It happens after Static saves the day.
Third says that they’d been kidnapped. That a crazy hopped-up power junkie had taken them all out and locked them away, sucking off their power. Not just the Blood Syndicate but everyone. All the Bang Babies in Dakota, the Shadow Cabinet- Third even said the junkie took out Hardware.
Brick doesn’t remember any of that. She trusts Third Rail, a way she thought she couldn’t trust anyone, but she doesn’t know.
What she remembers is waking up in a huge room. She remembers being strung up and tubes drilled through her tough red skin. She remembers ripping herself free and getting so so angry-
She remembers feeling like there was a beehive inside her, a mess of fast feelings swirling around too quickly for her to tell what they were or what they meant or what set them off-
A swarm of feelings stinging her all over inside. It’s no wonder she was angry.
She remembers hitting someone too. The Blood Syndicate being there and screaming and pounding at the thing that had tried to take everything away from her again.
She thinks Wise Son and Third Rail might have stopped her from doing something horrible but she doesn’t remember.
Static saves the day.
And then…they all go home. The Blood Syndicate, past and present pack themselves on to the metro and head back to Paris Island.
She wonders if she’ll ever remember being small enough, human enough, to fit in the seats on the train or get on without stooping.
Flash Back doesn’t smile at her, she’s too busy worrying about Fade.
Boogieman curls into a corner and shivers and shakes, his whiskers making looping patterns in the air.
And Brickhouse, who has a real name but can’t quite remember it, sits hunched in the central aisle trying not to feel so monstrous and so terribly alone.
What had she been thinking trying to start a life of her own? Trying to stay out of the gangs when she looks the way she does and everyone knows she used to be part of the Blood Syndicate and all they have to do to get a rise out of Wise is knock down her door- What had she been thinking, imagining that the world would let her live an ordinary, honest life when she’d smashed up crackhouses and fought Icon and been in and out of SYSTEM’s hands?
What made her think she could keep Pui looking like she does? She’s not even sure somedays that she looks like a woman at all, more like a great lumbering heap of stones grinding together. A troll, a monster.
Wise turns to Third and asks, nicer than he usually does, if they’ll may be think about coming back. Being part of the Blood Syndicate again. Brick steels herself-
And Third says no.
They don’t argue about it this time but Third, her Pui, moves down the carriage and sits on the closest seat so he can put his arm over her shoulders and his hand into what passes for her hair. Dogg comes over and puts his head on her lap.
And whatever it is inside her that makes her feelings buzz and sting…eases.
She leans back against Third’s legs and the train rumbles on, down to their side of the tracks.
The train stops and the Blood Syndicate, tired and battered but alive and home limp out on to Paris Island.
They walk a little way together and DMZ pats Flash’s shoulder and Aquamaria sings something soft under her breath.
They peel off, Brick and Third together, back towards their own life and Wise shakes Pui’s hand and Dogg licks her feet before they go.
It’s almost a shock to find it’s still there. Their house, their little burger joint, their life-
That it’s in one piece is more miraculous still.
They go round the back, through the kitchen and upstairs. They lie together on a bed that’s really only just big enough for her but-
But it’s still perfect.
And suddenly Brick knows that this is what it’s going to be like for the rest of forever.
There will still be power junkies. There will still be monsters like the SYSTEM. There will always be people to kick down her door, to kidnap her man, to beat them both half dead.
But somehow, she doesn’t understand how or why, she’ll still always have Third. She honestly does have the love of the most beautiful, amazing and kind man in Dakota and whatever she looks like or forgets, does or survives he will still love her.
They’ll always be their little place to go back to, though they might have to patch it back together more than most.
As long as she wants to she’ll be cooking burgers for the rest of her life and the thought couldn’t make her happier.
She pulls Pui in tighter and he murmurs in his sleep. She feels…good and for the first time she can remember she isn’t afraid it will break.