Addiction

Package in the Mail

"Today, in other news, teenage rampage went on in the streets of London. Witnesses say two teenage males, around sixteen to eighteen years of age, started screaming in the middle of the street, taking out two large guns, threatening passerby civilians. After a Good Samaritan tried reasoning with the boys, shots were triggered, killing two people bystanders and one person who is now in critical condition. One of the boys was caught, but the other managed to get away. If you see this male, please call 1-800-REPORT."

Before the picture could be shown, the channel was switched, obviously not enticing to the viewer, "…Death an' murder, runnin' the world…but it feels no worse…no, no…'ere ain't nuthin' worse…"

"-and in the music world! The Gorillaz have just lost a band mem-"

"Killin' me slowly wit the deadly curse…someone lift me…someone lift me…"

Gentle breaths exhaled between hardly audible self made lyrics which were to be forgotten since the creature had not a head for long memory. The lyrics weren't meant to be anything meaningful for anyone else anyway. They only explained the short end of his emotions; he was basically dried out by now. All the tears, the screams, the confusion…it had passed a while ago, and the feelings still haunted him, but he was taking a good friend's advice, trying to clear the mind with some good old news, which really didn't help because news is mostly made of foul gossip of the world.

How was this to help him? He waved his cigarette in the air before him, making smoke patterns, bored with life. He didn't want to live right now. It didn't matter to him that he was becoming rich by being the lead singer in a band. It didn't matter to him that he had hundreds of fans that dropped love struck the moment he flashed them a smile. It didn't matter at all. Not when the one you trusted the most broke your heart. Nothing mattered in the world.

His name was Stuart. Stuart Tusspot. He was the quiet kid that would normally sit in the back of the classroom when he was young lad. Not much into athletics, or grades for that matter, history bored him and math confused him. There was too much to study in science, English focused on too many dead people who wrote stories that put him to sleep, and learning another language…well let's just say he wasn't the best in his native language, lest he try a new one. The arts didn't make sense; they were just blots on a page, although cartoons did entertain him from time to time. But, music…how he loved music.

He would need to hear a song only once to get down the entire melody in his head permanently. He sang to himself often, resulting in other kids thinking him strange, for the boy looked like he was conversing with himself. He never had many friends, only a few, mostly acquaintances, and later on, friends that only led him to trouble. But music was not appreciated nor respected in music class or at home. Classmates never paid attention, and young Stu couldn't blame them. Who wanted to hear about ancient composers in forth grade? Yes, they made a huge difference in history, but children want to hear about nowadays music, not old.

The high school did have a chorus, however, but Stuart hardly paid attention to them. They had not one talented kid in there. While getting a candy bar one day from the cafeteria vending machine, he had been singing to himself, as usual, and received a tap on his shoulder. After grabbing his treat, he looked back, realizing it was the new girl in the school, a type of girl with a status that a young teen like Stu would never socialize with. Somewhat bright girl with the exceptional fourteen year old body. The perfect brunette hair, glittery green eyes, cherry pouting lips, big boobs, and 'innocent' uniform that caught most guys' eye as Stu was doing for a moment.

Blushing, he pulled out his change from the slot, mumbling a low, "S-sorry…" for being in her way. Yet, the girl gave him a rare smile, "I like the way you sing. It's different." Poor Stu never had the stable nerves to talk to girls, "Uhmm…th-thanks…"

"I'm Angela Reynard." she introduced, offering her hand, and he uttered a quick, Stuart Tusspot, which ended up getting tongue tied into, "Stu-pot." sounding very much like stupid. His cheeks flushed darker as the girl kept her laugh in, "I didn't quite catch that." she grinned, and he glanced down, "Stu…"

"Well, Stu, you have a very pretty voice. You should try out for the chorus they have here." she suggested with a wink, getting her selection of Skittles. This thought was brought back home with a light heart, soon getting crushed by a father who felt singing was for faggots. Only hard work and blood could get a man a good career, not singing. The rough answer dragged on the boy as he told his new friend his father's view, and the girl seemed understanding, also giving him a self esteem boost by asking him to sing for her at least once a day. "You'll make it big one day, Stu. Then your dad will be sorry." Angela had told him once, leaning on a locker.

"No…I'm jus' Stuart Tusspot…the kid tha' ev'ryone sees but no one knows, the squeaker, …the loser…" he answered grimly, hands in his pockets. Angela gave him a cheerful smile, lifting his head up, "You're not a nobody, Stu, and you're not a loser. So your voice jumps with certain words…who cares? It's unique! You'll make it big, and the whole world will know your name. Just don't forget me when you do." she giggled, this ensuing in Stu's first kiss, and first detention for breaking a six inch rule the school had. And now, years from then, the singer still remembered that girl, his best friend, long gone in a car accident five years later.

Funny, how those who gave you the highlights in life are the first to go. Though, 'making it big' had its own ups and downs. Sliding the back of his hand under his nose, the young man sniffed, eyes now closed, wanting his medication to kick in. Medication for his head bashing migraines was taken three to four times a day. They relieved him of pain of course, but they also relaxed him of stress, often sending him into a light floated world, colors entertaining him constantly and cigarettes making his focus swim. It was a wonderful feeling.

He needed a wonderful feeling right about now. A slow grunt forced his hollowed eyes to a dark figure moving in the darkness of the living room. It passed him with a sharp kick, but the cerulean haired man ignored the pain, watching the other male make his way down the opposite hallway, hand over his face, lightly touching his swollen, recently broken, nose. This creature was the cause for Stuart's pain. This…this man, was the reason Stu was on the couch he sat in, depressed as death with the talent of a living miracle.

It was Murdoc, Murdoc Nicalls, who had flipped Mr. Tusspot's life upside down. For better or for worse? You decide. Murdoc was a man of his own category whose entertainment came from bullying others, tormenting animals, and getting his way. At a young age, he had already experimented with more than an adult would have, constantly in trouble and ignored at home. Jacob Nicalls wasn't the typical father who fussed over their children getting good grades, becoming the best they could be, or becoming anything good in life, period. Murdoc had it instilled in him that he was a useless accident that wasn't meant to happen, but did.

And so, with this belief, Murdoc carried on in life, loving revenge and anger. Police only got in his way, and going against them was his excitement. Who were they to rule his life when even his own father couldn't? But the boy wasn't stupid. Full of himself, quite, but stupid, not at all. There was always something ticking in his mind, whether foul or pleasuring, his thoughts were never at rest. Many ideas came to him late at night when he hid in alleyways, usually from the authorities or his father. And it was during one of these runaway nights that a perfect vision of the future misted its way into his head, spinning the wheels within his dark mentality.

Music was a secret love of the Nicalls boy, and no one knew this, not even his closest chums. His room held no symbol of music, his voice held no rhythm of tune, rather scratchy in fact, but his soul longed for music like no other. Music only a mind like his could spawn, and that's where his first plan developed. Carrying it out, as he did when he was older, was the very first step, considering delays were pressured in, forced to care for a young man who had become victim to his clever plan of stealing the instruments he needed rather than buying them with his money.

As if repairing bills weren't enough, he had a 'lifetime' of hours to give in besides caring for a kid who couldn't even talk anymore. Half of his face was cracked in, resembling a phantom of the opera, one side normal and the other just…odd. A few teeth had also been bashed out, including one of his front teeth, and his hair was a mess of spiky blue. Not something you see everyday. The doctors forced Murdoc to talk to him, he knowing it was a huge waste of life to talk to someone in a vegetative state. It was creepy to even look at the victim when he was out: one eye closed, the other a gaping hole. Extremely bored, Murdoc had decided to take a drive, disconnecting the IV needles and suctions keeping the rhythm of the boy's heart on the monitor.

A grand display of danger took hold in the middle of Murdoc's trick, trying to perform a 360 with his car, when the barely living Stuart had slumped onto the driver's lap, startling him and taking his mind off focus, ending up in a crash against a light post right outside the hospital. Sitting up, Murdoc checked himself, making sure everything was working. Banged up, but fine. Just another payment on the damn car…His eyes slowly traveled to the passenger seat, widening as he realized the seatbelt buckle had snapped, leaving the seat empty. Only one word passed the man's mind at that moment. "Shit!"

He kicked open the door to find the blue haired boy's body slumped against the building, a smear of blood splattered against the cream bricks. "Dammit!" Murdoc had cursed, flipping the boy over to see that the side of the face that had been normal was now matching the damaged side. Looking around, Murdoc quickly grabbed Stuart's wrist, checking for a pulse, screaming bloody murder when the hand suddenly snapped onto his. "'ew are you…?" a faint whisper asked, and Murdoc snatched his hand back, glaring at the assumed dead body.

"Wot the 'ell…" Murdoc spat, backing away from the boy as he sat up, rubbing his head painfully. His nose was bleeding heavily and his eye socket was bruising quickly, but he was moving like he had never gone through the coma. Murdoc watched amazed as Stu ran his tongue around his mouth, spitting out his left front tooth into his hand, looking at it confused. "…Wot 'appened?"

Murdoc rubbed his head, standing up, "Uh…yeh jus' woke up from a coma thanks to m' drivin'…" he muttered with a hint of sarcasm, but Stu stood, using the hospital wall for help, "I wos in a coma?" the boy squeaked, about to rub his eyes when he snatched his hands hand in shock. The pain was incredible. "Yeah…yo' not gonna wanna do tha' anytime soon…" Murdoc mumbled, glancing back at his car. The side where Stuart sat was completely crushed, had he not flown out, he would've been dead.

"Lookie 'ere, yeh would've been smashed like a stomped bugger if I woulda gotten tha' seatbelt fixed! Yo damn lucky we went for tha' drive." Murdoc nodded, crossing his arms. The tall bluehead stared at the wreck wide eyed, unbelieving he was still alive. "Yeh saved my life!" he suddenly whimpered with a terrified mug. Murdoc glanced at him with his multicolored eyes, "Yeah, at the cost o' me car." he grunted, kicking the wheel of the car. "I'm Stu." the boy smiled, his missing teeth giving him an odd appearance that coincided with his eyes. "I know." Murdoc grumbled, glancing at him, "…Murdoc Nicalls. Wull, I guess I betta' teh get you inside befo' 'ey blame me for any more damage an' start suin'…"

Stuart followed the man, hands in pockets, bloodied face, and began singing sweetly a tune that had just come to mind. "Dark skies…blue day…ain't got nuthin' on me…'cus nuthin' can bring me down…nope, nuthin' at all…" Murdoc froze and the boy walked into him, apologizing as soon as he backed away. "You sing?" he asked sharply as if this was supposed to be known. Stuart gave him a small smile, rubbing his head. It was beginning to pound excruciatingly. "Somewot…yeh know, 'bout anythin'. Nuthin' professionally if tha's wot yo' askin'. Neva' done tha' stuff."

"…Perfect. Come wit me."

Stuart looked around, wondering why they were suddenly leaving the hospital they had just entered a moment ago. "Where are we goin', Murdoc?"

"Teh my place. Get yeh cleaned up, yeh startin' teh 'urt my eyes."

"Oh…sorry…"

After having Murdoc practically dunk his face in alcohol, which burned like hell, and have his eyes be pressed on with a heavy ice pack, Stuart was finally allowed to look at himself in the mirror. His eyes widened and his mouth popped open, wondering what in the hell had happened to him. He hardly looked like himself. He pouted, looking as if he were about to cry, when Murdoc grinned evilly, "Jus' need a drummer an' a guitarist…"

"Huh?"

"I'm startin' a band, an' yo' gonna sing in it. It's the least yeh can do afta' dentin' up my car wit yo' face." Murdoc snapped, and Stuart rubbed his arm, nodding, "I…I can sing? …Yeh'd really let me sing? …But why do yeh wanna start a band for?"

Murdoc arched an eyebrow. How could that question not be answered easily? "Teh get bloody rich, yeh dullard! Fame! Fortune! Glory! Women! It's all in the music business!" Stuart sat down slowly, too many things were swirling in his head to keep track of. "My 'ead 'urts…Shouldn't I get back to the hospital so…I can 'eal up?" he asked, gently touching around his eye sockets, but Murdoc waved a hand carelessly, "Nah, yo' beyond repair, dullard. I'm goin' for a different type of look, an' yeh fit the part perfectly. 'sides….Yo' old job fired yeh anyway."

"Wot!"

"I don't blame 'em. 'ey prolly thought yeh were dead. Halfway practically."

"B-but…I liked it 'ere…'s'where I learned 'ow teh play on the piano-"

Murdoc glanced up, interested in this fact, "Yeh play piano an' sing?"

"I s'pose…b-but 'at's not the point!…I've neva' worked 'neywhere else! It wos my second 'ome an'-"

Beginning to glare at the fretful survivor, Murdoc slammed his fist on the table, "Shut wit yo' complainin' yeh two dented face-ache!"

The room went silent, Stuart for the insult, and Murdoc for a new idea hatching in his brain… "Two dents…'at's good…'at's real good…" Having no idea what the crazed fellow before him was talking about, Stuart just nodded his head in agreement, confused for the most part, as he was most of the time. Memories bring happiness and pain. But Stu can honestly say it was one of the better days when it was just him and Murdoc. It resembled a child following his older brother, admiring everything he did, wanting to do everything right to earn some respect, though Murdoc hardly noticed anything he did right, he still tried.

And it was because of Murdoc, Stuart, newly dubbed '2D' (short for 2 Dents), met a young woman in a favorite bar named Paula, luckily talented in playing guitar. Both men had taken a liking to the girl, but 2D was getting the unusual butterfly sensation he used to get for his first girlfriend whenever Paula came around, while Murdoc was just being his lustful self. But Murdoc had more on the mind than just women, so this gave 2D an advantage, and for being a halfwit, he was smart enough to snag the chance, nervously telling Paula how he felt and shortly after they became a couple.

Paula…how he loathed the name now. How he loathed ever meeting her…ever hugging her, ever kissing her, ever thinking about sharing the rest of his life with her. It meant nothing now. Nothing but pain and disgust…along with serious disappointment. Their new drummer, Russel Hobbs, a black, heavy set, possessed, hip hop styled New Yorker was the one to break the bad news to 2D calmly while his mind scrambled to gather up an explanation of what he had seen. Russel had his own story, as most people do, but it started in the ghettos of Brooklyn, New York, where education was laughed at and drugs was where the money lied.

Russel wasn't stupid, he wasn't a druggie, and he definitely wasn't going to end up a nobody, as some of his friends already were. He listened to his parents obediently, went to school, and looked forward to the future, knowing the only way to get himself out of a poor neighborhood was through education. Then, maybe then, he could move his parents from their stressful lives into somewhere mellower. But he couldn't complain about the culture of living within the urban world. He loved the heavy beats of music, the light beats of tunes, and every kind of beat that could make a song danceable.

Why couldn't all songs have great beats in them? Why make songs boring? That's not what the soul of music is all about. His best friends agreed with him all the way, and, with rhythm leading him, he lived his childhood to the fullest. But it was one day after school in his senior year of high school that changed his life permanently. He and three other friends had been heading home, spitting tunes, giving friendly insults, talking about girls, the usual eighteen year old talks that males have when they think they're at the top of their peak, when a car sped by, windows rolled down, someone yelling curses at them, and then bullets rained at the four, knocking them all down gruesomely.

Russel had been the sole survivor of the drive-by shooting, and nothing depressed him more, knowing his best friends, those who had been like brothers to him, were gone in the harshest of ways and the worst part was, it had been a mistake. The shooters, who were later caught, had been looking for two teens that looked similar to two of Russel's friends, but weren't, and were mistaken for them, ending up with their lives innocently lost along with the third. Russel went through hours of therapy, hospitalization, and just being locked up in his room. Not exactly healthy for a mental state, but his wasn't all that average afterwards.

No one knew the young man was carrying along some extra 'weight'. In his room, Russel would stare at his reflection, watching his own glowing eyes with a creepy gawk, knowing there was something else. Something beyond what he could see. He could sometimes hear it, sometimes feel it, sometimes know how it felt. The first realization, the true contact, was when Russel had been staring out his window while it was raining outside, his breath against the window leaving a white film, quickly disappearing before the next could be relayered. His heart ached of memories that were left of his friends, they had enjoyed when it rained… His eyes slowly dragged down to the white spot, noticing small letters were being pressed against the window with an undetectable finger, scripting out, "Don't feel bad…it's not your fault."

Russel shook his head with wide eyes, anxiously wiping the note away, and kept away from the window, noticing a blue mist was surrounding his feet. A sudden numbness had kicked in, leaving Russel in a somewhat mindless moment until it went away. Rubbing his head, he glanced around the room, wondering what had happened. Something blurry was forming itself before him, a floating misshapen ball of blue. Nervously, he passed his hand through it, and took into account that it felt icy cold. The thing suddenly stretched into human size, achieving body parts, able to lightly float as it grinned, "Hey Russ, yeh miss me?"

Before him floated Del, one of his late friends, and he couldn't believe it. "D-Del! Y-You're…h-how'd you…what the…" Russel fumbled, unable to hold his excitement…and fear. In short explanation, his ghostly friend told him that he was going to help him achieve his dream of becoming a better person, and that he wasn't done with living yet. "I ain't hauntin' or nothin'…jus' willin' to give a helpin' hand when needed. Plus I can boost some skills." he boasted, nodding his blue head. Yet, once Russel's parents found out about Del, they kept it secret, forbidding Russel to tell anyone and tried finding a way to keep Russel's profile low.

A few colleges had accepted Russel due to great grades, some with scholarships, but the one that appealed to his parents was in England, and it was willing to give him room and board, free of charge in everything. This was their boy's chance to get away and hopefully get some help. A few months later, he was off in another country, trying to figure out the money, lingo, and streets. He was never going to fit in here, but he somehow did, graduating college, but kept his heart with music. Murdoc had heard about Russel's unique talent and unique story, tracking him down quicker than a blood hound, and after some negotiation, they had their drummer. Russel got used to the new family swiftly, it wasn't hard to get along with 2D, he was pretty much spaced all the time, but overly all, a charming guy, and Paula didn't nag much, except when quarrelling with the bassist, but Murdoc was one to argue with, and Russel realized he was one to put his foot down if he wanted anything he said to get past the pride wall Murdoc had blocking his ears.

But now, Russel, slowly making his way down the same hallway Murdoc had come through, was almost weary to inform 2D of something. "Hey…I'm gonna get some Chinese for dinner…you want anythin', D?" The skinny singer said nothing, merely shook his head from side to side once, and kept his eyes closed. Russel continued on his way, feeling nothing but remorse for the poor boy, with Del chipping in his two cents within the mind they shared. Why did it have to be him who walked in on Murdoc and Paula? It would have been no better if it were 2D first, but everything happens for a reason, and Russel just had to be the one to put Murdoc in his place and throw Paula out after she screamed profane accusations and was forced to quit the band.

2D didn't deserve the betrayal he got the few nights ago, but maybe it was better that Paula was gone now. Now that Murdoc wouldn't have any more temptations, although they still lacked a guitarist, and that was something they needed as a band. 2D didn't care though. In his heavy heart, he only carried one word, "Why?" The door clicked slowly as the drummer left, leaving 2D alone in the grand house of Kong Studios, the cursed lands of the dead. It had been cheap for over forty something rooms with its own recording studio, and Murdoc was more than happy to have it, caring less that it had zombies once in a while.

A thin slender finger inched over the remote, flicking the channel once again, this time changing news to MTV, with some rock song playing. Two ringing notes echoed within the walls of Kong, being ignored the first five times, until the chimes had no time to have a break from one another, sounding like a siren.

"DULLARD I SWEAR IF YOU DON'T ANSWER THA' FUCKIN' DOOR I'MA BREAK YO' BLOODY NECK!" Murdoc screamed from somewhere in the house. The bluehead gradually turned his head, wondering who would visit them at this time of night. The doorbell ringing suddenly stopped, and the singer arched an eyebrow, slowly getting up and walked to the door, dragging himself. Flicking the light on, he turned the five locks they had, finally turning the cold doorknob, "Yes?"

There was no one there. Frowning darkly, he opened the door wider, wondering who would annoy him in such a way to pull him away from his greatly earned depression. About to close the door, a clipboard caught his eye, and he picked it up, addressed to Kong Studios with a few red stains across the paper. It had a dotted line for the sign off, but there was no deliverer. Only a large crate to the side of the door. Eyes roaming the front yard, 2D could see skid marks on the street from where the van had taken off in a rush, trying to get away from whatever that was pursuing it.

He patted his hips in search for a pen, finding one in his right pocket and signed his name, leaving the clipboard on the ground and pushed in the crate with great difficulty. Luckily he made it inside just as it began to rain. Rubbing his nose with a sniff, he pulled it into the living room, reading the label.

To: Kong Studios

Mailed From: Japan, Osaka

Fed Ex

Pouting in thought, 2D rubbed his eyes from squinting at the tiny print, "Japan? Wot did we order from 'ere?" Squatting, his hands ran along the corners, searching for the side to open the large wooden crate. It was sideways. Completely ignoring the red fragile sign on the top, bottom, and sides, he pushed it quickly to its proper side, flipping the box roughly. A muffled squeak caught his attention with a curious look. "Maybe some recorders or new bass for Muds…" he mumbled, heading to the closet for a crowbar.

Finding one with heaps of other junk, 2D stuck it in a crevice, pushing all his weight on it, and one plank snapped off, creating a thud as it hit the ground. 2D peeked in. It was dark, he couldn't see much. Sighing, he cracked off three more, just enough to pick up whatever was inside. Moving it to the light, he glanced in, eyes widening with a pounding heart as he did, "'OLY 'ELL!"

Two big, round eyes stared back at him from inside, a shadowed hand rubbing over the eyes, probably where they got bumped from the singer's recklessness. He shoved his face merely centimeters from it, "A lit'tle girl?" A foot quickly met his face, sending him flying backwards a few feet. "OW!"

The child inside the box started kicking off the rest of the lid, finally standing with a glare. She had chinky dark green eyes, pale skin, short black hair that was mostly covered with a radio helmet, and she seemed to be wearing a cream colored uniform. A wave of confusion hit her as she stared around the room, having no idea where she was. Something moved, and she pouted, holding her dangerous glower, "(Stay back!)" she chatted, incomprehensible to the English speaking singer.

2D stared at her, frozen with shock still holding his hands over his nose. They held a long gaze, both quiet as death, until 2D scrunched his nose and smiled nervously, "Uhm…hi." he waved, slowly sitting on the couch. The girl remained standing in the crate, jumping when he spoke. She nodded, thinking he was agreeing to her order, but looked at him confused when he dared to come closer. "(I said stay back!)" she fumed, crunching to a corner of the box. "A-Are you okay?" he asked worriedly, knowing it couldn't have been healthy to be traveling within a box.

The strange, yet handsome, young man was speaking English…

"Noodle!" she chirped, hoping this would help her somehow.

"Say wot?" Now it was 2D's turn to be confused.

"Noodle…" she said slowly, noticing the puzzled expression. "Yeh 'ungry? Russ should be 'ome soon…" 2D mumbled, wondering what to do. "…Noodle…" the girl sighed, disappearing into the box to toss out some empty cereal and juice boxes she had stored in there. "I wonder why yeh got mailed 'ere…" The Japanese girl jumped once again, the voice right in her ear. She spun around, face to face with the singer, and he stood up quickly, afraid to get kicked again. He held out a hand with a gentle smile, "C'mon outta 'ere. I'm 2D." he nodded, pointing to himself, "2D."

The young girl took his hand hesitantly, "Too-dee…2D-san?"

Thanks to Japanese cartoons, 2D knew those were endings for names, and nodded with a smile. "Uhuh, 2D-san. An' you are…?" The girl climbed out with the singer's help, burying her face within her hands as soon as she sat. Gentle tears ran down her face, shivering as she peeked out from between her fingers at him, feeling like her mind was being drained of everything she knew. What was happening?

"Oh, no, no, no! Don't cry, love! It'll be awright! …Oh God, wot do I do…" he mumbled, sweetly patting the child's shoulder comfortingly. Her shoulders lurched when she felt a hand rest on one side, looking at the singer curiously, wiping her eyes with a sigh. His smile was warm, not threatening at all. The Asian girl sniffed, staring at her knees as she slowly swung her legs, feeling out of place. "(Where am I?)" she asked quietly, knowing the man wouldn't be able to understand her. She only knew one word in his language.

2D scratched his head, looking around. "Uhm…I still don't know yo' name, love…" He pointed at himself again, "2D." The girl stood quiet, wondering what his point was. She knew his name already. Now he was pointing at her with a curious look. The girl scanned within her mind. Her name…her name was…

Shaking her head hopelessly, she sighed. She couldn't even remember her name. "Noodle…" she mumbled, having no idea what the word meant. A grin replaced the confusion on Stu's face, "Noodle? Well 'at's diff'rent!" Her round eyes stared at him, wondering what he was talking about, but considering his facial reactions, it had to be good. She gave him a small smile, but stayed glued to the couch when he offered to take her to the kitchen. Grabbing one of her empty boxes, he waved it in her face, "Food? Yeh want food?"

She stayed quiet, looking around at the room. 2D sat with a sigh, tilting his head at her. He could only imagine how she felt. Scared…homesick…above all, confused…

"'ow old are yeh, Noodle?"

"…………………."

"Oh…right…"

"Well…uhm…yo' in Kong…an' uh…wot's wrong?" he asked suddenly as the child's face morphed into horror. She screamed, jumping off the couch, yelling in her own language while waving her arms around. 2D arched his head crookedly, swiftly getting a whiff of horrible stench that made him want to vomit. Turning his head, his eyes widened, backing away just in time as a zombie that had managed to get in tried to bite his shoulder. The singer rolled off the couch, crawling away from the vile creature, but filled with panic, noting that the zombie had changed its path, hunting after the small child.

She was screaming her little head off, covering her head as she crouched down, tremors filling her body in a decent amount to almost rock the floor. She had never seen something so hideous before…"NO! You stay away from 'er!" 2D cried, grabbing the closest weapon, which happened to be the crowbar, and started stabbing the creature along its sides and back. It howled with fury, turning to its attacker. The curved end stabbed through its neck, decapitating the head with a pop as 2D used all his force to push his weight down on the end. The living carcass collapsed; without its head, it was helpless. Covered in blood stains, 2D drew in a deep breath, tossing the crowbar with a clang.

"'ey're prolly roamin' the basement…" he grumbled, wiping a bit of slime off his cheek with his shoulder. His eyes wandered slowly, finally resting on the terrified little girl. "We get 'ose 'round 'ere some nights…sorry 'bout tha'…" he apologized, the cold shock in her eyes staring him down. The eyes moved for a moment, peeking at the mess on the floor, to the side to see the once connected head, and then back to the singer as she slowly stood, hands against the wall for support.

2D rubbed his neck awkwardly, hating the uncomfortable silence, besides the music of the telly behind him, and he timidly held his arm behind his back, unsure of where to go from there. The young Japanese girl stared at the crowbar, the weapon. It was dangerous. Like the man who had used it. He tore that walking rot apart without care, as if it had been filled with candy or feathers. Why did this want to trigger a memory in her? But she couldn't…she just couldn't remember…

2D spun around, patting himself off best he could. He didn't want to change his clothes or check the last floor for new ones if Russel wasn't around to help him fend off zombies. Caring for the new visitor was the latest priority, too. About to sit back on the couch, 2D felt something charge against him, knocking him forward into the sofa, knees first. Utterly confused, he snapped his head over his shoulder, praying a zombie hadn't gotten him, but no. It was her. Little Noodle. Arms around his waist, newly formed tears streaming down her cheeks, her thankful nuzzle making her the most adorable thing ever.

2D couldn't help but grin softly, "Awww…yo' welcome, love." Her eyes slowly opened, looking up at her lanky hero with such thankful admiration. He made himself comfortable on the couch, patting the seat next to him, and the child saddled up with a shy smile. "So I guess we're friends now? Amigos?...No, wait…tha's French…" the singer fumbled, ruffling his blue spikes. He shrugged, pointing to the television, "Yeh wanna watch?" Noodle glanced at her lap, then back at him. Smiling, the singer put the volume a bar higher, right when a guitar solo kicked in.

The Japanese child's eyes popped, a stern look about her as she jumped from her cozy seat back into her old crate. "Wot are yeh doin', Noodle?" the singer questioned, sitting up alarmingly. A cheerful squeal answered him as she popped up with a few white popcorn fillings, holding a Les Paul just for her size. Stu's eyes widened, "You play guitar!" A sharp twist in his gut tore his slight happiness, remembering Paula for just the moment. His question was answered in action as the child marched up to the large TV, glaring at the guitarist on screen. She strummed her fingers against the cords quickly, playing the same song, but in a different way, almost jazzing it up a bit.

Of course, the performer couldn't hear her, for they were on TV, probably millions of miles away, but Noodle growled whenever she would stop to hear the next part, wanting to do three times better. Eventually, her fingers were running all around the guitar, strings hardly having time to vibrate, yet they were still playing tremendously in an amazing talent most professionals couldn't even master. Tiny beads of sweat ran down her face as her fingers began to hurt, but she kept at it, racing to be better. She was determined to be better. 2D, partially frozen with shock, cunningly lowered the telly so her playing would take over.

He listened to her, watched her concentrate, her cheeks redding up from the stress. This went on for another minute, until an angry scream broke the girl's concentration, forcing her to drop her guitar with surprise. "TUSSPOT, LOWER THA' MUSIC, I 'AVE A BLOODY 'EADACHE!"

2D jumped, looking back to see Murdoc stomp down the hall, looking scarier than death. The dark Brit glared at 2D, maw curled back in a snarl, his fists already clenched. His attention was drawn away, however, by the quiet young girl giving him an awkward stare with cherry red cheeks. Why wouldn't she? The man was in a pair of lone underwear. "'ew the bloody 'ell is 'at?" he frowned, pointing a threatening finger at the child. "'at's Noodle. The mailman jus' dropped 'er off in tha' box!" 2D clarified, showing the bassist the wooden crate.

"You ordered a kid?" Murdoc asked, crossing his arms with a hunched back, "Bloody pervert…"

"NO! She came from Japan…she don't speak no English…wull…'sides Noodle. 'at's a nice name for 'er, I fink." 2D smiled as the girl grasped his hand. "Japan?" Murdoc repeated, tapping his chin, "Japan…'ere wos an ad in the paper for some talented people waitin' for a break…I sent an application, but I didn't think 'ey'd bloody mail 'er to us!" The singer blinked vacantly for a moment, taking in the information. "Wait…she's…she's gonna stay wit us? Really?"

"I neva' said tha'." Murdoc snapped, turning to the girl staring at the floor, her foot gently prodding the handle of her guitar, "'ey send yeh from tha' talent agency, girlie?" The girl didn't respond. "'EY! I'm talkin' teh yeh!" Murdoc growled, waving his hand, but she ignored him still. "Muds, she don't speak English!" 2D intercepted before the bassist could cut him off again. Murdoc arched an eyebrow at her, shaking his head, "Then the 'ell we're keepin' 'er! She needs teh know some bloody English teh get around!"

2D's eyes widened, "B-But Muds! Didn't yeh 'ear tha' guitar solo!"

"So?"

"Tha' wosn't the telly! Tha' wos 'er!" 2D said excitedly, pointing at the child. Noodle peeked up, wondering what they were talking about. What had she learned from this trip so far? There were scary people in this world, some with missing teeth, bashed eyes, skinny as hell, and blue hair, and others who smelled odd with green sharp teeth, half naked, and a bad temper. "It wos, huh…" Murdoc grumbled, rubbing his chin in thought. "Oy! Er…"

"Noodle." 2D said quietly, and the girl's vision glanced up at him. "Noodle, Muds, Noodle."

"Noodle." the girl nodded, and the bassist arched an eyebrow, "Wotever…do it again. Play on yeh guitar." he ordered, pointing his finger at her instrument. Noodle blinked, looking down at her guitar, and slowly picked it up, rubbing it gently with her sleeve. "(Are you asking for me to play on it?)" she asked curiously, receiving the same strange stare the blueheaded singer had given her. "Wot's 'at?" Murdoc snapped at 2D, giving her a dangerous glare.

The singer shrugged, having no idea, "I dunno…I don't speak Japanese…" Murdoc rolled his eyes, "Wotever possessed me teh ask yeh somethin' like tha', anyway…yeh barely speak retard!" 2D's shoulders slumped, and Noodle tilted her head, finding a certain tune within her to match his expression. Fingers softly strumming her guitar, she sat on the couch, eyes closed as she allowed her soul to mix with the music while the boys listened, pleased with what they were hearing. Slowly coming to an end, she opened her eyes, giving the two an inquiring look as she put her guitar down.

"'at wos lovely." 2D swooned, a dreamy smile still lost in the poignant song. Murdoc leaned forward against the back of the couch, his arms crossed before him. His expression was misplaced in thought, still going over each note, wondering if it would be a smart move. She was an illegal and didn't know the language…but she was still a kid and a talented one at that. All they would have to do would be to feed and clothe her, that wasn't much spending…what would a little kid do with money anyway? A slick grin grew on his face, nodding down at the small child as she looked up, his face almost nose to nose with hers.

"'ow would yeh like teh be in my band, love?"

She said something quietly, an unsure appearance expressing her feelings. Sighing darkly, Murdoc ran a dirty hand over his face, pulling his cheek down, "Stay 'ere? Live 'ere? Play music?" he tried, but she still stared at him as if he were missing his head. Ruffling through his hair, he yanked 2D nastily, "Make 'er understand!" The tall dullard shivered, glancing at her, fixing his shirt as soon as the abusive bassist released him, "Erm…okay…you," he demonstrated, pointing at her. "You."

He looked around, wondering what to use for stay. After a moment of nothing, he shrugged, opening his arms widely, "Stay 'ere? You. Stay 'ere." After repeating it a couple of times, he glanced at her, seeing nothing was getting through, except maybe the 'you' part. Murdoc growled, stomping around the couch, pointing at her, "You! Join band! Yes!" he finished, nodding his head. Her large eyes ogled at the sight of the threatening man, frowning and jumping up, grabbing his arm with a yell.

"Wot th-"

The bassist didn't have time for words as he was flipped over her shoulder, landing on the floor roughly. She placed her right foot on his back, "(I accept your challenge!)"

"Bloody 'ell! Get offa me yeh snot nosed bugger!"

2D lifted her, and she allowed him to. She trusted that one. Murdoc sat up rubbing his back with a sour glower, uttering cuss words left and right. "Yes?" asked 2D, referring back to the question. He nodded, asking the question again. Noodle bounced her head from him to Murdoc, then to him again, nodding confused, thinking that's what he wanted her to do. "Yes?" 2D said happily, seeing her nod back.

"Yes?" Noodle repeated, wanting to know what it meant, but this was ignored as Murdoc snarled at 2D to make sure she learned some respectable English. It was going to be left to Russel and the singer to increase the girl's vocabulary to its proper maximum. Massaging his sore neck, Murdoc glowered down at her as he stood, and she held onto 2D's hand tightly, "Yeh ain't gettin' no pay, yeh 'ear me! An' if yeh piss me off, yo' OUT!" he barked, waving his hand swiftly.

The girl stared at him and then frowned, not knowing why, but she did, and feeling that way, she glared back, sticking her tongue out at him, "Ptthhh!" 2D bit his bottom lip to keep from laughing, knowing the bassist wouldn't hesitate to release whatever cooped up anger he had all the time. Before Murdoc could react to the insult, the front door's lock quickly turned and opened with Russel on the other side, holding dinner in a brown bag. A moment of silence waved over them all as his milky eyes traveled to the young child, wondering who she was and why she was there.

"Friend of yo's?" he asked unsurely, quickly closing the door. "The new guitarist…for now." Murdoc answered, crossing his arms with an undecided appearance still looming around him. The large drummer stopped walking and turned around, confused, "…Say wut?" 2D patted her head gently, "She plays guitar real well, Russ…but she don't say much…" Russel stepped a little closer and leaned down, facing the child for inspection. She stared back wide eyed, irresolute of what to think of this one. More were coming out from every corner in the house. "Wut's yo' name, girl?" he asked kindly, sensing the fear in her.

"…Noodle." she said quietly, not realizing she had actually answered a question correctly. Arching an eyebrow, Russel stood up, "Noodle? Where'd she get a name like that?" Murdoc shook his head, "S'the only word she can bloody say in English, lards. Dullard 'ere dubbed 'er wit it." Sniffing the air, Noodle's stomach growled, responding to the tasty aroma filling her nostrils. However, no one heard it as they discussed how she came and her future. Her dark eyes focused on the bag in Russel's arms, licking her lips every so often. She hadn't eaten in two days.

"(I'm hungry.)" she announced, silencing the three men. They exchanged glances when she repeated herself, tugging on 2D's hand pleadingly. "Ugh…I'll neva' get use to 'at…Dullard! English!" Murdoc reminded in a growl, heading down the hallway, disappearing from sight. Cramps practically tearing her insides to shreds, Noodle whined, pointing at her open mouth, "Noodle!" Russel smiled, glancing at her as 2D remained clueless, "She's hungry, man." A light finally flashed within the singer's mind, a grin emerging on his face, "Oh! So 'at's wot yeh been sayin'! …But I did ask yeh if yeh were 'ungry…" he finished wearily, rubbing his neck.

Russel sighed, shaking his head as he went to the kitchen while the other two followed, "D, she don't know what yo' sayin'. You could ask her a thousand times if she was hungry an' it still wouldn't get you anywhere." 2D looked down at Noodle, watching as she eyed Russel hungrily as he made a plate for her, placing it on the table. "Food." he said, pointing at it. Noodle only stared at it from where she was standing, her small hand still latched onto the singer's. 2D patted his stomach lightly, "Hungry! Go eat!" The Japanese girl sighed and moaned, leaning her head against his leg.

Giving up on translating anymore, 2D slid his hands snuggly on her waist, lifting her gently. She fidgeted, unsure of what his plan was, but stopped once he placed her in the chair, handing her a fork, "Eat up, Noodle!" She sniffed the food, licking her lips and dug in, stuffing her mouth with as much food as she could, belching loudly after the first three swallows. 2D smiled, just watching her inhale the chicken and rice, gnawing on a chicken wing like a dog with a bone.

Russel grabbed a fork, beginning to eat what was left, turning around to the small monster attacking the plate. She suddenly dropped the fork, face turning a dangerous green. 2D's eyebrows pushed up worriedly, "Uh, R-Russ? She's turnin' colors! I fink she's gonna be-" A surge of vomit shot at him, cutting his sentence off. "S-sick…" he finished weakly, opening one eye to glance at himself. He had the stuff all over his shirt and jeans. "Aw man…" Russel pitied, wincing at the smell. He glanced at the girl, seeing her face change from the sickly green it was to an embarrassed scarlet while she wiped her mouth, keeping her eyes to her lap. Sniffing, her eyes watered, a pout trembling her lip.

2D stood, the gooey liquid beginning to run down his long legs, and he whined with a disgusted shiver. "Man, shut up! Yo' makin' her cry!" Russel scolded, handing her a napkin. "S-Sorry…I need a shower…oh God, I need a shower!" the singer trembled, zooming out of the kitchen, feeling sick himself. If he didn't get that smell off him soon, he was going to be sick, too. Noodle quietly glanced at the doorway, tears wanting to run down her face, but she kept them back, swallowing as her throat burned. A large hand patted her back gently and another handed her a glass of Sprite. "S'good for the stomach, girl."

She glanced up having no idea what he said, but took the glass relieved, drinking the soda. "(Thank you, sir.)" she said hoarsely, receiving a nod. Putting the drink down, she slowly started on her food, or what was left of it, again, trying to avoid looking at the seat 2D had occupied. If anything else could go wrong for this young girl, she wouldn't be surprised. He was probably mad at her right now…or disgusted. Either of the two was bad. "Don't worry 'bout D, Noodle. I'm sure he would take bein' puked on over gettin' sacked any day." Russel smiled, seeing the girl's confused expression, but she knew he was talking about her and 2D. Adding those together, he had to be talking about what had just happened.

Cheeks still red, she paused her eating, rubbing her head. That bump really hurt. Grumbling, she looked at Russel, pointing to her head making sounds a baby would when it wanted something. "Mmm! Mmm!" she called, waving her hand. "Russel." he answered, pointing to himself. Noodle nodded, pointing to her head, "Russel-san!" The New Yorker arched an eyebrow, walking over, "No, I'm Russ-damn! That's some lump you got there!" "Mmmm…" she whimpered, touching it tenderly.

Heading for the freezer, Russel opened the door with a tug, snagging an ice pack Murdoc and 2D usually kept for storing in their coolers to keep their beer warm in their rooms, wrapped it with a paper towel and placed it on the girl's head. "(That's cold!)" she complained, pulling it off, but Russel placed it back on, "Keep it there, the swelling will go down." Noodle sighed with a grumble, slowly resting it on her head as she rested her head on the table after pushing her plate away. She didn't feel very hungry anymore. In fact, she felt very sleepy…

&&&

Glancing over her shoulder at every turn, Noodle kept close to Russel, not able to help but feel that they were being followed. "Now I know we had a few spare rooms with beds in them…" Russel muttered to himself, opening one door, then closed it again. Noodle watching Russel's feet as he walked, afraid that if she looked anywhere else, something might pop out at her. This place had zombies…who knows what else there was? "I'm sure D won't mind lettin' you wear a shirt of his for sleepin'. Mine might fit you like a tent, an' Muds can't afford to give his shirts away…I mean, he's only got like five…" the drummer rambled, and this calmed Noodle, letting her know that he was alive and well.

Yawning, her slanted eyes closed for a moment to allow the yawn to complete, accidentally bumping into the large man, not realizing he had stopped. "(Forgive me.)" she apologized, arching an eyebrow as she looked up, noticing that his head was hanging loosely. "Russel-san?" she called, poking him softly. He didn't move. Getting nervous, the young child went around the obstacle, her head tilted to the side to peek at him. His eyes were wide open, but they bore a faraway look to them, their usual warmness apparently out for the moment. An abnormal bluish vapor began to surround around the black man and Japanese girl, alarming her greatly.

"(Russel-san, wake up! Please! What's happening?)" she squeaked, tugging at his arm, but it only swung loosely and eventually snapped back to its original position. A swift, chilly breeze passed through the hallway, blowing Noodle's hair around as a sapphire ball of luminosity seemed to be pulled from the back of Russel's head by an invisible hand, a slight pop sounding when it snapped away from the drummer. It gently floated around Russel three times, gradually hovering in front of the small guitarist. For some reason, her fear had left her for the instant, suddenly hypnotized by the glowing ball of light. Her hand slowly reached out for it, about to touch whatever it was, when a face quickly morphed before her bearing a grin of amusement. Her eyes grew double their size, her hand snatching back from the creature as it blinked twice, "Yo, a 'lil girl!"

Unable to scream, Noodle stood completely still, frozen nerves taking control of her body. Only her face paled, her hands going very cold. The creature stretched out, forming its arms, chest, waist, legs and feet, moving them as if they had been stiff. Russel blinked, shaking his head, coming back into the real world. "Wut…" he mumbled, rubbing his forehead, glancing at the terrified girl. His eyes widened, realizing what had happened. "Del! Wut are you doin', man? Can't you see yo' scarin' the girl?" he scolded the ectoplasmic being.

Ignoring the comment, Del leaned close to the girl, watching as her eyes widened the closer he got. "Wus ya name, girl?" he asked, a grin filling half his face. Noodle glanced at Russel, then back at him, shivering a bit, "N-Noodle…" she whispered, but he still heard her. "Noodle?" Del repeated, giving his best friend a ridicule expression, "Were her parents smokin' a 'lil somethin' when she wus born?" Russel suddenly jumped as if something important had come to memory, "Parents! I never thought of that! What if she has parents? How we gonna find them?"

Del glanced at Russel, noticing that Noodle was slowly beginning to move again, swiping her hand through the blue mist of his leg curiously, "Wut the hell are you talkin' about?" The large man arched an eyebrow, "Where were you the last two hours?"

"…Sleepin'."

Russel noticed Noodle's action, wondering how she was so entertained with Del's spirit, "Ghosts don't gotta sleep you know." Del crossed his arms, "I know we don't gotta, but it was one of the best things 'bout livin'." Russel sighed and shrugged, "Whatever, hey, see which of these rooms is the empty one for guests." Disappearing in a flash, blue mist separated like one long snake with many heads, sliding under each door at the same time, checking them all out. Noodle tapped her chin with an, "Ahh…"

The haze smacked together, forming Del once again and he pointed down the hall, "Uh, two rooms down from yo's, man." Russel nodded a thanks and led the child to the room. Opening the door, he flicked on the lights, revealing a plain room with a cot-looking bed to the side, a small night table, and an empty closet. A purple lamp with a red shade was what was lighting the room at the moment, but Russel smiled, "This is yo' room now, Noodle. You." he pointed to her, "Here." he opened his arms and pointed at her again. She nodded slowly, "(I'm guessing I'll be rooming here tonight?)" she said quietly, stepping forward a bit.

About to sit on the cot, she jumped, noticing Del had quickly beaten her to the spot, "So…who's she, Russ?" Russel sighed, glancing down at her, "The new guitarist." Del's eyes widened, staring at her for a moment before he erupted in laughter, having to hold his sides and wipe his eyes when he eventually slowed. Russel found no humor in this, but then again, he never fully understood Del even when he was alive. "Ya'll got a 'lil kid ta play in yo' band? Wut Murdoc do? Put a lollypop in a box and snap the lid when she was in?" he snorted, shaking his head.

"Actually…" started Russel, "Yo' pretty close. D found her in a crate that was mailed here. It was from Japan, so lucky guess she's Japanese. All she can say is 'noodle' it looks like. But she plays guitar well…so says 2D, an' I guess he's gotta be right if Muds let this kid join up with us." he explained, sitting against the wall. Noodle stayed standing, head bobbing back and forth between the conversation. Del only grunted, "I dunno. I have a feelin' Muds would do anythin' right now to jus' have someone in Paula's place. Guy only cares 'bout himself an' money."

Noodle yawned, rubbing an eye and Del smiled, "But I guess I can always make the exception that she jus' got wut it takes." Russel glanced at his watch. It was getting late for someone around Noodle's age. "Awright, bed time." he announced, glancing at Del, an indication that he should leave. Del rolled his eyes, "Fine, I know when I'm not wanted. Yo' jus' like yo' ma, Russ. Ya'll got like a meter for me. Once it hits the bar, ya'll can't deal wit me no more." he joked, passing his hand through Noodle's arm, and he chuckled as she shivered from the icy feeling.

"Bing. Bar's jus' been hit." Russel smirked, and Del shrugged, "Awright, cool. I'll remember dis." he threatened, patting Noodle on the head, "Night, girl. If you stay alive in this place for one night, you definitely win a space on my good list." Noodle wondered what he said as he disappeared back into Russel, keeping the man quiet for the second. Russel pointed at the bed, and Noodle sat on it, waiting for him to come back as he left. Her eyes scanned the room, peeking at the windows that were there. She pushed the cot closer so she could look out and stood on her tiptoes, nose nearly smashed against the glass.

Her eyes widened fearfully as she watched hundreds of zombies crawl out from their tombs or dirt patches, moaning painfully and horrifyingly loud. Dropping back on her cot, she jumped as the door opened with Russel who had brought some blankets and two pillows. "D's comin' with that shirt, so as soon as that comes, you can rest up, okay?" he nodded, leaving to his room to check something. "(What?)" Noodle sighed, rubbing her head. It was hard not knowing anything friendly people were trying to tell you.

Russel was strange…his body was shared with someone else…a dead someone else…but, odd as it seemed, Noodle was alright with it. Del seemed nice enough, and it wasn't like it looked as if he was hurting Russel in any way. Russel looked willing to share with Del. Noodle shrugged, spreading the sheets across the cot. The room was a little chilly. Looking around, she sat on the bed, pulling the two pillows behind her. It was comfortable enough. A short knock interrupted her setting up as the singer poked his head in and smiled warmly, noting that the child was staring at her lap again instead of him.

Sitting next to her, he wrapped an arm behind her, patting her shoulder, "'ey, its awright, love. I showered, see?" He sniffed his arm, which smelled like butterscotch, and put it in front of her, "Smell!" The scent filled Noodle's nose, and she slowly smiled, seeing he didn't look like he minded being vomited on. "I brought yeh somethin'." he proclaimed, handing her a shirt that was obviously large for her, but it was only to sleep in. It read, 'I'm only as normal as all the other psychos in this world'. Having no idea what the meaning of the shirt was, she smiled thankfully, "(Thank you, 2D-san…and I'm sorry about before.)"

The singer ruffled her hair, pulling out a violet ragged stuffed monkey, "'ere…I got 'im a while ago for…f-for Paula…b-but you can 'ave 'im…she forgot 'im when she…when she left…" he said in small gasps, trying hard not to cry. It wasn't any of the girl's problem, she didn't need to be worried about anything. She had enough on her hands. Clearing his throat, the bluehead gave the child a quick hug, bidding her a goodnight with sweet dreams, and departed from her room, disappearing into the depths of Kong.

Head tilted in a curious way, Noodle held the stuffed monkey before her, her hands supporting the thing from under its arms. The eyes were big black buttons that had their own animated shine, a pink smile sewn onto the material of the face. It had a tuft of hair that sprouted from the tiptop of the head and the top of the chest, a long tail that was filled with beans hanging loosely as she swung the item gently. Poking the tummy of the toy, Noodle glanced at the door, wondering why the tall blue headed man had given it to her when it seemed like it really meant something to him.

Sitting quietly in the room, she didn't feel so alone with the toy, almost imagining it as a real creature. Hugging it softly, the girl leaned back on the bed and closed her eyes, her grip becoming tighter as she listened to the growls and moans of the corpses outside. Her heart pace accelerated while she tried to fall asleep, wondering if one of those things would get in through her window and perhaps snag her for dinner when she wasn't looking. After all, 2D wasn't around at the moment.

Noodle opened an eye, swallowing nervously as she took a deep breath, her mind too focused on her worries to pay attention to much of anything else. Because of this, she jumped with a loud squeak when her door was opened by Russel, who had come to say goodnight. He had jumped when she squealed, having no idea why she would do such a thing. "What's wrong, girl?" he asked, noticing her eyes where dark and glassy. "(You caught me off guard…This place is unsafe, Russel-san.)" she lectured, but the only word the drummer could make of the phrase was his own name. "Uh…sure. Well, come over here." he ordered, motioning for her to come to him.

Monkey still clutched against her chest, she slowly made her way to Russel, who arched an eyebrow at the toy. "Hey…I remember that thing…" he said quietly, but Noodle glanced at it, holding it up, "2D-san!" she answered, a small smile appearing on her face. Russel's smile was less than a shadow of one as he nodded kindly, "That was nice…He gave you a shirt?" he asked quickly, picking at his own to show what he meant. Noodle toddled to her bed, pulling it up and showed it to the large man, accepting a nod. "Awright, change first, then I'll show you." he said, pointing at the shirt, then at Noodle.

He closed the door and Noodle glanced at the shirt. Was she expected to put it on? Stepping in front of the door in case it was accidentally opened while she was changing, she removed the jacket she had, then the white undershirt, pulling the large t-shirt over her head. Removing her shorts and shoes, she placed her clothes in the closet, hanging everything up with the few hangers she had in there, and put her shoes neatly in the corner. 2D's shirt fell to about her shins, considering it was a baggy shirt on him when he wore it. Opening the door, she peeked up at Russel, who had a rather odd expression on. "Russel-san?" she whispered, poking his side, and he blinked, glancing down, "Oh, hey."

Gently pulling her out of the room, he pointed to a door down the hall, "My room. You need anythin', I'm right there, awright?" Noodle looked at the door, then back at him. "Room." Russel pointed, indicating at hers. Then he pointed at himself. Noodle nodded, finally understanding. "Awright, we cool on this." he smiled, patting her head, leading her back into her room. She climbed on the bed, watching Russel pull the sheets up over her and the toy she wouldn't detach from, pinching her cheek with a warm smile, "Good night, Noodle. I hope you like it here." And with that, he flicked off her light and closed the door behind him.

Noodle smiled, closing her eyes sleepily, and flipped on her belly to get comfortable. She wasn't counting on anything to ruin her sleep.

&&&

The floors creaked with each achieving step. Nervously freezing, she could feel her heart pounding within her chest as she practically choked the toy in her arms, eyes focused on the door not too far from hers. Wanting to call the drummer's name, she opened her mouth, but shut it quickly as something banged against a window, echoing the thud around the hallway. She swallowed hard, leaning against the wall, her head hastily snapping both ways to see if she could see what had done it. Bit by bit, she snuck to the large man's room, gently knocking on the door.

"R-Russel-san?"

There was no answer. She tried again.

"…Russel-san!"

After making up her mind quickly, the child opened the door to peek inside. Hopefully he would be here. She froze as the vision before her definitely charged her doubts whether to stay with Russel or not into a sturdy no. In the center of the room was a large outline of the sleeping musician, his stomach raising and descending with each breath, empty grease stained containers of Tupperware decorating the floor aside from the occasional CDs and sneakers, but this wasn't what gave Noodle the tense feeling of spending the night with him. It was the drummer's ghostly friend who had woken for the night.

The sapphire spirit was zooming around the room creating a large mess, aside from sabotaging a few of Russel's personal items, and slipping through the window once in a while to chat or order around a couple of zombies to dish out his dirty work. There was no way Noodle was going to spend the night worrying about a ghost trying to do harm to her, even if it was all in good fun. She didn't trust that too much. Sighing, she quickly closed to door quietly so Del wouldn't notice her, and glanced down the hallway. Where could she go for comfort? Zombies were banging at her window, how they got three floors up, she'll never know, but what she did know was that she wasn't going to sleep with that knowledge picking at her.

"(Perhaps 2D-san?)" she whispered to herself, hugging the toy monkey close, "(But…where is his room?)" A flash of light spooked her, forcing her to lean against the wall quickly, her arms hurting from her muscles tensing up so tightly. "(Oh, please don't…)" she pleaded, her eyes closing as a loud crash trembled the skies. A loud groan from outside that sounded as if it were in got the girl to rapidly hasten down the hall, not really caring where she ended up, as long as it wasn't where she was at the moment. She'd find 2D's room. Eventually.

&&&

2D stared at his ceiling sadly, his arm reaching out to the empty space where Paula used to lie on his double bed. The singer couldn't help but feel lonely. He could hear a thunderous crack from outside, and he heaved a sigh. It was nights like these that he would curl up against Paula and she would instantly awaken, for she was a light sleeper, and they would say nothing for the whole while, only share their gaze in the weathered silence. The singer turned his head, half his vision of pillow, the other of an empty bed.

It was coming back. The questions of why. Why would she do this? Why would Murdoc do it? (Well, he knew the answer to that one, but still.) What had he done to deserve it? If anything, 2D saw this as a harsh punishment for something he had no idea what for. But then again…maybe it was a check back into reality. Life wasn't perfect. It was Angela all over again. Coping with the pain was the hardest…but why must he be the one to deal with it? This thought was rudely interrupted as a slam against his door woke his daydreaming with a racing heart and yelp.

"DULLARD!"

2D rubbed his head, sighing stressfully, "Oh…" It was only Murdoc. Well…that could be bad news too, but it wasn't quite as serious as a zombie or something like that. "Yes?" he answered quietly, opening his door a crack. The door bashed against his face, forcing him to fall back, hands covering his forehead. "Wot did I do!" he whined, a newly formed headache pounding within his noggin.

"YOU WANTED TEH KEEP IT, YOU DEAL WIT IT!"

Having not the slightest idea what the seething bassist was talking about, 2D glanced up, realizing Murdoc was holding Noodle by the neck of the large shirt, holding her up in midair. Her arms were waving around with fists at the end, her eyes boiling with anger. Her cheeks were redder than normal as she screamed in her native tongue, Murdoc shaking her slightly in hopes to shut her up. "Keep 'is thing away from me, monkey nuts! Yeh know no one is allowed in me Winnie, especially when I'm workin'!" he snarled, giving the child a glare as he tossed her on the singer.

"She does 'at again, an' I'm tossin' yeh both out to the zombies!" he threatened at the shivering keyboardist, "'er for botherin' me, an' you for findin' 'er! Yeh both stay the fuck away from my Winnie!" he roared, turning and slamming the door to his mobile room. Noodle slowly lifted herself from 2D, glancing out the door, seeing that Murdoc's Winnebago was rocking once again, but this time, she knew why. 2D quickly kicked the door closed, taking her attention away from that, but he knew she knew, her cheeks were already dark red. Giving her a wobbly smile, he sat on his bed, tilting his head a bit, "So…wot brings yeh down 'ere, love?"

Noodle glanced around the room, more interested in 2D's taste than the question she had no idea was about. It was unique, keyboards hanging around the room with video games in the corner, a disco ball hanging from the ceiling and a comfy looking double bed on which he was sitting on. The child gathered up the stuffed monkey and stayed standing, jumping nervously as thunder cracked once again. "Oh, scared are yeh?" 2D smiled, hearing the zombies groan from outside the carpark. He quickly locked his door as gunshots were blasted, probably at a zombie that had gotten in.

Noodle grabbed his hand fretfully, not sure of what to think of this place anymore. "I s'pose gettin' yeh back teh yo' room won't do much will it?" he asked quietly, getting a confused stare for an answer. Sitting back down, 2D slowly patted to Paula's old spot, watching the young girl make her way over and climb up next to him. The singer was quiet for a few minutes, realizing what he had just done, when Noodle picked off a picture from 2D's wall, scanning it inquisitively. There was Russel, Murdoc (she scrunched her nose), 2D, and a strange woman she hadn't met yet.

Pointing at her, she glanced at 2D, looking confused. 2D glanced at it, a lost cold look in his eyes. "Paula…" he answered quietly, averting his eyes to his hands. Noodle noticed this was the same thing he had said when he gave her the monkey. "P-Pol-hah?" she repeated, holding up the plush. The young man's eyes began to water, and Noodle quickly put the picture down, her arms wrapping around him comfortingly. "(I'm sorry…Please don't cry…)" she apologized with a sorrowful look. Obviously, something had happened with this woman that had hurt him.

2D's eyes slowly glimpsed at Noodle, feeling slightly cared for seeing that Noodle looked forlorn as she tried to placate him. The child lifted her head, catching his stare and smiled in hopes of getting him to smile too. 2D cleared his throat, ruffling her hair playfully. Hand trembling, he reached for the picture Noodle had dropped, carefully lifting it so they could both see. He couldn't explain the story, Noodle was much too young for her mind to capture the foul images of what had happened, but he could give her a summery. Slowly pointing a thin finger at the woman, he said quietly, "Paula."

Noodle followed the singer's finger as it traveled to himself in the picture, "2D." She glanced up, poking him, "2D-san." she pointed at the picture, "2D-san…Paula-san." Nodding, he used his pointer and middle finger to point at himself and Paula at the same time. Noodle blinked as he tapped the picture twice, then hugged her. She looked up at him curiously, watching him point to the two, then hug her again. He then pointed at Paula, "Paula…" His finger slurred over to the bassist, "…Murdoc…"

Noodle's eyes widened with a scowl, "Murdoc-san?" 2D then hugged her, and she understood. Paula had loved 2D first…then dropped him for Murdoc. Wrapping her arms around him once more, Noodle hugged him gently, whispering in Japanese. The singer hugged her back, resting his head against hers sadly. Tears slowly streamed down his face as he closed his eyes, an occasional sniff escaping him. Noodle only embraced him tighter. "(Please don't cry, 2D-san…Murdoc-san may be mean, but I'm nice…and so is Russel-san. We can be friends if you let me stay here in this place. We'll have fun, and we can be best friends.)" she chattered sweetly, melting into the singer's soul, although he had no clue what she was saying.

"Yo' tryin' teh make me feel better, aren't yeh?" he sniffed with a smile, wiping a cheek. Noodle smiled, using the palm of her hand to wipe his other cheek. She leaned forward, wrapping her small arms around his neck and came back up, her smile twice as big. "Wow…I mus' really be a mess…'avin' a friend I jus' met 'ug me a bunch o' times teh lift my mood…" Noodle sat back, leaning against him to yawn quietly, rubbing an eye. She grabbed the monkey and placed it under her arm as she glanced up at 2D sleepily. "Yeh really like tha' monkey, huh?" he smiled softly, pointing at it. "'e's a monkey. Monkey."

Noodle glanced at it and yawned, "Mmm…m-mike."

2D scratched his head, "Monkey?"

"Mm-mike."

"Awright, Mike it is. 'e's a Mike."

"Mike." Noodle nodded, resting her head under his arm. "Yeh look sleepy, but it don't look like yo' gonna fall asleep soon…" he said quietly, patting her hand. Glancing around, he leaned over, digging under his bed upside down. Noodle giggled as he grunted, pulling a keyboard out. "Wos so funny?" he smiled, placing the keyboard halfway on his lap and the other half on hers. The child scrutinized the instrument, pressing down on the keys, but no sound came out. "Noodle." she mused, looking up at the singer. "No…keyboard." he corrected, turning it on and set the volume for low.

He put his right arm around her, pressing her against him so he could reach the other side. He lifted her hand and took her finger, pressing the key at the very end. She smiled largely, hearing the high tune, "Aaaah…" 2D chuckled lightly at her reaction, snapping her close securely as a zombie began to scratch at his door. "'ey must be real restless tonight…" the singer muttered, feeling the girl shiver against him. Her eyes were glued to the bottom of his door, watching the shadow limp back and forth, hearing an intermittent snort when the creature would place its nose between the door and wall, smelling the living beings inside. Noodle swallowed hard, clutching the keyboardist edgily, burying her face in his chest when she saw four rotting fingers dig under his door, seeing if it could snag anything.

2D released the child, patting her gently, "Yeh might wanna close yo' eyes, love." he informed, placing her hands over her own eyes. He snagged his switchblade from his nightstand, nearing the creature's digits. Noodle peeked through her fingers, wondering what the singer was going to do, when she caught sight of the knife. She quickly covered her vision, hearing a blood curling screech soon after. 2D kicked the chopped fingers back under the door, and the zombie vainly dragged itself off to bother someone else. Cleaning his blade with a rag, 2D carefully placed the weapon back on his nightstand and took his spot next to Noodle.

Peeling her hands off her face, he greeted her with a warm smile, "S'gone now, love." Her eyes quickly darted to the door, seeing a slight red stain where the hand had been, but as long as the thing was gone, she was fine. 2D rung his arm around her again, nudging her head with his chin to lie back against him. Doing so, Noodle sniffed, not sleepy at all now. 2D glanced at his clock. One fifteen was blinking in big red numbers on his desk, it was way past this child's sleeping hour. The singer tapped a few keys, playing around with sounds and tunes, playing a couple of soft melodies here and there, just to entertain the child.

She had given effort to make him feel better. It was only fair that he do the same. She gave a kitten-like yawn, making herself comfortable against 2D, and he smiled quietly, his fingers changing the quick, happy tune into a mellow, gloomy, haunting air, humming softly along with the music. Noodle glanced up at him, noticing his eyes were closed, and she slowly closed hers as well, resting her head back. And with that, 2D began to sing, "When the rain falls through the clouds…uproars rise with massive crowds…none can sleep with fears they keep inside…" His voice was so soothing, yet it sounded so sad…

"Buildings falling…cars are crashing…world is burning…people thrashing…have to hide the precious one inside…"

Noodle felt a deep calmness within her, almost as if she could connect with the singer…feel his soul reaching out to her…

"Lovely angel, rest your soul now. None can harm you, when they're locked out. I'll protect you…" he slowed, glancing down at her, watching her snuggle up hazily, her eyes hardly able to return the glance, "You are here inside…the hate in me has died…" he sang quietly in a whisper, pointing to the child's chest, and she softly giggled, falling into a cavernous sleep. The singer silently switched off the instrument, pulling it off and placed it on the floor, gently giving Noodle a hug before laying her out on the other side of the bed, "Night, angel love." he smiled, dimming the light, giving the room a sleepy effect that a candle would, and laid back himself. Glancing at her glowing outline, 2D sighed calmly. Maybe this child was the answer to his depression. In this one third of a day, she had managed to make him smile more than he had in the entire week. Maybe she was the lift from the horrible mess he was in…just maybe…

&&&

Author's Note: Yes, finally another story from me! As you can tell, this one was extremely lengthy and yes, it's a chapter story. I'm being very descriptive with each chapter, so they might be longer than usual, but hey, more reading for you. XD