The Things He Carried

By Starzki

Author's Note: This little fic takes place in "The Sickness" universe. To be specific, this could be a snippet taken from Chapter 7 of that story.

-z-

Jin was well-practiced at the art of opening and closing the front gate for the runners. He could time it so that it raised just enough for the runner to duck under as it closed behind him or her. Even if an infected stood right outside of the gate, Jin knew his technique would prevent them from entering.

The lookout tower guard gave Jin the signal for an incoming runner, and Jin gripped the rope of the pulley system and tugged and released in just the right rhythm. The gate was open for only a brief second as Runner Seven, Sousuke Sagara, slid through.

As was standard protocol, another Jin looked him over for obvious injuries or bites that could turn him. Sousuke used the moment to wipe the sweat from his face with the hem of his shirt. The day was hot and muggy and he wasn't the only runner to come in and form a puddle where he stood. He was uninjured. Then came the inspection of his pack and creating the inventory.

To prevent individual runners from hoarding supplies, all goods were seized at the gate by a Round Table representative to distribute to the rest of the settlement.

Sousuke opened the pack.

Jin wrote down what he pulled out, noting that like the other runners, Sousuke had a specific method to the way he packed. On top were the lightest things. Jin wrote, For bathroom/toilets, attn. Rei: toilet paper (6 rolls) and three small packs of tissue. The settlement never seemed to keep up with what was needed for everyone despite heavy rationing. Sousuke said that he had found a nearby hotel had an amazing stock that he visited every time he ran. Jin hoped that bringing it in piecemeal would make it last longer.

Next, Sousuke unpacked the things that he didn't want to bruise. Jin wrote, For food pantry/mess hall, attn. Kaname: six tomatoes, ripe, four large onions, five small radishes, and one cucumber.

It seemed that Sousuke had a back yard or neighborhood garden on his route.

Next, was what he considered the "cushioning" and anything that needed protecting. Typically, most runners used the middle of his pack for clothing. Jin wrote, For dorm/closet, attn. Yukio: Four women's shirts (maternity), three pairs of size medium slacks (maternity), six pack of white athletic socks, one large sweatshirt.

Jin realized why Sousuke had focused on maternity wear. It had just been announced to the settlement that Sousuke's partner, Kaname, was pregnant and, in fact, quite a bit along in that pregnancy. She was growing bigger by the day. Bigger clothes would work, but they didn't fit her right, so she'd obviously made a special request of him. Jin suspected that Sousuke had made a special trip out to a maternity shot for her on his run today.

The clothes were wrapped around electronics. Jin wrote, For comms, attn. Shinji: four coiled phone cords approx. 10 meters long, 2 hand-held cameras, and one dozen AA batteries

Jin wasn't sure what Shinji could do with it, but there was talk from others in the settlement that Shinji could Frankenstein just about anything he needed from the most random available parts.

Finally, at the bottom of the pack, Sousuke lugged out the heavy things. Jin added, one car battery, for the inventory slotted for the comms area. He was also impressed at Sousuke's stamina. That could not have been easy to run with on his back. Lastly, Jin wrote, For garage, attn. Kamina: three clawed hammers and one adjustable wrench. Tools were another thing that always seemed in short supply, especially since they were so heavy. A lot a runners did try to avoid carrying them.

"Good work, Seven," Jin said, looking up from the clipboard.

Sousuke wiped the sweat from his temple using his shoulder, then wiped his mouth with his sleeve. "Yes sir," he said.

"Hit the showers when you need to." Sousuke, ever quiet, just nodded and walked away. "Oh, Seven," Jin said before Sousuke could get too far.

"Hmm?"

"You make sure that cook of yours uses those fresh tomatoes for sauce for that creamy curry of hers. Runner Six brought in a goose and I think it might go nicely." Jin grinned at him.

Sousuke smiled back. "Sir, I value my life. Therefore, I wouldn't dare tell Kaname what to do in the kitchen. But you could go ahead and tell her…"

Jin laughed. "No way, Seven. I know better than to be on the wrong side of that woman's temper, especially with the hormones coming from that bun in her oven." He mimed a shudder. "You're a brave man, Seven."

"I'm sure that she'll come up with something wonderful, no matter what." Sousuke half turned before he added, "And she's the brave one. I just try to keep up."

Jin smiled as he thought about the lovely young cook. Having a baby during the apocalypse wasn't ideal, but he and most of the other Jindai settlers he knew were excited at the prospect of a baby. If everything went well with the pregnancy and delivery, having a baby around could give people a lot of hope.

Jin was interrupted from his musings when the tower guard signaled another incoming runner. Jin had a job to do.

END.


AN2: I have a ton of head canon that didn't fit in "The Sickness" storyline, so I may use this short story collection to post snippets that won't leave me alone. I'd love to hear what you think! Thanks for reading.