Chapter 10

A Cop, a Crush, and a Fall

"So Ryker-san, why did you choose to come to Japan?"

Ryker looked over at the brunette on his left who was adjusting the rifle strapped over her chest before returning his gaze to the road ahead. "I needed a change. I had nothing in America worth staying for and I'd always wanted to visit Japan.

Adjusting the large pack she wore, Saya looked over at Ryker from the opposite side of Rei. "No family or anything Ryker-san?"

"My daughter and ex-fiancé died in a car crash shortly after I returned and my father died shortly before that."

Silence filled the air as both girls inwardly cringed at having brought upon such a melancholic topic up. After a few moments of the quiet, the youngest member of the group spoke up.

"You had a daughter Ryker-san?"

"Alice-chan! I doubt Ryker wants to talk about such a thi-" Saya was interrupted by Ryker's calm voice.

"It's fine Saya-chan." He turned to his left, smiling down at Alice. "Yes Alice-chan. She was five when the accident happened."

The young girl nodded and picked up Zeke, idly stroking his head as she walked. "Do you like Japan?"

Ryker smiled. The young girl was definitely adorable and her attitude was unique for someone her age. "I do. At first it was difficult because I didn't know anyone. Even though I spoke enough Japanese to get by I was still a foreigner and it took a while for people to warm up to me."

"You seem incredibly easy to get along with Ryker-san." Rei looked over and smiled.

'I can see what Takashi likes about her. She's a cute girl and she's not lacking in personality or body.' He returned the smile with a shrug. "I just see no reason not to be, Rei-chan. As long as someone doesn't do something to lose my respect I will treat them with kindness and courtesy."

"That's not very American of you." Saya muttered.

Surprising the girls, Ryker laughed. "I hate to agree but it's true. One of the many reasons I wanted to come to Japan, Saya-chan. I loved the culture and the language but I especially loved how different the human interactions were from back in the states."

Rei seemed thoughtful for a moment before asking a question that attained all ears. "So did you meet anyone while here in Japan Ryker-san?"

"I met plenty of people over here Rei-chan." He looked over with a smile before shaking his head at her blank stare. "And I'm the one who gets called out for being too personal." Ryker laughed. "I've only been here for a few months and I'm honestly not sure I'm worth the trouble."

Alice piped up before either of the other girls could. "I think you are Ryker-san! You're nice to everyone and so willing to help without thinking of yourself at all. I guess you're fortunate you're surrounded by so many cute girls now!"

"Alice-chan!" Saya and Rei called out in unison.

Ryker laughed again and shook his head. "Well you have one thing correct there Alice-chan." He glanced from Rei to Saya before returning his gaze ahead. "I've met more pretty girls in the last week than my entire time in this country."

Both of the older girls blushed and Alice simply smiled as she hugged Zeke to her chest. She was happy to be with Ryker-san for this. As much as she enjoyed being around Kohta-san and Miss Shizuka it was a nice change of pace. Besides, she could speak English with him whenever she wanted and none of the others would know their conversation.

Takashi leaned against the fence behind him, panting in exhaustion. "You'd think we'd start to run out of people at some point!"

"Not in a city this large." Saeko side-stepped a decayed arm that swiped at her face before bringing her blade down on the creature's head. Before she could turn towards the next target, its head erupted in a spray of blood and brains as Kohta's well-placed shot connected. She nodded her thanks before circling back to prevent the group from being flanked by them.

Miss Shizuna was back with Kohta while Takashi and Saeko beat back the horde of them that stood between the group and Rei's house just up the road. Originally they had planned on sneaking past the group but a rogue soda can had found its way into the path of the typically oblivious nurse. The sound had at first alerted only a few but when one nearly bit Takashi, Kohta's rifle ripped through the quiet morning air. It had saved the young leader but had brought dozens of them to their location.

Ducking under the grip of what was once a middle-aged man Takashi slammed the stock of his shotgun into the base of its skull before leveling it and pulling the trigger into another group. There was simply no end and their continued noise was not making it any easier. When he saw an opening he nodded to Saeko who quickly followed.

Their goal was to draw the flow of them into an alley and escape back around to continue their journey and it seemed to be working. As the two teenagers sprinted down the alley, intentionally knocking trashcans over along the way, the horde changed direction after them. Before long they had doubled back and were panting for breath beside Kohta and Miss Shizuka.

"Are you both alright?" The busty blonde asked as she held her bag tightly.

They both nodded and began their journey to Rei's house again. Takashi knew the way and was apprehensive about the outcome. 'If it's this bad out here the hopes they are unturned seem slim. I hope, for Rei's sake, I'm wrong.' He thought to himself as her house came into view. After all, would he be able to kill his childhood love's parents if he needed to?

Approaching the medium-sized house, Ryker approached the front door cautiously. His pistol was drawn and both hands held it tightly at a low-ready. He looked up to Rei who nodded; this was their destination. Somehow they had avoided any conflict with them on their trip here. A few times they had come across a few groups that were wandering aimlessly but they had simply kept walking and managed to pass by unnoticed.

Saya white-knuckled the Luger that her mother had given her as she leaned against the opposite side of the door from Ryker. He offered her a warm, reassuring smile and she flashed back a small one in return. In all honesty she was terrified. The thought of dealing with more of them did not appeal to her but to potentially kill a childhood friend's parents was not something she wanted to consider.

Standing in front of the door, Rei glanced from Saya to Ryker. When she nodded to Ryker, he reached out and turned the handle, pushing the surprisingly unlocked door open quietly. Rei stood ready with her bayonet ready but nothing rushed out at them. Breathing a sigh of relief, she watched as Ryker entered the building in such a precise form that it seemed like he was made for such things.

As he stepped through the doorway, Ryker raised his pistol and scanned the room; the barrel of the M9 moving fluidly with his eyes from corner to corner, window to window as he continued to move through the room. When he reached the far corner of the room he looked back and nodded to the others. The room was clear.

Nodding to Rei, Saya stepped inside and looked around as well before coming to a stop beside Ryker. "Nothing is broken or disturbed." She whispered to him softly.

"Which could mean they have not been home or they simply barricaded themselves upstairs. Either way, it looks like a positive thing." He responded just as quietly.

When Rei entered the house, Ryker pointed to the kitchen before making his way to the stairs. As he ascended the steps, Saya and Rei made their way into the kitchen; this was a good opportunity to restock on some food if any were available. Alice followed Rei and Saya, helping to grab whatever they could find and load the bag Saya wore.

"For being considered a normal house, it sure is huge." Ryker mumbled as he ascended another set of stairs, now on the third and final floor of the house. Looking around his eyes widened at the scene. Unlike the previous two floors that were mostly untouched the third floor was a disaster. Furniture was shredded and broken; it was as though wild animals had torn the place apart but had somehow neglected the rest of the house.

A trail of red caught his eye and he gripped his pistol tightly before following it. He wanted to alert the others but was not willing to endanger them. A simple shout could alert any of them nearby and he was two floors away from helping. That aside, he did not wish to alert anything that may be up here still.

Following the trail around a corner he let out a gasp. There was a body, or rather what was left of it, spread across the small bedroom. It was likely a male due to the girth of the torso but with the majority of the flesh missing and limbs in various corners it was hard to tell. The body was not the cause of his gasp however; the shock came from what was currently gorging itself on the torso's entrails and the others around it.

At the sound of the gasp, black eyes looked up at the intruding human and a low growl escaped from the gore covered mouth of the beast. Rising up, the four creatures that were likely once large dogs let out threatening growls and coiled in preparation to strike. 'Fucking dogs?!' He raised his weapon just as they sprang at him in a flash of bloodied teeth and rotten jaws opened wide.

With a sigh, Takashi and the others exited the empty house. There was no sign of Rei's parents but at least the place was without blood or broken furniture. "Rei's father is most-likely at the East Police Station and her mother could be staying with friends. There's no reason to think the worst right now with no evidence of violence here."

Saeko nodded. "We should go to the station and see if Rei's father is there if it's not too far from here. Besides, if the station has any spare ammo I'm sure you and Hirano could use it."

Kohta agreed quickly. "We are getting a bit low Takashi. The police station isn't that far if I remember correctly."

"Then I guess that's where we'll go next. Hopefully the others are having better luck than we are." Takashi looked up at the sun as it neared the midday mark. 'I hope you're alright mom and dad. I could really use your advice in a time like this.'

Gunshots startled the two girls into dropping the canned supplies in their hands before sharing a panicked look. "Ryker." As they ran up the stairs they heard wood snapping followed by the sound of glass shattering. At the top of the stairs both girls gasped at the site before them.

Two creatures that resembled dogs were lying motionless on the floor with blood pooling from their skulls. Their flesh had significantly decayed but the blood was still fresh; somehow they had been turned similarly to the creatures outside that had once been human. The nearby window had exploded outward with even the frame splintered.

"Ryker-san?" Rei called out tentatively. She held her bayonet defensively and looked around, heart pounding.

"I'm here Rei-chan." Came a tired voice from around a corner. "But be careful, there's still one more up here."

Saya stepped over the dead beasts and looked out the window, seeing that a third lay on the pavement below. "What the hell are these things? I didn't think this affected animals."

Shrugging, Ryker leaned heavily on the wall nearby to Saya. "I'm not sure. Either the virus or whatever it is has evolved or we simply have yet come across anything like this by sheer luck."

Seeing that Ryker was obviously in pain, Rei took a step towards him. "Ryker-san, are you hurt?" At her question, Saya's eyes went wide and she snapped her attention to the man who was supporting most of his weight against the wall.

"I'm fine Rei-chan. I was not bit; I simply lost my footing when one leapt at me and ended up going through that table. It had a more interesting journey outside."

As he spoke, Rei was watching blood running down the wall behind him. "Ryker-san, we need to loo-"

Rei's sentence was cut short as Ryker suddenly dashed across the room and shoved Saya violently, sending the small girl tumbling back onto a thankfully soft couch. A fraction of a second later Ryker was struck mid-chest by the snarling beast that had launched itself at Saya. The force of the impact sent both man and beast through the already devastated window and down to the ground below.

Saya sat there in shock, her eyes wide and mouth twitching as she tried to rationalize what she just saw.

Rushing to the window, Rei snapped a hand over her mouth. They had not gone as far as the previously departed and had landed on the grass rather than the harsh concrete but it still did not look well. Neither the beast nor Ryker were moving and the pool of blood beneath them was slowly growing.


"Are you doing okay Miss Shizuka?" Kohta smiled at the older nurse as she carried the large spear from Rei's house. It belonged to her father and Takashi knew she would appreciate him bringing it back.

"I'm okay Kohta-kun." She let out a sigh. "I just hate walking so much! I was not built for this kind of exercise."

Kohta attempted to keep his eyes from the busty blonde's chest as she stretched and nearly split the already tight, white shirt she wore. "I'm not a big fan of it either. I just hope we can find Rei's father and get back in time for dinner."

Looking back at the two, Saeko offered a smile. "We'll be back before then Hirano. Just be sure to cover our six. Would be pretty embarrassing to have one of them sneak up on us."

"Yes ma'am!" Kohta grinned and continued his scanning of the area as they walked. This whole apocalyptic event, while terrible, had truly allowed him to come out of his shell. He had never had friends before this and now he had a whole group of incredible friends.

As they arrived at the East Police Station the scene was less than optimistic. Police cars were burning and the doors to the station were torn from their hinges. Despite this, the group pressed on and made their way inside the desolate building.

Once inside they split up; Kohta with Miss Shizuka and Takashi with Saeko. As they looked around, they realized that the station had been overrun at one point. Dozens of dead littered the floor with bullet wounds to the head. Approaching a desk, Takashi stopped and looked at the picture. "Hey Saeko, this is Rei with her father!"

She looked over and spotted a note beside the keyboard. "It says here that he took a small group and made their way to the elementary school to look for survivors." She looked at Takashi. "Didn't you say your mother taught there Takashi?"

He nodded and before he could speak, a frightened scream from across the room interrupted him.

"Please don't kill Asami!"

Kohta stumbled back and fell over a chair as the woman under the desk screeched at him. "I'm not going to kill anyone! Who are you and who's Asami!?"

Eyes wide, she climbed out from under the desk and smoothed out her navy blue skirt before looking at the boy who had stood as well. "Asami is an officer in the Tokonosu Higashi Police Station's traffic department. She is not a very good one however." Her eyes brimmed over with tears.

Rounding the corner, Takashi stopped short at the sight of the light-brown haired girl standing there. She appeared to be nineteen or twenty and had short cropped hair that fell over half her face. She wore a simple police uniform consisting of a white shirt with a black tie under a navy blue jacket and matching skirt. "Are you okay miss?"

She nodded, looking from Takashi back to Kohta. "Asami just arrived a few minutes ago. She was terrified and hid when she heard noise." She looked down. "She lost her weapon when running from a group of those things."

Takashi looked from the officer to Kohta. "We need to get out of here. Rei's father left a note saying he was heading to the elementary school with surviving officers to look for survivors there. We should meet up with the others and head over to the school as a group."

Miss Shizuka nodded. "I agree with Takashi-kun. We've been out all day and if we keep going exhaustion will kick in. The school has a great fenced in location and should be relatively safe if the police got there in time."

Looking at the fidgeting officer, Kohta offered a smile. "My name is Kohta Hirano. This is Takashi Komuro, Miss Shizuka Marikawa, and Saeko Busujima." He pointed at each as he named them and each bowed in turn.

"It is nice to meet you all. Asami is glad that citizens are still alive." She looked down, fidgeting slightly. "May she come with you?"

Kohta spoke for everyone. "Of course! Now let's get out of here and get something to eat." At the mention of food a growl came from the young officer's stomach and she blushed in embarrassment.

As they walked back out to the street, Takashi looked in the direction of the school with a sigh. 'Hang in there mom. Tomorrow we'll come first thing in the Humvee and get you out of there.'

"Ryker-san! Ryker-san!" Rei ran out the front door with Saya close behind. Alice remained in the doorway, eyes wide as she clutched Zeke tightly. As they approached the motionless man, they slowed and realized the majority of the blood was coming from the dog-creature that was atop Ryker with a knife impaling its head from under the jaw.

Rei knelt beside him and pushed the dog off of his chest and stared at him for a moment, an excited squeal coming from her when she saw his chest was still rising and falling. "Saya! He's alive!"

Kneeling on the other side of him, Saya tore a piece of her sleeve off and began wiping the copious amounts of blood from his face and neck. She grew more and more relieved to see the lack of wounds beneath the mess; it appeared he was unbitten and that all of the blood on his front was from the strange creature.

"Sa… ya… chan…." The words were barely a whisper but both girls head him clearly in the afternoon silence.

Leaning close, Saya blinked back tears and flinched as he coughed, a small amount of blood running down the side of his mouth that strangely was turning to a smile. "Yes Ryker-san?"

Ryker took a deep breath, wincing at the familiar pain of broken ribs. "Sorry I pushed you so hard." His smile faded for a cough but returned immediately after.

Orange eyes narrowed into slits as Saya snapped. "You sonofaBITCH!" she slammed a fist against his chest as tears poured from her face. "We just talked about this earlier!" she struck him again but with less force as her body shook. "You can't just carelessly throw your life away in attempt to save someone! What if you died? What would Miyamoto and I do? And Alice-chan?" Her rage was blinding and yet she continued to cry as she screamed at him.

"Saya that's enough! What's wrong with you?" Rei asked incredulously. She had only seen the pink-haired girl lose it similarly once before; back at the school when she had killed her first one of them with a power drill. It was strange she would be so emotionally distraught.

Letting out a sigh and making an effort to sit up, Ryker locked his eyes on Saya's. "I didn't really have time to think Saya-chan. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and I reacted." He smiled his usual warm smile. "If I had time to think, I still would have done it."

Growling in frustration Saya crossed her arms and looked away from him. "You really are impossible Ryker-san."

As he finally managed to sit up, he looked at his left arm with disdain; his left shoulder was at the very least dislocated. "I made a promise Saya-chan. I never break my promises."

Alice ran out as he sat up and wrapped her arms around his neck, oblivious to the blood soaking into her clothing in the process. "Oh Ryker-san, I was so worried."

Closing his eyes, Ryker's face twisted in a mixture of joy and sorrow; something that Rei noticed but kept to herself, for now. "I couldn't leave you Alice-chan. We have many things to talk about still and if the others decide to keep me around long enough, I'd like to teach you some things to help out."

Releasing her grip on him, the young girl stepped back with a smile. "They will! I'm sure of it."

Ryker grunted in effort as he got to his feet; his left arm dangling uselessly. "We should head back. No one was here. Takashi said his father was out of town and his mother works at a school. We can head to the school as a large group. It's too big to cover as only four."

Saya huffed and went back inside to get the bag of supplies with Alice while Rei lingered behind and studied the injured American. "You put on a good front but sometimes it would be better if you just shared your pain Ryker-san."

Smiling at the brunette, Ryker nodded knowingly. "I understand Rei-chan but it does no one any good out here to listen to me complain about a few cuts and bruises."

She shook her head and looked back at the door before continuing. "I meant your wounds on the inside Ryker-san." Brushing a stray hair behind her ear, she smiled. "If you need someone to talk to, I'd be willing to listen. I don't know your deal with Busujima or If you'd rather talk with Saya but the offer is there."

"Thank you Rei-chan. I may hold you to that one day." Looking up he smiled as the other two girls came out of the house. "Let's head back." He turned and took a step before his leg buckled and he dropped to a knee.

"Ryker-san!" Saya rushed over and set her bag down. "You're too hurt to walk back."

Shaking his head, Ryker got to his feet again. Sweat was beading on his forehead and the weakness he felt was growing but he knew there was nothing they could do about it here. "I'll be fine. Would you," he paused and sighed. "May I use you for support?"

Rei motioned for Alice to grab the bag of supplies and stood on Ryker's left, lifting his injured arm and flinching as he grunted in pain. "Sorry!" He offered a smile and nodded, allowing her to step under his arm as Saya did the same on his opposite side. He was not terribly large but he was certainly bigger than the girls or even Takashi.

Doing his best to keep as much weight off the girls as possible, Ryker kept his eyes on the road ahead of him. Though his back was still bleeding significantly, the impact of the fall had done well to compress the area due to swelling and had slowed the blood loss.

Despite all of this he couldn't help but smile. 'Never in a million years would I have believed someone if they told me any of this. And sadly, the two beautiful girls under each arm would even be less believable than the whole idea of a zombie apocalypse.' He chuckled at the thought but was cut short by the pain in his chest. When the girls looked at him curiously, he simply shook his head with a smile.

The sun had already settled beyond the horizon and the moon was doing its best to illuminate the dark city. Takashi was pacing by the Humvee as everyone sat in concerned silence. 'They should have been back hours ago. My house is closer than Rei's and we even stopped at the police station.'

Sitting behind the Humvee and fiddling with her star-shaped earrings, Asami looked up as Kohta approached and sat across from her. "Hello Hirano-san."

Smiling at the light-haired girl, Kohta rubbed his neck nervously. "You can call me Kohta if you like Asami-san."

She smiled and nodded. "Only if you get rid of the unfamiliar honorific, okay? I suppose with the world in the state it's in we should not be so formal with our friends."

Blushing and smiling shyly, Kohta nodded. "Okay, Asami-chan." When she smiled in return he offered her a packet of crackers. "I know you're hungry and Takashi wants to wait on the others for dinner so…"

"Thank you Kohta-kun." She smiled and accepted the offering. "Asami just wishes she was a better officer."

"I bet you're a great officer!" Kohta blurted out before covering his mouth with a further blush. "What I mean is, you managed to survive all this time. That counts for something."

She shook her head. "Asami did poorly in academy and since the outbreak has only hidden and fled from those things."

Kohta shrugged. "You did what you needed to do to survive. That's what matters." He looked up as the door to the garage closed loudly.

Takashi looked over at Kohta before making his way over to the door and outside. When he got there he saw Saeko was pacing at the top of the stairs. "Saeko-san?"

She looked down briefly before returning her eyes to the street corners. 'Where the hell are they?'

Climbing the stairs and stopping at the top, Takashi watched the indigo-haired girl for a moment. "Saeko-san, I'm sure they are fine. Maybe they had to hole up somewhere?"

Saeko shook her head. "He wouldn't do that. Ryker is against stopping unless it's absolutely necessary when not in a pre-scouted area. The risks are just too high between them and crazed humans."

Takashi frowned in thought before looking down at each street corner as well. "There's something between you two isn't there?"

"Pardon?" She stopped her pacing to face the young leader.

"You've been acting different since you got back with him and I've noticed you've just been a bit out of it since he left with the others."

She sighed and flipped her hair over her shoulder. "He saved my life Takashi. And not in a small way. Of course I am worried for him just as I am worried for the others to return as well."

He nodded, accepting her answer for now. 'Always so secretive Saeko-san. Someday you should really let someone in.' He suddenly gasped and pointed down the road as a group turned the corner.

Saeko spun and looked as well, her heart pounding in her chest. 'Why am I so apprehensive about this?' She stepped forward before stopping cold, her expression darkening like the sky had after the sun left. Ryker was walking with his arms around both girls. What in the world was going on?

Takashi was stumped too at seeing both Saya and Rei underneath the American's broad shoulders but as they neared both he and Saeko flinched at the sight. He was not holding them, rather they were holding him from collapsing.

Without a word, Saeko sprinted toward the group as tears burned at her eyes. 'You promised me Ryker Belmont, you promised me you'd come back!'

Saeko arrived to the group, followed shortly by Takashi, and took in the blood-soaked people before them. Even Alice was covered in the red fluid. Before either could speak, Saya broke the silence.

"Don't help or anything. It's not like we've been carrying him for the past few hours." She angrily hissed out.

Takashi and Saeko immediately swapped the two girls out; Ryker grunted in pain as his injured shoulder was manipulated during the transfer from Rei to Saeko. When she looked up at him she felt her heart begin to pound again at his current state.

His skin was unusually pale and he looked as weak as he felt. As they walked back to the garage he was barely able to lift his feet with each step. Saya opened the door and let everyone inside before following closely.

"Miss Shizuka!" Takashi called out when the door had closed. "Miss Shizuka, medical equipment and hurry!"

Stumbling from the Humvee, the ditzy blonde went into auto-pilot. Despite coming across as a complete airhead in regards to many things in life there was one thing she truly excelled in and that was medicine. As Rei and Saya laid out a blanket, Saeko and Takashi slowly helped Ryker down onto it while making sure he didn't hit his head.

"Saeko-chan, I need water. A lot of it. There should be a hose outside that still works. Fill me up a few buckets of some kind with it." The young girl nodded at the nurse and ran to her task. Looking at Takashi, Miss Shizuka continued. "You will be here to hold him down if needed." She turned to Rei. "Get his shirt off and then hand me what I ask for." Lastly she turned to Saya. "Saya-chan, you need to stay by his head and keep him talking. He's lost a lot of blood and if he passes out he may not recover."

Each person nodded in acceptance of their assignment but Saya struggled to swallow. 'This is all my fault. I should have been paying attention and he'd never have had to save me and now he's hurt and he might not recover?' Her thoughts were interrupted by Ryker crying out in pain as Miss Shizuka pressed against his ribs.

"He has numerous fractures in his ribs, his shoulder is dislocated and he has significant wounds to his back." She looked up curiously. "What happened to him?"

Rei saw Saya was focusing on Ryker and not the question so answered briefly. "He was attacked by mutated dogs. One put him through a glass table and the other knocked him out of the third story window."

Takashi froze. 'The third floor? So they at least made it to my house.' He swallowed hard and looked at Rei. She shook her head and offered a smile and he returned it. "Once he's stable, we'll talk about the mission." She nodded and went back to cutting the material away from Ryker while Takashi helped sit him up to remove the back.

"Hold him up Takashi, I need to clean the wound or it will get infected." The nurse moved behind Ryker just as Saeko returned with a single bucket of water. "One will have to do I guess. Rei-chan, hand me that bottle of rubbing alcohol and the forceps there." Rei stared at her blankly and the blonde sighed in annoyance. "The tweezer-like things."

Getting the idea, Rei dug through the bag and handed the two things over quickly. Saeko stood there awkwardly feeling unable to help but unwilling to just leave. Ryker seemed to be fading out of consciousness and had not spoken a word since being brought in.

"Saeko-chan, go and look through Ryker-san's bag for anything we might be able to use." As the dark-haired girl nodded and left, Miss Shizuka looked at Takashi with a serious expression. "I need you to hold him with all of your might okay? He's likely a lot stronger than you normally but with all the blood he lost you should be able to restrain him." She looked to Saya. "Try and talk to him. Keep him lucid."

Both teenagers swallowed hard and nodded. Takashi took a solid grip of the larger man's arms and braced himself as best he could. Saya moved in front of Ryker, kneeling just before him.

"Ryker-san? Ryker-san!"

He blinked, seemingly in a daze. "Saya-chan?"

She nodded and smiled. "Yes, Saya-chan. We're going to fix you up now okay? It's going to hurt but you need to be strong."

Ryker smiled weakly. "I am not a stranger to pain Saya-chan. Thank you for carrying me. I am sorry to have been such a burden."

"You saved my life Ryker-san. Not once but twice. You could not be a burden to me." She blushed and blew a strand of hair away from her face. "Besides, even if you were a burden I couldn't just leave you-"

"Are you growing sweet on me Saya-chan?" He interrupted playfully. Even now his attitude was unaffected by his physical condition.

Blushing a deep crimson Saya glared at him. "I was not finished Ryker-san! I meant I couldn't leave you and be stuck with all these morons! I was attempting to compliment your intelligence and you make me feel the opposite!"

Ryker smiled before suddenly gasping and gripping his pants in both fists tight enough to whiten his hands entirely. Miss Shizuka had just dabbed his back with alcohol and it felt like what he assumed pouring molten lava over his skin would. Clenching his teeth and tensing his core, he refused to make a sound as she blonde nurse worked at cleaning his back.

Saya felt tears spring to her eyes all over again at seeing him endure such pain. As Miss Shizuka finished wiping the area with alcohol, she gently rested a hand on Ryker's uninjured shoulder. "I have to pull some glass from your back now. Try not to move."

Smirking, Ryker nodded. "No problem." His eyes returned to the orange eyes of the pink-haired girl before him. "I got you back safely. Told you I never break my promises."

"You came pretty close to breaking one to me Ry-kun."

Looking up, Ryker smiled weakly at Saeko. "But I did not Saeko-chan. I'm alive and, AH!" he grit his teeth as a particularly large shard of glass was removed. "well."

Saeko shook her head. "You are unbelievable Ry-kun. When you're feeling better I'd like to speak with you." Her gaze slid to Saya. "Alone."

The girl kneeling before Ryker felt a sudden chill at the last comment. As the indigo-haired girl walked away, Saya returned her gaze to Ryker who was struggling not to curse at the blonde digging in his back. "Ryker-san…"

Smiling despite the pain, Ryker spoke before she could continue. "How many times will I have to save your life before you stop calling me by such a formal name?"

Saya blushed slightly. "But the age difference…"

"Age differences don't mean anything to me."

Feeling her face heat up significantly at the broad interpretation of what he was saying, Saya nodded and mumbled. "Okay, Ryker-kun."

Clenching his teeth as Miss Shizuka patted his back with a rag dipped in alcohol he let out a slow breath. "Much better." He was nervous to ask her to call him such, especially with Saeko's recent moods but her version was different enough from Saeko's that he felt it might go over fine. Saeko's version felt far more intimate.

"There." Miss Shizuka exclaimed as she finished wrapping Ryker's back with the Kerlex gauze that Saeko had brought from his bag. "Now lay back Ryker-san. We need to get some fluid in you. You lost a significant amount of blood. I know you feel fine now but-"

"But I could decompensate at any moment. I understand Shizuka-san." He looked at her nervous eyes as he laid back. "You don't seem terribly confident."

Miss Shizuka blushed and looked away. "I've never been good at giving IV's. Something about piercing a vein and forcing a catheter into it is just so gross!"

Ryker would have laughed but his chest pain stopped him. "Saya-chan, do you have steady hands?"

The pink-haired girl blanched. "You can't be serious."

He smiled up at her. "I have faith in you. It's a simple thing to do and anyone can do it without any practice needed."

Looking to Rei and Takashi for help, Saya received no offers and sighed. "Fine. But if I kill you, it's your fault."

Ryker nodded and looked over as Miss Shizuka laid out the necessary materials; an eighteen-gauge needle with catheter, a strip of rubber, IV tubing and one of his bags of saline that he had brought.

Saya looked from the pile to Ryker in disbelief. "I can't believe you're making me do this. Can't you do one on yourself?"

"I could if I had function in my left arm. You can't run the line in my injured arm." She sighed and moved everything over to his right side. Once she was set up he continued. "Tie the rubber strap around my upper arm, tightly, in a slip knot. Once she did this, he clenched his fist and veins immediately popped up.

"Well at least I can see them." Saya said in relief. In all honesty, they would going to be difficult to miss at all due to their size. The problem was her fear of hurting him and also the fear of lancing the vein, causing a bleed but no access.

"There, now grab the needle and pick a vein." He smiled as she selected one centered at his elbow joint. "Wipe with an alcohol prep and uncap the needle." She did as instructed and continued following his directions as he slowly walked her through it. "When you go in, go at an angle. Yes, just like that. You will see blood spring into that chamber; that's the flash. Excellent work Saya. Now go in just a little bit more and advance the catheter. Wonderful. Remove the band now and apply pressure on the vein above the site. Okay now pull the needle out and screw the IV tubing into the catheter."

Having prepped the line, Miss Shizuka handed the tubing to Saya who screwed it into the catheter, doing her best to ignore the blood that was running over her fingers. Once the line was secured and the drip ran smoothly, Saya let out a loud sigh of relief and sat back.

"You did fantastic Saya-chan. Like a trained medic." He smiled weakly and laid back; the exertion finally catching up to him.

Seeing his condition deteriorating, Saya scooted up closer to his head. "Ryker-kun are you okay? Ryker-kun?"

Miss Shizuka smiled at the pink-haired girl. "He's okay Saya-chan. He just needs rest. I need to clean up." She gestured to the blood covering her hands, arms, chest and legs. "Stay with him in case he needs something."

Saya nodded and looked up to see that Rei and Takashi had walked back to the Humvee as well, engaged in a conversation that likely involved their journeys today. As she sat there at his head, she took a moment to look him over and a slight blush crept into her cheeks at the sight of him shirtless. Now that the chaos was over she was able to actually appreciate the view without the blood or fear of him dying. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she leaned back against the concrete wall. 'You are a strange man Ryker-kun. But I have to say I've never been so intrigued by someone. I really hope to get some more alone time with you. I definitely want to know more about you and your past.'

Author's Note

Well then. That was a fun write! This was my final chapter in Afghanistan as my flight is set to leave within 24 hours. I really hope you all like it. Quick question: Are the lines I use between 'breaks' sufficient? People have any issues with them? I can try other things but few formats work.

There is significant OOC-ness for Saya in this chapter but to be fair in certain situations she was far more likable than her usual tsundere character.

I also decided to 'borrow' Asami from the manga. Note: I did not read the manga. I will not follow the manga. The only things that will be similar are the above similarities such as the note in the police station and Asami's adorable habit of talking in third-person. There is no mall scene to come. There is no way I will be able to keep Asami "in character" since 1: she does not have a significant role in the manga and 2: I have not read the manga!

I hope the medical talk wasn't too much for some but I enjoyed filtering it in. To be honest, it really is that easy to start an IV.

On that note, any feelings about the sudden Saya crush? Oh dear :X Still waiting on the torches and pitchforks lol It's why I cut this chapter "short". I know, I know. Longest by far of the series but I wanted to go 9k+! But if people HATED what I was doing it would be a bad idea.

Please please review. I will not be online on my laptop for almost two weeks or more so I need guidance because I WILL be writing during this time. So if you review BEFORE I begin the next chapter, you can help shape it!

Now to my reviewers who made my day!

Axcel: It is easier to say after being here sadly. Remember, Ryker's entire personality (emotions, how he acts, what he says) is my personality. He's a bit tougher than me (read: a lot tougher) but I'm trying to keep his actions to fit how I would act in his situation.

Hades378: Thank you. I see that is for chapter 3 and by the time you read this, you'll have realized my chapters have gone up significantly in length. I tend to be a 'downhill runner' I guess. And I'm glad you decided to give it a shot! I hope you like all the chapters in between!

PandaTrueno86: I agree. I want people to realize these are not super heroes out doing their daily thing; these are basically teenage kids with a few in their twenties trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. I have much violence planned for the next chapters though! Especially the next one.

FrancisVamp0822: Thanks, twice! I love the Army too. I'll love it more when I'm away from it LOL. Hope to keep you reading!

Caet: Heart~! I'm glad I got a chuckle and a mental image from that. Most people dislike Shizuka but I find her lovable at times. And in this chapter, useful! I look forward to your review of this beast of a chapter.

Loki'sBird: Oh man. You know how to say all the right things~ Fangirl all you want! In fact, the more you fangirl the better :3 Especially if you're liking Ryker because I take that as a personal compliment, being that he's my creation and not someone else's! I hope I don't disappoint you too much with my lack of quality in personality integrity this chapter. Hope you enjoy it! Big thanks to YOU for getting me motivated enough to push this out before I fly out tomorrow!