-1Hey guys! I'd just like to say thank you so, so much for all the awesome comments I've gotten for Passive. You guys are awesome! I'm sorry it's taken so long to get this one out but my life has been kinda crazy with travel and everything, plus I've been pretty sick the last week and a half or so. This one is kinda short, but I hope you still like it. I was feeling pretty guilty for such a huge gap between chapters.

-Red Bullet

Passive Chapter Seventeen: I Know Very Well

Tenants are pouring into the hall to see what happened but their voices are far away and diluted, like I'm under water. My mind is wet and swimming and I haven't quite registered the pain yet, but I know it's coming. I know the drill.

Everything old is new. Everything new you've done four times before.

When the blow to your system is still fresh enough that you still aren't screaming, you think about stupid, irrelevant shit. Like dead ex-girlfriends. Then that gets replaced by the heat swelling in the palms of your hands while your stomach tries its damnedest to execute an escape through your ass.

Later on, you'll start to think about things like the fact that your shoulder is most definitely dislocated and the mechanics in your fake eye are fried to all shit from the frequency concussion- and honestly, I'm surprised that hasn't happened more often than the twice that it has. You think about the fact that you lost the bounty, because there's no way the little shit would have been sitting in there and you fell for it thinking it'd be an easy snatch. And then you think about the fact that you dragged one of your partners into it.

But, like I said, first comes the stupid, irrelevant shit.

Like how months back, on the car ride to Annie's place, Julia asked me about Faye. Actually, she straight out asked what Faye was like. And I clammed up. Like usual. The question spooked me too much and I ended up squandering the last minutes I'd ever have with Julia in near silence because I was being a little bitch over the fact my two existences were mingling. Meshing, even.

It was easy when it was Faye sticking her nose where it didn't belong. I could tell her to fuck off and she wouldn't have taken more than a superficial slight to it. Hell, she'd do the same when ever I got too nosy for her liking. There'd be a pout, a filched cigarette and that'd be the end of it until the next time she decided to bother.

But I didn't have that option with Jules. I couldn't tell her to mind her own business and I couldn't tell her that she wasn't welcome in my present any more than I was allowed back into my past.

If Julia had made it that day, if she'd survived and come with me like she said she wanted to, Faye would have split the second she realized what was what and she wouldn't have come back. I can tell you that much now and with as much certainty as the fact that shit stinks.

I wouldn't have blamed her either.

But Julia didn't survive. Some how I did. And for some reason, Faye stuck around.

I'm thinking about all this just before the dullness drains from my skull, and gets replaced by creeping, rolling nausea as the shock wears off. I have to fight not to puke right into my lap.

It was a bomb. Pressure release rig. Home made, but nice enough not to go off until it was supposed to. The job's door is blown out and dry wall and support struts are blown out and on top of us. The tenants are half dressed and either freaking out or staring dumbly at the sight of a gutted apartment and the two people who were slapped by said apartment's innards. No one's bothered coming over and checking on us and the fact doesn't really surprise me all that much.

Faye's at least ten feet away and unconscious. Her face is covered in blood, soaked in the shit, but head wounds always bleed like fuckers. Then I realize that I'm only reminding myself of the fact so I can calm the fuck down as I drag myself over to her.

I'm shouting something at the people but I have no idea what. They all just stare at me like idiots, but I hear sirens so I guess somebody here was able to pull their thumb out their ass long enough to dial up ISSP.

I start pulling the timber and shit off of Faye, or as much as a guy with a dislocated arm can. She's still not awake, and that's probably for the best. I've never had to deal with her being severely injured and I don't want to risk her fighting me trying to help her.

The pulverized drywall covering the both of us is making her look even paler than normal. Or maybe it's the blood loss. I have no damned idea. There's a pretty angry looking gash chopped into her right bicep and following almost to her elbow and I'm willing to bet her ribs are gonna need a bone stitcher by the time this is over. Hopefully, any internal bleeding is minimal since those fucking medics are talking their sweet fucking time getting up here.

"Faye?" No response. "Valentine?" I realize I'm probably screaming it, but I don't know that I really care about that. I'll break her damned nose if that's what it takes for her to do something other than leak more blood all over me.

Medics in green uniforms finally appear at the stairwell, pushing people aside and trying to get to us. Questions start getting asked and a pair of them start prepping Faye to be moved. I'm struggling not to black out, at least long enough to get Jet on the phone, but I'm too fucking out of it to work my stupid comm.

They say people are only afraid of and for themselves. The bad stuff that happens to other people, we're only effected by it because of what it means for us. Someone goes away, we're sad because we're gonna miss them. Same for if they die. Same for if they live and leave with someone else. There's probably some merit to the thought, but I can only think that it's something good all around when I notice Faye's eyes are open when they load us into the ambulance.

Even if they're open and scared.