Chapter Twenty-Two: Charisa
I wake up with an arm around my waist again. Groaning, I turn to tell Tim to let go, but this time it is Kyle, his eyes still closed in peaceful sleep despite the cuts and bruises and burns across his face.
Sucking in my breath, I gingerly reach up and run my fingers across one of his cuts. He inhales slightly, but doesn’t stir.
Overcome with emotion, I lean forward and whisper, “I love you, Kyle.”
His mouth tilts upwards. “About time you say something.”
Gasping, I sit up, and then slug him in the shoulder. “You were awake the whole time?”
He pops one eye open and grins at me. “I have super senses. There’s a part of me that’s always awake.”
“So, you two lovebirds,” Tim calls from the other bed. “Ready to figure out a plan?”
Shoving the blanket between me and Mr. Cuddles-A-Lot, I lean forward, toward Tim. “So, what’s the plan?”
“I think that’s what we’re trying to figure out,” Kyle answers behind me, poking my back. “Here’s my contribution- after your dad catches up, we need to stop Jin. But we can’t go back to that bunker.”
Tim and I both nod. Then I reach back and swat away Kyle’s hand.
“It’s too dangerous,” Kyle adds. “But there’s got to be some other way to learn more about him and take him down.”
I bite my lip. “Well, what do we know about him?”
Tim stretches. “That he has a wacky assistant named Wanda.” He plops down on the bed upside down, still facing us.
And Kyle pokes me again. “And more knowledge about our superpowers than I feel comfortable with. Some of it he got from V.C.”
I grab Kyle’s hand from behind and hold it, but I don’t look away from Tim. “What?”
“Sorry,” he says. “I just have the strangest feeling that I don’t like V.C.- whoever he is.”
“But a completely natural reaction to V.C.,” Kyle adds, pulling away from me.
I slide off the bed and press my back to it so he can’t poke it anymore. “Anyway, we also know that he’s working for his mom and- oh! His sister is the famous Mulan Yin, or at least that’s what he claims…” I glance up at Kyle.
He taps his chin. “Hmm…”
Tim glances at the television in our room and lights up. Then he swings upwards, grabs the remote, and switches on the news.
Frowning, I cock my head at him. “What are you doing?”
“Catching up on my TV time.” He leans back. “I forgot the wonders of television.”
I frown deeper and point at him. “But we’re working on something.”
“He’s fine,” Kyle says, leaning over me to get a better view of the television. “The poor guy hasn’t watched TV for over a year; give him a break.”
I groan. Guys.
Then the TV anchorman says the word, “Cure,” and everyone’s watching the television.
“Sources indicate that the Cure has endured a temporary setback,” the anchorman adds. “However, scientists claim that it should be available in less than a month. Various governments are already reserving crates of vaccines for their countries.”
“This is bigger than we thought,” I whisper. “This is global.”
Kyle whistles. “You can sure miss a lot by being in an underground bunker for a week.”
Tim doesn’t tear his eyes off the TV. “You have no idea.”
“We really have to stop this,” I announce. “That ‘Cure’ may work- but it’s anomalies are too glaring. Kyle, what do you think we should do?”
“I don’t know,” Kyle answers dryly. “Let me just flip open my all-knowing phone and let it tell me.” He flips his phone open. “Huh, I have a message.”
“Well, play it,” I urge.
“I’m at the Yin Program!” someone yells in the phone. Someone very familiar. “I need help now!”
Then it sounds like the phone is dropped and in the background a woman tries to scream before being muffled and seems to be dragged away.
My jaw drops. “Who-”
“The Emily Rogers,” Kyle says before turning to me. “She actually called me.”
“Wait,” Tim says. “You have a girlfriend and you’re giving away your number?”
“She’s in trouble,” I breathe. “Again. At the Yin Program.”
Kyle jumps up out of bed. “Well, my all-knowing phone has spoken. We’re going to England.”
Using Kyle’s ‘all-knowing phone,’ I call my house.
“Hello?” Mother greets, her voice pained.
“It’s me, Charisa.”
Mother sighs. “Oh, good. How are you?”
“I’m fine. Tell Dad we’re in Nashville, Tennessee.”
A sob escapes her throat, nearly shutting down my heart. “Charisa, your father isn’t here. He’s been arrested.”
“What?!” I drop the phone.
Kyle dives for it before it hits the ground and puts it on speaker phone.
I stare at it. “But he’s a cop! H-how?”
“It was the new man from work. When your father wouldn’t let him in without a warrant, he said he would be back with much worse.” Mother releases a sob. “Apparently he had some reports of people seeing him release you and Hunter- enough to get him arrested. I don’t even know where he’s being held.”
Stumbling backwards, I sit on the bed. “But that- that’s all so wrong. How is this happening?”
Tim glances up.
Mother seems to break into tears on the other side. “I don’t know!”
I bite my lip. “I don’t know. Kyle, Tim, and I have a lead; we’re going to follow it. You, Courtney, and Mrs. Rivers stay low and stay safe. Keep trying to find Dad and don’t worry about us.”
“I’ll try,” Mother answers. “But you be careful. Don’t put yourself in any unnecessary danger.”
“I’ll be fine. I’ve got Tim, Kyle, and regenerating health. And I’ll call you as often as possible.”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. O’Dell,” Kyle says into the phone. “I will protect your daughter no matter what.”
“As will I,” Tim calls.
“You better.” Mother releases another sob. “Oh, what is the world coming too?”
I sigh. “I don’t know, but I intend to find out. Goodbye, Mother. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
I look away as Kyle hangs up.
He sighs. “This isn’t good. We’re on our own.” Then he stands up. “But our plan still stands. We get on a plane going to England and find Emily.”
“But we’re practically fugitives,” I say weakly. “And I don’t think we have enough money for plane tickets even on our credit card…”
Kyle raises an eyebrow.
“Oh.” I sigh, and have neither the energy nor the will to protest anything less than legal.
“Still, it’s too risky to use a public plane,” Kyle says. “We’ll need to stowaway on a private jet.”
“And where would we find one of those?”
Kyle removes a laptop from his back pack. “I know a nice website that posts all the expected international flights.”
“In the public domain?”
Kyle raises an eyebrow again.
I throw my hands into the air. “And we were making such progress too.”
“Let’s just hope they haven’t put any new defenses up.” He types away at his laptop. A few moments later, he sighs. “They did.”
“Here, let me see,” Tim offers, taking the laptop from Kyle. After a few moments of lazily typing away, he hands Kyle the laptop again. “You’re in.”
Kyle’s eyes widen. “How did you do that? Those defenses were too complicated even for me.”
Tim shrugs. “I’m clever.”
“Uh-huh.” Kyle starts scrolling through his laptop, though he keeps one eye on Tim, like he can’t believe there exists a creature more advanced than he.
I begin to pace- a bad habit from the bunker (that and biting my lip). I can’t seem to stop myself.
Finally, Kyle announces, “I found a nice small jet that will be going from DC. to England tomorrow. That’s the one for us.”
“Okay.” I keep pacing. “Should we make our way to DC. now then?”
“Of course not!” Kyle cries. “I rented this room for two nights, and I intend to get my money’s worth.”
“This is what happens when I make you actually use money,” I mumble.
He wags a finger at me. “You should remember this lesson.”
Tim smiles lazily at us. “You two certainly make an interesting couple.”
Kyle shrugs. “That happens when you date your crime fighting partner.”
“Not to mention save the world for him,” I add.
Tim turns to me. “You saved the world for him?” Tim asks.
I nod. “I stopped the Greene Takeover.”
The color drains from Tim’s face.
“What is it?” I ask. “Do you remember something?”
“No… Just that I don’t like green.”
Kyle tilts his head at him. “Unfortunate considering your eye color.”
I raise an eyebrow. “How long have you been without a mirror?”
Tim grins. “Well, I don’t remember what I look like, if that’s any answer.”
“We’ll have to fix that then.” Standing up, I drag Tim to the bathroom mirror.
Tim takes one glance at the mirror and laughs. “Not bad, if I do say so myself. Though, a bit shaggy.”
“I packed scissors. If you want…”
“Don’t do it, man,” Kyle warns.
Tim grins again. “Maybe later. I’ve only just discovered my appearance. I don’t want to change it already.”
Kyle nods. “Good choice.”
I glare at him.
He grins back.
“Well, I think I’ll go watch some more TV since there’s nothing else to so,” Tim says.
“And I’m going to surf the web,” Kyle add. “Maybe one of us will find some more information about the Yins or the Cure or both.”
“Well, you boys rot your minds then,” I answer. “I’m going to get some sunlight and fresh air.” Before either of them can stop me, I step onto the balcony.
Oh, it’s a beautiful day. I wonder how many beautiful days I missed in that horrid bunker…
Some things are better left unknown.
And some things aren’t- like where they’re keeping my dad. And how we can stop Jin. And what’s up with the Cure…
I take a deep breath of fresh air. Weather like this reminds me of when I used to believe that I’ll find the truth soon enough.
But days like this makes me doubt that.
“Oh, Daddy,” I say to the wind. “Where are you?”