This weeks prompt is to be inspired by the word Short.
Since it went over so well last week, I’m returning to Escaping Humanity again. This time we meet a few other characters. Again, I’ll have to try to shorthand it a little for you.
Annie is a mutant that is dying of a mysterious illness. James (brother of Lynx/Elan from last week) is a clone that was created to be an always-angry super-soldier, the fiercest fighter…but his mother Talisa (who built him) made sure he was damn brilliant too. He’s confused by the fact that he cares for Annie…but when he kissed her, she collapsed from her illness.
Chance is the Lenape tribe chief, Talisa’s & Roark’s best friend. Charlotte is also James’s sister (and Lynx’s twin…they have a twin connection where one can sense the other…).
Clear as mud? Well, good…here you go, throwing you to the wolves 😉 Oh, and I turned Short into Shorty…b/c that’s a nickname in the story 😉
Charlotte rushed into the room right as James laid Annie on the bed. “What happened? Where was she?”
“She went to see the sunset.” James didn’t bother to hide the snarl that had returned to his voice. He was angry that she’d had another attack so fast. More so that she actually thought she was less of a person. And the pinnacle of his anger lay with the bastard that had done this and so much more. “I’m going to rip that son of a bitch into tiny little pieces.”
“Stand in line,” Charlotte muttered. In quick succession she hooked the monitors back up. The IV was replaced, and she added new medicine. “Her pulse is weak and thread. At this point I don’t feel safe taking another sample, but I think it’s safe to say she’s deteriorating further.”
“Maybe Elan was stupid, but then again maybe she was the smartest one here. We need Mom. You sure as hell can’t think outside the box like she can.”
“Stop it James. Stop taking your confusion out on me. You care about Annie. You want her better. I get it. Just admit it so we can move on and fix her.”
James stopped mid-pace, a low growl in his chest. There were many things he was capable of, many horrible, cruel things. Caring was not one of them. “Nice try, shorty. I don’t care. I’m a not-so-natural born killer, remember?”
“Blah blah blah.” Charlotte rolled her eyes. After checking the monitors and making notes in the chart she stepped away from the bed. “Go ahead and sit with her. I know you want to. I’ll get back to work on trying to think outside the box.”
“What happened?” Warren raced into the room ahead of everyone else. “Is she okay? Damn it. I thought she was up, she was doing better.”
James couldn’t stop the growl that shot through him. “She’s dying. She thinks her parents don’t trust her, and there is no hope for her. Yeah. She’s stellar.”
“Easy James.” Chance walked in behind Abby. “Charlotte? What’s the word?”
Charlotte didn’t respond. When James glared toward her silence, he realized she’d paled so much, she looked like a white woman instead of the native she was. Whatever her distraction, he couldn’t be bothered with it.
“Shorty!” James snapped his fingers in front of her face. “What the hell is up with people anymore? They can’t focus long enough to actually help someone. Since Char is out of commission and can’t be bothered to think outside the box, I guess I’ll go back to the stupid lab.”
“James.” Chance didn’t have to speak loud to put the power of his role behind his words. When James was smart enough to keep his lip shut, Chance turned to Charlotte. “Is everything okay in there?”
Charlotte’s head shook violently and she took several steps backward. “Lynx.” She said nothing else, just stared off toward the west.
“Great. Lynx’s thoughtlessness is making Char useless as hell.” James snarled.
Chance pointed to the door. “Hall. Now.”
James didn’t have to be told twice. He barely made it to the hall before his fist connected with the metal wall with a resounding tone that half-deafened him. “As stupid as I think Elan is—at least she took action! Nobody else is doing a damn thing.”
Chance showed no reaction to the outburst beyond a quirked brow. “That’s two broken hands today. At least yours will heal faster than Danny’s.”
“Stop trying to be clever, you’re not mom.” James dug his fingers into his hair, ignoring the pain from his hand. “Sorry, Chief.”
“Getting tired of apologizing to me yet?”
“Good. I’m damn tired of needing to hear it.” Chance’s hand landed on James’ shoulder with a firm grip. “I am your chief. I’ve always had faith that you could get past this wall you’ve deemed exists. You’re the one struggling with it.”
“I know what I was programmed to be.”
“Then why do you care about Annie? Why do you love your mother? Your father? Why do you protect your sister even when you’re being a jerk to her?” Chance sighed. “You’re as stubborn as your mother always was. She actually thought she didn’t know DNA once. It took Roark beating her over the head a few times for her to get the picture.”
“Yeah. I’ve heard the story.” James sighed and turned to lean his back against the wall. “About a million times. Doesn’t mean I’m not what I was created to be.”
“You were created to be a strong center for your family—to be everything your mother imagined her children to be. Do you really think Talisa would ever do anything exactly as ordered? That anyone, even Steele, could bully her into making you nothing more than a killing machine with no real heart?”
“Mom never did anything as ordered, she hates being ordered around.” James glanced up when the door opened. When Charlotte emerged, her skin almost green, he frowned. “Char. What is it?”
“I’m not sure.” Charlotte’s blue eyes were still wide. “Can you handle the lab for a little while? I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Charlotte?” Chance wrapped an arm around her shoulder and kissed her temple. “Anything I can help you with?”
“I’ll be okay. Lynx isn’t blocking as well as usual, or I’m not. I don’t know.” She gave Chance a strong hug. “I’m okay, Popsicle, I promise. It’s been a crazy couple of days and I think I just need to get my head on straight again.”
“You aren’t the only one.” Chance smiled. “Go take some time and get your head together. You can’t work twenty-four-seven. Not even Tal can do that. Then you can come back refreshed and ready to work.”
Before she took off, Char barreled into James. He grunted, but held her close in a hug. “Easy Shorty.”
“Let yourself care before you explode.”
James sighed. That was the problem, wasn’t it? He couldn’t. The girl had kissed him, and then proceeded to collapse. She was going to die, so what good would caring do?” He kissed the top of Charlottes head. “Go on, Shorty. I’ve got work to do.” He pushed her off him and then down the corridor.
Chance smirked. “If she was feeling better she might have smacked you harder. She wants you to be happy, James.”
“Well maybe if someone came up with a way to save that girl so Abby and Warren could live without suffering like the rest of us.”
“If you want to claim it’s for Abby and Warren, fine. Just keep something in mind, James.”
“Your demeanor changes around Annie.” Chance met his gaze levelly. “Just think about that while you’re working on her. It’s not a bad thing to care. I promise.”
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