She stopped in the middle of fixing her hair, that feeling there again. She was being watched. She'd felt it for a few days now and couldn't shake it. West told her she was crazy, over-reacting, and thinking things because of the newspaper article. That wasn't it. She felt it, the weight of not just someone's eyes but their very soul bearing down on her. It was frightening and a little exhilarating to think that someone would look at her like that.
West didn't. She'd thought for a while now that if she weren't special or different he probably wouldn't be interested in her. She'd be just another cheerleader, another ditzy blonde. She liked having someone to be able to be honest with. And, who was she kidding, the kissing that came with a boyfriend was nice. It just didn't make her feel like she was in love.
And wasn't she supposed to feel that about the first guy she got seriously involved with? Wasn't she supposed to be head-over-heels by now, deliriously looking into a future that she knew couldn't exist realistically?
She walked to her window, the feeling grew stronger but no matter where she looked she saw nothing. So, either whoever was watching her was stealthy as all get-out or she was hallucinating. She wasn't sure which she preferred. Someone watching her could mean her father was right, The Company was after them after all - and it was her fault.
They would have just taken her by now, though. Wouldn't they have? They wouldn't lurk around, spying on her. Would they? They knew what she looked like and everything. Taking one final pass of the area she could see outside her window and finding nothing, she returned to getting ready.
"What's wrong with you tonight, Claire?" West asked as they were leaving the diner he'd taken her to before the movie.
"Nothing," she said with a shrug, unwilling to hear him tell her yet again no one was watching her. "It's nothing."
"Do you have that feeling again?"
"No, you're right, it's nothing."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure," she said, hoping she sounded convincing. She was to the point now, she just wished whoever or whatever it was would do what they came to do and be done with it.
"Ready to go get scared?" he asked, taking her hand.
"Sure," she said. She'd never seen Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal or Red Dragon until recently. West was a fan of them all, and was anxious to see Hannibal Rising. Since there wasn't really anything out she wanted to see that badly she'd agreed to go.
She saw him for the first time while waiting in line with West for popcorn and drinks. He was nice looking, but this was California. There were plenty of good-looking guys around. No, it was his eyes. Not just the look in them, but that she thought for the minute or two their eyes met that the look was exclusively for her.
She'd never looked in someone's eyes and claimed to see passion. She always thought people who said that were stupid. Passion wasn't displayed that way. She'd seen desire in West's eyes when they got hot and heavy with their kissing, but passion was a physical, tangible thing. At least she'd thought so until that moment.
Eyes the pale blue of a cold winter's day should not have been able to portray what they did. Heat. And that very passion she thought couldn't be conveyed that way. It showed what she knew. She felt herself blush, and that allowed her to pull her gaze from his. She didn't really want to, though.
"Are you sure you're all right?" West asked, handing her a soda.
"Yup. Let's go find out why Hannibal became a killer."
He smiled then. "All right," sounding happy she seemed excited about the movie.
The second time she saw him was outside the bathrooms. She knew without a doubt he was waiting for her, though he didn't do or say anything to indicate that was true.
She saw him for the third time in the actual theatre. What were the odds of all the movies showing in the multiplex he'd be seeing the same movie she was? And alone. What was up with that? He was too nice looking not to have a date.
She couldn't help but stare as he took a seat a few rows in front of them, just far enough away for him to be in her line of vision without being obvious about it. Or that's what she thought he was doing anyway.
West leaned in. "It's rude to stare at another guy when you're on a date with your boyfriend," he whispered.
He nodded his head in the direction of the blond who seemed oblivious to Claire watching him. She knew that wasn't the case, though. "Especially when the guy looks nothing like the guy you're currently with."
"I don't know what you're talking about," she whispered, sounding defensive to her own ears.
"You were looking at him by the concessions, too."
She shrugged. "I'm not dead," she said simply.
"Do you know him or something?"
"No, I don't know," she said, because saying she didn't know him seemed wrong. She wasn't sure how she knew it, or why she even thought it, but she was pretty sure this man was behind the feeling she'd had the past few days. She didn't say that to West, though. He'd probably confront the guy and scare him off. Claire didn't want him scared off and she didn't want someone else finding out what he wanted with her. She wanted to do that herself.
"You aren't going to invite me in?"
"My dad will be…"
"Right," West said, sounding defeated. There was no easy way around who her father was, what he'd done during his time with The Company. Things had been complicated between them since he'd found out the man with the horn-rimmed glasses was none other than his girlfriend's father. How ironic he thought she was a plant when her father likely thought the same thing. Tonight was the first night they'd actually gone on a date since then.
He kissed her good night and she watched him walk down the street toward his house until he rounded the corner and she couldn't see him anymore.
She knew he was close by. He, whoever he was, had an energy to him that seemed to connect right to her. She didn't get the feeling that she was threatened or in danger. She waited a minute, wondering if he would finally show himself. When he didn't she shut the door and went inside.
"How was your date?"
"It was fine," she said, grabbing a glass of water. "I'm going to be up for a little while, see what's on HBO."
"Your boyfriend isn't coming back, is he?"
"No, Dad, he went home."
"All right. I don't like the idea of him skulking around."
"He's not skulking." At least West wasn't. Someone was, and she hoped when everyone else was asleep she could find out why.
Once she was sure everyone was asleep she went outside. She didn't have to walk far or long before she saw him. She'd been right, it was the guy from the movies. He closed the distance between them, which was good because she found herself rooted to the spot on her front lawn just then.
He was older than her, not by much, but he carried himself with a grace and presence that showed experience and wisdom. He kind of reminded her of one of those movie endings where the hero walks out from the fog-filled night larger than life, mission accomplished, bad guys defeated, the world -complete with girl - saved. Where that thought came from she didn't know.
The passion she'd seen earlier wasn't there right now. There was an emptiness in his pale blue eyes that made her sad. It was as if he knew too much, hurt too much. She saw a glimmer of hope in them, though, and knew for whatever reason the glimmer was directed at her.
She was his hope.
"Who are you?" she asked, voice hushed so she wouldn't wake anyone up.
"My name is Adam," he said simply, as if she should have already known.
His voice sounded somewhat regal. Great, just what she needed, someone following her who was full of himself. Even if he was cute enough to pull off being full of himself. She'd had her experience with the Brody's of the world and wasn't going there again.
"Why are you watching me?"
"How did you know?"
"I don't know, I just did. I felt you. So, why are you?"
"Peter told me about you."
"Wrong answer. Peter is dead."
"No, Miss Butlert, he is not. I saw him in Montreal, very much alive and embarking on a return to New York City to be reunited with his family."
"Nathan didn't tell me."
"Perhaps they're getting reunited. Give it time, he spoke of you fondly."
"Yes, you saved his life."
"You mean he didn't explode because he could heal? I wondered about that."
"That, yes, but your healing powers helped him regain his memory."
She wondered if she could do that, too? Had the Haitian erased any of her memories in the past? Could she regain them? That was a thought for another time and place.
"Oh," she said. "Who are you?"
He smiled. "I already told you."
"You told me your name, that doesn't tell me who you are."
"You are the first like me I've crossed paths with."
"Like you? But Peter's special?"
"But you heal as I do."
"Really?" she asked. "I didn't know…"
"I suspected, I've been around long enough that I realized there had to be more than one like me. I've waited generations, though, to actually cross paths with one."
"I suppose now is the time to mention I saved Peter's brother's life as well."
This was too weird.
"My blood. Your blood, too, I imagine, has curative qualities to it."
"Oh," she said. "How do you know all of this stuff?"
He chuckled, but it sounded forced. A little bitter actually. "I've had years to experiment."
"You're not that old."
"You really have no idea?"
"What you can do. What you are."
"No, I don't. I know I regrow things."
"How did you find that out?"
"I cut off my toe."
"That's one way to go about it."
"How did you find out?"
"That I regenerate you mean?"
"I was shot in the chest with arrows."
"I'll bet that was weird."
"To say the least."
"So, why come find me? I barely know Peter. I mean, I know him, but I can't imagine him telling you anything that would send you here from Montreal."
"How wrong you are. Do you have any idea what it's like to watch the people you love, care for, consider family die. Repeatedly. Again and again. Over and over. It's like a nightmare that you can't wake up from. Soon, you decide to go it alone, because making friends and losing them is far too painful."
"What are you talking about?"
"We cannot die, Miss Butler. We're, for lack of a better word, immortal."
His lips curved up into a smile. This seemed genuine. "Yes, as you say, way."
"I cannot. I can tell you the things I've seen, experienced, partook in. Wars, battles, sieges. Some bloody, some more a battle of words or wits. I've seen electricity come into being. And believe it or not, there were people who did not think it would succeed. I've seen the Pony Express get outclassed by the telegraph system, which of course was replaced by the telephone. I know what it means to be able to get into an airplane and be in California from Montreal in a matter of hours."
"I've traveled the globe. I've traveled on ships before they had anything to power them beyond Mother Nature. I've fought hand-to-hand and on horseback. I saw the Industrial Revolution. Y2K wasn't the first new century I've welcomed in."
"So, I'm going to do that, too?"
"Yes, I believe so anyway."
"I'm going to look like this forever?"
"I believe you will continue to age, as I did, for a short while. But then, yes, your body will reach a point where it will stop. Your cells will constantly regenerate so that you appear a certain age indefinitely."
"Just how old are you?"
"I'm not sure you're ready for that bit of information yet."
"Oh, we'll have plenty of time for me to answer all of your questions."
"How do you figure?"
He turned then and walked away.
"Hey!" She went after him, grabbing onto his shirtsleeve. "Where are you going?"
"I think we're done for tonight."
"Done? You drop this information on me and walk away?"
"For now. I'll leave you to process the information I've given you. I'll be back," he glanced at her over his shoulder then. And he smiled. For the briefest of moments she saw the passion she'd seen earlier and knew without a doubt it was directed at her. "I guarantee that."
She grabbed onto his wrist tighter. "When?"
"Soon. I've laid a lot on you. Get some rest, you'll need it."
"That is so unfair!"
"I've learned that it's best to do things in stages."
"And this was stage one?"
"How many more stages are there?"
"Truthfully, I do not know. I will be sure to tell you when I'm done. Good night, Miss Butler."