Dale decided that a bath was a must, no matter what she had to do to accomplish the task, even if it meant crawling to the damn tub after she tumbled to the damn floor from her damn chair. Wheeling into the bathroom, she reached up to the light switch, growling deep in her throat as nothing happened. She flicked the switch back and forth, crying out in surprise when a small spark was sent from the fixture above the sink. Breathing heavily, she tried the switch again, and to her relief, buttery light flooded the large space. Taking a deep breath, began her bath water. Her mouth almost watered at the sight.
She moved around the side of the building, mindful of other watchful eyes, as she tried to find another window to see what Dale was up to. She stopped at what looked to be a bedroom window, though the room was dark. Through the open slats of mini blinds she could see the open door led to what looked to be a short hallway, a triangle of light painting the hall floor.
Closing her eyes, she allowed the electric waves all around her to buzz to a fever pitch, melding with sound waves until she was able to zone in on what was happening inside the blonde's apartment.
Dale felt like a piece of leftover chicken as she wrapped her lower half in plastic, so it wouldn't get wet. She knew she probably shouldn't be taking a bath, but she didn't care. After the last two days she'd had, a sponge bath wasn't going to come even close to doing it for her.
She slowly sank into the depths of the hot water, only filling the tub a third of the way to lessen her chances of getting her casts wet. She washed her hair with one hand, using the other to help hold her body up. It was tedious, and somewhat painful, but necessary. She had to admit it was much easier with shorter hair. After she finished washing her body, Dale decided that it was time to attempt getting into bed. Part of her wondered if maybe she should have allowed Blake to help her, but then again, that damn kiss said a lot, and she wasn't willing to answer. Besides, she'd endured as much embarrassment as she could in one day. Earlier he'd helped her to the bathroom, thankfully leaving her in peace to pull down her own pants and pee.
Exhausted and weak, she gauged the distance from the tub to the chair, then mentally tallied the distance to her bed. "I can do this." Taking a deep, cleansing breath, the blonde placed her hand on the side of the tub, heart stopping as her hand slipped. She dried the side and her hand, then tried again. Her hand stayed put, so that gave her the confidence to push off, lifting her body free from the water, and feeling like a gymnast all at the same time. "Going for the gold," she panted, easing her broken body to the side of the tub, glancing several times over at the chair, making sure it hadn't moved in the three seconds since she looked at it last. Confident she was actually going to do this, Dale heaved herself that last bit of distance, crying out as the chair rolled backwards when she tried to sit.
Her entire body was filled with a wave of pain as she hit the bathroom floor, the tile cold against her naked skin. She couldn't move, pain and frustration nailing her to the spot. She stared up at the ceiling through her haze of tears, feeling like she'd was moving in and out of consciousness. She felt hands on her, felt herself lifted. Her dream savior remained faceless in the shadows of night. Soft words and even softer bedding met her, Dale easing into the comfort. She could vaguely remember the series of questions she was asked - was she hurt? Could she move? Did she need a doctor?
"Doctor?" she whispered, finally looking up into blue eyes. "You are the doctor, remember?" She grinned, silly and exhausted. "You came back." With those words, she drifted off into a deep, desperately needed sleep.
Green eyes slowly fluttered open, the harsh light of late morning kept at bay by the pulled blinds, tendrils of light attempting to escape from around the edges. Memories of last night's botched attempt at a bath came back to her, and Dale took mental stock of her body, as well as her surroundings. She was sore, but nothing felt out of place or missing, and she was lying in her bed, surrounded by a dozen pillows.
"How the hell did I get here?" she muttered, almost startled right out of her skin when her question got an answer.
"I put you there."
Dale tried to move away from the intruder's voice, but soft hands were on her shoulders in record time. Dale was stopped by . . . a hum? . . . in the touch. Dale stilled, frozen with fear. She looked into the face and was stunned to see the blue eyes of the dream image that had followed her throughout her entire ordeal. The face that loomed over her was beautiful, the sky blue eyes only the tip of the iceberg.
"Careful, Dale. You'll hurt yourself," the strange woman said softly. She saw the fear in the blonde's eyes, though it was being quickly mixed with curiosity, and stopped back from the bed.
"Who are you? Why are you in my house?"
"You needed help," the woman said softly, retaking her seat by the window.
Dale looked down at herself, suddenly self - conscious. She remembered that she had been naked while lying on the bathroom floor. She was now dressed in a soft, terry cloth robe. She absently pulled the ends together, unnecessarily covering herself better. The bedding hid her entire body. Even so, she slid further down, enveloped in a soft cloud of material.
As she observed the woman, who's own gaze hadn't faltered, she realized the woman was dressed in a bizarre sort of . . . body suit. Her eyes traveled over the strange outfit, noting that it looked like pieces of leather or something, were quilted together, covering her from just under her chin, full sleeves, then down to her feet, which were covered in some sort of rubber - soled shoe. Her long, dark hair flowed freely around her shoulders.
"Are you crazy?" she finally asked, meeting the woman's amused gaze. The woman shook her head.
"No. Just someone who's concerned."
Dale studied her for a moment, unsure what to think. Should she be afraid? Should she be grateful? It was obvious the woman meant her no harm. A blonde head cocked slightly to the side.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Sutton. I'm not here to hurt you, Dale. Odd I may be, but I won't harm you."
"How do you know my name? Why were you at the hospital? How did you get into my house?" Dale's voice rose with every question, her fear beginning to peak as the situation began to fully unfold. Blindly she reached to her bedside table, snatching the phone from its cradle. She gasped as a flash of light blinded her for a moment, the air in the room sucked out like a vacuum, leaving the blonde gasping.
She twisted around as much as her body would allow, trying to figure out where her uninvited guest went. Sutton was nowhere to be seen, the only evidence she'd ever been there was the frayed ends of the screen on her bedroom window, still smoldering.
"Wow. That is awfully strange." Peter Ramsey jotted a few notes in his notebook then turned to the frightened blonde. "You said you'd never seen her before? Before she showed up at the hospital, anyway."
"Right. I have no clue who she is." Dale hugged herself tighter as she remembered the creepy events of the morning.
"Okay. Well, we'll look for her, but to be honest, without a last name, no fingerprints, anything, I doubt anything can be done, Dale."
The blonde nodded. "I understand."
"Though with the description you gave, it may not be all that hard. I'll check with some of the local hospitals, maybe even the psych ward where you were at. They may know something."
"Okay." Dale allowed herself to be pushed out of the bedroom, the officer, and husband of a co - worker, leaving her in the middle of the living room.
"If you need anything at all, Dale, please don't hesitate to ask. I know Sandy has been worried sick about you."
"Thanks, Pete. I appreciate that. Tell her I'll be back to torment her Monday."
The officer chuckled. "Will do."
Left alone again, Dale sighed, looking around her apartment. For some reason she couldn't shake, she felt guilty for calling the police in, almost like something inside was telling her that Sutton wouldn't hurt her, and that there was far more with her than met the eye. But then she remembered the torched edges of her window screen, and the light that had filled her bedroom just before the strange woman disappeared. Dale shivered.
Winter was upon Chicago with a quick and brutal hand. Gone were the days of mild weather and refreshing summer rains. Gone were clear skies and light jackets. Snow fell in record depth and temperatures fell just as drastically. Though free from the confines of her wheelchair, Dale felt like a sixty year old woman as the cold cut bitterly into here legs and hips, aggravating the pins that held her frame together after so much bone mass had been crushed.
Dale had moved on with her life, thrilled to be back at work, and trying valiantly to hold off Blake's subtle, and sometimes not - so - subtle, interest. The kiss had never been discussed, as the blonde felt no reason to bring it up. In truth, she didn't want to deal with it, and as long as he didn't make it an issue, it wouldn't be.
As time passed, Dale thought less and less about the strange encounter with the stranger woman from the previous summer. She hadn't seen her since, and the police had found nothing, no trace, no record of her, just as Peter had predicted. Dale had boiled it all down to a strange summer all the way around, not giving it anymore credit than that, and genuinely grateful it was over.
She had no idea that on the other side of the world, a woman sit atop the Sydney Opera House, basking in the wondrous show of nature that was a summer thunderstorm, her thoughts never far away from the blonde. Sutton had quietly checked in on Dale a few more times before necessity bade her follow the storms that the mid - west was quickly shedding. Now, atop the international landmark, she raised to her full height, her blood beginning to surge as the crackle of electricity wound its way through her body, energy pumping through her frantic rates, readying her body's mutated chemistry until her arms spread, face lifted to the heavens as that split moment of pleasure/pain ripped through her, the deafening crash of a lightning strike leaving her deaf and dumb as her body was filled with the pulsing electricity that was behind her every move, tinged her aura with crackles of blue, and preceded her every step.
Sutton took a deep breath, her lungs ending their electrical seize, allowing air back in for the first time since the strike. She let out a long, shaky breath, eyes closing as the last remnants of the strike faded. She imagined, from what she'd heard, it was much like an orgasm.
Body still pulsing, Sutton raised her hands again, calling out to the waves of light, sound and electricity all around her, invisible to the average soul, yet a never - ending highway to her. A clash of lightning, she was gone.
Sutton walked the streets, no desire to attract attention, so she wrapped herself in stolen clothing, only the slight added bulk of her undersuit announcing anything different about her. She did her best to reign in the power humming through her blood, her body's natural abundance of electricity, coupled with that she'd gathered atop the opera house, made it near impossible for her to not short out every light she came upon. A few cracked bulbs was the least bit of damage she could do, and was glad of it; she had no desire to face down some thug or idiot. She lived a solo life, and was in an incredibly anti - social mood this night.
Her mood reminded her of her younger days, days and nights when she strolled the streets near her childhood home of Colorado Springs, Colorado. She'd walk up and down Academy Boulevard, one of the busiest streets in the small metropolis, hoping some wayward car would hit her, snapping her legs out from under her and send her to join her mother and father.
Now, strolling the busy streets of Sydney, Australia, Sutton allowed herself to think about her mother, whom hadn't crept into her thoughts in more than a year. It was just too painful. The recluse closed her eyes for a moment, just barely stepping out of the way of an oncoming couple as she opened her eyes once more. Though as the streets came back into focus, she also could see the one image of her mother she'd ever been given, a picture that had long since been lost. Her long, brown hair, so much lighter than that her daughter would have. Her eyes had been amber, Sutton's father calling them the color of champagne.
Crystal Marie Callahan, wife of Stuart Callahan. They had been married for four months when the news of their first child had reached their ears. The couple had been ecstatic, as Crystal had wanted a child since she, herself had been a child. And the day she'd found out her first child was a girl, Stuart had held his wife, her tears of happiness unstoppable.
Sutton was told by her father that Crystal would talk to her unborn child constantly, telling her how much she was loved, and how Crystal couldn't wait for the day she'd be able to meet her little girl.
Sutton grabbed onto the metal side of a fire escape, looking around her once. No eyes were on her, so she filled her chest with the rumbling energy inside her, closing her eyes and willing the energy around her to scoop her up and take her along until she was atop a nearby rooftop, looking down over the city. Separating herself from everyone else was second nature for the brunette. She wasn't like them, and they could never understand her. They feared her, well, those that were unlucky enough to see her oddity at work. Such as Dale. Those who had over the years had scorned her, laughed at her, or worse - tried to capture her. She had learned that hot summer day back when an eight year old Sutton had stood over her father's dead body, that she must hide her gift - her curse. No one must know. It would also be for the safety of the public at large to stay away. Yes, over the many years she'd learned to control her oddity, ensuring that nothing like what happened twenty - two years ago would ever happen again. Never again would someone lose their life because of Sutton. She couldn't allow it.
She pushed the returning thoughts of Dale out of her mind. She'd find another storm to chase, leaving Chicago behind her.
Summer had come, and it was hot. As Dale drove in her six month old Accura, she glanced up at the ominous clouds, a low rumbling threatening to loose nature's fury. She loved rain, and looked forward to the coming storm. The guy on the Weather Channel said that it would be a record year for rain and summer storms. Bring it on, Dale said.
The blonde scientist was trying to allow herself to enjoy the ride home from work. She had only driven a handful of times since the accident last summer. Hell, she'd only been out of the wheelchair and all medical attachments for a little over seven months. She hadn't been keen to get behind the wheel of another car, nor buy a new car, on the corvette driver's insurance, that is. Blake had talked her into it, convincing her that if she didn't try again, she'd be afraid for the rest of her life. He had used Dale's own competitive spirit against her, and it had worked. So, yes, she was driving again, but no, she didn't like it. Chicago's Friday night rush hour certainly wasn't helping matters any. As far as she was concerned, she couldn't just taken public transportation for the rest of her life, and been quite happy with that.
As she neared her neighborhood, the clouds ripped open with a violent crash of thunder, and suddenly the day was awash in driving rain. Dale flicked her windshield wipers to high, entertaining the idea of pulling off the side of the road until the deluge passed, or at least slowed. She was passing the park she could never remember the name of, the huge, ludicrous statue standing at attention in the center. She had to remember to ask Blake who the hell the statue was of.
Dale was about to move into the left lane for her turn when a blinding flash of lightning centered over the statue. The crash of thunder that accompanied it made the blonde yell out. Just as she was about to turn away, she was horrified to see a figure standing on the statue, body rigid as the lightning strike ripped through them.
"Oh my god!" Dale was already feeling around for her cell phone as she crossed three lanes of traffic to pull off into the park's parking lot. Her car screeched to a halt as she searched desperately on the ground around the statue for the body of the person who had just been struck by lightning.
"911, what's your emergency?" a woman's voice said on the other end of the line. Dale put the phone closer to her ear as she stepped out into the rain.
"I just saw someone get hit by lightning," she gasped, hurrying under the archway that led into the park.
"Wha . . . s . . . location, ma'am?" the voice said, her question a staccato of static. Dale shouted the address of the park into the tiny phone, the sound of the storm like a freight train. "I . . . nt . . . you . . . "
Dale cried out, static erupting from the phone, her ear buzzing. She pulled the phone away from her head, tucking it away into the pocket of her pants. She froze, looking up into the sky, every hair standing on end as an electric current raced through the air, her skin tightening painfully. She felt her toes curl and ears ring as something boomed directly overhead. She couldn't even hear her own screams as the sound reverberated through her skull. A jagged spear of light reflected in wide, green eyes. The next thing Dale knew, she was flat on her back, the cold, wet grass beneath her, a heavy weight on top of her.
"Hold on!" someone yelled in her ear, loud enough to be heard over the storm.
Dale's fingers gripped onto something slick, wet leather or something. The light overhead became blinding, the world around them exploding with the acidic smell of fire and smoke mixed with the earthy smell of rain and wet soil and foliage. The blonde wasn't sure her eyes were even open as she could see nothing but the specter of the blinding light remained. She began to feel fear and panic grip her insides when she tried to move, but her body refused. She thrashed her legs and arms, only to find that her hands were suddenly pinned to the ground. Blinking several times, her vision began to clear, two blue eyes coming into focus.
"Shh, Dale. Calm down. Take deep breaths. I've gotcha." The blonde calmed immediately, the familiar voice like a balm. She cried out in surprise as she felt herself being lifted into the air. Warm air hit her ear, then softer words. "Hold on."
The scientist clung to the blue - eyed stranger, gasping as her body was filled with a radiant, almost painful . . . light. Dale squeezed her eyes shut, her face closing in on itself as she felt a ripple of electricity flow through her, as though each and every one of her cells were imploding, sucking her into a vortex made up of her very being. Then everything went black.
Sutton watched the new day dawn, marveling at the colors that spread over the city. The storm had been violent, tearing limbs and leaves from the many trees, puddles and mud dotting the streets.
She sighed heavily, grateful for not the first time, that she had broken her promise and returned to the Windy City. She had felt it in the air, the brewing of a record year for storms in and around Chicago. She had managed to stay away from Dale, not even going near her home or work. Not until last night, when she knew the best place to go for the quickest, most potent charge, would be the park, rather the statue in the park.
Sutton turned when she heard Dale's soft groan from the bed behind her. The brunette was glad she'd managed to wake before her. She walked over to the chair she'd been occupying all night, slowly lowering herself into the seat.
"Why do I feel like I ran a marathon?" Dale groaned, stretching her arms then legs. A tiny squeak escaped her lips, making her guest smile. "Better yet, why do I feel like a marathon was run on top of me?"
"It'll pass. Your body's been through a lot," Sutton said, her voice soft. She met the unfocused green gaze aimed her way.
"What happened?" Dale rubbed her eyes and face, trying to clear her vision, which was still blurry, no image clear. She could see the dark figure sitting in the chair near the window. She blinked rapidly, trying desperately to focus. "My eyes," she breathed, closing them and rubbing. She stopped at the touch she felt on her arm, one of her hands pulled away from her face.
"Don't do that, Dale. It'll just take a little time." Sutton sat on the edge of the bed, reaching to the bedside table where she'd placed a glass of water earlier. "Here. Drink this. You need the fluids."
The blonde gladly took the glass, drinking the glass dry in moments. "More."
Without a word, Sutton took the glass, hurrying to the kitchen to refill it then hurrying back. As she walked into the blonde's bedroom again, she slowed, watching as Dale pushed herself up to lean against the headboard of her bed.
Dale looked up at the brunette as she walked over to her, taking the glass of water from her extended hand. The blonde looked at that hand, strong fingers, the skin looked dry, cracked in places. Her gaze traveling up her arm, barely able to make out the quilted pieces of the sleeve. Rubber. Pieces of rubber
"Thank you," she whispered, bringing the glass to her lips.
"How are you feeling?" Sutton asked, not sure what to do with her hands now that she was no longer holding the glass.
"Tired. Sore. My stomach is queasy, too."
Sutton nodded, clasping her fidgeting hands behind her back. "That's pretty typical with a strike."
It took a moment for Sutton's words to register. She took in a sharp breath when it did. "A strike?"
The brunette nodded sagely. "Yes, Dale. I tried to absorb as much of it as I could, but," blue eyes fell. "I'm sorry. I couldn't absorb it all."
The blonde pushed herself away from the nest of pillows between her and the headboard. "I don't understand. What do you mean, you tried to absorb as much as you could? You'd be dead, Sutton. That makes no sense." She grew quiet as she saw the strange brunette's eyes raise to meet her gaze - steady and filled with pain.
"You won't understand - "
"Than make me, damn it! Explain to me how you do whatever the hell it is that you do. Cause I have to be honest with you - you scare the hell out of me!"
Sutton sighed, running a hand through her hair. She glanced over her shoulder at the new day behind her, streaming through the windows. "I don't want to scare you, Dale. It's the last thing I want." She sighed again, her mind waging war with her heart and responsible logic. Finally she made a decision. "Okay. I'll tell you."
Dale sat back against the pillows, waiting patiently for the dark woman to begin her tale. She couldn't even begin to imagine what she'd say.
Still facing the window, Sutton began. "There was a woman, Crystal Marie Callahan, wife of Stuart Callahan. Crystal was nine months pregnant with her first child, and one night she got caught in a huge storm. Tragic storm, really. She was struck by lightning," Sutton snapped her fingers, "just like that, she was gone. But, her child, a daughter, survived. But she was forever changed."
Sutton turned away from the window, finally facing the blonde. "Ways that you can never understand. Ways that are strange sets her far apart from everyone else."
"That daughter was you, wasn't it?" Dale asked, her voice soft, yet careful. She saw Sutton's nod. "What ways, Sutton?"
"My body doesn't work the way yours does, Dale." She resumed her seat in the chair.
"How so? Because of the lightning strike?"
"Yes. I don't know. I guess you can say my body is almost like a battery. Everyone produces their own electricity, but in small currents. During the strike, I don't know. Something happened, some sort of chemical reaction, and my body produces a tremendous amount. I'd wager around forty - five percent more than yours. My body sustains itself coupled with the current. I have to, well, I have to recharge, if you will."
"And what happens if you don't . . . recharge?" Dale asked slowly, her scientific mind trying to wrap itself around the craziness she was being told. She looked deeply into the beautiful, yet very sad, blue eyes of the woman sitting in her bedroom, and saw no signs of deceit, nor lunacy.
Sutton shrugged at the question. "Things start to slow down."
"Things? Things such as your energy levels?" Sutton nodded once. "Your muscle action?" Nod. "Your heart rate?"
"Wow. Sutton, none of this makes any sense. I just can't, I don't know. I'm finding it very hard to swallow."
"I know that, Dale. It's crazy. That's why no one else has ever heard that story before." Sutton was preparing herself for a very quick departure, just like the last time she was in the blonde's bedroom. She gripped the arms of the chair with almost iron - like fingers, the muscles in her legs flexing and un - flexing in anticipation. She watched as Dale pushed the covers back, wincing slightly as she got to her feet. Once steady, the blonde walked over to her, looking down at her.
"And what about this? You were wearing this last time I saw you, too." Dale gently tapped one of Sutton's shoulders, the rubber - like material of her bodysuit smooth and cool. Sutton looked down at herself and shrugged.
"It's made from rubber, pieces that I've gathered over the years, or that I mend it with. It helps protect my skin from further damage," the brunette softly explained.
"More damage?" Dale couldn't help but take a step back as the strange woman stood. She didn't want to be afraid of her, and felt in fact, that her fear was misplaced, but she felt it all the same. Her curiosity took over as she watched Sutton take hold of the head of an unseen zipper that ran down her left side. Peeling back to rubber, Sutton turned so that her back was facing Dale. "Oh, god." The blonde brought a hand to her mouth, stepping up to the taller woman, fingers itching to reach out and touch. At the center of the brunette's back, between her shoulder blades, were two scorch marks, the skin so badly burned that the marks were raised. "They look like wings."
Sutton smiled, nodding. "Yes. When I was a baby, they very much did, and were the right size for them. My doctor used to call me Angel Baby. They didn't grow with me, but they didn't go away, either. Now they're mini angel wings."
Dale felt a strange unease as she reached out a tentative hand. "Does it hurt?"
"No. Not anymore."
"It used to?"
Sutton nodded, glancing over her shoulder. "Yes. You can touch it, Dale. I won't break."
The blonde concentrated on the scorched tissue before her; it was strange, almost as though the black and gray had been airbrushed onto raised skin. The feel of it was much different than what she had expected. From the looks of the scaring, it looked like it would have been hard and course, like a scab. Instead it was soft and pliant, much like normal flesh. She couldn't help but look at her fingertips, expecting to see smudges on them.
Sutton closed her eyes, trying not to lean back into the blonde's touch. She hadn't been touched in so long. She couldn't remember the last time she'd given or received a hug.
"You've been through a lot, haven't' you, Sutton?" Dale whispered, her hand lying flat on the warmth of the brunette's back. The flesh was amazingly warm - far warmer than Dale's own.
"We all have our scars, our burdens. Mine are no different. Perhaps just a little more visible."
Dale smiled at that, admiring the taller woman's courage. :"I never got to apologize," she said at length.
"Apologize? For what?" Suddenly starting to feel far too vulnerable half dressed, Sutton pulled away from the blonde, shrugging back into the sleeves of her bodysuit and turning to face her.
"For last time we met, calling the police on you." Dale gave her a sheepish grin. "You have to admit, though, it was odd that you were suddenly in my house, regardless of if you helped me or not."
Sutton chuckled, studying her feet. "Yeah. Sorry about that. I had been keeping an eye on you since - " realizing what she'd said, she stopped herself, taking a deep breath.
"Since . . . ?"
Sutton met a demanding gaze. Not wanting to frighten the blonde anymore than she already had off and on during their acquaintanceship, she decided to answer. "Since your accident. I wanted to make sure you were okay."
Dale was baffled, but then she remembered that she had seen Sutton's face in the hospital. "That's right. I remember seeing you while I was in ICU. I thought you were a doctor. Or a figment of my imagination. Did you work at the hospital?"
Sutton shook her head. "No. I uh," she swallowed and began to fidget nervously. "I saw the accident happen. You were hurt badly."
"How badly?" Dale had the distinct feeling that the brunette knew more than she was leading on.
"Bad. Uh, dead, basically."
"And the EMT's brought me back to life?" the blonde asked, hands on hips, head slightly cocked to the side as she studied the suspicious behavior of the other woman.
"Then how? My doctor told me I should've been dead. Why wasn't I, Sutton?"
"Well, uh," Sutton started to fidget more when Dale took a step toward her. She couldn't meet her eyes.
"Tell me." The researcher stopped right in front of Sutton, looking up into her face, though blue eyes would not meet her gaze. She reached up, placing a hand on the side of the brunette's warm cheek. Though she knew she wasn't, Sutton almost felt feverish to the touch. "Tell me what happened."
Taking a deep breath, Sutton finally met her gaze. "I restarted your heart," she said simply, thinking it interesting that she couldn't meet the blonde's eyes moments ago, and now she couldn't seem to look away.
"You did?" Dale asked, her voice almost a whisper. She felt her chest expand with sudden emotion. She could see it in the depths of Sutton's eyes, her very soul, the woman was telling the truth. "Why did you do that?"
"Because I thought you were far too young to die."
"Oh, Sutton." Dale closed her eyes as she wrapped her arms around the taller woman's neck, bringing her in for a long, tight hug. "Thank you."
At first Sutton almost panicked, not sure what to do. But as the hug lasted, she pulled Dale in tightly, resting her arms around the blonde's lower back. "You're welcome." She reveled in the embrace, quietly inhaling Dale's scent, storing it in her memory banks for when she left to chase another storm.
Finally Dale pulled away, but kept her hands on the brunette's arms. "Where are you staying?"
"I find places." Sutton smiled, a bit of pride in her eyes.
"You have nowhere?" Dale was surprised, though it made sense. Since the taller woman moved around so much, where logically would she stay? "How long are you staying in Chicago?"
Sutton shrugged. "Until the storms pass."
"Well, until they do, I want you to stay with me."
"Oh, uh, Dale, I can't do that. Really, it's no necessary," Sutton protested.
"I know. But it wasn't necessary for you to save my life, check on me afterward to make sure I was okay, then hang around too save my life again," Dale said, ticking off each incident on her fingers. "Somehow I don't think necessary or unnecessary is relevant in this conversation. You're staying."
Sutton chuckled, nodding slightly. "Alright." She wasn't' sure how she felt about the invite, but didn't want the smile on Dale's face to go away.
"Great. Now that that's settled, I'm hungry."
Sutton let the bodysuit fall to the floor with a loud flop. It sounded as though she'd just dropped a suit of rubber armor. In some ways she had, she supposed. The buttery light of the bathroom was bathing her skin in a golden hue. She studied her nudity, taking in the pale skin and lean lines. A few scars marked her body from mishaps as a child. It seemed no matter how minor the injury, anything due to current left its mark on her skin and on her soul. She didn't want to think about that.
She felt strange accepting the kindness Dale was paying her. She'd never stuck around long enough to meet anyone she'd helped in the past, so it was definitely a different situation for the brunette. Though in all honesty, no one in the past had caught her attention the way the blonde did. She had no idea what it was. Yes, Dale had been far too young for what had befallen her that day last summer, but young people died every day. What was so different about Dale? What made her special? Sutton did not know, but she did know that the blonde was special. Something about her, about he fire and demeanor. The life in her eyes. The determination in every step she took, which still contained a slightly lingering limp from her injuries.
She turned the knobs, the water power high as the water charged from the faucet. Making sure the temperature was right, Sutton turned the knob that would get the shower going, and stepped around the open shower door. The initial jolt as she was immersed in the water roared through her, but was soon replaced by a pleasant hum.` The warmth felt good to her tired body. Her stomach was full for the first time in awhile, as she usually just grabbed what she could, when she could. She had learned how to conserve energy over the years, as well as the recharge, which gave her energy food never could.
Above all, though, Sutton was enjoying her time spent with Dale. The blonde was quiet and thoughtful, and Sutton felt the need to try and find out everything about her.
As she stepped out of the shower, she looked again at the pile of clothing Dale had given her to put on. It would be strange without the bodysuit, but in some ways, the brunette looked forward to the change. She pulled the t - shirt on, then the shorts. Dale assured her they were large on the small blonde, and as promised, fit Sutton fairly well. Looking in the mirror again, she was surprised to see a different person staring back at her. A normal person.
Dale was lounging on the couch, trying to figure out what the hell made her invite a total stranger into her home. Yes, Sutton had saved her life. Again. And yes, she was grateful, but all the same, the brunette was in fact a stranger, and a very bizarre human being. The blonde now believed her, but still . . . What was Sutton capable of? Could she do any damage with her "powers", for lack of a better term. Dale didn't even know what to call them, what to make the of the entire situation. All she knew was that, to her shock, Sutton didn't scare her anymore. In fact, if anything, she felt safe and comfortable around the beautiful brunette; She was curious about her, wanting to know about her past, about who she was s a person. Way there anywhere she considered home? Did she have any family, since her mother was dead, and her father, as well. Any grandparents somewhere that she was able to go to from time to time and call home? It was heartbreaking for Dale to think that maybe that wasn't the case, and that Sutton was truly alone in a world that would never understand her. What did she go through on a daily basis? What demons did she have to face as she traveled the world, chasing storms? What kind of life was that, and did she have anything at all to ground her?
Her thoughts were interrupted by the opening of the bathroom door. Sutton stepped out, dressed in the clothing Dale had given her to wear. She looked so different in regular clothing - even more beautiful, if that was possible.
"Have a nice shower?" the blonde asked, tucking her feet up under her .
"Yes. Thank you. I have to say, I feel a bit out of place in this," the brunette chuckled, fingering the hem of her shirt. Dale laughed.
"Well, you certainly look more in place." She watched as Sutton walked across he room, sitting in the arm chair, stick straight, as if she had no idea what to do with herself. Dale smiled in understanding. "So, uh, do you have to . . . recharge . . . today?"
Sutton shrugged. "I can , or I can go without. I charged last night, so . . . "
"Right. And then some, right?"
"Yes." Sutton chuckled. "and then some.
Dale was quiet, unsure of what to say or do. For some reason, she felt awkward. They hadn't done much talking since their discussion that morning, and all of Sutton's revelations. Dale couldn't help but stare at the beautiful woman sitting next to her. She had no idea what to say to her, never one for small talk, but she just couldn't wrap her mind around the woman, her situation, nor how beautiful she was. Sutton was perhaps the most beautiful woman the blonde had ever seen that wasn't dolled up on TV or a movie. Sutton, hair wet and slicked back from her face, not a stick of makeup on, and about as natural as she could get, was stunning. She seemed to glow with her own inner light. Maybe it had something to do with the loads of electricity washing through her body, but Dale didn't' think so.
"What?" the brunette asked, feeling green eyes on her. She met Dale's bemused gaze.
"Nothing." Clearing her throat, the blonde scooted up from she'd slouched on the couch. "So where did your suit come from?"
"I made it. Gathered pieces of various types of rubber over the years, slowly stitching it all together, and replacing the parts that become damaged when I need to. It's a never - ending process."
"I bet. Do you ever wear regular clothes?"
Sutton shook her head. "Not very often, no. I feel naked," she said sheepishly. Dale smiled, but then turned away, suddenly an image off the brunette just that popping into her head. She was shocked at the vision, and somewhat ashamed.
"Who was that man that was with you, in the apartment?" Sutton asked, realizing by the look of confusion on Dale's face that perhaps she shouldn't have asked that. Now Dale would know she'd been watched.
"Uh, the tall man with dark hair. I saw him last time I was here. The night you fell. I also saw him at the hospital."
"Blake?" Dale asked stupidly. From the other woman's shrug she continued. "I don't' know where he's at. We work together."
Sutton was confused. "You're not with him?"
Dale chuckled, shaking her head. "No."
"Why did you think that?" Dale was truly curious. She also wanted to know how many times Sutton had seen Blake for him to have made an impression on her.
"Uh," why indeed. Sutton panicked for a moment, trying to figure out what to say, and how to respond. She didn't know why, it was just a hunch. She decide to tell the blonde as much. "Just thought so. The way he looks at you, it looks like, well, like he loves you."
"God, I hope not.," Dale blew out. "He was interested in me last year, as he told me as much, but that was it. Nothing since then. I think he got the idea.."
Sutton was surprised by the relief she felt. A small smile graced her lips, and she visibly relaxed.
"What about you? I know you don't stay anywhere long, but anyone special? Some handsome guy who's life you saved?" dale grinned, almost holding her breath as she waited for a response.
"No," the brunette said softly, looking down at her hands. "I basically avoid people, so any time I come into contact with them, I don't' stick around long enough to find anything about them interesting."
"Except me?" the blonde surmised. She smiled at the shy grin she saw on Sutton's face before the brunette turned away. Her smile softened. "You're so shy, Sutton. You don't' have to be with me. I wont judge you, won't call the police on you again."
Sutton smiled, looking at her folded hands in her lap. "No, I don't think you will. I'm just not used to this, used to being in someone's house, around the presence of another person. It's very odd for me. Its been such a long time,"
"Why do you isolate yourself so badly, Sutton?" Dale asked softly, reaching out to brush a few long, fallen strands of hair out of the brunette's face. Sutton looked up at her for a moment before her gaze fell again.
"Because no one can understand, and I know how dangerous it is for me, if anyone found out. People don't deal too well with those that are different and unique. Especially this kind of unique. Doctors would have a field day with me."
Dale nodded at the truth of those words. Hell, her own co - workers would have a field day with Sutton. "I see. You have no one, do you?"
Sutton didn't answer, she didn't' need to. Dale could see it in her blue eyes. Instead she took a deep breath, running a hand through her still - damp hair.
"You know what amazes me about you is that you're so strong, so very capable, yet I see a lost soul in your eyes, Sutton. It breaks my heart."
Sutton was surprised by the words, and even more so by the soft, profoundly sad tone of Dale's voice. She looked over at the blonde, slowly shaking her head. "Don't be sad for me, Dale. It's just the way the cards fell. There's nothing I can do to change it, so I do what I have to to survive. And, besides," she shrugged, trying to put a brave smile on her face. "I got to meet you."
"Yes, you did. And I'm glad for it. You're someone special, I can tell."
"No more so than you or Blake."
Dale took Sutton's warm hand in her own, squeezing slightly. "Let's just agree to disagree and watch a movie, okay?"
The brunette laughed in relief, squeezing the hand around hers in return with a nod.
Blake felt his impatience grow as he waited. Raising his fist, he was about to knock again, when finally he heard the release of chains and locks on the other side The door opened, and Dale looked back at him.
"Hi," he grinned, bringing up his hand to present her with the bag of German chocolate coffee. He knew how much she enjoyed it.
"Oh, uh, hi. Thanks. What's this for?" the blonde reluctantly took the coffee, looking up at him with questioning eyes.
"No reason. Just wanted to do something nice. Are you busy?" without an invite. The dark - haired man stepped around Dale and into her apartment. Dale looked after him, stunned, but then closed the door.
"Well, uh, yeah, actually I am. I've got company."
Blake froze at the words. He did his level best to keep his voice calm. "Oh yeah? Who's that?"
Dale walked into the living room where she'd left Sutton lounging on her end of the couch. The movie they'd been watching was paused. "Blake, this is my friend, Sutton. Sutton, Blake."
Sutton felt a small surge rush through her, and she realized it was jealousy. She could see it returned in his dark eyes.
"Hello, Sutton," the man said with a nod of acknowledgement. "Girl's night at the movies?" he asked, a forced smile on his lips.
"Yeah. Was there something you needed, Blake? Otherwise, we can talk about it at the lab Monday."
"Yeah," he tore his eyes off the woman on the couch, and looked at the blonde who stood in the living room doorway, arms crossed over her chest. "I was wondering if you wanted to catch some dinner. Maybe a show, but I guess not."
"No, sorry, Blake. As I said, I've got company." Dale tried to hide her irritation with a smile, though felt it came out a bit twisted and sarcastic than friendly apology.
"Right. Okay. Well, uh, Sutton, it was nice meeting you." He didn't even give the brunette a second glance as he made his way toward the door, Dale following close behind. Something about the woman with dark hair, who looked to be wearing one of Dale's t - shirts by the way, stuck him. Something . . . familiar, perhaps? He couldn't place it. He said his goodbyes to the blonde, fuming his way back down to his car.
Dale re - locked the door then plopped down next to her friend, sighing heavily.
"You could have gone, Dale," Sutton said softly. "You can still go. I can leave - "
"No! This is where I want to be, and what I want to be doing. I hate it when he just drops by like that. The man has no consideration for boundaries." She shivered, remembering the kiss from a year ago.
In truth, Sutton hadn't liked B lake from the moment she saw him a year ago. Something about him made her skin crawl and defenses standup. She certainly didn't' like him hanging around Dale. She kept quiet..
Dale chewed on her lower lip, a feeling of dread warming her insides. Deciding to ignore it, she grabbed the remote, un - pausing the movie.