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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 6:27 pm 
Resident of the Kingdom of Eternal Cockjobbery
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Petro hobbled in, his hair askew, his eyes red-rimmed, looking perfectly ghastly. Silver was still laying in the cot, his shirt and bandages removed from his body, only the patches on the bullet holes. He still feels like shit, fever still coursing through him as his body works on the virus, with Mike's treatment. He paused, looking at the cell. The blood and viscera had been removed, sterilized and disinfected. But he could easily remember how it looked with Sherry's brain painted all over the wall. He closed his eyes briefly, then opened them and lurched forward, grabbing a chair to sit down in. "Darek," he said quietly. "They said you woke up."

The big man cracked open his eyes, the once more human eyes. His body shook with a bought of coughing, before that he spoke, hoarsely. "I didn't want her to die Petro...."

"None of us did," he said. "None of us did, and it happened anyway. There's not a damned thing we can do now but take care of the living."

Silver's chest rose as he took in a deep breath, eyes fixed on the white cieling tiles. "Yeah...." He closed his eyes, struggling to lift himself on the cot, his body trembling with the effort. No, he wasn't in shape to do much

"Get your ass back down on the bed, mister!" he snapped. "You aren't going anywhere. You're going to let them take care of you until you're actually ready to go. I already lost one today, I'm not losing you."

He shook his head, coughing as he settled back down. "I'm not going anywhere." He was on his side now, watching Petro. The man looked like shit, you could hardly tell they were only a few months apart in age. "Had the worst fucking dream.....was stuck in a city full of zombies and shit...coming after me....and I had hair, just like yours...."

He looked at him incredulously. "You mean, perfect?"

He grinned slightly, "Fuck no....flaming gay red...." The laughter which came from his lips was loud, but broken by coughs.

Petro barked out a laugh. "Probably 'cause you always wanted my ass, you fucking bugger." God, did he need a laugh right now.

He laid back in the cot, the smile on his lips was genuine. Yeah, they both needed a laugh after the last few days. He looked Petro in the eyes, his face solemn, "I should have told you...weeks ago..."

"Yeah, you should've," he said seriously, taking a deep breath. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it. "Ever pull shit like that again, I'll kill you myself." He offered the pack through the bars. "Dunno if you're supposed to, but I won't tell if you don't."

He reached through the bars, and grabbed the pack. He leaned back in the cot, pulled a smoke, and lit it. He left it rest there, cherry glowing as he inhaled, before reaching the pack back out. "I thought I could control it....and now....yeah...fucked up"

He took the pack back, staring at it. "We move on. When you're back up, you're going to put an end to that bastard once and for all, but this time you're taking the 2nd with you. And then, I've got another job for you."

Ashes flicked to the floor, as he shook his head. "Decimus can better lead the Second right now, we can't wait to much longer, or the trail will grow to cold." He brought the cigarette back to his lips, inhaled deeply, and blow a cloud over his face, "Shit...I wish this back in the good old days...what's today..saturday? Would have been waiting for you down at the pub for the Manchester Game.....thenback to the house for a nice homecooked meal..."

He closed his eyes. "The trail will already be cold," he said. "He's going to wait for her to come back out. There's a reason you need to do this. You're going to break him for all of us, for everything. And when you're done, you're going to be the reason they know not that nobody crosses us and gets away with it. It's a different war now, and the longer we're here, the more people are going to look our way and want what we've got. I need a hammer... a warlord... an attack dog."

"Square up with me Petro.....was it because of me she did it.....or because of what he did...."

"He broke her," He said wearily. "She was a walking corpse from the time she got back. She just hid it well. The infection was the excuse, but she didn't care about getting it treated or not. He's a fucking black hole, and she spent too much time looking inside, got sucked in herself. You know better, you've dealt with the stone cold fucking sociopaths like him."

His teeth were grinding together, eyes going hard. "Dealt with....I was one like him...." Another bought of coughing erupted through his body, bucking him in the bed, and nearly causing him to double. his breathing came hard after the cough, but he still took a drag off his cigarette. "He broke her....I'll break him. It's the least I owe her...."

"It's not for her," he said. "She's dead. We're doing this for the living. We've got over a hundred people to protect here, more coming in soon." He rose to his feet, hobbling over to the bars, clenching them so tightly his knuckles promptly went white. "I'm still here to protect them. You with me?"

The last of the ciagrette became cherry, before it fell from his lips, and onto the cold tile floor. He looked Petro in the eye, his voice even, hard, as he began ricitation, "Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I fear no evil, for I am Death......" He inhaled slowly, eyes gone hard, his right hand, devoid of the gauntlet now, a frail human hand, yet withthe cracking of bones, it sounded like metal creaking, he let it hang, Petro would finish, and understand

Petrosjko: "Death incarnate, motherfucker," he whispered. His eyes opened, and his teeth skinned back in what would be described by only the most charitable fool as a grin. "Rest. Recuperate. When they say you're ready to go, come back to me." He released the bars, then pulled out the smokes and tossed them onto the bed. "Better hide those out. You can blame the smell on me."

He grabbed the pack of smokes, and tucked it under the makeshift pillow, nodding. "Until then, drink your wine, love your woman, and watch over the flock. Whenever Mike and Ace let me the fuck outta here....we have a house to put in order." With that, he laid back in the bed, staring up at the ceiling, before closing his eyes.

Petro walked for the door, looking back before he left. "Thanks, Darek." Not for what was done. For being willing to do what must be done. To ensure that the flock could survive, they were going to have to turn into savages. So be it. It was the price of the oath.

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"'Flammable' and 'inflammable' have the same meaning! This language is insane!"
GIVE ME COFFEE AND I WILL ALLOW YOU TO LIVE!- Frigid
"Ork 'as no automatic code o' survival. 'is partic'lar distinction from all udda livin' gits is tha necessity ta act inna face o' alternatives by means o' dakka."
I created the sound of madness, wrote the book on pain


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 6:38 pm 
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Mike left without fanfare, packing food for two weeks and a host of medical equipment. When asked why, he shrugged and said something about being ready for anything. Then he slipped out after dark, when the watches were changing. A tiny terrier bounded after him, stopping when it saw him hefting a heavy load.

"Come on, boy." Mike said, an odd look in his eyes. "There's a whole city out there."

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 6:52 pm 
Resident of the Kingdom of Eternal Cockjobbery
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Two relatively uneventful days passed, as life got back to normal...

Silver recovered quickly, albeit miserably, while the normal process of protecting their chunk of Malton went on around them- patrolling, scrounging, building and healing.

_________________
When the Frog God smiles, arm yourself.
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"'Flammable' and 'inflammable' have the same meaning! This language is insane!"
GIVE ME COFFEE AND I WILL ALLOW YOU TO LIVE!- Frigid
"Ork 'as no automatic code o' survival. 'is partic'lar distinction from all udda livin' gits is tha necessity ta act inna face o' alternatives by means o' dakka."
I created the sound of madness, wrote the book on pain


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 6:55 pm 
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Mike scrambled along the rooftop, arm clutched to his chest in pain. The bandages were going red again, and he tasted copper. Jesus fuck shit god it hurt.

Not much further. Just to the end of this roof and...

And then he had to get to the next one. Great. He forced himself to stand up straight and take his arm away- His red arm, god, his guts were gonna fall out- and jump.

He smacked against the roof and slid down the tiles, stopping only when his feet hit the storm gutter, gun tumbling from his nerveless fingers to the street below. He lay against the tiles, spread-eagled, as he summoned up enough energy and courage for the next step. Then he crouched- carefully, slowly- and gripped the gutter with his bloody fingers. Then he uncurled his legs- Motherfuck crap christ- and swung them through the open window below. He let go of the gutter and crashed to the floor, upsetting a small table and blacking out.

The noise might have been what roused her. Then again, it just might have been time to get up. As her fingertips twitched and her eyes opened--opened and saw, for what seemed like the first time--the only sound she made was a pathetic whimper as she closed them tight again.

This wasn't right.

She was dead.

She was supposed to be fucking dead.

Instead, she was alive. Alive and somewhere completely unfamiliar. She was on a cot, as though in a military installment, and the floor was tile and the ceiling was open, insulation spilling out into the room in a manner that certainly couldn't have been healthy.

There was blood everywhere.

Her blood.

Instinctively, she reached around to feel the back of her head and felt nothing but hair.

How...?

But more importantly: why?

The next time she opened her eyes, and really looked around the room, she'd notice that it was absolutely trashed; Claw marks, scrapes. Even a few bite marks. The door wasn't locked, however. She'd been inside, dead, for awhile. And she'd see that the tips of her fingers were ragged from clawing at the door, trying to get out, presumably in her frenzied zombie state.

Uneasily, Sherry rose to her feet, tottering for a few steps before the rhythm came back to her.

This wasn't right. This wasn't fucking right...

She knew she should be dead, but she couldn't remember why. Or how.

The last thing she remembered was... she closed her eyes, trying to make sense of the things that were flooding her head. She remembered Silver. In the warehouse. She remembered falling asleep in the warehouse, on the bench, while he slept on the chair... and that was it.

Had she just fallen asleep and woken up here? That seemed like the easiest response. However, her brain still couldn't shake the idea that she shouldn't be there at all.

With an eerily steady hand, she turned the knob and opened the door. It swung outward with a creak, and as she stepped beyond it, she had a feeling that she just shouldn't be doing this, that she was supposed to be somewhere else. Or nowhere at all.

The outside room was undamaged and clean, mainly because there was almost nothing in the room. It looked to be the living room/kitchen of a small house, probably one of many, judging from the too-square corners and general prefabbed appearance.

Oh, and the floor was covered with blood. Blood leading from the window- Open- to a small settee. It was like the room itself had been cut open and bled, marring the almost eerily pristine floorboards.

Her bare feet on the floor were the only sound she heard, her eyes blinking as she walked slowly toward the bloodstains. It was like the window had spilled blood inside, and the bright sunlight outside coupled with the bright white room and the contrast of the blood... it was all surreal. Surely, she was dreaming. This was too fucking weird. Blood wasn't spilled cleanly in clean houses in Malton. Not anymore.

As her toes reached the edge of the stain, she crouched down, poked a finger into the stain. Fresh, not congealed. But how...? And where the Hell had it come from?

On closer inspection it became obvious, even to Sherry's thoroughly addled mind that the blood was so cleanly distributed and orderly -except directly under the window- because the majority of it was a large drag mark, slight half-moons visible in the mess indicating shoes. The marks led to the settee, up the settee in fact, and terminated at a bloody bundle with a large, heavily damaged and torn raincoat on top.

Her eyebrows raised. Oh shit, this wasn't good... her first instinct was to back up because Lord knew that most things covered in blood came out after you... but... this blood was fresh. Still warm. And zombies didn't bleed. She hopped over the settee almost without realizing she was doing it, crouching beside the body and pulling back the coat.

Fuck.

She bit her lip, having no idea where they were and being completely without adequate supplies to handle the situation, being too confused herself to even be considered for this sort of thing but fuck she had to...

She inspected his wounds.

Carefully, she turned him onto his back, able to make out in the ample light what his main wounds were. There was a fairly nasty gash from his collarbone down to just below his sternum. Not very deep, but probably painful as shit and equally bloody. Numerous defense wounds on his palms and the sides of his hands, as well as some bruising...

She pressed the back of her hand to his cheek. He felt clammy, cold from blood loss. The way his lips were slightly parted in exhaustion, coupled with ragged breathing... he'd ran all the way here, hadn't he? She frowned, unsure of how to work this. She was no damn doctor. She'd stitched Petro up once, but...

But this was different. Because this was him.

With a soothing, "shhh," she lifted his body and carried him to the cot, proceeding to strip off his jacket and sweater, both of which were saturated with blood and raggedly torn.

Mike's eyes flickered open, and focused vaguely on her. He started to smile, but it quickly transformed into a grimace. He croaked something unintelligible, then forced two words out:

"Couch. Table."

She nodded, skittering into the other room and finding the supplies he had cached on the coffee table. Looked like... A shitload. And then it hit her: he must have patched her up. There wasn't any other explanation for it... As she scrambled back into the room that looked like a scene from some sort of slaughterhouse, she took a deep breath.

She had no fucking clue how to handle this. Jesus, his skin was pale, he was bleeding all over... She rolled up his sweater and pressed it atop the wound for the moment.

Mike's hand danced up his chest and grabbed the sweater, squeezing it until he found her hand. He seemed to get strength from it, and his breathing became deeper, more regular.

"Clean." He instructed, then laughed hackingly. "S'ry. Bad mann'rs t' bleed ev'where."

Her brows knotted together in worry, her bottom lip trembling as she searched through one of the packs for some antiseptic ointment. Finally, she found a tube--old stuff, but it'd do--and moved the sweater, smearing the clear gel over the length of the wound as she continued dabbing at the wound. Damn, that looked painful... But... But she could do it. Had to. With her other hand, she held tightly to his, squeezing it gently to let him know she was there.

The smaller scratches could be cleaned later. The bleeding at to be stopped now. She managed a smile at his joke, but it didn't look too genuine.

Knowing Mike, it was entirely possible that his apology had been sincere, especially when half-delirious. Through the haze of pain that redoubled its' efforts to plunge him into unconsciousness as she smeared the cream on his wounds, he thought This isn't going to plan. Not going right at all.

Then the haze cleared slightly, and he looked up. She was done, kneeling over him nervously again. "Great." He said, dimly aware that she'd need encouragement as much as he needed some fucking morphine.

"Stitches?" He managed, then turned his head and hacked up semi-congealed blood.

As he began to cough, she dropped lower, cradling his head in her arms to ensure that he wouldn't choke. Using the sleeve of the sweater, she cleaned the blood from his lips, her eyes practically drilling holes into his.

Stitches? No, nonononono... She'd done that with Petro. Once. But she'd been calmer, his cut hadn't been nearly that bad... She made a small, nervous sound and looked to the kit. The curved needles, the thread, the knotting tool, it was all there... But...

His eyes flickered almost randomly before settling on her odd pair, his brown ones locking on to her hazel and blue. "Y'n do it." He said with absolute conviction, and cleared his throat, saying the next words very carefully: "I. Trust. You."

Besides, if not her then who? The fucking Easter Bunny?

She clenched her teeth, jaw drawing tight. He needed her. For some reason he'd fucking kept her alive or brought her back or something and now she needed to prove she had the balls to stick around. With a final look of understanding, she nodded, then readied the supplies. But what for the pain...?

After a moment of searching, she found a bottle of numbing peroxide. That'd at least stall the pain of the stitches as opposed to making everything worse. She applied it as best she could, then wiped her hands and brushed his bangs behind his ears in a momentary gesture of tense affection.

Then she stitched him up like a quilt.

The pain- Even with the peroxide, the English language simply failed to describe it. If Mike had sat up for days with the Oxford Dictionary, he still couldn't have found the words. Sonnets could be written, essays and books. Give him one hundred years and all the ink in the world, and he couldn't have begun.

In short, he'd never look at a stuffed toy in the same way again.

As she finished, she tied the thread and practically collapsed, her hands shaking. The contorted face of agony he wore was horrible... She immediately grabbed his hand, weaving their fingers together as she taped a gauze pad over the cut with her other hand.

The red haze which had been simultaneously blinding him and jabbing red hot needles dipped in lemon juice into his abdomen receded slowly, and he became aware of the comparatively whisper-quiet feeling of her fingers against his. Her hand was shaking and her palm was sweaty. He tried to squeeze her hand reassuringly, but his fingers weren't obeying his orders and he'd bitten his tongue badly during the operation.

He shifted his head and half-spat, half dribbled the blood from his tongue onto the floor, and grinned weakly. "Glr. Great. Great w'rk. Fuck'n A." He managed to twitch his fingers slightly.

It's more than I deserve. He thought, as he drifted back towards unconsciousness.

As he did so, she set about painstakingly cleaning him up. The tiny cuts on his hand were disinfected and bandaged, as was a rather nasty-looking scrape on his forearm. It wasn't hard to imagine what had happened here... But it wasn't necessarily easier. She wasn't sure if it was good for him to drift off after losing so much blood, but... It wasn't as though she could help a damn thing with that.

When he woke, he'd be in the house's master bedroom, thick blankets piled on to keep out the cold of shock.

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"Are you trying to give me a spasm?" ~The Necrontyr Messenger


Last edited by Pcm979 on Mon Oct 24, 2005 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 7:37 pm 
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Petro limped into the jewelry store. "Jared?" he called out. "You in here?"

There was a rustling, and the boy opened his eyes. "Yessir," he said in the darkness.

He moved toward the sound. "How're you doing?" he asked. "You wanted to see me?"

"Yeah," he said quietly. "But if you're busy, that's okay. It can wait."

"I've got some time," he said, dragging a chair around. All this walking was hell on his knee. He settled down with a wince. "What's up?"

"If you walk on the heel of your foot, it won't hurt so bad," he said. "Melanie said so."

"Thanks," he said. "I'll try that out."

"Mr. Petro," he said quietly, "Miss Sherry ain't dead."

He froze. "What happened?"

"I don't know. But I started hearin' her this morning. She was sayin' something about how bright the sun was." In the darkness, his silver-blue eyes seemed to glow.

"Ah christ. Can you find Mike?" It had to be him.

"He's sleepin'," was all the boy had to say on that matter.

"Can you find her?" God, what a fucking nightmare.

"We shouldn't," he said quietly. "She needs time. She's okay, but she needs time."

"Not going to go nuts again?" He shivered. Christ, it wasn't his instinct to just leave her out there. He wanted to pull her in, shelter her, let her get it back together.

"I can't see the future," he said. "But for now, she's okay. She just..." He whimpered a bit. "Mr. Petro, I done a bad, bad thing..."

"What?" he asked, bracing himself.

"I was... I was happy when she died," the boy said with a sniffle.

He shivered, damping the wave of anger. Give him a chance to explain... "Why?"

"Because it made it stop," he said quietly. "Every time she'd close her eyes, every time she wasn't occupied, she'd be right back there with him, and he'd keep doin' those horrible things over and over... And she'd start screamin' in her head..." He cried. "She wouldn't stop... Even when she was sleepin'..."

"Jared," he said. "C'mere, boy. I can't get around so well right now." He held out his arms. "Just come to the sound of my voice."

He crawled unsteadily forward on his hands and knees, finally feeling one of Petro's hands brush against his hair.

He kept talking. "Over, c'mon, right here..." He shifted forward out of the chair. "Nrggh..." he grunted as he flexed his knee, settling on the floor, pulling the boy in for a hug. "It's okay," he said. "I understand." And he did.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I felt awful... But she had to stop... She knew it too. And when she did, I kept thinkin' it was my fault..."

"It wasn't," he said. "Shhh... it wasn't your fault." If it was anybody's fault, it was mine.

"Don't say that," the boy whimpered. Only Petro hadn't said anything.

"I gave her the gun," he said quietly. "I told her to do it."

"Because you didn't think she'd do it," he said.

"I was so fucking angry that I didn't think at all," he said. She was giving up on him, and he'd taken that personally.

"She didn't give up on you," he said, "she gave up on herself."

"She gave up, after everything we'd been through," he said. "It's... I don't want to argue about it. I just want her to be okay."

"You ain't arguin' with anybody but yourself."

"Yeah, well... just keep me up on how she's doing, okay? And don't beat yourself up. You're a good kid."

"I'm not a kid," he said quietly. "Mama said I'm an old soul."

"I think everybody in this fucking town is an old soul," he said. "But you're still a good kid to me. Okay?" He ruffled Jared's hair.

"Okay," he said. "Just so you're okay with it..." He fidgeted in Petro's lap.

"Listen, don't sit around and feel bad about this shit, okay? You need to talk about something, you come to me, or get somebody to find me. Or talk to Mel. We're here for you, okay?"

"Okay," he said quietly, obviously subdued about something. The boy was quiet by nature, sure, but tonight he seemed to be even worse. Although nothing had hapened to him, it was the troubles of the city.

"Something else on your mind?" he asked quietly.

"That's the problem," he said, resting his head against the man's chest.

"Talk to me," he said. "It's what I'm here for."

"No," he said, "that's the problem: my mind."

"Can't shut out the voices?" he said.

The boy nodded, his eyes falling closed.

"Be fucked if I know what to do about it," he said.

"That's why I didn't say anything," he said. He sighed a bit. "Mama said we could use our gift to help people... To help 'em say what they couldn't say on their own."

"Yeah, well... don't hold off on telling me about problems anyway. I might actually know something about one, right?"

The boy smiled a bit. "But I'd know if you did, huh?"

"Yeah, but if I'm thinking about it, I might come up with something down the road, right?"

"I'll know then, too." he said with a chuckle.

"Yeah, but the point is that two heads are better than one, right? So you get me thinking, and then if I figure it out, you'll know. So tell me about the gift," he said, going back to what the boy had said earlier.

"What about it?" he asked with a shrug.

"Has it always been in your family?"

"Far as I know," he said. "But my ma said me and my sister had it better than she did."

"So this didn't just come when you were revived," he said. "You didn't tell me that before."

"I didn't wanna," he said.

"Okay," he said. "Well, you don't have to if you don't want to."

"People already think I'm a freak," he said bitterly.

"Fuck what people think," he said. "This is you and me."

"I just hate feelin' alone," he said. "I been alone ever since they left me, and my mama told me that people like me always end up alone 'cause we're not like other folks."

"Hey, you've seen my life kid. You're not the only one who's been alone because of what he is. I may not read minds, but... well, you know."

"You haven't just been alone, Mr. Petro. You was lonely, too. There's a difference."

"You can knock off the 'Mr' part, okay? Just Petro. So anyway, outsiders like us gotta stick together, right?"

"Sorry," he said, "I just remembered I heard you say last night, to Miss Melanie..."

"Say what?" he said. Kind of embarrassing that the kid saw all that go on, but... not his fault.

"You got creeped out when I called you Dad," he said simply.

He took a deep breath. "I just lost a daughter," he said. "It's fucking scary as shit to let anybody get close to me. But... you're worth it. Call me whatever the fuck you want, kid. I'll be like your dad if you want. I'm fine with that."

"She aint lost," he said.

"She blew her brains out right in front of me. Let's not quibble on details, okay? She may be back, but..."

"She don't remember it," he said.

"Good," he said. "Good."

"She don't remember anything after meeting Silver in the warehouse," he said.

"Is she still fucked up over what happened to her with Jaycee?"

The boy was silent for a long time. "She... Hasn't opened that door yet," he said.

"Christ," he said, his stomach sinking. Just be okay, girl.

"I couldn't make her forget that," he said solemnly.

"Wait, you did that?" Not the torture forgetting, but the other part, he meant.

He nodded. "I had to. If she woke up and knew that, she'd start screaming again." He sighed. "There's a dark, dark place inside that girl."

"I know," he said. "Guilt, fear, abandonment and a bunch of other shit."

"In him, too."

"Jaycee?" he asked.

"No," he said, "not him... I don't see anything, hear anything from him." When he spoke the next sentence, his voice had eerily morphed to sound almost like Sherry's. "He's like an empty room."

"Who's him, then? Mike?"

Jared nodded.

He sighed. "God damn it."

"He thinks he didn't love her enough, an' that's why she did it. He doesn't understand that he never had the ability to keep it from happening..."

"Why the hell does everyone have to overcomplicate shit?" he asked rhetorically, pulling out a cigarette.

"Now you know how I feel," he said in a small voice. "Knowing everyone's intentions but knowing they aint ever gonna say what they really mean. So they just make it worse."

"Y'know, there is stuff that I'm not too happy that you see," he admitted honestly. "I know you don't have a choice. But in a way, I'm glad you can actually see and know that I mean what the fuck I'm saying. You know most people don't."

"I..." He started, "didn't want to trust you. People who seem genuine are always gonna be fakes. Mama told me that no one who's bona-fide will ever tell you... But... You aint lied to me. Not once."

"Not like I could," he pointed out.

"You say that, but other people say that and still try. The world's a bad place."

"True. S'why gotta watch out for each other."

"I been tryin'," he said. "You're all so fucked up in your heads, though..."

He snorted at that. It wasn't funny. But it was. "Fuck, don't I know it," he said quietly.

"I wish I could do more to help," the boy said softly, "like the others do... But my eyes..." He sighed.

"There'll come a time," he said. The images flashed through his mind. Dealing with other human survivor groups. Having a telepath on his side would be damned useful then.

Jared smiled. "And... I wanna be a good son. I'm tryin' to not be so angry like I was..." He leaned heavily on Petro's arm, the silver in his hair jingling. "I wanna help other people be happy. They don't know how easy it is."

There was an almost physical wave of warmth and affection, which was something Jared would notice with him- emotions were often near-physical things. He hugged the boy close. "You make me proud, son."

The boy sniffled a bit and clutched him tight. He didn't say anything because for once in his life, he couldn't think of anything to say that the other person didn't already know. Instead, he wiped at his eyes, the arms of his sweater too long anyway and serving as excellent kerchiefs.

"Do you...wanna see her?" he asked quietly.

"Sherry? Yeah..." he said, rocking the boy gently.

"Close yer'eyes, then," he said. He put a hand on Petro's temple, and slowly, as though he was remembering something that had already happened, an image was in his head. Sherry was dressed in an oversized t-shirt and a pair of boxers, borrowed from the dead citizens who'd lived in the house before them. She was sitting on the edge of a large bed, watching Mike as he slept. They were quiet; they were calm.

He sucked in a shuddering breath. She was alive. She was well for the moment. That was what mattered.

"Hey, is Mike...?" he suddenly asked.

"Is he?"

"Torn up? Hurt?"

The boy was quiet. "I didn't want to worry you, 'cause it aint bad... But he got hurt. Fell through a window. She patched him up first thing when he brought her back, too. Scared the hell outta her."

"Okay, so he's fine for the moment, then..." He was still considering dispatching a scout team to rope them in... bad to be wandering around wounded out there, and if Jaycee got wind of them, he'd put the screws to Mike to fuck her over.

"He'll be fine. He's just sleepin' right now. She was readin' something earlier..." He sighed, then looked up at him in the dim light. "Mr. Petro, there's something you should know about her..."

"What's that?"

He took a deep breath. "She don't talk anymore. Dunno why."

"She's alive," he said. The same mantra. Survive, and everything else can be dealt with later.

The boy nodded. "Just be careful. I... I tried to help her, but she couldn't deal with it any other way."

"Yeah," he said. 'Try not to fuck it up like last time', was how he took it.

Jared frowned. "I toldja before, you didn't do anything..."

"I handed her the gun," he said.

"An' if you hadn't, she just woulda done something else," he said with a shrug.

"We'll never know," he said. "She's alive. That's what matters."

"Jus' make sure you keep her grounded," he said quietly. "She might remember it in a while, on her own..."

He nodded. "I'll do what I can. Anything I can."

"Jus'..." He thought of the word. "Insulate her. Right now, she's not... Whole."

"Think she'll stay in if I keep her here?"

The boy shrugged. "She's got nothing to live for except makin' him suffer," he said quietly, "she's become jus' like him."

"Ah fuck," he said. "We need to bring that bastard down before she gets to him."

"She'll go after him on her last breath," he said. "An' she doesn't care if she brings herself down with him..."

"Yeah, I know," he said. "Fuck fuck fuck."

"You gotta understand," he said, "there's nothin' wrong with her brain like doctors would fine. She can walk an' all that... But there's a part of her that's gone. So she's not like us."

"How bad?" he asked. "Is she going to totally go off the wire?" Am I going to have to bring her down? was the question he was afraid to verbalize.

He lifted his slim shoulders in another tiny shrug. "That just depends on how strong she is. My mama used to say that we shouldn't mess with things like life an' death 'cause sometimes when people cross over an' then come back, they bring somethin' back with 'em. There's a piece of Hell in that girl."

"Fuck," he snarled. "Fuck fuck fuck..." He'd have to send Decimus and the 2nd out to try to take the little bastard down before Silver recovered. He couldn't chance her running into Jaycee.

"You're gonna have to balance this real careful-like," he said. "The man, Mike, he'd go crazy if he knew what she turned into..."

"Yeah," he said. "I know."

"I'm sorry," the boy said, sighing.

"Not your fault," he said. "You've done what you can. Same as I have. Lot of times, there just aren't any good answers."

"But I still know this aint gonna be easy for you," he said.

"Yeah, well, if I wanted easy I'd be doing something else," he said, ruffling the boy's hair again. "I'll do what I have to do."

Jared nodded, understanding. "There might still be a way to fix her," he said quietly. "An' even if you can't, she needs to know you care, even after what she gone and did."

"Yeah," he said, shifting around. "I gotta go put the hunters out. You want to head over to my place, we can all have lunch together, right?"

The boy smiled. "I'd like that."

"Good," he said. And I can make sure you eat, too. He lifted himself to his feet with a pained growl. "ARRFUCK... okay, s'all good, stick me in coach, I can still play..." He grabbed his cane and started hobbling for the entrance. "See ya in a couple hours, m'boy."

"Remember, heel of your foot," he said.

"Yeah, heel of the foot, I gotcha..." He hobbled on out.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 7:39 pm 
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As Mike finally came to consciousness some time later, there were several things he noticed. First off, the fact that he was warm. Not uncomfortably so. And second, the smell of food cooking from somewhere near by. Eggs and hash potatoes, by the smell of things. A bit odd. The third thing was, of course, the deep, dull throb in his chest from his impromptu bisection the day before. The fourth thing was the sensation that someone had stuffed his head with cotton wool while he slept.

He shifted under the blankets and the room seemed to heave like a ship in a storm. Right. Small steps, Freeman.

The smell of food finally registered in his addled mind, and his mouth watered painfully. He carefully pushed the blankets aside -It took more effort than it should have- And stood up slowly. The world spun slightly and then settled. He fingered the gauze on his chest- Rust brown, good. No additional bleeding since it had been applied- and lurched over to the cupboard he'd stashed his clothes in. He tugged on a khaki sweater and shambled slowly towards the source of the smell.

There was a shuffling sound from a nearby room, and then those same quiet, bare footsteps from the day before slowly grew louder. As he moved into the kitchen and adjoining dining room, he found a pile of dishes as well as a plate of scrambled eggs--heaped high, no wasted expense--and the potatoes, as well as what appeared to be a bowl of fresh fruit. Not the canned shit they'd been subsisting on, but actual, honest-to-god fresh fruit.

Sherry, however, was nowhere in sight.

He lunge-fell towards the bowl of fruit and picked an apple, tearing hunks out of it like a man who hadn't eaten fresh fruit in months. This was, in fact, the case. Juice dribbling down his chin, he continued his crabwise search for Sherry.

And the missing girl arrived shortly, amidst a burst of angry noise. She was holding a wireframe cage in her hands, and inside that cage were... Chickens. Four of them. Four very displeased chickens.

Mike supported himself against the wall with one hand, as roughly three Sherrys and a score of birds seemed to enter the room. "Ah." He managed, abruptly discovering how sore his throat was.

She set the cage of clucking birds down, shaking her head, and walked to him, taking his arm and guiding him back to the table. She didn't say anything, but the intent was clear: sit. Eat.

Mike, in his current state, was content to be guided and instructed. He sank into a chair with no small amount of relief and piled the food onto his plate. God, but he was hungry.

She sat down across from him, still not saying anything, and watched him eat. He seemed to be doing better... At least for the most part. Still a bit head-fucked from blood loss, but that was to be expected. She didn't eat as he did, just sat there, content to make sure he was okay.

Eating seemed to help. His head cleared a little, and he glanced at her across the table. Well, she hadn't blown her brains out again. In fact, she'd made herself quite busy. He put his knife and fork down and cleared his throat. Better.

"Thanks." He said.

She just offered a little nod, taking a sip of the water she'd laid out in a carafe for them. She seemed to be a bit distracted, but otherwise she appeared fine.

After a long moment, she whispered his name.

"That's me, Sher." He bent across the table, wincing a little, and put his hand on hers. His hand was shaking slightly as it protested at his commands.

She smiled, taking his hand in hers and squeezing it very slightly. It felt so good, but... But something felt wrong. She cleared her throat, then whispered: "Why..." A little cough. "Why aren't we at the mall?"

He looked down. "'S long story." He said, and coughed, clearing something out of his throat. "What," He said, much more clearly. "What's the last thing you 'member?"

"Silver," she said. "We were in the warehouse... Some crazy shit tried to attack us..."

"Ah. I d'no much 'bout that." He drank some water and went on, haltingly. "You got blood on you. Could've been Silver's, so you turned back." He looked up again and searched her eyes for any sign that she was remembering it.

"Everything after that... Gone." Her voice was quiet, hushed. She watched him curiously, and with a hapless shrug, she finally settled on the idea that she must have been hurt in the fight or something like that. But it was still difficult to understand.

He almost felt like pretending that was the case. But that wouldn't do. He'd have to tell her the truth. Goddamnit.

"We quarantined you guys. Silver was pretty much gone by then." His voice had turned hollow as he forced himself to relive that night.

"You'd... You'd given up. Petro tried to talk you out of it, but one thing led to another..." He looked up again, pain from the memory and fear that he'd set it off again visible in his eyes.

"You. You blew your own brains out, Sher." There. It was done.

"Wh...What?" she asked in a tiny voice. That would explain it... The odd feeling in the back of her head, the reason she'd reached back there first thing upon waking up again... The strange feeling of utter wrongness at being alive... She searched his eyes for any explanation, then shook her head.

"I..."

But there was absolutely nothing she could say to that.

Mike forced himself to keep his eyes on her. "You thought you'd failed too many times to be useful any more." His tone fairly screamed that this was ridiculous.

"Why we're here... That's because I'm weak." He admitted slowly, dropping his gaze back to the plate again. "I was supposed to take you out the back, chop you up like fucking firewood and pin the pieces down. I couldn't." He started to pick up speed, obviously getting a weight off of his chest.

"I just crashed. The next day, Petro gave me leave. Ten days to get my shit together." He shrugged. "I don't know what I was thinking. I don't think I was thinking, but I dragged you along. Weak. Stashed you here, went on to..." He paused. "Went on. When I came back, you were... Up. Shoulda put you back down, but... Weak." He looked at her as if to ask forgiveness.

"I don't understand," she whispered. "Why? It would be so much easier to just let go... to let the pain stop..." She gripped his hand tightly, reassuringly. There was no malice. No anger. She'd never have to forgive him because she never blamed him in the first place.

He shook his head. "Weak." He muttered. "'N selfish." A sigh. Well, if this was confessional, why not go the whole hog?

"Sometimes I feel like I killed everyone, Sher. This whole fucking mess. Everyone who doesn't make it, the Zombies... I feel like it's my fault. So I try to help, where I can. But it's not enough. Then... You. I couldn't take it." Now it was his turn to think, Don't think less of me.

She looked up to him. "Mike," she said quietly. "That's ridiculous."

After a long pause, she added: "This is our chance to forget all that... To start over. We survived, and our reward for doing that is a new life. We can make ourselves into whatever we always wanted to be."

The words almost seemed to be coming from somewhere else.

Mike's cynical, uncharitable side whispered in his ear: Coming from our resident suicidee... But the rest of him let out a breath it'd been holding in for too long. If she really thinks that, isn't just saying it for my benefit, this shit might work out.

"I know." He said aloud. "It's irrational. Doesn't stop me from feeling guilty as hell at about 3 AM, though."

"Then make sure you're never alone at 3 AM again," she said with a supportive smile. She had no idea where these feelings of peace were coming from, because even now that she was back, nothing about her situation had changed... She sighed and looked across the table to him.

"When I realized that it was you who'd brought me back," she murmured, "I wasn't sure not to think... But... I think I get it now. And if I'm that important to you, then I'd better make sure I live up to it."

He half collapsed, half relaxed and grinned like an idiot. "Oh shit." He said, giddy. "Oh, shit. I was scared you were gonna- Thought you might-"

"Might what?" she asked, massaging his palm with her thumb. "Mike, when I woke up and I saw that blood all over the living room, I thought you were gonna come after me... That was the scariest moment of my life. We're in this together now, and it's your fault, okay?"

He grinned stupidly, not minding the pain in his chest. It was worth it. "I think I can live with that."

She smiled. "The reason you brought me out here, brought me back... It wasn't because you were weak, it was because you never gave up on me. Even when I did."

He folded his hand around hers. "You have more faith in me than I do."

She chuckled a bit. "I could say the same for you..." And as she trailed off, her nose caught a whiff of the mountain of food he'd yet to consume. "Now eat, Freeman. I don't want to be able to count your ribs in the honeymoon pictures, y'hear me?"

Still insanely relieved, he dragged some more food onto his plate. "Where the hell did you find four chickens, potatoes and fresh fruit? This is like the mother lode or something."

"It's a farm," she explained with a shrug. "'Bout a block down, there's a bloody farm."

"No shit?" He shook his head. "Will wonders never cease?" He glanced at her. "Hey, I don't want you to be skin and bones either."

"I'm still a bit sick," she admitted. "But I'll do my best, sir," she said teasingly.

So she shoveled a bit of the food onto her plate as well, and as she ate she spoke: "This stuff's all gonna be wasted if we don't clear it out before it snows... Want to help me load some of it onto a trailer or something?"

He winced a bit at the thought of doing heavy lifting right then. But he nodded slowly as he chewed, and after swallowing said "Yeah. If there's gas we could take the stuff away." He paused. "Speaking of leaving, I don't suppose you'd want to get back to the mall just yet." I know I don't.

She fell quiet for a long moment, then shrugged. "If you'd like. If it's okay with you, I'd rather... Just stay here for a few days. If that's all right. They'll know I'm coming back anyway," she said quietly.

He nodded. "That's perfectly fine. I'd want the same thing, if I was in your... Bare feet." He looked at his watch. "I've got a working week left on my 'vacation', then Petro said he'd come and get me. Personally."

"Okay," she said. "Then let's just take this time off to enjoy ourselves, all right? Picking apples and... Catching chickens."

He laughed. It was still a bit wheezy, but it was genuine. "Sounds good."

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She shoveled the rest of her food into her mouth in a few swift motions, washing it down with the water and sighing, satisfied. "So, you done?"

"Am I ever." He sat back in the chair and exhaled contentedly. "I don't think I've had a full stomach for months."

"I don't think I've ever cooked before," she said, bewildered.

By that point, Mike's already nonexistent gourmet standards had dropped even lower, to the point where fried rat was something to get excited about. Sherry could have set on the food with a flamethrower and he would've savored it like caviar.

"Well, for a beginner you do a bang-up job." He said, grabbing the dishes and wobbling to his feet. "Argh." He grabbed the chair with one hand, and then touched his chest where he'd been attacked. "You're pretty good at stitching, too. With a ball of wool and a few needles, you could be making cardigans in no time." He grinned.

"Nah," she said, "I'd rather gargle broken glass." And after a pause, she said: "I mean, ah, thanks."
He chuckled.

They put the dishes in the sink, even though they'd probably never come back to this house again, and for the first time since the outbreak... No, since she'd been incarcerated, things just felt... Normal. She sighed happily, stretching her arms over her head.

She was dressed in a white men's dress shirt and a pair of boxer shorts, oddly enough, having borrowed them from whomever the owner used to be. As he noticed this, she shrugged.

"Our poor fella here didn't have a lady friend," she said, "so I did the best I could, given the circumstances."

He raised an eyebrow at her getup. "Aren't you cold?" He marveled.

She twirled, kicking out her long legs. "Why? You'd rather I cover up?" she asked with a playful wink.

"No, not at all. I was just mentioning how hot it was in here." Mike grinned.

She shook her head, laughing. "Bastard," she said. Ohh, damn, he'd won that round.

He bowed, somewhat stiffly. "At your service, Madam."

Suddenly, a bright flash of light, not quite enough to dizzy him. Sherry grinned, holding a polaroid camera in her hands. Exactly where she had procured it wasn't an issue. She pulled the slide from the camera's body and blew on its surface, watching as his face faded into view.

"Whoa!" He blinked and then fixed a mock-scowl on her. "Oh yes, get me at my best, why don't you?"

"Who cares?" she said with a smirk. "For all you know, I took two dozen of them while you were sleeping. In LEWD positions!"

"Surely not!" He gasped theatrically. "Well, I'll just have to get something equally damaging before you sell them to a newspaper."

"Plus I'll tell them how you stole my corpse like a thief in the night. For who knows what kind of experiments. And if anyone can testify to that, it's me," she said with a nod.

"Your Honour, I protest!" Mike said, adjusting an imaginary tie. "I have never seen this woman before in my life!"

"Like they'd believe a sick weirdo like you!" she cackled. Setting the camera aside, she yawned and plunked back into her chair, stretching.

"So now what?"

He tested himself, wiggling his fingers and turning his head. Much better.

"Let’s see this farm."

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On the way to the farm, they'd packed some water as well as some of the leftovers from breakfast to make a sort of picnic lunch, and although Mike would be somewhat curious as to why she stopped at a house between the two locations, it was soon apparent as she returned to the street wearing a light blue sundress, obviously made for someone a teensy bit shorter than she was. She'd also returned with two pistols and a loaded magnum, but hey, the dress was cute and deserved some mention, right?

"Ready to go, cowboy?" she asked, taking his hand.

"Any time, cowgirl." Mike's eyebrows shot up when she reappeared. He was wearing his sweater, a set of faded blue jeans and his characteristic utility belt, containing amongst other things his fire axe, crowbar, GPS unit and DNA extractor.

She chuckled, dragging him along as she hopped toward the small fields in the distance. When they arrived, there was a moment of almost surreality. The fields were a lush green from the plentiful rain they'd had as of late, the trees in the tiny orchard absolutely bursting with fruit. And it was the perfect time of year for harvesting, too. As they explored a little, a tiny stream with a picturesque little bridge crossing over it was also discovered, as well as an abandoned tractor.

"Beautiful, ain't it?" Sherry asked.

He shook his head in amazement. "It's astonishing."

"C'mere," she said, dragging him toward the small bridge and pulling him on top of it. As though it was second nature and June rather than October, she yanked off her shoes and slid her feet into the cool water. As she sighed in relief, she leaned forward and pulled something from the water.

A bottle of redcurrant wine.

The little minx had planned the whole thing!

Mike blinked, started to say something, and then decided that he'd much rather just go with the flow. He nodded as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and produced two wine glasses with a flourish. "What are the odds?" He said with a twinkle in his eye.

"How--" she started to ask, then realized it didn't matter. They were there, the glasses were too, end of discussion. She smirked, pouring the drink for them and kicked at the water spraying tiny droplets into the air.

"As Sherlock Holmes would say, 'If I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all.'" Mike waggled his eyebrows and clinked his glass against hers.

In truth, he'd palmed them from the picnic basket. That little trick had won him a few bets in his time.

"You continually surprise me," she said with a bemused shake of her head. But that was okay. She took a sip of the cool drink and sighed. "Makes me wish for the days of, you know, ice," she said with a chuckle. Of all the creatures of the world, she was probably the only one missing ice the most at the moment.

"Ah, ice. That would've come in handy in summer. I don't think we'll be wanting for it in a few months, though." He sipped again, and paused. "You know," He said, dipping into his vast repository of utterly useless information, "Before they invented refrigerators, they used to actually haul icebergs from the poles."

"Sounds like too much trouble for too little reward," she said with a shrug. Oh well. She yawned and leaned against him, wiping at her eyes.

"Ah." He said, propping her up slightly as he fiddled with his belt, eventually drawing his axe out and placing it at his side. "Yes, that is my axe, and I am pleased to see you." He commented, throwing an arm over her shoulder.

She chuckled, leaning against him. "Yeah," she said quietly. "Pleased t'meet you as well."

Something seemed to be getting the girl down a bit, but she didn't seem to keen on talking about it. After all, she didn't want to ruin the fact that they'd actually seemed to have made peace. Who knew how long it would last, though.

He looked at her worriedly. Don't backslide on me, please. "What's up? He asked softly. "You can tell me."

She sighed. "Just... a bit overwhelmed, I guess," she said quietly. "I mean... I feel fine and all, but... that doesn't change what happened."

He nodded. "I can imagine. Just remember that you're never alone, OK? Never." He squeezed her.

She smiled, resting against him. "I know that... now," she said quietly. "And... even though it's over and done with, I just have to apologize... I... can't imagine what it must have felt like..." She wasn't even sure if he'd seen it or not. Hell, if he had, then she should be even sicker to her stomach than she already was.

"Oh, it's fine. Someone I know said something... Lessee, what was it..." He snapped his fingers in mock frustration. "Ah yes! She said, "This is our chance to forget all that. To start over.""

She laughed, a light and pleasant sound that she'd entirely forgotten for far too long. "Right," she said. "But let me rephrase... forgetting isn't good, because if we forget then we don't learn from our mistakes."

Raising her glass, she linked her arm with his.

"To the future."

"The future. Whatever it may bring." He said seriously, and clinked their glasses together.

As they took their drinks and the toast ended, she brushed her bangs from her eyes. "I love you, Mike Freeman," she said quietly, then leaned forward for a wine-tasting kiss.

"Sherry Z., the feeling is mutual." He murmured as their lips met.

She leaned over to him, gently setting the glass on the wooden planks they rested upon as she closed her eyes, letting herself just fall into the kiss as her hands traveled up to his shoulders.

I should have said that a long time ago, she thought.

He kept his hand around her shoulders and snaked the other one around her waist, drawing her up as their lips locked. No hesitance this time; the past few weeks had taught Mike to seize the moment, so he did.

And by golly, he seemed to be getting better at it. Kissing, that is. Or at least less nervous. Sherry remembered how his back had straightened the first time they'd kissed, how it had almost seemed like a painful experience to him, judging by his body's reactions. But this... Was relaxed. Using one hand, she yanked the blanket/tablecloth out of the picnic basket and spread it over the bridge, easing him down onto it.

Mike aided her, settling back against the blanket and supporting her as she came to a stop on top and a little to the side of him.

She stretched out, resting against him. "Mike," she asked quietly. "What were you looking for in life? Before everything went all to hell?"

He stuck one arm behind his head and thought.

"I don't know." He admitted at last. "I was just going through the motions, really. Get my name on a few papers, buy a house, settle down. Boring stuff."

"Mmhm," she said, "so... No plans for starting a family? No kids you've forgotten to tell me about?" she grinned.

He smiled back. "Oh yes, a girl in every port. I’ve more kids than Genghis Khan."

"Long as you come home, sailor," she said, kissing the tip of his nose.

"That's the plan." He reached up and brushed a lock of hair behind one of her ears.

"So, you're not gonna force me to take care of all these kids, are you? I'd made a better inmate than a mum. And I made a shitty inmate." She grinned.

"Oh, don't say that! You'd make an excellent... Inmate." His eyes twinkled.

She faked an exasperated sigh, then propped herself up on her elbows. "Maybe," she said, then kissed him again, gently grazing her teeth against his bottom lip.

He reciprocated, carefully pinching her top lip between his teeth and tugging slightly.

She breathed, hot and deep, against his mouth, and her hands soon wandered beneath the collar of his sweater. "I'll take things easy," she murmured, "... Don't wanna hurt yer stitches..."

"I'm at your mercy, m'dear." He grinned.

"You have been for a while," she whispered as though it were a secret plot of hers or something. Carefully, she slid the sweater over his head and shoulders, rolling it and placing it under his head. "That better?" she asked with a smirk.

"Much." He agreed, teasing the nape of her neck with his free hand.

"Although," she said quietly, "I don't know how great your wound's gonna feel with me laying on top of it..."

"I'll manage somehow."

"Like this?" She asked, flipping him over and reversing their position.

"Yeah, that works for me." He traced his fingers down the ticklish part of her arms with a smile.

She smirked. "I'm immune!" and stuck her tongue out at him.

"Oh, I'm just getting started." He said roguishly, and pushed her tongue back into her mouth with his index finger.

"Hey! That'th mine!" she said with a pout. Although the twinkle in her eyes betrayed that she wasn't exactly unhappy with the idea of him 'getting started' with anything

He tapped her on the nose with the same finger and grinned. "Shush, you."

She let out an indignant "hmph!" and brought her arm up from under the small bridge, splashing the side of his face with cool water. Indignant little thing. Grinning up at him, she didn't say a word after that.
"Much as I hate to cut this short," she said, "we better move indoors..." She commented after a few distant gunshots shattered the silence of the fields around them.

He sighed and rolled off her, pulling his sweater back on. "Always on duty, hey?"

"Shh," she said, gathering up their things and waving for him to follow her. "Come on... We can just finish the picnic up here!" she announced, prying open the door of the gigantic, Victorian-era barn. It looked to have once been used for housing a couple dozen or so sheep, but was empty now. Sherry closed the door after him, then clambered up the ladder into the loft, up through the hatch, and onto the roof, which was warm from absorbing the morning's sunlight.
"See? All the fun of outside without the concern!"

He shook his head. "How much time did you spend scouting this place out, anyway?"

"You were asleep almost twelve hours," she said matter-of-factly. "And then I realized I'd have to have something for you to nibble on upon returning to the world, so..." She shrugged and spread the blanket out, laying down spread-eagle and staring up at the sky.

"And you're the main course?" He grinned.

She looked up at him, shook her head. "Mr. Freeman..."

"Yes, Ms. Zelhart?" He lay down next to her.

"Nothing," she said with a shrug. "I was thinking of some form of reprimand but I couldn't come up with anything nearly cruel enough."

He put his hand on her forehead. "My god, you must have sunstroke."

"Hrm?" she asked, turning on her side to face him, not getting the joke. Poor girl wasn't too good with medical humour.

"When you get too hot. Impairs your ability to smack down errant med students." He explained.

"Oh," she said with a stupid grin. "Well I think I'm fine. I'm the one that was boozing you up, after all, not vice versa."

He propped himself up on his elbows and looked shocked. "You'd take advantage of an innocent young man like me? For shame!"

She bit her lip and tried to fake an innocent, girlish face. "What can I say?" she asked with a giggle. "I'm a villain."

"Positively dastardly." He agreed with a nod. "What am I going to do with you?"

"Good question," she said coyly.

He drummed his fingers on her chest, a look of deep concentration on his face. "Now let me see... No, that wouldn't work. Hardly any whipped cream left in the city. Maybe I should... With the spraycan... No, too cruel. And who'd clean up the mess?"

She laughed and shook her head, bangs tumbling everywhere. "Inside your head must be a very scary place, dear," she cooed, leaning up and kissing him on the cheek.

"Oh, you have no idea. I have to leave a little light on inside before I go to sleep." He nodded seriously, then grabbed her waist and rolled onto his back, pulling her on top of him.

"Really? But how do you keep it going when there's no power?" she asked with mock curiosity.

"Simple." He said gravely. "I mould my earwax into little candles."

"That's disgusting," Sherry said with a wrinkle of her nose.

He nodded, trying desperately to keep a straight face. "But these are trying times, and some sacrifices must be made for the greater good."

"I suppose that would qualify as a sacrifice," she said with a chuckle. "I guess..." She shook her head again, unable to keep from giggling a bit.

"It is." His deadpan facade started to crack, starting with the corners of his mouth. "But it's nothing compared to the sacrifice I had to make to get the candle wicks." He mock shuddered.

She laughed out loud. "You're awful! Simply awful!" But hilarious, eh? As she continued to laugh, a lone zombie staggered into view, wandering through the field aimlessly. They were really quite harmless looking from that far off, she thought, watching it.

He turned his head to see what she was looking at, and froze. "Ah." He unconsciously rubbed his wound. "I think I've seen him before."

"Hm?" she asked, sitting up and looking to him.

"Close up, you might say." He continued thoughtfully, craning his neck to look around the field.

"Bastard that carved you up," she asked.

"Plural. A pack." He pushed himself upright, still scanning the horizon. "I think they were military, something from their training stuck. Two from the front, two took me by surprise."

"What the hell," she said. "Are you serious?" she was up on her feet then, creeping along the spine of the roof and spying the rest of the farm for activity.

He nodded and got to his feet, staring at the Zombie. "One had a flak jacket. He went first, soaked up my bullets."

"Bloody armour," Sherry said. Although if he'd been hitting it in the head like he was supposed to, flak jackets weren't an issue. She watched the thing move calmly through the irrigation ditch. Aimless. "Let it go?" she asked. "Doesn't seem to notice us."

Well, when said Zombie is heading for you at 40 MPH, lining up for a headshot is the least of your concerns. "That's what I thought the first time, too." He mulled, then something seemed to click. "It's a distraction. We-" As if on cue, the barn door slammed.

She stood up straight, barely having time to register what was happening as the hatch seemed to fly open, three zombies in the aforementioned gear shambling out onto the steep surface. Sherry cursed. She didn't have a fucking gun!
"How many shots you got?" she asked, backing slowly.

"I, ah, have an axe. And a crowbar." He admitted sheepishly. Two of the zombies staggered out to flank them; The third was obviously far, far gone; It was walking on all fours, polished talons gripping the roof tiles.

Before she even remembered the weapons stashed in the picnic basket, Sherry was charging forward toward the quadrupedal zombie, and kicked it hard in the head, sending it sliding down and then falling to the ground beneath them.

Mike rifled through the basket and grabbed the pistols, standing up just in time to see one of the flankers put on a burst of speed and charge at him. He fired both guns at it, knocking it off it's feet. "Catch!" He yelled, and lobbed one of the guns at Sherry, turning back and drilling the Zombie through the head as it stood up again.

She jumped, missed the gun on the first run, then scrabbled after it as it skidded down the roof. She grabbed it before they both went sailing over the edge, digging in painfully, her shoulder twisting as she held on, legs kicking and finding nothing but air. God damn, that had been close.

The remaining Zombie dismissed her as a threat and tackled Mike from behind, barreling him off his feet even as he frantically spun around and blasted it at point-blank range. The Zombie landed on top of him and clawed at him hungrily, bending over to rip his throat out.

Meanwhile, the quadrapedal Zombie dug it's talons into the side of the barn and began to scale it vertically, right underneath Sherry.

"Mike!" she shouted, climbing as quickly up as she could. Finally reaching where they were, she yanked the Zombie off Mike even as he continually shot at it. Meanwhile, the one she thought she'd taken care of was eerily scaling the side of the roof, trying to get to them before its comrades.

Mike blew its' head off as it flailed in her grasp and scrambled to his feet, neck bloody where it'd ripped a chunk out of him. He swore. "MotherFUCK. I'm out of ammo."

She offered him the pistol, but before he could take it, she was pulled down by the four-legged zombie, the two of them tumbling down as it latched its claws into her bare calf. She screamed, managing to catch the hatch and climb through it, kicking at the zombie and cursing herself for not keeping the damn gun.

Mike grabbed her arm and pulled her up, scooping up the gun and blasting the leader- It had to be the leader- back to the floor.

Meanwhile, the Zombie who'd been walking across the field reached the barn.

However, the leader wasn't through with them yet. With a snarl, it charged, knocking all three bodies through the hatch and down a good seven or eight metres to the hay below.

The pistol flew from Mike's grip as he fell, landing some distance away. He staggered to his feet, feeling the effects of the bloodloss -AGAIN- as he wrenched the axe from his belt, looking around wildly for the Zombie.

With a grotesque sound--flesh being torn and ligaments being snapped--Sherry was wrestling it on the ground, steering clear of its jaws as she held it back the way a wrestler might evade a pin. The gun was a good several metres away, but that was none of her concern at the moment as they struggled.

"Roll left!" Mike yelled, running towards them, and burying his axe in its throat with a satisfying crack as it's neck broke. He pulled it free and swung again, severing the head and sending the body into impotent spasms. He pulled her to her feet, staggering a little. "You hurt?" He asked, breathing heavily.

As he pulled her up, she stumbled, clutching at her leg with a wounded cry. Guess that answered that question.

"Oh, shit." He threw her arm around his shoulders, supporting her and being supported equally as he started to go light-headed. "Hold on to me."

"I'm fine," she assured, limping a bit, "just hurts is all..." she paused, looking up to him. "Your stitches," she said.

"They're holding. It's my neck." He chuckled. "I just can’t get taken anywhere nice, can I?"

"I'm so sorry," she said, inspecting his wound. "Here, let's go back up, I can use the blanket to help the bleeding... Did you bring anything?" she was obviously a bit panicked.

"Jesus, don't be sorry. They had my fucking scent." Then the door swung open a final time. "Oh, hell."

Sherry looked up, immediately jogging to the gun and flipping it up, ignoring the biting pain in her leg. Same damn leg Jaycee had stabbed her in, too. What were the fucking chances...

"It's the armoured one!" Mike yelled as the Zombie peered into the barn myopically.

"Get up in the loft!" Sherry called.

Mike was about to protest, he didn't want to lose her again, but then he remembered something and scrambled for the roof. The Zombie sniffed and lurched towards her at a stiff-legged run.

She stood her ground, pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Why wasn't it firing?! She fired again, nothing. Then she realized the safety had been knocked on, but before she had time to do anything about it, she had to fucking GO. Dashing to the side, she put the ladder between the zombie and herself.

There was a resounding BOOM and the zombie was blasted to the ground. Mike squinted down from the roof, holding the smoking Magnum. "Did I get it?" He yelled.

"Y-yeah!" she called, holding the smoking remnants of the ladder. "But you're gonna have to jump down! And don't forget the wine," she teased.

"Forget the wine? Never!" He laughed and tossed the gun down, grabbing the picnic basket and blanket. Pressing the latter to his neck, he stepped off the ledge and landed in a cloud of hay.

"Score one for the home team." He grinned, despite the blood running down his neck.

"My dress is absolutely ruined!" she mock-whined, plunking down beside him. Dabbing at the wound on his neck with the corner of her blanket, she announced: "I do believe you'll live."

"Oh, it just needs a few stitches." He grinned evilly. "The dress, that is."

She looked down, shook her head. "Ass," she murmured, but leaned her head on his shoulder anyway.

He threw his arm over her. "Let me see your leg."

She lifted it. The muscle tissue was fairly mangled, as the zombie had literally held onto her via that manner, but nothing seemed broken and no tendons seemed damaged. "Hurts," she said, "but I'll live."

He clucked disapprovingly. "We better wrap that up until we can get back to our safehouse." He leaned over and rummaged in the picnic basket, eventually pulling out a roll of gauze. "Old habits die hard." he explained sheepishly as he wrapped it around her leg.

She smirked, wincing each time he wound it around, but didn't say anything. After all, she should be glad she had someone so well-trained to provide her first aid in this world. "I'm glad you're okay," she said quietly.

"I'm glad you are, too." He finished with a complicated knot, and leaned over to kiss her on the cheek.

She sighed. "That was a workout," was her final verdict as she loosed a nervous, adrenaline-high laugh.

"Tell me about it. Oh." He lurched upright, gently pulling the gun from her hand, and walked over to the last zombie. He took careful aim and emptied the clip into its head.

"That should keep 'em quiet." He said as he flopped back into the hay.

She crawled on top of him, contentedly resting her head on his shoulder. The silence rung in their ears, bizarre after so many gunshots.

One could undoubtedly make a social commentary on the daily rigours of living in modern Malton that the pair were able to snuggle comfortably, surrounded by a collection of dismembered and semi-rotted corpses. Mike, however, was content with wrapping his arms around her and kissing her on the top of her head.

She yawned, resting against him for a moment before announcing that they should probably head back to the house just in case any shamblers had been nearby. And she jumped up, a bit tentatively, offering a hand.

He accepted her hand gratefully as he wobbled to his feet and collected their stuff. "A big day out, hey?"

"We'll save the apples for tomorrow," she said with an affirmative nod. As they began heading back, she kept a careful eye on the surrounding terrain, eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary. If anything, at least she was careful.

"We got all of the ones who went after me." He commented. "I think they're the reason this place is such a ghost town."

"Maybe we shoulda outrun 'em then," she said. After all, keeping a few spiders around kept out the flies and mosquitoes, right?

He shook his head. "Didn't work for me. Besides, they'll be back on their feet in a week or two. Minus one flak jacket, that is." He revealed the bundle he had shoved under his arm with a twinkle in his eye.

"You sneak!" she said with a laugh, giving him a playful shove onto the sidewalk. They approached the house carefully due to the paranoia from moments before, but everything in their temporary dwelling seemed at ease. Didn't mean it'd stay that way, but hey, they were optimists!

Then they heard a clattering and rustling sound coming from behind the barricades.

Sherry paused. "Dammit," she cursed, then waited to see if anything followed. Always cautious.

Then a tiny, canine head popped out from between the hastily-nailed planks of wood covering the doorframe and yipped at them.

"August! What've you been up to, you old rascal?" Mike exclaimed. The pseudo Jack Russell disappeared for a moment and then reappeared, proudly dragging a dead rat that was almost the same size as him by the tail.

"Hey, not bad, Killer," Sherry praised, scratching the dog a few times before hopping through the door. "Come on," she said, "I'm ready to pass out..." Although chances were life wouldn't let them rest long, would it? She whistled at the dog, giggling as he left the rat outside.

"Sorry, man, but we've moved up-market." Mike confided in the dog, tapping the picnic basket. "Here, have a nibble." He plucked a small apple from the basket and rolled it along the floor, leaving the tiny terrier to chase it gleefully.

He yawned and followed Sherry. "Pass out sounds about right." He admitted, stopping to apply some antiseptic and a bandage to his neck.

She grinned. "Well you're a big fan of resting after a hard day's work even if the rest of the First weren't." As the sound of the dog crashing into a cabinet somewhere behind them caused her to jump a bit.

"When I said knock yourself out, I didn't mean it literally!" Mike called over his shoulder. He turned back to Sherry and stretched. "I seem to remember the master bedroom having some very cozy blankets."

"Indeed, although one's a bit dirty now." She chuckled and took his hand, wandering into the bedroom. "Maybe now that we've got some alone time I'll show you the few tattoos of mine you haven't seen, darlin'."

"I wait with breathless anticipation." He said amiably as he sat on the edge of the bed, pulling off his newly ravaged sweater. "I'm going through these like nobody's business." He commented randomly.

"Guess we'd better pack you a suitcase, then," she said. And before the sweater hit the ground, Mike would find himself pinned flat to the bed, Sherry holding his wrists in a teasingly military fashion. She licked the lobe of his ear. "But we can pack later, yes?"

"Later sounds good." He agreed.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 7:42 pm 
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Mike woke the next day rather fuzzily, but also rather contentedly. There was a thick autumn mist visible outside the window, and the sun was just climbing over the rooftops. He turned his head and felt the rasp of Sherry's hair against his chin. All in all, it was a nice way to start the morning.

She still slept contentedly, curled beside him the way a child might seek his mother's side when cold. It was odd, how different Sherry appeared to be when sleeping. The tiny wrinkles around her eyes smoothed out, any signs of worry gone from her face. She murmured something unknown as he shifted, her body warm against his.

He stayed where he was for several minutes, enjoying the warmth of her body and delighting in her little twitches and movements. Eventually, however, he forced himself to get up- Making sure not to disturb her- and located his pants, which were a surprisingly large distance from the bed. When Sherry woke, she would smell tea being brewed.

She arched her back as she woke, yawning tremendously. God damn, she ached fairly--and then she remembered the incidents of the night before and smiled, stretching again. And without a second thought, she roused from bed and plodded into the kitchen, nude body proudly on display for any and all to see.

He turned when she entered the room, grinning goofily. "Well, I see Sleeping Beauty's roused herself." He handed her a cup of tea, utterly unselfconscious of how horribly soppy he had just been.

She grinned, taking a big sip of the hot liquid and making a sort of purring sound as it flowed through her, warming her. "Vaguely," she said with a smirk.

"Always a start." He took a sip as well, then seemed to remember something. "Oh. While I could stand here looking at you all day, I did manage to scrape some clothes together for you. They're mine, so they might be a little large, but it's the best I could do." He rummaged in a closet for a moment, and pulled out a pair of faded green jeans and a hooded grey sweater.

"Thanks," she said with a smile. "After all, it's gonna be fairly cold out. Looks rainy."

"Yeah. Autumn, the 'season of misty fruitfulness.' Erm. P. G. Wodehouse wrote that before 'fruitfulness' had it's modern connotation, by the way."

"Hahaha, indeed," she said with a chuckle. She leaned back in her chair, watching him as he busied himself.

"You never stop moving your hands, do you?"

"What brought this observation on?" He said, turning to raise an eyebrow saucily as he rifled through the cupboard, fetching plates and cutlery.

"Last night," she said, "after I was falling asleep... You kept running your hands through my hair. Or over my skin. Or they just twitched." She giggled a bit.

"What can I say? You're highly strokeable." He piled some food onto the plates; He'd been making himself busy, as per usual. "I wasn't sure whether you liked your eggs fried or scrambled, so I did one of each." He admitted sheepishly.

She raised an eyebrow. "Strokeable," she repeated with a chuckle. And as to the question of the eggs: "I just eat food however it's in front of me," she said with a nod.

"Strokeable indeed. Also cuddleable, kissable and... Erm... Run-fingers-through-hairable." He juggled the plates and then set the scrambled eggs down in front of her. "There ya go." He'd finally decided on giving it to her because there was simply more on that plate. He figured she needed it more than he did.

She smiled, shook her head, but resisted the urge to make a crack at him. So as opposed to anything snide, she simply ate her breakfast and chuckled a bit, watching him from the corner of her eye.

Eating food alongside Sherry while she was butt-naked was... Distracting, to say the least. He couldn't help staring, casting his eyes up and down what he considered, at that moment, to be the most beautiful woman in the world.

Mike was, at heart, soppy as hell.

He finished his plate and coughed. "Seconds?" He did his best to keep his eyes fixed above her neckline.

She canted her head to the side as she chewed, watching him thoughtfully and contemplating... Something. Who the hell knew. As he spoke, she nodded vigorously. "Yeah. Wore myself out last night," she said with a cheeky grin.
August quietly padded around near their feet, hoping for a handout, although he'd have to pry it from Sherry's cold, dead hands.

"You and me both." He grinned back, and favoured August with a scratch on his tiny head. As he shoveled more food onto her plate, including what was left of the previous day's potatoes, he quickly pecked her on the cheek and then laughed slightly. "Stop me if I get unbearable."

"You already were," she said with a wink. "But endearingly so."
For a guy who'd engaged in only minor acts of hooliganism throughout his life, Mike was extremely high on her list of appreciated humans. And he hadn't even had to kill anyone to earn her loyalty, either! She gnawed thoughtfully on the lightly-crunchy potatoes, watching him. "So what's on the agenda, chief?" she asked.

"Well." He sat back in his chair and crossed his arms behind his head. "I still owe you a winter shopping trip."

"Ooh, good idea. Seeing as how we've got that trailer, we can probably load up with all sorts of junk before heading back. I approve, Sergeant Freeman."

"Oh, doctor works fine for me, Ma'am." He said with pomp. "Ah, that reminds me!" He rolled an apple across the table. "Never fear, one of them a day won't keep me away." He helped himself to one and threw a third to August who immediately tried to swallow it whole, despite the fact that it was larger than him.

"I think he treats them more like toys than food," she commented, catching the apple with her right hand as her left scratched at the tiny dog's skull. She laughed as he continually tried to unhinge his jaw to swallow the thing whole.

"True." Admitted Mike. "But it keeps him off the streets, hey?"

"I wasn't aware there was a man alive not on the streets right now," she chided.

"Oh," Mike said, clasping his hands together and making big eyes, "But the little guy could catch his death of cold!"

"And speaking of that, m'dear, despite myself I'm going to have to ask you to put some clothes on! You might get hypothermia," He chided, "And then I'd have to spend days doing nothing but keeping you warm." He waggled his eyebrows at the last part, grinning.

"If anything you'd shove me out into a rainstorm for that," she prodded him in the ribs, then made a sort of inverse strip show, slipping into the oversized clothing with a grin. She took a massive bite from the fruit, then presented herself with a flourish.
"That better, sir?"

He made as if to loosen an imaginary collar, then donned his own shirt. "Better take this, just in case." He said more seriously, handing her a pistol. "You never know what could be in that fog."

She nodded. "Right." And then: "The .357 still has five shots, too."

"It should have more by the time we're finished." He said confidently.

--------------------------------------------------------------------- -----------------------------------------------------------

"Aha! The labcoat was last year's style, and not waterproof." Mike babbled, sorting through the winter gear in the shop. "But this..." He pulled something off a rack and flashed it at Sherry. "Trendy, waterproof, with a removable interior lining. Dark blue. What say you?"

"It contrasts wonderfully with your hair," she said with a nod as she was loading some scarves and gloves into a large bag. After all, the mall's shops had all been stocked with summer wares, so their population would be relatively underclothed.

"Excellent. With that and the shotgun shells, I'm in hog heaven." He unfolded his own bag and started shoving things in too. "Just in time, too. Ammo was scarce last I checked, and without ways of keeping warm people could die this winter."

"Indeed," she said. "Frank and I both had the idea of using insulation to fill the vents in the mall, at least, so it won't get too drafty. But in a big space like that..." She shook her head. "It's gonna get cold."

He nodded. "Ironically, it might be better if there was more ventilation; Then we could burn things for heat."

"Unfortunately, we can't take that risk," she said. "The smoke... Nope."

"Yeah. Oh, right. Surprise!" He fished in his pockets and took out a pack of cigarettes. "I hope you like Marlbros. There wasn't much to choose from."

"Cowboy killers are fine," she said with a grin, taking the pack and shoving it in a back pocket. This action rewarded him with a long kiss as she wrapped a scarf around his neck and pulled him against her.

He hugged her and savoured the kiss, then inspected his scarf, which was red with white stripes towards the end. "You have good taste, m'dear. Suitably festive, I say."

"This isn't for me, darling," she said, running her tongue over his lower lip. "'S for you." She then proceeded to tie the scarf in an amusing bow fashion across his neck, letting the fringe on the ends dangle down.

He nibbled on her upper lip, then leaned past her to the scarf bin. "My turn." He rummaged around in it for a second, then 'ahah'ed slightly and wrapped a deep green scarf around her neck, tying it with what he knew was a Windsor Knot.

He tucked it under her shirt. "Very smart, if I say so myself."

"Doesn't quite go well with the sweater," she said, snickering as she struck a pose. "But I'm rather fond of it either way."
Suddenly, a clattering behind them, followed by a little yelp from August and a frightened meowing.

Mike automatically yanked the magnum out of it's holster and aimed it towards the sound.

"It's a cat, Mike," Sherry said with a laugh. "You couldn't tell? I don't think zombies mewl..."

As though to prove her point, a tiny black body shot out from beneath one of the mannequins' feet, chased equally swiftly by the small dog.

"Yeah, well.. Better safe than sorry." He laughed and reholstered the gun.

"Here, kitty. August, give it some room." Mike knelt down and made appealing sounds.

The dog didn't seem to react, but Sherry knelt and grabbed him quickly, holding him a safe distance away from the tiny furry body that half-limped, half-ran into Mike's arms.

"Whoa there." Mike inspected it briefly, checking for injuries.

The beast's tiny foot was tangled in what appeared to be some sort of cord or fringe, probably from one of the various sweaters and coats throughout the building. No injuries, just a lot of panicked confusion.

Mike soothed it. "There, boy. Ah. Girl? Sherry, can you tell boy and girl cats apart?"

"Well, ehm, if he doesn't have any dangly bits, then I'm assuming he's a she," Sherry offered helpfully.

Mike snapped his fingers. "Yeah, it's just been a while since I had a cat. Her name was July."

She watched the kitten fiddle with the string wound around its leg, meweling pitifully as it swatted with its declawed forepaws and didn't seem to make much headway at it.

"Poor thing's not used to being in the wild," she announced, although the 'wild' in a bloody shopping centre was a relative term.

Mike gently removed the string from the kitten's paw, then picked it up and showed it to August. "It's a kitten, boy. Don't go psycho." The little mutt sniffed the kitten, and then decided that it was All Right, and not a Danger to House and Home. Mike then showed it to Sherry.

"You in the market for a kitten, perchance?" He asked.

The kitten looked at Sher and mewled appealingly.

"Aw!" she cooed, tickling the feline under its chin. It looked up to them with bright amber eyes and mewed in response, and she picked it up, cuddling it tightly.

"How could I say no to this face?" she said, hugging it.

"No idea." Mike said approvingly. "What'll you call it, then? Reminds me of the old joke about calling all your cats 'Cat', because they don't come when called anyway."

"I had a cat that came when I called once," she said. "But I can't remember her name."

She thought for a moment, and then realized what he'd said about his old cat, July. "Do you name all your pets after months?" she asked.

He nodded. "Yup. I don't know what I'm going to do after August, though. September doesn't quite work as a pet's name, does it?"

She laughed. "Interesting method there."

She then thought for a moment.

"Kitty, I'll call you..." she thought for a long moment. "Licorice."

The cat mewled as though to question or approve the statement.

He shrugged. "Well, my previous method was to call my dog 'Spot' and my cat 'Cat'. I think it's an improvement.

Licorice, hey? How do you like that, little girl?" He addressed the kitten.

The kitten swatted at his hand, but as her paws lacked claws, it wasn't as though she could do any damage. Sherry then noticed something: the cat's nipples were fat and bright red.

"Oh dear," she said.

"We'd better have August take a look around," she said, "our kitty just had... more kitties."

"Well, you're naming them." Mike smiled, and then poked August at the cat's nipples so he'd get the scent, and put him back on the floor. The dog trotted off purposefully, tiny nose to the ground.

A few moments later, the cat seemed to get a bit agitated as August neared one of the old check-out stands, and Sherry trotted over, picking up August under one arm and setting Mama Cat down with her other.

A chorus of tiny noises from somewhere inside, and an overturned trash can filled with paper shreddings from the register seemed as good a place as any. Sherry gently reached forward and tugged the can from beneath the desk, pulling it up onto the countertop and peering inside.

Seven pairs of orange-yellow eyes stared back, each cat apparently blacker than the next.

"Hooboy." Mike breathed. "Do we have a vet back at the mall? These guys'll need some serious tending to, even after Lic here weans them."

"We do, actually," Sherry said. "One of the Guard guys. I can't remember his name, but he was there last time we were..."

"That's good. How are we going with the shopping? We should probably get these guys someplace warm."

"I've got the perfect remedy for that," she said with a grin. She wandered off and then returned with a large designer bag, which was actually said to be a pet carrier regardless of its opulence. She took a few of the scarves, folded them neatly inside and set them on the bottom, then uncerimoniously dumped the gaggle of felines inside.

After a few moments of pawing and sniffing around, the kittens were curled up once again and Licorice was cleaning one of them contentedly.

"Doesn't take much to please them!" Sherry said with a grin.

"Hm. Cats are more like men than I thought." Mike said with an answering grin. "You look like you know what you're doing there. I'll grab the other stuff." Mike went and reappeared a moment later, several bags slung over his shoulders and a carry-case in his left hand. "We hit the, erm, mother lode here, if you'll pardon the expression."

She chuckled. "Indeed we did. I'll take care of the kitties and grab my other bags," she offered. They'd have to head back to the department store's warehouses later, because this apparently was an unrummaged location.

"We can head back and load up the trailer. Maybe head back to the mall a few days early? It's up to you."

"I don't mind, really. Better let them know we're coming, though. Otherwise I'll be reviving Petro after he gets a heart attack." He laughed.

She chuckled. "I can radio them later tonight, no problem."

"Sounds like a plan."

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 7:45 pm 
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He looked over the paperwork, with Zimmerman's excruciatingly precise and well-calculated figures. It was depressing shit, with the only cheery news being the massive amounts of water they were managing to collect with all the heavy storms going on. He tossed the notebook on the table and ran a finger through his hair. Ammo consumption was starting to shade into what Zimmerman deemed to be the yellow zone, meaning that it was time to shift to strict rationing and use axes, knives, and clubs as much as possible. That was going to go over really well...

His radio crackled a few times, and there was the sound of someone rustling with electronic equipment. Not quite ineptly so, but just about.

A quick clearing of the throat.

A few more bangs and clatters.

"... Petro?"

He'd recognize her instantly.

He caught himself before he called her by name. "Tiger? I'm here."

"This is a locked frequency... right?"

She was glad she'd remembered which band it was.

"Yeah, yeah it is. How are you doing?"

She ignored the question. "Mike told me what happened. What I did."

And then a long pause.

"I need to know if Silver's okay."

"He's recovering. He's going to be fine. How are you?"

She sighed, relieved, and it was audible on the radio.

"We're fine," she said. And she meant it.

"Good," he said, his relief equally audible. "Love ya, girl. Just so you know."

She nodded, then realized there wasn't any way he could see it. "Thanks," she said quietly. And then: "I'm... better."

"Good," he said. "You two take care of each other, okay? Any idea on when you'll be rolling back through here?"

"Mike said you're coming to get us in a week or so," she said.

"I can put a team out to get you tonight, if you want," he replied.

She thought for a moment, really considered it, then said:

"Ehm... Mike and I are just spending some... alone time."

"You're in a secure location for some alone time?" Much as he was happy with the concept that they were breaking every law of decency and several laws of physics, safety came first.

"We're... on a farm." With more than a little bewilderment. "With... chickens..."

"Well... uh... bring us back a couple when you're done, then."

"We've actually got quite a few caged up... and potatoes... and some apples..." she rattled off a list of valuables, including a small tractor that she wanted to bring for no real practical reason. "There's a few cattle and some sheep too, although I don't know how we'll bring them over..."

"Jesus fuck, give us a twenty on that and we'll figure something out."

"I guess we could put sacks over their heads and hogtie 'em... and put them on the trailer..."

"We can scrounge wheels. It'll burn our stocks of fuel and ammo to move something like that, but fuck it, it'd be worth it." Another month of life, maybe.

"Actually, I don't think you'll need ammo," she said. "I'm just out here... laying in a field right now... there's a little river and there's kittens in a hollow tree and not a zombie in sight... it's like all of Old Town is just clear of 'em."

"Well christ, we're not clear here. It's worse downtown, though. They're screaming bloody murder over all the frequencies that there are mass hordes smashing everything."

"I don't think I've ever seen more than forty in one place or so," she said with a sigh. "Guess we've had it easy."

"Yeah, well..." Well, she hadn't been around for the big fight at the end with the smart rotter. Damn sight more than forty out there then. "We're getting reports of hundreds, moving with organization."

"Damn," she said. "But... I bet with some strategic planning, we can hold off that many."

She then proceeded to tell him of an idea she'd had: about fifteen blocks from the mall there was a small crude oil refinery, but even small refinery meant dozens of drums. Sherry's plan consisted of bordering the mall with said drums, so that in the event of a large scale attack by humans or zombies, the oil could be dumped over the ramparts and ignited.

"That's fucking brilliant, Tiger," he enthused.

She smiled, ineffably proud. "Thanks."

"Plus we're going to need the heating oil pretty damned soon, too. Gonna get fucking cold around here."

"We can use insulation from home development shops to plug up the vents," she said. "It'll keep it from getting drafty."

"Yeah, Frank had that one covered. But we hadn't figured on the refinery run."

"Yeah, Frank had that one covered. But we hadn't figured on the refinery run."

"Guess it pays to wander around outside every so often," she teased.

"Yeah, well I'm running on a busted wheel again," he pointed out. "Us old folks don't heal so well." And Melanie wasn't exactly promoting his healing process by torquing the fuck out of his knee, for that matter...

"Fuckin' geezer," she said affectionately.

"Fucking punk," he shot back. "You got the frequency, I'll keep the radio handy. I'll get Frank on putting the extraction together, you need anything, you give me a call. Otherwise, you kids enjoy your... ah..." he paused for significant amount of time. "Honeymoon, sweetheart. Make daddy proud."

"You're such a cock," she said, then waited for a moment and relinquished. "We just had a picnic... And... A little something else... On this picturesque little bridge..." And she sighed happily.


"Great," he said. "Mel and I are having a picnic tonight, out on the roof. Get in some stargazing. I'll be thinking about you. Some. Early. Before things get exciting."

"Before it gets down to the Tequila nipple shots?"

"Among other things, yeah. She made me a doll!" he said excitedly, before realizing... "I mean, handicraft. Like a voodoo doll, y'know..." Ah fuck. He was never going to hear the end of that one."


Sherry snorted a bit, then said absolutely nothing. There was a shuffling sound, followed by some giggling. "She made you a doll!" she exclaimed with a mockery of his excitement.

"Hey, nobody's ever made me anything like all handicraft and shit. Best present I ever got before this was the clap."

"At least I know that one wasn't my fault," she said, relieved.

"Yeah, well now that you're over that mad crush you had on me," he ribbed.

"You mean the mad crush you created to stoke the fires of your own sick, masturbatory tendencies..."

"...zing." he retorted weakly.

She smiled to herself, and it was evident in her voice. "Hey, at least you know your faults."

"Oh bullshit, I wasn't conceding, I was just... well, tired. It's been a long fucking year."

"Tell me about it," she said, this time a bit more subdued. "Hey..." She started, "if there's anything I said... And there probably is... Forget it. It was bullshit."

"Kid, the only fucking thing that matters to me right now is hearing your voice," he said sincerely.

"But it still needed to be said," she added. "If not for you, then for me. I did a stupid thing. And... For some reason, I get the chance to make up for it when most don't."

"Just let me know when you're ready to come home. You know where I am."

"We will," she said. "I promise. Jaycee was right, you know... I fucked up a lot of things. But that ended yesterday."

"Don't concede a god damned thing to that little animal," he said. "If he was right, he was just lucky."

She sighed. "No... He knew me. But that's the point: knew."

He grimaced. Not something to argue over. And she had a point, he did know her weak spots. The asshole was a born predator. "Silver will be back on him in a little while. He won't get away again."

"Good," she said. That was all. No assertion that she'd be joining the hunt, no whimpering.

"You sound good, Sherry," he said after a moment.

She didn't say anything, as though speaking further would discount that idea.

"Anything else we need to go over? Otherwise, I'd recommend that you go back to your doctor."

"Just... Good to hear your voice," she said.

"Call me any time," he said. "I'm proud of you, punk-ass."

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They weren't the only ones on the roof. It had become the place where people went to get away from the somewhat stifling interior. He wandered among the residents of the mall, giving greetings and passing jokes to the locals, before they reached a clear spot at the edge, away from the crowds. "Alright," he said, tossing the blanket down. "Here we are."

"Hold just a moment," she said, wandering over to a bespectacled figure, perched alone on top of one of the air conditioning unit, his silver hair fluttering in the slight breeze. Dorian had gone prematurely gray during the outbreak, undoubtedly due to some sort of shock and stress, although she'd never had any sort of opportunity where he'd wanted to tell her. She spoke with the man for a few minutes, looking pensive and resting her weight on one hip. He looked impassive.

He started setting up the food, looking up. Not much in the way of stargazing tonight, looked like. But at least it wasn't raining. "So, cereal... marshmellows... here ya go," he said, opening the pack of marshmellows and passing them over to Jared.

"I like 'em better when they crunch," he said with a grin, popping one into his mouth. The crunching sound was audible. Almost as though they were freeze-dried.

"Oh, good. Because crunchy is all we got," he said. Reaching into his pack, he produced a bottle of wine and a corkscrew, and proceeded to uncork it. "Vin Ordinaire?" he inquired, offering the bottle.

The boy blinked, not getting it.

"Cheap wine," he said, pressing the bottle into his hand. "Couldn't be too picky, unfortunately."

"Oh," he said. "I don't..." Then he realized that it didn't really matter and took a sip. The liquid tasted vaguely like cranberries, but he liked it well enough. He munched another marshmallow, and Melanie returned, looking a tad solemn.

"What's up, sweetheart?" he inquired, snagging the bottle for a sip himself, before offering it to her.

She sighed. "I'm worried about Dorian... Gil was right, he's isolating himself. Sad." Although there was little he could do about it, was there? Poor Gil... "They're like brothers," she explained.

"Job getting to him, or what?" He asked. He pulled out the cereal.

"Nah," Melanie said, "job's what he uses to escape." Jared closed his eyes for a moment, then said: "Don't bother. It's complicated and kind of weird."

"Oh, yeah, because every other fucking thing around here is simple," he said, passing the cereal to Melanie and opening the pack of raspberry chocolates.

She ate a few pieces, and Jared said: "Well it's not even really his problem." Melanie watched Dorian from a distance. The isolation the man seemed to radiate was almost painful. Especially considering the fact that no one else seemed interested in making him miserable other than himself.

He took out a chocolate, then passed that around. "Not good to run alone in a crowd like this," he pointed out. "Tends to cause breakdowns."

"He's just scared," Jared said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Mostly of himself and Gil Sheehan." Melanie blinked. What the hell.

"Why?" he asked. "Fear of failure? Fear of success?" He somehow doubted it was fear of pent-up aggression, the guy didn't strike him as the type.

If anything, Dorian was the exact opposite. Jared seemed to get a bit uncomfortable for a moment, then announced: "He's afraid he's gay and Gil knows. What's gay?"

"Oooooooooooh..." he said. "Means that he likes guys instead of girls," he said with a shrug.

"Why's it a big deal then?" Jared said. "I was expectin' some sort of interesting secret," he said with a bit of disappointment. Like a serial killer or a super hero or something!

"Mel, you want to field this one?" he said, grinning. Go to it, Mommy.

"What the hell am I supposed to say?" she asked, never having had that sort of talk with anyone before. She sighed and said to Jared: "Dor will get over it. He's not a stupid fellow; that's for certain."

"Gee, I thought you were the diplomat," he said. "You know how prejuidice works, Jared. That's what he's afraid of."

The boy huffed a bit, then said proudly: "Mama says prejudice is wrong an' hatin' people is too." He then proceeded to walk up to the grey-haired man and tell him the same thing as Melanie pressed a palm to her forehead.

He put up his hand and started to say something, but it was too late. "Well, glad we could get away from work for the evening..." Even as he said it, he was taking a swig of wine and looking around the roof for good spots to put Sherry's oil bombs.

Dorian stared at the kid for a moment, then chuckled, ruffling his dreadlocks. He smiled, even if a bit sadly, and Jared grinned proudly. "Prejudice is dumb anyway," he said. "You aint ever hated me for bein' different so why would I?"

"He's endearing," Melanie admitted. "Even though it's in a kind of awkward way."

"Oh yeah, no argument there," he said. He was spotting locations, comparing them to his mental map. Great idea Sherry had, basically, turn the place into a castle. Something niggled at his mind. Castle...

Melanie leaned against him, watching as the tall man and the boy talked. Bjorn was sniffing along the roof, meanwhile, bothering others but somehow too cute to avoid being entirely chastised. Melanie looked back to Petro, then asked, "What's on your mind, General?"

"Just a sec," he said. "Holy shit!" he said. "I've got it! Fucking A, I've got it," he said, excited, nearly bouncing with glee.

She rested her chin on his shoulder. "Hate to break it to you, sweet tits, but Newton already discovered gravity a couple hundred-odd years ago."

He stopped his near bounce to glare at her. "Go to hell. I've just figured out how to save our asses if one of those downtown hordes hits."

"Oh?" she asked. Bjorn burrowed into their laps, tail wagging in Petro's face.

He jerked his head back as the tail smacked vigorously into his nose. "Something Sherry was talking about, we could do the equivalent of burning oil over the sides. Which got me to thinking about the castle thing... then I realized, we have a shitload of spare raw material around here, and we could kit this place out real castle style. Fucking ballistas and shit..."

"You, my darling, were born in the wrong time period," she cooed. Although it was apparent that the idea was fine with her.

"Oh, I've been saying that for years," he said offhandedly. "But seriously, ammo consumption is our issue here. Now for the moment, we've got a hell of a surplus of lumber, nails, and building materials that we can strip out of the surrounding buildings. Combine it with the trench..." his hands were waving excitedly as he described it, eyes looking into the distance at a vision that only he could see for the moment.

"You know," she said, "there's something Dorian actually came up with that we've used before." She gestured as well. "We raided a fireworks shop. Shove some firecrackers together in a wad of newspaper with some loose change, toss it into a group of 'em. Confuses the hell out of them plus the force of the blast turns shillings into bullets."

"Good idea," he said. "We can even rig small catapults. That'd suck for loose hordes, but if they mass, it'll buy us the time we need to do an evac, if needed. We need..." he looked out over the roof. "We need more people. We need to have an extended perimeter, so we can draw them off..."

"Well I've got about two hundred I could round up," she said without any humility.

"Good," he said. "We draw off the small hordes, but the big ones seem to run on a mass-mind mentality. Which means we need to start breaking them up as early as possible..." He grinned suddenly. "This is gonna be interesting..."

"And you can't wait to jump into the thick of it like some sort of daredevil, eh?"

"What, you never wanted to live in a castle when you were a kid? Well, admittedly my childhood fantasies ran more toward storming the castle and ravishing the fair princess therein," he said, running a finger along under her chin. "But then I assume I would've been living in it thereafter..."

"My childhood fantasies consisted of having a life just like it was only without the terrorists," she said with a shrug. "I was easy to please."

"Yeah, well, when I'm around I demand that you aspire to higher and loftier dreams," he said. "That'll give me something to work on, see." He leaned over to give her a kiss.

She smirked. "I want a big, fancy, girlish wedding," she said with a nod.

"I'll see what I can arrange then," he said. "I'll have to wear a fancy suit, I guess..."

"Just so I can rip it off," she said, kissing him.

"That works," he said. "Now, how to talk Sherry into being the flower girl..." he said with a wry grin.

"And Frank to be the best man," she said with a chuckle.

He guffawed at that. "Oh Jesus fuck... that calls for booze..." he grabbed the wine, taking a big drink, then passing the bottle over to her.

"Indeed!" she said with a laugh, leaning on him as the dog wiggled around. Meanwhile, Jared and Dorian seemed to be intensely discussing something, with the boy doing a fair share of nodding.

"Like a half-pint Don Quixote," she said. "Traveling righter of wrongs."

He grinned at that. "Hey, somebody's gotta kick the shit out of those evil windmills." He opened the bag of dried prunes and offered her one.

She nibbled on one. Not quite prunes--still in that awkward half-plum stage.

"Cept he wouldn't charge in like that. Jared is a tad more reserved."

"Probably better that way," he said. "He'll be a lot less likely to head-on with a BMW."

"Yeah, how the fuck did you do that anyhow?" she asked.

He took a half-plum/half-prune monstrosity and took a bite, then explained his attempted tackle of Jimbo that was terminated as he shifted direction and plowed into the car instead. "You should see the car," he informed her earnestly. "It well and truly has had its ass kicked. It'll never fuck with me again."

"It looked that way to begin with," Jared said as he returned to them, sitting down.

"Yeah... well, no matter how it looked, it still thought it had some fight in it," he answered defensively. "But I showed it, by fucking god."

Melanie chuckled. "If you say so," she said quietly, pressing her lips to his cheek. "Just don't make a habit out of it."

"Oh," he said confidently as he lit up a fresh cigarette. "I'm sure that word's gotten around in the automotive community that I'm not a man to cross."

Jared sighed a bit, tired by the myriad thoughts that were always running around in that man's head and switched his focus to Melanie.

He snagged the bag of cereal and pressed it into Jared's hand. "Here, eat." He leaned back against the safety wall, his arm around Melanie as he laid back and stared at the cloudy sky. Only the full moon, radiating a soft light through a wall of clouds, let them see anything at all.

But she didn't so much mind that. The peace was worth it, right? She whispered that against Petro's neck as the sound of the boy picking at the cereal was all near them.

He chuckled softly and passed the cigarette over for to take a puff on. "Funny," he said after a long moment.

"Hm?" she asked.

"I'm sitting front row for what may be the beginning of the end of human civilization as we know it. Most of the people I've ever known are lost or dead. My home town is torn to shit, and the dead are walking the Earth eating brains. I consider a bag of cereal, some pruney things and chocolate-covered raspberries a special treat for a meal. In short, the world sucks right now," he said. "And I've never really been happier. Only thing short of making this perfect is not having Sherry and Mike here."

"They'll come back," she said reassuringly, kissing his temple.

"Damn well better," he said. "It's like... for once, we really get to make a world like we know it should be."

"We just have to be sure and do it right," she said quietly. Really, there were no other expectations other than that.

He nodded at that. "But we can. We will. I know we will."

"We already are," she said, gesturing around to the rooftop, their little agora. She couldn't help but smile a bit as she spoke.

"Yeah," he said, grinning like an idiot. He was swinging up from the funk he'd been in as the week from hell had gone on, almost crackling with a tangible energy. "Fuck 'em all. We need a name for our little castle here..."

"A name for our castle," she said with a chuckle. He was so... She paused for a moment, really unsure of what word was fitting, if any.

"Exuberant," Jared said. "He's exuberant!"

He laughed at that. "Castle Exuberant? I dunno..."

"Nah," Jared said. "I was talkin' 'bout you. Like you said Bjorn's all full of energy. You're exuberant too."

"We've got a supply of fresh food waiting for us to hijack it," he said. "We're going to make this place a fortress, and Sherry's okay, got you and Mel here... what the hell isn't there to be exuberant about?" he said.

"Just don't fall off the roof," Jared said practically as the dog bounded up, dropping one of the tennis balls at Petro's feet. Melanie leaned against him with a contented sigh.

"You're right," she said, "nothing wrong with sharing a little energy now and again.

He aimed the ball down the middle of the roof, into a safe zone, and bounded the ball back out. "I'll be careful," he promised.

Bjorn took off like a rocket, gravel spraying from beneath his feet as he launched himself toward the green-yellow ball. Jared laughed, feeding off the dog's manic energy as he sailed through the night air. The various families, couples, and individuals sometimes turned to look as the gigantic canine passed, but soon returned to their own affairs. Melanie finished the cigarette and tried to hold back a tiny yawn, but couldn't.

He reached over to stroke her face. "Tired?"

She nuzzled into his palm, kissing his wrist affectionately. "No," she said after a long, contemplative pause. "Not really. Just... At peace."

As if in answer, three short blasts from a whistle down on the ground, followed by shouting. He scooted up a little, listening. "Single shambler in the perimeter," he said.

She still remained supported against him, enjoying the warmth of his body beside hers in the cool autumn air. Bjorn, distracted by the whistle, had forgotten the ball and was now hopping excitedly, waiting for whatever entertainment that would be present.

A minute later, two short, one long, one short. "Cleared and staking," he said. "We're on ammo conservation now. So they're working with spears and axes. Spearman run it through to pin it, axe man goes in for the kill."

"Nice," she said appreciatively. It was a good, clean, efficient system.

"Yeah, that was Steve's idea," he said. "It's the safest way to take them down, and we save the ammo for multiple attackers. Next up are crossbows and longbows. We're really digging deep here. Ballistas..." he chuckled. "All the works of mankind..."

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:06 pm 
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It was morning, not that you could tell in the cells. Silver had been throwing up, sneezing, oozing from the eyes and shitting out the infection for a full day and night now, but it finally seemed to be over. There was a steady thumping as someone tapped a table leg with his foot.

"Hey, chief." Punt said from his perch on the security guard's desk in the corner. "Feeling like shit, I suppose."

Silver opened his eyes, slowly, and starred at the white tiled ceiling of the holding cell. A loud groan came from him as he struggled to get himself into a sitting position at the sound of the voice.

'I'm going to fucking kill whoever just woke me up....'

With groggy still, he focused his glazed eyes on Punt, his voice a deep rumble more than anything, "Fucking hell Punt....that's bad humor...."

He reached under the pillow, and took out the pack of smokes Petro had sneaked to him last night, the one the "nurse" kept missing when she came to clean up. He took one out, and light it up with a match, "What's going on out in the free world?"

"Ah, pun unintended, sir." Punt said, and got off the desk with a thump, then walked towards his boss. "Depends on whether you want the long or the short version, really. Mr. Johnny Walker on the phone for you, if you care for it." He added, dangling a bottle through the bars.

Silver looked at the man, then to the bottle, and grunted as he grabbed it from Punt. He took a long swig, closing his eyes and letting the burning sensation of the alcohol soothe him, wash the taste of bile from his mouth. After a few seconds, he tilted the bottle back, and handed to Punt, "Thanks...needed that."

He took a long drag from the cigarette, and reached the pack out to his teammate, "Grab you a smoke, apparently Petro found a new stash...How long have I been locked up in here anyway? Lost track of time with the puking and fever and shit..."

"Thanks." He paused to light up. "Four days, give or take. The Boss" Punt displayed his penchant for referring to people monosyllabically, "had another idea that's just crazy enough to work."

Silver leaned back on the cot, looking half at the ceiling, half at the bars. His eyes weren't on Punt, they didn't seem to be anywhere. "Four fucking days...." his voice was low, "That rat bastard's gonna be hard to track...." Slowly, he got out of the cot, testing his legs. Weak, from the lack of food, but he could manage.

"What did you hear?"

"Seems we're gonna build catapults." Punt said bemusedly. "Turn the place into a regular castle and such."

Silver looked almost shocked, "And what the bloody hell are we going to be hurling? Corpses? Zombie heads? Fuck, we'd do better just sticking the heads in stakes lining our territory...."

"No, wait." Punt snapped his fingers in a slightly disturbing manner. "Ballistas. Fire arrows. I think."

Silver's stare was blank as he looked at Punt, then chuckled, "The man gets some crazy ideas..."

He shook his head, a rueful grin on his lips, "So we're gonna be lobbing huge fire arrows at the pussbags huh? Sounds fruity if you ask me..."

He finished off the cigarette, and snuffed the butt on the ground, inhaling sharply at the hot coal on the underside of his foot.

"Something like that." He heard rather than saw Silver stub the cigarette out, and turned towards him. In the growing half-light, his green and brown eye looked almost grey. "Reminds you you're alive, doesn't it." He unlocked the cell door and gestured.

"S'posed to get you cleaned up 'n get you something to wear. Burned your clothes to be safe."

"Yeah....." he whispered, "Yeah it does...."

He moved out of the cell, staying close to the other man. "What about my gauntlet, able to disinfect or will I have to go find another one?"

"It's a bit wet 'n smells of soap, but other than that..." Punt let the sentence finish itself and opened the door, moving out first. He knew that Silver wouldn't want to be chaperoned or chivvied, and instead led the way to the showers, which were working wonderfully due to the horrendous rainfall.

"I'll get your stuff." He grunted and left his boss to it. Punt hadn't always been like he was now. In fact, he used to be quite the firebrand. But dying takes a lot out of a person, and Punt was quiet and monosyllabic nowadays.

Silver nodded, moving to the showers and into them. Turning them on, and being hit by the cold stream of water felt invigorating, the first shower he had in days, if not since he was infected. He didn't remember anymore, and frankly didn't care. He was methodical, enjoying the water, even as he cleaned off the smell, vomit and crap from him.

'Two days...I'm still to weak to take command fully...but we have a mission.' he turned off the water after he rinsed the soap out of his hair. He grabbed a towel, and dried himself off, looking into a mirror over a sink. "You look like shit old man..." he spoke out loud, eyeing the haggard face and the week old growth on his face. He only needed to wait for Punt to come back.

A minute later, Punt reentered the room quietly and passed a bundle of clothes and various implements, including the gauntlet and a straight razor, to Silver.

"Dess is up with the Boss in his office." He said as Silver dry-shaved and dressed. He took another gulp of the alcohol, not getting tipsy in the slightest. "Much better, Sir." He said as Silver finished up. "Still a bit green 'round the gills, but much better." He tapped his patched eye. "The Doc knows his stuff."

Silver nodded, putting the razor down and looking in the mirror, at the small rivulet of blood flowing down his cheek. "Still nicked myself..."

He folded the razor and tucked it into a pocket, "Well....what do you think of all this Punt...."

"Situation Normal: All Fucked Up, sir. But we manage anyhow." Punt dabbed at a sudden spurt of black blood that leaked from the corners of his patch.

He nodded, patting Punt on the shoulder, "We need to get that eye looked out...how long it been leaking?"

"On and off. Gouged it out again last week, but it just grew back. Again." The other man admitted.

Silver sighed, he knew the hell Punt was going through when the man took off the eyepatch. Silver had suffered a similar torture with the virus in him, the voices... "Don't do it again, I don't want to lose you to gout or gangrene or some shit like that...I trust you to be there to back me up, or tell me I'm doing something fucked up. I can't trust Decimus to do that, he's a good soldier, but he likes to take orders and not question them."

"Will do, Chief. Or won't, rather." Punt nodded. Decimus was an odd fish, but a good egg, if one was in a mood to mix metaphors. Why he'd taken his odd moniker and made his even odder 'armour' was far beyond Punt, but he was hardly in a position to question someone else's oddities.

"Speakin' of Dess, we've got a little to-do goin' on in the War Room, or whatever it's called today. Bribing the gangs is startin' to pay off, 'n we're getting a better idea of what our target's up to."

Silver nodded, chewing on the inside of his right cheek for a moment. The target, the rat bastard who he swore to hunt down and kill. In the bad way, the kind of way which would deliver nightmares onto others for years to come.

"You do know what we have to do when we find him....I spent years putting punks him like behind bars. I don't want anyone to forget what will happen to punks like him. No one hurts our family, and lives to tell the tale....."

Silver's face had gone hard, eyes almost feral but full of intelligence. The curse he still had, while the virus was purged, he was changed. "Let's not keep the them waiting....the sooner we hunt him down, the sooner we can have out fun Punt.."

Punt chuckled darkly. "Can't wait, sir. Just can't wait."

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The meeting in the War-Room had gone better than expected. Petro had given Decimus, Punt and Silver the rundown of the events of the last couple days. It was more for Silver's sake that it was done, the man had been out of comission for nearly a week.

When he was told that Mike and Sherry where both alive, what seemed like releif had crossed over Silver's face. He thanked whatever god above for that small miracle.

Then came the rundown on thier mission, find and Eliminate Jaycee. Decapitate the snake, and crush the corpse. It was done before, but never against human beings. The intel reports were next, possible locations, where he was spotted in the last week, activities reported he was doing. If anything, the bastard was mobile.

It was hours later before the men left the "War Room" as it where, and Silver sent the other two men to ready the 2nd. He walked with Petro, away from the others, telling the man his plan.

"It'll be almost like back in the old days....gods I wish Brand was here to see this..."


The two men parted ways after a little over two hundred feet of walking, and Silver, stone faced as ever, moved to meet with him men.



---


It was dark by the time Silver's team made camp in a three story apartment building a few blocks from the Mall. Decimus and Punt's teams had spread out, one going north, and the other south, while Silver went straight down the middle.

Each had thier supply of powerbar bribes, and though they had met with a few of the smaller survivor groups, they heard no new news. That would change hopefully.

Silver radioed Punt and Decimus on the second's secured band, getting thier progress reports, and ordering both into a camp for the night. they would start fresh tomorrow.

He would make his progress report to Petro tomorrow night, hopefully they had some good news to tell him.

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Allen Thibodaux | Archmagus | Supervillain | Transfan | Trekker | Warsie |
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"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
"According to the Bible, IHVH created the Universe in six days....he obviously didn't know what he was doing." - Darek Steele bani Order of Hermes.
DS's Golden Rule: I am not a bigot, I hate everyone equally. | corollary: Some are more equal than others.


Last edited by Dark Silver on Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:14 pm 
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The attack had rattled their nerves a bit. Two snipers had located themselves in nearby buildings and had begun potting at the sentries. Their positions had been selected for best field of view for spotting inbound zombies, not cover against hostile fire.

Things were going to change. Gathering in the Guard would bring them more boots to put on the ground for patrols. The signs would go up, warning that tresspassers would be shot if they did not approach in the prescribed fashion- hands in plain sight, down the approved avenues.

The mall really was becoming a fortress, and not a second too soon.

Petro had made rounds of the wounded that morning. Apparently word had gotten around about his antics drawing fire on the roof, and predictably enough were being exaggerated. It didn't matter; what concerned him was that nobody was dead. Whoever that second shooter had been, he was an accurate bastard.

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"'Flammable' and 'inflammable' have the same meaning! This language is insane!"
GIVE ME COFFEE AND I WILL ALLOW YOU TO LIVE!- Frigid
"Ork 'as no automatic code o' survival. 'is partic'lar distinction from all udda livin' gits is tha necessity ta act inna face o' alternatives by means o' dakka."
I created the sound of madness, wrote the book on pain


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:00 pm 
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The sounds of crickets echoed in the night, there were no moans or skittering, no sounds of Zombie infestation, the area surronding the mall had been mostly cleaned and kept secure.

Silver sat in the darkness, keeping a silent watch as the rest of his group slept, even in friendly territory, it paid to keep a eye out. He had releived Branner about a hour ago, letting the Militia Man get a few hours of rest. Idealy, he would wake up Thompson in a few hours, and let him take the last watch, but he wasn't sure yet if he would. The night was quiet enough, and they would need all the rest they could get.

He rose from the crouch he was in, and moved towards upstairs, to the third floor. The building they had made bunk in was a old apartment building, a few of the doors on the third floor were still locked and mostly untouched, undoubtedly they could scavenge for a few supplies before breaking camp in the morning, extend thier stay a bit more.

They had opened one of the doors earlier in the evening, and was greeted by the sickening stench of rotting meat and spoiled eggs and dairy products. The tenants had been out at the time of outbreak, and never came back. They had opened the windows, letting the smell drift out on the small breeze, and pulled matresses and pillows from the three bedrooms, and raided the pantry. It wasn't the best stocked, but it had some snackfoods, a couple tins of sour cream and onion pringles, some devils food cookies, and the one thing Silver claimed when he say it, a "fresh" unopened carton of Tim-Tams.

Silver opened one of the choclate covered biscuits just then, munching on it quietly. He used to love these things before the breakout, a old college buddy had moved to Australia, and sent a carton every couple of weeks. Addicting they were. He passed by the locked doors, moving to the stairwell which would lead him to the roof. He hated to leave the team like that, but it was a quiet night, and they would be safe. He didn't know how to explain it, but he knew, they were safe. At least from zombies.

Once he was on the roof, he looked up at the stars. His blue eyes, tinted ever so slightly with silver, took them in, before he reached for the radio. He held it in his metalshod hand, tuning it to all bands, and pressed the transmit button, letting his voice take on a disinterested, far away and oddly harmonic tone.

"This is the Hunter...My prey knows who he is.... It's a big city, but you can't run forever....eventually, I will find you...so let's make a deal. I'll stay out here for the next seven days...looking for you. Come find me, if your such a predator....and we'll square this between us. One on One...I'm waiting...."

He left the radio on, staring at the stars, and waited.

_________________
Allen Thibodaux | Archmagus | Supervillain | Transfan | Trekker | Warsie |
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"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
"According to the Bible, IHVH created the Universe in six days....he obviously didn't know what he was doing." - Darek Steele bani Order of Hermes.
DS's Golden Rule: I am not a bigot, I hate everyone equally. | corollary: Some are more equal than others.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:31 pm 
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With the slightest of sounds, Punt joined his boss on the roof. His hair, what little had grown back since his death, was askew and his eyepatch was off. The black, swollen orb filling the left side of his face was freely oozing blood, and there was a feral grimace -half pleasure, half pain- on his face. He was staring into the distance fixedly.

"See him." Punt growled through gritted teeth. "D'no what y'did, boss, but I. Fucking. See. Him."

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:10 pm 
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Silver glanced at Punt as the man walked onto the roof of the apartment building. He looked ragged, but determined.

"Yeah....he'll come out..." Whispers voice was soft, almost a whisper. When Punt told him he saw Jaycee, his eyes narrowed.

"GO wake up the team, tell Chavez and Teloin thier with us. Grab our equipment and meet me downstairs.....we hunt"

With that, Silver turned and walked down the stairwell.

_________________
Allen Thibodaux | Archmagus | Supervillain | Transfan | Trekker | Warsie |
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"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
"According to the Bible, IHVH created the Universe in six days....he obviously didn't know what he was doing." - Darek Steele bani Order of Hermes.
DS's Golden Rule: I am not a bigot, I hate everyone equally. | corollary: Some are more equal than others.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:15 pm 
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Punt nodded, feral grin disappearing as he wiped his face clean of the blood and put his 'patch back on. Moments later, he appeared in front of Silver with a full loadout of equipment, and the two operatives mentioned.

"That way." He said, pointing. "'S a hike, 'n' he's moving."

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"Are you trying to give me a spasm?" ~The Necrontyr Messenger


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:23 pm 
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Silver looked at the three men as they came out of the apartment building, nodding his approval, and motioned for Punt to take the point.

"Chavez, you take right flank, Teolin, take the rear. Punt, you can see him, lead us to him."

With that, the four moved out.

_________________
Allen Thibodaux | Archmagus | Supervillain | Transfan | Trekker | Warsie |
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"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
"According to the Bible, IHVH created the Universe in six days....he obviously didn't know what he was doing." - Darek Steele bani Order of Hermes.
DS's Golden Rule: I am not a bigot, I hate everyone equally. | corollary: Some are more equal than others.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:35 pm 
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Punt set the pace, quick yet measured strides covering the ground in a roughly straight line towards his destination. The area seemed deserted of both human and Zombie life, so it seemed utterly random when Punt suddenly stopped dead in the middle of the road, glancing towards a pub whose doors were battered down, the interior vacant of all life and unlife.

"Something." He growled, blood lightly dribbling down his cheek.

He carefully entered the room, shotgun raised, and nodded the all-clear. When the others entered, Punt was kneeling over a body; Clothes torn off, flayed with precision.

"Eaten." Punt affirmed, licking his lips reflexively. Raw meat. Jesus, I'm hungry.

"Cannibalism." He continued, quashing the voice in his head: Just a taste...

"A Blackcap." He concluded, pointing to what was left of the person's ganger insignia. Just a strip off his thigh...

"We're close." He said with finality, wrenching himself away from the body just a little too quickly.

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"Are you trying to give me a spasm?" ~The Necrontyr Messenger


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:41 pm 
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Silver looked at the corpse, no passion or emotion, though Chavez and nearly threw up as Punt inspected the corpse.

"Then he's still close....lead the way Punt."

Silver cast another glance at the dead body, before following behind the man. Their quarry was to close...he wouldn't get away.

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Allen Thibodaux | Archmagus | Supervillain | Transfan | Trekker | Warsie |
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"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
"According to the Bible, IHVH created the Universe in six days....he obviously didn't know what he was doing." - Darek Steele bani Order of Hermes.
DS's Golden Rule: I am not a bigot, I hate everyone equally. | corollary: Some are more equal than others.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:50 pm 
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Punt jogged ahead, slapping impotently at the blood now streaming steadily down his face. His eye was burning and the senses were almost overwhelming, but they were going to get the motherfucker and tear out his-

Focus! Don't let it overtake you. Not yet. Hold it back until... Until. Just until.

Suddenly, he saw something through the wall near him. A presence-

He burst through the window and dragged the scared-shitless survivor out onto the street.

"'Lo. Mind answerin' a few questions?" He grinned.

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"Are you trying to give me a spasm?" ~The Necrontyr Messenger


Last edited by Pcm979 on Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:55 pm 
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The woman jabbed her fingers at Punt's throat savagedly, twisting to bite at his hand.

She was a dirty, feral-looking individual, obviously a hard-timer who'd barely been scraping by.

_________________
When the Frog God smiles, arm yourself.
Image
"'Flammable' and 'inflammable' have the same meaning! This language is insane!"
GIVE ME COFFEE AND I WILL ALLOW YOU TO LIVE!- Frigid
"Ork 'as no automatic code o' survival. 'is partic'lar distinction from all udda livin' gits is tha necessity ta act inna face o' alternatives by means o' dakka."
I created the sound of madness, wrote the book on pain


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:00 pm 
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Punt leaned towards the blow to his throat and bit her fingers himself, using one hand to grab her neck and the other to pin her remaining hand. A brief struggle later, he was sitting on her chest, legs pinning her arms down, one hand on her throat and one holding a magnum to her head.

"Wanna try again?" He said, licking his lips where he'd drawn blood on her hand.

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"Are you trying to give me a spasm?" ~The Necrontyr Messenger


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:02 pm 
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She snarled incoherently at him for a moment before finally acquiesing. "What... what do you want?" she asked, her voice obviously hoarse from dehydration and ill-use.

_________________
When the Frog God smiles, arm yourself.
Image
"'Flammable' and 'inflammable' have the same meaning! This language is insane!"
GIVE ME COFFEE AND I WILL ALLOW YOU TO LIVE!- Frigid
"Ork 'as no automatic code o' survival. 'is partic'lar distinction from all udda livin' gits is tha necessity ta act inna face o' alternatives by means o' dakka."
I created the sound of madness, wrote the book on pain


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:05 pm 
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Punt had lead them, moving at a steady clip, and when the man jumped through the window, Silver was right behind him, coming through the door, shotgun leveled, moving throught he door in a classic Entrance Pie - Sweep and Clear.


Punt was holding a woman down, gun pointed at her head. He stepped up next to him, looking down, "What do we have here Punt? A survivor? One of our prey's men?"

_________________
Allen Thibodaux | Archmagus | Supervillain | Transfan | Trekker | Warsie |
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"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
"According to the Bible, IHVH created the Universe in six days....he obviously didn't know what he was doing." - Darek Steele bani Order of Hermes.
DS's Golden Rule: I am not a bigot, I hate everyone equally. | corollary: Some are more equal than others.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:08 pm 
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"D'no. 'T she's hungry 'n' thirsty. Right, lady?" Punt turned back to his captive.

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"Are you trying to give me a spasm?" ~The Necrontyr Messenger


Last edited by Pcm979 on Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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