Hell Bound

Start by pulling him out of the fire and
hoping that he will forget the smell.
He was supposed to be an angel but they took him
from that light and turned him into something hungry,
something that forgets what his hands are for when they
aren’t shaking.

When is a monster not a monster?
Oh, when you love it.

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44. Chapter Forty Four

“Is there any part of you that isn’t bleeding?” Bucky asked as he partially dragged me along the road to where he’d left a truck idling. My leg still wasn’t moving very well, and it made it difficult to keep up with his long strides. He had no problem pulling me along.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “But there was much less of it before you crashed into us.”

“I didn’t know you weren’t secured. Crashing it was unavoidable.”

“Hey, no hard feelings. I was already bleeding.” He yanked the truck’s door open and then helped me climb up into the high seat. My legs were too short, and one was too injured.

“Were you shot?” he asked.

“Back of the leg. I can still walk, so I guess it’s not as bad as it feels.”

“Put your seatbelt on this time,” he instructed. Then he shut the door.

I fumbled with the seatbelt. I didn’t want to tempt fate again, but my hands were slippery with blood, and I was shaking. I managed to lock it into place just as he climbed in beside me. He got the truck started and handed me a rag he found on the floor. There was motor oil on it, but I wasn’t going to complain.

“To slow the bleeding,” he said. I reached for it, but my fingers were weak.

“I don’t know where it’s coming from,” I admitted.

“Just hold it to the side of your head until we’re far enough away for me to look at it.”

“I left the kid at the gas station.”

“I know.” He got the car back on the road, zooming through the traffic that was building up.

“Were you following me?”

“I was following them.”

“We have to go back for him.”

“He’ll be fine.”

“Please, Bucky?”

“They’re after you. Not him. The farther from you he is, the safer he is.”

“I can’t leave him there to worry about me.”

“Johanna,” he started with irritation. Like we hadn’t spent more than a month apart.

But then he just sighed and turned the car around. He was driving at top speed already as he zigzagged through cars on the road. The truck was old. Even though he smashed in part of the front end when he hit the SUV, it was still running relatively smoothly. One of the tires was out of alignment so I could feel it wobble every time we hit a bump or a pothole or he had to dodge a slow car. Every jolt made me let out a grunt of pain. Finally, I couldn’t hold the rag up anymore. I dropped it to my side and leaned my head against the back of the seat.

“Shit,” I heard him mutter. I wanted to say something snarky just to let him know I was still holding on, but I was running out of energy. I could barely keep my eyes open, and my head felt woozier by the second. I only saw him reach for the rag and press it to the side of my skull. “I can’t hold it and drive at the same time. It’s a stick,” he told me.

“I’ll be okay. Probably.”

“Probably isn’t good enough for me.”

“Whose car is this anyway?” I asked. I struggled to grip the rag again but couldn’t get a good hold on it. I could feel his bloody fingers slip through mine.

“I take what I need,” He told me.

“I should have guessed.”

“Lie down. Put your head on my lap.”

“What?”

“Now is probably not the best time to be modest. Lie down.” He pulled at my shoulder so that I flopped against him. He propped the rag beneath my head to help with the bleeding and then moved his hand over me to reach for the gear shift.

“I’ve seen you naked,” I reminded him. “Several times. It wasn’t a matter of modesty.”

“You sound delirious.”

“You would too if you’d been whacked in the head and shot. Or maybe you wouldn’t. I don’t know how it works for you. I’ve seen you get blown up, and you could still walk.”

“Just try not to fall asleep if you can.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“Just keep talking to me. Tell me about how you saw me naked.”

“Pervert.” He squeezed my shoulder to show me he was joking.

A few minutes later the truck jerked to a halt. He reached over me and unfastened my seatbelt. Then he popped open the passenger side door and pulled me closer.

“Get in,” he said. Then he was moving me to make room for Graham. “What the hell happened to you?”

“She broke my nose,” Graham explained with a nasally voice. He climbed in beside me and shut the door. We peeled out onto the road again, but I kept my eyes closed.

“I was trying to save your life, you buffoon,” I muttered.

“Is she going to be okay? I barely understood that.”

“She’ll be okay. If we can get her to stop bleeding,” Bucky said.

“Dude, she’s bleeding all over you. And me. Holy fuck.”

“I know. Look for another rag or a shirt or something to put on her leg. Keep it elevated.” Graham picked up my legs and propped them on his lap. We were all uncomfortably cramped, but I was short enough to lie across the bench of the truck. I could feel him apply pressure to the wound on my leg, and I winced at the sharp pain.

“What happened when she left?” Graham asked.

“She fought back,” Bucky explained. “Then I crashed the car.”

“Smooth.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt her.”

“No, of course not.”

“I didn’t hit it very hard. I thought she’d be wearing a seatbelt.”

“And you seem to forget that most people don’t recover like you.” Bucky made a noise that sounded an awful lot like a growl.

“The only reason I went back for you is because she asked me to. I’ll throw you out onto the street if you don’t stop while you’re ahead.”

“Boys,” I warned.

“Alright. Alright, sheesh,” Graham replied. “Sorry, I’m just a little grumpy after getting my face smashed in by a girl with a tiny baby fist. Where are we taking her anyway?”

“Some place safe. Do me a favor and try to keep her talking. Make sure she doesn’t fall asleep. Jab her in the leg if you have to.”

“Gee thanks,” I muttered.

“Did you catch that?” Graham asked.

“Not a word,” Bucky admitted.

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