"The Partner or the Boyfriend?"

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The room was white. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Though sunlight filtered in through the three open windows, it was not as cheerful of a place as it may have seemed. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The ticking of the clock above her head was the only sound that was able to be heard, but the slow fall and rise of her chest was the only thing that could be seen. Tick, tock. She lay in the plain, ordinary bed. A single pink rose sat in a small, white vase, on the nightstand beside her pale face. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The cream colored bed sheets were pulled, and folded over neatly at her chest. Her hands lay flat against her side. Not movement, no signs of life. Just sleep now. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Her eyes were closed. Eyelashes slightly dark, as if they had been bruised. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The UV line needle stuck out of her left hand, near to her wrist. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The bandages wrapped around her forehead were no longer stained with the awful crimson red fluid, as they had been changed long since the accident. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The hand on her face blocked out the un-beauty of the mask that was covering her mouth, as it brushed her long, wavy, dark brown, hair away from her lips. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. He glanced up at the monitor, as it beeped, and blurred as single, wavy green line. Tick, tock. She had no idea what had happened. Tick. Tock. But time… Tick. Tock… Was running out... Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

This was all his fault.

He closed his eyes. His mind drifted to the last time he had heard her voice. That was two months ago…

"Dammit, Jono!" Gun shot's exploded in deaf ears as twenty-one year old Seb, or rather Sebastian Gunner, the trio's 'explosive coordinator', fired off his own high-voltage ammunition. He leaned against the white wall and peeked around the corner as he shot at another group of 'criminals' wearing all black. "What the freak is takin' so long?"

"Dunno." Remedy Fallbates, otherwise known as the nineteen year-old Rem, knelt behind a small counter diagonal from one of her two partners, holding her own weapon of choice in her left hand - a rifle. She narrowed her blue eyes as she aimed and pulled the trigger three times. "But I'm about ready to kick the shit out of these guys…" She, was obviously the 'physical attribute' of this 'crack team'.

Jonathan Tyrell, himself at twenty-two, was the 'Jono' Seb had recently been referring to, and the final member of the squad. He grunted from behind the other two who were supposedly supposed to be 'covering him', "I've got the maximum of thirty seconds to disable a level-7 bomb that will destroy forty-three countries, and Guam-"

"Yeah-" Seb interrupted him as he let a couple more bullet's surrounded the team, "Rem wants her honeymoon there-"

"I do not-"

"Oh yeah?" Seb half-glared at her. He was the dangerous one of the group. Dark, army-cut jet black hair, tanned, slightly less muscular than Jono was, but - muscular all the same, dark green eyes, and, was currently single… Probably because he put his last three girlfriends in the ICU, and the league had therefore banned him from dating until he could put his 'stunts' on hold. "You and Brad sure were going at it last night - Man…" He blinked at Remedy, "I wish I was the one who was making you moan like that…."

"Shut it." The girl warned him, and Seb backed off - Even though, what he had spoken had not been a total lie. Brad had been Remedy's boyfriend for almost three years now - Seb knew he was bound to 'pop the question' at any moment.

Which, really, really bothered him. Brad was such a bastard. Rem deserved so much better than that… She could do so much better than that. He watched her for a moment.

Not even five feet and a half, she was short, young, skinny, but - not too skinny, slightly tanned, beautiful blue eyes, and her medium brown hair was always in long, bouncy curls. She hardy ever wore any makeup - because she didn't give a damn - and she was a top-notch bounty hunter, but still 'the girl next door', that Seb would have died to fall asleep with.

Not that, he would have told her about his feelings - of course.

Seb, then furiously shaking his head and darting his eyes from Rem's chest for half of a second to glance at his best man, Jono, again.

Good ol' Jono was the brains in the group. Yep. Rem was the punch, Seb was the guns and bullets, and he was the codes and information. Which, was the way the shaggy blonde haired, surfer looking, buff nerd liked it. His brown eyes, hidden beneath a pair of purple-tinted shades, scanned the wires of which he was hurriedly attempting to cut, withoutharming anyone. Seb, Rem and him were hunted by Fed's enough as it was. They didn't need anymore shit on their records.

"Shut it." Seb mocked her. It was a teasing tone, with a hint of his infamous idiocy.

"You know what, Gunner?" Remedy hissed, half angling her gun towards his face, as her eyes sparkled.

"Oh, shouldn't you be keeping that tone for Brad? I'm sure it's all part of your nightly routine-"

"Sebastian." Jono warned quietly, snapping the last red wire. The lights in the bank flickered, then shut off. A single, shrill scream echoed through the dark room. He had almost forgotten their were other, seemly innocent people in here.

Seb said nothing, instead he just shrugged, giving Jono a weird-I-did-nothing-look. He suddenly turned around, and fired his gun. A limp body fell to the floor. He seemed to ignore it.

Seb had known Remedy for years, despite her rather young age. Originally there had been more people in the trio. A lot more. Fear, intelligence and law had eventually whittled the mass of followers down. They were all that was left.

The man had always been at fault for his jealousy, but he had always been the friend who never failed to be there when the silence left everyone else defeated…

Remedy Fallbates sat elegantly in an expensive, Victorian-looking chair. The bank heist was long over, the illegal mission for lack of a better work, 'complete'. Moments later, on the same day, during evening hours, she crossed her legs, a white cocktail dress danced over her tan body. Bradley Benjamin Hartman sat across from her, sipping white wine. It didn't matter what Sebastian thought. It didn't matter what he had said earlier.

The nineteen year old had barely held on to anything of personal value for more then a few days. She had been his girlfriend for more than three years. She did have feelings for him. She did appreciate him. She did love him.

Admittedly, she hardly even left the comfort of her home. It wasn't a safe world out there, that was clear. Brad had convinced her to come out on a 'date' this evening. He had convinced her to do a lot of things over the years.

None of which included the things Sebastian fantasized about however, more of ordinary normal things like - showing human emotion, having fun and speaking her mind.

Brad worried about her. He had once told her that he didn't care why she did the things she did, whether it was for the wealth, the satisfaction, the revenge or the routine, he didn't care. He told her he would blame himself if she ever got herself killed, that was for sure.

He had brought her a white rose tonight, on their date. He was glad she had actually shown up this time. It was the times that she didn't, that he worried about her.

"You know I like the pink ones." She had told him, spinning the flower in her finger tips.

"I thought you could use a change." He smiled at her, toying with the four-thousand dollar watch on his left wrist. That was another reason why Sebastian rather hated him. Unlike him, Brad came from a rich, gentlemen like family.
"Change causes death." The young female murmured, making Brad slightly shiver, not wanting to think about how she had come to understand that. A tiny smile, a flicker of emotion remained in her dazzling eyes as she set the rose down on the silk, beige, table cloth.

"I'll pay." He said swiftly, as the pretty waitress set their bill along with two, perfectly wrapped candies in the middle of them. Soft, jazz music played in the background giving a taste of romance to the area. The girl just seemed to chew on her lip slightly, but nodded without protesting. It wasn't that Brad knew she didn't have the money, it was the way that she got the money that made him nervous.

He loved her.

The day he met her he had been trying to stop her. He had chased her, in the rain. And it had been raining hard out that day. He could barely seen where he was going, even though he had held a flashlight tightly in his grasp that dreary evening.

Truth be told, it hadn't been Remedy's screams that had brought him to the scene. Instead, it was another woman's that had abruptly followed gunfire. He hadn't stayed to help the female who had made a cry of terror, for he had assumed the worst for her. Instead, he followed the darkly clothed figure who had darted away into a back alley.

Maybe at that point he had been over his head. He hadn't thought about whether or not this was the one who had been carrying the gun, until they had shot at his flashlight, and the glass broke over his hand. Then he had really started running, perhaps stupidly, towards the person. He had wanted to know who they were. Of course, he could feel pain on his finger tips where the glass would have easily cut him in the dark.

The person had headed towards a cold, steel ladder that carried up to an old fashion apartment. He had followed them, his speed slightly quicker than their own. It was unclear to him whether or not this person was slow because they were scared, or because they were hurt. There was no way, in his mind anyhow, that anyone with such considerable aim was this slow. They would have had to had gotten good at shooting somehow. And that would have involved escaping the law numerous times.

Was this person hesitant to get away? What if they didn't want to be caught? It could have been an accident, or unintentional fear that had caused this person to shoot, and probably kill that woman. However, it was highly unlikely that it was an accident that had caused them to destroy his only source of identifying who they were without looking them directly in the face.

At any rate, this shooter couldn't reach high enough to pull the ladder down. He raced up to them. He was nearly a foot taller, and he probably weighted about one hundred pounds more in body muscle. He grabbed the person around the waist, and spun them around to face him like he had itelligently planned.

Panicked, icy, blue eyes looked up at him with a pleading expression for freedom. It was a girl. Underneath a oversized black hoodie, he could see that she was no more than sixteen years of age. Obviously, she knew he was the stronger of the two of them, and therefore wasn't attempting to fight back. He could feel her trembling beneath his hands, and he could hear her cold breath coming out in short little gasps. She was pretty - beautiful. Like a painting even. He noticed the twenty-two gauge rifle in her left hand. Her possible, weapon of choice. Siren's and police men yelling filled the heavy night air around them. He fell in love. In love with her, so suddenly that he couldn't let her get caught. Someone had put her up to this.

"Go." He whispered, letting his grasp release her skin. When she didn't move, he reached up above her shadowed face and pulled down the ladder as quickly and as silently as he could, ordering her loudly to move. "Go! Get over of here, now!" His eyes looked pained, stressed as he stared down at her. She blinked once, kissed him on his wet lips, and fled as he had asked.

"I should go." The now, nineteen year old spoke softly. Brad's attention came flooding back to the present time, as he watched his date stand and move towards the door to the private restaurant. "Goodbye, I'll miss you quite terribly."

She kissed him again, in that same, old, carefree way. He told her he wanted to marry her, but he knew that wasn't going to be enough to keep her grounded.

"You swore you'd help us!" Seb's voice ran high and mighty in the crisp, evening air. His left fist collided with the betrayer's nose. Ironically, the two raging men stood in the otherwise empty, back of an old, beaten up truck that sped down the open stretch of the city street.

Sebastian let his 'green monster' innocently remind him that the restaurant that Remedy was currently eating at with that sleaze-bag Brad was no less than two blocks up the road. He probably should have kept his word with Jono not to go after these guys.

"I never promised you nuthin'!" Seb just barely caught the whiff of alcohol on the other man's breath before he was severely punched in the gut. Sinking to his knees on the flatbed, he caught the enemy's friend - who was now illegally driving against the speed limit - laughing from behind the wheel.

He heard the man he was fighting reach for his gun on the inside pocket of his suit. He heard the click of the bullet being loaded. He coughed. Blood spilled out of his mouth onto the rusted blue metal. Instead of shooting him, the man was laughing too. "Isn't that your girl, Gunner?"

"Remedy?" His voice croaked, and his eyes might have caught a glimpse of her walking down the sidewalk to his right, in a white cocktail dress. He was never given the chance to saw anything more, however, as the man in the back of the truck turned his gun sideways and smashed him across the face with in. Then he kicked a dazed Sebastian out of the flatbed, Seb's crumpled body spiraling out onto the frozen road.

The man then turned away from him, and fired his loaded gun. Seb screamed her name.

Brad thanked the waitress for her help, and placed his platinum credit card in the back of his suit pocket. He should call after Remedy. She was probably only a block up the street anyway, considering she was kind of slow. He never should have let her walk home by herself. He knew her dangers too well - he would offer her a ride home.

He walked to the door to the restaurant, but he could already feel time slowing to a stop. He quickly jerked open the door, and looked up the street to his right. There she was. She even looked beautiful from the back.

His eyes left her for only a moment, there was a speeding truck about half a block in front of Remedy. Two men stood in the back. One threw the other onto the street, his body seemed to lay still. At that instant, the truck had reached Remedy. As their paths crossed, it didn't slow down, and she barely looked at it. The male who was standing turned towards her. Brad saw the gun seconds before it was fired. He yelled her name, his feet flying through the air to reach her. The bullet had already hit her in the head, her fallen body shaped like a white swan on the sidewalk.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The man still stood beside her hospital bed. She was as beautiful as she ever had been. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The pink rose stood silently in the vase. He should have told her. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. He then knew all she really ever had wanted, was the truth. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Could he have said something, anything, that day that would have saved her life, saved her from this torture?

But, the real question is… Tick, tock. Tick, tock… Was the man standing beside the lifeless girl's body Sebastian Gunner or Bradley Benjamin Hartman?

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.


Written over the Easter holidays, instead of catching up on math.

I would appreciate you reviewing - and, not meaning to sound like your English teacher here, but, please tell me which man you think is visiting our dying Remedy. (Tell me why... There is a lot of evidence throughout the story to support either gentleman.)

Of course, I will not reveal who I think is the male, rather I may or may not give reasons why your choice is wrong... I, however, will remain on the fence.

By the way, a friend of mine has already read this. (Thanks, friend.) She voted for Seb, and suggested that Remedy come out of her coma and then they get married. Personally, I commented that they both, currently, belong to an underground gang/kult... I laughed at the thought of what a "happily ever after" would include for them. Whether I am going to do a sequel to this one-shot (hence, it would no longer be a one-shot afterwards) is still pending.

Thanks for your interest. I must also give credit to my grade nine English teacher, my grade ten Ethic's teacher, and the short story, "The Tiger or the Lady?" for my inspiration.
Jody. xoxox.