Through Thick And Through Thin

Chapter Thirty-Four

Katie cautiously opened her eyes, sensing that it was darker and that she was no longer being watched. She wrinkled her nose, smelling something foul. It took a moment before she realized that they were in a dumpster. She felt her arm brush against something that was warm with life, and her eyes widened until she realized that it was just Linz, and she stifled a sigh of relief. Carlos apparently still didn't know that she had managed to hold her breath and only pretended to become unconscious when the chloroform rag had been shoved into her face.

Katie sat up straighter, hearing loud voices and footsteps. She felt her eyes brim with tears when she heard Kevin and A.J. calling her name worriedly, wishing that she could answer. When Kevin said, "Damn it, where the hell are they?!" in a voice thick with anxious tears, she had to put a hand to her mouth to keep from sobbing. She took a deep breath, hearing them run past her, and after bracing herself, she threw open the lid of the dumpster and leapt out as fast as she could. Katie let out a yelp of pain when she hit the concrete, but she smiled in satisfaction, hearing Carlos mutter, "What the fuck?!"

"Kevin! A.J.! Over here!" Katie screamed at the top of her lungs. Carlos appeared a moment later, and his eyes narrowed into a glare of fury when he realized that he had been tricked. Katie's eyes widened slightly in fear but narrowed in anger again when she caught a glimpse of the unconscious Linz. When Carlos approached her, she balled up one of her hands into a fist and punched him in the face, surprised by her own strength when she knocked him off of his feet. There was a loud smack as his head hit the ground, and she winced. A moment later, she heard Kevin and A.J.'s shouts again, and the next thing she knew, a pair of arms was wrapped tightly around her. Katie saw the tattoos on the arms, realized that it was A.J., and broke away stubbornly while Kevin ran past Carlos to Linz.

"I think he got her with chloroform!" Katie yelled to her brother. "He tried to get me, but I held my--Kevvy, look out!"

Carlos had now gotten to his feet again and was going after Kevin, muttering "kill that little bitch" under his breath. Kevin heard the warning, turned casually around, and easily knocked Carlos back to the ground again. He turned back towards Linz and carefully picked her up, carrying her over to where A.J. and Katie were and setting her down on the ground, propping her up against the wall. The three of them knelt down beside her, and Kevin checked to see if she was breathing: she was. He emitted a sigh of relief and tenderly smoothed her slightly rumpled hair.

"I think you were right about the chloroform, Kate," Kevin acknowledged, glancing at his sister. "How'd you know to hold your breath?"

She shrugged. "Instinct, I guess. I was just so scared that I did it automatically."

"And then you played dead?" A.J. assumed.

Katie nodded. "Yeah."

"Are you hurt at all?" Kevin asked, putting a concerned hand on her shoulder.

"I scraped my knee, but--"

"Hey, he's getting away!" A.J. burst in suddenly.

Kevin and Katie looked up, and sure enough, Carlos was on his feet, running back towards the apartment. Kevin immediately stood up. "I'm going after him. You stay here," He instructed before starting after Carlos.

A.J. got quickly to his feet. "I'm going with him," he declared.

Katie stood up and stopped him, frowning admonishingly at him. "No, A.J. One of you guys is enough. What about your fans?"

"This is more important. He could hurt more people if we don't catch him," A.J. pointed out, starting to go past her again.

Katie grabbed him by his shirt and pulled him back to her so that their faces were inches away. They stared at each other for a confused moment that felt like forever before she spoke, her eyes filling up with tears. "What about me?" she asked softly.

A.J. gulped. "I thought you were mad at me."

"Fuck that!" she practically shouted with such determination that A.J. bit his lip to keep from laughing at how cute she looked. Her face softened. "I don't care if you were telling the truth or if you were smoking, just don't go back there, please! I love you," she begged rapidly, twirling some of the hair beside his face around her finger.

A.J. took a shaky breath. "I have to. Kevin might need help. But I love you, too, baby," he murmured. He pulled her close and kissed her with all of the passion that he had inside of him before breaking away and running after Kevin. Katie let out a sob and sank wearily to the ground next to Linz, praying that A.J. and her brother would be all right.

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