so i wrote this back in May but i've just been too lazy to try and like actually go through and edit it again since, so i'm just gonna post it here for anyone to enjoy (or hate). maybe if you see something, comment suggestions on what I could improve with it?
it's also a bit on the longer side (a good 19 pages on word, and almost 5,000 words), so i'm gonna stick it under a spoiler.
Chloe tapped her short fingernails over the top of her desk, letting out a sigh. Her eyes raked over the large map that covered most of the piece of furniture. She ran a hand through her long, dark hair.
There was a light knock on her door.
“Come in,” she said, not turning.
“Hey Chlo,” came a small voice.
The slender woman turned towards them. “Pearl. Good. I needed to talk to you. How are the repairs on the generator going?”
Pearl adjusted her goggles over her eyes, pushing them up onto the top of her head. “It…could be going better,” the younger girl admitted. “I’m missing a few critical pieces for these last few adjustments.”
Chloe sighed, rubbing her temples. “We need to make a food run anyways. We’re running low on supplies. We probably are going to have to move soon. Everything around us has been pretty much used up.”
Pearl sighed. “I’ve been wondering why you’ve seemed so stressed lately. Do the other kn—“
“No,” Chloe said, cutting her off, “and I would prefer they didn’t—not now anyways.”
Pearl nodded slowly. “I understand. Are we going to make a run for supplies tomorrow, then?”
Chloe nodded. “We have to, or else we’ll be starving within the week. And we need those generator repairs to be finished.”
Pearl nodded. “Understood. Should I gather up everyone to leave?”
“If you would. I need to plan everything else out for the next couple days. We may be using up the last bit of gas we have in the car for this trip, which means I’ll be taking Alexandrite with me,” Chloe said, leaning back against the desk. “I’ll also probably need Mark, which leaves you here with Father Jonquil.”
Pearl huffed in irritation. “Great. Sounds like so much fun.”
“Pearl,” Chloe said in warning.
“Sorry,” the shorter girl muttered. “He’s just…so…infuriating.”
“I understand that, Pearl, but you have to deal with it for the time being. Maybe you could see if he could help you at all. It might benef—“
“No thanks. I’ll be fine one my own,” Pearl muttered, cutting her off. “I’d rather not have him hovering over my shoulder.”
“At least eat when he asks you to. I know how you get when you start working on things. Sometimes I think the only reason you aren’t starving yourself constantly is because either your sister or Mark pulls you away from that generator,” Chloe said, sending her a small, knowing smirk.
Pearl’s cheeks flushed a light pink, almost unnoticeable. Chloe was looking for that, however, and grinned teasingly.
“Shut up, Chlo,” Pearl murmured in embarrassment.
Chloe winked. “Of course. Go ahead and let them all know, alright? I’ll see you in a short while.”
Pearl nodded and left quickly, off to gather everyone up in the main room.
Chloe’s smile dropped from her face, and she turned back to the desk once more, picking up a pencil with her left hand. She drew a path over the map, marking places they needed to stop and check.
Another knock rang through her room, this one a bit louder and sharper.
“Come in,” she almost snapped, her stress from earlier returning tenfold. She put the pencil down and turned back to the door once more.
A tall, slightly muscular man entered the room. All of the skin that was visible on his face, neck, shoulders, and arms was covered in scars, some fainter than others. “Is today ‘snap-at-Mark day or something? Pearl came into my room and practically yelled at me to head to the main room for a meeting. Something up?” the man asked, tilting his head.
Chloe shook her head, turning back to her desk. “Not really. We just need to have another food and supply run, as well as get Pearl some more parts for the generator.”
Mark clicked his tongue, coming up beside her to look at the map with her. “Ah, I see. Now would you like to tell me what’s actually wrong?”
Chloe cursed mentally. Mark always knew when something was eating at her. “It’s…something I would rather discuss with the whole group,” she said softly, glancing away from his questioning gaze. He must’ve caught how serious this was by the look on her face, and didn’t press.
Mark nodded solemnly, turning back towards the door. He paused and looked back. “I’ll let you finish up what you were doing. Don’t be too much longer, yeah?”
Chloe nodded. “I just need to mark a couple more stops on our route, and I’ll be set.”
“Gotchya. I’ll head down and make sure Father Jonquill and Alexandrite know that we’re having a meeting,” Mark said, finally leaving, letting the door swing closed behind him.
Chloe watched him go, putting her pencil down. This…was not how she wanted to tell everyone that they were moving, but if she didn’t say anything, Mark would call her out on it.
She often wondered when Mark had gotten so good at reading her. One day he was as clueless as the rest to her thoughts, and then…he just knew when something was up. When had it changed? Why did it change?
Chloe sighed in slight irritation, taking the map and folding it up, leaving the pencil abandoned on her desk. She turned and left her room, closing the door behind her.
It was time to confront this new, pressing issue.
Chloe paused at the entrance to their living room, which doubled as a meeting place, observing the interactions of the people she had grown to call her friends.
Pearl and Alexandrite—the twin sisters—were chatting with each other softly. Mark was sitting quietly, lost in his own thoughts. Father Jonquil listened to the twins’ conversation, silent. Chloe couldn’t hear what they were talking about from her position at the doorway.
Mark glanced up, suddenly noticing Chloe at the doorway, sending her a small smile. “Hey C. Everyone’s gathered and ready for you.”
Pearl and Alexandrite’s chatting quieted into silence as Chloe walked into the room, the folded up map in one hand.
“Alright, everyone. It’s time we do another F&S run,” Chloe started. “All the areas around us are running low, and we’re going to have to use the car.”
Alexandrite glanced up at Chloe in surprise. “I thought that hunk o’ junk was outta gas…”
“Not quite. I’ve mapped out a fi—a route for this trip.” Chloe glanced between the four of them. “You guys aren’t going to like this, but if we can’t find another reliable place to get supplies that’s within a reasonable distance, we’re going to have to move bases.”
Protests broke out among the group, the loudest coming from Alexandrite and Mark. Pearl already knew this was happening, and Father Jonquil was one to always go with whatever happened, saying something about how “the Lord had a plan for them” and whatnot. Chloe didn’t believe in any of the crap he preached to them. If there was a God, He sure wasn’t going to take care of them. They were on their own, and had been for a while now.
“Guys, look. I’m sorry. I know looking for a new base is hard…and long…and tiring, but this is our only option,” Chloe continued.
“Why didn’t you tell us before??” Mark asked, standing. “Why wait until now?”
Chloe raised her hand in a peaceful gesture, the map between her fingers. “I didn’t tell you because I wanted to know for sure. Honestly, I wouldn’t have told you now, but you would’ve called me out on it. I wanted to wait until after this F&S run to be absolutely certain.”
He sighed. “Don’t you think this is something you should’ve told us?? This is our home too!”
“I didn’t want you to freak out!” Chloe replied, gesturing with her empty hand wildly. “And you’re just proving my point with this! You’re freaking out and I’m not even certain that we have to move!”
“I would’ve been at least prepared for it!” he replied, nearly yelling.
“Yeah, after yelling at me for days!” Chloe yelled back
“Well, at least it woul—” Mark started, before Pearl stood and got between them.
“Knock it off!” she said, holding out her arms. “Fighting isn’t going to get us anywhere!!”
“She’s right,” Alexandrite piped in. “This doesn’t solve anything.”
Mark huffed in frustration and stormed out of the room angrily. Chloe ran a hand through her hair, sighing.
“That went about as well as I thought it would,” she murmured. “Look, we leave in about three hours. Alexandrite and Mark are going with me, leaving Pearl and Father Jonquil here to watch over the base. Pearl will be doing what she can on the generator without the needed parts. Pearl, be sure to get a detailed list of what you need to Alexandrite, Mark, or myself. I’ll be in my room if anyone needs me.” Chloe turned and left, leaving the map on the table.
A few minutes later, Pearl found herself helping her twin pack up clothing and supplies for the three days they would be gone.
“I think you should talk to Mark,” Alexandrite said suddenly while they worked.
Pearl glanced up at her from where she was folding a shirt. “Why do you say that?”
Alexandrite took the shirt from Pearl and tucked it into her bag. “I think you could help calm ‘im down. He seemed really peeved off at Chloe…”
Pearl sighed. “I know. I don’t really know why he got so mad about it, though.”
“It’s home. It’s hard to leave home, especially since we’ve been living here for so long. You know that as well as I do,” her sister replied. “Just see if you can’t get him to think a bit more logically about this, alright? I don’t wanna have to deal with him being super hissy this whole F&S run.”
Pearl sighed again and rubbed her cheek, which was tinted a slight pink. “Yeah. Sure. I’ll do that.” She stood, turning to the door. “You don’t need any help do you?” the younger twin asked, glancing back at Alexandrite.
“Nah. I’m good. Go talk to Mark.”
“…Alright…” With that, Pearl left the room.
Mark paced back and forth angrily in his room. He had a bag open on his bed, and had started packing, but quickly gave up on the idea. He was just making himself angrier the more he thought about them leaving this place that he had grown to associate as home.
He pulled his shirt off and tossed it to the side. He needed to shower before they left.
A knock on his door interrupted his thoughts. “Mark? It’s Pearl.”
Mark turned and opened the door, still shirtless. “Yes?”
Pearl started slightly in surprise at his bare torso, eyes flicking over some of the bigger scars on his body. “…Uh… A-Alex said I should talk to you about earlier…”
“I’d rather not,” he muttered, turning away from her. He left the door open.
Pearl followed him in. “Could I at least help you pack?”
Mark shrugged. “Sure. I could use it.”
She stepped over to his bed and started folding clothes up, putting them in his bag. “…Why did you get so mad?” she asked, glancing over at him.
He rolled his eyes. “What, is this and interrogation all of a sudden?” he nearly snapped.
Pearl raised one shoulder in a half shrug. “No, I’m just wondering. You got really defensive, and you haven’t yelled at Chloe in a long time.”
“It’s just…” he sighed, before starting again. “I just feel like she doesn’t trust us anymore—like all of a sudden every time something goes bad she doesn’t want us to know anymore. I had no idea we were so low on places to get supplies. I thought we were still good, and that we would be good for a long while now!!”
Pearl listened silently as he ranted, tucking clothing into his bag. “And what makes this any bigger than any time she pulls a surprise F&S run on us?”
Mark threw his arms in the air. “Everything! This isn’t as measly as needing to get food for a week because she miscalculated. This is our home, Pearl!! This is where we live, and eat, and sleep! This is so much bigger than an emergency F&S run!!” Pearl noted that he looked like he was on the verge of breaking down. “I just…” he sighed and sat on the bed next to her. “I don’t want to leave here.”
She put down the shirt she started folding and put a hand on his shoulder. “Mark…I get it. I really do. But what can Chloe do? It’s not fair to blow up on her for something that is completely out of her control. You think she’s happy with this? ‘Cause I bet if you asked her, she would tell you the same things.”
Mark sighed, nodding. “…Alright. I’m sorry for freaking out.”
“Don’t tell me that. Go talk to Chloe,” Pearl murmured, nodding to the door.
He nodded again, pulling on a clean shirt. The shower could wait.
Mark knocked lightly on the door to Chloe’s room. “Hey C. It’s me. I…came to talk…and to apologize…”
There was a pause, before the door was opened a little, invitingly.
Mark pushed the door open the rest of the way. Chloe was standing at her desk again, mulling over her map.
“…aren’t you supposed to be getting ready to leave?” she asked quietly.
“Aren’t you supposed to be getting ready as well?” Mark replied.
“I’m getting there.”
“Well so am I, then.”
Chloe sighed and turned to him. “What do you want, Mark?”
“I…wanted to apologize,” he started, ignoring the look she was giving him. “I overreacted, and wasn’t really thinking. I’ve just…grown to love this place, and it’s hard to think that we’re going to be leaving it for…probably forever.”
“…Mark, you don’t need to apologize. I understand why you acted the way you did. Trust me, this isn’t what I wanted either. If I could, I would keep us here. It’s the safest place within miles.” Chloe offered him a small smile. “Maybe one day we can find somewhere to stay where we’ll be safe.”
“I hope so,” he murmured.
Chloe reached over and pulled him into a hug. “Thanks, Mark. I’m sorry I didn’t give you much warning. It…it’s something I hope I can still prevent from happening.”
Mark hugged the shorter woman back. “I know. Maybe, if not now, we can eventually find somewhere to stay.” He pulled back and let her go. “I should go back. Pearl was helping me pack up, so I should help her finish.”
Chloe smiled. “Probably. And hey, Mark,” she said, stopping the other. “You should treat her good. She really likes you.”
Mark sent Chloe a small grin. “I know. She’s not very subtle with it.”
The shorter woman laughed. “Neither are you.”
Mark blushed, and, scared of further teasing, left the room.
Two hours later, Mark, Pearl and Alexandrite were loading clothing, food, guns, ammo, and camping supplies. Chloe was talking to Father Jonquil, discussing where they were going and for how long.
“If all goes well, we should be back in about four or five days,” Chloe told him. “Make sure Pearl is eating while she is working—you know how she gets. Oh, and be sure to check the alarms constantly. The last thing we need is for you two to be captured or killed.”
Father Jonquil nodded. “Of course, Chloe. We can handle ourselves, so don’t worry too much. Everything will be fine here. Just make sure to keep your head in the game and keep them safe.”
Chloe sighed, and let Father Jonquil pull her into a careful hug. “Stay safe,” he murmured again, before pulling away. Chloe watched the man that had slowly become a father to everyone in the group (except maybe Pearl) return back into their base.
The base was an old thing—not much more than a basement, really, and was in serious disrepair—but there was enough of a first floor to be able to store the car when it wasn’t in use, which was most of the time.
Chloe joined the rest of their group, sighing softly. “You two ready?” she asked Alexandrite and Mark. They both nodded in affirmative. “The car is good and ready to run?” The question was directed at Pearl, who nodded, letting out a sigh.
“Everything should run perfectly—unless you run out of gas. Then you’re screwed,” she said helpfully.
Mark snorted and rolled his eyes. “Thanks Pearl. I totally didn’t know that,” he told her cheekily.
Pearl smirked at him, saying, “I know! It’s like you’re completely incompetent or something.”
Mark scoffed. “How dare you think so low of me!” he said, mocking offense.
Alexandrite rolled her eyes. “Girls, girls, you’re both pretty. Now knock it off. Mark, get in the car.”
Chloe watched Mark dramatically turn and get in the car, Alexandrite following him. She put a hand on Pearl’s shoulder and smiled. “We’ll see you soon. Be good to Father Jonquil, alright?”
Pearl nodded. “Yeah, I will. Keep them safe, yeah?”
“Always. We’ll be back before you know it.”
Pearl watched as Chloe made her way to the car, climbing into the passenger seat. She waved as they drove off. Once they were out of sight, she turned and headed back into the base.
Mark wasn’t exactly sure how it happened. One minute everything was going fine—they had found a house and started searching through it for anything useful—and the next everything that could go wrong was going wrong.
He had been standing guard, keeping a lookout while Chloe and Alexandrite gathered up canned foods from the cupboards. Next thing he knew, there was a sudden, loud noise, and then a piercing pain in his right side. He cried out, alerting the girls inside that something was wrong, hitting the ground hard.
Mark landed on his knees, falling to his left. He clasped his hands to the wound tightly on instinct.
There were a few more gunshots, and then there was someone calling his name. They put a hand on his cheek and were trying to talk to him, but he could hardly hear them. He vaguely recognized the person as Chloe, and then she was pulling him to his feet.
His head was ringing, and it felt like it was full of cotton. Mark felt someone else sling an arm over their shoulders. He was pulled into the car and laid down across the back seat.
Three door slams.
The engine revved.
The car was speeding off.
Mark blacked out.
Chloe knew the second she heard the gunshot that something was wrong. It was confirmed when she heard Mark cry out.
She pulled out her gun, running out of the house. There was a group of two people up on the top of the hill with guns. Chloe made quick work of them, and they both hit the ground.
Chloe dropped to her knees next to Mark. “Mark?! Mark, can you hear me?”
He seemed dazed, his eyes sluggishly turning to her face. His hands were clinging to his side.
Chloe swore. “Alexandrite!! Help me! Mark’s been shot!”
Alexandrite was by her side in seconds, helping lift Mark up. Chloe slung his left arm over her shoulders, with Alexandrite doing the same to Mark’s right. Together they hauled him into the back seat of the car, laying him down on his good side. Chloe swung into the passenger seat, with Alexandrite in the driver’s seat.
“Go, go, go!” Chloe yelled, and Alexandrite slammed her foot onto the gas.
Chloe reached back to try and keep Mark awake. He wasn’t responding to her efforts much at all. He didn’t seem to be there, either.
“Hurry,” she muttered, glancing back at Alexandrite. They weren’t too far from their base—only about five minutes away, but that could easily be five minutes too many.
Pearl was focusing intently on the generator when a sudden blaring noise broke through her thoughts. She jerked to her feet in surprise, bolting to the door. “Jonquil, we have company!” she called loudly, skidding to a stop at the entrance, peeking out the door through a crack. Pearl could hear Father Jonquil running up after her.
“It’s…our car?” Pearl observed aloud, confused. “What the…” She flung the door open and ran out as the car skidded to a stop.
Chloe and Alexandrite jumped out and ran to the back door of the car. “Mark was shot,” Alexandrite told them while Chloe carefully pulled Mark out. Father Jonquil ran up to help her get him into the building.
Pearl blinked. “H…he was wh-what?!” She quickly darted ahead of them into the building.
“Clear off a surface!” Chloe said, urgency in her voice. “We need to get him bandaged up now or he is going to die!”
Pearl used her arm to swipe the nearest counter clean, not caring what was on it. Whatever it was could be replaced. Mark’s life could not be. Chloe and Father Jonquil lifted him onto the counter. Alexandrite dashed off to grab whatever medical supplies they had.
“Mark? Mark you need to wake up,” Chloe said, smacking his cheek lightly with the back of her hand. “You gotta look at me, okay?”
Father Jonquil pressed his hands into Mark’s side, staunching the blood flow.
Mark’s head lolled to the side, and he slowly opened her eyes to meet hers. “C… What…hap…pened...?” he asked weakly.
“You were shot. We’re back at base—at home, now. You need to stay awake, okay? You can’t fall asleep on me. Pearl is right here, and so is Father Jonquil. Alexandrite is getting some painkillers for you.”
“…Pearl..?” he asked, searching for said woman.
Chloe glanced back at Pearl, nodding her head towards Mark. It’d been rather obvious that they had a thing for each other for a long time, but both were too stubborn to actually admit it.
Alexandrite was returned quickly before anything could happen, and soon everyone was moving to keep Mark stable.
Chloe had taken Father Jonquil’s place at his side, and Pearl was constantly talking to Mark about nothing, trying to keep him awake. The preacher instructed Alexandrite on how to bandage the wound, and helped her cut the bandages necessary for it. Chloe was pushed away and Mark’s shirt was lifted up, exposing his scarred torso to the air again. Father Jonquil carefully cleaned and dressed the wound, instructing Pearl and Alexandrite on what medication to give Mark to help dull his pain.
After about ten minutes, Jonquil deemed Mark stable. The girls moved Mark to his room to try and get him to rest while Jonquil cleaned up the blood from Mark’s wound.
He worried that Mark wouldn’t survive this, but Mark had always been a survivor—he even had the scars to prove it.
They just needed to hope and pray.
Everything would be alright.
Everything wasn’t going to be alright.
Mark’s wound got infected.
Mark was dying.
Pearl didn’t know. Neither did Chloe or Alexandrite. Heck, not even Mark knew. Father Jonquil didn’t want to worry them, but at the same time, he couldn’t keep this from them forever. It just wasn’t right. He would tell them, but it was just a matter of finding the right time and place to say it.
There was a small chance that Mark would survive this, but without the proper medication and treatments, it wasn’t very likely.
Father Jonquil decided he would tell them all the next day.
Mark noticed that something was wrong. Father Jonquil was the only one who had any medical knowledge, and he had been changing his bandages since the incident.
But even though Mark wasn’t an expert in the medical field, he was pretty sure that his side wasn’t supposed to be excreting yellow pus. The skin around it was red and swollen. He was always tired, and even just trying to lift his arms up so his bandages could be changed left him feeling drained. He also had a constant high fever, and nothing they had tried brought it down.
Father Jonquil finally gathered everyone in Mark’s room the next day to talk about what was going on.
He sighed. “I didn’t want to tell any of you this,” he started, “because I was worried about how you would react. Mark is becoming weaker every day, and now I can barely get him to move when I’m changing his bandages.”
Mark nodded, watching Father Jonquil tiredly, as if to prove the preacher’s point. Pearl’s hand rested gently on his upper arm.
“He has a fever, his wound is swollen, and it’s constantly discharging pus,” he continued, his shoulders slumping. “Mark’s wound is infected, and there is nothing I can do about it.”
His statement was received with dead silence.
“So…what does this mean?” Alexandrite asked, voicing the question on everyone’s mind.
“It means that—unless we can find a working hospital and doctor within the next couple days—Mark is going to die,” he told her bluntly.
A sob broke the silence. Pearl was crying now. Mark looked resigned to his fate, simply letting his head fall to the side. Alexandrite watched her sister in worry, small tears pricking at the corner of her eyes. Chloe stood up and left the room, quick to not let anyone see the tears that had started streaming down her face. Father Jonquil looked down at the ground, shaking his head.
They had asked him if he wanted to avoid the suffering that came with dying from an infection. He refused. He said that he wanted to spend what he could with them.
They held a small funeral for Mark a couple weeks later.
He lived for twenty-six years, three months, one week, two days, nine hours and fourteen minutes.
Pearl knew. She had counted herself.
Alexandrite tried talking to her about it, as had Father Jonquil.
It wasn’t something she wanted to discuss. Not with them.
Pearl felt lost. Mark had been ripped from their lives, and Pearl wasn’t sure how she was supposed to be taking it.
She stopped eating—not all at once, but she found herself hungry less often. She threw herself into her work, constantly messing with the generator. If they had to move bases, she would make sure they took it with them.
Alexandrite tried to get Pearl to talk to them, but it didn’t work. Pearl wasn’t having any of it.
A month after Mark’s death—two days after being told they were moving within the week—, she found herself sitting outside next to his grave. “…I don’t know what to do, Mark. I know you shouldn’t throw yourself into some guy…but you were more than just ‘some guy’. You were my best friend,” she said softly, watching the grave like Mark would suddenly up and pop out of it, perfectly fine.
She hoped he would. They would laugh, and he’d tease her for actually having feelings for him. Pearl would smile and not deny it, because oh how she missed him. She missed his teasing words, his stupid smirk, his bad attitude—
“Pearl?” a voice asked, breaking through her thoughts.
Pearl turned, finding Chloe walking up to her.
“…Hey Chlo. What are you doing here?” she asked, turning her attention back to the stone that served as his headstone.
“Same as you. Just wanted to talk to him again,” Chloe said, sitting next to Pearl.
“…I really miss him.”
Chloe sighed. “Me too. He was like a brother to me, you know. I never had a younger brother, but if I could choose one, I’d want him.”
Pearl didn’t respond for a few minutes. “How did you get over it?” she finally asked.
Chloe shrugged. “I’m not over it. I don’t know that I will be, really.”
“…How do you act so…normal, then? You said you missed him.”
“I did. And I do.” Chloe turned to look at her. “I just think about what he would want. He wouldn’t want you to sit around and grieve over him. He’d want you to get over him and live your life.”
Pearl leaned against Chloe’s shoulder. Silence reigned between them for a few minutes.
“Thanks,” Pearl said suddenly.
“No problem. He would’ve wanted you to get over him,” Chloe said. “Let’s go inside before we catch a cold, yeah?” she asked, standing up. She extended a hand down to her.
Pearl nodded. “Yeah.” She reached up and let Chloe pull her to her feet. She paused, glancing back at Mark’s grave once more.
“Thanks, Mark. I’ll miss you.”
With that, the two women walked back into the building.
hopefully it formats correctly.