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"Monsters are real, ghosts are real too. They live inside us and, sometimes, they win." Stephen King

~~~

My first solo mission. The target? A rogue vampire that's been breaking the law and draining innocents. In public. One of the highest offenses in Monster society. Discretion is key. The only thing keeping them safe from us. The Monster Hunters.

Of course I'm not completely alone. I have my cousin talking through my ear piece in case something goes wrong. But nothing's gonna go wrong.

My pace is steady as I approach the club where the vampire seems to pick up his victims. I lift my black hood over my head to conceal my white braided hair and hide my face as I slip into the ally unnoticed.

"Damn, no fire escape." I say to myself. "Oh well! Guess I get to take the fun route!" And with a smirk, I grab onto one of the thick water pipes and scale the building to the roof. I vault over the ledge and land effortlessly on my feet, brushing off my shoulders as I head for the roof access door with purpose in my step.

'Remember Addison, focus on your mission. Don't mess around. In and out. Got it?' Bucky instructed through the earpiece. I roll my eyes.

"Yeah, yeah. I get it." I sigh heavily in annoyance.

'Don't give me attitude!' He scoffs in disbelief then shakes it off as he composes himself again. 'Just focus on eliminating your target.'

"Shouldn't I question him first? You know, see why he did it?" It felt wrong to not even give the creature a chance to explain his actions.

'Addison. We've talked about this. All these idealistic thoughts you're having need to stop. That's just not how the world works. Our job is to protect innocents. Not get involved in Monster politics.' He ranted. I roll my eyes.

"Yeah yeah. 'A Monster wouldn't hesitate to kill me, so I shouldn't hesitate to kill them first.' I know." I quote Bucky's motto.

'Good. And don't forget that. I don't want you getting hurt, baby cuz.' He says.

"Stop calling me that. I'm not a baby anymore." I respond through gritted teeth to stay fairly quiet.

'You'll always be my baby cousin. Good luck Addison.' He finally finished, keeping a silent view from the body cam on my chest.

"Whatever." I grumble, reaching for the door handle and try it. "Shit, locked." I pull out a bobby-pin from my braid and get to work on the look. It doesn't take me more than a minute to pick the lock and the door easily opens for me. "That's more like it!" I muse my appreciation. I make sure my hood is in place and trot down the stairs, keeping my hands tucked in my jacket pocket where I have a silver-bladed cross hidden from view.

The club is hopping tonight. The crowd thick with people, I carefully push through as I scan for the vampire in question. Suddenly, I big burly man with way too much cheap cologne on grabs me by the arm.

"Hey little lady! Why are you hiding? We can't enjoy your pretty face under that hood!" He yells so I can hear him over the music. I scowl up at him. He reaches up to touch my hood, but I grab his hand before his finger even brush the fabric. He seems startled then he smirks. "Oh! You're a feisty one, huh?" He said in amusement.

He tightens his grip on my forearm and it makes me wince. But doesn't stop me from kicking him in the groin before twisting his arm so he's forced to his knees. He yells out in pain, either from my deadly low kick or his palm almost touching his forearm. I don't care enough to ask. I keep my hold on his contorted wrist as I lean into his ear.

"Don't touch girls that don't belong to you." I warn. Swiftly releasing my hold and letting him crumble like the scared little boy I knew he was. I scan around and see someone shoving through the crowd away from my little scene and I curse under my breath, chasing after them.

'Your cover is blown, you'll have to get them away from the innocents.' Bucky's voice rings in my ear.

"If that big asshole hadn't tried to assault me, I'd have gotten a jump on him." I argue. Bucky half chuckles.

'Assault you? He hadn't barely gotten a hand on you before you debilitated him.' He states as if it were absurd. I roll my eyes again but decide to ignore his commentary as I continue fighting the crowd. It starts to thin. I'm getting towards the edge and I still have my eyes on the retreating figure.

He keeps glancing back and sees I'm still hot on his tail. He quickly takes a turn to go through a back door to avoid club security. I smirk, knowing there won't be a crowd to slow me down once we're in the back lot. The door had just closed when I reach it and I unsheathe the blade in my pocket as I reopen the door.

I exit slowly, it was a very small lot with only a few cars parked back there, for employees I'm guessing. Since it was between two buildings, it was very dark only, lit by a single old and dingy lamp post. The door swings closed behind me and I'm suddenly tackled to the ground from behind. I land on the concrete hard onto my chest, I vaguely hear the glass shattering of the body cam.

'Addison!' Bucky's still in my ear. 'Shit! I'm on my way! Hang on!'

I twist so I'm on my back under the vampire. He hisses as he boar his fangs at me. But he seemed afraid. His eyes bright and glowing red. Seasoned vampires only show their red eyes if they are in the process of feeding, so I know something's off. Wait.

"A newborn?!" I exclaim in disbelief. This changes things, my mission has been compromised. He seems even more startled, but then grabs my arm holding the blade and bites into my skin. I scream out in pain, the blade falling as my hand spasms. I try my best to punch him hard enough to release my forearm but once their fangs are locked and feeding it would take a great force to stop them.

I scream again as the burning spreads through my veins. I'm getting weaker and weaker by the second. My head falls back against the concrete, I turn my head from side to side to stay awake, but the world is closing in as my vision starts turning black as he drains my life force.

Without warning, a solid body hits him with the force of a battering ram and frees me from his clutches. I roll to my side and cradle my arm to my side, the burning still spreading. I'm panting in my breaths as my world tried to right itself and I look up to see the tall, green haired man standing between me and the newborn in a threatening stance, his voice sounds distorted and deep sounding like, a growl or a groan or something in between. My brain can't process much at this point. But I do see the vampire cower away in fear from my spot behind this man before he takes off.

My savior then turns to kneel beside me, my vision is still fuzzy but I can see his blackened eyes and veins stretched across his skin. My mind screams that I'm in danger, this zombie is going to eat me, but I'm too weak to fight anymore. And if it were my brains he wanted, he wouldn't be just staring at me right now. He lifts his wrist and swipes on his z-band and the black veins recede to show his pale skin and slightly sunken eyes. He actually seems younger than I expected. Maybe around my age?

'A zombie. Saved me?' I question silently since my body doesn't seem to be responding to what my brain tells it to do.

"Hey, I'm gonna help you, ok? Hang in there." He says softly. His voice sounds so sweet in my ears. But the world is fading again, though the burning in my arm is so excruciating my brain just can't take this much pain. He lifts me into his arms before I'm plunged into darkness.

XxX

The pounding of my own head stirs me out of my sleep. I groan and try lifting my right hand to cover my eyes, but I can't move it. I gasp and my eyes shoot open as it came flooding back to me. The vampire. The bite. The zombie boy. Everything. I attempt to sit up, but a set of hands grabs my shoulders and said zombie is standing beside me trying to sooth my worries.

"Hey hey hey! Calm down! It's ok! You're safe!" He says with a smile. I look down and see my injured arm is strapped down as an IV of blood is stuck into my vein. I check my surroundings and see that I'm in a bedroom. A small, cozy bedroom that feels warm and inviting, clearly not like a wealthy family's dwellings that I'm used to, clean, cold and proper. This feels more comfortable. At least I'm not in any immediate danger here.

The hands on my shoulders loosen their grip on me as I start to relax. I focus on the boy who saved my life.

"Hi." He says breathlessly with a smile. His smile seems contagious as the corners of my mouth turn up.

"Hi." I whisper. He sits in the chair beside the bed I'm resting on and shifts nervously from side to side.

"It's good that you're finally waking up." He says. I rub my temple to sooth my still throbbing headache.

"How long was I out?" I ask.

"Almost 2 days." He tells me nonchalantly. My mouth drops open.

"What?!" I scream. He puts his hands up in surrender.

"Don't worry! We took really good care of you! You should be back to normal before you know it!" He assures me. I look down and notice my clothes are different, an over sized white t-shirt and baggy sweatpants. My face heats up. He notices where my eyes trail and he waves his hands frantically. "No no no! Eliza changed you! I swear! I'd never-" I shake my head to let him know he can stop.

"I believe you." I admit honestly. He sighs in relief.

"I'm Zed, what's your name?" I look into his eyes, it feels like all the air leaves my lungs and it's hard to breath.

"Addison." I manage to whisper. He smiles and my heart melts. I look down at my bandaged arm to break the intense eye contact. "So since I'm clearly not a vampire by now, I guess you had some anti-venom on hand?" He chuckles.

"I didn't, but my friend Eliza has a bunch of emergency medical supplies at the ready." He says. I raise a brow questioningly. He sighs and continues. "She's kind of an activist and might get herself and her other friends into some sticky situations sometimes."

"Ah I see. One of the zombies that likes to fight the system." I state in understanding. Neither of us knows what to say next so we both awkwardly fidget as the silence draws out and fills the room. I undo the arm restraint so I can sit up more comfortably.

"Um, thank you. For saving my life, I mean." I tell him sincerely. His smile returns, but he seems so nervous.

"No need to thank me! It's not everyday you see a Monster Hunter losing in a fight!" At his words, my face fell with shame. He tries to correct himself frantically. "That's not what I meant! I've just never seen it! I'm sure it happens a lot!" I laugh. And it makes his relax slightly.

"It's ok. I was caught off guard. It's good you were nearby or else I'd be a goner." I assure him with a sad smile. His eyes soften with sympathy for me.

"Honestly, I don't even know how I managed to scare that blood sucker off. I'm not exactly the most intimidating of zombies." He tries to comfort me as he scratches the back of his head.

"You seemed pretty intimidating to me." I tease. He chuckles.

"I- uh- I'm just glad you're safe." His eyes connect with mine and I swear I felt my heart skip a beat. I immediately break the connection and clear my throat, a blush warming my cheeks.

"Hm mm. So, where are we?" I manage to ask, looking around the room.

"My place. Eliza refused to let a Monster Hunter set foot in her house. No offense." I chuckle and shake my head to say 'none taken'. "But since I'm basically her best friend, she was willing enough to help." I raise a brow.

"Wouldn't just letting me die make life easier for you? One less Monster Hunter to worry about?" I ask curiously. He looks at me like I've grown a second head.

"Eliza said the same thing! How can you guys think that way?!" He sighs. "To me, it wouldn't matter if you're a human, a zombie, or even a troll, if I can help, I'm going to. End of story." He says with determination. I've never met someone so compassionate. His words feel so right to me. Like they're the ones I've been searching to find my whole life but have been too controlled to say. My mouth opens but I can't find anything to say so I close it again and just nod.

Then he leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "Which reminds me, what were you doing out there all by yourself?" He asked curiously. His question is a relief. My brain knows how to process something like that.

"I was on a solo mission. My first one, actually." I frown as I look down at my folded hands on my lap. "And I failed miserably."

"Don't be so hard on yourself! You got jumped. You couldn't have helped that." He tried comforting me.

"Yeah, I was caught off guard in more ways than one." I grumble. He keeps quiet after my statement. Did I say something wrong? He stands up and heads for the door.

"I'll get Eliza to take out your IV. I won't stop you if you want to leave." He says walking away from me, so I can't see his face, but his voice gives away his disappointment. My hand instinctively reaches towards him, but he's already out the door and no words find my lips. So my hand falls back onto my lap.

Why do I care if he's disappointed in me? Sure he saved my life, but I don't know him. And he's a zombie! I shouldn't even be talking to him!

But...

He's sweet. Really sweet. He's willing to risk his life to help others, not matter if they're zombies or human. He makes me rethink my view on monsters completely. Bucky's motto comes to my mind and I realize that things are different than I thought. There's more to life than what we're taught.

I place a hand over my chest and feel my heart pounding. I know that Zed's right. That I'm right. I've been right my whole life. Not all monsters are bad.

My thoughts are derailed when I hear Zed's voice distantly down the hall, maybe on the lower level? I listen into they conversation.

"Come on E! Try to be civil? She's different!" He tried convincing his friend. I hear a female scoff.

"None of them are different. That's the problem! They're all trained to be the exact same. With a prejudice against monsters." The female, I presume Eliza, states.

"But she is different! I'm alive, aren't I?" Zed argues. Eliza is silent before Zed goes on in an even lower voice. I strain to try and make out what he's saying. "You know as well as I do, without being zombiefied, she could easily overpower me and snap my neck in a second. That's how she's trained. But she didn't. I just sat and had a 10 minute conversation with her!" He paused and Eliza sighed.

"Wow. I can't believe this." She said.

"What?" Zed asks in confusion.

"You fell in love with a Monster Hunter." She points out blatantly. My face flames and my heart pounds. But I continue to strain for his response.

"I-I," he stutters and pauses again for a long drawn out moment, "I do." He admits quietly. I suck in a breath in surprise and my heart skips another beat. I get this giddiness that I haven't felt in a long time. I mean a long time. Like, since I was little, long time. Could he really have feelings for me? But I don't have time to sort through my feelings as I hear their footsteps on the wooden stairs.

Eliza sighs in exasperation. "What are you thinking?!"

"I don't know! It just feels, right. Like it was fate that we were brought together!" Zed explains. My heart is pounding against my ribs with every word.

"A relationship with a Monster Hunter could never work out! You're a zombie!" Eliza argues. I can hear Zed huff.

"Maybe not now, but someday." He grumbles in annoyance. This excitement in my chest confuses me. This Eliza girl is right. We could never work. But he believes that we could someday. Why does that make me wanna jump and squeal like I'm back in grade school?

"Fine. I'll be civil because you are my friend, but I honestly don't approve of your life choices." She scolds as they walk.

They're quiet as they get closer to the door. I try my best to look composed like I hadn't just overheard the zombie boy who saved my life's love confession towards me. They turn the corner and I can't help but look past the new female to immediately lock eyes with Zed. It feels like sparks shoot down my spine.

The zombie girl grabs my wrist, instinctively I rip it back. She raises a brow at me and I blush in embarrassment, offering my wrist back to her.

"Looks like someone is still a little out of it." She says with furrowed brows. "Are you feeling lightheaded? Spacey?" She asks. I shake my head, still looking at my lap to avoid eye contact with either of them.

I jump when I feel Zed's hand grabbed mine softly, I look up at him with wide eyes. "If something's wrong you should tell Eliza. She can help." He told me gently. I let out the breath I didn't know I was holding.

"I'm just, um, nervous." I finally respond. Eliza snorts as she works on removing my IV, causing us both to snap our heads in her direction.

"Yeah, you should be the one that's nervous." She states sarcastically.

"E, don't." Zed warns. But Eliza tightly, and roughly, wraps the bandage around my arm after the needle is out as she starts to rant.

"Oh, yeah, let's just all pretend that she's not a danger to us! To all of us!" Eliza ripped off the end of the wrap and slapped the attached end to secure it before pushing her seat back to put some distance between us. "She is a threat to our existence! Before long, they are going to wipe out the entire monster race!"

My brows knit together in confusion and I have to shake my head to clear it. "Wait, what?" I ask. "I'd never-" Eliza deadpans and gives me an accusing glare.

"The number of zombies alone is dwindling. Let alone the other monster races. Yet, you Monster Hunters keep killing! We're on the brink of extinction! Don't act like you don't know." She seethes. I'm stunned.

"I-I didn't know that!" I look back to Zed, his face is sad. "I'm still learning that monsters aren't what I was taught. You two are the first ones I've ever had a chance to interact with." She gives me a confused look and I glance over to Zed whose face softens when our eyes meet.

"Well, I guess if that's the case, they really are trying to brainwash you." Eliza murmured in thought. "Maybe, just maybe, we can work together to change things around here." Then she smirked. "Then maybe you and your boyfriend can have your someday!" She teased gesturing towards our still entangled hands. We both jump apart, I'm blushing furiously and he's nervously scratching the back of his head.

"N-no, we're not-" I start to deny but I'm cut off by the sudden bang of the door being busted in.

"Crap! They found us!" Eliza yells, rushing to the corner of the room furthest from me and pulling out a couple hand guns and tossing one to Zed. "I planted these in your room when I know she was going to be staying here." She explains. I jump to my feet and grab onto Zed's bicep.

"What the hell Eliza?! I'm not using this?!" Zed protests.

"There's no need for violence! I'll talk to them. They'll listen to me." I try calming both of them, stepping around Zed to head for the door, but he grabs my wrist and turns me back towards him. 

"It's not safe. I'll go with you." He says. I smile up at him but shake my head.

"I'll be perfectly safe." I assure him. "You stay here. Hide." His face shifts to sadness.

"I won't see you again, will I." It's more of a statement than a question and it breaks my heart. I don't know what comes over me, but I put my hand on the back of his neck and gently pull him down so our lips meet. I first hear Eliza gasp behind us but simultaneously he sucks in a surprised breath and it's all I can concentrate on. It's not long before he kisses back, freeing my wrist to place it delicately on my hip. I pull back to press our foreheads together.

"I'll make sure we do." I promise in a whisper. He closes his eyes and nods, I turn swiftly and run out the door and down the hall I'd heard my new zombie friends come down and found the staircase, just as Bucky turns the corner with his AK aimed and ready to fire, followed closely by his three best friends we've named the Aceys.

"Addison!" He exclaims as he lowers his weapon.

"Bucky!" I reply happily and rush down the stairs. He wraps a strong arm around my shoulders to hug me.

"Oh my god! I was worried sick!" He yells in relief, then quickly pushes back and holds me at arms length. "Were you captured?! Why didn't you escape?! Where are they?!" He raised his gun and started up the stairs. I grab hold of his sleeve to stop him.

"No! Bucky! You don't understand! I was unconscious for two days. They saved my life!" I exclaim. He scoffed and shoved me off his arm.

"You don't know what you're saying. They've put some kind of spell on you." He glared down from the two steps he was ahead of me. "Stacey! Tracey! Lacey! On my flank!" He commanded as he turned to continue up the stairs. The Aceys push past me but I'm already running to get in front of them.

"No!" I manage to get to the top of the stairs and extend my arms to block their path. "I won't let you hurt them! They aren't bad people!" Bucky laughed out loud.

"Monsters aren't people Addison! You know that!" He chuckles like I made a joke.

"I was bitten by that vampire! He almost completely drained my life force!" I rip the bandages off my forearm, showing them the bright red bite mark above my wrist. They all gasp at the sigh and look at me with wide eyes. "If they hadn't given me the anti-venom and blood, I'd either be a vampire or dead right now!"

I can see Bucky debating in his head. I feel a tinge of hope spark in my chest. Maybe he will believe me and help me fight to stop the unnecessary violence and bring peace between humans and monsters!

"Ok, who do I have to thank for saving my baby cousin's life?" He asked hesitantly. I smile wide.

"Zed!" I call down the hallway. I see him peek out from the doorway and I wave for him to come beside me. I see his smile then as he starts to exit, I see Eliza stop him by grabbing his arm, offering the handgun back to him. They seem to quietly argue for a second before he pulls his arm free and walks towards me, tucking said gun into the back of his pants.

To my surprise, the second he comes to view, Stacey and Lacey are grabbing both of my arms to restrain me as Bucky and Tracey approach Zed with their guns raised.

"No! Zed! Bucky stop!" I scream, struggling against the two girls grasps. Zed has his hands raised in surrender.

"A zombie, huh? What spell did you put on my cousin?! Tell me! Now!" Bucky demanded.

"I didn't. I swear. I just helped her." He said calmly to not aggravate the man further. Bucky puts the barrel of his gun against Zed's forehead and looks him in the eye.

"If you don't tell me how to reverse the spell now, I'm gonna redecorate the walls with your brains." Bucky threatened. Zed kept his expression calm.

"There's nothing to reverse. I did nothing to her." Zed told him again. The zombie glanced at me and tears slid down my cheeks. Was this it? Is it my fault my new found love is going to die? Bucky let out a frustrated yell and pushes away from Zed's head. Instead, forcing his arm behind his back, Tracey rushing to grab the other and cuffing him. I let out my raged breathes of mild relief that Zed isn't dead, yet.

"We'll let Uncle Dale give you a taste of torture to see if you'll talk, if not, he can decide what to do with you." Bucky said low. Not my father!

"NO!" I instantly scream. Bucky turns and backhands me across the cheek.

"Addison!" Zed calls my name in worry before I hear his own groan of pain as Tracey clocks his chin with the butt of his gun. I'm breathless for a moment. Bucky has never laid a finger on me before, no matter what we'd ever argued about. I slowly look up at him with wide eyes and his match mine.

"I," Bucky starts before stopping himself, "you are gonna keep your mouth shut! We'll get your brain fixed when we get back home, Baby Cousin." He says the last part more gently. I glare at him.

"There's nothing to fix, Cousin." I say through gritted teeth. He scowls but doesn't say anything to me, just snaps his fingers and leads the way towards the front door, the Aceys forcing Zed and I along to follow. We catch each other's eyes and it breaks my heart. Blood is pouring from his mouth from the hit Tracey inflicted.

"I'm so sorry." I whisper quietly. He gives me a sad smile of reassurance, knowing he can't respond aloud without another beating. The tears return to my eyes and a soft sob creeps up my throat. He's too good for this world. For me. I did this to him. Zed saved my life and I swear to myself that I'll save his. No matter what it takes.

Once we're outside, I immediately see the patrol truck waiting for us. Bucky helps Tracey throw Zed into the back forcefully while Stacey and Lacey start with me towards the front. Bucky stops them quickly.

"She's too unpredictable being under this witchcraft. Throw her in the back too." He instructs. My mouth hangs on it's henges at what I'm hearing. I shut my mouth, however, because I'd rather be in the back with Zed than up front with these monsters anyways.

I rip my arms free from their holds with ease and stand up straight, offering my cousin a glare before walking towards the back of the truck on my own accord. I climb in and they shut the door and I hear the latch close to lock us in.

I drop to my knees beside Zed, helping him into a more comfortable position since his hands are still cuffed and let him rest his head on my lap as I gently stroke his hair comfortingly. He sighs in content with closed eyes and a slight smirk on his bloodied lips. I use the bottom of my shirt to wipe away the blood as best as I can without hurting him. Once it's mostly gone, I rest my hand against his chest.

"This shouldn't be happening to you. I'm so stupid." I say as tears pour down my face again.

"Hey, hey. Don't say that. None of this is your fault, ok?" He tried to assure me quietly.

"How can you say that? My father is going to torture you until you're-" I can't bring myself to say it out loud as another sob escapes me. He's quiet for a second, I assume he doesn't know what to say to deny the truth.

"I was heading home that night." He finally say. I sniffle.

"What?"

"The night we first met. I was heading home from a job. I can only work odds and ends kinds of jobs because of the hair. Zombie genes don't allow me to dye it and humans think I'm just a punk teenager, so most wont hire me." He explains. I wipe my eyes and half chuckle.

"I can't dye mine either." I say, appreciating the topic change.

"I wish my hands were free so I could run my fingers through it." He whispers. "It's beautiful." I lean down and press a kiss against his forehead.

"I'll fight to make sure you get the chance to someday." I promise. But I don't want him thinking of that right now so I return to our previous topic. "So how did you find me?" He shifted his weight from the discomfort of the metal against his wrists and looks up at the ceiling of the truck.

"I heard the struggle first and it made me turn down the alley. Then I heard your scream so I took off in a sprint." He goes on. "As soon as I saw him on top of you, I freaked." His words make me giggle softly, he smiles up at me. "I 'UNSTABLE'd my z-band and rush in to fight. I was gonna be damned if I let a beautiful girl like you get killed by some blood sucking vampire." He teased.

"He was a newborn, Zed. He didn't know any better." I tell him. He furrows his brows at me. "Nevermind, it doesn't matter. I'm just glad you were there." I smile down at him.

"You're a good person Addison, willing to forgive a monster who attacked you. You're not like any of them." He says. His chocolate brown eyes stared at me with adoration that no one has ever shown me before. "I love you." Even though I had overheard his admit it to Eliza, hearing his say it to me was a completely different feeling.

"I-I love you too." I admit aloud. My heart feels so light, a weight off my chest. I cup his cheek and lean down again for our lips to meet. It's incredible. To feel this connected to someone. It really does feel like fate brought us together.

The tears once again return to my eyes. Then why does it have to be under these circumstances? Why can't we be happy together? Because our families have been fighting each other for ages. A history and heritage neither of us chose. I break our kiss and press my forehead against his, the soft sobs releasing as the weight returns.

"Please don't cry." He pleads, squeezing his eyes shut to hold back his own sorrows. "We gotta get out of here, Addy." He says with a sigh. He's right. But how? I don't have any of my gear or weapons...

My eyes shot open. "That's it!" I exclaim a little too loudly. "Crap." I whisper as I realize I've yelled and either Bucky or the Aceys could have heard me.

"What? What's it?" Zed asks in confusion. I pull him up towards me against my chest and patted down his back between his cuffed hands, hitting the jackpot as the small handgun still tucked in his pants.

"Yes!" I quietly exclaim, letting Zed gently fall back against my lap. I look at Zed with my excited smile. "This is all the leverage I need!" His brows are knitted together, still in confusion. I roll my eyes. "Come on, let's get you up!" I help him sit up then pull his hands to hold onto the bench behind his back. "Don't move, ok?" He focuses forward and nods that he's ready.

I take the butt of the handgun and smash it with precision against one of the links and it snaps. Zed easily pulls the weakened metal apart as he brings his hands to his front then turns towards me. I throw myself into him and his arms wrap around me for a tight embrace. I savor the moment but we don't have much time. I pull back and look at him seriously.

"Here's the plan."

XxX

The truck lurches to a stop. I can hear voices outside. I recognize my father's deeper authoritative tone speaking to Bucky, but I can't make out what they're saying. The latch clicks and the doors swing open.

"What the hell?" Tracey says.

"What is it now?" Bucky yells from afar.

"They-They're gone." He replies in shock.

"That's impossible." Bucky says in annoyance, matching over and climbing into the truck himself.

When he crosses the threshold, I punch him in the nose and wrap my arm around his neck, placing the nozzle of the gun flush to his temple. The difference in our heights makes my choke hold even more effective as he has to bend backwards to match me. All the Aceys gasp and stare with wide eyes.

"Weapons down!" I scream. All three of them quickly obliged and put their hands up in surrender. "Zed, take his." I instruct, he nods and takes Bucky's AK off it's strap and aims it towards the group nervously, since he has no clue how to use a weapon like that. "Stay behind me." I whisper so only Zed and Bucky could hear.

"Yeah." Zed breaths out. I step forward until we are standing outside the vehicle.

"Addison." I hear my father speak in a disapproving tone. I turn slightly to see him approaching, his hands folded behind his back.

"Father." I reply coldly. He stops a few feet back.

"Bucky told me you've betrayed us." My eyes narrow.

"I betrayed no one! I want the killing to stop!" I yell.

"Killing of who exactly? These beasts?" He asked gesturing towards Zed behind me.

"They're not beasts! They're not even Monsters!" I scream. After a short pause, I continue. "If anything, humans are the real monsters! Killing without reason! Nearly eliminating their entire existence!"

"You just don't know what you're saying. You've been through a traumatic experience from failing your mission." He brushes me off.

"It was a newborn, Father. I couldn't kill him! He was changed and left to fend for himself. He didn't know any better!"

"All the more reason to put it out of its misery."

"You can't do that! It's not his fault!"

"It's a monster, not a person!" He yells for the first time this entire conversation and it's slightly jarring. He composes himself before speaking again. "Now, let your cousin go and step away from that monster before you get hurt."

"No! Zed would never hurt me. I was bitten and almost died!" I argue. His face falters as his eyes widen. "He saved my life, Daddy!" It comes out almost as a plead.

"Monsters killed your mother, Addison!" He argues in sadness, sounding like it's almost a last resort.

"What choice have we given them?!" I scream as tears threaten to reappear. "Their species is on the brink of extinction, so they have to fight back to survive!" His features show his internal debate. Suddenly, it hits me. The reason for my mother's death.

"She knew, didn't she?" I ask more softly. He looks away from me. "That's why she was killed, isn't it? She stopped fighting." He balls his fists and I can see the moisture gathering in his eyes even though he's refusing to look at me. I let go of Bucky's neck. He gasps and drops to his knees.

"What would Mother want us to do, Father?" I ask. His eyes are wide with surprise as he stares at me. Then his eyes soften and shift to the sky. A light refreshing breeze washing over us. He looks back at me and smiles lovingly.

"Ok." He says. Joy fills me to the brim. I can't believe what I'm hearing. I bite the inside of my cheek to make sure I'm not dreaming. My Father is actually listening to me? I smile wide, rushing forward and wrapping my arms tightly around his neck.

"Thank you Daddy." I whisper.

"You're mother would be so proud of you." He says. I look back and see Zed watching with a relieved smile. Bucky stands up and brushes himself off as I make my way back towards him.

"Sorry about that Bucky. You know I wouldn't have actually hurt you." I say with an apologetic smile. Zed walks up beside me and offers the gun back to him, which Bucky roughly snatched back.

"Yeah, well, don't let it happen again." He grumbles with a scowl looking from me to Zed then back to me. "I'm sorry for not listening to you. I'm really happy you're safe." He said sincerely. I know he's thanking Zed without directly thanking him and it makes me smile. Things will change, it will just take time.

I lean in and hug my cousin around the neck. And when I pull back, I dangle the cuff keys in his face. His hand instinctively pats his side to feel the void where the keys should have been hooked to his vest.

"You sneaky little-" He starts.

"Ah ah ah! You wouldn't call you 'baby' cousin a bad name would you!" I tease, turning to Zed with the key in hand. He lifts his wrists and I unshackle the cuffs. He rubs his offended flesh gingerly and smiles at me, his eyes sparkling with excitement.

"So maybe our someday will be here sooner than we thought?" He asks. I nod.

"Yeah, our someday is coming soon."