me Evelyn. tiredsn0wtiredsn0w has posted the corresponding tale Hominophobia.

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