Ellie was so very tired of living in darkness. It had come to the point that she didn’t care whether or not her eyes were open or closed because the room looked the same either way. She’d lost track of the time first, the days after. At this point, she had no idea how long she had been in this room or how long Kai had been gone. She’d spent the hours drunk on tears and devoid of hope.
She lifted herself into a sitting position with her elbows, grimacing the entire time. Her side was sore and she ached with every move. The flesh was tender to the touch, and though she couldn’t see to be sure, she believed that her ribs had been bruised rather deeply. A few meals ago, she had grown rather weary and delirious and when Duncan had opened the door to bring her food, she decided it would be a good time to try to escape. She had managed to push him to the side, causing the tray of food to spill all over the floor, and run for the door. She was met on the other side by a big, burly guy who was none too nice about putting her back in her place. He had used his club to hit her in the ribcage before carrying her over his shoulder back into the room and tossing her on the bed.
Ellie remembered she had rolled over in pain, gasping to catch her breath. She passed out soon after and she hadn’t seen any real semblance of light since then. Duncan had been sliding her bits of food under the door and she always awoke to a glass of water sitting on the floor next to her. The first time it happened, she had knocked it over and she was so thirsty that she’d licked the water up off the floor like an animal.
Even through all her suffering, all she could think about was the promise she’d made to Kai that she would try to live. And she tried. She was trying. But she was running out of will and reasons.
Shouting. Kai’s voice. An incessant pounding against the door – or was it in her head? Ellie knew she must be delusional or dreaming. She was sure that by now Ronin would have lured Kai in and killed him, or rather had him killed. Kai was trained, but Ronin had minions that he could hide behind, and as much faith as she had in Kai, he wasn’t bullet or knife proof. No, she was dreaming. Hallucinating. Perhaps she was dying. Would that be so bad? If this was to be a world without Kai, why would she want to exist anyway?
Screw the promise. That was her last thought before the door burst open and she was tenderly retrieved from the floor, arms cradling her against a familiar body, a comforting scent. Then the pain washed over her as she was shifted, the world went dark and there was nothing.
When Ellie awoke, she was in a room she’d never seen before, a body curled around her own that was no doubt sleeping soundly. She fought the urge to scream and clamored away from the person. Breathing frantically, Ellie forced herself, pain and all, against the wall until she could see who was with her.
Ellie couldn’t believe her eyes. There was Kai in full uniform, scratched and banged up, looking worse for wear, but he was alive and breathing, and he had been with her while she slept. She wanted to go to him, to touch his face, but she was scared of waking him up; worse yet she was terrified that she was, in fact, dead, that they both were, and that touching him would somehow shatter this image.
Instead, she let him sleep and just watched him. Ellie noticed her ribs had been taped, and her head felt fuzzy, but there was only residual soreness, not horrible, mind-numbing pain like before. She must have been given something. Ellie knew Kai had access to pain medication because he was a Topsider and they were certified to give medical assistance, and she trusted him implicitly as long as he was the one who had given her the drugs and taped her injuries. She decided if she could feel the high from pain medication, there was no way she was dead. There’d be no pain, no proof of medicine then, right? Perhaps…
Tentatively, Ellie reached out a thin finger and traced his jawline, a hot tear sliding silently down her cheek as he blinked awake.
“Kai?” Her voice was hoarse, barely above a timid whisper.
The man she thought to be Kai sat up and rubbed his hands down his face, trying to make himself wake up. His green eyes were still half-lidded, his brown hair a disheveled mess, and yet Ellie had never seen anyone look more perfect than he did, because he was alive, and she was free.
He opened his arms for her, and she threw herself against him with all the force her frail body could manage.
“I won’t let them hurt you again, Ellie. I swear it. They’ll have to kill me first.”
“I thought they had. Oh, Kai, I thought they had.” She sobbed relentlessly into the curve of his neck as she clung to him for dear life.