She waited, and I realized that I had nothing to add to the statement. I tried again.
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"Well-" I said.
"You bastard." It was not an accusation. She said it calmly and clearly, her voice remaining neutral, matter-of-fact. There was no doubt in her mind: I was a bastard.
"You could have fucking well called!" she yelled, suddenly awash with rage. "Jesus Christ, Renton! I thought you were dead! You walked out on me, abandoned your apartment, told NOBODY where you were going! What did you think you were doing?!"
"Do you have any idea how much I've been worried about you?!" Carissa ran her hands through her rain-washed hair, slicking it back against her head. "Christ. I haven't slept right in weeks."
"I...don't understand..." I said.
"What? What don't you understand?" There was a dangerous gleam in her eyes.
"Why were you so worried about me?"
"Didn't I just say-!?"
"No," I said. "I mean: Why were you so worried about me?"
Now it was her turn to be off-balance. "What do you mean?"
"You'd only known me for a day," I said. "We'd only had one conversation- and it ended in an argument. I...Why were you so worried?"
I thought she would snap and start screaming at me. Instead, she sighed, and the dangerous gleam went out of her eyes. She stuck her hands in her pockets.
"I...don't know," she said. "I just...did. I couldn't get you off of my mind, and it was starting to affect my sleep. That weird night I can't quite remember, the conversation in the kitchen, they bothered me...more than they should have. There are a lot of questions you left me with, Renton, and not even Blake could answer all of them."
I snapped my fingers. "That's how you found me!"
"Of course. Didn't he tell you who sent him?"
"Yes...but...I got sidetracked."
"You mean you forgot."
I saw no point in denying it. "Yes," I said. "It slipped my mind."
"You LOST your mind, you mean..." She took a step toward me, appeared to consider her options, and covered the rest of the distance. Before I could think to react, she was wrapping her arms around me, hugging me.
"Christ," she muttered into my shirt. "I must be insane. That would work, then, wouldn't it? We could both be insane together."
I tried to hug back, to listen to her words, but a part of me was restlessly scanning the room from over her shoulder...checking to make sure that Morphine wasn't watching us.
Finally, she let me go. "Okay," she said. "I needed that. Now tell me what the hell you're doing in this place."
She rolled her eyes. "Isn't everything? The way Blake talks, you'd think you were living in the Winchester Mansion, or maybe Amityville. He keeps talking about the guy who owns it- someone named...Weiss? Or something like that?"
"Cross," I said.
"Yeah. He talks about him all the time...like he was a case instead of a person. Really freaks me out sometimes. And he told me you're working for him, or something..."
"I am," I said. "I work here."
She raised an eyebrow. "What kind of work?"
I shrugged. "Projector, mostly. Sweep and mop. Seat-check."
"You mean you're really WORKING here??"
"Oh..." She looked around. "Think they'd hire me?"
"Hmm..." She brushed away a stray hair. "I'm...I'm sorry. I'm not sure what I should be thinking anymore. Everything seemed so clear when I walked up here. I knew what I was going to say, and do..."
"What were you going to do?" I said.
She looked me in the eye. "Get you out of here," she said.
Carissa shook her head. "You'd understand if you heard Blake talk. He thinks something bad's going on around town. He just got another assignment out here a couple days ag-"
"Who IS Blake?" I said, interrupting her. The question had been preying on me for some time.
"Who knows?" said Carissa. "I know what he's told me, but I don't think it's nearly everything. He's a very secretive man, is Harmon Blake..." She paused, then went on. "He told me he works for a man named Gideon, who is some sort of important businessman and lives in the city...and he's, like, obsessed with the occult- Gideon, I mean. Blake works as his field-person, and tells him what's going on. So, I guess he's kind of a detective. A ghost detective..." She laughed nervously. "So anyway," he told me he had an assignment out here- something really dangerous. Something about...werewolves?" She chuckled. "Which is pretty far-fetched, I know, but-"
She noticed the expression on my face, and stopped.
"What werewolves?" I said. "How many? What do they look like?"
"I...I'm not sure. I didn't ask him about-"
"Did he say anything about anyone else hunting them?"
"Yes!" Carissa looked excited to have brought up something useful. "He said there was this van full of rookies who were looking for them, too, but that he knew what he was doing- sort of- so...Renton? Renton, are you okay?"
I was not okay. "Oh no..."
"Renton? What is it?"
I shook my head- not at Carissa, but in negation of everything I was hearing; everything that was coming together in my mind. It occurred to me- not for the first time- that the world was insane- HAD to be insane- for it to allow things like this to happen. I ran my hands down my face and saw Carissa standing next to me, waiting. Lines of worry marred her damp, cold skin. She was looking at me, expecting an answer, needing an answer. I had only one to give.
"I know what Blake is doing here," I said. "And I know what he's looking for. It's true, everything he said to you. Werewolves do exist, and he IS hunting them."
She blinked, confused. "Renton, how do you know that?"
"I know that because the werewolves he is hunting are living in this theater right now."
"Yes," I said. "Cross took them in and gave them sanctuary, just like he took me and-" I caught myself about to say 'me and Morphine'. "-and, and let me stay here. You haven't seen Blake in at least three days, right?"
"And when he left, did he take a weapon with him?"
"His gun. Renton, what-"
"Yes. Of course." I was pacing, not looking at her. "It makes sense. He's probably out there even now, looking for tracks and stalking through the trees like he was some sort of-"
Carissa slapped me. Hard.
It didn't hurt, but I was shocked all the same.
"I'm sorry," she said. "But I'm getting reeeely tired of not knowing what the fuck you're talking about."
'Fuck' sounded like a very strange word, coming from her lips. I nodded to her. "Okay," I said. "You're right. You should know." I motioned toward one of the lobby benches. "You might want to sit down, too. This could take a while."
"I've got time," she said, and sat.
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.