22- In Which Messages Are Conveyed
Elena didn't realize how exhausted she had become. A long time passed as she sat there by Garrett's side—he didn't move at all. He merely breathed softly through his nose, holding onto the identification and concentrating hard on getting in touch with Wood using an object he had barely handled. All the while, Elena had to force herself to stay awake.
There was no way to tell how much time had passed, and Garrett hadn't really specified how long it was going to take.
She peered at him as he remained seated where he was, his grip on the identification loosening slightly. Was there a chance he had fallen asleep while sitting like that? She bit her lip at the possibility. If he had fallen asleep, then she needed to wake him up. But, if this was normal, then she couldn't interrupt him. Actively, she refrained from doing anything. All she could do was hope that he had not fallen asleep.
More time passed. She was getting antsy. Nothing was happening. Although she was freaking out, she was also extremely tired. She sat down beside the bed and leaned forward so her head was resting on the mattress beside him. For a bit, she watched him, still immobile, until she gradually allowed her eyes to close. She knew she shouldn't be sleeping at a time like this, but she couldn't help herself anymore.
She was asleep for only a brief few seconds. In fact, maybe she didn't even fall asleep. But, she immediately pushed herself away from the bed as both Garrett's legs kicked up, and his loose grip on the identification intensified, and his entire body went completely rigid.
As soon as it happened, she recognized the stance. She had seen people react that way when they got the call for the Chaste Beauty and she had seen Phinn do the same thing during the painful syncing. However, the pain usually subsided after about ten seconds. Garrett's rigidity continued. The tightness in his body made him start to tremble, although his face did not contort to imply he was in any pain at all.
This could mean the remote communication was working. Her eyes fell to his arm and she thought she might hold onto him to give him support, but she suppressed that need. He said there couldn't be any interruption. She merely waited, becoming extremely anxious by how much time it was taking. After all, he wasn't breathing regularly as he continued to sit like that. She could only trust that he knew full well what he was doing or else he would have warned her that she should do something if the process went on for too long.
At last, there was relief. The breaking point began when the blood started to drip from his nose, and then his body relaxed. He immediately flopped to the bed and remained motionless.
Elena was highly trained in the art of mopping up unconscious people's bloody noses (so much practice) so she was on the job before any of it managed to stain his pillow. He was breathing steadily again, as if he had never been interrupted. She took the identification from his loose grip and placed it on the table beside him, and tried to arrange him so he was more comfortable (or at least looked more comfortable to her).
Even though she wanted to wake him up right away to see if everything went all right, she decided to let him rest for a bit. At least until his nose stopped bleeding.
His hand twitched slightly, and then he turned over a bit. She readjusted the tissues under his nose, which he must have felt because he pulled back like he was trying to get away from her. She stayed with him as his eyes slowly opened, glancing up at her. For a few seconds, it seemed as though he was cautious about the fact that she was looking at him. Then, the situation dawned on him and he raised his hand to hers, nodding shallowly so she withdrew and he took over holding the tissues there on his own.
He exhaled deeply as he pulled the tissues away to look at the blood. "It's still bleeding," she told him softly as she got him some clean ones.
"Thank you," he said, taking them from her.
"Were you able to talk to him?" she asked.
Garrett sighed. "I believe so," he said.
"You don't know?"
"I can't be sure," Garrett replied, looking over at the identification on the table. "Because the object is not particularly close to him, I think my connection may have knocked him unconscious."
Elena confessed that she really had no idea how this stuff worked.
As he sat up, he explained: "It's like having a conversation in a wind tunnel. Perhaps you only pick up on pieces of it, and it's difficult and uncomfortable to maintain. When I'm using blood, that is. With an object as distant as the identification that he only touched, I think I might compare it to…" He trailed off thoughtfully as he checked the blood on the tissues. "Well, I might compare it to taking a knife and carving notes into each other's foreheads, hoping we might be able to interpret the carvings after looking in the mirror."
"So it's not really a pleasant conversation," Elena concluded.
"I hope I didn't inconvenience him too much," Garrett said.
Then, the door suddenly flung open. Phinn was there, looking quite displeased.
"Lord Phinn," Garrett said, sitting up.
"You finished?" he questioned.
Elena stood up, knowing this was bad. There was no reason for Phinn to know that Garrett had finished the communication. Unless something happened. She saw the blood on his lip, as well as on his sleeve.
"What is it?" Elena asked.
"You tell me," Phinn said angrily, wiping his nose again. "I already know the situation, don't I? Why'd you do that?"
Garrett looked back and forth between Elena and Phinn. "I—" he managed to stutter but, aside from that, he couldn't produce anything.
"You got the message, Phinn?" Elena clarified.
"Yeah, I did," Phinn said, sounding furious.
Elena glanced back at Garrett, hoping he would have an explanation. Garrett frowned deeply, trying to sort some things in his mind. "You must have…" he began, but then he stopped, running a hand through his hair and shaking his head. "You touched the identification too," he said at last. "I must have…accidentally…"
Garrett was looking seriously distressed. From what Elena could gather, since Phinn had held the identification, even for a few seconds, Garrett had inadvertently conveyed the message to him rather than to Wood. There was a pause as Garrett's eyes went distant and then he abruptly fell back onto his pillow.
Elena stared at him as he lied there, not moving.
"Did he faint?" Phinn questioned, sounding more annoyed than angry anymore.
Elena looked Garrett over and tried to shake him awake. When he didn't move, she checked to make sure he was still breathing.
"He's probably just resting," Phinn determined, perhaps noticing that Elena was on the verge of stressing out. "He's used too much magic, you know?"
"But…if he only sent the message to you, then that means Alexander didn't get it," Elena said, still trying to wake him up. "He's used all that magic and made himself so weak for nothing!"
Phinn strode over to Elena and took her by both her wrists to physically remove her from shaking Garrett anymore. "Relax," he practically commanded. No, actually he did command it.
Elena didn't fight against his grip on her. He wasn't holding onto her particularly tightly. She imagined if she pulled away, she wouldn't have any trouble. Instead, she looked up at him and waited for him to present an alternative plan that would fix this badness.
He recognized this. Finally, he let her go and said, "Let's talk to that other guy. Clinton, or whatever, all right?"
"You think he can do something?" Elena asked quietly.
"Maybe," Phinn said. "Come on."
They started to leave the room. Elena glanced back at Garrett, then ran over to him and readjusted his blankets so he was a little more comfortable looking, and then hurried over to where Phinn was waiting.
Their last long-shot had failed. Clinton would not be pleased to hear about this. Plus, they had left him alone for a really long time and hadn't told him about anything they were doing. Because Clinton could be kind of an ass, Elena didn't exactly feel bad about that.
She did feel bad, however, when they entered Clinton's room and saw him—well, he wasn't sleeping, but he was unconscious. There was blood all over his face and neck, as well as the pillow he was lying on. The blankets were all a mess from when he had obviously been struggling against the bindings holding him down.
Elena ran over to him, initially terrified that he had been attacked by an Other that had determined his location and hurt him while they were ignoring him. But, as she pulled up at the blankets and used them to wipe the blood away, she found he was not wounded. All the blood had come from his nose.
Which was—a good thing. A bad thing? No, it was a good thing.
"This is a good thing, right?" Elena desperately asked Phinn as she started to shake Clinton's shoulder to get him to wake up.
Phinn shrugged cluelessly as Clinton groaned, slowly regaining consciousness. He saw Elena standing over him, then he looked down at the blood on the blanket. Then, he tried to sit up but he was still bound so he angrily pulled at the restraints. Elena allowed him to have a temper tantrum until he was calm again.
"Whatever happened to bringing Garrett in here?" he demanded as his struggling grew with intensity.
"Did you just get Garrett's message?" Elena asked.
"Why'd he send it to me?" Clinton almost yelled.
Elena stared at Clinton as he finally exhausted himself and stopped pulling. He took some time to catch his breath as Elena turned her attention to Phinn, pleadingly asking what this meant.
"He used his identification to try to contact Wood," Phinn said, working it through out loud. "I got the message, you got the message…"
Phinn paused, offering Clinton the opportunity to jump in.
"Identification?" Clinton questioned.
Elena and Phinn both nodded.
"Wood's handled that, yeah," Clinton said with a nod, his expression of anger slowly morphing into approval. "But so have all the Executives."
"That means you and Irving too," Elena said.
"He might have sent the message to everyone who's touched it," Clinton said.
"Wood too, then?" Phinn inferred.
"Theoretically," Clinton said.
"So then this is a good thing, then," Elena said, hoping someone would finally confirm it.
"I think it is a good thing," Clinton said.
Elena sighed with relief. It was good that Wood had gotten the message, but it was even better that the message had gone out to Irving too. Maybe Danver had even gotten it as well. There was a chance he had touched the identification too and that would just be an extra bonus.
"What about Garrett?" Clinton went on. "How's he? Did he pass out?"
"Yeah, he'll be out for a while probably," Phinn decided.
"We're going to have to move out of here as soon as possible," Clinton said. "If Hunt could find us on the train, then he's definitely going to be able to find us here. After what the Others did to Lord Lawson, then he knows we had to come to a hospital so we have to go."
"Go?" Phinn repeated, putting his hand up to Elena to indicate to her that she didn't need to bother getting hysterical at Clinton's report because he was going to take care of it. "We can't just go, all right? Law has to be in the hospital, like you just said, remember? And T's still missing. When they find him, they're going to bring him here, aren't they?"
"Plus," Elena added as Clinton rolled his eyes, "Hunt only went after us when we started going back in the opposite direction. If he was going to attack us while we're in the hospital, then he would have done it hours ago. Don't you think so?"
She looked up at Phinn, who faintly nodded in agreement.
Clinton was frowning very heavily. "There's truth in all those points," he admitted.
Phinn crossed his arms and asked, "So what do you think?"
"About what?" Clinton retorted, sounding offended.
"How do you think Hunt's tracking us?" Phinn clarified. "It's not the Thars. He's shown that because he didn't know about Cole, but he knew about us, right?"
"Right," Elena agreed. "It's got to be something about you, Lawson or Turner."
"Let's not dismiss any possibility," said Clinton. "There is still a chance he may have a different method of tracking, so let's not rely simply on that notion. Though, we should be prepared to move as soon as Lord Lawson is well enough to travel."
"Move where?" Elena asked quietly. "We can't leave the area. Not without Turner."
"We must maintain that he and Ms Olivier are just missing and hope they will be located soon enough," Clinton said. He glanced down at the bloody sheet covering him, and his wrists locked in place. "If we go back to that place in the woods, I would be able to locate them. Assuming they are still there."
"With magic?" Elena asked quietly.
"Yes, with magic," said Clinton.
"Isn't that dangerous for you?" Elena began to ask, but Phinn was already reaching for the bindings and pulling them off. "But—Phinn…"
"If T's in the woods somewhere, then we have to find him, don't we?" Phinn said as Clinton was able to finally sit up.
"I'll be fine," said Clinton, untying his own ankles. "I'll take it easy. Just don't tell Garrett."
"But if we're supposed to keep it a secret from Garrett, then that makes me feel like we're not supposed to be letting you do this," Elena went on, though she wasn't physically doing anything to stop him (as if she could).
"I have to get dressed," Clinton said as his slightly more polite way of saying, "Get the hell out."
Phinn took Elena by her arm and practically lifted her up off the floor to get her out of room faster. Elena stumbled as Phinn closed the door.
"Phinn, Alexander Wood said that people can die if they use too much magic," she whispered to him as Phinn stood in front of the door like a guard.
"He'll be all right," Phinn mumbled. "All right?"
"You don't know that."
"Look, if T is somewhere out in the woods then we have to find him," said Phinn flatly. "What if he's hurt? What if that stupid dumbass hit his head again and he's got more brain damage?"
Those were legitimate concerns considering Turner's reliable history. Additionally, they had to keep in mind that Olivier was with him (hopefully) so her well-being was also a concern.
It was peculiar to see Phinn so set on doing this. He acted almost immediately when Clinton suggested going out looking for Turner and Olivier. Up until they moment, releasing Clinton from his restraints didn't even appear on his radar. The fact of the matter was simply that sometimes Phinn got feelings about things that he couldn't explain and, with any luck, maybe this was one of those feelings.
"You feel very passionate about this," Elena said (as if it was some kind of secret).
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Do you think Turner's out there? What I mean… do you feel he's out there?"
Phinn grunted dismissively. "You're trying too hard to prove this Chaste Beauty theory, Elle," he said.
"I really want it to be true. I want to feel like I actually…"
She trailed off, wondering if she wanted to reveal this to him.
He watched her carefully, waiting for her to finish. When she stopped speaking and indicated she wasn't going to finish, he cleared his throat and finished for her: "You want to feel like you can do something to help."
She nodded. "Even…if it's just a theory…"
"Well, fine," he said with a sigh.
Maybe he wouldn't try to refute her theories again, if at least to make her feel less pointless.
To interrupt the silence, he began to hit the door a few times, encouraging Clinton to hurry up. After a moment, he listened and waited, then hit the door again. There was no response. So he looked down at Elena who shrugged.
He pushed the door open and made an angry sound. Elena peeked under his arm and saw Clinton was not inside. The hospital gown was on the bed and his clothes were missing—and the window was open.
"I guess we're not invited," Elena assessed.
Apparently, Phinn was a lot more offended about being left behind than Elena was. "Stay here," he commanded of her as he tore off down the hall.
Elena watched him go. Initially, she felt compelled to chase after him, but then she wondered what the point was of doing something like that. Maybe she could convince him to let her come along, but maybe it was also better if Phinn was able to catch up with Clinton and calmly convince him to…
Yeah right. Any interaction between Phinn and Clinton (especially with them both so stressed out) was going to end in a physical confrontation.
With that in mind, she chased after Phinn, knowing she at least had to go along if only to keep those two from killing each other.