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Wake up, Alone

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[One, Quarters sits tied to a chair and is heavily injured.]

"Be safe out there."


That was easy for... whoever it was that told him that to say for themselves. 


For all Quarters can tell, he imagined it, and for all its worth the empty platitudes aren't helping him now. But it was the first thing that came to mind when he came to, now alone, and he could imagine worse was only going to come to him in a place like this. Waking up, the words escape him once more as consciousness only makes his body hurt more from the aches, reminding him he was alive.


He has been tied to a kitchen chair. The ropes binding his arms tightly would at most times buckle under his strength, but as he attempts to move, all he can do is wince quietly in pain. One of his eyes is swollen shut and dark, and with the wet red staining his shirt, Quarters can tell that whoever has put him in this situation gave him more than a few new scars to race across his skin. The brisk air of the room stung his open wounds, but it also meant he couldn’t have been out cold too long.


He looks at his surroundings, shifting in his permanent seat. An empty cement room, one sputtering lightbulb sways gently overhead as flies pick at the glass, shadows creeping in at every edge. Dust licks the corners, but brown-red smudges barely cleaned off the floor suggests its use. Quarters knows a torture room when he sees one. He's helped break mens spirits and limbs in the Felts very own, more furnished then this one, but he can smell stale blood in the air. The metallic tang is familiar in a nearly comforting way, but he’s clearly already been on the receiving end this time.


A vibrant green jacket and his poor hat sit abandoned on the floor near him, tossed aside with little care for their state. Someone had clearly rifled through all of his belongings and even been so reckless as to rip them up. Or, more likely it was intentional. He didn’t even want to think about what they were doing with the Coins or his guns- oh god, he hoped they weren’t breaking his guns. He’d rather they break his arm.


Thoughts were slowly trying to flash through his mind, names of street gangs who could've done this to him. The East Street Rooks were strong enough to gang up on him if they all worked together, perhaps the Shell Peelers were finally making a move, and there was supposedly some new set of goons who fenced car parts on the sly. Countless small timers would have plenty to gain by nabbing Quarters and forcing the Felt to pay for him back. But there was always an obvious answer when Green Fuzz suddenly decided to disappear after a rare visit to Midnight City alone on a task. Those four without a doubt were even more dangerous than the hostile desert waiting runners from the city, enough to scare plenty into running off back into exile.


With a sudden thud, the heavy door begins to open, bottom scraping the ground. The noise is enough to induce pain in Quarters aching head, like claws across a chalkboard.


Spades Slick walks in, knife already in his hand. He doesn't look happy, but Quarters wasn't expecting him to. Something must've gone wrong with the exchange with the Felt, and Quarters is about to be torn up once more in order to slice down on the time that the Felt has to get themselves together for either an ill-fated rescue (they all were) or pay up. For a load of temporally-powered gangsters, they loved to take their sweet time getting to work on saving him from the Crew.


As Slick approaches, he stalks Quarters like a vulture assessing a meager helping of carrion. A major mistake would be to not take the miniature mob boss seriously, as Quarters has obviously made the mistake of. He scoffs as he kicks at Quarters foot, unimpressed with the Felts muscle. Unable to turn his head to follow Slicks movement behind him, the fuzz on his neck prickles as he hears the sharp unleashing of Slicks knife from its sheath, his breath hitching at the telltale sound. How many times has he been on the business end of it at this point?


He growls something under his breath that Quarters can't make out, but the tone sounds bitter. Trying his best to not pay attention as Slick is making up his mind about what to do with his prey, he turns his attention to the doorway, the only way of escape. Before he can try and bring himself to his feet for a useless dash out, smoke drifts in. Through the darkness while squinting, he can see a figure holding back in the shadows, sharp white eyes watching Slick work his magic more than he was watching Quarters. Diamonds Droog. Of course the two came to deal with him together. At least they didn’t bring Boxcars. He doesn’t think he could take Boxcars in the state he’s in now, it’s not like he needed another blow to his pride like Boxcars would dish out to him.


The two murmur together over his head. A flurry of rough inbetweens and  chittering blurs going in one ear and out the other. It's like he can't make out their words, his mind still pulsing with pain after waking up so suddenly. Opening his mouth to hesitantly speak up between the duo, a cold stare from Droog makes him snap it closed right away. Quarters wasn’t looking for them to punish him more than he could help it, as much as he’d like to interject with some well deserved snark in their faces. There's a nod from Diamonds Droog, and he feels the edge of Slicks knife on the side of his neck, his voice finally coming in clear as day.


"Now that you're looking all bright eyed and bushy tailed fourteen, you can answer some questions of ours. It's not every day the Felt drops off the face of the planet, as much as I'd like that. Not a goddamn peep for days, right when we’re expecting at least one gaggle of green idiots to show up. And then, you. Alone in our territory in broad goddamn daylight."


The face of the planet? Quarters eyes go wide as he tries to process this new information. What the hell happened while he was out? Or was this before? If it was before, how in the hell did he not know about it? 


The knife slides along the breadth of his neck, held tense next to his artery as a warning that he should consider his next words carefully, deliberately.


"I just wanna know one thing. One, little thing. Even you can do that, can’t you?- Hey .” The knife enters his skin, and Quarters yelps at the sudden pain, eyes flying open. Slicks rough carapaced hand grabs at his chin, pulling his snout to face Slick to his side. “Pay attention to me when I’m fuckin’ talking to you. Answer my question now.”


Inside, the haze begins to clear from his mind and he snaps to attention the closer Slick gets to committing some serious damage, now awake to properly realize the unstoppable threat, Quarters begins to realize...


"Why were you here, Fourteen?"


He can't remember why.