The hospital wasn't the most welcoming place in the world but it was clean bright dry and had all the medical equipment you could ever desire it wasn't usually loud or overly busy in the ward but today their seemed to be a buzz something had happened and no one knew where to start- they might have been trained to deal with it but it never happened so they were at a loss for where to start- heavy boot falls were all but ignored as voices whispered stage quietly over the nurses station.
"seriously, you are telling me she's disappeared again? We are going to have to call a code yellow if we can't find her soon. Damn it I hate paperwork." A nurse was cussing and fretting with another down the hall as Gage made their way down into the ward. It was their usual therapy time yet they had been avoiding it as much as possible they hated the glances and pity that the others in the group threw their way when they all thought Gage wasn't looking.
Gage wasn't one for eavesdropping- it wasn't safe to do in their line of work, if you heard the wrong thing you could end up a target and targets made for good reasons to end careers, be put in protection programs or put in work stations where you almost never saw the light of day again- but they couldn't help but hear the nurses and from the rumours that had been flying around the water coolers lately this was one person that wouldn't be found unless they wanted to be.
"Try places that are small confined and probably dark or high up places like the family waiting rooms you know the ones where the doctors usually give us the bad news, the church even the roof. If I'm right about who you're looking for, and honestly she's only a rumours, warmth and soft beds wouldn't have been a luxury she would have had."Gage was quiet and not unkind as they suggested this in passing, some soldiers more who had been tortured, captured or suffered from PTSD tended to find somethings difficult. Sleeping in beds, certain foods, smells, colours, weather or even sounds could set off panic attacks or flashbacks.
"that's enough standing around and whispering like school children in the yard, keep looking she wouldn't have left the building, she's finally in a safe place as far as she knows, if we don't find her in ten minutes I'll start on the paperwork myself." The head of the ward arrived promptly and looking as though she was just tired of people not doing their jobs properly.
Gage smiled at them and nodded, they had been in and out of here so often that they knew almost all of the senior staff by name. Deciding not to return to their room, they were avoiding therapy mind you but it was therapy or their room that was their life lately, but to start searching themselves for the lost patient maybe another solider could find them- even though Gage was more of a computer and data operator they had combat skill they tried to block away- it would be safer for them to find this patient if they were in an episode than a poor unsuspecting nurse.
First thing was first Gage needed to know where their room was to decide where the fastest route to and from what would be perceived as most secure areas were, then they could decide where to start. Finding the room was pretty easy the ward was almost entirely private rooms and they doctors would have kept her as far from the other patients as possible so Gage walked to the farthest room and looked in. It was bare except for a bed a table a single battered book and what looked like a standard issue laptop.
"Well I found the right place." They muttered to themselves there wasn't even the usual medical equipment which meant the patient was either easily spooked or could be easily coaxed to violence. Gage was going to have to be careful but it was going to be ok.
Moving away from the door the first room they spotted was a storage cupboard, there wasn't anything different about it but Gage had a gut feeling that she had probably found the closest place and just made her way in and hidden herself and just needed time to calm down and work through the panic and fear she probably was feeling so being the diligent person Gage was they would check the rest of the places first.
'Leave that one til last just in case.' Gage thought to themselves. Moving past there were patient rooms and the nurses station the next area was near the elevators with banks of the uncomfortable hospital chairs, no one there, more patient rooms more chairs a few more storage rooms they were locked and the lights were out.
'She's probably in that first one but a little more time won't do any harm honestly the calmer she is the better so I'll check out the roof and church first. I'm going to have to get the keys and that's going to lead to security issues, why the hell am I doing this? Oh right… I'm a sucker for a kid that's scared out of their mind.' Gage thought to themselves with a heavy sigh Gage sought out the head of the department and explained their suspicions about where she was and why she had run and that they were going to check elsewhere first.
"I think that you're right and I should send people to check them out but I appreciate your assistance Gage, and honestly while my nurses are good at their jobs she's not exactly our usual case. I'm sure you've worked out who it is that we are searching for and that the rumours are true but I'd appreciate if you would keep this to yourself for the moment."
"Sure thing Rea, I won't say anything you know me keep my mouth shut unless I'm changing feet and only do that when I talking about myself." Gage said with a soft smile and a gentle hand touching Rea's shoulder when they handed over the master key and their passcode.
Leaving the ward and the floor altogether Gage headed for the roof which while covered in cigarette butts and gravel was bare and cold not enough hiding places. Next was the church, but there usually were a few patrons there patient and family alike so Gage doubted that she had hidden in there. A slow respectful walk around proved the theory correct and Gage headed back to the ward to go through the storage cupboards starting as far away from her room as possible.
Room by room Gage unlocked them checked if there was anything that looked like somewhere to hide in the dark and locked the doors back up as they left. Going as slowly as they could let themselves they reached the last room after about forty-five minutes of searching.
Gage checked the last door it had locked itself behind her they assumed so when Gage put the key in the lock and it turned easily enough they didn't bother turning on the light. Feeling their way in just enough to close the door and sit down Gage listened they could hear the heavy wet breathing that was concealed by darkness.
"Thank god, thats over I hate how bright it is, how much they just want me to talk I hate talking, im not stupid I just dont want to talk about it until my eyes fall out from crying." Gage stage whispered into the darkness. The sniffling didn't stop but it lessened and a box hit Gage's ankles sliding from the far side of the room. Taking the box they pulled out a few tissues and crumpled them into their pocket.
"Your welcome. They don't know how to take no for an answer do they." They voice was hoarse and quiet even in the almost silence of the room. Gage smiled and chuffed out a short laugh. Gage was surprised that they had gotten and answer and hoped they could keep it going just a little more.
"Does anyone really? Names Gage mind if I share the room?"
"Just don't tell them I'm in here and you can share my jello."
"Deal." Gage sat in the silence and a jello and spoon hit their boots a minute later. Peeling the lid off and taking a sniff - red jello better then the blue stuff- before taking a mouthful and enjoying it for the first time in a long time. Sitting there eating the food and occasionally making comments about the nurses and doctors Gage let the time pass for about an hour.
"I've probably got to get back to my rooms bet their looking for us maybe I can help sneak you back?" Slowly pulling themselves up from the floor Gage listened carefully for any reply, not moving towards the door just yet.
"Dont need any help with that but maybe… I'll come visit and share my jello I'm getting sick of it but at least they let me have the red ones the blue jello is ok but the green is horrible its like they never set it properly." Gage gave themselves a small fist pump they hadn't gotten the girls name but they were actually having full sentence conversations now which was a huge improvement from complete silence.
"Course you don't alright I'm going to head out you take care and I'll see you around…"
"Juliet, my names Juliet."
"I'll see you around Juliet."
"Everything here can kill you. I'm just able to do it the most efficiently. You could say I'm made for it."
The hospital wasn't exactly where everyone ended up but it had been somewhere that was at least comforting and for at least a week every other month Gage ended up a patient there so it was easier to get closer to Juliet. Gage had been unofficially dubbed Juliet's carer and had many times just ended up walking her to and from appointments and several times just sat in with them as the session went along - a clearance promotion was nice although unexpected- to make sure that everyone was safe.
They still got jello and the occasional candy bar dropped off to their office it had been a shock the first time a private had nervously entered their office with a fridge box and a letter, but whenever Gage ended up in the hospital there was always a figure sitting on the end of their bed watching over them.
Juliet had come out of her shell in the last few months, needing to be given permission for things was becoming less of a problem.` violent reactions were only appearing when there was an issue with male staff, anytime scans were needed or her everyday wear was necessarily removed. At those times Gage was ordered to move to the hospital and work from a private office where they could secure their gear while also being on call.
Today was a good day- no screaming crying or violent reactions or code yellows- but they had asked Gage to be on call anyway as they were bringing in another specialist and even though the specialist had been warned the nursing staff knew the attitude this specialist brought to all their appointments. So Gage had happily set up in the Private office they had designated theirs and Juliet had visited with more than one candy bar and jello bowl as well as actual food and drinks and her torn up novel sitting in the corner ignoring anything but the written words.
"Gage…, your coming to the appointment right?"
"Course Kiddo, wouldn't dream of abandoning you to the wolves after all this time."
"Can't promise I won't go ape shit and run for it again."
"Never expect you to, you ready to go I think he's probably going to be here soon."
"Can't promise I'm not going to hit him."
"Let just see how we go this time hey, I've got your back all you have to do is give the word and we're out of there."
Their conversations always seemed to be half started or half finished to any outsiders but Gage had learned that just going with the flow of conversation usually ended up with Juliet opening up and giving a glance at the very twisted and self defensive thought processes that had become Juliet's normal over five years of captivity and abuse.
Closing the latest file and opening the lock draw so Juliet could put her book in herself and lock it Gage waited at the door and they walked shoulder to shoulder down the quiet hall to the lifts passing several nurses who just nodded to the pair.
The lift took them to the consulting level and the routine walk to the farthest room in the building past patients doctors and people coming and going shifted the balance around the pair Juliet becoming smaller more defensive and alert while Gage simply straightened and squared themselves protectively.
During these sessions Juliet seemed to find anyway she could to deflect and the Doctors were sure that they had barely scratched the surface of the traumas Juliet had suffered. Everyone had tried to convince Gage to share what Juliet had shared in their private bonding but even under threat of court marshal Gage had kept their mouth shut knowing the trust they had built with Juliet was more important.
They had convinced Juliet to share several more painful memories with someone more qualified as Gage had found it almost impossible to hold back the pain, rage and sorrow they felt as the story was a brand new specialist that had been recommended from the last therapist that had been 'burnt out' during the latest stretch of therapy sessions.
As the room came into view Juliet darted for the chairs in the corner while Gage knocked firmly on the open door to let the doctor know they were there.
"Come on in."
Gage looked over to Juliet and tilted their head in question. Juliet replied with a little shake of the head and stayed curled up on the hospital waiting room chairs. Sighing they walked in pushing the door open, and taking in the man sitting hunched over his desk.
"You must be Gage, Juliet's bodyguard right." Gage's hackles rose a little at that but shook their head and stepped forward standing as tall as possible.
"Not her bodyguard if she wanted she could take you and me both down without to much fuss I'm here to make sure you don't get dead, and only because that girl out there asked me to nicely. I have a rank and a job outside this hospital and I'm sure you actually know that." They retorted smartly still keeping their voice low so it wouldn't float out into the hall.
"Yeah, yeah I know your some hotshot computer analyst but I don't know about her being able to take us down for her notes she seems to meek to do anything like that."
Gage sighed turned around and walked back out of the room.
"Your not going in there kiddo come on you can finish your book while I work, this one is useless."
Juliet's head snapped up and nodded trusting their friends assessment of the situation and moving from her spot to stick closer to Gage's side looping her arm through their's resting her head on Gage's shoulder.
"Alright, gonna tell me?"
"Thought you couldn't take us both down and keep going, that you were 'too meek' to do any harm."
"Really like did they read my notes at all? Jesus christ I would have killed him if you weren't there or I had an episode, that's just pathetic have they given up on trying to find someone that can handle it and just throwing any dickhead thats qualified into the deep end?"
"I don't know sweetheart, I hope not cause I don't want to be called a bodyguard again that was just demeaning." At that Juliet stopped frozen completely in her spot arm falling away from Gage's. Realising that they had said to much Gage stopped and turned to face her ready to see pain of rejection embarrassment or anger at them on Juliet's face but it was none of them. A cold dark look was hovering over Juliet's face slowly melting into mischief and determination. Juliet turned around and double timed it back into the room pushing the door open and standing tall in the doorway.
"Who the hell do you think you are talking to Gage like that, if you had even read a single page of my notes the first page has a giant note that says Gage is not to be insulted and that I have put three of you into hospital beds with long recovery times because they couldn't act fast enough." Juliet knew every escape route in this room and where she was standing she could get to them in less than five seconds.
"I don't believe in reading notes from pervious people, I'm sorry if I offended your dear sensibilities Ms Greyson but I don't care, I'm here to make sure your safe for people to be around and if that means medicating you until your a zombie than that's what I will do."
Juliet wanted to lunge across the table and dig her fingers into his throat but knowing Gage would have to fill out paperwork if she did Juliet simply sat on the chair opposite him and glared.
"If you read anything you would know if you wanted to keep your job you'd be polite and a little more respectful. As for your life well that's now forfeit for insulting Gage and being to full of yourself to listen to others." Juliet reached forward and started flipping a pencil in her fingers Gage was probably about five minutes away from bring in the all female team that was meant to sedate her and stop her from murder that gave her time.
She had shut the door when she walked in so that wasn't going to be a problem his hands were resting on the table looking smug and all knowing as if daring her to actually go through with something. Juliet lent forward as if to say something more before slamming her hand on top of his with as much force as possible the pencil burying itself in his hand.
"As for my ability to kill you, you smug self assured bastard, everything in this room can kill you if you used it wrong I'm just the most effective so do you want to find out which tools I'll use?" she ignored the shocked and now terrified look on his face as he realised his hand was more or less pinned to the desk with a blunt pencil that was pooling blood from the centre of his hand.
"You crazy fucking bitch! Guards! Nurse! Gage!"
His screams were heard but not quickly enough. Juliet had grabbed the letter opener he had left out in the open - one in the long list of mistakes he had made- and had given him a deep cut from chin to the edge of his eye.
The door cracked open as three women stormed inside and stopped gasping at the mess inside. Blood was dripping from his face and the pencil was still buried in his hand. Yet Juliet was sitting almost too calmly in the chair across from him speaking in Dutch in a quiet tone as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
"En dat is de tijd die we vandaag hebben doc, eruit ziet heb ik got to go."
Juliet stood and held her arms out and waited for the restraints and the sedative pinch in her arm. This was a side none of them had seen in the last few weeks this was something darker and scarier than anything they had seen before.
The walk to solitary confinement- also known as the isolation ward- was quiet and slowly turned into Juliet being pushed in a chair as the sedatives took more and more affect she would be locked in there without contact besides a single nurse, doctor and Gage -honestly nothing new to Juliet- for the next six weeks or more until she could or would explain why she lashed out so severely and could assure them it more than likely wouldn't happen again.
All the doctors and nurses were aware they couldn't put her in a jacket or physically restraints, all they could do was put her on massive doses of sedatives and slowly ease them up as the time went on.
"I'm so sorry kiddo, I feel like this is partly my fault, but you can't keep attacking people because of it. Your going to bite off more than you can chew one day." Gage whispered softly and pet her hair soothingly as Juliet became more emotional as the sedatives became stronger in her system.
"Sorry Gage, He was just so…. So… stupid. You warned…. Him…. Everyone warned him… He was just… he reminded me of them…." Juliet slurred and her words were starting to blur into each other but she got the point across and fell asleep in the chair before even reaching the padded room they had set aside for her.
Six weeks flew by for everyone, Gage managed to get more than halfway through a file before getting called to find, calm, or coax Juliet. The nurses handled patients that were nine times out of ten easier to handle than their youngest and longest term patient. The doctors kept to themselves and none wanted to take up the latest mantel of therapist for their most intriguing patient.
For Juliet it passed in a blur of nightmares, crying until there was nothing left, drips in her arm almost constantly to replace fluids, meals made of nothing but mush and sedatives every four hours. Sometimes Gage would come and read to her - their own copy of her book because even frustrated they would never break Juliet's trust and touch the only thing she had left.
There was only one difference in the last two weeks of her isolation. A mans voice came from the vents, to start with Juliet thought she might just have gone crazy and finally started hearing things but Gage had heard him as well one day and gone to investigate before reassuring her it was ok and if she wanted she could talk back.
The first few times they talked Juliet would just give one word answers or ignore him totally but, after knowing it was safe to talk to him and he offered more about himself, without trying to actually get anything from her she started to picture him from his voice and let herself talk. Somedays it was only a few words other days it could be a long tirade that would drain her completely.
"Hey Jules, you up for a chat today?"
"Not really, it's almost time for them to sacrifice another doctor to come and check on me and I just want some jello and my book and to see something but these damn walls."
"Fair enough. Can I still talk anyway?"
"Course you can, not like I can stop you."
"That's not true is it, I mean we've been talking for the last two weeks and you know a ton about me and I know that if you really wanted you'd get out of there. You don't because of your friend Gage and the fact that your not sure what you actually would do if you got out there."
Juliet sighed and moved closer to the vent and sat with her back against the cool soft padded wall and closed her eyes with her head resting tipped back. Whoever was sitting on the other side of the wall always seemed to know exactly what she was thinking. It sometimes made her angry and she would yell and scream and when it was all over he'd ask was she done, and that he was sorry he pushed so hard.
"Why do you always make so much sense, and I don't know that much about you, I know your male, you have dark hair that you take pride in making look presentable, but keep it long to annoy some people, you like older tv shows so you were either raised by older parental figures or your in your early thirties and you like pulling bullshit out of no where to turn a conversation on it's head." Juliet spoke quietly and focused on her breath counting in four hold four out six and repeat.
"Don't mean to just seems to work out that way."
The silence that followed wasn't heavy, or loaded with the need for more conversation, after about five minutes there was a small bell ringing.
"Yeah, yeah I know but otherwise you'd do it until they came in and you'd react by starling and give a bad impression."
"Thanks, hey… if I get out today do I get to meet you face to face?" Juliet had gotten used to the voice from the vent coming and talking to her everyday for a few hours at a time be it just talking about a tv show, his cat, things that happened in traffic that day, how small his bladder was -that conversation had been the oddest thing to happen for a long time and made her laugh- and anything that came to mind.
"You never know it might happen. Thought you weren't up for a chat today."
"I wasn't but it seems you convinced me you win, do you think Gage is going to be really mad at me? It's been eating at me a little. I'd say I was sorry I did it but he was so smug and it honestly felt a little good to take it out on someone because of their attitude towards helping someone he said and I quote 'I don't believe in reading notes, I don't care, I'm here to make sure your safe for people to be around if that means medicating you until your a zombie than that's what I will do.'…" Juliet took a deep breath and counted them in and out again for a moment not wanting to work herself up so badly but she was on a roll.
"…After insulting Gage and then telling me they didn't read the warnings or take the advice of people around that had been treating me longer than anyone I just snapped and gave out what I felt he deserved because its people like him that cause people like me to do things we don't want to do." Finishing with a heavy wet breath Juliet waited silently for admonishment and a chiding which never came.
"My cousin was about fifteen when I was diagnosed with some of my health problems, we had been close and we shared everything we went to school together and he was never upset that his little cousin would come and hang out with him during break, what I didn't know was his 'friends' would give him a hard time and once they found out they would call me names behind my back. He found out and broke their noses and got in a big fight, he wouldn't tell anyone why and he got expelled and my aunt grounded him for the whole rest of the year…." His voice was quite, like he hadn't thought about the memory in a very long time.
"…You remind me a lot of him. He'd tell you that it was the right thing to do standing up for your friends or family and buy you a beer. Well maybe not but he'd only go off a little about how far you went but he'd understand and then move on." Juliet chuckled a little bit and wiped away tears she hadn't known she had cried.
"He sounds really cool, mum would have yelled at me that I lashed out instead of getting even more subtly or just walking away then…. Then she would have made melted cheese sandwiches and we'd have watched a movie…" Juliet stretched her legs out and then brought them to her chest. This was something she didn't talk about her parents were so hard to think about but it was true and not saying it would have hurt worse.
"Do you mind if we cut todays session a little short doc? I think I need that sedative again I'm not feeling so great."
"How long have you known? I'll get the nurses for you now Juliet. Do you want to try something besides sedatives this time?"
"Since Gage told me it was alright, well maybe a little after that. You sure?"
"Fair enough, I'm sure I'd like you to try it but it's your choice Juliet. It won't work straight away it will probably take a few weeks but its better than sedating you every time you have an episode."
"I'll give it a try, but can I still have that sedative right now I think I won't sleep without it today."
"No worries I can understand that we can meet tomorrow then I'll let Gage know."
Juliet heard a groan as he pulled himself up off the ground and stretched he'd probably been there for over two hours just talking with her and listening to the silences. Their was a door opening and closing and Juliet closed her eyes and started to count.
She managed to count to a thousand before the door of her 'room' opened to show a friendly face carrying a tray of jello custard and what smelled like apple pie.
"Hey kiddo, Doc gave me an update. He says have something to eat and then take the pills and he'll be around tomorrow to let you out of here and back to your room with a veiw." The pie smelled good as it was placed on the floor between the two of them.
Juliet smiled and grabbed a spoon and dug into the food without saying anything, she wasn't up to anymore conversation today. She'd spotted her book and looked up curiously.
"Doc says if you can't sleep or wake up you should have something to do so I brought it in I know you don't like anyone touching it but I figured you'd let me have a free pass."
Nodding juliet reached for it after finishing the food holding it close to her chest and then looking at the small cup of water and cup of pills with a look of distain she gulped them down and then moved to the bed of blankets tugging Gage with her and curled up in the corner and opened the book to where they were up to.
"Stay till I'm asleep?"
"Course kiddo…" Gage smiled and started to read the book aloud until they were sure Juliet was fast asleep. The sleeping figure of the woman in their lap always made Gage's heart ache so badly the wrinkles and lines fades when they were truely asleep and they looked so young it was so hard to picture the hurt that she had been put through and the fact all she wanted was her parents somedays reminded them all she might be a trained killer with incredible mental facilities but she was still a child deep inside who hadn't been allowed to grow up or do normal teenage activities.
Meeting the doctor had been like meeting an old friend at your favourite coffee shop and enjoying their company while you caught up after a long time apart.
Getting out of the padded room and into the natural sunlight was like waking up from a long nap that made you sigh and stretch so much it felt like you may dislocate something from the creaking and cracking.
Going back to therapy was like ripping off a bandaid you had ignored for too long where there were long hairs that were going to be ripped off, painful but it meant you were healing.
"That's a terrible, horrible, incredibly stupid idea…." they paused. "I like it. Let's do it." Gage had been talking in whispers with the doctor who had turned out to be the best thing for the whole hospital, even if his methods were what many had called alternative many patient had been wary after the last string of therapists coming and going and most being unhelpful or dismissive but he seemed to be a hit with everyone.
"What's this about a terrible horrible incredibly stupid idea?" Juliet asked rubbing her arms trying to keep the warmth circulating after the hot shower she had just finished.
"Today we are going to take you outside and into the fresh air, but only if you promise to behave and listen to me. We can always come back in as soon as you feel…" Juliet's face had warped into a giant grin as he had been talking he trailed off on his reassurances seeing how excited she seemed to be allowed outside.
"Gage! You guys aren't messing with me I get to go outside? Are there any trees around? Is the grass soft? Can we just look at the clouds for a little while? Do I need my jacket? I get to wear my sneakers finally!" The happy confident childish excitement made Gage and the doctor smile. Taking half a step either side of Juliet they both flanked her doorway as she rushed around to gather a jumper, hospital socks and sneakers from the cupboard where they had been put when she had first been brought in.
"Not messing with you sweetheart, there are a couple but not many, the grass I honestly don't know we will have to go have a look, your jacket is a good idea you get cold really easily nowadays and those sneakers are going to look amazing." Gage enjoyed this side of Juliet the child like innocence and excitement without fear of anything.
The doctor watched keeping mental track of all of Juliets reactions happy for her but also curious about the sudden shifts in her mood and how she was dependant on reassurance from both he and Gage that she was allowed.
Juliet ended up skipping slightly ahead of the pair stopping at the doors of the ward looking nervous now she knew where the gardens were- down three stories and in the middle of the building- but it always caused her to feel lonely and stuck looking from the windows.
Gage stopped beside her and slowly reached for her hand. When she didn't pull away Gage held it gently and led with the other hand pushing the door open and leading her leaving the doctor to bring up the rear. The trip seemed to make Juliet wind herself up as they got closer her hands pulled away from Gage and she started to fidget whenever they had to stop.
Aron opened the door and Juliet bolted for the large tree in the centre of the garden fingers pressing into the bark feeling the textures and the softness of the dirt under her sneakers. She hugged Gage quickly before running at the tree and launching herself for the closest branch hanging from it she laughed as Gage looked terrified.
"Juliet! What are you doing?"
"Do you know how long its been since I climbed a tree just because I can? This is amazing and god it smells so much better out here I hate the recycled air in there."
"Yeah I guess the air is pretty stale in there hu, you doing alright there I hear from the nurses you've started going to the rehab gym recently."
"Uh-hu ugh," juliet dropped down form the branches and stretched more before dropping to the grass and looking up at both of them. "Running helps ease the nightmares being physically tired helps. The weights keep my arms defined I know it sounds stupid but when im in confinement I hate it it's not even that it reminds me of the cells its that I can't exercise and I can feel my muscles wasting away and that triggers nightmares when you guys come and check on me."
Aron and Gage traded looks this was good idea she was opening up more than anything but they had to be careful. One wrong question and she would shut down again. Gage joined her on the grass leaning back on the tree trying to get comfortable.
"Well im sorry you feel that way but thats a big step to even notice and be able to talk to us about it. You're still healing from a trauma and I know we have already been over it but you might never recover fully but learning and expressing what makes you feel worse is important."
"I try doc it's harder than that though speaking up, that terrified me the first time I even asked for a different jello and another blanket, wanting things always comes at a cost, or at least thats what the drilled into us, so to ask anyone for anything I wanted to know what it was going to cost me I think I made a nurse cry and change departments when I tried to explain I'd do whatever it was but I really wanted another blanket." Juliet hadn't told them that everything she had she'd had to earn from her captors, handlers, jailers, anyone but the medical team.
Aron's chest ached he knew it would be difficult to ask the next question his mind had rushed to but now he had to know.
"Juliet can you, and if you dont want to I'll leave it alone, can you tell me what they made you do?"
The cheer and warmth melted away as her mind rushed through her captivity, the weapons the girls, the boys, the men, the flashes of gunfire, the broken bones, the screams and sobs and the pain. Knowing how to survive and actually doing it were two completely different things.
"Not today doc, that's not on the cards. Not ready to rummage through the shitshow that's in my head. I'd like to stay out here for a while, how long am I allowed to be out here."
"As long as you need kiddo, Aron will have to go but I'm ahead in paperwork so we can hang out here."
Aron had been keeping later and later hours at the hospital, paperwork and secret meetings with people that made him nervous and frustrated. He'd actually started to pack a spare set of clothes in his bag and had been sleeping on the couch in his office- everyone could tell those nights he always stood crooked and was crankier than any other day.
Today was the first of many defining days at the hospital for Juliet many of the higher ups had been deterred for a long time as she had been volatile, unsafe to be around authority figures. Gage's boss his boss and the highest ranked official under the 'leader' of the country were coming to debrief her and Aron hadn't been able to convince her to be polite to them if anything it seemed that she was going to egg them on and see how long it took to make them let her go or leave and never come back.
"Morning Gage, hows she doing?"
"Obnoxious and tougher than nails."
Juliet was wearing jeans and a shirt that had been Gages' her sneakers and a jacket that had been recently acquired. Sitting comfortably in the hospital waiting room chairs she fidgeted using the excess energy to keep herself moving. The three officals were due any moment, Aron and Gage were sure that today was either going to go spectacularly well or horribly awfully bad.
"Captain." Gage stood to attention as they approached.
"Sirs. If you'd like follow me there is a conference room all set for today."
Juliet eyed off the three men and stood nodded to Aron and walked tall and calm towards the conference room.
"Oh boy, Gage stay on your toes I'll come back when I can." Aron tried to keep his voice down. Nodding Gage led the three men into the room each taking a set opposite Juliet their uniforms creasing as they sat tall Juliet eyed each one and only one managed to keep her gaze for more than a moment.
"Juliet this is _, _, and general _."
"Did you know that keeping eye contact with a feral animal and sizing them up can keep you alive? You all look like I'm a tiger about to attack. This is the best they have to debrief me I though they would have at least sent someone that has seen combat in the last 15 years." Juliet seemed to think that this show of power was laughable and honestly she was probably right.
"How dare you, show some respect for your elders."
"Oh this is going to be fun, respect you want me to respect you. That's a great joke, you look thirty kilos past your prime and you have what five ten years tops left before they throw you out for being to old, I mean unless you have some of them on the take."
"How dare you!." Juliet actually started laughing now a soft smirking chuckle.
"How dare I how dare you, you've kept me prisoner, admittedly better accommodation and food and health care but a prisoner none the less you refuse to let my family come to me or let me go to them even though you have been warned multiple times but people with higher authority than yourself that if you couldn't provide reasonable evidence to my instability that you are violating my rights as a human being." Juliet was on a roll sitting straighter as the two lower ranked officials started to realise where she was going with her tirade, the third seemed to being ignoring every word that came out of her mouth.
"You haven't shared any intelligence with us you have barely even explained how you got there or who else was with you that is withholding information regarding national and international affairs we have every right to throw you into a maximum security hole in the ground with no contact to anyone."
" I said try it, are you deaf doesn't that give you a honourable -although I doubt you deserve it- discharge as it makes you medically unfit. You want to know everything I can tell you about the N.U.W not because you want to share intelligence -you refused to let any other parties to try and question me- but because you think your special and I owe you.-"
Gages' boss turned during this tirade coming from a cold and calculating young woman who had yet to raise her voice beyond silent room level. He looked to Gage as if to tell them to calm her down and make her do anything but this. Gage just shook their head and raised their hand in a surrender position.
"Is she always like this?"
"She's just getting started she's been wanting to do this for a while."
Gage kept her voice low leaning towards her boss with as unexpressive face as she could forcing the smile she wanted to wear deep down.
"Excuse me, Gage am I interrupting anything, no wonderful listen up all of you. I dont owe you for your men tripping over the outpost killing the men who were guards some of the boys who had been so abused and brainwashed that they attacked out of fear and 'rescued' the dozen girls besides myself that where there. You deserve nothing those men were thanked and I debriefed both them and their supervisor as to what had been going on there after I attacked them out of pure self-defence."
The general still didn't flinch his face starting to turn a shade of deep dark red. Juliet simply lent back and put her feet up on the table until Gage scowled at her, when she just shrugged Gage gave up keeping this civl.
"No violence is all I ask."
"No promises but I'll do my best Gage."
"And who the hell do you think you are giving respect to some grunt, and not to those that.." The general's voice actually stopped as he watched the woman in front of him still, sit up properly and brandish a plastic knife she had sharpened. She started to flip in in her hand then placed her hand on the table and began slamming it between her fingers without looking.
"Who am I, I'm the boogyman, I'm the thing you tell your soldiers to watch out for even when their in the barracks, My name is Juliet Greyson and I am the monster others whisper about in the night. Gage earned my respect, hell even my loyalty but you are nothing to me. I've not left this hospital in three months because of them, I've not gone on a killing spree, I've not made your life a living hell because they ask me not to. You are nothing you deserve nothing and if I thought about it harder I'd probably find reason to implicate at least half of your buddies in things that would make you sick."
The men shifted uncomfortable in their seats. The middle man was watching her hand as she continued stabbing between her fingers so close to her fingers faster and faster. He looked at Gage who was fighting a smile so hard it looked like they were going to be ill.
"I think that's enough for today, my apologies for interrupting your day Ms Greyson but if there is anything you think we could use to help others that have been in your position or similar."
Looking him in the eye juliet stilled the knife sitting it between her fingers and tipping her head to one side as though she was trying to see him from a different angle. Another smile creased her face a little kinder than earlier.
"I remember you, _ right? At least you have half a brain. You're the one that brought me clothes, the jackets really warm I appreciate that. There is a couple of State size rings that they collaborate with but I've never met them, I wasn't needed for the smuggling ring, but there's probably some of their shadier medical staff that keep actual jobs and travel when they get paid." Juliet motioned to the pen and paper that had been kept at a distance nearest Gage who pushed them across the bench.
The scratching of the pen and paper was only interrupted by the aggressive general spluttering and trying to salvage any of his pride, juliet ignored him completely as thought he wasn't speaking at all watching the two others. Gages' boss looked half impressed and half sickened as thought they had never actually been read in -Gage expected that he had been asked to come as a power play over Gage- When it had become apparent that Juliet wasn't even considering that the general had any play he had been forgotten.
"This is as many names as I ever got nothing with a star means their dead anything else may be coded or old intelligence I've been out five months I mean I could probably give you more but I dont feel like it, I want to see my family and I'd like to be able to leave- I'll even allow you to give me a security detail these walls are getting pretty boring."
"I appreciate that, now we will take our leave and I'll see what we can do Ms Greyson." The general looked livid but stood and stormed out of the room face a deep purpling red. "That went better than I expected. Until next time." The second man stood and left with a nod to Gage.
"Jesus christ Gage what the hell have you gotten us into." Their boss spoke eyes still flicking between the knife Juliet's face and Gage.
"Sorry boss but honestly that was better than anyone here thought it would go. Juliet why dont you go out to the gardens I'll walk everyone out." Juliet beamed brightly and left the knife on the table before wrapping her arms around gage leaving with a mocking half hearted salute to the last man in the room.
Juliet had been doing better the medication had been slowly building up and starting to affect her positively as had the therapy sessions and being allowed outside- something that she had been taking advantage of more and more. The officials had been several more times without the General who had been 'reassigned' after a report had been filed by all parties, and a deep dive investigation had proved Juliet right. This latest time juliet hadn't even brandished a weapon, and had given them more information when they asked and provided some photos names and code.
They hadn't allowed her to leave the hospital grounds but she had rebelled by sneaking around and hiding outside in the tree more often and that was where Gage had been sent to check since the last escape instead of test.
"Seriously Jules you need to stop just disappearing the nurses are throwing a tantrum and the security guys are starting to get pissed off cause they never can find you how the hell did you even get up there?" Gage called up to the low hanging branches of the tree in the garden like space in the middle of the hospital.
Dark brown hair spilled down before Juliet's head followed upside down grinning and bright her skin had lost a lot of the tan it had had when she was brought in but she had slowly gained it back little at a time.
"It has a bunch of grip spots and I can run a couple steps up the side before gravity takes hold. They know I'm not going anywhere I wanna see my folks and the calls you organised only happen when I behave myself but unless you or Aron tell them its ok they never let me go out in the sun alone so I made the choice and sneak out here to read or get some fresh air its not my fault I like it up high out of sight." Juliet whined all still while upside down the blood rushing to her face. She pushed herself down so her knees hooked themselves over the branch scaring Gage for half a second.
"Jesus christ on a cracker Jules be careful you scare the crap out of me when you do that. Your going to burst a blood vessel if you stay like that!" Gage was always overprotective of their young ward. It had become something like a parent child relationship yet Juliet never forgot her parents always telling them when she was allowed to call and see them how much Gage cared and that she was sure to be giving Gage grey hair early but they wouldn't have it any other way.
Reaching up to hold onto the thick branch Juliet let herself fall and dangle by her fingertips for a moment before dropping the few feet to the ground and landing like a gymnast bowing to Gage with a cheeky smile.
"Whatever you say Gage, I'll go apologise to them and I'll tell them where I'm going next time." Juliet side hugged Gage before heading towards the nurses station wearing what could be described as a kicked puppy look- shoulders hunched eyes down feet shuffling.
"Damn you have those nurses wrapped around your fingers kid, knowing you they probably will just give you a hug and warn you they'll take away your jello next time." Gage shook their head smiling and walking back towards their office.
Aron had been coming by of an afternoon with hospital coffee and sandwiches whenever he was on and didn't have any patients clamouring to talk to him, so when Gage found him lounging in their office they just smiled and sat down.
"Found her in the trees again, she's getting better hasn't had a backslide in a while, she doing alright? Any chance we can get her out of here anytime soon? Not that I want her gone or to go back to my dark boring office but her family is desperate to see her again and I keep having to tell them she's not ready and they are getting tired of my answers."
"I wish I could tell you she can go home tomorrow but you know I can't Gage they still want more tests and she won't open up much about what happened except to us and putting that stuff in a report makes my stomach turn. She learns so fast but I dont know if she is actually taking everything on board."
"I know what you mean I have trouble believing that she even survived most of everything she has told me and I know for a fact she isn't telling us everything." The pain in Gage's voice was heavy with frustration and sorrow.
"The next week or so will tell us how well she actually is coping. Have you thought about my offer we can do it I know some people who owe me some favours."
"I don't know I don't want any trouble from my bosses and their names are being tracked for any travel plans. Her sister is the one to watch out for I've never seen so much damage control being done in my whole time serving."
Aron's shoulders slumped in defeat as he was reminded they had bosses they had to answer to. He kept up with the social media following Juliet. Gage was right her sister was loud and un-moved by hush money, and wasn't happy with the video calls but it had slowed the rampant calls for the UN to intervene. Aron suspected that her mother was doing more than sitting still but she seemed to move in less public circles.
"So where is she now? Maybe we can get a call into her folks today she seemed quiet but on much more of an upswing in her moods."
"With the nurses calming security and probably teasing them, I dont know if I can swing another call so close to her birthday but I'm going to be very focused on my reports for the next hour or two so if anything happens without my knowledge I'm none the wiser." With a soft smile Aron nodded and brushed his fingers across theirs. That was as close to intimate either of them was comfortable showing but it was enough.
The nurses seemed to be more flustered than normal as Juliet approached the desk shoes shuffling slowly and louder than her normal silent stalking made them turn sharply.
"Where the hell were you!" one shouted juliet tried not to flinch but it was a shrill pericing noise. Her body tensed up and she started chewing on her lip and her eyes didn't water no matter how much she wished they would.
"Im sorry Delia, none of you ever let me out in the gardens without supervision you know I'm not going to run anywhere I just want some time outside of the god damn white fucking walls and beeping. Its almost as bad as the fucking cells." Her voice cracked hands now shaking by her sides.
Delia's face softened and she looks at the other nurses. They knew she was right she didn't have anywhere to run even if she managed to leave the building. The most senior nurse smiled weakly and moved forward.
"I'm sorry sweetheart your right we should have thought about that, but do you think you can tell us or even write a note if you think we are busy so when we come looking we know where to go?" Juliet's hands still shook but her posture had drooped slightly. With a nod she hugged her arms around herself and walked back towards her room.
"Thank you for being concerned about me." Juliet managed to choke out before crawling into her bed and wrapping herself tightly in the layers of blankets she had accumulated. A few more days until her birthday again the first in five years that she wasn't dreading completely she got to call her family for the whole day not just a few hours.
Falling asleep in odd positions wasn't uncommon for Juliet so as she dozed in the warm sun that streamed through her window her body stayed hunched and covered.
"Juliet, you awake? Its alright nothings wrong but I have someone on the phone for you." Aron's voice pulled her from the half sleep, stretching her joints creaked and popped. Interested in the fact she had a call she reached her hands out for the laptop he was holding.
"You look brighter today, doctor Burns was telling me you are doing better, and he thought we could surprise you with a call today, Dad's just getting groceries but he'll be home soon. I miss you sweetheart."
"Miss you too mum your looking better too, Aron's the best he's put up with me and he says that we might have found the right combination and that I'm getting better at opening up, haven't had a really bad episode in a few days now. How is everyone." Juliet listened to her mother absorbing every word and becoming excited when her father arrived and made her laugh. They talked for over their normally allowed two hours and when they had to say goodbye juliet was less sad than she had been.
"Thanks for that doc, I miss them all so much, but its alright I know I'll see them sooner than I ever hoped." Aron smiled and patted her shoulder nodding with a tight smile.
"I hope so kiddo you're getting there remember if you can make it a whole week we might be able to swing going out for your birthday to get some new clothes. Your doing really well but I think Gage could use your help their feeling a little stressed. You know their bosses are riding them pretty hard. They probably could use a jello break."
Juliet looked down at the blankets she was wrapped in then up at Aron. She hadn't been thinking about Gage needs when she finally stood up for herself and felt bad but shook it off she would fix it she would do everything she could.
Finding Gage took longer than normal and Juliet grew a little worried, she had talked with Aron yesterday and had made a plan to talk with Gage the next day but they had been called back to the office and hadn't been back in a few days. The nurses had tried to contact them but the switch board simply told them that Gage was unreachable and they would pass the messages along as soon as they could.
Almost a week had past and Juliet felt like she was back in the cells with no information no ability and no reason to think anything positive, and from the look of it today would be a bad day.
"Hey sweetheart can we sit and talk for a bit?" Aron had been talking with a nurse Juliet didn't recognise for the last hour or so. Sitting down juliet started to bounce her leg chewing on her lip and her fingers started to scratch at her arms she knew that look she'd seen it before so many times.
"How bad is it?"
"What makes you think, oh right, well Gage has been hurt its not good and their downstairs in the physical therapy ward." Juliet's eye's welled up and tears spilled down her face. She couldn't even wipe them away as she started to shake.
"No one knows they was rushed in, during the night they have been in and out of consciousness, the only coherent thing they got from her was she wanted you to know she was going to be ok, Gage is tough but I'm going to be honest I don't know how she's going to recover." More tears spilled and Juliet's body curled in on itself. Unable to say anything more she just looked blankly at the wall behind Aron.
"They said I can bring you down to see her if you want. You never know you know that might just help I know she likes when you read to her. I talked to the nurses and they said it was alright as long as you go down and come back up when they tell you to." Juliet only half listened still shell shocked by the news but she stood and grabbed her tattered book and walked toward the elevators blindly walking until the nurses led her to the just outside the room.
"You need to be prepared sweet-heart their pretty banged up and their not awake, just call us if she stirs or you think something is wrong, your Gage is pretty tough with you here it will make it just that much easier for them." Juliet nodded deaf to anything but the fact they were talking shaking she stumbled into the room and without looking rushed to the chair opposite the bed.
Looking up was the most terrifying thing that Juliet had had to ever do and there were many things that by comparison should have been worse. There were bandages up Gage's arm and down one leg they were in a gown and their face was a mismatch of purples and yellows and blues.
Tears steamed down her face as she took the sight of her only friend in she could see the nurses notes on the board at the end of the bed she shakily lifted it off and started to read.
There were so many injuries and notes Juliet had to stop and go and throw up in the private bathroom for a few minutes. Returning to Their side Juliet started to catalogue the ways that those injuries could have been sustained and the general size and shape of Gage's attackers. Most of the damage was frontal or down the left hand side of their body. Gage had fought back and hard, that would make finding them a lot easier, they would have bruises and maybe cuts if Gage had fought as hard as Juliet knew they could.
"I'm going to end them, I promise Gage, they won't get away with anything I'm going to make sure they never are able to do this again." Her voice was cold and solemn. Juliet reached out and brushed her fingers with theirs on the right side. Reading would be the least she could do so finding where they had gotten up to Juliet began to read aloud until her voice was hoarse and her eyes burned.
The nurses brought her a dinner tray and were kind enough to not make her leave even when the doctors had to come and check on Gage. She would stay in the room so long they brought in a more comfortable chair so she could sleep on something soft not that Juliet cared she would sleep on the floor the rest of her life if it meant Gage was safe. Twice she snapped at the nurses so badly they had to bring Aron down who questioned her and reminded her that Gage wouldn't want her to backslide.
"I dont want them in here, I've overheard them in the halls making jokes and things and I know they harass other patients and even the nurses. They think their the big fish because their the only guys in the ward."
"Noted but you need to go and shower and maybe go out to the gardens."
"No not unless you stay with them and call me the second anything changes and I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Fifteen minutes outside and a proper shower, I'll stay here and do my paperwork." Juliet held up her pinky finger. Aron sighed and hooked his in hers.
"I promise their going to be fine I'll be right here."
Juliet kissed Gage's head and then went to do as she was told as fast as possible not even the sun and fresh air could stop her counting every second until she would be allowed back in Gage's room. When she ran back to the room she felt the weight in her chest relax Gage was still there still alright as they could be in the circumstances..
It had been a month since juliet had ended up in the physical therapy ward guarding Gage every moment of the day unless Aron forced her to leave taking her place to keep her subdued. Gage had woken a week after they were brought in and the last three weeks had been testing as they recovered slowly. Gage wouldn't tell juliet exactly what happened but they knew Juliet wasn't far from knowing exactly what damage had been done and the general view that it had been more than one person.
Today they both were sitting on the end of the bed Gage looked at Juliet with a soft sad smile as they discussed the fact that if they reported the people responsible for what had happened they would probably be the one that was demoted and that their bosses were aware that there were several parties that had negative views on the repeals about who could serve and where they could serve and all the increase in scrutiny on psychological reviews, to create less disputes. Juliet had been angered and frustrated at the fact no one was doing anything about these assholes
"Your not serious right, I mean they must have been reprimanded at least? Gage that's not right! Why do you keep going back?" several questions flew Juliets mouth her eyes going wide as she considered what hell Gage had gone through just to be attacked by their fellow soldiers on their home soil.
"Can't prove anything they are usually pretty good at covering their tracks…. Juliet where are you going?" Gage looked on concerned as Juliet stood and stretched kissing their head and started to head for the door. Juliet had a dark look in her eyes, and Gage figured Juliet had been planning since Gage had been brought in.
"To start a war, why? Actually you probably don't want to know, never mind just go and do your physical therapy and keep the nurses busy. Im leaving, I'll be back later promise, be safe." Turning around and grabbing a jacket it was a race for Juliet to make it out the door before the words sank in. Just as Juliet made it out the door and down the corridor Gage's voice rang out behind her.
"Don't do anything stupid!" Juliet couldn't promise anything so she didn't call back anything as she ran dodging nurses carts and ignoring yells of frustration and angry Juliet made it to the stairs taking them two at a time down to the ground floor and out into the fresh air.
Guards were probably racing to follow her but she knew she could loose them fast enough. Walking calmly out the main doors of the hospital she looked for any military vehicle close to the entrance. Finding none within the first few minutes she huffed frustrated as started to make her way to the main road knowing she didn't have enough time to waste searching the parking structures while the guards had a chance to catch up with her.
The main road in and out of the hospital was less a well traveled civilian road and more a long stretch of tarmac that led to another road where the chances of cars and public transport we only slightly higher. Sighing heavily she set out at a reasonable paced jog- considering what she had been put through most people would look at what she considered a jog and think was someone was chasing her like her life depended on it- keeping her eyes on the road and her ears on her surroundings listening for approaching cars from behind.
Reaching the T-intersection she picked up her pace into a heavy run her breath becoming a little harder to catch but hearing the cars rushing past motivated her she knew which way she had to go. Following the road she moved further off road into the bushes making her pace slow but it was better than falling over a hidden root and breaking her ankle.
They wouldn't be able to see her if they were following her now and finding out where she was going would cause them to have too many options if they questions Gage. She hadn't said where she was going only that she was going to start a war. Plausible deniability was something she prided herself on being able to give the people she respected.
While she traveled she could hear the military jeeps travel past slowly sometimes stopping and letting out people. That wasn't exactly what she had expected but she was careful moving deeper into the trees and then back towards the roads randomly slowing her progress more but it was better than being caught and forced to return to the hospital. Once she started to hear the dogs she gave up hiding her trail in favour of more speed pushing through the ache of her muscles fighting her from lack of practise from the past few months.
As the trees finally started to give way to suburban areas she paused just long enough to catch her breath and become aware of the surroundings. Taking the long way around would give her more cover but taking more direct routes would be faster and maybe confuse the teams following her just enough to give her an edge. As her body fought her for longer to regain full oxygenation she decided she would have to risk being seen and take the more direct routes a jogger in the suburbs and even in the more city streets wasn't totally un-realistic.
It was now reaching the end of the day people were picking up children from school coming home from work and getting ready to go out for the night. Moving towards highly populated areas was always a risk but it would also make using dogs for searching less and less likely because the military wouldn't want to cause a panic.
Juliet slowed feeling the strain on her body finally weighing her down more after not having to push herself this hard for an extended period of time. Breathing heavily, legs and arms shaking just slightly she found her way into the small shopping district. Making a small detour to a newsagent to buy water and some supplies, gave her enough time to come up with an actual plan instead of just going off half-cocked and causing mayhem and chaos in her wake.
Buying the burner phone and sim was a spur of the moment decision. Taking the time to turn it on set up the phone number and one time use email was time she hadn't accounted for but keeping to areas of high density and buying a hoodie gave her a little more sense that she could stay hidden long enough to do what she was planing.
Setting up an transport account with a fake name and a money card took longer but it was worth the time and effort it would keep her more anonymous than if she was to use one of the bank cards she had in her alias names deciding on the pick-up point Juliet had to decide how close to her destination she could get without anyone questioning who she was. After fighting with herself she decided to get as close as possible and just risk being questioned.
Her ride arrived quickly and she slipped in sitting in the back, keeping her head down as though she was more interested in her phone than making conversation. It seemed to work as the driver stayed quiet only asking the most basic of small talk questions the trip was quiet and faster than trying to move around on foot. Leaving the full money card and tip with her driver, Juliet started towards the unassuming office building like area several blocks behind her.
The drive by had given Juliet a few moments to decide the best way to get in unnoticed, there appeared to be a park across from the building where Juliet was going to find her late evening mark. Buying a coffee from the cart that seemed to be a constant fixture, She sat on a bench and watched the building from the corner of her eye stretching slowly.
A tall dark haired fairly well built man that seemed to be in his mid-twenties glasses sitting on his hair and eyes wired as though he had either not had enough or had had way to much caffeine and not enough sleep appeared to leave the building and beeline for the coffee cart. The perfect target Juliet thought to herself as she stood up and tossed her cup of lukewarm coffee into the bin and walked towards the cart again. Standing behind him in line she looked for where his key card would be and spotted the card just sitting in his back pocket- definetly not enough coffee and not enough sleep- as he paid for his coffee she made her move stepping closer and bumping into him as he turned to step away.
"Oh, I'm sorry." breaking out of the trance like state of pure focus of retrieving caffeine and giving her a once over he seemed to try and figure out if he had seen her before, this was the riskiest part of her whole plan. She just pretended to stumble a little and smile at him
"No, im sorry, I wasn't paying attention. Are you alright?" She asked tucking a strand of hair behind her ear she also chewed her lip keeping her eyes slightly down cast.
"I'm fine, I haven't seen you here before, do you work around here?" He seemed to be more aware of his surroundings now and she hated that she had probably gotten herself noticed more than she was hoping.
"Oh me, no I just honestly I decided to go for a run today after work and just get lost after all whats a phone good for is you can't use your GPS to get you back home right. I smelt the coffee and just had to stop and then realised I had no idea where I was, turns out if you turn your music on and have had a really bad day you can end up a long way from home." She laid it on as thick as she could keeping as much truth to the story as she could.
"Wow, so how far did you run if you don't mind?" Juliet pretended to giggle and pulled out the burner phone opening it and pretending to look up how far she had run. This was getting to dangerous but she couldn't just leave she had to see it through.
"Oh, wow uh about 20 miles." She knew she could have run further and faster than that but it sounded reasonable for someone who seemed pretty fit. Watching his reaction she watched the barista behind them finish his coffee, pointing behind him she distracted him long enough that he could pick up his coffee and take a long sip.
"Ah, thank you Chris perfect as always…" he said as he finished the first few mouthfuls of the largest coffee the cart sold. Turning back around he focused on juliet again. "Wow thats a pretty great distance, are you going to try and run back or get a ride?"
"Oh I'll get a ride for sure it's be a while since I ran that far I think my legs are going to hate me tomorrow but it helped a lot, looks like you really needed that coffee. Oh I'm so rude my name's Emily." Juliet help out her hand and made sure to make it seem like she was looking tired but interested in the conversation and him.
"I'm Keran, its nice to meet you Emily, yeah I'm working late this project at work is giving us a lot of trouble. Speaking of work I should probably head back too it. Take care." With a handshake and then a short wave he walked back inside the building.
Juliet, ordered another coffee and moved back to the bench chewing her lip. Getting in was going to be harder than she thought the ID badges were probably highly encrypted and without proper equipment making a copy was going to be impossible. The cards looked simple enough but she hadn't be able to swipe his card, this might have to be a longer game than she had planned using her burner she sent a short text to Gage telling them she wouldn't be back just yet and not to worry. After sending it she took the battery out and dropped it down a drain half a block from the park.
Finding a hotel or somewhere with an actual bed to sleep was going to be too conspicuous she couldn't risk being tracked. She had spotted several abandoned buildings on the ride here though backtracking and making sure she hadn't been spotted or followed she found a building that seemed unoccupied and left to crumble.
She entered the building as quietly as should could after breaking the lock that was on the side door to the warehouse. There was rubbish and left over boxes and things throughout the floor but it was empty and there wasn't a lot of graffiti meaning it was pretty left alone which suited her perfectly. It was getting dark and the day had been pretty intense even though it hadn't gone exactly as she planed. Finding a storage cupboard and making sure it was fairly structurally sound Juliet piled the left over boxes and trash into a semblance of a cot like shape and rolled her jacket up to serve as a pillow it wasn't the nicest of places to sleep but it wasn't the worst she had ever made do with.
Morning came and woke Juliet from a restless and nightmare filled sleep, rubbing her eyes and waking herself reminding herself why she had camped out in a cupboard of an abandoned warehouse she stretched herself out and actually explored the area a little more before heading back towards the more shopping centre and civilian districts of the area, she was going to need to buy a few things and then disappear again.
Her first stop was a second hand store and then pharmacy for a large backpack, clothes, a sleeping bag and some toiletries, next was a public bathroom to clean herself up and change into the fresh clothes and change her hairstyle, lastly she headed to an (insert name of second hand electronic store) to get a second hand computer and some parts and tools that she would need to get to work.
With the day half gone already Juliet bought some protein bars, beef jerky, cans of soup and electrolyte drinks at a convince store before headed back towards the warehouse where she had decided to hide out for the moment. Right now she figured she had about another seventy-two hours left before they found anything that could lead them to her. That gave her twenty-four hours to plan twenty to execute and thirty to get as far away as possible from the area.
Storing the bag and most of the supplies- minus some wires tools and a protein bar that she was currently eating- she started the search for the power mains, she was going to need some power and there had to be a breaker somewhere. After finding it and making the adjustments to get the power going again Juliet tucked herself back in to the cupboard which still had a light that worked and a powerpoint and got to work there were enough Wifi signals in the area she could piggy back, that she let herself turn on some music, and get to work putting together any and all information she could gather on the buildings, surroundings and employees.
Protein bars eaten, drinks finished and her hands and eyes aching from staring at a screen for so long she turned in to sleep for the night turning the light out and making sure her simple security system was still working properly. The nightmares were still pretty intense during the night more so as she hadn't had the medication the hospital had been providing her for two days now, Juliet woke several times during the night screaming herself awake. The last time she woke she decided to just stay awake and continue planning.
As the sun rose and filtered through the dusty dirt covered glass she had her plan in place. A new burner phone in her pocket, her bag on her back filled with her supplies, and enough determination to make sure people knew to leave Gage and anyone like them alone or there would be hell to pay.
The trek back towards the park where she had met Keran was a little harder when she had to find somewhere to store her pack but she ended up dumping it in the brush about a block away. The makeshift scanner tucked into her jacket. Fixing her hair and breathing deeply she headed towards the coffee cart outside the building and put on what she could only describe as a blonde bimbo pout.
"Hi there, I was here the other day and I ran into that tall man it was pretty late his name was Keran… I was wondering if you knew what drink he usually had, I was kinda, uh, well I was hoping to buy him one."
"Oh, uh, thats right I remember you. I can make one for you if you like but I don't know if he's working today I haven't seen him today. Its been pretty quiet they seem to have someone making runs out and ordering a bunch of drinks every couple of hours but I'm guessing they have machines or something in there."
"Oh well could you make one anyway and I'll just take it over there and see if not oh well one coffee isn't a waste."
Juliet had been well versed in sub-de-fusion after all this time and tricking this poor barista into making a coffee and letting slip what they knew about the area wasn't hard if felt like sliding into an old jersey you thought was your favourite but it wasn't as comfortable as you remembered. A coffee and some small talk later Juliet- now Emily for the moment- strode into the office looking building on the far side of the courtyard.
The building was cold and plain two desk like areas a bank of elevators on one wall and some street market looking art hanging around the walls as if trying to give it a slightly less creepy and impersonal feel, which failed spectacularly.
Approaching the desk nearest the elevators and the security guards she chewed on her lip stretching a thin nervous smile on her face.
"Can I help you miss?"
"Oh, uh, I well honestly I hope so… god I'm about to sound like a teenager with a high school crush. The other day I met a man outside at the coffee cart over there," she pointed it out as if they didn't know there was one. " And uh well I wasn't exactly the smartest I got his name and which building he was working in but I forgot to offer my number and I was hoping… I feel silly now but I was hoping to buy him a coffee and leave my number for him."
The guards looked unimpressed and she let herself get flustered and babble on a little more playing the air headed nervous woman who probably hadn't been on a date in a long time. After rambling for a full few minutes she had worked herself up into a state and had put the guards off.
"Ma'am you need to take a breath, I've got it from here gentlemen. Ma'am if you would come with me maybe I can find out if this gentleman is working today and let him know there is a coffee here with his name on it."
"Oh… oh I'm so sorry, yes yes that would be wonderful thank you… his name was Keran, tall dark hair, he looked like he hadn't slept for a few days, soft voice." Juliet gave the simple descriptions and followed the woman that had appeared towards the end of her rambling.
"Oh! Keran yes I know just the person, he's been working late for the last few days he's such a sweetheart. Now let me see if I can find his extension, he must have left you with quiet the impression for you to come back like this." The woman chuckled as if thinking about an inside joke and Juliet worried her bottom lip firmly.
"Oh, I mean I'd had a very rough few days and well he was kind enough not to pry but asked me if I was going to be alright getting home. I'd been running after work and gotten quite lost. I really appreciated the kindness and wanted to give something back. Also he was quiet cute." She said conspiratorially.
"That sounds like our Keran, always so sweet. Ah let me just make a phone call just you wait right here, I'm sorry I didn't catch your name."
"Emily, gosh I am such a space case today." Juliet let herself blush and placed the coffee down on the bench top pretending to be nervous about the phonemail when she was actually concerned with how long she had been in the building spending so much time around camera she hoped no one was looking for her just yet this building reeked of government and she needed just a little more time to get into the system.
The woman behind the counter had begun dialling and speaking to whoever had obviously picked up smiling and giving "Emily" the thumbs up to which she grinned and ducked her head. A few more moments of conversation later the phone was hung up and Juliet picked the coffee up again and looking doe eyed.
"So, Keran is on his way he will be just a minute or two he sounded excited that you had come by and glad for the break from his computer by the sound of it. Good luck." The woman commented kindly and gestured to the small row of uncomfortable looking plastic chairs that reminded Juliet of the chairs at any hospital she had ever been to in her life.
"Oh, thats wonderful, right thank you!" Juliet sat eyes watching the bank of elevators and her leg started to bounce small little jiggles that made the row of seats wiggle. The seats brought back memories of before everything that had happened when she was a child with her family sitting when they had gotten the flu colds and more memorably the occasional burn or broken bone.
The Elevator ping brought her out of her trance of memories and back to the present and her mission, usually she would have reprimanded herself over being distracted but sitting around was nothing short of boring right now.
"Emily! Hi there, I didn't expect to see you again. How are you doing?" Keran seemed to brighten as he approached a different shirt and pants but his glasses balanced precariously on his head pair of head phones around his neck and the lanyard dangling from his neck.
"Hi! Oh well I'm doing much better my legs finally feel like cooperating with me, this is for you… I thought I'd like to buy you a coffee and say thank you, the other day had been a long day and you were so sweet and I… well I was honestly hoping I could buy you a coffee and give you my number… if thats alright you seem to be so busy but if you every wanted to have dinner or something to give you a break and we could get to know each other… gosh hang on," she reached up and gently tugged his glasses off his head and fold them standing close hand resting on his arm as if to keep her balance. "They were about to fall off sorry I didn't mean to invade your space."
"Oh thank you.. Golly I'd forget my head if it wasn't on my shoulders." He seemed to blush at the closeness and the touch. Juliet stayed there a moment longer hoping that the scanner had done its job. Spotting a sharpie in his pocket she stepped back winked and grabbed it waggling it in his face and the coffee in her hand she scrawled the burners number on the ring.
"No worries, uh I, hope your having more luck with your project, but, yes… if your uh, free I'd love to get to know you better" Letting herself stutter and stumble over words was making her skin crawl in the deepest parts of her mind but she pushed that feeling away she needed to keep up the ploy just a little longer.
"Oh! Yes yeah we are doing much better after I'd had that coffee, the thing you said about just letting go and getting lost while you ran actually helped me sort something out so uh, thank you. Oh, that would be really nice uh… I'd like that a lot. I should get back now though, but thank… thank you for the coffee I'll be in touch yeah. Thank you for the coffee again…" Juliet (bounced/ popped) up onto her toes and kissed his cheek before letting out a girly soft giggle and waving as she walked towards the giving the woman behind the desk a thumbs up and walking out the door as though she was absently mindedly excited about going to dinner.
As she reached the corner away from the courtyard of buildings she let the mask of Emily slip away and her body shaking a little, letting herself fall into a alleyway and slide down onto the cement and brick of the walkway her mind raced with fear and a sharp heavy weight in her chest made her gasp with pain. She knew this was a panic attack and doing what she needed to do would always sit badly with her but it had to be done for Gage.
"It's ok, I'm not hurting anyone, it's ok, this is my choice, breath, in, out. Its not my fault, Its not my fault. I'm not actually hurting anyone just making them understand how others feel." The mantra was repeated over and over as tears fell unbidden from her eyes making the neck of her shirt damp and her head start to ache like only a crying headache could achieve. Twenty minutes and a lot of sniffling later she pulled herself up and away from the alley towards where she had stowed her backpack.
Gage and Aron had been near frantic ever since Juliet had escaped pulling every favour they could think of to try and find her their bosses breathing down their necks until they realised that the two knew nothing more than anyone else. A group of people had been tasked to finding her and nothing else.
Following the money only led them to the first store where she had transferred a large amount of money on to refillable money cards -somewhere in the area of ten thousand dollars over several cards. The technical devision could only track them when the cards were used and even then it could take long enough to get the information to a deployable squad and for them to arrive that she was gone. The only thing they found was two withdrawals from the cards into cash which was harder to trace.
The email had been a spur of the moment thought she couldn't hold it back sending it from a coffee shop on the other side of town running it through multiple servers and letting herself into the intranet of the military was stupid and risky but after another round of guilt and shame she had to change her game up.
Her other plan had made her feel as though she would be hurting to many people this was a warning shot and depending on how they retaliated would shape what she went for first- public shaming or private blackmail- and exactly how many people she would have to hunt down.
Juliet was tired of hiding- she had been gone for over a week now moving from the abandoned building onto the streets, shelters, or twenty-four hour stores-the people on the streets gave advice when ever she bunked down in the shelters she tried shared little to nothing about herself but it seemed the most homeless were between twenty to thirty five and the ones who were out on the streets for more than a few weeks would offer advice if they thought you were a first timer- but she knew what was going to happen if she went back now.
They'd make and example out of her probably lock her into a cell - of course they would provide medical and psychiatric care they wouldn't leave their hold on her to chance - if she was lucky. If not she'd end up in a black site and be treated as badly or worse than the first time she had been captured by the N.U.W if she let herself be caught or turned herself in.
"Juliet! What the hell is going on you just disappeared without telling me what was going on then I get those random texts and the last one just said goodbye. I saw your email what the hell were you thinking sending that!" Gage looked like they had been crying and maybe pushing themselves too far to try and find her.
"I'm so sorry G, I'm not staying. I know what's going to happen if I stay they are going to start asking questions I really can't answer your the most fucking important person I've met during my recovery honestly since well ever." Juliet had gotten in the same way she had left in through the front door and then used all the blind corners.
"I promise that its going to be alright, I've got everything I need. It's going to be ok and you are going to never have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable or that you know is wrong ever again." Juliet kept the tears from falling but her eyes were brimming ready to spill as she wrapped her arms around Gage's middle holding fast to them before just letting the tears falls.
Gage had been stunned during the onslaught of words emotions then the physicality of the hug holding onto the younger woman letting them take all the time they needed.
It wasn't fair it wasn't right and it was killing them that they knew Juliet was right that she couldn't stay they she couldn't heal and she couldn't do what she wanted to do without having to sacrifice her freedom her free will. any choice that gave her the things she needed basically just created another more deadly cage to keep her in.
"I'm going to miss you like crazy sweetheart you made this place so much better and so much more well fun, honest, refreshing and so loved." The tears didn't stop flowing but they pulled apart with sniffles and hands holding tight still unwilling to let go until the last second. The sound of guards made the need to leave more eminent but without Gage, Juliet couldn't fathom what she was going to do really.
With one last hug and one last whispered goodbye and promise she'd find a way to keep in touch. Juliet made her way out the fire escape - everyone who lived, worked or stayed in the hospital long enough knew that this levels fire escape alarm only activated if the door was thrown all the way open instead just breaking the sensor.
Racing down the fire escape she left the same way -by foot- as the last time she had gotten out. She didn't try to hitch a ride and wouldn't for a long time she turned the opposite direction away from the town this time she just kept hiking. the bag she had acquired on her back filled with clothes and some of her most valued possessions. It also contained some foods and medications she may or may not have scavenged knowing that she wouldn't get a prescription for a long time she took as many as she could consciously let herself grab.
"One day I'll be back Gage you'll see its going to be alright and you and I are going to be together raising hell one day." She whispered to herself as she continued westward she'd have to do her best to avoid major cities until she could change her appearance again and making new identification was going to take more than one night in a motel no matter what those action movies and crime shows said.
"Aron I'm almost scared for her, I know she can take care of herself but she was getting better, and now this, where would she go? What the hell is she thinking? Her parents and family are going crazy my boss has been handling the calls and I'm pretty sure I heard the words United Nation mentioned between expletives.
"She's tough and I know how you feel I'm concerned about the backlash she will get from the medication withdrawals but we can't do anything she has to make contact." Aron sat on the edge of the desk where Gage had been assigned now they could move around and work instead of being incapable of moving or thinking clearly.
"Her family are the ones im more concerned about they have every right to be angry and make our lives difficult but they just want their daughter, sister, aunt home with them but instead she is now on the run from men who would keep her in a cell if they could because she wouldn't do exactly what they wanted. It's going to get worse before it gets better. I dont even want to imagine what she's planning."
"Knowing her she's got everything planned down to the second and I wouldn't even being to know what she is willing to do you didn't see her face Aron I've only seen it a few times. The doctor before you got a knife between the tendons in his hand the last time I saw it she didn't even flinch she was standing there talking in another language while she waited for us to sedate her." Gage rubbed their eyes and tugged their jacket tighter around them.
A ding from the computer alerted them to a wide spread email opening it Gage choked on their breath. It wasn't sent from an internal email but it was sent to every offical or high ranking offical but there were several other email addresses in the to line.
To Whom it may concern,
You won't find me but do try I am enjoying this game, if you are smart you will stand down and let me go. Stop assuming I a weak victim of the darkness. It made me cold and calculating. I've learned so much even when you chose to keep me in a better cage instead of letting me free, I learned from that even more. Some of you taught me compassion and care that the things I did were not my fault and the little girl I was could still be in here. I'm coming for you if you keep looking.
IT'S YOUR TURN
The Lone Solider
"Aron she's holy shit, I dont know how she's done it but I think that last part was for us. Telling us she's alright. Is the rest a bluff?" Gage could barely believe her young friend was really out there alone let alone planning something so complex but then maybe they hadn't known the whole story maybe there was something they had missed
"Dont blame yourself.. I can see it in your eyes. You really want my opinion?" Aron read over the email again. "I think she's finally decided what she wants to be and she's done being passive. I dont think this is an episode I think all the things we've taught her and helped her remember has finally clicked I feel sorry for anyone who messes with her."