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Dave drifted in and out of consciousness for a while. Every time he woke, he’d keep his eyes shut, feeling an overwhelming and nameless sense of dread. Then he’d remember that he’d escaped, that no one was waiting to torture him more. Eventually, he opened his eyes. The off-white, rectangular ceiling tiles of a hospital room greeted him, and he could hear muffled voices from the people in the hallway.
Dave turned his head, which was cushioned by a thick pillow. Harris and Moreen sat next to his bed.
“How long—” Dave coughed, his throat scratchy. “How long have I been out?”
“A couple hours.” Harris tried to smile, but it didn’t quite stick. “Which really isn’t enough. You should get back to sleep.”
Sleep sounded nice. Dave’s head felt cloudy, and his limbs were heavy and numb. But something nagged at him. He was forgetting something, or there was something he needed to do and….
He jerked up. “They’re working together. Blueblood, the Black Valentine, and—” Continue reading
Moreen sat on the edge of her hospital gurney, her right foot tapping rapidly on the floor. From her curtained-off cubicle, she watched doctors, nurses, and the occasional police officer rush past. Someone would moan or cry out occasionally, drowning out the hushed conversation and beeping medical equipment. The ER was a hive of activity, none of it enough to distract her from the pain in her arm or the worry gnawing her insides.
A familiar figure in goggles and a tight, blue and yellow suit spotted her and rushed up.
“How are you?” Harris asked.
“Fine,” she grunted. “Any news?”
“You’re not fine. Your arm’s broken, right? They putting you in cast?”
“Surgery first. They need to put in wires or something. It’s fine. Any news?”
She knew the answer even before he shook his head regretfully. If he’d had good news, he would have blurted it out before asking about her arm.
“We’ve got eyes on every possible bolt-hole they could be taking him to,” Harris said. “Giordano’s and Madame Morphine’s faces are plastered across the news. We’re hauling in everybody who’s ever spoken to them for questioning. And a psychometrist is going over the whole hotel. We’ll find him.”
“I should be out there, too.” Continue reading
Val was having a surprisingly good time. Nobody ever associated hospitals with fun, but for a telepath like her, they could be particularly unpleasant. (Try blocking out the thoughts and sensations of the patient in the next room having a colonoscopy sometime. Not fun.) She had the exatrin in her system to thank for a peaceful headspace, but the main reason for her good mood was Dave.
He’d gotten her popcorn. Just a small bag of white cheddar popcorn from the vending machine outside, but it gave the room a movie theater atmosphere as they watched the soap opera. He kept up a running commentary for her, explaining backstory from previous episodes and translating dialogue she didn’t understand. (Spanish was close enough to Italian that she could get the gist of it most of the time, but she’d never studied the language.) The show was ridiculous but strangely enthralling—or maybe that was the company. She doubted it would be as much fun watching by herself. In any case, the credits rolled far too soon.
“You didn’t tell me it ended on a cliffhanger,” Val accused. “What happens next? Do they prove Maricruz is innocent?”
“Eventually. I think she spends the next three or four episodes in prison, though. Concha ends up in there, too.”
“What? No. Concha was my favorite.”
He gave her a strange look. “She just tried to poison her own husband.”
Val laughed. “I know. She’s so ambitious. I love her.” She turned down the volume as the TV went to commercial. “So who’s your favorite character? Don’t tell me it’s whatshisname the billionaire superhero love interest.” Continue reading
Dave realized he’d lost his mind the moment he considered buying her flowers.
He blamed it on sleep-deprivation. The time difference meant he’d woken up at four in the morning, and it had been a long day of non-stop meetings, murder investigations, and fights. Then it was straight to the hospital to make sure the Black Valentine didn’t try anything funny like stealing all the drugs in the building while the doctors treated her. Her bullet wound wasn’t serious. Dave had seen friends and colleagues with worse, but that didn’t mean surgery wouldn’t hurt like hell, especially since she couldn’t take any anesthesia. The way she’d clenched shut her eyes as they stitched her up gave Dave an idiotic urge to punch the doctors for hurting her.
Now, Val rested in bed, and Dave stood guard—or sat guard, rather. He sat near her bed, drinking a cup of coffee a nurse had brought him, and as he gazed around the bland, private room, the thought crossed his mind that it could use some flowers.
It was a stupid idea for so many reasons. First, he didn’t exactly carry his wallet around when he was in costume. Second, even if he did have money, he’d have to leave Val unguarded to go downstairs to the gift shop. Third, he was in costume, and the moment someone spotted White Knight holding a bouquet, the tabloids would explode with speculation. And why would he even consider buying a supervillain flowers? If this was Pretty Boy Jeffries, the idea would be ridiculous. Was he only feeling sorry for Val because she was a woman? He pictured Madam Guillotine lying in bed instead, and the urge disappeared. So it was just Val, then.
“There’s nothing on,” Val groaned. She held the remote to the small, cheap TV on the counter across from her bed and was flipping through the channels. Continue reading