Clearing something up - in the last chapter people got a little confused. Gracie did NOT say "I love you Daddy." That was Party Poison remembering what Bandit had said to him how-ever-many-years-ago. If you pay attention to the way the sentence is structured it makes sense... Although Im not surprised that some people interpreted it that way. I'm not saying that Gracie is already that attached to him.... that'd be unrealistic. Sorry, I'll try to be clearer in my writing next time.
"One, two, three... One, two, three... One..."
Renegade was lying on the bed in his prison cell, hoarse voice counting the light fixtures on the ceiling. There were three, so the only way of passing time was constantly repeating the process.
"Two... Three... One-"
"Sand rat! You got mail!" a drac snarled, tossing in a rolled up piece of paper.
The rebel looked up groggily and grabbed the message. The door slammed, once more returning his room to it's eerie silence.
"Mail....?" he whispered, unravelling it. His eyes scanned the hastily scrawled sentence.
Three light fixtures.
Three stabs through his chest.
I miss you.
"Abbey." Renegade murmured, knowing that it could only be from her. His heart wrenched painfully as he re-read the short message over and over. The exact illustration of each letter became burnt into his brain so that when he closed his eyes he could still see her handwriting.
The once lighthearted man curled into a fetal position on his bed, shoulders hunched over his nutrition leached body. They gave him food - food he refused to touch. He would rather starve than risk being brainwashed. The only thing that passed his lips was the water he sipped tentatively from the sink in one corner of this white-walled nightmare. There was no day here. No night. Each hour slogged by unmeasured, blurring his perception as to how long he had spent incarcerated. Renegade's paling face turned upwards, skin seeking the rich sunlight he had been denied for too long. His inky-iridescent hair had lost it's shine. Stubble was creating a shadow in the hollows of his cheeks, mimicking the sunken pit where his reddened eyes lay. This life-weary body slumped in a dejected heap was merely a shell of the youth it once was.
He clung to the paper, gripping it like it might save him from this fate - a fate that stretched into fathomless years of bleached walls and silence. The only flicker of hope burning feebly inside him was the knowledge that his Abbey was out there, fighting for his freedom. She wasn't giving in on him, no matter how he wished she would. So as long as she kept sacrificing her life, he would continue to breathe, lest her efforts be wasted. That was the only thing stopping Hugh from stringing himself up and kicking over the chair.
- 6 hours previously -
"You will give him my message?" Toxin demanded.
Korse nodded. At first he was hesitant about passing on a note to the vermin back at HQ, but he felt like he owed his fledgling. "I'll make sure he gets it as soon as I arrive in Battery."
Hypertonic's despairing eyes stared blankly out of the window. She fiddled with the fraying hem of her shorts, slightly comforted by her zonerunner costume. There was no doubting that inside she was all BL/ind, but at least she could pretend on the outside that she was a rebel, even if it was only for a little while.
"You'll need to be recharged and synced with the BL/ind system in four days. Don't leave it any later or you'll start to feel run down." Korse ordered, then added a softer note, "The more you get used to your new applications the easier it gets. In a month you might even be able to work independently for a week. Just... Don't push it right now. And whatever you do, do not let the Fabulous Killjoys know what you are."
The older Scarecrow racked his brain for anything else important. "Oh, and one more thing. There's been uh... Well a breach of security. Weapon S/C/9.GR8C has been apprehended by the enemy. If you learn anything about this contact me immediately."
Her red-rimmed eyes met his. "What's it look like?"
"It is the new Scarecrow model, an android in the form of a nine year old girl. Her shorter appellation is Gracie, and is mostly recognizable by her curly hair." He flashed her a small photograph of a wide-eyed child, "Her design makes her unique - she is far more advanced than any other weapon BL/ind has created. The top scientists have been developing her since the takeover, and she is nearly indestructible. Do not engage her in combat."
This piqued Toxin's curiosity. She wondered if the Killjoys had anything to do with this escaped android, and if they did she wondered what they thought of her.
"Don't go out tonight, there's drac patrols covering Route Guano. If they see you they'll think you're a rebel and I'd hate to explain that mess to the Head."
Toxin stored this information away in her mind, but she doubted it was important. The Killjoy's tended to stick close to home of a night.
"If you need a lift back to Battery send Stuart a transmission." Korse finished, pulling up near the junction.
Toxin nodded to her commanding Scarecrow and slipped out of the car, walking out into the desert without looking back. She could feel his icy eyes boring into her, demanding her to submit to BL/ind. However this time when she visited the Killjoys, she had no doubts. The government was evil - what they did to her only reinforced her hatred of BL/ind. The only thing standing between her and abandoning the corporation was Anton. Once she set him free there was no going back, even if it meant her newly altered body would kill her from the inside out.
"Maverick, I'm pregnant!"
Those three words hung heavy in the air. There was a pause, only disrupted by Roulette's stressed breathing. She watched in horror as the one man she truly loved turned to face her, eyes stony and cold.
"How do you know it's mine?" he demanded.
Rabid cringed, gnawing her lip frantically. She couldn't lie to him. "I don't know. It could be yours, or it could belong to a...." she chocked on the last word.
"A drac." he spat in disgust.
The distraught woman buried her hands in her face, hiding herself from Maverick's animosity. Memories of the long days and night's spent at BL/ind Headquarters she had tried to repress were springing back. Her skin crawled, re-livng the sensation of cold, clammy bodies pressed unforgivingly against hers. The heavy breathing echoing in her ears wasn't real, it was only an impression, but that didn't stop the bile rising to the back of her throat. Everything was happening too fast. This wasn't the way she envisioned breaking the bitter-sweet news to him.
"Why don't you just get rid of it then?" he hissed, "Or don't you mind carrying the enemy?"
Roulette's temper sparked. "Get rid of it!?" she shouted, hands flying protectively over her stomach, "What if it's yours? How could you live knowing that you let me kill our child!?"
Maverick shrugged, "It's not mine."
"How the fuck can you know that!?" she screamed, throwing a pillow at his head. It bounced off harmlessly, but she got her point across.
The giant of a man seemed to appear smaller for a moment, more vulnerable. He looked away as he spoke his next words. "I can't give you children, Roulette. I was born sterile."
Rabid's mouth dropped open as the full realization of what that meant hit her. Her eyes screwed shut, trying to force back the tears that squeezed past.
Maverick snapped out of his moment of weakness, glaring down at the Gambler with contempt. "I suggest you get rid of it, or you may find this home one person short." And with that, he left.
She let the tears fall freely now, knowing that abortion was out of the question. Roulette had lost him, again. And this time it seemed, he wouldn't be coming back.
"Bleach!" Mikey greeted the girl, pulling up in a swirl of dust at the junction.
"Hey Kobra." she said, smiling weakly and slipping into the car. "What's been happening?"
The Killjoy launched into a detailed description of the past few days, barely paying attention to the road as they drove back to the Diner. He grinned as he told her how much the others were missing her... Well apart from his older brother. He mentioned a temporary addition to their crew, but was vague as to who it was.
"She's real nice, you'll just have to meet her." he grinned. His smiled faded slightly as he glanced at Bleach. "What's wrong? You look like you're about to cry."
Bleach fixed a convincing expression of happiness on her face, masking the pain beneath. "I'm fine Mikey, maybe a little tired. This desert life is harder than I thought."
He chuckled. "Your telling me! I swear if I have to eat another bowl of stale cereal I might give myself up to Korse."
She carefully arranged a grin on her face. "I hope not, I couldn't bare to see the day those bastards got hold of any of you."
"Amen to that!"
Maverick slammed open the door of his crew's main bunker. The zonerunners took one look at his twisted expression and then busied themselves with whatever they were doing. He stormed through the camp, flinging himself into his room. Cherry Terror looked up at her leader, shocked at his entrance.
"Mav? What's wrong?"
The giant man turned and fixed two hopeless eyes on his second in command. "They have him, those fuckers got hold of Renegade."
Terror's coffee skin went milky with shock. "How? When? Where is he being held?" she fired off questions at him in panic. The boy was practically Maverick's brother and the heart and life of their crew.
"I sent him away for a bit until things cool down. I didn't want him around incase Korse got the drop on our location from Roulette." her name sounded broken as it came out. "When she was in Battery she heard that he had been taken, but of course she forgot to mention that until this morning." Maverick slumped onto a chair head hanging in his massive hands. "Kid's been in there for weeks and I didn't even know it."
Terror didn't speak - words of false comfort were better left unsaid.
"Go get Jelly, Racoon, Splash-dash and Ace." Maverick ordered.
Ten minutes later saw the six zonerunners sitting in the weapons room, discussing the situation at hand.
"We ain't got a hope in the world of getting him back." Splash-dash declared. "BL/ind HQ is a fortress. No rebel that goes in there comes out, except through the chimney. Boy's as good as dead."
Terror stomped on Splash's foot at that last comment, shooting him a meaningful glare. Mentioning that Renegade was ghosted in front of their leader was not a good idea.
"But what about Russian Roulette?" Racoon piped up, "Didn't she get busted out of there?"
"Yeah, but that was the Fabulous Killjoys." Jelly-Bean grumbled, stabbing her knife repeatedly into the scarred table. "Those boys are practically invincible."
"They ain't invincible Jelly. Spider Bait got ghosted while they were getting Roulette outta there." Ace reminded them. "Rumor has it that was Hypertonic's first kill."
Racoon shivered. "She scares me and I haven't even seen her yet."
"Trust me," Terror growled, "if you do end up meeting Toxin, the barrel of her laser will be the last thing you ever see."
"Stop spinning stories Cherry Terror." Racoon pouted. "She can't be that good."
Maverick spoke for the first time that session. "She is. I know for a fact that Party Poison is trying to lock down on the fledgling, before she becomes a full Scarecrow."
There was a short pause.
"If Party's worried about her, then so should we." Jelly-Bean murmured.
Maverick shook his head. "He ain't worried Jelly. He's devoted. Folk around the zones have been saying that the Killjoy's handled Spider Bait's death surprisingly well. But the truth of the matter is that Party ain't sad, not right now he's not. The man's furious. All the anger at loosing his friend has placed one hell of a chip on his shoulder, and he ain't mourning until he gets his revenge. I'd say the rest of the Killjoys are waiting to see what their leader will do. After all, it was him who was there when Spider was murdered."
The rebels around him fell silent. The only stuff they heard about the Killjoy's were tales of their escapades, recounts of their plights against the hated government. To the zonerunners the Fabulous Killjoys were more than a group of men, they were a symbol of hope. Sometimes they even forgot that they were mortal, just like the rest of the rebels. Hearing about Party Poison and his motivations and weaknesses in such a way rendered Maverick's followers a little shell-shocked. The full reality of Spider Bait's death suddenly sunk in - if the Killjoy's could die, no one was safe.
"How do you know so much about them?" Ace asked.
The dark haired man shrugged, looking away. "Friend of a friend." he mumbled, thoughts turning again to Roulette. He winced as his anger towards her faded, leaving the image of her cowering on their bed, face streaked with tears when he left. There was still a burning hatred towards her for forgetting about Renegade, as well as an intense disgust at the thought of the thing growing inside her, but now it was tinged with regret. He wished he hadn't lost his temper so quickly. He doubted she'd have him back now that he'd revealed his dark side.
"Do you mean Russian Roulette?" Raccoon asked, pestering their leader out of curiosity.
He clenched his fists beneath the table. "Yes."
"Well can't we go get Renegade the way the Killjoys got the Gambler?" Jelly stated, as if the solution was obvious.
Terror frowned, frustrated. "No, the traverse has been collapsed once BL/ind got wind we were using it. And the only reason they got into the building is because Harlequin Diamond had some kind of disguise."
"But surely the Killjoy's know their way around the place now." Splash-Dash said turning to Maverick. "Why don't you ask for their help?"
He gritted his teeth, knowing that was impossible. They were friends to the Gamblers before him, and now that he'd destroyed his relationship with Roulette any chances of alliance were blown. "They wont do it."
"How do you know if you never ask?" Terror put in.
"I just know, okay?" he snarled, avoiding their questioning eyes.
His second in command fixed understanding eyes on her leader before turning to the others. "Okay, well meeting adjourned. There's not much point in continuing this conversation if it's just going to go round in circles. Raccoon we need an update on the weather system near the drop zones and Splash, the fuel pump's blocked up with dust. Take a bunch of people and go get it working. Ace and Jelly there's a pile of potatoes in the kitchen that Sunshine managed to grow, but I don't know if they're safe to eat. Check 'em before they get served for dinner."
The rebels nodded and all wandered off to do their assigned tasks. Cherry Terror waited till they were all out of ear-shot before focusing on her leader.
"Mav, did something happen between you and Roulette?"
He glowered at her. "That obvious, huh?"
She shook her head. "No, but you storm back here in a murderous rage after spending nearly all your time with the Gamblers. I was starting to think you were even giving up the crew, that's how little we saw of you. And then the moment you have a problem that only the Killjoys have a chance of fixing you come back to us." she placed a hand gently on his. "We can't get him back Mav, we just don't have the firepower or the skill for it."
Maverick bowed his head. "I've failed him. I'm supposed to be there to protect him. He's not built for this world Terror; he's so full of energy and love for everyone. It's not fair asking him to live in fear. Now that he's in Battery, well he'll go insane. I can't image him being caged, isolated from the desert which he loves so much. I have to do something, I just don't want to sit by and let him suffer. And now I've fucked everything up with Roulette...." he trailed off, feeling sick at how quick things had gone wrong.
Terror wasn't sure how to respond. Instead she put her arms around the towering man's shoulders, in an uncharacteristic gesture of kindness. She didn't know what else to do, for what can you say when there is no hope?
Mikey and Bleach rocked up to the Diner at around midday, quickly moving inside and out of the sun.
"Man it's hot!" Kobra whined.
Bleach nodded. "And here I was thinking we were headed into Autumn."
He shrugged. "That's what we get for living in the desert."
"Not like we have much choice." she grumbled, following him into the kitchen.
"Water?" Mikey offered.
"Yeah, sounds great." Bleach replied and accepted the glass of slightly murky water. She took a sip and blanched. "You guys really need to find a filter for that tap."
Kobra laughed, placing his empty cup on the sink. "A little dirt doesn't bother me much anymore, Princess."
She rolled her eyes. "You're starting to sound like Party.
Mikey gasped in mock-horror. "Oh god forbid I ever end up as cranky as my brother. I swear some days he'd make Korse look friendly."
Bleach smiled into her glass. "Now that is an accomplishment."
"So," he began, changing the subject, "where have you been the past few days? I didn't ask before, but I'm really very curious as to where you had to disappear to."
She hopped onto one of the booth tables and recited her rehearsed explanation. "My parents had a friend who ran away from the city a few years back. I managed to get in contact with him and when he found out that I wasn't a Battery City resident any more he wanted to meet up with me. Nice guy, keeps to himself a lot."
Mikey nodded, believing her every word. "What's his name?"
She shook her head slightly. "He doesn't want his name being given out to anyone, even his Killjoy name. Apparently someone is after him."
Kobra felt slightly rejected. "I wouldn't tell anyone."
"Oh no, of course I trust you Mikey! I just don't want to give out information that isn't mine to tell." Bleach replied with a reassuring smile. She was relieved to note that he wasn't suspicious of her story or anything. "So where's the others?"
He leant against the wall, gangly legs crossed one over the other. "Out showing the new kid the sights. Apparently she's never seen the desert, or even really spent any time outside for that matter."
Bleach shoved her suspicions to the back of her head. Even if this kid was the one Korse told her about, it didn't make any difference. She wasn't going to give BL/ind an inch.
"Hey Mikey," she began, suddenly interested in the way that he was standing, "can I ask you something?"
He nodded, fringe flicking to one side of his face. "Shoot.... Not literally of course."
She smiled. "I know you were... Well since I was a fan I know that you were married at one point...."
His face crumpled a little, but he nodded anyway. "Yeah, Alicia was a wonderful person. She was everything to me. I miss her every day."
Bleach chewed her lip, feeling bad for bringing his wife. "So, I know that you are... Were... Well you have been straight in the past..."
Kobra sighed, trying to see where this was going. "Bleach you're not making much sense, just spit it out."
"Okay, well I've seen the way you look at Frank and the way that he looks at you and I wondered if you were together." she raised one eyebrow, "So are you?"
Mikey blushed and stuttered something unintelligible.
He couldn't meet her eyes, but spoke up a little more. "No, Frankie and I are just friends."
She hopped off the table, grinning cheekily. "I can see that you like him Michael. And I think that laser eye surgery is wearing off, because you must be blind not to see the way he looks at you. The man's practically drooling."
"Bleach!" Kobra cried, cheeks reddening even more, "That's not true! He's not... He doesn't... As if Frank would go for me. We've been friends for years and I doubt that's going to change."
She giggled and hugged him impulsively. "Trust me, you two are going to end up together. Mark my words!"
"I bet you that you're wrong." he grumbled.
"Betting? Oooooh I love a bit of gambling, what's the going rate!?" a familiar voice exclaimed.
Both Bleach and Kobra turned to see Fun Ghoul standing in the doorway, flashing a very large grin.
Mikey went white. "How long have you been standing there?"
Frank shrugged. "Just walked in the door. We decided to head back; the kid was tired."
Kobra exhaled a breath he didn't realize he was holding and shot Bleach a reproachful glance when she burst into laughter.
The shorter Killjoy pouted. "Okay, why do I get the feeling I'm missing out on something here?"
Bleach flashed him a dazzling smile and skipped over to give him a hug. "You're better off not knowing. And by the way, hello, good to see you're still alive."
Frankie squeezed her back. "Course I'm alive. Those dracs'll never catch the Fun Ghoul!"
"Touch wood." muttered Ray as he stepped inside. "Hey Bleach, great to have you back." he greeted her and enveloped her in his bear-like arms.
She smiled, inhaling the smell of leather, sweat and something sweet that accompanied the Killjoys. It made her feel safe, safer than the disinfectant stench drifting through every BL/ind building. "It's great to be back." she answered, feeling a little lighter in her metal heart.
"So you did come back. Yay." a flat, dark voice said from behind her.
Bleach turned to see Party Poison fixing her with an unimpressed stare. She didn't reply, but fixed him with an equally disgusted look which they held until a small voice demanded "Who is that!?"
They all looked down to see the curly haired girl pointing at Bleach questioningly.
Frank laughed, placing a hand each on the shoulder of the child and the teenage. "Bleach, I'd like to introduce you to Gracie. Gracie, this is Bleach. She's a friend of ours."
"Speak for yourself." Party muttered, but shut his mouth when the other Killjoys shot him reproaching glares.
Toxin, oblivious to Gerard's comment, stared at the young girl. There was a slow grin spreading across her face. "Gracie," she greeted the child warmly,"it's so nice to finally meet you."
Inside her head Hypertonic's thoughts were buzzing. 'Weapon S/C/9.GR8C! That must be her, she's the girl Bl/ind are looking for. I must tell Korse.... Wait.' she forced the excited blathering in her mind to slow, 'I'm not obeying them any more. Look at what they've done to me! No, this piece of information isn't going to reach their ears.'
Gracie smiled tentatively back at the teenage girl. Two green eyes were locked on her, glowing with a yellow tinge. She retreated back into Party Poison's leg, looking up at the man questioningly. Something told her that this "Bleach" wasn't trustworthy. It wasn't the recognition that crossed her expression, or the fact that her eyes were glued to Gracie. The thing that really worried Gracie was the faint hum of something mechanic that reached her technologically sophisticated ears, a hum that increased as Bleach got closer. Her suspicions were only confirmed by the stony composure of Party's face. He didn't trust Bleach either.
'If Party Poison doesn't like her,' she thought to herself, 'neither do I.'
"How about we get you to bed." Gerard murmured to Gracie, placing a protective hand over hers and leading her away from the living room.
Mikey, Frank and Ray saw the way that Bleach watched them go, focused intently on the back of the small girl.
"Umm you okay there?" Frank asked.
She snapped out of her trance and nodded. "Yeah, of course. Cute kid. Where'd you find her?"
Jet and Ghoul seemed reluctant to say but Kobra replied anyway. "Harlequin needed somewhere safe for her to stay, so she asked us to hold onto her for a while."
"That was nice of you." Bleach murmured. She was frustrated with herself. Every moral fiber inside her was shouting for her to protect Gracie from BL/ind, but they were being drowned out by the voices in her head whispering at her to get in contact with Korse.
"Hey Bleach, how about we go out back and work on your target shooting?" Ray offered, slightly puzzled by the look on the girl's face. She looked like she was concentrating hard on something.
"Sounds good." she replied, following him out the door almost automatically.
Frank and Mikey watched them go.
"Well that was strange."
Kobra looked at his friend. "Was it?"
Frank flicked his lip ring. "Well, yeah it was. Bleach saw Gracie and just went all.... I dunno, focused?"
Mikey snorted. "Focused? On what?"
There was a niggling in the back of Fun Ghoul's mind. He could feel his fingers itching towards his ray gun, but he didn't understand why. "I dunno, just forget I said anything."
As the sun drew close to the horizon Mikey tapped on his older brother's door. "Gee? You in there?"
The door opened slightly and Party Poison slipped out. Through the crack Kobra could see Gracie curled up on the bed, sleeping soundly.
"What is it?" the red haired man asked in a neutral tone.
Mikey suddenly felt like he was betraying his older brother by siding with Bleach against him all the time. Now that he looked at his sibling he could see the berry coloured skin beneath his darkening eyes, half masked by the limp hair falling across his face. There was a definite sharpness about him, angular cheekbones appearing more pronounced. Mikey knew that Gerard not eating was a symptom of stress.
"Gee," he sighed, wrapping his long arms around the shorter man's shoulders, "I hate it when we fight."
Party stiffened before allowing himself to return the brotherly embrace. "We aren't fighting. We just disagree about something, that's all."
"But this isn't like disagreeing over who's the cooler Marvel super-villain or what's the best model of Puncture-Snub. This is a person. We've always liked or disliked the same people, and now that you don't like Bleach I don't know what to do."
Gerard disentangled himself from his younger brother's arms. "I don't 'dislike' her Mikey. I don't trust her. I don't believe she is who she says she is. And I've got a pretty good idea who she actually is. All I need is some strong, confirming evidence."
Kobra sighed, looking down at his feet sadly. "She's a good kid Party. I know you don't believe me, but her heart's in the right place. Please, don't hurt her."
"If she's a threat to us, to you, then nothing will stop me from ending her." Gerard stated simply.
"Please," Mikey persisted, "even if you do get evidence, just being her back here? Don't kill her because... Because I have to see for myself that she is who you say she is. If you ghosted her without showing me proof..."
"What Mikey?" Gerard growled, "You'd what?"
For once the younger Way sibling fixed his elder brother with an equal stare. "You wouldn't be the brother I know any more, because the boy, the man who I grew up admiring would never hurt someone without justification."
Party was at a loss for words. He just nodded slightly, accepting Mikey's conditions.
"I came to find you to tell you to call Roulette. We all think it'd be good for you to talk to someone outside our family."
Gerard looked up at that last word, finding it unfamiliar, but not altogether untrue. "Okay." When Mikey turned to leave he reached out and held his brother's hand for a moment longer. "You're right, we are a family. And we always will be, no matter what happens."
Roulette was curled completely under the bed covers. She remembered being a young girl hiding beneath piles of blankets, believing that if she couldn't see anyone, they couldn't see her. It was like she was in another world under those soft white stretches of fabric, completely protected from whatever lurked outside. No matter how dark her room got, no matter how sure she was that there was something sinister waiting to pounce from behind the closet doors, those blankets would defend her.
Right now Roulette wanted to be in that world again. However these sheets couldn't stop the monsters getting at her, because this time they were inside her. She was torn between two things; the life growing inside her that had sprung from the horror inflicted by a drac, and the ache in her heart that was the hole where Maverick should be.
At the thought of aborting the baby her hands pressed against her stomach. There was an unfamiliar desperation inside her, a need to protect whoever was living within her. She found it ironic; her whole life she was opposed to having children. The very idea of small hands clinging to her clothes and her hair repulsed her. And now that she had one, a mistake, who's very existence was tearing her away from the man that she loved, she still couldn't bear to give it up. This small speck within her that wouldn't have covered her pinky nail suddenly meant more to her than anything. And yet, she hated it because of that.
"I curse you, you nameless, faceless thing." she whispered, tasting salty tears on her lips, "I curse you because I love you, so much it makes my heart break."
From within her cocoon she could hear the muffled sound of the door opening.
"Roulette ma'am?" a voice called out hesitantly.
"Go away Blackjack." she ordered.
There was a pause before he replied "But it's Party Poison. He's on the shortwave right now asking for you."
The Gambler clenched her fists, gathering strength before struggling out from under the blankets. She had to hand it to Blackjack, he didn't even flinch at the sight of her in a pair of underwear. Roulette slipped a dressing gown over her shoulders and marched straight past her henchman down to the communications room.
"What?" she growled into the receiver.
There was a moment of static before a surprised voice responded. "Umm Roulette is anything wrong?"
"Nothing that is any of your business. Now what is it?"
The Killjoy's voice was soft, even over the radio. "Rabid don't be so uptight. I've told you my problems in the past now you do the same. Holding onto shit isn't good for you, that's something that I'm learning every day."
"Well yippee for you. Send me a textbook about anger management if you happen to find one." she snarled, gripping the receiver tightly. She knew that she was taking out her problems on Party, but right now she didn't care.
"You know you can be a real bitch sometimes Roulette. It's no wonder you have a reputation for being the most cold hearted woman in the zones. The irony is though that deep down you're insecure and overly emotional, and I know that because I've seen you at your worst. So don't snap at me like I don't know you, because when I found you in Battery City you had no defenses up. That was the day I saw the true you, someone I doubt even Harlequin has met."
Roulette gasped, vision going red with anger. "Fuck you Party Poison, I don't need your pity!"
And with that she cut the connection and stomped back to her room, diving once more underneath the blankets in a vain attempt to hide from her own demons.
Gerard stared at the receiver in his hand, glaring furiously at it like it was to blame. He knew there was something up with the Gambler and it really pissed him off that she wouldn't open up to anyone. A small voice at the back of his head whispered "remind you of anyone?"
He sighed, letting his anger fade as he connected to the next line. It picked up almost immediately.
"Who are you and what is your business?"
"Harley? It's Party Poison."
There was a exclamation of happiness on the other end. "Hey Party! How's Gracie going?"
He smiled slightly, feeling somewhat relieved to be talking to someone who wasn't shouting at him. "She's doing well. We took her on a trip around the zones today, showed her some of the sights. Poor thing was amazed by grass. I really wonder what BL/ind thought to accomplish by keeping her so isolated."
They continued to chatter about their lives for half an hour, just happy in the company of one another. Party mentioned his call to Roulette and it's disastrous result.
"I dunno what's up with her, but she isn't happy. She didn't even think about what she was saying, just snapped at me like I had run over her favourite ray gun or something."
Harley chuckled on the other end. "Trust me, if you had run over that specific piece of weaponry you wouldn't be alive to joke about it."
He laughed along with her. "No, I suppose not. But regardless I think it might be a good idea for you to check up on her sometime tomorrow... Or today... You're time zones confuse me."
"Yeah, well at least we don't die of heat stroke and sun burn." she retorted.
Thinking back on the scorchingly hot day he agreed. "Yeah, I can sympathize with that."
"Hey Party, I'm headed out for Misfit's an an hour or so. Why don't you and the boys meet up with me there? We haven't sat down and had a catch up in ages and I have a feeling it might be good for you all to get out for a night."
Gerard hesitated for a moment, thinking about Gracie. "What about the kid? I dunno if Misfit's is safe for her."
Harley burst out laughing. "Is that a fatherly tone I'm hearing there Party?"
"No, I just.... Well, yes. She's cute okay? Must have been the mini-afro she's got going on." he smiled into the receiver, relaxing into a joking mood with the far less temperamental Gambler. "I'll go ask the boys if they want to come, but even if they don't I'll meet you there anyway."
"Great, catch you in a little bit then!" she exclaimed happily.
Gerard found everyone else in the kitchen playing a game of cards. Ray was concentrating hard, obviously frustrated at the game's progression. Mikey was next to Bleach, explaining to her how the game worked. And from the look of it Frank was winning, although that might have something to do with the handful of cards he had stuffed in his back pocket.
"Hey Gee, wanna join?" Ray offered, smiling warmly. "Perhaps you can find a way to beat Iero here for us, he's too good for us."
Party smirked and plucked the cards out of Fun Ghouls pocket, waving them in front of the others. "That might be because he's cheating."
"Hey!" Frank exclaimed snatching the cards back. "Cheating isn't cheating if you get away with it. If they're too stupid to figure it out for themselves then they deserve to loose." he poked his tongue out cheekily.
Ray groaned and tossed his cards on the table. Mikey and Bleach both laughed, although Kobra whacked Frankie playfully over the head.
"So what can we do now, seeing as our poker match has been foiled?" Ray grumbled.
"Well," Gerard said, "I got in contact with Harlequin and she's invited us out tonight. I'm going down to Misfit's regardless, but it might be good if we all went."
There was a chorus of agreement, but Party noticed Bleach's reluctance.
"Something wrong, Bleach?" he sneered.
She felt sweat break out on her forehead. Korse told her not to go out tonight. There were supposed to be dracs patrolling Route Guano. That was a disaster waiting to happen, but if she said anything they'd be suspicious of how she knew.
"Umm no, nothing wrong. Just... Worried about Gracie. She shouldn't be out so late at a club, right?"
Gerard's face was cold. "You saying I can't take care of her?"
"No no no!" she waved her hands, "I didn't mean it like that, I-"
"Forget it Bleach," Mikey sighed, "He's being a jerk. I'm sure we'll all have fun tonight, so let's go find something to wear."
She slipped out of the booth after Frank, Ray and Mikey, but was pulled back by a tight grip on her arm. She looked back to see Party Poison's rough hand clenched over her pale skin.
"What are you afraid of, Bleach?" he growled, pulling her closer to him.
She looked up at his shadowed eyes, frightened by the darkness in them. The hazel depths swirled with hatred.
"N-nothing, I just don't know if it's safe being out at night..." the excuse sounded weak, even to her.
Gerard stared down at her, tightening his grip on her arms to the point that she gasped. "You know as well as I do that dracs patrol during the day, so what is there to be frightened of?"
Toxin felt a surge of animosity towards the Killjoy leader. She fixed him with a cold stare, icy enough to match her tone of voice. "Do you honestly think that dracs are the only things out to get you, Party Poison? Because if I were you I'd be less concerned with what's ahead of you and spend more time checking over your shoulder. After all, a man is just as easy to kill from behind as he is from the front."
Gerard pushed her away from him forcefully, chilled to the bone by her words. She walked away from him, backwards, eyes never leaving his. They winked yellow in the setting sunlight, bringing back memories of similar irises gleaming in the torchlight, deep in the abandoned subway.
R&R's please! You guys have been AMAZING with them and they make me smile sooo much. I love getting feedback :D
And btws sorry it has taken me so long to update. Shit went down and needed to be dealt with, but hopefully the story will be back on a regular basis from now on.
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