It was getting to be too much. Days of doing nothing, of sitting around. Matthew came back and forth to check on Rebecca, to monitor her mental state. Eventually, I knew I wouldn't able to hang around any longer. I pulled him to one side, taking a deep breath before I spoke.
"I think I'm leaving," I told him, keeping my voice low so Rebecca wouldn't hear. Surprise flickered across his face, before he slowly nodded. "I need you to tell me what would be best for Rebecca."
"What do you mean?"
"Do I take her with me or leave her here?"
He glanced at the curtain, frowning as a thoughtful expression entered his face. "Well, here she can be well looked after, her state kept a close eye on and if anything did go wrong..." He stopped, turning to look at me. "But in my personal opinion, she seems fine. Mentally. A little upset, still grieving of course but distrustful of anyone who isn't you. If you left her here, I think it would be worse. Anything that comes up, I think you could handle."
I nodded and, to my surprise and his, too, I threw my arms around him.
It wasn't until he said it was safe to take her that I realised how much she really meant to me, how much I actually wanted her to come with me, wherever it was I was going. Rebecca was a shining ray of hope – almost literally.
And I needed that.
I suspected that, if others were out there, they might need that, too. A sign that life could still continue, that the young still remained. That cliché saying, children are out future, was one that, I thought, was all too appropriate, considering the circumstances.
The following afternoon, and I was bundling what little items I owned into the back of a car, slamming the lid of the trunk when it was full. Chloe leant out of the window the passenger side, grinning at me. She had been oddly excited, saying she just wanted to get the hell out of the hospital. But there was something else there, too. The light in her eyes wasn't quite bright enough.
"You almost ready?"
"Two minutes," I replied, mentally running through the things I had packed. Her head disappeared from view and, moments later, I heard music coming from the car.
Daniel appeared at the door, glancing uncertainly towards the car. He frowned. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Yeah." I nodded. "Why not? I might be able to help others, Daniel. Make sure there aren't kids out there wondering why no one is there to look after them." I'd packed as much first aid stuff as I could, knowing there was a high possibility I would need it.
I entered the hospital and he followed. Together, we made our way back to the ward. "I didn't mean you leaving, Mercy. If that's what you want, there's no way I'd try to stop you. I meant...is it really a good idea to take her with you?"
I whirled around, shrugging. "I'm not the one who made me responsible for her, am I?" Turning my back to him, I started walking once more. "I'm doing what I think is best for her, Daniel, and that does not include staying here. Anyway, Matthew said it'd be for the best."
Finally we reached the ward. I opened the curtains, smiling as I watched her placing a few items in a small bag. Rebecca glanced over her shoulder, reflecting my smile on her own face as she grabbed the bag and stood.
Eagerly she nodded, reaching forward and taking my hand. I squeezed, as an unbidden, unwelcome thought rose to the front of my mind.
What if I can't protect her?
None of us had any idea what we would face out there, but right then, I knew I would try my best. Whatever it took.
Falling against the car, the three of us watched as Shakespeare limped towards us. Reaching my feet the dog sat, staring up at me and raising his paw. I bent down, staring at his leg, spotting the blood on his paw. Before pulling the car door open, I scratched his head, urging him inside the vehicle before I turned to the other two. I was shaking, Madison shivering, gazing at me with wide, still-scared eyes. She turned away from me, sitting in the back with the dog. I closed the door, catching a glimpse of her reaching for the collie and resting her hand between his ears.
Chuck moved to the driver's side.
"No way, dude," I called, moving past him and swiping the keys from his hand. "I'm driving."
"Because you've done all the driving so far, and you are way too weak right now. Just get some rest, yeah?"
"Fine," he grumbled, rolling his eyes as he made his way to the passenger's side. Over the top of the car I looked out, staring in the direction we had come. The keys in my hand rattled. Quickly I climbed in, shoving them into the ignition and forcing myself to smile at my friends.
"So, guys, where we going?" Madison asked. Even I couldn't help but pick up on the new tremor in her voice.
"No idea," I muttered, glancing at Chuck before pulling off. "Back to Cardiff?"
"Might as well."
"Sounds good," Madison chirped.
"Great." I nodded, putting my foot down. "And not too many stops this time, yeah?"
Rebecca happily settled in the back seat of the car, a colouring book on her lap and her head bent over it, eyes focused. "Where we going?" she asked as I started the car.
I glanced at Chloe.
Her expression was blank.
"How about wherever the road takes us?" I offered, wondering where the hell we would end up with that logic. Through the mirror, I saw Rebecca offer up a small smile.
"Sure," Chloe giggled, nodding as she glanced out the window. "Maybe it'll take us somewhere normal."
"Yeah," I sighed, knowing the chances of that were pretty slim. "Maybe."
A/N: So, a huge thanks to anyone who has read and/or reviewed this, added it to their alerts, favourites, any of that. Really means a lot to me. So ends the (current) revised version of Into the Night; I know it's far from perfect, but I had a lot of fun writing this the first time and a fair bit working on it for the second. Please, please, please review – I have a feeling I won't be able to get this out of my head and all comments are appreciated, even if it's to tell me you hated it (as long as you tell me why you hated it).
In the meantime, check out the poll on my profile page – it'll help me decide what to work on now this is out of the way, for now. And if you do want to see more of Jake & co, the sequel is up here, too – Back to Hell follows them as they make their way back to Cardiff, and the events that transpire there.
Hope you enjoyed it.