Harran was not what it used to be and it most likely never would. It had changed once before when oil had been struck and the rich got richer, and it changed when the dead began to walk. Of course, they didn’t start out dead but that wasn’t the point. Kyle didn’t think he’d ever get out of the hospital and out of the GRE’s clutches but here he was, cured of all things and back in Harran. He sighed and looked over at his hotel window, neon light bleeding in from outside venues. The hotel Atar in Old Town wasn’t the most high end in the world but nothing could convince Kyle to step foot near the Striped Dragon Hotel, no matter how free of biters it was. Kyle squeezed his eyes shut and inhaled deeply, exhaled slowly. This was the hard part, trying to convince himself that it was perfectly safe to fall asleep without the security blanket of UV lights to cleave the night. Five years later and it was still hard. Why did he even say yes to Brecken about coming back to Harran? ‘I mean, I was going to come back at some point, just not so soon,’ he thought to himself. But Kyle knew why he said yes, said yes because of who was asking if he was being honest with himself. He hadn’t pictured himself getting close to anyone during the initial start of the mission, and then Jade and Rahim happened. Fierce, brave, Jade and her eager younger brother with no sense of self-preservation. It cut him deep, deeper than other missions gone wrong when he still worked for the GRE, and he had seen the senseless slaughter, warlords. The Harran Quarantine had been something else entirely.
Brecken had been something else entirely too. With a job like his, Kyle knew better than to get in any kind of relationship but trapped in Harran and running for The Tower, it had happened. Most of the people at the Tower either didn’t know or didn’t care but it didn’t matter. It hadn’t gone very far and Kyle knew it couldn’t go far because he was sticking his neck out too much to be fair to Brecken. Even after finding out he was a GRE agent (former), Brecken still contacted him after they were evacuated, medicated, and cured with Camden’s research. Antizin drops had resumed at some point in his time in the countryside, buying everyone precious time and that’s where everything becomes really fuzzy. He had quite a bit of head trauma from his scrap with the mother. He only remembered shoving her away before she could force the elixir down his throat and then he truly cannot remember anything besides waking up in the military hospital.
Kyle jerked awake at the sound of his cell’s alarm before he realized he was at the hotel, warm light filtering in through the glass. He was going to meet Brecken and Troy at a cafe today. He scrubbed a hand down his face and took a few calming breaths before he threw the covers back. Outside, he could hear cars, people, even a few dogs barking as they were walked. Harris Brecken and Troy. The last time he had seen her, they were on that platform as the rain came down in sheets, preparing to let the outside world know there were still survivors in the city. Kyle pulled on jeans and a t-shirt then took the elevator down to the lobby. As it descended, he half expected it to malfunction but the ride was smooth and the doors opened without a hitch. The clerk smiled at him as he exited and he gave a weak smile back, still feeling exhausted. Jet lag huh? Walking through the streets of Old Town in complete safety was a foreign concept to him but there he was, strolling down a street as throngs of living people moved past him, on their way to work, the bazaar or the park. Here and there were remnants of the city’s not so distant past, dark brownish red smears visible on the light stone walls and pathways. It would fade with time but not fast enough. He looked around casually, saw a mother holding hands with her little daughter as she held a paper bag of groceries on her hip. A young man went by, his dog on a leash, a fluffy brown dog sniffing curiously at gum and cigarette butts. Stores were open and in business, boutiques, mom and pop stores, a bakery, or a small office. The smell of grilling food wafted on the air. Kyle swallowed thickly as he passed a wall of pictures, notes, some candles plastered to the cement below. Many people who had been evacuated in the beginning were still trying to find loved ones, go back to their homes. The reason Brecken had asked him to come to Harran was to come to the survivor group meetings. Some survivors were still coming forward to attend and Brecken had insisted if Kyle was there it would be a good example. He supposed so and he had helped a lot of them. Harran was healing and it started with the people.
The cafe wasn’t very busy and Kyle took comfort in it. He hoped he didn’t look too sleep deprived as he spotted Troy and Brecken. It would take some getting used to, to see Brecken without his head wrapped in bandages. He had kept his own hair close-cropped but Brecken’s was thick with a bit of wave. “Over here, mate!” he called and Kyle couldn’t help but smile. Brecken and Troy were seated at a table with four seats, the pair sitting in the chairs right next to the wall. Troy was leaning back with all the grace of a leopard, one arm around the back of the empty chair. “Good to see you man,” Brecken said and Kyle felt less tired and anxious.
“You too, Breck’,” he said. “Good to see you, Kyle,” Troy said cooly but he knew she meant it. “How have you guys been?” he asked and Brecken had a playful look in his eye.
“Troy’s got a girlfriend,” he said in a teasing tone, almost in a big brotherly manner.
“She’ll be out in a minute. She’s powdering her nose,” Troy said dryly but cracked a small smile. Kyle leaned back and looked at both of them. “Why do I feel like you’re planning something?” he asked cautiously but lighthearted. “Who’s thi-Kyle?” He felt as if he had snapped his neck, he turned so fast to the familiar voice. Ezgi looked at him in disbelief. She didn’t look too different, her dark hair pulled up into a bun but the stripe of hair was electric blue now. She wore an oversized band tee knotted at her stomach, showing a sliver of skin, with denim shorts. He really didn’t mean too but he blurted out, “You’re with Troy?” causing Brecken to erupt into laughter.
“Oh shut up Kyle,” she huffed and took the chair besides Troy who looked smug. Well...there go Michael’s chances if he’s even still alive.