"Your popcorn, M'lady." David set the overflowing bowl on the coffee table. The British accent he adopted was obviously inspired by tonight's Robin Hood movie marathon. I thought it was a little excessive to watch more than one version, but David insisted that they were all different and worth watching.
"You're such a dork." I rolled my eyes and tried to suppress my smile as I reached for the snack. "But thank you."
He grinned briefly before taking the spot next to me. I was actually finding his dorky side kind of adorable, and I think he knew it.
David threw his arm across the back of the couch and hit play on the remote while I searched for the good pieces of popcorn on the top of the bowl. I was so immersed in my task, that it took me a minute to realize that I wasn't hearing any previews playing. David refused to skip most of them, so it was odd for the room to be silent for a more than a few seconds after starting a movie.
I looked at David curiously to find that his attention was fully on me and not the television, which was showing the screensaver again.
"What?" I asked suddenly self-conscious, noting the thoughtful expression on his face.
"What are you're plans?"
"I'm...planning to watch three movies about Robin Hood." I wasn't sure what he was really asking, but I hoped to keep things light. "And depending on how that goes, I might be planning on making you sit through a complete chick flick marathon. I'm thinking Sleepless in Seattle and Steel Magnolias, for starters."
David didn't even smile.
"I'm serious," he said. "What are you planning to do when your leg is better."
Well, that was out of nowhere. I thought that David wanted to have some kind of discussion like this. He hadn't brought it up in the two weeks that had elapsed since my surgery though, and I began thinking he might just let it go. I should have known better.
Honestly, I had no idea what my plans were. I knew that the smartest thing was to get as far away from here as possible, as soon as Tim cleared me to travel, but I didn't have anything definite in mind yet.
I guess I didn't want to think about it.
"Because you don't have to go anywhere," he said quickly. "You can stay here."
"David..." I shook my head and looked away. This was probably a necessary conversation, but I didn't want to have it at all. I was beginning to despise the idea of leaving him, but I didn't see any way around it. Aside from it not being smart to hang around the last area that Wescott definitely knew I'd been, David wouldn't be here forever. At some point his leave would be over.
Besides, I didn't like having to depend on him any more than I had originally. I'd just accepted that it was a necessity for the time being.
"You can," he insisted. "I..."
At his hesitation, I met his eyes again.
"I don't want you to go." The conviction in his eyes left no doubt about his feelings for me.
"You're safe here," he said. "We just have to-"
"No, I'm not." I didn't let him verbalize his plans. Whatever they were, they wouldn't work forever.
Once I was coherent enough to have a conversation with Tim about the chip, we decided that he would take it to the hospital when he went in to work in the morning, and flush it there. It was the easiest way to get rid of it, and would send Wescott on a nice wild goose chase. But eventually he would figure out what was going on and when he did, it wouldn't take all that long for him to zero in on this neighborhood again. I wasn't even sure it was completely safe to be here now, but I also wasn't healed enough to have another option yet. In another week though...
"No one's even come close to finding you here," he argued. "You're safe."
"No one's come yet," I corrected. "They're not stupid and they're not going to give up."
I wouldn't put it passed Wescott to come up with some way to search every apartment in the area, to find me. And he still had all those remotes.
David stared at me and I knew he wanted to argue the point more, but he only said, "I don't want to lose you."
It was hard to hold his gaze and I didn't try too hard. I wanted to assure him that I didn't want to go either, but it felt cruel when I knew I couldn't stay.
I'd never been so attached to someone before, not even my parents. Understandably, I hated having been cut off from my mother and I missed my dad too. But I would have been happy keeping in contact with them by the phone and occasional visits. I didn't really mind being away from them physically. Just knowing they were there would be enough for me. But I'd grown so close to David in the past weeks that the idea of leaving him, especially so soon, was becoming painful.
I tried to think of something to say - anything that would comfort him or change the subject, but nothing was coming to me. Suddenly all I could think of was our impending separation, and how it would completely suck.
His hand came under my chin and I met his eyes a moment before his lips touched mine.
Closing my eyes, I leaned into him as much as our positions on the couch would allow, savoring the sweetness of his kiss.
After that one hysterical episode of mine, we hadn't come close to kissing again. It never seemed like a good time. If not for my surgery and subsequent recovery, then for the pure uncertainty of either of our feelings. Not to mention, not knowing whether those feelings were even a good idea to explore.
But I'd been anxious to do it again, and my hands had been itching to feel the silkiness of his hair once more. It didn't take long for them to wind up weaved in his dark locks now.
David continued his gentle assault on my mouth without seeming rushed or frantic the way we'd been before. After a while, he nudged me backward so that we were lying in a more comfortable position. Only then did I realize that there were tears in my eyes as they streaked their way down the sides of my face.
It was the sweetness of it all that gave me the intense sadness that was overwhelming me. Because I knew that we could never go further than this and explore the depth of our feelings. It probably wasn't even wise to be doing this much.
Pulling him closer, I decided that I didn't much care right now. I just wanted to savor the moment.
I could worry about the pain and other problems later.
Sitting at the computer with my head resting in my hand, I studied the page comparing the statistics of the various places along the west coast. A few spots in California and Oregon looked like they had potential. California, specifically, offered alot of variety, ranging from cities to almost nonexistent beach towns. I think I was leaning toward Washington state for the place I would wind up, though. I liked the idea of being close enough to the ocean that I could hop a fishing boat if needed, while still having the alternate option of jumping the border into Canada.
Canada was probably the wisest eventual destination for me. Once I could get to Washington, I should be able to get a job and save up for a fake passport and other documents.
I'd also be happy to be able to send David some money for everything he's done for me. It would never be enough, of course, but at least I wouldn't feel like a financial parasite any longer.
Just as I was about to look up more information on Maple Falls, Washington, the sound of David at the door made me jump.
David refused to believe that I had to leave. He insisted that I was perfectly safe right here, and seeing me researching towns in Washington wasn't going to be something he handled well. It probably wasn't a good idea for David to know where I was planning to go anyway.
I quickly closed out the window, and opened a new one before proceeding to my email server. Email was never a top priority for me but I had an account, because, well, didn't everyone? It was only ever full of junk mail, but I thought it would provide a nice, mundane excuse as to why I was online.
"Hey," David said, coming through the door and locking it behind him. "Got pizzas. You haven't tasted good until you've tried Tony's New Yorker special."
"Mm hmm," I murmured without turning to look at him.
"I got some garlic bread too and....Stop!"
Jumping at the sudden outburst, my hands froze on the keyboard before I could enter the password. I turned to see David rush over and yank the power cord from the outlet.
Shocked, I stared at him from beside the now black computer screen.
"What in the-" I tried.
"Do you realize what you almost just did?" he cut me off.
"I'm sorry," I said, warily. He never used that forceful tone with me before. "I didn't think you would care."
"What else were you doing online?"
"I was just looking at different web sites." I hoped he wouldn't ask what kind of web sites. His reaction was already baffling. I didn't want to have to deal with those emotions as well.
"Anything with a password or your personal information? Facebook?"
Seeing him like this, I could actually picture David, the soldier, for the first time. He almost seemed dangerous.
I shook my head. "Nothing like that. I was just looking around."
He sighed heavily and seemed to calm down.
"Is everything alright?" I chose not to ask the more confrontational 'what's your problem'.
"Are you trying to send up a red flag so they can find you? I thought you were smarter than that."
Okay, maybe he wasn't totally relaxed yet. Still, no one had ever questioned my intelligence before, even flippantly, and I bristled.
"What are you talking about? It's only email, David. It's not like I was planning on sending them one."
"How do you think they almost caught you before?"
"I have no idea." I crossed my arms. "But I haven't checked my email in months."
"You do know," he insisted. "Think."
I stared at him confused and irritated. Of course I didn't know how they were finding me so easily. If I'd known, they wouldn't have done it.
David didn't give me any clue as to what he was getting at, he only watched me expectantly.
"I guess they traced me," I said after a minute of angry silence. "Maybe he lied about how accurate it was."
"If that was the case, they would have found you here by now. Think, Sarah."
"David, I have no idea what you're talking about," I said frustrated.
"What were you doing right before they found you the first time?" he pushed, not seeming affected by my attitude.
"Walking around New York," I snapped.
"Did you do anything but walk? Talk to anyone?"
"No, I didn't talk to anyone, I only-" I stopped remembering that I had done something. But Wescott couldn't have that much power. Could he?
"What?" David didn't look pleased so much as satisfied that I was catching on.
"I called my mom," I said quietly, not wanting to believe that it was my own stupidity that set them after me. And I really didn't want to believe that it was even possible.
"I didn't say anything though! And it was a public phone!"
"But you called your mom," he said. "Any call to her, coming from the city would be a huge tip off."
"That's crazy," I tried. "He couldn't possibly-"
"What about the next time?"
"I was sleeping and well hidden after walking around, sight seeing." I looked at him, daring him to figure that one out."
"How did you know they found you then?"
"I heard them talking. They said they had me on camera, but I have no idea how they knew...."
But I did know, and it was my own fault again.
"No." I shook my head in disbelief. "No, they couldn't be that powerful."
"What?" he repeated.
"I tried to withdraw money from my bank account," I said. "But how would they-"
"That's it," he sounded certain.
"He's a scientist, David, not the government. How would he have access to any of that stuff?"
"You don't know that," he said simply.
I tried to remember any indication that Wescott was involved with the government, but there was nothing. In fact, everything pointed to no government involvement.
Why would he need the independent contributors if he had government funds? Why operate under the guise of a pharmaceutical laboratory?
I couldn't imagine Wescott working for anyone but himself either. Hadn't he said that this had always been his project? Him and the woman he killed?
"No." I refused to believe it. "That doesn't make any sense."
"It doesn't make sense otherwise," he argued. "They didn't find you by magic."
"With a hundred foot range, in the middle of the city? More than once?" he asked skeptically. That would be magic."
If David was right, I really was screwed. What hope did I have of even making it out of the city, let alone across the country? This was all for nothing. It was only a matter of time until I wound up back in Wescott's control.
I stared into space as that hopeless feeling began settling over me again.
"Hey, this is a good thing." David placed his hand on my arm and I was, once again, baffled by his reaction.
"No, really," he insisted. "It's always best to know what your up against."
"The government, David? I may as well have gone into my email."
"The government isn't all-powerful, Sarah. You just have to know how to get around them. Fortunately, I do." He grinned.
I tried to give him an answering smile, but it all seemed so impossible.
"First, we need to take care of this scientist. Then we can worry about the rest."
"And how exactly do you plan to do that?" I humored him. I doubted that he had anything plausible in mind.
"By cutting him off, of course," he stated matter-of-factly.
"David, that's not going to be easy," I said. "You have no idea what you're talking about getting involved in."
He just grinned.
"What?" I narrowed my eyes.
"He may be attached to the government, but it would be very difficult for him to receive any financial help from them. At least, he won't be getting anything substantial. It's too controversial and they wouldn't want to risk having it shut down. So where is his funding coming from?"
I shrugged. "People with too much money."
"Exactly," he said. "People who have nothing better to do than waste their money and worry about their reputations."
"What are you getting at?" I asked, intrigued.
"Just what I said. Cut him off. All we have to do is get the names of his main contributors and threaten to go public with the information. People with that much money are usually thinking about running for office at some point or have other reasons for wanting to keep their names clean. Once he's out of investors, he's out of business."
"David, that's...that's brilliant actually."
"I know." He looked quite pleased with himself.
"Brilliant," I said again. "But also nearly impossible. Just how do you intend to get these names? I don't think they're floating around Google." I never tried it before, but I could probably figure out the basics of computer hacking. I didn't have any illusions about being able to crack into Wescott's system any time soon though.
"Never question a magician's sources," he answered vaguely.
I smiled and shook my head. I would have liked to know what he had planned, but I was alright with waiting a little while to find out, so long as it meant I could possibly still have a future.
I never even thought to hope for a future that included him.