A sure smile spread over Isabell's face. With Belikov's renewed resentment and suspicion of her, there was no better time to leave. She quickly gathered her most important survival items; the money from the purse, a lighter, and a few toiletries, and packed them in an old backpack.

She stood back as Justin bent the bars of his cell with his mechanical arm. She quickly followed him, trusting his judgment, as well as her own to guide them towards their escape. His pace was fast and urgent, she did her best to keep up. Upon suspiciously unguarded door, she stopped to catch her breath and evaluate the situation. Could they survive on the run? She was so little when she left the outside world. And Justin? He didn't know a thing about life outside the lab, and his arm...

“Justin, what about your...mechanism? She fumbled, her cheeks heating up. She hated bringing the subject up. She couldn't look him in the eye when it came to the arm. It wasn't that it frightened her, but rather that it filled her with an overwhelming rush of regret, and guilt. She couldn’t look him in the eye on this particular subject, a fact she hated herself for. “Uh, doesn't it need routine maintenance? Oil? Or...something?”

J smiled over the dread he felt about the thing. “No. It pretty much runs and fixes itself with some kind of super small machines... They just like to poke and prod me is all.” If ever it should break, he'd be happy to remove it, but that was doubtful from what he had learned. Subconsciously, he flexed the fingers on the device. He had long since grown used to the embellishment.

Bell sighed. “If anyone comes, you have to promise me you'll run. I'll distract them and find my own escape.”

“No Bell!” J responded defiantly. “I'll grab you and we can run together.”

She shook her head, and offered him a pleading look. “Don't argue with me. Last thing I need is you getting caught and losing another.... They punish you worse than they punish me.” It was true. It was almost as if the Coats knew seeing Justin harmed was worse torture, than having Bell endure it herself.

Pain, fear, anger. J suppressed the emotions as they soon tried to escape the darkness underneath. “Better me than you. Can't have you getting hurt, you know?” He studied her for a moment, and could tell by her posture and demeanor, that she wasn't going to take no for an answer. “I will run, but if you aren't behind me. I'm coming right back. Okay?” He smiled brightly.

Bell nodded in reply. There would be no swaying him to willingly leave without her. But in her eyes, Justin was a far better person. If either of them should survive, she decided it would be him. “ Of course, I'll be right behind you J.” She forced, what she hoped was a reassuring smile, on her face.

“Good,” he said cheerfully. “I can't wait to be outside. We're going to have fun right?”

“Of course. I'll take you out for ice cream, you'll love it.” She said noncommittally, while rummaging through her bag for something. She pulled out a small vile, and removed her knife from the hidden compartment in her boot. Without flinching, she pricked her finger and squeezed a few drops of blood into the vile. It wasn't much, but it'd be enough to heal him once, should the situation arise. She sucked on her finger a moment to cauterize the wound. “Its not much, but here. Take it.”

He took the vile. “Thanks,” he said. “I wish there was some other way you could heal me though. I don't like when you cut yourself.” He shoved the vile in the pocket of his cloak and pushed the fabric over his shoulder to reveal his mechanical arm. “I'll need space to break through the lobby door, so please stand back.” He positioned himself in front of the exit. “I heard a man is supposed to open the door for a lady anyways.” He nods and gives her a smile before throwing his weight towards the door, and slamming his fist into it. The metal door, made a loud ringing sound at the impact, but gave way and flew into the hallway. J glanced at his arm, he was really starting to doubt that it was made out of brass, especially after all the beatings it had endured without being damaged. He turned toward Bell and bowed. “After you.”

Bell stepped through the threshold, and into the vacant lobby. Just as the pair was readying to bolt, a warning signal went off in Bell's head. There was a threat heading their way; most likely a guard. She glanced at J's brass arm. She blinked back hot tears. “Wait.” She said, doing her best to keep her voice even. “I forgot something really important in my cell. So, I want you to run as fast and as far as possible. I'll find you, it may not be right away, but, I'll find you.” She reached in the pocket of her trousers. “Here, take these coins for anything you need; food, shelter. They should last you a couple weeks. Keep your arm covered, and stay in the public eye.”

J nodded. “Don't be late.” He ran down the hall toward the old exit he had found. This was good. He could clear out any guards ahead of them. Bell wouldn't have to strain herself from fighting, when she returned.

The End

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