3

Buzzing echoed in my cabin, bouncing freely off the sheet metal paneling, adding a tinny ring to the alarm's sharp fluctuations. It was buzzing, even though it was barely sunrise. Even though the fluorescent lights overhead weren't on, and all I had were the thermal emergency lights to see by. My alarm was buzzing in high-pitched blasts, breaking every second or so, as if it was taking a breath, and then it would sound again, making my head and my inured limbs ache like someone was drumming their fingers over the bullet holes. It was going off, even though I was already awake.

[[CHAPTER 4]]

[[Part One: Repair]]

Even after a week, I was barely hobbling around my room; everything was my crutch: walls, end tables, my bed, Sam, whenever he stopped by. He tried to keep me filled in on how everything was going outside my little space, but it only made me feel even more useless, hearing how slow everything was going. I kept apologizing, thinking out loud how rough it must be on him, babysitting an injured friend. He said he didn't mind; he'd had to remind me, on more than one occasion, that I had, in fact been shot, and this warranted some downtime. I disagreed; my legs and back did not.

Rose hadn't stopped by yet. Probably didn't like seeing me like this. Maybe she was still pissed about whatever I'd done or said or… whatever. It didn't make sense to me, right then, but in truth, it didn't bug me much. The dream was still fresh on my mind, her face vivid and pasted right on the inside of my eyelids, as sharp as if I'd just woken up. That isn't an image you forget easily: a friend, covered in blood, begging you to help them, to do one thing for them…

But it was just a dream. Nothing to do with reality. Just an itch, buried in my subconscious. And only one thing can scratch an itch like that: torturous physical pain. I pulled myself to the edge of my bed, smacking my alarm clock to turn it off. The display flickered from the violent hit, and then dimmed, going back to sleep.

I pulled my pants on deliberately, wincing as I had to bend my legs, pausing once I got them fastened around my waist. The hefty brown belt I usually wore was hanging down at an angle, all the loops on the right side had worn through from use, but I kind of liked it this way. Made me actually feel like a pirate.

I pushed off my bed, the bolts squeaking quietly in their sockets from the force, and stumbled across my room, latching onto the door frame and pulling myself upright. I pushed the door open as quietly as possible, checking down the hall for Sam, before grabbing my jacket and spilling into the corridor.

Every step sent waves of dull pain up through my legs into my torso, making the hole in my side hurt as well. I slipped often, my legs shaking under me, my one good arm serving to both support and guide me along the wall. I could feel my palm getting sweaty, panting as I grabbed onto the nearest door frame, breaking for a moment as I looked back to see how much progress I'd made after three minutes of arduous work. I was two doors down, and only just at the end of the hall.

My head fell to my chest dejectedly. How in the hell am I supposed to get anywhere like this? Sighing, I let my grip on the door loosen, and my legs gave way, dropping my onto my knees, and then falling face first onto the deck.

Miiiiistake.

Everything exploded in stars of pain before my eyes, as both my legs and my shoulder flared up, lighting my whole body on fire. Curse words filled my ears, reverberating in the small upper corridor, but for all the pain, I really couldn't tell where they were coming from. However, someone else certainly could. Boots clanging on a ladder in the bridge, and then hands wrapped nimbly around my stomach, wrestling me back onto my feet, pulling my good arm around their shoulders. The haze of pain began to clear, and I could just barely smell flowers and a faint shadow of grease. "Th-thanks, Rose…"

There was a pause, and then she made a noise, letting me know she heard. I could feel her trying to turn me around, moving us slowly back towards my open door. "No!" I pulled at my arm, trying to wrest it from her grip. "No no no no no!" She pulled on my arm, trying to keep me in motion, until I latched my other hand onto a door handle. "Not going!"

"You're such a little kid."

"That may be, but I've been cooped up in that jail cell for a week now, and Matt wants out! Not going!" I tugged my arm out of her grip, there was another pause, and then she giggled. Giggled! Right in my face! The audacity of some people. "I really don't see what's so funny."

She put a hand over her face, waving the other one as if to say it was nothing, until she stopped shaking with what I could tell was laughter. "Where does Matt want to go, then?"

I turned on the spot, pointing toward the front of the trailer. "To the bridge!"

My legs started to tremble again, and Rose slipped herself under my arm once more, giggling quietly again. "You're going to hurt yourself getting down that ladder. How about we head back to the galley?"

I looked down at her smile, my eyes narrowing slightly, before saying, "Fine…" She grinned up at me. "Oh, come on, mister pouty."She poked me in the side, making me wince and pull away slightly. "I'll let you buy me that breakfast you promised me when I first came on."

I blinked, looking very confused until the memory came rushing back; my first meeting with Rose had been… awkward. To say the very least. A tinge of red slipped onto my cheeks, making her chuckle quietly. "What, are you seriously still embarrassed by that story? Honestly, I should be the embarrassed one."

I let out a huff of indignation, glancing away from her. "Well, excuse me for having some principles."

She giggled again, poking me in the side as we hobbled down the hall. "Oh, get over yourself! It's just sex, Matt. We should be able to talk about it."

"Yeah, except what I saw wasn't exactly what I'd call 'sex'. It looked more like-"

"You don't have to describe it!"

"And those noises you were making, it sounded like some kind of animal I've never heard before." I let out a quick shiver, before turning to her, grinning, despite the bright blush on both our cheeks. "Tell me again how that was fun?"

Her whole face turned red, and her smile faded a little, looking up at me, the fiery glint in her eye I was actually pretty accustomed to at this point. "Don't be an ass. Besides, when was the last time you even got close to a woman?"

I paused a moment, the thought slipping across my mind, before grinning brightly down at her. "You mean other than this time?"

She rolled her eyes, and her angry face faltered for a moment. "I wouldn't even count this time, you idiot."

"Oh?" I spun, pushing her up against the wall, using all the strength I had to keep myself upright so I could look her in the face. "How about now?" My bright green eyes met her brilliant blues, and she inhaled quickly. "Matt… Oh, Matt…"

I moved in slowly, slipping my left arm into the small of her back, the other hand up on her neck, as her hands slid down, wrapping around my heavy leather belt. There was a moment's pause, our faces inches from each other, before she leaned forward, kissing me deeply, her tongue brushing against my teeth, her hands sliding up my shirt and down my pants, tracing over the scars that marred my torso. Her hands were warm, even in the freezing cold. She pulled her lips away from mine, nipping gently at my earlobe. Her warm breath sent shivers down my neck, and her quiet whispers made every hair on my body stand up. "Matt? Matt?"

"Yeah?"

"What the hell are you doing? You almost tripped me!"

I blinked; we were still in the middle of the hall. "I… uh…" I stood dumbfounded for a moment, looking between Rose and the wall. "I was just…" I looked down at the floor paneling, the color rising in my cheeks again. "Daydreaming?"

"Well, cut it out. You break my hand, I'll break your neck."

"Yes'm."