Author's Note: You know, often I put stuff up on fanfiction that I'm not perfectly happy with. But I won't lie – I'm actually really pleased with this one. The idea just popped into my head, and suddenly I had to write it. I tried to keep the backstory minimal so that you can focus on the characters, which is really what this story is about. Please note that this is thus far basically unedited – I wrote it, and then I published it. There might very well be some typos. Please tell me about them so that I can fix them. As always, reviews are appreciated. Also, as a last note, some of you old-timers might remember a story of Kahlan Aisling's called 'Kacky if you Squint.' I wouldn't bother straining your eyes squinting.
Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah. I don't own MBS, or any of the characters. We know this, yes? Now do let's move on.
~It Wasn't Sleep~
Sticky sighed and leaned back against the dirty brick wall. "Some day, huh?"
Kate followed suit, sitting so that she could face her friend. She smiled tiredly. "Hey, that was almost slang. You going to start talking like a normal person now?"
"Never. I remain verbose as always. I take pride in being unique."
Kate snorted. "That's one way to put it."
Sticky might have replied, but he was just too tired to bother. It had been an extremely taxing day. They had been captured (not by Ten Men, but by similarly dangerous enemies), had escaped, had had to eat a lunch of mushrooms that Sticky had sworn were edible (Kate had been skeptical about this, but Sticky's identification skills were not to be faulted), and had had to fight their way out of a close call as their enemies tried to re-capture them. Sticky had cowered in a nearby shed while Kate had fended off the two attackers. There had been gunshots, and he had been dreadfully, painfully worried that Kate had gotten hurt. But in the end it was she, and not some gun-wielding buffoon, who had opened the door and told Sticky that it was clear to come out. She had, it seemed, escaped with nary a scratch. Incredible.
Now they waited, knees nearly touching in the tiny shed, for the arrival of the helicopter hopefully carrying Milligan, Reynie, Constance, and, if luck was with them, at least one of the journals they had risked so much for.
"Did you know that radon levels are considered critical if they are any higher than four percent?" said Sticky, just for something to say.
"Nope. What is radon, even? Isn't it an element?"
"Kate," said Sticky with unnecessary exasperation, "Radon is the 86th element. It's a radioactive noble gas that occurs as a product of decay."
Kate made an absent noise of comprehension. It was evident that she wasn't really listening.
Sticky peered into his friend's face. He could hardly make it out in the gloom. "Hey, Kate, are you okay?"
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes.
Sticky felt like he should be saying something, so he said, "I hope they get here soon. I'm starving."
"I'm a bit thirsty, I guess."
"A bit thirsty? We've been going without water all day. It's no wonder you're getting dehydrated."
Kate slouched against the wall even further. "Good gravy, I'm tired." Her voice was low and gravelly, as though she was on the brink of falling asleep.
Sticky pricked his ears, thinking that he had heard the telltale hum of the helicopter's engines. After a few seconds, though, he decided that it was just the wind in the grass. "You should sleep. I'll wake you up when they come to pick us up."
"No, I should stay awake. Make sure those goons don't wake up."
"They won't, will they?"
"They shouldn't. But these guys like to break the rules."
Sticky nodded, then wasn't sure if Kate could see him or not. To make sure, he muttered, "Yeah."
Another couple minutes passed in relative silence. Sticky could hear the wind outside, and Kate's breathing slowly slowing down as her head slowly lowered to her chest and she started nodding off.
"You're a good friend." Her voice was smushed slightly, her words slurring together from fatigue.
"I wanted you to know it. You're all good friends. You, and Reynie, and Constance... ol' Connie-girl."
Sticky looked up at Kate thoughtfully. She was slumped against the wall now. If she hadn't been talking, he might have taken her for already asleep.
Her eyes slowly slid shut. "Sticky?"
"Would you tell me more about... about radon?"
Sticky cocked his head, not quite understanding the request but happy to oblige. "Well, sure. As I said, radon is the 86th element. Here, this is a good excerpt from the toxicological profile for radon: 'Radon is formed as one intermediate step in the normal radioactive decay chains, through which thorium and uranium slowly decay into lead. Thorium and uranium are the two most common radioactive elements on earth; they have been around since the earth was formed. Their naturally occurring isotopes have very long half-lives, on the order of billions of years. Thorium and uranium, their decay product radium, and its decay product radon, will therefore continue to occur for tens of millions of years at almost the same concentrations as they do now.' Isn't that fascinating? Kate? Kate?"
He looked at her. She wasn't moving, or even looking at him.
Sticky smiled. "Fallen asleep on me, Kate? That's okay – I'll keep going anyway. Radon was discovered in 1900, by Friedrich Ernst Dorn. It was only the fifth radioactive element to be found, though there's some dispute about..."
It wasn't sleep.