Scene 1.21 - Quiet Reprieve
"Inside," Kyle encouraged Chase as they approached the hotel. "Just stay behind me and stay close," he warned her.
Wrapping her arms fully around her frame, Chase shook violently from the cold that had seeped into every fiber of her body. She wanted to cry as she meekly noted her apparent state of undress, wondering what everyone would be thinking when they caught a look at her.
"There's only a desk clerk inside. He won't even notice you. Just stay in back of me."
As the doors to the lobby powered open, Kyle was thankful to feel a warm blast of air hit his face. He knew Chase was cold. It was in her every thought. So early in summer, the air conditioning was not yet running on full blast and for that he was truly thankful. The lobby stood quiet and empty, much to his satisfaction.
As he made his way to the front desk, he made sure to keep her well behind him as he unshielded his eyes. The last thing he wanted was to give her another reason to run off screaming into the night. He held a hand out behind himself in warning to her as his mind opened up to the clerk.
"I need a room for the night," he stated calmly, allowing his mind to touch the man's. He knew in an instant the clerk would not be able to break his gaze or turn away.
"Of course, Sir. I just need to see two forms of identification and a major credit card."
Holding the man's attention, Kyle deepened his focus in the man's mind to gain his cooperation. "I already gave them to you. You were just about to assign me a room," he insisted.
"Uh," momentarily halted, the man touched the computer screen to his left and began typing on the keyboard. "Right," he blinked with a small frown. It was apparent he was trying to focus on the task despite his momentary confusion.
Kyle assumed what he was typing was most likely gibberish. Still, he was forced to hold his ground and wait out the moment, unable to fathom what Chase must be thinking.
The man produced a piece of paper and placed it on the counter in front of him. Kyle couldn't thank God quickly enough for that miracle. As he'd assumed, most of what was printed on the form was nonsense.
"Just sign the bottom, please," the man requested with a pleasant smile. He took it back a moment later and placed a second piece of paper on the desk. Pointing to the building's floor map, he said, "Take the elevator to the fourth floor from this point. Follow the hall down to the end. The room number is circled for you here."
Nodding, he accepted a small envelope which he knew contained the room's key cards. As he stepped back, he lowered his eyes for a moment, staring hard at the floor. Ultimately, he closed his eyes until he was certain he'd fully concealed the darkness in them once more.
Blowing out a breath to calm himself, he finally turned and gestured for Chase to go ahead of him. He was beyond exhausted and he could see she appeared to be walking as if in a trance herself.
He knew he had expended more energy in the last hour than he ever had in his entire life. Oh, he'd pushed himself before, but never quite as hard as he had tonight. He felt beyond fatigued. He'd been warned years ago that his gifts had their limits and now he knew what that meant. He felt like a battery running on its last reserves.
It was with great effort that he kept his feet moving as he followed her to the elevator at the back of the lobby. His hand reached to take hold of her forearm to steady himself, but she pulled away from his touch at once.
She shook her head adamantly at him. "I'll be fine now. No more of that—" she couldn't seem to find the words to say, "you know…"
Pursing his lips, slightly admonished, Kyle allowed her to distance herself from him without objection as they stepped inside. What he really wanted to tell her was that he wouldn't have been likely to shift her upstairs even if she'd asked him to. Instead, he said nothing.
The elevator rose swiftly and soon they were stepping out and walking down the hall in silence to the room they'd been assigned. He slipped the key through the slot above the door handle, thankful when the green led light blinked and the latch clicked open.
He quickly found the light switch and turned the knob up to its brightest setting. The moment the door shut, he deftly turned the deadbolt and pushed the heavy swing arm closed above it. When he turned, he found Chase was already sitting down on a chair just inside the room. Her thoughts were frantic, which he would know just from the worried look written on her face.
How am I any safer in here with him? She sat forward in panic then, burying her face in her hands. God, oh God, oh God…
At this moment, he knew the last thing he should do was try to reassure her that she was indeed safe here with him. Anything he did to elude to his inhuman gifts would only increase the anxiety overwhelming her. Instinct told him she was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. He'd be damned if he would do anything to tip her over the edge.
The room came stocked with a small gift basket of tea and coffee sitting on a microwave. No help there. Still, he knew he should try and find something to help calm her nerves.
Excusing himself, he stepped into the bathroom and locked the door. Staring at the map in his hand, he saw the layout of the building and found a restaurant and bar located on the first floor of the building. No doubt, this would be pushing the limits of what he was capable of, but he knew it was what he needed to do.
In just minutes he was gone and back again. Holding the contents of his raid in his arm, he spied a white robe hanging on the back of the door and he grabbed that too. Blinking as his vision began to blur, he brushed off the momentary fatigue, intent to accomplish his goal.
He opened the door to find her standing by the window before him. She was staring out into the dark skyline. She looked pensive, unblinking when he entered the room.
Crossing to the table, he took the cups from atop the microwave and lined two of them up beside it. Placing two bottles down, he opened a container of orange juice and the half-pint of vodka he'd stolen from the bar. He mixed them lightly together in the cups and swished the contents with a plastic coffee stirrer. Draping the robe over his forearm, he picked up the cups and carried them over, offering one to Chase.
"Just a Screwdriver," he explained when she looked at him in question. He saw her eyes scan the counter queerly, but she said nothing. Instead, she reached for the cup and took a good long swallow. He then offered her the robe, indicating she should take it.
She grasped it hesitantly, swallowing another sip as she stared down at it. Her face was ashen as she shook her head thoughtfully.
"You brought them to me," she finally accused. It was a statement… Levied as she turned to stare once more out the window. "I know that you did. I saw you there with them."
Kyle was floored by her admission. For the second time, she had stunned him with the strength of her mind. With both of the Elders subduing her, she shouldn't have been able to remember anything about the visit. Perhaps his own powers were weak, but the Grey's power could not be defied by anyone.
"You remember it," he asked, neither admitting the truth, nor denying it.
"Why did you bring me here?" Her eyes lifted to his in anger as her fear began to subside with the help of the liquor he'd given her. She was no longer shaking and the color had returned to her face.
"They were going to kill you." Shaking his head at his own audacity, he admitted, "I couldn't let that happen. You're too important. There's something very different about you and—"
"Something different about me," she scoffed out loud. "Are you kidding me? After the things I saw you do tonight?"
"I know what I am," he insisted with some regret. He simply couldn't leave it at that, however. "What I am is not anything close to what you'd classify as normal."
"Then what are you," she suddenly dared to ask. "You need to tell me, because right now I'm being told you aren't even—" she shook her head and took a deep breath. She could barely bring herself to even say the word. "Human…"
"What does that mean? That you're being told?" Avoiding the question she'd asked, he found himself focusing on what he'd been wondering about for the last two days. Who was feeding her the information she was receiving? What she knew about him aside, she knew too much about a lot of things that she shouldn't.
For a moment it looked as if she were going to deny it was true, but then she surprised him in offering to try and explain it. "It's not like that, exactly. I don't hear voices or anything. I get impressions about things and the words just form in my head. Sometimes it happens when I'm looking for answers, but other times," she merely shrugged. "It just happens on its own."
"Like the day that we met," he surmised, remembering how she seemed to be conversing with some unknown entity in her mind.
Her head tilted to the side for a moment then, her eyes glossing over as if trying to look for some answers within herself. Remembering that first day as well, so clear was the image in her mind that she said, "That day I thought I was supposed to help you with someone else—someone that you knew. Now? I'm really not sure what it was about."
"What else is there," he persisted. He was intent on getting answers now that she was willing to actually talk.
At once her eyes snapped back to his face. She appeared a bit shell-shocked as she came to a sudden realization. "You can hear my thoughts." She stepped back from him with a frown, appearing horrified by the notion all over again.
To that, he had no idea what to say. He knew she had already suspected as much, but it seemed the idea was only occurring to her again for the first time. She was left reeling in the wake that such a thing was even possible.
"It's not something I do intentionally," he apologized abruptly. For the first time in his life, his innate gifts were being discovered and he felt like a bit of a pariah for it. He was mortified hearing it revealed for the world to hear. "It's a gift I was born with and I can't always control it."
"You can't? Or, you don't?"
Kyle shook his head, unable to fathom the turn of events this entire night was taking. This woman was a complete and utter mystery to him.
"I just don't understand how you know what you know."
"Touché," she replied obtusely, biting the corner of her lip pensively.
Pressing his lips together, suspecting he would get no real answers from her at the moment, he turned away and walked back to the counter to make another drink. This time he added a bit more vodka into the mix. His nerves were fraying and it left him feeling completely out of sorts.
He held only the barest concept of what this woman was, but every word coming out of her mouth told him that her gifts were putting her life in grave danger. He had already seen the end result for one of the energy beings—having taken part in imprisoning her in the underworld himself. The idea that the Elders had so easily determined that Chase's own life should be terminated for the same reason, for being what she was, had left him completely shaken. He was the one who had led them straight to her front door with his interference.
He had no doubt that she was one of the Kindred. That much had been revealed to him during the assault. That fact had left her marked for death. However, what he'd learned about her now might make her an even bigger target in the end.
The Elders were an extremely introverted race of beings. If they learned someone actually had the ability to learn more about them or, God forbid, possibly track their movements… He could only imagine how threatened they might feel then. Incredibly enough, his allegiance to them had shifted in the blink of an eye. Gone was his complete trust and faith in them, switching sides so suddenly with a desire to protect the very person who could threaten to undermine their very private existence on Earth.
Perhaps that was the reason they'd been brought together, ultimately being more about her than it was about him. What if she'd been sent to him for protection? Yet, he had betrayed her by leading them straight to her instead.
A sharp curse elicited from his lips as he took a good, long swallow of the drink. He welcomed the sudden burn of it in his throat.
"I have to try and fix this," he muttered to himself.
"Fix it," she shuddered. "How can we possibly hide from them? The stories I've read about those—"
"No, no… They won't find us. I can block them."
"What? How?" Her face was mired in confusion as she tried to understand his meaning.
Kyle pointed to his temple in response. "It's one of my talents. Blocking out their thoughts." A moment later it occurred to him that he was not the only one who possessed such a gift. "I believe you are immune to their mental intrusions as well—at least from what I saw tonight."
The mention of what he'd seen caused her to begin reliving those brief terrifying moments in her apartment. She suddenly started shivering all over again and he could have shot himself for it.
On the verge of apologizing for it, an unexpected wave of dizziness washed over him. He reached reflexively for the counter to steady himself and looked over at her. Caught up in her own thoughts, she hadn't seen it. Shit! He really needed some time alone to himself.
"You should go shower and clean that off," he suggested, indicating the filth that still covered her arms and nightshirt.
"God, this is such a mess," she whispered miserably and he knew she meant far more than the dried blood on her skin.
"I'll fix it, Chase," he promised her sincerely. "I swear I'll fix it."
No, there was no way he could possibly know that, but he would have said anything to calm her fears when she looked so distraught. It was a livid thing, washing over him as it rolled off of her and into his mind. He had taken her life as a free woman away from her tonight. How far he would have to go to make things right, he had no idea at all. He swore to himself that he would do what it took to keep her safe though.
"Go," he sent a look to the bathroom, encouraging her to take some time for herself to clean up and recover a little.
Chase lifted the robe close to her chest, nodding to him as she stepped into the bathroom, quickly locking the door between them. Kyle closed his eyes and released a very tense breath the moment she was out of sight. He set the cup down in an instant and moved to sit down on the bed. He bent forward, feeling his face draining of color as he placed it in the palm of his hands.
So cold… He suddenly felt ice cold...