Ami sat back against a box of blankets, resting as the convoy continued along the route. Due to her injuries, she had been forbidden, by everybody, from working. Michelle had given her a bottle of whiskey, about which Ami objected, stating that the alcohol would dilute her blood and expand her blood vessels, which could, potentially, make her bleeding worse. But, since they had no painkillers and a semi-drunken state would keep her pain to a minimum and help her sleep, she had accepted.

Actually, it wasn't as bad as she had expected. Then again, it rarely was. So, this way, instead of being in a world of hurt, she was enveloped in a warm, fuzzy, comfortable feeling with only slight twinges of pain every time she shifted.

Since she had also figured that she would be more of a liability than an asset in battle, she had resolved to stay where she was in the back of the Deuce. And so she stayed, on her makeshift bed of blankets, feeling a bit guilty about not doing her share of the work.

Rei came back to her and knelt at her side, "How're you feeling?"

Ami grinned, "Have I told you today how beautiful you are?"

Rei smiled, "This would be the fifth time this morning. But, I still like to hear it."

Ami laid back and opened her arms, "Fuck me?"

From the gate of the Deuce, Hotaru, who was being tutored in Japanese by the rest of the girls, tried her best to stifle the giggles. Rei clicked her tongue and wrapped a hand around the bottle, "You've had enough."

"No." Ami whined, reaching for the whiskey.

"I'm afraid so. Besides, I need it now."

Ami knew what that meant. Rei would clean her wound and change her bandages about every twelve hours. It was necessary to ward away infection in this less-than-ideal environment but that didn't mean she had to like it.

Rei helped her sit up and remove her shirt before working at the gauze and bandages. Since the wound was still fairly fresh, it still bled a bit but less and less each day.

As carefully as she could, Rei unwound the bandages. Ami winced and squeaked each time the wound was touched. It was still very tender.

With the wound exposed to the air, Rei dampened a piece of gauze with the alcohol and set to work cleaning it. Ami's fists were clenched and her breath hitched with every stroke of the gauze, which felt like burning sandpaper against her raw nerves.

"Easy. Easy now." She took a moment to wipe a stray tear from Ami's cheek, "I know it hurts. Hopefully, we'll see a hospital soon and we'll get you some morphine or something."

Ami knew that the chances of them finding any kind of painkiller in a hospital, especially this long after the revolt, were slim. Besides, they hadn't seen a hospital for days. Rei layered gauze and carefully redressed the wound.

She fetched a small cup of water for Ami, "No more alcohol until later. I won't have you turning into a drunk. Sip this slowly."

Ami did as she was told and Rei helped her lay down again but stayed with her, allowing Ami to rest her head in her lap, "Go ahead," Rei whispered, running her fingers through Ami's hair, "get some rest. I'll watch over you."

Ami nodded as the combined alcohol and pain made her pass out.

l-l-l-l

Ami awoke in darkness. The truck was still, everything was silent, and she was alone.

"Rei?" She asked, squinting through the darkness, "Usagi? Hotaru?"

No one replied. The back of the truck was chilly and Ami wrapped a blanket around herself before climbing, slowly, to her feet. Her knees trembled, refusing to take her weight as she lurched to the Deuce's tailgate. She knew that jumping down from the high platform to the ground below was completely out of the question. The impact of landing, in her present state, would drop her. She sat down on the edge of the bed and slid off to the ground below. Even though the fall wasn't as great, it still caused her to gasp and hiss at the sudden burning in her side.

Ami caught snatches of conversation filtering through the thick foliage that bordered the parking lot that was their home for the evening. She followed them into a small clearing where the girls had built a small fire against the chill of the night. Rei looked up as Ami pushed her way through the last bit of undergrowth.

"There you are." She said, going to Ami and helping her to the circle of logs that a few of the girls sat on. The rest were grouped off to the side, just inside the firelight, wrapped up in blankets and fast asleep. Hotaru was sandwiched between Michelle and Trista while Usagi, and Minako were curled up around each other, reminding Ami of a pair of kittens, especially since Minako made an odd noise that sounded like purring when she slept.

"Where are we?" She asked.

"Near Nevada." Amara replied. "We still have about another week until we hit California. We still haven't decided where we're going to find a harbor."

"How are our provisions?"

"We'll need to restock before we set sail but, until then, we should be fine. I'm amazed that they've managed to last this long. Michelle's rationing system is really working."

"Y'know," Rei mused, "even though we've been though hell being here, think all lazy obnoxious sadistic Americans can burn in hell, present company excluded, and never want to even think about this experience ever again, this was actually, kind of, enjoyable."

"Except your week in torture." Ami pointed out.

"And you being shot and the subsequent alcoholism."

"Damn it all, I'm not an alcoholic."

"You know, Ami," said Amara, "The acceptance that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery."

"You can take your twelve steps and shove them up your bull-dyke cunt." Ami growled.

"Fuck you, you slant-eyed, cunt-licking, lesbo Jap whore."

Ami contrived to look hurt but failed miserably when she fell into Rei, laughing.