Chapter 04: The Arrival
It was nice, Kyle thought, to be able to live normally for a few days. It was nice to wake up and have a nice breakfast, homemade, just like lunch and dinner. It was nice to sleep in a clean room, on a bed instead of a couch. And it was nice to take a shower in a bathroom where the tiles weren't grimy and yellow instead of white, even with the strong stench of disinfectant(and Kyle didn't need to know why it was used so much). Most of all though, it was nice to not have to worry about getting up in the middle of the night to someone skulking around, trying to get at them, and Kyle was tired of sleeping with a gun within reach because he was worried someone would try to shoot him in his sleep.
And maybe Conner's place wasn't the safest in the world, but it sure as hell beat the shitty hotels he'd been inhabiting with Sam. Besides, Conner wasn't a bad guy, at least, not compared to the people who had the same occupation as him. He wasn't a greedy bastard like those other guys, probably because he could see that the money he had would definitely last him for a while(probably the rest of his life and he'd have some left over for Beth too). Conner wasn't completely heartless, largely in part to Beth, but Kyle had liked him from the start because he had some morals, however faint and twisted they may be. In a way, he was like Kyle, not what you'd expect, given how he chose to make a living, and Kyle was very aware of how unusual he was himself, because he didn't do his job for the kicks.
Kyle did what he did because that was what he was taught to do, and that was what he was best at. He did it because it paid well and most of the time, he didn't care about who he killed, because maybe they deserved it, but mostly, he didn't know enough to judge. Though sometimes he did, and on a few instances, he was glad to do his job. And that was kind of what Conner was like. He had dealt with drugs because it paid well, but he wasn't as bloodthirsty as the other big dealers(though that didn't mean he wasn't). Conner wasn't the type who'd have you shot if you looked at him wrong or coughed in his general direction, and then he had gotten softer when Beth had come along. He was still bad enough that he'd send people like Kyle(and Kyle himself at times) after whoever pissed him off, but at least the victim would be deserving, and Kyle respected that about the man.
So, Kyle was okay with relaxing a bit, with walking around without a gun strapped to his side. And he was okay with not sleeping in the same room as Sam, because he knew the boy would be safe. Because, yes, Conner was fascinated with Sam's abilities, but he wouldn't hurt him and he wouldn't try to take him away from Kyle. Conner was smart enough to know that Sam wouldn't be of much use, because what could he do with the boy? And he was smart enough to know he shouldn't piss Kyle off, because the man knew too much about him and he made a living out of killing, so no, he wouldn't feel any remorse.
Then there was Beth, who was such a sweet girl. She spent a lot of her time with Sam, while him and Kyle were around, and it was probably because she felt sorry for the boy, but Sam needed to have someone other than Kyle to talk to and the man was glad there was someone as nice as Beth around. Sometimes, Kyle could swear Sam was having fun with Beth, but he could never be too sure, because Sam wasn't very emotional. Except when he was scared and they were being chased, and Kyle wasn't too sure he liked that at all. Beth was good for him though, she helped him relax, and Kyle was glad that they had stopped at Conner's to rest.
They would be leaving soon, though. They were already getting ready to leave and maybe it was a good thing, because whoever it was that was chasing them would probably catch up if they stuck around for much longer.
Conner had already arranged for Kyle and Sam to get out of the state and head to Chicago. He had provided them with anything they might need, and Kyle had enough money to take care of the rest when they arrived. He had wanted to pay Conner back, but the man said he owed Kyle too much, and maybe he was right, but Kyle didn't mind either way. So, the day before they left, they only had some minor preparations to do. Things like, changing their looks, and if that didn't sound like something minor maybe it was because Kyle did that enough for his job.
As it was, Sam wasn't really used to it, but he didn't complain. Kyle thought it was because he didn't care enough, and that was good, considering they'd most likely have to change their looks a couple of times as they moved on. Beth, on the other hand, thought it was a shame, because Sam's red hair was now an inky black, like Kyle's and his eyes would be a light brown tone thanks to contacts. Not that she hadn't enjoyed giving the boy a haircut and then dying his hair, because she liked that sort of thing. She had a knack for it too, which surprised Kyle a bit, because Beth hadn't been that interested in hair and makeup the last time he had stopped by. She had grown up, he supposed.
There was no hair dye for Kyle though. He didn't want to bother with that, so he'd opted for a wig, a chestnut colored one this time. It didn't matter if he kept his actual hair color or not, because brunettes didn't stick out, but people with hair as red as Sam's sure did.
"I still think a wig would have been better," Beth sighed as she looked at Sam with a forlorn expression.
They were eating dinner now, and Kyle was amused at the way the girl just wouldn't let it go. It was probably funnier because Sam just stared at her blankly, like he didn't get why she had liked his hair so much, and maybe he didn't. Sam was strange like that, Kyle reminded himself.
"It's fine Beth, it'll wear off," Kyle said for what felt like the tenth time that day.
"Besides, a wig could slip off, and then we'd be in trouble."
"Aren't you using a wig?" the young woman asked with an arched eyebrow.
"I'm used to it," Kyle answered easily with a shrug, and then took a drink from his glass.
"Well, it's still such a waste, Sam looked so cute with red hair."
And that nearly made Kyle spit his drink out, because really, he hadn't expected that. He looked at Sam, who looked unperturbed, and admitted that, yes, he was a cute kid, but he didn't think the hair mattered that much. Especially because Kyle thought any kid who didn't annoy the hell out of him was pretty damn adorable, and while Sam got them shot at on a regular basis, he was a pretty good kid(and more importantly, a quiet kid). So he decided not to throw him to the wolves by pointing out to Beth the boy's indifference to being called something so ridiculous.
At that moment, Conner chuckled, most likely amused by his niece. He sent a fond look Beth's way before turning to Kyle.
"Are you sure you want to leave so soon, Kyle. You know my home is safe," the man told Kyle.
In response, his friend nodded.
"Yeah, I figure it's about time for me and Sam to get a move on. Besides, there's still stuff I want to find out and I won't do that here."
Kyle left out the part about him not wanting to cause the older man and his niece any trouble. Conner nodded in understanding.
"Well, if that's the case, then just make sure you have everything ready. I'll have someone take you to the airport in the morning."
They didn't talk any more about Kyle's departure the next morning, just ate and reminisced about the old days, when Kyle still pulled some jobs for Conner and things were so much easier.
Morning came much too soon for Kyle, who was not so eager to leave the comfort of Conner's home just yet, but it was something that had to be done. He got dressed, and it was a slow process this time. He had to make sure his wig was properly attached and neatly combed, before picking up the glasses that completed his outfit. Now, there was a neatly dressed businessman looking back through the mirror, John Peterson, who was heading to Chicago for work related reasons. His son(and it had taken a bit of makeup for Kyle to actually look old enough for this to be even remotely possible), Tim Peterson, would be traveling with him for the first time. Yes, it was a suitable cover.
He checked the single bag he would be carrying and headed to Sam's room. The boy was still sound asleep, which didn't surprise Kyle. It only took a bit of shaking to wake him up, and Kyle still wasn't used to seeing Sam with such dark hair, but he'd deal with it later. For now, he just had to make sure Sam was ready and had all his belongings packed in his backpack. There would be no weapons hidden in their bags, something that made Kyle feel uncomfortable, but he would bear it for the time being.
Kyle sighed and sat on Sam's bed, waiting for the boy to be done getting dressed. It wouldn't take long, he knew, Sam never took too long. It wasn't long before they were standing outside, a sleek black car parked in front of then, and Kyle couldn't say that Conner didn't have style. The old man was all about style back in his day. It was around that time that Conner chose to walk outside to, apparently, bid his guests goodbye. He clapped a hand on Kyle's shoulder, hard and strong like always, nearly making the younger man's knees buckle.
"It was good seeing you again, Thatcher," he said, and Kyle could see that he meant it, because even men like Conner needed a friend every now and then.
"Same here," he responded.
"Thanks," Kyle added after a moment.
"For everything, I mean. Guess after this I'll owe you a favor or two," and Kyle didn't mind, not really.
There were worse people to work for than Conner Evans, and they both knew it. The older man shook his head, though, a small smile curving the ends of his mouth.
"Don't worry about it," Conner said.
"With all the discounts you usually give me and the whole mess with Beth, I owe you a few still."
Kyle grinned, and he thought that maybe, he'd like to do a job or two for Conner. Once the whole deal with Sam was solved.
"Just try not to get killed," the man told Kyle.
"Don't I always?" Kyle responded with humor.
Conner let out a small sigh, nearly inaudible.
"This time it's serious though, isn't it?"
There was a moment of silence, and yeah, Kyle knew this time he was in deep shit, mainly because he'd been forced to hide like some rat already. More importantly, this time, he wasn't on his own. This time, he had Sam to worry about, and maybe he hadn't known the kid for very long, but he wasn't about to leave someone that young on their own against men with guns and who knew what else. Besides, he had promised. He promised Sam he wouldn't leave him alone, and while he was never the most noble man, he always kept his word.
"I'll be alright Conner," he said, and glanced at Sam.
"We'll be alright. Once we get out of this place we should be able to relax a bit more. It should be harder to find us with the distance and all. Just try and keep an eye out for anything suspicious for a while and keep and eye on Beth. Bastards might find out we were here."
Conner just waved him off.
"We'll be fine, it wouldn't be the first time we were targeted," he said.
He slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a small white card with neat black print on it.
"Use it if you need help, I'm serious about what I said earlier. I still owe you, a lot, and I'm in the position to pay you back now, so don't hesitate to call," and now Kyle could tell that Conner was serious.
He took the card and, after a quick glance at it, tucked it into his coat pocket.
"I will," he said, and then grinned.
"And I'll stop by when this is over, in case you have a job for me or something," and Conner didn't bother telling Kyle that he wouldn't, because it would be nice to know the man was still alive.
They left soon after and Kyle shot one last look at the place, wondering how long it would be before he got a chance to make that call to Conner. He sighed and leaned back against the seat, closing his eyes and preparing for the trip ahead.
Kyle had always hated airports. They were crowded and chaotic no matter how organized the people in charge tried to make them. That was why he so rarely chose to travel in planes, preferring to stay on the road. Now though, it was necessary, because Kyle didn't want to risk such a long journey on the road with Sam, and he wanted to get things over with as soon as possible. It was still risky though, especially since it was so much harder to spot anyone who might be following them. Of course, it was also harder for him and Sam to be spotted. He just had to make sure to stay close to the boy.
This wasn't really such a big problem, not when Sam chose to stay as close as possible, his eyes flicking about nervously as he took in the people surrounding them. It must have been smothering, Kyle though, because the boy was tense and pale and kept a firm hold on Kyle's sleeve. At last, they reached a place where they could sit to wait until it was time to board the plane, and Kyle managed to find a couple of vacant seats for them. It was a miracle considering that the place was packed. The holiday season was approaching, after all.
The man looked at his watch as he leaned back in his seat. Still plenty of time left before they were to leave. Too much time, Kyle thought. He sighed and sat back, taking out a newspaper from his bag, because he didn't really feel like reading it, but it'd make him look a lot more normal, and diminish the chances of anyone noticing that he was actually looking around the place. He didn't trust that they had done enough to lose whoever the hell it was that was following them.
Fortunately, nothing happened and soon they were on the plane that would take them to Chicago. Hopefully, they would be able to get some answers there, and Kyle already had a plan on how to do so. He just hoped it would all work out.
The flight wasn't particularly long, though it was boring enough that it seemed like they were on the plane for several hours. To Kyle's relief, Sam was okay with flying, and it was a good thing because he hadn't even considered that the boy could be uncomfortable in the air. Of course, there were worse things than traveling by plane, and Sam had seen plenty of them. They were both glad when they landed though, and were quick to get what little luggage they had and leave the place.
There were plenty of cabs outside to choose from and Kyle ushered Sam into one while surreptitiously glancing about. No one was there though, and Kyle had to admit he was turning into a real paranoid bastard. It wasn't like he could help it though.
"Where you headed?" the taxi driver asked, with a Chicago accent spoken in a croaky voice.
Kyle gave the man the address to a hotel he had stayed in before while in the city. It was a pretty nice place, better than any other place him and Sam had stayed in, with the exception of Conner's house, of course. Most of the people there were the business type, so him and Sam would fit in pretty well given the story they were going with. More importantly though, it was the sort of place that had good security measures, and while that could be trouble a lot of times, for now it would be a welcome change. He hoped it would all throw off whoever was looking for them, at least for long enough for Kyle to do what he had to do.
Traffic made the trip pretty slow, and the weather was kind of shitty, if Kyle was to be honest. It was cold and it was raining and it wasn't even the coldest it would get because there would be snow soon and Kyle hated that kind of weather. It made his joints stiffen and his muscles ache and he didn't want to think about how much worse things would be when he was an old man.
They got to the hotel and checked in easily enough, but then Kyle thought he really looked the part of a businessman, so that was no surprise.
"What are we going to do here?" Sam asked, and Kyle had to admit that he was a bit surprised to hear him speak.
It wasn't like the boy was the talkative type.
"We're going to see some people," he answered easily, locking the door and checking the place.
"See if maybe they can help us figure out what's going on."
Sam didn't say anything else from his place on an armchair, and Kyle went on with his inspection of the place. It was the type of hotel that was made to look comfortable and welcoming, nothing too ostentatious, but you could still tell from the quality of service and décor that it wasn't a cheap stop. The room was simple enough, two beds already neatly made, a couple of nightstands with lamps and a phone, a table with a fruit bowl and a pitcher of water, some generic landscape paintings hung on the walls and a couple of armchairs and television set took up the space. There was a door leading to a bathroom of moderate size with fresh towels and clean tiled floors and a smell that told Kyle it was freshly cleaned. The windows were wide and though the blinds were closed, some of the dull light of day filtered in. All in all, it was a comfortable room and Kyle was glad for that.
"Come on Sam, let's get some food and then we'll need to rest. There's a lot we have to do tomorrow," Kyle told the boy, and Sam pulled on his coat once more and walked out into the hall.
"Remember, the names we're going with are John and Tim if anyone asks," he said in a low voice as the two walked to the elevator.
Sam nodded to show he had heard, and Kyle trusted the boy to remember to use their new names. They had gone through it enough that it had probably stuck and Sam was a smart kid so Kyle didn't worry too much. But he'd still remind Sam of it, just in case.
They didn't stay out long. Nearby there was a diner they had dinner in, and it was a nice enough place with good food. The waitress, and older woman with a teasing attitude made small talk with them, since there weren't many other people around. Or at least, she talked to Kyle and tried to talk to Sam, but the boy didn't say much, as usual. It didn't really bother the woman, who pegged the boy for a shy one, and Kyle thought Sam might have looked a bit embarrassed with all the attention. It was hard to tell though, but it was still pretty damn funny. Eventually, the woman took pity on the boy and walked off to tend to the family that had just walked in.
"You know, you could try talking to other people," Kyle told Sam casually, before taking a bite of his burger.
"I mean, people like her, they're okay," he was referring to the waitress, who was a couple of booths away, taking orders.
Sam didn't look up, but he stopped eating.
"Why?" he asked quietly.
"It's supposed to be good," he told the boy.
"Talking to people, even if it's just about the weather or something, it's good, makes things easier. I guess it's relaxing, like a reminder that things aren't always so bad," or at least, that was what Kyle thought about it.
Sometimes, it just helped, to know that not everyone was as screwed up as the people he usually associated with. Those few short moments of normalcy, the ones where he chatted to some random waitress, or a bored store clerk, or even the mailman, they reminded him what the rest of the world was like, what it meant to be normal. He thought Sam could benefit from something like that.
Sam just looked at him oddly, though, and took a bite out of his burger and Kyle thought it was a lost cause, because the boy just wasn't that social.
"I talk to you," Sam said after a moment, and Kyle's brow rose a bit.
"Yeah well, I'm not exactly normal," he muttered.
"Neither am I."
Kyle stopped and stared at the boy sitting across from him, because while that was true, he didn't actually like being reminded of it.
"All the more reason to talk to others," he told the boy, and then turned back to his food.
They didn't say much more after that, Kyle spoke to the waitress for a bit more before they left. She was an amusing lady, pretty funny, and she seemed to like him and Sam. It was nice, he thought, to have a bit of casual conversation every now and then. He just wished Sam could see that.
Instead, Sam chose to look at the dark streets outside, the city lights reflecting off the puddles of water left by the rain distorted every time a person walked by, making the water ripple. There were still a lot of people outside, even though the weather was cold, but then it was a pretty popular street with shoppers.
"Your boy's pretty quiet," the waitress told Kyle.
The man glanced at Sam and refrained from sighing. Instead, he smiled at the woman and nodded.
"Must be tired," he answered easily.
"We just flew in from California," that wasn't completely true, but he wouldn't tell her exactly where they had come from, just in case.
"You should get him home then," she said.
"Boys need their sleep at his age."
Kyle would have agreed, but he wasn't exactly sure how old Sam was. Still, he took the woman's advice and paid the bill, before leaving the place with Sam.
They were back in the hotel room in less than ten minutes and both were glad for the warmth and the chance to get a good night's rest in a comfortable setting. Kyle's head barely touched the pillow before he was out like a light, though he was a light enough sleeper that he would be up if anything happened. And that was why, a few hours past midnight, his eyes shot open and his hand reached for his gun(the only one he had been able to smuggle in).
He was sitting up and aiming before he even realized what was going on and when he did, he promptly lowered his gun.
"Sam?" he asked, voice still heavy with sleep.
The boy was standing by the small table in the room with a glass of water in his hand. He stopped the moment he heard Kyle stir and the older man was glad for that. He didn't want to think what would have happened if Sam hadn't stopped moving. Kyle sat up in bed, running a hand through his hair and setting his gun on the nightstand.
"What are you doing up?" he asked, trying to stifle a yawn, because there was no danger, but he was still tired as all hell.
"Just thirsty," Sam said, voice as quiet as always, and it sounded pretty reasonable, only Kyle couldn't believe that, not with the way the boy wouldn't look at him.
"You sure that's all?" he asked, making it clear that he didn't believe the boy and that he wanted the truth.
He watched patiently as Sam stood there, probably trying to decide what to tell Kyle, if he was actually going to tell him anything. At last, he glanced up at the man still sitting on the bed, and it looked like he was ready to talk.
"It was just a dream," he said in as dismissive a manner as he could manage, and Kyle could see through it.
"What about?" Kyle asked.
For a moment, he thought he saw Sam scowl, but it was dark and he was half asleep already. Besides, Sam's expression hardly ever switched from his usual blank look.
"I don't know," the boy responded with a shrug.
Kyle didn't say anything for a while, wondering what someone like Sam would dream about. The boy wasn't normal, after all, hardly even knew about popular culture, almost like he had actually lived in a cave or something. But then Kyle didn't know what had happened to him before, he didn't know why Sam could do the things he could do or how he had gotten to that dingy back room with a group of petty crooks. So maybe it just wasn't the sort of dream people liked to talk about.
"Was it a bad dream?" he asked the boy, and he knew from the way Sam shifted uneasily that it was.
After a minute, the boy nodded, glass of water forgotten on the table at his side.
"There was a man in a gray suit," he said.
"I didn't like him."
Kyle frowned, and waved Sam over.
"Do you remember what he looked like?"
Sam shook his head, now standing right in front of him.
"Did he do anything to you?" and Kyle hoped the answer was no, but he very much doubted it.
"I don't know," Sam said.
"Not in the dream, but I didn't like him. He felt...bad," and the boy was definitely uneasy now.
"But he was familiar," Sam added after a moment.
Kyle nodded, thinking he wouldn't be getting more out of the boy, not that night and it was late enough. He stood and led Sam back to his bed.
"Alright Sam, it's just us here, so get some sleep," he said, watching the boy get back in bed.
"Sorry for waking you," Sam apologized once he was back beneath the covers, but Kyle just waved it off.
"It's fine Sam, just get some rest," he ruffled the boy's hair, not that it made much difference, and went back to bed himself.
He didn't sleep for a while after, just laid there thinking about what Sam had said. Kyle wasn't stupid enough to simply dismiss the boy's dream as a nightmare, because Sam had told him the man in his dream had looked familiar, and why would the boy say that when he couldn't remember anything from his life before Kyle had found him?
'A memory, then?', Kyle thought.
And it was a very real possibility. But did that mean that Sam would keep remembering things in the same manner? Would he envision his past in his dreams night after night? If that was the case then at least Kyle knew he'd find out the truth soon enough, but then he couldn't know what effect it would have on the boy. It was too much he thought, at least, it was too much for him to worry about at the moment, especially when there were so many other things that occupied his mind. He glanced at Sam once again, watching the boy sleeping peacefully, and let out a sigh. It would be a busy day, he thought, and he would need his rest.
Hello everyone and thank you for stopping by, hope you've enjoyed this chapter and pardon the wait. Life gets busy, that's all I can say. Anyways, the story will start to pick up soon, I have a few characters I want to introduce, and one in particular is very interesting. As always, thanks to the people who have reviewed and added me to their lists, I really appreciate it. Please review if you get the chance.