Title: Fifty Shades of Green
Sex scenes, violence and character deaths.
Chapter 2: Discovery
I heard voices pulling me back from the abyss I had fallen headlong into. Concerned voices. I blearily opened my eyes and tried to focus on the source. Three people in nurses uniforms, although a little hazy, were standing over me and arguing about health insurance. Suddenly the fog lifted and I realised they were talking about me.
"I have health insurance." I slurred as I tried to sit up unsuccessfully. "The card's in my purse."
"Do you know how you got here?" Nurse One asked as I again tried to get up and away from these prying hands.
"Am I at Lenox Hill?" I asked fretfully. "I work here. My purse ... I need my purse."
"We found you passed out slumped at the entrance." Nurse Two tutted disapprovingly. "We brought you in straight away. Have you been drinking?"
"No." I sat up, batting away the nurse who tried to stop me. "I got attacked. Someone ... Someone helped me."
"Someone helped you? You were alone when we brought you in." Nurse Three added. "You were without any possessions. Your purse must have been stolen when you were attacked. You're very lucky, young lady."
I looked up into the face of a woman not much older than myself. Then it hit me and I lurched unsteadily to my feet. "My purse is gone? But my apartment keys are in there. My walkman. My insurance card. All my home details!"
"We've called the cops." Nurse One tried to reassure me, her face a picture of gentleness and humility. "Don't worry about minor details. At least you're safe now."
It turned out that calling the cops was a bad idea. The amount of paperwork involved in even a small incident had my head reeling. The hospital took pity on me and phoned my insurance company to sort everything out for me whilst I was busy with a detective.
"You didn't see the man who came to your rescue?" Detective Bland asked me as he wrote in his notepad. His face was devoid of any emotions and he sounded as if he were reading his questions from a textbook.
Didn't see, erm, well not completely. Green fingers. Can't tell him about those. He'll think I'm nuts. So I concentrated on the details that didn't make me sound like a lunatic - his attire. The trench coat and fedora.
The detective listened to me distractedly. "So you didn't see any facial features? Nothing unusual that you would remember? Anything at all?"
Green fingers. Three big green fingers like sausages pumped full of steroids. Fingernails on the end. My vision began to sway and I realised I was on the verge of passing out once again.
"No." I forced the word out with clenched teeth. Of course I remembered some unusual stuff - just nothing I could tell Detective Bland about. Any further information could put me in a padded cell.
"Then that's all for now. We've checked out the place you were attacked. The gang is gone, but we have our suspicians about who they are. We'll be in touch." Detective Bland couldn't get out quick enough.
Stumbling to my feet, I decided to check myself out of the hospital at once. It was a fainting fit, nothing sinister. I wanted to go back home and relax. Amid protesting grumbles, I headed out of the building into the dark night. Alone. With no money, no phone and no keys.
It was too late to be walking home, but I couldn't go to the subway. No cash, no ride. No phone, no help. Guess I'll be walking then.
Darkness in New York at night did not seem a friendly place to be. The streets were clothed in shadows, and I felt pinprick chills at the thought that someone might be watching me. My purse was gone - and with it all my personal information. The paranoia became worse as I crossed into a silent area - nothing but a slight breeze keeping me company.
I came clattering to a stop at the sight ahead.
My saviour was standing just up ahead, still dressed in his trench coat and fedora. He was, thankfully, not wielding his sword anymore. In his hand was my purse. As I stood there gaping at him stupidly, he tossed my handbag to me.
"You should call a taxi." The concern was mixed with a bossy know-it-all attitude and instead of coming across as caring, he had managed to irritate me with his lofty, preaching tone.
I looked into my handbag. Money was still there, all of it. Not that there was much to begin with, mind. My phone was undamaged. All my posessions were fine. "I'm not that far off. I'll just walk the rest of the way home."
I heard an exasperated sigh come from under the fedora. He looked up at me and I saw extremely bright blue orbs connecting with my own. The rest of his face was thick with shadow and I couldn't make out anything except his amazingly large eyes.
"Call a cab." It wasn't an option, his tone made that very clear.
"No." I was stubborn and wasn't going to be rail-roaded by a complete stranger. I didn't care that he had saved my life once this evening, I had no desire to bow to his whims and fancies.
Another sigh from under the fedora. "Very well. If you are determined to walk home, then I will accompany you."
"Absolutely not." I surprised myself with this statement. I surprised him too. His eyes flashed a warning at me.
He was dangerous. What did I think I was doing, defying him? He only wanted me to get home safely. However, I didn't know who he was. There were sick people in this world who seemed intent on helping others, where in reality, they would only help themselves.
"You are ... intolerable." He said it in a soft voice but I could hear the caution in his tone.
"Look here, I'm not going to be ordered around by someone with green fingers!" It sounded ridiculous even to me. Even my inner voice of reason groaned in disbelief.
"Huh?" He tipped his head and looked at me with his big blue eyes. They bore a hole into my skull, right inside my mind. "What did you say?"
He took a step towards me and I froze in alarm. What had I just said? Did I really say that out loud?
My body started to tremble with fear. "I ... I ... didn't mean ... it was a joke ..." Lamer words were never said.
"Green fingers, eh? Quite observant, aren't we." Sarcasm. And an undercurrent of humour.
I took a step backward clutching my purse to my chest as if were a shield. "Look, I like green. I don't know why I said that. You aren't going to attack me, are you?"
Was that hurt in his eyes? Had I just wounded him? He backed off a little, shaking his head in disbelief. "Yes, of course. You would think that. Everyone does. A green freak who saves them from a gang of rapists. I have to be the evil one, right?"
I was confused and humbled by the pain in his voice. I felt like a horrible person suddenly, and was unsure why.
"That's not fair. I've just had a bad night. I don't think of you as a freak ..." My voice trailed off and I looked at the ground. My cheeks were burning red with humiliation. "You're right, you saved my life. Thank you ..." I looked up, and the street was empty.
I have never felt more lonely and miserable than on the walk back after the little interlude with my green-fingered friend. I reached home without incident and let myself into my apartment with trembling fingers. Sinking onto my sofa, I found myself sobbing violently.
I hadn't meant to hurt him. How could something I say hurt him anyway? He had saved my life, though. I felt a horrid little guilt creeping into my thoughts, making my sobbing worse. How could I have been so mean? Green fingers weren't so bad. On the scale of green to rapist, I'd take green anyday. I'd let him down. Judged him openly about something that wasn't his to control. Damn it. I'd let myself down too.
The most interesting person I had ever come across. I let him feel like he meant absolutely nothing to me.
And, as I was discovering, that was further from the truth than I had even known myself.
The noise came from the open window by the fire escape.
The sobbing caught in my throat as I got to my feet and wobbled across the room to the origin of the strange sound.
"Hello?" I leaned out over the fire escape to have a good look. Nothing.
"I'm right above you."
I shrieked in a panic and fell backwards, landing on my backside on the carpet. For a few seconds I breathed heavily, trying to get myself under control.
I knew that voice.
It was the voice of Trench Coat, and I suddenly had a chance to make amends.
Before I even knew I was moving, I was looking outside the window, right up above me, into the amused face of my saviour.
"Do you have anything you can take for the anxiety?" He thought I was always like this? Jumpy as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs?
"I don't ... normally ... have anxiety." I was getting whiplash from craning my neck up to look at him. "I'm sorry. About ... you know ... before."
"That's okay." His eyes were smiling with humour. "Why were you crying?"
"You followed me home, didn't you?" I pouted.
"Of course. You wouldn't call a cab. Do you really think I'd let a young woman out of my sight in this city at night?" Trench Coat beamed down at me, and I suddenly saw his mouth. He had the widest grin I'd ever seen. Surely his mouth couldn't be that big?
"Can I invite you in for a drink?" I asked, hoping for a positive answer. My neck was going to be really sore if he remained sitting on the fire escape above me, forcing me to look up at him.
"I'm not allowed to have drinks with strangers."
For a moment, I gazed at him open mouthed. "What? How old are you? Who says you can't have a coffee?"
Trench Coat's eyes sparkled with humour and mischief. "I'm old enough to know better. And I have a very overprotective family."
"Come on. Get in here. It's going to rain soon." I beckoned him down, hopefully. "Please? I can't defend myself so I'm not going to hurt you."
"I've noticed how defenceless you are." Trench Coat's eyes hardened momentarily. "All right. I'm going to come in. Please look away - your apartment is very bright and I'm a little ... different."
"I can turn down the lights if you want?" I asked, trying to please him.
"That would be great. Thanks."
I walked over to my light switch and dimmed the room for him. When I looked back at the window, he was standing inside, gazing at me from under the fedora with those blue sparkling mischevious eyes.
"Coffee?" I asked, heading into my kitchen area. The apartment was open plan, except for the bedrooom and bathroom. I turned my back on him to show trust, and I heard him sigh gratefully.
"No thanks. I don't like caffeine."
"Okay." I headed to the fridge, babbling. "Can't get through a day without at least six cups. How about a soft drink. Juice okay?"
"Just water, please." Trench Coat responded.
"Just water. Right." I got him an extra fancy water in a tall glass, just for the hell of it. I put in some star shaped ice and a sliver of lemon to complete the look. When I returned, Trench Coat took the glass from me and shot me an amused look. I sat on the sofa and he sat on the chair directly in front of me.
"Water doesn't normally look this good."
"I think you've earned the best." I blushed suddenly and looked down at my carpet. He was the first man I'd ever had in my apartment, and the enormity of what this could mean hit me. I had a man in my apartment. Holy shit!
"Thank you." His voice was merely a whisper. He sipped from the glass, dipping the fedora to conceal his facial features from me.
"So. Um. What's your name?" I asked, feeling the heat return to my face. I hated blushing. It was such an annoying embarrassment.
"Leo." He had wrapped his massive green fingers around the glass and I watched them thoughtfully.
"Nice to meet you, Leo. My name is Georgia. You can call me Gia."
Leo's eyes flashed with interest. "That's a beautiful name."
"I think so. My mother gave me it." I grinned at him and he chuckled to himself for a moment.
"What does it mean? Your name?" Leo sipped from his water, his intense eyes assessing me.
"Farmer, I believe. I looked it up once on Google. Something like worker of the soil. Nothing like me at all. I am definitely not green-fingered. Not in the slightest ..." My voice trailed off as I realised I had mentioned his extremities once again. Green fingers. Wow.
Suddenly he looked at me seriously, his blue eyes boring into me once more. "You didn't answer me. Why were you crying?"
"I thought I had hurt your feelings. It made me ... sad." I explained. I dropped my eyes to the carpet again, felt my face flush.
"You didn't hurt me." Leo reassured, his voice strangely tender. "You can't hurt me. Trust me."
"I don't think of you as a freak." Okay, where the hell did that come from?
Leo regarded me gently then looked at the glass in his hands. "It doesn't matter what you think. You can't hurt me. I am ..." His voice trailed off as he stared at the wall for a moment, lost in thought. "... impervious."
And then there was silence. What the hell do you say to a line like that?
"I should go." Leo stood up, placing the glass carefully on my coffee table.
"Wait!" I'm on my feet before I'm even aware of moving. "Please don't go."
Leo has turned to leave but he freezes immediately. In a harsh, low voice his words sound like someone has poured poison into his mouth. "Why?"
I can tell I'm losing him. He's tensing, as if ready to jump through the window and fade into the night like a shadow. If I don't react now, I'll never see him again. At this moment I can't imagine anything worse than letting this fascinating creature elude me.
I don't ask for permission. I grab one of those green hands between both of my own. His skin is cool and hardened, rough with scarring.
Leo freezes. I've captured his left hand and now he's torn. I can sense him wanting to leave, but he doesn't want to hurt me. "Let go of my hand."
I keep hold of his hand, holding on to him for dear life. He's going to have to yank away his hand if he wants to leave. He could hurt me. "I want to see you."
Leo sighs, a full body sigh. He turns to me and places his right hand over mine. "Let go. You don't want to see me."
"Are you mutilated in some way?" I gasp in a small voice. "Do you have a hunchback? I don't care. Really."
"Of course you do." Leo's voice is strangely sad. "You are only fooling yourself if you believe otherwise."
"I'm not letting go without seeing you. I need to see you." I clutch his hand painfully hard. I won't lose him. Won't let him slip away.
"You want to see me?" There is a pained finality in his voice. "Then you must let me go. I've spent too long here."
"Okay." I release his hand and he turns to face me. He is much taller than me, bulky-looking in his trench coat and fedora.
"Close your eyes." Leo orders, the green fingers of his left hand brushing my face. My knees weaken at the contact, physical contact, with my hero. As I feel the electricity spark between us, I realise then that I have fallen for him. He is so enigmatic, so charming, so brave. I close my eyes after a moment, still savouring the feeling of his fingers on my face. His touch melts away and the room falls strangely silent.
My eyes spring open with the sudden fear that he has left, used my weakness for him as an excuse to get away.
He's standing with one leg on the window ledge, as if primed to spring away the moment I let out a scream or seem fearful of him. He has the trench coat wrapped under his left arm and the fedora is crushed in his hand, leaving his right arm unrestricted. My eyes brisk the outline of his muscular body - he's standing very still and just looking at me with those beautiful blue eyes. I take a deep breath as I suddenly understand his reluctance to show me himself.
The room is still dimmed, but I can see his outline clearly. I move closer and I see his skin - dappled slick with a fine sheen of sweat. His eyes are wide and frightened. I take another step toward him, edging ever closer. Not human. A ... tortoise hybrid. Something straight from a science fiction novel or comic book. His muscles are amazing. He really works out. I imagine that green body hitting the weights at my local gym and a crimson blush hits my face. Not again. Please, don't let me blush right now!
"Say something." Leo suddenly looks very young. He seems unsure and inexperienced at my reaction towards him. If anything, I'm more interested in him. He doesn't know how to respond to this, and he's more than a little freaked out.
I take another step towards him. I'm cautious, moving slowly. "You're ..."
Leo nods and laughs a little, a sad laugh. "A freak? Say it. Get it over with now. Tell me to leave or you'll call the cops."
I'm right before him now and he's looking down at me. His eyes look huge and scared. "... beautiful. You are beautiful."
He exhales slowly. I wasn't even aware that he was holding his breath. "You aren't scared? I'm a mutant, you know."
I am so close to him I can see the scars on his plastron. I breathe in his scent. It's a heady combination of male musk and some undefinable aroma that makes my body sing with need. "Do all mutants work out the way you do?"
Leo relaxes, the mischevious smile once again lighting up his eyes. Now, I can see his whole face come alive with a naughty grin. The effect has my legs almost buckling beneath me. "Only ninja mutants. Are you coming on to me?"
I gasp and step back. My face is flushed and feels too hot. Am I trying to seduce him? "I ... I ..."
His eyes suddenly harden and he pulls away from me quickly. Before he hops out of the window, he turns and regards me with an expression of steel. It's forced. I can see how much he wants to remain here, with me. "Stay away from me. I'm no good for you, Gia. I'm leaving now. Good night."
Then, he's gone. Rushing to the window, I peruse the fire escape and find no trace of Leo.
My heart is beating so fast I can barely breathe.
I topple out and onto the fire escape. Heading for the rooftop, I climb quickly, almost losing my footing on the steps. I'm finally at the top and I look for my mysterious hero. I can see the whole world from here, or at least, a lot of other rooftops. But ... I can't see Leo.
"You shouldn't have followed me." He closes in on me from behind. I feel his arms wrap around me as he embraces me. The cool pressure of his plastron against my back has me melting against him in pure bliss. He dips his head and whispers into my ear softly. "Stay away from me. I mean it. You'll only get hurt."
The pressure eases and I turn to face him, blushing furiously.
The rooftop is empty. He's disappeared.
In a haze of partial awareness, I climb back down the fire escape - my mind filled with thoughts of the tall, green, muscular and very, very attractive mutant. Forbidden desires take root in the base of my brain that sends warm messages to more intimate parts of my body.
He's right. I'll get hurt.
I wonder if he even likes me that way. The spark of electricity that flowed between us definitely makes me think he felt exactly the same as me.
I'm not concentrating on my footing and I miss a step contemplating my green-skinned beauty. With a cry of alarm, I throw my arms out - trying to grasp a rung, anything. With a sick moment of perfect clarity, I realise I am going to fall. Everything goes into slow motion as I look upward in pure disbelief. Time stands still. I flail wildly with my arms as I close my eyes and await the pounding pain of impact on the cement alley beneath me.
It should have happened. It would have. If not for him. He had been watching me as I clambered down the fire escape and had acted the moment he saw my balance fail. As I lay limp in his arms and he carried me up to my apartment window, I gazed in awe at him. My hand brushed his carapace - tracing the swords - shit, he has two of them - strapped to his back. He places me inside the window, ensuring I am standing before letting me go. I sway a little, intoxicated by his very presence.
He looks at me. His expression is softer than it was. He is brooding, unsure. "Don't ever climb that fire escape again, do you hear me?"
I nod mutely. He has a point. That fire escape is definitely unsafe. At least for my clumsy feet.
"We'll see each other again. I promise. For now, I have to go. My family will be worried about me." Leo reaches up and closes the window from the outside as he leaves. I don't think he trusts me not to try and follow him again.
I sink onto the carpet and try to tame my beating, wild heart.
What just happened? Leo saved me twice in one evening.
The only thing that keeps repeating itself in my mind is his final words to me. We'll see each other again. I promise.
My heart is going to burst out of my chest.
I feel alive.