turps: (Gerard ( turloughishere))
[personal profile] turps
Title: A Spark Set To Flame
Your name: turps33
Bands (and/or pairings): My Chemical Romance. Gen. Past Gerard/Korse
Rating: R
Word count: 14,748
Warnings: Slight violence
Summary: Gerard may be free, but he's discovered freedom costs. He's holed himself up in a room that's falling apart, he's lost the man he loves, and his brother is slipping away.
Now Gerard's on the verge of losing himself, unless he can somehow find the strength to fight back.

Author notes: I was drawn to this mix as soon as I read the accompanying description, and when I listened I fell in love with it even more. Thank you [livejournal.com profile] verbyna for creating such a fantastic mix, and one that so easily influenced my story.

Thanks also go to [personal profile] kopperblaze for encouragement and [livejournal.com profile] themoononastick for the excellent beta.

Also, thank you to the mods for running such a fantastic challenge ♥




“It’s going to rain tonight,” Gerard says, “I can feel it.”

It’s true, Gerard’s aching deep in his bones, his skin pulled too tight and old scars making themselves known. He rubs at his wrist and looks to the horizon, at the bank of gathering clouds painted dark red and bloated.

“We’ll outrun it,” Frank says, glancing up through a curtain of hair. He’s fastening his boot, laces pulled tight as he loops and hooks and double knots. “We’ll be there before splashdown.”

Gerard turns from the window, stands with his back to the broken glass and splintered frame. “I should stay here and keep watch.”

“No you shouldn’t.” Frank straightens, mouth tightening as he grimaces and presses his hand to the small of his back. “I’m getting fucking old, and there’s nothing to watch in this shit-hole.”

The wind howls, Gerard shivering despite the gust of warm air that flows into the room. He runs his nails over his arm, imagining tiny atoms of poison sinking into his skin, burrowing into his lungs with each breath. “We should block up the window, it would help.”

“The only thing that would help is razing this place to the ground,” Frank snaps, plasterboard cracking when he kicks at the wall. “Pig bombs in the basement to bring the whole fucking thing down.”

Technically Frank’s right. That the building remains upright is a miracle, and Gerard’s become used to stepping over holes in the floor and avoiding the bowed walls with their covering of black mold. But the building is a refuge to multiple runners, a constant stream of transients who arrive and leave with the wind.

Frank’s one of the ones who wants to move on, but Gerard can’t. Not yet.

“I’m tired,” Gerard says. He has to keep trying, hoping that Frank gives him this out. “You’ll still have fun without me.”

“Maybe,” Frank allows. Skirting spongy floorboards he stands next to Gerard, not touching but close enough that he could. “But if I leave you here Mikey will bitch, and then he’ll come back and get you.”

“You could say I was sick,” Gerard says, and then adds, “No. Don’t. If you say that he’ll come back for sure.”

Frank presses his fingertips against Gerard’s arm, briefly, jerking back as if Gerard’s skin is hot to the touch. “You don’t need to keep watch.”

Gerard disagrees, but he knows that he’s not staying. Not tonight.

“It’s going to rain.”

“I know,” Frank says in reply.

~*~*~*~

“You’re late.” Mikey’s huddled up close to the wall, shoulders rounded and arms crossed over his chest. He’s got his eyes painted, dark lines that bleed into inky bruises, shadows that well on each cheek. “I thought you weren’t coming.”

“I said I would,” Gerard says in reply. He flinches at an outburst of laughter, runners scurrying past and wave heads that travel en mass, dirt and neon and too sharp voices.

Mikey jerks his head, unfolds so he can push back his hair -- lank, dark strands raked between his long fingers. “Ray’s waiting inside.”

“Okay,” Gerard says, and then, louder. “Okay.”

Mikey keeps watching, waiting as Gerard heads for the doorway.

Not that there’s an actual door.

Gerard ducks under a beam, squinting when he steps from darkness into a space that’s lit by a light that pulses and hums. A few steps further and he steps sideways, glass crunching under his feet as he follows freshly painted red arrows and slips through a hole in the wall. Already the volume is rising, music and laughter and the sound of shrill voices.

Another large room and Gerard sidesteps a girl who spins in wild circles, arms outstretched and hair ratted, tied up with black ribbon. She’s smiling, eyes too bright and smile too wide, red stamps on both arms.

“Dance with me,” she says, her feet scuffling up dust with each step.

Distracted, Gerard keeps walking, fighting the pull to turn back. Except, even if he did, Mikey and Frank are following, shoulder to shoulder, like they’re playing the role of his guards.

It makes Gerard feel antsy. He wants to say it’s too early for this, that it’s too soon for laughter and music. That he needs to go back to keeping watch.

“You’re not going back.” Mikey breaks rank, takes a fast step so he’s crowded up close to Gerard. “You’re not letting him win.”

He already has, Gerard wants to say. He’d already won before this started.

“Hold out your arm,” Mikey says. He’s leaning against Gerard, breath hot and chin sharp where it digs into Gerard’s shoulder. “I got us some shit.”

Gerard holds out his arm and doesn’t ask what or how. It’s easier that way. If he doesn’t know he doesn’t have to deal with failing his role of big brother, of how he should be protecting Mikey instead of vice versa.

Mikey produces a stamp, licking the back before pressing it against Gerard’s wrist.

Instantly Gerard’s skin itches, his heart beating along with the throb of the music, colors becoming brighter, neon flashing at the back of his eyes. Gerard blinks, laughs when Frank runs forward and licks his own arm, holding it out toward Mikey.

“Hit me,” Frank says, the lines of his mouth relaxing as Mikey fixes on another stamp, red dye plastered over dark ink.

Deftly, Mikey positions a new stamp on his own arm, the next rung in a ladder of red that climbs to his elbow. Looking up, he stares at Gerard through his bangs, “Stay with us.”

“I will,” Gerard promises, and allows colors to wash over white.

~~~~~

“Not interested.” Gerard stumbles forward, knees bent and arms outstretched, compensating for the floor that rolls beneath him. The girl he veered away from grins, teeth white and lips painted dark blue. She runs her fingers over his shoulder, already moving on as Gerard fights to stay upright.

All around him people are dancing, arms in the air and heads tilted back, eyes wide to the heavens. By now the air is thick with heat, smoke spiraling into hazy clouds, the walls flashing with light. Gerard can feel the colors seep into his skin, turning his bone marrow green, his ribs purple, the white planes of his skull shining gold.

“I’m a fucking rainbow,” Gerard says, his target in sight. “Cut me open and I’ll bleed stripes.”

“Later.” Ray staggers slightly when Gerard topples against him. Keeping him upright, Ray checks Gerard’s arm, seeing the stamps that climb to his shoulder. “How many have you had?”

“Not enough.” Gerard holds out his arm, fingers splayed, the bones glowing yellow inside their covering of skin.”If I touch him I can give him my color.”

Ray slips his arm around Gerard, keeping him steady. “And he’ll give you a mask in return. We should go now.”

“Can’t.” Gerard frowns, trying to remember what he came to tell Ray. He knows it’s important but the message is caught in the music, words tangled by melody and beat.

Ray waits a moment, but when Gerard doesn’t continue he asks, “Are Frank and Mikey ready to go?”

“Over there.” Clumsily, Gerard turns a half circle and points to where he last saw Mikey and Frank. “They’re talking.” At least they were. Gerard squints, trying to see through the haze of light-brightened smoke.

“We’ll go find them.” Ray keeps his arm around Gerard, keeping him close as they walk. He’s a point of stability in a world that still wavers and Gerard hooks his fingers over Ray’s belt, holding on tight.

“That way,” Gerard says, spotting Mikey standing close to a broken down wall. Relieved that despite everything, he’s still able to pick Mikey out of a crowd, Gerard bumps Ray with his hip, trying to steer him so they’re walking directly for Mikey.

Ray refuses to budge, just keeps walking forward and keeps hold of Gerard.

About to protest, Gerard closes his mouth when he sees Frank. He’s standing close to a group of wave heads, ignoring the way they writhe and dance behind him, as he stares over to Mikey.

“Frank,” Ray says, and Frank turns, his mouth screwed up and eyes bright.

“Mikey’s, ‘talking’.” Frank spits out the words and looks back over his shoulder. “Fucking junk rats.”

Gerard rubs at his eyes, taking in the group that surrounds Mikey, how they’re crowding in close, someone’s hand on his hip, fingers disappearing under his t-shirt. Mikey’s laughing, his teeth sharp and white as he deftly pulls himself free and says something that makes the group laugh.

“Fucking vultures,” Franks says, his hands curled into fists.

Mikey walks close, his smile shutting off as soon as he turns. When he gets close he stands next to Gerard and presses a small bottle into his hand. “Levelers, take one when you get back.”

Gerard curls his fingers, the bottle held tight. “You’re not coming?”

“Not yet,” Mikey says in reply. Briefly, he touches Gerard’s arm, a goodbye as he goes back to the junk rats.

“Come on.” Ray pushes Gerard forward, Frank at his side. “The rain should have stopped now.”

Gerard nods, his stomach aching and bile in his throat, the colors around him fading to black as he walks.

~*~*~*~

“This is fucking stupid, we can’t stay.” Frank’s pacing, fast, the floorboards creaking under his feet. “This place is going down. We’ll go down if we stay.”

Gerard knows that he’s right -- he knows -- but apathy is keeping him rooted to this area -- apathy and a hope that won’t quit.

“We can stay for a bit longer,” Gerard says, forcing himself to look away from the window. “We’re safe here. This is our home.”

“We’re not safe. This isn’t our fucking home.” Frank runs forward and grabs hold of Gerard’s arm, turning him fully around. “You need to open your eyes. This isn’t a home. This is a shit-hole and it’s coming down around our ears.”

Gerard looks down at his arm and while logically he knows Frank’s fingers are digging in hard, Gerard can’t feel it at all. “We can fix it, patch the holes and strengthen the beams....”

“Because you know so much about DIY.” Abruptly, all fight seems to leave Frank. Loosening his hand, he takes a step back, his breath hitching. “Jesus fucking Christ, Gerard. Can’t you see what’s happening? You’re not that blind, I know you’re not.”

More than anything Gerard wants out from this conversation. Hand pushed into his pocket, he pulls out the bottle of tablets, about to shake one out when Frank slaps the bottle from out of his hand.

Instantly, Gerard drops to his knees, scrabbling in the dust and dirt for the tiny white pills. “What the fuck are you doing? I need those.”

Deliberately, Frank steps on the pills, grinding them to powder under his boots. “No you don’t.”

For a moment anger pushes through blankness, hot red that’s almost instantly blanketed by white. Gerard remains on his knees, not looking at Frank. “I’ll get more.”

“No you won’t.” Frank walks, circling around Gerard as if he doesn’t want to get close. “Mikey will get them.”

Gerard doesn’t get the distinction, or why Frank sounds so angry. “So?”

“I can’t do this,” Frank says, soft and defeated, as if Gerard wasn’t intended to hear. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

Gerard drops to the side and sits, finally looking up and watching as Frank slides down the wall and sits on the floor, his legs bent and head resting on top of his knees. “Frank?”

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” Frank says again, his voice muffled. “We’re supposed to be free.”

“We are free.” That’s one thing Gerard does know, they were free the moment they fled from the city. “We’re not drones, we’re....”

“Fucked in other ways,” Frank cuts in. He looks up, anger resurfacing as he drags the back of his hand across his eyes. “If we’re free why don’t we go?”

“Because I can’t,” Gerard says, and Frank should understand this -- he was there from the start. “Because he might come back.”

It’s the time when usually, Gerard prepares himself for denials. Being told that no, Korse won’t come back and that he’s made his choices. That Korse has chosen white over colors. White over Gerard. Gerard expects that, and has justifications for each one. What he doesn’t expect is Frank to simply say, “So you’re choosing your ex over Mikey.”

“What? No.” It’s an instant denial, but even saying the words Gerard knows that he’s lying. Maybe not in a blatant way where Mikey’s status is shuffled from one down to two, but in a way that Gerard chooses to look to the side, not wanting to see what’s so obviously there. “I love Mikey.”

“So prove it,” Frank says, staring directly at Gerard. “Stop letting him trade for your pills and stop looking away. We need to leave. Soon. Before you end up losing him too.”

Gerard reaches out, running his fingers through the crushed remains of his levelers. More than anything he wants to bring his hand to his mouth and suck the powder from off of his fingers. Anything to dull the sharp pain that comes from the thought of losing Mikey.

Gerard doesn’t. He can’t. He’s lost Korse, no way can he lose Mikey too, no matter how much it hurts.

“We need to go, tonight, as soon as Mikey and Ray get back.” Gerard pushes himself to his feet, needing to move before inertia takes over and he becomes rooted in place once again. “I’ll get our things.”

“You really mean it?” Frank asks, not moving as he watches Gerard clumsily rummage through the piles of bedding and supplies. “It’s that quick? We’re going to move on?”

“It’s time,” Gerard says, and for the first time in months prepares to feel the ache of his still broken heart.

~*~*~*~

Riding shotgun, Gerard holds on as Frank puts his foot down and just goes. Dust billows from under their wheels and the road stretches before them, a dark line cutting through expanses of featureless sand.

Gerard’s window is rolled down, the wind whipping his hair and dust coating his mouth with each breath. Eyes half closed, he rests his head against the side of the car, his back sweat-soaked and legs aching from sitting so long.

“Go faster,” Mikey says. He’s leaning forward, arm resting on the edge of his open window and grinning, feral, like he’s caught in the rush as Frank looks back, winks, and increases their speed.

Not that they have any actual destination in mind. They’ve been driving for days now, and Gerard feels antsy, his thoughts a confusion of regrets and future plans that continually slip through his fingers.

It feels like Gerard is chasing a ghost, or running from one, and no matter how far they drive, or how fast that they go, Korse is right there. Gerard hates it, and the lingering feelings and memories that remain always. He just wishes he could hate Korse -- but Gerard can’t.

Abruptly, the whole car shudders, Gerard’s head impacting against metal as Frank immediately slows, hands tightening around the steering wheel as something grinds in the engine.

Car pulled to a complete stop, Frank flings open the door and gets out. Opening the hood he’s engulfed in a billowing cloud of acrid smoke that causes him to cough, hands waving in the air as he takes a step back.

Within seconds they’re all standing outside, upwind and unable to do anything but wait until the smoke finally stops. When only a few tendrils remain, Frank and Ray move forward and as one bend over to look at the engine.

Gerard makes no attempt to help. There’s no point when he knows nothing about cars other than that they should come with go-faster stripes.

“It’s fucked,” Frank announces when he eventually straightens. He uses his arm to wipe the sweat from his brow and takes the prop from under the hood, holding it until Ray’s safely out of the way. Frank lets the hood close with a crash. “The fucking thing’s going nowhere.”

No one asks if he’s sure.

“We should go back to that abandoned rest stop,” Ray says, using the hem of his t-shirt to wipe at his face. “We should get there in an hour or so and at least we’d have shade.”

The idea of walking so far is the last thing Gerard wants to do, but they’ve got no other choices. Light-headed, his hands tremble as he takes his bag from the trunk.

Despite it holding so little, Gerard sags when he shrugs it onto his back. It’s been too long since he ate a full meal and even longer since he felt well. At least now he’s actually feeling again, though sometimes he thinks that’s not a good thing.

“Want me to take that?” Mikey holds out his hand, a red stamp becoming visible at the top of his arm. It’s meant to be seen, Mikey making no attempt to hide he’s still using, but Gerard still feels sick at the sight.

It’s a feeling that’s amped by the compulsion to touch. To draw his fingers over Mikey’s arm and absorb the remains of the drugs, tiny molecules seeping from skin onto skin.

“I’m okay,” Gerard says, and takes refuge by Ray. It’s cowardly, but when Mikey’s like this he’s exhausting, always moving, his attention scattered. With Frank, Mikey’s able to blow off some steam, quick fire talking and hurrying forward, and no matter how fucked that they are, Gerard can’t help being relieved that they’re out in the open. At least here Mikey’s not constantly tapping his fingers against the car door or jittering in place.

“Other people stop at the rest stop, they might give us a ride.” Gerard pushes himself up onto his tiptoes, trying to see anything but sand and an endless expanse of bleak desert. “As long as we keep away from the city.”

Ray follows Gerard’s gaze. “And then get to the mart, it’s supposed to stop close to the lava pools this time.”

“Do you even know where those are?” Frank’s looped his own bag over his shoulder, kicking the front tire of the car. “Fucking junker. I knew we traded too much.”

“Kelief said there’d be signs,” Ray says, taking bottles of water off the back seat and stuffing them into his bag.

“He also said this fucking thing was good for a few months.” Frank kicks the tire again, scowling as he leans into the car and grabs their one bag of food. “Fucking lying bastard. If I see him again I’m going to kick him in his lying face.”

“We need to make friends with the runners, not cause a riot,” Ray says as he checks the rest of the car for more bottles. “Four and a half bottles of water.”

“And a bag of tinned crap.” Frank slams the door of the car, staring when the bumper falls off with a crash. “That guy saw us coming. We may as well have had zone noobs inked on our foreheads.”

“At least it lasted a week,” Gerard says, scrambling for some positives that will help with the almost constant urge to go back to the city. “Next time we’ll be better, we’ll learn.”

Mikey’s wandered off of the road, hunched over as he toes at some kind of animal skull that’s half buried in sand. “I can trade next time. I’m good at it.”

“Yeah. No,” Gerard says, shutting that thought down. He may not be on top of his game yet and maybe Mikey is still using, but no way will Gerard let him trade like before. “We’ll stick to credits and time chips.”

Mikey steps back onto the road. “You’ll end up with another junker.”

All Gerard says is, “Fine.”

~*~*~*~*~

Within a short time walking becomes an exercise in pain and endurance. Gerard’s heels are rubbed raw, his clothes chafing and the back of his neck sunburned.

They’ve all become used to the heat, they’ve had to living in the abandoned buildings that circle out from Bat City, but this is heat turned up a notch. It’s relentless, with no shelter in sight, and yet again Gerard’s starting to regret running at all.

“If we stop walking we’re done for,” Ray says. He’s torn up one of his t-shirts and has part of the front tied over his head, creating scant protection from the overhead sun. “We need to keep going.”

Instantly Frank says, “We need to go back. At least we’ll have shade.”

It’s an argument that’s been on-going for a while now and Gerard can’t help with an answer. Keep walking and boil to death in the desert, or turn back and be cooked in the car. It’s a no win situation, no matter how hard Gerard tries to think of a solution.

“There’s something coming.” Mikey’s lagging behind, battling through the slump that follows a high. Under the t-shirt that’s tied around his head his nose and cheeks are bright red, and he looks so exhausted that at first Gerard thinks he’s hearing things that aren’t there. Then Gerard hears it too, the steady low thrum of an engine.

“Get to the side of the road, they might give us a ride,” Gerard says, shading his eyes with his hand. “Try to look harmless.”

Ray rubs at the dark stubble that covers his chin and pushes a lock of limp hair back under his t-shirt-hat. “Put Frank at the front then. He looks small and pitiful."

“Fuck that,” Frank says, glaring at Ray. “I’m hard core, it’s Mikey who looks like he couldn’t battle a swamp lizard.”

“Those things are fucking brutal.” Mikey catches up and stands close, mirroring Gerard’s pose as they stare along the road. “One latched onto my toe once. It pounced when I got into bed.”

“A swamp lizard got into Bat City?” Ray sounds surprised, his attention diverted to Mikey. “I didn’t think they could get past the bio screen shields.”

“It wasn’t Bat City,” Mikey says.

Normally, Gerard would be interested in hearing the story, right now his attention is focused on the road, and the van that’s approaching. The closer it gets the more Gerard gets the feeling that this situation is wrong, he wants to grab the others and run, but doing so would be suicide. They need to get out of the sun and Gerard pushes his gut feelings to one side as he steps forward and holds out his hand.

The van stops, and the Drac inside attacks even as Gerard opens his mouth to yell, “Run!”

~*~*~*~*~

Gerard wakes to the sound of light rain.

For a moment he thinks he’s back in Bat City. Waking to the sound of the morning alarm combined with the distant patter of rain hitting the main dome. Then Gerard attempts to move, and reality comes crashing back down.

His head throbbing, Gerard bites back a groan as he kicks at whatever is engulfing his legs. Panic hitting when Gerard realizes he’s completely covered, thick material in front of his face, unyielding as he thrusts out his hands.

Breathing hard, Gerard tries to calm down, staring into darkness as he tries to put pieces together. The Drac attacking, its ray gun raised and firing as soon as it came to a stop. Frank going down then Mikey, Gerard starting to scream when he took a hit to the side of his head.

At that range Gerard should have been dead, and all he can think of is he got hit by a stun settling, and was then scooped up to be taken back to the city. It’s something Gerard’s heard of before, runners plucked out of the desert to be re-programmed and put back to work.

It’s one of Gerard’s worst nightmares, and something that’s not going to happen.

More slowly this time, he blindly gropes in the dark, running his hands over the material that surrounds him, until, finally he finds a zip. Following it by touch, Gerard grasps hold of the pull with his nails, wiggling it down from the inside.

Slowly, Gerard pulls down the zipper, blinking in the bright light of the back of the van. Moving only his eyes he looks to the front, taking in the Drac that’s driving. From here all Gerard can see is the Drac’s head and the back of its neck, artificial black hair brushing against tanned skin.

When he’s sure it’s not looking, Gerard glances around, dread hitting when he sees the second body bag lying next to his own. Despite being desperate to see inside, Gerard forces himself to remain still, knowing he’s only got one chance of taking control.

Not that it’s something Gerard knows how to do. He knows how to take pills, push buttons and input data. How to live in a derelict room, fall in love and arrange dates in the most unlikely of places. He knows how to run and hide and protest out of sight. He doesn’t know how to take down a Drac with his bare hands.

But he has to.

Gathering his courage, Gerard’s heart pounds as he steels himself to move. He’ll have one chance to do this right, one chance to save whoever that is beside him. Gerard takes a deep breath and then jumps.

It doesn’t go as smooth as he hopes. Gerard stumbles as he gets to his feet, his legs cramped and head pounding as he springs forward and grabs for the Drac.

It reacts with a yell, an all too human shout of alarm as Gerard grabs for its neck and squeezes. It’s all he can think to do. He’s no ninja who can take someone out with a chop of his hand, he’s just Gerard, someone fighting the urge to hurl as the Drac gasps and claws at Gerard’s hands.

“Don’t fight,” Gerard says, his breath hitching as he tightens his hold. “Please, stop fighting.”

The Drac doesn’t. It fights to the end, the van swerving and slowing as Gerard presses harder, hating the feel of flesh and skin under his fingers.

“I’m sorry,” Gerard says, when finally the Drac slumps, its chin landing on Gerard’s hands. “I’m sorry.”

There’s no reply, no sound of breathing apart from Gerard’s own. Nauseous, he loosens his grip and drops to the floor, his knees impacting hard. Bent over, Gerard fights the urge to vomit and rubs his palms against his thighs, needing to get the feel of the Drac from off of his skin.

His palms reddened and sore, Gerard turns to the body bag that’s lying on the other side of the van. It’s big enough for one person only, and Gerard’s stomach feels like lead as he jerks open the zip.

And sees Ray, lying so still that Gerard’s sure that he’s lost him.

“Ray. Wake up,” Gerard says, his hand flat against Ray’s chest as he says, louder, “Wake up!”

There’s nothing. No reply, no movement. Gerard’s hands shaking as he grabs hold of Ray’s t-shirt and begs, “Wake up. Please.”

“Gerard?”

Ray’s voice is hoarse, barely there at all, but Gerard still hears. Pulling Ray up, Gerard gathers him into a hug, holding on and taking a moment to just listen to him breathe. “I thought you were gone.”

“It feels like I am.” Ray pats Gerard’s back and then adds, “Where are we?”

“The back of that Drac’s van.” Reluctantly, Gerard lets go, lying Ray back down, his hand on Ray’s chest when it looks like Ray’s about to jump up. “It’s okay. It’s gone.”

Ray still doesn’t settle. Awkwardly, he pushes himself upright, hand pressed against his side as he leans heavily against the wall of the van. “Mikey and Frank? Are they okay?”

“I don’t know.” It’s another worry Gerard has to take hold of, the sickening fear that he’s lost Mikey taking root and not letting go. “They’re not here.”

Ray rubs at his head, his eyes screwing shut as he talks. “I wasn’t totally out, I saw it put you in the van first, because you were closest I think.”

All Gerard can remember is that first terrifying moment when the Drac pulled up its gun, the look on Mikey and Frank’s faces when they both got hit and went down. If he wasn’t already Gerard would be down on his knees and he says, “We’ve got to get back.”

Ray’s looking past Gerard, to where the Drac’s slumped forward over the steering wheel, plastic face hidden and hand hanging down. “If we take the van we’ll be tracked.

“If we don’t it’ll take forever to get back,” Gerard says. Overhead the rain beats on the roof and flows down the windshield, hitting the still working wipers that create smoking green arcs. “And we’ll be fried in minutes.”

Ray pinches the bridge of his nose and then says, “I worked the depot before. This is a courier van and it won’t be missed from its route straight away. We’d have time to get back.”

“Okay, good.” Gerard climbs to his feet, the world still swaying as he takes a step forward, bile rising again as he touches the Drac. It’s still warm, maybe still breathing, Gerard can’t tell and he isn’t about to check, too afraid to reveal its real face.

Standing to the side, Gerard leans over the driver’s seat and opens the door, hissing in a breath as droplets of acid rain hit his exposed arm. Rationalizing to himself that this has to happen, that they can’t take the risk of the Drac waking, Gerard gives it a push, watching it fall to the ground with a smack.

“It’s not human,” Ray says, taking the now empty seat. “It was already dead.”

And Gerard wants to believe him. He does. He can’t when it sounds like Ray doesn’t believe it himself.

~~~~~~

The place Ray stops at is almost indistinguishable apart from the cluster of bone trees that loom in the distance. Parking the van, he wipes sweat from his brow and turns to Gerard. “We’re close to where we got hit, they should be here somewhere.”

Gerard’s sitting in the back of the van. It’s boiling hot back there and his t-shirt is clinging and his hair is in wet strands on his face. Gerard kneels, pushing back his hair and using the seat for balance as he stands. Biting back a groan, he walks the few steps to the back doors, the skin on his feet rubbing and newly formed scabs cracking..

He throws open the doors, and sees that outside is bright, painfully so, the way it always is after an acid rain storm. Already the ground is concealing by billowing steam and the air thick with fumes. Gerard can feel them catch at his throat, his eyes watering as he puts his hand over his mouth as a makeshift filter.

What they need is a re-breather, but all they’ve got is the clothes that they’re wearing, even Ray’s ripped up t-shirt lost at some point.

Gerard pulls up his t-shirt so it’s covering his mouth, breathing shallowly through the dirty fabric as he jumps to the ground and goes to the side of the van, clouds of acid steam swirling around his legs as he walks.

It’s something they shouldn’t be out in, and Gerard hates to think what breathing in the steam is doing to their lungs. But it’s not like they’ve any choice, and at least it’s giving some cover if the van does get tracked, something Gerard holds onto as Ray gets out of the van.

“It was just over there,” Ray says, mouth concealed behind his own make-shift mask. He points, and Gerard tries to see through the steam, both hoping and dreading to see Mikey and Frank lying at the side of the road. “They were furthest away and courier vans are small. I tried to fight back.”

“There was nothing you could do.” Gerard knows that for sure. They were stupid and caught unaware, something he intends will never happen again. Just, he has to find Mikey first, he needs to find Frank, and right now Gerard can see nothing of either. Just an endless expanse of mist that rolls around his shins as he walks along the side of the road.

“It was here, I’m sure of it,” Ray says, when they’ve walked for a few minutes. “They were both thrown back when they got hit.”

Which means they could be further back from the road. Gerard steps down onto sand and doing so brings the steam to his knees. It feels cold, clammy where it’s seeping through his pants and touching his skin.

Gerard keeps moving forward, head down and eyes half closed, making sure Ray remains close as they keep searching while ignoring the low-hanging clouds that darken the horizon. They’re heavy and bloated, the acid rain inside them causing a sickly red tint. If luck holds they’ll keep drifting to the north, always that half an hour in front. If they’re not lucky....

Gerard rubs his arm against his side, trying to ease the prickle of burnt skin. At the worst spots the skin is already peeling, bubbles over his forearm and down to his wrist -- and that was only from a few spots of rain.

It’s all too easy to imagine what would have happened if Frank and Mikey were caught in the storm, Gerard’s imagination providing graphic images that add to his panic as he yells, “Mikey! Frank!”

“What about the bone trees? If they woke up they could have gone there.” Ray’s trying for calm, and mostly succeeding, but Gerard can read Ray’s fears easily. If he could Gerard would try for reassurance, but that’s beyond him right now, his only instinct to get to the bone trees and see if Ray’s right.

“Mikey. Frank,” Gerard yells again, panting for breath as he runs to the bone trees. They’re further back than they appeared, a dense clump of trees with thick branches covered in sharp needles. One of which has a scrap of black fabric caught at the end.

“Mikey.” Gerard throws himself down onto his knees, looking under the branches and almost collapses down fully when he sees Mikey and Frank curled up together against the trunk of the middle tree, Ray’s torn t-shirt covering their faces.

Gerard drops to his belly and wiggles to their side, all the time vowing this will never happen again.

~*~*~*~

“It’s the idiot who pulled up in the Drac mobile.” The man addressing Gerard is sitting in the shade of a giant parasol, one that’s been patched multiple times. He grins, says, “Rumor has it you were proving a point and making yourself known with a bang. I say that you’re stupid.”

Gerard’s tempted to agree with the first and claim the false praise: but he can’t. Not when his feet feel like they’re on fire and he’s still trying to cope with being held at gunpoint twice in a day, once by the people who’re on their own side. What they did was stupid and Gerard’s not going to deny that.

At least, not in his own head. Out loud to this mocking stranger is another matter. About to walk away, Gerard stops when the stranger says, “Stupid it is then. I give you a few weeks before you’re dead meat, you and your little band of followers.”

“Fuck you.” Gerard whirls around, says, “They’re not my followers, they’re my friends, and my brother.”

“And there’s mistake number one.” The stranger’s grin remains as he stares up at Gerard. “You don’t ever give information like that away. You’re exposing your weaknesses.”

Gerard looks around the nearby stalls, seeing Frank and Ray examine some car parts that are laid out on the ground, while Mikey talks to a woman with mirrored beads tied into her hair. Despite everything they’re still standing and Gerard wants to kick this ass in the face for insinuating they aren’t. “They’re not weak.”

“Never said that they were.” The stranger shuffles to the side, a beam of light that breaks through a badly patched hole striking his face. “Sit down, talk a while, let uncle Fangs tell you some things.”

“So you can rob me blind, I don’t think so.” Gerard may be new to running the zones, but he’s not about to sit down so close to a stranger, especially one who’s looking at Gerard like he’s a source of amusement.

Fang’s smile widens as he shrugs, says, “Your funeral. Or the funeral of that pretty piece over there.”

Hands curled into fists, Gerard resists the urge to attack and start punching. But ultimately he knows if he does he’d be attacking for reasons beyond some sleazy stranger making eyes at his brother.

“He’s not going to die,” Gerard states. “None of us are.”

“Everyone dies eventually,” Fangs says, and then holds up his hands, palms toward Gerard. “Look, I’m unarmed and you’ve got nothing I want. Last chance, sit down and learn some things that’ll keep you alive in this shit-hole, because I can’t promise I’ll be so charitable later.”

Gerard should keep walking, but there’s something compelling about Fangs, and almost despite himself Gerard sits, the front of his body in shadow. When he’s settled, legs crossed and feet pushed forward so his ankles aren’t pressing against the back of his boots, Gerard says, “Why do you even want to help? You don’t know us.”

“Maybe, but I’ve known plenty like you.” For the first time Fangs’ expression loses its edge of amusement, replaced by a weariness that apparent for all of a moment. “Raw cannon fodder who come to the zones and think they’re sticking it to the man, and all they’re actually doing is being fucked in the ass, and not in the good way.”

“I’m not protesting anything.” Truthfully, apart from blindly running and struggling to keep living, Gerard’s not sure what he’s doing at all. “We’d been living in the rat runs, I’d had this thing with a guy and then he decided to join....”

“Not interested,” Fangs says, cutting Gerard off. “We’ve all got a story. Love, loss, lofty ideals. None of it matters.”

Gerard doesn’t get it, or Fangs, who looks perfectly relaxed, but is looking around always, taking in every visible part of the mart. “So why this?”

“Because I get sick of patching up brainless idiots,” Fangs says, his attention suddenly solely on Gerard, “And I don’t want to pretend to care when one of your friends ends up crying onto my shoulder when you’re nothing but mush.”

“You’re a medic?” It’s not what Gerard expected, Fangs nothing like the always serious white garbed medics who oversee the clinics back in Bat City.

Fangs laughs, a harsh burst of quickfire sound. “No stories remember. Just listen up princess, you drove into the mart in a Drac mobile, you were seconds from being ghosted.”

“Okay, fine, it was stupid,” Gerard admits, and immediately wants to take back the admission when Fangs rolls his eyes in response.

“No shit. Lesson one. Don’t drive a Drac mobile into a group of zone runners without warning. Lesson two. You need guns. I’d bet my sweet ass that you’ve got none.”

Gerard’s initial reaction is to say no way. He’s never handled a ray gun, never wanted to, they’re outlawed for citizens in the city and most in the rat runs do without. But now things have changed, and despite his reluctance, Gerard will do anything to keep his family and friends safe. “Where do we get them?”

“My little zone noob, starting to grow up,” Fangs says, pretending to wipe away tears. “Good decision, princess, and you get them from me. “I’ll get you weapons from the extra credits left from your Drac mobile trade, slip in a few extras and I’ll make sure that they’re good ones.”

Gerard stares, trying to keep up. “You know about that?”

“Everyone knows about that, you’re lucky the girls got to you first, some of these fuckers would have taken your eyes out in trade.”

It’s a reminder of the bad trade with Kelief and something Gerard intends will never happen again. He’s done with being naive and aimlessly drifting, it’s time to stand and fight back, whether that’s via words or weapons. He looks directly at Fangs and asks, “What about you? Would you have taken our eyes out?”

“Amongst over things.” Fangs leers, but makes no attempt to get closer to Gerard. “Lesson three, the zones will fuck your shit up if you let them. Always take care of yourself first.”

Gerard doesn’t get it. It’s like he’s trying to solve a puzzle that keeps changing and he’s tired of feeling so lost. “So why this? Why try to help?”

Fangs sits up straight, suddenly serious. “Because helping yourself doesn’t mean you have to fuck over others. I’m not about to guard your back or be your wet nurse, but I’ll get you guns and give you some pointers.”

“Good. That’s good,” Gerard says, and taking Fangs’ words to heart adds, “Water and food, too.”

“You’re learning, I like that.” Fangs’ grinning again, head ducked as he stands and steps from under the shadow of the parasol. In full sunlight he stands still, looking at Mikey who’s laughing as the girl with the mirrored hair beads puts a stamp on his arm. “A few credits and I’ll introduce you to someone who won’t rip you off. But a lesson for free: your brother needs to get clean.”

Anger flairs, through the exhaustion and pain as Gerard struggles to his feet. “He’s not an addict, and who says that he’s my brother?”

“Nice try.” For the first time Fangs touches Gerard, draping an arm over his shoulder as he leans in close, talking in Gerard’s ear. “But you wear your emotions on your ratty Bli/nd supplied sleeve. Learn to hide them before someone takes him out just to hurt you, and they will, you’ll lose him before he’s got a chance to overdose with the other junk rats.”

“He’s not....”

Gerard doesn’t get a chance to finish his denial, Fangs saying, “Keep telling yourself that, it’ll be a nice bedside story when he’s cold in his grave.”

And the thing is, the utterly terrifying thing now that Gerard is actually allowing himself to see, is that Gerard knows that he’s right.

~*~*~*~

“I hate it here,” Mikey says. “We shouldn’t have left.”

Gerard ignores him, not that it’s easy. Mikey’s words are barbed, designed to grab hold and cut deep. It’s made worse that it’s Mikey who’s talking, and that even during the worst of him going cold turkey, he’d known exactly what to say to hurt most.

“There was life back in the rat runs. I had friends. I slept in a bed. Just because you lost out doesn’t mean that I had to.”

“You slept on an old mattress,” Gerard says, unable to keep quiet. “That’s when you came home.”

“It was better than here,” Mikey says, anger draining abruptly away. It’s a familiar cycle and Gerard finally allows himself to look over, unable to help himself moving to Mikey when he sees him wrapped in a blanket and propped up by the side of the car. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.”

“I know.” Gerard sits next to Mikey, holding him close as Mikey puts his head on Gerard’s shoulder, and almost instantly starts dozing.

“He sleeping?” Frank asks softly, appearing around the front of the car. At Gerard’s answering nod, Frank sits and hands Gerard a bottle, the water inside luke-warm. “Ray’s gathering the cans.”

“You mean one of you hit one again?” If they had it’ll be one of the few times despite days of practice, none of them natural shots despite Fangs’ surprisingly thorough tips. “Or did the wind blow them over again?”

“Fuck off,” Frank says easily. “I clipped the can yesterday, it wasn’t the wind.”

“Of course it wasn’t,” Gerard says, mock serious. “And the fact the tent nearly blew away at the same time was co-incidence.”

“I wish the fucking thing would blow away,” Frank says, his loathing so obvious it’s taking all of Gerard’s self control not to laugh in response. “Next time it collapses I’m going to cut it to pieces.”

“That happened once,” Gerard points out, and sure, it wasn’t the most enjoyable of situations with Mikey at the height of his cold shivers and Ray trying to shoo a sand crawler out the front flap, but still. “It’s better than sleeping in the car.”

Frank looks past Gerard and flips off the hated tent. “For you maybe. It might be storm proof but I get to sleep on the outside. Anyone could take me out, a serial killer, a rolling cactus, fuck, I’m in slashing distance of any passing wolverine.”

“Wolverine’s aren’t native to the area.” Ray appears, gingerly carrying a ray gun in each hand, the muzzles pointed away from his body. “Even if they were I don’t think they’d eat you.”

Frank shakes his head. “Wolverines are evil fuckers.”

“Especially when they’ve got adamantium claws.” It’s Mikey who’s talking, and he rubs at his eyes through the blanket, looking more asleep than awake. “I’d kill for a coffee.”

It’s a want Gerard can agree with, even the barely hot decaffeinated excuse for coffee they provided in Bat City sounding good at the moment. He lifts his hand, showing the bottle of water despite knowing it’s a poor substitute at best. “I’ve got water.”

“No thanks.” Mikey remains lying against Gerard, a heavy weight on his shoulder. “Did you practice earlier? I can’t remember.”

Gerard did, shooting over and over as Mikey alternated between venting his displeasure about being out in the desert and dry heaving while curled up on the ground. All Gerard can hope is that period is finally over, and that forcing the issue really was the best choice.

“Yeah,” Gerard says, looking at his hand with its new crop of torn blisters. “I hit the tree once, and the side of my foot.”

“You shot your foot?” Ray finishes putting the guns in the trunk, and kneels in front of Gerard, looking concerned. “Have you still got all of your toes?”

“As far as I know.” Gerard wiggles his toes, which are in more danger of rotting off due to constantly being enclosed in sweat-soaked socks than any ray gun incident. “No, they’re all there. I just hit the side of my boot.”

“Jesus Fucking Christ.” Ray sits down fully, seemingly torn between amusement and despair. “Some zone runners we are. None of us can even hit a target and you nearly blew off your own foot.”

“Nearly isn’t did.” It’s an important distinction and one that Gerard has to make. Because yeah, they’re not particularly good at zone survival right now, but they will be. They have to be, because Gerard’s got no intention of going back. “I’ve been thinking....”

Ray looks pained, says, “Last time you started thinking I came back to my bag packed and a new runner already claiming our room.”

Despite everything that’s happened since then, Gerard remains glad the issue was forced, “Frank was right, it was time to move on.”

Frank preens, says, “I’m always right. Which is why you should have listened when I said no to the tent.”

“We needed a shelter, and Fangs arranged a good price,” Gerard says, not that it’ll change Frank’s mind at this point. “And we can use it when we go to Hot Rockets.”

“You mean the stunt show?” Ray’s expression is guarded, and Gerard’s wondering if he’s gone too far in assuming they’ll all want to go. “The one that’s happening in four days?”

“Only if you want to.” That’s something Gerard has to make clear, but still, he’s been thinking about this all day, and he knows it’s the right thing to do. “We need to meet more people, and Fangs says the stunt show’s a safe space. We need to get out there.”

“And do what?” Frank asks.

Gerard simply says, “Live.”

~*~*~*~*~

They hear the stunt show well before they see it, the roar of engines and loud music a shock after the quiet of the last week. Gerard’s become used to the sound of laser blasts and talking, laughter when the tent collapsed on Frank yet again, but already this is much louder.

Gerard’s both attracted and wants to go back to their make-shift camp, anxiety curling in his belly as they turn a curve in the road and he sees a stunt show for the first time.

Hot Rockets is huge. The actual track marked by ragged flags that hang limp from faded blue and white poles driven deep into the sand. Around the track tents and parked vehicles bleed out in a spiral, motorbikes and cars and even a few modified RVs, runners sitting on the roof as they cheer on a four wheeler that launches into the air after hitting a sand and wood ramp.

It’s more life and people than Gerard’s seen for a while, whole crowds of zone runners gathering together, some looking their way when Frank drives the perimeter and comes to a stop.

“Did you see that?” Frank’s out of the car within seconds, climbing up onto the hood in order to see better. “That’s fucking sweet.”

A woman stops walking and looks up at Frank, the silver stripes painted on her face shining bright in the sun. “Planning on trying it out, diesel doll?”

“We can do that?” Mikey asks, stepping outside of the car. Stretching up on his tip-toes he grins when the four wheeler takes to the air once again. “I want to do that.”

“You can’t drive,” Gerard points out, before Mikey somehow persuades someone to let him into the driving seat of a car.

“That is a problem, sugar,” the woman says and winks at Gerard. “But if you don’t mind following old Cyclone, you both can have a ride in my wagon.”

“Oh hell yeah.” Frank jumps down, slapping his hand against Mikey’s. “And if that’s a euphemism the same answer applies.”

“You coming?” Mikey asks. He turns to Gerard, and for the first time in days Mikey’s actually smiling, except, this time it’s a smile that’s not prompted by chemical means. As differences go it’s all too apparent, and yet again Gerard regrets looking away for so long.

“I’ll follow,” Gerard says, taking a moment to stretch his legs and attempt to ease the ache in his back. “Have fun.”

Cyclone slips an arm around both Mikey and Frank, says with a grin, “Oh we will.”

“They’ve been here all of a few seconds,” Ray says, peering at Gerard over the top of the car. “Impressive.”

Gerard doesn’t reply, just watches as Cyclone, Mikey and Frank pass by an open fire before disappearing into the crowd.

Ray circles the car, also watching them go. Leaning against the hood he says, “You okay with them going alone? We can follow.”

And the thing is, Gerard isn’t sure of his answer. On one hand he has to trust that Mikey and Frank can look after themselves. On the other, the memory of finding them under the bone tree remains raw, and that’s without the issues of Mikey’s recent detox layered on top.

Ray waits a moment and then says, “Okay, we’ll follow. I want to look around anyway.”

“We should take the guns.” They’re not something Gerard’s comfortable wearing just yet, but every zone runner that passes is carrying a weapon. Mostly ray guns strapped to their thighs, but Gerard’s also seen whips, batons, and in one case, someone with some kind of long sword attached to their back.

Which is cool, but at this point if Gerard tried the same he’d slice off a leg. At least with a ray gun he looks like he knows what he’s doing, even though most time he still misses his shots.

Ray leans into the car so he can open the trunk, leaving Gerard to go get the guns from the metal box in which Fangs handed them over. Picking them out remains weird, the grips feeling wrong in his hands and even now, after hours of practice, Gerard’s still sure he’s going to vaporize his junk.

The muzzle pointed down, Gerard hands over Ray’s gun, knowing it by the specific dried blood pattern, each one a testament to the torn skin and hours of practice that they’re all putting in.

It takes a few moments for Gerard to slip his gun into its holster, a movement that should feel natural still not that at all. It doesn’t help that Gerard feels self-conscious when he does get it done, like he’s playing at being a zone runner in his Bat City issued clothes.

Even stained and torn it’s obvious what they are and Gerard says, “We’ve still credits left, yeah?”

“A few.” Ray’s holding the key fob for their car, looking uncertain. “Do we lock it or not? What if we need to make a fast exit?”

It’s yet another question Gerard can’t answer. Even with Fangs’ advice all this is like walking in the dark, when all the times obstacles loom to the sides. In the end Gerard says, “Lock it,” and hopes if they do need a quick exit the few extra seconds won’t matter.

Together, they set off in the same direction as Mikey and Frank, and Gerard’s attention is constantly pulled off to all sides. To the camp fire where someone is roasting lizards attached to a long stick, or the group of people who’ve gathered to get their hair braided by someone sitting on the back of a pick-up.

Seeing Gerard looking for more than a few moments, Ray steers him away. “No braids. It’s not your look, or mine either.”

“It would be cooler.” Gerard says, enjoying this opportunity for easy conversation and relaxing as he realizes no one’s about to call him a fraud. “And would keep the hair out of your eyes.”

“No braids,” Ray says again, gently pushing Gerard forward when he looks back to the pick-up. “I’m not.... holy fuck.”

Ray stops dead, and Gerard understands why when they pass a last row of cars and see the track up close. It stretches off into the distance, while nearby are the sandbanks that have been made into ramps. At the moment a motorbike is speeding up to the steepest, sand thrown up from under its back wheel, the rider wearing an all yellow outfit that shines like the sun.

Sure it’s going to crash land, Gerard gasps when the bike lands perfectly and then turns into a tight circle, the audience cheering in response.

Ray’s clapping too, and when he turns to Gerard his eyes are bright, his excitement obvious. “I want to get closer. Come on.”

It’s been a long time since Gerard’s seen Ray so enthusiastic and unguarded. Ever since running from Bat City he’s remained reliable always, self-contained and there when needed. Now he’s smiling, fingers wrapped around Gerard’s wrist and leading him forward as they snake through the crowd.

It takes a while to get to the front. Gerard’s distracted by the things that he sees and he takes note of, like the woman offering clothes for trade and the display of canned food that’s been stacked on a blanket.

Finally they reach a clear space, and Ray says on a laugh, “The hell? Look.”

He points, and Gerard gets a better look at the monster truck that’s parked at the side of the track. It’s something that Gerard’s only seen in old pictures, the kind that Bli/nd try to keep under a lock, and this close it’s almost too much to take in.

Ray drops his hand, says, “In the front.”

Gerard looks up from the wheels, and sees Mikey and Frank, sitting up front with Cyclone.

“Tell me Mikey’s not in the driving seat,” Gerard says, barely able to hear himself talk when the engine starts with a roar.

His eyes shaded with his hand, Ray says, “No, Cyclone is.”

“Thank fucking God,” Gerard says, feeling weak with relief when the monster truck revs its engine and then roars away.

Together Gerard and Ray step forward, side by side as they watch.

~*~*~*~

“I’m going to jump tomorrow,” Ray says. He sits, taking a place next to the fire, grinning all the while. “Android’s letting me use his bike.”

“That’s fantastic,” Gerard says, Ray’s happiness contagious. “Do you know what time?”

“One of the first, before the main crowd starts arriving.” Ray leans forward, peering into the battered pan that Gerard’s got hanging over the flames. “I’ll only be doing a basic jump, but....”

“There’s no only about it,” Gerard says, cutting Ray off, and in fact, that Ray’s been allowed to jump at all is amazing, especially when they’ve only been following the stunt circuit for a few weeks. “You’ll be the best out there. You’ll be fucking awesome.”

Ray laughs, says, “And two people and a dog will see it.”

“Not true.” Kneeling, Gerard stirs the stew in the pan, looking at the contents to hide the curve of his grin. “We’ll all be there, and Android. So that’s four. Can’t say about dogs, though.”

“Supportive as always I see,” Ray says, still smiling as he takes off his jacket and throws it into the tent. Which at this point is being used for little more than storage, sleeping outside preferable in the stifling late night heat.

Gerard’s become used to feeling heat-blasted always, his skin constantly gritty with sand. He can feel it on his lips now, tiny granules that irritate the split skin. Talk is they’re heading toward an abandoned outlet village with actual working water, but Gerard will believe that when he sees it. Until then he’s learning to ignore feeling itchy always and that giving your clothes a good shake is all the washing they need.

He’s also learned to make a mean scuttle bug stew, and Gerard stirs the contents of the pan, glad that soon, he’ll be able to let the fire die down. A last stir and he looks up when he hears someone approaching.

“There’s been another attack on the rat runs,” Frank says, frowning as he talks. “I was helping rebuild a ramp and a runner blew in. He said they cleaned out a whole building.”

It’s unsettling news, and forces Gerard to think of Bli/nd more than he wants to, the carefully constructed shields he’s built up starting to crack. “They cleared out the runners or.....?”

“They took them, every one they could catch. Fuck.” Frank kicks at the sand, spraying the fire and causing it to flicker and crackle. “They rounded them up and took them back to the city. More fucking drones to add to their army.”

It’s all too easy to imagine the scene. The screams of wave heads spilling out from the clubs, runners desperately fleeing the building, groups united in the fear of their colors being forcefully replaced by blank white.

It makes Gerard feel sick to the stomach. They got out, they’re safe for now and Gerard’s thankful for that. It’s just, he wants to help, but can’t think of a thing he can do.

Frank paces, his anger simmering over as he says, “We need to do something. We need to fight back.”

“How?” Ray asks, unflinching despite the glare Frank sends his way. “We’d be four people against a huge corporation. Getting ghosted too won’t help anyone.”

It feels like they’ve been defeated without even throwing a punch, but ultimately, Ray’s right. No matter how much Gerard wants to help -- wants revenge for Bli/nd breaking his heart -- suicide via attack isn’t the answer.

“What if it isn’t just four?” Gerard isn’t sure how long Mikey’s been standing almost hidden in shadow, but it has to be the last few minutes at least as he sits and says, “I’ve been talking to some people. You’re not the only one who wants to fight back.”

Frank sits too, so all four making a tight group. When he’s settled he simply says, “Who?”

“Dynamo, Cub, a few others,” Mikey says, naming some of the people he’s befriended since following Hot Rockets. “They’ve already put out feelers.”

“To take down Bli/nd?” To Gerard it seems an impossible task, but it’s also one he wants in on. “They never said.”

“Because they’re secret plans, you don’t go around telling everyone,” Mikey says, like that should be obvious, and makes no mention about why he’s one of the ones in the know. “And no, not at first. They’re starting small, planning on taking out solo Drac patrols and working up to the big time.”

“Chopping them off at the roots, yeah, that would work,” Ray says, and while his happiness of before is gone, something else has taken over. A steeliness in his expression that suggests that for Ray too, things are clicking into place. “We could do that.”

Frank puts his hand on his gun. “We’d have to practice more. A courier took us down last time.”

“For the first and last time,” Gerard vows, and uses his stirring stick to take the pot from out of the flames. “We can eat later. We need to go see Dynamo and Cub.”

“They’re refilling the tar pits,” Mikey says, and stares directly at Gerard. “You’re going to join the revolution?”

Gerard stands, waits until the others do too and then says, “That, and we’re going to make some fucking noise.”

~*~*~*~

It turns out starting a revolution involves planning, clandestine meetings, and a lot of practice.

Gerard spends the days painting promo banners and going out to tag billboards for Hot Rockets and the nights practicing self-defense and tactical ambush. Gerard hurts, his trigger finger raw and his body covered in bruises, and that’s without counting the ones that happened when he fell from a billboard -- days later Gerard’s still limping and his hair remains covered in paint.

But despite that. The late nights and early mornings, the desire to throttle Android when he tells them to practice a move yet again, Gerard’s content, and he knows the others are too.

Fighting back has given them a cause, and a bond that strengthens each day. With every blocked punch or yelled kick, every hour they spend firing at increasingly small targets, they’re becoming more than just friends, they’re becoming a team -- a family -- and one that Gerard would trust to have his back always.

It’s something he’s tempted to tell them all now, but suspects that Android won’t take a declaration of feelings well, especially now, when they’re seconds away from their first ambush.

Laid out flat on his belly, Android takes off his mag goggles and looks over his shoulder. “When they stop we’ve got a few seconds. Get in, deal with the Dracs, strip the van of anything that looks valuable then torch it, and Cub, no war cries this time.”

Cub’s lying close to Mikey, and looks past him to Android, grins wide and says, “Spoilsport.”

“I mean it,” Android says, and then hisses, “Quiet, they’re here.”

It’s a warning made for the old time horror movies Gerard illegally traded back in Bat City, not this bright sunny day, and Gerard wants to laugh, nerves crawling along his spine and into his belly.

“We can do this.” Mikey looks over at Gerard and moves his arm so he can squeeze Gerard’s hand. “Get in, get out. Simple.”

Cub raises his head a little, teeth shining white and eyes crinkled. “He told me the same last night.”

It’s a distraction Gerard needs, and he’s torn between thanking Cub and wanting to practice shooting one more time, with Cub as the target.

Not that Gerard can do either just now. At the foot of the sand bank the van pulls to a stop, two Dracs stepping out and approaching the small building that sits alone and unguarded. Inside is a sub generator, but this isn’t about tapping that power, it’s about taking these first steps to fight back. Android looks at them all, checking they’re ready and then says, “Ready? And go!”

They do, all six scrambling upright and then running headlong down the bank. Gerard waves his arms for balance and tries to stay upright as Android pulls out his gun and fires, Cub yelling and attempting his own shot.

One that he misses. The Drac drops to its knees and fires in return, lasers zipping close to Gerard’s head -- too close -- until suddenly, the Drac screams and falls to the ground, felled by Frank’s shot.

“I got it,” Frank says, sounding surprised. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Already, Cub, Ray and Mikey are searching the van while Android deals with the Dracs, efficiently turning the first to ensure that it’s ghosted. Despite knowing he should be helping, Gerard hesitates, remembering when he made his first kill. “Are you okay?”

“There’s one less scum Drac in the world,” Frank says, baring his teeth in a grin. “I’m fucking amazing.”

Gerard isn’t so sure, but ghosting is something they’ll have to get used to, even if Gerard doesn’t share Frank’s glee as he approaches the Drac, spits on its body and then yanks off the mask.

It’s something Gerard didn’t expect, and something that wasn’t discussed in their plans. Gerard isn’t prepared to see an all too human face. Someone male, tanned, their head shaved bare.

All Gerard can think of is, “Korse.”

~*~*~*~

“I thought it was him. I was sure.” Exhausted, Gerard clutches his mug, two handed to try and stop any spills. “It looked like him and I thought.... I thought it was all for nothing. He left me and ended up ghosted.”

“I wish it was him,” Mikey says, and almost immediately adds. “No, I don’t. But I still hate him.”

“You’re supposed to, even if you did used to like him, he works for them now,” Gerard says, and takes a sip of his drink, hoping the weak coffee substitute will help wake him up.

“I don’t hate him for that.” Mikey’s sitting with Gerard on the hood of their car, staying close to his side as the rest help break down Hot Rockets ready to hit the circuit again the next day. “I hate him for what he did to you.”

“He didn’t do anything he never warned for,” and that’s the problem, that Gerard was always so sure he’d change Korse’s mind. That one day he’d realize that freedom was better than routine, that colors were better than white. “I was just too stupid to see, another thing for the list.”

“Fuck that, you’re not stupid.” Mikey turns, making the car dip slightly to one side. “He tricked you, lured you in with picnics on rooftops and parties. Why do that if he had no intention of leaving Bat City?”

“Because he thought I’d change my mind.” It’s the only answer Gerard can think of, and yet it still doesn’t fit. Even if Gerard did want to go back to the city, he’d never leave Mikey, and Korse knew that for sure. It’s why it makes no sense that he’d hung on for so long,

“He led you on.” It’s something Mikey’s said from the beginning, from the days Gerard can barely remember after Korse left, to the multiple late night conversations where Gerard picked over the things that went wrong. “He shouldn’t have come looking when we left the city.”

It would have been easier, Gerard has to admit that, his relationship remaining just one more thing he was leaving behind. But Korse had come looking, and the time they had on the outside was even better than that from before. Just, every night Korse would go back, even though, every time they met up, Gerard was sure he’d see that freedom was better.

Except, it seems, Korse was thinking the same in reverse.

“I don’t know if I can do this.” It’s a hard admission to make, when Gerard’s been so sure that this is their path. ”I helped kill someone. I plotted someone’s death.”

Gerard waits, wanting Mikey to make him feel better with reassurances that Dracs aren’t people, that they’ve already lost all humanity before Gerard helped extinguish that last spark -- but Mikey doesn’t.

“We all did.” Mikey pulls up his legs, his heels resting against the grill of the car. “We have to make a stand, Gee. It’s them against us.”

Gerard clenches his hands, remembering digging his fingers into Drac flesh. As always, it makes him feel sick, guilt barely pushed back, and the last thing Gerard wants is Mikey feeling the same. “You shouldn’t be doing this, getting your hands dirty.”

“It’s years too late for that,” Mikey says simply, and keeps staring forward, never looking at Gerard. “If you want to leave I’ll come with you, you know that. But what we’re doing is important. We’re going to make changes.”

“We’re starting a revolution,” Gerard says softly, and it’s something that feels unreal right now, when Gerard’s sitting with Mikey at his side, the sun slowly sinking and turning the sky red. “We’re fighting back.”

“We are,” Mikey agrees, and then, “At least we will if we stay.”

It’s Gerard’s chance to walk if he wants it, and he pictures Korse’s face, the way he looked as he walked back into Bat City for the last time. He remembers nights spent in to the Rat Runs and Mikey with dead eyes, partying each night. Frank, his hand shaking as he practiced shooting for hours at a time, Ray’s face when he landed his jump, grin wide and hair wild, exhilarated as he came to a stop to the applause of the small crowd.

They’re all memories that combine, knitting together to show what to do. Gerard says, “We’re staying.”

~*~*~*~

“Android’s offered me his spare bike,” Ray says. He stands next to Gerard, watching him re-paint an old sign. “It’ll need fixing up but it means I can do my own stunts.”

Gerard drops his brush into a half-filled mug, blue paint bleeding out and coloring the water. ”He wants nothing for it?”

Ray sits opposite Gerard, the toes of his shoes close to the edge of the sign, “He just said I had to kept on fighting the corporate monopoly on free-will, independence and life.”

“Well there you go, then, you’ve got a good deal.” Better than good in fact, especially as the few credits they do manage to earn have to go on the food and water that’s for sale or trade. Ray having his own bike means he can be a regular on the stunt show, while also freeing up space in the car when they head out on an ambush.

Ray nods, says, “I’m going to miss him.”

One thing Gerard won’t miss is Android’s rants about lizard catching and subsequent eating, but that’s only one tiny thing in a whole lot of good. He’s going to miss Android a lot, and Cub, even though Gerard’s not going to admit that.

Gerard picks up his brush, letting the blue tinted water drip from the tip. “Things are changing,” and they’re changing fast. It feels like every day someone is leaving, or there’s reports of more people who’ve decided to fight back.

The zones are in uproar, and it’s only going to get worse. They’ve provided a spark and the flames are spreading. Every ambush, every ghosting getting easier and Gerard wants to go bigger, better, to leave more havoc behind them.

“Listen.” Suddenly, Ray dives to the side, reaching for the boom box Frank obtained a few weeks before. Gerard’s had it on low, the white noise and occasional crackling broadcast background entertainment as he paints, but now he realizes that on it, someone’s talking about something other than Drac sightings.

The signal drops out, and Ray turns the dial, patient and slow, until finally they hear the voice once again.

....call this a roll call, call this encouragement, call this Dr D telling you to get off of your asses and decide to fight back.

Remember the future is ours gear heads, the future is bullet proof, and all you have to do is reach out and grab it.

To send you on your way here’s one for you zone kids,
Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards with Fight. So listen, be inspired, hold your hands to the sky and make your voice heard.

“I was starting to think he didn’t actually exist.” Ray taps his fingers against his thigh as he follows the beat of the song. “Dr Death Defying is real.”

“Mikey and Frank are going to be pissed that they missed him,” Gerard says, when the signal dies again, and doesn’t return no matter how carefully Ray tries to tune in. “This is huge.”

And it is. It’s evidence that the rebellion isn’t just happening in the zones that they’re close to. It’s happening on a much larger scale, people banding together and saying, enough is enough.

That they’re standing together to fight.

~*~*~*~

In the end leaving Hot Rockets feels like an anti-climax.

There’s no leaving party or even a shared roasted lizard on the end of a stick. There’s not even anyone watching as Frank pulls away and follows Ray as he circles the camp and then out of the boulder marked ‘entrance’.

Gerard twists around so he can look back, at the flags that hang limp and the flickering yellow flames of multiple fires. In the twilight they’re bright spots against shadows, a sign of people continuing to cook and boil water, their lives going on even as Gerard starts again.

It’s unsettling, and exciting and Gerard can also admit, scary. They’re facing a future that feels huge and uncertain, but they’re all facing it dead on.

One hand on the steering wheel, Frank sticks his head out of the window, his arm raised and hair streaming back as he yells, “Pedal to the metal, Hot Rockets, pedal to the fucking metal.”

It feels like an appropriate goodbye, Ray roaring past, his bike up on one wheel as he touches his hand against Frank’s.

Grinning, Frank slides back into the car and sits once again, Gerard unmoving at his side. Gerard’s already said his goodbyes and now all he can do is look forward and attack this new part of his life.

“This meeting place,” Mikey says, and when Gerard looks in the mirror he sees Mikey is frowning as he stares at a page torn from a magazine. “It’s either at the side of the sulphur pools or right in the middle.”

“Let’s hope it’s the first,” Gerard says, trying to see the page and the coded co-ordinates that are scrawled down one side. “I don’t want to stink like an egg.”

“I hate eggs.” Mikey puts down the page, carefully weighting it down under a bag full of water. “At least. I think I do.”

“You said they made you feel sick.” It’s not often that Gerard talks about ‘before’. There’s no point and the more you look back the more things hurt in response. That doesn’t mean the memories aren’t there, even if they’re faint now, as if he’s telling a story instead of recounting something that happened. “I told you to hold out your hand once, and then cracked an egg onto your palms. You threw up on my shoes.”

“Asshole,” Mikey says, and pushes his knee into the back of Gerard’s seat. Gerard looks in the mirror again and smiles.

“Mom made me clean up the mess. She was mad.” She’s also almost a faceless memory by now, Gerard’s recollection blurred by time, enough that he knows if he can barely remember, Mikey won’t at all. It’s why ‘before’ is best locked away, and why the only thing that should matter is now. Pushing back older, established hurts, Gerard says, “We need to be there by midday.”

“We’ll get there,” Frank says, sounding confident. “And mystery man better be, too.”

Mikey takes hold of the page, studying the codes again. “He will be.”

Frank nods and keeps driving.

~~~~~

The man they’re meeting is there on time, and in fact, when they arrive, is staring into one of the pools. He’s also wearing a short-sleeved outfit seemingly made of blue fur, something that makes Gerard sweat just to see it. Still, he has to admit it does look good, especially when the fur ripples with the slight breeze.

“You’re on time, good,” the man says, turning when they park and get out. He grins when a bubble pops at the top of the sulphur pool, adding to the already considerable stench. “It’s eye-wateringly good around these parts today.”

“You actually like that?” Frank asks, waving his hand in front of his face. “Because if you do, I think you’ve got problems.”

“Me and everyone here,” the man says on a laugh. He walks forward, attention moving between them all. “I’m Skittles, and I hear you want plugged into the network.”

“Like that old candy?” Frank asks, sounding bemused. “That code name’s not very tough.”

“Who says it’s a code name?” Skittle’s grin hasn’t faded and he holds both hands high in the air. “Taste the fucking rainbow, it fits.”

“If you say so,” Frank says. He takes a step forward, his arm outstretched as if wanting to touch. “Is that a werebeast pelt?”

Skittles drops his arms, striking a pose that shows off his arm muscles. “I caught and skinned it myself. Me versus the werebeast, it was an epic fight. Him, me, the cold expanse of the desert.”

It sounds like it should be some kind of bullshit story, but Gerard isn’t so sure. Not when Skittles sounds so sure, and lifts up one side of the tunic to show a hole concealed by blue fur.

“That’s where I knifed him,” Skittles says, holding still when Frank gives in to temptation and runs his fingers over the fur. “When he died I howled and showed my respect for the fight.”

Frank stops stroking the fur and asks, “What about wolverines? Have you ever fought one of those evil bastards?”

Skittles grins, says, “There was a time back in.....”

Gerard cuts him off, knowing how possible it is they’ll lose the whole afternoon talking implausible battles. “You mentioned the network. We want to help more.”

Instantly, Skittles demeanor changes, becoming more serious as he beckons them away from the pool. “Good. That’s good, we’ve been watching you.”

It’s not what Gerard expected or wanted to hear. He doesn’t like the idea that they’ve been watched, his skin crawling as he remembers all the times he’d thought them alone. But it’s Ray that says, “You’ve been watching?”

Skittles shrugs. “We had to make sure you were ready. The fight’s heating up, we want warriors not cannon fodder.”

Which makes sense, but Gerard knows they’re no warriors, they won’t be even when they’re at their best and most practiced. He looks at Frank, Ray and Mikey, and knows they’re feeling the same. “We’re not warriors.”

“No, you’re not,” Skittles says, staring at them all intently in turn. “But you’re not cannon fodder either. You’re your own group, and your own name.”

It’s a moment that feels significant somehow, like they’ve passed some kind of test and the last step is making a claim to their name. Except, Gerard’s mind has gone blank. All his plans, all his visions wiped away.

He looks around the others, the silencing stretching, becoming uncomfortable when finally, Mikey says, “Killjoys. We’re the killjoys.”

And it feels right, it feels perfect as Skittles says, “Nice to meet you Killjoys. Follow me, Dr D wants to see you.”

“We’re in?” Gerard’s sure that they are, but he has to make certain. “We’re being plugged into the network?”

“Plugged in like a powder keg, baby,” Skittles says in reply

~*~*~*~

“Come on, Frank. One foot in front of the other,” Gerard urges. He’s more dragging Frank than walking with him and Gerard’s heart is pounding, his ears ringing as he struggles for breath.

“Sorry,” Frank slurs, and lists to the side, almost hitting the wall.

“More running and less apologizing.” Gerard slips his arm around Frank’s waist, helping him remain upright as they head for the exit.

Of course, escape isn’t as simple as walking out of the door. It never is, especially on raids like this that are supposed to be simple, but instead have gone all to hell. Grasping Frank with one hand, Gerard uses the other to fire, lasers cutting through the air and acrid smoke billowing as the remaining Drac collapses to the ground.

Gerard holsters his gun and looks over at Frank, whose face is slack and his eyes half closed. Gerard concentrates on keeping him moving.

“Come on,” Gerard urges, and his hand is pressed against Frank’s side, fingers over bare skin. “Mikey and Ray are outside, you can sleep it off later.”

“‘Kay.” Frank’s slowing, his feet dragging, and Gerard’s worried. The others should be waiting outside, but that means nothing if they’re caught now.

Curling his hand, Gerard nips Frank’s side hard and demands, “Stay the fuck with me.”

Frank’s eyes open wide and for a moment he’s more present, speeding up a little as they run for the door. But that doesn’t last long. Within steps he’s slowing again and Gerard hauls Frank’s arm over his shoulder, dragging him forward.

“Sry,” Frank slurs, his feet dragging, boots scraping the smooth floor, and Gerard’s cursing attempting this attack at all. He knew it was too short notice, but when the chance appeared it seemed like a sign, an easy opportunity to bring down a Drac sub station with the aid of a few bombs.

Gerard keeps running, determination keeping him going as he hits the door controls and half drags Frank outside. Immediately Gerard’s lungs start burning and he winces at the feel of acid rain against his bare arms.

“Ever notice every time things go to shit it’s raining,” Mikey says, appearing around the corner, his body pressed close to the wall. “Ray’s bringing the car....what the hell happened?”

“There were Dracs waiting in the control room, a whole group of them,” Gerard manages to say as Mikey crowds in close, using his body to shield Frank from the rain. “We took them all out, but one got back up, and Frank jumped it.”

Mikey crouches a little, staring at Frank, and the impressive bruise that’s forming on the side of his forehead. “Fucking idiot, you’re not supposed to attack with your head.”

“They were expecting us.” That’s something Gerard’s become sure of, especially after his every intel had said this station should have been unguarded. “We walked into a trap.”

“They’re fighting back,” Mikey says, and at the sound of an engine approaching, raises his gun as he looks over his shoulder. He drops his hand when he sees Ray pulling up close to the door. “We need to go, we planted our pig bombs under the tower, we can still set them off like we planned.”

“We didn’t set ours,” Gerard says, frustrated at the feel of his full bag, the bombs heavy against his hip “Take Frank, I’m going to go set these.”

“What? No.” It’s what Gerard expected Mikey to say, but it’s something he’s going to do regardless. Knowing Mikey won’t let Frank drop, Gerard gently pushes him toward Mikey, and runs back inside.

“They’re not winning this one, Mikey.” Gerard takes a moment to hit the controls of the door, knowing it’s much harder to get in than get out. “We ghosted them all, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“Gerard, wait!” Still holding on to Frank, Mikey kicks at the door, looking furious as it slides shut, cutting him off from Gerard.

“Sorry,” Gerard says, despite knowing there’s no chance that Mikey will hear. But he’ll fix things between them later, when these bombs have been set and this station destroyed. It’s a point of pride now, and Gerard runs back down the corridor, jumping over the felled Dracs as he goes.

He doesn’t have to run far. The building is small with only a few rooms, all of them unimportant expect for one. Pushing open a door, Gerard’s relieved to be back at the inner workings of the sub station, rows of tech units taking up two sides of the room.

Still panting for breath, Gerard reaches into his bag and grabs hold of a bomb, glad that they’ve practiced handling them so often. Setting the bomb to stand-by Gerard drops to his knees, attaching the bomb to the place he’s been assured will do the most damage.

It clicks into place, and then someone says, “Still as impulsive as ever I see.”

Gerard knows that voice, is sure he knows who’s standing behind him, even as he’s telling himself that it can’t be. That Korse is zones away back in Bat City.

“Oh, it is me, you know that it is.” Footsteps, and then there’s a hand on Gerard’s shoulder, fingers brushing his neck.

“You shouldn’t be here.” Gerard knocks away Korse’s hand and scrambles to his feet, backing up until he’s gone as far as he can. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“Supposed to, no, but I am,” Korse says, and he’s the enemy, someone Gerard should hate without question -- but he’s also the person Gerard spend almost a year with, and the person who won over his heart. “I was hoping you’d fall in our net.”

“You set us up,” Gerard says, realizing how stupid they’ve been. “This place was never unguarded.”

“Close.” Korse takes a step forward, his mouth curled up into a smile. “It is unguarded, except for today, when we baited our trap.”

Gerard puts his hand on his gun, then drops it when Korse draws first, and taps the end of the muzzle against Gerard’s chin. “So what now? You’re going to ghost me, get me back to Bat City one way or another.”

“No,” Korse says, and he’s even closer now, enough that Gerard can feel the heat of his body. It’s enough that sense memories strike, Gerard’s body reacting as he resists the urge to press close.

It’s all kinds of confusing, and Gerard hates that there’s conflict at all. He should be fighting back, doing anything to escape instead of wanting so hard that it hurts.

“So what?” Gerard swallows, his throat dry. “I’m not going back to Bat City willingly. You’ll never win that fight.”

“I know.” For the first time Korse’s grin fades, the polished facade of Bli/nd drone starting to crack. “You made your choice clear.”

“So what’s this?” Gerard asks, his heart racing and his whole body hot.

All at once the facade shatters completely, Korse’s every emotion apparent as he snarls, “This is me giving you a warning, We’re watching you, we’re watching all of you, and you won’t win.”

Gerard wipes spittle from his face, becoming aware of the sound of a door opening from the front of the building. “I already have.”

“You always do,” Korse says, expression blank as he takes a step back. “Go, get out of here, Gerard.”

Korse snarls Gerard’s name, and it sounds wrong. It would even if Korse wasn’t so angry, Gerard suddenly realizing that he’s not Gerard anymore, he’s not the person that Korse knew before. Standing straight, chin raised, Gerard says, “I’m not Gerard.”

“Really?” Korse stares, adds with contempt. “So who are you?”

“I’’m Poison,” Gerard says, the name settling around him, feeling right. “I’m Party Poison.”

For a moment Korse says nothing, then, “Well Party Poison. You’d better keep running.”

Without a word, Party Poison runs.

Date: 2012-03-14 10:21 pm (UTC)
kopperblaze: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kopperblaze
i already told you how much i love this, but i have to say it again. I LOVE THIS! a lot. it's absolutely amazing and i love your take on the killjoy world. mikey being an addict, the patches, them being helpless little puppies in the beginning. and the last sentence! it's so perfect i want to flail my hands around and make beached whale sounds because there is no way for me to express all the FEELINGS!!

<33333

Date: 2012-03-14 10:29 pm (UTC)
ext_942477: (Gerard; sleepy)
From: [identity profile] viviansface.livejournal.com
WOW. This was really powerful. I almost teared up when they decided they will fight back. I loved how emotional Frank was - like he broke down, because he expected them to be free in the beginning, and how much he wants to fight for his life. He might not even be that strong, but he WANTS, and it seems like that's enough for him.

And Gerard is so fragile! It was beautiful to watch him overcome his fears. He was so lost in the beginning, but then he managed to face it and, wow. It was obvious how he grew more sure of himself, talked to Ray and others, make little jokes, being himself. I loved that you made him meet Korse in the end. If he met him before, he would probably still hope he came to stay. But now, with his "I'm not Gerard", HE ACTUALLY REALLY WINS, NO MATTER WHAT.

I also really enjoyed the details, like acid rain and Skittles and all that. PLUS, I have to mention two scenes - when Gerard loses his pills, THE EMOTION IN IT! STUNNING! And when he killed that Drac with his bare hands. That was intense and beautifully written! Like, I totally believed it all. I just love fics like this, full of hope and life and inspiration, and just, ugh. I enjoyed this very much! It was amazing.

Date: 2012-03-15 03:14 am (UTC)
tempore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tempore
So much love for this. What a great world!

Date: 2012-03-15 02:46 pm (UTC)
romantical: (MCR - Yeti!Dewees)
From: [personal profile] romantical
This is so great! I love the building of everything slowly, the way they have to work to get to be what they are. I love the little things that fall to canon - Mikey giving them their name! - and I loved imagining people in places. In my head Android and Cub were Patrick and Pete (though I would totally buy Gabe as Android as well), and James in his werebeast outfit. UGH. So much love.

Seriously though, this was such a fabulous (hee) read. ♥

Date: 2012-03-16 04:30 am (UTC)
theladysnarkydame: (Frank's legs!)
From: [personal profile] theladysnarkydame
I loved this! Everything changing, everybody losing their footing and running forward anyway . . . it's so great. And you really gave us the flavor of this world, too, in all its grit and glory. ♥

Date: 2012-03-16 12:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosalui.livejournal.com
This was wonderful! :)

Date: 2012-03-16 09:04 pm (UTC)
turlough: branches with red leaves against a blue autumn sky ((mcr) so long and goodnight)
From: [personal profile] turlough
This was wonderful!! I love the way you've written Gerard's development, from uncertain and fearful to someone who's not only determined to fight back but also capable of doing so. I also like the way you write his relationship not only with Mikey - Way bros forever! - but also with Frank and Ray. How much he cares about them all and want them to be happy. And his relationship with Korse. I don't have words for how happy the way you've written it makes me! The way it can completely blindside Gerard even after all that had happened and how it cracks all of Korse's trained coolness shows how strong their connection still remains.

Another thing I love about this story is the way you write the zones and the zonerunners. I was particularly fascinated by Fangs and what he tells Gerard - that just because you're always looking out for yourself you don't have to fuck over others. It's just the way I've always seen life in the zones. It's harsh and unforgiving but it's not malicious. And Hot Rockets is such a fabulous place/thing/event/entity! It's like the essence of the zones!

PS I knew there was something I forgot. It's "pedal to the metal", not "peddle to the metal".
Edited Date: 2012-03-16 09:05 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-17 08:12 pm (UTC)
ext_418351: (sweet_mikey)
From: [identity profile] mylittlehottie.livejournal.com
Awesome, really love this!

Date: 2012-03-20 01:25 am (UTC)
isweedan: A happy fic reader hugs an ALOT. "I like this fic alot" (I LIKE THIS FIC ALOT.)
From: [personal profile] isweedan
Ahhhhh look at all the cool STUFF you've done with this world. Ahhhhh! I love it, their first stumbling(!!) steps towards being killjoys.

Date: 2012-03-21 01:19 pm (UTC)
inlovewithnight: (mikey killjoy)
From: [personal profile] inlovewithnight
This is wonderful. ♥ Just...wow, awesome. I love everything you've drawn out here. And Gerard. Oh, Gerard. (And, of course, MIKEY. Mikey Mikey.)
Page generated Oct. 19th, 2017 07:59 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios