Lexi made it to the airport. She got Coquette and the Hornet on the plane, lined up neatly behind Dick’s 911, Harold’s Stratos, and Glen’s Allard, which was sitting on three wheels. Rocky pulled the Hornet in behind her.
She gave him a quizzical look. “You earned it,” she said. “It’s yours.”
“Like they’re going to let me keep it?” he said.
“You have a point.”
“Frame’s pretty badly twisted anyway. Save that 7-X engine,, and I’ll call it a win.”
She nodded, and Rocky accompanied Victor off of the plane.
The chaos wasn’t over yet, though. She had Harold and Dick trying to tell her the hilarious story of what Roger and Lars had done to the Ferrari in one ear, and Molly talking about the adventures she and Glen had had in the other, and then the plane was taking off and Lexi got pissed. Insanely pissed. The farther away from her feet Ile du Soleil fell, the more white-hot the feeling grew. She hated all of them, hated them for being happy and sad and for the adventures they’d had and for just making noise. She hated everyone in Ile du Soleil who’d helped to turn the car-rescue into a political act, hated the people who’d decided that she needed to be chased down, terrorized and killed. She hated Pinky and the Brain, and Victor, and Dobie and Gail LaMorrison and Carroll Carver and the people who’d made the sign out of a bedsheet. She hated Harold and Dick and Glen for having a good time and getting cars they loved. She hated the backhoe. Lexi even hated Molly a little for having an exciting story to tell and for reconciling with Glen, and for the things she knew they’d do together in the future.
She hated them for having futures, when she still couldn’t see her own.
The plane tilted, angling out over the ocean, but she didn’t enjoy the sensation.
She wanted to be in a horrible accident. She wanted to go back to the desert and wish Victor’s intervention away, and let the Brain shatter her face with his fists. She wanted to look out the windows of this noisy-ass cargo plane and see the whole goddamn motherfucking world on fire. She wanted to light that fire. Lexi wanted to go back to the cave where they’d found the cars and be underground, in the dark and alone and safe.
All of this roiled in her head, made the sounds of her friends’ voices jagged and unfamiliar, their faces blurry, and so Lexi got up and went away from them. The small passenger area didn’t allow much movement (the plane hadn’t been modified much since its military days) and she didn’t want to be near the cars so she found the rearmost row of seats and sat sideways across one of them and faced the wall, arms folded over her chest, feet braced against the wall on either side of the window. She pushed against the fuselage and forced her spine painfully against the armrest. She felt like a cable, stretched taut, and the tension in her legs and back and shoulders began to match what was inside, and that felt good. Lexi closed her eyes and hurt for something she knew she’d never have.
Her abrupt departure, which happened in the middle of a sentence from Dick, did not go unnoticed. Harold reached for her arm as she went past him, but she yanked it away. Dick stood to follow her, an apology on his lips, and Molly said softly, “Let her be.”
“Did I say something wrong?”
“No,” she said. “She’s in mourning.” She’d seen the expression on Lexi’s face and had seen it before, but didn’t know how to help. All Molly knew was that it was not a good time to interact with Lexi, not even to attempt a cheer-up. Molly felt completely useless, and spent a few minutes feeling sorry for herself for not being a better friend, even though Lexi clearly thought she was important enough to keep around. The best she could do was to keep the others away from her, and hope the storm would be brief.
It wasn’t, though. When the plane touched down to refuel, Lexi pretended to be asleep. She didn’t care where they were or how long they’d be there; she didn’t want to talk to anyone. The cargo plane had nothing resembling amenities; Molly draped a blanket over Lexi’s bare shoulders and pressed an apple into her lap as the group departed for a food and bathroom break.
When they were gone, she wrapped both hands around the apple and wept in silence for a while as everything that had happened for the past few days caught up. She squeezed the fruit, and her hands shook. People had been trying to kill her! Once the shakes and incredulity passed, she felt more annoyed than anything else. This wasn’t like having a jealous psycho ex-boyfriend trying to kill her. Lexi felt offended, actually.
Of course, she didn’t need to be that pissed about it; she’d already gotten her revenge by not dying.
By not dying. Jesus. People had been trying to kill her. It took a while for her to readjust her world to include this fact.
By the time she began paying attention to what was going on around her again, the plane was back in the air. Molly and the others were in their seats, alternately napping or chatting quietly, and no one looked Lexi’s way. She ate the apple, then put her head down and went to sleep for real.