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Breath of Life

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As soon as Meg scooted closer to Evan in that bed, time seemed to slow down around him.  He couldn’t believe that she would willingly scoot closer to him, and for just a moment, he had to make sure he wasn’t imagining the situation he now found himself.  Asking to sleep in the same bed was bad enough, and as soon as it left his mouth he regretted putting it out there, and the longer he was met with silence, he knew he pushed it too much. 

He didn’t even know what came over him at that time.  He definitely didn’t plan on sleeping in the bed with her, the thought didn’t even cross his mind until he turned off all the lights.  But just before he got into his own separate bed, he saw her curled up facing away, and all he knew was that he wanted to touch her.

Not in any inappropriate way, he just wanted to be next to her, feel her breathing, know that she was alive and she was okay.

The past day had been so nerve-wracking for Evan worrying about her, and to have proof that she was alive was something his whole body craved.  His hand twitched by his side as he stood in the small gap between the two beds, and he tried to convince himself to just get into his own separate bed, forget these feelings, control himself, but the longer he stood there, the more feeble his attempt became.

He could get into his bed and know she was okay by just being in the same room.  That crossed no lines in their partnership, and he could be satiated by knowing she was there, but in that moment, it wasn’t enough.  He needed more.

Frowning at himself and his inability to control his legs, he took a step towards her bed and sat down in the mattress slowly, ready to get up at a moment’s notice.  He heard her breath hitch with the groan of the mattress under his weight, and with that sign from her, he was tempted to not say anything more, just get up and forget about it, but he couldn’t just leave his action up in the air like that, so he continued.

“Is this…” He was making a mistake.  “Can I sleep here?”

His words were out in the open and he wanted more than anything to take them back.  Who did he think he was to think she would want to sleep in the same bed as him, the same person that, as she always put it, killed her for years?

It was never a lie, and for him to cross this line made him almost furious at himself that he would put her in this situation.  He just hoped that no matter what she said, it was because maybe she wanted him there too, not because she felt like she had to say yes.

But then again…

The whole time today she had been by his side, held his hand, and came back to his room three separate times…

Perhaps she did want him beside her as much as he needed her next to him.

But as the seconds dragged on, and the silence grew longer, he began to accept that she wasn’t going to respond, and maybe even pretend like she was asleep despite both of them knowing that she was very much awake.

Evan began to get up without a word, wanting to forget about the last few minutes, until her voice cut through his thoughts startling him. 

“Don’t.”

For a moment, he didn’t know if she meant don’t sleep there, or don’t leave, but the way her voice sounded strained, panicked, he believed it to be the later, so he sat back down, staring at her red hair until she slowly turned towards him.

There was a faint blue light that flowed in the window, illuminating her blue eyes that brimmed with tears, just a little bit.  She looked at him with no fear for what felt like the first time, and it made Evan’s chest squeeze all the air from his lungs.  As they stared at each other, their breathing almost virtually stopped as his eyes searched her face and landed on her slightly parted lips.

While maintaining their eye contact that had Evan’s head swimming, he lifted his legs up onto the bed slowly, allowing her a chance to change her mind at any second.

But she didn’t, and instead, she slowly rolled back on her side away from him, adjusting herself beside him.

At first, Evan planned to just sleep next to her, feel the mattress dip just a little bit with another person in the bed, hear her breathing, know that she is safe, but then that overwhelming urge from earlier to touch her became too much.  Without thinking, he rested his arm on her side lightly, again, looking for an objection, and when he didn’t get one, he finally relaxed with a long sigh.

But then Meg shocks him by scooting closer, and at first he thinks that she is just adjusting herself, tries to rationalize that she could not be possibly wanting to be closer to him, that is until she bumps into his chest and stays there.  Without a second thought, he pulls her closer to him, enjoying the feeling of how perfectly she fits there as she relaxes beneath his grasp.

It doesn’t take long for Meg’s breathing to slow then deepen as Evan holds her tight in his arms, and before long, the sun starts rising, casting soft shadows of blue and purple around the room.  Opening his eyes and looking down at Meg, he watches as the shadows slowly shift from one position to another across the bed and on her face. 

Propping himself up slowly on his hand, he looks down at her, admiring how relaxed she looks, and just how at peace she seems to be here in his arms.  He never thought he would ever get the chance to be this close, he thought he didn’t want to be this close, it would be an insane thought back in the Entity’s realm, but here they are.

And to top it all off, he couldn’t believe that she would want him next to her.

When they first ran into each other almost a week ago, my god how she infuriated him.  She challenged him and yelled at him and never once did she let him slip up without her calling him out on it, but despite all of that, he wanted her around.

He can admit it to himself now as she breathes slowly beside him, and he brushes the back of his finger along her cheek, tucking a loose piece of hair behind her ear.  She stirs just a little, but after a moment, she is fast asleep once more, and he can’t help but continue to stare at her. 

He doesn’t know how long he stays like this, contented with the fact that he gets to hold her beside him, and eventually he must have fallen asleep because the next thing he knows is that he is being waken up by the feeling of Meg’s slender fingers tracing soft lines on his face then moving down to his arms, tracing the deep scars caused by both the Entity and his father.

Opening his eyes slowly, her face is mere inches from his, but their eyes don’t meet, not immediately.  Her eyes instead seem to trace his face and arms along with her fingers, and her brow is scrunched up just a little, creating that small crease in between her eyebrows that he has since come to really like.

She seems lost in thought, as she is often, but he admires her for her deep thoughts and concentration. 

The touch of her fingers sends pleasant shivers down Evan’s back, and unconsciously his grip tightens around her waist, and only then does it occur to Meg that he’s awake. 

Expecting her to jump, pull her fingers away along with herself from him, she surprisingly does neither of those.

Instead her eyes stare into his, but her fingers stop tracing the scars along his arms, and she doesn’t move her hand.  She rests it firmly on his forearm and gives him a small smile.

“Did I wake you?” She asks, her cheeks flushing pink, a vision that makes Evan feel strange.  He wouldn’t say it was nerves, but it was something else that caused butterflies to flutter in his chest and stomach.

“No,” he says, his voice hoarse from sleep.  “It was the other fingers tracing my arm that woke me up.”

“Oh, good.  Was worried there for a moment.”

The two share a knowing smile, recalling one of the first nights they spent at the estate when he woke her up by dropping the whiskey bottle on the mini bar.

“I didn’t think you’d remember that,” she says, looking away from him, though not successfully due to them being to close, so her eyes wander to his arm instead.

“Well, it was one of the first civil conversations we had,” Evan responds with a small laugh.

The sides of Meg’s lips tug into a smile and Evan can’t help his eyes as they flicker down to her lips again, and the thought of how easy it would be to lean forward and plant his lips on hers at that moment is the only thing that comes to his mind.

He looks back up meeting Meg’s eyes, a clear sign that she caught him staring at her lips, this time with no question.

Her eyes flutter as she makes a point to mirror his action by slowly looking down at his lips, then comes back up to meet his stare but before either of them could do anything, there is a loud, frantic knock on their door.

 

 

Meg doesn’t know when or how fast she fell asleep in Evan’s arms, but after feeling how warm Evan is beside her, it must have taken no time at all.  As though no time passed, she groans quietly as a streak of light falls right on her eyes making her feel like she is practically going blind.

She still feels Evan’s strong arms wrap around her, though not as tight as before, as he breathes in and out softly beside her.  Slowly turning so she is on her back, she looks at the sleeping man beside her, actually shocked that he is asleep.

Thinking back to the estate, she has only seen him sleep a couple of times, with both times being fitful and restless, but now he looks peaceful.  Selfishly, she would like to think it was because she slept beside him, but she doubts that’s the case.

Taking this moment to see him up close, relaxed, and not scowling at one thing or another, her eyes start to roam his face, looking from all of his scars, down to his lips, still in a small frown, and down his one arm that lays over her. 

She takes her time looking at all of his scars, tracing all of them with her eyes, until a strange urge to touch them comes to her mind.  Trying to brush it away, it stays there refusing to leave until she just gives in, reaches out and touches him.

It’s not weird, she tries to tell herself, she did just sleep in his arms, so what would make this any different?

Lifting up a small hand, she tentatively touches his forearm, gauging a reaction.  Evan doesn’t give her one, so she starts moving her fingers, tracing one scar and gently moving to another, wondering what the background to any of them are.  Were they all from the Entity? Or did he have most of these beforehand?

She wants to ask him, wants to know, but even now, she doesn’t want to bring up any aspect of his past that he most likely doesn’t want to talk about.  Not when they are warm and comfortable and just alive.

There will be time, there always is, so right now she moves her hand up, feeling his warm skin beneath hers.  It is rough, even up his arm and neck, but it’s not unpleasant, just different.  She figures years spent like he did, not even with the Entity, but mining, and in a whole different time period, she wondered what that would do to skin.

She likes how it feels beneath her fingers as her hand makes its way up to his face, tracing the scars starting at his temple, then gently over his eye, down his cheek and then down his lips…

Her thumb runs over his lips so softly, she barely touches them, worried that she’ll wake him up.  As she stares at the way his lips turn just slightly downward and how surprisingly soft they look compared to the rest of him, she rests her hand on the side of his face, drawing small circles along his cheek like he has done so many times to her.

It’s only fair she gets to hold his face like he holds hers, after all.

Not knowing exactly what emotions come over her, she stares at him sleeping soundly beside her, and it makes her scoot just a little bit closer to him while she tries to figure it out, and tries to quiet the relentless buzzing in the back of her mind. 

She lets her mind wander back to the trials, something she keeps trying to get herself not to do, but having Evan here, wrapped in his arms, feeling safe and guarded causes her mind to think back to how he used to be.

His cruel mask, metal protruding from his flesh in places, the way he had the strength that no human should ever have…

There was a time where they all tried to come up with stories on where they thought the Trapper came from, or who he was, if he was anything even human.

Now Meg knows he is very much human.

Ace and Ash tried to say that he was some backwater local who sold fish and game, hence his name ‘The Trapper’, and due to his size and looming presence, they never even thought he was even human, which meant he couldn’t talk either.  There were some killers that they knew could talk, or maybe had the capacity to talk even if they were monsters like Ghostface, the four Legions, the Clown, or even the Doctor.  But Evan, he never said a word, never laughed, never said anything other than an occasional grunt.

With a smile, she doesn’t know why they never thought he could talk, or would talk, and Meg can’t even begin to wrap her head around the fact that she was stuck with this man for a decade, ten whole years of her life, and now he has come to be one of the most important people to her.

Before, she wanted more than anything to forget about him, disappear from his existence, never to see him again, and now…now she doesn’t want to try to think about what would happen if she lost him.

Just like if she lost any of her friends, she tells herself.  If anything happened to Nea, or David, or Ace, or any other survivor…

But with Evan there is something different, and although she knows he can handle himself, she knows firsthand how strong he is, there is no way she would ever let him get in harms way for no reason.

At that thought, she lets out an amused puff of air through her nose as she stares at him, still cupping his face before she starts tracing his scars back down on arm once more.

‘Let him get into harms way’ as though she really has a say…

But he has been listening to her more and more lately, and she has listened to his reasoning.

They really are becoming an unlikely team that she never would have thought about a week ago.

So now, now she focuses on how he feels against her as she goes back to tracing his arms as she sits inches away from his face.  Suddenly, she feels his arms squeeze around her which cause her eyes to meet his, open and awake.

He caught her tracing lines on him…

She feels heat travel to her cheeks as she smiles, words from their first awkward night together echoing in her mind.

“Did I wake you?” She asks, simply amusing herself, not expecting him to remember her response.

“No, it was the other fingers tracing my arm that woke me up.”

Oh.

He does remember.

And his voice…it sends shivers down Meg’s spine and deep in her stomach listening to how hoarse and strangely vulnerable it is.

She has never heard him sound like that, let alone been around when he wakes up.

“Oh good, was worried there for a moment.”

Evan actually smiles at her, a genuine smile that reaches his eyes, creating small wrinkles on either side of his eyes at the gesture.

She’s never noticed how his eyes wrinkle up when he smiles, but then again, she’s never been this close to him before. 

“I didn’t think you’d remember that,” she says, barely remembering it until now.  She merely said it as a joke to herself but the fact that he remembered too is nice. 

“Well, it was one of the first civil conversations we had,”  he laughs out.  She has heard him laugh more the last day than ever before, and that is a sound she is becoming surprisingly accustomed to.  It is a nice sound.

As she stares at him, silence flowing around them, his eyes roam her face and land on her lips for a few seconds, enough time for Meg to notice he wasn’t hiding it anymore, as his eyes come back to hers.  She mirrors his actions, slowly looking down at his lips as they’re pulled into a smile, creating a small dimple in Evan’s right cheek. 

She never noticed that either.

It catches her attention before lifting her eyes back up to his, and in that moment, she doesn’t have to even think.  She lets her pure instinct take over, trying to clear her mind as they stare at each other, this moment feeling strangely perfect. 

Just for a split second, Evan begins to move, she thinks, just barely towards her, but then there is a frantic loud knock on their door successfully shattering their bubble they created just for themselves, and now Meg’s mind gears towards the knock.

Panic settles over her and chills her to the bone despite the fact that she is wrapped up so tight in Evan’s arms.

Meg and Evan stare at each other, so differently than how they were just a minute ago, before either of them get up to see what could possibly be causing someone to bang on their door.

“Meg? Are you in there? God I hope you’re in there, well not really, but come on, one of you open up the door!” Feng’s shrill scream meets them from the other side of the door,

They both exchange worried glances before Evan takes his arm back and begins to sit up with Meg following suit.  Limping over to the door as fast as she can, Meg opens it and is greeted by Feng looking like she did in the trials, eyes wide with panic, figidity, with a gleam of sweat on her forehead.

“What’s wrong?” Meg asks.

“It’s Kate.  We woke up and she was in the bathroom throwing up and then she collapsed on the floor, and I don’t think she’s breathing-“

“Did you call 911?” Meg blurts out, grabbing their bag and already waving Evan out of the room behind her as she goes into the hallway following Feng.

“Obviously,” Feng snaps, ”Ace is in the room with her, and I’m just getting everyone together before the paramedics get here. Do you know where Dwight is? He wasn’t in our room.”

“He’s with David.”

“Figures,” Feng responds with an amused laugh as they walk towards the other room, “He’s been talking about David nonstop for the last week.  Anyways, can you and…” she pauses, her eyes darting to Evan then back to Meg, “…him get everyone else? I’ll meet the paramedics outside and show them to our room,” Feng instructs without waiting for Meg’s confirmation before she turns around and heads for the front office, leaving Meg and Evan alone once more.

Glancing up at Evan, Meg wants to say something, anything in response to what happened last night, or this morning, but swallowing anything she wants to say, she knows now isn’t the time as she looks forward and ushers Evan beside her to follow as she begins walking towards the other room.

Meg’s stomach feels like it is eating itself alive with both nerves and hunger, fear and anxiety, and the more she limps along, the harder it is to even see straight thinking about what could be wrong.

They quickly reach the room, and with one knock, the door flies open as though her other friends were expecting them.

“Oh thank fuck it’s you,” Nea sighs in relief, leaning dramatically against the doorframe.  “I woke up and noticed that you weren’t back and then someone else who isn’t you,” she whispers and points behind her, “was in here in David’s bed.  We were wondering…” Nea stops and straightens back up as she looks between Meg and Evan, and a worried expression quickly replaces the amused one she had moments before.  “Wait, what’s wrong?”

Meg glances past Nea, seeing Dwight and David sitting in the chairs around the table, already awake and sipping coffee from small white paper cups, and Claudette still curled up in bed as though she didn’t move at all during the night.

“It’s Kate,” Meg answers, looking back at Nea.  “Feng said that she passed out and she wasn’t breathing, so they called an ambulance.  We should probably get a couple of cars too, I mean if they’re taking her to the hospital we should be there, right?”

“Shit, really?”

“Did I hear you right?” David speaks up, getting up from the table inside the room.  “Kate’s hurt?”

Meg nods, taking a step into the room followed by Evan.  “Yeah, Feng is meeting the paramedics outside.  They should be here anytime now, hopefully.  Ace is with her in the mean time.”

“I really want to go be with her too,” Dwight says, his forehead creased in worry as he reaches up and rests a hand on David’s shoulder. 

“I’ll go with you,” David mumbles, already ushering Dwight out of the room first.  “We’ll meet back here if you ladies can get a car so we can follow her there.”

Meg and Nea nod as they watch the two men disappear from the room in a frenzied panic before turning back to each other and giving a small knowing smile.

“So, David and Dwight,” Nea laughs quietly, “never saw that coming.”

“Oh totally,” Meg replies with an over-exaggerated nod, “they definitely kept it such a secret from all of us.  At least they’re finally accepting their feelings.”

“Yeah, at least some people are,” Nea teases, raising an eyebrow at Meg and flicking her eyes over to Evan who stands in the corner of the room near the bathroom, looking in as though the mirror is really fascinating to him in that moment. 

The very thing that Nea hints at is enough to change Meg’s attitude, her smile fading, as she looks at Claudette who still appears to be asleep through all the noise around her.

“Ignoring that and moving on,” Meg says, jabbing Nea with an elbow, “How’s Claud?”

The smile on Nea’s face fades just as fast as she looks at their friend.  “She’s been asleep ever since you left.  I don’t know if she’ll be up for a trip to the hospital.  I can stay back with her if you two go.  I still have my phone if you just send updates.”

“Are you sure? We can always stay back-“

“No, no, go.  It’ll be nice to have the room to myself anyways.  Catch up on some shut eye or something while I wait for an update.”

“You’ll be able to sleep at a time like this?” Meg asks, slightly taken aback by Nea’s brazen attitude about Kate.

“We’ve seen each other die hundreds of times.  Kate will be fine.  She has to be,” Nea reassures her by patting Meg on the arm. 

Meg sighs and smiles back at Nea.  “Okay, if you say so.  I’ll update you as soon as we hear anything.”

Turning back towards Evan, the pair begin to walk to the front of the hotel with Meg fiddling away with the app Nea downloaded on the phone to call a car.  After a few failed attempts at figuring out just how to use the app, she thinks she figures it out as a little picture of a car on a map fills her screen and tells them their driver is only a couple minutes away.

As they make their way out through the lobby and outside, the loud sound of the ambulance siren fills the morning air as it drives away, already rushing to the local hospital. 

“That was fast,” Meg comments, walking up beside David and Dwight. 

“They were already in the room by the time we got there,” David responds, staring off in the direction that the ambulance went. 

“Well I hope it was fast enough,” Dwight mumbles.  “She looked pretty bad.”

No one says anything more, standing in tense silence until a car pulls up and rolls down the window, eyeing the five outside.

“Nea?” The driver asks.  Oh, she forgot to change the name.  Meg nods regardless and looks back at her friends.

“There isn’t enough room for all of us, you two go.  We’ll get another one,” Feng answers for everyone as she stares at Evan, a weird expression on her face.

Not in the mood to argue or even question the attitude that exuded from Feng, Meg and Evan crawl into the backseat of the car without another word.

The car ride to the hospital is relatively uneventful since now Evan seems to be finally getting used to fast moving vehicles as he sits, relaxed, gazing out at the passing scenery around him with a small frown on his face.

Always with that frown.

There wasn’t much to look at from the hotel to the hospital except for more trees and the occasional car passing by going the other direction, but Evan stared out the window nevertheless.  Meg followed suit and watched as the sun peeked over the horizon, casting an early morning orange and pink hue across the sky that she loved.  Wishing she could enjoy the sunrise, her stomach flips with worry as she thinks about where they’re going, and how Kate is doing.

Somewhere along the way, their hands found each other in between them, their fingers locked together once more like it was the only natural thing to do, and in that moment, she isn’t sure whose hand sought the other, but it didn’t matter.

The warm, stable feeling of Evan’s hand in hers was something she was quickly becoming used to, and in that car ride, it seemed like the only thing keeping her from going insane with worry.

So Meg gladly holds onto his hand as the hum of the car fills their ears driving along a single road. 

It is as incredible as it is terrifying, really, that he went from killing her to being the one person she has come to rely on since.  The fact that they have become friends still is mind-boggling to Meg, and as her own friends slowly stop staring at him with such malice and hatred, the fact that Evan is here, and Evan is on their side becomes all too real. 

She wonders if he would ever become a true part of their friend group, if they could accept him like she has come to accept him.  Of course they could, she hopes.  With the way a few of her friends looked at him, and the way even David and Nea don’t seem too scared of him anymore is promising.

Then there was the way Kate even joked around with him…

Meg’s stomach twists at the thought of Kate, and unconsciously, she squeezes Evan’s hand like a safety net.  She just wants her friends to be okay.

Soon they pull up to a very small white hospital that overlooks a body of water, and without a quiet thank you to their driver, they get out of the car and rush in as fast as they can. 

Going into the ER waiting room, the first thing Meg sees is Ace, sitting slouched in a hard plastic hospital chair, staring straight ahead looking at nothing.

“How is she?” Meg asks, hobbling over to him.

“Dunno,” Ace replies once they get closer, his voice sounding odd to Meg without his usual confidence.  “They rushed her in and told me to wait out here.  Haven’t heard anything since.  Plus,” he looks over Meg’s shoulder and glares at the reception desk, “I’ve only asked them for an update three times.  Three! That’s nothing! And now they practically banned me from going up to the desk to ask anymore.”

“We will give you an update when there is one to give Mr. Visconti,” a bored sounding voice scolds Ace from behind Meg, and when she turns her head, a plump middle-aged woman is already glaring at Ace behind a pair of small glasses. 

“That’s what you said fifteen minutes ago, Sheila! There should be one by now!” Ace yells back before slinking into the chair with a dejected sigh. 

“Well,” Meg starts by saying while taking a seat next to the sulking man, “No news is good news, right? If we haven’t heard anything, it means she is still alive.”

“Bah,” Ace scoffs, flippantly waving a hand in Meg’s direction.  “I know she’s alive, but…” he trails off and stares at a spot on the floor, his face scrunching up in thought.

Meg swallows and takes in a slow steady breath before answering, “Did anything happen back there at the barns that could have triggered this? Or do you think maybe it’s something else?”

Ace sighs and lifts up his arm, scratching his head.  “They often took us one by one, and we don’t know exactly what they did to any of us.  We...” Ace pauses wiping a hand across his mouth.

“You don’t have to talk about it,” Meg offers.  “If you don’t want to, but if you do…”

“It’s fine,” Ace mutters before continuing, “we didn’t talk about it much after we would come back, but when Kate came back yesterday, she had something running down her face.  Apparently the Clown had these…mixtures.  Don’t have a clue what was in ‘em.  They were almost like the ones in the trials, not nearly as bad thank Christ, but Kate said he forced her to drink one of them earlier yesterday.   Claimed she felt fine other than just being a bit dizzy.  Fuck,” Ace wipes his face with his hand and adjusts his baseball hat on his head.  “We should have known sooner.” 

Meg’s heart sinks thinking about the possibilities of what could have been in those mixtures, and even the thought of them immediately sends a tickle to the back of her throat, making her want to cough. 

Those gases were horrible in the trials, immediately making everything seem fuzzy and disorientating; she couldn’t imagine having to drink it.

“Do the doctors know this?”

Ace nods.  “Well, I told them as much as I could without saying what happened.  Made up some story about mixing up bottles and she thought it was some sports drink and drank a sip.”  He sighs once more and looks back up at Sheila.  “I just want to find out what’s going on.  Sheila, my girl, my eternal sunshine, can you just go and check for an update one more time?” Ace boasts, changing the subject while getting up and walking over to the reception desk, leaving Meg alone in her seat.

“You can take a seat, you know,” Meg says, gesturing over to the seat next to her with a nod of her head.  “You don’t have to stand there brooding.”

Evan’s face softens slightly, or at least he isn’t frowning nearly as much, as he takes the seat next to Meg without another word.

He lifts a hand and hovers it for a moment over Meg’s leg as though debating whether to place his hand there, before deciding to lower his hand to rest on the top of her thigh, gripping it hard with a reassuring squeeze, leaving it there as he looks around the waiting room.

His touch sends shivers through Meg as she looks down at his massive hand encompassing her thigh as he starts moving his pointer finger slowly in a comforting way that makes her heart flutter and melt.  With a soft inhale, she grabs his hand and moves her thumb across his fingers gently. 

They both look up and meet each other’s gaze at the same time, and Evan smiles at her before giving her leg another squeeze.

“I never spent time in any hospital in my time, but this is so…different,” he speaks up, looking from all the chairs in the room to the tables with magazines scattered around them before landing on a small tv in the corner of the room playing an early morning cartoon that she immediately recognizes as being Spongebob Squarepants. 

She almost says something about the cartoon before she looks up and sees the look on Evan’s face which is unlike anything she has ever seen on him.  His mouth hangs open just slightly as a scowl takes over his entire face, watching this silly dancing sponge.  Meg stifles a laugh as she watches Evan watch a cartoon for a few minutes before he finally speaks up.

“What…what is that?”

“It’s a TV.”

“And what is it doing?”

“Well, it plays shows,” Meg says, still smiling.  “For instance, this is a cartoon that came out when I was about fourteen.  TVs have lots of shows, sometimes with real people, other times it is animated like this.”

“But how does it work?” Evan asks, straining his head to look around the TV from where they’re seated. 

“Well, that’s something we both should find out because I have no idea,” Meg finishes with a shrug. 

Evan’s frown deepens, creating deep lines in his face at the kid’s show, a weird juxtaposition to how he should look watching anything, but it only makes Meg laugh. 

“You know, when I used to spend the night’s at the hospital, it seemed like they were always playing cartoons.  Maybe there’s something about them that calms people, puts them into a different headspace,” Meg says, still watching how Evan’s face changes as the scenes go by on the show.  When she begins to talk though, his attention shifts towards her as his eyes finally peel away from the yellow sponge. 

“Your mother?” He asks, quirking an eyebrow up at her.

Meg nods, feeling oddly comforted by the fact that he remembered that she took care of her mom even if he was drinking when she confided that in him.  He remembers more of that night than Meg gave him credit for.

“I once missed a whole week at school because she was in the hospital.  It was purely my choice, after all.  She kept yelling at me to go saying that she would be fine, but I couldn’t leave her.  I really couldn’t forgive myself if she…if something happened and I wasn’t beside her all so I could go learn about algebra and ancient Egypt,” Meg sighs, giving Evan’s hand another squeeze, grounding her to where she is now.  With her free hand, she scratches at her cheek, trying to blink back tears thinking about her mom.  “I never thought I’d be in another hospital again, or rather a working real life hospital.  At least, somewhere that wasn’t Lery’s.”

“That place was abysmal, wasn’t it?” Evan mutters after a few seconds, still looking around the room slowly as though processing everything around him.

Meg smiles and nods.  “It was truly the worst.  I guess compared to there, this hospital isn’t too bad.”

Evan grips her hand once more in acknowledgment to her statement.

The two sit in silence for a bit with both the TV and the quiet bickering of Ace and Sheila in the background to fill their thoughts.

“Don’t make me call security, sir.”

“Come on, do I look like a bad guy? I just want to know what’s going on.”

“Mr. Visconti, I have given you all the information I have right now.  When there is more, you will know.”

“You see, I’m a gambling man, and I know when people are lying.  Sheila, my babushka, just one update.”

“I bet she will be okay,” Evan says quietly, making Meg jump just a little bit at the sound of his voice breaking her concentration as she listened to the two bickering. 

Meg’s brows knit tightly together as she takes in a deep breath.  “I know, I’m just worried.  What if Jeffrey or Jed did something more than we know to her? What if they did it to anyone else?”

As if on cue, David, Dwight, and Feng all come through the front sliding glass doors and into the waiting room, completely ignoring Sheila and Ace as they walk over to Meg.  Although Sheila’s attention is mostly taken up by Ace, Meg notices how she shoots them a stern look before going back to trying to work.

Evan’s huge hand gives Meg’s thigh another soft squeeze, and her immediate response is to let go of his hand, let him take his own hand back, pretend like they weren’t just holding hands in a waiting room, but she does none of that.  Instead she pretends like it is a normal thing to do, right? Friends comforting friends.

But even the word friends doesn’t sound right to Meg anymore. Not after last night, and most definitely not after this morning…

And right now, she doesn’t want to let go.

When her friends get closer, she notices how David glances down at Meg’s and Evan’s hands resting on her thigh, and she can practically see the gears turning in his brain debating whether to say something, or talk about the more pressing matter at hand.  Meg sighs with relief when Dwight decides to speak first.

“Any updates? How is she?” Dwight asks, plopping in the seat to the other side of Meg, followed by David, and Feng taking seats across from them.  Feng doesn’t look anywhere else but Evan, slowly eyeing him up and down with a disgusted look on her face.

“I don’t know,” Meg says, ignoring the way Feng looks at the two of them, “Ace has been badgering that poor receptionist the whole time we’ve been here, but still nothing.”

“Well, s’ppose no news is good news,” David says, leaning back in the chair.

“That’s what I said! I’m hoping that she’s okay, but look…” Meg says before she turns to face Dwight and Feng, “is there anything that you guys should at least think about? I mean, I don’t want anything to happen to you, and if there’s a chance that something could be wrong, we are at the hospital…”

Dwight and Feng both look away from everyone, with Feng rubbing her arm and Dwight looking at a small square on the floor, and before too long, Meg speaks up again.  “You don’t have to talk, not right now, I just…I want to make sure you guys are okay.  We thought Kate was fine and then-”

“I’m fine, and I’ll talk about what happened, but I don’t want him here,” Feng says, finally looking up and directing all of her attention towards Evan.  He squeezes Meg’s hand, but this time it doesn’t feel tender and caring; this time it is out of shock, maybe a bit of annoyance, but when Meg looks at him, his face remains as passive as ever.

“Feng-” Meg starts before she’s interrupted.

“No, Meg,” she spits out, the disgust from earlier coming through clear in her voice as she leans forward and continues, “You seem to have everyone else here fooled, and I don’t care that you’re sleeping with him, but this is insane that any of you trust him! Our friend could be dying because of a killer and there’s one sitting right here with us too.”

“I’m not…what?” Meg can’t even find the words to reply to her accusation and sudden mood change from before.

“Feng, stop,” David warns.

“No! Look, we didn’t have much time and I didn’t have the energy last night but now…now we can really talk about this,” she says, crossing her arms across her chest. 

“It’s fine,” Evan spits out like a bad taste on his tongue before clearing his throat and giving Meg’s hand another squeeze so tight, she feels her pulse in her hand but she doesn’t let go.  Instead she tightens her grip to match his as she looks at Feng.

“I don’t know what you’re insinuating-“

“You know exactly what I’m talking about.  You’re not dumb, and I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting otherwise, but I am offended that none of you will listen to me when there is a clear killer sitting around us,” Feng hisses, lowering her voice just enough to no one will hear them, but the venom in her words was louder than anything. 

Meg’s nose flares as anger brews deep in her chest at Feng’s words…if she had any idea, any idea at all at what Meg and Evan have been through, she wouldn’t be saying this. 

“I’ll let you talk, I’ll go outside for a little bit,” Evan says pulling his hand from Meg’s as he stands up.  “Come and get me when you’re done,” he says looking directly at Meg with a nod before turning and walking towards the automatic doors leading outside.

“Are you serious right now?” Meg hisses as soon as Evan is out of earshot.  “He has been there every step of the way protecting us, helping us, and here you are completely attacking him!”

“Every step of the way huh? Have you completely forgotten the however many years you were stuck with him when he was doing anything but helping?”

“Because he was forced into it!” Meg yells, a little bit too loud.  She sees Sheila look away from Ace, looking even more annoyed that not only does she have to deal with Ace talking her ear off wanting updates, but now there’s an argument happening in her lobby.  Meg sends her an apologetic look before looking back at Feng.

“But what got him there to begin with, huh? We all thought the killers had to have done something to deserve it, so what is it, Meg? You must know by now since, as you said, you know him so well.”

Meg hesitates, tears brimming her eyes as she looks between her friends looking for some support, but she knows that question is something that all of them would want to know;  There’s no doubt about that as she looks between David and Dwight, both leaning in just a little bit more, faces alight with curiosity.  They aren’t going to help her now, or interrupt this, and she can’t blame them.  She wanted to know this just the same.

“That’s not my story to tell,” Meg eventually settles on because of a couple reasons, first she doesn’t have to tell them right away, and second, it really isn’t.  Evan didn’t even tell her, she heard from that creepy security guard.  She hasn’t even talked about it with him since, and as much as she wants to know the reasons behind it, she knows there has to be an explanation, there has to be something…

“Oh bullshit it isn’t your story to tell,” Feng rolls her eyes and sighs changing the subject back to her original point.  “You know he can be in on this.  He could have ways to contact them and we are just going to let that happen? This could have been his plan all along, and it backfired when you guys got there and somehow escaped the Clown and Ghostface.”

“He killed the Clown.  He is on our side,” Meg fights back.

“And you don’t think that could be a cover? The Clown and Ghostface made it pretty clear that they want to go back, they want to be in that Hell hole, and what if he’s with them? What if killing them takes them back there?”

“I-“ Meg is speechless at the accusations, not only because she wants to defend Evan, but she is suddenly making a lot of sense in ways that Meg never even thought of.  “No, that’s impossible.”

“Is it though? Is it so impossible to believe that someone who spent decades killing would want to go back?” her voice raises slightly.  “None of us know how we got there, and maybe that’s what they’re trying to figure out, or maybe they figured it out already.”

“Feng,” Dwight starts by saying, leaning on one of the armrests of his chair before looking directly at the angry girl, “While I don’t disagree with a lot about what you’re saying, this is Meg.  Come on, we know she has more common sense than just to lead all of us to our deaths.”

“I’ve spent the last day with the two of them, and as much as I still don’t like the bastard, he’s as hopeless out here as ya could get.  I reckon he wouldn’t even know how to contact them,” David chimes in.

“Exactly,” Meg begins, grateful that Dwight and David chimed in finally, “after everything Evan has done, do you really think he would just be doing this to get back at us? And for what? Surviving as best as we could during those trials?” she continues, looking at each of her friends for confirmation.  David and Dwight seem to nod just a little bit, but Feng stays solemn.

“He may be struggling, but he’s not dumb, that much is obvious,” Feng says, her voice straining from trying to keep it low and collected,  “and you’re pretty headstrong.  If he thought you had your mind set on this, do you think he could have just played with it until he knew you would trust him because he fought enough and made you believe that you ‘convinced’ him?”

“I don’t believe that,” Meg argues, frowning.  “You don’t have to trust him but I do.”

“The dick really that good?” Feng hisses while rolling her eyes and leaning back in her chair.

Meg’s mouth falls open, as does Dwight’s beside her, and David’s eyebrows shoot up his forehead all in shock at Feng’s vulgar statement.

Meg can’t even come up with a good response other than to stand up, feeling like all the emotions that come from Feng came to a head and forced her to stand, she can’t sit in front of her any longer.

“That was uncalled for…” Dwight whispers, knowing she went too far.

“It’s obvious, isn’t it? There’s something there, and I found Meg in his room this morning.  At least I can think clearly.  You know I was never in the tight-knit group you guys are in, blinded by your so-called close friendship,” she yells gesturing at David and Dwight.

“We are all a family,” Meg tries to offer but it is met with Feng rolling her eyes.

“Oh yeah, feed me the family line again.  Look, we were all stuck in a situation we couldn’t control, but even in there it was obvious you guys were all close, and I wasn’t included in that, which is fine, but don’t pretend like all of our friendships were equal.”

No one says anything, not fighting it.

“You guys are blinded by your loyalty to her, and then she’s blinded by whatever The Trapper has done to her, but I can see this clearly, and this is wrong.  Everything about this is wrong.”

Meg doesn’t have anything to say to Feng in this moment, so she simply turns and walks away needing a moment to herself without her friends’ judgmental faces staring back at her.

David and Dwight weren’t as bad, but there was still that seed of doubt that Meg could see in their eyes, they are just a lot more tactful than Feng.

Thinking back, Feng was always more of a lone wolf, yes, but Meg never thought less of her than her other friends.  She would sit with them around the campfire and help them search for items or offerings, laugh and cry with them, and it was true that she often liked her private time to herself, but Meg never thought that she felt like she was on the outside of their group.

She never thought Feng would be so absolutely horrible to her and Evan…but then again this situation is one that Meg never thought any of them would be in.

Things change, as they always do, and she just hopes that Feng isn’t right, although she made some good points that makes Meg’s skin crawl and stomach churn.

Once Meg is outside, she leans against the cool cement wall taking in deep breaths, trying to calm the pure anger that seemed to overtake her as Feng was talking.

By now it must be early morning, and the sun has fully come out, casting rays of orange light through fluffy white clouds.  Birds are chirping and it is quiet, the only sounds in Meg’s ears being the birds’ songs and the gentle sound of distant waves washing against the cliff on the other side of the parking lot.  They really couldn’t have chosen a prettier spot for a hospital.

Thinking about the picture she took the other day on her phone, she thinks this could be a good picture too, something to take her mind off of Feng and Kate.  Pulling her phone out of her pocket and clicking it on, she quickly snaps a picture of the ocean with a contented sigh.  Going to her pictures, the one she took on the ferry is the first to fill her screen, and only then does she notice there is a crack in the lower righthand corner.  Bringing the phone closer to her face to inspect the crack, her heart stops looking at the picture itself. 

No.

Pinching her fingers together and zooming into the lower corner she sees a man standing on the lower deck of the ferry staring right at her, a smirk plastered on his slimy face.

Jed Olsen was on the ferry with them…

He was following them the whole time…that can’t be possible, can it?

But she is convinced that this man in this photo is him, despite her only seeing him in the dark, but his lidded eyes are the same, his prickly beard and smirk, his messy brown hair…

That is him, there is no mistaking.

How long was he following them?

They really didn’t sneak up on the barns or Jeffrey Hawk; they knew they were coming.

Although Meg figured they really didn’t get much of a jump on them since Jed Olsen left them a note practically begging them to come, she had no idea that he was following them the whole time, keeping tabs on them, even after he took Claudette. 

Was Evan really working with them?

No…

No she can’t let herself think that, but Feng made some good points in there…

What if he knew that Jed was following them all along?

No.

Clicking off her phone, she tosses it to the side and buries her head in her hands, massaging her temples slowly, trying to focus on the calming sounds of nature around her instead of the whirling thoughts in her brain. 

She knows Feng is wrong, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about…right?

Meg takes in a shaky breath, barely able to control the way her chest grips and keeps her from breathing as she thinks about what she does know.

Evan has been with her the whole time, or really, practically the whole time.

She saw how his mood changes when faced with anything remotely modern: grocery stores, phones, cars, the prices of cheese, for goodness sakes.

Anyone who would want be trying to trick her wouldn’t save her, multiple times, or touch her like she will disappear if they let go, or fall asleep curled up next to each other…

“Are you okay?” Evan’s voice comes from out of the blue beside her as she snaps her head up seeing him come around the corner.

Meg quickly wipes brewing tears from her eyes as she nods and looks forward back at the water, not sure if she wants to look at Evan right now.

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine,” she says, her voice octaves higher than normal, it sounds weird even to her.

“Is your friend okay?” He asks, coming closer.  Meg doesn’t quite know which friend he is referring to, whether it is Kate’s health, or if it is Feng absolutely yelling at them before he left.

“I don’t know,” she settles on saying, figuring that it answers both questions. “But look, Evan, can I ask you something?”

“Of course,” he replies, taking a seat next to Meg on the cement, leaning against the warm building.

“This is going to sound…ridiculous, I know, but-“

“But you need to ask,” Evan interrupts, finishing her sentence.  “You know you can ask me anything by now.”

Meg turns her head, finally looking at him, his profile, as he stares forward towards the water and an overwhelming urge to grab his hand comes over her, missing how it feels in her grasp.  As if reading her mind, he turns towards her and finds her hand, grabbing it within his while giving it a small squeeze. 

Suddenly, Meg feels silly to even be asking this, to be doubting everything that has happened between them all because Feng can’t see past what he was, which Meg understands.  She doesn’t blame her one bit.

Hell, even a week ago Meg felt the same way.  She yelled, insulted, accused, and all around distrusted Evan from the very start, and how can she explain to Feng every little thing that has happened between them in the time they have spent together?

She can’t.

“You’re blinded by him…”

Meg frowns, swallowing a growing lump in her throat, hoping that Feng isn’t right about that. She’s still thinking clearly, she has to be.

“You…” she starts before clearing her throat again and letting out a quiet laugh.  “You’re not working with Jed are you?”

“You think that I am working with him?” Evan asks, his voice strangely clipped and forced like he is offended Meg would suggest such a thing.

“No! No, I mean...” Meg trails off, immediately regretting bringing it up and wanting to smack herself for being so damn sensitive to think otherwise.  “Feng just made some interesting points and I defended you but Evan…I just need to hear you say it.  Please?”

Evan hesitates just for a moment as he takes his hand back and turns his head back to the water.  That gesture alone is enough to make Meg’s heart sink. 

“I will say it, I am not working with him.  But why would you think I would be working with him now? I have tried to prove to you time and time again that I am on your side, Meg.  Why would I do anything to put you in danger?”

A stab to the stomach is all Meg feels as she listens to the strained way Evan says her name, and her hand twitches with the emptiness it feels. 

“Just…you knew who Jed Olsen was, and you kept it from us until it was too late.  Even if the name was familiar…you looked me in the eye and you lied about never hearing the name, and now Kate’s…”

There’s a pause, Meg unable to finish the sentence as her words hang and turn sour in the air between them.

“You know that’s unfair,” Evan says, his voice unusually stern.  “I didn’t recall his name because in the years I knew him, or tried to avoid him, I only ever heard Danny Johnson.  But even if I had known his name, all I have done is try to protect you, keep you away from harm, away from this!”

“Why? I don’t need your protection…I can do just fine…”  But she knows that’s a lie.  Without him, she would be dead by now, and she knows that.  Her voice cracks as she yells at him, both of them aware of just how wrong she is, but Evan doesn’t correct her.  He listens, a soundboard for her to take her frustrations out on, but as she takes a breath, she realizes herself just how unfair she is being.  “I’m sorry, I just…Kate could be dying and I…”

“I know,” Evan whispers.  “I know.”  He holds out a hand to her once more, a peace offering.

“No, Evan, I’m sorry.  That was unfair, you’re right,” she apologizes, placing a hand in his as he immediately pulls her closer to him, wrapping his other arm around her. He runs his fingers through her hair gently soothing her worries away with his touch as she wraps her arm around him, pulling him just as close to her as he keeps her. 

Meg closes her eyes and inhales deep in his shirt, letting his scent fill her senses as her eyes begin to well with tears, burning at the anger, embarrassment, everything she felt right then. 

“I know you’re not with them,” she mumbles, “and after years of only trusting a handful of people, I’m just terrified I’ve come to rely on someone who…”

She doesn’t say it, not this time.

The words so close to spilling out of her mouth, “someone who killed me for years” but what good would that do now?

They both are aware of their situation, and she has reminded him time and time again of his mistakes, she doesn’t want to bring it up again, can’t bring it up again, for either of their sake’s.

“I’m not perfect, Meg.  I’m not even good,” he begins to say, running a hand through her hair as he pulls away to look at her, “But trust me when I say that you have become my priority.”

Evan’s word sends shivers through Meg’s whole body as she stares up at him.

“But why?”

Evan doesn’t say anything as his eyes roam her face, finally landing on her lips then making their way back up to her meet her eyes.  As always, his green eyes with the gold specks in them meet hers and she becomes frozen, her stomach flipping and her pulse racing. 

“You didn’t deserve the treatment you got from the Entity, and as frustrating and infuriating as you can be at times, I wish I never had to inflict such pain and torture upon you,” his voice breaks so subtly, Meg almost misses it before he clears his throat and continues.  “I would gladly take it back if I were able.  I am truly sorry it had to be the way it was.”

Meg’s heart skips a beat, not truly accepting what he is saying right now, with everything.

She knows he apologized to the whole group yesterday, but this, this is more personal than Meg could have ever imagined.

“I have years to make up for, and I plan to try to make up as many as I can.”

Before Meg can respond, they are interrupted once more by the hospital doors opening and David coming outside, looking in both directions before seeing Meg and Evan sitting against the hospital wall. 

“Oi, they’re letting us see Kate,” he says, waving at them impatiently to follow him inside.

“Really? How is she?” Meg’s heart leaps in her throat.  Evan stands up first, and helps Meg up effortlessly.  Neither of them let go of each other’s hand as they walk back inside the hospital with David.

“She’s resting now,” David responds.  “Dunno what happened though, I just said I’d come find you two.”

Following David’s lead, they make their way through the waiting room and then down a few hallways before running into Dwight standing outside of a small room.

“Have you been inside to see her? How is she?” Meg asks Dwight as they get closer.

“Haven’t been inside yet.  Ace won’t leave her side, and it felt weird to go in alone,” he answers.

“Well how ‘bout you two go in first? Dwight and I can wait,” David interjects, wrapping an arm around Dwight’s back and pulling him closer to him.  Meg’s eyes flick down between David’s arm and the way Dwight’s face turns a slight shade of pink, and as she looks back up, David is already looking at her, his eyes narrowed.

As much as she wants to say something, she decides against it, and instead, she smiles.

“Sounds good.  But hey, have you guys seen Feng?”

Both men shake their heads.

“She said she was going for a walk after you left.  She’s around here somewhere, you know she’ll come back when she stops throwing her tantrum,” David says, rolling his eyes.  Something about Feng being alone doesn’t sit right with Meg, and even after everything she said, it would be nice to at least talk civilly, but that can wait until after they see Kate. 

Meg hums in agreement, and with one last look at Evan, they enter the room with a soft knock.  The first thing she notices when she enters the room is Kate hooked up to a bunch of different wires, all hooked up to machines making various monotonous noises around the room, filling Meg’s head with images of her own mother laying in the hospital.

Sleeping.

Barely alive.

Not breathing.

Evan’s hand on hers brings her back to reality at what she’s seeing.  It’s not her mom, it’s Kate, and Ace is beside her, his brows furrowed together in a worried expression she has only seen on him a handful of times before.

Ace was always the happy-go-lucky survivor, never down, never letting anything get in his way, and so seeing him like this, worried with a frown on his face is so much different than she has ever seen him.

Quickly taking a glance around the room, something catches Meg’s eye that makes her chuckle quietly to herself despite the worried aura around the room.

“Kate Visconti?” Meg speaks up, staring at a whiteboard on the right wall with Kate’s, her nurse’s, and doctor’s names all written on it in black marker.

“What?” Ace looks up at her, his face splitting in two with a smirk, “It was the only way for them to give me any updates.  If I said I was her husband, of course they wouldn’t keep me in the dark.”

“How did they know your name?”

As if Ace was expecting that question, he reaches into his jacket and flicks a small plastic ID from his pocket.

“You…you still have your ID on you?”

“Well obviously.  I carried it with me wherever I went, so naturally when I woke up in the fog it was tucked in my lil back pocket right where it always was.”

Meg walks to a chair on the other side of the bed facing Ace as she raises an eyebrow at him.

“Couldn’t have said you were her dad or anything?”

“Hey,” he takes a hand and puts it to his chest, “I’m not that old.  Plus we would make a hot married couple, don’t you think? The handsome older gentleman with his beautiful country singer wife beside him.”

It is then that Meg finally notices how his other hand still rests mere centimeters from hers on the bed, his pinky just barely touching hers on the pale white sheets.

Meg just rolls her eyes at him and looks at Evan who stands in the corner, looking more ominous than anything, but that has become pretty common for him anyway.

With a smile at both Ace’s comment and Evan, Meg turns back to the older man and looks down at Kate before speaking. 

“So what did they say was wrong? Do they know?”

Ace shifts in his chair and the hand that was on the bed clenches into a fist.

“Apparently in the mixtures the Clown made her drink, he mixed it with antifreeze.  He was really planning on killing us slowly, and the fucker was almost so clever about it.”

“What do you mean?”

“The doc said symptoms of drinking antifreeze can take awhile to set in so, naturally, she wouldn’t have gotten sick right away, and I can only imagine…” he trails off and clears his throat before looking up at Meg, and then surprisingly, Ace looks up at Evan as he finishes his sentence.   “I don’t know what would have happened if all of you didn’t show up when you did.”

“You can thank Meg for that,” Evan replies, a hint of admiration clear in his voice as Meg looks up at him to find him already looking down at her.

She can feel her cheeks begin to burn but before she can deflect the compliment, Ace speaks up.

“Yeah, yeah, I know how our girl can be, but still, we owe you one, big guy.  Or I guess, maybe we are even now.  I haven’t made my mind up yet, but I like the odds that you’re on our side.”

The three of them sit in a comfortable silence listening to the quiet beeping of the machines around Kate until Meg speaks up, one last question on her mind.

“So, do they know when she will be okay to leave?”

Ace takes in a deep breath and sighs before answering.

“They said they wanted to keep her here overnight at least, monitor things, do doctor things, you know? Tomorrow at the earliest, but they said it could be a few days.”

Meg hums, the information not quite being what she wants to hear, but she doesn’t know what else to say in that moment either as she stares at Kate in the hospital bed, looking more haggard and pale here than she ever did in the Entity’s realm, if that were even possible.

Frowning, Meg thinks about all the times they’ve been sick, had fingers cut off, been stabbed, shot, mauled, and she always thought they had seen all of them at their worst and yet...

This almost seems worse.  With all the medicine and technology at their fingertips now, Kate is left looking pale and closer to death than ever as her hair hangs around her face, clinging to her forehead and neck damp with sweat. 

If anything happens to her…

With a deep breath, Meg stands up abruptly, the room spinning around her as she grabs Evan for balance.

She just wants to get out of the room.

“You good, kid?” Ace asks, looking up at Meg.

She clears her throat as she looks at Kate, “Yeah.  Yeah I’m fine, I just need some air, I think.”

“Well, not that I’m tryin’ to push you away, but maybe you need some rest.  I was thinkin’ maybe we could stay here another night.”

“At the hotel?” Meg asks, not quite opposed to the idea, but instantly thinking about the limited money they have.

“I put it under my card, if it went through the first night, it should be fine tonight.”

“Your card? Ace, you do not have a credit card on you too…” Meg asks in disbelief.  Thinking back to her decent into the Entity’s realm, she knows at first that she had her ID, cell phone, and wallet on her, but along the way it must have gotten lost.  There was no way she could ever keep track of it, and one day it was just gone, she simply figured it was lost to the Entity’s realm, and it wasn’t like she would ever need any of it again. 

“Guess they never canceled my bank account,” Ace says with a shrug, “Things tend to go my way, if I do say so myself.”  He ends his statement with a wink and a finger gun towards Meg.

“Do you really think that’s smart? What if they track it? You have been missing for years, ya know.”

With a flap of Ace’s hand he shakes his head.  “Nah, that’s a problem for future Ace.  Right now though…” he looks back at Kate and leans back in his chair.  “David and Dwight already said they didn’t care if we stayed another night.  Said I’d ask you two, after all.”

Meg looks up at Evan for any sort of opinion one way or the other, but instead he simply raises an eyebrow as if saying that it is up to her. 

“I suppose that wouldn’t be bad.  It would be  nice to get some real rest tonight and hope for the best tomorrow when it comes to Kate.”

“Can’t say I disagree.  I’ll stay here as long as they let me, so I can send updates if you kids wanted to go back to the hotel for a bit.”

“Okay, well, take this at least,” Meg says, reaching into their bag and fishing around for the extra cell phone she got for Evan, which now seems pointless since he never seems to leave her side, even for a moment. 

With a quick glance, she sees there is still battery left as she hands it to Ace. 

“Keep us updated, and seriously, if anything happens, let us know.  I put the other phone numbers in there, Nea should still have the other phone,” Meg says, closing the bag.  Evan takes it from her without a word, and she lets him as she leans against him slightly as the pain in her hips starts to grow with standing. 

“Can do, buckaroo,” Ace says, leaning back in his chair once more before focusing his attention back to Kate.  With a small nod Meg and Evan begin to walk out of the room, but with one last glance back, Meg sees the small grin on Ace’s face fade as he leans forward, grabbing Kate’s hand in his, looking more serious than she’s ever seen him.

Before she can think too much about the sudden interest in Kate that Ace is showing, Evan breaks her from her thoughts.

“Are you okay?” He asks as soon as they’re outside of the room.  David and Dwight are no where to be seen so Meg leans against the hallway door outside and closes her eyes.

“Yeah.  I’m sorry, I just…I needed to get out of there.  You’d think after years of watching her die that it wouldn’t hurt this bad or be this stressful…”

“Well, I would suggest perhaps going back to the hotel for a bit like your friend said, but I also know how you might want to be with your friends here for a bit, so it’s up to you,” Evan suggests as he puts his hand on the small of Meg’s back, gently guiding her forward as she looks up at him.

“Going back to the hotel sounds nice, but we should find David and Dwight, let them know we’re leaving first, right?”

Evan agrees, still resting his hand on her back as they walk, making their way back to the seating area.  While they walk, Meg thinks about what she really wants to do in that moment, and if leaving the hospital is the right thing to do.

Yes, she wants to stay with her friends, with Kate, make sure she’s okay, but…

Nea and Claudette are still at the hotel too.  They can go update them, and it would be nice to get out of the hospital for a little bit.  She’s still so tired.

And her stomach growls.  Food would be nice too.

As they turn the corner to the waiting room, Dwight and David sit side-by-side, looking slightly more disheveled than they looked before when Meg saw them outside of Kate’s room.  Dwight’s hair, as messy as it always is, looks even more messed up, and as she squints her eyes, she sees that his shirt buttons are off by one, making his shirt hang from his torso at a strange angle.

David on the other hand, leans back in the chair with an arm raised and resting over his face as he leans back with a goofy-looking smirk on his face, as his other hand rests on Dwight’s thigh.

Dwight leans against the bigger man, eyes closed and face slightly red, and it was as if Meg and Evan had the same thought at the same time as they both stopped and looked at each other, eyebrows raised.

A smile splits across Meg’s face as she widens her eyes at Evan before looking back at her friends, then back at the man beside her, trying to silently communicate.  She doesn’t think she has seen Evan’s eyebrows as far up on his head as she sees now, and that alone is enough to make her laugh.

At the sound of her laugh, both Dwight and David startle awake and look at the pair standing in the room with them. 

“You two look comfy,” Meg says, looking between the two men.

“Can’t a guy take a nap in peace?” David growls as Dwight stays quiet, his face turning even more red.

“Well I was just coming to say that we are going back to the hotel if you two want to come,” Meg says trying to contain her smile at them looking flustered. 

The two men exchange a quick glance and shake their heads almost in unison. 

“Nah, we’ll stay here for a bit.  Keep an eye on things, ya know?” David mumbles, still not making eye contact with them.

“Yeah, because that’s exactly what it looked like you two were doing.”

“What else would we be doing?” Dwight asks, raising up an arm and scratching the back of his head as he looks away. 

“That really is the question isn’t it?” Meg teases and earns a soft chuckle from Evan beside her.  “Ace has a phone in case you guys need anything.  Try not to get into too much trouble.”

“Yeah, yeah, we’ll see you later.”

Meg and Evan begin to walk away but Meg stops and turns around wanting to ask one last time about Feng.

“You two haven’t seen Feng at all yet, have you?”

“Nope.”

“Hm, okay,” Meg hesitated, “Well can you just send a text when you see her? Just to know that she’s not lost somewhere.”

David nods as he leans back in his chair, resuming the position he was in before they interrupted him.  Taking in a deep breath, Meg looks up at Evan and nods. 

As if reading her mind, they begin walking towards the exit, ready to get back to the hotel.  With the relief that Kate is stable for now, Meg feels like she can actually breathe and not be so goddamn worried. 

And Meg can’t even begin to express how grateful she is for Evan and to have him there with her, being that calming presence even when she knows she doesn’t deserve it, like earlier.  It was ridiculous to doubt him, she knows that now, and she just hopes that maybe she can prove to Feng that they’re all on the same side.

They’ll be okay.

“I don’t appreciate your friend calling me, kid,” Evan speaks up randomly as they walk.

“Ace?” A quiet laugh escapes Meg’s lips before she can control it as she shakes her head. “He calls everyone kid, even people older than him.  But he might actually be older than you, or at least spent more time here on Earth than you.  How old are you anyways?”

“Thirty-five, give or take a hundred years or so.”

“Oh, tough luck.  Like it or not, he is older than you now,” Meg says with a smile before adding, “Kid.”

“You’re hardly one to talk,” Evan says as one corner of his lips pull into a genuine smile. 

“Hey, it just means both of us are young.  We could be middle-aged with greying hair and a gambling addiction like Ace, but yet here we are, the picture of youth.”

Evan lets out a snort and shakes his head not saying anything more as they make their way back outside.

But as the pair begin to walk out of the waiting room, an ice cold shiver runs up Meg’s spine, making her feel like she was dunked into a bucket of cold water, freezing her to the spot.  Evan continues to take a few steps forward before he notices that she stopped, and as he turns around, his whole demeanor changes as he looks at something behind Meg.

The way his face hardens like stone and the way his posture straightens does nothing to ease the very unsettling tingling that shocks its way through Meg’s body from her head to her toes. 

“Meg,” Evan growls, still staring at whatever or whoever is behind her.  “Get behind me.”

In that moment, Meg closes her eyes, just for a second, but that second seems to last an eternity and the only thing she hears is her own heartbeat.  Every single nerve in her body screams at her to turn around, listen to Evan, but she doesn’t want to know what’s behind her, and in this quiet second, she can be comforted with the ignorance of what could possibly follow.

She hears her heartbeat once, twice, and then a laugh.

It is quiet and less distorted, but she would know that laugh anywhere.

Turning around slowly, she sees a man just as tall and muscular as Evan standing at the other end of the hallway dressed in a nice white dress shirt, a purple waistcoat, and black slacks, and even without his usual apparatus pinned to his head, she immediately recognizes the looming man staring directly at her and Evan. 

Evan grabs Meg and steps so he’s in front of her like a shield as he speaks, his voice low, but the sheer fury behind his question is loud and clear.

“What are you doing here, Herman?”