Rannon let out a raspy squeal of fear and felt his back slam back into the wall of coal behind him and his heart hammering fast against his ribs at the shock of Simon appearing out of the darkness. The small light on his his helmet only offered a sickened beam of yellow light into the darkness, and often only the whites of a man's eyes would let him know somebody was standing in front of him.
And a smile was no help at all, since the coal dust turned teeth black within ten minutes.
Simon grinned apologetically and lightly bumped his palm against the taller man's rib cage before flicking his hand away to scrape a layer of black sweat off his forehead. He bounced the flat edge of his pick axe gently off the top of his foot and teased the redhead as he fished for a white hanky he kept tucked against his stomach under his pants.
"Hav' to lose those glasses, or you won't be able to see a damn thing for the rest of the day." Rannon's ears pinkened before he grunted with a hoarse cough and spat on each lense of his glasses before rubbing them clean with the offered hanky.
"Thanks." Burnt umber eyes sparked impishly as he settled the wire frames back down on his nose and set to hacking away at the coal wall once more, his shoulder bumping occasionally against Simon's as the younger man followed suit. "Find any kittens in town lately-?"
"Shut up for a second."
Simon clapped a coarse and warn hand over the other's male mouth as he listened intently, digging a finger into his ear to dislodge some of the wax as he listened for the cheerful tune of the mine's canary and finding none. He coughed loudly to clear his throat before singing a brief line to try and bait Goldie into singing.
"The trick to life is not to get too attached to it-" Rannon's skin crawled sharply at the too brief scream and the roar of water roaring down the narrow tunnel, lip curling in a horrified grin at the exhausted howl of, "RUN!" As a crew of ninety men came sprinting ahead of the water.
His haul of coal rolled from the sudden quake caused by running men to block the only exit. Rannon yanked frantically at Simon's shoulder as he leaped to claw his way up the sudden wall, ebony coloured water already chilling his ankles as the wave of miners hit them at the same time as the titanic flood. He screamed with smoke and coal roughness as he saw his best friend get viciously kicked in the head by a mislaid boot and drop bonelessly down into the four feet deep water.
Rannon swore later on that one of the panicking men had even bitten his ear in howling mad desperation, but he was busy kicking and biting his way to the top of the heap to seal his mouth against one of the rare cracks where air was coming through. It tasted awful, the air bitter rather than sweet before he shoved his way back down in search of a limp Simon.
He bucked and twisted under the boots hammering into his back and legs as he finally found Simon near the bottom of the now completely flooded in tunnel. Pale olive skin was cold and clammy under his grabbing hands and mouth. Rannon gave up the ghost when no pulse fluttered under his hands and his lungs were seizing up from the lack of air and the icy water.
Maybe, if just this time he let himself go...
Rannon spat out a mouthful of snow and blinked out of his fog, pulling his leg the last foot out of the tiny tunnel with scars from his finger nails. The impact of the snow hit him to drag a horrified whimper free. The last day he remembered was August twenty-eighth, 1933.