The room is dank and damp, an old semi-abandoned cellar. The fan overhead turns lazily, and a spider skitters across the floor. The whole room is tinted an odd green color, Lila assumes because of the moldy light fixtures. Three men are in the room, standing around a chair. Tied to the chair is Cassel.
He's bloody and sagging, his black hair disheveled and hanging in his eyes. He glances up at the men. "Don't you think we could move this conversation to a better location, gentlemen?" His grin tries to get on his face, but is stopped by a bruise.
When will he learn to keep his mouth shut?
The man in the middle, the leader, backhands Cassel across the face. Lila is a ghost in the room, a presence with no value. She wants to scream.
"Don't sass me, lad." The man says, leaning his weight on the arms of the chair, the cigarette in his mouth looming closer to Cassel's face. "We've played this game long enough, don't 'ya think?" A lilt tips his voice.
Cassel struggles to catch his breath. "It doesn't feel like a game to me, Brennan."
Brennan sneers. "You got a smart mouth, Cassel."
"It wasn't really a compliment."
"Good. I wasn't really thanking you."
It is one of the other men to smack Cassel this time.
"Let's get down to the basics shall we, Cassel? Let's say what we know."
Cassel seems too dazed to respond, his eyes fuzzy. Brennan continues.
"Fact number One: You are a very special boy. Transformation workers don't stroll down the street everyday, or rather, get taken off the streets by my men everyday. Two: I could really use a transformation worker on my side." Brennan starts to make his way around the chair, trying to unnerve Cassel, but he keeps staring straight ahead at the wall.
"Fact Three: You've been here about five days now, standing up to our… persuasion tactics. And fact number four? You want to know it, Cassel?"
"I can think of many things I'd rather know. Like how to kill you here and now." Cassel is glaring.
"Fact number four; I am a very impatient man. So I am going to ask you only once more. Are you ready?"
Cassel watched the man infront of him fix a silencer onto a clean, silver pistol.
"Will you work for the Brennan family?"
Cassel looks Brennan in the eye. "No."
Brennan doesn't look surprised, or even very disappointed. He merely nods to the man with the gun.
The man steps forward. He raises the gun. And then he shoots Cassel in the face.
Lila sits bolt upright in bed, the sheets sliding off of her onto the floor. She is panting, and suddenly realizes that she's saying something, his name, over and over. "Cassel, Cassel, oh God, Cassel…"
She reaches for him on the other side of the bed, once she remembers where she is and that he should be there too. But he's not. Panic starts to claw its way up her throat. She scrambles out of bed, the sheets twisted around her ankle and almost tripping her. "Cassel?" she shouts. He's nowhere in the room.
She trips her way out of the bedroom and into the main living area of the suite. It has a balcony with a sliding door, looking out on the cold, sharp lights of Quebec City. On the balcony is Cassel, blowing ice crystals into the wind.
She jerks open the glass door aithout warning and he jumps. "Lila?" he asks. His cheeks are red, and not blown away by a gun. Lila shivers.
"What the fuck are you doing out here? What's wrong with bed, Cassel?"
His brows knit together at the tone of her voice, irritated, angry. Terriffed. "What's wro-"
"You-jackass," she snarls, and she punches him in the chest, through his sweatshirt. "You d-don't, I…" And suddenly she's sobbing, turning his shirt soggy.
Cassel listens to the entire dream as he makes her some tea in the small kitchen, the Keurig always ready and plugged in. She watches him numbly from her barstool as he sets the mug infront of her and starts to make coffee for himself.
"At least I kept my wit in a stressful situation," he says wryly. He digs through the cupboards for a packet of hot chocolate.
Lila curls her fingers around her mug. It's one that Cassel had made at Wallingford his last semester, with the words "RISE AND WHINE" twisting around it in black. Sam had sent it to them as a kind of joke, once Cassel had finally agreed to send his friend their address.
"You kept your wit too well, if anything," she grumbles. She can't erase the image of the blood flying, the wall behind him being splattered.
Cassel tears the hot chocolate open with his teeth and dumps the contents into the coffee. He grabs a spoon and starts to stir. "You haven't cursed anyone lately, have you?" he asks.
Lila rolled her eyes. "No. I haven't had the motive to work anyone here in Canada."
Cassel fixes her a look and then drops the spoon in the sink. "Just asking. This dream seems like it'd be intense enough to be blowback."
She thinks of her blowback, the awful nightmares she can always expect to come after she's worked someone. Always bloody, twisted, macabre. Even so, she'd take her blowback over Cassel's any day. At least when she morphs into a monster or a dozen tiny cockroaches, it isn't actually happening.
Cassel leans against the counter across from her. "Brennan doesn't know about me," he says quietly.
"No. He doesn't," Lila says. The unspoken 'for now' hangs in the kitchen air between them. "Why do you have to be so damn Wanted, Sharpe?"
He grins, no bruise to stop him in the real world. "It comes with being sexy," he teases.
She reaches her bare hand across the counter and strokes his cheek, feeling the slight stubble rub against the pads of her fingers. He closes his eyes and leans into her touch. The clock ticks, barely making its way past 5 o'clock. His eyes open, the dark brown almost black. Lila remembers how she used to daydream he was a gypsy with those eyes, come to take her away on an adventure during their summers in Carney.
"Marathon?" he asks, smiling faintly.
She grins back. "Perfect. What do you feel like?"
He considers. "You can never beat James Stewart." He says. James Stewart is her favorite.
"Well, sure, but Sean Connery is equally awesome," she says. Sean Connery-his favorite.
"How ever will we choose, Miss Zacharov?" he asks, grinning. He makes his way toward the couches in the main room, catching her hand on the way. He pulls her off her stool, and spins her gently towards him, heedful of both their drinks. He kisses the side of her head.
"We might just have to go with what feels right, Mr. Sharpe."
As Cassel shuffles through their growing collection of DVD's, she considers him, how different things are now than they were a month ago. She has killed an F.B.I. agent, and he has almost became one. She is still a mob boss' daughter and Cassel is still a con artist, though not to her. To her, he always tells the truth, or at least when it matters. It is the truth that he loves her. He'd do anything for her. If protecting her would mean getting shot in the face, the truth is that he'd do it.
And that's what terrifies her.
They end up putting in The Philadelphia Story, and after she finishes her tea, she leans against him with her head on his shoulder. She's tired, (the tea being decaf)and she finds herself blurting out, "Thank you."
He seems honestly confused, and Lila finds herself vaguely pondering how stupid smart people can be when it comes to themselves."For what?"
"Being here. With me. For leaving home without me asking you to."
He sighs quietly. "You don't get it, Lila. I didn't leave home. Home is-it's wherever I'm with you."
There's quiet, except for the familiar tones of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn murmuring on the screen. Lila just sits and feels, and realizes Cassel's put into words the exact way she's felt ever since he jumped into her car in the Wallingford parking lot. "I feel the same, Cassel."
The movie plays on as the sun starts to get ready to rise over Quebec. By the time it does though, neither of them are awake to see it.