Chapter 03: The Awakening
Sam was asleep, and that was just as well. They would have a long trip in the morning, and who knew what awaited them at their destination. He slept peacefully, breathing so softly even Kyle had trouble hearing it. All that was visible of the boy on the large bed was his mop of red hair - and Kyle hadn't known a red so vibrant existed - peeking out from under the covers. Kyle smiled lightly and closed the door of the room, intent on speaking a bit more to Conner, mainly about what the man was willing to do to help them, but also because Conner was curious about Sam, and Kyle owed him at least some answers.
As was to be expected, the man was waiting him in the lounge, a glass filled with an amber liquid in his hand. He smiled grimly at Kyle and motioned for the man to sit, something Kyle complied with gladly. In all honesty, he was exhausted, but he wouldn't show it, not enough to seem weak. Especially not before someone like Conner, because however nice the man was, however grateful, he was who he was, and Kyle knew enough about his past to be cautious. But that was the nature of most of Kyle's connections, always the types to keep him on his toes, and Kyle didn't mind too much, not anymore.
"So Kyle, the boy, what are you protecting him from?"
And that was how it was with Conner, always to the point. Kyle was glad for that, at least this time.
"I'm not too sure myself," he said, leaning back against the soft armchair he was occupying.
"All I know is there's someone looking for him, and they're not exactly the type you'd leave a kid with."
Conner made a humming noise, knowing what Kyle meant and sipped his drink. He offered some to Kyle, but the man refused.
"No drinking on the job," he explained.
"And this might as well be one, with how many people are trying to shoot me."
"So it's that bad?" Conner asked, with some curiosity.
"Yeah, it's that bad, we've been hiding out in different places, you know. But they always find us, and they never take too long."
"Who?" Conner asked.
"If I knew I'd tell you," Kyle said with a shrug.
"Or maybe I'd just go shoot their boss myself. All I know is they want Sam, and Sam doesn't seem to like them very much."
"What would they want with the boy?" Conner said with a frown.
"Now that is an interesting story," Kyle said with a smirk.
Judging by the look on the older man's face, his interest had been piqued.
"Guess it started after we left my place a couple of months ago," Kyle began, thinking back to that time.
There had been no time to cover their tracks or get rid of the men properly, but Kyle didn't care at the moment. Someone had broken into his home and tried to kidnap Sam, and that was just sinking in even three full days later.
Both him and Sam had been staying in hotels for a while, not the nicest of places, but neither was it the worst. On the first night, they'd had another 'roommate', but he didn't stay for long. Kyle took him for a drive and got all the information he could get out of the guy, which wasn't much really . He returned not long after - he didn't want to leave Sam alone for too long - but this time there was only him. Sam didn't say anything about that, and neither did Kyle. There were more important things to worry about.
That had been a few nights ago, and Kyle still couldn't get much sleep. He hadn't liked what he had found out that night.
They wanted Sam, that much was clear even before the man who had broken into his place had confirmed it. Why they wanted him, the man would not say, or more like he couldn't. He was scared, but even after Kyle had replaced that fear of his employer for fear of him, the man didn't have much to offer.
"The boy!" the man had said, desperate to keep Kyle away from him.
"It's the boy, they're after!" and there was pain in his voice.
"Why?" Kyle asked harshly, and this time he made sure the barrel of the gun really dug into the man's right arm, the one that hadn't been shot.
"Don't know...something about stolen property, I don't know anything else!"
Kyle looked at the man carefully, staring straight into the dark, frightened, eyes.
"Who hired you?"
Nervously, the man shook his head, trying to move away from the gun, but he couldn't move much, not when he was tied up and pinned against the wall. His head was throbbing from their earlier encounter in Kyle's apartment and the loss of blood from the gunshot in his arm made his vision swim. Not to mention the pain.
"I don't know!" and the gun was moved to his shoulder.
"I-I swear...! They didn't tell us, we just got paid!"
Kyle scowled, glaring at the man, making it painfully clear that he was not happy. He wanted more information, and he would get it. Kyle lowered his gun, and the man relaxed, a moment later, he cried out in pain as Kyle pressed the gunshot wound on his left arm with a gloved hand.
"Now, you're going to tell me more, because I know you're holding out, or I'm going to put another fucking bullet in you and I promise you, it'll be in a very painful place," Kyle hissed.
"...Th-they won't give up..." the man said, grimacing.
"Don't know why...but they need the boy..."
"And how are they searching?" Kyle asked, because he needed to know if they were following him or the boy.
The man hesitated, but apparently, he had learned his lesson.
"Tracer..." the man managed to get out, pain still coursing through his body.
"...the boy has one..." and his eyes were sliding shut, but Kyle shook him.
The man groaned as his arm was jarred from the shaking.
"Don't know...inside..." and then he passed out, and Kyle let him go.
Kyle had gotten rid of the man after that, and then he had returned to the hotel where Sam was waiting for him, in a hurry. He hadn't known what to expect when he got there, not after the man had told him they could track the boy. To his relief, Sam was fine, still sitting on the bed watching an infomercial for some sort of cleaning product, of all things. He looked up at Kyle when the man entered the room, and Kyle tried to smile a bit, but he was wondering about what the man had said.
A tracer, he had told him, that was what they were using to find Sam, but where? The boy had nothing from when Kyle had found him. All of the things he had been wearing - which hadn't really been all that much - had been thrown out by Kyle. So how could they find him? And then he remembered the last thing the man had said; "inside", and Kyle paled at that.
"Sam," he said after a moment of just watching the boy from his seat on an old armchair.
The young boy shifted his gaze towards him, letting him know he had his attention.
There was apprehension on his face, but only for a moment, and then it was replaced with curiosity. Slowly, he stood from the bed and moved to stand before Kyle.
"Roll up your sleeves, Sam," he told the boy.
Again, Sam looked at Kyle with a questioning expression, but did as told, rolling up the long sleeves on his shirt. Kyle took one of his arms in his hand and looked at it carefully, trying to find anything unusual on the boy's pale skin. After a while, he moved on to the other arm, but found nothing there as well.
"What are you looking for?" Sam asked.
Kyle sighed and let go of the boy's arm.
"I don't know," he muttered.
"Do you have any strange scars or anything?" he asked after a moment.
Sam seemed to think about it, his brow furrowing slightly. After some thought, he shook his head, and Kyle felt relieved.
"Oh, wait, maybe I do," Sam said a minute later, and instantly, Kyle had sat up and was looking at the boy attentively.
"Where?" he asked.
"On my neck," Sam answered.
"I felt it yesterday in the bath," the boy explained, and Kyle was already reaching out to feel the back of the boy's neck.
His fingers slid across the smooth skin and then stopped as Kyle felt what Sam had been talking about.
"Turn around," he told the boy, at the same time as he stood.
He moved aside a few strands of red hair and frowned at the thin line that stretched under it, about the length of Kyle's fingernail. The skin was raised a bit, and Kyle could feel something inside the boy's skin. Kyle closed his eyes and tried to push back his anger, anger that someone had done this to Sam. Now at least, he knew that he had been right to take Sam with him. The cops wouldn't know what to do with the boy.
"Alright Sam," he said, and he kept his voice as gentle as he could, because what he was about to tell the boy wasn't a good thing.
"Listen, there's something here," Kyle explained, pressing his fingers over the boy's skin.
"Something that helped those guys back at my place find you."
And now he could feel the boy tense, so he turned him around to look at him.
"If I don't get it out they'll find us again."
Sam didn't say anything, his eyes fixed on the dark gray carpet, and Kyle knew he was scared, but it had to be done and Kyle wouldn't hurt him on purpose. He made sure Sam knew that too.
"Okay," the boy finally said, in a voice so small it almost went unheard.
Kyle offered a shaky smile and patted his head. He had Sam lie down on his stomach while he got out the few emergency supplies he had managed to pack before they left his apartment. It wasn't much, just the most basic first aid kit and an extra roll of bandages, but it would do.
"Don't worry Sam, this will only take a minute," Kyle said soothingly as he pushed the boy's hair out of the way.
Kyle worked quickly, making a small incision right over the scar. Sam didn't make a sound, and Kyle didn't want to think about what that meant. Utilizing the tip of the knife, Kyle dislodged the tiny tracking device - which wasn't very deep, thankfully - and dropped it on top of the dresser next to the bed.
"See, it's over," he told Sam.
"Just give me a minute and we'll have you patched up."
There wasn't much that had to be done, since the cut wasn't very deep. Kyle just cleaned it and covered it with a bandage.
"You did good Sammy," he said, ruffling the boy's hair when he sat up.
The boy nodded and looked over at the dresser where Kyle had left the tracer. It was tiny, round and about the size of a nail head, completely black and not very thick at all, maybe only as thick as a dime. In general, it didn't seem all that threatening, but Kyle knew better, and they had to get rid of it soon.
They left the hotel that very night, right after Kyle tossed the tracker down the drain of the bathroom sink. He drove across the city to a new hotel, and that was where they were now. Nothing had happened so far, no strangers breaking into their room in the middle of the night or anything, but Kyle was still wary. Still trying to figure out what to do. Still waiting for them to arrive for Sam.
It happened the following morning, just before daybreak.
Kyle was a light sleeper, had been one for the greater part of his life, and for that, he was often grateful. Now, he was particularly glad, because it had given him enough time to reach for his gun and put a bullet through the first man who walked in. It had allowed him to wake Sam and lead the boy out through a window at the first sign of trouble and it had made it easy for him to be fully awake - fully prepared - to deal with the men lurking outside.
The first had appeared as they made their way around the back, crouched behind the hedges lining the back wall of the building. They were about to round the corner to the parking lot, Kyle was standing at the front, leading Sam along with his gun already drawn. He looked around, trying to make sure that they weren't just waiting for them, but it was dark, not even the streetlights were on, and Kyle thought that was probably on purpose. After all, the lights had been on while he had still been awake. Still, Kyle couldn't see anyone around, so he grabbed Sam's hand and tugged the boy along. A moment later, there was a cry of alarm behind Kyle and Sam's hand slipped from his own.
Kyle turned around and saw the boy being pulled away from him. A gun was pointed at him, the man holding the weapon dressed in dark clothes and hidden by the shadows, and Kyle didn't have time to observe him all that much, not when he was dodging bullets only a second later. But it was too late and one of them grazed his arm, making him wince, and he heard Sam call out his name. At the moment though, he was too preoccupied with the bullets heading straight at him, the bullets he knew he couldn't dodge. And then, he didn't feel anything, no burning pain, no hot metal ripping through his flesh or anything similar, and Kyle was confused.
When he realized why it was that he was still in one piece, he was even more bemused.
The bullets that were supposed to hit him were floating in mid-air, completely still. And Kyle wasn't the only one amazed, because the man holding Sam had stopped to stare, not too long, but long enough for Sam to bite his arm, hard, and run away from the cursing man. There was a clinking sound as the bullets finally dropped to the ground, and Kyle leaped at the man, knocking him to the ground and wrestling away the weapon in his hand. There was a loud smacking sound as Kyle's fist met the man's face, a sickening crack as the second blow broke his nose and blood spurted out and flowed down the man's face. Another punch and the hands pushing Kyle away became weaker, and eventually, they dropped after another brutal hit, and maybe Kyle could have knocked out the man faster, could have killed him swiftly, but he didn't want to. He was furious, about many things, things that Kyle didn't even think he should be angry about, but he was, and the man laying beneath him was the only one he had to take out his frustration on.
Kyle stood up once he was sure the man wouldn't be getting up again, not in a while anyway. Sam was standing behind him, his face pale and eyes wide and blue and so filled with panic. Calming himself, Kyle walked over to the boy and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Are you okay?" he asked, and he noticed how tired he seemed now.
But Sam just nodded and Kyle looked around again before taking the boy's wrist in his hand.
"Come on, we need to get out of here."
They left with no further problems. Apparently, there had only been two men after them this time, but Kyle didn't expect to be so lucky next time. And neither did he think bullets would always stop before him.
They drove for a while, not stopping for anything but gas several hours later. Kyle pulled up to a desolate gas station, near the outskirts of town. It was the best lit place around, and somehow, that put Kyle on edge. Sam was quiet, just like he had been since they had left the hotel. The boy was curled up on the passenger seat next to Kyle, looking out the window. He looked exhausted, Kyle thought, but the boy refused to sleep, and Kyle didn't blame him. Kyle himself, was still trying to deal with what had happened earlier, trying to find an explanation for why he wasn't dead in some cheap hotel parking lot, but he couldn't, and he knew he'd have to talk to Sam about what had happened. Not yet though, not when the boy was still so upset.
"Stay here," he told Sam, his voice sounding louder than he had expected in the nearly eerie silence of the night.
Sam didn't say anything, just gave a small nod, but Kyle thought he saw apprehension in his eyes. He didn't want to stay alone.
"I'll be back in a bit Sam, if you need me just honk, okay?" Kyle said in a softer voice.
"Okay," the boy responded quietly.
Kyle offered him a small smile as he stepped out of the car, grabbing his jacket to hide his bloodied arm where a bullet had just skimmed him. He hadn't bothered to patch it up, it was only a scratch.
The gas station had a small shop, brightly lit and filled with junk food. Behind the counter was a thin man, maybe in his forties, reading an old magazine trough thickly framed glasses. He didn't seem to pay too much attention to Kyle, but he knew better. There was a reason for the thick bullet proof glass shielding the shop attendant, after all. Kyle didn't fool himself into thinking the man wasn't keeping a close watch on him. Still, he paid it no mind, instead looking around for something decent to eat. He settled on a package of donuts, the type that are covered in sugar, some chips and a bottle of juice, because really, what more could he expect to find at a rundown gas station in the middle of nowhere?
"Odd time to be out," the clerk said as he charged Kyle for the gas and food.
"Yeah, well, we're on a bit of a road trip," Kyle answered with a slight chuckle.
"We're a bit behind schedule though, so we're trying to make up for the lost time."
Maybe Kyle was a bit too good at lying sometimes, but it just came naturally after a while. The clerk seemed to believe him, he had no reason not to, and gave a grunt and a nod. Kyle paid for his purchase and walked back to the car, his strides a tad more hasty than he would have liked. His eyes still flickered around, trying to look through the shadows, but the night was still and quiet. He filled up the car quickly and got inside with one last look around.
"Here," he told Sam, handing him the food he had gotten.
"I though you might be hungry."
"Thank you," Sam said, taking out the snacks.
He ate quietly, finishing off two of the mini-donuts before putting the rest back in the bag with the rest of the food. It was a bit strange, considering the boy usually ate a lot more, but Kyle supposed it was normal for the boy to not feel too hungry after what they had been through that night.
"Kyle," Sam spoke quietly after about half an hour on the road.
"What is it, Sam?" Kyle asked, focusing on staying awake.
Kyle frowned, not understanding why the boy was apologizing.
"Sorry for what?" he asked the boy.
There was silence for a moment, Sam seeming to hesitate before answering.
"For everything, for making you get hurt and all," the boy finally spoke.
"Yeah, well, don't worry about that, it wasn't really your fault, you know. Besides, I got hurt a lot even before I met you," Kyle reassured the boy.
But then Kyle remembered exactly why he was still alive, and he knew he had to clear things up before they went any farther, before Sam felt any more guilty. He pulled over on the side of the dark, empty road and both him and Sam just sat there for a while, silent and tense. At last, Kyle sighed and turned to look at the boy.
"Sam, I need to know what happened back there," he said bluntly, because there was no point in delaying things.
The boy didn't answer, and maybe he even curled up further, but Kyle ignored it.
"Sam," he tried again.
"Look at me, I need to know."
He waited for the boy to speak, to even look at him, and it took a while, but finally, Sam spoke.
"Promise you won't leave," he said hesitantly, and Kyle had trouble even hearing him.
Suddenly, Kyle could tell just how lonely, how scared, the young boy before him really was, and he knew that Sam had been very brave so far. He also understood how much trust was put upon him, how much the boy depended on him.
"I promise, Sam, I won't leave you alone," and Kyle meant it more than he thought he ever would.
Sam looked at him, his eyes holding a sort of cautiousness that Kyle hadn't seen before, like he was evaluating the older man. It was there for only a moment though, and then there was relief.
"It was me," he said after a moment.
"I didn't want you to get hurt, but I didn't mean to, I just-it just happened," and now there was a sort of panic in his voice as he explained.
"It's strange," Sam went on.
"I'm strange, aren't I?"
Now, Kyle was certainly awake, he couldn't help but be after what Sam had said. He was still shocked though, disbelief clearly written on his face as he listened to the boy explain, and then Sam looked up at him with wide blue eyes filled with so much emotion. He was afraid, Kyle realized, afraid that he was going to break his promise, to leave him alone out there. But it was more than that. Sam was desperate, needing to be reassured that it was okay, that he wasn't strange, that it wasn't his fault, almost pleading for Kyle to help him get rid of the guilt he was feeling. That much, Kyle could do.
"You are not strange," Kyle said seriously, staring right into the boy's eyes.
He grabbed the boy's shoulder, feeling him tense at the touch.
"And there is nothing wrong with what you did, there is nothing wrong with you. You saved my life, Sam, and I'm very grateful for that," he smiled and ruffled the boy's hair.
"We can talk about this later, okay? First let's see if we can find a place to rest."
They didn't talk after that. Sam had drifted off to sleep, apparently more at ease now that he knew Kyle wouldn't toss him out the car and drive off. Kyle had managed to make it into the next city and find a hotel they could stay in just before the sun came up. He had somehow been able to make it to their room, make sure it was safe, and get Sam settled before he passed out on an old armchair.
It had been late in the day when Kyle had woken up, and Sam was already sitting up in bed, looking out the window at the new city they were in. The empty packages of chips and donuts rested on the side table next to the bed along with an empty bottle of juice. Kyle groaned as he stood up, his joints stiff and his mouth dry. He took Sam out to get some decent food after taking a quick shower. He knew Sam would be hungry, even if he hadn't been awake for very long. They returned to the hotel after that, and Kyle was still thinking about what to do - where to go next - but he supposed the best he could do was stay put while he came up with something. The boy needed to rest, after all, and so did he.
They hadn't talked about what Sam had done the previous night, at least not until later that day, or more like that night. Sam had been flipping through the channels on the old t.v. set in their room, and Kyle had been sitting on the armchair nearby, watching the boy. It hadn't taken him long to decide to just ask Sam more about what had happened. Understandably, he had been reluctant to speak at first, but Kyle had been patient, and he had opened up eventually.
He didn't really know, he confessed, but it was something even he knew he wasn't supposed to be able to do. It had just happened, apparently, an instinctive reaction meant to save Kyle, because he was the only person that had ever been willing to help him, and Sam didn't want him to get hurt, didn't want him to die. Kyle thought it sounded like some sort of defense mechanism, like the ones he had heard about in some documentary a while back. As strange as it sounded though, it was a bit comforting to know Sam wasn't completely defenseless, but it also made Kyle realize that maybe that was why they were after the boy. He didn't say so though, mainly because he thought Sam already suspected as much, and the boy didn't need a reminder. He didn't need to hear that it was all his fault. So, Kyle had coaxed Sam into attempting to do something with this strange ability of his. It hadn't gone well.
At first, nothing had happened, no matter how much Sam tried. He spent a good ten minutes staring at a pillow without it so much as twitching. They switched to something smaller, a coin, and Sam tried to make something happen. Then, there was a pounding somewhere outside. It was very loud, probably someone knocking not so politely on the door of one of the other rooms, but both Sam and Kyle were on edge already, and they both reacted.
Kyle whipped out one of his guns, not having been able to keep them too far out of his reach, and pointed it at the door. At the same time, the old phone on the table next to the t.v. set flew across the room and slammed itself against the door, falling to the ground with a clatter. There was nothing but silence as Kyle slowly turned back to look at Sam, who was still sitting on the bed. Across from where the phone had been.
After that, Sam had been able to make the coin they had been practicing with move around. He could make it float up and zoom across the room and back, and Kyle thought it was amazing. But it was dangerous. Maybe not because Sam could hurt someone, but because he could get hurt because of it. Because there were men chasing him and Kyle was sure he knew the reason why now, but that was only a part of why it was dangerous. The other part he learned a moment later.
"Sam, stop," he said, standing and hurrying to the boy's side.
There was a drop of blood running down from the boy's nose, and Kyle noticed just how pale he looked, how tired he was. Sam had slept the whole night and most of the next day after that, and Kyle knew that what Sam could do wasn't a good thing. Not when it made the boy so weak afterwards, when it made him bleed and pass out and seem so exhausted. Kyle had told him not to do anything like that when he had woken up, had made him promise, and Sam had agreed. They had left the city two days later, not having run into any trouble, but knowing they should move on before they were found, and they had continued to move around in that way for months.
"As far as I can tell, that's why they're looking for Sam," Kyle told Conner with a shrug.
"It's the only thing about the kid that anyone would want. He doesn't know anyone, or have anything of value."
Conner was still sitting across from him, looking at Kyle with a questioning expression, as if he thought the man was lying. He couldn't really be blamed though, it was a hard story to process, but Kyle wasn't the type to make up wild tales like that - even his lies seemed entirely possible - and the boy was too subdued to have caused any trouble. The only reason anyone would want him was if there was something very special about him, and what Kyle had just told him seemed like a good enough reason. But there was still the question of why Kyle was helping the boy.
"So, what are you going to do with him?" Conner asked.
Kyle raised an eyebrow at the question.
"Nothing," he said after a moment.
"It's like I said, I'm just trying to help the kid, it's not like there's anything in it for me. Besides, those bastards wrecked my place, I have to get back at them somehow and if Sam's who they want, then keeping them away from him seems like a good place to start."
"Not to mention you've gotten attached to him," Conner said casually.
He watched with amusement as Kyle spluttered for a moment.
"I have not," he said, with as much dignity as he could muster.
The older man just laughed, a deep booming sound that seemed too cheery to belong to someone like Conner.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of, you know?" he told the younger man.
"After looking after Beth for so long, even someone like me would grow a bit kinder. Kids do that," and then he gave Kyle a smug, somewhat amused look.
"Not that you'd know, Thatcher."
Kyle supposed that was true enough, Conner was nicer now that he had Beth with him. He wondered if that was happening to him now, if he would change in that way because of Sam. After some though, Kyle realized that it had already happened, and he found it didn't bother him as much as it should have. He could still break bones and end lives just as easily as before and so could Conner. Nicer didn't mean weak, not for them, because they'd always be just as dangerous.
Both men sat there for a while longer, both reflecting on the changes they had gone through, all for someone who depended on them, whom they had to protect, and in the end, it was that common link that made Conner help Kyle and his boy. Because he couldn't leave them to fend for themselves, not when Kyle had shown such kindness towards his Beth, a girl he hadn't known. No, Conner would help them in the end, he owed the man that much. And yes, there was a part of him that told him the boy might be useful, but a more reasonable part asked how?
He wouldn't know what to do with him, and from what Kyle said, the boy's use of whatever it was he could do, was limited, probably weakened him, and he didn't want to be responsible for a child's death, He'd left the business a long time ago, and he had enough blood on his hands by then, Conner didn't need any more.
He nodded at the other man.
"Alright," he said.
And Kyle had expected that, but he still smiled in that dangerous way of his that said that he had already known.
Hello to all my readers, and thank you for stopping by to read this chapter. I hope you've enjoyed it, and sorry about it being so long, I just really enjoy writing this.
Anyways, I have a bit more written down and will be working on this story as well as the others, but I am busy at times, so sorry for any delays. Please review if you get the chance, and to those of you that have, or who have added my story to their lists, thank you!