“Aw, hell no!” were the first words Bill uttered upon regaining consciousness.
Cameron watched as the other man took in his surroundings, situation, and companion all with one huffed breath. He then watched as Bill focused inward, getting that slightly glazy and slightly sweaty look about him, and pretty obviously tried to amp up and try to break free of the cuffs that held him to the hospital bed. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea...” Cameron warned, but knew it would go unheeded.
Sure enough, moments later, Harken slumped back against the thin mattress, possibly in defeat and possibly in unconsciousness. Cameron eyed the way the big guy slid to the side, and then eyed the IV line attached to his arm, the liquid still dripping steadily, and sighed in resignation. And he had been looking forward to having something to talk to other than the bland white-blue walls for a while, even if it was only Bill.
Cameron busied himself with counting the little dots in the ceiling tiles, an average of 2,357 per tile in case anyone was to quiz him later, and randomly checked on Bill’s progress back to the land of the living. This time, as soon as he saw the telltale signs flickering eyelids and twitching fingers, he warned, “Don’t try to go all Superman on us again, it just makes whatever they are giving you that much worse.”
Bill made a face, but didn’t try to break free, so Cameron decided to count that as a win. “I was hoping this was just some sort of bad dream brought on by those awful tacos,” Bill admitted as he blinked against the harsh lights of the room. His head lolled to the side and he took in his sole companion and sole possible conspirator for escape and he sighed, “Nope, nightmare instead.”
Cameron would have been hurt by the comment, but instead he took quiet glee in the way Bill tried to wipe at his eyes and found himself unable to complete even that simple action, bound as he was. “Aw, you dream of me?” he asked with false innocence; he even went so far as to bat his eyes and smile sweetly. When that only earned him a glare, he added, “On the up side, they haven’t caught the others yet.”
He leaned back in his own bed to allow Bill to take a clearer look around the room. There were five beds in total, and only two currently in use. The other three had a similar set up with cuffs and artfully inclined mattresses, though only one had its own line of drugs at the ready. If he were to guess, he would say that one was for Nina – best to keep her out of it so that she didn’t convince their hosts to let them go or go hang themselves in the bathroom or something like that. Rachel would probably freak, but he doubted they would dose her up until she actually did something and, besides, there was a little cabinet no doubt filled with useful sedatives just across the room. Gary would probably be the calmest of them all – sitting and watching the colors that only he saw while commenting on the way the cuffs were rough against his wrists and likely driving Bill into a full aneurism with his babble.
“Rosen?” Bill asked. He shook his head as if to clear some lingering fog and glared in the general direction of the plastic tubing feeding into him. At least Cameron pretended it was the tubing and not him; he couldn’t be exactly sure from his angle.
“Not here,” Cameron replied, knowing he was stating the obvious. “We can hope the others actually listened this time and got him out of there,” he shrugged. The last thing he remembered was the bluish gas filling the hallway, and that was after a decent fight. Rosen had been knocked around a bit, but ended up near Nina and the door. Rachel was with Gary and closer to Nina than Cameron had been, so it was likely they all were able to get out in time, or at least that’s what Cameron told himself.
“Captors?” Bill asked next.
Cameron could almost physically see the mental list the former cop was going through and was tempted to mess with him, but instead replied, “Checking in on us every two hours if that clock over there is correct.” Before Bill could go on to the next item on the list, he beat him to it and said, “Last check in was just over fifteen minutes before you woke up. They gave you a new bag of goodies, checked that I was still locked down, and left.”
“And I suppose either you didn’t get a clear look at them or they looked like your average orderly, so that’s no help to us,” Harken sighed.
Cameron shook his head. “Both had that mercenary look about them. They wore masks but were in shape and one had a tattoo on his wrist of some sort of dog, but it wasn’t the Marine one. Thought I heard more outside too, so there’s probably at least a half dozen between us and an exit,” he told him. He may have, possibly been pleased at the look of surprise his information earned. He did pay attention at times, but found pretending he didn’t often earned him just enough leeway to get away with more things.
Bill seemed to think about what he was told for a moment, and then seemed to think about the clearly locked door that also lay between them and any chance of freedom. Cameron left him to it and suspected his mind was going in roughly the same direction as his own. Several minutes later, he was not surprised in the least when Bill turned to him and said, “I have a plan, but it’s not going to be easy.”
Now it was Cameron’s turn to sigh. “Yeah, I figured you were going to say that,” he said. He pressed himself back against the relatively flat pillow and waited to hear him out; he might as well be comfortable while contemplating his doom.
The plan, such as it was, was relatively simple. They needed to wait for the door to open as Bill clawing at it and ripping it from its hinges would undoubtedly take long enough and make enough noise to give the mercenaries a heads up. The last thing they needed was for the bad guys to have yet another advantage, so instead they decided to pretend to be all calm and docile right up until the point when they were not.
Neither had any idea as to whether or not the room itself was bugged, so the entire conversation was discussed in a round about way of comparing and contrasting previous experiences and random sports scores. Bill surprised Cameron by actually knowing more than the fact the big wood thing hit the small round thing when it came to baseball, so they were able to talk about plays and ERAs and such and slide in actual information as to the Great and Possibly Doomed Escape as they went along.
Cameron was tempted to mention that this was quite possibly the most the two men had talked in, well, ever, and that it had taken them physically being locked down to get this far. Instead, he took note of the way Bill fidgeted this way and that for a good ten minutes before he surreptitiously yanked his line free to drip the last of its contents onto the thin mattress instead of into his veins. The hope had been that the worst of the drug would be out of his system when the time came to amp up for the escape; but only time and experience would tell for certain.
Eventually, they maxed out on Harken’s knowledge of America’s favorite pastime, and discussion turned to other topics. Harken being Harken, he was about as subtle as a brick in Hick’s eye when he attempted to turn the conversation from planning and random baseball stats to what had likely been on his mind for weeks, if not months. “Your boy, Tim is it? He plays just like you, right?” he asked, his gaze fixed determinedly to the left of Cameron’s shoulder.
“Tyler,” he corrected automatically. He did not know why it bugged him that Bill had gotten even that simple fact wrong, it was not like he talked a lot about his personal life nor was it his favorite topic when discussion inevitably circled back around that way. “And yeah, he plays too. Pretty good arm, really.”
“So he pitches, like you?” Bill prodded.
Cameron resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He knew where the conversation was going, but also knew they had some more time to kill, so he let Harken set the pace. “Well, his mom’s not too good with the ball, so I’d like to think he picked something up from his old man,” he said with a shrug. The cuffs that held him to the bed clinked with the action, hopefully reminding Bill that they had other matters to attend to soon enough.
It was either not subtle enough or the topic was one that Bill had spent far too much time thinking about in the past and was now not certain which of the different scenarios he wanted to follow for the conversation to continue. After a long pause, he had apparently made up his mind as he asked, “Are you ever afraid that he’s too much like you?”
“You mean am I afraid he’s got a freaky Alpha ability like mine?” Cameron asked, cutting to the chase.
Three was another pause, and then a reluctant nod. “Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean,” Bill sighed.
Cameron thought about it for a moment, remembering bits and pieces of past conversations, some of which he was even a participant in, and figured Bill’s obsession with potential fatherhood was coming into play again. He chose his words carefully, and eventually decided on, “The way Rosen explains it, there’s likely a genetic aspect because, well, it’s our genes that give us these abilities. I guess that means there’s a chance those genes would be passed on to my kid like everything else. He’s half me, and I count as one of these Alphas, so there’s a good chance he could be as well. He’s also half his mom, who doesn’t seem to have any of this going on, so there’s just as much of a chance he’s got luck on his side as much as anything else.”
Bill seemed to mull that over for a short while before, just when Cameron was getting used to the quiet again, he blurted, “Jeannie wants kids, but if they end up like me, that can’t lead to good things...”
“All kids end up like their parents in some way,” Cameron reasoned. “Nature, nurture – whatever. If Tyler happens to fight past all my personal baggage and way of dealing with things and actually makes it to pro? I’d be proud to think I had a role.”
“But this strength thing I have, it comes with some serious anger management issues,” Bill pointed out. Cameron raised an eyebrow at the understatement, but kept quiet as he continued, “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, especially not some innocent little kid. And to make Jeannie deal with that on top of everything else...”
Cameron sighed. Bill was not going to let this go and they had a good fifteen minutes before they could try out their little plan. “Okay, so let’s look at this logically: On the one hand, most of our Alpha tendencies didn’t even show up until we were teens, right? That would give you plenty of time to teach and coach little Bill or Billette how to manage his or her anger, if they even ended up with your ability or any at all. On the other hand, Skylar's Zoe was showing and damn near surpassing her ability at only three. Skylar was able to cope with her based on her own experiences and help from friends. I see no downside here – you know how to deal with yourself for the most part, and have us around for when you don’t. Any kid of yours will have you plus Jeannie plus us to help them out.”
When he looked back over to Bill, he saw an expression that he wished he could classify as contemplative, but knew was just as likely disbelief. Whatever was going on in the other man’s head, he apparently decided to keep it to himself, at least for a while. Given that they only had a short period of time left to themselves, this worked for Cameron just fine.
The clock on the wall ticked merrily away and, when he heard the telltale sound of a key in a lock, Cameron looked to Harken for confirmation. A subtle nod and a pinched look later, and he was ready to go.
Bill snapped his cuffs free from the bed railing with ease, and took out the first mercenary by tossing him at the second. When they were both tangled and only slightly conscious, he tore through Cameron’s cuffs to release him as well.
A third man rushed in from the hallway while Bill was distracted by the recovering first. A glance at the IV pole and a bit of impeccable aim later, and Cameron had not only tripped up his attacker, but successfully knocked him off the medicine cabinet and onto the man that had yet to recover from Bill’s initial attack.
The placement of the unconscious men made it more difficult for the others to enter and one hesitated just long enough for Bill to toss his man to Cameron who punched him just enough to push him even further into the way. The next man was either more cautious or just plain tired of it all as he aimed a taser through the doorway instead. Bill shouted and ducked down even as Cameron kicked up the discarded IV pole and used it to knock the two charged leads out of the way and then battered it into the man until he dropped his weapon.
Bill made short work of the final man and looked ready to continue his rampage until Cameron pointed out that every man seemed down for the count, at least for the time being. “Still think your ability is all bad?” he asked teasingly as he looked around the little work area just outside their door. He found two laptops, a random bag of who knew what, and, most importantly, their own cell phones on a small table off to the side.
“Got to say it doesn’t suck entirely,” Bill agreed with a smile. Cameron knew it was likely the adrenaline talking as much as anything else, but it was a start so he was willing to go with it for now.
There was a sound behind them as though at least one of the men was stupid enough to try to wake up. “What do you say we get out of here?” Cameron asked.
“I say that is a damn fine idea,” Harken agreed.
They shoved the laptops in the bag and Cameron pocketed his phone while Bill used his to call Rosen and verify the others were safe.
Later, after handing the laptops over to Gary to do his thing and letting Rachel fret over them both while Nina fumed about assholes and set-ups, after Rosen neatly lying to Clay about the two men escaping with nothing but their own phones and making vague insinuations of government cover ups, after Bill promised to buy him a beer or three in thanks and commiseration, Cameron sat in his office and idly threw pencils at the ceiling. He contemplated emailing Tyler just to see how things were going, but did not know if his mother would delete it before he got the chance to read it. He contemplated telling Bill to flat out just go for it because Jeannie seemed like she could handle it if the snippets he heard of Bill’s rushed conversation with her on the phone were anything to go by. But mostly he contemplated the fact that one of Clay’s men walked with a subtle limp and had a suit coat that barely concealed a dog-like tattoo on his wrist and why both he and his superior looked disappointed in the day’s outcome.
He waited until they left and didn’t bother telling Rosen about his suspicions given the fact that Rosen himself felt the need to lie to the government agent supposedly funding their little group. Instead, he walked out to join the others and asked, “Anyone else up for some takeout and beer?”
Rachel immediately told Gary the only beer he would be having would be root beer, Nina looked ready to argue – or possibly convince him that shots were better, Rosen simply nodded, and Bill sighed a heartfelt, “Hell yeah.” Cameron smiled. Of all the variables that currently surrounded this life he led, some things were always predictable.