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Limerance

Sabrie

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a part of Limerance, by The_Queen.

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The_Queen holds sovereignty over Sabrie, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Sabrie

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Sabrie is a part of Limerance.

3 Characters Here

Doll [381] "I long to see the day where I will be free."
ZERO [359] "Family don't end in blood."
REN [5] Kid Brother // WIP

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❝Blood never lies.❞

[RED ¤ HYMN FOR THE MISSING]
DIALOGUE
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Her tongue was sweet, honey dripping words that poured over him until he drowened in it. Her blood danced along with Loretta's, stretched, spun, converged, healed, replenished and revealed. He bit down with vigor, until the hand parted from arm, the ligament of flesh and small bones writhed in brief agony as all sentient muscle would until Zero absorbed with a ravency that was downright questionable and concerning —if he had any of which he no longer possessed. He stood, he turned. No apology. None she deserved.

"Your Machinations of such designs, similar to the machines connected to Loretta are all temporary." Unlocked were the secrets of their natures, or parts that hit him in brief snipets. "My father was a brilliant scientist, unconventional to the natural order, but efficient. So much so, that he was destroyed for what he knew." There were more secrets Zero intended to uncover, even the ones father kept locked away. He had to know and he would.

"I will bring her from that place, her and the boy." He said, as they were facts and he was following through no matter what. She didn't have to tell him that. As for sustaining Loretta sans the machines he'd proceed with a method well known to their species, even if it put him at risk but that was beside the point.

"Those are the things I can do."

_______

Zero had stripped off the remnants of his clothes and replaced then with what Maddox had provided. A dark button down, slacks, shoes. Almost as though he were her own doll, someone to dress to her liking. Then Zero went off, taking the icy world and lifting the first vehicle he encountered.


Entering through the highly secured base, Zero reached the glass room that contained Loretta. He stepped through and only came to a stop within her reach. Taking her hand he drew a line across her flesh with the end of his nail he sliced away at his wrist and touched the wounds close so that their blood and skin connected. He poured his life through her arm so that it'd merge within her and greatly reinforce her healing factor.

"Zero, what are you doing?" Ren's voice echoed somewhere behind him and it only fueled Zero's will to keep going. He would bring her back, he would save her. He'd make her better because she is his life.

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


It was completely reckless and unsanitary, not to mention that their blood may not be a match at all. If the Doctor could have fixed her so easily like this, he would have done it already, knowing that Zero would eagerly agree. Instead something so rash could be detrimental, having the opposite effect of what Zero was trying to do. Luckily for Zero, the only thing that seemed to happen was a spike on the heart monitor due to the sudden pain of her flesh being cut into.

Doll opened her eyes, squinting at the harsh light. Someone had uncuffed her wrist, lifting it and holding it against something wet. As her eyes began to focus, Doll blinked in confusion, believing she was seeing things. "Zero!" Had Doll's desire to see him manifested some sort of illusion? She tried to sit up, but moving was still hard and the action left her breathless. Zero was the one holding her wrist up, blood dripping down her arm, staining the white sheets of the bed. "That hurts," she whimpered as the pain hit her nerves and sent the signal up into her brain. Was this really Zero? He was dressed impeccably, far too clean for someone who had been missing. Maybe it really was an illusion then...

Ren came in, speaking his brother's name. Her heart soared, it really was Zero, he truly was in the room with them, not just a trick of the eyes. The glass door opened, Dr. Atarashi stepping inside with Grell right behind him. They wore expressions that were a mix of shock and confusion. They believed they were going to have to go after Madame, but it seemed he had come right back to them. "Step away from her Zero," the Doctor warned. "That's not going to fix anything." Doll's arm had begun to tingle from being held up, the blood loss was making her lose sensation in that arm. "Zero?" Doll asked, her voice small.

"What's going on?" She didn't understand why the others seemed mad and scared by his presence. Doll was happy, happy he had returned, that he wasn't dead, that Madame hadn't really been torturing him. It really all was just a nightmare, nothing more, it seemed. But then, why was everyone so on edge? One of the machines beeped, picking up the spoke in heart rate. Something cold shot through her veins and Doll winced at the burning sensation it left behind. Her aqua eyes dulled as the sedative pumped through her body, causing her mind to fog and thoughts to swirl. Doll opened her mouth as though to say something, then closed it again, her thoughts drifting away.

"I'm not going to say it again Zero." Doctor Atarashi warned, slowly reaching into his pocket for something to immobilize Zero. Something wasn't right, that much was obvious, but what, Dr. Atarashi didn't know.

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B




Doll was scared, she didn't understand why Zero was acting like this, ignoring his brother and the Doctor both. "Zero? What are you doing?" Doll asked nervously, her chest feeling like it was tightening. Suddenly she couldn't breathe, her back arched and she choked, her eyes widening as she gasped, attempting to take air into her lungs. "Z-z," was all Doll could choke out until it stopped and she could breathe again, taking in short, shallow gasps. Her eyes fluttered closed, opening again once the spell had passed.

Zero reluctantly slipped his hand from hers, shattering the bond he'd made. An instant before he found he couldn't resist touching her hair, watching her.
"Are you alright?" Was this supposed to happen? Maybe, he's never done this before but was sure it'd work, he certainly felt its lasting affect on him, matters to which he'd give little thought. Beside him, Ren was still, perhaps his gaze captured by Loretta as they all were.

Slowly Doll nodded her head, she felt nauseous, but that was normal given every side effect of every pain medicine ever had that downside. "Yeah," Doll whispered. "Where did you go?" She didn't want him to leave again. He was back again, not acting like himself but he was there. "Don't leave me again. Please," it was a whimper, a plead for his warmth to stay beside her. Without him it felt cold.

Just looking into her eyes nearly broke him to pieces, nearly resurfaced the part of him he'd dismantled for she had the power to do that. Reach him in inexplicable ways and resurect fragments of him that time should have obliterated years ago. He wasn't human and never would be, but she made it seem like even that could be possible. He wanted it to be. And he'd keep searching for that possibility, no matter how small it was, he'd hold on to it. The sliver of hope. He'd keep it until proven wrong. Which had yet to happen. "I never left you." He couldn't speak much more, forming words for her to hear left him breathless. He gripped the fabric she lay on, pressed into it to keep him standing.

Ren grabbed at his shoulder, "The hell's going on?" Of course he wanted answers, everyone did. The weight of their stares was proof enough that something wasn't right, he wasn't right.

"She wants to play house," Then Zero stared up at the lens watching them. "...She's watching us even now."

"You mean that crazy bitch, she captured you, then let you go."

"Yes. She thinks I'm some sort of delivery service. Well, let me tell you what I'm not gonna do." Zero glanced at him, "Not giving her what she wants."

Ren nodded, "Doesn't explain the," He gestured the haphazard suit, "Or why you've shut off."

"I'll explain later." Then Zero glanced at Loretta, "Can you stand?" He asked, then he stepped from the bed, watching and anticipating their next move. Shit wasn't gonna be easy, but then again, nothing ever was.

Doll shook her head, no, she couldn't stand, she could hardly even move. "Zero, it's too dangerous." The Doctor warned, if they moved Loretta again it would be risking instability and all of their progress thus far would be lost. It seemed that Zero was right, Madam was watching them very closely. "Wrong decision," she sighed, shaking her head. She was going to have to bring the boy back and retrain him once more. It was ashame as he had been doing so well. She typed something on the keyboard, setting off a fail safe. It looked as though she would have to retrieve her puppets herself.

"Very well." Zero said, if they couldn't move her then she'd just have to stay put. He couldn't bring her out of this hell hole as he'd originally intended, not if it made her worse.

Doll was going to say something, to protest, when something beeped. The Doctor frowned, looking at the IV and his eyes widened. "Shit," he cursed and Doll suddenly couldn't breathe again. "No, no, no." Her heart was slowing, her head spinning. She could hear yelling as she faded, her hands shaking as she tried to reach Zero, to tell him something, but Doll could do or say nothing as her eyes fluttered closed once more, the monitor beeping rapidly as her heart appeared to stop.

When the machines started up with there incessant noises Zero froze, as though his body had locked up. Around him there was chaos and movement, Ren pulled him back and Loretta's image engulfed by the orderlies and white coated doctors. Her heart? Slowing? But how? He tried to reach for her but the distance between them was too great and he couldn't force himself beyond his limit. Not anymore. The sounds of their shouts and the colors of their motions blurred away.

"It's alright, I got you." Ren was saying, dragging him back, "You shouldn't have done that, but it's so like you." He said this, but was he mad? Disappointed? With no inflection in his tone how could Zero ever tell? That's it isn't it? A way to hide it all? Like wearing a mask or maintaining a permanent poker face by shutting down, like a switch. That's how perfect they were, able to control everything, so inhuman of them all.

Something rushed at him, but it wasn't painful and despite everything in him willing to stand up, to go, demand, and fight his body betrayed him. Maybe Ren was right, it was the biggest risk he'd ever taken. All for one girl. And these were his consequences, he'd live with forever. Ren eased him down into a reclined chair, his limbs were noodles, he couldn't even put up a fight.

Ren held him down, as if he didn't trust him, "It's the crazy bitch, you must have pissed her off."

"She's watching."

"We're waiting."

Zero gripped at Ren's shirt, "You can't kill her."

Ren stared down at him, his ice gaze distant, "I can."

"No."

"I don't need your permission."

"You had your fight, you took your time. This is my fight. Mine."

Ren covered his hand over Zero's hand that held him, "No, brother, our fight."

Zero could barely see him, barely move, if Ren wanted to stand by him then he could fly with that. If they could do this then they could over come their last fight, the one that nearly tore them apart. Trust unlike for most of their species existed for Zero, and if anything he trusted Ren, his only family. Or maybe it was more than trust, more than Ren being his brother. He was something that couldn't be labeled, something that filled the void in him, made him less empty, less insecure.

"Ren... I think she's coming."

"Well," Ren smirked, "I'll be waiting."

"No," Zero closed his eyes unable to keep them open, he struggled to stay alert, to speak, his cells were everywhere and unresponsive, his heart jumped and his breaths weren't enough, "... Not with her... With her we're... sheep."

________________________________________

Ren watched Zero sink under the pull of sleep. The idiot. He had done more than merge with Loretta, he'd altered his internal structure; diminished his surface activity forcing him into a dormant state. His signal fell incredibly, near indiscernible and that was concerning. Sure Loretta was important to him, but why do this of all things? Ren couldn't understand it, wasn't even sure he wanted to. The threat is a parasite no, not even that, it was beginning to look like Maddox was a parasitoid. Just look at how she went along, causing this much trouble over a girl, the kid next door, and now even Zero. She wants to play house, she's coming here and Zero doesn't want him to kill her. No, don't touch the illogical nutcase, not yet. So they're to act like docile lamb, in wait, silent and steady, until they could drop the pretenses. Is that all? And how long would that take? Once Maddox had them all rounded up? Once she had her ways? Couldn't they just trap her when she made her grand appearance?

Zero wouldn't know, he didn't have to. He'd be locked within himself for several hours. All the time Ren needed.

He rose from his crouch near Zero, his gaze swung back to the frey. The blur of white and blue, of their struggle to decipher their newest puzzle. It's as though Maddox herself were creating this chaos, when they think they have the pieces sorted out, when they think they've solved the piece, she kicked away their work and leave them scrambling.

All this trouble for them. And parasites were supposed to be perfect, apparently perfection is just an illusion. Who was he kidding? Ren approached the one called Doc, "We have a situation, this is distraction if you haven't realized. The parasitoid, Maddox is making her move." He turned to the camera up above and sent a bolt of electric shocks. "Can we at least clear out the space, the less around us the better." With a freak like Maddox, and with prior experience, he wasn't taking any chances. "Stabilize the girl, call in reinforcements." He said, glaring back at Doc, "They give the signal as soon as her image is detected."

And he would stop her. No matter what.

"I have to take her out of here, to the OR." The Doctor said, he and the nurse arranging things so they could move the bed. He felt frantic, panicked that the human he had been assigned to watch over had died not once, but twice. As he walked, pushing the bed, he felt tired. There were security agents flocking them on every side, guarding, or at least, that's what was supposed to happen. Maddox tightened her strings and they were puppets, the Doctor disconnecting everything, unable to control his own body. The earpiece crackled, her voice flooding his senses, overwhelming his mind. They were in the OR already, someone walking up behind him, the telltale click of her heels clanking against the sterile white floors.

Red.

It was the color of blood, the color of the glossy hair that pushed the Doctor aside, tightening a string, making him fall, unable to move. Her agents moved, melding with the rest of security, going to pick up her other toys. The human, the brothers. She ran her hand through Doll's hair, looking at the supposedly dead girl. "Don't worry, your friends will meet us at home." She ran a hand over Doll's body, picking something out of her pocket. The chip she had given Zero, there were two of them of course. She pushed it into the wound Zero had made, smiling as she mentally thanked the boy for doing the dirty work already. The chip expanded, wires latching around her wrist, going into the wound, causing the white to be stained red.

Her favorite color.

She stripped the gloves off, dumping them onto the ground. "You see Doctor, I've always been a better surgeon than you." She smiled at the man on the ground, "you were naughty spilling all those secrets." She wrapped a sheet around Doll, transferring the girl. She wouldn't go to pick Zero up herself, it was far too dangerous knowing the brother was there, waiting. He would be fun to break, she could already hear the sound of his bones crunching, of blood splattering onto the ground, draining as it circled below like a snake coiling around its prey. "Oh how fun," she tittered, sitting in the front seat of her transport, a plane that was just big enough to carry them all. "Come now Zero, I have your Dolly." She smiled as she waited. He would know, especially with the cellular connection he had made. What an interesting move, he may end up regretting it.

Doll was already beginning to come to. They had kept the oxygen tubing, Maddox replacing it with oxygen mixed with a sedative. "He won't hear you if you're so quiet." She stood, "That's no good. If you want Zero to come, you have to cry out for him precious." She stroked Doll's cheek as the girl stirred, standing and pulling on a pair of silk white gloves. No need to get her hands dirty. She lifted the sheet she had wrapped the girl in, looking at the tangle of bandages. "That's not pretty at all, we'll have to fix that." She dug her hand into a wound, causing the girl to whimper. "Come on, you can do better than that."

A scream.

"Louder Dolly."

Doll was begging, wanting it to end.

"His name please dear."

"Z-Zero," she gasped, Maddox's gloves soaked through.

"There you go. Good girl, now rest." She patted the girl's cheek, leaving a bloodied hand print. "We'll be home soon."

__________


Ren held on to Zero, despite the presence of the enemy. He wasn't about to let Zero get taken. Never again. However he noted that despite her approach, the armed beings acted as though pulled by strings. Each one that neared, Ren struck them down. They dropped like flies, never to breathe again. So she came for the girl, it was her plan from the beginning, as he predicted. Took her away in a mechanical bird. Knowing Zero, he'd track them down soon as he woke.

_______


Beeps and hums of machinery as well as a near deafening roar echoed just at the edges of Zero's aurals. He slit his eyes opened and at first couldn't fathom where he was, or even when. Strapped down with the wave of flight nearly robbing him of breath he flickered his hands ready to slice and hack when Ren grasped his arm. He looked up and met Ren's steel eyes, noted the aviation headset, the same one over his.

They were moving, and moving fast.

"She came, she took, we're after her." Ren said.

Zero stared,"What?"

"She's gone to Germany, Intel locked on her current hideout."

Zero exhaled a sharp breath, he didn't need to question why they were giving chase.

"What's the plan?" Ren held a dangerous look in his eyes.

"Don't die."

"I'd say the same to you."

--------------


"It was a good idea, probably saved your life." Doll was turned on her side, a paralysis drug running through her veins from an IV in her shoulder. All she could do was whimper, eyes closed as Maddox walked around her. She had several hideouts, several fakes fly to the different locations so that they could escape underground. Maddox's new hideout wasn't within view from the top of the earth, it was more a bomb shelter converted into a luxurious underground castle. There were fake windows with fake views, an artificial greenhouse that had flowers that could grow without natural light. "He'll no doubt be able to sense you with the merge, but from this far away I have no idea if it'll work." She was wearing a starch white lab coat and latex gloves, a needle in hand. It was like sewing according to the woman and Doll was the broken toy that needed to be stitched back together.

"There, all done." She threw the needle away, having inserted a new chip in Doll's spine. It would be hard to take out and was connected to the central nervous system. She had put one inside Zero in his rare moments of sleep. It was her latest and greatest medical miracle that was more for her benefit than the betterment of life. She disconnected Doll from the IV, lifting her up. She weighed nearly nothing, "You really are nothing more than a Doll." She smiled, taking the girl to a new room.

The paralysis drug was wearing off, Doll could move again. Her body still refused to cooperate and thanks to the chip, Maddox could turn off certain functions, restricting Doll from using her arms or legs if she wanted to. There was a new collar, this one a buttery yellow. "I want to go home," Doll slurred, her mouth refusing to cooperate. Her tongue felt like sandpaper and her throat the desert, dry and parched. Maddox placed her on a bed in a room, donning Doll in a nightgown. "Oh but dearier you are home." She smiled, "and you're very happy too. Say it, come now or I won't let you have anything to drink."

"I'm very happy too." It came automatically, at this point Maddox didn't even need to nudge. Her influence over Doll's mind was a tight bound, if Maddox had told the human to stop breathing Doll would have. "I'm very happy too," she repeated, a whisper. Maddox pat her head, calling her a good girl like a dog. She tilted Doll into a sitting position, having restricted anything more than slight shuffling. She slurped down the water greedily, the cold feeling settling in her stomach. "He'll come back, you'll have a playmate soon, not to worry." Maddox was smiling, but there was nothing warm about it. Doll blinked away the tears, her hair was no longer blonde but something like a mix of dirt and blood. It was appropriate, she thought, since she no longer felt like herself.


After the team landed, it was up to Zero and Ren to lead the way. He kept insisting that what they were looking for wasn't anything they could outright see, not from the angle they were going. Without much time to waste they went on that lead and made preparations to infiltrate the underground hide-out their sub had taken refuge in. After which both Ren and Zero as well as a team of agents went in, they were to extract Loretta and take Maddox on sight. No mercy.

Maddox wanted to play games it seemed, she had an armada waiting to greet Zero and Ren as well as their agents. Doll was deep below ground, somewhere hidden with no obvious doors. She had left the girl there, unable to move, hoping to catch her other two toys. Doll lay in a pile of stuffed animals in the corner, at most she could make her fingers twitch. She was itching to get up, itching to rip off the nightgown and do something, anything. Even without Maddox's little chip, Doll wouldn't be able to move around too much due to the damage her body had suffered from dying for two hours. Zero's blood had fixed her internal organs, meaning there was no longer a risk of death, but Doll would have to undergo a bit of physical therapy should she want to walk again.

So now all she could do was sit and wait, staring straight ahead in hopes that someone, anyone would come through the hidden entryway.

Loretta thankfully wasn't present. Good. It meant she wouldn't get caught in the cross-hairs. When the hidden entrance burst open, a bunch of canisters releasing smoke were tossed in, others tear gas set the entirety of the space in smoke screen, followed by armored men with lazer focused weapons. Soon as their target came within sight of them they opened fire. Aiming for the head or the heart, direct shots. It went for Maddox and anyone else that served her. While the rest infiltrated her base, in search of the girl. Among them was Zero, who figured he'd tag along in case Maddox decided to run. He wouldn't let her slip away. Not this time.

Ren had parted from him at some point, his mission already clear. Get the girl, leave. The sooner the better.

Doll was working, trying to cut herself somehow so she could use her blood even with her useless limbs. She couldn't scream, there was something tied over her mouth and around the back of her head so that stifled her voice. Someone came in then and Doll had stopped, watching as the man in the dark suit grew closer. He picked Doll up, throwing her over his shoulder as the secret door shut and walked into the bathroom, filling up the tub. He threw Doll inside, the water rising dangerously around her head, over her ears, drowning out sound, into her mouth, down her nose. She fought to stay afloat, but she sank uselessly to the bottom of the tub, the water covering her. He turned off the water and promptly took something out of the cabinet, a pair of scissors, stabbing his own chest. The man in the dark suit fell over then, the scissors driving further into his chest. There was no scream from the girl in the tub, it was absorbed by the water and cloth, drowned out in the forms of harmless bubbles raising to the top of the tub.

No doors. No problem. That's what bombs are for. They'd make doors where there were none. So that's what what happened. Any means necessary right? Ren latched on to Loretta's weak signatures, following it through the underground much like mice after a mobile cheese. Not that they could eat it. Or taste it. It was when said signal took a dip in the negative spectrum, one that raised Ren's hackles when he, for just an instant, froze. At first he assumed she'd gotten injured from the sudden explosion of concrete and metal that'd shot out in every which way upon his entrance—until he couldn't even see her where she should have been, where he had detected her.

"Clear." An armed man stood near the corner where a mound of what looked to be plush toys had been gathered.

"She's been moved." Ren said, expressing his thought aloud for them to hear.

Another made a signal to keep going, so they spread out.

Ren pressed his hand into one of the walls, he couldn't rely on just his eyes it seemed, but what he could detect. So now they had company, he'd sensed another, a blip in the airs before that too had gone out like a light. Another puppet who's strings had been cut. How unfortunate.

"Her signal is weakening. We gotta find her fast." He gripped at the wall and sent a powerful surge of energy and shock-waves, enough to dismantle its structure without the damaging effect a bomb would make. The room she was in didn't allow for it. He stepped through, booted feet crunched over dirt and debris, a dead unsub lay at his feet, and a giant tub.

Loretta.

He went in and plunged his hands into the bubbling water, his fingers grasped at slender shoulders, he pulled her up and out. The frigid water made his fingers numb but he barely noticed, what the hell is going on? Didn't Maddox want to play house? Why kill the girl she'd crossed countries to steal only to have her nearly drown in the end? Then again, Maddox was mad, illogical at best. He tore the cloth from Loretta's lips, it was the lack in movement however that startled him. He touched her face, "C'mon, breathe." He looked to see if she was awake, even if a little, some kind of sign.

The water in the tub was full of blood and dirt from Doll's skin, her bandages were soaked through, the scars clearly visible and outlined from underneath the no longer opaque material. There was water in her lungs, in her mouth, the cloth had made the drowning faster, making Doll cough and gag as she desperately tried to take in air, her lungs filling with water instead. Her fingers twitched, the only movement that showed any remaining life until finally, it stopped, body going still, eyes fluttering shut.

Then, a miracle. Ren's hands lifted her from the tub, even soaking wet she was far too light. Thankfully he was quick, he tapped her cheek and Doll felt it, coughing, choking, water bubbling from her lungs. The cloth was no longer in her mouth and so she retched the water she had swallowed, unable to even turn her head. It dripped down the side of her cheek, mixing with the blood on the floor. Her eyes fluttered open and closed, until finally they stayed open. She looked up at Ren, thinking it was Zero until the lights came into focus and she realized it was the little brother.

There were no words, but the gratitude was evident in her eyes, their soft turquoise color glowing in the bright light of the bathroom.

She lives! He gave a signal to anyone of the agents watching so that they' d relay the success of having gotten her across the unit. Now it's time to go. Ren shucked off his coat and wrapped it around her shoulders, he picked her up into his arms, "It's alright now. We're getting the hell outta here." That was a promise. He left the room and followed the agents lead going out another route. While the world trembled and shook from the war zone above, Ren kept going, all he heard was Clear, clear, clear. The stomp of their foot falls and sweeping lights amid the dark, beacons of hope. Outside the chopper was on stand-by, waiting for them.


The world moved quickly as Ren left to the standby chopper. Doll could hardly comprehend what was going on. She felt far too tired, far too weak. Her head lulled to the side, leaning on Ren as he walked, talking her away. It was a great relief to be out of there, to not be a toy anymore. She still couldn't move and the only real telltale signs that Doll was present at all was the rise and fall of her chest. She closed her eyes once more, the light of outside feeling far too bright as the wind whistled in her ears, snowing blowing in every which direction. Was Zero still down there? Fighting no doubt. She hoped he wouldn't come back injured like the last time. He had needed surgery the time before and then... Doll couldn't really remember. In fact, many details were fading as darkness settled in around her.

Maddox was still in the base, she sighed with a shake of her head. It was time to stop this foolishness. It seemed that they weren't willing to be her toys and so Maddox was done with them. She would try again sometime later, when they were more modable, at an easier point to weaken. For now though, Maddox would let them get away. They would have to seek her out if they wanted their precious doll to work like before and the thought of them coming to her made her smile with glee. Yes, not all was lost, there was still something to look forward to.

Zero wasn't leaving until Maddox was dead, though they had Loretta and Ren was up in the air, it changed nothing. The mission wasn't over until the bitch was obliterated. Knowing her, she'd try to get back at them again, or did something to Loretta that'd ultimately have them all make an inevitable 360 and he wasn't having it. She wanted to play, well now, let the games begin.

Doll couldn't help but feel guilt. She kept making them come after her, kept causing them pain. She wasn't worth it, not a lowly human like her. Why did they keep going through all this trouble? Doll wanted to ask, surely they could find another human to replace her, there were other humans with the same traits no doubt. The thought made her want to cry, but she tried to keep it down, Doll owed them that much.

Ren noted her return to conciousness, by then they were several hundred feet above. With his end of the mission near completion it was now up to Zero and the others below to finish it. He watched Loretta, she was surprisingly calm despite the horror of near death—multiple times—and he wasn't sure what that meant. Not that he knew much about humans, each one was always a surprise.

"You okay?" Was all he could think to ask, all that mattered.

Doll would have loved to answer, she opened her eyes again, a plead in her expression. She couldn't speak, she couldn't move, she may as well have been dead. So that's what Doll asked for in her expression. There was no point in this useless life where she only brought people misery and pain. He should have let her die in the bathtub, they should have let her die on the table. There was no way they could be happy living like this, with a useless human who couldn't even move on her own.

Yet when Ren met her regard he didn't see a girl wanting death, more of the opposite really. He reached out, quite frankly and placed his hand over her head, gentle in his ministrations. "You'll be alright. So don't look so scared anymore." A sense of nostalgia hit him then, because once, Zero had told him the same thing. So long ago it seemed, but he wasn't wrong then. Ren should have believed him, that had been his mistake. Back then Zero was trying his best but Ren was prepared for the worst, more like expecting that, giving up on any hope they'd ever get out of the rut they'd been in. Then had turned him into something else, and he couldn't stop until all those lose ends were tied. Zero was pissed off with him, understandable, but they'd be alright.

They would be.

Doll wasn't sure what to make of this, the gentle pat on her head, the soothing smile from Ren. It was like a reflection of his brother and it made Doll feel weird. She closed her eyes again, not liking the confusion. Why did her mind feel so cloudy? It was like the further away they got, the less things made sense. Her head listed to the left and there were streaks of blood left wherever her wet hair touched. She wanted to tell Ren how much she appreciated his presence, how no doubt it made Zero feel better too. She remembered sitting in the room at the place she had once thought to be her home, Zero telling Doll about Ren, about what he was like and how he had thought he died. Ren was different from the description, no doubt the boy had been forced to grow up too, just like his brother.

Ren lifted the strands of her hair, there was blood, had she been hit on the head too? He looked into her eyes, they were clear and relatively focused, "Are you hurting anywhere?" He asked, just to be sure.

Beside him one of the on board personal laid a navy kit with a white cross, opened it up to reveal varius first-aid supplies. Without any prompting the woman knelt close, she introduced herself as an R.N. named Kat and that she was to check Loretta's vitals, BP, etc.

Doll didn't like it when people touched her, she especially didn't like it when strangers touched her. Even if the woman had introduced herself she was still unfamiliar and as she checked various things, Doll could feel a chill creep down her spine. That could have also been from the fact that she was soaking wet, but she hadn't felt it before. Doll looked at Ren, anxiety clear in her expression. She wanted Kat to go away, to turn around and leave Doll alone.

The nurse nodded, "I'm aware of what's happened but I only wish to ensure there aren't any further complications. If you'll require hospitalization it's best to figure it out now than later, can you help me with that please?" She asked and even smiled reassuringly.

Ren wasn't going to let anyone hurt her either, he agreed with Kat, "She just wants to help. Stay cool."

Staty cool? Doll wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean. She was already still, it wasn't as though she wasn't cooperating. Even if she didn't want it, it wasn't as though Doll could do anything to prevent it. Her eyes stayed on Ren, her gaze steady and focused. No doubt Maddox had gotten away, she always did. They would probably be fearing her for an eternity.

Ren nodded toward her, glad she hadn't made any fuss over Kat, and the nurse continued doing her job, she wrapped Loretta's arm in a sleeve and stuck a plastic thermometer between her lips.

It was quiet, not that he expected for any news so soon after they'd taken off. Did Zero find her yet? Or were they still fighting? Only time would tell.

It was normal, Doll reminded herself. The pressure of the blood-pressure cuff, the cold feel of thermometer in her mouth. "For now everything looks good, I'm worried about those bandages though. I'll have to change them, it wouldn't do well for your wounds to get infected." So she cut away the old ones, re-wrapping Doll's middle. The entire time the girl was still, "Now I see why they call you that." She chuckled, she looked at Ren. "For now everything looks good, I'd keep a close eye on those wounds though."

Ren nodded before lifting his wrist to his lips, "Why not speed up the process?" Their blood after all was efficient when it came to the healing factor.

"I wouldn't do that, too much of it wouldn't do a human any good." The nurse was aware of the unique situation they were in. "You should only do that in a place where they can better monitor for symptoms and rejection."

"Someone should mention that to Zero." Ren said with a shrug.

They landed at a nearby military base, this one also underground much like Maddox's hideout, only, it made much more sense in terms of doors. Doll wasn't sure where she was being taken, but she was laid on a mattress, the Doc coming out to greet them. "You did it," he seemed relieved. "We're gonna do an X-ray, so sit tight both of you."

Ren merely followed and kept silent. His mind kept reeling back to Zero, they'd practically left him behind, but that's what he wanted. Wasn't it? And here Ren had to hope that he'd make it. That he'd be walking or running through the halls later on, and Ren didn't care if Maddox was iced or not. As long as Zero was alright, that's what he cared for. When Doc spoke up it snapped Ren from his thoughts, he nodded, "Sure, do whatever you gotta do." He said with a sigh, his gaze lingered on the doors however, willing them to open and reveal his brother. He just might not be able to keep his promise.

"He'll be back soon," the Doctor said soothingly. He lifted Doll onto a stretcher and rolled her away, transferring her to a table for the X-ray. They took several pictures from different angles and Doll lay on her side as the Doctor looked at the pictures, frowning. "There, zoom in," he said, pointing to a spot in her back. "That's it," he murmured, taking off his glasses and cleaning them. "We'll need a local anesthetic and a very large needle." He took Doll back to the room, lining the bed and laying her on her back again. He set up the equipment, allowing Ren to stay and watch should he please. He just couldn't get close. The Doctor sanitized the area, inject the area around it with lidocane to numb the spot.

Next came the extraction, a very dangerous part. If not done right, it would have an adverse effect and only further the damage to her spine. The Doctor inserted the needle carefully, a tiny bump beneath her skin from where it was. He was using a live X-ray to search for it, the large needle about 3/4 of the way in before he finally got it and sucked it up as well as a bit of spinal fluid. "There, thank goodness that didn't have any wires or anything." He patched up the spot with another bandage and went to analyze the chip.

Doll could move around a bit on her own once more and she seemed to come to life, shifting so that she was laying on her back. She turned to look at Ren, "Thank you," she whispered, voice a bit hoarse.

Ren watched the proceeding invasive removal of Loretta's chip—most likely implanted by Maddox for nefarious reasons no doubt. After Doc had successfully taken it out and went away to analyze the foreign object, Ren noted that perhaps it must have caused Loretta's strict movement. Maybe it was impeding her receptors from sending and receiving the electrical synapses of motion. That and whatever else Maddox had programmed it for. When he was allowed access into her room once the nurses gave the clear he took a seat beside the bed.

"You're welcome." Ren said, then nodded, "Try to rest now."

Rest was an impossible thing, in fact Doll believed that she had, had possibly a bit too much of it. She was itching to do something, to help some how, even if she had limited movement. There had to be something she could to do help... I was probably better this way, at least here, in this room, she couldn't cause anymore trouble for the brothers. "I'm sorry," Doll whispered, looking down. "I-I put you all in danger." Her heart clenched painfully, knowing it was true. "Knowing Zero he's probably gotten hurt again because of me." (e)

"So would you have prefered we stay and let you be taken by Maddox is that what you're saying?" How was any of this her fault? He didn't understand how she could possibly place herself at blame, "Don't apologize, and don't worry too much about him. He's stronger than you think." If he were to compare this with all the crap they'd been through, this was child's play. Ren was more concerned with wether Maddox was finally eliminated. If Zero would truly destroy her. If he was even capable of. Or maybe he was, after all, it was that woman who'd forced him to switch off, if she could bring about that side of his brother, what else was she capable of? Maybe it shouldn't have been Zero tasked with ending her, but Ren instead. There were paths too dark to simply walk away from unscathed. He didn't want to think it, but it lingered on him, festering like an illness taking its hold on him and spreading fast. (e)

Doll looked down, no, she wouldn't have preferred to stay with Maddox, she simply didn't deserve the kindness that Ren was showing her. "Yeah, he's really strong." Doll whispered, although more to comfort herself than to reaffirm what Ren was saying. He'd always been strong, so now wouldn't be any different, Doll was sure of it. Zero would return successful, just like he always did. She thought of his smile, his warmth and it made her blush. Doll tried to hide it beneath the blanket that had been placed on the bed beside her, hoping that Ren didn't see. It was silly, a human bearing feeling for a Being, it would never work so Doll was foolish to even think of such things.

"Your face is red, is the room's temperature unfavorable for you?" Ren asked, he of course had no way of knowing her relationship with Zero, nor could he ever imagine it being anymore than what he'd gathered in his short time of having spent around them. "I'll let the nurse know," And he stood up, although it was safe to say that whatever it was, from what he'd seen, Zero seemed to truly care about this girl. Why, he'd never fully gather, maybe in time he would, or maybe that'd be a mystery.

"No, it's alright." Doll shook her head, of course that only made her blush even more, she would have to tell him the truth. "I was just thinking and it made my face feel warm." What about Doll wouldn't say, those were her private thoughts and Ren was not Maddox, he was not going to poke and prod and make Doll do things she didn't want to. Ren was Ren, the little brother Zero loved so much, the one that he made faces of pain when he thought about. "He told me about you once." Doll said quietly, "I never thought I'd get to meet you."

Thinking made her blood rush enough to color her skin? Or perhaps it was the context of such internal pondering that did. Humans are intriguing like that. Ren settled beside her, "I share the same sentiment, I never thought I'd meet the girl Zero would go above and beyond the call of duty for."

Doll buried her face in the blanket, embarassed, but also... Pleased. "I don't know why," she whispered. "I'm just a human," inferior in every way to the beings, Doll didn't understand why Zero went out of his way to make her happy, why he went above and beyond any other Being.

Ren sighed, "You must mean so much to him, other wise we wouldn't be here." That's just fact, when Zero had his mind set on something, he'd go all in and never quit 'till the end. That's just who he is.

Meanwhile, Maddox had been found. She was waiting, a cat like smile on her face. "Zero darling, you've failed horribly. I'm going to have to punish you, you know." The woman in red stood, leaning against her desk as she waited for the boy.

"I'd like to see you try." Zero said, he watched her from a considerable distance, kept himself cloaked in the darkness.

"Oh come now, I made your little toy better. Is that what your bitter about? Now you can have your way without human with no resistance." She smiled again and it was just as sharp. She tugged on her strings, hoping to catch Zero in the cross hairs.

"No, you tried to break her. You're truly damaged. For that, I have to kill you. And I will... Oh, I will." He circled her, as if he were some kind of animal preying upon her. He curled his lips into a smile it held anything but amusement.

Maddox laughed but there was nothing kind about it. "Kill me? Darling don't you think I have a safety in place? Do that and you'll never see your Princess live again." She sighed, "I swear it's like you animals never learn." This wasn't fun anymore, Maddox decided, no, Zero was boring, far too predictable, like an animal that had been poked and prodded for far too long.

Zero smiled, "Threats again? Such a coward you've proven yourself to be." He shifted into attack mode, she wasn't walking out alive. He was done with her.

"This isn't a threat Zero," Maddox yawned. "I have several protocols in place should I prove to perish." She turned to face him, her smile amused. "How would you like to lose your family again?" All it would take was one final prompt that would go off if Maddox's heart stopped. Dr. Atarashi, Grell, Doll, anyone of substance to the Being that she had planted her seeds into.

"How would you like to lose several limbs?" Zero moved in swift and precise, his hand no longer human in appearance stretched and curved sythe-like and lethal, swiped at her legs, chopping away the limbs. "If I can't kill you, then I can push you far enough. You'll beg to die."

Maddox smiled, "It doesn't have to be death dear. I'm afraid you've made a terrible mistake." Maddox coughed, spattering blood against the already red carpet. "By the time they've realized what happened it'll be too late."

Zero stepped out of the darkness and latched his hand onto her throat, forcing her back into the wall. "So have you, if she dies, so do you."

___________


Doll couldn't breathe, she had gone from smiling to confusion to trying to take in air. It was as though her mind forgot how to breath and so she was choking, unable to feel the rise and fall of her chest. The world turned as she fell into a laying position, curling up and trying to take short, shallow gasps. She couldn't though and she couldn't speak to tell Ren, to tell anyone what was wrong. Doll grasped at her throat as though to try and somehow force it, but she couldn't figure out what was wrong herself.

The little white finger thing blipped, noting the decline of oxygen levels, a machine monitoring her went off like crazy.

Ren shot to his feet, "What's wrong?" Then he glanced up and hailed one of the passing nurses, "Something's wrong, I think she can't breathe."

The nurse ran in and went to Loretta, she checked inside her mouth, but nothing seemed to block the air-ways. "This isn't good." She picked up the oxygen mask and activated the machine, placing it over her mouth.

At the same time, Grell filled up the water in the bathtub, unable to move his own body as he plunged his head below. Dr. Atarashi was prepping an emergency room for Zero, he picked up a scalpel, stabbing himself in the chest. Thankfully, he had enough willpower to miss his heart, but he collapsed to the ground, a nurse hearing the sound and running inside. They seemed to figure out what was happening quickly and someone went to find Grell, pulling him out of the bathtub and quickly doing CPR.

Doll still couldn't breathe and the nurse had to do something a bit more invasive. She pulled the oxygen mask off, threading a tube down Doll's throat and into her lungs. For now it would take care of breathing, doing it manually for the girl. Doll's shoulders relaxed as a sedative worked it's way through her body. She was still conscious, just relaxed enough that she wouldn't choke on the tube.

Ren watched unsure what to make of this, a nagging feeling however told him this had to be the work of Maddox, he went out to the door way, "Where's Doc?" He asked of the passing staff.

"In the OR, there was an accident in the ER." The nurse replied, pointing Ren in the right direction.

"Accident? What happened?"

"He fell on a scalpel, it hit him right here." The nurse pointed to the spot on her own chest, "Luckily it missed his heart."

"Fell, really?" Ren slapped the wall with the open palm of his hand, shit was starting to get hairy, and Zero wasn't around. What else could he do if everyone suddenly started turning into door nails? He glanced back at Loretta, then to the nurse, "What happened to her?" As far as he knew, she was fine, suddenly she can't breathe?

"We don't have any information yet, but as soon as there's an update it'll be in the computer." The nurse replied as though it was actually helpful. The only problem was, was that Dr. Atarashi was Loretta's Doctor and if he was temporarily out of commission it meant that there was nothing they could do but wait until the Doctor was back up. Thankfully, Being's had supernatural healing and he would be fine in a few hours, but by then it could be too late.

"Screw that, get Doc, we don't have time to waste here. He's not made of glass, we can't afford anymore of this." He gestured toward Loretta, "Go get him over here." He would himself, but Zero had implicitly ordered him never to move from her side.

The nurse nodded her head and went down the hall, coming back with a very flustered looking Doctor. He pushed his glasses up his nose, grabbing his lab coat from a passing nurse and getting out his kit. He did the standard exam first, checking vitals and oxygen levels, knowing that the machine was breathing for Doll so her oxygen levels were very low. "There's good news and bad news," The Doctor said, his expression serious. "The Good news is, the nurse saved Loretta from brain damage, the bad news is, there's no guarantee that she'll recover." He ran a hand through his graying hair. "Maddox needs to give the order for her to breathe again. I need you to call Zero and tell him, he has to get it out of her. Then I want him to kill her so no further damage can be inflicted." He didn't want Maddox to get out an order that would make Zero destroy himself.

"I've heard that one before." Ren said, poor girl, the hits just keep coming to her endlessly. "I'll let him know, though I doubt crazy can be persuaded so easily." He pondered on that, persuasion, what if they could make her do whatever they wanted? Taking a page right out of her book. Ren nodded, the more he thought about it the more it seemed logical. He stepped into the hall, pressed his finger into his ear, activating the ear piece, "Zero. Can you hear me?"

Maddox laughed once more, "you think you're so high and mighty. You and that infuriating father of yours," she sneered, the truth coming out. This wasn't about the children at all, this was about Maddox's wanting revenge on Dr. Atarashi, "Just because you have power. Well guess what? It's quickly going to go to your head! Then just like me, you'll spiral into nothingness until you see the world as nothing but a chess board and everyone your pawns."

Father. For a split second did she mean Aleron? No, dad wouldn't mentioned her at least once to mom. No, she meant Doc then. Zero chuckled, "It just eats at you doesn't it, when the control you trick yourself into having falls apart?" Zero met her regard with one of pure abhorrence, "You're the perfect example of a broken species, so tragic. I hear you tried to take everyone out, how predictable." He stabbed into her stomach and tore at the flesh, hot blood coated him. He reached further, deeper, was he going to regret this? Maybe. But for her, he'd plunge into the depths of hell.

Anything to protect her.

"You're a selfish Queen who sacrifices her pawns without any care to those who serve her. Such a Queen shouldn't exist."

"Careful Zero, if I die she does too." Maddox tsked at his loss of control, "Don't think I'm not afraid to take you with me either. Then you'll never see her again, that mutt is far too good for you." She laughed, shaking her head. "It's almost humorous the way you try to protect her. Is this how you think you'll repent for your sins?" Maddox believed she was hitting home, "You think she could ever love a monster like you?"

Risky. Deadly. What he was doing exposed himself as it did her, as if their minds were linked, as if they were merged. He pushed deeper, connecting into the high way of nerves that went up her spinal cord, directly home. Jack pot! She was actually enjoying this, too much. How far gone was she? Despite him wanting to pull out, disgusting, too close too close, but he endured, there was no other way.

"If I believed there was a god that could cast judgement over me, maybe. But I don't. The only sins I've done was let assholes like you get away." He said, he wanted to kill her right then and there, she was starting to see all the secrets in him. She was like this walking projection, no filter, she could easily link and broadcast any fleeting thought. Such control tickled and shocked him, a wave of sensation that jarred him. He grit his teeth, he'd been through worse shit.

"You talk too much Maddox." He synced into the regions of her brain that controlled the muscles of her face, testing. The notable twitch of her jaw muscle, the struggle she put up against him. Progress. Silence. What bliss.

"Did you get through to him?" The Doctor asked Ren, concern clear in his expression. Was his adopted son still alive? Had Maddox torn him apart too? He would never be able to live with himself if Zero had died because of this. He had taken the boy in, in hopes of showing him that not all Beings were bad. The Doctor should have been the one taking care of this, his enemy was not Maddox, not Zero's, not Loretta's. He had gotten Zero into this mess and he would get them out of this. He would fix it and move Zero, Loretta, and Ren somewhere where they could live in peace.

Ren listened, he could only hear his brother's voice, but the pattern of his voice wasn't right. Ren sighed, "I relayed the message if that's what you're wondering, it's up to him now."

It was a risk to let this go on, "Tell him it's time to come back with the captive." The Doctor said, Zero could work on Maddox in the plane. Zero needed to come back, the Doctor needed the Being to return before he reached the point of no return.

Ren nodded, "Zero, Doc wants you to come back. With the bitch, can you?"

The Doctor waited, looking between Ren and Loretta. "Tell him what's going on," the Doctor said gently, hoping it would give Zero a cause to return.

"You remember what I told you—" Ren winced at the shock of noise that nearly burst his ear drum. He shook his head, turned to Doc, "Says he can't move, not til it's done. If he moves, it might make things worse." Ren exhaled a sharp breath, "I think I know what he's doing. Damn."

"Alright," the Doctor replied. "Then tell him Loretta and I wish him luck," he looked at the girl on the bed, standing and pacing. He had his hands behind his back as the door opened and Grell stepped in. "I'm going out to wait for him," he said and the Doctor nodded. "Take someone with you, just in case." It was dangerous for him to leave having heard Maddox's voice, but the Doctor trusted Grell.

Ren latched his hand over Grell's wrist, "Don't." He shook his head, "He doesn't want any interference or distractions."

Grell didn't seem happy about it, but he nodded his head in respect of Ren's wishes. "Then I'll be waiting here with his favorite meal." It was the least that he could do, seeing as how Zero was finally going to kill his evil mother.

Ren let him go, he pressed into the ear piece, "...Yeah, so far it's alright here. Just do what you have to do. I'm watching her, and she's counting on you ya hear?" He smiled and nodded, "Yeah, you're welcome."

Maddox was struggling against Zero's grip, she wouldn't let him overpower her, she would take them down, all of those damn Atarashi's. They would suffer for what they did! Besmurching Madame Maddox's name and having her medical license taken away.

"The more you resist, the more I push. You really want to make it that much difficult for yourself." Zero said, he couldn't help exalting from the sheer challenge she'd presented before him. "They're not responsible for your own ruination. If it's anyone to blame, it's you." He whispered into her ear. The stream of her consciousness stemmed into him, the influx of it rushing all at once, he grasped for threads that linked him to Loretta.

"So intimate, your binds are amazingly strong." If dad were around he would have found this to be quite a topic of study. Their species able to cross that barrier from sensing one another to binding the will of another. If only.

Doll was stirring on the bed, the strings being plucked. The Doctor looked down worriedly, something was wrong. What was Zero doing? Could he sense as to which strings were being plucked? They were depending on him to cut the ties Maddox had made, to render her useless.

"Only an idiot would sever bonds, uncaring of the damage that would bring. Can't do that here. You twisted and interconnected those bonds. Clever." Zero had to speak out loud the things he sensed, the images that formed in his head to make sense of it all. He closed his eyes, made Maddox do the same. Lights out. The real process began in the deeper folds of the unconscious, with careful measure he undid the multiple threads that linked Maddox to Loretta. From her to Grell, to the kid, Doc, everyone she ever forced or weaved her way in. A task he had to complete as quickly and efficient as possible.

There was a flicker on the monitor, Doll was stabilizing once more. "Keep going Zero, you're doing great," Doc murmured as he worked, watching for any sign of Doll breathing on her own, of the damage being undone. Then, there, a flicker, it was getting stronger, she was fighting, trying to ressist the tube in her throat. "You've almost got it Zero, just one more."

There was one final thread, it was finer than hair, weaving into Lorreta's mind, deep within, and he reached for it as he had with the others before it, then carefully, eased it out of her. Guiding it free from Lorreta back into Maddox. She could keep her rotten binds, each and everyone of them. He locked them within her, all of them, much like marbles trapped within a lead box and tucked away into the secrets of the mind. Not that Maddox would live long enough to even wonder why she can never link with anyone again.

Once that was complete, he opened his eyes and cut himself free, stealing the electrical impulses within her as he did so. He stood over her, watched as her body struggled for survival. Watched her final moments until the first cracks of death flickered across her flesh. There was no coming back from that.

Zero pressed his free hand into the ear piece, "Is she awake?"

Doll took a few minutes until the sedation had worn off and she rolled over, groaning. "Tell Zero he did it," the Doctor said in relief as he disposed of the tube. Doll's throat felt sore and her head was hurting, but that was it. She wanted water desperately and it was almost as though the nurse could read her mind, she brought in a pitcher of water and a few cups, helping Doll into a sitting position so that the blonde human could drink. She took the cup from the nurse with shaky hands and sipped at it, the ice water cooling the fire in her throat.

"You did it. Now get your ass over here." Ren said. He looked over at the girl, finally she'd be free. It was like some kind of miracle, and maybe it was. Maybe that's how it worked sometimes, you have to make your own miracles to believe. Whatever that means.

Zero sighed, wiped his hand over Maddox's shirt, her clothes left in a pile where she had once been. The only signs of her existence.

"I'm going back, see you soon." Zero turned and headed out.

Doll was waiting for him, staring at the ice inside the cup. She couldn't wait to see Zero again, for thinking him for risking his life once more. The Doctor did one final check over now that she was awake before leaving Doll alone, closing the door behind him so that she was in the room with Ren and no one else.

With Doc gone, Ren started pacing the room. "Where are you now?" He asked more than once, for some reason over come with anxiety, it was inexplicable and he had no idea where it came from but it was there. "Sorry, I just... OK, no don't start humming Metallica." Ren sighed but couldn't help smiling. He looked at Loretta, "She's awake, yeah. she's okay." Ren said.

"I don't think I can relax til I see you, so hurry on up."

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


Doll had fallen asleep while waiting for Zero to return, she had a terrible headache that made her want to do nothing but sleep and so, Doll had drifted off. She curled up beneath the blanket, nearly disappearing in the space. Normally, Doll had a very hard time sleeping but thanks to the combination of pain medicine and the headache it had come easy. There was something off though, a slight, nearly undetectable quiver brought on by the onslaught of nightmares that she was now trapped inside of. Thankfully, they were Maddox free but they were nonetheless painful. A sound left the girl's body, sleep talking it seemed. "Come back," she whispered, pulling the blanket closer to her.

"Please don't leave." Her hands were small, the girl couldn't have been very old, she was kneeling inside a cage, naked and afraid. "I'm sorry, this is for your best interest." A needle plunged into the skin of her arm, the blonde felt as though she were going to be sick. "We've crossed a line with this one." The woman said to the man, crossing her arms, looking down at the child with distaste. "Yes well, even Beings get urges it seems." He laughed, the sound warm and bubbly, like Moscato. His eyes were full of a kindness she could never explain, almost fondness. He knelt down, patting her blonde curls that would unravel with time but remain their yellow buttercup shade. "Don't worry, you won't be alone for long." Another stab, another injection. "She won't live long if they find us here."

"Just a few more minutes, she's our product, we have to at least say goodbye." Product, property, they wanted no sense of ownership. No ties to the girl who fit in neither world. The woman snorted, but something softened in her expression. "Loretta, you're going to forget about all of this. We won't exist any longer, but we want you to know, even if you won't remember; none of this is your fault."

"I don't understand," a whimper.

"You were born out of a terribly cruel experiment."

"No! You're my Mama, I don't-don't leave me. Please."

"I'm sorry Loretta," a smile, the only sign of kindness from the woman that had once been her Mother. "You were never really our daughter."


Doll awoke with her arm raised, as though she meant to grab onto something. She sat up, tears running down her cheeks. Already the dream had gone and she couldn't remember anything of it, but the tears, the pain, they were real.

At least the headache was gone.

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❝Wait for me to come home.❞

[X AMBASSADORS ¤ RENEGADES]
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Except for the soft beeps of machines, the whirs of electric lights, the murmurs of voices outside, the room was blanketed in quiet tranquility. Zero stood at the entrance with his back against the wall, arms crossed, gaze surveying the flicker of lines, the jump of numbers on the monitors. As it has been for far too long the warmth of sun was smothered in grey. As if the world had fallen into a frozen plain where the track of time never existed. Sure they may have obliterated the storm before it wiped out what remained, but what was left? Whatever safety they'd been promised was ripped from them. HE had a sense that this was just the beginning of more to come.

Could Zero be enough, do enough to protect her? Would she want him to?

Maddox's words although soaked in spite, held some truth. He's a monster who couldn't be trusted. He couldn't even trust himself anymore. He gripped at the white shirt that wasn't his, intense rage burned within him, all he could do was endure it alone. He couldn't bring Ren into it, or Doc, or Grell, or anyone else because this was on him. He was responsible, the damages were done and he had to face them. He would face them.

Then the beeps raced and the lines danced, numbers hiking with a frenzy but it wasn't alarming, not as alarming as it was then otherwise the room would've swarmed with medical staff. Zero stared at the machines in a daze, then he snapped his attention to movement of white sheets and she rose up with a gasp, eyes wide and it was like the day break after an endless frigid night. Loretta shuddered and shook, pulling herself free from the binds of sleep or maybe a bad dream that left her searching, left her in tears.

His mouth went dry, his hands full of cotton and warm with sweat, his body too still, too tense or maybe he was shocked into stillness. She left him on the edge, as if he's overlooking the cliff at the abyss below. When she was like this, when she cried, it tore at him. Also, he couldn't believe it'd actually worked, not until now. She wasn't bound anymore by wires, each breath she took was her own, and her heart beat fast, fluttering along with his. She'd be okay. Yet he didn't move. To reach her he'd have to cross the white space between them. If he did, he'd hug her. He'd tell her how much he missed her. How much he needed to hear her voice. Tell him she'd be alright. He'd curl into the bed with her and not give a flying rat's ass what anyone said.

The shirt bound him and he couldn't breathe. Or maybe he'd stopped breathing and filled his head with the stream of numbers. They could do that, restrict air flow, for how long was debatable. Zero couldn't afford to push himself like that but since when did any of it matter? He couldn't feel his hands, his fingers or wrists only that they tingled under his arms, lost in the folds of white that kept the secret of all his pains under a tidy now terribly wrinkled shirt.

She'd wake to see the world almost as she'd left it. He couldn't help wanting to be the one thing that didn't change no matter what happened. He just wanted his sun back.

"Doc left to get you something." Whatever that was he hadn't specified and Zero hadn't asked.

Ren was most likely in the waiting room, he'd been the first one to grab Zero and pull him into a tight embrace the moment he'd entered the halls. Told him where to find Loretta, again that he'd succeeded but Zero wasn't just taking his words because he wanted to see her. Though the sun was shining, it was still shy from its natural brilliance, but that wasn't a surprise considering.

"I'm sorry, Miss Loretta." He looked at her for a moment, until he couldn't hold her gaze, he stared at the sheets around her, "I'm sorry this happened and I couldn't stop it, I couldn't end it when I had the chance." Yet the apology felt lacking it'd never be enough.

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


Doll's vision was blurry, vague shapes and outlines the only thing seemingly registering in her brain. Why? She didn't understand. She blinked and slowly, it cleared, outlines taking form and turning into distinct objects. The black dots danced away like fairies on a lake, a person was present in the doorway, like a shadowy ghost dressed in white that blew with the slightest draft. She didn't move, believing it was fiction, that her eyes were playing tricks. Doll blinked, but the ghost remained, tall and brooding, his words drifting to her like music that brushed against her ears.

She pushed the blanket away, still dressed in the nightgown she was meant to drown in. Her legs got tangled, she fell out of bed, but Doll hardly noticed the pain as she wires pulled at her, peeling away from her skin as she stood and walked, no, ran towards Zero, throwing her arms around him, still trembling, quivering like a leaf getting blown over by the wind. The nightgown had ripped, exposing half of her but Doll didn't seem to care much. She held onto him, as though afraid that if she let go he would slip away again. When she had woken up and he wasn't there, when she was taken by Maddox and forced to call his name, hoping to whatever higher power he wouldn't respond so he would stay safe, she had been wishing he were there, beside her.

With Zero there, the nightmares wouldn't dare attack. His warmth and guidance were what she had clung to. She did so now, burying her face in his white shirt, leaving a streak of red blood. "I'm sorry," Doll said, "I keep causing you so much pain. I'm so worthless." If only she could protect him like he had protected her.

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❝Nor from hell one step more than from himself can fly.❞

[X AMBASSADORS ¤ RENEGADES]
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The halo of white rushed from her and she stood and fell and stood again and he just stared, wait she can't be vertical yet. Before he could protest, before he could course her back into bed she closed the distance between them. His arms fell away in immediate acceptance when she pulled him into an embrace. Zero teetered a little, but he kept his balance, held her with an arm around her waist. Intense heat shimmered through, his breath hitched.

Loretta apologized, something about causing him pain, what? She thought she was worthless, how? He closed his eyes reflexively, thrown once more by her words. Then he set her on her feet so that his hands rose lightly, hesitantly, cradling either side of her face. He sighed, found himself drinking the air deeply, suddenly tasting the scent of her and smelling the rich dark metallic blood slipping down her arms. He swayed, but he clenched his teeth and kept solid.

He tilted her head so she could meet his gaze. She had such an apologetic look on her face. As if all this had been her fault. He never wanted to see her look like that. "You should respect yourself more." His voice soft. He was secure in her arms, like home. He yearned for that. The direct gaze that'd support and give him strength. For so long he taught himself to feel nothing. And she made him feel. It'd hurt. To feel again. But he'd been glad of it. He was glad of the pain. It made him long for her. His stomach fluttered, his heart seeped with warmth and sent his pulse soaring.

Zero leaned forward before he might think to do otherwise and pressed a kiss to her soft lips.

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


He said she should respect herself more. How could she though? She was a lowly human while, he was everything, he entire world. Being away from Zero was physically painful, so much to the point that she never wanted to separate from him. His embrace was the sun, the moon, and the stars, his arms as strong as ever as they wrapped around her. Why did it feel like their difference in height was so drastic? She felt like a child beside him, an unruly one that kept running away from the world. If only she could remember, then maybe, maybe she could cause him a little less pain. Maybe she could be useful.

There was something she needed to tell him, something that had happened at Maddox, but Doll couldn't remember. Then his lips pressed against hers, a chaotic hunger that seemed to fill his every cell, pouring into her own body. It was her first kiss, but Doll wouldn't have rather had it with anyone else. When they parted there was a line of spittle between them and she was panting. Her body felt weird, a certain heat beneath that she didn't understand. Where was this all coming from? "Zero," Doll breathed, her head spinning, her eyes wide in wondrous shock.

She shouldn't have moved, her body wasn't ready. Doll hadn't realized it, but she manipulated her own blood to push herself forward while she was in truth, nearly paralyzed. Her body fell into his, her energy gone. Doll could no longer stand, it hurt and the pain was a sharp kind that crawled up her back. She was reliant once more, on Zero's kindness and patience and she felt frustrated. Doll wanted to do things with her own power, but it seemed due to the damage of dying several times her body physically could no longer stand. "I'm afraid," Doll whispered, her hands still closed around the fabric of his shirt. "I don't want to lose you."

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❝I can't see myself without you.❞

[X AMBASSADORS ¤ RENEGADES]
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Her very existence meant more than words could describe. Her voice kept him going, her touch calmed him and anchored him to where he needed to be. He held her the way she'd held him with every look, every smile and he wouldn't have had it any other way. He kissed her as though he could banish the chill from within him because he didn't want to be a monster in her eyes, he wanted more than anything to be human. She made him human and it was better than what he used to be and he'd give it all to keep that chance, the moment forever.

She drew back and he could only meet her wide eyes and smile, cradle her so tenderly. He'd saved her, she lived because he'd taken a life to make it happen and he regretted nothing. She spoke his name and he did hers. When she fell into him he picked her up and returned her into the bed. Her hands clung to him, her words lodged into his chest with each heart beat. He caressed her face, sending warmth from his hands, he held her gaze, what did she say?

"It almost sounds like..." He stared at her, this time nearly stunned into silence. "You're trying to say, you desperately need me." He didn't move from his perch on the edge of the bed, his hands stilled, his heart lurched up and away, "But Loretta, I'm the one that needs you."

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


It was the most memorable moment of her life and yet, she fell asleep shortly after, having expended all of her energy. She wasn't sure how long she had been sleeping, but when she finally awoke it wasn't on the base in Europe. Confused, she panicked, thinking she had been kidnapped only to realize that Zero was asleep beside her. She calmed, trying to sit up, finding that she couldn't feel her legs. Perhaps it was just from laying in bed too long? Doll slipped off of the mattress, her feet touching the cool tile. She tried to stand, but her legs wouldn't support her and she quickly collapsed. What? What was happening? Doll tried once more to stand, but her efforts were in vain.

Her heart beat rapidly in her chest, what was happening? She felt around her neck, thinking that maybe there was a collar doing funny things but there was nothing. Her heart picked up, she didn't realize that standing the last time she was awake had damaged a not fully healed wound further. She would be able to walk again eventually, it would take time and some physical therapy. "Zero," Doll said in panic, then remembered he was sleeping. What was she to do? Maybe she should try to climb back onto the bed?

Doll grabbed at the blanket, trying to pull herself back up but since she couldn't stand, she couldn't raise herself to the level of the bed or use her feet to push herself back into it.

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❝I am nothing without you.❞

[X AMBASSADORS ¤ RENEGADES]
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Engel Island, Corel I. Sanders Hospital

It had only been a couple of hours since they landed, since the EMT and assigned medical team working with Doc had safely transferred Loretta to her new and fully advanced medical suit. Along the journey of course everyone had tagged along, even Ren despite his initial hesitance. Doc had explained it was a temporary measure, that soon they'd move along to a suitable place, but for now this was best for Loretta. Zero wouldn't argue with that. As such, once Loretta was settled in, Zero immediately returned to her side as if he couldn't bare being apart from her for too long. Like he couldn't believe anything the white coated guys were saying, not until he could see her for himself.

It was only after watching her asleep for a while that he could breathe without the throbbing ache in his chest threatening to crush him. That the vice grip of tension eased off his shoulders with each step closer. He wrapped his fingers around the bed railing, gripped it tightly.

"I'm sorry, you've gone through so much pain." He said, unable to shake the raw pain in him. He reached for her face, with the back of his knuckles he caressed her face. It should have been him in the bed, him suffering. Seeing her like this broke his heart, her grief shattered him. If only he could steal it all from her, he'd gladly do it, just so that she could smile again. That's all he wanted. Her to smile from the bottom of her heart.

Zero grabbed the back of a chair and drew it closer. He sunk into it and lowered his side of the rail so he could better reach her. Even under the weight of sleep, her calm face granted him peace. He rested his head against his arms and with his other hand, he threaded his fingers into hers. He hadn't realized he'd dozed off until the tale-tell shift of movement stirred him. At first he hadn't realized it was her moving off the bed until her warmth was replaced by a little chill and he slit his eyes open.

"Loretta..." The name left his tongue in a whisper, between wake and sleep. That is until his eyes focused enough to note the bare bed, the sheets disheveled, and he sprang up looked around with a wild panic constricting his breath. Then her scent brought his attention down and there she was, clinging to the sheets and he moved automatically.

"Hey, you scared me," He crouched low and wrapped her in his arms. "For a sec I thought you vanished on me again." Lifting her up back into bed he winced at a twinge of pain shooting across his back and shoulder. Ignoring it he set her back into the bed and covered her with the blankets. He rested his hand over her head and smiled, his eyes finding hers, "Glad to see you're up and kicking, but you gotta take it easy there, or you'll hurt yourself. Ok?"



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{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


What was she going to do? Why couldn't she feel them? Doll wanted to cry she felt so frustrated. At least she had retained her memories this time, she could recall the panic and anxiety when Madame Maddox had kidnapped her, the heartbreak when she had been brainwashed to believe-to believe what? No, no, it was all trying to slip away again and Doll could do nothing but fight her hardest to retain the details, the feeling of his lips brushing her's, his hands around her, carrying her back to the bed. She held onto the memory as though her life depended on it. After a minute or two of the internal fight, Doll had won and she got to keep the memories, but she couldn't hold onto the sheets much longer.

Something rustled, someone was moving. She felt familiar arms wrap around her and lift her from her fruitless struggle, putting her back into the bed and tucking the blanket around her. Hurt herself? What did he mean by that? "I can't feel my legs," Doll said quietly, hoping he would have an answer for this sudden affliction. Zero knew everything, right? So he would know what was wrong and maybe he would know how to fix it too. Or perhaps this was the risk he had spoken of? Maybe getting out of bed had hurt her and that's why she couldn't feel them? Any minute now they'd return and she could get up and walk, Doll was sure of it. There were more important questions to answer anyways, "Where are we?" She asked, noticing the curtains wafting from a slight breeze that came from the open window. It was warm and sunny and she could see a lot of blue.

That wasn't the sky, she didn't think, maybe when her legs came back she would be able to climb onto the windowsill and look outside to see how high they were. It was another medical center, Doll could tell that much by the sterility of the place but as far as hospital rooms went this one was oddly large and pretty. It was decorated like a child's hospital, not that Doll could tell since the only medical buildings she had been to were human zoos and rehab centers. There was something in the bed beside her, it was fluffy and soft, a familiar toy that had been given to her before. The stuffed animal called unicorn was there, sitting among the pillows in the bed.

Having Zero beside her was awfully calming, she felt safe when he was around, as though everything would turn out alright.

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❝So if our bodies get ugly, and our hearts stop beating,
I hope you know I appreciated you in every possible way,
All of the little things that you did, they got me through the hardest days.
In a world that you’re not near, don’t go home without me.❞

[X AMBASSADORS ¤ RENEGADES]
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Engel Island, Corel I. Sanders Hospital

"You won't be able to for a while, until you get your strength back." Zero watched her as though seeing her for the first time. A part of him still amazed at the sound of her voice, the recognition in her eyes, and how she took in her new room for the next couple of weeks. He settled in the chair, most likely it'd become his permanent place until they were out. That he didn't even mind. As long as he was at her side.

He followed her line of sight to the windows and the too bright afternoon. "Engle Island, what used to be one of the many isles in the Bahamas." Then he glanced back at her, "Sanders Hospital, best one around." He smiled, assuring her she'd be alright, Doc was also around and he'd said the same so Zero trusted his word. She'd have to go through some pretty intense physical therapy to get back on her feet and he'd be with her every step of the way.

Zero smiled at the unicorn when she noticed it, how could they Unicorn-san? As well as her books, they brought as much as they could grab and stuff inside a duffle when they'd collected everything from the hotel. Her books were on the side table, within her reach in case she ever wanted to read or look through them. He was sure she'd grow bored eventually so had thought of bringing these few things along.

He rested his hand over hers, "Are you hungry, anything you want?" It didn't have to be hospital food either, if she wanted something that Grell knew how to make, they'd get it for her.


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{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


She wouldn't be able to walk? Her expression fell. That meant she would have to rely on people again, she had finally been discovering individualism and then it was stopped, even reversed. At least she got to keep the memories, she reminded herself. Yeah, if she got that much at least it'd be fine. She'd get her legs back, he said, she'd get whatever strength she had before. "There was something," she said quietly, "I had a memory, but it was gone as soon as I woke up." She wanted to pull it back to tell him and make sense of the details. "I remember a cage and a basement, but that's it." It was something though, maybe she'd have more memories soon? "It's okay though," she said quietly, brushing a strand of blonde hair behind her ear.

"Because I get to make new memories with you." And his brother now too! That is if Ren stuck around, surely he would since now he and Zero were reunited. Right? Although Doll had no idea of familial ties or how something of the sort even worked considering her own parents abandoned and disowned her. She looked back out the window, at the beautiful sun and the gentle breeze. Doll closed her eyes for a moment, a small smile on her lips. Yes, this would be fine; she would get her legs back and then she'd be able to explore this new place with Zero.

Was she hungry? She thought about it, her stomach hadn't uttered a sound, not a growl or a rumble. "Are there cookies?" She asked, wondering if maybe she wasn't going to be allowed to eat solid things. She remembered waking up in that room in the rehab zoo, how she had to start with soft foods like soup and pudding, then she had worked her way up to bland solids like rice or toast with a bit of honey. The rehab zoo's food was terrible compared to Grell's cooking and no doubt she was going to have to drink those weird strawberry milk things to gain weight again.

She noticed the books, a large stack of them by the bedside. She held the unicorn a little bit closer, playing with it pink fluffy hair. "Are unicorns real?" She asked quietly, wondering it this majestic beast was too good to be true with its pink mane and glittering gold horn.

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❝You don't always need a plan.
Sometimes you just need to breathe,
trust, let go and see what happens.❞


—MANDY HALE

[X Ambassadors — RENEGADES]

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That light in her eyes flickered, the smile that made her shine, faded. Understandably enough it was inevitable, but there was hope at the very least. Only, he never liked seeing her so sad. It was perhaps pathetic but he adored her smiles, her happiness made him thrive. He relied on that, the warmth she exuded, clung to it to keep from drowning. Hand cupping hers he gripped her fingers a little more, he'd support and cheer her on no matter what. Actually they did that for each other, time and again. When she spoke up he listened, dreams were an experience nearly all living and sleeping mammals possessed. Some people, he'd read about actually had the habit of recording their dreams. Maybe Loretta would benefit from the like.

She remembered bits and pieces but at least it was something. The two named objects were fairly random at first. He leveled his gaze with hers, A cage in a basement?Why did his mind immediately associate such things with negativity? When he thought of the image, what resurfaced was his own cage, among many, day ad night in agony, trapped, terrified, never knowing if he'd end up dying at the pit. He shoved the memory and chill that came with it away somewhere dark. A place where the worst of him was locked away in a realm made of nightmares that occasionally plagued him.

He took a breath and let it go. He watched her, felt her in his hand, felt her heat radiate against him like the rays of the sun. She didn't seem to mind the fragments of her lost dreams, more so looking forward to the new. He offered a smile and a gentle nod. Of course, everyday was a new opportunity, as long as they were safe and happy there would always be time for making new memories and hopefully the best kind.

She gave him hope.

"I could ask Grell to get that," He said, "But try to see if you can eat a little soup first." He indicated to the thermos food jar Grell held out for him to take. Zero placed it on the table and opened it, serving a small amount in the hallow cap. "If you can keep this down, you can have a cookie."

He glanced at the plushy toy she'd been playing with, her question made him laugh. It was very sweet.

"Well no, they don't exist. But I heard some people claimed it once did." He smile faltered, "Then they were extinct. The people had gotten too fixated on the animal's horns and weren't careful. C'est la vie." He shrugged, whatever was truth or not who knew? He'd never really looked into the facts. But if they existed, then why couldn't things like Unicorns exist? It was almost silly.

A knock came at the door.

Zero tensed at the wave of suppressed irritation stemmed from Ren. What happened now? Did he have an argument with Doc or the kid? He sent his little brother a don't-annoy-me-glare and if it weren't for the dark look in Ren's usually calm features he would have ignored him for a while longer.

"We need to talk, Zero." Ren said those words in his soft voice but it was obvious something was up.

"Be there in a second." Zero returned his attention to Loretta, "Make sure you try some of this, ok?"

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{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


No, unicorns did not exist, which was very disappointing for the human girl. Little did she knew, in doctor terms, a unicorn was a variation of medical issues. A genetically altered strand or a mutation in the genes, so yes, unicorns did exist, just not in the way they wanted them to. Still, Doll seemed happy with the plush toy and Zero by her side. The white haired boy was special, a unicorn in his own right, she believed. Doll was satisfied with that; Zero may not think that unicorns existed, but Doll did. "I think that maybe somewhere out there, there are lots of special things we don't know about." Like the monster island from the book they had read, where the boy named Max ruled. Doll smiled to herself remembering how fun that had been.

"I'll try it," the girl said and took the cap full from him, tipping the lid of the thermos to her lips. The soup was warm, not burning hot, but a nice temperature that warmed her stomach. "It's good," she said, wondering how the Being chef made such delicious human food. Doll remembered something about Madame Maddox saying how she wasn't all human. There was no way that was true, then Doll would have to eat the fake human stuff too, right? The thought reassured her. Yes, Doll was just a human, like she had been all her life. If humans suddenly became beings then things would get a bit crazy, Doll believed. She would have heard of such a case before at the human zoo, or perhaps they were coveted and collected so no one could ever hear about them.

"I did it," Doll smiled and returned the lid to the thermos. She felt nauseous, but kept the soup down. Thankfully it seemed her body would cooperate for today. Doll was going to ask something else when Ren came in. "Okay, I'll be here." Doll said and watched him walk away. His reaction to her having said there was a cage in her dream was strange. Did he know about the cage? Was it perhaps one of her missing memories? Doll didn't believe so, Zero would have told her. He never held any information from her as far as Doll knew. Except that illness that had struck him, that made Zero pass out and the Doctor rush up to him concernedly. That day had scared her and she remembered Grell trying to distract her with Christmas activities.

No doubt they had missed Christmas, which was a sad thing to think about. Doll had been so excited for it, the lights, the tree, the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. It was delightful and warm and somehow nostalgic even though she had no memories of celebrating such a holiday. "I hope we can do it next time," she murmured, watching the waves lap against the sand. What were Ren and Zero talking about? Doll wondered and looked over at the door but it was still closed. If she was quiet she couldn't hear their conversation so Doll hummed a little tune to waste the time.

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❝Somewhere deep in my soul, lives your memory.❞

[X Ambassadors — RENEGADES]

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"I can agree with that." Zero smiled at her specifically. She's very special indeed.

Grell would offer her half a cookie, again, testing the waters. Zero left her in his care, whatever Ren wanted to talk about better be really important, he didn't like being far from her side.

Zero followed Ren out and together they walked in silence into Zero's room directly across from Loretta's. Ren shut the door and locked it so no one would interrupt and Zero gazed outside the glass windows. It was insanely bright and he let the curtain shut them into semi darkness again.

"What are we really doing here still, brother?" Ren shot without any hesitation whatsoever.

"Still? You act like we have somewhere else to be?"

"Dad's unfinished research ring a bell?"

With a quiet sigh, Zero turned to face him. "If you want to go, you're free to. I'm here. Where I belong."

Ren shook his head, "No, that's not true. Doc may have taken you in and you may be chummy with Grell but they're not family. I am. And I don't waste anymore time here."

"Family don't make blood and they're more family to me than the one we never had. Where was dad when we needed him?"

Ren approached him, "But dad needs us to do this for him. He left us this one job and it's not too late. We can finish this."

Zero folded his arms over his chest, "Yeah, but right now they need me more and they're more important to me than—"

Ren shoved him back, "She's killing you, idiot."

Zero fell into the bed, he stared back at Ren. This wasn't like him at all.

"And you think I'm just gonna stand there and watch her do it?" The words stabbed into Zero, not because of what he said, but because he blamed it on her.

"She's got nothing to do with this. Don't you dare."

"Oh, she's got everything to do with this, that brat is using you. She's making you into a sympathetic sap, since when do our kind show any sympathy?" Ren was getting louder and he shook his head and lowered his voice again. "Since when do we care about them at all?

"I'm sorry if you're confusing me with dad, see, I wouldn't use a person as a test subject." Zero glared at the floor at his feet. He gripped at his sides with shaky hands. "Even with their consent."

"Not that point, when was the last time you fed?"

"Does it matter?"

"You're not answering my question."

"I don't have to."

Then there was a sudden motion of Ren, it happened to fast Zero missed it. Suddenly he was pinned back into the bed, Ren clutched as his throat, choking the breath from him.

"If we were under attack what would you do? How would you defend yourself?"

Zero stared into those eyes, so pale and afraid he'd been there. No, Ren, you're not immune to them, humanity rubs off on everyone. He didn't resist, just listened.

"If we were under attack, you wouldn't last a second." Ren loosened his grip just enough for Zero to draw breath but didn't move. He was not only afraid, no, he was terrified. At this very second, he almost seemed human.

"It's alright Ren, I get that you're mad—"

"I'm not mad, I don't get mad." Ren corrected, "I make things right. I fix what's broken."

Broken?

"And I want to fix my brother." Ren leaned in and Zero tensed when the prick of fangs cut into his throat.

"Ren... What are you doing?" Zero tried to push him off, something wasn't right. "Ren."

Don't move anymore.

Every muscle in him locked up.

It's better this way, it's the only way I can protect you. In Zero's thoughts Ren's voice echoed melancholy which was strange, another human emotion they weren't privy to and yet...

Something precious was stolen.

*


Ren covered Zero with the blanket and left the room. For now he wanted to let him rest, however long that would be depended on how much of it he needed. He left the door open and approached the next room across, "He's resting now." Grell didn't need to ask, Ren read him like a book. His gaze landed on the blonde, the memories of her flitted in his head like a film and at the current ones he couldn't hold her gaze. They were a little too close for comfort. That was a mistake. Ren turned to the red-haired one, "Where is Doc, have somethings I'd like to discuss with him."

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


Grell brought half a cookie along with him and Doll delighted in it. She sat up, savoring the velvety chocolate and the soft, gooey inside. "The Doc says I can only give you this half for now, he wants you to stay on a soft diet." Doll pouted and Grell laughed, ruffling her hair. "I'll sneak some to Zero," he promised and winked. Doll giggled and the two proceeded to have a conversation as to whether or not sugar cookies really were the supreme cookie. As far as texture and flavor were concerned, Doll thought them to be a bit dry but with the right consistency she very much enjoyed them. Grell thought differently, believing that they were delicious any way you diced them. "I'm really happy you're okay." Doll said, "I was so scared that day when you just suddenly fell." Grell ran a hand through his hair, he had since cut the long strands short and it suited him.

"I'm sorry about that," Grell sighed. "That woman... she disowned me when I threatened to move out. So I did and never expected to hear from her again." Doll's eyes widened. "Madame Maddox is your mother?" She asked and Grell nodded his head. "Unfortunately," he said and sighed once more. "It seems she's come back to haunt me. Well I guess not anymore, but anyways-" anymore? Did that mean she was dead? To be honest it was a relief. Doll had feared she would come back to haunt them another time, taking things to play with that weren't her's. "She was a collector, even when I was a kid." Grell gave Doll an apologetic look. "What she did to all those humans... it's not something I can easily forgive."

Doll shivered, she couldn't imagine the other humans that Maddox had hurt. There was a knock on the door, Ren stepped inside, saying that Zero had fallen asleep. He didn't look at Doll, but she thought that maybe he was just a bit shy. "I'll go find the Doc," Grell stood, leaving Ren alone with Doll. "How are you?" Doll asked, then her expression became concerned. "Madame didn't hurt you did she?" She asked worriedly although Ren's exterior appeared to be fine. That was good, it wouldn't do if Zero's little brother was hurt.

"Zero told me so much about you, but I don't think we ever got to really meet." Or at least have a proper introduction. Doll smiled brightly, the kind that she gave to everyone that sparkled and shone. "My name is Doll," she was used to the nickname, using her real name felt odd, as though it was something exclusively for Zero. "I hope we can be friends too." Was it out of line coming from her, a human? Doll wondered. She was friends with Zero though. Although perhaps that wasn't accurate... She felt a warm feeling in her heart whenever she thought of Zero, something that no other name caused.

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❝Where are you now? Are you lost? Will I see you again?.❞
[ RED | Not Alone ]

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So this tyrant of a parasitoid was Grell's mother. No wonder the resemblance. Ren stored that bit of info. He nodded toward Grell when he went off to fetch Doc. It was a slight surprise to hear her voice. Despite her immobility she she seemed relatively at peace. He wasn't alright or fine, the two of which he would have immediately said had Zero asked. Her concern was also another surprise. Why care for a complete stranger? One who is perhaps the enemy. She went on to reveal that Zero had spoken of him and her genuine wish to meet was unexpected.

Doll. A strange name. Did she have two? Zero always referred to her as Loretta. Was Loretta her true appellation? If so why was Zero the only one addressing her with one name and everyone else another? What was so significant about that? A memory surfaced, one of Zero's, it was his great mislike for the name that Zero had opted to learn her true name. A matter of choice. Yet she smiled in his mind's eye whenever they were close. That was about to end. Friendships between their kind just never worked. It ended in misery and hate. He would know, he'd once lived among them.

However she was the only reason Zero had looked more alive than before. She was thus beacon of light for him; a source of pure joy. Zero had fed on that for so long that he could nearly forget his past. She made him want to be better. The love they had made them happy. Ren scowled at the floor, he'd taken the one true thing Zero had. The only person he ever cared for and the only person who ever cared for him.

He shouldn't have done this but what choice did he have? He'd rather face Zero's wrath than the prospect of his death.

"You need to learn how to make better friends." Ren said at last. He wouldn't meet her gaze, no, he couldn't meet her gaze. If he did he might recall another sweet memory or bad one and he refused to see it all again.

He'd done wrong maybe but he'd rather face Zero's wrath than the prospect of losing him forever.

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


Ren was confusing, he seemed hot and cold, sort of untouchable in a way Doll didn't really understand. What she did understand, however, was that he didn't like her. What had she done wrong? Doll wondered, hoping she could fix it. Maybe she could read to him? Zero was probably the only one that liked that though. Still, the boys were brothers, there had to be some quality that they shared. Doll gestured to the plate of cookies, Grell had left them behind in his rush to go find the Doc. "Do you want one? Grell makes them really good." Doll asked, hoping to find something that they could mediate with.

"What do you mean?" Make better friends? Doll had great friends! "I have lots of good friends. Grell, Doctor Atarashi, Zero, and you." The staff too, or at least, Doll hoped they considered her a friend. She also hoped that they got all the cookies she had made on Christmas for them. She would have liked to hand them out herself, but she hoped Grell delivered the little treats in her stead. Or perhaps they had given up completely and left the cookies to burn in the oven. The thought made her a bit sad, just remembering how hard she and Grell had worked to make sugar cookies that everyone would like.

Did Doctor Atarashi count as a friend? Doll wondered. He was the Doctor, her owner, or maybe Zero was really her owner? The thought of it made her head spin and she felt her cheeks heat up. Doll looked away so Ren wouldn't see it. Thinking of Zero made her heart fluttery and her head feel light. It was a good feeling though, the kind that made you smile. Little did Doll know, Ren didn't like her because she was a human. If he had known of her true lineage, the fact that she was an unwanted mutt, would he still have hated her? Doll didn't even know about this other half, all those incidents when it came up, her mind seemed to take them out, leaving white blanks in her memories. That day, all she could recall was falling out the window, not the blood needles or the smell of death.

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❝Where are you now? Are you lost? Will I see you again?.❞
[ RED | Not Alone ]

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Why was she offering cookies if she knew they were incapable of digesting them? Wait, she was serious.
"Are you really that dumb or just mocking me?" His narrowed his eyes, a girl this ignorant had to be kept under strict surveillance. He'd been correct in his suspicion. She was dangerous. She had no right being anywhere near Zero. That was enough to cement his decision. His actions were with reason. He gave a humorless chuckle at her list of "friends" oh yes, quite stupid. Poor thing.

"They aren't your friends you delusional girl." Has anyone ever told her this? Then he'd serve her a dose of reality. "Especially not the doctor, you're just an experiment, they're using you, I should know, I've been there." He walked toward the foot of her bed and rested his hands over the railing. "You should run. Never look back. Don't you want to be free?" If it would keep her from ever running into Zero, from changing him, he'd take whatever means necessary.

"Unless that is, you enjoy being in the centre of all this war and chaos. You enjoy putting others through so much headache rescuing the little damsel in distress." He sighed, shaking his head, "You enjoy being weak and taken advantage of. Such a pitiful existence you lead.Everyone's special snowflake of human frailty." Then he smiled and stepped back, "Think about it, who are you living for, yourself or because they want you to? Little one, it's about time you cut your strings or you'll always be a puppet." Then he walked right out the room. He'd have to find Doc in the corridor and discuss with him pertaining to Zero. Things were about to get complicated.

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{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


His expression went dark after she offered him a cookie. What did she do? Why did he suddenly look angry? "No-I wasn't!" She waved her hands to try to get him to understand. "Zero eats them so I thought maybe you would like them too." His words were harsh, a biting cold compared to Zero's warmth and Doll flinched. What should she do? Did he really not like cookies this much? "I'm sorry," she felt sad that he couldn't enjoy the cookies like she and Zero did. That didn't account for his next words though, which were like shards of ice sticking into her skin.

Why was he so mean? Why was he saying all of these things? "I'm not," Doll said quietly. She was not an experiment. "You're wrong and you're mean." They were her friends, maybe not at first, but they had done all those things and the Doctor had saved her a bunch of time. "You don't know anything," Doll said quietly. He hadn't been there all those times, he hadn't seen those memories or shared those laughs. "You can say mean things, but you don't know." Her hands balled into fists, she wasn't going to cry, no, Doll was stronger than tears. Even so it stung and she wiped her eyes to keep him from seeing because Yui didn't want to be weak.

Cut her strings? Didn't he know it was already too late? "I'm a human," Doll said quietly, "It's my fate to be choked by these strings." Where had those words come from? Doll wasn't sure. Perhaps she had heard them once before her memories were taken and was only uttering them out of subconsciousness. He left then and Doll fell over, feeling tired. She hugged the unicorn, wondering how she could only feel her top half. She felt cold despite the blanket, without Zero's presence it almost felt as though there was a whole in her heart.

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❝Loneliness is a human concept; something they feel. Only humans need humans.❞
[ RED | Not Alone ]

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Her fate? Pathetic excuse. She could make her own destiny—if she tried. In the corridor he caught up with Doc and pulled him aside. Grell went on to accompany Doll.

"Doctor, there's been an incident regarding my brother." Ren said, cutting straight to the point. "He was sick and I was left with no choice but to cure him."

Doctor Atarashi's expression was anything but impressed. "What happened to Zero?"

"Like I said, it's taken care of." He wasn't about to go into specifics.

The doctor gripped Ren's shoulder. "That's not what I asked."

"I removed the part of him that wanted to devour Doll." He shook himself free. "It's the least I could do for my brother."

Doctor Atarashi's eyes widened as if that were news.

"What?"

"He's fine. Just give him fresh blood when he wakes. You're capable of that." And much more but that wasn't the matter.

"What did you do to Zero?"

"Don't look so surprised, I'm sure you've noticed but chose to ignore it." He didn't hold back. "I won't let you or some foolish girl kill him."

"I'm always watching over him."

"Like you watch over the semi-paralyzed girl back there? Impressive."

Doctor's eyes turned glacial.

Ren smirked, "Did you honestly think I'd let you use him like he's some lab rat?" No, he wouldnt let doc interrupt, "You can toy with your precious doll, I hardly care. But don't involve Zero. He isn't a puppet."

Doctor cursed through his teeth, he raced passed and headed toward Zero's room where he'd find nothing but quiet and temporary peace. For a moment Ren allowed himself that too. No more fears, no more anxiety, no more concerns. Just pure tranquility. He'd enjoy the silence.

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{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


Doll didn't understand Ren and he was sort of frustrating. Spewing things that made no sense, that he had no idea about. It almost made Doll mad, but she promised herself she would stay calm. Maybe Zero could help her make Ren see sense? She wasn't trying to make fun of him and he was being unnecessarily mean. When Grell came in, he sat back down at the chair by her side, the chair that Zero had previously occupied. Where had Zero gone? Ren had said that he was asleep, he must have been up all night worrying. Doll felt bad, she wanted to apologize for making him worry so much.

"I don't like this Ren character," Grell said quietly. "He rubs me the wrong way," Doll suddenly had the feeling that Zero's nap wasn't voluntary. "Is Doctor Atarashi going to check on Zero?" Doll asked, wringing the blanket nervously in her hands. Grell nodded his head, "he should be with him right now." Grell replied and smiled, "don't worry, if Ren did anything, the Doc will know just what to do." Doll hoped that Ren didn't do anything, that he wasn't that kind of person. No, he wouldn't do anything to hurt his brother, Doll didn't want to believe it. Ren seemed to love Zero and Zero loved Ren. Brothers wouldn't hurt each other and she felt reassured by this.

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❝After the storm there remains complete and utter devastation.❞

[X Ambassadors — RENEGADES]

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Hours passed, its flow ran through him like a stream carrying with it the flight of voices ebbing and flowing. Until eventually he broke through the haze. Light filtered through partially opened curtains, the white walls and glare of sun painted his world to life. There was the man in white—Doc. He was staring; he seemed concerned? "Zero." He said, his voice in a hushed whisper.

"What?" Zero pushed off the covers. He was lying on a bed. How long had he been asleep? He'd been admitted? He swung his feet over the edge. He stood and nearly tipped over. Instinctively he gripped at a tall pole on wheels—an IV ran along his arm and his limbs throbbed, he was even sporting a gown and blue robe, the ends dangled at his sides. He had to get the hell out of here. Doctor Atarashi gripped his left arm, keeping him vertical.

"You shouldn't move so suddenly, you've been asleep for a few days."

Ren was at the door way, back against the frame, watching his face carefully unreadable.

"What happened?" Zero asked, his eyes on Ren.

"That's what I'd like to know." Doc divided his gaze from Zero to Ren and back again. "Are you okay?"

Define okay. However Zero didn't say this, instead, "I was exhausted, and I..." An image flitted across his visuals, last moment he recalled was an argument with Ren and then at some point he must have passed out. He shook his head, pushed his hair back, what was the fight about?

"Are you hungry, Zero?" Ren asked at last.

Doc's body tensed as though bracing himself for something.

"Yeah, but—" Zero caught at a blood bag Ren tossed. Must have suspected as much. Zero tore into the plastic and drained it down.

Ren's lips curled the slightest bit. Was that satisfaction sparking his eyes? He gave his back and disappeared out the room. Sometimes Ren was weird. These were one of those times.

Doc released a steadying breath before straightening. He picked up a glass tablet from the wall and typed into it a series of commands and notes. Most likely recording whatever observations he made, Zero had gotten used to that sort of thing. The man could switch from playing a would be fatherly role (or trying to be) to a scientist/doctor in seconds.

"How are you feeling, any notable changes in your vitals?"

Zero held the empty blood bag in his hand, doctor's questioning sounded heavy. Rolling his shoulders he took a step, the grip soles of his socks kept him from slipping. So far so good. He nodded dismissively, with measure he paced across the room. He wasn't about to stay cooped up inside like some patient all day—something told him Ren knew what's what but wasn't open to sharing. Just a hunch.

"When I return, I'd like some more blood. O+ is effective." Zero squinted down the corridor, too bright. "Also a pair of shades."

"Noted." Doc tapped away on the glass before slipping it back into its docket on the wall. "I'll check on Loretta, she should be awake by now." It was the look in his eyes that caught Zero off guard. That gaze had gone from concerned to saddened in an instant.

"Ok." Zero nodded, he wasn't sure what to say to that. Not like he knew most of the patients the scientist cared for—er studied. That was his business and he wasn't prying. What was unusual was his ability to emote. Beings were incapable of compassion or empathy, unless they were exposed to humans for a long time. Maybe. Zero didn't know. He never met one.

One hand gripped the IV pole, the other supported with a hold on the wall's railing. Soon as he got his strength back he'd take Ren and go. Where was debatable. First he had to figure out why he was here. There was blanks in his memories of the past few weeks, that was just too strange. What happened with all that lost time?