.: Chapter Thirty-Three: Question of Fate :.
Making her way up the porch steps, Katt Batten paused to glance over her shoulder, like expecting something or someone. The strange little shadow that had been following her for months now was nowhere in sight. After a moment of pause she turned and shouldered her way into the inn.
It was a nice enough day, the sun was peeking out from the clouds, but Isuelt was tired. Tired of looking for shadows to hide in, tired of needing something to do with her time, tired of hiding from herself. She managed to muster up the courage to head to the Inn, wondering if she could keep a low profile. It was something she had really been working on lately.
A glance was made to her cubbie and for a moment Katt's nose wrinkled when she saw the letters stuffed into it. It was avoided and instead she headed behind the bar to fish herself a bottle of cranberry juice from the cooler. Another glance was made before she huffed at the box. "No." As if it had wooed her and she was vocally answering.
For the most part, Isuelt kept her head down, shielding herself from any passersby. She didn't want to answer questions or elaborate or really even be here. But the truth was that she had nowhere else to go. For the first time in her life, Isuelt was truly trapped. And she felt like a cornered animal. She had tried going elsewhere, but had run out of money; and she wasn't about to do anything of questionable morality for more...she was trying to push those days behind her. The door from the alleyway slowly creaked open. Isuelt hovered by the threshold, listening. It was quiet, as was usual during the day. A relieved Isuelt stepped in and kept her eyes averted beneath the hood of her sweater for a few moments as she tried to look around.
It was a rare thing that Katt was hungry enough that her stomach growled and even then she tended to ignore it. A rumble in her belly was silenced with a sip from the bottle, which was slightly jarred by the fact the alley door opened. Color her surprised to see someone else coming in let alone the scent being one she knew. The bottle was lowered and she blinked at the figure. Issy. In a hooded sweater? Wtf didn't cover it. "Hey, Issy."
Her legs halted, her steps ceased. Isuelt simply stood there as if being still enough would render her invisible. She immediately recognized Katt's voice and instantly felt shame. She didn't really remember what had transpired the last time she had seen and talked to Katt. She was a bit too inebriated. But she did remember waking up on Katt's couch and trying to skulk out as quickly as possible. Isuelt possessed a lot of pride; it could potentially be considered a hubris by some. And this new situation that she found herself in was absolutely soul-shattering. The deep shame she felt burnt her hotter than any torturous flame could. She turned her head slowly, and reached up to drop the thin hood. After all, it did no good in here. "Hi, Katt." Her voice was quiet, almost mousey. She sighed and headed toward her.
The sudden stop on a dime by the woman had her growing silent. She was half expecting Issy to suddenly bolt and that..kinda hurt. What did she do now? The sigh didn't help. The bottle was placed down and she used the cold that lingered on her hand to moved across the back of her neck. "I can go if you want."
Isuelt scoffed lightly, "Why should you go? You were here first." Isuelt lifted her eyes finally to look at Katt. While she wasn't drunk, she did look tired: sallow complexion, mildly sunken eyes and dry lips.
"You look uncomfortable at my presence and while I am not sure what I did, I do not wish to cause you any discomfort." It was as honest as an answer as one could get.
A chuckle actually sounded, "It's not you, Katt. It has nothing to do with you."
"The way you looked just now says otherwise. You practically cringed when I spoke to you." She grunted quietly. "You know how I feel about being lied to, Issy."
She sighed and sat down. "I said it's not about you, Katt. That's all I got. And that's not lying." She lifted her brows and looked at Katt.
Her lips parted to speak but seemed to come to some sort of realization - whatever it was, Issy wasn't going to tell her. As much as she had let Issy into her life, told her things that many do not know, that trust only went one way. Slowly her lips closed and her jaw worked, like she was chewing on something. When her lips parted again, "What would you like to drink?" Since she was already behind the bar and whatnot.
Trust was only trust if it was ready to be initiated; and Isuelt simply wasn't quite ready to accept the truth of what had happened in her life, let alone share it with others. She didn't lie, yet she didn't offer information on this certain subject as a method of sanity and self-preservation. She shook her head to Katt. "Just water is fine."
"Sure thing." She abandoned her own drink to go back to the cooler to collect a bottle of water. It was set in front of Issy, unopened.
"Thank you," was whispered as she stared at the bottle for a moment. Then, taking it quickly, unscrewed the cap and downed about half of it. Forcing herself to put down the bottle she drew a long sigh and then lifted her head to look at Katt. "It's really just something I'm dealing with, Katt. Really. Not you." She swallowed and looked over her friend. "How are you?"
Katt plucked out another bottle and settled it near Issy as a backup for the bottle she nearly consumed in one go. "Mrm? Your daughter, yes?" See, she remembered! "I..." She tipped her head a bit. "I don't know? Still feeling really weird and this contact is killing me." She really hated the thing sliding around on her eyeball. Just..ew.
"Yeah....yeah, that." The fact that Rose had been an issue was definitely another helping on her plate. "Contact?" She looked up at Katt. "Rose is uhhm.....difficult." Another bit of water. Though she shook her head for a moment, "Actually, I'm sure I was a pain in the ass at that age, too."
"Mrph. From what I heard she sounded pretty damn worried about you, Issy. So I think you are both pretty difficult." It was spoken in a 'just saying' type tone. Realizing the comment about the contact slipped she paused only to blink at Issy. Hoping to let the slip slide she peered at Issy. "At that age?" was teased.
"I actually have no idea how old she is, really." She shrugged, "But she looks like a teenager. It's all a bit....well...." She rolled her eyes, "What the ****, whenever Renna is involved you know it's going to be ***** up." She felt she needed to divert her attention from her seemingly insurmountable problems. "What's a contact?" She looked to Katt.
"A bit weird? She is still pretty much the victim of Renna's ...crazy. You both are..But from what I heard you care about her, too. I think you need to ease up on yourself and stop being so hard on yourself." Kettle. Pot. "We aren't defined by our mistakes, Issy. What defines us is our ability to accept we made the mistake and rectify it, learn from it, and try not to repeat it. Grow from it if you will. So you have time to be there for her, if you want to. Even if it isn't as her mom. Be there for as a friend, a consult. Someone she feels she can turn to. That..is if you want to." she shrugged her shoulders slowly then stared at Issy. "Mrrrmmph." Yep. That summed it up. "Have you not noticed changes in me?"
She took in Katt's words. Every. One. Of. Them. She took them in silence, staring at the water bottle. Katt was absolutely correct. But for now, it was Isuelt's stubborn pride that was standing in the way of what Katt advised. Hopefully, she'd find a way around it soon before she let it kill her. Changes in Katt? As a matter of fact, she had noticed some changes. Positive changes. "Actually....yes." She looked to Katt. "You seem....more..." Her whiskey-soaked brain searched for the words, "More...positive. More at ease?"
A throaty chuckle was given. "Not..that..but really? Hm.." She didn't even realize. Raising a hand she combed her fingers through her black hair and as the light rolled off the dark strains, a metallic sheen could be seen. Ah! A realization clicked about then. "Edward..is back. Kinda. Stubborn man is hiding out in his lab again. I think he is trying to figure out what happened to him. To us."
She watched Katt, then absolutely stilled when she mentioned her brother. "What? Really?!" Well, that was one heavy stone lifted at least. "He's okay?" She was taken aback at the incredible relief that washed over her.
She had a feeling that would lift Issy's spirits. A nod was given to her questions. "Yep. He is fine just ..." She rolled her eyes up for a moment before lowering them to Issy. "Being him. You know how he is. When something strikes his curiosity he will stay in his lab like a crazy person. I'll try to get him out so you can see for yourself."
Her shoulders fell in such solace that she was nearly brought to tears. She wiped her hands over her face and took a deep breath, letting it out in a big sigh. "I'm....I'm just glad he's back. Don't pull him out of his lab; he loves it in there."
While Issy was busy collecting herself, Katt moved her hand to her left eye and tapped her middle finger against her eye or rather tapped the contact which she was removing. It had been worn to simply conceal the fact that her left eye was no longer that icy green shade but rather a color Issy might find rather familiar - the same color as her brother's eyes.
She sniffed and lifted her head, pulling her hands from her face. Another deep sigh and she felt she could continue. "Sorry..."
"Do not apologize. I do understand." A napkin was nudged over to her in case Issy needed it. She was about to say something else but decided against it.
"No, no...it's good. It's good." Isuelt cleared her throat and finished the water, only to open the second one though she didn't drink from it just yet.
"Mrm.." Was all she said for now as she rolled the contact between her fingers.
As she got her thoughts together, she sniffed once again. "Yes, but you do seem...I don't know..." She was staring at Katt's eyes. Yep, different color.
"Weird-er?" Was what she figured Issy was looking for.
"No..." She canted her head to the side. "Happier. More...in control."
"Mrm..." She tipped her head a bit. "I am not sure about in control but I am happier. I mean my brother is home. We still have a lot to deal with and try to figure out what is going on with me. I think that is what he is working on too." Lots of testing on her part.
"What's going on with you..." Isuelt repeated, now watching Katt intently.
"That is just it. I ...we...don't know. Renna had infected me ..um..last year. A few months before Christmas." She wasn't sure if Issy knew or remembered, either way she was covering her grounds, "She was ...killing me. My soul anyways. Taking me over. Making me..her."
She nodded. She remembered. Ed had told her. In fact, that's when Ed had told her everything. About himself, about Katt. And if anyone understood how Renna's 'infections' could affect a person, it was Isuelt. "And now?"
Katt exhaled slowly. "He did something to me to save me. Something that I cannot explain. When I woke up he was gone and any answers he could have provided at the time was gone too. That was when she had kidnapped him. During his absence I had literally began to feel like a drained battery. Still functioning but...dying." She had no better way to explain it. "Physically I seemed fine and it even baffled every one of the doctors on his staff."
"But he's back now and figuring out further what to do?" She stilled for a moment, worrying that if the control and the happiness she'd seen in Katt wasn't Katt at all, but the part of Katt that was Renna? If what Katt said was accurate, and Renna was trying to turn Katt into Renna... Well, anything with Renna was possible.
"I am not sure how to explain it, Issy. I think even to a degree my brother is baffled." She scratched her neck. "I went with Leo, a sudden thing that we didn't exactly prepare for," which meant she didn't even tell Clayton let recruit anyone for the 'mission'. Leo had came to her rather sudden after all. "I ...cannot tell you what happened just yet. Not until we figure it out but...somehow I ...we..triggered. Me and my brother that is." See, terrible at explaining tech-mumbo-jumbo.
"Triggered?" That was never a good word, technology or otherwise.
She was trying to figure out how to explain it. After a moment she sighed and rubbed her face. "When we found him, he was in the process of dying, Issy. Ready to explode...right before my eyes."
Isuelt blinked and swallowed. Ed said that that would happen, but frankly, Isuelt never believed him. She didn't believe it would happen. She had total and complete faith in him that he would find a way to elude his fate. Still, she listened to Katt.
"I freaked." she admitted without any reserve about it. It was the truth, "So much so that without even thinking I ran to him. Ran to him and threw myself at him. I did not want the last thing we spoke about to each other be words like we had. Both angry. Even if we are siblings and that is natural, I just didn't want that. I couldn't handle the thought of him dying and those being my last words to him. It tore me up..."
Isuelt smiled softly as she listened to Katt.
Katt took a moment, waiting for the feeling to settle before she spoke again, "When we connected like that..I don't know. He explained it like he was a charger and I was being charged. I took that energy from him, at least a big portion of it and because of that he stabilized and I was..better. The drain I was feeling was gone..."
"Destiny..." Isuelt whispered the word in a state of awe. After all, who else could have done that? They 'saved' each other. Fate had made sure that they had met and had become siblings.
She blinked up to Issy. "Huh?"
Still whispering, "No one else could have done that for him....could have saved him. And no one else could have helped you in that moment. It was destiny..." She'd been thinking a lot about destiny lately. It was the only way she could swallow the sick tragedy that her life had suddenly become.
Katt snorted quietly. "I highly doubt that. I think it was more dumb luck than destiny. Whatever he did to me before he contacted me, which he wasn't even sure would work, and all of it." She grunted quietly and scratched the back of her head. "Destiny..." That was a word she had not heard in a long time. "Anywho... he is stable now and I am too. Though," she raised a hand up to her eye, "We have a little strangeness afterward."
A content smile sat on her lips for the first time in a long time. And as she looked to Katt's eye, she noticed that it wasn't only a different color. She definitely knew that shade of blue. "His eyesâ€¦You both..." She quieted, staring at Katt. 'Strangeness' didn't seem to cover where her thoughts went. "Wow," she spoke under her breath.
"Yeah. We don't know why. Just an anomaly. It isn't like he can see through my eyes or anything. At least not as far as we know." She chuckled. "But he also has it too. It looks..weird...seeing him with my eye color..."
It took a long moment before Isuelt looked away from Katt, or even moved. She seemed to just be absorbing her story. Finally she drew a deep breath and ran her hands over her face.
"I'm just...so glad you are both okay." Shifting her attention to others seemed to alleviate the sensation that she was drowning.
She blinked slowly at Issy. "You mean him? Edward."
The weight of what had happened over the past few months and weeks was just so solid on her shoulders, that the small lift of worrying about Katt, about Ed, felt as if she would find the surface again. Isuelt's eyes were rimmed with tears. She looked to Katt in question, "Hm?"
"You mean you are glad he is okay." Katt corrected herself mildly as she moved to collect a third water for Issy and a few napkins just in case.
She rested her head in her hand and nodded slowly. "Yeah," she whispered. "And you as well, Katt." She glanced down, "And I really didn't think I'd ever see him again. I thought he was done."
"Why me?" It confused her to hear that. She was just a big thorn in Issy's side. Hell if she was out of the picture Issy wouldn't have to worry about her getting in the way or being a bother, so pardon the confusion.
"Let me ask you a question, Katt," she placed her interlaced fingers on the bar before her. "If you died, do you not think I would grieve?"
"I don't know." It was an honest answer.
A dark brow arched. "Seriously?"
She stared at Issy. "Yes. For someone I have given so much of myself to, you have given very little in return. You keep me at arms length and don't even seem to trust me when I've trusted you with some things that I have told no other. Like about my mother and father... I never told Edward nor Clayton about that. Mostly because it never came up but that is besides the point. But you? The one time you confided in me and I tried to shake you out of your guilt, you took it as me scolding you. I have looked up to you as a strong figure and to this day I still feel as you look down upon me as if I am a child. And yes, at times I wonder if you would be happier with me out of the way so you could be closer to my brother without my interference. I don't question you care, Issy. I just know it is limited."
She was taken aback, both literally and figuratively. It was a gut punch that she hadn't planned on, and it showed. Her face wore the expression of a horrified bystander who watched two trains colliding. Her mouth was open, slack-jawed and she barely blinked as she stared at Katt. Isuelt knew that getting close to people was something she had always had real trouble with. Friends were something that she could count on one hand. Not because of their indifference, but because of Iseult's deathly fear of intimacy. She was horrendous at friendship, and she knew it. No matter how many times or different ways she tried, she usually was better when she kept people at a distance. It took Isuelt an insane amount of time to build up the courage to actually trust someone and bring them into the fold. She wasn't proud of it, actually quite the opposite. She was shamed by it. But, in her life, in her line of work, friends usually met awful ends. And somewhere in the back of her mind, she was 'saving' them by not letting them get too close. However, that notwithstanding, it often left her feeling alone, isolated, hopeless. "I..." She couldn't speak, she couldn't answer Katt. Her shame was so deep, it cut her to the core. Katt was correct about giving of herself, while Isuelt...well, Isuelt had done practically nothing. It was in that moment that Isuelt pondered who would grieve for her. Who would be there to to truly feel a loss if she died. She was shaken to think it would be far less than she cared to admit.
"I am not mad or anything, Issy," she made sure that Issy understood that, "Nor does it mean I don't think you as a friend. I do. But you grieve over me? I cannot honestly say I know. I mean I've only seen you cry once..." correction time, "twice." She seemed thoughtful for a moment before shook her head. "So don't say you are sorry or anything. If it bothered me I wouldn't be talking to you now. It is what it is."
"I'm sorry," the whisper was all she could muster amid her mortification. "You're right. I'm a terrible friend. I'm a cold person." She swallowed her pill.
"Told you not to say that." Katt shook her head. "Nor did I say you are a terrible friend. I am guarded too. I don't let most people close to me and for good reason. I have learned that sometimes you can give, but that doesn't mean the person has to give back in return. So stop it." She craned her head a bit before eyeing Issy. "Let me return the question. Would you grieve? And be honest."
"Yeah, I would." She couldn't quite bring herself to look at Katt. "You are generous, you care about people. You genuinely do. You freely give of yourself, sometimes literally. You've been to hell and back and you still give others the time of day without wallowing." She wiped at her own nose. "You're a good person, Katt. No matter what you go through, you always somehow bring yourself to be there for others."
"A good person.." hearing someone say that felt..weird. "You think of me too highly, Issy." She chuckled quietly and slid her hands into her pockets. "Nor do I give myself so freely. When I give parts of myself to someone...it means I trust them and I have serious trust issues." She knew her flaws! "I am not a good person. I am a tamed murderer trying to make amends for the mountain of lives she has taken."
It was now that Isuelt's gaze flickered to Katt. Isuelt had been battling her past for longer than she would ever admit. And very few people knew the truth of what Isuelt really was, or the choices she'd made. Edward was one of them. Every word that Katt said could have been applied to Isuelt. Her head ached and she needed a drink. She rubbed at her forehead and wiped at her eyes and face. It had been an emotional afternoon for her. The usual cold-as-ice warrior was having a lot of afternoons like that lately. She wondered if she were having a mental breakdown.