Impromptu Extraction, Part 4 (Conclusion)
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Timeline: The Year of the Apocalypse - 15 January 2012
“I shot your father, Talia,” Jon said quietly. “But he won’t stay down. We’ll have a few hours before he’s conscious again.” He and Cecily joined them on the porch and Jon put his other arm familiarly around Talia to guide her back inside before she froze.
Cecily frowned a little, looking between Talia and Jon.
Talia nodded and sighed. “There’s a shower in my suite. I don’t think that we have time to sleep though.” She glanced at Jon, a worried look etched into her fine, pale features, then back to Xander as she continued, “He’ll send people after us for this. I think we should leave for the cabin as soon as possible.”
“Okay,” Jon said. “I suggest we leave your security here. Let him think you’re still here, if he comes looking. It would be odd to caravan up to the cabin with them behind us.”
“We could do other things besides sleep,” Xander said, kissing Talia again.
Cecily rolled her eyes and signed. They had no clothes, nothing of their stuff except what they were wearing.
“I’ll take care of that,” Jon said. “Go clean up. I’m going to check on Bethany.” Jon kissed Cecily’s forehead..
The blonde snuggled against him, but then separated to pull Xander away from Talia and homed in on the stairs up to her suite, despite never having been here before.
Talia went off to give instructions to the security force, after chuckling softly over Xander’s precocious nature. “I’ll join you shortly, but we really don’t have time for that either,” she said, shaking her red head.
Bethany was a few into it by the time that she started stitching herself up. She didn’t feel goofy or silly this time though. There was too much pain going on all at once. She grunted as she pushed the curved needle through her skin and pulled another stitch through, tying it off before going on to the next.
Jon knocked on the bathroom door. “Beth, you okay? You need some help?” he asked. “Better with another set of hands.” He knew stitching oneself wasn’t easy.
The teen brawler stopped, the latest stitch still hanging from her arm. She squeezed her eyes shut and said, her voice shaky with pain and grief, “I’m fine. I’m almost done. Besides, I have to get used to doing things on my own again, anyway.” Tears streaked down her face and she was glad that Jon couldn’t see that at the moment. “You...You should be with Cecily.”
“You won’t be on your own, Bethany,” Jon replied. “You’ll have the Tower. Better medical aid than anything you or I could do. Cecily’s getting cleaned up. You should try and get some rest while we organize things.”
“Yeah...the Tower,” Bethany said, shaking her head. She steadied herself on the sink as her head spun on her. She couldn’t tell him that she was seriously considering not going back to that place. She cared nothing for it, and she’d rather just be alone. “I’ll be fine,” she lied through her teeth. “Just let me know what needs to be done.”
Jon sighed. “Stop being so stubborn,” he muttered. “Keep drinking water, luv,” he told her. “And get something to eat.” It would help with the blood loss. He returned to the front room where he found Talia and the security men.
Talia turned to Jon when he entered. “They’ll be staying here for the next few days, keeping up appearances.” She dismissed the men and pulled out a bottle of water, handing it to Jon. “How long before she’s done bloodying up the bathroom? We don’t have a lot of time before we need to get on the road.”
“How far is this cabin?” Jon asked, drinking the water. “If you’re packed and ready, we can be done as soon as Xander and Cecily are cleaned up. Bethany is nearly ready.”
“Good. The cabin is two hours from here,” Talia said, cracking open her own bottle. She smiled at Jon and said, “Thank you for bringing them home. I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to get to them in time. Or even at all.”
Jon smiled. “Anything for you. You now that, luv.” He kissed Talia’s forehead. “I’ll go load the SUV. You have anything special you need to throw in there?” he asked, assuming she had luggage.
“We wait for stitches and showers to be done with,” Talia said with a shrug. “I’m packed and ready. I’m not so pretentious as to have to carry everything with me. Besides, I already have things there.” She paused for a moment, eyeing Jon curiously. “Didn’t you say that your friend has somewhere else to go? Why are we dragging her along with us? Why don’t we just send her on her way from here?”
“She’s the one that got them out,” Jon pointed out to Talia. “If your father does come around, we’ll be lucky to have her. I have some...friends. They will get us new lives and new identities,” he told Talia. “We can start over away from your father.”
Talia arched an eyebrow curiously. “She got them out?” she asked, then shook her head. “Fine. I’m no good in a fight, and I guess it’s not fair to ask you to shoulder that alone. Not at this point. As for new identities, I’m not sure that I can do that. R.A.R.E. still exists, even if the building is gone. And I’m rather more designed to stick out, not hide.”
“You might have to make a choice, luv,” Jon said. “Xander or R.A.R.E. Unless you think your father will drop this.”
“I don’t think that you understand,” Talia said, heaving a sigh as she moved to look into the flames that were merily flickering in large white marble fireplace. “R.A.R.E. was built for Xander, to counter everything that he hates about the antiquities trade. A tribute to his parents. He doesn’t even really understand all of that. I haven’t even had a chance to really tell him about it all. But no. I don’t think that father will drop it. I think, after today, he’ll likely want us all very dead.”
“Then you have to start over, somewhere else, where your father won’t find you,” Jon said, putting his hands on Talia’s shoulders. “I understand the gesture. Let Jacob run it. He seems competent. But you need to disappear, Talia. This has to all be the past now if you want a future with Xander.”
“Why does he get to win? Why couldn’t you have just killed him and ended this?” Talia said, her voice cracking as tears ran down her face. “He’ll never stop until he finds us. You know that, don’t you?”
Jon pulled Talia to him, caressing her red hair. “Because that’s not who I am anymore,”Jon said quietly, kissing the top of her head. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t stop him. If it comes to it, I will take him down and take him in -- and turn myself in to testify against him,” he promised her.
At that moment, Bethany walked into the room, her thick hair still wet, wearing a clean shirt. She hadn’t really had time to clean up her jacket very well, but she’d done the best she could. She sighed when she saw Jon and Talia, rolling her eyes. “What do I need to do?” the young woman asked, her voice devoid of any real emotion. “I’m assuming that we need to move out fairly quickly?”
Jon released Talia and nodded. “Pack up your things and gear. Then check on Xander and help him pack. I’ll help Talia and Cecily. I’d like to be gone in twenty.”
“Can’t Xander pack on his own?” Bethany muttered, not really wanting to spend any more time around the forward young noble than she absolutely had to. But she nodded. “I didn’t exactly unpack much, so I’m ready as soon as everyone else is.”
Jon nodded and smirked. “Xander is more of a girl than you are,” he told Bethany, teasing a bit. “It isn’t like they have much to pack,” he pointed out.
“So, he shouts and panics like a girl in stressful situations, and packs like one too?” the green-eyed girl asked, raising an eyebrow. Bethany shook her head. “Fine. If he really needs help, I’ll do it.”
Talia actually chuckled slightly at Bethany’s discomfort. At least it didn’t seem like she’d encourage his playful behavior. “He’s actually a little worse than I am in that area. Tell him that I’ll buy them new things later.”
Bethany just shook her head and walked out with a sigh.
Xander answered his door wearing only a pair of jeans. His eternally mussed hair was a bit damp from his shower, and his lean, muscled torso glistened slightly. He wasn’t as defined as Jon, but he was still an attractive male specimen.
“Hey, Wonder Woman,” Xander said, flashing Bethany a winsome smile. “No need to thank me for saving you from that bloke earlier,” he assured her.
“What is it with you and calling me stupid names? And don’t worry, I won’t,” Bethany said, rolling her green eyes. “I’m here to help you pack. Talia said that she’d buy you new things, so don’t try to pack the kitchen sink or anything. We need to move out. Sooner, rather than later.”
“Right,” Xander said. “And you were pretty amazing,” he told Bethany. “Never seen anything like that. I mean, you came out of nowhere! Like you were invisible or something.” He left the door open so she could enter, indicating the duffel bag on the bed. “Not too much to pack,” he agreed, pulling on a shirt and starting to throw some clothes into the bag. “Most of my stuff is back at the townhouse,” he said sadly.
Bethany entered, wincing a bit at the mention of her seeming invisible. “I’m just well trained,” she said, blowing the complement off with a shrug. She glanced at the duffel bag, then back to him. “Just throw what you can together and let’s move. I’m sorry that we didn’t get to the townhouse in time. If Jacob would have just told us where you were to begin with, we could have avoided all of that mess.”
“Everything’s turned out okay,” Xander said. “So don’t worry about it.” He finished tossing some clothes into the bag. “So what is your story?” he asked. “I mean, how did you become G.I. Jane?”
“Look, if these weird names are supposed to mean something, I really don’t know what it is,” Bethany said with a frustrated sigh. “If you have to know, I was raised on a separatist compound in Nevada and trained from the age of five to be a...” she paused, eyeing the young man for a moment, then continued, “soldier. Then Jon spent the better part of the last year training me with SAS techniques.”
“Damn. So you really are G.I. Jane,” Xander said. “Sounds like an exciting life.” He smiled at her and pulled on his shoes.
Bethany shook her head. “I suppose being beaten, shot, stabbed, and generally abused your whole life by a twisted, drunken preacher, who also just so happens to have been the man that fathered you, and his crackpot followers, might be considered exciting for some. I’d call it torture.”
Xander winced. “I...I’m sorry,” he apologized sincerely. He took Bethany’s hands and gazed into her green eyes. “I really am. I would never wish that on anyone.” He paused. “Wow, you have beautiful eyes.”
Bethany pulled her hands away quickly, stepped back sharply, and dropped automatically into a loose fighting stance. It took everything that she had not to hurt the young noble, her jaw clenching with the effort. “I told you that I don’t like being touched,” she nearly growled as she dropped the stance and turned away from him. “Jon and your sister were right. I’ve seriously hurt men over that before. I’m trying to be nice by warning you rather than breaking your fingers.”
Xander stepped back, holding his hands up. “Sorry!” he said. “Just trying to offer support. Sorry.” He looked chagrined and turned to pick up his bag.
“It’s not really your fault,” Bethany admitted with a sigh, her body shaking slightly from the surge of adrenaline. “I just...men have caused me a lot of physical harm, so my first reaction is to evade and counterattack. Jon is really the only man that has earned that trust. And even that took some time.” She glanced at Xander as he picked up his bag. “Ready?”
“I would never hurt you, Bethany,” Xander said sincerely. “And...I doubt I could.” He grinned. “You’d kick my ass. Yes, I’m ready, luv.”
By the time that Xander and Bethany made it downstairs, the others were gathered, bags in hand. She took up her own that she’d left in the hallway and nodded to Jon. “Quick enough?”
“Quick enough,” Jon replied with a smile. “Load up.” He headed out for the SUV.
NPC Xander Carlisle
NPC Bethany Davies