“Are you alright? Does it hurt? You’re not dead, are you? Please, don’t be dead!” – Scarlett shook Mikaela vigorously, sitting on top of her bed.
The room was quiet, too quiet. The only sound that interrupted the dreadful silence was Bruno’s heavy breathing. Bruno was her favorite attack dog, huge and comforting, he smelled like wet fur and blood and could rip anyone to shreds in less than five minutes. Mr. J bought him after a horrible incident when she fell off the warehouse roof and she naively hoped he will somehow make it all better.
“You’re suffocating me…” – Mikaela’s muffled voice made Scarlett swoon with excitement.
“I knew you weren’t dead!” – She scooted over, making herself comfortable and glared at Bruno happily – “See, I told you she’s not dead!”
Mikaela squinted, trying to recollect the events of last twenty four hours. She remembered staring at Joker’s letter for hours, it was a bad idea to even think about that offer yet for some reason she just couldn’t get it out of her head. The task was fairly simple. Meet his contact at some research facility and pick up a package, but something went wrong… right after she picked up the package. There were people waiting for her, heavily armed people. She remembered the gunshots, the pain, the sound of sirens, doctors hovering over her… that’s right, she was in the ambulance… hospital room, nurses… gunshots, screams… What the…?
Mikaela shook her head, trying to focus her vision. She winced at the sight of IV drip and a beeping sounds of the machines, but something was not right. The place didn’t look like a hospital room, it was rather shabby and old, there was no familiar smell of medicine and clean floors that always made her nauseous, no, the room smelled like old metal, dog fur and caramel with a tint of male cologne, the latter scent is oddly familiar. There was only one person in the world who mixed children’s scented body spray with male perfumes… Scarlett.
“Where am I?” – She made an effort to turn her thoughts into words.
“My place. You were at the hospital, but Mr. J bailed you out. You got shot. It’s this asshole Valdez!”
“Valdez? As if the mafia boss Valdez?”
“Yep. Well, he wasn’t there himself, but his people were. He and Mr. J used to have a deal, he sold us guns, we kept it cool and let his boys roam the streets, but then they got into an argument and things went south. He wants the DNA samples, the ones you were picking up.” – Scarlett sighed, drawing patterns on the blanket with a tip of her finger – “No one knew he was going to be there…”
“They got the samples?”
“No. Defender interrupted them. Gosh I hate that guy! Such a suck of shit he is! Though I guess this time his appearance did us a favor.”
“The Defender? But…” – Mikaela blinked in confusion.
“Why a goody-two-shoes superhero left you to die? Cuz we’re bad guys, the good guys only care for their own.” – She giggled ruffling Mikaela’s hair. – “Dr. Richmond said you had no chances… it was pretty bad, scared me shitless, but it’s all good now. It will be alright.”
The memories were coming back to her, slowly, one by one, but it hardly brought any clarity. The bullet went right through the chest, there was no way she could be awake and talking, in fact she should be dead. She remembered the screaming, face of the nurse bursting into pieces right in front of her… she had never seen this much blood before…the pain getting stronger, black ceiling of a mini-van, someone’s hysterical crying…
“She’s not going to make it, boss!”
“Puddin! You promised!!! Do something, Puddin!”
“Boss, I’m doing everything I can… she lost too much blood, I’m sorry, but…”
“I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! Do something!”
“Get out of my way!”
“But boss, she’s…”
“Someone shut her up already!”
“I should be dead…” – Mikaela mumbled in confusion, losing the train of thought once again.
“Don’t say that!” – Scarlett pouted, picking the glitter off the box of chocolates she brought earlier. – “You know I wouldn’t let you die like that!”
Mikaela managed a weak smile, but uneasy feeling in her chest was growing by the minute. The room was dark, yet the colors were too vibrant, too clear, she was not supposed to see this well in the dark.
“How?” – She asked finally, though she was not sure that she was ready to hear the answer.
“You were going to die… Dr. Richmond was trying his best, but there was nothing he could do… I know it’s bad to make decisions without asking you first, but there was no time to ask.” – Scarlett bit her lip nervously.
“Just tell me.”
Mikaela’s head began to spin. She heard of it before. Highly chemical agent capable of changing one’s DNA above the natural level. It was considered a biological weapon, once upon a time the government was going to use it to create an army of super-humans, till they figured out that the results were unpredictable, their creations were too dangerous and deemed a threat and the program was officially closed, though the research was continued in secret behind closed doors. And like with any other research, part of it ended up in the wrong hands, of course one of those hands would belong to a man like Joker.
“Are you mad at me?” – Scarlett’s guilty voice brought her back to reality.
“Mad? No… rather confused… it is a lot to process.”
“You should rest. You can think about it tomorrow. I’ll go…”
Scarlett sat up and placed the chocolates on the nightstand, getting ready to leave, but Mikaela interrupted her before she could do so. It wasn’t hard to see that Carly blamed herself for what happened at the facility.
“You can stay if you want.”
“Really?” – Carly’s eyes lit up with a spark of relief as she climbed back into the bed without waiting for a second invitation. – “It’s going to be alright, you’ll see. Think of it as getting a new degree.”
“I don’t think it works like that…”
There was so many questions she wanted to ask, but her body refused to cooperate. She knew for sure that effects of the chemicals were irreversible and mostly unpredictable, the result varied from person to person breathing more life into the strongest aspects of one’s physic and personality. In Joker’s case that was his madness, for the Defender it happened to be his strength. What will happen to her? Will she manage to survive the changes?
“It works, that’s all that matters, right?” – Scarlett shrugged, placing her hand on Mikaela’s as she began to drift off into sleep.