A/N hey guys! I hear tell that people were awfully unsure about what was going to happen as of the end of the last chapter. Well, rest assured that I have a plan. Well sortof anyway.
This is ulrich's third time around, and a big thanks to everyone for sticking with this for so long!
Odd set up what would have to pass for a perimeter. Half a dozen hand grenades set up on tripwires, the only thing that would serve as a warning if something snuck in close to them during the night. Everyone was exhausted, and Ulrich had no illusions about the odds of anyone staying up long enough to manage a proper watch.
All the same he pointed at William, Jeremy, and Aelita to keep an eye on the goings on around them. He didn't like it, but keeping up the pretense of business as usual was good for moral. Odd and Yumi had already turned their packs into pillows and stripped off their armor, at this point things like dressing and privacy were long gone.
He slipped the clip from his rifle, and made himself focus on consolidating his ammunition. After everything was said and done, he was down to three full clips, and a little less than half of one. After weighing his options he slipped the half clip into his rifle, racking the slide to chamber a round, and thumbed the safety off.
The gun wasn't going to leave his hands until it was morning, or he was dead. Odd was already snoring, and Yumi had managed a fitful sleep despite the horrible sound. She looked like a broken bird that needed to be free.
What she had said still weighed heavily on him, about removing her name from the list of survivors. He had to make his decisions based on the good of the team, but the past few years had been weighing ever more heavily on her, and since Milly died she had been in a downward spiral. Ulrich wanted to keep her close in case things got out of hand.
On the other side of the room Jeremy and Aeilta were huddled together. He couldn't help but smile. If there was even a tiny piece of normality out here, it was those two, as messed up as they were.
Something woke him up.
The first thing he did was check his watch. He'd been asleep about three hours. Aelita had dozed off, still sitting up against a wall and with her rifle in her lap. From what he could tell, it wasn't loaded.
Any other time that would be a citation, but it wasn't important right now.
All Ulrich wanted to know was what had woken him up. And whether or not he could shoot it.
Shooting something sounded like a good idea actually; maybe he could get lucky and 'accidentally' shoot William for sneaking around in the night. Yeah, that would be nice.
A can skittered across the floor.
Ulrich swore and snapped back awake, checking his watch and pointing his gun. Another hour had gone by, Aelita was still slumped against the wall, clip in one hand, gun in the other.
He cast about, the half-light making it difficult to see properly. He was about to give up and go back to sleep, when Yumi jerked in her sleep. Curious he rolled over to her, and could make out her eyes fluttering under her eyelids.
She twitched again, and he noticed that she was clenching her fist so slightly that her nails were drawing blood. Tiny little rivulets were just visible.
"Yumi, wake up, it's just a dream." He shook her gently, but the only thing that did was make her breathing speed up. She sounded like she was running a marathon.
He swore, louder this time and across the room Aelita opened her eyes, jerking awake she dropped her ammo and her rifle, and pressed her hands to her head tightly, moaning lowly.
"What's going on Aelita?"
She shook her head, and actually banged her head against the wall.
Ulrich leapt across the room, all semblance of being quite now long gone as Aelita did it again. He grabbed the sides of her head, holding her so she couldn't do it a third time. He forced her to look him in the eyes.
"What on earth is going on?"
"Yumi's having a terror. Oh god Ulrich, I just died and she's in so much pain."
"Then we have to wake her up."
She grabbed his arm, her grip frighteningly strong. "You can't just wake someone from a terror!" she cringed again, whimpering in time with Yumi.
"Screw that." Ulrich nudged Yumi gently, and she shook her head and he could hear Aelita whimpering behind him, and Jeremy and Odd we both stirring into wakefulness.
Ulrich shook Yumi's shoulder, and this time she cried out and raked his face with the broken nails of her left hand, drawing blood and nearly scoring his eye.
"Ulrich, what's wrong?"
He waved Odd away, gripping Yumi's hand so she couldn't hurt him anymore. She screamed this time and tried to pull away from him, trying desperately to push him away with her bad arm, but unable to.
He shook her harder, and her eyes snapped open, staring right through him, pupils dilated as wide as they can. He let go of her in shock, not noticing Aelita behind him had curled into a ball and passed out. Both Odd and Jeremy now trying to tend to her.
Yumi closed her eyes and then snapped them open again, her chest heaving as she looked up at Ulrich, like she was seeing him for the first time.
Her hand went to her face, and she starred at it uncertainly, her fingers tinged red with Ulrich's blood, before clawing at her shirt, practically tearing it off her body with no obvious notion of modesty. She pressed her hands to her stomach and chest, her breathing easing out.
Pointedly averting his eyes Ulrich pulled his shirt off and handed it to her, it wasn't really clean, and certainly smelled like it was weeks since being washed, but it was better than nothing. She put it on sheepishly, still running her hands over her body absent mindedly.
"Is everyone else okay?"
He nodded. "Aelita wasn't doing so good, but I'm glad you're okay."
She wasn't sure what to do with that, and it showed. "What do you mean? Why wouldn't I be okay?" she looked at his face for the first time. Shock painted itself across her features. "What happened to your face?"
"You don't remember? Yumi! You were thrashing about in your sleep, and whatever you were dreaming about had Aelita nearly comatose in shock."
She reached up to his face, playing her fingers gently over the torn skin. "Ulrich, I'm so sorry. That looks painful."
He shrugged. "It actually hurts a lot. Your finger nails are jagged, but they aren't sharp, I'll heal."
"No you won't, not out here. You could get an infection." She was almost pleading with him.
He sighed. "Fine, get some gauze."
He couldn't help but smile, even as messed up as things had become, she still cared about him.
"I'm sorry about the things I said the other day." He winced a little as she dabbed antiseptic on her scratches.
"It doesn't matter. With my arm the way it is I'll be out for months." She let the implication hang. With William filing an injunction against her, and her injury, she would be out of the fight for good when they got back.
"Jeremy and I already decided on that. It won't be going through. Both of us are blocking the complaint. I'm not willing to lose you. Not again."