I have to admit, I was a little nervous about meeting him.
I knew Revik a little, you see. Occupational hazard, really…in that I pretty much had to know more about him than even he did himself. He still had some secrets, sure, things I hadn’t ferreted out yet, shadowy years that still eluded me, in terms of the particulars. But from his point of view, I knew without doubt that I knew too much.
I even agreed with him a little…at least in terms of meeting him.
After all, it’s one thing to be a voyuer and an enabler, knowing things about someone you don’t intend to ever meet, at least not face-to-face…and knowing them simply for the purposes of documentation and narration. The thing is, even though I’d supposedly written all of those things about Revik and his wife myself, I didn’t feel as though they came wholly from me, not if I were being fully honest with myself. I also knew him well enough to know he wouldn’t make the conversation easy in any way, especially if I made him uneasy, or if he decided I wasn’t to be trusted. He wasn’t that thrilled about having people know a lot about him in any case, at least people he hadn’t vetted personally, much less total strangers. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to hide anything from him, and not only because he was a seer. He’d be able to read my mind, but I also suspected we might be connected in other ways, too…ways that would give him insights beyond whatever random thoughts he managed to pick up in his security scans.
Because the thing is, I also knew he was paranoid. To say he had trouble trusting people would be like saying Mao had trouble with religion. Really, apart from his wife, the list of those he trusted absolutely included almost no one. He’d told Wreg a thing or two, sure, mostly while drunk…mostly when he didn’t have Allie to talk to for whatever reason. He’d confided in Vash, especially when he’d been younger, and even Balidor a time or two since.
That was pretty much it.
So yeah, when he walked in, I was nervous.
Still, I saw him immediately when he walked in. I also knew at once that my assessment of his probable mood hadn’t been too far off the mark. He moved in that strange, graceful gait he used when he half-expected a fight, and his face was an infiltrator’s face, holding no expression whatsoever. He scoped the room out thoroughly, although I knew I probably already had the eyes of every other infiltrator in the building on me already. He even scoped out the architecture of the room itself, probably reminding himself of entrances and exits, even though I’d deliberately picked a location with which he would be thoroughly familiar, if only to set his mind marginally more at ease. Clearly, it hadn’t made a lot of difference.
He did all of this before he even deigned to look at me.
Even so, I knew he’d pinpointed my location before he’d stepped foot past the long fish tank that wound from the entrance of the bar back to the hotel lobby. I picked the bar at Park Place South, the high-end restaurant located in the lobby of the New York City hotel, The House on the Hill. Like I said, I knew I’d be better off meeting him on familiar territory, given everything. Familiar to him, that is.
Before I’d even managed to smile at him, he’d already aimed a frown in my direction.
“You’re not a seer,” he said.
“No,” I admitted. “No, I’m not.”
I saw his irises blur slightly in the pause before he next spoke, just enough that I knew he hadn’t finished his assessment of me, at least not from the Barrier.
I saw his shoulders relax slightly, but the tension never left his pale, almost colorless eyes. His black hair was slicked back, as if he’d recently left the shower, or perhaps the pool on the roof of the hotel itself. After the barest pause, where he continued to stare at me unapologetically, he sat down across from me. Even so, I noticed he put a barstool between us. Somehow, I had my doubts he’d left the seat open for Allie, who was supposedly going to be joining us later.
“Are you like Jon?” he said finally, giving a nod and a gesture to the bartender when the tall, auburn-haired seer behind the bar caught his eye. Not even a second passed before those pale eyes swiveled back to me. I couldn’t help marveling at the angular face and narrow mouth, which were pretty much exactly as I imagined they would look.
But my assessment of him only seemed to irritate him.
“You are, aren’t you?” he pressed, taking the glass offered by the bartender. “Like Jon.”
“No,” I said. “Not at all, actually.”
He frowned again, but I saw his eyes click back into focus before he used them to examine my face. He thought I was lying. I’m not sure how I knew that, but I was pretty sure I was right, more so when I saw his eyes showed him to be thinking. I decided not to argue the point, especially since I knew he still didn’t trust me, and probably never would. Of course, I’d explained who I was to him in our one and only phone call before this, when I called the hotel to request the interview. I’d explained it more than once, in fact, and to several in his security team, as well, when he insisted I speak to several of his seers during that same conversation.
Even so, I had no doubt he’d called Balidor the second we got off the phone, to run a trace on me, a background check, a Barrier records analysis and whatever else…anything to give him a better idea of who I really was and what I might want from him and Allie.
To call him paranoid would be more than a little bit of an understatement.
He grunted a little, raising the new glass of bourbon to his lips.
“You sound like my wife,” he said.
Still, it was the friendliest he’d sounded since I’d gotten there, so I couldn’t help smiling.
“Yeah, well…” I began lamely.
“What do you want, exactly?” he cut in, hitting me again with that pale stare.
In that brief look, I understood. Allie wasn’t ‘late’ for our interview, and she hadn’t been ‘held up.’ He wasn’t letting me anywhere near her until he’d decided whether or not I was a potential threat. Rather than getting into a discussion with him on the relative sexism of being hyperprotective with your mate…whether they were seer or human, and especially when they were as self-sufficient as his wife, Allie, was…I decided to let that go, too.
“Now you really sound like her,” he grunted.
I smiled, but didn’t try to respond to that, either. “I told you what I wanted,” I reminded him instead. “I’m writing a story for a blogger friend of mine. She posts articles about this kind of thing. I told her I’d try to meet you…like this, I mean, face-to-face…and write about it.”
“Why?” His voice still bordered on aggressive. “What for?”
“I don’t know. Just as an experiment, I guess.”
At that, he looked thoroughly unimpressed.
I think he’d also decided I wasn’t much of a threat by then, though, because for the first time, he took his eyes off me, relaxing somewhat into the barstool as he raised the glass back to his lips and took a longer drink. I was briefly tempted to ask him if he was drinking Woodford, then decided that might provoke him, too, and probably for no good reason whatsoever. So instead I busied myself by glancing around the room. In the course of that quick scan of the other faces in the room, I realized I recognized the seer sitting at the other end of the bar, as well. From his muscled build, the cropped black hair, earrings, tats and tight-fitting, armored shirt, I pegged him as Jorag, one of Wreg’s security team.
So Revik brought back up. Of course.
“I’m really just human,” I told him again. “Seriously.”
He followed my eyes to Jorag, and frowned. “Maybe. But you know too much.”
“Too much for what?” I said. “I write stories. I’m not in them.”
He shook his head, clicking at me softly before he met my gaze again. “You’re here now.”
I rolled my eyes in spite of myself. “Yeah, okay. But I’m not going to run off to SCARB and tell them what I know.”
He gave me a harder look. “I know you won’t.”
He continued to stare at me for a moment, but didn’t answer. After another pause, I realized I knew the answer to that, too. He didn’t intend to let me leave the hotel. In fact, they probably had the bar surrounded from the second I appeared in here.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him it didn’t work that way, not for me.
“I have a boyfriend who’s a little like you,” I offered after a pause.
At that, I got a real laugh out of him, if seer-fashion. Rolling his eyes, he snorted a bit, clicking under his breath in amusement before he took another drink.
“Really,” he said.
“Only marginally,” I said. “Only in a few of the particulars.”
“Did he fight in World War I?”
“No,” I said, laughing a little at the thought. “No, definitely not.”
“World War II?”
“No. Not then, either.” I shook my head, swirling my glass to get the ice off the sides as I
smiled to myself.
I shook my head. “Not there, either.”
“Is he a seer?” he said, giving me a wary look as he raised his own glass back to his lips.
Across the room, I saw Jorag had relaxed too, as if he’d gotten the all-clear signal at some point during that exchange. It wasn’t until then that I noticed Wreg sitting in one of the darker booths by the door, his dark eyes on the fish in the tank…or so it appeared. I considered asking if I could speak to him, too, then decided against it.
“No,” I said, after a too-long pause. “No, he’s human. Like me.”
Revik’s snort grew more derisive that time, making it clear what he thought of the potential for similarities between the two of them. Thinking about it, I had to concede his point.
“You were born in the same place,” I said finally.
He nodded at that, but clearly, he had already lost interest. I could see from his eyes that he was somewhere else again, maybe lost in the planning stages of whatever op they were in the midst of contemplating, or whatever intel they’d received on planned attacks against the hotel by Seer Containment or Shadow or whoever else. I’d gone from being a possible security threat to a waste of his time. I wondered if he would let Allie come talk to me, after all.
“No,” he said. He gave me a brief but uncompromising look.
“Why not?” I said, a little exasperated. “You can’t possibly think I’m a threat? And she’s…” I tried to think of a non-insulting way to phrase the differences between his wife and him. “…More used to humans,” I finished, a little lamely. “More social. You know.”
He gave me a look, as if he knew exactly what I’d declined to say.
“It’s not a good time,” he said finally, setting his empty glass on the counter.
I watched, wordless, as he motioned for the bartender to fill it again.
Realizing suddenly that I knew the real reason he didn’t want me to see her, I only nodded. Of course. I’d forgotten that I’d written his wife, Alyson May Taylor, into a pretty complicated situation herself, one that wouldn’t be overly conducive to unorthodox interviews like this one. Certainly not without a persuasive military or political justification. Really, under the circumstances, Revik couldn’t be blamed for not wanting her to see me…or to see anyone without a darned good reason. This time, he could be forgiven for being overprotective.
Hell, it actually explained a lot about his behavior in general, towards me, at least. He probably hadn’t wanted to leave her side even to come down here. He glanced over at me at that, his eyes holding a faint surprise. His expression lost some of its hardness in the seconds that followed, but didn’t lose its wariness entirely.
“You do know a lot,” he muttered.
“I do,” I said.
“But you’re right.”
“I understand,” I said. And I did.
After all, by then, I’d really remembered where I’d left things in the manuscript I was currently working on, which happened to be War: Allie’s War, Book Six. In particular, I remembered where I’d left things with Allie herself, as well as what the two of them had on their plates more generally. Between their new enemy, Shadow, and the deadly virus that was killing humans all over the world, they pretty much had their hands full. Plus there was that whole mess with Cass, who had been Allie’s best friend since she lived as a human in San Francisco. When I glanced up from my nod and my cranberry juice, Revik was watching me warily again. I could tell he still didn’t really believe me, in terms of who I was.
“You know too much,” he said finally.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “I can see why you’d think so.” I looked at him directly. “But you still don’t believe me? About who I am, I mean?”
“Would you?” he said bluntly. “If you were me?”
Thinking about his words, I had to concede his point.
It wouldn’t matter anyway. Once I was gone, it would be like I’d never been here at all, at least from his point of view.
“No,” I said finally, and unnecessarily. “No, probably not.”
We sat there in silence after that. We sat for what felt like a long time.
…and after that time elapsed, I was simply gone.