Steve turned to see Rui standing by the door of the science room, an exceptionally angry look on her face. He braced himself, but tried to look casual.
“They’re coming.” She strode forward into the room with the confidence she almost always had, dumping her backpack on one of the lab tables. Her eyes shone with the kind of energy that made Steve nervous.
Not to mention that he had no idea what she was talking about.
“What do you mean?” He hadn’t moved.
Rui huffed, turning to him like he was an idiot (he kind of was). “I mean, the people who did all of this. The ones that sent Michael and Hood to us.”
“So it’s Michael now? When did you two get so close?”
It was probably too late for them to be in the building, anyway. Maybe he could get her to leave with him, diffuse the situation a little bit.
She automatically bristled, appearing to forget what she was going to say before. “Hey, it’s better than calling him Mr. York like he’s my teacher or something. He’s only about 22, maybe.”
Steve frowned. “And also somewhat of a space criminal.”
She really was angry.
Where was everyone else?
She was talking. “But we don’t know that! We don’t know anything about the people who keep coming here or the worlds we keep going to! We know that time passes when we leave, but we don’t know why!”
If he could frown anymore he’d make some kind of world record. “What’s your point?” His headache was getting worse. All he wanted was to go home, take a nap, and finish this damn biology project.
“My point is is that we’re a bunch of idiots abusing power we didn’t know how to handle, and we’re paying the price for it.” Rui was growling, pointing one of her fingers in his face. The setting sun washed over her features and darkened some of them into shadow, adding more effect to her actions.
“You said something earlier about someone coming. What do you-”
There’s a break in the facade, something like fear. “Someone’s been watching us.”
Fear. Definitely fear. Steve drew, eyes widening. He didn’t move to say anything, so Rui continued, waving her hands for emphasis.
“You’ve probably noticed it. You keep bumping into the same group of people no matter what world you’re in, continuously trailed by the same shady van whenever you walk somewhere. Both Michael and Hood have the same story of how they came here, being pursued, lapses of memory, a blackout. What are the odds that that’s coincidence?”
“You think someone’s been following us?” a deep breath.
“Steven, are you even listening to me?”
He’s cautious. What if she’s just overreacting? What if this is some kind of mental issue? “Yes, but-”
There’s a loud crack from down the hallway. Both teens freeze, almost nose to nose. There’s a beat before Steve turns to go out. “What was-”
Another, louder crack. This time, he actually jumps.
“Steve.” Rui isn’t talking quite so loud anymore, grabbing his hand. “Steve, we need to go.”
A third crack. It’s closer. This time, Steven can hear the thump that follows.
“Shit.” He’s regretting not paying attention to Rui the second she walked in, not answering any of the texts she’d sent him earlier. Regretting staying so late.
The two awkwardly shuffle out into the doorway, Rui preventing the boy from walking too far away.
As they look out, everything’s still except for the two men in assault gear creeping towards their room.
Panic. There’s a second longer where all four people stare at each other. Steve is petrified. He whispers, “Oh.”
Rui slams everything back into action. “Outside!” She barks, shoving Steve to the stairwell.
The two men say nothing as they spring in hot pursuit of their targets. One aims his gun, shoots something muffled, and the brick besides the teens shatters a little.
Rui leaps down the steps flights at a time, slowing down just long enough for Steve to get into gear and follow after her.
“The football field.” He gasps. There’s an opening, he can feel it in his very being, which admittedly hadn’t been something he’d told anyone else but that really shouldn’t be the topic at that moment and SHIT THAT’S ANOTHER SHOT.
Rui yells, “I know!” and barrels out the door.
The sun has finally receded behind the mountains in the distance and the feeling of the early fall chill gives Steve the energy to run faster and he can catch up to Rui who’s almost by the edge of the bleachers and he can
The next bullets hit empty air.