A/N: . . .

Survival

Booker strolled into the plaza where a carnival of some kind seemed to be going on. It reminded him of the kinds held back on Coney Island: game stalls scattered throughout the area, food vendors serving finger foods. The man inhaled deeply, reminiscing in the familiar smells.

He immediately doubled over coughing violently.

Damn priest that tried to 'baptize' him. Booker was sorely tempted to go back and deck the man.

"Son, are you alright?" A nearby vendor looked concerned at Booker's fit.

"Yeah," Booker choked out. "Bit of spit down the wrong pipe . . . "

"How 'bout a soda, then? Clear you right up." The vendor offered with his most winning smile.

"Yeah, how much." The mercenary asked, catching his breath.

"Just one silver, though for two you can get an American hotdog to go with it!"

Booker stared at the food cart hungrily. He was feeling a bit peckish, and that near drowning only made him feel exhausted. A little food was just what he needed. He paid the man and sat nearby eating, feeling his strength returning. Once he finished, he stood and stretched.

"Time to go find this girl, I guess . . . " he mused. "Wonder what this raffle thing is all about."

. . .

"Booker! You're hurt!" Elizabeth crouched nearby as the two escapees hid behind an upended food cart.

"Just," Booker hissed in pain. "Just a flesh wound . . . "

"You're bleeding!" Elizabeth cried out in worry.

Ignoring his partners concern, Booker reached up and plucked a cotton candy from the cart, shoving the fluffy ball into his mouth in one motion.

"Booker, now's not the time to be eating candy! We need to get you a First Aid kit . . . " the girl looked around frantically, trying to find something to patch up the bleeding man with.

Elizabeth stared in awe as Booker finished his candy, broke from cover, and shot the remaining enemies.

"Phew!" He said in relief. "Much better. Let's go."

The girl looked highly confused at this about face.

"Woah, woah, woah . . . wait a minute. You ate some cotton candy and suddenly you've shaken off the bullet wounds?" Elizabeth had an incredulous look on her face.

"Yup," came the curt reply.

"What . . . How . . . " the girl sputtered for a moment. "That doesn't make any sense!"

Booker shrugged.

"During battles, sugar gives you a quick boost of energy. It was real useful in life or death situations . . . or at least that's what it seemed like to me."

He paused, thinking.

"Actually, come to think of it, it was Slate who taught me how to survive once your packs run empty," he mused.

Shrugging, the man wandered off to loot bodies for supplies, leaving behind a thoroughly unconvinced girl.

. . .

They wandered through Shanty Town; it was a rather depressing place. People were curled up on worn blankets, trying their damndest to ignore their hunger. What few people weren't actively dying were watching a man with rapt attention as he gave a sermon of how the Vox Populi would help them rise up and gain a better life.

The two travelers approached a rundown bar, intending on asking for directions and looking for what meager supplies existed in this hellhole.

Suddenly, two men stepped out of the shadows, brandishing pistols.

"We don' want no trouble. Jus' give us yer money, an' we'll let you pass," the bigger of the two said.

Elizabeth frowned.

"Sorry, we're just about broke too . . . "

She was cut off as the man backhanded her, sending her sprawling in the dirty street.

"I wasn' talkin' to you, girlie!" He sneered, turning back to Booker. "Now give – "

He didn't get any further as the barrel of Booker's shotgun exploded at point blank sending the man flying backwards.

"You son of a bitch! I'll gitchu for that!" His partner fired wildly at the bloodstained man.

One of the bullets caught Booker in the shoulder, sending him spinning from the impact. He regained his balance, aimed briefly, and fired again with the shotgun. The second man went down with a strangled cry.

Helping Elizabeth up, he flinched as he disturbed the wound in his shoulder.

"Let's get you patched up," Elizabeth offered, holding out one of their spare First Aid kits.

The man shook his head, wandering over to an abandoned stall.

"Nah, that's a waste. It's just a scratch." He reached out and picked up an obviously rotten tomato. "I just need to eat a bit of food and I'll be right as rain."

Once again, the girl expressed her disbelief.

"Booker, I don't think you should eat that – " she started before the mercenary shoved the rotting vegetable into his mouth.

"There," Booker said around a mouthful of tomato mush. "All better."

He began walking, a concerned Elizabeth trailing behind him. A short distance down the road, he staggered sideways and crashed into the side of a building.

"Ugh . . . I don't feel so good . . . " Booker moaned as he sat down, leaning heavily against the building.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes.

"Gee, I wonder why."

. . .

Booker staggered heavily against the wall, falling to his knees as he did so. A smear of blood appeared on the wall. Their latest run-in with the Vox Populi had been touch and go. At one point, a sniper had gotten him good in the side.

"Booker!" Elizabeth shouted, running over.

"Hey, girl. I think I really need something to patch me up . . . " he grunted as he forced himself to stand again before flopping down into a nearby seat.

"O-okay," the girl said nervously. "I'll look around. There's bound to be something of use."

Elizabeth began searching the bar area. She brought over a few bottles of vodka.

"We can disinfect your wounds with this," she offered helpfully.

Booker nodded, pouring a liberal amount onto a cloth and wiping at the bullet wounds, hissing as he did so. Then he downed the rest of the alcohol, letting out a content sigh afterwards. Elizabeth looked surprised.

"Well, that's one way you can use it . . . " she shrugged.

The mercenary finally felt strong enough to stand.

"I'm gonna take a look around. Might be something useful in the bathrooms."

Elizabeth nodded and followed. Booked scoured the small rooms, finding nothing of particular interest. A few coins, some spare ammunition left behind by some terrified citizen.

Then, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye.

"Ah, just the sustenance I need," the man said wandering over to the stall.

Elizabeth peeked into the bathroom, wondering what was taking so long.

"Booker what – " she watched as he pulled a potato out of the toilet.

Her heart nearly stopped right then and there.

"Booker! Ew! That came out of the toilet!" Elizabeth scrunched up her face. "Throw that away and let's move!"

"Food's food." Booker said.

The man took a hearty bite into the still dripping potato.

"Mm." He mumbled between bites. "Just what I needed."

"BOOKER THAT'S DISGUSTING!" Elizabeth shrieked. "I – "

Her breath hitched and she turned an interesting shade of green before retching slightly. The girl ran out of the bathroom, leaving the mercenary to his meal.

"Gotta be willing to do anything to survive!" Booker called out after her.

. . .

A/N: I'm so sorry. Booker made me do it.