"So," George began amiably, "Can you tell me what's going on? " Rock looked at George hard for a moment.
"You don't know?"
"No. I just came to the reunion and when the fun started I couldn't just abandon her. She's one of my best friends. She told me to go back, but..." Rock didn't respond immediately, and George thought maybe he wouldn't when suddenly Rock said,
"Lily's life is in grave danger." He sighed and shifted in his seat to face George and keep an eye on Lily who, although unconscious, was still breathing regularly. "You know we were involved in high school, some years later it came to my attention that she had made a name for herself in , shall we say, a ‘parallel" profession to my own, and I contracted with her to do an important job. This did not please my superiors and they made multiple attempts on her life, and ended with a ‘deal'."
"With Lily?" Rocks eyes took on a hard glimmer. "No, It was my deal. I agreed to allow my associates to implant a block in her brain that if she should remember the job, or me , unfortunately, she would die essentially. I was forced to ransack her Paris apartment to take back all my pictures, notes, etcetera, so the remembering wouldn't kill her. Things were going along well until she responded to the RSVP for the reunion. My associates were nervous, since the block had been there for so long, it may have degraded, and decided her death was a necessary thing, hence the assasins. I tried to warn her away from the reunion, but you know how hard headed she is. It was my mistake to let her see me." He fell silent now, his story told. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back on the seat. He was fully aware of the risk he had taken, and was grateful it had worked out so well. God, but she was as beautiful as he remembered. Maybe more so. He imagined her warm and willing in his embrace, her face flushed with passion. Would she hate him, now that she remembered? He'd have to wait and see. His eyes flew open as the car came to a stop.
"Well?" said George. "It seems to be the end of the line." They were facing what seemed to be a sheer rock wall. Rock hopped out and and moved a small rock near the wall and a door slid upward into the rock face. Jumping back in, Rock ordered him to drive slowly forward until the car was enveloped by the darkness pervading the interior. Rock hopped out again and the panel slid shut, completing the stygian gloom. Suddenly the cave was flooded with light and George had to squint against the brightness. Rock motioned for him to cut the engine and came around to open the back door.
"Lily?" He shook her softly. She did not respond. Rock looked at George who understood intuitatively and helped Rock carry her to a small cot at the far end of the cave. The cave itself was carved out of the hillside. It was roughly fifty feet by thirty feet. Along one wall a small spring burbled and trickled down to where it made a damp spot on the floor. Opposite that was a tall metal shelf holding several ammo boxes, sealed and locked against the dampness and ubiquitous mice. Near the back wall was the small cot upon which Lily now lay, and nearby a small wooden desk, very plain and barren of accoutrement. Rock motioned to the chair by the desk, "Have a seat, George." George crossed the room to sit in the proffered seat. Rock went to the rack and pulled down one of the ammo boxes. Deftly flipping the catches open and opening the lid, medical supplies were evident within. From here Rock produced a small finger type blood pressure monitor and took this over to Lily. Her pressure was slightly high, but not critical. He felt her pulse was regular and strong. She was breathing quietly, deeply and regularly, her eyes were moving behind closed lids and gave evidence of dreaming, and normal brain activity. Rock was much relieved and there wasn't much else to do now except wait for Lily to wake up. Rock spoke suddenly, startling George. "There are some bedrolls there on the shelf, if you'd like to lay down. It might be some time before she wakes again."
"Oh, okay." George responded, but made no move to retrieve one. Rock pulled the ammo box closer to the cot and sat on it, propping his back against the cot. He couldn't help but wonder what Lily would say and do when she woke. He closed his eyes and rested his head on the edge of the cot. George put his head down on his arms on the desk to wait and that is where he fell asleep. Lily was indeed dreaming. She was laughing and singing as she was being pushed on a swing. She could see herself as if from a distance, her long hair fanning out behind her. She was young, maybe sixteen or seventeen. Then she saw through the dream lily's eyes again and watched the ground rapidly approaching and dwindling away and then suddenly focused on her shoes. Her red and white saddle shoe styled Nikes. She loved those shoes. She laughed again and looked over her shoulder . It was Rock! Her heart soared. It was him! She'd been dreaming of him all along. She drug her feet to stop the swing and jumped off joyfully. A bright happy smile on her face as she took his hands in hers. He was smiling too and gazing at her with worshipful eyes. Her stomach tingled with excitement. Their heads inclined toward each other and at the moment their lips would meet Lily was swallowed by darkness. She felt as though she were falling, fast, and called out wordlessly into the void. With a jerk that spasmed her entire body she woke. Her eyes stared numbly at the rock ceiling that met her gaze. She felt heavy and weak. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply to ease the ache in her head and the dread in her heart. Thinking was difficult, as though the thoughts had to rise up through syrup. "okay brain, come with me now" she thought slowly. Reunion, yeah. Went to the reunion. What have I gotten myself into now? Am I hung over? But that doesn't explain where I am. George. Wasn't I with George? Where is he now? The last place she could recall being was the locker room but the last time she had checked the locker room was not inside a cave. Did I hit my head? Wait, I had a dream, Rock! A belly rush of adrenaline hit her as she realized that it was rock she'd been dreaming of all along. Why couldn't she remember before? She thought for a moment she had seen him at the reunion. At least that memory seemed real . So real in fact, she could almost smell him. Wait, what was that she was smelling? Damp earth, a slight odor of gasoline, and ...Rock. She opened her eyes again and slowly turned her head to the side to look around the room. First she saw George asleep at the desk and felt great relief that he was here, and alive. Then her eyes fell on Rock, his sleeping head beside her hand. She closed her eyes and swallowed hard. Tears of confusion and pain escaped the corners of her eyes. The whirling clamor of emotions overtook her and a great heaving sob ending in a wail came forth bringing all heads up instantly. Rock leaped to his feet and was by her side in a heart beat, stroking her hair , worry creasing his brow.
"Lily, honey? Are you in pain? What's wrong, talk to me." Lily had her eyes tightly shut , racking breaths shaking her entire body. Finally she took a steadying breath and said, "Fuck you, Rock.:" Rock closed his eyes to steady himself as he reeled from the blow he didn't expect, and when they opened again they were as cold as ice. She hated him. So be it. Once she had her strength back, he'd go. Again. Putting on his slightly condescending manner he usually reserved for those he percieved to be of lesser intelligence, he replied, "Well hello yourself, dear." Lily was absolutely rigid with frustration and dizzy with conflicted feelings. As her memory flooded her with input long forgotten, she hated him and yet she longed for him desperately. It was easier to let the hate rise up, it lent her some strength. Love makes you weak. Her heart ached anyway. Damn heart, what does it know anyway, she mentally railed. A little voice whispered back, "only what you want." Lily opened her eyes finally to see Rock standing over her, his eyes like an antarctic sky, a sneer curling his finely shaped upper lip. Her anguished look softened his manner somewhat and he knelt by the cot again. Lily looked right into his eyes and said softly, "I didn't mean that exactly." His eyes were still cold, but crinckled slightly at the corners in an imitation of a smile that didn't reach his lips. His own heart was beating a million miles an hour and his wary survival senses were trying to maintain an equilibrium. "I know." he finally said. "Do you?" she asked. He looked surprized at the question. Did he? He had made a snap judgement and now questioned it in his own mind. Great, he thought, now I don't even trust myself. What does this woman do to me? "Maybe not, we have a lot to discuss." He said, looking at her with a now blank expression on his face, afraid to give away any emotion he might be feeling. Lily moaned softly. "My head hurts." "It will for a while. That's the block's effect. You've lived this long, and thats a good sign. Most people just go into shock and die." Lily shuddered involuntarily. "I had been having headaches for a long time...I had an...incident and was taken to the hospital a few days ago. They said my blood pressure was very high, and gave me some medication to take, that may have helped. For years I've thought I had a brain tumor, but they couldn't find anything. My arm hurts, did you do something to me?" "Yes, I gave you IV adreneline and albumin to stimulate your heart and keep your blood volume up so you wouldn't go into shock." Lily felt reassured by his knowledgeable manner. "The block is made of organic materials designed not to show up on scans or xrays." This supplied Lily with the answer to some questions, and created more. But these could wait until she could think clearly. Her eyes wouldn't meet his as she quietly said, "I've been dreaming of you." Rock did not respond and she went on. "Only I didn't know it was you. I could never see your face. I assume this was due to the block?" Rock nodded. "I'm also assuming you had something to do with that, I have a vague memory of the proceedure." "Sort of," he replied evasively. Lily nodded and closed her eyes, resting. Later, they would have a long, long talk. "I'm thirsty, and I'd like to sit up if that's okay." "You can have a drink, but I don't think you should sit up yet. It might trigger more bleeding." Going over to the shelves he pulled down another ammo box. This one contained bottles of water and some small snacks, chips, crackers and the like. He brought back a bottle of water and cracked the top off. He held it for her as she took several long swallows. She rolled to the side and up to one elbow but her head began pounding harder with the effort and she lay back down obediantly now. Suddenly a sound like a muffled sneeze caught all the their attention. Rock rose quickly and quietly armed himself with the pistol from his waistband. Moving on cat's feet to the car, George followed. Rock squatted down and looked under the car. Seeing nothing he motioned to George and they went around to the trunk where George produced the key. With Rock at the ready, George popped the latch and the trunk lid flew open to reveal a thin adolescent holding both hands up in the air. "Don't shoot! I'm Dog, I'm Dog!" Lily's head snapped up a little as she yelled, "Don't shoot! He's mine! It's okay, ooooohh, my head." Rock waved the pistol at Dog, growling "Get out." Dog did as he was told, glancing nervously between the two men. "W-w-wheres Lily? What have you done with her?" Rock put his gun away and walked away from the youth. "Lily, who is this?" Lily sighed. This was all really just too much for her aching head. "Let's just say he's a friend and leave it at that. K must have sent him to watch me. He's clueless and harmless. What was she thinking? His real name is Rupert." Lily made a mental note to tell K what she thought of her endangering this boy's life when she saw her next. Rupert came slowly over to where Lily lay, keeping nervous eyes on Rock. "Lily? Are you okay?" "I'm alright, dog, Rupert. Meet Rock, he's the angry one with the gun, and George, one of my oldest friends." The three men nodded at one another. Rock stode over to the desk and perched atop it. "Great. Quite a little group we have here." "Don't sound so enthused." Lily grumbled. "George and Dog, I mean Rupert, are going home,.. today." Suddenly a frown creased Lily's brow. "What day is it? What time is it?" The familiar panic came upon her. Now at least she sort of knew what had happened to that lost time. She had spent it with Rock, and at quite a cost. "It is saturday, about four thirty a.m." George supplied. Lily relaxed, it hadn't been that long since losing conciousness. "Can you all manage not to kill each other if I go back to sleep? I'm so tired." The three men looked at each other as if to say, well? Nodding and bobbing their heads around Lily cracked an eye to see this, as she had heard nothing. "Good. Behave, and wake me in a few hours, okay?" With this said Lily dropped almost immediately into sleep, dreamless and restorative.