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SAVE ME FROM MY SELF-DESTRUCTION

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“I don’t know what to do - don’t - don’t tell me to be calm when my brother’s lying in a puddle of his own vomit passed out!”

“You can’t freak out on me, you can’t freak out,” said Jet, rather freaked out themself.

Of course, it was justified, but Jet needed to keep a level head so Kobra kept a level head, and if Kobra kept a levelhead, then so would Ghoul. And they had to stay calm.

They had to stay calm, because if they didn’t, then it was going to be a lot more difficult figuring out what was going on with Poison. Where they needed to go...Jet had an idea, but they didn’t like it, not at all.

They cautiously approached Poison - who was currently slouched against a grimy Zone 5 brick wall -, crouching down to analyze the situation and slowly pushed his hair out of his face; it was greasy and had puke and other unknown stuff in it, it was disgusting. Poison’s lips were a pale blue, and the rest of him was on par with a corpse.

Jet put their fingers to his neck to check his pulse.

If his alarm hadn’t shown before, it sure as Hell did now because Poison’s pulse wasn’t strong. It was sluggish and fading and, and, okay, maybe Kobra was right, Jet shouldn’t be telling anyone to be calm because this was not how Party Poison was meant to go and they weren’t used to this.

Sure, they’d done some hardcore partying before, and Poison always slunk off to be the center of the crowd’s attention during that, and sometimes they found him passed out, but never in his own bile and never with a pulse that sluggish and, and -

Jet needed to calm down. Fuck, he’d told Kobra to calm down, now he needed to calm down. Priorities - get Poison sitting as upright as possible.

That wasn’t too hard, since he was already slouched against the wall, but Jet did it anyway.

Priority Two - figure out what’s going on with Poison.

Forcing themself to look over Poison once more, Jet caught a few things they hadn’t before.

His lips were pale blue, yes, and it covered the remains of something...powdery white? It was in his hair, too, fuck.

They knew these symptoms. They knew these symptoms, Jet swore up and down they knew these symptoms, but from where?

Jet glanced up to Ghoul and Jet, standing a few feet away, anxiously watching Jet work their medic thing - and it clicked.

That’s why they knew these symptoms. Fuck, they’d dealt with this in their own crew before, but not like this, not this bad, no one had ever been on the brink of death, what the Hell could Jet do?

They stood, abruptly, giving Poison a last look before turning on their heel to Ghoul and Kobra and trying to not let their face betray how much emotion they were feeling. It wasn’t time to dredge up the past.

“We need to get him to a hospital.”

“We need to - we need to what?” Kobra’s words had already left his mouth before Jet had the chance to take another breath. “We can’t - we can’t do that!”

“We have to!” Jet argued before Ghoul could get his two cents in, panting their feet defiantly on the off-chance Kobra was emotionally high-strung enough to pick a fight and swing at them. “We have to, he’s not. Dude. Kobra...It’s. It’s Sugar.”

If Kobra had anything to add, it died on the tip of his tongue the moment he opened his mouth. Kobra wasn’t going to argue anymore, Jet knew; Sugar was a thing Kobra knew intimately.

He, of all people, should know how bad an overdose on that stuff was.

“Ghoul, get the Trans Am,” Jet nodded in Ghoul’s direction. The tension was palpable - and it wasn’t because no one knew what to do. It was because they all knew exactly what they were going to do, because Party Poison wasn’t going to die of a party overdose and after the drug was worked into someone’s system long enough to make them pass out, there wasn’t anything Jet could do beyond trying to keep his airways clear.

Ghoul scrambled off without a word - he’d be back soon, or at least he better be back as soon as possible. Jet tried to make eye contact with Kobra, but Kobra refused to make eye contact, anxiously bouncing his leg and fiddling with his already torn nails.

“Hey,” Jet started quietly, eyes just as downcast as Kobra’s, their hand still holding Poison up. “Hey, it’s gonna be alright, okay? He’s gonna be fine. He always is.”

Kobra was silent for a long moment; when he finally looked up to Jet, his jaw was set and he looked almost...guilty? “We don’t know that. You don’t know - you don’t know all that drug does to you. I don’t - I don’t even know why he’d go anywhere near it...anything else would’ve been fine! Just - just not Sugar! Jet, how the Hell is he going to be okay? We might get it all out of his system but what about coming back? Do you have any clue how difficult it’s going to be to get back to the Zones? I can’t - I can’t -”

“Calm down, calm down, okay?” Jet had to talk over Kobra to get him to listen, because Kobra always made himself start to panic when he started rambling, and he was rambling.

Kobra did raise some good points, though. “We’ll figure it out when we get there. We always do. He’s gonna be fine, Kobes.”

“Don’t call me that,” said Kobra, softly, staring at his brother now. At the way he was a wreck, but he would always be his hero. Jet knew that look.

The sound of the Trans Am’s engine kept Jet from giving a distracted nod - and then they realized, fuck, it was still night. The sun hadn’t risen yet.

That could help them, actually.

After Ghoul pulled up, none of them spoke a word; Ghoul was silently elected to keep driving, since Kobra was in no way in the right mind for that, and Jet had to stay in the backseat to carefully make sure Poison was still breathing.

 

The walls around Battery City were not beautiful. They weren’t beautiful, they weren’t poetic, but they weren’t cracked or broken, either. Just fifty-foot high concrete walls, with blank white skyscrapers towering over them.

It almost made the walls seem small, in comparison, but once the Trans Am ate more of the miles between the safety of the Zones territory and those dreaded City walls, the walls began to loom over them, let alone the buildings they protected.

Jet took a deep breath, steadying themself for what they were doing. Chances are, if they made it in at all, they weren’t going to make it out, especially not with all of them alive.

But it was a chance they had to take. They had to take the chance or else Poison would die, and if Poison died it didn’t matter if they got out or not, because Poison was their leader and without Poison everything fell apart.

“Third tunnel on the left of the Welcome Sign,” Kobra murmured, looking up to glance at the foreboding city for the first time since they’d gotten in the car. He was toying with some weird high tech thing in the front seat. “Got the feed on loop.”

“Yeah, let’s not make an entrance,” Ghoul agreed, redirecting their course. Ghoul and Kobra usually didn’t get along that easily in serious matters and - and never that quietly.

If Jet didn’t know about Poison sitting next to him near-lifeless, they could’ve guessed something was wrong from that alone.

It was ironic, really, because they’d have to an entrance. Even if they did manage to get through the Tunnels without finding any trouble, the nearest hospital was in Radium District, and that was a decent drive away.

Surely they’d find trouble there.

And, even if they didn’t, storming a hospital with a cherry-haired killjoy was certainly going to garner attention.

Jet didn’t even have a ‘even if they didn’t find trouble’ for that one, because it was impossible not to. But they had to. They just had to hope they could find their way out of that haze of trouble.

“He’s getting worse. We have to speed up.” Jet was just as quiet as the other two, but their words had more impact, more weight, and while they got no response out loud they felt the car speed up.

It was true, Poison’s lips were bluer, his pulse more sluggish, his body colder to touch. The veins around his mouth and eyes were more vivid and it was...disturbing, to say the least.

Kobra was right. They didn’t find any trouble in the Tunnels, no alerts sent out, no blaring alarms. Not even a Drac patrol, which begged questions that Jet didn’t have the time to find an answer to.

“I know we don’t want to talk about it,” Ghoul started, knuckles white from clutching the steering wheel so tightly. “But we need a gameplan. We can’t storm in like an old action flick and expect to leave.”

“Central Hospital down in Radium District,” Kobra directed once again, instead of answering. Then, as an afterthought: “I was there as a tech intern for a while. Their security system should still be the same, that’s what I was there to fix. I can…”

Kobra trailed off as he went back to screwing around on his tech, hopefully doing something about the security. Jet found it the perfect time to speak up - “We’re not keeping hostages.”

“We need to keep a doctor and a nurse, at least,” replied Ghoul calmly. “They’re the only ones who know how that shit works. But BLI’s gonna be all over us. The hospitals are all - aren’t they owned by BLI? Shouldn’t they have some weird lockdown typa thing?”

Kobra nodded absent-mindedly. Jet was beginning to wonder if it was because he was focused on his task or drifting off somewhere else, where his brother wasn’t passed out of an OD in the backseat. “Yeah. Manually activated from inside the hospital. Could use that.”

“If the hospital’s on lockdown, BLI’s gonna circle up ‘round it. How are we going to get out?” Ghoul asked. Ghoul was never the guy to think things through; he did what he want when he wanted, but the lack of their usual routine was making it unimportant.

It was fine. Everything was fine. Everything would be fine. Right?

“You still got some of your bombs in back, right?” Jet blurted. It felt so surreal. Here they were, calmly discussing the best way to survive storming a hospital in a dystopia city because their leader overdosed via party.

Ghoul nodded, taking his hand off the wheel to put his sunglasses on his head. He’d been wearing sunglasses? “Any kinda bomb you want, yeah. Was plannin’ on movin’ it to Bayside. One stroke of luck today, huh?”

“The only one we can expect. Let’s not test our luck. If we haven’t been spotted already, we will be when we get there. You got a narrow window to get as many of those explosives on your person as possible.”

“We also have to get Poison inside. That’ll take just as long.” Because they all needed the reminder. Thanks, Kobra.

Jet let the silence take over once again, trying to think of the best way to not get themselves killed. The Radium District was quickly coming up, they didn’t have much time…

Most of the time they’d say Kobra should help them with carrying Poison, so it’d be a little quicker, but getting rid of most of the hospital’s staff and patients was going to be difficult.

Jet would help Poison, Ghoul had to get his bombs and then help Jet, and Kobra could go ahead and get the doctor and nurse they needed and get everyone else out.

Easy, right?

Yeah, they all silently agreed this was nearly a suicide mission after Jet explained, but it was what they needed to do.

Crew always came first, Jet thought, the hospital coming into view for the first time and Poison’s head rolling onto their shoulder. Crew always came first, no matter the cost. “‘Till death do us part,” they whispered.

Traditionally, he’d heard it was for marriage, whatever out of practice thing that was, but it applied right now, right here, too, as they grabbed their blue ray gun from its holster, just in case, holding Poison close to get him out as quickly as possible.

 

Ghoul had barely slammed on the brakes before Kobra was already jumping out the door, ray gun held close to his chest and a feral look in his eyes that Jet didn’t miss. Jet had barely gotten Poison’s seatbelt off before Ghoul had popped the trunk and was gathering his explosives in some backpack that appeared out of nowhere.

Jet’s fingers fumbled with the door and trying to open it, but they forced themself to take a quick breath and get their act together; quick and efficient, or else this entire ‘not dying’ thing would come crashing down.

Citizens wandered dazedly out of the hospital - Jet had no doubt that they were too drugged up to feel fear -; Jet took it as their cue to hurry up, picking Poison up bridal style with little regard as to whether that was a good idea or not -

“C’mon, c’mon -” Ghoul was saying something in Jet’s ear, by their side - shielding them? - but it was all static as Jet rushed to the hospital doors, accidentally slamming into people that didn’t get out of the way quick enough, Poison needed to be okay and something about the confusion was giving them a sense of urgency they hadn’t had in spades since they found Poison.

“Kobra!” Jet shouted upon seeing the vibrant red jacket, their eyes flying up, “I’ve got Poison, you got the Doc ‘n nurse?”

“It’s kinda hard to clear out a hospital in three minutes, Jet -”

“But the answer is yes, isn’t it?!” Ghoul snapped, clearly not in the mood for Kobra’s sass - Jet took a look at him out of their peripheral vision and realized, oh, okay; Ghoul was shielding them, the Dracs had shown up.

Kobra said something in response, but it was lost to Jet.

And Ghoul was still covering them, they realized with a renewed panic, jostling Poison as they ran behind a hallway corner to get out of the blaster fire, leaning against the wall for support. Poison needed to lay off the Power Pup, Destroya, or Jet needed to exercise some more. They were breathing heavily, and Poison was still the same, sickly and barely breathing.

“You’re Jet Star, aren’t you?” Jet looked up in front of them, forcing their eyes to stop darting around and analyze the stranger - white lab coat, glasses, squishy face - a doctor? Seemed a little young…

“Yeah, and you’re gonna fix my friend here, Dr...Cody Winston, ain’t you?” Jet really didn’t have the patience to deal with introductions either, squinting to read the metal name tag hung neatly on the Doctor’s white coat pocket.

“Um, yes, I am - that’s - that’s what the blond said. What does he need?” Cody asked; he wasn’t looking at Jet anymore, either, he was looking at Poison in Jet’s arms, overdosed on Sugar and risking death.

Jet swallowed the lump in his throat. Priorities. First priority, lock down the hospital, right? So Ghoul and Kobra weren’t being shot at. “First thing? Y’know where the lockdown button is. Press it. Now.”

“I don’t - I’m not - I’m kinda not a doctor, I’m kinda just a shadow here, I don’t know where that is -”

It was tempting to snap, it was tempting to panic, but Jet looked Cody right in the eyes - and there was something there, something that told them Cody was lying, something too calm in his expression, not panicked by rebels waltzing in - and snarled; “Yes, you do! Now my friend’s are gonna get shot and if they do, that’s on you too and we don’t play nice, kid!”

“Oh - I -” Cody stuttered, but it had to be an act; Jet swore up and down it had to be, as the doctor scrambled away to behind the receptionist desk, usually occupied by a droid. Cody was shouting something to Jet over his shoulder but Jet couldn’t hear nor did he want to.

It’s gonna be okay, Poison, Jet mumbled silently, moving some of that disgusting red hair behind Poison’s ear, albeit awkwardly because of the way they were holding him. It has to be okay. They were all already at the hospital, it was now or never.

Before Jet could fully recognize the blaster fire had ceased and the firefight was over, Kobra was already at their side breathing heavily - a quick glance said he’d been grazed in the ribs, but Jet wasn’t worried about it -, taking Poison from them and they almost protested before Kobra spoke, giving clear and concise orders. It jarred Jet enough to keep them quiet. “Go with the Nurse to get whatever the Doc needs. There are still some patients here; be careful. Ghoul’s going to check the security tapes ‘n systems and I’ll be with the Doc in...Room 15B, he told me.”

Jet nodded dumbly, already being whisked away by someone grabbing his wrist and running down a hallway -

“Hey, uh, please don’t shoot me, or whatever, there’s a lot to explain right now and not a lot of time so we’re gonna have ta walk an’ talk, got it, Killjoy?” The person holding Jet’s wrist said, talking fast enough to be incomprehensible but Jet’s brain was addled enough to keep up. “I’m Nicki, I’m a nurse and Cody’s the Doc and there’s a lot more going on here than your friend - fuck, you messed everything up, but, it’s fine, I think, I don’t know!”

 

They turned a corner so sharply Jet almost ate the doorframe, but they found themself in a storage room of some sort, standing around uselessly as Nicki rummaged through didn’t boxes to find whatever, occasionally throwing something into Jet’s arms to carry.

Nicki seemed like a decent citizen; clean-cut, neat brownz hair, but something about it didn’t suit him, felt wrong and off, dressed in standard nurse wear and mumbling something about how the Doc better not pull shit like this again.

“I’m - Jet Star. Yeah, I’m, yeah…” Jet stuttered, his brain working on overdrive when there wasn’t anything to run away from or a way to expel their energy, so their mouth wasn’t working quite right even as their leg tapped incessantly on the clean white tile floors.

“I know,” Nicki said, turning to toss them an IV bag, and then motion to follow him out of the storage room. “Everyone knows who you are. And the one that needed help is Party Poison. And the one that stormed in here and demanded most everyone leave is Kobra Kid. And the one who was shooting the Dracs is Fun Ghoul.”

The pair weren’t quite running down the halls anymore, since they had supplies in their hands, but they were pretty much jogging at the pace they were going. Somehow it made Jet more antsy, struggling to come up with a reply. “Um, yeah. Cody looks young, but - he’s -”

“Off? Yeah, there’s somethin’ off about him all right. You’ll find out why, I think, ‘cos no doubt this building is already surrounded. You’re screwed, honestly. Is Party Poison really worth it?”

“Yes!” Jet snapped, nearly dropping one of the IV bags. “Of course he is! You know if he’ll be okay, or not?”

“I don’t even know what happened to him - Cody just told me to get these specific IVs n’ supplies so I did. I hope he is though, for your sake, and also for mine ‘cos I kinda happen to value my life,” Nicki rambled; it startled Jet how he talked a lot, but not with his hands. Even when Poison or Ghoul were holding things they had a tendency to gesture with their hands.

Jet almost snapped again - what life, Batt Rat - but refrained, sighing heavily and letting the silence echo through the halls until Nicki led him to a room - Room 15B, up a flight of stairs and past the room labelled security, Jet noted. That’s where Ghoul would be.

The door was closed, but Jet could make out snippets of conversation before Nicki swung open the door, practically tossing the IVs on the counter and they all crowded around the hospital gurney with Poison on it.

“What are you -?” Jet asked, confused, cutting themself off to furrow their brows in confusion.

Why was there a tube down Poison’s throat?

“It’s a stomach pump, basically,” Cody explained in record time, never taking his eyes off what he was doing. “We don’t have any antidotes to Zone drugs like Sugar, and it seems he took it in it’s more potent, cube-shaped powder form, ‘cording to the symptoms and what the Kobra Kid told me. It might be best if you joined your friend in the security room for this, actually -”

“We’re not leaving you alone with Poison,” said Kobra, uncrossing his arms to leisurely brush his fingertips on the hilt of his ray gun, which he’d put back in it’s holster. “I can stay here. Jet, you wanna go?”

Not particularly, Jet thought, but didn’t say out loud. “Erm - uh, yeah, okay. Ghoul and I can figure out what’s going on once Poison is okay.”

Because Poison would be okay. He had to be.

Jet ambled out of the room, trying to backtrack and find that room labelled security. It only took him a few minutes and some confused cursing.

“Something’s not right,” Ghoul said immediately, once Jet had the door open but before they could even step in. “Something’s not right about that Doctor, or that nurse, I know it, but I don’t know what.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be focusing on making sure no one somehow gets in and shoots us?”

“I am!” Ghoul gestured broadly to all the dimly lit screens in front of him; the security feed outside of the hospital. Nicki was right, they were surrounded, by squadrons and squadrons of Dracs, a few Crows and even an Exterminator. Fuck. “But they ain’t tryin’ to get in, as you can see. My guess is it’s because o’ that Doc. Something’s...off.”

“Yeah, I know.” Jet sighed, sitting on the edge of the desk that was sitting in front of all the wall-mounted computer monitors. “Don’t know whether it’s good or bad. Good, I think. I hope. We just have to hope for the best...How do you think we can get out of here?”

Ghoul shrugged uncomfortably, raking his hand through the tangles in his mangy black hair and leaning back in the desk chair. It was a step-up from Poison’s, currently, since Poison’s had bile in it. “I - I really don’t know what we can do. They’ve set up roadblocks, I saw, an’ they’ve got the ‘Am surrounded. My best guess? Boom.”

“We can’t get away if the car is blown up too, y’know that, right?”

“I said my best guess...Jet, honest-to-The-Witch, we’re fucked, okay? We don’t have a way out, we don’t know if that Doc is trustworthy, Kobra’s so screwed up in the head ‘cos of Poison’s OD, I don’t even know if half those explosives work after being jostled around as they were, and you’re so lost you’re asking me for strategy. I don’t...know if we’re getting out of this,” Ghoul said, whispering the last part.

Jet shook their head instantly. “No, we have to. Killjoys never die, right? We have to. They, uh, the Doc is ‘pumpin’ Pois’s stomach’, whatever that means. He’s gonna be okay. We’re gonna be okay.”

“Wish I believed that,” Ghoul returned the head shake. “Let’s hope. We have to. I’ll keep tryin’ to find a way out of this, but I ain’t no Batt Rat, I dunno the City too well, ‘n neither do you. Go check up on that stomach pump.”

With an “okay,” Jet left the small room, purposefully taking their time to get back to Room 15B, making a few perimeter checks around the hospital just to make sure Ghoul was right and BLI didn’t have their own hackers changing the feed. They should, really.

And then they gound themselves outside of that stupid door, shuffling their feet; and finally got over themselve, pushing the door open.

Little had changed. Cody, Nicki, and Kobra were all crowded around Poison’s hospital gurney, but noticeable change was the heart monitor attached to Poison. There wasn’t a tube shoved down his throat anymore. And there was an IV stuck in his arm.

Poison was going to have a fit about that, when he woke up.

Wait. “What’s in that IV?” Jet asked, narrowing his eyes at Nicki and Cody.

Kobra looked up curiously, waiting impatiently for Cody’s answer and brushing his fingers against his ray gun once again.

If Cody was intimidated, he didn’t show it. He shrugged, adjusting the collar of his lab coat. “Basic nutrients his body needs after that. And a mild sedative-”

“A sedative?!” Of course that would set Kobra off; he was snarling against, blond hair falling in his face and the was he was holding his one hand in his jacket pocket…

You know, the one with his switchblade.

Cody still wasn’t fazed. “Yes, a sedative. There’s not much on record about Sugar. For all we know, if he wakes up before it’s all out of his system he could start spasming and stop his heart. You want to take that risk, Killjoy?”

“No, we don’t.” Jet answered for Kobra, going to stand next to him and calm him down with a soothing arm over the shoulders. It half did its job. “But - how long will he be out?”

“He’s supposed to be out for a few hours after that in general, but with the sedative...Until it wears off, he should be in-and-out of consciousness for a while.” Jet noted Cody did not explain how long ‘a while’ was. “Either way, it’ll be too long for you guys to stay here.”

He said it matter-of-factly, like he knew better than them, when they all knew fully well that seconds were ticking away and so was their chance at getting out of this alive.

Kobra barely grit out another syllable before Cody was talking again. “Keeping him here is too dangerous. But I know a place we can go.”

“And why would we ever follow you?” Jet asked, cautiously, curiously, talking before Kobra could snap once again.

Cody gave a crooked grin - a real, crooked grin, and Jet suddenly thought: he isn’t on the pills. Destroya, it should’ve been obvious! Neither Cody and Nicki had the same dazed expression, didn’t give the same enunciation in their words. “Maybe because I’m not just a cityslicker. I’m my own brand of bastard, just like you.”

“And what the Hell is that?” Kobra huffed, managing not to bite anyone’s head off.

Nicki spoke up, this time, without as much eloquence as Cody. “We’re Youngbloods, baby!”

“Yes - and as Youngbloods, we know of a place that ‘Halls don’t know about, Tumbleweeds don’t know about, and especially Killjoys don’t know about...Perfect for you to keep hair dye over here- “ He jabbed a thumb at Poison. “- Safe and sound ‘till he wakes.”

“What are you suggesting, Dr. Winston?” Kobra spat the name out like venom, but there was a desperation edging it.

Cody grinned again. “Please, the name’s Dr. Benzedrine. And I think it’s time the Fabulous Killjoys visited the Underground, isn’t it?”