He should have listened to her.
That was the one thought that went through Nick’s mind. It was at the forefront of his thoughts all during the funeral and then during the long flight back to Hong Kong.
He should have listened to her when she warned him that it was a bad idea to chase after Kira. After all, she was the damn Watcher of the two of them. She could see the future and what was coming. She had told him more than once that he shouldn’t go. She tried to tell him that he had no future with Kira. He should have realized that she was trying to tell him what she had seen without using the words that would hurt him and make him bitter.
Instead, at the end of it, there had been a big fight between them and he had lost his temper. He had yelled at her and said things he had never expected to say. Not to Cassie.
“You don’t get it, Cassie! You’re just a kid and you don’t understand how it feels when two adults are really in love. When you grow up --”
He hadn’t finished that sentence because she had thrown his gun at his head. When he picked himself up off of the floor, she was gone; disappearing into the crowd outside the apartment building. The gun she had thrown at him was unloaded and it wasn’t until he saw her discarded notebook that he realized she had already seen the fight coming.
And the outcome.
He felt bad about the things he had said, but he figured that he could make it up to her once he returned with Kira. They were tight and Cassie would forgive him for being such an ass. She always did.
It didn’t take him long to find Kira, and right from the beginning, it had all gone so very wrong.
Kira had bought into the lie she was told and had joined Division while they were separated. She was helping them track down others with powers and had reeled him as he tried to help her shake free. He tried to reason with her and ended up locked in a cell for all of his trouble.
He couldn’t say how long he was locked up or everything that went on around them in the compound. They kept him pretty well drugged up because they thought he was a danger to them. What he did know was that one night, the building was rocked by explosions and the sound of gunfire seemed to be all around them. When it was over, he and several other prisoners were free and seventeen agents of Division were dead -- including Kira. As he was leaving the collapsing building, he spotted something small rolling along the floor in one of the hallways.
A bead. It was a bead. A small, silver, shimmering bead.
Cassie had been there. Cassie had come to help him even after all of the cruel things he had said to her that night during their fight. He reached down and picked up the bead, clutching it in his fist as he left the building.
He made the arrangements for Kira’s funeral and through all of it, he kept a tight hold of that bead. After everything was done and over with, he went to the nearest airport to arrange a flight back to Hong Kong.
Back home and back to Cassie.
They’d talk through things, she’d laugh about rescuing him and then they would decide what their next plan of attack on Division would be.
He knew there was something wrong as soon as he walked through the door of the apartment they had shared. It didn’t take him long to figure out why the apartment didn’t feel right: Cassie was gone.
All of her clothes, her personal items -- even the blanket they had bought her as comfort for the days the headaches from the visions got too bad -- were gone. There was no trace of her left any place in the apartment that they had shared before he went tracking Kira.
In his room, he found a folded piece of paper on his pillow. Another one of those silver beads was taped to the short note.
If growing up and being an adult means that you become an asshole to your friends, then I want no part of it. Try to take care of yourself, Nick. I won’t be around to tell you when trouble is heading your way.
He searched for her in Hong Kong for weeks. He wanted to make things up to her and fix all of the hurt and anger he had allowed to be unleashed between them. She was nowhere to be found; none of their friends or business associates were able -- or willing -- to tell him where she was.
Within a few weeks, he had lost both Kira and Cassie -- and one of those was his own damn fault.
It was a reality that would haunt him for the following years to come.
Ten Years Later:
He didn’t know why he ended up going to Phoenix, Arizona of all places. The heat of July in the damn desert wasn’t something he had really taken into consideration when he boarded the plane. To be truthful, he really hadn’t thought much about his destination at all. He had been more than a little drunk when he decided to leave Rio and head to the United States.
In retrospect, he had to admit that he had probably originally wanted to go to Las Vegas and not Phoenix. After all, he had amassed a tidy sum in Rio – now that he had the finer control over his powers – so what better place to go to than a city full of casinos that he had never been to? A new place to take the money of the people who supported Division was never a bad plan in his mind.
Of course, the heads up from his contacts that he’d better get out of Rio and fast had probably figured into his inebriated decision making process just a little bit. So he had caught the first flight to the states and thought he was going to Las Vegas. Only now, he had an unplanned stopover in Phoenix and he needed to figure out what he was going to do.
He shouldered his bag and started out down the long walkway to leave the Sky Harbor International – really, guys? The middle of the fucking desert and they called their airport Sky Harbor? – airport and find a hotel to decompress in. Phoenix hadn’t been on the radar of any of the Division watch lists that he knew of, so it should be a relatively unremarkable place for him to rest for a few days and decide what he was going to do.
It wasn’t hard to flag down a cab outside of the airport and once in the back seat, he directed the driver to take him to a nice hotel that wasn’t some hole in the wall place. He had grown tired over the last few years of hiding out and flying below the radar. If Division’s people were going to find him, they’d find him wherever he was, so why not enjoy himself in the mean time?
Besides, hiding hadn’t done him any good before because he walked right into a trap set for him by Kira and her Division friends ten years ago.
Nick sighed and dropped his head back against the seat as he watched the scenery pass him outside the taxi’s window. Phoenix was a bit greener in places than he had expected, but it really didn’t compare to some of the places he had been in the past ten years.
It didn’t compare to Hong Kong when Cassie was there with him.
He fought down a frustrated sound in his throat. When the hell was he going to stop thinking about Cassie and how he had lost her? It had been ten years and he never found any sign of her after he was rescued from Division. Ten years and there hadn’t been even a whisper about the Watcher that had outsmarted Division goons and their plans twice. It was like Cassie had just disappeared off of the face of the Earth.
The only consolation he had in all of this was that he knew that Division didn’t have her in their clutches. They had been no more successful at finding her than he had been. After a few years of searching for her aggressively, he realized that if he was making such a big deal out of finding her, then Division might be watching him in an attempt to get him to lead them right to her.
That … was not going to happen. After everything he had done to hurt her and cause her to leave him, he wasn’t about to be used like some fucking sniffer to find and capture anyone and especially not Cassie. He owed her a damn lot – including his life many times over – and he wasn’t going to let Division get their hands on her. The idea of them having her in their labs and hurting her like they had done to her mother caused a knot of rage to lodge within him.
After that realization, he had reluctantly stopped actively searching for her for a year or two. Then, after that time was up, he started searching again, but a lot more carefully this time. Secrets and whispers and shadows and deals. That was going to be the only way that he could safely search for her.
Shadowy deals and questions were how he ended up in Rio for the past two years. There had been the smallest, the very smallest, whisper that she had gone to Rio to help the resistance take down a Division incarceration location. However, after two years, there hadn’t been any sighting of or any news about Cassie. He was beginning to believe that he would never see her again. He knew that he had no one to blame but himself, but it still wasn’t something that was easy for him accept – that he would probably never find her no matter where he looked.
She obviously didn’t want to be found; at least not by him.
The cab pulled up at a hotel that looked pretty nice and a little fancy and Nick found himself giving a small smile at the tall hotel. He paid for the ride and gave the driver a nice tip before he headed inside to get himself registered for a room.
When he gave his name to the registrar, Nick was shocked to find that a room was already waiting for him. Considering that he hadn’t planned this trip in the first place, he wasn’t sure what to think about this. The girl at the counter handed him a key and directed him to his rooms on the top floor of the hotel.
Frowning, he made sure that his power was pulled up and ready for him to tap into in case he was walking into a Division trap. When the elevator opened, he stepped out into what he was sure was the penthouse suite. He’d seen plenty of them at parties in Rio.
Hearing a noise, he turned and his eyes widened at the person that was standing there.
It couldn’t be.
That was all he heard before the fist slammed into his face, causing him to stumble back.
Once the blurry sensation in his eyes cleared and the pain in his mouth eased up enough to let him talk, he stared at her for a moment.