“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” were the first words out of my mouth when I realised just who it was I’d let through the door.
Our little stowaway. And apparently she’d found someone to keep her company. She was a young girl, with short bushy, brown hair and green eyes. I couldn’t help but wonder where Kat’d found her, or what’d happened to her parents, but I had bigger fish to fry.
Kat looked at the kid and walked over to her. She whispered something to the girl, who gave Kat her backpack, and emptied it out. Various items of food spilled out of it, which Kat gestured to, as if that somehow made up for her actions.
“You don’t just leave, Kat” I said, blocking her way when she tried to leave.
The kid ducked between my legs, with Kat following suit. I followed them as they made their way up the stairs. See, when we’d figured out it was Kat that was missing, Robin had all but volunteered to wait outside her apartment for when she came back.
“I’m speaking to you, Kat. You might want to try acting like an adult for once” I said, tired and irritated.
Kat looked back at me, and the girl tugged on her sleeve. “You said we were going to go upstairs”
Kat turned to her, handing her the key to her apartment. She whispered something to her, and the girl ran up the stairs, followed by Kat’s dog. Kat turned to face me again.
“You should stop leaving food outside my door. I have enough” she said.
When it was just the five of us, we’d left her meals down in the kitchen. Once the others showed up, however, Maria had insisted that someone leave the food outside her door, so that it wouldn’t be cold by the time she came to get it. Robin wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea, given his dislike of Kat, but I couldn’t see the harm.
“Do you just not understand how teamwork goes?” I asked, referring to her comment of ‘I have enough’.
“I don’t operate in a team”
“Then you leave the building”
“You don’t own it” she said simply.
Which, while it was true, was beside the point. We’d found the man who owned the building in his penthouse, lacking his head. Dante had opened the guy’s safe to see if he had anything of value in there, which we didn’t, but we did find a copy of the guy’s will, which stated that in the event of his absence or untimely demise, he left the building to whomever the present custodian was. Who, in this case, was Dante.
“Listen, Kat, we’ve been reasonable so far. We’ve not pushed you locking your door, and we’ve not pushed you not lifting a finger to help. But you are really starting to get on my nerves”
She shook her head. “Just ‘cause you have your way doesn’t make it the only right way. I repaid what you gave, and I haven’t asked you for anything. I just want you to leave me be” she said, fiddling with a set of dog tags.
“No, but when you leave without telling anyone, and the door being opened sets off an alarm that makes everyone panic, you make it personal. Alice almost went into labour because of your actions”
When the alarm had gone off, everyone had jumped into action. And who was the least able to jump into any kind of action? Our lovely pregnant survivor. The stress of a potential attack on the tower had triggered an early labour. I’d asked Riley about it, but a lot of it was medical jargon that I didn’t understand. We’d raided a drug store earlier in the week, and luckily there’d been something to help suppress Alice’s contractions, but there was a serious risk of her going into labour completely before her nine months was up.
“You open it all the time without letting- Behind you!” she yelled.
I looked behind me, and almost wished I hadn’t. Aside from Maria, no one had seen one of them up close. Maria had describe it to us, but I don’t think it prepared me in the slightest. It was a woman, early twenties judging by her build and the clothes she was wearing. Her skin was blotchy, angry looking red sores marring her arms and face. There were strips of… human flesh in her teeth, and her eyes were glazed over and cloudy. I barely had time to react before she barrelled into me, knocking me over. Kat tackled her, the two of them tumbling down the stairs, giving me enough time to grab my gun, lodging a few bullets in the girl’s head.
“Are you starting to see why the rest of us work together?” I asked, adrenaline coursing through me.
Kat flopped onto her back, her knee starting to swell up. Knowing our luck, she’d probably broken it. I called for someone to get Riley, while the kid came back downstairs, rushing over to Kat. I sat myself down on one of the steps, waiting for Riley with Kat.
“And as for what you said about us going out all the time, it’s planned. No one just takes off, and no one ever goes on their own. If I go, Robin stays here. There’s always someone here to defend the place. So if the alarm happens to go off, everyone knows it’s just us going out on a supply run. I hope this taught you something”
“Fuck off. You don’t know me. You can judge me all you want, but you have no right to” she said, and looked away from me. “I can’t just talk so easily like you do. Do you get stomach cramps when having to talk to someone? No? Then leave me alone”
“The reason I don’t know you, Kat, is because you’re fighting a one man fucking war”
She clutched the dog tags she’d been fiddling with earlier. “Do you think I like being alone?” she asked, her voice a whisper. She shook her head. “I’m done talking”
“You don’t like being alone? Then get off your high horse and help”
“She’s like Mommy” the kid said from the top of the stairs.
“What, insufferable?” I asked.
The kid shook her head. “Mom always had bloody fingers. She used to bite at them when there were more than two people in the room. My dad just… he just said she had a social disorder”
Kat struggled to her feet, ignoring me telling her not to get up or she’d hurt herself more. She popped her knee cap back into place, letting out a string of curses before limping towards the stairs.
“Would you listen for once in your life?” I questioned, but she ignored me.
Back when I was in my teens, Dad had dislocated his kneecap, much like Kat had done, when he tackled me when we were playing football. Being the rough and tough hero he was, he just popped it back in place and carried on, after taking some pain pills, that is. After that, though, it used to dislocate at the slightest jolt, and by the time I got shipped off to Iraq, he had a permanent limp and couldn’t walk too far without being in agony.
Kat kept limping up the stairs and I sighed, grabbing the walky talky we’d found on a supply run. Robin had the other handset, and was waiting for me to radio in if Kat turned up.
“She’s heading upstairs. Go for the left knee” was all I said, getting a ‘yes, sir’ in response.
I followed Kat up, almost expecting her kneecap to dislocate again.
“Stop following me” she said, not looking at me.
“You really should let Riley take a look at that” I said, gesturing at her knee.
“I don’t want to talk to more people. You bug me enough” she said, turning to face me. “I’ll leave tomorrow, okay? If that makes you happy”
“Fine, but the girl stays”
“No” the kid said, clinging to Kat’s side. Kat squirmed a little, but put a hand on the girl’s shoulder.
“God give me strength” I muttered.
“Pet…” Kat said.
Pet? Was that her name?
“No! I’m staying with you” the kid said.
Kat looked less than happy with the idea. “You’d be safer here…”
“Alright, you can stay. But on one condition” I said, figuring we wouldn’t get anywhere otherwise.
“If that means talking to people, screw it” Kat said.
“My condition is that you actually help out, we could use the extra hands. And that you apologise to Alice”
“I’m leaving” she said, heading back up the stairs, the kid still clinging to her.
“Is that really so hard?” I questioned. If anything, apologising to Alice should’ve been the first thing she did.
Kat clenched her fists. “I don’t think you listened to a word Pet said, did you?”
“You almost cost a woman her child today, Kat”
“And you’re making my head hurt” she whispered, rubbing her forehead and leaving blood smeared across it.
Was she being serious? She had to be joking, right? She almost killed Alice and Sam’s child, and she was more preoccupied with the fact that my shouting was giving her a headache? All of a sudden, I started understanding just why Robin had wanted to shoot her.
“You’re hurting her” the kid said, looking worried. “Why?”
“Because she’s being selfish”
“I’ve done what I can. I brought you back some food” Kat said, tears rolling down her cheeks, her breathing heavy and her voice panicked.
“That’s beside the point, Kat”
She stumbled backwards, pressing herself against the wall. “Just leave me alone”
The kid looked at me as if I’d just done something terrible, but I let it drop.
“This isn’t over, Kat” I said, walking off.
I heard the dog follow me back to my apartment, looking up at me expectantly when I slumped down on the couch. I held out my hand, letting him sniff it, and got the little guy something to eat. He wolfed it down like he hadn’t had a good meal in days. I sat with him, stroking his fur while I tried to figure out what to do about the Kat situation.