2007-08-17: DF: Be Not Proud

Starring:

DFLaurel_icon.gif DFDaphne_icon.gif

With an appearance by:

DFRudyard_icon.gif

Summary: Laurel and Daphne talk, but it doesn't quite go as expected. WARNING: Not exactly work-safe!

Dark Future Date: 17 AUGUST 2009

Be Not Proud


The Bronx Zoo

It's been a few weeks since this snake came into Laurel's possession. She's done her best to keep it hidden and carry it in hidden luggage that won't be searched. As a member of the president's secret service, this hasn't been too terribly difficult to do, but she couldn't risk anyone getting bit. Normally, she would submit all of her bags to search immediately if they needed to— not this time, though. This one she hid. She found places to hide it, she kept it sealed away. And she bought mice for the snake to eat. Poor mice.

But now, she's standing a good distance from the mighty fortress that used to be the Bronx Zoo. There'd been a relevision broadcast three hours ago. It's well past dark now.

She commendeared a armored car and made her way to the Zoo— to return the snake.

The note had said to bring Pizza, but there is no Pizza. In fact, she makes no attempt to get any closer to the Zoo itself. Knelt down, in her slacks and long blazer, she opens up the bag and lets the snake out. Home is in sight. Daphne, all the snakes friends. Go forth— tell Daphne she's here. The bag around the beast has been replaced with something new, another note. Hopefully it will know to go find Daphne. The note says, in simple handwriting: I'll be waiting outside in the parking lot. No pizza, sorry.

—-

A few weeks— And Daphne's been thinking of sending another cobra for Laurel. She knows the other woman is there before the snake even reaches her - after all, there are dozens of little snakes outside the gates, there are the meerkats, the monkeys… It won't be too much longer before a tiger appears outside the gate, golden stare fixed on the President's bodyguard. Daphne waits, though, and it's not until she gets confirmation that Laurel's here to talk that she'll leave the safety of her fortress.

She appears at the gate, followed by nothing except a couple straggling meerkats. The tiger rubs up against her as she passes, and he stays put - though he's thin, he's still healthy enough to keep a look out. There's also some activity just inside the gate, since Daphne would be a fool not to bring some backup. Still, when she approaches Laurel, the only thing flanking her are two tiny animals.

There's no smile for Laurel. In fact, it hurts to see her. After their fight… Well, Daphne never thought her best friend would join up with the wrong side. There's also anger - many times have the rebels been thwarted by those shields. This could have been over months ago.

A gorilla wanders outside the gate. Approaches slowly.

"So." The animal handler's face is marred by scratches that never fully healed, though she doesn't look too bad besides that. Blue eyes look around, before she asks, "You here alone?"

—-

There could be birds. There could be mice… Laurel doesn't know for sure what the other woman is going to throw at her, so she leaves only a few holes here and there in the protective field she puts around herself. Enough to let air in and air out, but hopefully not enough for anything to get through. Please tell her that there's no bugs… She has no idea about her friend's husband, or his ability, and she's counting on most useful animals being over an inch in diameter. Approaching the edge of her field, which is invisible, she creates a hole big enough to talk naturally through, but the shift in the wind, the sound— it'd all easily give away the presense of her fields.

"Yeah, I'm alone. Though I can reactivate the emergency signal on the car at any time…" It's a threat, possibly a bluff, since her hands aren't in her pockets. She also doesn't have anything in them. Nor does she have a fun at her vest— could be hidden, though.

"Are you involved with this… Jack Derex? Do you know what he's doing?" Her voice is a little shaky, but she's talking. They haven't spoken in so long… not since the war broke out and so many people died and they had the argument that led Laurel to join the wrong side— the President's side. The winning side.

—-

She counted on the forcefield, but it's not until she's close enough to hear the change in the wind around her that she realises that it's there; reaching forward, Daphne touches it, hand contacting an invisible barrier with holes too small for anything to get inside. A shame; she'll have to do this the hard way, it seems. But she's not letting Laurel leave.

The gorilla approaches, closer. Daphne's eyes glance briefly to the side, and it stops, breathing quietly. It's the tiger's turn to make a move.

Something else inside the gate—

"Jack? He's a friend." Daphne talks more to Elena than she does to Jack, but she knows what he's doing - mostly. She heard the broadcast, and she doesn't entirely approve of the methods, but neither is she particularly happy with the President. As an ally of the Saints, she's not going to speak out against them. "Involved, though? No. I'm just taking care of the people your son-of-a-bitch President is out to slaughter." A note of anger, rage, sounds in her voice for a brief second, nose curling up as she imagines Rudyard being gunned down by those people - Laurel's people. At some point, the meerkats disappeared, a few monkeys run past the pair, though they don't seem remotely interested in what's going on. A California condor lands atop Laurel's shield, pecks at it, and sits there with one talon sticking just inside one of the airholes. It's all that'll fit.

—-

"He's not— we're not slaughtering them. They're being placed into safety!" Laurel says, looking at each of the animals worriedly. They're not going to get through her forcefield, she knows that, and she can put up a second one if she needs to, smaller, but right now… "I can't believe you would work with someone who cuts people's fingers off, Daphne— that's— it's torture. The President doesn't do something like that— you wouldn't have done something like that." For someone who'd always been perceptive, how has she not noticed what her government is doing? Because they doctor the reports, because she specifically was on guard assignments. She only saw what people tried to do to the President, not what the President did to people.

"Daphne— these people are terrorists. They nearly killed me the same day he was kidnapped, did you know that? I wasn't doing anything. I was just answering a call for help— and they shot at me. I didn't have a gun pulled, I wasn't trying to fight them. All I can do is— THIS. Protect people. Myself. And they're trying to kill me."

It's not nice. And that's all she's seen. Sure— Donovan's kinda scary, but— the President has a sense of humor at times… He made Donovan fetch her coffee once.

—-

Safety? Really? "Is that what you think?" Incredulous! "You know how many people have died in detainment, Laurel? Have you gone to one of the camps? Have you seen the conditions? My parents, Laurel. I don't even know if they're alive anymore." She hasn't heard from them in many, many months, and she's starting to worry that she never will again. "Disease. So many people in such a tiny area— No one makes it out alive." Daphne can't realy go on, but only because she can't believe Laurel's standing here telling her that the humans in detainment are there for their protection. "What did they need protection from? Their own fredom?"

It's no wonder they're trying to kill Laurel. The thought makes Daphne angry - no one should have that right - but she can see why. "You're working for the man who destroyed the United States. You're on everyone's hit list. Of course they're going to shoot at you. You should be glad I've got gorillas holding everyone in the zoo, or you'd already be dead. You think I can't get through this?" She taps on the forcefield. A dart through one of those holes, one of the evolved who can negate abilities. It'd be easy, but she's out here alone. Mostly. The tiger still sits close by, and a huge grey beast is making its way out of the gate. Yes, it's an elephant.

"We're not the terrorists, Laurel. You are."

Here's a riddle. What happens when you give a monkey five minutes and a block of C4? A huge explosion rocks the Bronx as the car Laurel brought with her is destroyed from the inside out, and primates and meerkats go running in all directions. Thankfully, the armor on the car keeps the explosion mostly contained, but there's no way anyone's driving off in it. As well, whatever beacon the Empire had stored in there is toast. "Now we're on level ground. Now we can talk."

—-

The threat to her forcefield makes Laurel pre-emptively close up the holes. Almost all of them. The problem with her forcefield, though… if it's sealed, they can't talk. Not well. They'd have to yell. And she's not really in the mood to yell. The tiger, the elephants, the meerkats, the snakes… all of them, they're making her jittery. Maybe she should use her forcefields and just leave. This conversation isn't going anywhere.

"They're not that bad!" She yells, before sealing it up completely. "My parents send me a letter every week. The conditions are fine!" A containment area for government employees, most likely. That's probably how they get some people to work with them. Safer conditions, friendly enviroments, more freedom to choose what they want to do— as long as it isn't leaving. "You're sprouting terrorist propoganda— you're not— telling the truth— you don't even know either. Because your parents can write you— because you're a hermit— you're a… renegade…"

But she's wavering a little.

And then she seals up her forcefield and her armored car blows up. It surprises her, but the forcefield blocks all of the debris.

And she's the terrorist? She's the one blowing things up! "I— I came here to talk— and you're terrorizing me…" The animals, blowing up her car, the cobra mail… all of it.

Looking back towards her friend, she takes a deep breath and does something she's never done before— not with intent like this… She puts a forcefield around her best friend, forming it one wall at a time, as tight as she can manage— and air tight.

—-

The look in Daphne's eyes is simple - God, Laurel. What did they do to you? What did Daphne do?

The words come back to haunt her almost every day. Don't be such a doormat, Laurel. Do something worthwhile, Laurel. Get off your ass, help people. This was never what Daphne had in mind. Is it too late now? No, it can't be. Though as the forcefield closes, the vulture above pulls its foot away, shrieking as it flies off to circle above them both. The animals are restless, since they can feel Daphne's worry, anger, fear… They know more than they should, almost given sentience since the zoo was completely taken over. "Not that bad!?" Daphne asks. She's about ready to cry here! "You want to see pictures?" She has them! Evidence, all collected, ready to show Laurel as soon as she can get the other woman inside the zoo.

What did they do to her?

Maybe the C4 was a little much, but Daphne couldn't risk Laurel getting away. She won't have another chance like this again, and they have to make it count for as long as possible.

"You have to see what he's doing to people," she says of the President. It just… makes no sense that there are people out there who can't see that what they're doing is destroying the country! It's not until Daphne takes a half step forward that she realises the forcefield is a lot closer to her than before.

Huh?

A step back, and she's against another wall. Her hand reaches up— Oh. No. Daphne knows what this is. Hell, she knows what Laurel can do almost as well as Laurel does. Still, hopeful, she feels around for airholes - maybe she's just trapped, but— No, there are none.

The elephant is moving toward them. Faster now, prompted by the fact that the bottom just dropped out from Daphne stomach and her heart is beating in her throat. Does Laurel know what'll happen if Daphne dies? Hell, she doesn't even want to know what'll happen if Daphne's forced unconcious! With the weight and power of a freight train, the elephant crashes into Laurel's shield. Again, and again.

—-

Both the fields air tight, it makes talking between each other impossible. But they can look at each other. Laurel doesn't want to do this, but her friend blew up her car— threatened her with animals— and this might be the only way to slow her down, or stop her. The forcefields she has can stand up to bombs, they can stand up to a building falling— it isn't fun, it doesn't feel good, but they're strong. Stable. Nearly unbreakable. Especially now.

Hers is much larger, containing far more air than Daphne's. It can last longer— she won't pass out first… well. She might. When the elephant slams against her shield, she visibly staggers, pressing both of her hands against the wall closest to her best friend— former best friend? They're only a few feet apart now, seperated by two airtight invisible fields. Razor thin, but stronger than any armor ever invented.

And they can't talk anymore. Doesn't mean she doesn't try. Her friend may be able to read her lips, "I'm sorry— I just came here to talk and you— you attacked me first— we were never on level ground… you know that. I wouldn't have called them. If I was going to send them after you, I wouldn't have protected your cobra for the last three weeks."

—-

It's going to take awhile for the air to deplete within the field, but it's already feeling stuffy inside. More creatures appear - the tiger, a rhino, forty meerkats, another few elephants - all intent on getting through the field to Laurel so they can hold her, make her take the shield down from around Daphne. At least, that's what Daphne's hoping they do. At the moment, she's still able to guide them, tell them what to do, but breathing is getting difficult, and there's still one worry that— no, she can't use that card just yet. Can't back down. Daphne has to get to the other woman.

Another elephant cracks its thick skull into the shieled around Laurel, while meerkats work on the one around Daphne. Teeth close on a barrier they can't see - they chew at it frantically, even though they have no idea what the hell they're doing.

Crash. Rhino horn, meet Laurel's shield.

Blue eyes watch Laurel angrily from behind the shield. She can't understand what's being said - she never learned to lip-read, though she can pick out a few words. "I have to do this," Daphne says. Hey, that's weird, she's kind of feeling the effects of carbon dioxide poisoning now, and—

Slash. Tiger is attempting to claw its way through.

Maybe this was a stupid idea. God, she's going to pass out, she's going to lose the baby. She won't have any control over the animals, and they're going to be pissed. With a flick of her eyes, she commands the animals to stop, to go away. She doesn't know how long Laurel's shield can last, but she doesn't want her friend - former? Who knows anymore - mauled when it does break.

Sliding down the wall to her knees, Daphne doesn't look so angry anymore. Dizzy, sick, maybe. Not angry, though. Her attention returns to Laurel. Maybe it is time to play that card now— The elephants start to back away, but they're not running, not like Daphne wants them to. The tiger's face is still pressed up against the barrier. Enunciating the words so that they can hopefully be read through the airtight box, she says, "Laur, I'm pregnant. Stop.//"

—-

While the animals crash against her barrier, Laurel holds firm— even combined, they're not quite the force of a building collapsing— she's dealt with that once. It made her bleed from the nose and as soon as they dug them out she was unconscious for a week, but it was worth it. She saved the President. She was a hero. She'll be a hero again— she'll knock her friend out and— and what? Take her in? Her car is destroyed. She has a radio, but she doesn't want her friend locked up her executed for treason… and she doesn't want— this isn't what she wanted! She just wanted to talk— find out what happened— why did they become like this? Why are they trying to kill people? People who aren't doing anything beyond their jobs? People who are trying to protect their family, their employers…

The last slam from the Rhino actually makes a little blood appear in her nose, but it doesn't slide all the way to her lip yet. It's okay— she can hold up longer— just until— will the animals stop attacking when she's knocked out?

Part of her really hopes so. But she doubts it. She'll have to layer her forcefield and walk until she can find a safe place— maybe she should just leave her friend her…

The animals back off, and she straightens, watching her friend. Did she finally realize that this fight is meaningless?

The yelling can't be heard between the two fields, but she blinks, watching her friend's lips and—

Pregnant. Daphne's pregnant.

It takes her a few moments to figure that out, and those moments may be a few moments too long. But as soon as it does, she tears down her forcefield, almsot in a panic. Only not just the one with Daphne in it goes down, but the one her hand is against drops to, making her stumble a little. And leaving her open and vulnerable.

—-

Daphne's eyes slide shut.

Unconscious.

As soon as the shield goes down, she falls forward face-first against the cracked pavement. Here's the thing - where she can control the animals, she usually doesn't have to. They listen to her because they're treated well, they're fed, and she's nice to them. A command would easily carry over into Daphne's unconsciousness, except for the fact that the one command they were given - to leave Laurel alone - was so weak when it was given that they're able to ignore it - all they can see is the fact that Daphne's lying on the ground and not moving, and that makes them mad.

The tiger reaches the agent first, dagger-like teeth wrapping around her leg and clamping down. Hard. It's mostly just to hold, but that realisation might come sometime near the point where the elephant drops its heavy head down onto Laurel, with the intent to crush her against the asphalt. The animals are working together, see. You don't hurt their boss. You just don't.

The meerkats are poking at Daphne, trying to wake her up. So far, no luck.

—-

Oh god, she's passing out. She's—

"Daphne! Please be— please be okay, I didn't…" She doesn't get to finish. The animals launch at her. Laurel screams when the tiger latches down on her leg and begins to drag her. She can't stop that one, but the elephant triggers a defense mechanism, a forcefield comes up to block it, but it's weak, it vanishes after the first blow, and the tiger has already dragged her down to the ground. She's screaming, not even attempting to act like the perfect stoic agent. She never was. It hurts— it hurts so much— she killed her best friend's baby and she's going to die for it.

That's fine… maybe they really do deserve it. Maybe they really are evil— maybe everyone's right. Maybe her leg will be mailed to Donovan next. If there's anything left of it. She's already turning pale. Occassionally a forcefield pops up without any attempt of her own, trying to block a crushing blow, but the tiger is always inside. The teeth are around her leg.

She'd only meant to knock her friend out. Most people are fine if they're knocked out for a few seconds… she would have been okay— she wouldn't have even stopped breathing at all if she timed it right—

Please be okay…

She has a side arm, but she doesn't even reach for it.

—-

Somewhere close to the zoo's entrance.. Rudyard knows something has gone wrong. The bugs tell him so, and the gorilla that's been detaining him? Has ceased doing so and is buggering off for the entrance. There's a scream, that's not Daphne's voice.. but something else is wrong. Blood draining from his face, Rudyard sprints for the entrance of the zoo and races out into the parking lot. His feet skid to a brief halt as he looks for his wife before sprinting towards her. The animals attacking Laurel.. he can't stop them.. not even a swarm of insects would call them off. "DAPHNE!" is shouted as Rudyard reaches his wife, dropping down next to her. Ignoring the meerkats, he sets to checking her pulse, her condition, before initiating CPR.

—-

Meerkats poking at her. Little claws, little noses in her ears. She doesn't feel them, she's barely breathing. By the time Rudy gets to her, it's hard to tell if she's even drawing breath, but as soon as he starts CPR - well, her heart hadn't stopped, it's like the shock she needs to wake her up, and the first thing she hears are a billion angry voices in her head.

The tiger's teeth clamp down hard, severing bone and muscle, leaving the leg hanging by a thread. The elephant's efforts are for nothing, until it manages to gore a tusk into Laurel's side, cracking and breaking a few ribs in the process. One of the gorillas reaches them now, huge hands clamping around the girl's head, squeezing, as the tiger goes for the throat—

And then they stop.

Daphne's eyes are open, she's looking up at Rudy, taking deep breaths now that she's able— While she's forcing the angry animals to back away from Laurel. The gorilla continues holding onto the woman, albeit much more gently now, even if it's not particularly happy. Daphne can see blood. This isn't what she wanted.

—-

Screaming. Pain. The forcefields try to protect her, but they break after each impact. They're so weak, even the ones that do save her from being gored or crushed— Laurel's still breathing, she still screams with each new impact, and then she just stops when the gorilla grabs her head. No more forcefields pop up to protect her— she's pale from bloodloss, and tears streak down her face. Please— just be okay— she heard a voice— not Daphne's— a male's voice. British. Nice accent— she doesn't see him. But she knows someone's there for her. Someone will save Daphne, and it will all be okay…

Her parents will still be safe. They'll still have their nice camp— they were promised one for life— it will all be okay…

But then the end doesn't come. The animals stop attacking her. Unhappy as they might be, she's not really aware of anything except that they've stopped— and the pain starts coming back. It hurts so much. And why is it cold? It isn't usually cold in New York in August— even after the weather got all messed up… it should still be warm. It was warm a bit ago…

Blood running down from her nose, and from her mouth— punctured lung maybe, she tries to look around, eyes not quite seeing. "Da— Da—ph…?" She might have finished her name, if she hadn't choked on it.

—-

Rudyard's hands rest on either side of Daphne's face as she comes back around, "Darling, it's okay." Things are NOT okay. "Stay still.." He presses his lips gently to Daphne's forehead, before looking towards Laurel.. then wishing he hadn't. If he didn't look ill before, he does now. "We need a doctor, immediately." Even if the situation looks a little too late. Why is he even suggesting it? There was a fight.. his wife takes precedence.. Yet. That's not the way of it. Emergency services here are scarce, even if anything can be done.

—-

Uhhn— <Off,> she commands the meerkats, and they vacate from both her and Rudy. To him— "Let me go." The request is gentle, but only because she's still trying to get enough air to keep herself awake. A weak shove punctuates this, so she can flip over and crawl toward Laurel, her hands wading through something warm which she refuses to look at. Her eyes are on her friend - terrified, there's so much blood…

"Rudyard, can you— " Get help, something! There's got to be a medic in the zoo somewhere, but… "Laur, hey, stay with me. We're gonna— Rudy, go." Whether or not he's already going, she'll repeat the words all the same. "Bring water, or— " She doesn't know. She has no idea.

Whereas Laurel isn't doing so well, Daphne's feeling better by the moment. And… she does the first thing she can think of, taking off her shirt to press it into the wound at Laurel's side. Luckily, she's still clothed underneath, though somehow the undershirt she's wearing is already bloodied. She can still sense the elephant, the tiger; the gorilla sets Laurel down on the ground before also backing away. "You're gonna be all right. Just hang on for a few minutes."

—-

"No— no I'm not…" Laurel manages, closing her eyes. There's a hiss through her teeth. She can barely breathe. There's blood when she talks. But she has to talk. She's not a genius, she's not a medical marvel— but she's seen people die too often in her job— she can't protect all her coworkers. President, and all. Her coworkers aren't who she needs to protect in most of her situations. She's not going to be okay…

But— "I'm so sorry… so sorry." She can still talk, even if the words are choked out, coughed. The closeness of her friend helps. She opens here eyes to search. Rudyard? That's a weird name…

It's funny what people think when they're light headed from bloodloss. She almost doesn't feel any pain anymore. That part's nice. But she's sticky, and she can't move very well— and… "You'll be okay— you and…" There's a cough, more blood.

"In my— jacket— communicator— move car— get it away from here— and communicator too. And me— put me with it— they'll find me… when I don't check in. Put me there." She'll just be another tragic loss. Hopefully they'll know enough to cover up that animals were involved— somehow— they're smart— "Don't— don't get— caught— didn't…" There's a grimace and she closes her eyes again. Breathing is harder now.

Her voice is barely a whisper, "Baby okay?"

—-

Rudyard would rather hold his wife down and restrain her, but he has little friends, she has bigger. Rather than wasting time arguing, he pushes to his feet, throwing Daphne a look, and a quick glance towards Laurel. Then he's off and running back into the zoo to fetch help. Even using the intercom to summon anyone with medical experience to lend a few hands.

—-

"Yeah you are." Come on, this isn't that bad. It's just a little blood, and Daphne's far too stubborn to admit that this isn't going to end well. "See? This one already stopped bleeding." She's not going to remove the shirt to confirm that, but she's sure it's true. She's… sure.

She knows what's happening, though. Somewhere she's already admitted it, she's just not going to say it out loud. Hell if they're going to leave Laurel's body somewhere. No effing way. "Hey, don't apologise." Smile. It's a real one, too, even if her eyes are a little damp. It's 'cuz she passed out, see. "We'll talk later. We'll talk, and I'll tell you how much of an idiot you are." Beat. "How much of an idiot I was. I didn't mean— I didn't think you'd— I thought you'd come back." And by the time Daphne got around to going after Laurel, she was already part of the President's guard. She thought that this would fix everything.

Truthfully, she has no idea if the baby's okay. She's not old enough yet for Daphne to feel anything, but still, she nods. "Yeah, she's fine. She'll be okay. You're gonna be an awesome aunt. You'll spoil her and everything, then I'll have to yell at you."

—-

"Always— always wanted— to be an aunt," Laurel says softly, tears streaking down her cheeks, mingling with blood that she's coughed up. She's lying— but that's okay… There's a slow breath— she reaches up to touch her friend's hand. "Not— not your— fault." It's not her fault. "My fault…" It's her fault. A shaky breath. There's still fresh blood at the corner of her mouth, new blood, every time she talks. Teeth are red. Her fault.

"Remember— remember Valen— Valentine's Day? When we— met up— here— in the Zoo." Not the first time they met, but it was so long ago, two and a half years. So very long ago. There's one thing important about that day. "When we— found out— what— what we— what each of us…" She's not able to finish. God, come on, just get this out. Just get this out. It shouldn't be too hard. Just a few words.

She grimaces. "What we could do." And now, two and a half years later, they fought, using those same abilities. "…I miss Lucky and Leo." Her rabbit. Her cat. Gotten because of her best friend. Lost in the storm, when her apartment was among the many casualties.

It's so weird. She's hasn't thought about them in a while. "The cobra— I called it… …Limb. Because… it fell… from one…" It sounds like it should be funny. It was out on a limb.

It's not funny.

"Missed you too." But she's here now. She's here… and… Her voice is weaker by the moment, breathing slower, heart less. "In bag— where— Limb— there's…" that's as far as she gets.

—-

Rudyard returns to the parking lot in short order and goes straight towards Daphne and Laurel, "Help is on the way." They just have to come from other areas in the zoo. Even if they were here right now, it would still be too late. That much is obvious. He stands back a respectable distance from Daphne, but close enough if she needs him /right/ there with her.

—-

"Yeah, I remember." Before that, Daphne thought she was some sort of crazy person, because who the hell talks to animals? But she wasn't, and after that, there were more, and— God, how did they end up on opposite sides? This wasn't fair. They could have supported each other through this whole mess, and now— "We practiced it. And we got better. Then this whole thing." The war, the fight. Their first conversation in so long, and it's goodbye. How is this even remotely fair? How is this justice?

Keep talking, Laur. Just stay awake, stay alive. They can save her yet. Jesus, that's a lot of blood! Too much. The leg isn't even bleeding anymore, when Daphne looks down at it, which makes her feel cold…

"What's in the bag, Laur?" she asks. No answer. She gives Laurel a shake, but the hazel eyes are staring now. Dead. Daphne doesn't cry, she doesn't scream, or wail, she just quietly reaches up and closes her best friend's eyes, biting her lip painfully to keep herself from yelling. There are tears, but they're silent. None of this was Laurel's fault, and now it's too late to fix things.

"We're not leaving her for them. She's ours now." There's no room to bury her, but Daphne's going to do it, anyway. She'll find a way, somewhere. They'll have to make room, maybe in one of the gardens. Laurel liked taking pictures - the flowers will be nice, it'll help them remember.

Gritting her teeth, Daphne finally allows a sob, a quick intake of breath. "Contact Ali. I want everyone to know what this fucking war does to friends. I want everyone to know, Rudyard. I want— " She doesn't know what she wants, except that it get on the radio, so people know what they're facing if they don't stop. When she turns to Rudyard, her face is streaked with tears, and her next statement is quiet, pleading. "I need some time, okay? Gimme ten minutes." That's all they have, then they'll have to get to work. They have a death to cover up.

—-

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Death Be Not Proud
John Donne

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