Location: Lost Haven, Sherman Square
A few minutes after storming out of the garage, Kayla had come to a stop. All that thought of trying to act strong around people like Jai and Racheli and in the end, she felt weaker than she had ever been. Hiding in an alleyway, away from the eyes of the public, she allowed herself to breakdown and cry. Hiding behind the dumpster from the alleyway entrance, the archer had curled herself up into a ball against the wall and dumpster. Her face was buried into her knees as her wails were muffled.
I can’t deal with this, she thought, thinking back to Jai and Leila that she left behind. Out of everything he had done, why did old man Taylor give Jai the job to work alongside her? He knew her the best and knew what would happen if she broke down. So why? All the flashbacks of her getting shot were blurred between Jason and Jai, which was getting harder for her to turn herself around. Slowly, the medications she took in the garage were kicking in. Her shaking shoulder eased off as she calmed herself. The flashbacks were fading away too as her mind focused on her shot cycle. After a few moments, Kayla looked up to see if anyone was watching her.
” I can always rely on archery to get me back,” she muttered quietly, slowly getting up from the ground. She dusted off the back of her work trousers from the dust from the alleyway floor. Wiping away the rest of the tears from her reddened face, she picked up the arrow tube. Slowly, she began walking away from her hiding place towards home. ”I think some ice cream is in order,” she concluded to herself. That and binge-watching any shitty tv show that was on tonight.
A loud scraping sound echoed in the alleyway. A nearby sewer lid pushed up and slid to the side, followed by cursing mumbles under someone’s breath. In a few moments, a woman with short, brown hair revealed herself. Racheli finished pushing the lid aside before she climbed out, twisting her figure to sit on the edge. She took a moment to catch her breath.
Casually her eyes shifted alongside the alley’s interior until they rested on Kayla.
“What are you doing here?” Her voice flooded into an annoyed, unconcerned tone.
As she listened for an answer to her question, her figure was already pushing onto her feet.
Kayla had heard the scraping sounds as she walked away. Slowing down, she looked around to discern if it was the sound coming from the alley or from somewhere in the city. By this point, the unusual things in the city were frequent enough for her to know that everything is a possibility.
She only snapped into attention when a familiar voice came from behind her. Spinning around, the archer saw her friend sitting on the lip of the opening to the sewer. That explains the sound, she concluded. But even so, her emerging from the sewers was unusual. And the tone in her voice… that was something that made Kayla nervous. Despite not showing it, the earlier interaction that happened in the garage was still weighing heavily on her mind.
”Oh hey Rach,” Kayla responded in a contrasting warm tone. ”I was just making my way home from the garage. Will need some time off my feet after everything.” There was a slight pause, causing the faint smile that she had to disappear into concern. ”Rach… Is everything alright? You disappeared in a rush after the nanites healed my injuries. And why were you in the sewers?”
Racheli eyed her up then down a moment. A suspicion crossed her face at Kayla’s approach while she seemed to debate something in her head, finally relaxing some. Her right hand pulled up to the back of her neck and scratched it softly a few times.
“I needed to be alone. Sewers seemed like the best place because there was no one around to pry into my business. As for my disappearance, I need to clear my head. That’s it,” Racheli was careful to keep her replies vague as she walked over to the sewer lid and began to slide it over.
It moved easily and slipped into the hole, the grooves kept it in place. As she finished up, her attention turned back to Kayla. The eyes seemed void of any sense of recognition but it didn’t linger long. Her head tilted away and stared at the wall, her voice continued to talk.
“I hit my head on the way down so my memory is a little hazy.”
Kayla’s body remained in a neutral, non-responsive position. The pause from Racheli as she was eyeing the archer up seemed off. While the woman standing in front of her looked like Racheli, the archer’s gut feeling was hinting that this was someone else entirely. She dismissed the thought completely as she was tired and wanted to go home and rest. But the thought will remain in the back of her mind for her to process later.
The archer nodded at what Rach was saying. It did make sense that she needed the privacy as Midas could still be keeping an eye on her and anyone she’s in contact with. It also helped that Rach was also a wanted person for things that had happened in the past, though what they were was out of Kayla’s reach at the moment. As for ‘clearing her head’ after what happened in the garage, that part made a lot of sense. She didn’t take the metahuman for the sort to try and clear her head, but it might have been one of those occasions.
However, despite the responses given to her, the thought that the person in front of her wasn’t Racheli crept back into Kayla’s mind. And two things stood out to her from that. The first things: Racheli is having difficulty recalling memories after falling into the sewer, yet still have her memories when riddled with bullets? That made no sense to her at all. And the second thing? Where’s the usual tagalong that came with her with these conversations? He always had some snarky quip to fire off at key moments in the conversation.
Kayla had to test something in that case, just to make sure. ”You seem to get yourself into a right state, huh Rach? Hopefully, you still remember my name after the fall, right?” While she was tired and the suspicions were still in mind, the archer put on a show to give Racheli a cheeky grin.
Racheli swayed her head to the side a bit, her lips pinched together. She narrowed her eyes at Kayla before she answered, her tone indifferent to the question.
“Didn’t you state you needed to get off your feet? If you’re that tired, I doubt you could even recall your own name.”
With that, she flipped her hood over her head and began to walk around Kayla. She gestured for the woman to follow her as she answered back.
“The answer is Kayla.”
Kayla was a bit puzzled that her wording of ‘getting off her feet’ was misconstrued to being too tired for anything, even recalling her name. Her eyes followed Racheli as she walked around the archer. So far, nothing seemed threatening about her. When her name was actually said, she relaxed. Guess I’m just getting worked up over nothing, she thought. Perhaps their ‘friend’ just didn’t want to speak to her for the rest of the day.
The archer turned on her heels and began following Racheli out of the alleyway. ”Just had to check. Head injuries can be serious, after all.” She shifted the tube she was carrying up onto her shoulder as it began to slip down during the conversation. ”So, any plans for the rest of the day? No news from Midas?”
“Yeah, of course, you were,” Racheli wasn’t convinced.
When she reached past her friend, her head looked over her shoulder. A suspicious look enveloped her expression but quickly faded into indifference and calm. It was obvious she didn’t believe Kayla’s excuse for the question. The moment the topic changed, Racheli latched onto it.
She bit her lip in thought before she answered. Each of her weaving and twisting movements ensured she didn’t touch anyone in the increasing crowds while she walked, not appearing to be fond of brushing against anyone.
“First off, I’m heading to the apartment to get cleaned up. I’m pretty sure the cops could smell me a mile away because of the stench. After that… no idea, her nose wrinkled at the statement as she waved off the smell with her right hand.
“No one, not even Midas, has called me today. So I have no idea what’s going on with him.”
Kayla noticed the suspicious look. With everything that happened at that moment, she wasn’t sure of what to make of it. But with Rach giving her name, she just let it go as something that her fatigued state might be making.
Shaking head to delay fatigue, Kayla followed Racheli through the crowds. With her head swimming from the crash in energy, she barely noticed that her friend was weaving through the crowd to avoid touching them. ”Yeah, that makes sense,” she replied, still hiding the recoil from the stench. ”I guess we both can relax for the rest of the day.” Finishing her sentence, she yawned, covering her mouth with her left hand. ”This is despite the fact that I’m still wary of Midas not having done anything since The Hounds attacked.”
"He'll do something, but no point in worrying about it. It adds more stress than we need," she continued through the crowd.
They reached the edge, the densest part behind them, causing Rach to glance over at Kayla. She bit her lip and sighed, seeming to hide her irritation.
"So, where am I dropping you off at? There's no way in hell I'm going to let you wander off while you look like that. If you could see yourself, even you would wonder how you're still standing."
By this time, her figure had pulled to the opposite side of the street and walked in pace with Kayla. Her hands had buried themselves into her pockets. The chains swayed with each step and clanked against her clothes. She ensured to keep her hood down while she avoided making her face visible to anyone, even her friend.
Kayla simply nodded in agreement with the statement. Though she still remembers the drones that attacked Chinatown that almost got her caught up in the blast, there hasn’t really been anything from him. While the quiet is rather troublesome, worrying about it now isn’t going to help in any way. Like the saying goes, she thought. No news is good news.
Clamping her eyes shut momentarily to eke out a bit more energy to stay awake, Kayla didn’t notice the irritated look Rach gave her. She then looked at her friend, a little bit surprised with what was said. ”Though that might be harsh, you’re probably right,” the archer replied, feeling another yawn coming on. ”It’s why I’m heading home via bus than riding my bike home. Don’t want to injure myself again.” Kayla noticed that Rach had been avoiding being facially recognized to anyone, but she dismissed it due to the notion of not being seen and recognized. That’ll make things difficult for both Rach and her if people started picking up on that. ”The bus stop I need isn’t too far ahead. It’s just around a few corners.”
Rach scoffed then added, "Better blunt than a liar." Kayla chuckled in agreement.
Her words fell silent while she continued to walk alongside Kayla. The crowd dissipated leaving them alone once more. To distract herself, Rach eyes turned to the street. The traffic moved and people began to rush back to their jobs causing her to chuckle. It died down when they finally arrived at the bus stop.
"I'll leave you here and see you tomorrow. Where do you want to meet up?" Rach asked with a cool tone, her feet stopped a few feet short of the bench.
The bus, as if on cue, arrives as they reached the bus stop. Kayla looks at Rach, ”Well, with us having a day off tomorrow due to the garage being closed, I suppose we could do something in the French Quarter. Sound good?” With an agreement on what to do, the archer hops onto the bus and sits down. As it slowly makes its route, a thought crossed her mind. I guess I can invite Jai along too, seeing that he has the day off too.