From the Story Arc: Battle Stations: Aftermath

Previous Story in the Arc: Tien Si by Social Medicine (Tuesday, April 11, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Comrade by Komrad Vex (Tuesday, April 11, 2006)

(posted Tuesday, April 11, 2006)

Zach was in bed, asleep, after having cried his eyes out, then gone with Bella to take care of the million thing that had to be started or finished, then wept some more. In between all those things, there had been a lot of weeping. Or, in those like Unter's case, drinking. There would be more, but...right now, some needed to cry out the shock, some the pain, and not all of them had someone specific to do that with.

Gaia's Soldier, for instance...she had known, intellectually, what had happened to Heavy Brother, but...

The scene had been intolerably painful. She had come to the HQ, to the shattered front entrance where people were trying to extricate what was left of poor Anthony from what was left of his enemies. The group had gone very quiet, then parted to let her through.

Thank the Infinite that she'd had Crashin' Byrne with her. She had taken one look, and simply...folded. turning her face into his shoulder. His arm had gone around her, and he had led her away.

But Madame Molotov didn't have a Criofan. Nor Natayasha. Nor--so many of the comrades. Bella and Sera had been doing a lot of comforting today.

Waitron had a working comm room and was manning it. There were guards---mostly younger comrades who had not known the fallen heroes very well--making sure no one got into any mischief in the base.

Now Bella returned to the CCCP HQ, because her ID links told her Thanh ha was there. And Thanh ha should not be alone.

She found the tiny doctor wandering the hall, looking lost and dazed. She didn't even ask, she simply took her by the shoulders, and steered her in the direction of the door--from the door, ported her to the tram--from the tram station in Atlas to Zach's penthouse in their apartment building. He'd bought it intending to use it as a kind of CCCP second HQ, one that one could house dignitaries in. Until the HQ was repaired, it would serve as the dorm. She knew, although she had not asked him, that he would not have it any other way.

Thanh ha came out of her daze when pointed at the shower, where there was a pile of soft hospital scrubs for the use of visitors as pajamas. and a little more when Bella put a bowl of noodles in front of her. She ate mechanically.

Then Bella held her while she cried. She curled up in the big bed looking so like a child that Bella ported up one of the stuffed bears Zach had given her to sleep with.

And then, finally, Bella went down and knocked on the door of Apartment 2120, and fell into the arms of her other self, Seraphic Flame.

And at last, with everyone they could reach taken care of for now, the two comforters wept together.