CHAPTER FOURTY THREE
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Peaches sat quietly in the computer room, changing an ink cartridge on one of the printers. Her head was pounding and she rubbed it absently before popping the cartridge door closed with a click. She was tired and running on adrenalin and coffee. The guys were loading up their vehicles and finalizing their plans before heading off to the Eddington Estates to "retrieve" Cherry as Kreed kept saying, making sure to add the necessary air quotes every time he mentioned the word.
Kreed, Daren, Clint and Chase. Peaches thought about them all with a sudden pang in her heart. If not for her pregnancy it was a rescue team that would have included Eien. Eien had for once decided to be sensible and-
"Hey." A deep voice called out into the room suddenly and Peaches snapped her head up in surprise.
"Clint…" She murmured, smiling slightly as she pushed the print button absently. "I though you were busy rallying the troops and giving heroic speeches…"
Clint shook his head with an answering smile. "Nah, we're past all that. We've moved on to final goodbyes."
"Don't- don't say that word… 'final'… I don't like it…" She whispered, standing up unhappily and biting her nails nervously.
"Peaches I'm sorry I-."
Peaches laughed suddenly and held out her hand in protest. "No…" She muttered. "Don't apologize." She bit her lip and shook her head miserably. "Do you know, when I first saw you- I mean when you walked into the café that night… I thought "Damn." and my heart, everything in me just sort of stopped. Like someone had pressed the pause button on my life…"
"Peaches-." Clint moved to stand before her, reaching out as though to pull her towards him.
"Let me finish…" She whispered, pulling away from him. "I looked at you and something in me knew that my life would never be the same again and yet at the same time I felt… this overwhelming sadness because you were… Well, there you were in your fancy suit and you were an adult and a police officer and I was some dumb kid who worked in a coffee shop. I was wishing so hard for maturity and hey- I got my wish right." Peaches voice broke on a quiet sob and she pressed her fingertips to her lips to stop their trembling. "It was like I grew up in an instant and- god I was so stupid because now I would give anything to go back and just be that oblivious high school kid who had no idea fathers could murder their own daughters and husbands and wives could use their unborn baby as a weapon between them… that mad men wouldn't crack you over the skull and keep you captive for their own amusement…"
Peaches smiled sadly. "Sometimes I think I would go back in an instant and make sure I stayed at that accident scene and spoke to the officer on duty there. And we never would have met and my life would be back to normal… I think that for a second and know it isn't true because- because I couldn't stand living without you. Because I love you and I need you and that's all that matters. And I know you're going to come back from this because otherwise- I'm gonna be super pissed off at you for ruining my life and then not even having the decency to live happily ever after with me."
Clint laughed reluctantly and pulled her into his arms. "I love you too and when I get home we're getting the hell out of here."
Peaches laughed happily through her tears, her face pressed tightly against his chest. "Damn right we are, now hurry up and get this over with. I am not spending my honeymoon on this damn compound!"
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
"If I'm not allowed to go, then you shouldn't be allowed to go." Eien grumbled as she pulled a steel cleaning brush through one of Daren's semi-automatic weapons. "I mean- you're going to be a parent too."
"Slight difference." Daren muttered with a smile, running a diagnostic on some electrical equipment. "Are you sure about the range of this cell phone jammer?"
"No I'm not. I just sort of guessed at it and figured I'd hope for the best. Yes you moron, I'm sure." Eien rolled her eyes at him impatiently.
Daren laughed lightly. "I love you."
"Shut up." Eien bit her lip unhappily. "I wish you weren't going. Makes me selfish as hell I guess but then… I miss Cherry so much."
Daren pulled Eien into his arms gently. "I'm thinking four kids? What about you? Two girls and two boys?"
Now it was Eien's turn to laugh, albeit still slightly tearfully. "We are never going to agree on names."
"True enough. We can start arguing about it as soon as I get back with Cherry."
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
"So when will you be graduating?" Kreed asked, throwing equipment into one of the hummers as Apples sat nearby doing her best to memorize a sheet of math formulas.
"If all goes well… next September." She muttered absently.
"Hmmm, I think I should throw you a huge wedding as a graduation present."
Apples smiled. "It's not the most romantic proposal…" She muttered, lowering the paper in front of her.
Kreed grinned hugely. "I'm thinking horse drawn carriages, several dozen white doves… maybe a 21 gun salute."
Apples frowned uncertainly. "I'm not sure that last one is traditional of weddings."
Kreed shrugged. "We'll make our own traditions."
"I'm also not sure I'll be eighteen by then." Apples informed him thoughtfully, honestly having no idea.
"That's what we need Cherry for. She can give consent as your legal guardian." He winked at her.
"Oh so that's why you're trying so hard to save her." Apples nodded wisely. "It all makes sense now."
"Damn right. I need that annoying little bitch to give you away at our ceremony!" Kreed informed her with a laugh before picking her up and pulling her close to his chest.
The garage door swung open suddenly and Peaches burst into the room excited. "Guess what?" She began.
"We're getting married!" Both girls exclaimed at the same time before they burst out laughing. Peaches rushed to Apples' side and hugged her tightly.
"Be my bridesmaid?" The asked each other, again at the same time.
They were still laughing as Eien, Clint and Daren walked into the room.
"What's going on?" Eien murmured curiously.
Peaches glanced at her and smiled hugely. "Matron of honour?" She asked Eien.
Peaches shrugged. "As soon as you crazy kids are back from your little adventure?"
"I'm in." Eien assured her with a smile before running over and hugging her tightly. She watched as Daren began shaking Clint's hand and Kreed punched him in the gut in what he probably felt was a playful manner but actually had Clint doubled over in agony.
"For me too?" Apples asked tentatively.
"Oh god, you too? Sure! When?"
"I'm definitely in." Eien smiled. "I can't wait to tell Cherry."
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Author's note: Dedicated to Kiki ^_^ Yes it has been a while… But I am determined to finish this. Only about 2 parts to go… Send me positive vibes :P