“Yori!” Ron's voice filled the room, shouting one name over and over again, hands trembling as he held his friend close, screaming her name as if that might keep her alive.
“OhnonononononononoYori!” Rufus squealed, running around the floor in a panic, making high, keening sounds of distress.
“Finally got one,” Ice Princess murmured, the blonde teenager straightening up a little, only to be shoved on her ass as Punk rushed past her, the rents in the pink-haired mutant's shoulders still looking raw and exposed, but the wounds themselves closed.
“Jesus Christ and Mary,” Punk whispered as she came to a stop near them, staring at the multitude of little crystalline ice shards stuck in the motionless ninja's back, blood oozing slowly from around them.
Kim stared from across the room where she sat, having just gotten Shego calmed enough that some rational thought was starting to return. Those yellow-green animal eyes were starting to focus more clearly, but she was still looking at what was going on in quiet confusion.
Punk fell to her knees, a pair of thoughts repeating in her mind every time the blonde boy screamed. Cliché though they were, nothing had ever seemed quite so true.
'What have I done? I've killed a kid!'
Looking back and forth, bordering on panic herself, Punk's gaze lit on the unconscious Ken's tanto. Wild hope widened her eyes as she snatched it up.
“Kid! Give her to me!”
Ron's head snapped up, staring at her with wild eyes, eyes that were just bordering on crossing a line they might not come back from. Punk attempted to put every last bit of sincerity she had left in her being into her own eyes.
“I might be able to save her, but you've got to give her to me now!”
Ron hesitated for only an instant, before nodding ever so slightly. Tucking the handle of the knife between her teeth, Punk hauled Yori into her own lap as gently as she could while hurrying, trying to get her moved into a sitting position, transferring the knife to her left hand.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Ice Princess shouted, getting to her feet again.
“You shut up!” Punk snapped back with a snarl. “You so much as twitch and I'll rip your goddamn head off!”
Taken aback by the vehemence as much as the threat, Ice Princess stared at Punk as she tried to position her arms without jostling the ice projectiles in the young ninja's back.
“Hey! What are you doing?!” Kim called, carefully releasing Shego and standing up, starting to hurry towards the small group on the other side of the room, the green-skinned woman following close on her heels.
'What I pray to God isn't just jerking off,' Punk answered silently, taking a deep breath. She hissed as the blade slide lengthwise along her forearm, cutting deep, crimson actually spurting out briefly before starting to flow liberally. Jabbing the knife in at the last, making sure she'd have enough of a wound before her healing factor could close it, Punk finally dropped the tanto, then lifted her limp-fingered hand to Yori's lips.
The blood flowed down over Yori's paling lips, coloring them almost as if she were wearing garish lipstick. But it also slid between them, and the dying ninja gave a quiet gurgle as it pooled in her throat. She coughed, almost starting to shudder, and Punk swore.
“Help her swallow, dammit, she's gotta swallow!”
Motivated by sheer desperation, Ron launched into motion without question, his hand coming up to rub Yori's throat gently. She gurgled a little more, then actually gave a tentative swallow, then another.
Punk could feel her breathing coming hard, her head slumping. Her healing factor was good, but at this point she'd left enough of her blood in this room to paint a small shed. When her slit wrist actually healed enough to stop bleeding, she let her hand drop, feeling like she just wanted to curl up in a corner and sleep for about a week.
But they were in a seconds count sort of place. Carefully finding handholds, she stood up and let Yori settle into her arms, turning towards Kim and Shego. She did pause for a moment to evaluate the black-haired woman, who was still staring at her with something approaching hatred. But at least it was human hatred. Walking over to her, Punk waited until Shego got the idea and held her arms out.
“If we're lucky… and I mean miracle-type lucky… she'll get enough of my healing factor to pull her through this. But you need to get her somewhere. Between your mom and places Shego must know, she'll probably live, but you've gotta go now.”
“… Alright,” Kim acknowledged, glancing at Shego and the injured girl, then nodding. “We're going.”
“YOU! SHUT! UP!” Punk roared in Ice Princess' general direction. Stalking back over to where Ken was laying and trying not to stagger, Punk bent to pick him up and slung him over her shoulder like a sack of grain. Grunting quietly, she raised a hand to touch the small white device clipped to her jacket collar. “FG. Pull out now.”
/"Acknowledged. I'm done here anyway."/
Punk shoved the superpowered teenager ahead of her as they went towards the door, pausing to glance over her shoulder at Kim and her friends running out of the room and deeper into the complex.
'This all went to Hell real fast.'
Kim settled Yori carefully face-down in the hovercraft's back seat, then leapt into the driver's seat, sweeping her gaze over the controls, simply refusing to be nervous. Shego clambered in next to her, and Ron moved to kneel in the legroom in front of the back seat, his hands on Yori's arm as if he could hold her in this world and keep her from the next.
As they lifted off of the pad and flew out into the stinging ocean air, Kim angled their flight low, practically skimming just above the waves, knowing that Global Justice reinforcements were no doubt lingering about somewhere close. As they sped towards the fallback position, she glanced at the woman in the passenger seat.
Shego still had a fairly distant look about her, as if she weren't quite sure what was going on. At the moment, she was looking down at her hands, at the claws jutting from the tips of her shredded gloves, and the deep cut in the middle of one palm.
“Shego? Are you with me?” Kim asked nervously.
“I'm… trying,” Shego murmured, sounding a bit hazy. She shook her head. “Feels… fuzzy. Like after anesthesia.”
“Shego, I really, really need you to try hard, okay? Is there anywhere we can take Yori? Somewhere supervillains go to get patched up when their death rays explode?”
Shego frowned, a small crease appearing in the center of her forehead. “I… yeah… couple. Doctor Rob…” She rubbed her forehead. “No. He'd turn her into some weird cyborg. We need… nnng, God, why can't I think?!”
“Try for me, baby, okay?” Kim urged quietly, not even noticing the pet name she'd used.
“Yeah. Okay. I…” Shego took a few deep breaths, glancing over her shoulder at Yori's still form, and Ron's drawn, tight expression. She gave her head a quick shake, then nodded. “Havana, Cuba. There's a faster transport at the fallback place, we can pick up some of the others, and use it to get there in ten minutes. They've got stuff there that no legal hospital does.” She left unsaid the rest: 'If they can't save her by the time we get her there, she's dead anyway.'
“You blew it!”
Punk didn't raise her head. She was sitting in the Global Justice flight transport they'd been extracted to, forearms resting across her knees, head bowed, for five minutes now.
“We were sent in there to crush them, and we almost had! What the hell was all that?!” Ice Princess scowled down at Punk, hands resting on her hips. “Are you going soft or something?”
She barely even saw the pink-haired woman move. All she knew was that her battered head swam as she was suddenly lifted off her feet and propelled backwards. Punk was staring at her with fury in her eyes, and her other hand was doing something. Then all she could hear was the howling of the wind as the jump door on the side of the transport opened and she was extended out of it, Punk's fist twisted in the front of her costume her only connection to the craft that was keeping them safely aloft over a hundred square miles of ocean.
Ice Princess screamed, kicking her legs wildly and gripping Punk's wrist tightly with both hands. She stared down at the ocean whizzing past under them, unable to hear her own screams over the howl of the wind and the shriek of the turbines. She thought she might have been pleading and begging forgiveness, too, but she wasn't really thinking too hard about what she was saying.
Then she was inside again, thrown against the seats across from the jump door, which was slowly closing. Punk was moving to stand over her, her voice as cold as any ice the superpowered teen had ever produced.
“That is not the way I work. That has never been the way I work. That is not the way we are supposed to do things. And if you ever do anything like that again, I will forget that I do not kill children. Is that clear?”
Ice Princess nodded vehemently, staring straight down at the floor, her entire body shaking as she propped herself up on both hands.
Punk squatted down, staring at the teenager, who still wasn't looking at her. Her voice dropped down to almost a whisper, but still absolutely even and flat. “Your mother was a decent human being. She may have been a villain, but she was not a monster. Now, I don't know why you want to be a monster, but it stops now. This isn't about good guys, or bad guys. This is about the line that makes you human or makes you something else. And if you want to be something else, I will put you down like a rabid dog. Is that also clear?”
Punk nodded slowly, and murmured a quiet, “Alright then.” Then she stood up, walking to the far end of the transport to sit down next to Barbara, who had pulled back the cowl of her Ferret Girl costume.
“… What you said,” Barbara began, somewhat hesitantly. “I read your file. It seems like… well…”
Punk shook her head slowly, her voice hoarse from exhaustion. It couldn't be that she was holding back tears. “The difference was, Babs, I never decided to cross that line. I just… did. And I've been thinking about how to avoid doing it again ever since.”
Kim stared at the wall, trying to focus entirely on it, and on the feel of Ron's face pressed to her shoulder, on keeping her arms wrapped around him, on the sense that Shego was hovering nearby, just out of touching range.
Focusing on anything but the heart monitor's beeping as the doctors in the operating room behind them worked feverishly to save Yori's life.
*b-beep, b-beep, b-beep*
“Would you care to explain how this mission was not a complete disaster?” Dr. Director demanded icily, standing in the private briefing room with her hands clasped behind her back, her cyclopean gaze trying to burn a hole in the middle of Punk's face.
“Barbara did manage to completely destroy their database,” Punk replied in a weary tone. “No more using any of Drakken's resources, and most of Wade's stuff is done for, too.”
“But rather than capturing them, and having us give the injured girl medical treatment, you let them go.”
Punk lifted her gaze briefly to Betty's face, opened her mouth as if to respond, then simply closed it. After a moment, she murmured, “I… didn't think I would be able to properly finish the mission. At that point.”
Shego stroked her hand over the trembling naked mole rat's back in an almost mechanical motion. Kim and Ron's distress was wrapped around her like a thick sensory blanket. She didn't even know the girl, but between the other two's emotion and the sheer magnitude of the injury she'd sustained, Shego felt as emotionally invested as anyone. Even Rufus' soft, distressed keening wasn't getting on her nerves the way it usually would.
*b-beep, beep, b-beep, beep*
“We'll review your performance, and decide the feasibility of another operation.”
Punk blinked, raising her head fully to stare. “What?”
“That is all. You're dismissed.”
“That's… that is…” Punk grit her teeth, the blood starting to pound in her ears, temples throbbing with pain. “You're not even going to get mad at me, are you?”
Without replying, Dr. Director stepped past Punk and started towards the door. With a sudden howl of frustration, Punk grabbed up one of several small briefing desks and hurled it past the other woman, smashing it against the wall. Dr. Director stopped where she was, but didn't turn around.
“Get MAD at me! Yell at me! Do something, god dammit!” Punk raged, clenching her fists so tightly her knuckles popped.
Dr. Director started to walk towards the door again. Yowling furiously, Punk lurched forward and took a wild swing at her. Betty ducked smoothly to one side, turning to face Punk finally, face an expressionless mask as she tilted back to avoid the next swing at her nose.
“Curse me! Chew me out!” Punk continued her frenzied swings and punches, following Betty around the room as the one-eyed woman solemnly dodged every single strike. “Comfort me! Praise me! Do SOMETHING!”
Kim closed her eyes tightly, squeezing Ron against her, wanting to block out the sounds, the increased urgency with which instruments were hitting trays and voices were communicating.
*beep beep beep beep*
Punk kicked through a desk in her way, reducing it to metal and plastic pieces stumbling forward and actually coming close to connecting one on Dr. Director's chin, but the impassive woman simply turned to one side and stepped back.
“Slug me! Hold me! Do anything! As long as it's not nothing!”
The mutant swung her hand in a desperate backhand, but Betty ducked under it and stepped away, expression never changing.
“Kiss me or hurt me or fuck me or just goddamn kill me but please!” Punk wailed, taking a catlike swipe at the other woman's blind side, only to have her pirouette away, deigning even the simple block that would have turned the blow away, but brought them into contact.
Shego closed her eyes tightly, wanting to be able to shut out all of her other senses that were so much more acute as well. The smell of pain, and blood, and medicine, and panic, and the faint, growing aroma of despair.
Punk's fist slammed home with a loud crack. Blood began to run down her fingers, and she let her head slump forward, her bangs covering her eyes, her shoulders heaving.
Dr. Director just gazed at her flatly, not so much as glancing at Punk's fist where it had impacted the metal wall less than half an inch to the side of her head.
“… Tell me you love me… or that you hate me,” Punk choked out, a fine trembling starting in her shoulders and carrying down her arms. “Just… please… care… care about me… care about anything…” She sank slowly to her knees, hands falling to the floor, a sob ripping from her chest. “Just care. Tell me you care at all. Don't be this. Don't.” A single droplet fell to spatter on the toe of Dr. Director's boot, followed by a second splashing on the other. “Don't.”
Without a word, Dr. Director turned and walked out of the room, leaving Punk sobbing on the floor.
Kim thrust her face up to look at the sky, pleading, pleading with anyone, absolutely anyone that would listen, that she wouldn't hear what she knew was coming.
Dr. Director strode calmly through the halls of Global Justice. Agents that saw her in passing watched her, and straightened their backs a little. It had been a trying time for them. Kim Possible had been their great hope, practically hand-picked to succeed the current leader. But the current leader was carrying on. What strength!
With the weight of everything on her shoulders, she was holding up. She was their rock, their anchor. As long as she could go on, could they do any less for her? And so Global Justice continued on with its day-to-day business of thwarting madmen, catching terrorists, and saving a world that usually didn't even know it had been saved.
Dr. Director stepped inside her quarters, the door sliding shut behind her. Her even gaze swept over the sparse furnishings, the missing decorations, the empty bed.
She began to shake. Softly at first, in her shoulders, and then all over. She took a single step forward, then staggered to her knees beside the bed, falling with her upper body across it. She reached a shaking hand for her pillow, pulling it over under her face, letting out deep, body-shaking sobs into it, tears soaking the cotton case.
All three of them gasped, heads jerking towards the operating room that none of them could have been forced at gunpoint to look into a moment before.
Bethany threw back her head and let out a heartsick wail, the sound echoing off the soundproofed walls and filling her empty little world with the sound of her sorrow.
Kim slowly stood, Ron releasing her and standing as well, the redhead turning and placing her hand against the glass, whispering in an almost reverent tone. “She's alive.”
*beep, b-beep, b-beep, b-beep*
The wail trailed off, and Betty let her head collapse back onto the pillow, her body still shaking with the force of her crying.
“I love you. I always loved you. I never stopped loving you,” she sobbed to someone who could never be allowed to hear her.
- End Part Six