I'm proud of this chapter, and though I'm not quite sure…I think you guys might enjoy it too : ) I really hope you do anyway.
Disclaimer: Joss Stirling owns Finding Sky, the Benedicts, Wrickenride, Mr. Joe..the whole friggin universe etc. etc. All I own is the tiny little fragment of this universe I like to call Thirteen : )
This chapter is for charlie-BVB, here's your cookie honey, hope you enjoy it : ) And also for fearless0601, in the hope that one day she remembers she loves being my bestie really, despite all the fanfiction horror I put her through.
Twenty-Four Hours in America
(How to save a life)
My heart hammers in my chest, my breath coming in short, sudden gasps. The same thought keeps flickering through my head. Vick, Vick, have to find Vick. Every time I shut my eyes I see his face, super-imposed over my eyeballs. Panic keeps bubbling up inside my chest, suffocating me, crushing me from the inside out. I need to find him.
Callum and Garcia stand in the corner, talking between themselves in hushed voices, shooting glances my way every other second. This is getting us absolutely nowhere.
There are some times in life, when you should follow the rules, when you should keep your head down and stay out of trouble. When you should do as others tell you, because they're convinced they know best.
Then again, there are times when going with your gut, doing what you think is right, just because it feels right, is the only option.
"What the hell is going on?" I ask, surprised at how strong and clear my voice sounds, seeing as how I feel like I'm about to shatter. Callum and Garcia look up, but don't reply, instead continuing their hushed conversation.
"I said," I dig my thumbnail into my palm at this, keeping my mind on the pain and off everybody else. "I said what the hell's going on?"
"What does it look like?" Callum arches his eyebrows. "We're trying to work out a way to find our dear Agent Benedict."
"Really?" I cut back, irritation prickling along my skin slowly, subtly. There's something about Callum's voice that's not quite sincere, like he's not taking it seriously. As far as I'm concerned, Vick Benedict is to be taken seriously.
"Because to me it looks like you're just standing around talking."
That gets Callum's attention. He turns to face me properly now. "And I suppose, Miss Thirteen, that you have a better suggestion."
I shrug. "As it happens I do, actually." The words escape my mouth before I can stop them, before I even think about what saying them will mean for me.
Because the thing about secrets is that we have them for a reason, we don't decide to keep them just for the fun of it. I can feel all my reasons shattering, one by one. All I can see now, is Vick's face, all I can think is that he's missing he's in danger.
Secrets keep us safe, secure, they look after us when we're feeling too weak to look after ourselves. But I can feel my secret slowly starting to hurt me – hurt Vick. Who am I to let that happen?
I take a breath. "I can find him," I say, rushing the words for fear I won't say them if I wait much longer. "I can find Vick."
Callum shakes his head imperiously, as if the very notion that I can do something he can't is beneath even his contemplation. "If he's not answering his phone, Thirteen, then we can't find him. We have no way of knowing where he is."
"I can find him," I repeat. Callum's doubt is all I need to reassure me this is what I want to be doing. Vick is the reason I'm taking the plunge, but Callum has single-handedly convinced me to jump in faster than I'd have thought possible.
"I can find anyone."
Garcia's eyebrows almost disappear off of her face in shock. "You're like Victor?" she gasps. "You're…you can… you're special?"
I fix my eyes on Callum's. "Yeah, yeah I am."
(On sleepless roads the sleepless go)
I'd never thought much about how I'd die, but everyone has their macabre little fantasies, their basic idea of how they'd like to go when their time comes. This wasn't mine.
With every thump of my heart in my chest, I can feel the life draining from my body. Ironic really, that the organ that always kept me alive is slowly killing me.
Everything seems less important now. Thoughts and questions and half-formed worries spin around my brain but none of them make sense anymore. Memories flit before my eyes, except they're not really memories anymore because I don't recall any of the. I think I see a smoking gun, mountains, a body, a pickup truck, a house on top of the world – and a girl.
Yes, definitely a girl. A red haired girl with wary eyes walking away with my heart in her back pocket.
(I die, each time, you look away)
I always forget how much it hurts, my 'gift'. And absence from it hasn't made the pain any more bearable. But it's something at least. Something that drowns out the panic and the anguish and the constant thoughts of a brown-eyed boy who can see straight into my soul.
It's something to concentrate on when I'm scared to think about everything else, when I can't even begin to trust my own thoughts anymore.
And anyway, the pain my power causes is nothing compared to the feeling of my heart screaming at the prospect of losing Vick. I hold his business card in my hands, turning it over and over in my fingers, clutching onto it like it's a lucky charm.
It's the only physical link I have to him, the only thing I have to show for a week and a half with the man and a kiss that broke my heart with the way it ended far too soon. If I find him, I tell myself firmly, I am not letting go of him. Not ever. Not if I can help it anyway.
When I do find him, it's like running into a brick wall. Everything just stops for a second.
I've found him, I've found him, I've found him
Every though freezes, every breath catches, my heart holds hill inside of my chest.
'I'm coming Vick' I think, without even meaning to think it, and before I remember – too late – that I banned myself from it, I reach out towards his mind, comforting, forbidden, so close and yet so far away.
Next thing I know, I'm running. Not even thinking about what I'm doing, just knowing for sure and for definite, that if I don't get to Vick now, my heart's going to explode.
I don't even feel Garcia tackle me until I hit the ground. She's shouting at me, telling me not to be an idiot, to stop, to think, but I'm not even listening anymore.
'I'm coming Vick, I'm coming'
(The broken locks were a warning, you got inside my head)
I'll tell stories for years to come of how the words bring me back to life. 'I'm coming Vick', whispering through my minds empty spaces. The voice is warm and raspy and so very, very familiar. I move a little bit, turn my head towards the voice before realizing that it's coming from inside me, not outside.
Who do I know that sounds like that? Whose voice is it, echoing through my brain? Who do I know with a voice that would sound like a drawl in any accent and just happens to be southern?
Thirteen. But that's not possible.
Then there's a voice. A shout that definitely is coming from outside of my head, echoing through the house. I want to raise my head, to see who's come, who it is that's found me, but my body's forgotten how to move. All I can do is lie there, watching the FBI windbreakers swarm around me, I pick out faces of people I know, people I've worked with, but I can't remember any of their names. Not that it matters, there's only one thing I can possibly think about.
How did I hear Thirteen inside my head?
I can think of an answer. An answer that makes everything clearer, an answer that explains everything. An answer that absolutely sucks.
Thirteen is a Savant. More than that, Thirteen is my soulfinder. And she lied about it.
(I've got too much love, running through my veins, to go to waste)
They refuse to let me see him. I know he's in this hospital, because the FBI presence in the building increases by something like fifty percent in the space of ten minutes. But they don't let me see him.
First he's in surgery, then he's recovering, then he's sleeping, being visited by the doctor, talking with Callum, then sleeping again. The excuses go on and on and on until I don't even know why I'm still asking.
Except that I do know, I know exactly. I have to see Vick, I have to.
I stare up at the cracks in the ceiling, trying to find an answer up there, not exactly praying but maybe something similar when I realize I simply can't take it anymore.
It's the middle of the night, no-one can stop me from seeing him. I mean…they can try, but the results aren't going to be pretty. I need to see him, to talk to him, to make sure he's all right.
I need him to tell me it's going to be OK.
I ease myself out of bed, grabbing a hoodie off of a chair. It's the hoodie I wore when Vick kissed me, and though there's nothing remarkable about it at all, wearing it feels lucky somehow. The only shoes I have are a pair of thick sneakers that squeak as you walk in them, so I go barefoot.
It's impossible to sneak around in a hospital –there are always people about, no matter what the hour, but I try my best to look natural as I walk from my ward to the main hallway. There are still bandages wrapped around my chest, but my nurses have mostly forgotten me, and no-one bats an eyelid as I walk past the main desk.
Vick is in a private room, away from all the wards, the kind of room they put famous people in when they don't want the paparazzi knowing that they're sick. I know that much, at least. How to get to it is a totally different question.
After wandering aimlessly through antiseptic smelling corridors, I eventually find a map of the hospital. Seven flights of stairs later, I'm standing in the hallway outside what I really hope is his room, looking around me for the FBI.
I see Garcia at the end of the hall, talking to someone who might just be Callum but I can't tell from here, and I'm not waiting to find out.
Nerves wrap themselves around my throat, squeezing all the air out of my body. Suddenly I can't breathe, can't think of anything apart from how I feel like I'm going to be violently sick. I want to see Vick, I do. I'm just scared he won't want to see me.
Now. Do it now, Thirteen. I urge myself. Before Garcia comes down the hall, you don't have to stay long just go.
It's deathly dark in Vick's room, all I can see is the outline of his bed, and I curse myself for not thinking he'd be asleep.
For the love of God Thirteen, the man's been shot. Of course he wants to sleep. What the hell's wrong with you anyway? I demand of myself.
But just being in the same room as him is intoxicating, just knowing he's here makes everything suddenly feel so much better. I sink to my knees by the door, wrapping myself up in the feeling, desperate to keep it for as long as I can.
The minute she enters the room, I know it's Thirteen. I can't see her at all, it's too dark for that, but I just know instantly and automatically that it's her. I don't know how I feel about that.
Part of me is angry, pissed beyond belief. The other part needs to see her, touch her, hold her right now, before I go insane. Thirteen Harrison, my soulfinder.
She lied, the angry part of my brain hisses. She didn't tell you she was a Savant. She's your soulfinder, and she lied.
But she's still my soulfinder, so I say, slowly, carefully, my first words in hours. "I know you're there, Thirteen."
I can feel her surprise from here, she thought I was asleep, hadn't expected me to see her come in. She says none of that though, all she gets out is a lame little –"Hey."
Hey? And then it just bursts out of me.
"Why the hell didn't you tell me you were a Savant?" I want to shout it, to scream it, but all my pathetic body can manage is a disgruntled whisper. It goes straight through her though.
She doesn't say anything for a few seconds, just sits stationary, and even if I can't see her, I feel her stare.
Then quietly, reluctantly, like she's scared to say the words out loud in case they come true, she says. "I was scared."
Scared? The angry part of my brain is sniggering now. Give me a break.
"What were you scared of?"
The angry part is cut off as the other part, the part that's Thirteen's soulfinder before everything else, squirms in anguish.
"At first, right at the beginning, I was just scared you were going to hurt me. Then later…I thought you'd hate me for not telling you and…" her voice tails off a little bit, and if I didn't know better I'd say she was crying.
"I was scared you'd just leave."
More than anything now, I need to touch her. Because being pissed at someone only really works if you want to be pissed at them, and I don't, I really desperately do not want to be angry at Thirteen. I want her smiling, I want her happy. When she's happy, I'm happy, I'm happy with her. Surely that's all that matters.
"I'm not going anywhere Thirteen."
There's the tiniest sliver of light starting to come in through the window, and as Thirteen moves slightly, it bounces off her eyes. They're hard and wary, filled with all the things she never wanted to have to confess to out loud.
"No offence Vick, but I've heard that one before."
I shake my head. "Not from me, and I mean it."
She opens her mouth to protest, to say something Thirteen-like, to start an argument just because she likes to argue and she likes to be right, but this time it's not funny, this time what I have to say is actually more important.
"I think you're my soulfinder."
She shuts her eyes. That's it. She doesn't cry or laugh or shout at me. She just closes her eyes. Then -, "You should be so pissed at me right now."
I grimace, I'm not going to lie to her. "I am. A little bit anyway."
Thirteen stands up, so now her whole face is lit up. It's confused and complicated and intensely furious. But I don't think it's furious at me.
"I've been trying to work out for days now, why it feels like this. Why everything feels perfect with you and just shit when you're gone. And I couldn't do it, I couldn't work it out. And I've been tearing myself apart trying to, and as I've been doing it, I've been lying to you at the same time. Yeah, you should be pissed at me."
She's an idiot, an absolute idiot. But as I look up at her, all I can think of, is that she's my idiot. As far as I'm concerned, she's a perfect idiot.
"Where are you going?" I ask, as she turns towards the door.
She shrugs. "I figured you'd want me to go now," she says it like it hurts her, like just leaving is causing her more pain than she can stand.
"Thirteen. When I said I'm not going anywhere, it was kind of meant to imply that you're not supposed to either."
Damn. I even find her stunning when she's confused.
She opens her mouth to argue again, but I'm done talking. I've said all I wanted.
I was pissed. Extremely pissed. Truth be told, I still am a little bit. But Thirteen's said her bit, and it made sense. And she's my soulfinder. I let the word wash over me for a second, soulfinder.
It's perfection, hope, safety, it's…nothing I've ever felt before. Tentatively, I let my thoughts slip towards Thirteen, let the feeling spread to her mind as well.
One look at her tells me she feels it just the same way I do. A smile settles over her face and she meets my gaze with an awestruck expression.
"Come here," I say, and without a word, without even looking like she wants to argue, she does.
I want to sit up, to give her a hug, but even as I try pain stabs through my stomach, so massive, so intense that I crash back down. Thirteen makes to move away, to give me some space, but I shake my head.
I reach out to her, wrap my arms around her waist, pulling her down on top of me. She places her hands on the back of my neck and rests her head on top of my chest. I inhale, breathing in the smell of her shampoo and the faint remnants of perfume still lingering on her hoodie. Suddenly nothing else matters anymore.
I've found her. I've found my soulfinder.
So, I too think I'm done talking for the night, instead, how about you guys take a turn. Shoot me a review and tell me how you felt about this chapter?