Lito looks into the mirror, and Wolfgang stares back at him from behind. His face is bloodied, eyes empty and he looks different than Lito's ever seen him. Run down, hurt, vulnerable... broken.
Broken was a word Lito never thought he'd associate with the German locksmith, but now it's the only one that can describe his current state.
They look at each other through the reflections on the mirror, Lito staring into Wolfgang's empty eyes which somehow manage to cause Lito more pain than the actual hurt he feels through his connection with Wolfgang.
He wants to speak, wants to give encouraging words. He's desperate to get the other man to smile that beautiful mischevious smile of his, but before he can even open his mouth, another wave of pain crashes through him and he falls to the floor.
Next thing he's aware of is Hernando rushing through the doors; the touch the man gives him immediately soothing. But, as he feels more pain, Lito knows he has no time to lose. Wolfgang - his friend, his brother, his family - is in pain. He's dying of it. And even though he knows how tough the German is, how strong and relentless, Lito also knows he doesn't have much time. They needs to move, he needs to get to his cluster.
He needs to get to London.
Lito is barely aware of Hernando calling for Daniela, telling her to call an ambulance.
"No, no ambulance!", Lito yells, finding his voice. It's hoarse and he can taste copper blood in his mouth, on his teeth. "We need to go to London. We need-"
Hernando shakes his head, his hands cupping Lito's face. "No, Lito, what you need is a hospital. Dani!"
"No, Hernando.", Lito puts his hands on Hernando's, looking up at him.
"Lito, mi amor, you need help."
"London.", Lito repeats like a broken record and Hernando sighs. "Help is in London. I can only get help in London."
Hernando looks at Lito, teary eyes meeting teary eyes. But, beneath them, Hernando can see determination. Can see that there is little place to argue. Can see truth.
He looks at the blood going down Lito's face, covering his clothes, the random surfaces of the bathroom, Hernando himself now, even. And he thinks how there is something wrong with the man he loves, but he's not reacting as he usually should. Lito, the same man who called him from his car in the middle of traffic crying how he might have cancer is now completely unconcerned by the fact he is bleeding on the floor of their bathroom, unconcerned that he looks like he might actually be dying.
Instead, it's as if he knows what is wrong. As if he's more than aware of his situation and only cares about one destination, one location, a place that he says will help him.
And if it is true, if it is the place where they could help Lito, then that's where they will go.
"Okay. Alright.", he nods and Lito's entire body sinks with relief. A sob almost escapes Hernando's lips at the sight, but he manages to compose himself. "We'll go to London."
As he pulls Lito closer to him, hugs him to his chest and kisses his hair, Daniela walks into the bathroom with a phone on her ear.
"They say the ambulance is on its way.", she says but Hernando cuts in.
"Call them off.", he says and Daniela looks at him, confusion written all over her face.
"But, Hernando, he's-"
"Dani, he's fine. He'll be fine.", Hernando says. "Tell them not to come."
Daniela looks from Hernando to Lito in his arms and then back again. "Are you sure?"
Hernando nods. "Yes."
Daniela repeats the movement and returns to the phone, thanking them and reassuring that everything is fine and that an ambulance is unnecessary.
As she hangs up the phone, Hernando and Lito are slowly untangling themselves from each other and start getting up from the floor. She immediatelly grabs Lito by one of his sides, helping him.
"Are you sure London is the best idea right now, Hernando?", she asks, almost disbelieving that Hernando would agree to travel when Lito is like.. like this.
As Hernando helps Lito from the other side and they make their way to the bedroom, his hand reassuringly brushes against Dani's.
"If he says that's where needs to be, then that's where we go.", he says. Seeing how Daniela's still not sold on the idea, he continues. "He seems to know what's wrong, Dani. He says help is in London. So we go to London."
Daniela straightens up, then, and nods. When she and Hernando reach the bedroom, Lito sits down on the bed and takes deep breaths, finding his strength. He's murmuring something, but before Hernando can ask him to speak louder, Daniela calls for him.
"I'll go book the tickets on the first flight.", she says. "You pack the bags and then we'll get him cleaned up."
Hernando nods, grateful that she offered him a plan to stick to, tasks to accomplish, so he doesn't have time to focus on anything else; can't afford to focus on the prospect of Lito being sick.
They're out of the house and at the airport in record time, just barely managing to catch the flight.
As soon as they take their seats, Lito closes his eyes and falls asleep, leaving every question Hernando and Daniela are desperate to ask unanswered, at least until they reach London.
Hernando takes one of Lito's hands - he's sitting by the window - and Daniela, who's sitting on his other side, takes his other hand and leans into him.
"I'm scared, Hernando.", she says, her voice small and quiet.
Hernando kisses the top of her head, then looks at Lito. For the first time in the past few hours, Lito seems somewhat peaceful, but there's a line on his forehead that remains creased in worry. Hernando's eyes water and his throat tightens so he clears it. "Me too, Dani.", he sighs. "Me too."
They only took carry-ons, removing the need to wait in line to pick up any baggage. Lito woke up as soon as they touched down, but somehow seemed even quieter than he was before.
His steps were quick, Daniela and Hernando almost running to keep up with him, Hernando holding his hand and trying to slow him down at least a beat or two.
Lito treads through the London airport like a man on a mission, but with a certain ease and Hernando wonders how he seems to know exactly where to go without barely consulting any of the signs. Also, he seems to not be going towards the exits but rather towards another terminal.
This one for the flight from San Francisco that has just landed.
"Lito, why are we here?", Daniela asks.
Lito looks at her only briefly, but she is calmed by the small, genuine smile that finds its way to his face. "Nomi just landed."
Hernando looks at him, confused. "Nomi? Who is Nomi?"
As if on cue, Lito turns around, his smile growing as two women come into view. One has dark skin and colofrul dreads, while the other tall blonde with glasses is holding her hand. Soon, she lets go, and all but runs to Lito, hugging him.
"This is Nomi.", he yells, but is then overwhelmed with Nomi's presence. They touch and as he breathes her in, they keep switching places, trading memories, fully experiencing each other for the first time.
When they part, Hernando can see Lito is crying. It worries him, but the smile doesn't leave Lito's face so Hernando knows they are happy tears. The woman - Nomi - is crying as well, and the other woman whose name they still don't know has tears in her eyes and a fond look on her face, hands tangled together and put against her heart.
Nomi turns to Hernando and Daniela, looking at them as if she knows them. There is love in her eyes, and Hernando can't help but think how much the lines on her face and the softness of her expression reminds him of Lito, even though he knows it can't be possible. "It's so great to finally meet you.", she says, a little bit of laughter in her voice expressing how truly happy she is to meet them. She speaks perfect Spanish, and Hernando tries not to be surprised, rather remaining impressed. "Even if under difficult circumstances.", there is a hollowness in her voice, but she doesn't let it affect the smile she holds as she looks at Hernando and Daniela in front of her, holding out her hand for them to shake. "I'm Nomi, Lito's... friend. And this is my girlfriend- sorry, fiancee.", she corrects herself and shakes her head, looking back at the woman she came with. They smile and Lito lets out a sob; Hernando knows him well enough to recognise it as a sob of joy. "I'm still getting used to that.", the two women lock hands and Nomi's fiancee approaches them. "My fiancee Amanita.", she finishes in English.
Amanita smiles, shaking their hands. "I've heard only great things about you.", she says. "I'm sure you must be really confused right now, but we'll explain everything as soon as we get to a car."
"What about the others?", Hernando knew Lito's English was good, but even he's suprised at how effortlessly the words seem to leave his mouth. "Are they already here?"
Daniela looks to Hernando. "Others?", she whispers. Amanita is close enough to hear her and gives a reassuring smile.
"Capheus and Kala were the first to arrive, they're already with Will and Riley at the safe house. We thought it'd be best if they all stayed put and took blockers right away.", Nomi replies and suddenly the two of them are looking to the side.
Capheus appears next to them, managing a brief smile that sends Nomi and Hernando the feeling of genuine joy he has for them meeting, an experience he was able to share with Kala at the airport upon his arrival, but then also with Will and Riley once they reached the hiding place. Soon, though, his expression turns serious. "Whispers doesn't know about me, so I am off blockers until we're all here.", he says. Lito and Nomi are both left nodding at empty space, and Hernando tries to keep in any questions until the promise of an explanation is fulfilled. Amanita said they needed to get to a car first, and if Hernando can do anything it's keep to a schedule, especially if things seem as urgent as they do, the air around them turning thick with something he doesn't know how to describe yet.
"You said we needed to get to a car?", he asks Amanita and she nods, gesturing to them all to start moving.
"There should be a rent-a-car waiting for us outside.", Amanita says. "We rented it under a false name and left no way to trace it back to the source, so it should be good for now until we get to the safe house and settle in.", she continues. "Then we'll move along with the plan."
Nomi nods. "Sun's flight from Korea lands in a few hours, so one of us is gonna pick her up, since we shouldn't be alone.", she looks at Lito. "You in?"
Lito smiles. "For Sun? Always.", he says and looks to his side where Sun is walking next to him, smiling.
Hernando doesn't understand why his lover is suddenly smiling into empty space once again, questions at the tip of his tongue. He just squeezes Daniela's hand tighter, and she sends him a small smile in return.
They get into the car, Nomi driving - Amanita assumes and Lito sees Capheus take over, his fingers almost itching to drive - and Lito in the passenger's seat. That lets Amanita sit in the back with Hernando and Daniela. She waits until they're all settled and Nomi heads into traffic before she starts talking.
"Now, I said we'd explain everything.", she starts, her American accent thick, but her voice reassuring.
"What is going on?", Daniela asks, looking between Amanita and Lito, who is sitting in the front.
"There's an organisation called BPO - Biologic Preservation Organization.", Nomi starts, cutting to the chase. "They're hunting us; me, Lito, our friends. Our cluster."
"Your.. cluster?", Hernando asks.
"A cluster is a group of people spread all over the world, born on the same day, their first breath shared, that are connected physically, emotionally and mentally through the Psycellium.", Amanita says in one breath. "Nomi's cluster - Lito's cluster - consists of eight people, all born on August 8th, all connected.", she continues.
Hernando lets the information sink in, looking at Daniela who is processing all of it as well. Lito speaks, then, for the first time. His expression is serious as he turns to look Hernando in the eyes, and Hernando can sense how nervous and on edge he is. "Do you remember the time I got into a traffic accident, and I was screaming about a crying Korean woman standing next to me?"
Hernando remembers. "Was that Sun?", he asks, remembering the conversation Nomi and Lito had earlier.
"Yes.", he says.
Daniela shakes her head. "How is this possible?"
Nomi explains, looking at them through the rearview mirror. "We're not like you. We're not Homo Sapiens. We're an entirely different species of human; Homo Sensorium.", she says.
"What the fuck?", Daniela whispers.
Lito's face saddens. "Dani, Hernando.. You have to believe me, please-"
"I believe you, Lito.", Hernando cuts him off. He moves forward in his seat, taking Lito's hand. "I do believe you."
"Me too.", Daniela adds quickly. "It's just a lot to process, Lito.", Lito nods.
Hernando squeezes Lito's hand. "Is this why you were bleeding before?", he says. "Were you.. feeling someone else's pain?"
Lito smiles, tears in his eyes, and he shifts in the seat as much as he can to cup Hernando's cheek with one of his palms. "You are always so smart, Hernando.", he says and Hernando can feel the pain in his voice. It makes his heart clench.
"They took one of us. Wolfgang.", Nomi says. "They're torturing him to get information. He's the strongest of us, but even he can't be strong forever, not with Whispers attacking his Psycellium. The pain he's feeling...", she doesn't finish her thought, her voice breaking. Daniela lifts a hand and puts it on Nomi's shoulder, giving her a reassuring squeeze. Nomi smiles in return.
"He is my family, Hernando.", Lito says. "Our family. We need to help him."
Hernando nods, taking a breath. A short silence surrounds the five people sitting in the car, and Lito looks at Hernando carefully, giving him time. After a few minutes, Hernando fixes his glasses with one hand, looks around the car, and speaks.
"What do we have to do?"