“You want something, don’t you?” The little Fae girl bounced from foot to foot, staring at her intently.
Mal struggled, trying to find the words to express what she wanted. In that moment all she wanted was not to fail again, which meant she somehow needed to get one of these creatures to wear the tracking collar. There had been at least three opportunities prior to now where she could have tagged either the unicorn or the dryad, but the circumstances had been too risky. Even though in the back of her mind she knew that this wish was too good to be true, she couldn’t pass it up.
What do we ultimately get from the tracking device? She mused to herself as she removed the collar from her med kit.
“Knowledge,” she said out loud without thinking.
The tiny girl grinned and patted the unicorn’s flank. “Are you sure?” she said, putting emphasis on the last word.
“Umm…no…I mean…” Her thoughts were racing, trying to find some way to salvage the situation. She held out the collar with trembling hands, hoping to buy herself some more time.
“Ooh, is this a present?” Cicuta’s eyes lit up, and she held out her hand.
“Yes. It’s a present.” Mal dropped it in the girl’s palm and sighed in relief as she turned her attention to Josie.
Mal leaned her head against the window, watching the scenery go by without actually seeing it. The tension in the car was palpable, and she could tell by the way Eva was gripping the steering wheel that she wanted to go faster than the thirty-eight miles an hour they were currently traveling at. Driving at very fast speeds was Eva’s way of decompressing; however, getting arrested for reckless driving would be a foolproof way for both of them to get back on Carver’s radar. Still, Mal wished they would go faster, just so she could escape the pressure in the car.
She closed her eyes, trying to think of anything she had read about the Fae. Most of her supernatural research was focused on creatures that inhabited this world: vampires, shifters, mages. She knew that there were other planes of existence, though; she had even traveled to one or two. The problem was that she didn’t have a frame of reference in regards to the creatures that inhabited these realms…and that lack of knowledge was becoming a problem.
I could have had all the knowledge I wanted and then some, but at what cost? Maybe I should take some time and do some research. I can’t keep using ‘I didn’t know’ as an excuse…
The sudden jerk of Eva violently putting the car into park shook her out of her musings. Eva waited for her to get out first. They avoided each other’s eyes in the elevator, and Mal fumbled a little trying to swipe the key card that unlocked the door. Finally the light turned green, and she rushed inside. As soon as the door swung shut with a click, Eva rounded on her.
“ Dios Mio, Mal, what were you thinking? I said, esto no es tan malo, at least I didn’t have to save her from getting gutted by the damn unicorn, and then you go and…”
She was right, the thought of tagging the unicorn had crossed her mind, but that was before she watched it impale one of the security guards. “Eva…”
“You can’t trust anything that pequeña de mierda says, it always turns out bad.”
“Eva I know.” Now, she amended in her head.
“Knowledge, what the fuck does that even mean? She could have given you all the knowledge in the fucking world and driven you loca… ”
“I know!” Mal shouted back, just wanting Eva to stop saying all the things she had been thinking. Somehow hearing them out loud made it more real.
“Yeah, well, for someone who is so smart, sometimes you can be bien estupida.”
The silence was deafening, and they glared at each other for a moment before Mal’s shoulders slumped and she looked at the floor in shame.
Eva’s expression softened. “ Ay, Mami, come here.” She reached out and wrapped her arms around Mal. “You’re not stupid, you just…”
“No, I am stupid, about certain things. I’m glad you’re here to remind me of that.” She tightened the embrace briefly before stepping back so she could look her in the eyes. “Sometimes I think you’re the smartest out of all of us.”
Eva smirked. “Glad to know that someone appreciates my street smarts.”
“I always have. That’s why we work so well together. You remind me that that there is more going on than what’s in front of me. You make me want to live.” Eva had filled a void inside of her that she didn’t even realize had existed. Her world used to be black and white; everything was cold and clinical. Now, she was beginning to see things in color, and it made her want more. Slowly, her obsession with death was turning into an obsession to get more out of her life.
“So, does that mean you’re going to stop doing stupid shit that might get you killed?” Eva teased, and Mal was glad they had returned to their usual banter.
“Probably not,” she countered, leaning against Eva’s shoulder.
“ Chica, you’re going to be the death of me,” Eva huffed, pulling her closer.
“I certainly hope not. Although given the specific combination of the skills that Alex and I possess, reanimation is not off the table…”
Eva took a step back, eyeing her suspiciously. “Are you talking about turning me into a fucking zombie?”
“Nope. Not at all.” Mal leaned down to kiss her, hoping that would be enough to distract her. It was, apparently, because a few moments later she was being pulled down to the bed.
“Hey, what’s this?” Eva reached under her to pull out a now slightly-creased white envelope.
“Oh, that’s from Aaron.” She had hadn’t had time to look at the contents when he had given it to her; she had just tossed it on the bed on their way out the door. “Let me see it.”
“Can’t it wait?” Eva pouted, kissing her shoulder.
“Nope!” Mal’s curiosity always got the best of her, and it could not be denied. She plucked the envelope from Eva’s hands and opened it carefully. Her mouth fell open when she pulled out an official-looking document.
“What is it?” Eva asked over her shoulder.
“It’s a medical information release form. But why would…” She tipped the envelope over and three USB drives fell onto the comforter. She snatched them up and dashed over to her laptop, shaking with excitement.
She opened up the first file and stared at the screen for a moment. “Why would they run that particular panel? Ah, okay, the levels were elevated the previous month…but that doesn’t make sense…unless…”
Eva sighed, fishing her keys off the floor. “I’m going to get more beer,” she announced, but didn’t wait for a response because she knew she wouldn’t get one. “Screw you, Mathias. I swear to God, one day I’m going to find a way to cockblock you,” she muttered as she exited the elevator, and stalked out to her car.
She had just put the key in the ignition when she stopped, smiling to herself.
ASI had put them up in a decent enough hotel, the kind that came with a complimentary breakfast, elevators, and bathrooms that weren’t smaller than a closet. They also had normal curtains, the light-blocking kind that were usually reserved for establishments where you could rent a room by the hour.
From across the parking lot she could see her the outline of her girlfriend sitting at the desk situated directly in front of the window. If anyone cared to look closer, they would see a very naked woman, oblivious to the world, talking animatedly to herself.
Eva sighed. “Ay, chica, what am I going to do with you?” She locked the Trans Am and took the stairs this time, using her key card to open the door. She grabbed a robe out of the closet and wrapped it around Mal, kissing her cheek.
“Hey, thanks, babe.” Mal looked up and smiled at her before returning to staring at what looked like some sort of brain scan. “I won’t be too much longer, I promise.”
They both knew she was lying, but the fact that she said anything at all meant everything to Eva. Still, it was getting late, or early depending on how you look at it, and the exhaustion that came after a mission was starting to catch up with Eva. And she knew Mal—when she was hyper-focused on something, her brain wouldn’t shut off. It looked like Eva would need to take matters into her own hands.
Eva shut the curtains and took Mal’s med kit into the bathroom. She filled a styrofoam cup with water and sat it in the microwave, hitting the button for “Hot Water”. Toward the bottom of Mal’s kit, she found what she was looking for: a small bottle labeled Diazepam. She pulled the cup out of the microwave, crushed two of the pills, and swept the powder into the cup along with a packet of instant hot chocolate. Eva stirred the contents of the cup furiously, making sure the pills had completely dissolved. After placing the cup gently on the nightstand, she flopped down on the bed, turning on the TV. She resolved to watch one episode of Top Gear before putting Mal to bed. It wasn’t the method that she had wanted to use…but hey, her girl needed sleep.
The credits ran; Eva looked over at Mal, who was still typing furiously. She kissed the back of her head and put the glass down next to her. “You need to drink something,” she said insistently, and Mal took a sip without looking away from the screen. After about fifteen minutes she began to slump in the chair, and Eva shut her laptop, gathering her into her arms.
“I’m tired,” Mal murmured into her shoulder, and as soon as her body hit the bed she was out, breathing softly. Eva stroked her hair, watching the tension leave her face. It seemed like over the past few months things had been escalating and they were both starting to realize just how much they needed each other to survive it. There was no guarantee that any of them would make it through the next day alive.
Eva lay down by Mal’s side, stretching and sidling as close to her as she could. Mañana no nos esta prometido, asi que hacemos lo más que se pueda con hoy, she thought as she closed her eyes and rested her chin on Mal’s shoulder. Pena que hoy ya se nos fue.