They are lucky.
Bob tells himself this as he listens to the wind howl, flinging sand up against the side of the garage. Lucky that they'd been here, with shelter for both them and the Trans Am. This weather's death for cars. If they'd been in transit when the storm had blown in, out on the highway with no protection, the sand would have gotten in the engine and left them stranded. Stranded and easy pickings, once the storm died. He grimaces at the thought. He and Frank just finished repairing the damage from their last run-in with Bli. Bob’s spent too much time under that car - has too much of its grease embedded under his nails- to abandon it to scrap pickers.
Besides, Gerard would be heartbroken to lose the Trans Am.
Gerard’s seated on the hood right now, watching the sand dervish and crackle with static out past the garage’s windows. Their radio is in his lap; he twists the dials periodically, searching for a familiar signal. All he gets are empty channels, hissing in harmony with the storm.
The radios never work right in this weather. It could be because of the dust or the static lightning that wings through the storms like a meteorologist’s nightmare. Whatever the reason, they won't be able to contact the others until after the dust settles. Which is fine. There isn’t much shelter for the bikes near Frank and Mikey's apartment, but that's a quick stop. The two of them had been basically living out-zone for months. They’d planned to head for Ray's next, and he had a garage. They all have handguns and enough bullets. Assuming, of course, that they don’t run into any mobs. Bob’s pretty sure even the lynchers aren’t crazy enough to run witch-hunts in this kind of weather. Besides, they’d been careful. All of their zonerunning had been done masked and they’d always worn corporation-approved clothing in city.
Bringing the Trans Am in was the biggest risk. It’s the one thing they can’t disguise anymore. Timing it carefully, they’d gotten home at false dawn, sliding in on the edge of curfew. That had meant keeping the big door closed once the car was in and just cracking the side door for ventilation as they burned all the photos and IDs in the rusting charcoal grill. More air would have been better. But it turned out for the best - as it was, Bob had to fight to get the side door closed when the wind kicked in.
Bob blows dust out of his shotgun’s barrel and grabs a rag off the workbench. His fingers twitch to count the shells again, but the number's etched in his memory. It's damn near impossible to find replacement shells this days. Bullets are easier to find, but not by much. They’re going to need new weaponry soon. Mikey and Ray have been discussing hacking the corporate vending machines. Bob doesn't like ray guns, corporate amped wattage or not. Bullets he can trust. When you shoot a Bli goon with a bullet, they actually stay down.
Dracs, he reminds himself. They're called Dracs now. It's a stupid fucking name, but easier to say than Bli-cloned cyborg goon squad. Bob just hates that there are enough of them to have a proper name. Almost as much as he hates it takes several ray gun blasts to override their circuits. He knows the hacking idea’s their best bet, but he doesn’t have to like it.
The radio blares static, momentary white noise louder than the storm. Gerard swears and turns the volume down.
Bob glances over.
Gee is leaning against the car, squinting at him. “Come here."
The light's strange, sepia and soft, muted by smoke. Gerard’s clothes are almost the same shade of grey as the canvas covering the Trans Am. Cast monochrome by regulations, he looks more like one of the charcoal drawings he used to fill sketchbooks with instead of someone real. Bob can only stare.
Take a picture it would last longer.
That's a lie, of course. Photos burn easily, chemical surfaces lifting in blisters, searing free of ashy paper.
Gerard frowns outright and holds out a hand. "Bob, come on."
Taking a deep breath, Bob focuses on loosening his grip and setting the shotgun carefully down on the workbench.
They’re okay. They will all be okay.
The acrid bite of burnt histories sits at the back of Bob’s throat.
He takes Gerard's hand, lets himself be tugged into the vee of his legs. The Trans Am is warm against the front of his thighs, still radiating heat from the ride in.
Gerard reaches up, rubs his thumb on Bob's forehead. Bob scowls, feeling like a five year old. But Gerard just smiles and shows him the gritty smudge now obscuring his fingerprint.
"You have some here too," he says, and combs his fingers through Bob's hair. Sand hisses free, pattering down his shoulders.
Gerard hums in reply, pulling him closer instead of letting go.
The air is full of static, lightning moving under Bob’s skin.
Outside the sand hisses, scouring the world.