As it turned out, the two girls had been travelling together for a short time when they came across a powerful wizard. At least, Poison guessed it was a wizard of some sort. Arrow referred to him as a magic user, adding "And not the sort of good kind." From what he could gather, Arrow worked for the royalty of her land, tracking down criminals and other villains for her Queen. Rayne had fled her home, wanting to fight alongside the older warrior.
"He caught us off guard," Arrow explained. "Shot something at Rayne..."
"Like a dark, smoky cloud," Rayne added.
"I jumped at her, to try to get her on the ground and shield her. Whatever it was, it hit me, I felt cold and then, suddenly, we're here."
Poison nodded. "Sounds like a curse, of some sort. This place is...is sort of an in-between." He tried to think of the way Nicola had described it to him, tried to put it into words the other two would understand, without freaking them out too much.
"An in-between?" Arrow asked, frowning. "Like the World between Life and Death? The veil?"
Rayne's face grew pale.
"No, not really. It's more that it's hinged somewhere that doesn't have a specific time, or place, if that makes sense. It means there are different timelines and worlds connected to this one building, and some of the land surrounding it."
"Timelines?" Rayne squeaked.
"So someone from, say, five years ago could come here and see someone from six years after the time they believe it is. It stretches even further than that."
"So we've gone forward?" Arrow muttered. "In time?"
"In a way, yes." It was easier than saying they were from a different world altogether. "But you must understand, people here...they don't believe in magic." Despite the fact that two of the current guests, according to Nicola, could produce fire from their bodies and one of them could run faster than humanly possible. But it wasn't magic. "They believe in something called science. So...best you don't mention magic users and the like. Understand?"
Arrow nodded. "Science? What is science?"
"Similar to magic," he replied, before gesturing to the television. "Science...helped create that, and gave us the ability to have light during the night without fire." He pointed to the light bulb above them. "I understand that it's all terribly confusing, but I'm here to help if you need it. Just be careful around the other guests." He moved to the door. "Oh, before you leave, you may want to change your clothes. There are some in there and there." Poison pointed to the wardrobe and drawers. "Something like this," he gestured to his jeans, t-shirt and jacket, "would be more appropriate I'll be downstairs."
"Thank you," Rayne said, smiling at him. "For all your help, Poison."
Something inside him felt touched by the girl's words, by the way she said it. He dipped his head. "My pleasure, ladies. Enjoy your stay." He left the room, carefully closing the door behind. His shoulders slumped. He cursed Nicola, before realising none of this was really her fault.
There was a higher power, after all.
"And you must be listening," he muttered, eyes darting to the ceiling. Hell, he didn't know if he, she or it was even up there, but it felt natural to address the sky beyond the ceiling of the hotel. "And you must be responsible for the crap I've put up with. For that, a very sarcastic thanks." He sighed, before making his way downstairs to see if Nicola needed any more of him.
X X X
"Science and magic," Nicola muttered, leaning over the computer behind the desk of the hotel. "Very imaginative, Poison."
"I detect a note of sarcasm in your voice," he drawled, moving from the lifts towards her. "You have sound on the security cameras?"
She grinned, before tilting the screen towards him. He gaped, watching as words appeared across the document, detailing the things going on around him.
"And, by the way, it's a she. If you, you know, feel the need to address her again." Nicola clicked the mouse, and the document disappeared.
"How do you know?"
Nicola shrugged. "I just do. Plus, well, sometimes you can just tell. I can't really explain it, Poison." She turned to him, smiling. "I'm glad you told the girls to get changed – the others would have freaked if they saw them in those outfits."
Poison shrugged. "Sensible thing to do, wasn't it?"
"Because you are the epitome of sensible, of course."
"Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit."
"You used it with the author."
"Not in the same way."
"Whatever. Anyway, you should go get ready for dinner. It'll be served soon."
"Dinner? Do I really have to go?"
Nicola laughed, folding her arms. "Aw, you really want to miss that lot meeting each other? It could be a laugh, Poison."
"Fine, whatever," he grunted, turning and making his way to the lifts. "I'll be in my room."
X X X
Dai stood in front of the mirror, brushing his hair. Through the glass, he could see Hazel standing over the cot in the corner of the room, cooing over the baby. He smiled, watching the woman he thought the most beautiful in the world scoop up their child, a gentle smile on her face.
"Ready?" he asked, turning to her. She nodded, taking a step towards him.
"I love you, Dai."
"I love you too, Hazel." His eyes fell to the baby. Robbie had his mother's eyes, the same shape nose, but he was, without a doubt, a Lodge. When awake, he couldn't sit still unless Dai played his guitar. Music soothed the child, who had Dai's hair. His parents had already warned Hazel that, if he did take after Dai, she was likely to receive no peace and quiet until he went to school. And even then, she would only get it when she wasn't home.
But Mary had said it smiling, and Hazel, never one to sit still, was not daunted.
"He'll be at school before we know it," Dai said, draping an arm around her shoulder and guiding her to the door.
"Don't say that," Hazel sighed. "Part of me wishes he could just stay like this forever."
Dai laughed, as they stepped into the corridor and made their way to the lift. He glanced up and down the hall, wondering how many of the other guests were maybe already downstairs, eating the food the hotel offered.
"What do you say to Paris, when he's a bit older?"
"What, just the two of us?"
Dai laughed, shaking his head. "Nah, cariad, all of us. I was kind of too old for Disney when they opened it there..."
"You really are just a big kid, aren't you?"
"It's why you love me, isn't it?"
"Whatever you say, darling."
The lift pinged, the doors opened and they stepped out into the foyer. Nicola looked up from the desk and flashed them a smile.
"Heading for dinner?"
"Great! We're a bit short staffed at the moment, so I'll be doubling up as waitress. Give me two minutes and I'll be in."
"Sure," Dai chuckled, glancing at Hazel as they made their way to the restaurant.
It was a small room, with decor similar to the rest of the hotel. So far, they were the first in there. Hazel gestured to a small table near the window, and the pair walked towards it, Hazel glancing around for any signs of baby seats.
Just as they reached the table, the door leading to the foyer opened, and a tall, handsome but pale man stepped in, carrying the exact sort of chair Hazel had been looking for. He approached the table, looking not too happy about carrying the object, but forcing himself to smile at the couple.
The man opened up the chair, and Hazel gently placed Robbie inside. He turned his head to look at the man, and openly stared.
"Kids love me," the man drawled, before his eyes turned to Hazel and Dai. "Can I get you something to drink?" There was something about his voice, something strangely refined, that sent shivers down Hazel's spine. She wrenched her gaze away, her smile softening as she stared at Dai. He was frowning at the man, spotting a threat.
Hazel reached across the table, taking his hand, and squeezing it. "Darling? A drink?"
"Oh, yeah. What sort of wine do you have?"
"Oh. Yeah, a bottle of house...rose, Hazel?"
"Bottle of house rose then, sir."
"No problem," the man replied, curtly nodding. "You're Welsh?"
Dai grinned. "Yeah, I am."
"Do you speak the language?"
The grin disappeared. "Nah, mate, unfortunately not. Just bits and pieces, like."
"You should hear him singing," Hazel muttered with a smile. "That's when he suddenly knows the language."
Both men laughed. "Shame," the man said, shaking his head as he took a step away from the table. "I knew a man once who could speak nothing but Welsh."
"Aye, it's a dying language," Dai sighed, eyeing the man. "What happened to your friend?"
"I do not know," he replied. "Maybe I should look him up. Perhaps I should get you your wine, sir."
Dai nodded. "That'd be great, thanks."
The man disappeared into what they assumed was the kitchen. The couple turned to each other, Hazel raising an eyebrow. "Sir?"
"It's respectful, isn't it?"
"I think you made a new friend, Dai."
"Sounded posh, didn't he?"
She frowned, leaning towards Robbie and tickling him under his chin. The baby giggled. "I don't know if it was posh so much as...old."
"Actually..." Dai paused, thinking over her words. "Yeah, you're right...sounds weird, though, don't it?"
Hazel nodded, thinking about the man and his refined way of speaking.
X X X
His stomach grumbled as he climbed out of the bath. Jake stopped in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at the marks across his body. Everything was out of whack. Why didn't the receptionist know about the blasts?
Maybe I got knocked out, he thought, scanning his face for any signs of...something. Maybe it was a dream. Or maybe I was out so long that things...changed.
But, still, he couldn't have been out for so long that memory of the blast would have just disappeared.
Then again, he'd seen some pretty strange things come out of the blasts. Maybe one of the effects was amnesia. Maybe the receptionist was suffering from it.
He cursed the old man as he looked at the bruises and cuts. How were Madison and Chuck doing? Were they looking for him?
Jake turned away from the mirror and headed into the small bedroom. Next to the bed was a small table, on it was a leaflet detailing information about the hotel and mealtimes. He checked it, glad to see dinner would be served shortly.
His stomach growled again.
"All right, all right," he muttered, glancing downwards. Hopefully, the hotel would have some proper food, something more than the Army rations he'd been living off. Jake got dressed, throwing his t-shirt and jeans back on, before leaving his room and heading for the lift.
He wondered if Clara had made it out alive.
As he stepped into the lift, he heard a cry from behind.
"Hang on...wait, stop the lift, please!"
He glanced over his shoulder, to see a young girl – a teenager – scrambling for the lift in a pair of pretty black heels. He reached forward, hand resting against the sides of the door. She reached him, squeezed in and sighed as she leant against the wall.
"Thanks," she said, as he slid back to stand next to her. "I'm Sophia, by the way."
"Nice to meet you, Jake." She flashed a smile. "You here alone, too?"
"Sure am, sweetheart." He couldn't help but smile at the blush darkening her skin. "Aren't you a tad young to be travelling by yourself, anyway?"
He suspected that the blast would have killed most people's parents, if not the children, too, but like the receptionist, she seemed to carry no indication that she had witnessed the blast.
Maybe he had gone back in time.
It was a strange thought, one he would have laughed at if it wasn't for everything else that had happened.
If he had gone back in time, perhaps that meant he had a bigger purpose than just going to University, getting a shitty job and doing not much else for the rest of his life. Maybe he was supposed to stop it all happening.
"I...I needed to get away from home, for a few days." Her voice had become a tad quieter, so much so that Jake had to lean in to hear her.
"Yeah, I know that feeling. You fancy eating together? No point both of us sitting alone."
Sophia nodded, though from the red blush on her cheeks and the way she was fidgeting, he guessed she was still nervous. The doors pinged and opened, and he gestured for her to step out first.
"Don't worry, kid," he chuckled lightly, "I'll look after you."
A/N: As always, thoughts, feedback and criticism all very much enjoyed, welcomed and returned. Hope you're enjoying it so far, whether you've read the stories these characters come from or not. And hope it's becoming less confusing as it goes on. Like I said, I'm hoping the character development will come through, as well as bits about their backgrounds, as the story goes on. Any favourite characters so far? Any thoughts on any of the characters? Ideas on what will happen next?