It happens in a matter of seconds and doesn't everything?
One second and...
They point a ray gun to her head. Both of them. They've no need of women, much less a child.
A male child maybe, to be raised and molded by the company, though that idea has yet to be thought of.
They only need men.
His wife looks at him, eyes wide, sorry and sad, but burning with all the love in the world that makes his heart acheeven more, if that's even possible.
His daughter's head is buried in her mother's arms, Shh, baby, it's gonna be all right. Count to seventeen and close your eyes. Tight. And when you open them, everything will be fine."
He almost wishes that she would turn around and look at him, so that he could see her face one last time.
Two seconds and...
He stares in muted horror, he cannot look away. Determined, as if he can will the scene before him to rewrite itself less gruesome.
A lump forms in his throat and a deep weight sinks in his middle and he keeps looking forward. There is ice on his spine, rivers in his eyes.
And he is in pain. Physical pain. He's not even forty and he's having a heart attack. If only that were the case.
They release him then, whether sensing he's done fighting or something else, he doesn't know and doesn't care to. Failing to rise on his unsteady legs, he crawls forward, shattered glass and stone digging into his palms.
Through the moist fog that has gathered in his vision, he manages to get near their fallen bodies. He doesn't know how he can stand to be this close. He clutches at her lifeless hand, willing her fingers to close around his.
Please, please, please God please...praying the scene has undone itself, that his morbid mind has only played a cruel trick on his heart.
But the image before him remains the same. He touches her face then, softly, gently, feeling the cooling skin for what he knows but doesn't want to believe is the last time.
He tries to tell himself they didn't suffer. That a shot to the head made it painless, somehow better.
That unspoken plea in his mind tastes like lies.
The scene burns into the back of his eyes, branded there into his memory.
His lungs constrict as if his entire body is frozen in denial.
He allows his gaze to fall further, an emptiness settling over him.
And then his throat finally allows him to release as he screams out his loss.
Loud, hoarse and broken and he knows that this mistake today will haunt him for as long as he lives.~~~~
Kobra spent the next half hour deep in thought, trying to think of where some of the more permanently based Zone Runners were stationed and which ones he may be able to ask for help. Most groups didn't stay still long, but there were a few that based in one area for as long as possible, until a drac attack forces them to leave (such as The Killjoys and their diner). During this time of day it wouldn't be safe going toward Battery City, especially since it would require at least two of them to go, leaving only one person behind to protect Party, Grace and Dr D. He could only hope that Motorbaby and Show Pony got enough supplies soon enough to help.
He slumped further into his chair, crossing his arms over his chest and letting his chin drop with asigh.
Sadly the only group he knew of for sure hadn't moved since the last check-in, was on the edge of Zone 7, almost a three hour ride.
The blonde Killjoy was jerked from his thoughts by a quiet whimper from the bed. Party's hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat, despite the heavy trembling from head to foot.
Beside him, Grace was starting to stir, opening blurry eyes and looking at the trembling arm she held in confusion.
"Party? What's wrong?"
The redhead doesn't answer right away, his unsteady breathing broken up by tired moans and heavy wheezes.
"No, no give them back."
Grace's nose scrunched in confusion as she looked over to Kobra, his face was creased in confusion as well.
"Give who back Party?"
Party's breathing sped up even more and his fists clenched against the bed. "Lindsand Bandit. They took them."
Kobra's eyes widened in quiet fear; Party had never mentioned what happened to his family, only that they had been killed.
"Who took them Party?"
Party fell silent for amoment, broken only by strangled whimpers, before a whispered, "Korse".
Kobra growled quietly to himself, thinking about just how much the bastard exterminator had taken from them all.
"Who are Linds and Bandit?"
Kobra almost jumped out of his chair, having forgotten that Grace was in the room. She kept looking between the two brothers with unhidden fear on her face.
"They're Party's wife and daughter. They were killed by Korse soon after the bombings. Bandit would have been about your age if she were here now."
Grace's brow furrowed in thought as she looked back down at Party. She was quiet for a few minutes before she looked back up again.
"He needs the cloth again."
Kobra nodded and reached to the floor where the bowl and cloth sat, dipping the material and wringing it out slightly. As he was folding it back into a square, Grace thrust out her hand and clenched her fist a couple times, silently asking for it.
Kobra smiled sadly as he handed it to her, watching as she carefully ran the damp cloth first over Party's forehead and face, then down his bare chest and arms.
Party's shutters and murmurs continued for a little while before the soothing movements helped him fall silent and still.
Grace continued with the cloth until it was too warm to be of any help, handing it back to Kobra before lying back down again, wrapping her hands around his bicep once more.
Kobra dropped the cloth on the lip of the bowl before trying to make himselfcomfortable in the chair again. Once he was sure that Party had settled back to sleep, he let his mind wander again, thinking that's he couldn't risk waiting for Motorbaby; the camp on the edge of Zone 7 was looking like his only option now.
When he finally works up the courage to leave Party's side, the wounded man is delirious with fever and thrashing weakly in the bed, battling his inner demons with broken whimpers and angry rambling that pierces every one of their hearts and minds to the core.
Kobra Kid decides to take one the few working bikes they have behind the diner. He thinks it's faster than the Trans AM and speed is essential to his task.
Dr. D follows him out the door, a look of anger clearly visible on his face.
"Where the hell do you think you're going? Party Poison, your brother, is lying in there and you're going to leave? He could...leave us at any time, and you should be here with him to comfort him if that time comes."
Kobra shoved away the thought and continued to fasten the carefully wrapped, medium sized object to the back of the motorcycle securely. He chose to ignore Dr D when asked what was under the cloth, instead answering an earlier question.
"I know there are other zone runners out west, near the edges of Zone 7. I'm going to see if they have anything we can use. I'm fucking tired of just watching as my brother's life slowly slips away; if I can do something to help him, I will."
Dr D crossed his arms, alook crossing his face that was both agreement and hesitation. "That's all well and good Kobra, but I don't think it'll work. You four boys have the utmost support of every Zone Runner out here, but they ain'tgonna give away something as scarce and valuable as medicine. Ya gottahave something they'll want in return."
Kobra climbed onto the bike and kicked it to life, putting on his helmet, but keeping the "Good Luck" visor up. "That's what I planned on."
Dr D eyed the package on the back of the bike again as Kobra pulled away, unable to picture anything in the diner that size. All he could do was sigh.
"You better pray it's enough Kid, and get back here fuckin' quick."
He turned and went back into the diner, heading toward the occupied bedroom in back.
Kobra Kid rode for hours, flying through Zones 3-6 as if Hell itself was on his heels. He was just thankful for the late hour and the fact that Draculoidsdidn't tend to scout the outer Zones this late, favoring the hotter parts of the day when they think the Zone Runners would be too hot and tired to fight back.
He finally made it to the outer part of Zone 7 around 2am, shutting off his bike and pushing it once he reached the camp. He didn't get very far before he heard rustling in the area surrounding him, and he came to a stop, keeping his hands in plain view and his gaze straight ahead.
"Halt! Who goes there?"
Kobra Kid tried his best to keep from rolling his eyes, ('someone watched way too much TV as a kid'), and raised his arms slightly as he called out.
"Kobra Kid. I need to talk to who's in charge, it's important."
There was quiet, excited murmuring all around him and he heard his name mentioned more than a few times, but he remained still until a tall, dark haired male approached that had to be almost ten years younger than him.
"And to what do we owe the honor of the infamous Kobra Kid coming all the way out here? We just got the news that you all got caught by Korse a few days back."
Kobra Kid nodded. "You heard partially right. Got caught in a fight on Route Guano, but got away. That's what I'm here for, Party Poison was injured during the fight and we're out of medical supplies. He was shot in the side and an infection has grown over the past day. We need antibiotics."
The Leader fell silent for a moment, seeming to contemplate the request. Kobra Kid lowered his hands, nervously fingering the package behind him; he started to worry that he would be turned down without a second thought. The others around him continued to whisper back and forth, but now he could make out his brother's name more than his own.
The Leader looked back to him with a slight frown on his face. "I'm sorry Kobra Kid, we would do anything for your troop, but we don't have much supplies either; we can't afford to just give it away for nothing."
Kobra Kid closed his eyes and held his breath for a few seconds before turning around and untying the package from his bike. He held it almost lovingly before he started to unwrap the cloth.
"I know supplies are scarce and I wouldn't expect you to give it up for nothing. This is the most valuable thing we have to offer."
He pulled the cloth off to reveal his Fender Standard Bass. He had always taken care of it, and made sure that it looked perfect before bringing it out of the diner. His hands shook as he held it out, many different thoughts and feelings flying through his head as he offered up the last of his previous life. But adetermined look spread across his face, his brother was worth it.
The Leader's eyes were wide as he looked at the bass, seemingly mesmerized. He slowly reached out and took the neck, carefully pulling it toward him.
"No one has had something like this in a long time. You aren't serious?"
Kobra Kid balled his hands into fists to hide the shaking and nodded his head.
"It's the best I have to offer and we need the medicine. Will you please accept it?"
The Leader still looked unsure. He knew of Kobra Kid and his group's lives before BL/ind took over and therefore knew how much this was physically hurting Kobra Kid to give up his bass. He ran his fingers briefly across the front of the body before looking back up at the Killjoy before him.
"It's a deal. Toxic Sunshine is our current medic, she'll help you with what you need."
Kobra Kid smiled a little as he nodded his head. "Thanks a lot." He then followed a small red haired female further into camp and into one of the buildings.
_ _ _ _
Fun Ghoul shifted uncomfortably in his chair, trying to find a position that would stop hurting his butt. How the hell did Kobra Kid sit in this chair all the time?
As soon as Kobra Kid left, Ghoul had taken over the watching Party Poison like a hawk, keeping track of every distressed movement and mumbled word.
Party's mumbling came to an abrupt halt and he fell quiet for the first time in over an hour. The sudden silence was enough to throw Ghoul from his thoughts and look back up toward his best friend and leader.
Party was looking right at him and for the first time since he fell ill, his eyes seemed perfectly clear, taking everything in around him. It only took a second for them to shut tightly and he whimpered in pain.
Ghoul jumped from his seat and rushed to the bed, he reached out to touch the ailing male before him, but his hands stopped in midair, unsure where was safe to touch.
"Party? Are you okay?"
The redheaded Killjoy followed the quiet voice and their eyes locked. Ghoul gasped quietly as he saw just how clear Party's eyes seemed for the first time in almost a full day.
"Ghoul? It hurts."
"What hurts Party?"
Party continued to shift restlessly, his face scrunching up more as he aggravated his side.
Ghoul's eyebrows furrowed as he thought of the list of injuries Party had sustained, and other than some slight bruising from the dragging, his back was mostly uninjured and therefore shouldn't be causing so much pain. The only other answer he could think of was that Party had been lying flat for too long and was now feeling lower back pain from it.
"Don't worry, I'll help ya."
Moving quickly to the door, he stuck his head out and saw Grace playing with her robot across the room.
"Hey Girly, could you bring me the pillow from my room please?"
Grace immediately nodded and abandoned her toy on the floor, running full tilt from the room toward Ghoul's bedroom.
Smiling slightly to himself, Ghoul made his way back to the bed, crouching on the ground next to the bed.
"Okay Party," he carefully placed his hands on Party's right shoulder and hip, "real slowly, we're gonna turn onto your left side, 'kay?"
Party nodded and moved excruciatingly slowly, breath hitching and gasping until he was lying on his left side.
"There yago. I'm gonna help, just try to relax."
Party's shirt had been removed again during the hot afternoon, which made it easy for Ghoul to see that he was right in there being no wounds other than a few dark bruises.
Placing his finger as carefully as he could, Ghoul began to massage the achingly tense muscles in Party's lower back. He avoided the bruises as much as possible, keeping his movements slow so he could be sure to stop at the first sign of discomfort.
"Is that helping any?"
Party was quiet for a few seconds before a quiet moan escaped his lips. "Yes, don't stop please."
Ghouls nodded, continuing the motion as Grace ran into the room, carrying Ghoul's lumpy pillow.
"Where would you like it Ghoul? What's it for?"
"We're gonnaput the pillow between Party's knees. It'll help take some of the pressure off of his back and help it stop hurting him. I used to do this all the time for Jamia when hurt back hurt."
Grace looked slightly horrified at hearing that Party's back was now hurting him, but she also couldn't hide the slight look of confusion she had.
"How would a pillow under his knees /help his /back feel better?"
Ghoul smiled slightly as the little girl's nose scrunched in her confusion. "It kinda hard to explain Girly, but even when he's lying down, some of the joints and muscles in the legs are working with the ones in the back. If we get rid of the pressure in the knee muscles, it'll help with the ones that are hurting in the back."
Grace nodded with as much understanding as she could as she helped place the pillow once Ghoul slightly lifted Party's right leg, his left hand still moving in small circles along the tight back muscles.
Party's face almost immediately started to relax and his shoulders lost their tension as each of the sore muscles finally gave under the gentle treatment.
After a few silent moments, Ghoul leaned slightly forward so he could see Party's face.
"How's that now? Party?"
Party didn't answer, havingFinally fallen into a deep sleep, no signs of pain or the grueling nightmares anywhere along his body.
Grace watched him silently for a minute before raising her wide eyes to other conscious Killjoy.
"Did the pillow help? Is he better now?"
Ghoul smiled happily, still moving his fingers in lazy circles.
"Yeah lilmotorbaby, he's feeling better now."
Grace gave a big grin as she turned back to Party again, faltering just slightly as she reached to grab the blanket bunched at his waist and pulling it up to his shoulders in front, mindful of Ghoul's hands in back.
The blonde Killjoy returned to the diner just hours shy of dawn breaking over the horizon. He killed the engine and let the bike fall to the ground in front of the building, shouting that it's only him so that no one would mistake him for a Draculoid.
He ran into the main room to find it empty save for Dr. Death, who intercepted him on the way to his brother's room. The older male's face was no sadder than it was when Kobra left and he sighed in relief because it means Party is still alive.
"How's he doin'?"
Dr. D shrugged. "No different than ya left him. Still yells out every few minutes and fever isn't getting any lower. Were you able to get anything?"
Kobra nodded and shrugged his shoulder to emphasize the beat up drawstring bag he was carrying. When Dr D nodded, they both made their way to the back room.
Party Poison was on his side facing away from the door, asleep and shaking, muttering nothings into the air ripe with the smell of sickness. Grace had resumed her spot beside him at some point, no longer holding his arm, but still lying as close as she could.
Jet Star and Fun Ghoul brightened at his return and came closer as Kobra reached into the bag on his shoulder and pulled out two things; a dirtied, quarter-empty saline bag and amatchbox. Its contents barely shook against each other as he took it out, telling all present in the room that it was full.
Dr. Death Defying took the items and looked up at him, barely veiled surprise in his eyes.
"What the hell did you trade to get all these things?"
Kobra only smiled weakly,"Nothing's more important than my brother."
The group stared at him silently for a moment, trying to figure out what he could possibly have traded, but soon gave up in favor of using the items for their intended purpose.
Jet took the saline bag, looking deep in thought. His head suddenly snapped up and he started out the door. "I have some tubing and know what we can use for aneedle. Be right back."
Ghoul turned back to the bed and seemed to take a deep breath before walking forward. He laid ahand on Grace's shoulder and she immediately looked at him, tear tracks running down her dirty cheeks.
"Hey Girly, we have some stuff to help make Party better, you should probably get off the bed for alittle bit."
Grace's eyes became large and filled with unshed tears. She wiped her nose on her shirt sleeve and looked between Party and Ghoul.
"Will I be able to come back when you're done?"
Ghoul's fragile smile started to fall as he watched the tired, upset little girl. He knew she didn't want to leave and he didn't blame her.
"We'll see after we give him the medicine. You can stay in the room, just not on the bed right now. Okay?"
Grace nodded as Ghoul helped lift her over Party's prone form and off the bed. As soon as her feet hit the floor, she ran for the chair and moved it to the corner of the room. She sat down and pulled her legs to her chest, hiding her face in her knees until all that was visible were her eyes and wild mop of hair.
Ghoul turned Party flat on his back and removed the pillow from between his knees as he pulled the blankets down to his waist.
Jet came back into the room, carrying his makeshift IV. He set it down on the table and turned back to Kobra.
"Let's give him the pill first; hopefully he won't fight back too much and pull out the IV when we're done."
Ghoul eyed the IV setup in distaste, "You know he ain't gonnalike it when he wakes up and finds a needle in his arm. And don't be blaming me when it happens because I will be laughing hysterically while he kills you."
Jet and Kobra rolled their eyes as they moved forward, Jet sitting the ill man up against his shoulder. "Party? Hey man, can you wake up for a minute? We need you to take this."
Party stayed silent for amoment, before his head started to move slowly side to side. He began muttering again, too quiet for the others to understand.
Kobra sat on the bed by Party's right hip, putting a hand on each side of his brother's head to stop the movement.
"Gerard? Can you hear me? It's Mikey."
Party's muttering slowly died away and he partially opened his eyes, looking at his brother with exhausted, pain-filled eyes. His dry, chapped lips tried to form words, but nothing would come out.
Kobra gave a small smile. "Hey bro, I need you to take this pill. It'll make you feel better."
Party continued to stare blankly ahead for a moment, but as soon as Kobra moved forward to give him the small blue pill, he seemed to come to life. He began to thrash wildly and try to pull out of Jet's hold, causing the curly haired male to hold on tighter. Party fought harder as the grip around him tightened.
"Gerard! Stop, it's us. We just want to help you!"
Ghoul jumped onto the bed and grabbed Party's thrashing legs and held them to the bed.
Kobra took one of the pills and forced Party's mouth open, dropping it in as well as a little water from the bowl on the table.
Party started to choke slightly on the water, liquid spilling down his chin, but almost immediately after the water hit his parched throat, he calmed down and swallowed repeatedly. Kobra tipped the bowl to his brother's mouth again and watched with relief as Party gulped the water as quickly as he could.
"No more right now Bro. We'll give ya more in a bit."
The redhead's breathing was fast and shallow as Jet laid him back on the pillow, his head immediately starting to toss side to side again. His hands grabbed at the sheets and balled them up tightly between his fists.
The conscious Killjoys didn't know what to do to calm their leader down, until Grace suddenly appeared by the bed. She took his hand closest to her and held it between both of her own.
"Party? It's me, can you hear me?"
Party's head snapped toward the voice and his half open eyes tried to focus. After a moment he seemed to relax and a small smile came to his face.
"Bandit? Bandit honey, I'm so sorry."
The room fell into silence at the heart felt cry, but Grace surprised them again as she said in a quiet, but strong voice.
"Don't be sorry Daddy."
Party gave a stangled sob. "I let them hurt you. I let them take you away. I miss you both so much."
"I miss you too Daddy, but I'm with Mommy, and we're both okay now. You need to sleep and feel better so you can see your friends."
Party stretched his free hand over his body and softly touched Grace's cheek, his smile faltering.
"I couldn't save you. I couldn't save you and now you're gone forever."
"No I'm not Daddy, I'm right here. And you'll see me and Mommy again when it's time."
Party's eyes filled with tears and a quiet sob slipped passed his lips.
"I love you Baby."
"Love you too Daddy."
Party's eyes closed and his hand went limp as his exhausted body let go, falling back into a deep sleep. His breathing slowly steadied to an almost normal pace and the pain lines on his face smoothed out to an almost peaceful look.
Kobra moved him onto his back again as Jet grabbed the IV. Kneeling at the foot of the bed, he rested an elbow for balance by Party's side and carefully placed the needle into his friend's left forearm. The unconscious man didn't even flinch.
Jet stood back up and looked around the room near him. "We need to hang the saline bag so it'll drip down."
Ghoul looked around and saw a rusty, bent nail sticking out of the wall by Jet's head. He then noticed a coat hanger lying across the room. One could almost see the light bulb turn on in Ghoul's head as he grabbed the hanger. Walking over to Jet, he took the saline bag and put the handle part of the hanger through the slit at the top of the bag so it rested on the neck of the hanger. He then took it and hung the looped handle over the nail and smiled in satisfaction, admiring his work.
Kobra and Jet looked from the hanger to each other and back before they shrugged.
"Guess that'll work," Jet said before bending down and replacing the blankets over Party's chest again, pulling the arm with the IV out and laying it on top.
When everything was in its place and nothing else could be done, the group all slumped in exhaustion. Grace yawned and went to climb back on the bed, but stopped and looked at Kobra. When the blonde gave a short nod and small smile, the little girl climbed up and took her spot next to Party, taking his bicep between her hands (ever mindful of the IV) and buried her face in his shoulder. She was asleep within seconds.
One by one Dr D, Jet Star and Fun Ghoul left the room to get some sleep, the later clapping his hand on Kobra Kid's shoulder as he walked by. Kobra smiled as he dragged the chair back to the bed and sank in with an exhausted sigh. All he wanted to do was fall into his bed and not get up for the next year, but he refused to leave the room until he was sure his brother would be all right.
As tired as he was, he soon found himself wishing that he could just pull out his bass and lose himself in his music, but he knew that that would no longer be an option. But one look at the figure sleeping on the bed and he remembered that it was all worth it.
Slumping back into the chair, Kobra crossed his arms over his chest and crossed his ankles on the edge of the bed. Tilting his head toward his chest, he let out a slow breath and tried to relax, knowing it would be awhile before his brother's next dose, but not daring to sleep in case something went wrong.
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