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The feeling of a cool draft is what eventually woke him up. The sounds of dripping water, however, are what threw his eyes wide open.
At least one of them, anyway. His left one was still functioning fine, save for being a little bleary. On the other hand, his right eye was nothing but pitch black. For a second he panicked, thinking for a moment he'd lost it for good. Upon further inspection though, the man found that it had been covered up by wrappings; that and his entire face had been wiped clean of dry blood, since he couldn't feel any of it on his cheek. His head swirled with memories of what had happened, with him trying to piece together all of it to figure out where he was now.
Then he heard it again, water dripping into a container somewhere. It was like a sponge or rag being wrenched dry...actually that's exactly what it sounded like. Now that he thought about it, his face was kind of damp, too. Curiously, he lifted up his head and looked to the side. Hoping not to find another pair of claws waiting for him, the man breathed a sigh of relief when all he found was the redhead from before. She hovered over what looked like a bucket, squeezing bloody water into it from a used up towel. He then realized it was the same one from before and the cogs in his brain subsequently started to turn. Everything that'd happened in the grocery store he remembered, up until the point where his senses failed him and he passed out.
She was crying then. How long ago was that?
It occurred to him that his clothes were dry now. The familiar squish of waterlogged pants was now gone, leaving in its place a much welcomed warmth. He looked down, thinking his shirt and old coat would still be there. Quickly however his content turned to horror, when he realized much to his embarrassment that these weren't the same clothes he was wearing before. Instead of the olive green he expected to see, a white t-shirt was there instead. His blue jeans were different along with the socks on his feet, meaning somebody had changed him. She had changed him.
Did that involve...underwear, too? He silently gaped at the back of the woman's head, not knowing if he should say something or pretend like he didn't notice the new clothes. Either way, it didn't look like he'd win in the end. At least the decision was made for him when all of a sudden she turned around; not knowing he was up, her eyes casually climbed from the floor to meet his. The moment they locked she jumped in surprise, but just as quickly relaxed when she caught sight of the expression on the man's face. To her, it must have been pure gold.
"Relax," she sneered, somehow reading his mind. "I found some clothes in that office back in the grocery store. No underwear."
Immediately the man breathed a sigh of relief, making her laugh in amusement. She then turned back around to finish cleaning the towel, leaving him to get his bearings in this new place he found himself in. Looking around, he could tell that it was some kind of lobby. There were chairs along the walls to either side of him, and potted plants that still looked fresh and green. It was cold inside, the air conditioning probably shut off long ago, but at least it was better than rolling around in the snow. Besides, he had a blanket to keep him warm now. This woman had thought of everything.
She was definitely something else. "So what happened after I passed out? How did we get here?"
"I dragged you here." Balling up her towel, the redhead turned back around to face him. "Scavenged for a few things, then I found this clinic."
Gently she reached for the back of his head and held him still. Though he had no idea why at first she was doing this and found it entirely awkward, he remained silent as she did her thing. Wiggling a loose finger inside his bandages, she pulled it apart just enough to reveal his mutilated eye. Then with the towel she dabbed at it, letting the cool water soak into heated flesh while also cleaning out his wound. Without flinching she did this for a good five minutes as every gentle stroke reveled more of his condition. He knew the prognosis was grim.
"It's bad. You don't have to tell me," the man admitted aloud, his one good eye looking in the opposite direction.
She was silent for a moment. Then after a final dab of water, the woman smiled. "Only if you don't like looking out of two eyes."
"You don't have to lie," he shot back immediately, convinced that any form of comfort from her was born out of pity. "Just tell me if I lost it."
"Look, I wouldn't tell you something if it wasn't true. Especially with a wound this serious. But if my clothes mean anything to you, then take my word for it."
Releasing her hold on him, she made sure he was steady before cleaning off the fresh blood again from her rag. That left the gunman to direct his attention on her back, specifically the woman's clothes; a dark blue over-shirt with black long sleeves underneath it, and matching blue dickies pants with many pockets. More importantly to him though was the insignia on her right collar, a familiar logo of two snakes twirling around some kind of winged staff. It was the tell-tale sign of somebody in the medical profession, a caduceus. And because of her scrubs, he knew right away she was a nurse.
It was so dark outside and with all the chaos surrounding that bird, he never stopped to really see who this person was. No wonder she didn't leave him there to die in the snow, it was in her blood to help him. And not only that, but someone as nice and resourceful as her probably radiated towards people. It didn't matter that he was a complete stranger or even that he tried to save her life. Just by the way she threw herself into that water to save him, the man knew that it had nothing to do with repaying a debt; she would've done it for anybody.
Needless to say his outlook on her changed. "Sorry, I had no idea you were a nurse. I should probably pay more attention."
"Nah, it's okay," the woman smirked before collapsing in front of him. "I didn't really know it myself until I looked down."
"...And what's that supposed to mean?" he asked after a short pause, the confusion obvious across his face.
She in turn looked away and scratched her head, "I, uh...can't really remember anything. It's weird-"
"-You can't remember anything either?" He immediately sat up, his jaw practically on the floor.
All of a sudden they found themselves staring at each other, the same dumbfounded look plastered on their faces. Only the faint sounds of snow falling into clinic windows could be heard between them, and even that wasn't enough to shatter the terrifying silence between them. Absently the man reached for his revolver, finding that it had been returned to its proper holster. For some reason it made him feel better knowing it was there. Not for protection, in fact, he couldn't really say why it soothed him at all. That was part of the problem, he knew nothing about himself.
"Either...?" she repeated slowly. Her calm exterior was quickly replaced with uneasiness. "So you're the same as me?"
The man continued his stare, while on the inside he searched for anything that told him otherwise. To his dismay there wasn't, the only thing there being that swirling, black cloud from before. Nothing lay beyond it except for uncertainty, his existence nothing more than some kind of cruel joke; obviously he had lived before today, but did it really matter if he couldn't remember it? His gun, her clothes, they obviously mean something to one another. And of course there was that bird...how did they all fit together? Because it wasn't all coincidence, he at least knew that much.
Instead of answering the woman's question, he asked one of his own. "Did you see anybody when you dragged me here?"
She shook her head. "No, I even looked around after you were situated and stable. If there's a person in this town, they must be hiding."
"So between a deserted town, a psycho bird, and amnesia, the only thing we have keeping us alive is one beat-up old revolver and a badass nurse?"
"Well besides that," the lady countered, fighting very hard the urge to smile. "I also took the liberty of borrowing some food from the grocery store."
Absently she pointed towards a collection of plastic bags in the corner. The man took one look at them and snorted, "Thanks for proving my point."
In them were dozens of cans and boxes, not a perishable in the bunch. Most of the collection were things like ramen and crackers, though at one point he spied a gallon of water. There must have been enough food there to last them a good five days, assuming they only ate enough to fill them up. And if for any reason one of them was injured, the nurse had thought of that too; in the bunches of food were two first-aid kits, no doubt filled with alcohol and bandages. At the time, it didn't cross his mind that everything was technically stolen. Then again, it wouldn't have really mattered. There was nobody to arrest them.
The thought was both terrifying and tantalizing at the same time. They knew for sure that no one was in this town, meaning they were free to do whatever they wanted. Not that it would be much fun with a killer bird flying around above them, but this meant they might actually have a chance to get away at least. Whatever they needed, whether it was food, supplies, clothes, cars...something to get away in. That idea was the one that got him the most excited, the thought of getting away from this hell-hole and finding a city somewhere far away. They could find help.
"Besides all the kissing up, thank you." The woman's voice cut off his train of thought. He looked up to see her there smiling, "You saved my life back there."
The man just sat there and stared for a minute, wondering what she was talking about. Then it hit him, "All I did was miss the shot. That bird's still up there somewhere."
"But you distracted it and gave me a chance to run. If it wasn't for you being there, I'd be the one wrapped up in bandages," she soothed, reaching for his eye.
This time, when her hand came to touch his face, the gunman didn't flinch. It was different this time, or at least it felt that way. In his head he reminded himself that the woman was a professional. Her once icy fingers now held a certain warmth as they brushed along his freshly-red bandages, as if the blind trust he now had in her suddenly made everything better. Granted he had no idea who this person was still or even what to do next, but at least there was somebody who gave a damn about him in this place. If he were all by himself, no doubt he'd have already lost his mind.
Suddenly she put pressure on his wounded eye with her thumb, this time making him cringe in surprise. It obviously hurt him and she immediately pulled away, smiling an awkward apology and explaining that it was just to make sure he still had feeling in it. The man nodded with a subdued chuckle, mouthing an ow underneath his breath as she stopped her examination for good. From then on she just sat there with him, silent. Neither of them felt it necessary to say anything and instead they looked around the shabby clinic or through the window. By now the snow had stopped falling, which left the view outside nice and clear. Clouds that had once blocked their view of the sun quickly began to thin, letting what few rays of light through dark overcasts of gray.
It was nice. This calm falling over them, it was welcome after the hell they'd been through. Both the woman and man stared outside, finding a little hope in this bleak situation they found themselves in. Through both of their heads, the same thought started to take seed; if they were going to get through this, it had to be together. The man especially, he couldn't afford to think otherwise. Without a doubt in his mind, he knew this woman was his ticket to safety. She was smart, resourceful, kind, pretty much everything he hadn't been up till this point. Wounds not withstanding.
"So after all this time, I still don't know what to call you." Her crisp voice interrupted the gunman's thoughts once again, making his head snap towards her direction.
To be completely honest, he hadn't the faintest idea what his name was. Knowing her, she had the same problem. "No clue. Like I said, everything's a blank."
"Right," she sighed, rubbing the side of her face with an open palm. "Well, same here. Maybe we should give each other names? Like, John Doe or-"
"-Not really feeling the whole fake name thing, sorry." Raising his brow, the man smirked out of amusement. The woman, of course, huffed.
"Fine then, we won't do that. But I'm not going to refer to you as you forever, so we'd mine as well settle on something at least."
Thinking for a moment, the man looked up towards the ceiling. Then out of nowhere it popped in his head, "Call me Colt."
As if to stop her before she asked why, the gunman absently reached for his revolver. He held it out in front of him for both to see and immediately she made a face, finding the whole concept of nicknames to be a bit silly. But after looking at the worn-out gun, then back up at him, she quickly relented. The name just seemed to fit him and he agreed; it was the only thing he had to go on, really. His identity was in that firearm, along with his past, so it made sense to take its name. At least until they could straighten things out. Until then, he'd happily accept the name Colt.
"Well, if you're going to name yourself after a gun, then I wanna be called Sparrow," she smirked, closing her eye matter-of-factly.
"...What?" the newly named Colt asked, finding it a weirder choice that his own. "Why do you want to be called that?"
The woman grinned ear-to-ear. "Nothing important. Just to remind me who had to save you after being attacked by a little, tiny pigeon!"
"You're real mature," he shot back, shaking his head. Still, the gunman held out his hand without any apprehension.
And she took it just as quickly. They shook on it, as if promising to each other that they'd stick by their names until they made it out in one piece. Colt and Sparrow, two unlikely people in an unlikely situation, looked one another in the eyes and smiled. Blue and brown mixed, the former much softer at the sight of the latter's lonely shade. In time they'd be able to see past the bandages but for now, things were just as well.
"Nice to meet you, Colt." Sparrow continued to smile as she pulled her her hand away, giving him some space.
He nodded back in silent reply, hoping that'd be enough. When she didn't say anything back, that was his cue to look around and scope the place out again. Feeling better than before, he went ahead and tried getting up on his own. Sparrow watched, warily, as he threw the blanket off of him and scrambled to his feet. It didn't take much to get going, but the real problem was his head. Just as soon as he hopped up to his feet, blood immediately rushed up and made him dizzy. His eye suddenly ached from the pressure and he began to stumble, though thankfully there was a nurse in the clinic.
Before he could fall backwards she caught him, albeit it awkwardly. Still sitting down, she pushed him up with all her strength and at the same time struggled to get up as well. After a minute of fighting with gravity, both of them eventually made it up. And despite his initial protests, Sparrow glared the injured man into submission; she'd escort him wherever he wanted, since he obviously couldn't walk straight on his own. With a roll of his eye, Colt begrudgingly accepted and started off down the main lobby. Together, they hobbled around to find anything that could be of help.
Everything seemed...fresh. Like, the people working there had just left for lunch or something. The potted plants were still vibrant and green, that'd already been pointed out. But the computers were still on, the lights were working just fine, and even a television in one of the waiting rooms was on like somebody had been watching it recently. As they walked down a lonely corridor it was the same thing, over and over again. Signs of life everywhere and yet not a soul in the clinic. Come to think of it, the grocery store had been like that too. Hell, the water was running fine at least.
Something had happened to the people of this town. For whatever reason, they weren't there anymore. Colt bit his tongue nervously, knowing that the bird had something to do with it but having no clue as to exactly how. His only guess was that it might have scared everyone off, though that didn't make much sense either. Someone would have tried to kill it and knowing that beast, there'd have been a struggle. There was no blood anywhere, except for his own, and everything seemed completely untouched. No, something unnatural was up and it fell on them to figure it out.
After seeing all they could see, the pair trekked back towards the lobby. "Any suggestions about what to do now?"
"Well," Sparrow sighed, making a face as if debating with herself. "I could always leave you here and try looking for people again."
"Would you make up your mind already? First you want to leave me, then you don't, and now you want to leave me again. Face it. You're stuck with me."
She glared at him from the corner of her eye, but then relented. "Okay, okay. But you're still injured and I don't want to put a strain on you. We should get out of this town."
Colt nodded, having no qualms with getting the hell out of there. It was deserted and dangerous, more than likely a lost cause. The best course of action would be to find someplace else safer that they could sort things out in, preferably a big city or something. With that in mind, the pair wasted no time in getting prepared. Sparrow reluctantly released her grip on the man and let him walk about on his own, while she went the opposite direction and got to work gathering the food and supplies. Likewise, Colt went towards the front door.
His head and mind settled, he firmly grabbed hold of the handle and opened it to look outside. Immediately, a rush of cold air came into the clinic and surrounded him as he stepped out. Quickly throwing his head to either side, Colt found nothing out of the ordinary; there was snow on the ground, some cars in the street, though everything was empty as expected. No giant bird. No killer fountains of water. Everything was cold and barren, meaning their escape would be easier than he expected. Unless of course the bastard was waiting for them.
"I think we're good, I don't hear anything." Giving one last look in both directions, he then turned back around to eye Sparrow as she came towards him.
"Good, I've got the food and stuff. We should be okay for a while," the woman sighed tiredly, struggling to carry everything. "Do you have the gun?"
Grabbing some of the bags from her, Colt double checked. "Yeah, not going to forget it again. I'll need to find some more bullets soon though."
"How many do you have?" Not waiting for a reply, Sparrow stepped past him and through the door. She was already sick of this place.
Thinking for a moment, it occurred to him that he hadn't actually checked. Quickly, Colt pulled out the gun from its holster and looked at the chambers; three. So far they'd used half the bullets, which was pretty good considering how much shit they'd gotten themselves into. It would have to do for now. In the meantime, his focus was on catching up with Sparrow who, despite having been with him moments before, was now already halfway down the street. The moment he looked up, Colt panicked and shoved the gun in its holster. He made a mad dash to catch up with her, the whole time cursing underneath his breath at this woman who was supposed to be helping him get out of there.
She'd stopped by a car and was looking inside, which thankfully gave him the time to get to where she was. He huffed as the icy air burned his lungs, his body apparently not used to living in such cold weather. Annoyed and woozy, he growled at the woman and asked what she was doing. Sparrow let her eyes linger inside the car for a moment before looking up at him, her face heavy with a look of contemplation.
"We need to get out of here, right?" she asked, to which Colt nodded apprehensively. "And there's nobody in this town to arrest us, right?"
The injured gunman raised a brow, "Well, yeah...I mean, I guess so. You're uh, not thinking what I think you're thinking, are you-?"