With her heart in her throat, Blaze looked over the wreckage. Normally something of this nature would already bring her tough as nails exterior near tears. Surely knowing her sister was somewhere in that tangled mass of smoldering steel would have her in hysterics...but she was not. Instead, with glazed, emerald eyes, she just stood there, never moving from the side of her raven furred companion. Maybe because she was in shock; Maybe because she had no more tears left to shed; Maybe she just refused to believe that any of this was true. Whatever the reason, at this moment, Blaze simply drifted in a space of her own mindís creation, separate from the world she was standing in.
"Mommy?...Can I hold her?..." A nervous ten-year old hand tugged at the hem of her motherís nightdress. The little girl peered up at the statuesque figure holding the tiny, towel-clad bundle fresh from the bathtub.
Long, golden tresses the length of her torso shimmered in the dim light as she moved, and a soft laugh filled the air the like music, "Of course you can, sweetheart." She took the trembling hand that clutched the fabric of her skirt; slender digits tenderly encompassing the demure fingers of her eldest child. With newest addition braced in one arm, and first-born being led by the other, she settled her older daughter on a nearby couch, poising her arms in a similar fashion to her own. "Now just relax, angel. Youíll do fine," she assured.
Put slightly at ease by her motherís words, the young girl sat back as the parcel was lowered to her careful embrace. A smile stretched across her face as she saw the miniature likeness of herself watching her with the same emerald eyes, wide and curious to everything around her. She took a moment to look back at her mother for critique, "Am I doing this right?"
She nodded, "Youíre going to be a great big sister, Blaze."
"You are. Raveís very lucky to have you."
A coo from the puff of white fur in her arms reinforced the notion. "But I donít know what to do..."
She reached to tuck a stray strand of blonde hair behind her daughterís ear, "You will."
A firm hand settling on her shoulder brought her back to consciousness. Her eyes fluttered a bit in an attempt to clear her vision, as she turned to look at the pair of dark brown eyes that were upon her. "Random," she acknowledged, with a heavy breath drawn into weary lungs, "Weíre bringing her home." Knowing that he would not be far behind, she started back down the site of the accident. How unfortunate that such turmoil could be caused by one faulty track. The duo surveyed the damage, watching rescuer workers drag out body after body. Hope dwindled when they noticed that none of them seemed to be showing signs of life. Desperation ran deep, wringing Blazeís stomach into knots knowing that her charge might be the next one hauled out.
One of the nearby rescuers barely noticed as his shirt was taken captive by the blonde, anxiety-ridden on-looker. Her comrade managed to calm her enough for the startled catch to able to tell them that those victims who still had a chance of survival had been taken to the local hospital.
* * * * * * * *
Time dragged on, every minute seeming like an eternity as they sat in the plush chairs of the hospital waiting room. It was in these hours of limbo that Blaze began to notice the throb on her shoulder steadily becoming more intense; a heat radiating through her skin, making her writhe in her seat with great discomfort. Is this a fever coming on? No, it couldnít be. It was just stress. Bastard, she inwardly cursed her father, the cause of her ailments. Heíd shot her that night she and Random broke into his estate on their failed rescue attempt. All this was his doing. Random had done his best to try to persuade her to tend to her injury, but his prompting just did not seem to be enough this time. With other things on her mind, she had pushed the physical pain out of conscious thought, but now the days of neglect were taking their long-deserved toll. The infection had spread, and a good portion of her upper arm was very tender. It was a wonder she could use her shoulder at all. Lightheadedness and frequent stomach upsets accompanied everything else. Her body seemed to be going on strike, raging a mutiny against her. Apparently she had pushed it to a breaking point and now it threatened a complete breakdown. Just what I need...She laid her head back as she slouched in her chair, closing her eyes for a brief moment.
He was half asleep when the notion struck him, "Hey, babe, while weíre here, why donít you get your shoulder looked at?" It was little more than a murmur that came out of the black mouse, but it cut through the somber silence like a sharpened blade.
"Iím fine, Random," Blaze grumbled, never opening her eyes. "Weíre not here for me."
"Weíre already here, itís not going to hurt anything to take an extra trip in to see the doctor," he reasoned.
"No. Weíre going to find Rave, and weíre bringing her home."
"I hardly think she would mind if you made sure your wound didnít get worse..."
"Iím not going to see the doctor," her arms folded tight against her chest in protest.
A scowl drew his dark brows together. He really was sick of this by now. Blaze Backfireís knack for never backing down was something he had come to admire, but now she was just being downright stubborn. Too much like himself for comfort. He loved her too much to let her continue being stupid. She was in more danger than she realized, and this time, he was putting his foot down.
* * * * * * * *
"Youíre lucky. Iíve seen cases like these that end in amputation. Itís a good thing you came in when you did."
Seated on the paper-covered examination table, wearing the "stylish" patterned hospital gowns, her gaze rarely lifted from the floor. Like a child being scolded, she remained silent as her face puckered into a trace of a pout. The middle-aged doctor was wrapping her shoulder after several agonizing minutes of probing, cleansing, and disinfecting. She could not help but feel that Random was gloating just a bit on the inside. The simple satisfaction of ĎI told you soí that everyone so enjoys. But as she looked up to see the concern in his face as he held her free hand, she mentally kicked herself for the thought.
"It really should start returning to normal within the next couple of weeks," the physician continued. "It actually doesnít look too bad now. Heck, your fur might even grow back enough to cover the scar. You really did have an angel looking out for you on this one, miss." A tiny, metal clasp secured the bandages.
Involuntarily, a smile twitched across her face. "I know..." She was thinking that she in fact had two angels, but she would keep that comment to herself as she released Randomís hand and hopped off the table, clutching the back of her gown together.
The stout male mouse puttered his way around the office, reading over papers and viewing test results. "Now, I donít want to panic either of you, but Iíd like you to stay overnight..."
"What?" Blazeís eyes widened.
"Iíve found a few abnormalities and with the symptoms you told me that youíve been experiencing, we should run a few more tests to make sure youíre not experiencing something serious."
"But I have to - "
A raised hand kept her from continuing. "Find your sister," he finished. "Youíve mentioned, and after you take these next few tests, you can get dressed, and weíll take you down to see if we can find someone who fits her description."
Before she could argue, Random jumped in, "Thatíll be fine. Thank you." He was met with a rather dumbfounded expression from his lady-friend, and simply ushered her back to the examination table.
The doctor smiled, "Good, good. Letís get started..."
* * * * * * * *
Mostly tattered and dusty, the two mice served quite the contrast to the sterile atmosphere of the ward. They were lead by the head nurse to the recovery room where the victims had been placed after their respective surgeries and recuperative measures in hopes they would be claimed by loved ones. While there was no guarantee that Rave would even be there, they had to check. It was said that there were at least five known patients that met Raveís description. ĎWhite fur; blonde hair; green eyes; trim build; between the ages of 15-20.í
Three patients already passed Blazeís careful inspection with negative results. A pessimistic overtone still tugged at her. The thought that her sister was lost back in that tram accident plagued her mind. She wiped at a few tears that escaped her eyes, and tried to get herself focused on the task at hand. As they approached the fourth bed, a chill ran up her spine as she viewed the occupant.
The sleeping form had bandages that ran across her forehead circumscribing her cranium. She was covered to her waist and wore the appropriate uniform for a patient. The visible white fur was tarnished with splotches of dirt, dried blood, and deep purples and blues from the bruises that lay underneath. Wisps of butchered hair lay in disarray around her face, falling at her shoulders. The battered teen slept on, unaware of the visitors. Even with the slight disfigurements, there was no mistaking. It was Rave.
Blaze felt her heart leap into her throat. The air was sucked from her lungs, and her knees gave way as she grasped Randomís shirt. He quickly wrapped his arms tightly around her, keeping her trembling body upright. She had barely found her voice in time to confirm her identity to the head nurse before she burst into tears, sobbing into Randomís shoulder yet again. Joy, relief, anger, sympathy, every emotion she had felt in these past months were manifesting themselves tenfold until she managed to cry herself into exhaustion. It was all her companion could do to lead her out of the ward as not to wake the other patients.
* * * * * * * *
Night fell upon them, and the hospital staff was kind enough to set up a room for the newly reunited trio. Rave slept calmly in her bed, having yet to wake up, while Blaze and Random had their own on the other side of the tidy room. The heavy blue curtain had been pulled halfway down the center as to give both sides their privacy. It certainly had been quite a day.
Blaze dug into her dinner with gusto, regardless of it being hospital food. Random set to finishing his at a more sedate pace, and was simply overjoyed as it was the most he could remember seeing her eat. Throughout the entire evening he watched Blaze sneak looks at her sister. Casual glances. Blatant stares. He knew she was willing her to wake-up. While she was slightly distressed to be seeing her in this condition, he could tell her heart had been set at ease once more. His had been as well.
After showering and several hours of flipping through the television channels, they decided to retire for the evening, changing into some nightclothes they acquired from the gift shop earlier. They crawled into the bed some time in the wee hours of the morning, figuring Rave would not be awakening any time soon. Blaze rested her head in the crook of Randomís neck and shoulder as he put his arm around her. Thoughts of the tests the doctor had run shot through her mind, but once more, she pushed them out, not wanting to spoil the sleep she had been void of for weeks on end.
He noticed her bandages, still neatly wrapped despite all the movement from before and inquired, "Howís your shoulder?"
"Mmm...better," she sighed, cuddling against him, slipping her arm carefully around his mid-section.
His hand moved to push aside the tuft of yellow bangs that obstructed his view of her face. "Iím glad."
She met his soft smile with one of her own, until she recalled the events from earlier. Still rather abashed, "Hauling me over your shoulder and carrying me into Admissions...Was that really necessary?"
"Yes, it was. I was worried about you," he lay his hand to cup the side of her face, thumb brushing against the apple of her cheek.
By the way he looked at her, she could tell she was starting to blush, decided to save face, and smirked. "Yeah, right," she teased, "You just wanted to see me in one of those skimpy, little hospital gowns," playfully flicking his nose with her index finger.
"You bet," he replied with a wry grin.
Blaze chuckled quietly as she was suddenly barraged by a rather large yawn. Sleep weighed heavy on her eyelids as she finally surrendered. Hope warmed her heart, letting her feel more at ease then she had in months. One last, wistful smile graced her visage as she felt Random place a gentle kiss on her forehead. Her limbs twined around his as they lay in the crisp, immaculate sheets of the hospital bed. She would rest her cheek upon his chest, listening as the steady rhythm of his heartbeat soothed her to sleep, with him following not long after. All the nights she had sought comfort in his embrace would not have proven to be in vain. For this pair, fate had intervened, as it usually tends to do, and decided through some odd, twisted analysis thattheir union would be better suited if it were to have a tangible outcome. Why these two in particular is beyond comprehension, maybe fate truly does have a sense of humor.
* * * * * * * *
The doctor sat back in his tan leather chair, watching his very nervous, returning patient. His round face bright and cheerful, he extended his hand towards her, "Congratulations. Youíre going to be a mother."
Blaze blinked, gripping the sides of her chair like a vice. "Huh?"
Highly amused, he withdrew his hand and laced it with his other, resting them on his desk. "Youíre pregnant, Ms. Backfire. Youíre going to have a baby."
She blinked again. "Huh?!"
"The tests you took yesterday...I was weary because of your symptoms. Lightheadedness, stomach upset..." he continued down the list. "We gave you the test and itís positive."
A hearty chuckle shook his belly, "If you certainly donít know, madame, I donít think - "
"Well, I know how...What I mean is...Um..." she was fumbling for words that simply were not there.
A look of concern came upon his soft features. "If I may inquire...your companion from yesterday...?"
His state of mind was obvious. "Is he the father?" she prompted.
"Yes. Heís the only one Iíve...been with...for quite some time."
Reading the too familiar tone in her voice, "I take this was...unexpected..." He saw her rather helpless nod and continued, "He should be told. Then you both can decide your course of action."
Blaze heaved a sigh and nodded once more, managing her way to her feet. "Thank you, doctor..."
"None needed. Itís my job," he gave her his best reassuring smile as she ducked out of his office.
The empty corridors echoed with her heavy footsteps as she made her way back to their room. She was glad Random had stayed to keep an eye on Rave while she was away, but how was she going to tell him? She had not been met with bad reactions when he jumped to the conclusion that she was pregnant instead of Skidzo, and when she played that little...joke on him back at the hotel to rid him of his hiccups, but this time, she really was. She was carrying his child. Her feet suddenly refused to move, leaving her stranded in the middle of the hospital hallway. He would ask what the doctor told her. What would she tell him? Could she really just come right out and let him know? Of course she could, but there was still that little fear pricking the back of her neck. She would wait. Until they were home, safe and sound with Rave. Rave was top-priority right now.
Eventually, she was able to persuade her feet to move again, cautiously entering the room. Random was seated on the bed, remote control aimed at the television set. Rave still had not moved.
Her movements caught his eye, "Hey, babe, whatíd the doc say?"
The slight start that shook her was met with minimal notice. "Oh, he said Iím fine..."
* * * * * * * *
Days turned to weeks, and the hospital had become a second home to them. It was official, Rave was in a coma. She could come out of it at any minute, or she might never come out of it at all. Blaze set to spending as much time at her sisterís side as mortally possible, and when she was not there, Random was. They were told that outside stimuli helped greatly in these cases, so thatís what they gave her. They talked and joked, told her about everything that was going on around her. Mostly Blaze told her about how much she missed her; how much she loved her, and wanted to bring her home.
That one fateful night when they saw her fingers moved felt like winning the lottery. Not long after, every so often they would hear a mumble, watch her head move to the side, or feel as she squeezed their hands. She was in there. They knew it. The girl that had been stolen from them was too exuberant and full of life to give up now.
When her movements started becoming more prominent, they started sleeping in alternating shifts to make sure someone was at her side at all times. The last thing that they wanted was Rave waking up to find herself alone.
Soon Raveís behavior reached a plateau, while she was responding, it was evident that it was not completely conscious. That feeling of desperation had returned to pit of Blazeís stomach, or maybe it was just the morning sickness...but whatever it was, she knew Rave hung in the balance, and it was up to them to help pull her back over to the other side.
The thought had never hit her before, but when Rave turned her head completely to the other side, gripping the bed railing in her hand, Blaze knew what was going to bring her back. She had been singing. It was just a quiet, out-of-the-blue melody to one of the old Greasersí songs that had been undergoing a rewrite in Blazeís head, but it was able to reach somewhere deep inside Rave and start leading her back.
With little hesitation, she yanked Random out of his sleep and over to her side to watch. She all about stopped the circulation in his hand as they sat there, white and black digits interlaced as she sang. Blaze sang, and Rave responded. This was it, they knew it. Something in Blazeís voice stirred the living fibers in her slumbering sister.
At first glance, they thought it had been their own imaginations, then it happened once more. Her dark lashes had fluttered. Already tears were freely following down the sides of Blazeís face as she chanted for Rave to keep trying, to fight it, to come back...so they could bring her home.
She choked back a sob when that one ocular lethargically opened to merely a slit, followed not long after by its partner. Hopes, for a change, ran high, praying that the recovery would not halt here.
They were answered.
Nothing more than a few incoherent words, but right now, they meant so much. Random noticed the slightly parched quality to her slurred phrases and helped her in bringing the water glass to her dry lips. The cool liquid soothed her throat, but she could only tolerate so much at the moment. He returned the glass to the night table as Blaze approached the bed. "Rave?...Talk to me, Ditto...Come on..."
Those same emerald eyes that used to look up at her from her arms looked up at her now. Wide and curious to everything around her. "Where am I?" she managed to rasp. There was a slight tremble to her voice. All Blaze could do was slip her arms around the fragile body that lay there, pressing a moist cheek to her own. With the same care she used to take when her sister was an infant, she held her close, never wanting to let her go again.
"Youíre in the hospital, Kiddo...You were in an accident...But youíre okay now..." Fresh tears had started falling as she cradled the part of her life she thought she would never see again. "Weíre here with you...Weíre bringing you home..."
It took a while for what her sibling said next to completely register within her mindís eye. Struck back into a dark void, Blaze could scarcely move as the voice of her flesh and blood reverberated deep within her.
"Who are you?"
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