The Light That Failed Pt 18

From the Story Arc: A Fine And Private Place

Previous Story in the Arc: The Light That Failed Pt 17 by John Murdock (Monday, October 10, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: THE LIGHT THAT FAILED PT 19 by Home World (Monday, October 10, 2005)

(posted Monday, October 10, 2005)

Vickie was fighting to keep her eyes open, and when she stood up, she staggered and wove like a drunk. In the corner of the room was Shyft, actually sitting on the bed Bella was in. Shyft...dear gods, the woman was brilliant, brilliant. They needed time, time to figure out what had gone wrong with Bella's mutation, time to find a way to fix it. And maybe that Bella clone held the answer. Crey had surely stabilized her DNA and maybe they could use it to fix Bella.

But Shyft---first she got Bella out of that chamber--there was something she called a "radiation siphon" set up so no one was in any danger of anything, and even the EMPs were damped. Zach sat next to her, his eyes never leaving her. It was tragic, but better than watching him press his cheek against he window of the chamber and try to whisper to her in that broken voice. He vibrated between rage and tears, rage at Kid Crisis, for he was sure that KC was at the root of this somehow, and tears of helplessness. Vickie tried to help with the former and pretended not to see the latter, but--well, she was no Bella. And he was sure this horrible thing that had happened and the clone were linked in some way.

But Shyft--they had needed time, time most of all, and Shyft had bought it for them.

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
Till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

Shyft had put time in a bottle, an invisible bottle that contained her and Bella. She had a pinpoint singularity buried between her eyes. And somehow she had pushed the event horizon out, slowing time to almost nothing and Bella was inside that. Which was why Zach couldn't touch her right now. Time was in a bottle and she was in the bottle with it, and as long as Shyft was alive, time would be held at bay.

That was good. That was very, very good.

What was not so good was what was going on out in the streets. Flame and Johnnie were out there, someone named SnoQiti, and Rhylla, and--she lost count.

And Agn. Oh gods. She had heard the pain in his voice, pain that only came out of love, but what he was doing out there--

And the ethics debate, or rather, lack of ethics debate. Some people wanted to grab the clone and use her organs to replace Bell's failing ones.

Some wanted to use the Circle of Thorns' own horrible magics to sever Bella's soul from her failing body and put it in the clone's. She tried telling them it was ethically and morally unacceptable. Some listened, but some didn't.

Too much of Djinni had rubbed off on her now. "Please," she begged at last. "For goddsake, let's assume we can save Bella. Think about all she's stood for. Don't go where she wouldn't. Cause if we get her back and she finds out we were....excessive? It's gonna break her heart."

Johnny was right. It was a good thing that Flame's comm was off. If Bella found out--and she would--that something like that had happened, it wouldn't just break her heart, it would break her.

And Red, poor Red, when the vidoe of Kid and that clone had flashed up on the screen---he'd gone tearing out of the hospital on fire, and she knew what he was going to do. He was going out to hurt things. Not hit them, not arrest them. Hurt them, until some of his own hurt was burned out, purged out, and she wanted to help him but she knew what he was like in a mood like this. The best thing she could do would be to leave him alone and comfort him silently later.

And she was having to be the sane one, having to hold onto grief with both hands and not show it, because everyone around her was crumpled in agony and one more would set them all over the edge.

So that was why she stood there and threw auras and directed heals at Bella and Shyft until she literally could not see.

"Go home," said Health Fairy, and she stood up and staggered and cried a little on Health Fairy's shoulder and pinballed her way out of the room and into the hall and--

--and straight into Red's arms. Those arms closed her around her and they clung together like a couple of shipwreck survivors in a storm-tossed sea. She buried her face in his chest. It smelled like smoke and char.

"I...can'," she said, her words muffled in the cloth of his costume, fighting back tears, because he'd had enough of her tears for a lifetime and didn't need any more right now.

"Neither can I, darlin'" he said, so weary, so weary, that she hung onto her resolve not to cry by only the thinnest of margins.

"Which is why we have beds," said a voice in their ears, and a hand fell on Vickie's shoulder and she looked up to see a young woman in hospital scrubs standing there, a hand on Red's shoulder too. She gave them each a gentle push and guided them down the hall and into a bunkroom. Thahn Ha was already unconscious on the top bunk; the bottom was a twin-and-a-half, just big enough for two if one was as small as Vickie, and they fell into it, still wrapped in each other's arms and that was the last that Vickie knew for a long, long time.