I couldn't see anything in the rain and wind; I simply had to hope for the best along the way. As Phineas, and a few moments later Baxter, entered, we waited. It was the longest 60 seconds of my life, staring at the door, expecting her to come through. When that minute was up, I pulled open the door, only to be stopped by the newest addition to our group.
"Let me get her," he yelled over the roar of the storm. "I'm sturdier than you!"
I shook my head and jerked out of his hold, running outside. I almost tripped over her; she was curled up on the sidewalk, her body keeping that damn cat safe while the wind and rain tore at her and froze her. I lifted her up and she tensed, keeping her body as still and solid as she could so I wouldn't drop her. I made it halfway there when I met Phineas. He had come out anyway, and I was beyond grateful as he put his hands on my back, helping push us into the building before the wind could tear us away. We collapsed in the doorway and Baxter helped pull us all the way in and untangle us, Genevieve still curled around her mewling cat. I didn't have the strength, so Baxter carried her while I led them all to the basement and then ran back up to grab our supplies. Thankfully, the only thing that had blown away was Kai's water dish he'd been holding.
"That was exciting," Genevieve said, shivering, as she used some old janitor's cloths off a cart to dry off Mav. "I'm so glad everyone's ok!"
"What happened?" Phineas asked. "Was the wind just too strong for you?"
She nodded while I wrapped a blanket around her. "I thought about just turning back and staying in the gym once it started pushing me back, but I was afraid you guys might come looking for me. Before I could decide, something hit me hard in the shoulder and I fell. I tried but I couldn't get back up, so I just curled up around Mav and hoped for the best. You idiots could have died!" she barked at us. "Next time just leave me! It's called natural selection!"
I shushed her and held her close, trying to warm her. Everything we had was soaked, even the blanket around her. I didn't know what we could do to get warm.
"We need to get out of our wet clothes," Phineas said, shivering. He peeled off his shirt and rung it out into Kai's empty surviving food dish. My poor dog whimpered and went to see what was in his bowl. "Waste not, want not," Phin said with a shrug. He started on his pants.
"Whoa, I think we need some ground rules," I said, standing up. "We can't just sit around here naked."
"Why not?" Baxter asked, following Phin's lead and pulling his shirt over his head. That guy was way too tan and muscular for someone from cold Toronto. I glanced at Genevieve, irritated to see her eyes were wide and looking them both over.
"Because. Because we should at least keep something on," I insisted, nudging her with my foot.
"We can keep our underpants on, but I'm ringing them out first," she said through chattering teeth. "Hold up this blanket."
I held up the blanket as ordered, and she stripped, piling her clothes in a dripping mass. "Could you ring out a spare pair and a sports bra for me?" she asked.
"I can't do that and hold the blanket," I said.
"I got it," Baxter said, holding them over the mop bucket and squeezing as much water out as possible. Then he shook them out and folded them neatly before handing them to her.
"Was that really necessary?" I demanded, glaring at him.
He just grinned and dropped his boxers, both him and Phineas wringing them out over the bucket.
Once she was as dry and dressed as possible for the moment, I stripped and wrung all my things out, stepping back into my boxers while she whistled.
"I think the tornado was worth it, since I get to see you lot almost naked," she said, grinning. "And totally naked," she added, raising her eyebrows at me. It would've been more amusing, perhaps, if she wasnt saying all this through chattering teeth.
I ignored her words and sat beside her on one of the floors few dry spots, wrapping her up in my arms. It didn't have much effect- we were both freezing. Phineas and Baxter were shivering, too, trying to wring out the blankets as much as possible.
"You know, we'd all be much warmer if we could get in on that group hug you're having," Phineas said, rubbing his arms pathetically.
"Sorry, couldn't hear you through the morse code from your teeth," I said coldly. "Why don't you and Baxter snuggle or something."
Genevieve ignored me and held out her arm, which was all the invitation they needed. Baxter was over in a flash, ducking under her arm and snaking one around her. Phineas was one step behind him. He threw his heavy arm over my shoulders and sighed. "What a nice way to get to know someone," he joked in my ear. Even Kai thought he was invited and sprawled out over my lap and hers.
We stayed like that for hours, dozing in and out, until we finally heard the wind die down. I elbowed Phineas off me and peeled away from Genevieve. She was passed out, Mav curled up beside her, Baxter keeping her warm. I decided not to murder him for now and headed up stairs to check.
The sky had almost cleared up completely, all the darkness was on the horizon, heading away. The town was another matter.
The damage I could see from here was astounding. The school buildings were mostly standing, along with a few houses around here and there, but the line of damage extended in a direction I did not want it to. Houses flattened, trees torn out of the ground, a Toyota sticking out of a church. I ran back to the basement to tell the others.
"I think our street was destroyed. The worst damage is done in a wide path heading that direction," I said, waking them all from their stupor.
"My gardens," Baxter moaned, his arms still around Genevieve.
"Our trip- all my clothes!" she gasped. "Oh, oh! The instruments!" She started crying and Baxter squeezed her.
'Knock it off!' I mouthed at him, walking toward them to take over. He just huffed and shrugged, but got up and let me take her.
"It's alright, everything is replaceable," I said, stroking her hair.
"But not the violins- there are only so many left! Thank goodness we only had two!"
"Come on, let's go check on the animals," I said, helping her up. We left Kai and Mav for the moment and walked back to the gym. There was debris everywhere; we had to be extra careful about broken glass.
We removed the broom from the door handles and looked in. There were feathers and excrement everywhere, but they all seemed fine. We left them and headed back outside to hunt down a working car.