Only the Dead Sleep

Rowan was surprisingly true to her word, there were no pitched uphill battles after the one opponent ‘fight’ in the Flesh Pit. The worst part was getting through the crowd. Roach, barely limping carried the unconscious Toxx over his shoulder like a sack of laundry. Piper, sandwiched between him and Romeo, and Romeo -- the patrons of the Pit were none to happy with him. They booed, hissed and tossed drinks, at least Piper who’d been caught in the liquid crossfire, hoped they were drinks. She used the back of her sleeve to stop the burning sensation in one of her eyes as they made their way to the exit.

Romeo did his best to shield Piper from the items being toss at them. He took it all stoically and he couldn’t help but feel relieved when they finally got out of the Flesh Pit. “That went better than I thought.” Romeo said his hair soaked and sticky smelling of liquor.

“Did it though?” Roach said using a sleeve to dry the side of his face.

“We got the Neo.” Piper said with as much enthusiasm as she could muster given the late hour and prolonged overload of Augmented Reality. “Adult, not glitchy, I’d never thought it was possible.” She didn’t worry about any of his ‘stuff’ - the Spire would really supply anything he needed, food, clothing, shelter, he’d want for nothing. “And like I said. Nothing they got down here could beat my Alpha in their Pits.”

“Well, that guy seemed like a creampuff … hardly what I would call a fight.” Roach snorted. “The whole thing was a total circus.”

“Well be grateful he WAS a creampuff it was an easy win for us. No muss no fuss. Except for the guy with the hair.” Romeo explained to the pup. “Trust me pup it SOUNDS fun until you remember you’re not the only one out there. Next time you come down here you might have someone depending on you for their safety.”

“Like Magpie.” Piper insinuated, referring to one of the younger unbonded Neo waiting for an Alpha at the Spire. She wrapped an arm around her Alpha’s waist, giving him a gentle squeeze. “I’m proud of you, my 457.” More than either of them she was glad his opponent turned out to be less than formidable. She couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to him, the man Romeo fought. Not that she was complaining - at all, or even a little, Rowan calling the fight with that crowd chanting for a kill was a surprise. Maybe she wasn’t half as bad as everyone thought and said? Or maybe she just shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. “I’m glad you made short work of it, got a little dicey, what with trying to keep both Toxx and me this side of Glitchville.”

“Nothing my tough as nails Neo can’t handle.” Romeo said with smug pride.

“Maggie?” Roach perked. “Why did she … say anything? I mean you're her friend right? Did she mention me? By name?” The young Alpha peeked past his human luggage to Piper. “Not that I'm asking …”

“Oh puppy love.” Romeo teased.

“Hey … not all of us bond at first sight! Some of us have to work at it!” Roach explained trying to scrape up his dignity off the floor.

Piper held Romeo a little tighter, smiling up into his bright copper eyes, remembering back a few years when they first bonded. “Maybe you should stop by the gym tomorrow, see if Magpie wants to run drills or Spar.” Piper offered. “She’s been training hard lately - and she’s mentioned you by name.” Of course, at the time, Piper recalled Mags had said “Roach’s head is blocking the screen” but, a name mention was a name mention. “I’ll put in a good word.” Then again, Roach was literally carrying a Neo who might someday need looking after, if Toxx ever got to the point where he could leave the Spire again. She carefully stepped around the same sleeper they’d passed on their way in.

“Really? You would?” Roach puffed. “I meeeaann … yea thanks that really cool of you.” The pup cleared his throat. “If you could no pressure.” He added.

“You are such a softie …” Romeo squeezed Piper. “... spoiling the pup like that!”

“She isn’t spoiling me … she’s … helping out another Neo.” Roach said illustrating with his free hand.

“He’s right.” Piper agreed. “There’s only one Alpha this Neo spoils.” She placed a hand familiarly against his chest before sliding into the front seat of the hovecar as Romeo opened the door. Roach gently set down the found Neo in the back seat, and Piper hoped he at least stayed asleep until they got back to the Spire. Looking at the time she added: “But raincheck on the ice cream. It’s late - and the Pup’s had a big day.”

“You kidding! I want a hot shower and my pillow! I REEK! Not just form the shit that got splashed on us on the way out!” Romeo said sliding in next to Piper with a sigh. “Next time we’re in the Hive will be too soon.” He said relaxing gratefully, sinking in his seat.

“Dunno about the both of you but I am STARVING.” Roach groaned.

“Puppies … bottomless pits for stomachs … ” Romeo tsked.

Piper smiled at their antics, thinking Romeo had the better of the two ideas as coordinates were punched and the hovercar headed home. The overextended Neo had more than her fill of tech for the night. And she noticed in the closed vehicle, that not just Romeo, all of them needed a hot shower to wash off the stink of the Hive. Like her Alpha, she’d be in no hurry to spend any time there again in the future. She’d have to tell Wren about it in the morning, he’d likely get a good laugh at her expense. Shit! Wren. He was headed to District 13 when they’d left with his Alpha. Hopefully nothing bad had come of it. Without moving a muscle, she brought up the news feed in the car, wincing slightly from the glutton of technology around them.

“***REBROADCAST***” The light flashed. Piper closed her eyes, patched into the broadcast, data being transmitted direct as the Alphas watched the screens. “This is Lucy Li reporting from outside of what is left of Zone 13 maternity clinic where the latest in a series of terrorist atrocities was carried out just hours ago. Reports so far tell of a patient at the clinic entering the building during peak practice hours carrying a package similar to the one spotted on the east bound monorail shortly before it was attacked. It is believed the package was detonated in the second floor waiting room by the unknown woman, who was according to reports heavily pregnant. So far nobody has claimed responsibility for this attack but all signs indicate yet another move by the New Way movement and their leader known only as Logos. Now over to Ken in the studio for a statement from the OSEC police authorities."

“Shit.” She swore, without opening her eyes. She accessed all the information she could regarding the attack. No mention was made of a Neo or Alpha being killed or injured, but the scene was horrific. For what? She rolled her eyes back shutting off the broadcast before OSEC had the chance to speak. She knew what they’d say. “That was what Wren and Lima were heading over to. Fucking New Way bastards.” She reached over to grab Romeo’s arm for comfort. The New Way attacks were still random but getting worse.

“Why the hell would they go after babies.” Romeo said with a grim tone. Sure he didn’t think of himself as ‘kid’ friendly but they were still innocent!

“I don’t get it … what does it achieve?” Roaches asked no one in particular. “How will this convince anyone to their cause … because killing kids not exactly the best call to recruitment.”

It was for the pair of Alpha an appalling act. While the system in place was far from perfect it DID keep the public and the Neo’s safe! There wasn’t a single Alpha who didn’t have faith in the system because they got to see the consequences first hand.

Piper sank deeper into the front seat of the car, the garbled words of the wounded Neo from the body shop in the forefront of her mind, the broadcast from Logos not far behind it. “They think they’re the chosen. Maybe to them no one else matters.” She muttered. One thing was for sure, they’d have to be stopped. “OSEC’s working on it,” without accessing a single file, she knew they had to be.

“Hey … don’t worry about it.” Romeo said wrapping a gentle arm around her. “You know if they need our help they'll ask but we have our handful too. We can only focus on doing our part.” He said comforting her.

“Yea … the New Way putzes no know shit about us, the Spire they’re just a bunch of jackasses.” Roach complained. He was really getting a picture as to how unappreciated they were as a whole.

Piper nodded. “I know.” She let out a puff of air and leaned into her Alphas shoulder, crinkling her nose. He really did need that shower. “They’ll call us in if we’re needed. Hopefully not until we’ve gotten some sleep, and definitely not until we’re cleaned up.”

“Oh … we are SO sleeping in!” Romeo chuckled. Right now he would settle for some of his most basic needs being met! Food, Shower and Bed!

Roach leaned back and yawned. “It’s not like this all the time is it?”

“With terrorists running amuck … who the hell knows.” Romeo shrugged.

“Only the dead sleep,” Piper lazily told Roach using some of Romeo’s dark humor as the car floated down to the entrance of the Spire. The past week alone they’d rescued an infant Neo, had the shield fail in the spire, saw the emergence of a new terrorist threat, put down a glitchy New Way Neo, went to the hive and rescued a fully grown Neo. and fought an improbable opponent in a flesh pit. Exhausted was an understatement.

Toxx was still out cold, Roach carried him to the infirmary, and Piper reminded him to have his stabbed foot checked as well, despite the protest from the young Alpha that he was made of stern enough stuff to handle a little knife wound. She’d check on the Neo in the morning, or maybe late afternoon.

In their adjoined quarters, Piper finished showering, while Romeo had to take a bit longer, ridding himself of the grime, dirt and memories of the Flesh Pit. Even though the fight had been a literal circus, Piper couldn’t help but be proud of her champion, her 457. Biting her bottom lip, she took the soft metallic gold headband from the nightstand drawer, and slipped it over her forehead like its namesake, the HALO. Her head sank into the pillow, still trying to ditch all the inaccessible files and as many Hive memories as she could. Amidst everything going on, at the very least, they’d both earned it. One at a time, her eyelids fluttered closed.

Romeo took a little longer in the shower, mostly because he was cover is crap and half though to burn his clothes. Feeling tired and relaxed he spied Piper stretching out on her bed with her HALO already on. Oh … it was going to be THAT kind of night? Well, Romeo was hardly going to put up a fight, twist his arm. He flopped on his bed with a long exhale getting himself comfortable before fishing out the slim golden band from his nightstand and slipping on. “Sweet dreams …” He said from across the room.

Piper felt the connection instantly when Romeo’s Halo was in place. The connection was more private giving putting the pair in their own little bubble they shared. Thus what the HALO was for, privacy in the Spire where nothing was private. Mostly in order for two people be close to each other in a way the rules wouldn’t allow them to be otherwise.

The two drifted in a dream-like state. They felt every sensation as if it was real, Romeo’s lips wandering down Piper’s neck. Piper’s nails digging into Romeo’s skin as she moaned. Until even then all that was left was the warmth of their skin pressed against each other in the afterglow.

Late the next morning a sudden wave of wails and cries would jolt Piper awake. Silent sobbing, hitting too close to home. Bolting up in bed, she covered her mouth, news spreading through the Spire like a melancholy wildfire. All of the Neo could feel it. “Romey!” She choked out, slipping the HALO onto the pillow, her eyes darting back and forth as she collected the details. “It’s Blue. Something happened with Zulu. They were sent out. A rogue Neo. The New Way and --“ She flashed watery eyes towards Romeo. “Zulu’s dead. Her Alpha. Zu’s dead.”

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