Lucid

~The Sequel to 'Little British Girl~
- Decide which side your on -
Three and a half month after Luci kidnapped her birth father, Xander Moore, Elia and her friends are on the run. Both north and south are engulfed in complete and utter chaos, and the resistance and the rebellium are gaining power through an alliance. Both sides want them out of the way, and they have nowhere to be, nowhere where they belong. The four friends must choose a side, the alliance, or the government, a decision that will forever haunt them all.
Nothing is certain, nothing is safe, nothing is lucid.

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14. Chapter 14

I’ve spent so long on the run, with little warmth, safety, and comforts, that I’ve almost forgotten how to take a bath. With my body half-floating in the soapy water, my toes poking out at the other end, I rest my head back, and let the warmth radiate over my body in heated, delightful shivers. Like an electric current, the heat hits my skin with a small shock, then spreads itself out through my veins and arteries, warming me from the outside in. The ends of my hair dip into the water, spreading out like fabric strands across the tub. All I want to do is shut my eyes, and stay here forever. An infinity of comfort, squeezed and squashed into just fifteen minutes. Fifteen glorious, harmonious, and perfect minutes. I haven’t had the luxury of a moment like this in over a year, since I woke up in the north my life has been one nonstop ride on a derailed train. The fact that I am in a situation where I can take a minute to pause and relax is soothing in itself, let alone actually doing it.

Thoroughly refreshed, I ease myself out of the tub, wrapping a towel around my body and draping a second across my shoulders. I give my body a couple of seconds to adapt, shiverly gently as the temperature around me cools. I begin to rub myself dry, taking care around my tender spots where my skin is purple, black, and green. I slide on a fresh pair of clothes, dry my hair, and head downstairs.

Max and Annabeth are still in bed, they’ve barely left them since we arrived. All the exhaustion of the past few months finally caught up with them. My dad’s out doing some shopping, now he has four more mouths to feed he’s had to stock up, but he’s doing it slowly, he doesn’t want to arouse any suspicion. Daniel is the only other person downstairs with me, but he barely notices my entrance. He’s sat in front of the television, but his eyes are gazing out of the window as he sits lost in thought. He hasn’t spoken much since we arrived, he’s been a bit ‘off’ lately. It didn’t take me long to figure out why though, it’s pretty obvious. California is Daniel’s home state, his parents are only a five hour drive away from here. Being back reminds him of everything that’s changed, what he’s lost, and it’s clearly getting to him. Two years ago he was a good, honest, successful cop, with a promising career ahead of him, and proud parents cheering him on...but then he met me. Now he’s joined Annabeth as the second black sheep in the family, rebelling against the laws he used to enforce on a day-to-day basis, he’s a criminal, a fugitive, he’s everything he used to hate. I’ve tried to comfort him, to get him to open up, but he’d much rather be alone, and I have to accept that, I have to let cope in his own way.

I tactically leave Daniel to his thoughts, and head into the kitchen, boiling the kettle to make myself a cup of tea. Out of the corner of my eye I see the file, and my mind automatically fills with questions and concerns. What’s the deal with this file? Why is it so special? The alliance want it, the government want to hide it, and whatever it is that’s inside it is apparently enough to horrify people who already think so little of Xander Moore. A part of me wants to storm over there and rip it open, devouring the information, extinguishing my burning curiosity, but I also know that it would be unwise to do so. Right now, life is calm and settled- reading that file could destroy this peace, and fire everything up again. It’s better to just let it go. I’ve found my birth father, I’ve found a new home, why should I do anything to disrupt that? It’s about time I left my adventures behind and settled back down into the shadows. I know deep down that this is the closest I will ever get to having a perfect life.

The kettle whistles, awaking me from my thoughts, and I pour the water down into my mug.

“Hey, could you give me a hand with these?” My dad comes bursting into the kitchen, shopping bags wrapped around his wrists. I smile and help him, taking a few and beginning to unpack. “Are your friends still not up?” He checks, noticing the absence of Annabeth and Max.

“They’re pretty tired.” I explain simply, “It’s fair to say we’ve all had an eventful year.”

“I bet…” He trails off, “Do you mind me asking what it has been like for you this past year? What’s it been like up here in the north for you?”

“Well, I did spend some time in the south this year too,” I remind him, thinking back to New London, the stone cell, Zacharia, and the rebellium, “But yeah, it’s been an adventure. Actually, aside from the drama, I enjoyed seeing the north, I just wish seeing it didn’t involve becoming a fugitive.” We both laugh, even though it’s not really that funny. We finish unloading and I’m about to leave when he speaks again.

“I never thought I’d ever get to meet you, my own daughter. I lived my whole life dreaming of these days, but I never thought they’d actually come.” He walks over to me, taking my hand in his own, it’s wrinkled and old, but warm and welcoming. “You have your mother’s eyes...dark and rich- can I show you something?” He suddenly asks, an idea forming in his head.

“Um, er- sure, I guess.” I agree, letting him lead me up the stairs and over into his bedroom. He kneels down beside his bed and pulls out a photo album from underneath, dusting it off and getting back on his feet before sitting down and resting it on his lap. I sit down beside him, leaning in to see the images over his shoulder. He flips through the various pages until he finds the one he’s looking for, picking up a loose picture that was tucked inside the spine. He hands it over to me, and I recognise a younger version of my mother on the left, standing next to a man I presume is him.

“That was us the day we met, at that bar down in New London.” He tells me. I look closer at the image, they’re stood to the left of a bar, his hand is around her waist and her’s in on his shoulder as she tilts her head towards him, beaming as if it’s the best night of her life. I can see the woman I knew in this earlier version, her cheeks aren’t any less flushed and thick, and although it spreads a smile across my lips, I also feel a slight twang of sadness. I’m looking at the image of a dead woman. “Keep it,” my father offers, “I’ve looked at it more than enough times now.” I thank him and leave, heading back downstairs to finish my tea, feeling the tiny weight of the photo in my pocket. I finish my drink and wash up the mug, staring out of the window out at the misty scene. I nearly drop the mug at the sound of the phone ringing, so lost in thought that I jolt at the noise. It continues to sound for another couple of seconds, and, it being evident that nobody else was going to, I walked over to answer it, remembering to speak in my (now almost perfect) american accent.

“Hello?” I call down the line.

“I’m very disappointed, I thought you knew better.” I feel a shiver go down my spine as I recognise the voice...it’s Luci.

“How did you get this number?”

“It wasn’t exactly difficult,” she sighs, “Anyway, this isn’t about me. Tell me, what’s it like finally meeting your birth-daddy?”

“You were wrong,” I tell her, “He’s not like Xander at all, he’s good, and honest, and true, and-”

“Just because he’s a goody-two-shoes doesn’t mean he’s all innocent you know, he knows Xander’s darkest secrets and still he does nothing to bring them to light,” she cuts me off, snapping at me, “Have you read the file yet? Or are you too scared of what you might find?”

“How do you know about the file?” I ask, getting nervous.

“I know everything- get used to it.” She grumbles, “Anyway, returning to the main point, I’m not very happy that you ignored my warning Elia.”

“Did you really expect me to just let it go?”

“No, which is why I tried to scare you into it...I suppose I should have scared you more, I won’t make the same mistake next time- here’s the deal, I know where you are, I can release that information and have you all arrested in less than twelve hours, I could even go over there myself, and I will, unless you do something for me.”

“What is it that you want?” I try to sound calm but my voice wavers, my heart is beating ten times faster than normal inside my chest, thumping harshly.

“I want you, Annabeth, Max, and Daniel to all go ahead and read that file, report A341 to be more exact.”

“...then what?” I wait for more instructions.

“That’s it, just read it.” She clarifies, “I have a feeling that just reading it will be enough.”

“Fine.” I give in, knowing I don’t really have any other choice.

“You have twenty-four hours,” she tells me, “And believe me, I’ll know if you don’t.”

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