Run To Midnight
Rain fell steadily from the sky for most of her drive. She wasn't used to it and drove more slowly than normal. Cursing fate when she missed the turning, she pulled the car into the side of the road while she checked the map one last time. This was the right place. The village seemed a little depressing to her, but there was a soothing air about it that she liked. Two huge stone pillars stood on either side of the road, a sign hung between them on a stripped redwood tree. It read "Welcome to St John."
She smiled at the irony. She'd driven over nine hundred miles to get him and had been fighting nerves most of the way. Gravel crunched under the car as she drew to a stop outside of his house. It was a low slung cabin, the type favoured by campers and tourists. She could see white smoke drifting from the chimney and knew that he was home. The windows were dark, and she couldn't see anyone inside.
She got out of the car, closing the door quietly behind her. It didn't feel right to slam it in such a tranquil place. The cabin was away from the main village, connected by a dirt road. She could see tire marks and guessed that John had his own transport. She paused before knocking on the door, tense for reasons she couldn't fathom. It was a handsome building, made from rough hewn logs. It looked solid and reassuring. A porch wrapped around the house, protecting it from the worst of the elements.
Rapping her knuckles against the door sharply, she hunched her jacket tighter around her neck as she waited. It was still raining and the air temperature was a couple of degrees lower than she liked. Her breath misted in the air as she breathed out. John himself answered the door. He was relaxed in the lightweight black wheelchair. The neutral expression on his face didn't change when he saw her standing there, but she could see past it. He was shocked.
"Angela." The way he said her name gave her shivers. She looked steadily at him, keeping eye contact. He lifted one side of his mouth in a parody of a smile.
"John." Her voice was steady, and she was grateful that her emotions didn't show in it. Everything inside of her was still to raw to be let out.
He came to his senses as she shivered once, violently. The wheelchair made no noise on the oak floor as he turned round, moving away from the door. "Come in." There was real warmth in his voice. She was surprised to see traces of stubble on his face. In all the time she'd known him, he'd be clean shaven. The stubble accentuated the hollowness of his cheeks, mirroring the shadows under those brown eyes. His hair was longer. Somehow, the look suited him.
She stepped into the house, snicking the door closed behind her. The cabin was tastefully decorated, with bare wood floors and dark cream walls. It was warm and she slipped her coat off, hanging it with the others by the door. To her right, there was a living room. She could see a corner of a large yellow couch. It looked inviting, even after being sat in the car for days on end while she made the trip. Another door stood closed to her left and she guessed that it was a bedroom or a bathroom.
The rest of the cabin was a mystery to her, but it revealed itself as she followed John towards the back of the house. Cooking smells wafted past her nose and her stomach rumbled. The kitchen door was partly open and she could hear someone moving around in there. John pushed through the door, moving into the room so that she had space to enter it too.
A blonde woman stood cooking at the stove. Angela gasped, "I'm sorry, I didn't know that you…" she managed before turning to leave the kitchen. Somehow, she'd never thought that he'd have a relationship. It was selfish, she knew, but that didn't help. She still felt shocked.
"Angela! Wait!" Normally the plea in his voice would have stopped her, but she carried on regardless. "Angela! It's my Mother!"
Angela stopped in the hallway, giving him chance to catch up. He moved with the same grace. The thick black wool jumper did little to hide the defined muscles in his arms and shoulders. He was too close to her and she wanted to step back, but he caught her hands at the last second, holding her in place. His grip was gentle and she could feel callous on his hands from the wheelchair.
She didn't know what to say, couldn't look him in the eye. For the second time that day, he looked at her. This time he noticed the battered look she was carrying. His eyes flew over her body, checking for injury, but there was none. She was hurting on the inside, not the outside. He let go of her hands. She let them fall to her sides.
"I should have told you I was coming." Her voice was flat, devoid of emotion.
"I'm glad you're here." He was sincere, not sarcastic "It's been too long."
"Five years." She supplied "Can we talk?"
"Of course." John said. "We…"
Whatever he was going to say was cut sharply off as his Mother came into the hallway. She was a tall, slender woman who Angela couldn't pin an age on. She could have been thirty or she could have been sixty. Her blonde hair was woven through with grey, placing her closer to sixty. She wore a tan turtleneck, pearls and black trousers. Her feet were encased in expensive designer shoes that would have cost Angela a month's pay.
"John?" She laid a hand on his shoulder, not noticing as he tensed. "Are you aright honey?" There was a fallacy to her tone that made Angela grit her teeth.
John apparently felt the same way, because he snapped "I'm fine," before moving away from her cloying touch.
The older woman looked at Angela, trying to score pity "There's no need to be like that John." When John didn't introduce her, she introduced herself, sending a reprimanding glance at her son for his lack of manners. "I'm Joan." She held out a hand for Angela to shake. Angela took her hand, a little unsure. "I'm Angela."
He closed his eyes for a second, reining in his frustration. "Can you pick some stuff up for me?" His tone was clipped.
"Of course I can sweetie." Joan bent to plant a kiss on her son's head. Angela got the feeling that it was all a show for her benefit. He pulled a list from his pocket, passing it to his mother. She left the room in a waft of perfume and John seemed to relax again. He shot a scowl at the door she had passed through, but didn't comment until they heard the front door slam.
He looked apologetically at Angela. "She takes some getting used to." Once again, he lead the way into the kitchen, waving Angela to sit down as he made toast and coffee. He moved around the kitchen with ease, laying spoons, sugar and other items onto the table. He placed a stack of toast next to her, before returning to get the coffee and cups.
She poured the coffee, adding sugar and milk to hers. He drank his black. She didn't know where to start, and picked at a slice of toast while she thought about what she had to say. He sensed that she needed time and waited patiently. He took a slice of toast for himself, eating it slowly as he waited.
"I lost my job because of them John. The city is in ruins and the cops still won't listen to reason. Gangs of half-breeds are roaming the streets. They have no respect for the balance. My boss" she swallowed hard "I tried to tell him the truth and he laughed in my face. He told me I was insane."
He took her hand, offering comfort through touch. The pad of his thumb stroked her palm softly. His hands were warm and surprisingly soft against hers. She continued, relentless now that she had started. "We need you John. The city needs you. People are dying. In another year, maybe two, they'll be nothing left worth saving."
He opened his mouth to speak, and she anticipated the question. "I have a friend, a Doctor, who thinks he can heal you. It's a new procedure, but it's been working well." Her eyes implored him to consider the offer, but she had a gut feeling about what he would say.
He silently stared at the table, considering her offer.