The morning before she’s set to go home, Kalenia pretends to sleep as Marco walks in. It’s time for her to make a choice and while she’s fairly sure she knows what to do, she still goes back and forth in her head every few minutes. Throwing the curtains open, light shines into a room she’s kept dark for most of her stay. He settles into a chair nearby and puts the news on with closed captioning, muting the TV so he doesn’t wake her.
Slowly she opens her eyes, a grin forming on her face as she makes out her boyfriend. The light shining from behind him makes him look slightly off but she squints through it. He smiles back at her and she scrunches her face up and sticks a tongue out at him. He pulls himself up and walks over to give her a kiss. It’s back to the quick pecks. He’s trying to look happy but she can see the fear behind his eyes.
He starts to walk back to the chair but before he can reach it Kalenia says, “I’m giving it up. Just so you know.”
Turning around, the look on his face isn’t as happy as she expected. One eyebrow goes up and he walks back to the bed. “By which I assume you mean…”
“Being a vigilante. I’m done with it when we get home.”
He nods but won’t look her right in the eye. “Are you sure? I don’t want you doing this only to avoid a fight or make things easy between us. I thought about it too and I decided I’m not going to leave if you decide to keep doing it. I’d rather you quit, but I want you to do what you think is right.”
“I’m sure.” She grabs his hand. “Look at me.” He does as she asks. “I got lost in all of this. Really and truly lost. I started because I wanted to do research for my case, thinking I could help people by knowing more about how this worked. It went way beyond that. I started out desperate to stop the program and by the end I was desperate to be a part of it, even if it killed me. That’s crazy. I don’t want to die. I want us to grow old together and have a good life.”
“Are you going to miss it?”
She nods. A few tears form in the corner of her eyes but if anything her smile grows. “I’ll miss it a lot. That’s not a good thing though. I didn’t learn anything to make me think about the program differently. I still think it’s the wrong way to protect people. I believe in my case. If I believe that, I can’t continue being part of it when it isn’t helping the case. If anything I’m making my case worse by making vigilantes look good and potentially compromising myself. I need to stop. I’m doing this for you but I’m also doing it for my case and for myself.”
He pulls a chair close to her bed and grabs her hand again. “So how does this work? Do we need to go down to the vigilante office and remove you from the program or something?”
“We don’t need to and I’m not going that far anyway.”
His eyebrow goes up again. He uses his free hand to push his hair back, taking a deep breath while he does so. “Any reason? Seems like a good idea so you’re not tempted to dive back into it the first time you see a problem.”
She swings her feet over the edge of the bed so she’s facing him. She pulls herself to her feet and walks over and sits on his knee. There’s actually not much pain. A combination of healing and strong pain medication. “You’re right, but I’m not promising I won’t get involved in anything. I’m promising I won’t go out and actively be a vigilante. If I see someone needing help and I can help them I may still do it. That was true before I became a vigilante too. The registration protects me if I need it.”
“You’ve thought this through.”
“I have.” She pauses, not wanting to share the last part but knowing honesty’s important as they get back to their life together. “There’s another reason too.”
“Spill.” He looks up at her with eyes that are somehow happy and suspicious at the same time.
“Well, there’s a chance the people who were running the casino figured out who I am. Not a certainty or anything but a chance.”
“How?” He wraps his arms around her, holding her tight.
She shrugs, leaning her head on his shoulder. ”I wish I knew. There’s a guy who may have used some clues they found about me to find out. If they come after us though I need to be able to protect us. I’m keeping the weapons for now. I’m not getting rid of what’s left of the costume. If they come after us, I’ll use the vigilante act to protect us. I’m not out looking for anything new. I’ll be tempted but I’ll fight through it. Do you trust me?”
There’s a hesitation but he nods. “I trust you. It’s going to be alright.”
“I know it’s going to be alright. Now let’s get me home. If I have to spend another night in that hospital bed I’m going to scream. I want to feel my sheets on my skin.”
Marco glances at the door before leaning in close to kiss her. “If I see your skin against only the sheets, I may not be able to resist.”
Laughing, she pulls him in for another kiss. “You’re going to have to hold out a little longer big man, we can’t get back to that for a few more weeks.”
He sticks his lip out and pouts but he’s struggling to keep a grin back. “Somehow I’ll survive.”