The bedroom light had turned on just as Lucy had turned it off. She hadn’t even made it to her bed. Her eyes locked with Sullivan’s and after a moment he jerked his head towards the front door.
She followed him outside and into the woods, rubbing the imminent sleep from her eyes. “You realize I haven’t even slept yet.” She jogged up to his side and wound her arms tight over her chest.
“You slept all day.” Sullivan’s hands were shoved in his pockets. His pace was steady through the forest.
Lucy rolled her eyes and they walked in silence. The sun was just beginning to rise, casting a dull golden light through the leaves. The path, or lack there of, twisted and turned parallel to the city and sooner rather than later, they arrived at a stubby line of trees.
Sullivan put a finger to his lips and crouched under the tangled branches. She got down beside him, holding on to his shoulder for balance. They weren’t there long before a man of similar age and olive skin walked into the clearing.
He crossed the small grassy area, picking up sticks and branches along the way. Once he had an arms full, he walked back from where he came and sent a lingering glance over his shoulder. The sun shone bright on his black hair.
Lucy gripped Sullivan’s jacket. Her eyes stayed on that spot long after the man left, until everything blurred together. “Sullivan,” she whispered.
He wrapped his hand around hers, taking it off his shoulder. “He’s always up early, gathering wood.”
“Sullivan, why are we here?” Her words were tight in her throat.
“His house is just beyond those trees. It’s small, enough room for one.” He ignored her, but squeezed her hand.
Lucy finally broke her gaze and turned to him. “Sully,” she whispered again, slowly.
Sullivan tensed for a moment before coughing and meeting her stare. “You recognize him?”
“It isn’t the man who shot you,” he looked back towards the trees, “it’s his present self.”
“He looks exactly the same.” Lucy shook her head.
He shrugged. “Haven’t quite figured that one out yet, but I’m sure it has to do with the chemical.”
“Why,” Lucy stuttered, “why are you showing me this?”
Sullivan took a deep breath. “Look, I trust Piper with my whole heart, but” his eyes drifted up to hers, “if she finds out about him, he’s dead.”
She looked down to the ground. “Wouldn’t that be a good thing?” It was hard for her to get the words out.
“He has no idea what is going on and won’t for years.”
The statement sat in the air, lofted, but heavy and the two froze together in a somber silence. It would be an easy out for the future, but then again, there was no guarantee someone else wouldn’t take the man’s place. An innocent life in the present wasn’t worth those odds in the future.
Lucy flipped her hand around in his grasp and held tight. She stood up, not letting go. Sullivan followed suit and together they made a silent pack to keep the man safe and away from WDS.
The walk back to the village was quiet, but the pair moved slower and stood closer than normal. A heavy weight split in half now lived on both of their shoulders.
With the entrance in sight, Lucy needed to ask one more question before they were no longer alone. “Do people usually call you Sully?”
Sullivan’s jaw tensed and he stared straight ahead. “My dad did. Piper and Wes picked it up, but the others don’t.” He glanced at her. “Why?”
She shrugged and the clouds caught her gaze. “Have you read my book, yet?”
He furrowed his eyebrows and stopped. “Answer a question with a question?” The side of his mouth flicked up. “Not to mention two very unrelated questions.”
Lucy tilted her head to the side and slowly spun around to face him. She was pretty confident in it at this point, but he needed to know, too. “There’s a page in there,” she pushed her hair over one shoulder and her eyes landed on his, “saying to trust Sully.”
Sullivan’s face smoothed over with a slight oval to his between his lips. It was the most innocent she had ever seen him.
He took a step closer to Lucy and put his arm around her shoulder. They walked back to the village in a comfortable silence.
Started a new job two weeks ago and am just getting back into the flow of things (aka not taking naps after work)!
Thanks for reading this slightly shorter but very important chapter!