Unreserved Chapter 11
Annie leaned against the table as she watched Jet working on a white ray gun. It was one they'd taken from an old vending machine out in Zone 8. They'd busted it open gaining food, guns and batteries.
"Are you going to paint it?" Annie asked.
"Yeah. Probably red to go with my blue one." Jet said, tapping the gun on his thigh.
"Cool." Annie looked around before hopping out of the booth and going to grab her bag of paints. She passed Harley and Party talking as he checked on her ribs, pressing gently while looking for broken ribs from her fight with the dracs that morning.
"Party, I'm okay." Harley reassured him, wincing as he pushed on a rib over her liver.
"I'm not letting you outside anymore." He said quietly.
"You can't tell me what to do." She pressed, getting angrier by the second.
"Well maybe if you could get through a fight without getting hurt in some way…" Party trailed off as he poked another sensitive spot.
"Hey, I kick ass in fights," Harley said defensively. "It's not until recently," she said, putting emphasis on the last word, "that my bad luck began."
"Mhm," Party said, pressing down on another rib and frowning when Harley winced again.
"Can we be done here? You're making it hurt worse; it's just a bruise," Harley said, a little agitated.
Party lifted the edge of Harley's shirt quickly, taking a look at her ribs.
He got a look at the deep purple mark covering her skin before Harley yanked her shirt back in place.
"What the hell Party?" she questioned, raising her voice.
Annie picked up her bag of paints before walking over to the pair. "Everything okay over here?" She asked.
Harley ignored her friend and glared at Party, who, in turn, ignored the glare and turned to Annie.
"We're fine," he said.
Harley let out a sound of disgust and hopped off the counter, moving to sit alone in a booth.
Annie shrugged and walked off.
"What are you doing?" Jet asked as Annie took out two spray cans and a paint brush.
"You'll see." She said, taking her ray gun and her dagger out of their holsters. She took her paintbrush and started on sealing and repainting her dagger's hilt.
"She likes to paint?" Party questioned, sliding into the booth opposite of her.
Harley nodded her head silently, not wanting to talk to him.
"She can paint in here if she wants." Party said. He watched as Annie moved on to her ray gun. She painted intricately, but he could see that she was itching to take the spray can and use it.
"If you tell her that, she'll flip." Harley warned.
"I don't care." Party replied. "Hey Annie?" He asked. The brunette girl looked up, her hair whipping around. "You can paint a wall or two if you'd like." He looked around the diner. "The place could use some sprucing up anyway."
"Really?" She asked, smiling so wide her face looked like it was about to break.
"Yeah. Go for it." He said. He smiled at her and then turned back to Harley.
"That was nice." She admitted and reluctantly smiled at the red head in front of her.
She couldn't help but feel the same conflicts as earlier. She wanted to like these people around her, but she couldn't help but keep her guard up. She wanted to appreciate the way Party and Jet and Ghoul and Kobra were treating her and Annie. She wanted to do all of that... But she just couldn't.
Annie got up, leaving her gun and dagger on the table, but covering them with her bag. She took all the spray cans and ran to the blank wall, yanking down an empty shelf and using it to prime her paints.
"Yo, Harley!" Kobra walked in, Ghoul right behind him. "You want to come train? We just found all of our old Power Pup cans. We could use some target practice." Kobra said, smiling.
Harley turned and looked at the guys.
"Uh," she said, not really sure of what she wanted to do.
"You could stay here and keep me company," Party suggested.
"I'm coming," Harley said, hopping out of the booth.
Fun Ghoul snickered and Party glared at the short man. Harley followed the guys out of the diner, and Annie started painting.
"Don't take it too personally Party," Annie said over her shoulder. "She's gonna be difficult, but she'll be worth it, trust me."
"What are you talking about?" Party said, frustrated.
"I see the way you look at her, the way you take care of her," she replied. "I'm just telling you it's not going to be easy, winning her over."
"You think I haven't already figured that out?"
"I'm just saying," Annie said.
"Right. So what're you going to paint?" Party asked, sitting with Jet behind Annie.
"You'll see." Annie said, spraying six black rectangles onto the wall. She concentrated as blue and red lines appeared in the rectangles, all spindly legs of adults living in the desert.
"What were you going to do before BL/ind came?" Jet asked, watching the small girl concentrate.
"I was going to finish high school, leave Battery City for LA and then become a street musician and do legal graffiti. I didn't want to go to college or drive a fancy car or anything. I just wanted people to know where I was and what I stood for. But when BL/ind came..." Annie sprayed in golds and reds. "That all went out the window. I'm here now. I don't get to do anything except tell my story and shoot at evil people in white masks but it feels almost superhero-like." She said, pondering the bright colors in front of her. "Like being here is something that shouldn't be happening."
Jet got up and stood behind her. "I get it." He said, walking up to the painting. "Is this us?" He asked.
"Yeah, it is. Don't touch. It's really wet." She said, kicking is calf.
"Are you saying, what we're doing here," Party got up and stood next to Jet, "is all for good?" He asked.
"Yeah, I am. Everything from Ghoul bitching, to Harley keeping away from telling her story. We're fixing the entire BL/ind world." Annie said, smiling at the two men in front of her.
Meanwhile, outside, Harley and Ghoul were competing to see who could knock down the most cans, with the least amounts of shots.
"Yes!" Harley shouted when she shot down the last can.
"Fuck!" Ghoul stomped off and sat on a log. "Fucking girl and her fucking aim." He said.
"Oh Ghoul quit your bitching." Kobra said from the side. He shot a cockroach out of the dirt. "She's only better than you because you get distracted by a piece of cactus every five seconds." He said.
The group watched as the cockroach Kobra'd shot squealed in agony, the rays burning him slowly. Harley giggled, surprising not only the guys but herself. Usually, that kind of thing would've freaked her out, but now she was laughing.
"I never noticed they made those noises before." Ghoul muttered.
"I've never thought to shoot one honestly." Harley snickered. "Only thing I've shot out here were dracs and cans. And at the occasional killjoy." She said.
"Why are you shooting at killjoys?" Ghoul asked.
"Because they killed her brother." Kobra muttered.
Harley's smile vanished.
"What?" Ghoul asked.
"Yeah," Harley said. "When I met Annie, she was with two other killjoys, Wave and Flip. I was with my brother, Trigger Hype. To make a long story short, Wave and Flip were working for Korse, and they killed Trigger while Annie and I were out getting supplies. I haven't trusted anyone since." Harley sat down in the sand. "That's what my life has been since Trig died. Annie's the only one that matters and I can't let anyone near me besides her." She said, putting up her walls again.
"Oh." Ghoul said, shrinking back.
Kobra spoke up. "Y'know, it's okay to be upset over that, but what Wave and Flip did wasn't the fault of anyone but themselves."
"Not true," Harley muttered.
"Harley." Kobra stated sternly. "It was not your fault, there was nothing you could have done," he said, putting a firm hand on her shoulder. "He's gone now. I'm sorry but it's true. You need to move on."
She jerked her shoulder out from under his hand.
"You don't think I know that?" She yelled, getting up. "I've just done this for the last eight months. This new thing is painful for me! Being around new people, trusting strangers, hell, living with them? This is physically hurting me!" She screamed.
Annie ran out of the diner, Jet and Party on her heels. "What's wrong?" She asked, running over to where Harley was in Kobra's face.
"We were just having a shooting contest, and Harley beat me, we talked about shooting killjoys, Kobra said something about her brother and then it all went downhill." Fun Ghoul said.
"Harley!" Annie grabbed her friend by the wrists and dragged her into the diner. "What is wrong?" She asked, looking into her friend's eyes.
The rest of the guys trailed in behind them, but Annie shot them a look so that they'd stay back.
"They all know about Trigger." Harley aid.
"And?" Annie asked.
"And Kobra was saying about how it wasn't my fault and that I need to move on and…" Harley stopped and put her hands in her face.
"I didn't mean to upset-" Kobra tried to interject but was silenced by a look from Annie.
"I don't follow," Annie said, trying to figure out where the outburst came from.
"Don't you get it?" Harley yelled, looking up. "Don't any of you get it?" She continued to raise her voice looking over at the guys. "It is my fault. If I had just stayed behind, if I hadn't left him with those fuckers… he would still be here," she said before letting her head fall back into her hands, holding back tears.
Annie was speechless, she had never heard her friend talk like that before. Party came over and rested a hand on Harley's shoulder testing to see if she'd flinch away; she didn't. He squatted down, getting on her level.
"No," he said gently. "Those men were trained by Korse, you would just both be dead."
"Maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing," Harley mumbled under her breath.
Party winced. "Don't say that," he said sternly.
When Harley didn't respond, Party pulled her into him, she flinched away.
"Come on," Party coaxed and Harley finally let herself be in his grasp again.
Harley's eyes were closed; she had never told anybody how she truly felt about the situation, not even to Annie.
Party's hand rubbed her back soothingly, his hand sliding along the angel wings that were inked on her shoulder blades.
"I don't like this situation right now," she said with a sigh. "But I'm doing this for you Annie," she mumbled looking up at her friend. She pushed herself off of Party Poison. He nodded his head and stood up, stepping outside with the rest of the guys to give the girls some space.
"Oh honey." Annie leaned down and hugged her friend. "You don't have to do this for me. I love being with a group of people again, but... I don't want you to be upset." She said.
"I want to try." Harley said.
"I know you do... But let's not immerse ourselves so quickly..." Annie looked at her drying painting. "I'll ask Party if we can bunk up in the gas station. Jet said something earlier about Dr.D and Show Pony moving out of there yesterday because the bunker had been blown up." She said.
"Okay." Harley looked up at her friend. "What are you thinking about?" She asked.
"How I'm going to make this work. How I'm going to live with you and the guys and not make your life hell, or upset this thing I've got with Jet." Annie said.
Just as she said that, there came a loud yell from outside. "Harley, Annie, get down!" Party screamed. Annie ducked into the booth with Harley.
"Dear God..." The two said in unison as they watched chaos unfold outside.