There was little time to pull the punch before Toni’s head deflected left, my knuckles glancing along right side of her face. Her teeth clamped together as she grabbed me up, sending me surging into the back of the van. Her hand cracked the door closed over and again to the sound of distant gunfire, blood spraying through the opening, metal crushing soft tissue until the fingers fell to the ground to let the lock catch.
She fell to my side, slipping on the new slick, turning over as I rounded, my arms wide, her face hidden by her hands as she sobbed.
“I’m sorry, so sorry I hit you,” I said, words alien to my lips. I was smearing blood on her t-shirt, but it wasn’t mine.
I lay, mouth wide, breath panting in and out. I turned away as she stayed curled up with her hand to the face. I sat, pulling the skirt down over my cold legs and she lifted herself upright, tears dried against the back of her hands.
“Sorry,” I said as she raised her eyebrows in my direction.
“It was a good shot,” she said, still rubbing her cheek.
“I thought,” I said, but she cut me off and stood.
“I know,” she replied, stepping passed me as I stayed sat, doing my best to keep my breath running out of control. Eventually standing, I climbed into the cab, looking down my legs to see long scratches I hadn’t felt. Toni was in the passenger seat staring off into the distance as the tyres crunched bone in my manoeuvre toward the pass reader.
“I guess we have a friend out there,” I said, letting my breath run out.
“You shouldn’t have gone out there,” she said. “It was a stupid thing to do. A risk we didn’t need to take.”
“I got the pass,” I replied, dangling the bloody lanyard. She didn’t turn. I knew this Toni too. It was the Toni that came out each time we got to the end, each time we figured out the fun, the long carefree days, had to come to an end. We would be back to our lives, each time realising it should be the last. Time to move on. It was the Toni that came before the arguments, before the real pain. It was the Toni I knew I had to get away from, the Toni that would flip up the cover and press the self destruct button, jabbing it with her finger, over and again. But this time I couldn’t leave, we couldn’t separate. Our lives depended on being together, helping each other. At least this time I was the one to throw the first punch.
The gate slid without a noise, a beacon flashing either side, the barrier lifting as we passed through, closing at our backs, gunfire clearing the air, catching the strays as they tried to follow in our wake. We had a guardian angel. We were free, out. We’d saved ourselves. Only then did the realisation come. It was only Toni that was safe and I knew she wouldn’t be for long if I couldn’t get more of those vials that kept me feeling human.
“Where do we go?” I said, letting the van coast around the winding road that cut through the shallow hills either side. “Where did your mother go?” I said when she didn’t reply after a moment.
“Don’t call her that,” Toni snapped back and I felt an all too familiar emotion circling my head.
“Where do we go then?” I repeated, raising the volume, my head not turning away from the road. She didn’t reply until I slammed on the brakes, rounding a corner to find the road blocked with sand bags and at least five rifles aimed in our direction.
“I don’t know, but I think they might,” she replied, her hands raising at her sides.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.