stbethadettes: (any port in a storm)
[personal profile] stbethadettes
Hero does nearly all the bargaining and bartering and buying and looting. For now, at least.

It's just easier and safer to keep the pregnant woman out of sight as much as possible, and Beth knows it. But they've only been on the road a couple of days and she's had to go from completely (and maybe too) independent to being a hell of a lot more reliant. It's not easy to adjust to a big change like that, and sometimes it really fucking irritates her. She just tries not to let on.

Hero'd gotten her a sleeping bag, though, and just about all the necessities she's needed on the road so far. What Hero can't possibly get for her is another Venusian vanilla shirt to replace the one that got left at the church, and it had been so goddamn unsettling when she'd realized she'd left it behind.

The sky tonight is clear and the stars are bright pinpoints up there, but Beth, curled up on her side in her sleeping bag, just stares into the gently flickering remains of their fire and can't even get her eyes to stay closed long enough to try to sleep. It's not like she doesn't still have plenty of time to think; there's lots of time on the road with the motorcycle's engine droning too loudly in their ears to be conducive to real conversation, and all that time is great for thinking too much.

It's hard to stop.

Date: 2006-07-17 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] no-real-hero.livejournal.com
When cowboys used to do night watch, a million years ago when there were cowboys, they'd sleep in shifts. But there are a lot of things that keep Hero awake nights anyway, and have since back on the east coast. Maybe a person never really gets to get over killing someone else like she did, and no matter how much she likes to blame Victoria for it or to say that it was a matter of kill or be killed, she's still the one who pulled the fucking trigger.

She still dreams about that girl sometimes. Her only transgression was carrying a mail carrier's bag and not wanting to be an amazon. There was nothing about her that screamed kill me, kill me, put me out of my misery. But Hero knows a few things now that she didn't ever used to know, like how using hunger as a control mechanism is really effective, and keeping people on the edge of dependence is another great way to control people.

Sometimes, she thinks Victoria was just a misguided power-hungry cunt who took advantage of a situation, just like most people would have done. Other times, she's not so magnanimous about it and she fucking knows that Victoria was a master manipulator. She was a chess player and she never pretended not to be. Chess. Victoria. Queen. Queen Victoria. All the patterns of her life weave together in knots.

"We'll be out of gas soon," she tells Beth more just to hear the sound of voices than anything else. It's not so easy to find more, but the bike will fetch a great fucking price, keep them in canned goods and whatever else they need all the way to Kansas, she bets. It's the going currency, canned foods and fresh foods and the nicest thing about California was the fresh fruit. But this... well, they won't be camping out by a fire in the middle of the desert once they reach it. Aside from the snakes and scorpions and all that shit she'd only ever seen the end result of as an EMT, there are still roving bands of amazons. And they can't let Beth be seen.

Shit, but thoughts wander late at night. "You want to take watch for a few hours? You don't look like you're sleeping much anyway." Unrolling her sleeping bag, she looks from it to Beth. Today, she almost fell asleep at the wheel. That would be fine if it was just her, but now thanks to her dog of a brother, there's three of them to think about. She almost feels like putting a big sign saying Kansas or Bust! on the back of the motorcycle.

Damn, is she tired and more than a little bit disheartened. This world of theirs sucks.

Date: 2006-07-17 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] no-real-hero.livejournal.com
Her mother used to say those exact words. When she was little, especially after those visits to Grandpa when her mind raced and all she wanted to do was curl up into a ball of anger and sadness and why did you do that, Grandpa? curiosity, and it was always that last one that wouldn't let her sleep.

You want to touch me there again?

That was a long time ago and he died a long time ago. She wishes he'd been around for the plague, though, because he would have deserved that kind of death. Not the one he brought on himself.

All water under the bridge; she gets into her sleeping bag but props up on one elbow, watching Beth. It's been a couple of days, and now she knows why her brother liked Beth enough to bone her of all people. She's smarter than most women and she's nice, and she's not quite fearless but close enough. There are precious few people to like and trust in this place.

Yorick found a good one.

"Can I ask you a question?"

Date: 2006-07-17 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] no-real-hero.livejournal.com
"How'd you do it?" She sits up a little bit more; she's tired but not in a sleepy way, more in a goddamn-it-this-whole-thing's-wearing-me-out kind of way. "When you first realized he'd knocked you up. What did you think? What made you just stay in the church?"

She can't imagine. "I mean... didn't you get lonely?"

She's never lonely. Not with another voice in the back of her head trying to be heard, even though it's a voice she could fucking well live without.

Date: 2006-07-18 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] no-real-hero.livejournal.com
It's a story like a lot of other stories, actually, except there's an actual man in it. Up until the plague, she never thought of her brother as anything other than a pesky kid with a dick who was okay in his own pathetic way, but not save-the-fucking-world material.

She still doesn't think he has that in him; he's a fucking wussy. But he's not a bad wussy. Sure, he's got issues -- don't they all -- but he's just Yorick. Just her little annoying pathetic pain-in-the-ass brother.

And now he's the best chance for humanity: that's laughable.

She thinks she knows what Beth's going to ask her, but fair is fair. "Sure, go ahead." The fire crackles and burns, just like...

...just like a fire, Hero. That's all it is.

Date: 2006-07-18 01:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] no-real-hero.livejournal.com
That's pretty much the question she was expecting; the only surprise is that it took so long for Beth to ask it. "How much time do you have?"

Tucking her knees up to her chest, she hugs her legs through the sleeping bag. "When the plague hit, my boyfriend Joe and I were in an ambulance in Boston getting dressed. Just having a little bit of afternoon fun, you know?" Her gaze is lost to the fire for a long minute as she remembers Joe. "He was a good man. The first one who'd ever been really good to me because of me and not for any other reason. He's the whole reason I became an EMT; best fucking decision I ever made. But the minute we stepped out the door he collapsed and died in my arms and there was blood everywhere: his eyes, his nose, his mouth. You saw it. You know what it was like. When he died, it's like a part of me went with him."

There's no time for sad reminiscences, though; her story's hardly fucking unique. They all lost someone and most of them lost more than one person. Husbands, fathers, brothers, cousins, boyfriends, sons, nephews, uncles... no one's exempt.

"After that I decided to make my way to DC to find my mother -- she's a representative -- but it took fucking forever to get anywhere near DC. I made it all the way to Baltimore somehow and broke into a convenience store and stole the last cat food on the shelf, and that's where the amazons found me. I hadn't eaten for a week and they wanted my can of cat food. So I beat the shit out of the two chicks who tried to take it away from me, and I was tired and starving and delirious and the only thing I saw when I looked into anyone's face was Joe, and when their leader -- this fucking cunt named Victoria -- told me she would take care of me, I pretty much just fell apart. She was more mother to me than my own mother ever had been, and..."

Her voice trails off into nothing: there's no justification.

"I was messed up, Beth. I had no fucking idea how messed up, but the only thing I could respond to was her kindness: she took me in and fed me and made me feel like I was worth saving. I didn't even know about the amazons. All I knew was that someone thought I was worthwhile. And that was how it got started."

Goddammit, Joe, I miss you. I haven't let myself think about you in forever. I miss you so much.

There's way fucking more, but that's enough for now. She'll keep answering Beth's question... in a minute.

Date: 2006-07-18 03:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] no-real-hero.livejournal.com
So much shit happened, it's hard to even decide how to answer Beth's question. "I did get in deep and the fucked up part is I didn't even know how deep I was in, till Victoria told me to track down Yorick and help her kill him and I said yes. And even then, it seemed like the right fucking thing to do. That's how bad I was." Her hand covers her face immediately, but it can't hide shit. Nothing can hide what she did or the way she did it. "Pretty goddamn brainwashed, I'd say. Victoria was good at that. She was really fucking good at preying on peoples' weaknesses, but I won't even try to make excuses. It's my fault as much as it is hers."

She throws a stray stick into the fire and takes a deep breath. "We tracked Yorick to this town in Ohio called Marrisville. The women running it were real protective of Yorick and... shit. One of them killed Victoria when Victoria was about to kill Yorick -- axed her in the head -- and I... I killed her. Shot an arrow through her chest. Her name was Sonia, but I didn't know that at the time. I didn't know shit. I didn't know she'd found Yorick and nursed him back to health and all that shit. I think if it hadn't been for me, she might be the one about to drop a kid now instead of you."

Swallowing hard, Hero turns away. "I didn't ever want to kill anyone. I was a fucking EMT, for Christ's sake. I was supposed to save lives, live up to my goddamn name. Instead, look at what I did and what I became. So the women in Marrisville locked me up for a while, did a little bit of deprogramming. Helped me on the road to recovery which was... fucking amazing, considering I'd killed one of theirs. They were unbelievable. And patient."

As she speaks, her eyes fill; she brushes at the corner of her eyes, annoyed.

"I didn't deserve it."

Date: 2006-07-20 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] no-real-hero.livejournal.com
"This fucking world we've inherited. Shit, Beth. Shit, shit, shit." Yeah, it all boils down to shit: that's what she's bringing on this goddamn trek to Kansas.

Monkey shit.

If someone had told her back when she was fifteen and fucking everyone who didn't give a shit about the fact she looked like a goddamn poster girl for most acne ever that some day she'd be holding the dessicated remains of what might prove to hold the answer to curing a worldwide plague where all the men but her brother and one goddamn monkey had died, she'd have told them they were off their fucking rockers. But here she is, the last of Amp's monkey shit safely tucked away, and they're on their way to the hot suite where the first goddamn boy born since the plague hit is just waiting for her gift of monkey shit so they can isolate what they need and create a vaccine for the kid.

Unbelievable.

It's a fuck of a fucking world, and improbable as it is, she's gonna be a goddamn aunt on top of it all, and pretty soon from the looks of things.

How come Beth's being so nice to a goddamn amazon? That'll be a question for another night. In fact, she thinks maybe all her questions can wait for another night; all the tired and crazy of the past few days is finally catching up with her.

"That fucking brother of mine?" Letting out a huge deep breath, she settles back against the ground and turns to face the fire from the safety of her sleeping bag, using her hat as a pillow. "He sure knows how to pick 'em. There hasn't been one goddamn chick I could talk to since the plague hit except you."

Victoria doesn't count. Neither does that 350 bitch or her doctor friend.

And Yorick... well, he's not a chick. She never could talk to him anyhow.

Date: 2006-07-20 10:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] no-real-hero.livejournal.com
"Soon as you get tired, mamacita. Even if I just grab an hour, that's good."

Settling back in the sleeping bag, she allows herself a little bit of a smile because it's good to have someone who almost sort of qualifies as a friend, maybe, someday. It's been a long time since she did.

Since Joe.

As her eyes close and the heat from the fire's embers warms her, the black behind her eyelids turns red, and the red turns into a head of hair: a woman with an axe sticking out of her forehead.

[Your brother's little friend might have thought she ended my life, but all she did was enable me to travel with you forever, Hero. One of these days when you least expect it, I'll take over more than just your thoughts. So long as there's one male left alive, I won't rest.]

Oh yeah? Listen, bitch, you can share some of the real estate up there but you're never fucking getting out. Who has who under their control now, Victoria? When you were planning things out on that chess board in your mind, did you anticipate that I might just fucking win?

Didn't think so.


When she falls asleep, it's with a smile on her face. The santa madre is watching over her, and if you've got a saint, who the fuck needs a goddamn queen?

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