He was absolutely exhausted as he stepped out of his hotel room, the show
having drained him of any and all energy. Somehow, the others had found enough charisma to suggest going to one of the local
clubs, but he had begged out of the ordeal, claiming exhaustion. Due to the slight slump of his shoulders and the knowledge
that he hadn't slept well the night before, the others hadn't pressed him any further. However, he had barely managed to take
a shower before rushing back out of the room to meet the mysterious lady from the night before.
Don't get too
anxious, Carter. You don't have any proof that she has the answers you're looking for. For all you know, you were hallucinating.
pulled the coaster out of his pocket and examined it more closely before shrugging and heading towards the elevators.
if she didn't have any answers, then why would she be so intent on getting you alone?
Unfortunately, he didn't
have an answer to his question as he pressed the button for the elevator. Going downstairs without a bodyguard would be dangerous,
but he was too curious to worry much about the fans. He slid a fisherman's hat over his damp blonde hair and pulled his glasses
from his other pocket. He figured that, with a bit of luck, the modest disguise would be enough to sidestep their attention
He sighed with relief when the elevator doors finally opened and quickly made his way through the lobby
and into the bar. He glanced briefly over his shoulder and noted that the crowd hadn't roused at all. A small grin flitted
across his features and he chuckled. He had been successful.
Now, to find my date for tonight...
eyes scanned the room cautiously until he located the booth in the back left corner. His breath caught in his throat when
he saw a smaller woman seated, head ducked behind a menu and illuminated slightly by the dim light of the table lamp. If he
hadn't been looking for her, he wouldn't have noticed her, and he was grateful for the privacy that they were sure to receive.
However, at the same time, he couldn't help wondering how much she knew about him if she had taken pains to choose a place
where they wouldn't be noticed.
He shook his head slightly as if to clear it and made his way to the booth before
any other questions could arise.
The voice was soft and distinctly feminine, but it didn't frighten
him any less. Eyes wide, he slid into the booth beside the woman until he too was in the shadows, and she reached up and dimmed
"Sorry, necessary precautions," she said softly, still hidden behind the menu. Nick nodded mechanically
and cleared his throat.
"Understood," he returned shakily. He watched as his companion lowered the menu to the table,
allowing him a good look at her for the first time.
She wasn't blindingly beautiful, but there was an aura of dispair
around her that intrigued him greatly. Her violet eyes met his blue ones, and she held his gaze without smiling or frowning,
allowing him to examine her. It was almost as if she were looking into his very soul as her eyes brightened with intensity.
She had a pale complexion and light brown hair that was cropped just above the shoulders and parted down the middle. Her pink
lips were pursed slightly, and she cocked her head to the side and dipped her chin gently, silently encouraging him to say
"You have questions," she began softly, and her voice was shy. He immediately relaxed at the knowledge
and fell easily against the booth as he offered a tentative smile.
"Yeah, I do. What's your name?"
to the wall beside her, almost as though she were trying to decide whether or not to tell him, before returning her gaze to
his eyes. "Ryan."
Her lips curled in a hint of a smile as she shook her head. "Just Ryan. And yours?"
He grinned at her, offering his hand across the table. "Nick."
She took his hand gingerly and shook it quickly
before placing it back in her lap. Her violet eyes fixed on the tabletop, and she gave a heavy sigh. "Nick...about what you
saw last night. You weren't supposed to see that."
He bit back a smile at the way his name rolled off her tongue,
trying to focus on the topic of conversation. He had questions, and her demeanor did nothing to answer any of them. If anything,
her shy nature seemed to raise more questions. He gathered from the way she wouldn't meet his eyes that she blamed the previous
evening on her own mistakes.
"I gathered as much." He studied her for a moment, his grin vanishing. "You vanished
into thin air."
"That surprised you," she continued, meeting his eyes once again. Her brow furrowed, and he knew the
words were more of a statement than a question.
"So you don't deny vanishing into thin air?"
She sighed. "I
didn't exactly vanish. You couldn't see me, but I didn't vanish."
Nick's brow furrowed to match the expression on
Ryan's face. "I don't understand..."
"Maybe I should start at the beginning," she began, folding and unfolding her
hands. She finally looked up, and her expression was one of sadness. "Nick, you want to know what I was doing in the room
that night, and...well, truth to tell, I'd like to know what you were doing outside that room."
His gaze fell to the
table as he struggled to recollect. "I heard screams, then a slap, and then a thud that sounded like something had been thrown
against the wall. I was scared, and I guess I wanted to know what was going on. I mean, had I not known any better, I would've
thought there was murder going on in there..." He gave a light chuckle, but frowned when he saw the intense look on Ryan's
face. She didn't seem to be looking for the humor in the situation.
"There was murder going on in there," she countered,
and Nick's eyes widened. His chuckle was cut short as his jaw dropped.
"But...but no one was killed last night. I
mean, it would've been all over the papers, and management would've made us switch hotels, and..."
Ryan's pouty lips
formed a rueful smile. "I'm afraid someone did die last night, Nick."
He continued to shake his head, surprised at
the fear that was suddenly overwhelming him. "No...no, you can't be serious...not unless you covered it up..."
She chuckled slightly. "Perhaps you could say that."
eyebrows rose, but his features remained panic-stricken. "You'd better explain," he managed to whisper. He saw Ryan sigh again,
and his fearful blue eyes met reluctant violet.
"I asked what drew you to the room last night...in all honesty, I
was told to go there not long after you found the room. Unlike you, however, I was forced to watch the scene unfold before
me. There were two people in the room--a man and a woman--and the man was drunk. He began beating the woman shortly after
I arrived. She was..." Ryan's voice trailed off for a moment, and Nick thought he could see tears in her eyes as she continued.
"She was in so much pain, but he wouldn't stop! He kept coming at her until he lifted her off of the floor and threw her against
the wall like a rag doll. There was blood everywhere, and he was yelling obscenities at her, and...I know it was wrong of
me, but I couldn't stand to watch it any longer."
Nick scoffed, amazed that anyone could watch that type of scene
for any length of time, but if Ryan noticed, she didn't let on. Instead, she looked up at him meaningfully, her bright eyes
silently pleading with him to understand.
"Nick, he killed her right on the spot. In a fit of drunken rage, he killed
her. I don't even know what relation they were to each other, but I don't understand how people can harm their own kind like
that. Even under the influence of alcohol--which is how many of these accidents happen--I don't understand how anyone can
willingly hurt someone that they obviously had some sort of feelings for."
Nick's features softened somewhat at the
hopeless look on Ryan's face. He hadn't known the girl for more than a few minutes, but it was obvious that she cared very
deeply about everyone she came across. He definitely couldn't imagine the girl in front of him covering up for murder.
you didn't have anything to do with the murder?"
Ryan's eyes widened to twice their size as she stared at him incredulously.
"How could you...of course not! No, no, no...I see what you were thinking..." She trailed off, shaking her head. "No, Nick,
I had absolutely nothing to do with the murder. Believe me, I would've stepped in earlier had I been able to, but the law
is the law, and I'm not about to break it. It clearly states that we aren't supposed to offer aid unless it's a life or death
Nick interrupted her with a gulp. "You didn't want to let her die, then? You didn't want to kill her?"
She shook her head vehemently. "No, most definitely not. Quite the contrary, Nick--I wanted to save her."
rolled his eyes in aggravation. "Well, I wanted to save her as well, but it seems like she died anyway."
across the table and grabbed his hand, forcing him to look at her. "Nick, don't you see? She didn't die last night. Had she
died, you wouldn't be here, and I'd be answering to the Central Organization. What you saw last night--the flashes of light
and me apparently vanishing into thin air--that was because I saved her."
Nick shook his head, unwilling to believe
whatever it was that she was suggesting. People couldn't just come back from the dead. It wasn't possible, and he knew that.
"No, you couldn't have. That's impossible."
She sighed and offered a small smile. "Actually, it's quite possible.
I'm afraid it's not much fun, but I'd rather watch people live than watch people die."
Nick continued to shake his
head, pulling his hand from her grasp in the process. "No, you can't. You don't have that kind of power."
in a breath. "Nick, I do have that kind of power. With it, mind you, comes an enormous responsibility, but I was blessed with
the ability to save people from death. There's a whole organization of us that exists within your world, with you, to save
people just like the woman you were unfortunate enough to come across last night. Not everyone is meant to die when they first
encounter death." She gave him a small smile. "See, that's where my kind come in. If death arrives too soon, if life is taken
without reason, then it becomes our job to reverse the effects. We're Healers."
Nick stared at her with suspended
fear. "I don't understand..."
"Last night, that woman suffered a blow to the head that cracked her skull open. She
was also kicked numerous times in her side, leaving an open wound that leaked enough blood to drain her of life. Had I not
arrived when I did, she would've bled to death, but I healed her." Ryan sighed heavily. "It's the more rewarding aspect of
my job. I can't save everyone--that's the first thing they teach us all. However, when I can save someone, then I don't hesitate
to do so. The woman's companion was drunk last night, and she wasn't supposed to fall victim to his wrath. I got there in
time, luckily, to reverse the effects of his rage. I'm not always so lucky, though." She looked up at him with sad eyes. "It
amazes me how you humans don't see the danger in those bottles. When you drown sorrow, Nick, you drown reason. You drown all
logical thought. Last night shouldn't have happened at all. That man could've taken an innocent life."
listening anymore, though. His thoughts had drifted to his nightmare the previous evening, and he was frowning deeply with
each memory. Oddly enough, the nightmare was still vivid in his memory, and he could still recall the horror he had felt at
witnessing the scene, but being unable to stop it. He felt a sharp pain in his chest as he remembered seeing the woman hit
the wall. But it wasn't me. I was on the other side of the door, I couldn't have killed her...
Ryan was watching
him closely when he finally looked up. "What?"
He sighed. "Nothing, I just...well, I had a nightmare last night. There
was a man and a woman, and he was drunk, and she was hurting. He threw her against the wall." Nick trailed off, his voice
shaking at the memory. "Everything played out exactly like you said it did, only I was in the man, and I was yelling at the
He stopped immediately when he saw the look of disbelief on Ryan's face. It was his turn to ask a question.
She shook her head. "No way. You couldn't have seen all of that..."
Nick frowned. "I didn't see it,
I dreamed it. There's a big difference."
Ryan gave him another rueful smile. "Not necessarily."
"What do you
"Nick, you're completely human, right? I'm a purebred Healer. My reality is a bit different from yours."
narrowed his eyes in her direction, trying his hardest to keep up with the conversation. She spoke in a soft, collected voice
that kept him from being too alarmed, but the concepts she was introducing were enough to make him question the way he saw
"You're a Healer? How do you expect me to believe that there are people out there that exist for the sole
purpose of saving us humans from death?"
Ryan frowned. "Have you ever had a near-death experience? An experience where
you should have died, but didn't?"
Nick's voice was stern as he shook his head. "No."
Ryan, however, didn't
seem at all disturbed. "Do you know anyone else who's had a near-death experience?"
Nick was about to answer negatively,
but his thoughts moved immediately to Brian, and then to Aaron. His best friend had had heart surgery twice, surviving miraculously
both times. Brian never hesitated to tell people that he believed his life was due entirely to God's grace, as he wasn't expected
to survive. His younger brother had nearly drowned at a very young age, but had also miraculously survived. His blue eyes
rose to meet Ryan's, clouded with doubt and uncertainty. When he spoke, his voice was little more than a whisper.
Ryan smiled softly. "Then, Nick, you've already indirectly encountered us. You have friends who owe their lives to
us, which means that we've done our job. However, it also confirms the fact that we exist."
Nick's brow wrinkled suspiciously.
"So you're like angels."
Ryan frowned. "Not exactly. We have no connection with God, Nick, and we're definitely not
immortal. I was born, and I will die one day, just like any one of you. We have a life span. We just have an important purpose
that dictates the path our lives will take."
Nick sighed heavily and gave way to an overwhelmed expression, trying
to digest all of the information he was being given. "So you're a Healer, which makes your reality different from a human's."
He mentally congratulated himself when Ryan nodded. "How is your reality different?"
Ryan leaned back against the
booth and began examining the table. "Well, your nightmare means nothing to you. You look at it as though it were a mere coincidence,
simply a result of having heard what you did. In our world, your nightmare could mean a number of things, all of which are
much more important than a coincidence."
Nick frowned. "What are you trying to say?"
Ryan chuckled lightly.
"To be honest, I went into that room last night thinking that the death was entirely unintentional, and that the man had just
gotten carried away under the influence of the bottle." Her gaze rose to meet Nick's again, and he saw a certain amount of
fear and uncertainty in her eyes that made him uneasy. "However, after hearing of your nightmare? I believe that last night
was the farthest thing from an accident."
Nick leaned forward, resting his elbows comfortably on the table and in
turn resting his chin on his hands. "You're saying that you think someone intentionally tried to murder that lady?"
nodded. "Yes, and it wasn't her companion."
Before Nick could ask another question, Ryan looked down at her watch
and cringed. "It's late, and you need to be up early tomorrow to continue with your work." She looked up at him imploringly.
"I'll meet you here tomorrow, same time?"
Nick nodded mechanically, completely bewildered by everything that Ryan
had told him that evening. He felt a hand on his arm, though, and looked back down at her. "Yes?"
She had a serious
look on her face that seemed to mask an underlying fear. "Nick, you...you're human. I said that earlier. You aren't supposed
to know about us, but I'm not supposed to leave you with questions either. I'm due at the Central Organization, but you have
to promise me to keep silent about all of this until we meet again."
Nick nodded again, slowly, but his brow furrowed.
"But, Ryan, why can't I...?"
His question was left open-ended as the woman before him vanished again, and he found
himself alone in the back corner. He looked up and saw that the bartender was closing the place up. He took the opportunity
to glance at his watch, and his jaw dropped when he saw that it was already two in the morning.
I can't believe
we talked for two hours and I'm more confused now than I was at the beginning of all of this...
Before he could
continue to dwell on the subject, Ryan's soft voice entered his thoughts, scaring him into a less reflective mood.
Nick. You can ask all of your questions tomorrow.>
Too tired to raise any more questions about her voice in
his head or the present situation, he turned on his heel and walked quickly to bed.