"Give me a beer, please."
Derrick....Is that? No, of course it is! Wha....Ok calm down Katie! Keep it cool! Don't turn around just yet. Yeah. Let him wait to see your face. Just, just respond with something cool, something sly. What did he say to me again?................Give me.....what?! Seriously? Give me a beer?! That's what he says to me!
Katie took a quick glance over her shoulder. Sure enough, there sat the infamous Derrick Stone, arms crossed on the bar, head hanging down. Katie’s fingers skipped back and forth on the bottles in front of her.
Why am I so nervous? This is nothing. Ugh, I can’t believe him! Why would he come here? I don’t want to see him, I want nothing to do with him! ‘Give me a beer please.’ Really? Where’s the imagination? Where’s the respect? It wasn’t even a question. Who the hell says please at a bar anyway? Why not start with an apology? ‘Hey Katie, I’m really sorry for screwing you over. Here’s a million bucks!’ Oh my god! Why am I getting so worked up? He has no control over me. He has no control over me. He has no control. No control. No control. No control!!!
Katie grabbed the closest beer bottle, swerved around, and slammed it in front of Derrick. She saw him jump lightly and turned away before he could see her face.
“Ummm, are you okay?” His words were slow and careful as if he suspected her of some emotional imbalance.
Katie knew she had startled him and he obviously had no idea who she was. Am I okay? Her heart was beating obnoxiously loud, she was out of breath, and had to lean against the shelf for support. Behind her was the sound of a stool squeaking back, which meant he was probably standing now. Katie cleared her throat and squeaked an “I’m fine.” Trying to look as casual as possible, she half-walked, half-ran to the back room.
Free from judgmental eyes, Katie lost no time in pacing around the back room, voicing her every mad thought. Tonight was turning out to be too much for her sanity to handle. If she wasn’t safe here, she wouldn’t be safe anywhere. Mid-pace Katie forced herself to stop and take a few deep breaths. She was stronger than this. All she had to do was plan out her steps. First, she needed to be calm. Second, she needed to face her problems (aka people) head on, one by one. Third, gain superpowers so she could heal Claudie. Then finally, she would jump and play in an overly green grass field with lollipops and rainbows.
“Sounds good to me.” she huffed.
Katie managed to find the sweater she had ditched earlier and pulled it back on. She messed with her hair a bit and deciding she was presentable enough, entered the bar from a side door. Luckily, everyone had given her their greeting for the night, so she was able to maneuver anonymously. She sulked up to the bar and sat two stools down from her target.
Now, how would she go about revealing herself? Soft and subtle or loud and out there? The air around her felt colder than it should. Was that a hint to go cold and cruel? Claudie used to say that cold air meant dead spirits. That doesn’t make any sense, Katie would say. Of course it does, she would argue. Dead people don’t have body heat so normal people get cold when they’re around.
“Does that mean you’re around Claudie?” Katie found herself saying.
‘Well I’m not dead silly.’ would probably be her response.
“What if I don’t know what to do without you?” she asked.
‘You’re strong Katie, you don’t need me.’ She could picture Claudie sitting next to her.
“Why can’t you be okay? What happened to you?”
‘I wish I could tell you.’
“Then why don’t you?”
‘It’s safer this way. I don’t want you to get hurt.’
“Look around Claudie. Somehow I’m going to get hurt.”
‘Listen, you just need to...’
“Hey, are you talking to me?”
Katie snapped out of her daydream and turned away from the sound of Derrick’s voice. “No, sorry.” He was filling up the space next to her, his presence overwhelming her senses. Every breath she took smelled of him, the hairs of his arm were tickling her own, his breathing was rough and calloused in her ears.
“Oh, are you on one of those Bluetooth things? Sorry.” He had apologized, but refused to move away. “I don’t mean to be nosy and an eavesdropper, but did you say you knew Claudie? Claudie Thrush?”
Katie mentally slapped herself for daydreaming out loud. Please keep inner conversations on mute. Well, there was no point denying it. Katie turned a little more towards him to get a better view of his face while keeping hers hidden.
"Do you know her?”
"She's my,” Katie opted to a higher pitched, “yeah I know her."
Not too much info there.
"Do you know where I can find her?
”Of course that would be the obvious next question. That was also one she didn’t want to answer.
“Who wants to know?”
Good one Katie. Great stalling technique.
“I can’t just give out her information to anyone. That would be very irresponsible.”
He was laughing! Good sign, things are going okay.
“I’m a friend of hers.”
“What kind of friend?”
“There are your work friends, your good friends, and then your mafia friends who try to hunt you down and kill you.”
“Yeah, I’m definitely a good one.”
Now that was a lie.
“Oh really? Then why don’t you know where she is?”
Aha I got him!
“What’s with the 20 questions?! I’m not asking you any. For all I know, you could be the mafia friend.”
“Come on Tom-Tom. That’s such a lame thing to say!”
“Then the credits all yours Kit-Kat! You came up with it.”
The laughter lasted for a split second before she realized what had just been said. No, did I just? Shit! Before she could make a move to run away, his hands were around her waist, turning her to face him full on. It was exactly what she had been avoiding, making direct eye contact. His yellow eyes plunged into her, reading her every thought. No, she wouldn’t let him! With one strong pull she managed to break from his grip. The two were standing, all eyes in the bar glued to their little interaction. Katie was frozen to the spot. She wanted to run away again, but couldn’t find the strength to move and it seemed that neither could he.
“Katie.” It came out as a breath, sending shivers through her body. It was enough to power her to step backward and him to step forward. Big Bear popped into the scene before any other movements could be made, demanding everyone’s attention except that of Katie and Derrick.
“Katie, are you alright?’ he demanded, eyeing Derrick warily. Katie managed a small nod, never taking her eyes from Derrick. “Derrick, I think you should leave, but do come back later will you?” Derrick offered the same response as Katie. The bar filled with uncomfortable silence again.
“Well one of you start talking already!” a random voice called out. It worked and the two snapped from their daze.
Katie ran towards Derrick, but stopped short of touching him. He looked startled that she hadn‘t gone in the opposite direction. But running hasn’t worked yet, so I might as well try something else.
“Katie, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were gonna be here, I swear...”
“Derrick, just stop for a second. We can talk and everything, but right now we need to go to the hospital.”
“What’s at the hospital?” Katie could feel tears threatening to choke her up. “Katie, what’s wrong?”
“Claudie’s in a coma.”