Kort returned a couple of hours later as promised, with food. Ellie wanted out of the room, and she knew she wasn’t going to get that if she acted surly. She chose instead to act in better spirits for her own benefit as much as his.
They ate in silence, with the occasional faint smile at the other, and she reached over, placing her hand atop his.
“I’m sorry about earlier, Kai. I’m just getting tired of being stuck inside four walls for so long. It’s been forever since I’ve been out and about. I miss my plants.”
“You can’t go back to work yet, love. I’m sorry. You’d be more of a hindrance than a help at this point, but…”
“Can I at least spend some time in my room? Get a shower? I feel like I’m in hiding. I feel trapped, Kai. Please.”
Kort couldn’t handle meeting her reasonable pleas with a ‘no.’ She was under control, Ellie wouldn’t do anything “Kai” thought was dangerous, or that he asked her not to, so he felt it was safe enough to allow her a visit to her room.
“Okay, sweetheart. You can go to your room and get some books to bring back here. I feel safer having you stay in this room so Ronin can’t get to you because he doesn’t know where you are if you stay here.”
That sounded reasonable enough, but something was gnawing at her in her gut.
“I understand, babe. You’ve always taken such good care of me. But can I make one more request? Can we stop by the mess hall so I can give a book to my friend Indaya? I promised it to her right before your brother took me and I’m sure she thinks I’m a horrible friend who lied to her. I can’t stand that. I don’t call anyone friend really, besides you, but she’s the next closest thing I have to a friend.”
Kort’s demeanor softened even more. Ellie really was such a good-hearted person, he couldn’t deny her a visit to her room, a shower, and stopping to see her friend. He just couldn’t.
They finished eating and made their way to Ellie’s room chatting happily. When they reached her door, she turned to Kort shyly and blushed, trying to look demure.
“Do you mind if I go get my stuff for the shower by myself? I mean we’ve never… you’ve never even seen me in anything other than my burlap clothing, and my undergarments aren’t fancy, but when you see them for the first time…I mean, I…if you want to…I don’t want it to be because I was gathering them for a shower.”
Kort grinned and shook his head.
“Go ahead, I’ll be right out here.”
“Thanks.” With a convincing smile, Ellie headed in and found the exact brick instantly that held the device. As silently as she could muster, she retrieved it and shoved it inside a hollowed-out book that Kai had given her once, explaining that apparently, it was for hiding valuables. If this wasn’t valuable, Ellie didn’t know the definition of the word. She scrawled a clumsy note, explaining as much as she could, as quickly as possible and threw it in with the device, before gathering her some clean clothing and securing it all in her arms.
“Done.” She smiled at Kort, and they headed off down to the mess hall for her to find Indaya.
Luckily, she was there, and easy to spot. It would have been hard to mistake her. She was the only girl who had bright blue hair, thanks to help from Ellie. Indaya had approached her and asked if there were any plants to make an acceptable and non-toxic hair color. Ellie was more than happy to oblige, with no questions asked. She only hoped that the other girl wouldn’t mind repaying a favor with a bigger one.
Ellie smiled brightly at Indaya before reaching the table and tried desperately to convey with her eyes that she needed her to be cool. The lights began to flicker, eventually fading to nothing as she approached.
Indaya looked sweet, but suspicious if you knew her. If you didn’t, you’d simply mistake it for curiosity. In the dark, somehow, she managed to look a little foreboding.
“Indaya, I brought you that book I promised you forever ago. I’m so sorry I’m just now getting it to you, I’ve been under the weather.”
“I was wondering where you’d gotten to. Feeling better?” Indaya retrieved the book from her and smiled warmly.
“Much, thanks to Kai.” The lights came back on, flooding the room with brightness. The conversation continued, not at all hindered by the power fluctuations.
“Good to finally see you two figured out what the rest of us already knew. Man, you catch on slow.” Indaya teased, giving Ellie a knowing look. “We should talk soon so you can fill me in on all this.”
She motioned to Ellie and Kort.
“Definitely down for some girl talk soon. Gotta go shower though. See ya.” Ellie allowed Kort to lead her from the mess hall towards the showers.