It didn’t take Winter long to recognising their surroundings and realise they weren’t far from Gate’s offices. Princess was clearly still actively trying to keep herself together, so it made perfect sense to take her to his shrinks office. The woman behind the desk looked up at them both is horror as they walked through the door,
“Is Gates in?”
“Uummm, Mr. Winters? Do you have an appointment?”
“No, does he have anyone in there?”
Winter put up a hand and shook his head then lead Princess through the doors. Dr. Gates almost spat out his sandwich when he saw who was walking into his office. Winter’s skin looked greyer than usual and he could instantly tell the Princess was in some form of traumatic shock.
“Jesus man, get that girl onto the couch and get her some water, what happened to her? And you for that matter?”
Winter ushered Princess in who took one look at. Gates and burst into tears before collapsing. Winter only just managed to catch her before she hit the ground and carried her to. Gates’ chaise longue. Gates pulled open a desk drawer and took out a bottle of pills, broke one of the pills in half and handed it to Winter,
“Get her to take this.”
Winter recognised the pill and nodded. He then put his arm around the weeping girl and spoke gently to her,
“Here you go, take this, it’ll make you feel better I promise.”
A part of Princess wanted to scream at him that she didn’t want to feel better, but she didn’t, instead she took the half pill and swallowed it. The idea of just letting it go and forgetting the sound of necks breaking, the images of bodies going through windows, people trying to kill her, was better than trying to embrace it. She lay back down with her head on Winter’s lay and waited for the drug to kick in and the tears to stop. Winter almost recoiled as she snuggled into him but took a long breath and put his arm down along her back whispering,
“There, there, it’ll be alright now.”
Between the stress, the tears and the drugs Princess quickly fell asleep, giving Winter an opportunity to talk to Gates. Winter gently slipped out from under Princess, walked over to the desk and grabbed the pill bottle, he then dropped two in his hand and took them. Gates frowned,
“Hey, that’s all I’ve got so please don’t just take them all, I have other patients who occasionally need them as well.”
Winter looked down into the pill bottle and counted 3 and half more pills,
“This is all you’ve got left? How long before you can get more?”
“A month same as always, why?”
“Is there any kind of substitute I could take?”
“Why would you need a substitute you’ve got hundreds.”
“Not really, my apartment got raided by some arseholes trying to kidnap Princess, and when they took us they took everything I had on me, including my pills. I don’t have any.”
Winter looked up at Dr. Gates who’d gone very pale.
“Why can’t you get the one’s from your apartment?”
“I could try but as we’ve just broken out of a basement after being kidnapped it’s possible that my apartment is a crime scene, and or that whoever kidnapped us is watching it.”
Gates started pacing up and down his office shaking his head.
“But you know what’s going to happen to you if you just stop taking these pills”
“Yes, so are these really all you’ve got left?”
Gates stopped and locked eyes with Winter, something he’d never really done before,
“Would anyone else have them?”
“No I have to special order them from the , are you sure you can’t get into your apartment?”
“We were kidnapped fairly loudly in the middle of the night, its possible one of my neighbours called the police, at which point all my medication would have been confiscated.”
The two men stared at each other in silence, both going over the situation as best they knew it in their minds. Gates suddenly sat down at his desk, rummaged through one of his draws and pulled out a bottle of rum and some glasses, He poured them each a drink and handed a glass to Winter, who took it and downed it. As the sharp sting of the rum burnt its way down his throat a cold realisation washed over him. Unless he could get hold of more pills before the end of four days he was going to die. For a moment Winter thought he might laugh. Then it occurred to him, all these complications weren’t the fault of Princess, but Key Jr. and if he was going to die in a week anyway, he was going to kill Keys first. At which point death would probably be a welcome exception to what ever the police would do to him. A smile spread across Winter’s face that made Gates almost throw up in terror.
“Wha, what are you going to do?”
“Doctor, thank you for all the help over the years, we’re going to be going now. I’m also going to need a car, I probably won’t return it.”
Dr. Gates thought for a moment then handed Winter his own car keys,
“I don’t think I want to know what you’re going to do, or why, I’ve got a spare set of keys if you’ve got the time to let me know where you ditch it.”
Winter took the keys, then gently scooped up Princess and headed for the parking lot. He slowly opened the car door and placed the still sleeping girl in the back seat and clipped a seat beat around her. She shuffled a little but didn’t wake up, and he stared at her for a few moments trying not to think of his Beloved and how he was going to be back with her soon. Winter had one underground safe house that he knew would be secure, he’d never actually used it before so never saw the need to stock it will pills. On the way he drove passed his apartment and saw a police car parked outside and people moving in the windows of his place. Someone had also apparently pointed out his car or spotted the bullet hole in the wing mirror as it was no longer in it’s parking stop, most likely impounded. Winter sighed and resigned himself to the hour long drive to his safe house.
He was surprised that Princess hadn’t woken up by the time they got there. He still had some questions he needed to ask her but wasn’t going to wake her so gently carried her inside. The safe house entrance was along the southern docks, and lead down into one of the original solitary confinement cell blocks, from back when the was a prison. A lot of the original prison was underground and was now being used as low cost housing or homeless shelters. But they were also mostly done in more central locations of the city. On the southern outskirts all you were likely to find would be the occasional very lost hobo. Almost all of the underground parts of the city were connected by tunnels, but some had collapsed or been filled in to provide added support for high-rise buildings. Also it was a long walk back to the city centre. Winter pushed his thumb against the print scanner and waited for the click to say he could open the door. The system had already been there when he found these rooms and only had to reprogram them to respond to his prints. Gently he placed Princess down on the camping bed in the corner and started collecting all the weapons and equipment he could remember the location of. Princess woke with a gasp as she once again didn’t know where she was, and through she had been re-kidnapped. Winter turned quickly to see her looking around wildly but calmed when she spotted him.
“Where, god, where are we now?”
“Southern Cells, solitary confinement, when I originally set myself up as a hit-man I brought some equipment here for safe keeping should my apartment ever become compromised.”
Princess sat up properly and rubbed the back of her neck,
“Have I just totally wrecked your life?”
Winter pulled up a create and sat in front of her,
“No, but I do have a few more questions.”
“Why did you run away?”
Princess rubbed her eyes and looked around the room, everything seemed very grey.
“Is, is there anything to drink here, hopefully a bit stronger than water?”
Winter thought for a moment then got up and headed into the cell directly opposite. A minute later he returned with a bottle of vodka, retook his seat and handed it to her. A faint but impressed smile spread across her face and she took a sip, then grimaced.
“I feel slightly numb inside,”
“That would be from the pill Gates gave you, it’ll ware off.”
“Is that the same stuff you take?”
“Jesus you take loads of it, do you feel anything.”
“Yes, sometimes, but you are avoiding my question.”
She took another sip from the bottle complete with grimace and caught then handed Winter the bottle,
“In a month or so it’s my birthday and I turn 23, at which point I gain full and total control over my trust fund including my controlling stake in the family business. While going through my uncles computer to try find out more information about the companies plan to cut down the Islands only tree I found an e-mail conversation between him and some lawyer basically discussing what would happen in the event of my untimely death and what the circumstances would need to be for him to not be suspected and not loose his hold on the company. So I decided to run for it, because I believed he was going to try kill me, and it looks like I was right.”
Winter took another sip from the bottle and handed it back to Princess,
“So that’s why he no one could find you for two weeks even though you weren’t doing a very good job of hiding and why he hired me to find you, to make it look like he was doing everything he could to find you but really his plan was, is, to kill you.”
“Looks that way.”
She took another sip which sent a shiver down her spine and she decided to not have anymore in a hurry. Winter took the bottle from her and put it on the floor next to his create.
“I think by finding you, I might have wrecked you life.”
Princess smiled a sad smile at him, and for a moment in the dull light of the prison sell all he saw when he looked at her was his Beloved. The slight despair in her eyes, the sad forgiveness of her smile. Winter wanted to turn away and shake the image out of his mind but he just couldn’t make himself, all he could do was stare. She tilted her head to the side and said,
Her voice broke the magic and suddenly she was Princess again and he returned to his senses,
“I have something I need to tell you.”
His voice was suddenly graver than usual and it made her a little afraid,
“I’m a drug addict, I’ve been taking that medication since I shot that photographer. Lots of it, I take it to make doing my job easier. To suppress all feelings, only now I’ve only got three pills left, and unless I steal my supply back from the police I’m not going to get more for a month.”
“So you’re telling me that you’re about to start coming down?”
Winter thought for a moment,
“I’m telling you that I’m going to die. My body is so dependent on the chemicals that the withdrawals will kill me, if five days the effects will be irreversible and in a week I shell probably be dead to so damaged that I might as well be.”
The blood drained from Princess’s face and panic set in,
“What? No, no what are we going to do?”
“I’m going to kill you uncle.”
“I’m going to kill you uncle, he doesn’t deserve your fathers company and his life doesn’t bring about anything of value or merit so I’m going to kill him.”
Princess went from panic to shock to rage and she slapped Winter as hard as she could.
“NO! What’s wrong with you, you can’t just kill people, just because you can’t feel anything and might die doesn’t mean you can just kill someone, it doesn’t matter how bad of a person they are!”
It hadn’t occurred to Winter that Princess might be against the idea, but he said nothing he simply stared at her with his cold blue eyes, which only enraged her more and so she slapped him again. No one had spoken to Winter like that and lived since his Beloved had died and he couldn’t help but wonder if it was the lack of drugs or the person doing it that kept him from reacting with equal violence. If it was anyone else he would have caught their hand and stopped them, if not the first time defiantly the second.
“Is that it then, you’re just going to sit there until the drug withdrawals or my uncle’s goons kill you?”
Princess’s voice had slipped from angry to slightly desperate as the initial shock of Winter’s death and plan started to wear off.
“You don’t need to be apart of this, I will get you onto a ship and get you off the . But I cannot let that waste of space continue to live, he doesn’t deserve it, and you don’t deserve to have someone so useless try kill you over money that wasn’t his to begin with.”
Winter realised he was sounding more sentimental than he expected but didn’t bother him. He was going to stare Death down and finally do something worthwhile, no matter how bad it might seem. It was his own personal plan for redemption, Princess didn’t have to agree.
“But why can’t we both go? Why can’t we go try get this drug you need from somewhere else? My birthday will come, you can protect me up until then, at which point I can cut him out of the family trust and everything will be fine?”
“The crossing from Syn to take roughly 4 days, and that’s if we find a direct ocean cruise ship, so if we left right now there might be a chance. As we’re currently not on a ship I don’t see that working.”
“We could fly?”
“My passport is in my apartment, which is being watched by the police and possibly our kidnappers.”
“You’re not even trying!”
Princess stormed towards the door with full intention to slamming it behind her but Winter just managed to catch her wrist and turn her around, at which point she wrapped herself around him and burst into tears,
“Please don’t die, please don’t, please just don’t die.”
For a moment Winter just stood then, but then slowly enclosed his arms around the girl while she cried into his shoulder. It hadn’t occurred to Princess just how much comfort Winter gave her. He had been her protected for most of her life until the day he killed a photographer and disappeared. Then not long later her father had died and her uncle appeared in her life, and she’d never really felt safe again, not until Winter magically appeared through a drugged out haze and saved her again. The idea that he was just going to disappear again as quick as he’d returned was fast becoming devastating. Winter on the other hand had spent so much time focusing on people who would probably welcome his death and simply being annoyed by anyone who showed the slightest interest towards him that Princess’s reaction totally disarmed him. Princess pushed herself up on her toes and kissed Winter’s cheek,
“You’re not putting me on anything to send me away. I’m staying with you here until the end, but I’m also not giving up, those kidnappers have your pills we can get them back.”
Winter frowned down at the her and suddenly felt a rush of fatigue, then realised the closed thing he’d had to sleep in the last few days was a period of Taser induced black out, which wasn’t exactly restful.
“I think we both need to get some rest, you have been through a lot in a short amount of time, and I need to recharge a little. You can sleep here I’ll be just across the hall if you need me.”
Princess didn’t exactly feel like sleeping but she appreciated that Winter probably did, so didn’t complain. Winter smiled at her for a moment the nodded and walked into the other room, which had a few shelves along the wells with tinned food, bottled water and vodka. It also had two more camping beds. He gently dropped himself down onto one and closed his eyes, letting the debate of weather or not he should tell Princess that with the pills from Gates he probably make a boat trip to the states. The image of Princess in his mind quickly slipped away to that of his Beloved and he fell into a nice deep sleep.