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Fanfic / Down And Out

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Down and Out is a What If? Infinity Train fanfic made by Purpledragon6.

Taking place after an alternate ending to Book 3, Down and Out covers the broken relationship that Grace and Simon now have in the aftermath of her saving him from the Ghom's final attack. With her ex-best friend now a chained prisoner hidden away from the prying eyes of the remaining Apex children, Grace finds herself torturing him on a regular basis, struggling to make sense of the complex feelings she has surrounding him. Meanwhile, Simon is seeped in self-loathing, has a tenuous grasp on his own sanity, and craves death. But with a bit of luck, maybe they turn this into a happy ending.

This fanfic contains examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Chapter 13 doesn't feature Grace and Simon at all, instead focusing on Samantha trying to figure out what happened to Simon from Amelia and Hazel.
  • A Girl and Her X: In Chapter 14, Grace manages to befriend a Ghom of all things.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Grace towards Amelia when seeking treatment for Simon's injuries, after every other attempt to convince them fails.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: By nature of Simon still being alive, thanks to Grace being able to save him a second time.
  • Beyond Redemption: Simon defines himself as this. Part of the reason he wants to die is because he knows no matter how hard he works, his number is so impossibly high that he'll never get off the train. Amelia later reveals that the train itself has come to the same conclusion, which is why the Ghom lurking outside the Mall Car doesn't attack everyone who leaves. It's there solely to kill Simon.
    Simon: "Look at me, Grace. Even if this 'self-help train' decided I was worth helping, I'd be dead before my number cleared my forehead! What life is there for me beyond this!?"
  • Broken Bird:
    • Simon definitely qualifies. As Grace's prisoner, the events of the season (plus his prior trauma with The Cat) not only have him now retreating emotionally, but also filled him with hopelessness and despair about the future.
    • Hazel, who has lost all her optimistic joy and now puts up a strong emotional front to prevent forming any attachments, immediately rejecting the notion she has any fondness for Amelia when such is implied. Doesn't mean she won't help others though, as she desires to keep to the morals Tuba instilled over starting a Chain of Harm.
  • Death Seeker: Every conversation Grace has with Simon inevitably has the latter begging for her to just kill him and be done with it.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title references that once someone's number is down they're out of the train but also how both Grace and Simon are down (at a low point) but they refuse to be out (they haven't given in).
  • Fever Dream Episode: Chapter 6 turns out to be this, thanks to Simon getting sick from an infected stab wound.
  • Fix Fic: The author deems it to be one in response to the ending of "The New Apex", wherein Simon dies from having his soul sucked out by a Ghom. Here, Grace is stated to have saved him at the last second, which allows him one final chance to work for redemption.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Zig-Zagged. When The Cat visits the Mall Car to see Simon, Grace lies, saying that Simon died, before blaming the feline for his downward spiral and demise. When The Cat points out it isn't fair that she should get all the blame when Grace also played a role, Grace responds that while neither of them are responsible for how Simon responded to his trauma, The Cat is still the source of said trauma.
  • Happy Flashback: Chapter 15 opens with one of these, with Grace remembering the day she and Simon found the Mall Car. Downplayed in that it now just adds to her present-day guilt concerning the decrepit state of the mall, as making the place their home involved clearing out the car of the native denizens.
  • Heel Realization: In Chapter 6, speaking to Hazel makes Simon realize that he's responsible for his own actions, and said actions have only served to repel most of the people in his life, with Grace being the only person to stick by him despite being one of his biggest victims (albeit in her own twisted way at that point).
  • Ignored Epiphany: Simon actively attempts this from Chapter 11 onwards, trying to ignore the revelations he came to in Chapter 6 in favor of once again being suspicious of Grace and her motivations.
  • Jerkass Realization: In Chapter 7, Grace realizes how horrible she's been acting and questions why she's been hurting Simon like this. As a result, Grace relocates Simon to her room and begins trying to rehabilitate him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Amelia. The false conductor isn't exactly sympathetic towards Grace's plight; as soon as Grace meets up with her, she says that Simon is a lost cause that Grace should just let die, and continues to dismiss the idea that her reign as Conductor played any role in the problem. Despite this, she does promise to assist once it's clear how adamant Grace is about needing help.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Grace makes the call to let Amelia amputate Simon's arm in Chapter 9.
  • Lima Syndrome: Effectively Grace and Simon's relationship following Grace's realization that she still sees Simon as a close friend. For his part, Simon doesn't buy the sudden shift to kindness at all, and believes she's getting some sort of sadistic glee out of caring for him.
  • Little Brother Is Watching:
    • Grace goes out of her way to make sure none of the remaining Apex children are aware that she is keeping Simon prisoner, only visiting him when they leave to explore nearby cars or are sleeping. This is no longer an issue by Chapter 7, as all the Apex children have gotten their exits by then.
    • Averted with Amelia and Hazel. Amelia doesn't try to hide her abrasive and rude personality whatsoever in front of the child, while Hazel is too jaded by this point to see anyone other than her deceased mother figure as a worthy role model anyway.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Deconstructed. Grace saves Simon from dying and keeps him as a prisoner, making him suffer for all that he has done over the past few weeks; that being killing Tuba, his mistreatment of Hazel, and trying to murder her twice (the second time being just after she saved his life). However, her having an animated tattoo that judges morality means both she and Simon know denying him food, destroying his belongings, and constantly taunting him isn't exactly a good thing for a hero to do. By Chapter 7, she openly admits that she doesn't even gain any satisfaction from it and is honestly disgusted by her own actions, deciding from that point forward to treat his injuries and work on rehabilitating him instead.
  • Pet the Dog: Simon, after finally admitting his actions were his own fault, encourages Hazel to go to see Grace, and when Hazel tells him that she's still angry at Grace for her actions and not ready to forgive her, Simon encourages her to forgive Grace and tells her that everything was his fault. Downplayed example, as the Hazel he's speaking to turns out to be a hallucination.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Simon, though the Grom that would have killed him is repeatedly mentioned to still be lurking right outside one of the exits, and Simon himself isn't exactly happy that he's still alive.
  • Spoiled Brat: Discussed. Grace's happy reminiscing about one of her family's servants gives way to her guiltily realizing how ungrateful she could be towards them, and wonders if they began to see her as this over time.
  • Standing Between the Enemies: Hazel does this between Amelia and Samantha, urging the former to just give the cat what she wants so she'll leave them alone.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Usually alternates between Grace and Simon.
    • Chapter 13 switches to Samantha.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: When Grace jokes that Simon must have had a crush on her while destroying his novel, he admits he once was in love with her. The confession is bitter for the both of them, and Grace decides to kiss Simon not out of love or passion, but as a cruel reminder that they've lost the chance for that sort of relationship.
  • Think Nothing of It: Samantha's thanks towards Hazel for helping with Amelia gets this response, with Hazel insisting that she did it purely for her own sake.
    Hazel: "Simon is a bad person — but I don't have to be one just because he hurt me."
  • Too Desperate to Be Picky: When she realizes that she doesn't have the medical knowledge needed to treat Simon's injuries, Grace is forced to hunt down Amelia for assistance.