Location: Outside of Flowers and Canvasses
Simone pushed against the glass of the flower shop exit, making her way out of the strange chaotic energy that still resonated in the air even as most of the Coven had made their exit. She could sense Kali’s presence following close behind. The crisp outdoor air felt good on her face, like a splash of cold water to sober her up after whatever the hell that just was.
“Well, you really know how to make an entrance,” she said, turning her head behind her so Kali could hear. She surveyed the street, unconsciously checking for any signs of danger. The only thing that stirred was the cool wind kicking up a batch of leaves on the concrete. Keys jangled in her coat pocket before she pulled them out and walked over to where her old Camero was parked. She stuck them in the lock, fussing with it before the lock gave and the car door opened with a low pitched squeak. She climbed in, unlocking the passenger side so Kali could join her.
“Get in, old friend. We’re going for a ride.” she said with a slight smirk. She put the key into the ignition, and the Camero started with a low roar of the engine. “It’s… been awhile, hasn’t it? Little ol’ Kal is a big time officer now.”
She waited until she saw the car that Drake, Luca, and Sloane drove off in and started following closely behind them. “I can’t wait to hear about how that happened. You’ve… changed, Kal.”
”Well, yeah. I had to, to survive.” he would say, his eyes staring off outside the window towards something no one else but him could see. ”I’ve been keeping up with your music though. It’s good. I mean it.” he says, finally turning his back from the window to look at Simone directly. ”Honestly though, I didn’t think I’d ever... see you again.”
She saw him looking at her in her peripheral vision, but couldn’t bring herself to look at him directly yet. Her eyes stayed locked on the road as she pushed a piece of her curly hair behind her ear. “Thanks, it’s about the only thing that keeps me sane nowadays.” she said about his comment on her music. “Well, here I am. I do… apologize for leaving kind of suddenly. Leaving you.” Her eyes finally drifted from the road and to his face. “It seems like you’re doing well, though. But seriously, how did you make your way to the FBI? Never in a million years would I have thought that’s where you’d end up.”
There was a moment of silence. An uncomfortably long moment, but eventually Kali would end up answering.
”It’s not that complicated” he’d say, taking in a deep breath as if he was bracing himself for something. ”When the Coven collapsed, I had nowhere to go. I was back on the streets... again.” His eyes looked away from hers as his expression showed for the smallest moment a hint of something painful before the emotion was quickly buried underneath his newly gained professional facade. ”Eventually, an agent found me. They saw I had... potential, and they gave me an offer. It took me a few years to finish training, a few more to get cleared for working on the field by myself. After that I’ve just been heading from one place to the next, solving problems where I’m needed without anyone knowing. Like a ghost. Funny how that works, right?”
The silence was deafening, but she owed him a little grace to answer how he wanted. “I hate to think of you back on the streets again, but you’re a fighter.” she said, nodding her head. “I’m surprised you’d want to come back here after everything. Even if you’re just on assignment. It probably took a lot of balls to come back. You’ve changed, but so has St. Portwell. I’ve been trying to keep track of what’s going on, but it’s too much. It’s not just the Wolfpack. Tons of other groups keep popping and causing trouble too. Something big is happening. I’m glad you’re here to help.”
“The others, though… I worry about them. For Auri to expect us to come back together again and be a ‘family’,” she said, making quotes with her fingers. “It’s a joke, honestly. I don’t know any of them anymore. I can’t trust them. For some reason, I feel like I can trust you though. I don’t know. Maybe you’ll prove me wrong.” she ended.
”To be honest, I expected things to end up this way.” he would say, his gaze now back at the window again. ”You don’t have to fill me in on how St. Portwell’s changed. Like I said before... I’ve done my own research. The Wolfpack especially isn’t something to be worried about” he says, leaning his back against the car seat as he looks up at the sky through the windshield letting out a sigh.
”Well, that’s how it should have been. They were a bunch of small-time crooks before. I have no idea how they got their abstractions. Still, there’s been no signs that they’ve been using it for anything more than just theft and other minor crimes. Well, minor in the grand scheme of things anyways.” he says. There was a certain look in his eyes as he talked about this. A kind of sharp focus that wasn’t there ten years ago. ”Ultimately, while their rise is suspicious, they have no motive. The 8th street Coven is arguably more suspicious but from what I’ve seen they also aren’t in the mood to start a war right now. If anything... there’s just something else going on. Something dangerous. I just hope I can figure this out before we take any more casualties.” he’d say, his eyes now having one of those stares you might see from a homeless veteran fresh from the gulf war. The kind of look that was staring at something right in front of them that wasn’t even there, haunting them, forever.
Simone’s eyes narrowed on the road in front of her and she shifted slightly in her seat when he started bringing up the others. “So… you’ve been researching us too, huh? Learn anything interesting about me?” she asked, partly joking, partly serious. There were a handful of people who knew her deepest secrets and while Simone and Kali used to be close, she never did divulge the details of her real life to him directly. “What have you been hiding behind those eyes of yours, hmm? How are you?”
”That’s classified.” he’d say with a smirk. A rare joke from the apparent government professional though that smirk disappeared pretty quickly.
”Honestly, I’m not feeling great.” he says looking down at his own hands for a moment, ”Something about this group just brings out the worst in me.” Eventually, he looked back towards Simone. This time he wasn’t shying away at all. He was looking at her directly in the eyes, refusing to break that connection no matter what.
”I haven’t actually looked into you. Or anyone else. My research is limited to potential threats and” he’d take in a deep breath before saying, ”I want to trust you. And... I just hope I wasn’t the only one who thought that time we had together meant something.” There was a slight quiver in his voice at the end. It was hidden, hidden well, but it wasn’t perfect. The armor, at least around her, had more than a few cracks.
She met his unwavering gaze as long as she could before a bump in the road distracted her and made her peel away to keep the tires safely on the road. Her heart started beating faster as she was the one who let the silence linger between them before taking a deep breath and replying. “Of course it meant something. You were probably my closest… friend. I didn’t take that for granted, but I also had my own demons to slay. Things I needed to protect. After that night battling the Snake… I snapped. Running away felt like the only choice I had at that moment.”
Unwanted emotions started to bubble up, first in her gut and then her chest, like this was the thing she has been waiting to get out for the last ten years. She bit the inside of her cheek hard to distract herself from the emotional pain. “I’m telling you, if I can trust you, you can trust me. I’ve got your back. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this.” she said, her breath stabilizing. Though, she couldn’t help the feeling of wanting to stop the car, take his face in her hands, and peer into what was really going on inside him. She knew what happened at the Battle had changed him in more ways than one. Instead, she kept the wheel steady and concentrated on following Drake’s car in front of them.
It took another moment for Kali to break the ongoing silence.
”I know.” was all he said at first, followed by another moment of silence. There was a hint of hesitation, his eyes seemingly wanting to run away from the gaze he himself committed to but eventually they managed to hold firm in their resolution. ”And I don’t blame you for running.” he’d say as one hand went to grab the wrist of the other in an awkward and uncomfortable gesture.
”It’s just... It hurt. It hurt a lot. And I... missed you. A lot.” his voice quivered ever so slightly as he finished that sentence. Whatever cold professional veneer there was seemingly wasn’t enough to hold back the slightest hint of the boy from ten years ago resurfacing, even if it was only slightly.
“I missed you too.” she replied, guilt creeping into her head as she saw a glimpse of the old Kali emerge from the shadows of his new facade. “But, we’re both here now. Together. Let’s just hold on to that for now. We’ll figure the rest out later.” she said. Drake’s car started to slow and make a turn into the restaurant. She followed, pulling into the lot and finding a well lit spot to park. She shifted the car in park and huffed a big sigh, but didn’t get out of the car right away, giving him a last opportunity to air out anything else on his mind.
He gave a nod as he stared ahead towards the Dairy Queen. ”Yeah, we’ve got a lot to figure out after all.” he says before reaching for the door handle, ”I’ll keep you safe Mona. I promise.” and finally opening the door without another word.