Author's note : This may be a one-shot or perhaps a fully grown fic. I haven't quite decided yet.
Blue eyes carefully surveilled the world outside the old glass windows. A gentle breeze stirred the dirt in the road blowing it around aimlessly. The same wind whistled through the abandoned gas station. Outside, all was silent.
There was nothing out there. The darkness seemed to take over everything. Only the moon cast a silver light over the desert countryside. There was nothing out there but dirt and rocks. He'd been starring at it for long enough to know that. He knew what the landscape looked like with a hot sun beating down upon it. Sitting in his chair, he'd taken in every rock, shrub, cactus and dead tree that the land beyond the window had to offer. It rolled on seemingly never ending, going on for miles as far as the eye could see and beyond. A brutal and harsh terrain, nothing much past some resilient and thorny plant life seemed to be able to survive out there. The only movement came from the wind which might blow through the trees from time to time. Even then, there was a deadness about the hot air which seemed to suit this cemetery of a land. The only sign of human life was the road a few yards away. He'd only counted about two cars rolling past on it.
Sitting all alone, starring out at the nothingness. He felt completely isolated. It was almost as if he were living on another planet. In some ways, it now felt like one.
The screech of an owl cut through the silence of the night. It was enough to cause the man to look around before assuring himself once more that he was still by himself. Still, the gaze of the man was a worried one. Time and time again, he scanned the area. He didn't know what he was expecting. Could he even expect anything? He couldn't see much out there, barely anything in fact. The shadows made it impossible to see what was coming and he didn't dare turn on a light. Even a candle out here would be out of place. The flicker of its flame could be spotted and in a place which up until a few days ago hadn't had any residents in over thirty years, it would raise the suspicion of any locals who noticed it. Not that there were many to worry about. With no towns in a 100 mile radius, it was fair to say that he was currently sitting in the middle of nowhere.
So that left him here, looking out a window into a world he could barely make out and with only himself for company. The nerves were dying down, leaving place only for a truly crushing feeling of exhaustion. For some reason, he still found himself completely unable to close his eyes and get some sleep. It wasn't for want of trying. If he did somehow manage to close his eyelids, he found no rest there just a crushing sense of the world around him. It manifested in a strong sense loneliness and despair which had began to take over him some time ago and showed no signs of leaving him any time soon. It weighed upon his shoulders heavily and seemed to rob any sense that things could ever possibly work out.
Turning away from the window, he allowed his gaze to travel once more over the dusty surfaces of the room he now sat in. It had been years since anyone had even contemplated cleaning the place up. He couldn't help but wonder when the last person had set foot in here had been. Certainly he could still see his own footprints in the years accumulated dirt from when he had first walked in. He distracted himself for a few moments by retracing each and every step he had taken and differentiating his own from the smaller set of feet which had entered along side him.
He let out a sigh and checked his watch. Three hours, eight minutes and twenty two seconds. He was beginning to worry.
The truth was he was terrified. He was alone and blind, at least that was what it felt like. He was living on borrowed time, he was aware of that. Soon, he might easily find himself thinking back to these hours in solitude fondly. These moments of peace really should be ones which he took advantage of. If he were smart he would rest. Given everything that had happened, he should have been trying his best to recuperate his strength. It felt as if almost all of it had been torn straight from his very being leaving him utterly powerless. If anything however sitting here like this only made the sensation worse. Every second which trickled by, things were slipping away from him. Any notion that at any point he had been in control of the situation had been lost long ago. Now, he was left feeling tiny in the face of the magnitude of everything that had happened and could very well still be to come.
For a moment, worried eyes dared to drift up to the star filled sky. Almost as soon as he looked up, he retreated back inside of the room. He looked around once more as if checking to ensure that he was still very much alone. His fingers instinctively came up to his left forearm, gingerly they brushed against the bandage tightly wrapped around his skin. Pain radiated sharply causing him to gasp slightly. He refrained himself from gripping at the wound as his instinct commanded remembering the harsh instructions that had been given to him by the person who had given him the stitches. Instead, he hissed in pain grabbing at the fabric of his jeans around his knees to give himself something to grab a hold of. Breathing heavily, he found the pain slowly began to fade after a few seconds. In hindsight, it wasn't the smartest thing he had ever done. The wound was still relatively fresh and his flesh was still tender.
Laying his head back so that it rested against the top of the backrest of the chair, he gently ran a hand over the three day beard which had formed on his face. It was stress. In less than a week, he reckoned that he had acquired pretty much every nervous tic and bad habit known to man. If he wasn't drinking it was because he hadn't been presented with the opportunity. There was something almost appealing about the prospect of being able to drown his sorrows and worries in a whiskey bottle and momentarily forget about the world around him and how messed up it had suddenly become.
He closed his eyes. He was so tired. God he was exhausted. All he wanted to do was sleep and escape this place for a little while… He took a few deep breaths in an attempt to chase away all of his worries and the permanent lingering fear. He tried to forget about how everything had changed and where he currently was. In his mind, he tried to picture home and the warm, friendly and familiar faces that occupied it. He opened his eyes to look up at the ceiling above him. He was wasting his time. He wouldn't sleep. He could feel it in his bones. Those faces and the kindness they reminded him of served to haunt him more than anything else, robbing any hope of finding sleep that he might have had. They were a reminder of his weakness, his mistakes, his great failure which had lead to this current situation and the realization that he might be to blame for the shattering of his world.
Letting out a sigh, he lowered his head. His hands were clasped as they lay loosely on his lap. Was he praying? Not for himself. He wasn't sure where he could even start as far as he was concerned. These past sleepless days and nights he had done almost noting but hope against hope for the safety of those that he loved. He hadn't cared when he'd been stitched up quickly. The fact that he hadn't had any food in what was fast approaching two days had only vaguely registered with him. All that mattered was that his family was lost, scattered to the winds and all he had to show for it was remorse. Sitting there in that abandoned gas station in the middle of the desert, it felt as if the sun might never rise…
"I thought I told you to get some sleep!"
The commanding voice cut through the silence of the night like a knife.
Panic struck him as soon as he heard the sound. Like a jack in the box, he jumped. Literally he was out of his chair. His legs threatened to buckle under his weight. He hadn't been walking around much these past few days and his muscles were for lack of a better word "out of practice". Thankfully, they remained strong enough to support him. All the same, he braced himself with his left hand against the window frame seeking at least some balance. His right fist was clenched ready to fight despite his acute awareness that it wouldn't be enough. His rapid breaths slowed slightly as his eyes met a familiar figure standing in the doorway. His heart was still thumping but at least he knew that it was a friend.
She shouldn't be here but she was and there was no getting rid of her. For once in his life, he was glad that she wouldn't do a single thing that he asked her to.
The young woman stood there with a rucksack on her back. He barely recognised her. Only her eyes unmistakably belonged to the person he had known since they were both children. They caught the cold moonlight in an odd way. She had been quick to shed anything which might have allowed someone to identify her undoing her hair, she had pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up so as to obscure as many of her features as possible. It was the best that she had managed short of wearing a mask. With her arms folded across her chest and a grim expression, he sensed that he was on the receiving end of her wrath once more. Still, there was no hiding the relief that he felt as he faced her once more.
"Kayo..." He breathed.
She slipped her bag off of her shoulders, guiding it down to the ground. She stretched, rolling her shoulder blades relieved to be free from the weight. She removed the hood a second later. The young woman remained utterly silent as she took a few steps. Kayo was unnerving. He had known her for years and still found her ability to move without making even the slightest sound to be decidedly disturbing. It was as if she had an inbuilt sound muffler which somehow rendered her very existence mute. Even when there was no reason for her to be quiet, she still made no noise not even as she moved. He couldn't even hear her footsteps on the floor as she stopped next to him. It was a gift she had been born with and one which had saved their lives on numerous occasions, still… It was something he wasn't entirely sure he would be completely comfortable with.
Her slender fingers were gentle as they touched the bandage on his forearm. He looked at her face trying to make out what she thought of it. Kayo knew more about injuries than he did. More importantly, he trusted her to give him impartial judgement. If she thought it needed more tending to, she would see that it was done no matter how much he protested on the grounds that it hurt. Her expression was grave but he couldn't see the concern which would cause him too to start worrying about it. He felt the warmth of her breath against his arm as she let out a soft sigh.
"I want to have a look at it, make sure it's healing okay." She declared taking a step back. "Sit down."
He obliged having learnt the hard way not to contradict or resist his friend when she was playing the role of a doctor. She knelt down next to him before carefully unwrapped the bandages that she had applied a while ago. She'd ensured that they were tight and would provide at least some protection for the wound underneath. She discarded them thoughtlessly next to the chair. There was no Grandma Tracy to be chasing them about keeping things clean here. She'd probably get rid of it later for hygiene reasons when they both had less on their minds. He dared to glance at the injury. It was looking better, at least that was his opinion. It was drier and even seemed to have scabbed over somewhat. Kayo inspected it carefully, even pulling out a small torch from one of her pockets to get a better look. She must have been satisfied as without saying another word she headed back over to their makeshift infirmary and got another bandage.
They didn't talk much. It wasn't fear of being found – who would hear them out here? - so much as a simple lack of will to say anything. For his part, he simply didn't know where to begin. How could any words sum up everything that had happened? Silence seemed to suit both of them better at the moment. If only because it delayed the inevitable discussion they would have to have. They couldn't ignore what had happened and what their current situation was but they could attempt to pretend that the other one must have had some kind of brilliant plan that they just hadn't shared yet, one which would solve all of their problems.
Still, sitting there as she bandaged up his arm, he couldn't help but confess:
"I was worried about you."
"I was fine." She sounded almost annoyed by the question, it manifested by a somewhat rougher application of the bandage which caused him to wince. "I kept to the shadows. No one recognised me! It was just a shopping trip."
He closed his eyes. He knew better than to question Kayo's skill. He imagined the woman travelling to the nearby town to pick up some supplies. She would have been in and out silent as a ghost. No doubt she knew how to avoid cameras. She would have ensured that she wasn't being followed before coming back here. Her bike would be hidden some place. She was brilliant. Without her he would either be dead or captured by now. She hadn't listened to him when he'd told her that it was too dangerous to go, virtually storming off and leaving him in the desert. She was maddening. She would be the cause of his insanity.
A strange scent caught his attention. It was lingering in the air. He felt as if he should have recognised it but his groggy head refused to cooperate with him and allow him to identify whatever the smell was. He turned to Kayo, looking to her for something of an explanation. She raised her eyes to meet his. A knowing smile crept onto her face. It vanished a moment later replaced with a look of absolute seriousness as she returned to finish bandaging the injury. Curious, he allowed her to continue with her work. All the while, he kept his gaze fixed firmly upon the bag. He let his mind wonder about what could possibly be contained within it. Given the nature of his friend, it was almost impossible to tell. She was good with surprises. She had finished a moment later. Inspecting her work for a few seconds before getting back to her feet and dusting herself off.
Finally curiosity got the better of him:
"Okay, Kayo what's in the bag?"
"Curious are you?"
Her teasing smile was endearing and enough to cause him to snort slightly in amusement. Moments of happiness were brief and things which he only experienced in brief bursts at the moment. Kayo headed back over to bag opening it in order to pull out a large brown paper bag. She tossed it over to him. He only just managed to catch it before he hit the floor. He could already feel a familiar warmth coming from inside. He raised his eyes to meet those of his friend. She nodded, encouraging him to open it and see what was inside. He did so. She must have made an extra stop to get this stuff. Yet another risk, he should have been angry at her but right now, all he could feel was gratitude as his stomach began to rumble.
"You're my hero."
"Someone has to be." She came back over to him clutching a couple of bottles before offering him one. "Here."
He took it from her. Somehow, it was still cool. He found himself wondering how she could have acquired a warm meal and a cool beer when there was 100 miles between where they were right now and the rest of civilisation but at that moment he didn't particularly care. The promise of some decent food and a drink seemed to make the physics behind just how they had gotten here seem unimportant. Kayo pulled up a chair and sat down a couple of feet in front of him. She opened her bottle quickly using her teeth. It was a technique she had mastered and managed to pull off flawlessly in a few seconds apparently without hurting herself. The same couldn't be said for him however. It was a trick he had never quite got the hang of. He tried a couple of times but only succeeded in giving himself a toothache.
Kayo shook her head with exasperation. Reaching forwards, she took the bottle from him. In a few seconds she had the top off which she spat onto the floor before handing him back the drink. He muttered a "thanks". The beer was bitter. It wasn't a taste he particularly enjoyed. Still right now, his parched throat and tired body felt as if they needed it. It was the same for the burger. A hunger lead him to wolf them down without hesitation. For every bite that he took, he found himself reminded that he hadn't eaten in quite some time, at least not warm food. For once, he was glad that his friend had taken a chance. In a few hours, when he was no longer enjoying the meal and it had settled in his stomach no doubt some more reflection would lead him to see just how reckless and foolhardy she had been. He'd get angry at her again and there would almost certainly be some bickering. For the time being however, he was content to share the tub of chips with her.
Quietness reigned. He cast his friend a brief glance. She was exhausted. He could tell that from the bags under her eyes and the way that she sat in the chair listlessly. Any attempts to maintain a decent posture had been abandoned. Given she'd spent the best part of three days running around and caring for him he couldn't blame her. It would have been more surprising if she hadn't been tired. It brought back into his mind their current situation. He let out a sigh drawing her attention. Her eyes rested upon him for a few moments. She knew full well what he was thinking about. He let out a sigh realizing that he could no longer prolong the inevitable. Naturally, he was the first one to break the silence:
"What's it like out there?"
"We're still making the headlines." She informed him picking up a new chip. "That's good."
"Yeah… Means they haven't caught the others."
Somehow, he failed to sound as hopeful as he should have. His tone hadn't escaped Kayo. The young woman frowned disapprovingly. It wasn't the first time she'd taken a disliking to his current attitude. His despair was apparently uncalled for as far as she was concerned. For all that however, she was yet to come up with a decent plan or way forwards. After three days, giving up hope was increasingly easy to do. He just felt so darned tired all the time it made it almost impossible to focus on anything other than how everything had fallen apart and they seemed to have no possibility of ever putting it back together again.
He didn't look away, despite his friend's glare. He wondered how many times over the past few days she'd told him to stop feeling sorry for himself and get his act together. Too many to count. Thankfully, for much of today she had content herself with ignoring him preoccupying herself with amassing a collection of tools and equipment for them to use. It had been a welcome break for both of them during the baking heat of the midday sun with only each other for company. Things were bad enough without them constantly bickering. Right now, tiredness and desperation were making him grumpy that was never a good mindset to be in when dealing with Kayo who could be difficult in her own ways. Still, right now he couldn't help himself. He knew he would probably regret it in the future.
"When was the last time you slept?" She asked him, the question wasn't entirely out of context.
"I don't know..." His answer was quick and dismissive.
"You can't think if you don't sleep." She declared getting to her feet putting some distance between them.
He grumbled but didn't give her any more of a response than that. He felt her cold gaze resting upon him for a few moments. It was a powerful one and something which took quite a bit of effort to ignore. His friend had a way of making her anger felt (more often than not in the form of a fist). It took quite some effort to ignore her or at least not to react too visibly. She stood there for a few moments before moving along. She must have been tired if she wasn't labouring the point any more than that. Either the past few days had truly taken their toll on her or she had run out of patience with him so entirely that she wasn't about to bother with him for any longer.
They ignored one another for a while longer. The man maintained his spot by the window. His gaze was lost along with his mind. Kayo was right, he couldn't think all that clearly right now. He hadn't been able to think clearly for days now. He couldn't have said if that was because of his current state of mind or actually the root of the problem as his friend seemed to think it was. Probably a bit of both.
The sound of movement caused him to turn around to look at his friend. He watched as she made her way to the corner of the room. There were a couple of blankets there. The hard floor wasn't all that comfortable but exhaustion was powerful enough to make it not matter so much. Kayo shifted a little, settling down. He watched her for a few moments. She lay there motionless for a while. She was still awake. The soft breathing of the young woman stood out in the quietness of their deserted surroundings. In other circumstances, it might have been relaxing. Right now, he could still sense the rift and anger between them.
"You're a God damn idiot Scott Tracy..."
He didn't respond. Sometimes he found it difficult to argue with her…