Binding Moonlight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Chapter 3

Submitted: January 08, 2019

Reads: 21

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Submitted: January 08, 2019

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“What a waste of time,” Tobi muttered on the drive back to their building.

Leaning her head back against the headrest, Nrekeeka agreed. They sat in front of the facility for six hours and never saw a single person come or go. She saw someone peek out the window a few times, but they didn't learn anything new.

“It was worth a shot,” Tobi added, glancing over at Nrekeeka. “We still had fun.”

“If you call sitting in a car for six hours while staring at the same building fun, then yeah, it was a blast,” Nrekeeka droned, sitting up straight. Fidgeting in her seat, she tried to bring some of the feeling back into her lower half.

“I meant talking with you was fun. We haven't had a conversation like this in a long time. I really miss it,” he replied, a soft frown on his face.

Grumbling under her breath, Nrekeeka glowered at Tobi. “Don't,” she said simply.

“Don't what?”

“You know what. You're trying to make things how they were, and you know how much I hate it. It's not going to go back to how it was Tobi, so just stop.” Turning away, she could feel his eyes on the back of her neck.

“'Keeka...” Tobi sighed, but he didn't press her. It was true, she hadn't been the same since her sister went into the hospital. He was trying hard to make her happy and keep her mind off of Shelsea, but some days there was no point. He hated seeing her this way, but she wasn't interested in listening to him.

“I'm just trying to help,” he muttered. Shaking his head, Tobi set the car down on the lot in front of their building. He stayed in the car as Nrekeeka got out and went inside.

“Shit.” He put his forehead against the wheel, closing his eyes. Why did he bother? Because Nrekeeka and Shelsea were his friends, his family. It was like a compulsion some days. He knew he was fiercely loyal to those close to him, and sometimes it caused problems. It led to worse heartbreak when he was betrayed. He had already suffered through it with his parents, and the guys who were supposed to be his best friends, and he refused to let it happen with Nrekeeka. He agreed to help her with her suicide mission, hadn't he? He was willing to do anything to help her.

Cursing, Tobi smacked his head against the wheel again.

“Are you going to sit out here all night, or are you coming inside?” Nrekeeka stood beside his car, hands on her hips, one brow raised.

“I'm thinking about it,” Tobi replied, sitting up. She watched him, irritation creasing her forehead and amusement sparkling in her bright blue eyes.

“Then I'll find my own ride to the meeting tonight.”

“Do you even know where the bar is?”

“No, but I assume one of the city's many taxi drivers does.”

Grumbling to himself, Tobi hoisted himself out of the convertible. “It's in the slums and there is no way in hell I'm letting you go by yourself.”

Nrekeeka shrugged. “Well, you'd better come inside then.”

“You can be very cruel, you know?”

Without a reply, Nrekeeka went back inside.

Groaning, Tobi combed his fingers through his hair while contemplating the sky. He couldn't see much past the light pollution, but the other planets in their system were shining brightly. Kross, Shaarn, and Deldin. He'd like to see how much brighter they were away from the city.

Shaking his head, he went inside. The building was so quiet now with the renovations complete. The former factory building finally felt like home. They changed it into something of a cross between a dorm and an apartment building, with all the living spaces on the second floor. The kitchen, medical, and storage were on the ground floor, and his shooting range, as well as a few training rooms on the basement floors. 

The extensive renovations had cost Tobi half of his savings, but he didn't mind since it would provide a nice place for Nrekeeka and Shelsea to live. If Shelsea lived.

“Shelsea would be happy to know you're thinking about her,” Nrekeeka said to him as he walked into the kitchen. “But the expression doesn't suit you.”

“What expression?” he replied, not even a little surprised she knew where his thoughts trailed.

“It's the same as the one I see on my own face every time I look in the mirror. A combination of sadness, regret, fear, plus a hint of a bitter smile. I'm finding it harder and harder to smile when I think about her.” Nrekeeka set a plate of reheated leftovers in front of Tobi and put another plate on the table for herself. Sitting, she glanced at Tobi, holding his gaze for a moment before she spoke again. “We really are pathetic without her around, aren't we?”

Tobi couldn't help the idiotic grin on his face. “We really are. Once we get the cure for her, we'll have to tell her just how lost we were without her.”

Nodding, Nrekeeka laughed. It was a foreign sound to both of them, surprising them into laughing until they cried.

“Okay, this is just sad,” Tobi said when they calmed down. “I think it's time to go upstairs and change so we can meet this Atwood guy at the bar.”

It took Tobi half an hour to shower, dress in jeans, a sweater, and a jacket, and blow dry his hair. It was another half hour until Nrekeeka joined him downstairs.

“Don't you think those clothes will be a little much for the slums? I don't mind, I just don't want anything to happen to you,” Tobi muttered, the words flowing out before he could stop them. Picking his jaw up off the floor, he admired her outfit. She was dressed in a snug white tee shirt with a plunging neckline, a pair of jean shorts, and strappy high heels.

“I figured if I wore something like this, I'd be more likely to blend in.”

“Honey, you don't blend in anywhere.”

A touch of color dusted her cheeks and her feet became the most interesting thing in the room.

Realizing what he said, Tobi's eyes grew wide and he apologized. “Not what I meant to say, honest. I didn't mean it in a bad way. It's just, you're so pretty, and your ears and eyes aren't common, and I'm babbling so I'll shut up now.” Tobi's cheeks burned like they were on fire. He didn't blush easily, but he found he often made an idiot of himself around the Seldon girls.

“Can we just go?”

“Yeah, that's probably a good plan,” replied Tobi, punching his code into the keypad by the door.

He had never been to Kanean's Bar before, but he knew it by its reputation. If you wanted to do something illegal without getting busted, it was the place to go. The owner let minors drink as long as they could pay, and he could distinctly remember two separate occasions in which his friend Jet bragged about surviving a trip to Kanean's Bar. Atwood probably picked the place for two reasons: on any given night any number of illegal activities occurred there, and the place could be filled with an assortment of people, be they human, Krossite, Shaarnin, Deldinite or any combination thereof. They would be able to disappear inside.

When they spotted the building, Tobi immediately regretted bringing his precious Astro. The car was going to stick out like a sore thumb among the rust buckets the patrons drove. He'd be lucky if there was anything left of it when they finished the meeting.

Finding a conspicuous place to park, Tobi set the alarm and went to the other side of the vehicle to open Nrekeeka's door. He kept her close to his side, a hand on her back as they walked by the many prostitutes and drug dealers doing business outside the bar tonight.

They were early, so after ordering a couple of drinks at the bar, they found themselves an empty booth at the back of the room. Grinning at Nrekeeka, Tobi took a sip of his fluorescent green, sugary cocktail.

“This would be an awesome place to visit if I were into people watching...or voyeurism,” he commented, pointing to a couple who were well on their way to a home run. Laughing into his drink, he turned his attention to the entrance. Nrekeeka was blushing and doing her best not to make eye contact with Tobi. He was trying hard not to laugh at her embarrassment when he saw Adonis Atwood entering the bar. Putting his hand in the air, he waved to catch the man's attention.

“He's here,” Tobi told Nrekeeka, keeping his eyes on Adonis while he ordered a beer.

Nodding, Nrekeeka sat up straight, curling a strand of hair behind one pointed ear before folding her hands on the table.

“No need to look so formal, Keeka. We're at an illegal bar, hiring people to help us steal from a government facility,” Tobi teased, amusement clear in his voice. Extending his hand as Adonis approached, Tobi's charm kicked in as he greeted him. “Nice to meet you, man. I'm Tobi Nexarius.”

Adonis' expression was flat as he shook Tobi's hand. “Adonis Atwood.”

Nrekeeka had already introduced herself when they spoke earlier, so she got to the point. “I'm glad you decided to meet with us,” she began. “I know my pitch wasn't the best when I first contacted you, but as I said, Tobi and I are looking for a couple of people to help us out. You've probably heard of the facility in charge of finding the cure for the Amaran virus, yes?”

Adonis nodded.

“The man in charge of the team is Robyn Stamos. He developed the cure, but he won't turn it over to the PDHW. My sister has the virus and the longer we wait, the lower her chance of survival. Of course, I'm not the only one who needs it. The public needs the cure as well. So we're going to steal it,” Nrekeeka explained, leaning against the table as she spoke. “We can't do it ourselves since we have absolutely no experience with this sort of thing. Which is why we're interested in hiring you. The thing is, we don't have much money. The best we can offer for now is free room and board.”

Contemplating her words, Adonis continued staring into his beer bottle. “Will you be hiring any others?” he finally asked.

“We did have one other guy in mind. Would it be a problem?” Tobi asked in return.

“It depends.”

“We'll be meeting with him in a couple of days. You can come with us if you'd like?” Nrekeeka offered.

Adonis was silent for a moment before nodding. “I accept your offer,” he said, expression and posture unchanging.

Nrekeeka let out a relieved breath. “Thank you so much, Adonis. I am sure your skills will come in very handy,” she said to him, extending her hand to the stone-faced teenager. The handshake was brief and stiff.

“So, were you interested in taking the room, or what?” Tobi wondered, finishing off his drink.

The silver-eyed man nodded. “It will be easier than commuting across the city daily.”

“Great! When do you want to move in?” Nrekeeka asked with a smile.

“As soon as tonight, if it is convenient.”

“Works for us,” replied Tobi. “We can head straight to your place from here so you can grab some essentials.” Nudging Nrekeeka from the booth, he got up, stretching as he stood. They were on their way out when a man with scars on his face and a short girl with long hair and big boobs stopped them.

“Excuse us,” Tobi said with a polite smile. The couple didn't budge.

The girl glanced over at her companion before glaring up at Nrekeeka. “It makes sense this is the only place someone like you could get in.”

Nrekeeka frowned. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me. You must have with ears like those. I'm still surprised the government treats your kind so well after destroying our home planet and then killing millions more of us here!”

Stepping forward, Tobi placed himself between the girl and Nrekeeka, anger contorting features. “Hey, I don't know if you've heard or not, but the war has been over for a while.”

“It's none of your business, but I have nothing to do with Deldin. I was born in Loomus and both of my parents are legal citizens of Parset,” Nrekeeka calmly added, her hands curling into fists at her sides. This wasn't the first time she had to deal with someone like this.

“You're no better than rats.” A mean smirk twisted the girl's otherwise pretty face.

Nrekeeka couldn't help herself. Her hand came up, and she slapped the girl. The sound was sharp, echoing in the now-quiet bar.

The man with the scars grabbed Nrekeeka's wrist, squeezing hard. She couldn't read his expression, but his eyes were intense. Unusual red flecks in his brown irises burned like fire.

Tobi gave the man a shove. “Don't touch her,” he snarled.

Releasing Nrekeeka, the scarred man's next move was so fast, Tobi blinked and missed it. He certainly felt it though. Blood flowed freely from Tobi's nose as soon as the man's hand snapped back. It dripped from his chin, soaking into his shirt and pattering to the floor.

“Don't waste your energy on them, Ekie. Let's get out of here,” said the girl, putting a hand on her companion's arm.

“Wait, did you say Ekie? The one who works for Stamos? Well, you can tell your boss he's going to pay for what he's doing!” Nrekeeka called after them as they walked away.

“Those two are his only employees,” Tobi told Adonis, his voice muffled behind his hand, which he clamped to his face.

“Are you okay?” Nrekeeka reached up, cupping Tobi's face in her hands.

“I'm fine,” he answered, trying to wipe away the blood with the back of his hand.

“They do not seem like much of a threat,” Adonis observed, head turned in the direction the pair had gone.

“More of a nuisance,” replied Nrekeeka. “Robyn, and getting into the building, will be the bigger concern. Would you mind waiting while I take Tobi to wash his face?” She shook her head at the blood coating Tobi's chin and cheeks.

Adonis' head movement may have been a nod but Nrekeeka wasn't sure, and she wasn't going to ask.

“At least he didn't knock my teeth out,” Tobi mumbled, shrugging out of his jacket and handing it to Nrekeeka.

“Are you sure you're okay?” she asked him again.

“Fine,” he said before disappearing into the men's room. A few minutes later he came out with water dripping off of his face, strands of hair clinging to his forehead and cheeks.

Raising her eyebrows, Nrekeeka met Tobi's eyes. “Did you stick your whole head in the sink?”

“Yup, sure did.”

Sighing, Nrekeeka rolled her eyes and went into the bathroom to grab some paper towel. “You're a strange man, you know?” she said as she dried his face.

Tobi smiled. “I know. Oh, and put my jacket on or you'll freeze on the way home,” he told her as he escorted her outside.

She obliged, scanning the area for their new employee. He was leaning against the wall, doing a fair job of blending in with the dealers hovering around the bar. Tobi waved him over as they crossed the street. He was happy to find his car still in one piece.

“So, where do you live Adonis?” Tobi asked, starting the car.

The man hesitated for a moment before answering. “Fifth and Staton.”

“That's like, two blocks away.”

“It is cheap.”

The apartment building they stopped at had seen better days. Nrekeeka was more than a little uncomfortable just waiting outside. Sirens wailed on the air, and someone had passed out by the door of the building. At least, she hoped he was only passed out.

“Scoot over here and keep me warm,” Tobi said, putting his arm across the top of the bench seat. He turned away from her, observing the location, but his tone remained light.

“If you're cold why don't you take your jacket?” replied Nrekeeka, slipping out of it and holding it up for him.

“You need it more than I do.” Facing her, he poked her bare leg.

“I'm fine. Just take it.”

“No.”

Huffing, Nrekeeka shoved the jacket against his chest. “Don't make me force you into it.”

A slow smirk curled the corner of Tobi's mouth. “I'd like to see you try, m'dear,” he said, taking the jacket.

Nrekeeka knew Tobi was goading her, but she couldn't help making a grab for the jacket anyway. He laughed as he held it out of her reach and she climbed over him to grab for it. She had her hand on his leg, stretching across him and leaving him with a great view down her shirt. She wasn't paying attention, and apparently neither was he, because he didn't notice Adonis' returned until he cleared his throat. He put a plastic container in the back seat, pretending not to notice their childish behavior.

“Ready to go?” Tobi asked as Nrekeeka snapped back to her seat, her cheeks red.

The man nodded.

“Great!” Starting the car again, he cast a sidelong glance at Nrekeeka. She refused to look at him. He'd never understand why she got so embarrassed just because she was having fun. It was like she decided she wasn't allowed to enjoy herself.

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, Nrekeeka turned in her seat to face Adonis. “I really can't thank you enough for this, Adonis. It means a great deal to me,” she told him. “And we just finished renovating, so everything is brand new. It's a nice building, and I hope you'll be comfortable. I'll get you a code for the front door tomorrow. Um, we've also got a fully stocked kitchen, which you can use whenever you want, along with the training rooms and the shooting range. I'll give you the tour when we get there, of course.”

Adonis just nodded at her again.

“You don't talk much, do you?” Tobi observed.

“A lesson which was ingrained in me when I was young,” he answered, his voice flat.

Tobi kept his mouth shut for the rest of the trip home.


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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