Chapter 29, Part 2
Kyle stared at the four walls of his room – the first he’d had in a long time that he could in and out of freely and with no threat of armed guards on the other side. It had been so long since he’d had a bit of freedom that it was completely unfamiliar and even a bit uncomfortable.
He didn’t know what to do with himself. It was clear he was going to be staying at Camp Lawton for the foreseeable future. He couldn’t bring himself to go to the lab just yet. Dr. Braxton was much more friendly and welcoming than the other lab doctors of Kyle’s experience, but the thought of being poked and prodded again made him sick.
There had been something like welcome from the others at over the two days since he’d been out of the med center but he didn’t think he’d ever belong with them. He’d always wanted a family and siblings and someone who understood him, but he’d been locked away for too long to even know how to do anything like that.
A knock startled him and it took a second before he remembered someone actually cared whether or not he wanted them to come in. He was surprised to see Declan push the door open and not Mariah.
“I’m going up to the roof for a drink. You want to come?” He held two beer bottles in his hand.
Kyle hesitated. He hated not knowing how to respond. If Declan noticed, he didn’t say anything.
“Josh is a rule follower and he’s not technically old enough to drink, so… Besides I figured you could probably use one.”
“Never actually had one,” Kyle admitted. Declan’s eyebrows shot up.
“Now you’re just begging for one. Come on.”
Kyle stood and joined him, following as Declan led the way up to the roof.
“Chair or ledge?” Declan asked as they stepped out into the dry evening. Kyle shrugged and Declan settled on the roof ledge, legs swinging free over the drop. Kyle sat beside him after a moment’s consideration. Declan opened the bottles, passing one to Kyle.
“One of the scientists down in the lab is German, so he knows beer. It’s decent.”
Kyle took a sip as Declan lit a cigarette. Cool foam gave way to a silky bitterness. He probably wouldn’t have picked it out himself, but it wasn’t bad.
“I guess we’ve already technically met before here.” Declan took a drink of his own beer.
“We have?” Kyle thought he would have remembered that.
“You were born on Novum, right?”
Kyle nodded. He hated that planet and the havoc it had wreaked on his life.
“I was born on the ship on the way back home. Ma always said she wondered what happened to you. You were apparently adorable as a kid.” He grinned a little as he took a pull from his cigarette.
“Yeah, well, I guess I didn’t turn out.” Kyle couldn’t keep bitterness from his voice.
“You’re not the only one, boyo,” Declan said. “I dropped out of school as a teenager and fell in with the mob boys. Surprised I haven’t disappointed my mother to death by now. She doesn’t even know where I am.”
“At least it sounds like she cares,” Kyle retorted.
Declan regarded him for a second. “She does that.”
“Any plans?” he asked after a moment.
Kyle stared out at the distant fence that wrapped Camp Lawton in its protective confines. “I don’t think I’m leaving here any time soon. I think I traded in one cage for a bigger, nicer one.”
“You can leave any time.” Declan tapped ash from his cigarette.
Kyle scoffed and took another drink. “My dad is basically an evil scientist. I’ve hurt people. I’m dangerous. I’m not going anywhere.”
That’s crap.” Declan’s statement took him off guard.
“That you’re dangerous. Any one of us is dangerous. It’s up to you to decide what to do with your gift.”
Kyle didn’t answer, didn’t feel like trying to explain what he’d been through.
“We’re not that different. We’ve both been used,” Declan continued. “Sure, my bosses didn’t know about my powers, but I let them control me and train me into a prize street fighter. I hurt people on their orders, helped with their business which hurt who knows how many other people, and got someone I loved killed.”
Kyle picked at the curling edge of the bottle label. “So what, just forget everything? Forget how I’ve been called a freak my entire life?”
“I wouldn’t. This is my second chance.”
“To figure out what to do with myself. And maybe help someone while I’m at it. It could be yours too.”
The sky was turning deep shades of purple and blue as the sun’s last light began to fade. He set aside his bottle with a hollow clink. It was a nice thought, but Kyle didn’t really see how it could be more than just words.
“You’re not alone, you know.”
“That’s what Mariah keeps saying.”
“She seems like a smart girl.”
“Yeah.” If not for Mariah, he’d still be stuck in a cell, waiting in terror of the next order from his dad. Declan extinguished what remained of his cigarette.
“Your mom…she know my mother?” Kyle blurted.
“Yeah. They kept in touch for a while before your ma…”
“Died.” Kyle finished for him.
“Yeah. I’ll head back to Dublin one of these days. You should come with me and meet her. She’d be better at answering your questions.”
Kyle was surprised to see that Declan really meant the invitation.
“Sure! She’d love to.”
“Thanks.” Kyle hoped he knew the word meant more than just for the invitation.
Declan nodded as he stood and gathered up the empty bottles. “Any time,” he replied.