Scene 1 - Kyle...
At the hospital:
Then, just like that, there he was…
Chase swallowed with intimidation the moment her eyes took in the sight of him. She flipped an errant dark brown curl away from her cheek as the blood coursed her body in a rush. Her heart was pounding madly and she felt as though she was swimming in a pool filled with shards of broken glass as pins and needles coursed the length of her thin frame. Every time she laid eyes on him, her reaction was always the same.
She'd been watching him from afar for weeks now. It was as though something within him called to her very soul, affecting her so profoundly that she was entirely breathless just to be within sight of him. It didn't matter how great the distance was between them.
Kyle! Oh, how seeing him in the flesh did things to her. The greatest conundrum of it all though was that she had no real idea who he even was. Only the barest tidbits of information had been granted to her, yet she was beside herself merely to look at him. His sun-kissed blond hair that always looked more than a bit out of place and that brown leather bomber that he seemed to wear everyday of the week, they told her almost nothing about him at all. It was mere instinct that drove her to seek him out day after day, striving to find the courage to actually approach him and talk to him. In the end, it was the voice of the divine that was prodding her to do just that…
Go to him… Show him…
That was all she could hear, attempting to spur her into motion. Her body wanted to slide down off the metal table she was currently sitting atop, but her hands and feet simply would not obey the command. It was as if a wall held her in place and her mind was deadlocked as to how to begin processing the directions in order to move.
He was standing twenty-feet away from her near the sliding glass doors of the hospital's visitor garden. He looked pensive as he clutched his cell in his hand. His eyes were cast down as he spoke in hushed tones to a voice at the other end of the call. She could see he was greatly disturbed by something and that helped give her time to gather her thoughts. He certainly needed his privacy for the conversation he was having. She could see that.
Lifting the folder she held in her hand, she viewed the pamphlets she'd become accustomed to handing out. What would he make of them? She could only wonder as her face became flushed and her body filled with adrenaline once more. The idea of handing one to him set her nerves to near overload as she pictured him shoving them back at her without regard for the intent behind her need to deliver the message to him.
With anyone else, delivering a message seemed a simple enough process. It was always awkward and nerve-wracking, but nothing compared to the dread she was feeling right now.
Generally she felt confident in her ability to choose the right words with people, trusting implicitly in her gift to find the right recipient for each message. This time, however, she was having great difficulty deciding if this message was truly intended for the man she was watching right now. Or, was she confusing her own need to speak with him for the voice she normally had no trouble intuiting.
Go to him. Again the words rose unbidden in her mind, the words impossible to ignore.
As always, her head inclined and listed slightly to try and reach out to the source for more information. What should she say to him? What words should she begin with? She waited and waited, but it was to no avail. Only silence returned in response to her unspoken questions. Just silence…
Swallowing nervously, she could feel herself beginning to perspire a bit. With timid movements, she inched herself off the edge of the tabletop and willed herself to stand. If she chickened out, this would truly be a first for her.
Just do it, she tried to tell herself. Never, ever doubt the source.
He disconnected the call and she noted how distraught his face appeared as he stared at the ground. Her steps were slow as she watched him drop his hand from his face. His shoulders seemed to drop in defeat as he pocketed the phone with very little expression in that moment.
His sister! The thought hit her fleetingly that it had to be something to do with his sister. She was the reason Kyle had been visiting the hospital each day. She'd been admitted just a few weeks ago with her health in decline for reasons as yet unknown to the doctors on staff. That first day, he'd been standing out here for a breath of fresh air while she'd been having lunch. The moment her eyes landed on him, she'd sensed some undeniable connection between them. That was how it often began when she was about to receive some message for an individual. No message had ever presented itself for him that day, however. The voice in her head had remained peculiarly silent in regard to him.
She had used her credentials to learn what she could about him, but the medical files on his sister Angela only listed him as her primary guardian and next of kin. That was where her knowledge of him began and ended. So far, he hadn't seemed to notice anything about her at all. He had never even looked once in her general direction, nor noticed how she'd haunted the visitor's area each day since, just waiting and watching—hoping to get another chance to look at him once more.
Even now, the voice in her head was unusually quiet, although the blood rushing through her head was nearly deafening her to the sound of anything at all. Then, suddenly she was standing before him. He was mere feet away from her, just close enough to finally get a real look at the man who was capturing her intense fascination.
His hair was actually light brown, she could see. As the slight summer breeze blew over him, it did appear to shine blond in the noonday sunlight. His eyes were a soft sea foam green, deadened in appearance from apparent grief that sat behind half-closed lids. The skin was certainly marked with the darkness of weary fatigue. It was obvious he hadn't been sleeping or eating very well for a long time now.
Her mouth opened as she stopped before him, but no sound came out on the first attempt. Even as she tried to force herself to speak, she felt her heart jack-hammering roughly in her chest. He was going to reject her advance, she just knew it!
"Excuse me," she finally managed, raising a hand slightly as if placating a wild animal she wanted to try and pet. "My name is Chase—" but she tripped over her words, hastening to correct the mistake, "Chastity Sawyer, that is, but it's Chase. I work here in the hospital."
Then his sharp gaze was lifting, narrowing slightly as he peered down at her with an intensity she found incredibly intimidating. It was as though he sat atop a high precipice, inspecting her as meal to be hunted and eaten. All at once, the air emptied from her lungs and the minute measure of nerve she'd managed failed her utterly, leaving her mind completely blank.
Kyle was startled from the disarray of his jumbled thoughts, having just given the news to his employer. He was going to miss another week of work and most likely school as well. This week was going to shit in a hand basket and there was nothing he could do to stop it from happening. What more could they stuff on his plate now?
He barely registered the face of the woman who had just interrupted his voyage into the abyss, assuming she had come to add another layer of crap onto it. What else could there possibly be? Another bill to add to the stack or perhaps another detailed report on yet another diagnosis of, we don't know what the hell is going wrong with your sister? It was all these people seemed to be good at getting right!
He could see she was taken aback by the bluntness of his unapologetic stare, but he really didn't care right now. His patience for this hospital's incompetence was at a grotesque and utter end.
"Look," he warned abruptly. "Miss Sawyer, I just got through listening to everything Dr. Burke and his colleagues had to say. Whatever I missed is going to have to wait—"
What should I tell him? What do I say? It was with a sense of desperation that Chase sent her plea off into the murky depths of the unknown.
Kyle was cut off at once as her eyes widened in panic, turning down from him to stare at the ground. He neared her the barest of inches, focusing on her eyes as he narrowed his to concentrate on her suddenly intense thoughts. It was as if she'd spoken directly to someone standing by her side, yet her lips had not moved. It was the strangest thing.
Realizing how abruptly he'd stopped speaking, he cleared his throat and let himself appear censured to some extent. He could feign an apology to cover his momentary lapse.
"Sorry, it's been a very long week," he shook his head, biting at the corner of his mouth—knowing what an understatement that really was. The past week had been torturous to endure.
She appeared a bit relieved, if not still wary to be speaking with him after his outburst. Still, she risked a glance back up at him, then down to the folder she held in her hand. Indecision showed in her eyes.
Raising a brow, he indicated it with a quick nod to get her speaking again. Feigning a greater level of patience than he really felt, he shook his head by way of a small apology to try and put her further at ease.
"What," he asked in a far softer voice. "What did you come out here for?"
"I, uh—" she began hesitantly. Blinking rapidly to get her thoughts in order, she sifted a leaflet out of the folder and handed it to him. "I am a nutritionist here at the hospital."
"A nutritionist," he asked skeptically. What the hell did he need a nutritionist for? His sister was hardly conscious enough to need one now. Her life was hanging by a thread, living solely off of the machines that kept her breathing and an IV that kept her hydrated.
"Yes. I work with patients and family members here, but I also run an outreach program that I was told you might be interested in attending. I'm actually holding a workshop this evening. The details are on the pamphlet," she explained. With each word she spoke, she seemed increasingly nervous.
A quick glance at the title caught his attention, but not in a positive way. "Alternative nutrition for deadly diseases?" His eyes narrowed again on her, his irritation beginning to flare. "Is this a joke?"
How do I explain it to him? What do I tell him it is? He looks pissed!
Kyle's mind began to rev up with questions of his own then. The frantic nature of the questions firing off in her mind hit him one after the other. They were sent with the same intent and force that people used when they spoke out loud. It had him stepping forward without even realizing he'd done it. Never had he heard someone's thoughts so clearly as hers, not without intense concentration anyway. He could hear her thoughts without putting any effort into the process at all.
Still, the context of what she was thinking made no sense to him at all. Whom did she think she was speaking to? It was one side of a conversation, as though she was expecting to hear someone answer her. Each time a question was raised, her eyes flicked down to the right, marking the moment the thought began and ended. It was the oddest thing he'd ever witnessed.
"I'm sorry, but who told you I would be interested in attending this thing," he cocked his head, awaiting an answer all too impatiently.
This was a mistake! She knew it had been a grave mistake to approach him this way. Chase felt mortified and regretted her decision to let instinct guide her in this matter. It had been the wrong move. It had to have been! He looked beyond livid right now. She felt it in every fiber of her being and she could barely make eye contact with him a second longer.
Her guides were entirely silent at the moment, giving her no help at all. Why wasn't she receiving any further information? How could she know what else to say?
Normally, heeding a request to deliver a message came with further advice as a conversation began and progressed. This time… Nothing! Absolute dead silence! It was baffling to her.
Where are you, she fairly shouted in frustration. Staring down, unable to believe how abandoned she felt at this moment, her frustration grew to an unbearable level. This was not the impression she had wanted to make on this man. She would never have even spoken to him of her own volition if it hadn't been such an earnest request in the first place. No… That wasn't entirely the truth. She had to have mistaken her normal intuition with her own imagination this time. That was the only explanation. The voice in her head had been her own intense longing to find common ground to start up a conversation with him. That was the only explanation for how badly this conversation was turning out.
Well, now the cards were dealt. He would put up his guard if he saw her again. She was sure of it. Her ability to sit and watch him, unobserved, would be forever compromised. This was wrong, she realized with dread. Nothing about it felt right at all…
"Uh…" Feeling a humiliating rush of fire heating her face, she could no longer look him in the eye. Severely devastated for the mistake she'd made, she decided to tuck tail and run. "This was a mistake," she rushed to admit. Breathlessly, she licked her lips and declared, "I have to go. Just forget—"
Her retreating words were entirely lost on him as she walked to the automatic door to disappear inside. Kyle stood dumbfounded by the swift end to the incredibly odd conversation.
He had not imagined it. He was certain of it. Presuming the woman was not a schizophrenic, she'd been sending out her thoughts with enough force that he could hear them as plain as day in his mind. He'd heard her as clearly as though she'd spoken to him with her own voice. It was that much of a physical act to him, although in reality it had been a mental one.
It wasn't just the words he'd been hearing that caught his attention, he realized. The frantic and fleeting emotions crossing her face had been strong ones, breeching her subconscious in a way he could easily sense. He could scarcely make sense of anything about the encounter at all, except that it had been… Odd… Just entirely strange from beginning to end.
Looking down at the paper he was holding, he hoped it might help him make some sense of the matter. In the end, it left him with nothing but more questions.
In essence, the workshop she was holding in the hospital's small auditorium proposed to explain the power of eating a diet rich in living foods—a vegetarian lifestyle, he assumed at first, but then he read it through further. It discussed the theory that many illnesses could be attributed to a depletion of vital energy necessary for healing the body through nutritional sources. That loss of energy could result in physical, spiritual or emotional instability and—
"God, what bullshit!" He fairly crumpled the page as he tried to contain the foreign emotion he was feeling. "She's in there lying in a coma and you want to talk to me about fucking—"
"If you want to converse with God, you're standing in the presence of the wrong person," came an amused voice close behind him.
Kyle scarcely needed to turn around to know the owner of that voice. "Yeah, if that being were even a person at all," he commented dryly, refusing to appear startled in any way, shape or form. He wouldn't give the interloper the satisfaction of it at all.
Instead, he took his time turning, folding the leaflet in his hands as he moved. He creased it thoroughly before pocketing it inside his leather jacket. The sight of his old friend shouldn't surprise him after all these years, but as always, he was utterly baffled by his unexpected appearance.
"Ash," he finally acknowledged him, genuinely pleased and curious as to the reason for his visit. The look on the demon's face was anything but pleased, however.
"Your services are required," he explained without preamble. "You need to open your mind to them."
Kyle stepped back measurably, a frown creasing his forehead in response. "To them?"
"They weren't asking," Ashen insisted. "I was sent to collect you."
"They?" He repeated himself, fairly exploding in outrage. For weeks he'd been open to the elders. Weeks! Nothing but silence had greeted his mind. "Whatever they want, they can get somewhere else!"
He hadn't even turned by a few inches when his path was blocked by the demon's body. Kyle was forced to step back, at once intimidated by the size of him.
Measuring several inches taller, with his black wings arching slightly outward, the demon's malevolence was vividly apparent in that moment. Kyle did not fear Ashen in the slightest, having known he meant him no harm since he was twelve years old. Still, right now he appeared furious and Kyle had no idea why. Defying him seemed to border on insanity. The demon looked full-on pissed off. Dressed in black leather from head to toe, the demon was one impressively fearsome looking creature.
"Why they want you, I do not know and I really don't care. You will come though, Kyle."
"You don't get it," he argued on in objection. "My sister is in there right now and she is dying. Dying! Or can't you comprehend that! It's been months—" he stammered in anger. "Months since I've seen you or any of them! Now they want me to—"
"That isn't my concern." Ashen refused to listen to his blathering. He was tired! Too tired to brook any argument concerning this human's drama. It simply wasn't his problem.
"I trusted you," Kyle breathed, shaking his head in disbelief. "I trusted them! They could fix this if they wanted to. No one is going to convince me they can't!"
The slide of the automatic doors had him spinning his head as two chatty nurses stepped out of the building. Kyle closed his eyes in frustration, feeling a measure of betrayal wash over him even knowing the circumstances were no one's fault.
Want him, did they? At their beck and call to open his mind now that they wanted him for something? In what universe was that even remotely fair? He had been calling out to them for weeks for help!
"If you say one word, I will make a meal out of the both of them without a second thought," the demon promised with measured delight. "This is not the moment you want to try and test me. Just one word, Kyle. I swear it to your God…"
Torn between warring emotions, Kyle fell mute in panic. The demon would do it, he knew deep down that he would. He'd seen him do much worse as though it was the easiest thing in the world for him to take a human life. It probably was. Rubbing a closed fist against his forehead, wishing it could be possible to punch the demon straight in the jaw without repercussion, he weighed what few options he had in the matter. Little, he imagined.
Releasing a harsh breath, he knew there was only one choice in the end. Perhaps he could strike a bargain with the elders for this. Ask them to spare the life of his sister somehow in exchange for whatever it was that they wanted from him. It was possible…
Clenching his jaw with resolve, he nodded just once at the demon. If they had sent Ashen this far to collect him, no doubt it was something important. Perhaps even something they'd be willing to pay for.
That was his hope, anyway…