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The blow sent Horatio reeling to the floor. Skyler lunged for him without hesitation, pinning him down and raining blow after blow upon him. Skyler gave his anger a voice with each blow.
"You monster!" He yelled. "You killed my friends! You used Cody for your disgusting experiments. YOU SHOT MY SISTER!!!" Skyler aimed each punch for Horatio's face. The older man was too stunned to protect himself.
Someone gripped Skyler's arm hard. He tried to twist away. "Let go of me!"
More arms grabbed him, and he writhed. He tried to kick Horatio as he was pulled off of him. He yelled in rage, hot, angry tears stinging his eyes before running down.
"Easy, kid," a gravelly voice grunted. Skyler found himself in a headlock in addition to his arms being restrained. He choked, his yells cut off. "Breathe, breathe."
"Let him go!" Kip's voice came from his right. "I'll take him." Skyler tried to advance on Horatio again, who was being pulled to his feet by others in military uniform, but Kip pinned his arms behind him. "Easy, Skyler, easy."
"No!" Skyler struggled. "He shot her! He shot her! He killed them!"
"Skyler look at me!" Kip pinned him against the wall of the lobby. "Calm. Down. He's not going to get away with anything he's done, I promise you that. He shot Hannah?"
Skyler felt all adrenaline leave him. All he felt was fear and aching pain and exhaustion. He nodded, tears still falling. Kip squeezed his shoulder. "Hold it together kiddo. Is she alive? What floor?"
Skyler nodded again and gave the floor. Kip called Emma over, and she sent a man in a white coat up, followed by one in military garb.
Skyler nearly decided to pass out from exhaustion, but he forced himself to stay awake and be helpful. Neither Kip nor the military officials would let him go until he promised to stay calm. Emma was about to direct doctors and nurses around with syringes to the cyborgs when it was suggested the cyborgs be transported back to the factories to be cared for there. Skyler wanted to go back to Hannah, but he knew he would have only gotten in the way. He nearly cried when Emma reported to him she would be alright and that she was being taken to the hospital.
Horatio, bloody and bruised and more or less labeled mental, was arrested and also taken to the hospital under heavy guard. Osborne Hayes was also taken there. Devon was arrested too, but Jonah tried to reason with the police. They were adamant. Kip managed to persuade them to let Jonah accompany Devon, though. They both had a lot to talk about.
Tag and Grace, relieved of their watch over Cody when he was taken away to recover and be cared for, pulled Skyler into helping them round up the Fence Jumpers and Coyotes. Skyler knew he should brace himself, but he didn't do it well enough. No one was missing, but they found at least fifteen dead, Jumpers and Coyotes, and nearly double that were seriously hurt. Craig and his crew, while they had indeed done their work well and probably saved several civilian lives, had disappeared.
"Hey." Grace gripped his arm, standing in front of him, when they had finished collecting the bodies. Skyler felt sick as he stared at the bodies. "We couldn't have helped them, Skyler. We saved so many others. They knew the risks of coming here."
"They came to rescue me--"
"Yeah, and we did." Grace looked him in the eyes. "They knew it was gonna be dangerous. You can't blame yourself, Skyler."
Skyler looked up at her. His heart tugged, wishing to tell her how he felt. But it wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be fair. Not now. There was too much going on. He couldn't dump that on her now. She had Tag.
"Hey." Kip appeared around the doorway. "We need some help getting the cyborgs loaded and taken back to the factories."
Skyler and the remaining Jumpers and Coyotes helped put the shut down (or unconscious. No one was sure which terms fit best) cyborgs into trucks to be transported for care. It was heavy work, and it made Skyler angry and feel sick.
He turned from helping and was met with a hug from Skipper. He hugged her close. "Hey Skip. You're okay."
"Yeah." Skipper grinned and pointed. "I found people for you. My sister helped me."
"You did what?" Skyler looked up. He felt a grin twitch at his lips when he saw his parents. Beth came over and drew Skipper aside to let Sarah rush over and hug Skyler close, smothering him with kisses and asking if he was hurt.
"I'm okay Mom." Skyler held tight. "I'm okay..." It was more or less true. He ached, but he wasn't bleeding out. He buried himself in his father's embrace for a minute, relaxing in the safety.
Arnold rubbed his shoulder briefly. "We're headed to the hospital to see Hannah. Are you busy?"
"No, he's not." Beth grinned. "We've got it covered."
Skyler let himself relax in the car. He couldn't remember the last time he had properly ridden in a car, with a working radio and heat or air conditioning. It felt heavenly, and it nearly put him to sleep, but he made himself get out when they had arrived. Wes was sitting in the waiting room, his knee bouncing with agitation
"Hey." he stood. "What-- dude, what happened to you?"
Skyler looked down at himself. He hadn't taken much notice of his appearance, but looking now he realized his clothes were stained with blood from moving bodies or helping the injured, and torn from the metal on the cyborgs he helped carry.
"Long story. Where is Hannah?"
"In surgery," Wes said. "The doctors said she should be alright, though. How is everything down there? I saw Horatio and Hayes be brought in. Horatio was a bloody mess."
"That was me." Skyler shrugged. "I got angry...."
"So? Anybody would've." Wes shrugged too. "You're not the only one who hates his guts. He won't forget your fist anytime soon, by the look of him."
Skyler fidgeted while he waited. It got so bad his father suggested he go back to help clean up, and he'd give Skyler a call as soon as Hannah was able have visitors. Wes backed up the suggestion, so Skyler was driven back to City Hall. People in military uniforms were everywhere, working alongside police. They had gotten wind of Horatio's cyborg debut – it had gone all over the province – and had sent people over to ensure the cyborgs were safely established. Horatio's secrecy had raised red flags, but until they had evidence it was something to worry about, no one had any major concerns.
Kip was able to keep investigators away from the Jumpers and Coyotes for now, and for that Skyler was grateful. There was already going to be a huge legal mess in the future. They already had a mess to help with now, and Skyler didn't think his friends needed to be interrogated while still in shock.
Reporters, however, had no qualms about asking questions right away, Skyler saw many trying to sneak around City Hall. None of them approached him except for one.
"Excuse me, young man," a female voice began behind him. "I was hoping you could answer a few questions." Skyler groaned inwardly and turned to decline. Madison Carter grinned at him. "I've heard you have been right in the middle of it all--"
Skyler hugged her. Madison laughed and hugged him back. "Hey there. Miss me?"
"A whole freaking lot," Skyler mumbled into her shoulder. He looked up at her, letting her brush the hair from his face. "When were you released?"
"A little while ago," Madison answered. "Kip got Fred and me out right away. Then suddenly all the newspapers wanted me to write a story on what's happened here."
Skyler grinned. "So you're back to work?"
"Yup." Madison lifted her camera and snapped a photo of him. "It'll be a big payout. But this time I won't let you lot talk me into deleting your pictures." Skyler laughed. Madison grinned and looked around. "I've also come to offer a bed at my place for any Jumper or Coyote who needs one."
Skyler nodded. "Thanks. We don't know who have families to return to and who don't, but we'll keep your offer in mind."
Madison leaned against a light pole. "Kip told me about Hannah. How's she doing?"
"She was in surgery last I heard," Skyler replied. "But she'll be okay."
"You gonna be okay?" Madison looked at him. "Kip told me about Cody, too."
Skyler looked down at the ground. "I dunno… I don't even know if the stuff even works. We haven't heard anything from Emma."
Madison rubbed his back comfortingly. "Heard you also have Horatio a huge pounding."
Skyler smirked. "Yeah. Did that too. What else did you hear?"
"Not much after that," Madison laughed. "At least until Kip suddenly remembered Conway and Kate were still waiting from them at the back entrance--"
"What?" Skyler blinked. "Conway?"
Madison nodded, scanned the crowds, and pointed. "There he is." She nudged Skyler toward him. "Go on. I have work to do."
Skyler nodded with a smile as Madison squeezed his shoulder as she left, then headed toward Conway. He wasn't sure whether to feel angry or happy to see him. Conway saw him coming and waved away the Coyotes that had gathered around him.
"Hey!" Conway grinned. "You're okay! Kate and I were getting worried when nobody showed up."
"What?" Skyler frowned. "Conway, what're you doing here?"
"Helping rescue you. I never ratted on you guys, I swear." Conway looked a little more subdued. "When I heard my uncle caught you, I went to find the others to help."
Skyler looked at him. The other boy looked as truthful as he sounded. He smiled. "Thanks, Conway. I'm sorry for--"
"You did what you had to do." Conway shrugged. "Yeah it hurt, but I know I would have done the exact same thing. We have our people's safety to think about." Conway grinned. "But it's good being back with them. It helps, since my uncle and sister are arrested…"
"Claire was arrested?"
"Yeah." Conway looked uncomfortable. "I'd rather not talk about it right now. I've gotta go help clean up the mess you people made."
"Alright." Skyler shook his hand. "Thanks again, Conway, for the help. For everything."
"Welcome. See you around." Conway grinned and trotted off. Skyler smiled and looked around for the next thing to do.
Eventually, Skyler and Kate began to round up Jumpers and Coyotes. It was time to decide what to do next. Kate took the Coyotes, and Skyler the Jumpers, and they worked with them all to determine who had families they could go back to, and where. Skyler was pleased to find so many Jumpers that had families, and he was able to get a few of them in contact with the families. Those who did not were directed to Kip, who would put them up in hotel rooms. When Skyler visited once, he found every single door propped wide open on the floor the Jumpers and Coyotes had been given for a time.
Skyler wasn't entirely sure how much time had passed. He helped out wherever he could, keeping his mind and body busy. Kip tried to get Skyler to rest, but he didn't like keeping still, or else he would begin to worry about Hannah, or any number of things that just exhausted him further. The place had finally been brought under some form of order again. Besides Jumper and Coyote deaths, there weren't many other casualties at all.
It was late at night when Skyler finally got word for the hospital on Hannah. Kip dropped him off there and he raced to Hannah's room. Their parents and Wes were there.
"Hey." Skyler entered. "How is she?"
"The doctor says she'll be just fine." Arnold smiled. "She was awake for a few minutes before you got here, but then she was out again."
Skyler waited with them for her to wake again, but as it was two in the morning, there was little chance of that. His parents had to go in for work that morning despite all the madness that had just happened, so they left Skyler and Wes to look after Hannah.
"You should sleep, Skyler," Wes said. "You look exhausted."
"I'm alright," Skyler murmured, running a hand through his hair.
"No you're not, dude." Wes leaned forward in his seat across the bed. "You've been awake for hours, you were pumped with pain, you ran after Horatio, beat up cyborgs and nearly got strangled by one. Now you've been working and helping clean up without any rest."
Skyler grunted. Wes stood up. "I'm gonna go stretch my legs."
"'Kay." Skyler nodded. "Thanks for being here for her."
"No problem." Wes smiled slightly.
Skyler wasn't sure when he'd fallen asleep, he only knew that it felt amazing. He woke up to someone stroking his hair in a repeated circular pattern. It felt nice, and he sighed contentedly. He heard a soft laugh. "You awake, little brother?"
Skyler looked up. Hannah smiled at him and took his hand. Skyler smiled back, tears springing up unbidden. He gripped her hand, pressing it to his lips. "Hi." His voice cracked.
"Hey." Hannah blinked at him. "Wes is asleep on the sofa behind you, so don't be noisy."
"How are you feeling?"
"Like I've been shot." she winced when she shifted a little. "You?"
"I would expect so," Hannah laughed quietly. "You've been working your butt off, haven't you? Haven't showered, probably haven't eaten?" Skyler grinned when she swatted him. "You're impossible."
"I didn't want to give myself time to think." Skyler looked down. "I didn't want to think about what would happen if you…"
Hannah squeezed his hand. "I'm gonna be fine, little bro. I won't leave you just yet." She smiled and gave his hand a tug to make him look up at her. "Wes asked Dad if he could date me. Dad said they would talk later, but he was smiling."
Skyler stared, then grinned. "I couldn't have wished for a better guy for you, sis."
Hannah blushed. "I wish you had someone too. How am I supposed to talk about dating to my kid brother who won't know what it's like so he can't agree with me?"
"Eh, we'll figure something out," Skyler laughed. Hannah giggled. She watched him. "How's Cody? Did it work?"
"I dunno." Skyler shrugged. "We haven't heard anything from Emma yet--"
A knock on the door made the pair look up. Skyler turned when Wes stirred in his sleep, waking up. Kip smiled at them as he looked in.
"Hi Kip," Hannah said.
"Hey." he leaned against the door frame. "Good to see you up and awake." He looked at Skyler. "Emma just called, kiddo. She needs you over there now."
"Need sounds like a rather strong word."
"Her words, not mine. Come on."
Leaving Hannah in Wes' care, Skyler hurried with Kip to the factory. He had never been inside one, and it looked less horrifying than he had imagined. It looked like a hospital, but each room had a wall with a one-way window to observe the cyborgs. Medical staff were bustling around, and many were in the room with the cyborgs to supervise. Nearly all of the cyborgs were still unconscious, but there were others who seemed awake, but only stared at the ceiling.
"Hey." Emma greeted them and kissed Kip. She looked at Skyler. "Good grief--"
"Yes I know I'm a mess." Skyler rolled his eyes. "What's up?"
"Cody's awake." Emma smiled a little. "But he's been rather alert. The other conscious cyborgs have only kept still, staring at the ceiling and in general being unresponsive, but Cody… he's asking for you."
"Asking for me?"
Emma motioned to a door. Curtains had been drawn over the window, blocking any view inside. Skyler suddenly felt timid about entering, but he quietly slid the door open. The room was comfortably lit and quiet. On a bed and partially propped up was Cody, awake and looking at his hands. Close up without being strangled, Skyler could see just where the metal on his head and face fused with him, and in his chest. The metal there covered the places where he had been shot.
"Hi Cody." Skyler tried for a smile. Kip and Emma entered behind him. Cody's staring eyes moved slowly until they found Skyler's face. He blinked.
"Skyler," Cody's voice was odd, like it was a question and a statement at the same time. Skyler approached the bed carefully.
"It's me." Skyler nodded. "You doin' okay, man?"
Cody stared at him a minute longer. "Okay." He looked at his mechanical hand. Skyler could tell formulating words took effort and time. "I hurt… you."
"You remember that?" Skyler blinked. "It's okay. You didn't know what you were doing. You're better now, right?"
Cody looked back up at him. The barest of smiles twitched. "Yeah." His eyes dropped to the bruises at Skyler's neck. Another pause. "Sorry."
"It's okay," Skyler repeated. "You just focus on getting better."
Cody looked at his hand again. "Will I… get better?"
Skyler looked at Emma. She stepped over to them. "He's responding well to the antidote, as are most of the others. Cody is the first to start speaking and begin moving, but therapy will do a lot to help him regain full control of his muscles. We can't remove the metal, and he may not be entirely the same, but he will be able to hold conversation and think and feel." Her expression fell. "I'm not sure what the metal and changes he went through will do to his length of life, however. But some of them… they died from shock. They wake up, and it's like they can't handle what they were turned into…"
Cody watched her. "I… can handle it." Another very tiny smile. "I'm… a Jumper."
Skyler grinned so wide he thought it would rip his face. "Yeah. You're a Jumper. We don't let anything stop us for long."
This time, Cody gave a half smile.
Skyler finally couldn't get out of being made to shower and sleep. He refused to leave Hannah's room, but they compromised and made him take the room next to hers, at least so he would have a proper bed and have a doctor look him over. Nothing was broken, but there were bruises everywhere. Some he didn't even remember getting.
After sleeping until almost past dinner, Skyler hung out with Hannah. Wes had gone to stay with Fred, who promised to keep him in line. After all, he now had Hannah's father to please and gain approval from.
"What happens now?" Hannah asked. "I know what we two do, but… the others? The Jumpers and Coyotes who don't have family to go back to?"
"Maddi's offered them a place to stay if they need it, but they all kind of left the hotel." Skyler grinned. "They're all camping out in our old hideout. Kate's keeping track of them, and Conway helps out when he can. Kip said to leave them be for now, to let them calm down and recover before trying to find a better home or something. Jonah was able to get Devon a shorter prison sentence, too. Devon had been working for Horatio to stay alive for Jonah, and maybe to find a way to leak info."
"Oh good." Hannah smiled. "I'm glad that worked out." She paused for a minute. "He visited Horatio, Conway," she said. Skyler blinked in surprise. "He came in here while you were sleeping. He said Horatio and Hayes both are gonna be moved from the city to Columbus for the trial."
"Probably best." Skyler nodded. "There are way too many people here would would love to try to kill him. Strapped in a hospital bed makes him vulnerable, even with guards."
Hannah nodded. She looked up at him. "We did it."
"Yeah." Skyler smiled. "It's all over. Finally."
"We're both alive, and we're both home," Hannah took his hand. Skyler gave hers a gentle squeeze. He thought back over the past years and months. He had made so many new friends, more than he ever would have if he had been going to school.
No, not friends. Family. They were his family, too. He was a Jumper, whether or not he had an actual home to go back to. His family would be both there and with the Jumpers and Coyotes. They would be a part of hi. wherever they went or wherever he went.
"You know…" Skyler grinned as a new thought occurred to him. "This whole mess kind of started that day we found pizza."
Hannah laughed. "Yuck, I remember. Dumpster diving is something I will not miss." She looked at him. "But I could really, really go for a fresh, hot pizza right now."
"I could sneak it in,. Skyler smirked. "Pineapple?"
"Oh my gosh no." Hannah grimaced. "You're gross. Half vegetable for me, pineapple for you.
"Be back in less than an hour." Skyler stood up.
Hannah gave him a high-five as he passed. "Go get'em, Jumper."
At long last, the end. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much to those who have stayed with me through this journey. Thank you to those who have given me advice on how to write Fence Jumpers better, and thank you to those who have commented on the blog or on the Pinterest boards, telling me how much you've enjoyed it and expressing your reactions to the installments. I have loved hearing from you all, and how much you've enjoyed FJs. I don't know what serial will be next, if there is one, but I hope you'll hang out here again to see other writings. :3 I love showing them and seeing what you guys think. :D
Again, thank you so much to those who have followed FJs. I love that many of you have enjoyed this story, and I hope it will continue to give you enjoyment with any rereads. :D See you around!