Hartley was in the training room training with Flutter who she found to be a very worthy opponent. Flutter swipes at Hartley but she ducks barely missing the attack “Okay ladies take a break” Doc calls and both women stop.
“Ya’ll pretty darn good” Flutter smirks shaking Hartley’s hand firmly before leaving the room. Hartley breathes deeply and places her hands onto her head so she could breathe properly.
Doc hands her a towel which she happily took wiping her glistening face “You need more clothes, you can’t keep using Flutter’s, she is a lot taller than you” he comments and Hartley nods “We’ll go and get some for you” he offers but Hartley shakes her head.
“I have clothes back at the apartment, if we haven’t been evicted yet then I can just use those clothes” she says and Doc nods his face showing he knew she was going to say something like that.
Both Hartley and Doc walk up the staircase and pass the overly enthusiastic bowlers, when they reached outside Hartley breathes a sigh of relief at the feeling of fresh air against her skin.
“How far away is my apartment?” she asks closing her eyes and breathing in deeply but when Doc doesn’t reply she opened one of her eyes to see him looking at her unimpressed “What?” she asks confused and he points to the nearby tree which was still noticeably charred black.
He crosses his arm as Hartley’s face grows red with embarrassment “care to explain?” Doc asks and Hartley shakes her head slowly.
“Flicker just wanted a showcase, nobody was around when I did it, I swear and I promise it won’t happen again” Doc rolls his eyes and pulls out his car keys.
Looking Hartley spots the familiar small yellow rusted car which sat in the car park “Mertle! You still have her!” she cheers excitedly “can I drive it?” she says pleadingly and Doc gives her a crucial look.
“Do you have your licence yet?” he questions and she looks away answering his question for him “then no you can’t drive” he opens the door for Hartley and she sits down noticing a brown package sitting in front of her.
Hartley gives Doc a weird look as she reads her names messily written on the top “What’s this?” she asks and Doc gives her a small smile.
“Why don’t you check?” he says starting the car which let out a unhealthy groan before bouncing to life.
Hartley didn’t need to be told twice, she immediately tore into the paper pulling out a disc set ‘Learning to Read, The adult’s edition’. Slowly she made out the words and her face turned pink.
“H-how did you know?” she asks embarrassed, true she could read a little bit but over the years she hadn’t learnt much since her old orphanage didn’t bother teaching them to.
Doc gives her a grim smile “I didn’t” Hartley looks back to the gift and turns it around.
‘Dear Blue, I thought this might help our lessons’
Tears form in her eyes “Justin left that in your old room on your desk for you” Doc says “I thought you should have it” Hartley pulls the discs to her chest hugging them tightly.
“Thank you” she says smiling happily.
Doc nods and pulls out into the street, luckily the roads were empty and they arrived to Hartley’s apartment within ten minutes “I wonder if my landlord has changed the locks yet” Hartley asks herself quietly as her and Doc wandered up the stairs to her apartment. When they reached, it they noticed the door was slightly ajar “Did you lock up after you left?” she asks and Doc glances at her.
He places his hand onto the gun which was shoved into the back of his belt “Stay behind me” he whispers to her and she nods going into a crouching position like he was.
Doc pushes the door open slowly and moves in keeping his gun away but his eyes peeling around every corner. Hartley walked behind him but stops when she feels the cold barrel of a gun against the back of her neck “Don’t move” a man whispers into her ear.
She stood up straight and closes her eyes cussing to herself “Doc fancy seeing you here” the man snarls, Doc spins quickly his eyes landing on his old friend.
“Shooter” he says surprised “Look there is no need to be rash” Doc says slowly which irritated Shooter.
“Don’t do anything stupid or little Hartley here will have her brains splattered across the wallpaper” Doc raises his arm in surrender showing he means no harm “Turn around” he orders Hartley and she turns to face him, the barrel of the fun now pressed against her forehead, she moves her eyes up to Shooter. His once nicely shaven face was now covered in an untamed blonde beard, his eyes held heavy bags and his hair hung knotted well below his shoulders.
His clothes were torn, stained and sweaty, his once muscled build was turned to nothing but skin or bone “Oh my god” Hartley breathes “Shooter come on, it’s us we don’t want to hurt you, we’re your friends” she tries to convince him but he surprises her by throwing back his head and letting out a merry laugh.
“My friends” he says humoured coking the gun and his face going murderous “my friends wouldn’t sit by and just watch as” his voice breaks “watch as my wife, my beautiful Alecia was murdered”
Doc stepped forward to say something “Don’t move or I’ll shoot her” he yells loudly “don’t make excuses, you just watched, you could have saved her but you didn’t and now I’m all alone” Hartley frowns as tears started to roll down his dirty face “But now I’ll make you pay”
As Shooter went to pull the trigger Reaper and Candii stepped into the room.
“Now, now Shooter no killing the girl” Reaper says tauntingly, Shooter clenches his teeth.
Hartley eyes go wide “You work with him!” she yells “he-he killed her, he is the one who snapped her neck like it was nothing and here you are taking his orders.” Shooter raises his gun from her forehead and smashes it across her face knocking Hartley off her feet and onto the floor.
She sits up holding her bleeding nose while glaring at Shooter, her hair starting to turn red. Reaper snatches the gun from Shooters hand ad points it back to Hartley “I’d be going back to blue if I were you pet” he snarls and Hartley closes her eyes stopping her hair from changing.
When she opens her eyes again Justin stood just inches from her “kind of like a scene from a bad soap opera isn’t it?” he jokes and Hartley slams her head forward head butting Justin.
He groans falling back and gripping his head, Hartley winces and more blood pours from her nose but she thought it was worth it. “you idiot” he screams in pain before looking back in pure anger to his laughing team mates “Tie her up!” he orders and Reaper and Shooter take an arm each tying her tightly to a dining room chair.
Doc stepped to try and stop them but Reaper keeps the gun in hand “Now put your hand in the air before Hartley pay for your mistakes” Justin says coldly. Doc reaches for his gun aiming it at Justin which only makes him smile.
“Let the girl go” Doc orders angrily his finger ready at the trigger.
“Doc!” Hartley screams before he could shoot, she found herself unable to watch Justin be killed in front of her twice.
He looked to Hartley and seeing the look in her eyes he lowered his gun not wanting to have to put her through that again “Fine” he says defeatedly dropping the gun and kicking it away “Do what you wish” Doc raises his hand and Shooter forcefully grabs it placing him in in a metal handcuff behind his back.
“Now you can’t go healing yourself on us” Justin clicks his fingers together and Candii skips over handing him a metal looking blindfold and Justin puts it over Doc’s eyes “or hurting us” he finishes before punching Doc in the stomach, hard. He laughs in pure enjoyment “better than therapy” Justin chuckles.
“Stop!” Hartley screams in a pleading tone “Please just stop this” Justin looks to her and stalks over grabbing her face forcing Hartley to look at him “give me back the real Justin” she begs but he just laughs slapping her.
Shooter pushes Doc out of the room, reaper and Candii follow and Justin gives Hartley one last glance before disappearing.
She spent half the day tied to that chair her wrist was red raw and her arms cried in horror by the time she managed to pull herself free. Hartley looked to the ground and saw that Doc had, most likely purposefully, dropped the keys to Mertle.
Bending over she grabbed them and ran outside, it was now dark and the winds outside were strong. Ignoring the hair blowing over her face she stepped into the car, which took six times before the engine finally began to sing its usual unhealthy purr.
Hurriedly she pulled out and speed off down the road, she had to warn the team.