"That blasted girl!"
1 nervously paced the hallways of the ruined sanctuary, his sharp, metal feet clicking faintly on the stone floor and echoing faintly off the crumbling walls. He slammed his staff against the cold marble, doing his best to make the others unaware of his anger. This had nothing to do with them.
But he didn't need to worry about them hearing it. They were all in different rooms and too far away to hear his rantings or care if they did. It was best to just stay out of his way when he was like this.
"Why doesn't she ever listen?" he growled, his sharp metal fingers clenching the smooth aluminum staff tightly. "How many times have I told her? It's dangerous out there!"
The "she" he was referring to was 7. The female stitchpunk had once again ignored his rules and gone out into the emptiness by herself with only a staff she'd fashioned out of rusted shrapnel and wood, to do whatever it was she felt like doing. But she was aware of the danger. He'd repeated himself about it many many times in the presence of her alone and with the others.
She was aware 1 didn't approve of her actions. Maybe that's why she did it. To get back at him, to show him he had no hold on her.
"You might be the leader but that doesn't make you right. You can't tell me what to do. I'm not your daughter."
1 sighed. "That girl will be the death of all of us," he stated as he had done many times before. "So reckless, so foolish! Doesn't she know what's out there?"
Well of course she did! They all did. But, unlike him, she did not care. It wasn't her job to keep them safe. She wasn't the leader.
To Defend Us.
But that didn't mean "To be reckless and do whatever you want just to show up the one protecting them."
The eldest Stitchpunk sighed once again as he continued his course down the hall. Sometimes he asked himself why he bothered with her, why he bothered telling her things that she obviously didn't care about, why he bothered worrying about her!
Yes, even though she deliberately disobeyed him and did her own thing he couldn't help worrying about her and hoping she'd come back safe just like all those times before. It was a relief when she did even if he spent the rest of the time afterward telling her not to do it again. But she always did, again and again and again.
.The female obviously didn't care about him or his rules. Quite often he was tempted to just forget about her and more than once had totally given up that she would come back from whatever fool adventure she set out on.
There was also the apparent fact that she had nowhere else to go and would come back, more or less, in one piece. So far she'd been lucky but he felt that one day she would finally either come back a torn up mess with hardly a spark of life left in her pale white frame, or she would never come back at all.
He honestly hoped it would be the former. If that happened maybe she would learn her lesson and finally give up on these silly quests. What was she doing when she went out there anyway?
Oh, scratch that, he didn't want to know.
"Blasted female!" he shouted again, his voice echoing off the church's ruined walls. "Why do I worry about her so much? She's going to be the death of me yet!"
Oh, you know why, you old fool. You feel you're responsible for her. In fact you are responsible for her and the others. They might not like it and you might not like it, but there's nothing you can do about it. It's not like the others are bothering to worry about it. They have complete faith in 7. They know she'll come back.
"They're not because they're too stupid to," he insisted, though he felt a pang of guilt for saying that. The others weren't stupid. They just weren't him. He was the leader after all, which meant all the bad things were dumped on his shoulders by default and that included the the sleepless nights of worrying about beasts breaking down the doors or 7 dying and never returning to the sanctuary.
Stress. Way too much stress.
Most of it's her fault too.
He glanced up at the ceiling, his slanted optics falling on the airplane that had crashed into the roof months ago when the group had first made the Sanctuary their home. Recently it had been shifting, the smooth bottom of the machine scraping noisily against the singled of the ruined roof. The stitchpunk worried that one day it would fall into the sanctuary itself, leaving them exposed to the world and the dangers out there.
Yet another thing to worry about.
The sound of a heavy thud brought him out of his thoughts. It was so loud he jumped in surprise and spun around to face the heavy doors of the church, half expecting to see one of those blasted beasts burst into the room and attack him.
But he saw nothing, just a closed door.
The thud had come from outside of those portals.
The stitchpunk froze, listening carefully for the scraping of claws and the low growl of the cat beast. But... he heard nothing. Whatever had caused that sound wasn't a beast, or if it was it was staying silent or had left.
But, what if it wasn't a beast?
1 moved toward the doors, his curiosity getting the best of him. When he reached the door he extended his staff, poking gently at the doors with it. The one on the left opened with a low creak. 1 moved forward and cautiously poked his head out of the partially open door, his senses on alert just in case it had been a beast after all.
But it wasn't. There was nothingssuch as that outside. No horrible clawed creature made of bones and metal with the sole purpose of killing small sack dolls with souls.
But something else was there.
His eyes fell on something sprawled on the top step. A pale figure grasping a sharp spear. He knew who it was right away.
"7?" he called out in a small voice, hoping she'd hear him.
The female stitchpunk did not respond.
Maybe she had not heard him. He called to her again, his voice a little louder. Still nothing.
It became apparent after a moment that she wasn't going to react to his inquiries from where he was. He would have to come to her, despite the danger. He didn't want to do that but he had no other choice.
So.... Against his better judgment, 1 stepped out onto the landing and moved toward her, still quietly calling her name. "7? Answer me, you fool girl!"
But she did not move, the female just stayed where she lay.
This unsettled him. Why wasn't she answering him? What was wrong with her?
Once he was close enough he knelt down beside her and rested his hand on her shoulder, shaking her gently. "7? 7, wake up!" he hissed. He still received no response. "No..." he uttered, feeling panic beginning to set in.
She was dead.
Why hadn't she listened to him? Why did she have to keep on defying him and going out by herself? Why hadn't he done anything to stop her? Why hadn't he ordered 8 to stop her? If only-
A low moan snapped him back to reality. He looked back down at her and very gently turned her over so he could look at her face. The white fabric was smeared with dust and what looked like motor oil and he saw a small rip on her forehead where whatever she got into a fight with had caught her. A brief glance at her body told him more than he needed to know. She was covered in dirt and more of that oil substance, one of her arms had a huge rip at the seams and looked like it was going to come off.
It was obvious she'd been in a fight and, though she'd probably come out the winner, she hadn't made it through unscathed.
The damage bothered him in more ways than one but he wasn't sure why it did. Part of him was angry about it. But was it because she'd been hurt or because she chosen not to listen to him that caused her to get hurt?
"She should have listened to me," he muttered to himself, looking her over once more. It was clear she wouldn't be getting up for awhile, not with all that damage. He doubted if she could even walk the last few feet to the door by herself, not that anyone who was unconscious could do such a thing anyway, which meant somebody would have to carry her in and the only person around to do that was himself.
He wasn't sure he could.
Suddenly 1 heard a scraping sound coming from nearby. He looked up from 7, panic starting to set in again but it was nothing. Only some rocks settling. He sighed in relief and looked back down at the female stitchpunk.
Well she wasn't going to move on her own. He couldn't exactly leave her out in the open until she regained consciousness, who knew what would happen to her if he did? He had no other choice but to carry her in himself.
So, very carefully, he slid his arms under her body and lifted her off the stone steps. She was actually surprisingly light which he hadn't been expecting at all. Maybe he figured since she was such a warrior she'd weigh more. It looked like he was wrong.
After making sure he wouldn't drop her he turned back to the door and carried her inside.
Once they were both safely inside the sanctuary 1 pushed the door shut then carried 7 to the infirmary, muttering to himself the entire way. "Such foolish actions," he mumbled, staring at her unconscious face. "Such utterly foolish actions. If she had listened to me this never would have happened. Why must she be so defiant?"
Well once she was conscious and repaired 1 was going to give her a little talking to. Maybe now he could convince her to stay inside where it was safe. Who was he kidding? The moment she was her old self again she'd just go out and do it all over again and there was nothing he could do to stop her.
"She won't listen to me anyway," he said out loud. The eldest stitchpunk studied her face for a moment. It looked so different this way. It almost seemed, vulnerable... there was no trace of that open defiance of the rebellious light in her optics he was used to seeing. She seemed delicate in this state. It was a little unsettling.
Well no matter. In a few days she'd be her old self again. He wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing.
By then 1 had reached the infirmary. "5? 2?" he called, stepping through the curtain into the room. "Are you in here?"
But the room was empty.
"Where are those two?" he asked himself then remembered they'd gone up into the watch tower to work on the telescope. They wouldn't be down for awhile.
He was tempted to go up and get them but that would take too long and he didn't want 7 to stay in the state she was in for too long. Who knew what could happen if she was like this for an extended period of time? She might wind up losing her arm.
He stood in the doorway a moment, weighing his options. He could ask the twins to repair her but they were too busy cataloging things in the church library and it would take him forever to find them. 6 was too busy working on those fool drawings of his and wouldn't know how to fix someone even if you paid him. As for 8... 8 might accidentally break her or worse.
He would have to do it. How hard could it be? If 2 and 5 could do it it couldn't be that complicated.
1 crossed the room and gently laid 7 down on the table, then turned and scanned the space for the sewing needle 2 and 5 used. He spotted it, leaning against the wall next to a spool of tan colored thread. That could work.
Stepping forward he collected the items then headed back to the table.
Carefully he threaded the needle then turned to face 7. But he didn't do anything. He just stared at her with a confused expression on his face.
How was he going to sew that rip shut without doing it wrong? What if he sewed it on awkwardly and it fell off when she got into a fight? What if he started fixing her and she woke up and stabbed him with the needle because she thought he was trying to kill her?
"Don't be silly," he told himself. "She would never think that."
But how was he so sure? They didn't exactly get along. She might think he would want to kill her. Or not. She'd probably mock him and tell him he didn't have the guts to do it.
1 shook his head, sending the thought fluttering away. Now wasn't the time to be thinking such things. He turned back to 7 and her injury.
He paused a moment then very carefully inserted the needle into the white fabric that made up her body.
She let out a squeak as if he's hurt her and he nearly dropped the needle. 1 looked at her face, but she didn't seem to be conscious. Maybe she'd only been dreaming...
He waved his hand in front of her face. "7?" he said. "Can you hear me?"
She didn't respond.
1 sighed. 7 hadn't woken up after all. With that confirmed he once again inserted the needle, being much more careful this time.
It was slow going and he found he had to pull the thread out a few times when he discovered he'd messed up but finally he managed to sew up the rip. The stitchpunk was just finishing the repair of her arm when a voice spoke up behind him. "What are you doing?"
Not expecting it, 1 gasped in surprise, his body jumping slightly. He dropped the needle onto the floor then spun to face the speaker. 2 stood by the curtain, watching him.
For a moment neither said anything. The two eldest stitchpunks just stared at each other. Finally 1 spoke. "How long have you been standing there?" he demanded. "Don't you have anything better to do than spy on people?"
For a moment 2 didn't respond. He stayed where he was, studying the older stitchpunk so carefully 1 began to feel nervous. Then the shorter stitchpunk's optics fell on the figure on the table. When 1 realized where his comrade was looking he too turned his attention on 7.
Without a word 2 walked over to the table and stood beside 1, his hand running on the newly applied seams on 7's left shoulder and arm. He smiled. "You did rather well, for someone who isn't skilled in tailoring," he said.
1 didn't know how to respond to that so instead he explained why he was in there with her instead. "I found the fool girl outside," he replied his voice giving off a nervous note. "I carried her in here but I didn't remember you and 5 where busy until I got here-" he noticed 2 was smiling at him. "What is that look for?"
"Nothing," 2 said, looking back at 7. He noticed the dirt and lighter tears in the fabric, damage 1 hadn't gotten to yet. "I'll finish up here."
1 smirked. "Well good," he said. He headed toward the curtain exit. "and when that fool girl wakes up tell her I wish to speak with her, alone."
2 nodded. 1 stepped out of the room without another word. 2 smiled to himself then reached down and picked up the needle. "You always have things to say to her, old friend," he said, beginning to work on another, more shallow tear. "But something tells me this time might have a different outcome..."
I have no idea. I honestly don't. It was just a minor burst of creativity in my head. I'm not sure how well it worked. Were they basically in character or did I fail epicly at it? Should I do anything more with this or let it be?