Dr. Death Defying pressed his back harder against his wheelchair, trying to relieve some of the ache in his shoulders. He'd been hunched over for so long he wasn't sure if his back knew that it could straighten out anymore. He gave a heavy sigh as he heard the restless fidgeting of the blonde Killjoy wringing his hands nervously behind him.
"I honestly don't know what else to do," the radio pirate gave a gruff exhale, "Keeps bleeding through the bandaging and fever's gettin' worse."
Kobra Kid sighed heavily and ran a hand through his hair, forgetting that his glasses had been there and knocking them to the floor. He didn't bother bending down to pick them up, just continued to stare between his friend and the bed.
"Dr. D, there has got to be something. Anything...what if we-"
Fun Ghoul rested a hand on Kobra's shoulder, causing the older boy to flinch, but otherwise Kobra ignored him. Ghoul looked over his shoulder at Jet Star, who just shrugged, before turning back to the raging man before him.
"We can't just stand around! There's got to be /something/!"
Dr. Death Defying backed up his wheelchair, turning to face the younger brother of the Killjoy who was currently unconscious on the bed. He knew that Kobra meant well but the yelling and tantrum throwing wasn't very beseeching of the 39 year old.
"I've cleaned the wound as best I can Kobra. Used up the last of the alcohol we had, almost down to the last of the bandages too. The rest is up to Party."
"So we're just supposed to sit around and wait? Hope that he's strong enough to fight it?"
Dr. Death Defying's compassionate eyes become hard and his lips thinned to a severe line.
Kobra fell quiet and started to shift his weight under the harsh gaze. Ghoul and Jet couldn't seem to meet the older man's eyes either and found other interesting things to stare at on the floor and wall.
"Don't underestimate your brother Kobra. We all know that if there's anyone strong enough to fight it, it's Party. He's been through Hell and back with and for you boys more times than any of us can count now and made it through alive. Something like this ain't gonna be what takes him down. You boys should think yourselves lucky; what with all the injuries you've had, this is the first that has really turned into something bad. The radiation has killed most of the microorganisms and sht in the air, but it can't wipe it all out. Just keep an eye on him and let me know if he gets worse."
With that, Dr. Death Defying rolled out of the small room, leaving the three Killjoys alone.
"He'll make it Kobra. He always does."
Kobra could only nod at Jet. He noticed that Ghoul's hand was still on his shoulder.
"He'll pull through. It might take him awhile, but we know he can make it. And until then, we have to be strong too."
The blonde Killjoy acknowledged the encouragement with a small hug before moving closer to the bed, sitting down gently next to Party Poison's prone form. He reached forward to push some of his brother's shocking red hair from his face and his fingers came back slightly coated in something red and sticky.
Kobra stiffened for barely asecond before his shoulders slumped and he continued to look at the substance on his fingers, rubbing it between the pointer and thumb before wiping it on his dirty jeans.
"He's gonna sweat all that red dye out if he keeps this up; stuff is a pain in the ass to put in in the first place."
Ghoul chuckled quietly as he leaned against the wall next to the bed crossing his right arm over his chest to hold his left bicep. "Yeah but it is just so much fun watching him do it, bitches like a little girl when the stuff starts to burn a bit; and he's due for a recolor anyway. So, over the years I've known him he's been long, short, blonde, dark and red; think we can talk him into blue and spiky next?"
Ghoul gave a silly grin as he saw a spark of laughter touch Jet's eyes, but both the spark and smile quickly died away when the two noticed that Kobra hadn't even seemed to hear them talking.
Kobra reached to the upturned box beside the bed, and grabbed the large, chipped bowl of lukewarm water with sure hands. He cradled it for a moment and looked at Jet.
"Are you sure this is the coldest water we have? It's barely any cooler than what he already is."
"Sorry man, but with how ridiculously high the temperatures been lately, it's the coldest that it's going to get."
Kobra knew that there's nothing he could do about the temperature but it didn't stop him feeling irritated at the way everything was going. No matter what they tried and no matter how good the cause, they always seemed to be the ones suffering in the end.
He pulled the dripping, worn towel from the bowl and squeezed it to dampness before placing it on Party Poison's too-hot forehead. Party didn't even flinch as the wet cloth touched him and Kobra huffed quietly, hoping that it would still have some kind of effect on the awful heat.
Kobra arranged it for a few seconds, preparing himself for what he was about to do. He was the only one who had yet to look at the source of his brother's current predicament. Ghoul had been the one to try and staunch the blood flow at the battle, Jet carried him to and from the Trans-Am, and Dr. D. had dressed the wound. Even Grace had seen it when she brought in the medical gear that Dr. D. asked for.
And yes it would hurt. It hurt right now, to see his brother in pain, possibly on the way to never opening his eyes again. But he had to know what they were up against.
Kobra slowly pulled up Party Poison's loose shirt, noticing how it was already starting to stick to his brother's stomach and chest with sweat. He almost started to wonder if he should try and get the shirt completely off to help Party cool down when his eyes fell to the side and his mind went blank.
The bandage on Party's right side was crimson where blood had seeped through and his breath caught in his throat because when he pulled away the makeshift wrapping, finally looked at the cruel reygun burn that was the cause of everything, Party's collapse, his fever, everything, he wanted to un-see it.
He wanted to un-see the trembling way Party walked, the way he pushed them away and told them all it was fine.
"Really you guys, its healing. I'll be all right."
The wound was an angry shade of red and black with a steady stream of dark blood still flowing out. The skin around the wound was also a dark red and Kobra sighed when he felt how hot it was to the touch.
"Hopefully the swelling goes down soon or he may have already caught an infection. Damn it."
He thought briefly about going to his room and getting his bass, and playing something for Party. Maybe if he worked some more on the song they had been writing before the battle he would be able to pull his brother back to him again.
The idea faded away though as soon as it started, not having the strength to get up or willpower to think about licks and lyrics. All he could do was reset the bandage and just continue to bathe his brother's hot, clammy skin with the damp cloth.
He didn't even hear as the other two Killjoys left the room, leaving him alone with his thoughts and his unconscious older brother.
The next time Kobra became aware of his surroundings he noticed that the sun was barely shining through the hole in the upper part of the metal wall. A couple hours had gone by with him lost in his thoughts and slowly running the damp towel along Party's face, arms and neck. He had been so unfocused to everything around him that he was surprised that the bowl in his lap was now practically empty.
He looked back up at the unconscious male and was disappointed to see that Party looked even worse. His cheeks were blotchy from fever and sweat continued to trail down his forehead as his chest heaved to bring in air, mouth open slightly to try and pull in more.
The red-haired Killjoy was sweating through his shirt, through the sheets and it had already started to bead on his arms and neck again. The dirty pillow below his head was stained different shades of red and pink from the hair dye he was sweating off.
It was becoming painfully clear that Party wasn't getting any better.
Kobra took a deep, almost suffocating breath. "Come on Gee, please don't give up. I don't know what I'd do if-"
The blonde Killjoy swung around in his chair as he heard someone step through the door, cutting off the strangled sigh he was about to make. Jet came in carrying another bowl in one hand and some sheets thrown over the other. Kobra raised a brow at the older man.
Jet shrugged. "Brought some more water and sheets. They aren't as clean as I'd like, but they're better than the ones Party's lying on now. It's gonna get dark soon and the temperature will drop, so we don't want him getting cold from all the sweat in the bed. We also need to get him to drink some of this water; the fever and sweating will have dehydrated him by now."
Kobra nodded as he took the offered items from Jet and moved to the side of the room as the tall brunette carefully picked their leader up off the bed and held him carefully against his chest.
As Kobra began to change the sheets, Jet couldn't seem to pull his gaze away from the man he held. The strong, brave, loving person that he had come to know so well over the years seemed very small and weak with his face in the crook of Jet's shoulder and an arm hanging limply at his side. All the things that Party-no Gerard- had gone through in his life, alcohol and drug addiction, forming the band, his comics, marrying Lynds and then losing her and their daughter Bandit to BL/ind; and the man hadn't once let his own emotions get in the way of taking care of others first.
They all had to go through it, losing their loved ones to the explosions and pills and false truths that BL/ind deals, but as each of them broke down into pain-filled sobs or slipped into mind numbing depression, Gerard had been with them, helping them through. And he hadn't once stopped to take care of his own pain and turmoil, come to terms with the new world that they were forced to survive in.
Ray straightened his shoulders in determination. Now it was their turn to take care of their leader.
Jet carefully set Party down on the dry bed and sat behind him to keep Party's upper body elevated against his left shoulder. He motioned for Kobra to pick up the new bowl of water.
"I want to get him to drink some of this, and then we'll worry about changing his soiled bandages. We should also get him out of this shirt so it can dry out. Hold the bowl to his mouth and give him very small sips."
Kobra nodded as he moved forward with the bowl and sat on the edge of the bed by Party's right hip. As Jet held him up, Kobra tipped the bowl carefully and let a very small amount spill between Party's chapped, parted lips.
Jet reached around and gently rubbed Party's throat, causing the muscles to automatically swallow. He sighed in relief when the water didn't come back up again and nodded to Kobra to do it again. They only got him to swallow one more small mouth full before Party began to sputter and choke it all back up again. Jet cursed loudly as he leaned his charge forward enough to rid him of the rest of the water. Once Party calmed down, they tried once more but with the same results.
Shaking his head in defeat, Jet motioned for Kobra to put the bowl down. "Help me with his shirt. He doesn't need any help getting the sheets wet again." He leaned Party forward slightly as Kobra carefully pulled each arm through the holes and lifted the shirt up. They both cringed at the site of the sweat-soaked bandaging that was a dark red in the center.
Jet stood and carefully laid Party down against the pillow, flipped over to show the drier, cleaner side of the fabric. He took another sheet and covered Party up to his shoulders.
"Not nearly as much as I wanted him to drink, but better than nothing I guess," he sighed as he collapsed in the chair Kobra had been in for the past several hours, burying his large hands deep into his unruly hair, "Mikey, I have a very bad feeling about this man. I dunno if he's gonna make it. He lost a good amount of blood, a lot of fluids. And we don't have the medical supplies needed to treat him if he gets any worse."
Kobra flinched at the use of his real name; nobody had called him that for a very long time other than Gerard before today. He couldn't bring himself to look at his friend, choosing to watch the slightly unsteady rise and fall of his brother's chest. Party's breathing had started to become slightly wheezy and Kobra's brow furrowed as he listened to the breaths hitch as if in pain every few inhales.
"He'll make it Ray, you said so yourself. We can't give up on him until we've tried absolutely everything we can think of."
Jet nodded as he stood. "Sun's going down, it's gonna start getting colder pretty soon. I'll set some water outside and see if we can cool it down and grab the last of the medical stuff so we can change the dressing. Make sure he stays covered up."
As Jet walked out the door, he had to turn slightly and walk sideways as a short figure brushed by him into the room. Curly brown hair bounced wildly and dark eyes moved between the two brothers in concern as they drew closer.
Kobra looked up in time to see the small girl come to a stop in front of the bed, her hands clutched tightly around a can of Power Pup as she stared with wide eyes at Party. He reached over and grabbed the washcloth from the old bowl and dunked it into the one on his lap, wringing it out and running it along Party's arms as he addressed her.
"Hey Grace. Where you been hiding out?"
She was quiet long enough that Kobra shifted his gaze to look at her. Her eyes didn't seem to register the question at first but he watched as recognition flowed through her and she quickly snapped her gaze to him.
"I-I-I've been out in the diner. Dr D said I shouldn't come in here much so I stay out of the way. Is h-he gonna be okay?"
Kobra hung his head for a few seconds, trying to decide how best to tell her that he wasn't sure himself at this point. She was a great kid and looked up to all of them, but she and Party had a very close relationship. Grace would tell them about how she never had a father but would always wish that if she did that he was like Party, and Party in return treated her like the daughter that he tragically lost seven years earlier. He finally decided that after all they had been through as a group, she was mature enough and deserved to know the truth.
"We dunno yet Grace. Party's hurt bad and it looks like he's probably caught an infection. Jet is getting the rest of the medical gear so we can change the bandages again."
Grace visibly cringed as she remembered what the ugly wound looked like underneath the cloth. She was pretty sure that Dr D hadn't meant for her to see it, but Ghoul had asked her to bring the medical gear into the room while he went to wash the blood from his hands and clothes. She had started to cry when she saw the blood and the look of pain etched on Party's face, but she stayed to help Dr D patch the wound.
Her hands wrung around the can she held for a few seconds before she remembered that it was there and handed it to Kobra. The blonde male looked at with in both confusion and disgust, but didn't reach for it.
Grace huffed loudly and placed her empty hand on her hip, glaring at him. "Dr D said you need to eat. You've been in here all day and didn't eat anything this morning for breakfast. He said that you can either eat this, or he will drag you out of here and force feed you a cactus from outside."
"I think I'd rather take my chances with the cactus," he mumbled quietly but took the can and grimaced as he took a small bite. It tasted like crap, but he knew that if he didn't eat something, he'd only make himself sick and wouldn't be of any help to Party Poison.
"On second thought, eating this will probably make me sicker than if I didn't eat anything at all." But one look at the irritated girl before him and he found himself shoveling another bite into his mouth, blanching and sticking his tongue out in disgust just to see her reaction.
Grace's glare disappeared and she smiled. "Thank you Kobra. I don't think that cactus would have been very good going down. (Kobra couldn't help thinking about how much the Power Pup wouldn't be very good going down or coming back up). Um, d-do you need any help with..."
Kobra smiled sadly, "You mind sitting with him a minute? I want to grab a drink to get this shit outta my mouth and see if Jet needs help."
Grace immediately nodded as she moved to sit in the chair (either ignoring or not hearing the curse), her gaze now never leaving the prone form on the bed.
Kobra set the water bowl on the floor and stood, stretching his sore back. When he reached the doorframe, he turned and watched quietly for a few minutes. Grace didn't move at first, but she slowly reached forward and moved a few stray strands of red hair from Poison's face before kneeling on the floor and picking up the water bowl. She wrung out the towel and wiped it down his arms, chest and face just as she had seen Kobra doing.
The blonde Killjoy smiled as he watched the tender care and private moment before turning to leave the room. He went straight into the main part of the diner, where he found Fun Ghoul and Dr. Death Defying at the end of the bar talking quietly and Jet Star at one of the tables digging through their meager medical supplies.
Kobra grabbed a drink from behind the counter and sat on a stool beside Ghoul with a heavy sigh. Both men look up at him in slight surprise before Ghoul smiled.
"Sup bro? How ya holdin' up?"
Kobra shrugged as he took along drink, swishing it around to get the taste of Power Pup out of his mouth. He then started to push the can nervously across the table between his hands, eyes never leaving its path.
"I'm still here. He's still here. Hopefully things stay that way."
The other two could only nod in agreement and the group fell into silence. No one knew exactly what to say that wouldn't make things seem worse.
After a few minutes, Jet walked over carrying a small roll of gauze and tape. He had a grim look on his face and couldn't seem to meet Kobra's eyes.
"All we have left that would do any good is this last bit of gauze. We don't have any alcohol or antibiotics for the infection and the painkiller bottles are all empty. We'll just have to try and clean off the wound with the water and wrap it back up for now."
Kobra nodded sadly as he stood and followed Jet back to Party's room. He started to worry about the thorough lack of life saving materials they needed and wondered if there was away to get more from some of the other zone runners around the zones. Maybe he could get Dr. D to transmit something over the radio and see if someone would answer them.
He'd been so far into his thoughts that he didn't notice as Jet came to a stop in the bedroom doorway, causing him to collide with the taller man's back.
"What the hell man?"
Kobra looked over Jet's shoulder into the room and his posture seemed to slump slightly.
Party Poison was still lying on his back, chest rising and falling awkwardly as he took in ragged breaths. But the part that broke both of the conscious Killjoys' hearts was Grace curled into a little ball on the far side of the bed, her arms wrapped tightly around Party's left bicep and her head buried in his shoulder. They could see her shoulders trembling violently every now and then, but not asound came from within the room, leading them to believe that she had fallen asleep while crying into his shoulder.
Jet and Kobra exchanged sad glances before walking quietly into the room. As they crouched next to the bed, Grace didn't stir, confirming that she had fallen into a deep sleep.
"Think we should wake her? Is it a good idea to let her be that close to him?"
Jet ran a gentle hand through her hair before pulling part of the sheet over her small frame. "Let her sleep, she isn't hurting anything. She's been in the diner all day just staring at the door to this room. Worried herself into total exhaustion."
He reached over and pulled back the sheet that covered Party Poison's right side, revealing the bandaging just below his rib cage. Carefully peeling back the soiled cloth, the pair could tell that the wound hadn't gotten any better. The skin surrounding the wound was an even darker shade of red than the last time they had looked and seemed to radiate heat. The wound itself had finally stopped bleeding for the time being, but now they could see a little bit of milky liquid covering it and the bandage.
Jet Star dropped his head and sighed. "The infection's gotten worse. He's gonna need antibiotics soon if we wanna have a chance at stopping it." He grabbed the towel from the bowl and used it to carefully wipe the excess fluid from the wound and gently pat it as clean as he could. Kobra placed the gauze over the wound and held it in place as Jet taped it down securely, leaving one corner undone slightly.
"Is he okay?"
Both males looked up as Grace raised her head slightly to look over the prone form between them. She still had her hands wrapped tightly around his bicep and was curled up as close to him as she could get without being on top of him.
Jet nodded slowly. "He's fine for right now Grace. You stay right there if you want. Help keep him warm once the temperature starts to fall."
Grace nodded back and dropped her head again to rest carefully on her father figure's shoulder. She sniffled quietly to herself and fell silent once again.
Kobra and Jet stood carefully, walking to the door to talk. "What do we do now?"
Jet shrugged. "I'll go talk to Dr D. Maybe he can get on the radio and see if anyone has any supplies they are willing to give up. You gonna stay in here?"
Kobra immediately nodded, causing Jet to smile just slightly as he turned and walked from the room.
Kobra walked back to the chair and slumped down in defeat. They were now out of supplies and out of ideas; he had no clue what else they could do for his brother. All that was left was to pray that one of the other groups in the zones had something they could use to save his life.
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