I could feel my entire body tense up at Ruby’s hug—I didn’t know how to react. Here I had spent my entire teenage life on the run, and now someone was trying to show me an honest gesture of affection? It had to be a trap. I quickly shook off the warm fuzzy feelings I was having and scanned the area for Tracers—if they were using her to get to me, they would have to be near enough for me to sense them. I found none; this was all too bizarre for me.
My curiosity blossomed and I decided if Ruby DID have some kind of gift that kept the tracers from locking onto her it would best I follow her. Of course, it would also prove to me whether or not she was actually a Tracer or a spy for them. If she truly did what she said she would, then she really did care about me. A tingle went through my body at the thought of being able to actually have a real friend again.
Don’t get to hasty… I thought to myself. Don’t get your hopes up, or it will be heartbreak AND the Seventh Sanctum for you. Remember, anyone and everyone is vulnerable to being a pawn in your capture.
I straightened my posture and regained my composure, headed quickly in the direction I had seen Ruby leave only just moments before. I took a deep breath and lengthened my stride to catch up with her, slowing when I reached the lobby doors. I made time to check us out of the room before leaving the hotel to, hopefully, avoid raising suspicion. I took a deep breath and pushed the doors open, catching Ruby’s figure turning down the sidewalk out of the corner of my eye.
Slowly but surely I tracked Ruby all through town, following through alleyways and things I knew had to be shortcuts she had learned over years of walking the same paths day after day. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself how she was able to remain in the same place all her life—that is, if she wasn’t a decoy placed for my capture. Something about her struck me as different, and I couldn’t bring myself to shake the experience from the day before out of my mind. Something rattled those Tracers, and wiped me from their radar. Something…. or Someone… I shook my head again, trying to remind myself that it all could have been an act to make me think I had gotten away easy. I refocused myself on my personal mission of proving whether or not Ruby was to be trusted.
After about 10 minutes of tracking, Ruby finally stopped in front of what looked like a rundown little home from the outside. The yard was well kept, but there was a certain rustic look to the house that gave me the idea that she really couldn’t afford much of a place to live, and she certainly wasn’t being paid by the Government.
Considering the bounty on my shoulders was about a billion by now, there was no way she would live in a place like this with that kind of cash. Unless it was just a decoy. I sighed leaning back against the bush I was hiding behind and silently reassured myself that when I followed her back she would go straight to the hotel—just as she had said. A small discontentment lurked in the pit of my stomach but I pushed it aside, hoping that she was genuinely telling me the truth and wanted to be my friend.
A slam of a door coming from behind me snapped me out of my thoughts and I peeked through the bushes to see Ruby coming back out of the house with a duffel bag full of things. What was in it? Money? Clothes? Necessities? Or was it weapons of torture to get me to turn myself in? I proceeded to follow her all the way back to the hotel on the same route we came, making sure to keep my distance but while still maintaining my sight of her at all times.
When she returned to the hotel, I waited in the lobby, carefully hidden behind a newspaper while she took the elevator up to what was our room. Minutes later I saw her return to the lobby, looking as if she had been deserted by the love of her life. I peeked around my newspaper while she talked to the receptionist, then headed towards me and sat down in seats across from me. It was then I decided it was time to make myself known.
“Looking for someone?” I asked lowering the paper. Her face lit up.
“Actually…yes. You. I thought you had run away and I’d never see you again.”
Her face dropped a little. I rose and walked over to her, encasing her in a big hug.
I watched as Ruby blinked a few times, trying to process what I had told her. It was a few moments before she spoke again.
“If you’d never run away from me, then why did you leave in the first place?”
I could see the gears in her head turning, her brow furrowed in intense concentration, trying to put a reason to my actions. I took a deep breath then let it out slowly, running my hands through my hair. I wasn’t sure what to say—I had told her everything about my past, hadn’t I? Or was she trying to get more information out of me before she locked me away? I decided it was worth the risk.
“Ruby, as I told you last night, I’ve been doing nothing but running for a very long time. With the tracers getting closer and closer at every turn, I can’t trust anyone—not even you until just now. I had to be certain that you weren’t another trap that had been set for me. That’s why I left, so I could follow you and make sure you weren’t reporting back to tracers or even the Government themselves. I have a duty to my family to survive, and if I don’t I have failed them. I’m sure one day I will not be able to resist capture, but until then I will always be on the run and holding my guard up.”
I paused for a moment and eyed her bag suspiciously.
“Speaking of which,” I continued. “Will you please show me what’s in your duffel? Not to be nosey… I just…”
I hadn’t even finished my sentence before Ruby was unzipping her duffel and starting to pull its contents out, and set them on the lobby floor. I watched as she unloaded five pairs of clean clothes, a queen sized quilt, and what appeared to be a large sum of twenty dollar bills. I gasped in amazement, tears in my eyes and hugged her tight.
“Ruby…you didn’t have to…” I choked up, sniffling. These were the kindest gifts anyone had ever given me, and I didn’t even know how to react besides continue hugging my newfound friend. When the hug finally ended, I smiled but that smile faded when I caught sight of the Tracers out of the corner of my eye. Instantly, I hunkered down trying to hide, turning from open to a ball of spite.
“How could you?” I hissed through closed teeth, trying to keep quiet.
“How could I what?” She seemed genuinely confused by my sudden change of demeanor.
“Don’t you know those guys? Who they are?” I discreetly pointed out the two men that had been trailing me the day before. Ruby shook her head.
“Nope. Don’t…oh wait, are those the same guys who were chasing you the other day?” Her brow furrowed, showing faint worry lines. “Come with me, I’ll get you out of here.”
I shook my head no.
“They have probably already sensed me by now… go while you still can.” She shook her head no back, and took the comforter then wrapped it around us both hiding us from view. “Ruby…they don’t need to see me to find…”
“SHHHHHHHH!” she interrupted. “Look. They aren’t even headed this way.”
I looked across the lobby and sure enough, they were leaving! I cocked my head in confusion then looked up to Ruby with a smile.
“I believe there is something I must tell you. First, though, I would not mind getting to see your home, if you could be so kind as to walk me there.”
She nodded and began gathering the things back into the bag before flinging it over her shoulder, then picking up my old dirty backpack and carrying that as well.
“Of course. I’m sure you probably know where it is, but just in case I will lead the way.” She winked as I nodded and rose, following her out the doors and into our uncertain future.