What's this? An alternate Epilogue? Is Neassa really this nice?
Why don't you read and see?
Sly winced at the thud from behind him. Sure, it wasn't that loud, but his senses were wired and any sound could be their undoing at this point.
"Sorry, Sly. Small window, big feet."
The raccoon forced a smile and grabbed what they needed from the shelves, "No worries, pal... Now shake it off and get into your disguise before someone comes to investigate that noise."
The main benefit to using disguises to sneak into a semi-public area, like this hospital, was that most people didn't think disguises worked. And it was true that most of the time they didn't. As Thaddius Winslow Cooper III had written in the Thievius Raccoonus, it was all in the way you carried yourself. A mixture of looking like you were supposed to be there and some sort of Jedi mind trick, really.
Of course, that didn't help so much once you realized that the door to the supply closet you'd climbed up to was locked from the outside. He could pick it, of course, but there was no telling if he could get it open before someone came to investigate the noise Murray had made.
Then again, the only other option was getting back on the rope outside and trying to find other conveniently located storage closet...
He'd just slipped a couple of picks out of his leg pouch when the handle started to turn. No way were they going to disappear before whoever was out in the hall got a look at them. He flipped his cane up into his hand; the only option would be to yank them in, then knock them out before they could call for help.
The door opened about halfway and Sly swung his cane out in a smooth arc, sincerely hoping he wasn't about to attack an innocent nurse.
It would have been a perfect maneuver if his target hadn't ducked.
He had just a second to realize how badly his balance was compromised and the fact that the target was now inside his guard before there was a flash of black and something drove up under his ribs, knocking him on his back and the air out of his lungs.
"Sly!" He heard Murray yelp.
He was sitting up immediately, not quite able to see because of the black spots in his vision, but grabbing for his cane, even as he was gasping for air. They must have been seen as they were climbing up the building, they had to get out-
He froze. No way...
He dragged in a gasp and his vision finally settled. He looked up and there she was, pulling the door closed behind her.
"Sorry, sorry. I just- reflex, y'know?"
"Oh, I'm fine, thanks for asking," Sly wheezed as Murray ran past him to sweep Kaia into a bear hug, "I'll just sit here and... calmly die of internal bleeding..."
She laughed slightly as the hippo set her down. If Sly didn't know better, he'd say she was giggling. "Come on, I didn't hit you that hard."
"Says you." It really was her. He couldn't get that out of his head. What was she doing here?
She took the few steps necessary to reach him, holding out a hand to help him up. He didn't miss the way she was cradling her other arm slightly. Instead of standing up, he pulled her down next to him. He doubted she could have pulled him up with her left arm anyway.
He took her right arm and pushed the sleeve of her baggy black hoodie up. Oh. Well, he really should have expected that. It had only been three weeks, after all. "So, I get to sign this, right?"
She rolled her eyes, "Yeah, I'd love to explain to my dad why your signature is on my cast."
"It'll blend right in with all the rest of these," He tilted the wrist-to-elbow monstrosity to get look at a doodle on the side, "... why is there a bunny on a pike?"
"Oh, um..." She twisted her head to the side to look, "My friend, Millie, came over to visit for break. That's probably her handiwork."
"Break?" It was only November.
"Yeah, break. In America, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Well," she checked her phone, "Today, technically."
"Kaia? You'll let 'The Murray' sign your cast, right?" Very few people could be above the age of thirteen and use the world renowned Puppy Dog Eyes to their full effect. Murray was one of those people.
Kaia twitched like she had a few thousand volts of electricity running through her veins, then sighed and reached into her back pocket, producing three colorful markers and letting him select one with a red cap, "You're a cheater and you should feel bad about it."
"Love the color by the way. You pick it out?" Sly took a black marker before she could protest and picked out a fairly clear spot near the front of the royal blue cast, next to a bunny that appeared to be dead on the side of a road. He wondered if this 'Millie' person was psychotic.
"Shut up. It's the only color they had."
He also wondered if Kaia knew that he knew her tell. "Why are you in Paris still? I thought you would have gone home."
"Interpol is still figuring out what to do with me, a lot of them want to leave me with their best interrogators for a week to see if they can get any info out of me. Not to mention I've been sighted all over the world in the last few months and my passport shows no record. They're having a field day with that." She shrugged. "So I've mostly been stuck in my hotel room, trying desperately to catch up on all my schoolwork since I don't speak French. I estimate I'll get to go home in a week or so."
He nodded, running his thumb over the top of the cast while Murray continued to work higher up, the tip of his tongue sticking out the corner of his mouth in concentration, "This hurt?"
She shook her head, "Not so much anymore. So long as I don't do anything stupid, the doctor says it can come off in another couple of weeks."
"So you're thinking of holding onto it until Christmas, then?" He blocked the hit aimed for his head and his eyes locked onto a green scrawl on the cast. He'd have recognized that signature if he was blind. For someone whose primary method of communication was typing, Bentley had some nice calligraphy, "Bentley signed your cast?"
"Yeah. Why do you think I'm here? I'm a minor, I go to the pediatrics hospital. I'm here to see Bentley, and I'm guessing you are too. I'm also guessing that you're not running on any sort of timetable, seeing as how you've spent the last five minutes sitting on the floor of a supply closet and drawing on my arm."
"But it's midnight."
"The night guards are very receptive to coffee bribes and someone has to help me with my Chemistry homework."
"Excellent," He stood, offering her a hand up. "You can tell us where his room is. I was going to charm the answer out of a nurse, but this is much more convenient."
"They'd probably call security on you anyhow." She replied, rolling her eyes and taking his help after Murray had finished his drawing on her cast. "He's one floor down. I don't remember the exact number, but his is the only room with a guard posted outside. There's also one at the nurse's station and at the stairwell, so you might want to take the elevator."
For a few seconds, he just stared at her. Then he smirked, "Have you planned this?"
The tips of her ears turned bright red and she shoved him. "I just happen to visit a lot, okay? And besides, you guys were taking forever..."
Sly opened his mouth to defend their lack of intervention on the basis that they wanted Bentley to have as much time as possible for professional physical therapy, then closed it at the last second. He didn't want her to give them bad news, especially not with how poor Murray's self-confidence had been lately. He couldn't risk Murray being even more distracted, not tonight.
"Well, we're here now." He turned back to the door and pulled out a couple of lockpicks.
"No need for that," Kaia strode right past him, "Give me a little credit. I didn't just intentionally lock myself in a closet with two wanted criminals." She then, to his surprise, pushed the door open with her shoulder, using her good hand to take something from the lock as she did.
"How'd you do that?" Murray asked.
She smiled and showed them two business cards that she'd apparently stuck in the door to keep it from latching shut, "Good to know these are good for something."
"What are they?"
"Cards from journalists. They're endless." She shrugged, "You'd think after almost a month, they'd give up."
Sly snorted, stepping into the hall and looking both ways. "They harass you a lot?"
"Not as much as they used to. That's why I come up one floor and then go down the stairs and use the side entrance. They have a tendency to hang around the main doors. Now," she whispered, looking up and down the bare hall, "Give me a few minutes to get out of here. If they think I helped you get in, no way are they letting me go home before Christmas."
He nodded at her, "Thanks."
She hesitated for a second, then nodded in reply and turned on her heel, making for the opposite end of the hall. It was then that he noticed that she was walking away from him now and it was his turn to say something.
She look over her shoulder, her expression wary. No- not wary... nervous?
He smirked and winked, "See you around."
Her ears turned bright red and she opened and closed her mouth twice before twisting it into a scowl that was trying desperately to turn into a smile and pointing at him accusingly.
Hi, friends! Thought I'd give you a little something to tide you over until the sequel.
Speaking of which.
The sequel will be name Lima Syndrome and will be posted on July 24. Mwaha, a release date! Given the length of Lima Syndrome, this will give everyone something to read from July to sometime next spring, which gives me enough time to tackle the third story in the series and hopefully get most of it done before Lima Syndrome ends.
And to tide you over until Lima Syndrome... The blog is up! Yes, ladies and gents, I actually made a blog. There's a handful of posts already, some fanart, Kaia's bio, I answered a few questions (please go to the blog and ask me a question, in makes me happy on the inside), there's a couple of polls, I posted this thing, and I'm also starting a Stockholm Syndrome Commentary! The first chap is up and packed full of gifs. I'd love it if you'd all mosey on over to the blog and tell me what you'd like to see in future commentaries and posts and any ideas you have to the blog. I thrive on feedback! You can click on the 'Homepage' link in my profile or just go to limitsofsanity (dot) tumblr (dot) com
Hope you're all doing well and I can't wait to see what you come up with! God Bless!