|Price of Victory
Author: Sun Daughter PM
Questionable alliances. Deception. Deadly chases. Fighting for their lives. It's all in a day's work for the Kabras. What exactly happened to Ian and Natalie when they left Korea for Lake Tash? Hear their story, and uncover the price of victory.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Suspense - Ian K. & Natalie K. - Chapters: 14 - Words: 32,157 - Reviews: 119 - Favs: 34 - Follows: 25 - Updated: 11-09-12 - Published: 05-01-10 - id: 5937123
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Special thanks to: Volcanic Lily for reviewing the last chapter!
Subjects: Natalie Kabra and Jack Viner
Last seen at: The Road of Bones
Last seen with: Ian Kabra and Janice Viner, the Perhetigue
Details: After an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Holts, the group is thrown into a life-threatening chase. Natalie is shot, and who knows how the rest of the group emerged from the deadly encounter.
Chapter 13 – Recovery
Everything was unclear when she woke. It looked like blurred white lines were smeared in front of her; she rubbed her eyes. As her vision slowly returned, she immediately remembered what had happened before she had passed out.
"Ian!" Natalie screamed instinctively for her older brother, sitting up in alarm. Looking around, she came to the terrible realization that he wasn't with her. Thankfully, neither was the man who shot her.
She was in a wide white room, bright lights blaring in every direction. She began to panic when she turned to see Jack sitting in the corner, half asleep. Relief swept over her at the sight of a familiar face, and her tense muscles relaxed. Her vision returned to normal, and she realized she was in a small hospital room. Jack was on a dinky couch, and there was a desk and swivel chair for the doctor.
Slowly, Natalie began to sit up with difficulty. The white mattress beneath her was soft but not in the least bit comforting. Jack's eyes snapped open as she began to lift herself from the bed's sheets.
"Don't," he commanded, and she froze. It took her a moment to realize he had grabbed her forearm. His gentle touch sent nerves into overdrive, and she cringed at the odd feeling. Jack quickly let go, and Natalie remained propped up in her bed. The white sheets gently fell onto her lap as she looked at him.
"How long was I out?" she asked. She tried to stretch her leg but felt a stiff brace around her ankle. She glanced at her side and saw a thick white bandage tightly wrapped around her waist as well. Just the sight made all the pain return, and groaned, "I don't think I even want to know."
Jack told her anyway. "About two days," he replied. "Ian took Janice to find Irina, while I volunteered to stay with you. Whoever attacked us thankfully hasn't done so again."
"Is Ian okay?" she asked quickly. The whole incident had made Natalie care more about her brother. Even in her groggy state she knew that what he had said on the boardwalk in Kyrgyzstan was true. They were a team and wouldn't get anywhere without each other's help.
Jack nodded. "He's fine. He was really worried when you didn't wake up within the first few hours when we arrived. They were losing time and needed to meet with my aunt in person to track the Cahills. He told me to call him as soon as you woke up." He glanced at his wristwatch. "We'll do that later." Natalie hesitated before asking her next question.
"How about your sister?"
"Uh, yeah, she's fine," he answered then quickly changed the subject. "You should lie down, Natalie." Instead, she rose and climbed out of the bed. She landed on the floor with a soft thud. Jack gave her an annoyed look. "I just told you to lie down, Natalie."
"By now, Jack, you should know better than to try to tell me what to do," she said, feeling much like her old self. "I'm fine. Stop worrying," she added, her tone a little nicer. Jack had been the one who volunteered to stay behind with her after all.
Suddenly, a surge of pain rushed through her side, and she grunted, clutching at the bandage. Jack rushed to her side.
"Really, Natalie, sit. I mean it." He helped her back onto the bed. Natalie glanced down at the sky blue plastic hospital gown she was wearing and wrinkled her nose in disdain. It was hideous, but she'd have to do her best to endure. Disgusted, she gave Jack an unhappy look and then gently rested her head against the pillow.
"Do you have any other questions?" he asked her. Natalie didn't answer, and Jack patted her shoulder reassuringly. Usually she would shrug it off and tell the peasant to get his hands off her. But she let it slide… just this once.
Jack went over to the doctor's desk and pulled out a small box. "Ian wanted you to have these before he left." He lifted the lid, and Natalie expected to find a wad of cash, a necklace, or something useful. Nonetheless, in the box sat a dainty pair of bright yellow shoes that were hand-woven into a delicate design. There was a small flower in the middle. Natalie stared at them a moment, wondering why Ian had left her a handmade pair of shoes, but then she remembered where she'd seen them before. Touching them, the leather felt strangely smooth underneath her fingertips.
They would go perfect with exactly twelve of her outfits, maybe thirteen on a good hair day.
She felt like she should be shedding tears of appreciation for her brother's kindness, but tears refused to rise. It had been a while since the last time she seriously cried, and she seemed to have forgotten how. Natalie rubbed her eyes even though there was nothing to wipe away. When could he have gotten them? Maybe he when she wasn't looking he had just sent someone. Either way, it had taken his time and effort which made her smile. She glanced back up at Jack and quickly snapped out of her daze.
"Call Ian." Her voice was firm despite how vulnerable she felt. Jack obediently took out his cell phone, and Natalie watched as he dialed Ian's number. She sat up again and listened to the phone hum. When Jack began to speak, she sat up straight and swung her legs over the side of the bed. As her legs dangled over the edge, he motioned for her to lie back down. When she refused, he just turned back to his phone in defeat.
"Janice? Get Ian. Natalie woke up." He paused to listen to what Janice had to say. "You did? Where are they?" Natalie sat up straight and stiffened. "Australia?! How could they have left Russia already? We weren't that far behind."
Impatient as always, Natalie snatched the phone away without his consent.
"Hello?" she asked loudly. "Pardon the interruption, but I need to speak with my brother now," she told Janice in a sour tone.
"Natalie? What happened to Jack?" she heard her retort from the other end. "Give him the phone back."
"Oh, so I don't get a 'Hello, how have you been since you were shot?'" Natalie asked shrilly. "Give the phone to Ian now. That's the whole reason Jack called you in the first place." Jack gave an unreadable expression, though she knew he was tired of Natalie and Janice's bickering.
"Not until you give the phone to Jack. I need to tell him what we found."
"Calm down, Janice," she heard Ian tell her. "Really, you shouldn't let yourself get so phased by my sister." Just the sound of his voice filled Natalie with happiness, and a small smile hesitantly spread across her face. "Be a dear and grab drinks for us, will you?" he continued. "Here's some money."
"Ian?" she asked impatiently, making sure he couldn't hear the smile in her voice.
"Natalie? Oh, thank goodness you're alright," Ian exclaimed.
"How did you find out the Cahills were going to Australia?" she asked. Ian remained silent for a moment, and Natalie knew bad news was coming.
"It doesn't matter," he told her a little softer. "But Mum found out how they slipped through our grasp…"
"Oh! Is she with you? Can we finally go shopping? In that case, there aren't many good places in Russia, but we could find somewhere, I'm positive – " Natalie began, but Ian cut her off.
"No, Natalie, she wants to make sure we don't mess up again. We're going to meet her in Australia so she can join us."
Natalie gasped, feeling a sour stab in her stomach. Last time their mother got involved, it resulted in secret meetings, betrayals, a huge fire, and two murders at the very least. Not that half of those things hadn't already happened, but they were always worse when Isabel Kabra was to blame. She glanced at Jack who was still patiently waiting.
"Did she call you? Can I talk to her?" Natalie asked Ian quietly.
"No, she sent a messenger." Ian's tone softened as well.
"Where are you? We'll meet you there," she whispered.
"No, stay where you are. You're in no condition to help anyway I think Irina is getting suspicious since we haven't made an appearance in a while, and I think we may have the Perhetigue on our tail. It's better if you remain with Jack. Janice and I can handle it."
"Is that all you can say? No?" Natalie asked infuriated. "And who the bloody heck is the Perhetigue?"
"It's more of a 'what' actually. The Perhetigue is the name of the group who attacked us," Ian said in a hushed tone. "Is your side okay? I was so afraid. I need to –"
"You need to what?" she demanded. He took a deep breath.
"I need to go. We'll catch a jet to Australia to meet Mum, but Janice and Jack… They'll have to deal with Irina and the Perhetigue on their own. I'll come back for you, but this is where we have to say goodbye – " His voice was cut off.
"What? Ian? Are you there?" Natalie asked frantically, desperately wanting to hear the end of what he had to say.
"Janice?" His voice was hasty on the other end. "What do you mean you saw one?! They could not have followed us here." A pause. "No, we will not split up this time. That was an awful idea." Natalie heard Janice's muffled response then her brother speaking again. "Janice, you can't – " His voice trailed off, and he groaned loudly. When it came back, it was sharp and demanding. "Natalie, I am telling you one thing and that is to stay where you are. We'll come back to get you and Jack. I'm serious. I need to grab Janice before she gets us both killed."
The dial tone clicked. Natalie wished she could be angry at Janice for making Ian hang up, but after the Perhetigue's vicious attack, she couldn't blame her. Another look at Jack made her angry at her mother for breaking the alliance. They were closer than ever to the clue and finding the Cahill kids.
"Ian told me to stay put, but we're leaving," Natalie told Jack, standing up. "Where are my clothes?" Jack scrambled to his feet as Natalie headed towards the door. He grabbed her shoulder and spun her around.
"Not on your life," he said. "This time you are going to listen to me. We are not going anywhere until either Janice or Ian calls us. Got it?"
"No, don't 'got it'," Natalie snapped, shaking her head. "They could be in serious trouble, and Jack…" She hesitated as she was about to tell him about having to leave him and Janice. "The Perhetigue is after them," she said instead. This seemed to be the right thing choice after seeing Jack's reaction. His eyes widened, and Natalie could swear she saw the whole scene of their last run-in with that group flash before his eyes. He obviously knew who they were, and they were obviously very dangerous.
"Okay," he said without hesitation, and he led her out the door. Natalie smiled triumphantly as she followed. The Perhetigue wasn't getting rid of her that easily.
Next Chapter: Goodbye Forever