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Heaven Ain't Got A Vacancy

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Gerard’s tired. So fucking tired. Of everything. Everyone. And he desperately misses Mikey. More than ever today.

But of course as the prospective leader of Better Living Industries he can’t permit anyone to properly know that. Or maybe he could. If he wanted to be sent into the drab rehabilitation centers, but he knew that would do nothing but obliterate his memory of everything he had ever thought other than the strict things BL/Ind allowed.

So basically his absolute existence. Oh man. He is so fucked. He was fucked from the very terrible second he was born. Born into a charmed life that he never really wanted to have. FUCK. Born into a miserable life of pills and mind wipes. Constantly. He’s so weary of it.

He’s so tired. He absolutely could use a nap. But no. He has to complete this mission. Or at least provide enough fake evidence that he undoubtedly did to be able to fake his way home for a nap. There’s nothing he desires more at the moment. Well, that’s not precise. What he desperately desires is to get out of this hellhole he’s been ensnared in for as long as he can remember.

It was bearable for the first fifteen challenging years. And then Mikey left.

At least, that’s allegedly what the high-ranking official known as his mom draped in her flowing cloak of fucking lies informed him on that typical day three terrible years ago. He remembers that day vividly. He sits back and recalls it.

“Gerard,” He hears his mother call, in her cautious way of speaking, like any word said wrong could lead to her downfall. And he supposes as he carefully pulls on his issued hospital white combat boots, it very well could. The implemented system is rather unforgiving. He finishes lacing his boots and stands up allowing a cursory glance in the mirror to affirm that he is presentable.

Slicked back hair? Check.

Uniform in proper place? Check.

His identifying badge for getting into the office later? Check.

The awful blank look he invariably has to correctly assume to appear innocent? Double check.

The daily pills? Ha. As if. He and Mikey stopped forcibly taking them years ago. As soon as he had recognized what the did to you, he had voluntarily stopped taking them and forced Mikey to do precisely the same. Mikey. Poor Mikey. Gerard had inevitably been his mother’s favorite and he knows that if she knew that Mikey didn’t receive his pills he would be in rehab in five seconds flat. Probably faster. He remembered the first time they hadn’t taken them and the shared realization that they were breaking the law. It had been exhilarating and terrifying. That had been precisely three dreary years ago. Gerard cautiously feels a little bit off from time to time, but that’s just because he and Mikey represent the solitary ones in this whole goddamn city who perceive the brutal truth about what they do to you.

Instantly remembering that his mother had indeed called for him he responds properly, “Coming, Mother,” Ha. Like she justly deserved that title. He allowed another shrewd glance in the mirror and intentionally allowed him one last look of being alive, then proceeded to walk out of the cramped spartan immaculate and utterly drab room that has been his since before he can remember bitterly. Probably since before he was born.

He walks into the dining area and walks around the table, the soft thumps of his combat boots, the only noise he can hear other than his heartbeat. “Good morning Mother,” He says, monotonically just like he had been taught from birth and leans down to give her a swift kiss on the cheek, just as is expected. “Where’s Mikey?” He carefully questions realizing that his younger brother isn’t here.

A glazed look comes instantly into his mother’s pensive eyes. “Mikey,” She murmured then looks up her cold diluted brown eyes looking up into his hazel ones, “He’s vanished,”

“Gone where?” Gerard politely asks, fighting down the mild panic he feels rising in his chest.

His panicked anxiety merely grows when his mother completely disregards the question instead standing up and gently forcing him into his seat. “Why don’t you eat your breakfast?" She gently suggests no evident trace of emotion in her familiar robotic voice. Gerard nearly bursts into tears.

Exclusive fear holds him together. If he were to lose it, Destroya knows precisely what would invariably happen to him. Probably rooms full of nothing but disappointed faces dressed in white playing at angels and needles. Shiver. So instead of mourning what has happened to his mother he ingests his food numbly, and for the first time since he had taken the pills forced down every citizens throat by BL/Ind he experiences no emotion. Not even for his mother who had been deprived of every human emotion who had no idea where her second born was precisely. The stage of no emotion doesn’t last long and soon he is finished and pretending to be emotionless again.

Gerard shakes off the melancholy memory and stares into the moonlit desert. He wishes he would have pressed the issue further that day. Gotten more info. But he didn’t. He was a fucking coward as usual.

He knows intuitively that his unknown target was supposed to have appeared hours ago and as soon as he goes back to Battery City he will most likely be in huge trouble.

And that’s when he sights it.

Off in the sufficient distance, a dust cloud slowly getting larger on the horizon drawing nearer and nearer.

Gerard stares at it, carefully trying to gage whether it is BL/ind or if it is the Killjoys he was sent out to take down. He instantly feels a sickening drop in his nervous stomach as he identifies the uniform pair of white cars drawing near. He totals the cars and groans into his hands as he counts. Two! They either thought he needed backup, or he’s about to be in huge trouble. It’s probably the second he think numbly.

The white cars draw nearer and as he can undoubtedly see the Dracs staring steadfastly at him from behind the wheel and he genuinely feels like puking. Sure he allegedly knows that BL/Ind has reasonably suspected him for a long time, but he never thought that they would take this far.

He’s constantly assumed that he would die young. Probably executed on credible accusations of treason or intentionally killed on a impossible mission. He’s inevitably retained a target on his back from both sides of this war. From the Killjoys for being the eldest child of the prominent leader of BL/Ind and from BL/Ind for just not fitting in all the possible way. He had hoped however, that he would get to see Mikey again before he died.

It was this that flicked him out of his desolate state.

There was no fucking way he wasn’t going down without a vicious fight. For Mikey. He told himself carefully pulling his raygun out of his holster and stepping out of the car. He takes a deep breath for good luck and begins aiming carefully at the tires of the approaching cars. His fingers clutch the trigger turning white at the knuckles.

He hesitates for a second. If he pulls the trigger, there is no going back. Never again will he see his mother or his father. But than he thinks of everything he comprehends about the Killjoys. Freedom. Colors. Anti BL/Ind.

The desperate chance for personal freedom from the humdrum lie he’s resided since the second his mother and father decided to have a child, the chance to maybe see Mikey again. He’s never given up hope that his brother was alive. Not even after his mother had failed to recognize Mikey’s name when he scarcely dared to bring him up.

And that’s what seals the deal for Gerard. He’d do anything to see his little brother again. He raises his blaster and carefully closing his left eye to aim, pulls the trigger. The resounding pop of the left punctured tire giving out rings out across the desert. He merely watches in grim satisfaction as the battered car swerves into the other sending sparks screeching into the brightening desert. The cars, however, manage to avoid completely crashing and escape with just some malicious scratches on the sides and a singed smell starts to tint the air. Gerard snatches a deep breath.

No going back now. He prompts himself snatching another breath and steadying his aim he pulls the trigger again.

BAM! There inevitably goes the other car’s tire he thinks grimly to himself. He watches attentively as the other car collides with the other one sending flames roaring into the night.

He extracts the appropriate keys out of the ignition of his still running car, and carefully keeping his blaster with him gradually makes his way across the moonlit sand to the wrecks.

The wrecks are emitting visible smoke billowing into the air, and Gerard feels keenly a glowing spark of panic as he realizes all the Killjoys in the local area will most likely come this way to note what the terrific explosion is from and what there is to loot from the scene.

Gerard cautiously approaches the car on the left first. He wrenches open the familiar door to the driver’s seat blaster in hand finger on the trigger ready to instantly shoot anything that moves in the cars. Nothing. Just a dead Drac. He investigates the other car with the equivalent amount of necessary caution then, certain that all the dracs are dead he levers over the trunk.

He knows that supplies are hard to find in the arid desert and if he is captured by Killjoys he can most likely use the necessary supplies to a) get information on Mikey, b) convince them not to kill him, and c) hopefully convince them not to turn him into BL/Ind. He kind of doubts that they’d get near enough to the city to turn him and risk getting caught, but hey, they’re Killjoys. Doing the impossible is kind of their whole thing.

He looks into the trunks dusty and slightly broiled interior and is not disappointed with the contents. There are five rayguns in each trunk, along with enough food rations to last about a month. He gathers everything into his arms and walks laboriously back to his car. He pops the trunk with his foot and deposits his load into the trunk. He rubs his side as three of the rayguns he carried had been digging rather painfully into his bruised ribs.

He takes an appraising look at the trunk then closes it and locks it. He has no doubt that anyone could pick that lock, but the Killjoys likely maintain too much honor to perform that, he hopes anyway.

He takes a look at the wrecks, and he knows it’s not overly long until the Killjoys show up and correctly decides that the excellentest course of action is to wait for them. He double checks that the key is secure in his shallow pocket then climbs on top of the car’s roof.

He sits passively and waits. His fingers slowly follow patterns on the roof. He relishes in the feeling of being free. All the more if that feeling is merely temporary, he’s gratified he received a taste of what it feels like to be free before he died. He looks down at his hands. He turns them this way and that regarding them. He never genuinely grasped why his hands always seemed so delicate, he’s invested hours training with every weapon left under the nuclear blasted sun sky and has spent hours typing reports of ‘crimes’ carry out by the Killjoys so one would think that he would bear some trace of that, but no his hands are so fucking smooth it’s driving him insane.

He realizes that looking down instead of looking up is an impractical idea as he doesn’t terribly feel like being attacked again so promptly.

He looks up, and his breath catches in his throat. The sunrise is astonishing.

There are all sorts of colors strewn across the sky in no particular order and there are a few last stars miraculously disappearing as he watches the sun rise slowly over the visible horizon.

He watches entranced until the sun is practically above the horizon.

At that time he hears the footsteps. He rises gradually, while staying low knowing that designating himself a more significant target would not remain a good idea. He's like to avoid being killed without even having a full day of freedom. He carefully pulls his blaster out his holster again if only to cause himself feel a little bit safer. He has no doubt that any Killjoy could easily outshoot him.

Hence, he holds it close to his side and crouching, spins around to confront the person approaching the car he’s perched on like a hysterical bird and regains his breath. There is something comforting in the way the Killjoy, for he can clearly see it’s a Killjoy because whoever it is, is decked out in a leather vest and a bright yellow shirt. AND of course the infamous mask of Frankenstein’s monster.

A flash of recognition appears in his exhausted mind. Fun Ghoul. Rather fitting given the mask. He gathered a deep breath.

This particular Killjoy had wreaked terrible havoc a couple of years ago by planting a errant bomb in a supply truck. Gerard remembers the day vividly and how he had secretly cheered for the man, because knowing that there was at least one person still out there who universally hated BL/Ind as much as him, he could keep going without Mikey. No matter how much it hurt.

The man had drifted closer now, and Gerard could clearly see that he had his blaster out and was clearly ready to execute him if he displayed any suspicious sign of violent hostility.

Gerard took a deep breath and in one smooth motion flung his gun onto the ground in front of him, placing his graceful hands on his head.

He had seen the Killjoy tense when he had moved, but the figure seemed to relax somewhat now that he was the only one with a weapon.

“Get off the car,” The Killjoy commanded, clearly not going to allow any chances.

Gerard slid down the side of the car and landed nimbly on the ground imposing his hands back on his head, which he had moved to steady himself if he fell. He placed his back up against the car and watched as the Killjoy drew nearer, blaster pointed directly at his head. Gerard just stood there, knowing full well that if the Killjoy wanted him dead he would be slain in seconds.

“Who are you?” The Killjoy said, haggard eyes boring into his.

“Gerard,” Gerard scarcely manages to choke out, suddenly very aware that the man in front of him is decked out in colors, and he is very much still in his Bl/Ind uniform which is probably enough to provide him negative incentive to annihilate him.

“Way?” Questions the Killjoy, face not giving away anything as he stares into Gerard’s soul.

Gerard moistens his lips nervously then slowly nods, not knowing if the man will kill merely because of his bloodline. The Killjoy tightens convulsively his fierce grip on his weapon, and says tersely, “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t shoot you,”

Gerard takes a breath, and he knows that bargaining will accomplish him nothing, so he answers satisfactorily, “BL/Ind wants me dead too,” He says nodding at the cars behind the Killjoy, “I was on a mission and those two came at me,”

The Killjoy extends his hand, “Stop. I don’t require the details. BL/Ind may want you dead, but why shouldn’t I kill you?”

Gerard thinks carefully for another critical second, “I haven’t taken the pills since before I turned thirteen,” He says flicking his tongue over his teeth nervously. He anxiously looks the Killjoy dead in the eye and waits nervously for his reaction.

“Keep talking,” The Killjoy monotones looking all for the world like Gerard is the most uninteresting person he has ever met.

“I really just want out of the City, and I don’t care if you shoot me, I just want out of there,” Gerard says earnestly his mind fighting off the apparent exhaustion of not having slept peacefully in three days, “I came out of that place three days ago as the future leader of that eternal hell. I’m standing here today as a traitor, with no more incentive to re-enter that place than you.” He lamely finishes looking tiredly up at the Killjoy, who has lowered his gun, a minor fraction.

“Alright,” Says the Killjoy, “Why shouldn’t I turn you in?”

Gerard tiredly smirks, “Turning me in would be the equivalent of turning yourself in,”

The Killjoy lowers his weapon entirely, “Fun Ghoul,” He says holding out his left hand for Gerard to shake, Gerard takes it and shakes it weakly before leaning against the car, sagging relieved the Killjoy has decided not to kill him for the moment.

“Even if you were going to run, I think you’re too tired,” The Killjoy comments.

Gerard’s fighting off sleep and it feels like a losing battle.

“Mmhm” He manages sleepily and through his tired haze he could swear that Fun Ghoul grins. Then he remembers that he can’t see because of the grinning green mask he wears.

“Here’s the plan,” Ghoul says taking a look at Gerard who is so tired he feels keenly like he could fall over at any possible second, “I’m going to transport you and the car to Dr. D who will decide what to do with you,” He reluctantly decides and Gerard nods sleepily along, “Are there handcuffs in the car?” He questions an apologetic wince conveying itself across his features.

Gerard intuitively understands, he takes the set he is required to carry off his belt (Fucking BL/Ind, like he was going to meet a stray Killjoy in the middle of Battery City) and offers them to Ghoul who takes them cautiously like they might be rigged. Gerard than sleepily twists the keys to both the handcuffs and the car out of his pocket and holds his hands out to Ghoul.

Ghoul bestows him an astonished look, “Just don’t damage the car,” He mutters sleepily as Ghoul puts the cuffs on his hands and Ghoul laughs, "I don't have enough sleep to worry about anything else,"

“I won’t,” He promises and directs a very placid Gerard into the back seat where after determining that Ghoul is not going to turn him in he falls asleep, feeling oddly safer than he has in a long time.

---

"Who do you think he's waiting for?" Says Jet a few hours earlier peering nervously over the sand dune. Ghoul can tell he's nervous because his afro is vibrating as he quivers with nervous energy as he slightly shakes.

“Us,” He says shooting Jet one of the grins he’s known across the desert for before pulling his mask all the way off.

It has the intended effect and Jet visibly calms down, “Yeah, right, an agent of BL/Ind is just going to sit out in the desert and wait for us,” He says rolling his eyes affectionately.

“You never know,” Says Ghoul brightly. A car’s motor suddenly permeates the air. “Where’s it coming from?” He asks as he intensely cranes his neck up trying to be able to see anything. Jet pokes his head over the dune edge they’ve been sitting behind for the past couple of hours watching and waiting tensely. Damn tall people. Why are all of his friends so tall?

“Over there,” He whispers and points one of his freakishly long fingers in the direction of the horizon where the sun is beginning to poke over the horizon cautiously, like it wishes it could go away.

Ghoul looks and sure enough in the distance he can vaguely see two white cars contrasting obviously against the desert. He moves to stand, but Jet pulls him back down, “Look,” He hisses violently in Ghouls ear and he winces. Then he looks.

The official they have spent the last few hours watch sit still has finally moved. The figure steps smoothly out of the car and smoothly pulls out a blaster. “What’s he doing?” Ghoul hisses, they’ve never seen another BL/Ind employee pull a weapon on another, much less on two cars. It’s madness. If he pulls it off Ghoul is going to be mildly impressed. He watches the figure’s shoulders rise and fall once then suddenly, BAM! One of the cars veers off course towards the other and Jet makes an impressed noise. Even Ghoul has to admit that was an insane shot, but this guy made it look easy. (But then again, what does he know about guns? He just blows stuff up. But Jet looks impressed so that’s good enough for him.)

He looks back at the figure, and they’ve pulled off another insanely talented shot in the time that he looked away, and he watches as the cars collide. He sees the figure’s shoulder sag in relief and he is unsure if this is some crazy training exercise, but then the figure holsters his ray gun and walk to the car crash.

They watch as he pokes around the wreckage, and Ghoul and Jet exchange startled looks when he walks back to his car arms full after looting the other two cars of any useful items they might have. The figure then proceeds to climb on top of their car and just sit there.

“I’m going in,” Declares Ghoul, realizing that this could be their chance to get inside info on BL/Ind. Jet gives him a look that says Don’t do anything stupid and he just grins again. Jet is clearly not reassured, but before he can do anything Ghoul is off and running across the sand crouched down, then standing up. Totally not stupid. No way.

The man spins around slowly and rises to a crouching position on the car. The man appears to recognize him, but doesn’t do anything which surprises Ghoul. Normally he would have been shot at by now. The man moves his hand towards his belt, and Ghoul tenses instantly.

He had watched this man disable two cars in the space of a few precarious seconds easily, if he wanted him dead he would probably be dead. Instead he throws his gun towards Ghoul and it lands at his feet. He looks at it cautiously hoping it won’t explode. That would be an ironic way to die he thinks morbidly as he relaxes slightly, but doesn’t ease his grip on the gun in the slightest. He looks back up at the man and realizes he has his hands on his head.

“Get off the car,” Ghoul states, tone invoking no argument, slightly amused not like he’d show that now though.

The man slides down the car moving his hands to stabilize himself as he wobbles precariously and Ghoul notices that he has lovely hands. He places them back on his head though.

“Who are you?” He asks staring the other man down and it does the intended job as he seems rather intimidated.

“Gerard,” The man says tensing like he expects something and- wait Gerard. Like the future leader of BL/Ind? Ghoul instantly tightens his grip.

“Way?” He questions.

The other man licks his lips and Ghoul pretends he isn’t staring at the sight from behind his mask, and nods.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t shoot you,” He states, willing to withhold his judgement until he gets an answer as to why this man just killed his companions in cold blood.

“BL/Ind wants me dead too,” The man monotones, “I was on a mission and those two came at me,”

“Stop,” Says Ghoul, this could easily be a set up he thinks, then continues, “I don’t require the details. BL/Ind may want you dead, but why shouldn’t I kill you?”

The other man hesitates then says more nervous than Ghoul has ever seen a person, “I haven’t taken the pills since I was thirteen,” Ghoul tried to hide his surprise at this. A Way?? Who didn’t take the pills? This was going to be interesting.

“Keep talking,” Ghoul tries going for as bored as he can.

“I really just want out of the city,” Way says and Ghoul is shocked. Who is this guy? “I don’t care if you shoot me. I just want out of there,” The guy says looking more tired than anyone he’s seen since- he doesn’t need to get distracted. “I came out of that place three days ago of the leader of that eternal hell,” Ghoul feels like if the stranger could see his face that h’s find it quite amusing, “I’m standing here today as a traitor, with no more incentive to re-enter that place than you,” Ghoul’s astonishment at this guy is slowly growing, first the cars now this.

“Alright,” He says, “Why shouldn’t I turn you in?” He questions knowing full well that that would be suicide. (And he has no intention of letting this opportunity get by him)

The guy smirks and holy shit he looks tired! And cute but Ghoul ignores that, “Turning me in would be the equivalent of turning yourself in,” He states matter a factly.

Ghoul grins. He’s not wrong. This guy has his respect, “Fun Ghoul,” He states holding out his left hand in a mean-spirited effort to confuse the man. He takes it in stride though and shakes it. He then sags against the car and Ghoul can’t believe how tired he looks. “Even if you were going to run, I think you’re too tired,” Remarks Ghoul and to his relief, the only response he gets is “Mmhm”

“Here’s the plan,” Ghoul says taking a look at Gerard who is so tired looking “I’m going to transport you and the car to Dr. D who will decide what to do with you,” He reluctantly decides and Gerard nods sleepily along, “Are there handcuffs in the car?” He questions an apologetic wince conveying itself across his features. He really doesn’t want to do this, but it really is safer for him and Jet.

Gerard sleepily fumbles at his belt and Ghoul is surprised when he hands him a pair of handcuffs. He takes them looking suspiciously at them and looks up to see Gerard holding his hands out to him with two sets of keys in them. One for the car and one for the handcuffs he assumes.

“Just don’t damage the car,” He mutters sleepily as Ghoul puts the cuffs on his hands and Ghoul laughs, "I don't have enough sleep to worry about anything else," Gerard mumbles sleepily and Ghoul feels like this sleepy Bl/ind employee is either telling very much the truth or a very good actor.

“I won’t,” He promises and directs a very placid Gerard into the back seat where after determining that Ghoul is not going to turn him in he falls asleep.

Ghoul leaves him napping in the car and stand sup signaling to Jet.

“What’s the story?” Jet asks gesturing at the sleeping passenger.

“Gerard Way. Traitor and dead shot,” Informs Ghoul and he grins a little at the perfect O shape Jet’s mouth makes.

“Holy shit,” Jet breathes taking a closer look at the man.

“I know,” Says Ghoul leaning against the car, and it seems some of Gerard’s exhaustion has worn off on him. “Ready to head back?” He questions Jet who seems slightly in shock at the man sitting in the back seat.

“Yeah,” He replies snapping out of his awe inspired stupor, “You going to drive that?” He asks as he nods distastefully at the white car.

“Yeah,” Says Ghoul, “But you’d better go first to warn them what I’m driving or I’ll be dead.”

“Alright,” says Jet squaring his shoulders, “See you at the broadcast station,”

Ghoul nods then watches as his partner hikes back to where they parked their car nearly twelve hours earlier. He sighs and opening the door swings his small frame into the car and buckles up for the drive back to the Station, where he wonders what is going to happen.

 

Chapter Text

When Gerard wakes up he feels safe. It’s a brand new feeling and it takes him a couple of seconds to figure it out. He blearily blinks his eyes and winces slightly as the harsh desert sun fills them as easily as filling a glass of water. Though, you can't do that in the desert.

He hears a quiet chuckle and he opens his eyes again, the previous day’s events rushing back to him. He sits up suddenly panicking. He was too tired to really process his actions, and the severity and consequences of his actions sink in.

“Dude, chill,” He hears Ghoul say and he looks up wide eyed to see the man gazing at him in the driver’s mirror, “I’m not going to hurt you,” The man reassures him looking awfully concerned, and Gerard realizes he’s taken his mask off. A pair of brown eyes stare back into his and he loses focus as he looks at them. They have a silent staring contest until,

“I know,” He chokes out, eyes slowly taking in the desert that they’re driving through. He’s never been this far out before, “Just-” He huffs moving to brush his hair out of his eyes, then remembering that he’s handcuffed and can’t, “Yesterday,” He pauses struggling for words angrily bouncing his knee, a habit he's had to keep in check for as long as he can remember.

The Killjoy shoots him a sympathetic look in the mirror, “It’s a lot to process isn’t it,” He says smiling softly and Gerard feels like that smile is more deadly than his gun. Which he realizes is most likely still lying on the ground where he slung it. Ugh. He really liked that one.

“Yeah,” He says looking out the window at a cactus, “I’m kind of just now realizing the full extent of my actions,”

“Do you wish you hadn’t done it,” Ghoul questions, and Gerard thinks for a hard second. 

Does he? If he hadn’t done what he had he would be locked up in BL/Ind headquarters while anticipating being harshly mind wiped. “NO,” He decides strongly, “I don’t regret it, this is much better than what would have happened if I hadn’t shot those cars,”

“What would have happened?” Says Ghoul looking like he actually cares, and Gerard is so unsettled by this that he feels he might just fall over. He's not used to people other than Mikey caring about him.

“Mind wipe,” He answers, tone leaving no room for more questions, but the Killjoy fits perfectly into the stereotype of being pushy by pushing farther. 

“Really?” He questions sounding surprised.

“What, do you think they wouldn’t mind wipe a Way?” He laughs sarcastically, “I’ve got news for you, I was just a way to ensure that their reign could continue, it’s not that hard to replace me. It’s a wonder I have a mind anyway with the amount of times that they’ve done it to me,” He finishes bitterly looking up at the Killjoy’s shocked face in the mirror, “Don’t look so surprised,” He says drily and Ghoul snaps his open mouth shut.

“Do they not have family loyalty?” He says, looking like Gerard has just announced that he’s going to be staked for being a vampire, which he had to admit wasn't all that likely, they had moved past stakings ages ago, “Please tell your parents don’t see you like that,” His tone is desperate and Gerard feels horrible.

Gerard sighs, “They do,” He says not daring to look up and see the crestfallen look on the other man’s face, “I’m not sure if my parents even remember if my parents remember the first word I said, or even were there. My parents didn’t seem to really know what love was,” He risks a look up and winces as the other man’s eyes mist over.

“Out here crews are like our family,” Ghoul says, “We all love each other and always have each other’s backs,” He gives Gerard a small smile and Gerard feels like this man is trying to reassure him that love exists. 

“Is that what love feels like?” He asks quietly, unsure whether or not he wants to know. Though, he supposes that he does. 

“Yes,” Says Ghoul stopping the car, he turns around to face Gerard, “Come sit up here,” He says motioning to the passengers seat. Gerard clambers awkwardly over the center council and Ghoul is gracious enough not to mention the way that Gerard’s cheeks go scarlet when he helps him from falling on his face, “Do you really not know what love is?” He asks twisting in his seat to look Gerard in the eye, and Gerard ignores the fluttery feeling in his stomach.

Gerard thinks, “I love my brother,” He decides.

“Brother?” Asks Ghoul gently.

“Yeah,” Gerard says, “He disappeared three years ago,”

Ghoul makes a face like he’s trying to remember something than says, “Love is feeling like your world would have nothing in it with out that thing, like your heart is being split in two, like you can’t go on. It feels like your falling and can’t control it, and yet it feels terrifying and exhilarating,” He finishes.

“Yeah?” Says Gerard.

“Yeah,” Says Ghoul firmly, “You’ll understand one day,”

“I get it,” Says Gerard, “When my brother disappeared, it felt like someone had pulled the rung out from under my feet and I hit my head on the way down,”

Ghoul smiles, “That’s it,” He starts the car again and they take off again, "I hope your brother's out here," He says off-hand and Gerard feels a pang.

“How far off are we?” Gerard asks looking out at the empty landscape and feeling like he is falling down Alice’s hole to Wonderland. Ghoul would be a good white rabbit, he decides. He always seems to be moving.

“About five minutes,” Says Ghoul, as a building comes into view in the distance.

“They’re not going to shoot at the car, are they?” Gerard asks a sinking feeling in his stomach as Ghoul grins and shrugs casually like this is an everyday happening.

“Hopefully not,”

Gerard feels like this should be reassuring, but he feels like it could be in fact the opposite, “What do I need to know about Dr. D?” He asks, remembering dimly something about the man being mentioned before he fell asleep.

Ghoul looks surprised, “You remember that?” He asks looking amused, “You looked so out of it that I wasn’t sure what you would remember later,”

“Well, I remembered,” Says Gerard waiting for an answer. He wasn’t sarcastic. Not at all.

“He’s not a real doctor,” Ghoul says, “He just thought it sounded cool. He’s the closest thing we have to a leader, so don’t piss him off. And he will probably listen to you,” He adds an afterthought.

“Very helpful,” Says Gerard rolling his eyes, even though he knows that any info he can get is really helpful.

“Hey!” Protests Ghoul, “I could throw you out of the car, don’t sass the driver!”

Gerard laughs, “IF you were going to you would probably would have already,”

“Oh, yeah?” Says Ghoul pulling the car over and making a move to throw him out. Gerard dodges him though and pokes his tongue out at him childishly, “Do that again and I’ll bite your tongue off,” Warns Ghoul teasingly.

Gerard rolls his eyes and looks out the window to hide his blush as the building grows nearer. It’s mostly a small shack and Gerard feels thrilled at the site. It’s so nonuniform and filthy and he just knows if his mom saw it she’d pitch a fit. He realizes that she would also throw a fit if she saw him in a car with a wanted criminal driving and laughs harder than he can ever remember.

“What’s so funny?” Asks Ghoul, raising an eyebrow.

“I’m thinking about what my mother would say if she saw us,” Gerard gasps in between laughs, “Probably something like; Gerard what are you doing! Stop fraternizing with the enemy! You have to run all of this someday!”

“Does she really sound like that?” Ghoul asks, looking amused at Gerard’s antics, and looks very much like he is trying not to laugh.

“Yes!” Giggles Gerard and the expression on Ghoul’s face when he hears it is absolutely adorable. Not that Gerard dwells on that. Not at all.

“We’re here,” Says Ghoul laughing against his best efforts. Gerard suddenly snaps back to earth. Very aware that he is about to talk with the man that could decide his fate.

“Ok,” He breathes out anxiety filling him up like a balloon. Totally not nervous. Not at all. Ghoul gives him a sympathetic glance.

“It’ll be okay,” Says Ghoul laying a comforting hand on his arm before walking around the car to help Gerard out, and Gerard definitely doesn’t stare at his ass. And if he does, well it’s a nice ass. But why would he know that? He wasn’t staring.

Gerard stands outside the car and takes a deep breath before letting Ghoul lead him into the shack. Instantly his breath is blown away. The room is full of chaotic energy. Everywhere he looks there are pre BL/Ind posters of bands and records with colorful labels. This room is everything he wishes he could be. Loud. Chaotic. Colorful. Explicit. Maybe he’s got a shot at that now. He looks around for a couple more seconds, but he can’t find anyone. All he can see are a couple of doors and a ton of stuff that looks unfamiliar.

“This way,” Says Ghoul tugging on his arm and leading him through a door, through which Gerard can see a silhouette, “Dr. D!” Yells Ghoul louder than Gerard could ever imagine a person as small as he could get, “There’s someone you need to meet!”

The man himself is sitting at an old radio counsel. He holds up a finger and Ghoul pouts as he waits. After a second he spins around and Gerard takes a couple seconds to stare at the man behind the revolution. He’s shorter than expected because the way Ghoul reverently says his name made him picture someone really tall. He’s also got a crazy mustache and is decked out in colorful desert wear like Ghoul.

“Who’s this?” He finally says after what feels like an agonizing fifteen seconds sizing up Gerard.

“Gerard Way,” Crows Ghoul cheerfully and he completely ignores the slightly panicked look that Gerard shoots him.

“Way to throw me in the deep end,” Mutters Gerard out of the side of his mouth.

Ghoul rolls his eyes and replies, “You’ll be fine,”

Dr. D rolls his eyes, “I can hear you,’ He says and Gerard offers him a small smile in hopes to get on his good side, and Dr. D settles back down into his chair, “So what’s your story?” He asks throwing his legs up on the counsel and snapping his gum.

Ghoul opens his mouth and Dr. D sighs, “Not you Ghoul. I want to hear from him,” He says spinning to point lazily at Gerard.

“Me?” Gerard stammers.

“Yeah,” Says Dr. D amused, “Not used to people asking to listen to you? Are you kid?”

“Not really,” Gerard stammers.

“So what’s the story?” Dr. D says, “I know it’ll be interesting if Ghoul is this excited,” He remarks smirking at the Killjoy. Ghoul blushes and stops bouncing up and down.

“I don’t think it was that interesting,” Gerard protests.

“I disagree,” Says Dr. D, “It’s not very often we get a defect from BL/Ind,”

“Alright then,” Says Gerard still not convinced, “Long story short, after being suspected of breaking BL/Ind protocol I was sent into the desert on a mission with no real goal. After three days, they sent cars out to make sure I was dead. I shot the cars they crashed. BOOM! Big explosion,” Says Gerard waving his hands around to emphasize, “Then Ghoul found me, and we drove here while I was asleep and here I am,” He finished.

Dr. D turned to Ghoul, “Is he leaving anything out?”

Ghoul grinned, “Only the part where he shot the car’s tires from like 50 meters and made them crash,”

“That’s an exaggeration,” Gerard exclaims rolling his eyes. Dr. D grins.

“Ghoul could you leave us for a moment,” Dr. D asked, “Keys,” He says holding out his hand and Ghoul and drops the keys to the handcuffs Gerard remembers he's still wearing in them.

“See you,” He says pressing a quick kiss on Gerard’s cheek that he doesn’t even have time to register before he Ghoul is out of the room, as Ghoul leaves appearing slightly disappointed to not be a part of the conversation, Dr. D  asks “Did you really shoot the car’s tires out?” He asks conspiratorially lowering his voice.

Gerard nods, “I did,”

Dr. D whistled, “Impressive. There’s not many of us who can pull that shot off.”

“Really?” Says Gerard interested. From what BL/Ind has told him all the Killjoys could easily out shoot him

“Indeed,” Says Dr. D, “And I want to know the full story Gerard, not just the quick version,”

Gerard sighs, “Where do you want me to start?”

“The beginning of course,” Says Dr. D.

“Right,” Mutters Gerard, “Ok, I guess it started when I was thirteen and stopped taking the pills,”

“You didn’t take the pills?” Inquires Dr. D.

“No,” Confirms Gerard, “I didn’t, I made my brother stop taking them too,”

“Brother?” Dr. D says.

“Yes,” Gerard says soldiering on through the story, “Then when I was fifteen Mikey vanished and I started training under Korse. That was three years ago, since then I’ve amounted to absolutely nothing except being suspected of treason. Which of course is true. That eventually led to the last three days of events and here I am,”

“Ok,” Says Dr. D, “What can you tell me about BL/Ind’s plans?”

Gerard sighs. He’s known that this was coming, “Nothing we can trust, I’ve been different since I was a kid, so anything they told me can’t be trusted. I’ve gone through too many mid wipes to count and I don’t think anything I say about BL/Ind’s plans can be trusted,”

“You know Gerard, I have a good feeling about you,”

“Really?” Says Gerard slightly shocked.

“Yes,” Says Dr. D standing stiffly up, “How’d you like to become a Killjoy Gerard?”

Gerard’s shock must be written all over his face, “Really?” He stammers.

“Yep,” Says Dr. D.

“I’d love to,” Says Gerard, “But I’m not sure it’s the best idea. Most people won’t trust me because of my bloodline,”

“They’ll trust you if I say to,” Says Dr. D.

Gerard’s brain keeps coming up with worse case scenarios, “What if I fail?” He asks mouth dry. Because FUCK he doesn’t want to mess this up.

“That’s what will make you succeed Gerard,” States Dr. D smiling, “Knowing you’re not perfect. Welcome to the Killjoys.”

“Thank you,” Stammers Gerard, “There is one more thing though,”

“What?” Asks Dr. D.

“My brother Mikey, do you know if he’s out here?”

“I do know Gerard, but you have to find him.”

“Ok,” Breathes Gerard, “Oh my god, he’s alive,” He says smiling wider than he can ever remember.

Dr. D smiles underneath his mustache, “There is one small issue before Ghoul comes to get you,” He says motioning at Gerard’s hands.

Gerard’s brain takes a second to catch on, “Oh yeah,” He mutters sheepishly. He had forgotten that he was wearing the handcuffs still after the excitement of learning that Mikey was alive. He holds his hands out to Dr. D and he undoes the cuffs and holds his hand out to Gerard. He takes it grinning and shook it.

“Ghoul you can come in and stop eavesdropping,” Dr. D calls, and Gerard rolls his eyes totally unsurprised.

“I wasn’t!” Protested Ghoul, but as Dr. D raised eyebrow so artfully Gerard feels like he should clap he amends, “OK, just a little,”

“Ghoul take Gerard to get new gear and help him pick a Killjoy name,” Dr. D instructs and Ghoul grins rubbing his hands demonically together.

“Alright,” He grins, “This is going to be fun,” He grabs Gerard by the arm and Gerard swears he sees Dr. D roll his eyes before he is dragged violently into yet another room he didn’t notice.

“Welcome to fashion paradise,” Ghoul says spreading his arms out and spinning in a circle.

Gerard looks around and feels slightly overwhelmed. There are bright colors everywhere. Everywhere. He blinks eyes trying to take in the colors. When his eyes can look again Ghoul is bustling around in a fashion that reminds him of rather of the nanny him and Mikey had when they were younger. Ah, she was a the worst.

As his mind expands to allow the vast world of color to sink in he hears Ghoul muttering, “Yes. No. Gross who’d want to wear that? Yeah. Nope. That would match this, but it doesn’t really,” Gerard follows the smaller boy with his eyes and he is astounded by the sheer amount of clothing Ghoul is carrying.

“Who are those for?” He questions.

Ghoul turns around grinning so brightly it feels like Gerard is having to stare directly into the fucking sun, “You silly!” Gerard remembers that he is still in his stark white uniform with the BL/Ind logo on the front. He picks at the hem unsure of himself as he watches as Ghoul staggers over and dumps a pile of clothes on the ground. His eyes widen as Ghoul begins pulling item after item out of the pile and holding it up against him briskly.

“Is this really necessary?” Gerard asks, then wishes he hadn’t as Ghouls eyes widen dramatically.

“Why of course,” He says looking at Gerard with a look that makes him feel like someone is tracing his spine. It’s absolutely terrifying and wolf-like. He then thrusts a significantly smaller pile than the one at the beginning at Gerard, “Try these on,” He demands then turns around.

Gerard awkwardly strips and begins to try on outfits. He pretends he doesn’t see Ghoul peeking at him. He feels like he’s a mannequin.  He finally tries on the last  outfit after many denials and emphatic nos from Ghoul  which consists of a pair of gray skinny jeans he feels like are painted on and a blue leather shirt and yellow shirt. Ghoul squeals and jumps up and down as Gerard turns around for him to see.

“THIS IS IT!!!” He yells spinning Gerard around to get the full effect.

“You think?” Says Gerard skeptically.

“I know,” Whispers Ghouls and Gerard feels very unsure of what to do. Ghoul is in his face looking him in the eye and then just as suddenly as he was there he isn’t, “Now you just need a mask, a gun, and most importantly a name!”

He walks along the shelves looking at masks, “If you see one you like it’s yours,” He calls over his shoulder. Gerard looks at the masks. There are way too many to count. They come in all colors and shapes. Then a yellow one catches his eye. It’s small and has diamonds over the eyes and blue circles. He picks it up and knows instantly that this is the one.

“Found one!” He calls out, Ghoul spins around.

He rushes back and gasps, “That’s perfect! Try it on!”

Gerard hesitantly ties on the mask and looks up at Ghoul.

“Perfect,” Whispers Ghoul and suddenly he is being pulled through rows of shelves again until he is standing in front of a rack of guns, “Pick one,” He says gesturing at them.

Gerard looks at them. They all are brightly colored and he grins as one catches his eye, it’s the same model as his other one and he picks it up and methodically fiddles with the trigger. Ghoul looks slightly alarmed and Gerard laughs, “I’m to going to shoot you,” He treasures and Ghoul smiles.

“Let’s go!” He announces dragging Gerard back into the main room. He yells, “HEY SHOW PONY!!!” And Gerard catches a glimpse of a tall figure on roller skates before he is back out in the bright sun, “Come on,” Ghoul says pulling on Gerard’s arm at the elbow, and Gerard fells like he's going o dislocate it.

“OK,” Says Gerard a little tired of being pulled around as he gets back into the car.

Once he’s in the car Ghoul lowers his voice conspiratorially, “I know a Mikey and I’m going to take you to him, but for now you need a Killjoy name.”

Gerard smiles in gratitude at Ghoul and thinks as Ghoul starts the car and takes off. It doesn't even occur to him to be miffed that Ghoul was eavesdropping.

“What about Rattlesnake Kid?” Asks Ghoul with a glint in his eye that makes Gerard very very nervous.

“Naw,” Gerard says, then inspiration hits him, “Party Poison,” He blurts out.

Ghoul blinks at him, “I like it,” He decides, “We’ll be there in about fifteen minutes, so go ahead and ask any questions you have,”

Gerard blinks slowly. He has a lot of questions, “What does it mean to be a Killjoy?” He asks after thinking for a minute.

Ghoul looks at him like this is the question that makes his world go round, “It means different things to different people,” He explains slowly, “To me it means the chance for a better future, rebelling against BL/Ind, and making sure that there is still happiness in the world. There are some that are bitter and see it as a game of revenge, and those,” He says slowly, “Those are the ones who die the quickest,”

Gerard nods. Ghoul’s explanation makes sense. “What are some things I should know about the person you are taking me to see?”

Ghoul hesitates, “He’s very sarcastic,” he says not appearing whether or not to keep talking, “And he’s like twice as tall as me,”

Gerard thinks, it’s not the Mikey he remembers, but so much could have changed in the three years since they saw each other last. He stares into the distance hoping it is the right Mikey.

He sees another small out post appear in the distance and the rest of the ride is silent except for the hum of tire wheels and the engine’s quiet purr. Ghoul parks a in front of what looks like an old diner from back before the Nuclear Wars.

Ghoul speaks again lookings at Gerard, “Ready?”

“No,” Admits Gerard.

“Perfect,” Says Ghoul clapping as they climb out of the car and walk into the diner.

Gerard’s eyes take a second to adjust than he sees two figures sitting in booths.

“YO! KOBRA!!!” Yells Ghoul and the tall figure slowly turns to face them.

“Hey Ghoul,” Says a very familiar, but slightly deeper and more gravely voice and Gerard finds himself staring at his kid brother, all grown up, “Who’s this?” Asks Mikey and Gerard can’t speak. He's too choked up to say anything.

“Can’t recognize your own brother?” He finally asks hoarsely and Mikey stares at him. Eyes wide and full of guilt that Gerard doesn't understand where it comes from.

“Gerard,” He whispers and Gerard nods. Mikey flies across the room and scoops him up in a rough hug squeezing so tight it feels like he's going to burst.

“Hey,” Murmurs Gerard, “I’ve missed you,” Squeezing back.

“You have no idea,” Says Mikey wiping tears out of his eyes still full of guilt. 

“So how's life been?” Gerard asks like he would when Mikey came home from school and Mikey looks like he’s going to fall over. Gerard looks at his brother and marvels at the lanky figure he's grown into.

“It’s been good,” He says weepily and pulls Gerard back into a hug. Gerard can feel his brother shaking and sobbing into his shoulder. Gerard sheds a tear and composes himself.

“I’m here, and I’m not leaving,” He says softly and Mikey sobs harder.

Gerard hugs his brother and wishes desperately that he never has to let go again.

---

Kobra leans back in the diner seat, Sandman's going to be here soon and he's kind of tired of waiting. He watches as the shadows of the diner slowly begin to fall shorter and shorter. Finally Sandman walks in, hair full of sand and Kobra breathes a sigh of relief. He never knows if Sandman is going to come back alive or in a body-bag and the anxiety blanket he's felt all morning since he left to investigate the explosion vanishes.

"Took you long enough," He mutters, pulling in Sandman for a quick kiss. A kiss that portrays I missed you, I wish you didn't have to leave, and most importantly I'm glad you're still alive.

"Hey," Laughs Sandman and Kobra feels like that laugh could be the only thing he could hear forever and he would be okay with that, even if Sandman is only laughing to try and lighten the mood, "We had to check out a couple of wrecks. Sharpshooter took out the tires and they crashed," He says. 

Kobra frowns, "Sharpshooter?" He asks confused, "I didn't think we had any," The last one they did have had disappeared a few months ago then turned up dead.

"That's the crazy thing," Says Sandman and Kobra is mildly interested, "Rumor has it, that it was a BL/Ind employee turned turncoat and shot out his own cars," He says and Kobra's heart skips a beat. He desperately wants it to be Gerard, but he knows it won't be. But that doesn't mean he doesn't hope.

"Anything else?" He asks cautiously.

"Ghoul and Jet supposedly found him on patrol and took him to see Dr. D, and do you know the craziest part?" He asks as they cross the diner to where Kobra was sitting before and sit down limbs tangled and Kobra gently picks the sand out of his hair.

"What?" Kobra asks, really wanting an answer but hesitant to let Sandman know about his interest about the subject.

"Ok," Says Sandman, "Rumor is that it's the one and only Dave Way's eldest son, that deserted," He looks up at Kobra and by the reaction he has that he isn't as good at hiding his elatedness at this news, "Why is that so interesting?" He asks, disentangling himself from Mikey to look him in the eye not used to Kobra showing this level of interest in his gossip. Kobra takes a deep breath.

"There's a conversation we need to have," He says refusing to meet Sandman's eye.

He thinks about the catastrophic effect this could have on their relationship and decides that this conversation needed to happen, it would have eventually enyway, "So do you know the rumors about the Way's youngest son deserting and running away to the desert?" He asks.

"Yes," Says Sandman and Kobra struggles for words.

"The rumors," He chokes out, "They're true,"

"What?" Asks Sandman sitting up so fast it seems like he turned into a jack in the box.

"Yeah," Says Kobra forcing himself to look Sandman in the eye, as he says, "I- I'm Mikey Way," He looks at Sandman carefully and he is relieved to see nothing hostile in his eyes.

"Really?" He says leaning back in the booth to take a closer look at Kobra. 

"I was," Says Kobra, "But my brother and I stopped taking the pills when I was ten, When I turned thirteen I realized I needed to get out. No matter the consequences," He takes a deep breath, "So I got out to the desert, so if the guy who shot the cars really is my brother, that would be" He trails off looking up from the table to look at Sandman. He looks in shock.

"So correct me if I'm wrong," He says looking at Kobra, "I'm dating a Way,"

"I don't lay claim to my heritage," Kobra says darkly, but relieved that Sandman isn't dumping him right off the bat.

"Ok," Says Sandman, "And you're telling me that the Way kids, inheritors of the BL/Ind empire stopped taking the pills!" 

"Yeah," Says Kobra, "It was hard, but it felt like waking up,"

Sandman stares at him in awe, "So if the man really is your brother,"

"Bl/Ind no longer has any leaders waiting to step up," Confirms Kobra.

"Oh my god," Breathes Sandman.

"Are you okay, with me being a Way," Stammers Kobra, incredibly nervous.

"Of course!" Says Sandman, like he never imagined not being okay with it, "You're still you!"

"Thank you," Murmurs Kobra pulling Sandman into a hug. 

"I have one question though," Says Sandman, "Do you want them to be your brother?"

"Yes," Says Kobra, "He was my role model growing up, seeing him would be everything to me, but I feel so bad about leaving him behind. I have no idea what he's been through and if it is him he could hate me, especially for leaving him behind,"

Sandman grabs his hand, "It'll be okay,"

The three words make him feel all the more reassured and Sandman smiles and they casually make out until they hear a car engine whining in the distance.

"That'll be Ghoul," Sighs Sandman pulling back and taking up his position on the other side of the bench. 

They both look each other over and make sure that they don't look like they did nothing but make out all afternoon. 

"YO!!! KOBRA!!!" Yells Ghoul obnoxiously banging the door to the diner behind him. Kobra spins to look at him and is surprised to see a nervous looking figure standing next to him. The figure holds themselves in a familiar style, but Kobra doesn't want to get his hopes up. 

"Hey Ghoul," He says pretending to be tired of his friend already, "Who's this?" He asks gesturing at the person standing next to him and trying to act like the answer he could potentially receive isn't making him nervous enough he feels like he's shaking. He might actually be shaking judged on the look he sees Sandman giving him out of the corner of his eye.

The figure looks at him and says voice static with emotion, "Can't recognize your own brother?"

"Gerard," He whispers, not sure if this is a dream, then Gerard nods and that's all it takes. He flies across the room and scoops his brother up into his arms, so glad he doesn't hate him but still feeling guilty for leaving him behind, he can't stop the tears pouring down his cheeks at rapid rates. He squeezes and Gerard squeezes back.

"Hey, I've missed you," He whispers and Kobra feels his heart shatter. His brother missed him.

He feels guiltier than ever and whispers, "You have no idea," Gerard smiles softly, it's such a Gerard thing to do that Kobra feels like he's slipped back in time.

"So how's life been?" Gerard questions and Kobra chokes up, it's so casual, but such a reminder of the way things used to be. Gerard used to ask him this everyday.

"It's been good," He manages still crying he pulls Gerard in for another hug.

"I'm here," Gerard whispers softly rubbing his back like he would after a nightmare when they were kids, "And I'm not leaving," He reassures and Kobra just hugs him and hopes that he won't.

Chapter Text

"So what's been going on lately with your life?" Asks Gerard sitting down in the booth across from Mikey- Kobra he correct, as casually as if they didn't just have an overly emotional reunion and had seen each other yesterday. It's kind of odd how casual he is about this. All he wanted yesterday was to see Mikey and now it's just normal. Or as normal as this is.

Kobra laughs- short and fake. Gerard can tell and so can the dark-haired man who is sitting on Kobra's left unusually close to Kobra and looking suspiciously at him. Gerard takes a closer look at the man, he's at least three inches shorter than him, has a muscular build, and looks like he could easily take him down in a fight. Not that Gerard wants to fight him. "Nothing much, just meeting my brother I haven't seen in three years, and never thought I'd see again. Nothing that huge really," Kobra says sounding really defensive. Gerard can't ever remember him sounding like this. His little brother's grown up hard as it is to believe.

"Babe, your not fooling anyone," Whispers the man leaning his head gently on Kobra's shoulder and Gerard feels a tear in his heart. He's glad that Kobra's found someone to love him, but he can't help but feel a little jealous. He wishes that he'd get that. Maybe he will. But he thinks that BL/Ind is more likely to surrender than someone is to fall in love with him. What is there to love about a former BL/Ind employee?

"I know," Whispers Kobra, and Gerard grins, at least the sarcasm is still there. Even if the rest of him is unfamiliar.

"We can hear you," Ghoul says bluntly and Kobra and the other man are apparently not at all surprised by the man's statement nor the tone it was delivered in.

"I know that too," Says Kobra matching Ghoul's bland, and tasteless tone step by step, along with such a blank face it makes Gerard remember all the times he'd had too pull that face to get out of trouble with their mother. It makes him want to puke. Than he relaxes his face and looks at Gerard, 

"So what's been going on with you, other than the new look and obviously ditching BL/Ind," he says and he looks genuinely interested.

"That's really all that's happened," Laughs Gerard running a hand through his hair, "And you don't really want to hear about me being trained for leading BL/Ind, or being left to die in the desert on multiple occasions, so that's really it,"

"Actually," Says the man on Kobra's left, glaring at Gerard, "I'd like to hear about that,"

"Uh, ok," Stammers Gerard unsure if he's being serious or just really sarcastic. Kobra however glares at the man.

"I get you don't trust him yet, but at least give him a chance before you start to be rude to him," Kobra says glaring at the man leaning on his shoulder.

"Fine," Huffs the man and looks up at Gerard, "I'm sorry,"

"It's okay," Says Gerard awkwardly. He's never had anyone say that to him before, it's usually always been him apologizing for not completing his missions. Or for basically anything else he does. He realizes with a start that he doesn't have to do that anymore. No one can tell him what to do. The realization is startling. He stares into space completely zoned out until Ghoul snaps his fingers in his face, "Earth to Party," He says teasingly butting into his side, Gerard doesn't miss the weird looks he gets from both Kobra and the man on the left, who Gerard has yet to learn the name of. The touch however is comforting, and reminds him that he is here, and he's alive and most importantly, free of BL/Ind for the first time in his life.

"Party?" Asks Kobra looking slightly confused, while the man once again demonstrates how little he likes Gerard by completely ignoring him.

"His Killjoy name," Bubbles Ghoul and then continues as Kobra looks confusedly at him, "He picked Party Poison," As a further explanation. Gerard rolls his eyes at his explanation.

"Party Poison," Says Kobra looking at Gerard, and he wonders, if he will always think of himself of Gerard in his head or if Party Poison will become who he is, consuming his soul- and stop he was getting distracted, "It suits you," Decides Kobra and Gerard notices the other man is leaning against his brother again like it's a normal thing.

"So I've had the pleasure of meeting the Fun Ghoul, and the Kobra Kid," Says Gerard, "No wonder Mom was always so mad whenever you ever pulled raid," He looks at Kobra who looks slightly sick to his stomach, he doesn't know why though, "I know you two," Says Gerard, slowly trying out this new way of speaking without worrying about the consequence of being mind wiped, "But who are you?" He asks looking at the man seated next to Kobra who looks really unimpressed. Gerard is slightly impressed at how unimpressed he looks.

"Sandman," He says not looking up at Gerard. 

Kobra sighs, "This is my boyfriend, and he's only being a jerk because that's how he is with strangers," Sandman glares at him and Kobra mock glares back at him as if daring him to contradict his statement. Then Gerard catches on.

"Boyfriend?" He blurts out.

"Yeah," Says Kobra looking back at his brother breaking off the silent staring contest with Sandman, "Does it bother you?" He asks tone slightly defensive. Gerard notices that Ghoul is paying closer attention to this than anything he's seen him do so far. Curious.

"NO!" Says Gerard, "I'm just mad you got a boyfriend before me," He lets slip out, unintentionally, Kobra looks at him in surprise at his statement, "I've learned a lot about myself since you left," He adds narrowing his eyes in case Kobra doubts him. And it's true, his sexuality had come to light shortly after Kobra left and he caught himself staring at a guy's ass. Among other things, like the fact that BL/Ind was so much worse than he had ever imagined and they broke almost every law they put in place.

Kobra looks sad, like he had been sad to miss something in Gerard's life, it's a new thing for Gerard to see, "I guess," He mutters. Gerard than realizes that Ghoul is staring at him with a wicked grin.

"What?" He questions. Ghoul's grin is slightly unsettling. Scratch that, very unsettling.

"Nothing, nothing," Says Ghoul hurriedly which does absolutely nothing to calm Gerard's suspicions. Especially since when he says it he refuses to meet his eyes. 

Then the quiet whine of an engine slowly becomes apparent. All of them instantly sit up straight hands moving to their weapons. Then Kobra relaxes, "It's Jet coming in the car," He says quietly and the three more experienced Killjoys relax while Gerard takes a little while to relax. He knows that it could have easily been a BL/Ind car, trying to find him, but the others seem relaxed, so he slacks his shoulders and takes his hand off of his new blaster, which he has to admit, he likes better than his old one. This one is colorful and has a better grip.

They sit in uncomfortable silence as a car pulls up outside the diner. Gerard watches as a dude with the craziest hair he's ever seen walks into the diner. It sticks up in all directions and Gerard feels like this dude could hide bombs in his insane hair. Which if it is in fact THE Jet Star, wouldn't be that far-fetched. He's known for helping Ghoul blow BL/Ind's shit up. 

While he takes in the newcomer, he can tell that the man is doing the exact to him. He has to wonder what he's thinking. Probably something along the lines of Who the fuck is this?

"So this is him," Comments the man, and Gerard feels a bit taken away at how casual he is, not to mention the fact he knows who he is, "Move over Ghoul," He says shoving Ghoul who in turn finds it hilarious when he shoves Gerard, creating a domino effect. As Ghoul cackles loudly like a hyena and Gerard feels like covering his ears, Kobra covers his eyes. Gerard finds this unusual.

"Why'd you cover your eyes?" He asks as he moves over in order to accommodate for Jet on the bench and Ghoul bounces over sitting right against Gerard. Kobra flushes a pale pink that reminds Gerard of a desert rose he saw once before Korse ripped it up out of anger at him.

"I meant to cover my ears, I got them mixed up," He mutters leaning into Sandman embarrassed. They all laugh and when they do finally stop Ghoul is bright red and Sandman is wiping tears out of his eyes.

"I'm Jet Star," Jet introduces himself, sticking his hand around Ghoul who is hunched over banging his head on the table which makes a hollow thumping noise, and Gerard hopes it's the table making the noise not Ghoul's head as he's still laughing.

"Nice to meet you," He says, shaking Jet's offered hand. He catches Kobra sharing an amused look with Sandman, "What?" He asks.

"I haven't heard anyone talk like that since I left Battery," Explains Kobra, "No one talks like that out here, it was a blast to the past to hear it again,"

"Oh," Says Gerard slightly embarrassed. It hadn't occurred to him until now how different he sounded than the other Killjoys. He made a mental note to try to get rid of his speech pattern so he's not recognized.

"It's fine, and Blast to the past Kobra?" Says Jet looking at Kobra scathingly, "I know your real name, but what's your Killjoy name?" He asks Gerard looking eager to know the answer.

"Party Poison," Says Gerard and Jet looks back at him.

"It fits," He decides and Gerard has to wonder what about the name makes three people agree that it suits him. He honestly has no idea.

"You know what he still needs?" Asks Ghoul, who apparently has stopped trying to burst their eardrums with his enthusiastic laughter, "Hair dye!" He yells doing jazz hands and Gerard sees Sandman's eyes light up.

"You think?" Asks Jet skeptically. Then squints at Gerard like he's trying to imagine him with different colored hair. To be fair, Gerard can't picture himself with different colored hair. Or maybe he can. He doesn't know.

"YES!" Yell both Ghoul and Sandman, and Kobra rolls his eyes. Anyone can tell he's thinking Idiots.  It's a very affectionate idiots though. Though Gerard notices that Sandman seems to have stopped pretending that he doesn't exist. That was progress.

"Isn't that illegal?" Asks Gerard cautiously and everyone turns to look at him like he's lost his mind.

"Yes," Says Ghoul slowly, like he's explaining something to a small child, "So is being a killjoy,"

Gerard blinks, he'd kind of forgotten that part, "Oh, yeah," He says slowly.

Kobra laughs, "It's not a big deal, I was the same way when I first got out here," Sandman grins.

"Yeah he was," 

"You keep your mouth shut," Says Kobra menacingly towards Sandman and he grins.

"One time about a month after he got here-" He's suddenly cut short by Kobra clapping his hand over his mouth and saying low, but not so low that they can't all hear,

"We don't talk about that, and I won't talk about the things you say when I-" He's cut short as Sandman wrenches free of his grasp and claps a hand over Kobra's mouth.

"That's enough, message received," Sandman says looking panicked in Gerard's direction. Gerard raises an eyebrow, he doesn't really want to know what Kobra was going to say, but he doesn't really mind making his brother's boyfriend uncomfortable.

Jet rolls his eyes, and comments, "Be quiet,"

Sandman pokes his tongue out and Kobra grabs it, "Le me tho!!" Squeals Sandman and Gerard laughs. He giggles until his face turns red, and when he stops he sees Ghoul looking at him like Gerard hung the sun. Then he looks at Kobra and is delighted to find him still holding Sandman's tongue while Sandman glares at him. It's so hilarious that he starts laughing again and glimpses Kobra letting Sandman's tongue go and looking at his brother in amazement.

"I haven't heard you laugh like that since-" He says looking close to tears, cutting himself off.

"Since the first time I got mind wiped?" Gerard guesses and Kobra nods. Gerard sighs, Kobra always used to blame himself whenever Gerard got in trouble, and Gerard guesses he never kicked the habit, "It was never your fault," He says firmly and Kobra nods. He doesn't look to be convinced though, and Gerard turns to Ghoul kicks him and says, "Tell Kobra it's not his fault,"

Ghoul, who has been oddly quiet this whole time as has Jet Star turns to Kobra and repeats, "It's not your fault,"

Kobra glares at Gerard, "It was, I was the one who-" He stops looking at the others who were just staring, "Could you guys give us some space?" He asks looking like a small child who has been caught stealing from the cookie jar.

---

Kobra waits for them to slowly file out of the diner, and in the end only Ghoul and Jet leave because Sandman says firmly, "I'm your boyfriend, I'm going to join the black parade some day, but I sure as hell won't add extra incentive for the Phoenix Witch to take me by letting you face your demons alone," The statement is sappy but, Kobra's eternally grateful, because he knows he needs the support, but he wasn't going to ask this of Sandman. So of course, Sandman read his mind and insisted on staying. Gerard- Party he corrects mentally looks very confused at this statement, but doesn't ask for clarification. Kobra decides that they need to educate his brother on zone slang later.

Jet leaves silently, while Ghoul whispers something in Party's ear and smacks a quick kiss on his cheek that Kobra wants to talk about at a later date. 

 "It was my fault," Says Kobra quietly looking at Party while gripping Sandman's hand under the table for moral support, "I thought I was doing something good, but I wasn't. I got your memory stolen," It was, he remembers the horrible wave of guilt that had crashed over him as his brother had walked back into their house with a painted smile and "Hello Micheal, how was your day?" like he hadn't seen him earlier. It was then the full implication of what he had caused set in and he had fought to remain calm. He couldn't give himself away to the watchful eyes of his parents so he had muttered blankly, "It was fine. How was yours?" Mind spinning from the consequences of his actions. That was right before he stopped taking the pills.

Party looks him in the eye, and Kobra feels like those eyes are reading into his soul, seeing all the sorrow he holds, "It wasn't your fault," He repeats, and Kobra let's out a sob. Then for the second time that day he finds himself flat out crying.

"It was," He sobs, as Sandman rubs his back and Party stares at him, taken aback and suddenly Sandman's light touch is too much and he feels like puking, and everything is too much. He feels more tired than he can ever remember and he gently shoves Sandman away, he loves him, but the touch is too much, "I'm so so sorry Gerard," He hiccups trying to calm down.

"What for?" Asks Party looking confused out of his mind.

"I left you," Kobra sobs out hiccuping and feeling like he's drowning in his tears, "I left you in that city. I left you to a future you didn't deserve, but I was too cowardly to get you out," He cries and he can't bare to look his brother in the eye. He remembers the night he left, it was with a guilty heart he had stolen away. To find a new life, but he'd left his only positive role-model behind.

"Kobra," Party says softly and Kobra looks up, tears rolling down his face. It hits him that his brother used his Killjoy name and he cries harder.

"Do you hate me?" He asks shakily interrupting and Party looks shocked. Like someone had electrocuted him. Kobra would find it funny if it weren't for the fact he's too emotionally wound up to think about laughing. Sandman's hand appears on his back again rubbing tiny circles. 

"Never," Party says as sure as if he was stating a simple fact like the sky is green. Wait, the sky's blue, Kobra thinks, the tears must be making him delirious or the lack of sleep or the too many emotions. There's too many things that could be the cause of it, he thinks sleepily his mind a hurricane. Then Party is leaning across the table to gather his shaking form in his arms and Kobra leans into his brother shaking for the second time that day, "I'm glad one of us made it out," He says talking directly into his ear soothingly and Kobra feels like this is one big nightmare and he's going to wake up in a cold sweat and Party will be a figment of his imagination. He closes his eyes leaning into Party and taking in his scent, just in case it is a dream, "And we're both here now," Party continues.

"Yeah," Says Kobra leaning back and feeling emotionally drained. He's had enough emotion today to last him for the rest of the month. He leans into Sandman and Sandman grins tiredly down at him. He drifts off as he hears the comforting voices of the two people he trusts the most in the world talking quietly and hopes that this whole day wasn't a dream. He hopes with every ounce of his soul.

---

Sandman's proud of Kobra. He knows that wasn't anything close to easy and he watches with a dorky grin as Kobra falls asleep, clearly worn out. He hears a quiet sigh of discontent and looks up at Party. He's not sure if he trusts him, but he knows Kobra does and for now that works for him too. Party looks worn out too and Sandman tries not to reflect on how much like Kobra he looks when he's tired.

"Long day," Comments Sandman and Party grins tiredly at him. Sandman is vaguely surprised he's smiling at him, but he doesn't really have the brain power to process it right now, they're all tired.

"Yep," He says and suddenly looks Sandman dead in the eye. Sandman looks back at him, he looks at the man right in the eyes and sees the look there is wary but curious, "Do you love him?" He asks looking at Kobra who is asleep adorably on his arm and Sandman looks at him.

"Yes, I do," He says softly, careful not to wake Kobra.

"Good," Says Party, and Sandman is fascinated by his thought process, he'd love to get inside his head, "He loves you," He continues, "I can tell by the way he acts around you, the way he relaxes, the way he smiles,"

Sandman looks up at him in shock, he was not expecting that, "Really?" He asks. Sure he knows he loves Kobra, but they've never said the words aloud, and he never dares, for fear of Kobra pulling away from him in fear.

"Yeah," Says Party smiling sleepily, the two siblings were both sleepy today, Sandman observed, "Just don't hurt him," He warns and Sandman looks up at him.

"I won't," He says quietly, than he has a quick foresight, "Just so you know, names mean something different out here in the zones," He says softly, "Out here the only people you trust with your name are the ones you know will always have your back. You don't have to trust me, Jet, and Ghoul yet, but we will be there for you. And don't tell people that you're Gerard Way," HE says looking up at Party, "If anyone other than Ghoul and Jet had found you, you would be dead by now,"

Party looks at  him, "Thanks for the heads up. And I do trust you. Kobra does and that's enough for me. I trust Ghoul because he saved my life and brought me and my brother back together. I don't know about Jet yet, but we'll see," He says and Sandman is a little taken aback at his statement. People don't usually trust each other that fast in the desert. 

"Ok," He says, "I guess I have to trust you too," He takes a deep breath, that was hard to say. But he owes it to Party to say what he does next, the only people who know his given name are Jet, Ghoul, and Kobra, it's a step to trust Party this early after meeting him, but he has to for Kobra's sake, "My name's Pete Wentz," He says softly. He feels like he owes Party that much. Kobra's the only one who will ever have the privilege of knowing the full thing. The full ridiculous name. He has NO idea what his mother was thinking. 

"Thanks for telling me," Says Party softly, thankfully. They're both quiet as to not wake Kobra who is drooling slightly and Sandman's heart skips a beat at how cute he looks. Of course he thought that he was cute when he staggered into the diner covered in a Drac's blood and a BL/Ind uniform then collapsed, before they were formally introduced. Then his head goes that's creepy you need sleep

"Help me get him to his bed will you," He says looking up at Party snapping out of his thoughts and Party nods. Five minutes later they have managed to drag Kobra to his room without waking him. It's kind of crazy considering how short both him and Party are. He takes Kobra's legs and Party takes his arms.

When they get back to the main room Jet and Ghoul are having a fast paced discussion that stops as soon as they walk into the room. Sandman finds this mildly suspicious, but he's guessing it has something to do with Ghoul's feelings towards Party. The pair seem rather attached and they've known for less than twenty-four hours. Ghoul of course is a rather clingy person in general, but this level of it is new.

"Hey," Says Jet huffing at Ghoul as he beams unabashedly at Party who doesn't seem to notice and sits down next Ghoul as Ghoul smile gets larger if possible. It's like looking in the sun. Not that Sandman has ever done that. 

Sandman takes a seat across from the pair of them next to Jet and Jet whispers, "Ghoul's fallen. I can't tell about Party yet, but he looks on the way, and the way is the fastest possible one," Sandman snorts quietly watching a sleepy Party lean on Ghoul and slowly fall asleep as Ghoul strokes his hair, murmuring something he can't hear to him, ignoring them.

"He's falling fast," He replies to Jet who nods silently, then says,

"It reminds me of you and Kobra when he first got here. Naive and beautiful,"

Sandman grins, though not as ferociously as Ghoul, no one human can match that grin and level of enthusiasm, "Not knowing anything about love other than a siblings, but learning along the way,"

"Yep," Says Jet popping the P.

Ghoul looks up at them still grinning. Fuck, one would think that his cheeks would hurt from the amount of grinning he does Sandman absently thinks and then pinches his arm as he realizes that Kobra's sleepiness has worn off on him, and that Jet and Ghoul are having a quiet conversation. He really needs to sleep.

"Where's he gonna sleep?" Jet's asking and Sandman gently butts into the conversation.

"He can have my room, I'll share with Kobra," He says and Ghoul looks at him in thanks. Sandman wonders what for, he just wants an excuse to be able to share a bed with Kobra. Jet huffs in anger. He's done that twice now. Curious. Then Sandman realizes that he's probably just expressing his frustration at Ghoul threw them. Now that he thinks of it, Jet does that an awful lot.

"Okay," Jet says finally and they all stand up to wearily carry a sleeping Party to Sandman's old room. When they get there Ghoul and Jet set him on the bed and Sandman grabs his stuff and looks at the bed where Ghoul is tucking the sleeping man in. It's oddly sweet and he catches Jet's eye and they grin. Ghoul doesn't see and that makes Sandman's grin widen. He makes sure to be quiet as he steps out of the door, arms full with odds and ends he's collected over the years.

He walks down the small corridor bumping from wall to wall of the small corridor with a small, "Ow!" For each bounce as he makes his way to Kobra's room. He's sure that he'll have bruises in the morning, or when ever he wakes up, but right now he doesn't care. He gently opens the door and smiles at his boyfriend's sleeping form. He makes his way into the room and he lays his stuff in a corner and takes off his boots. He makes sure the dirt isn't getting on anything than relaxes. 

He tiptoes across the room and sneaks his way under the covers with Kobra who in his sleep curls around Sandman. Sandman sighs happily and sinks into Kobra's warm embrace. Kobra wraps his arms around him in his sleep and Sandman feels like squealing at how happy it makes him feel. It feels like home and a warm hug from someone you love, which he sleepily he supposed this was. He pulls Kobra's arms tighter around him reveling in the warmth as the desert slowly loses heat. He rather likes this new sleeping arrangement. 

Chapter Text

 When Kobra wakes up he's curled around Sandman. It's not unusual for them to wake up like this, but it is unusual for it to happen after he's fallen asleep. (And with their clothes on.) He looks down at Sandman. His dark hair has fallen in his eyes and he's holding Kobra's arms around him like it's a life line. The sight warms Kobra's heart and he slowly begins to wonder why his boyfriend is in his bed. 

As he regains awareness of his surroundings, he notices Ghoul sitting in the solitary chair in his room. He’s never used it. It’s just always been there and he was honestly a little bit scared to move it. 

“Dude, what the fuck?” He asks, not really all that surprised by Ghoul being there. Ghoul is prone to showing up out of no where and scaring Kobra. It's a nasty habit he's developed. Ghoul just infuriatingly shrugs and Kobra glares. Then Ghoul looks at Sandman and grins. Kobra hates when Ghoul grins because it makes him look way too happy way too early.

"Are you scared that I'll wake up your precious Sandman?" He asks making a kissy face at Kobra. Kobra's glare if possible gets darker and he carefully pulls one of hands free of Sandman's tight grasp to flip Ghoul off. Ghoul cackles.

"Yes," He says defensively and Ghoul coos. Like a fucking mourning dove. That's what pushes Kobra over the edge. Sandman's sleep be damned he's not going to let Ghoul get away with this. He launches himself out of the bed at Ghoul who is laughing so hard that if Sandman wasn't awakened when Kobra dumped him on the floor to attack Ghoul he definitely is now. Kobra's wrestling with Ghoul who is still laughing and insulting Kobra even as Kobra is giving him a black eye. He's still laughing when he manages to escape from Kobra's grasp and slip out the door.

Kobra turns to look at Sandman. He's still asleep. Kobra has no idea how his boyfriend does it, but he seems to fall asleep everywhere. Wait. Didn't he fall asleep on the bench in the diner? He remembers drifting off as Sandman and Gerard talked. Wait. Party. His brain moves slowly in the morning. He looks back at his boyfriend and sighing scoops him up into his arms. Sandman sighs and curls into him as Kobra walks back over to the bed and tucks him in. As he walks across the room to grab his shoes Sandman rolls over. He looks back hoping that he hasn't woken him up and sighs with relief as Sandman rolls over. 

He walks out into the main room of the diner and sees Ghoul sitting with his back to him. Kobra creeps up behind and jumps him. Ghoul screams loudly, and Sandman's surely awake by now. Kobra doesn’t think that even a dead man could sleep through this much racket.

"WHY!?" He yells, glaring ineffectively at Kobra as he laughs.

"Ah, yes" Says Jet sarcastically as Kobra climbs over the bench to sit down. He nearly falls on his face because of his long-ass legs, but Ghoul either doesn't notice or is choosing not to get beat up again, "The morning saga of Ghoul making bad life decisions and Kobra giving him yet another black eye," Jet glares at Kobra playfully, "It's a miracle he hasn't gotten a concussion yet," 

"Not that we'd know anything was different," Jokes Ghoul and Kobra punches his shoulder. Than he notices that his brother has been watching the proceedings with and amused smile.

"Something funny?" He asks, knowing full well that they are quite ridiculous. Many people have ditched them for other crews because, to put it simply, they're morning people.

"Yes," Says Party and Kobra winces. It reminds him too much of the way their mother made them answer questions and while he knows Party needs a little while to break the habit, it still hurts to see him stuck in a routine, that brings back too many bad memories for them both. 

"You're not in BL/Ind anymore dude," Says Ghoul punching Party lightly in the shoulder and Party winces, "You don't have to answer like a fucking robot,"

"I know," Sighs Party and Kobra taps him lightly with his foot under the table. Okay, he kicked him. 

"Be positive," He reminds with a gentle smile as Party reaches under the table to rub his shin where Kobra kicked him.

"Morning," Comes a rough voice from behind him and a gentle kiss is pressed sleepily to his head, before Sandman drops sleepily and clumsily into the booth next to him, (If Kobra didn’t know this was just how he is in the mornings he’d think Sandman was hungover) leaning against him as he takes in the scene at the table and Ghoul's black eye, "I had the weirdest dream," He says rubbing his eyes.

"What was it?" Asks Party, who hasn't heard a million conversations about Sandman's dreams yet like everyone else at the table has.

"Ghoul was sitting in a chair and then he turned into a dove. It was weird. I don't even know how I knew it was a dove, because I've never seen one. Then Kobra turned into a snake. It was a red one, like his jacket and pushed me on the floor and I fell down. That kind of hurt, but it was a dream so I don't know how it hurt. Then they both turned back into humans and started fighting. I think Kobra gave Ghoul a black eye. Then Kobra won and Ghoul dissipated, like he just laughed really evilly and poofed. and then I woke up in the bed." Kobra looks at Sandman. His brains capacity for turning life into lucid dreams and memories has yet to fail to astonish him.

"Well that actually happened," He says. Sandman looks really really confused. Then Kobra realizes Sandman isn’t all the way awake yet, “The me beating Ghoul up part, and you falling off the bed. Not the turning into animals part,” He clarifies and he hears Jet laugh. Sandman’s face clears and he nods.

”Okay, no turning into animals,” Then he falls asleep on Kobra’s shoulder and Kobra wonders what his mission was that he was this tired.

He looks up when he hears Party laughing softly. He smiles, it’s good to hear his brother laughing and a good nights sleep has helped him diffuse any remaining guilt towards Party. He looks at Ghoul who is looking at Party like he’s the best thing since music. Speaking of which he should probably make Party listen to some. He’s not worried that Ghoul is going to hurt his brother, Ghoul never hurts anyone on purpose unless they’re a part of BL/Ind. He hears the familiar whine of an engine. Party looks up alarmed. 

“It’s Dr. D,” Says Ghoul as Kobra shakes Sandman awake.

”What’s going on?” Questions Sandman his voice thick from not being all the way awake. 

“Dr. D,” Whispers Kobra into his ear. Sandman nods and sits up. Kobra hates to interrupt his sleep because he so rarely gets any, but this could be important.

Party has relaxed when’s Kobra looks over again, but still seems apprehensive. The engine grows louder and a door slams before the engine cuts. 

Showpony crashes through the door, the old bell ringing violently as the door slams behind the rollerblading figure.

Showpony races over to them, “Get your stuff!” He yells and they all snap into action. They all always keep their bags packed in case of this. Kobra dashes down the hall with Sandman in his heels. 

They grab their bags and are back out in the main room in seconds. They follow Showpony out the door and pile into their car. Kobra looks over at the BL/Ind car and notices a blinking light on it. Party notices too apparently. The only difference is that he knows what it means.

”GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!” He yells, loudly, urgently making sure that Showpony can hear. Party gets a thumbs up in return and the cars peel away from the diner.

Just in time too. When they’re no more than fifty feet away the car blows. Kobra spins around in the car and watches the car go up in flames, thankfully Ghoul has parked it far enough away that the diner should only be slightly singed if they ever make it back. The if in that sentence makes his heart squeeze. The diner has been his home since he left BL/Ind. He feels someone squeeze his hand.

"We'll go back eventually," Sandman whispers and Kobra smiles at his boyfriend's positive attitude, because they both know that thanks to BL/Ind they probably won't be able to.

---

Gerard blinks at Sandman's dream, then laughs as he watches Kobra explain to his sleepy and delirious boyfriend that the dream was real, and then that they did not in fact turn into animals. He leans against Ghoul unconsciously as Kobra wraps up his explanation. Then he laughs as Sandman falls asleep again. He sees Ghoul giving him that amazed look again out of the corner of his eye, but ignores it as an engine's whine splits the air. He tenses, his hand automatically flying to his holster, gripping his gun nervously, fiddling with the safety

"It's Dr. D," Says Ghoul pulling Party's hand off his gun. Gerard nods as the engine grows louder. A car pulls up outside and a figure jumps out of it before the driver has cut the engine. 

Gerard shoots a nervous look at Kobra and notices that Sandman is awake again. The figure skates into the diner at full tilt and Gerard takes in the figure as it skates over to them. Their tall, even without skates and are dressed just as loud and obnoxious as every one else. The figure yells, "Get your stuff!" And everyone jumps into action. Ghoul shoves Gerard off of the bench and Gerard watches as everyone runs to their rooms. 

"You don't have anything do you?" The figure asks and Gerard nods, too confused at what is going on to notice anything. "Go out to the car then," The figure directs and Gerard numbly follows the directions. He sits in the car that isn't the BL/Ind one and waits. Pretty soon they all pile into the car and that's when Gerard sees it. It's a blinking light on the car. He curses. BL/Ind must have activated the self destruct protocol when the patrol they sent to kill him didn't come back. FUCK.

He yells, "GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!" As loud as he can, making sure the other car can hear him. He gets a thumbs up and he sinks back into his seat in relief. He plugs his ears as the cars pull out of the diner. Sitting next to him Ghoul does the same. It doesn't stop the loud noise from popping his ears though. He sinks in to his seat feeling terrible. If he hadn't defected from BL/Ind a little voice whispered in his ear, none of this would have happened, they all hate you know. He shut it out though, if he hadn't defected from BL/Ind he wouldn't be here with Kobra, and he'd most likely be dead. Take that voice.

Ghoul leans against him, "I don't know how long we'll be on the road," He says murmuring into Gerard's ear as he watched Sandman whisper something to Kobra, "It's best to sleep while you can. If BL/Ind's on our trail it's hard to tell when the next time we'll sleep again is," Gerard sighs.

"You could just leave me here, you know," He says sitting up and moving away from Ghoul, "That would get you off of BL/Ind's radar for a while," Ghoul looks at him in surprise.

"You're one of us now. You're stuck with us," He says looking at Gerard like he just suggested shooting a puppy.

"And while it is noble to turn yourself in so we can get away," Says Kobra leaning over Ghoul's shoulder, "But you can't help us if your dead,"

Gerard watches Sandman nod from behind Kobra. (Which is surprising to him, because he still doesn't think that Sandman likes him all that much.)

"And how am I helping you?" He asks warily, not sure if he wants to know the answer.

"Right now you're the closest thing we have to an informant," Kobra states, "Even if you think that your information is useless we can still use what we can. You were in training for longer than I was, so you probably know more about their weapons and strategies,"

"Not necessarily," Gerard warns all too cautiously, knowing that the information he thought he knew could have changed already, "But I do know one thing," He says pausing thoughtfully, "Korse has to take the pills under supervision, I don't know why, but if we were able to get someone inside the city we could poison him pretty easily," 

Kobra looks elated at this, "See, you're being helpful,"

Jet chimes in, "We do actually have an insider in Battery,"

Ghoul looks at him, "We do?" Jet nods.

"Yeah. We do," Ghoul looks flabbergasted. 

"WHO?" He asks, looking like an amazed child who has just lost their first tooth and discovered money under their pillow in the morning.

"I'm not allowed to say," Jet says looking extremely pleased to have something to hold over Ghoul's head.

"I am," Chimes Sandman, smiling at Jet in the rear view mirror, "It's Benzedrine," He says turning to Ghoul. Ghoul looks grim.

"Didn't BL/Ind put out a warrant for him last month, was that really the best option?" Ghoul asks.

"I don't know," Sighs Sandman. Gerard gets an idea, though it may not a good one.

"What's the name he's operating under in the city? I might know him," He says and Sandman gives him a hopeful look.

"Patrick Stump," Gerard thinks. He's heard that name before. Than he remembers. Right before he left a new official had appeared. Korse had seemed to take him seriously and had appointed him in command. He remembers meeting the guy once. Then,

"Yeah I know him," He says grimly, "He's the one who gave me the mission to the desert five days ago,"

Sandman looks shocked, "Why would he do that?" Gerard sighs.

"Well, he didn't know I wasn't taking the pills, he also didn't know that I was planning to ditch as soon as I could. Unless," He says turning to Kobra, "Did he know your name?" 

Kobra thinks for a second then nods, "Yes, he did, he and Dr. D were the only ones other than Ghoul,"

"So it could be that he was sent in there to get me out," Says Gerard grimly, "And now that I'm out he'll be blamed for my escape," Ghoul looks worried.

So does everyone else. Gerard feels the need to reassure them, "It'll be okay, we'll get him out as soon as Dr. D says we can,"

"You'd help us do that?" Asks Sandman and Gerard nods.

"Yes I would,"

"Let's speed up then," Says Jet and he punches the accelerator. They pull up next to Dr. D's van and Showpony waves from the passenger's seat. Gerard and Ghoul wave back.

The car ride lasts for another couple hours and a couple of times Gerard thinks he sees a couple of cars in the distance, but just as soon as he sees them they fade out of existence over the distant horizon.  

"They're following us aren't they?" Asks Ghoul from next to him, breaking off the debate he'd been having with Sandman about something that Gerard didn't understand and ignored.

"Yeah," Is his small reply.

"Let them come," Says Jet from the front seat, "You can shoot out their tires again,"

"That's not likely to work twice," Warns Gerard, touched that Jet is putting faith in him.

"We'll see," Says Jet shrugging like he knows something that Gerard doesn't. Gerard feels a shiver go down his spine. 

"I guess so," He says leaning back in his seat as the car ride stretched on. 

They saw much sooner than Gerard had anticipated. Dr. D pulled his car over and Jet followed suit.

Gerard watched from the backseat as Dr. D and Jet conferred and Showpony skated in circles. Most of what he heard was, "It's worth a shot," and "Do you think he can do it?"

Gerard watched with a feeling of dread growing in his stomach, he was sure that they were talking about him. He looked nervously in the direction that they had come from, like the day before there was an ominous dust cloud growing in the distance. He cursed and Ghoul looked out the window, hooking his chin over Gerard's shoulder. 

"They're coming," Says Ghoul and Kobra snorts.

"No shit honey," Kobra says before completely losing his shit and falling on the ground out of the car laughing. Gerard assumes that they had cracked the door open so not to overheat and to eavesdrop. Dr. D and Jet stop their conversation to stare at a hysterical Kobra. Sandman laughs as he steps out of the car to help Kobra up as Ghoul howls, clutching onto Gerard with such a tight grip he feels slightly suffocated.

"Ghoul," HE gasps, "Can't breathe," Ghoul lets him go instantly and Gerard misses the contact as soon as it is gone.

"Sorry," He says looking out the window at the cars again over Gerard's shoulder.

"It's okay," Wheezes Gerard rubbing his ribs, he's slightly surprised that they aren't broken.

"Party," Jet calls and Gerard climbs over Ghoul and steps over Sandman and Kobra who are lying on the ground in tears from laughing to hard, instead of opening his door, "Can you do the thing with the tires again?" He asks, pushing his bushy hair out of his eyes.

Gerard thinks, he knows he can, but whether or not he's going to be able to with the sun in his eyes is debatable, "I can try," He says, looking at the pair as Showpony skates around them in circles. 

"Well you better try soon," Says Ghoul appearing behind him and leaning against him, Gerard's noticed that Ghoul is a very touchy person, "Those cars are almost within a mile of us," Gerard looks, and sure enough Ghoul's right.

"Okay," He says trying to appear calm. He puts his hand on his blaster and flips off the safety, "Ready?" He asks and they look at him confused.

"For what?" Asks Jet. Gerard rolls his eyes, this is why Killjoys haven't defeated BL/Ind yet, none of them are strategists.

"I'm going to head towards them," He explains as their eyes widen, "To make sure that if I miss the first time, I can get them on the second shot," Their faces clear and Gerard takes off running, not waiting to be told it's a stupid idea. To be granted it is, but it's one that could save their lives.

"Wait!" Yells Ghoul, "I'm coming too," Gerard sighs, he doesn't want to put Ghoul in danger, but he knows that he's capable of handling this.

"Hurry up then," He calls over his shoulder as he sprints toward an outcrop of rocks that should provide cover for him to make the shots. 

He reaches the rocks and quickly climbs up and lays flat. "What's the plan?" Asks Ghoul breathlessly.

Gerard rolls his eyes, he's barely out of breath, "I'm going to shoot out their tires like I did yesterday, you're here to help if they get too close," 

"Okay," Says Ghoul laying flat next to Gerard. Gerard can feel the heat radiating off of him and shivers as the sun dips lower on the horizon.

Gerard waits another couple of seconds before pulling out his gun and taking careful aim. He squints his eyes into the sun as the cars draw closer. He takes a deep breath and relaxing he pulls the trigger. The first car explodes. Ghoul looks at him in astonishment, "How'd you do that?"

Gerard doesn't have time to explain because the other car is drawing steadily closer and he still has to take care of that. He aims again and finding his target faster this time it's only a matter of seconds before he's blown up the other car. He looks back at Ghoul who is watching in wide mouthed amazement. 

"I shot the self destruct mechanism on the bottom, or at least near enough to it that it triggered," He explains as he and Ghoul climb back down the rock and run back to the others, "Surely someone else has figured that out?" Ghoul just shakes his head. 

They reach the others and Jet grins at him and Kobra gives him a hug as Ghoul bounces around telling the story. 

"And then he shot the other one! And it was so cool!" He yells jumping in place. Gerard looks at Dr. D who gives him a nod. Gerard grins to himself. 

He walks over to Kobra who is trying to stop Ghoul's jumping by putting his hands on his shoulders, "Stop exaggerating Ghoul," He says rolling his eyes as he helps Kobra stop Ghoul, in the end it takes them and Sandman to calm him down. 

Jet climbs back into the car and they all pile back in, this time with Sandman in the passenger's seat instead of the four of them crammed into the back seat. 

Jet pulls out behind Dr. D and Gerard watches as the desert slowly dims again (The sunset is spectacular and they all over dramatically ooh and aww, mush to the annoyance of Jet who just wanted to drive in peace.) and they drive on in darkness. 

Chapter Text

When Gerard wakes up everything’s blurry, the kind of blurry you only get when you sleep safely and actually feel safe. The kind of blurry you get when you’re around people you trust. He blinks his eyes slowly and waits for them to adjust. When the world comes back into focus he realizes that the warmth he feels comes from Ghoul and Kobra. They’re each leaning on one of his shoulders and when he looks up Sandman’s smiling at him in the driver’s mirror.

”Good morning Sleeping Beauty,” He says laughing at his joke, which Gerard doesn’t understand. He has a feeling that this is some type of pre-Helium Wars pop culture reference that he'll never understand.

”Who’s that?” He asks, carefully disentangling his arm from Kobra’s grasp and rubbing his eyes.

Sandman laughs again and says, “That’s a better question for Ghoul,”

”What’s a better question for me?” Ghoul says sleepily stirring raising his head ever so slightly off of Gerard’s shoulder and squinting his eyes. 

“Who’s Sleeping Beauty?” Gerard asks. Turning his head to look down at Ghoul.

Ghoul’s face brightens and he looks very awake now, “She’s a princess who slept for a really long time, why’d you wanna know?” Jet laughs softly from the passengers seat.

"So helpful Ghoul,"

Gerard raises an eye brow at Sandman in the mirror, “Because Sandman called me Sleeping Beauty,”

Ghoul laughs and Kobra stirs slightly on Gerard’s other side. 

“What’s going on?” He slurs sitting up slowly and Gerard grins at him. 

“Nothing,” 

Kobra rolls his eyes and leans forward putting his hand on Sandman’s shoulder, squeezing gently, “How much farther do we have to go?” 

Sandman replies, “Not that much farther you all woke up about twenty minutes out,” Kobra nods, curiosity satisfied sitting back. 

Gerard looks out the window and sees that they are no longer in the desert, and the area around them is filled with trees. Or what he thinks are trees, he's only ever seen pictures. The view is amazing. Their high on a ridge and when he looks down into the valley he can see nothing but the tops of more trees and the faint outline of a river, "Where are we?" He asks, gaze stuck on the scenery outside the window. It's absolutely breathtaking. 

There’s a stunning drop and Gerard can see the dim beige of the desert peeking through the green of the forest in the valley. It seems like something out of a fairytale.

Ghoul answers, voice soft, obviously in awe of nature too, "No fucking clue,"

 Jet starts laughing again, "Once again with all the helpful answers Ghoul," He twists in his seat to look at Gerard and glares at Ghoul who's poking his tongue out, "We're in the uncharted zone," He says putting air quotes around uncharted, "According to BL/Ind, which of course means that we scoped it out back when the Killjoys first started. We just don't let any maps get close enough to Battery to get caught,"

 Ghoul looks at him, "Does that mean that the one time we almost got caught and you pulled a map out of the glove box and ate it-"

Jet nods, "Yes. I ate a map of the so called uncharted zones,"

Sandman laughs and turns to look at Kobra, "I've scouted around here, we're not too far from Helena's Pass,"

"What's that?" Asks Ghoul, looking eager.

"It's a small town where Killjoys stop when they need to lay low. It's also the only settlement of Killjoys withing a hundred miles," Sandman says adjusting the rear view mirror with his right hand, "A lot of people don't know it exists because we need to lay low from BL/Ind, me, Jet, and Dr. D were the only operatives we had operating in the desert operating at the moment who knew," He finishes looking ahead at the road as the others fall silent looking out the windows.

Gerard feels the need to speak up, "Actually, BL/Ind does know about Helena's Pass," He says biting his lip as Sandman turns an alarmed gaze to him, "We had a Drac come in about two years ago battered almost to death and say before he died, Helena's Pass, uncharted zones. He was disbelieved for the most part, but I was part of a scouting mission that was sent to investigate, we never found the town though. I haven't thought of that for years, so unless Korse has you're pretty safe though," Sandman lets out a relieved sigh and Kobra gives him a curious look.

"I thought they didn't trust you to lead major missions," 

Gerard shifts uncomfortably, that's a time he doesn't like to think about directly after Kobra disappeared when they had sent him to Rehab. It hadn't ended well for him, and he'd never really been able to get the stark white images out of his head, "Right after you left, Rehab didn't happen to be so kind," Kobra's mouth makes a tiny O and Ghoul squeezes his hand.

Jet is the first one to speak up, "How come you were able to keep your memories after Rehab, we've never had anyone do that?" His tone says, why you? Why not any of our brainwashed allies?

Gerard looks at him grimly, "I left myself notes, reminders not to take the pills and what they did to my mind, and reminders to blend in or face the consequences,"

Jet looks at him and nods grimly. The conversation ends there and they all sit in quiet remorseful silence for the rest of the ride.

They pull into a tiny town that reminds Gerard of the rundown sections of Battery he's seen. The houses are little more than shacks and everything appears to be taped together. He looks around taking it in as the climb out of the car and Show Pony skates over to them stirring up a small dust cloud.

"This place is one of the few untouched by the radiation from the Helium Wars," Sandman explains as they follow Show Pony back to Dr. D's van. Dr. D climbs out and spreads his arms.

"Welcome to Helena's Pass," 

They follow him to one of the rundown buildings and when Gerard takes a closer look he sees faded paint slowly peeling off of most of the buildings, Sandman keeps a running narration as they walk into the town, "This place was built in the early 2000s right before the Helium Wars took off. It was well hidden enough that majority of the early Killjoys before people started to trickle out of the city and join came from here," He goes on and on as Dr. D leads them to a small house that is in the same state of disrepair that most of the other houses aren't.

Dr. D opens the door and shepherds them in the door before closing the door behind them. Gerard takes a look around the room, there's a small kitchen with a camp stove and a collapsible sink, there's a hallway with three doors splitting off of it, and a cot along with a table in the front room. As his gaze travels to the windows, they're boarded up he can see tiny slivers of light coming in and illuminating the room.

"This is where you'll be staying until we get word that BL/Inds off out case," Dr. D says before leaving the house and Show Pony gives him a friendly grin before following.

Jet collapses on the cot, "I call dibs," Ghoul makes a noise of protest while Gerard rolls his eyes, he's fairly sure that there's more cots if Dr. D put them all in here.

He trails behind Ghoul, who's like a whirlwind opening and closing the three doors down the narrow hallway. He can hear Jet muttering about the sad condition of the kitchen as he watches Ghoul dig through a closet from the doorway of the first room in the hall.

Kobra gently pushes his way past Gerard and removes Ghoul from the closet, "This room is mine and Sandman's, there's two cots in the other one, you and Party will have to share, the other one is a bathroom," His tone leaves no room for argument.

Ghoul makes a huffing noise and trudges out of the room. Gerard trails after him unsure of himself in his new surroundings and eventually winds up in the main room watching Jet make breakfast, (Lunch? Dinner? He doesn't know.) and realizes that he hasn't eaten in about three days. He just sits on the floor thinking over whatever he can to avoid the growing pain in his stomach and pretty much anything to do with food. 

Ghoul flops dramatically down on the floor next to him and Gerard looks over at him. His arms and legs are haphazardly sprawled everywhere and there's a dull thud and Kobra's sitting on his other side, "Sandman's sleeping," He says tone low.

Gerard nods and kind of zones out, he's pulled back to reality when Ghoul's arm flies out and hits his knee, "What the fuck Ghoul?" He asks rubbing his knee as Ghoul laughs chest shaking.

"Foods done," Jet calls and sits down across from Gerard and Sandman comes out of the room he and Kobra are going to share to sit next to them. Ghoul sits up and crosses his legs. Jet sets down a pot and hands out plates. Gerard stares numbly at his until Kobra elbows him and he realizes with a shock that there's food on it and everyone else is eating.

He takes a bite and takes a moment to try not to gag at the sudden revolt his stomach's trying to pull. He catches both Kobra and Ghoul giving him concerned looks but he ignores them. He'll be okay. 

The food's good, he has no idea what it is, but it's better than the rations he's had the last week. 

They're all silent until the dishes are cleared and they're still just sitting on the floor.

"Some one say something or I think I'm going to lose my mind," Jet says laying back on the floor.

"Who says you ever had one," Mutters Ghoul, intending to be quiet, but he was too loud and he shivers when Jet sits up and glares at him. 

Gerard messes with the seam on his pants until Sandman says, "What's our plan until BL/Ind calms down?" It's a valid question and Gerard doesn't have a valid answer. 

"Recondition Party to real life," Ghoul says lying down casually. Kobra makes a small noise of agreement.

"What?" Gerard says blankly, "Why are we doing that?"

Kobra turns very slowly to look at him, like he's looking at a small child, "The fact you asked that question is why,"

Sandman speaks up, "There's so much you've missed out of life from BL/Ind that we need to fill you in on,"

Gerard shrugs. His mind is just kind of blank today, "Like what?"

Jet sits up, "Food that isn't prepackaged,"

"Sex," Says Sandman straight faced and Kobra chokes out a tense laugh before adding with a bright red face, (Gerard chooses to ignore the implications there and refuses to tell Sandman that he's wrong, sex is in fact a part of BL/Ind life, you just have to find the people off of the drugs.)

"And many many other more important things," Kobra blurts out glaring at Sandman.

"Like hugs!" Says Ghoul flinging himself at Gerard who hesitantly accepts the hug. 

Kobra laughs piling on and before too long Gerard is stuck under a hug pile. He feels slightly claustrophobic and takes a deep breath when they all climb off. He does have to admit it felt nice though.

"Can we start that tomorrow?" Gerard asks looking around and everyone shakes their heads.

"We have nothing else to do," Ghoul says shrugging and jumping to his feet, "Let's go on a hike and hope we don't get killed,"

"Great idea," Jet says as Ghoul pulls him to his feet, "A bunch of kids who have no idea how to survive in the woods potentially getting lost,"

"Not true," Comments Gerard as Ghoul helps him up too, "Me and Kobra both received training on this," 

Kobra rolls his eyes, "I was eight and on the pills, I don't think that anything I can remember will be helpful,"

Gerard makes a small hum of agreement whilst following Ghoul out the door. He blinks in the sunlight trickling through the branches and looks at the abstract patterns set on the ground. He makes out what looks like a cactus before the door slams behind him and Kobra's shoving him down the front steps of the shitty house.

Ghoul heads directly into the woods behind the house stepping on sticks and leaves appearing to try to be as loud as possible.

Gerard follows and Ghoul keeps going even though Kobra and Jet keep yelling for him to slow down so they don’t get lost. 

Ghoul just keeps walking and stopping at random points. Sandman eventually catches up to the front and he points out different trees and plants as they walk. Jet and Kobra insist on carving marks into trees as they walk so they don’t get lost.

They eventually reach a break in the trees and Ghoul lets out a quiet gasp. Gerard catches up to him and lets out one of his own. Sandman leans against a tree and a small smile flirts across his face when he watches Kobra make his way towards them. It’s small, but Gerard can tell it’s there. 

He looks back out over the view and now that he’s not looking at it through the car window around Ghoul it’s even more spectacular. 

- - -

Ghoul looks out at the treetops. Their all different shades and the effect is kind of like a green rainbow. He looks over at Party who looks kind of blown away by the scene.

”Pretty cool isn’t it?” Sandman asks voice low, almost reverent.

Ghoul nods before turning back to Party, “What do you think Party?”

Party shrugs, “I don’t know. It’s really a testament to how amazing nature is and how scary it can be. For example the thorn bush Ghoul is almost standing in,”

Ghoul takes a hasty step forward and Party laughs.

It’s a sound that makes Ghoul’s heart go all fluttery. To him it sounds a little bit like music. He knows he’s smiling stupidly and Kobra, who has finally caught up gives him a knowing look.

Ghoul hates it when he gets that look. Kobra has many different looks and the one he has just received is usually the one he gets when Kobra is gloating over something he knows that Ghoul doesn’t. Fuck Kobra. What does he know that Ghoul doesn’t about this? It’s not his fault that Party is so- so- so just him it’s almost liking getting high. So relieving to see someone who will follow their heart to the end and that he’s attracted to. No offense to Jet, Sandman, or Kobra, but they aren’t his type.

He grouches off to look at the scene from another angle and hears Kobra laughing softly. Fucking know it all.

The view is just as amazing from here and he stares off moodily into the distance until Gerard yells, "Ghoul! Are you trying to get lost where the fuck are you?" He realizes that he's grouched off quite a distance from the others and should probably head back towards them to avoid being eaten by wolves. That would be a sad ending for him. BL/Ind would get a kick out of it.

"Fun Ghoul eaten by wolves, today in BL/Ind news," He mutters under his breath kicking a log as he heads back. 

Party materializes at his side and fuck it's like he's a fucking ninja coming out of fucking no where. He grins when Ghoul jumps a bit and says grinning, "Seen any wolves?" Ghoul glares at him and Party kisses him on the cheek and skips off as Ghoul stands there bright red and Kobra gives him another look.

That kiss didn't mean any thing. Probably just something he's picked up on because Ghoul does it to him. Right?

Oh well, he'll have time to think it over on the walk back. It’s not a good idea for him to over analyze things. 

He then gets so lost in his thoughts that he almost walks into a tree. Party grabs his arm and pulls him away, “No breaking of skulls today!” He declares lightly pulling Ghoul out of the trees and back towards the house.

Ghoul follows helpless to do anything else and Kobra gives him another look. 

Party pulls him down the street and Ghoul notices that Kobra is giving him yet another look. He glares back and Sandman sticks his tongue out as Party drags him down the street.

”Where are we going?” He asks tugging on Party’s hand to slow him down. 

Party shrugs, “Where ever this road is,” He seems very unconcerned about where they might wind up so Ghoul forces his concern out of his head and follows Party as the others trail behind.

He can hear Jet laughing, but Party just keeps dragging him along and pointing out different things. Kobra catches up and says, “Hey Party, this nature hike has been great, but we should probably turn around now if we want to get back before dark,” Ghoul looks up at the sky and sees that it is indeed growing a little bit darker. 

Party nods and replies, “Sure, we don’t want to get eaten by wolves,” Elbowing Ghoul while grinning demonically.

”Fuck off,” Ghoul says turning around to pull Party the other way. Party laughs tugging his hand so they’re walking side by side. 

Kobra walks with them ignoring the fact that they’re holding hands and asks, “Party, have you ever learned what sex is?” Ghoul is suddenly very much aware that he’s holding Party’s hand and drops it, face hot. 

Party laughs and says, “Of course I know what sex is Kobra. I’m not a fucking twelve year old. And before you ask yes I know how it works too,”

Ghoul carefully speeds up leaving the two brothers to discuss topics that he doesn’t really want to engage with them on. 

He catches up to Sandman and Jet who had turned around farther back than they had and yells, “What are you arguing about?”

Sandman and Jet turn around to look at him with aggressive looks on their faces, “Dinner,” Jet says shortly. 

Sandman glares at him looking murderous, “Jet won’t let me cook,” 

Ghoul gives Jet a curious look, “Why?” 

Jet turns his glare to him, “Do you not remember last time?”

Ghoul took a moment to think and suddenly he remembered.

Jet had given into Sandman’s pleading to let him cook and had allowed him into the kitchen, which only he was usually allowed in. Sandman had been limited to making grilled cheese and had been under strict supervision from Kobra. Which Ghoul suspected had been the problem in the first place. Kobra and Sandman did not fare well when left alone unless it was a life or death situation. 

“Yeah, I remember,” Ghoul says, recalling the torrents smoke that had billowed out of the kitchen as Jet had angrily started cursing Kobra and Sandman out. That was one of the few times he’d heard Jet swear.

”So it’s a bad idea right?” Jet asks looking desperate for someone else to confirm that leaving Sandman to his own devices in the kitchen was a bad idea.

Ghoul shrugged, “The grilled cheeses were okay,” Jet gives him a death glare and Sandman claps him on the shoulder.

”No they weren’t!” Jet yells and there’s a hurried set of footsteps from behind them.

”What’s wrong?” Party says looking alarmed.

Jet turns to him and Kobra looking anxious, “Do you remember the grilled cheese incident?” Kobra looks pained. 

Maybe because it was partly his fault. 

“Yeah,” Kobra says slowly while Party just looks confused. Ghoul can’t blame him.

”Guess who wants to cook again?” Jet says crossing his arms and looking cross. 

Kobra turns to Sandman and says, “No,”

Sandman pouts and Party laughs. Ghoul looks up at the sky, “As lovely as this conversation has been, we do need to pick up the pace or we’re going to get back too late, and then get chewed out by Dr. D,” The sky has turned a shade of light purple and everyone turns their eyes up and there’s a collective gasp.

Ghoul laughs at the star struck look on Party, his mouth is slightly open in a small smile and his eyes are wide and the sky is reflecting in his eyes. Ghoul traces Party’s profile which is highlighted against the sky and the soft curve of his lips make him shudder. 

Jet snaps them out of it albeit reluctantly and says, “We need to get going,” 

Sandman nods numbly and they all slowly trudge back down the way they had come. 

Kobra has grabbed Sandman’s hand and they’re bickering softly as they make their way. Jet’s musing softly to himself and Ghoul can hear him muttering spices under his breath. Party is walking along beside him humming and Ghoul feels a sense of contentment at the scene. 

Sandman leads the way back into Helena’s pass and Ghoul walks up the stairs to the shared house in a kind of haze. 

Jet beelines for the kitchen and Sandman sits on the floor with Kobra as Ghoul leans against the wall and Party sits next to him.

Jet buzzes around the kitchen and they all sit in a circle eating whatever Jet’s cooked up for them this time and once they finish Sandman looks up with a determined look.

”What’s our plan to get Patrick out?” 

Party snaps into reality as Sandman gives him an expectant look, “I don’t know,” 

Sandman gives him an exaggerated sigh and it’s pretty clear he’s trying not to yell. Ghoul gives him a sympathetic look. They all know how close Sandman and Patrick are. 

“Do you have any idea what his mission was?” Jet cuts in trying to keep the peace. 

Sandman nods, “Very little. I know he was sent to try to learn more about BL/Ind’s intentions to wipe out the Killjoys,” 

Party looks at Sandman a stricken look on his face, “They aren’t. The only thing that they have planned is using them as an example to keep citizens in line. Killjoys are the perfect example of everything that goes against BL/Ind protocol,” 

Sandman stands up angrily and begins to pace back and forth. Ghoul tenses, Sandman’s moods were never good. Kobra stands up and wraps him in a tight hug.

- - - 

Sandman shook angrily as Kobra whispered in his ear. Everything was blurry and he could tell that he was going to have a breakdown. He blinked back tears and gently shoved Kobra away, “Let me go for now,” He whispered in Kobra’s ear, “I’m going to have a breakdown, I’ll be in the room,” 

With that he was gone and wiping angry tears from his face as he sprinted into the room he shared with Kobra. 

Hot tears were spilling down his cheeks and his nose was running furiously. No one understood. No one understood that the connection he had with Patrick was so- so important. No one at all understood that for all  his life until he had met Ghoul and Jet and eventually Kobra that Patrick was all he had. No one else but Patrick understood about the complete and utterly loneliness about growing up in the desert. 

No one really understood that feeling. Mikey came close, since he understood the feeling of growing up alone with only one other sane person. That was why he’d understood when Mikey had admitted that his brother was Gerard. 

He curled up on the bed and sobbed. Why had Patrick have to be so fucking noble? Why couldn’t he have let someone else go on the suicide mission? Why couldn’t he have he stayed where he was safe? Why’d he have to leave Pete alone? Why? Why? Why?!

He heard the door open and close lightly and suddenly there was a hand rubbing his back. Circles. Over and over. 

“It’s okay to cry,” He hears Mikey say quietly and he rolled over tears suddenly gone. He had no more use for them. He stared blankly up at the ceiling.

He looked up at Mikey, blinking tears away. 

“Why’d he have to do it?” He gasped out.

Mikey cupped his face in his hands, “Because he felt like he had to do something. Anything to help the cause. He felt useless, like he couldn’t do anything to help, so when he was offered the mission,” He trails off.

”He took it,” Pete finished softly. 

“It’s not hopeless,” Mikey says rubbing his thumbs under Pete’s eyes. 

“No, but it almost is,” Pete whispered.

There was a quiet knock on the door, Mikey looked down at Pete and he nodded.

”Come in,” Mikey called and Party opened the door slightly and slipped in.

”I’m sorry,” He said casting his eyes down at the carpet, “It’s not hopeless, a lot could have changed since I left,” He sounds kind of desperate and Sandman feels like this guy hurts just as much as he does, he just doesn’t know how to show it. 

“It’s not your fault, I just miss him,” Sandman says sitting up and a pang goes through him when Kobra immediately wrapped his arms around him squeezing gently. 

Party nodded, “I get it,” Sandman has no doubt that he does. He dealt with missing Kobra for three years after all, “We can still get him back,” He says meeting Sandman’s eyes. A determined look is what he sees. The look of someone who understood the desperation he had to know that Patrick would be okay, “I have a couple of ideas on how to get info on what’s happened to him,” Party says slowly and Sandman leans against Kobra and nods slowly. 

Party took a deep breath before beginning, “When I left Battery there was a rumor of another city, one under the city,” He leans forward leaning on the door, “One full of rebels. Have you heard of it?” 

Sandman wracks his brain, he doesn’t think he’s ever heard of it, Kobra however looks slightly paler, “They’ve heard of the underground?” He asks looking alarmed.

Party nods, “Yep, but they have no idea it actually exists. If we could get someone in there,” He trails off running his hand through his messy hair.

”We could make contact with Patrick,” Mikey says, squeezing Sandman tighter. 

“Yeah,” Party says.

Sandman looks him dead in the eye, “Are you sure this would work?” 

Party met his gaze resolutely, “For the most part, but it’s the best hope we have,”

Sandman nodded, “Let’s go fill in Jet and Ghoul,” 

Party nodded and opened the door, no one was surprised to see Ghoul sitting there with a guilty smile. 

“Okay, so let’s go tell Jet,” Sandman amends.

Chapter Text

Gerard hadn't meant to make Sandman cry. He really hadn't, but his words had come out blunt and true as usual and he couldn't help but feel a little bit guilty as he drifted off to sleep after his promise to help Patrick back and telling Jet about his plan. He understood how much Sandman was hurting. He felt a little guilty that he had gotten his brother back right before Sandman lost his. 

It was no use thinking it over so deeply. He rolled over and tried not to worry about the fact that they're talking to Dr. D tomorrow about their plan, well the plan that Gerard had come up with. He hears Ghoul roll over in his sleep (or maybe he's still awake. Fuck if he knows) and make a small sighing noise like a kitten. Gerard tenses hoping that he hasn't accidentally woken him and relaxes when there's only silence.

Deciding that there's no chance that he's going to be able to sleep, Gerard slips out of the bedroom he shares with Ghoul, wincing as the door squeaks. He pads softly down the hallway and remembers that Jet's sleeping in the front room. Cautiously he slips into the room and is relieved when Jet's fast asleep snoring quietly. Gerard pads over to the door trying to remember how loud it was when opened. 

He opens the door cautiously, relieved when it opens silently and steps out onto the rotting steps to the door. He jumps over the steps, afraid that they'd make too much noise if he dared to put his weight on them, grunting slightly when he lands because his knees locked. Gerard takes a couple of steps shaking his leg to try to make the slight pain go away. 

Gerard looks back at the house smiling slightly, he knows that these people are much better than anyone he's met inside BL/Ind, except he's met Patrick and everyone seems to think highly of him so... Whatever. Gerard looks around trying to figure out which way to go. He could walk the way they had that afternoon, or he could go the other way, or better yet he thinks spying a ladder on the side of the house, he could sit on the roof. Mind made up he walks quietly across the grass, wincing again when he remembers he forgot to wear shoes. The grass is slick with dew under his feet and he feels slightly uneasy walking after he almost falls on his ass. Gerard reaches the ladder without further event and climbs to the roof. 

The roof is drier than the grass and he lies back and just looks at the stars. They're even more breathtaking then out in the desert because here they're free from all of the light pollution coming from Battery.

He lies back threading his fingers together and using them as a pillow. There's an idea on the edge his mind foggy and translucent and Gerard tries to focus on it hoping it will help him figure out what the fuck he's going to do. He doesn't even know if what they're chasing is real despite what Kobra says.

Gerard chases all thoughts from his mind and just lies there looking at the stars mind in hurricane mode. His thoughts are a hurried whirlwind and words are coming faster than lightning strikes in a lightning storm. He laughs quietly at his metaphor and stiffens when he hears the front door open and close quietly. Gerard holds his breath as he hears soft footsteps and then the creak that means someone's put their foot on the ladder. He contemplates pretending to be asleep, but decides that it's not the wisest idea. 

"Couldn't sleep?" Comes Ghoul's voice softer than usual, quiet as not to wake the others, as he crawls out to join Gerard. 

Gerard shakes his head, "My minds a hurricane,"

Ghoul gives him a curious look, "What's that mean?"

Fuck. Gerard isn't awake enough to explain, but he'll try his best, "It's like when there's just so much going on that it feels like the world's spinning around you, and your head won't stop working, and no matter how hard you try you can't find the eye of the storm to make everything stop, and there's just so many things flashing in and out of your head like lighting strikes leaving residue that you can't quite seem to find," He finishes his explanation twisting his hands together uncomfortably and looks up to see Ghoul staring at him. 

"That makes so much sense," Ghoul says, "You just put into words what most of us are feeling like. Wow. That was amazing," His mouth is opening and closing as he runs out of words and Gerard feels a small twinge of pride at rendering a normally loud and rambunctious Ghoul who never stops talking silent. 

"Thanks," He murmurs and the smile Ghoul gives him makes his heart flutter a bit. They really should be illegal. The sporadic beating of his heart isn't helped by the fact that Ghoul leans against him shivering slightly as a breeze flows through. They sit in compatible silence until Gerard blurts out, awkwardly, "Do you think of yourself as Ghoul in your head or as whatever your name was before?" It's something that's been bugging him and he kind of regrets it when Ghoul sits up to look at him.

"It depends," Ghoul says looking deep in thought, "If I'm really mad at myself I'll use my old name, but most of the time I'm just Ghoul. Why'd you ask?" He asks cocking his head to the side like a curious puppy.

Gerard shrugs, "It's been bugging me, it's like I know that I've been Gerard for most of my life, but it's slowly fading away from who I see as myself,"

Ghoul gives him a thoughtful look, "That makes sense, I think though in the end it kind of comes down to who you think of yourself as. Like are you Gerard future leader of BL/Ind who just wants to escape? Or are you Party Poison a killjoy with an aim to take down BL/Id and get revenge for yourself?" Gerard starts at this he hadn't really thought of wanting to get revenge on BL/Ind, "Or are you somewhere in the middle, Party Poison who just wants to live free of BL/Ind and survive?" Ghoul finishes giving him a slightly shy look.

Gerard thinks, "I'm kind of in between the two Partys," He says slowly trying to think what he says next out in his head first, "Like I want to take down BL/Ind but not for revenge for me, but for all the people who they've killed or wronged. And I still want to survive, to live a BL/Ind free life, but not so much that I'd walk away from this," 

Ghoul's open mouthed looking at him and says, sounding like he's trying not to choke on his words, "That's amazing. I think you've pretty much just summed up why we're Killjoys," Gerard shrugs, "No, really," Says Ghoul, words falling fast like he needs to get something out of his head as soon as possible, "That's the most accurate description I've heard of what it means to be one of us,"

The word us makes Gerard inexplicably happy and he leans over and gives Ghoul a hug, "Thanks," He mutters into Ghoul's shoulder as he wraps his arms around his waist.

"Glad I could be of help," Ghoul says hugging him back and they stay like that until Ghoul says, "Party, we need to go back inside, your feet are turning blue," Gerard looks down at his feet and he can tell his eyes widen comically as he stares at his feet, he moves one of them, but he can't feel anything.

"I don't think I'm going to be able to stand up," He says leaning down and rubbing his left foot, it's so cold to the touch Gerard has to wonder why he hadn't noticed before hand.

Ghoul gives him a worried look, "Can you try?"

Gerard thinks for a second before saying decisively, "We're on top of a fucking roof I don't think that's a good idea," 

Ghoul laughs, "You know I think you're right, I'll go get your shoes," He stands up stretching, and Gerard deliberately doesn't look at the pale strip of skin exposed when he raises his arms. Ghoul climbs down the ladder and Gerard sits with his arms wrapped around himself, teeth chattering and he tries to think why he thought that coming out here was a good idea. He can't seem to remember. 

Before long Ghoul's back and helping Gerard lace up his boots because his fingers are blue now too.

"So why did you think it was a good idea to go sit on the roof in the middle of the night?" Jet demands when they walk back through the door and Ghoul shoots Gerard an apologetic look.

"I woke him up by tripping," He mutters into Gerard's ear. 

Jet crosses his arms and taps his foot, "I'm waiting," He looks rather impatient and Gerard glances at Ghoul who seems for the second time that night at a loss for words.

"I needed to clear my head," Gerard says crossing his arms like a disconsolate teenager with a bad attitude, sticking his chin out a little.

"I woke up and he was gone," Ghoul says mocking Gerard's pose, except it look really childish so Gerard immediately stops and puts his arms back at his sides, chin still jutted out defiantly, "So I went to go find him," 

Jet glares at them, but eventually sighs and steps aside clearing the path to the hallway, "Get some sleep," He instructs softly face relaxing.

Gerard follows Ghoul down the hall and gives Jet a soft smile before disappearing into their room and flopping on his cold bed. 

"See you in the morning," Ghoul mutters turning on his side to face the wall. Gerard's left to ponder his own thoughts and trace the outline of Ghoul facing away from him. Soon enough he's breathing softly again and Gerard rolls on his back to try to sort out his feelings.

Sure he's felt this way, butterflies in the stomach, slightly nervous around someone, pulse fluttery before, but there's something more powerful and terrifying about it this time. Ghoul's attractive, way more attractive than anyone has the right to be. And not to mention how overly touchy he is with Gerard. It makes his stomach all fluttery and his cheeks a pale pink. He knows Kobra can tell somethings there between them, but he hasn't pressed Gerard for details. 

Ghoul is something special, Gerard decides rolling over to face the wall, there's something about him that Gerard's self conscious is telling him that he needs to keep this person in his life.

Ghoul's like a magnet, Gerard supposes as he drifts off. All shiny and everything. 

- - - 

When Jet brings up their midnight escapade at breakfast the next morning Ghoul winces. He pointedly stares down at his food refusing to look at Kobra who will be looking at him with another fucking look. When he finally dares to look up the topic's shifted to who is going to ask to talk to Dr. D. He's still looked up too early though because at the same time Party shoots him a bright smile Kobra shoots him his fucking know-it-all look. Fuck him. 

Fuck Sandman too, because he's snickering at the encounter and he and Kobra have definitely had a conversation about this. Desperate to shift their focus away from him he blurts out, "I'll do it. I'll go talk to Dr. D,"

Jet turns to look at him, "Okay, make sure you see really respectful, we really need him on our side. Surprisingly enough Party volunteers to come with him and they set out fifteen minutes later with definite instructions from Jet to, "Be polite, be respectful, and no detours," Ghoul mocks as they walk down the street kicking a rock and hopping around holding his toe cursing, "Does he think we're fucking two year olds?" He asks when Party stops mocking his pain. Fuck him. Ghoul would be pissed at him right now if it was anyone else, but he can't get mad at him. It would be like getting mad at a flower. Impossible.

Party gives him a look (it's so similar to Kobra's it sends shivers down his spine), "It is valid advice considering I got stuck on the roof at midnight with you because my dumb ass self forgot to wear shoes, and my feet were so numb I couldn't stand. Cut him some slack,"

Ghoul scowls, "Fine," He kicks another rock. 

They reach the house Sandman had given them directions to. Dr. D's van is parked out front and Ghoul lags behind letting Party lead the way. He tries not to let his thoughts stray back to last night and the kinda deep conversation he'd had with Party. He hadn't actually expected him to be on the roof and was planning to sit up there and sulk about how pretty Party was. But the conversation had been nice and had given him a deeper understanding of how Party felt about the whole being a Killjoy. And most importantly given him a few ideas to help him adjust.

He snapped back into reality when he hears Party knock on the door. He stands up straighter and hopes that Dr. D will be able to help them. It's not as if he can really stop them from doing anything, but it would be nice to have him know where they are.

"This is a surprise," Dr. D says amicably opening the door and inviting them in.

 They follow him to a shabby table where he invites them to sit and have some coffee. Ghoul watches absent minded as Party looks curiously into his mug. 

"What are here you about?" Dr. D asks after Ghoul finishes explaining to Party what coffee is and he's drinking, apparently hooked.

Party sets down his mug and states so bluntly it makes Ghoul cringe, "We're going after Patrick," 

Dr. D doesn't look surprised in the slightest, "That's what I thought this might be about," He sighs leaning back in his chair, "You do know that there's nothing I can do to stop you, so I will tell you this, this is more dangerous than you thought. Killjoys are not popular in The Underground and you may attract suspicion. I'll also tell you this. There's nothing I can do to help you once you're there," He says face made into stern lines.

Party nods, "But do you think we can do it?" 

Dr. D pauses, "I think if anyone is going to be able to save Patrick Stump it will be your team," 

Party nods draining the rest of his coffee in one go and Ghoul can't pretend his breath doesn't hitch when Party licks the rest of the coffee off his lips. He stands up stance determined.

"Next time we see you Patrick'll be with us," He says confidently and he pulls Ghoul out the door waving goodbye to Dr. D and Show Pony who appears sleepily hair a tangled mess right before they walk out the door.

They walk back to the house quieter than usual an air of determination wrapping them like a taco shell and a kind of quiet peace between them that he doesn't dare break even when he stubs his toe kicking another rock. It fucking hurts though and Party gives him an amused look.

 A very anxious Sandman opens the door as they walk up the steps and Ghoul gives him what he hopes is a reassuring look. 

"Are we good to go?" Kobra asks as soon as they're all the way in the door. Sandman's bouncing up and down and looks like he's going to be sick as Party opens his mouth.

"Yep," 

At this a relieved sigh falls out of Sandman whose shoulders slump with relief and Kobra appears to be slightly less tense.

"When can we leave?" Sandman asks, turning to Party.

Party shrugs, "Whenever, we should probably eat first though,"

Sandman looks rebellious at this statement and Jet hurriedly says, "I can make sandwiches," And Sandman's affronted look dissipates.

Kobra stands up stretching his arms and yawning slightly. Sandman's still bouncing up and down nervously and Jet has a slightly nervous look that he's trying to hide by shaking his hair over his face while he runs around sloppily making sandwiches. Party's awkwardly leaning against a wall while Ghoul can feel a nervous tension slowly building in his stomach. 

It's the nervous tension that usually comes right before one of his raids to blow shit up in Battery. It's usually not this bad and he's guessing it's something to do with the fact that this time Patrick's life is on the line. Patrick and him were never really the closest, but he's always loved him like a brother and he feels the need to do whatever he can to help get him back safely. 

Jet shoves a pile of sandwiches into his hands and leads the way out the door Sandman on his heels. Kobra gives Ghoul a small smile before pulling Party out the door behind him. They all pile into the car again and Jet pulls out of the driveway.

They drive in silence down the road past all the dilapidated houses they've seen in the short time they've been here. Show Pony waves at them when they pass and Ghoul waves back, albeit a very lame wave, but a wave nonetheless even though it was just a lame flapping of his wrist. Party's staring moodily out the window from the passenger's seat and Ghoul's trying to ignore Sandman and Kobra making out in the seat next to him.

They eventually stop and Jet turns around to give Ghoul a We're stuck with them forever look. Ghoul grins slightly and goes back to staring out the window watching the trees fade away and give way to the mess of bushes and short cacti before they reach the rolling cliffs and mesas of the desert. Ghoul stares out the window, wondering if this plan Party's come up with is actually going to work. They're relying a lot on Kobra's promise that there is an underground for this to be able to work.

Ghoul eventually falls asleep because the next thing he knows Party's shaking him gently awake, "Move over," He says softly and Ghoul wearily undoes his seat belt and moves over one seat before redoing it. Party climbs in next to him and after he buckles Ghoul leans on his shoulder, not awake enough, nor intending to wake up enough to give a shit about whatever look Kobra's giving him. 

He closes his eyes and revels in the feeling of his cheek pressing into Party's shoulder and Party's head resting on his lightly after Party decides that he's not moving.

Ghoul isn't really sure how much farther they have to go, but he's pretty sure he can't have been asleep for that long, and all his thoughts slowly become pointless as he falls back asleep. Sometimes, he thinks blurrily, that's just how it is.

He wakes up a second time to Party shaking him gently, but with an urgency that snapped Ghoul back into awareness, “Wake up,” Party hisses, “Wake up Ghoul, for fucks sake wake up!” 

Ghoul forces open his eyes open, blinking trying to make the spots dancing in front of him blacking out bits of Party’s worried face, “I’m awake,” He murmurs, gently and sleepily moving Party’s arm away from his shoulder, “What’s going on?”

Party leans back and says, “Look out the window,” 

Ghoul looks out the window. They’re still in the desert and nothing looks different, until he sees it. Out in the distance a small column of smoke rising steadily in the distance. Ghoul feels a panic rising in his chest. They really can't afford to lose any of their bases to BL/Ind at the moment, "What is it?" He finally finds the words to ask.

Jet smiles grimly, "Let's go find out,"

There's a tense silence in the car as the column grows steadily nearer, and Ghoul notices that Party's taken out his blaster and the safety's off. He's staring out the window, a small frown on his face.

"Jet slow down," He says abruptly, unbuckling his seat belt and leaning forward one hand on the shoulder of the passenger's seat to get a better look, "That's not a BL/Ind fire," Party says eyes sharp and focused on the column in the distance.

"How can you tell?" Jet asks, slowly stopping the car.

"Because there's too much smoke," Kobra says from the passenger's seat, and Ghoul realizes that Sandman's asleep in the seat next to him drooling slightly, "BL/Ind burns things in small areas at a time with gasoline so that everything burns more efficiently. Either this was done by an inexperienced officer, it's Killjoys burning something for fun, or," He says pausing slightly for dramatic affect, "Someone's burning stuff on purpose trying to get us to go see what it's about," 

"Yep," Party says, grimly smiling, "So we're going to go check it out right?" 

He says it with such a casual air that takes them all by surprise, "Yeah," Ghoul manages to get out after a few seconds of casual shock.

"Why are you so surprised?" Party asks rolling his eyes, "That's the type of reckless shit you do all the time,"

The classification hurts, more than Ghoul thought it would. Sure he's been called reckless before, but not by someone who's opinion that matters. He's not really sure why Party's matters quite so much, but when he huffs in annoyance and glares at him, sinking back into his seat, Party looks almost apologetic. 

"Let's go," Jet says looking resigned to whatever they're going to find. He starts the car again and it's a couple of short minutes before the source of smoke comes into their view. Jet stops the car, "Holy shit,"

It's a car wreck. There's two BL/Ind cars smoking and totaled. Ghoul can't take his eyes off the wreckage. There's something beautiful and tragic about it. The way the cars are twisted around each other and smoking like two dancing prisoner's on death row having their last smoke. There's scratch marks on the sides of the cars facing them and Ghoul can hear the shocked gasp come from his left side as Sandman apparently has chosen this moment to wake up. It's a twisted sort of beauty. The kind of beauty possessed by a lion, stalking their prey, lifting their head from the carcass, mouth dripping with blood and the moment when you think oh shit. it's a lion. I'm going to die, but it's beautiful. They sit there for a minute or so marveling at the catastrophe before Sandman breaks the silence.

"Why would two BL/Ind cars have crashed into each other?" He voices the question they've all been silently thinking and Ghoul's glad someone said it.

He looks to the right taking in Party's grim face, "This wasn't an accident, it was a murder," Party speaks quietly, "This is what was going to happen to me if I hadn't shot out the tires. Evidently this guy wasn't lucky enough," They all take in his words before Sandman opens the door and climbs out.

"There might be someone still alive," He says quietly, walking away from the car, wiping at his eyes when he thinks they aren't looking. Kobra climbs out of the car after him.

Ghoul goes out the door Sandman left open and he walks closer to the wreckage. He can feel the heat coming off the cars from several feet away, and he knows it's highly unlikely that anyone survived. Party appears at his side. They stand in silence looking at the twisted black and white wreckage. 

Party sighs and walks towards the cars, bending over where the driver's seat would be. He looks up grimly at Ghoul, "There's no one here," Ghoul looks at him.

"Who was driving then?" He asks, mind a hurricane, "Party?" He asks, voice getting desperate, "Who was driving?" He's aware his voice is rising and Party gives him a raw look.

It's a look that gives Ghoul the feeling that Party's stripped down to his skeleton, that he's at a loss, that he is so shocked and horrified he doesn't know what to do. 

"There was no one," He whispers, "Not in this car, it wasn't a crash, it was a death sentence," He stands up and a tear rolls down his cheek. 

"Why?" Ghoul asks, voice hoarse.

"Because they were different," Party whispers, and it strikes Ghoul that if Party wasn't such a good shot, this would have been him. 

"It's not fair," Sandman's voice comes from behind him and he and Kobra appear at their sides, "But this," He says gesturing at the wreck, "This is why we're Killjoys. This is why we're going to take down BL/Ind. Once and for all," He says eyes red, and voice unsteady. Jet joins them and Party unties a bandanna Ghoul hadn't noticed before from around his leg and tossed it on the flames.

"To the fallen," He whispers, "To those who never got my chance, to those we weren't able to save," He takes a moment to wipe his eyes angrily before continuing, "And for all of those we're going to save. Starting with Patrick," He finishes looking at Sandman who's clinging to Kobra like a lifeline and sobbing.

"To those who will carry on," Ghoul says quietly, staring into the flames. 

They stand there for at least another fifteen minutes. No one says anything until Jet hesitantly breaks the silence, "I think we need to get going," He says shakily and Party nods resolutely. Ghoul can't help but be impressed by how convinced he is that they can make a difference.

They all pile back into the car and it's five minutes when Ghoul comes to the realization, they never ID-ed who was in the car. 

"I hate to say it," Ghoul says softly, "But how do we know it wasn't Patrick in the car?" 

Party looks up from the window, "I saw the face," He whispers quietly, "It wasn't him, it was someone else," The way he says it implies he knew who it was and Ghoul leans against him in a silent message of support and Ghoul's heart glows when Party leans against him.

A silent thank you.