People always say that your teen years are the best years, when you're young and free to do whatever you wish, with no job, no real responsibilities or worries, but that definitely wasn't the case for Poppy Mason. At only age 16 Poppy had had to deal with far more than anyone else her age should, she had experienced much more than the average person twice her age in fact.
Since as long as she could remember, Poppy had been hidden away from the outside world, hidden away from the public eye since she was just a small child, in a place they liked to call sanctuary, they being her many carers, her family, all responsible for insuring her comfort and providing as close to a normal life as they could create for her. Though of course, always being locked inside and never being allowed to leave wasn't exactly normal, they made sure she wasn't a complete alien, that although she had never left the building, she knew what to expect out there from photos and information and that was all she had ever seen and heard. With no information or memory of her parents they were all she had, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing though, there were many of them and they were just like family, except as it was their job, what they got payed to do, in some ways they were even more dedicated to it than any normal parent would be, as well that, it was almost an honor for them because of how special Poppy was.
They all had their own purposes, all given their own area of her life to explore and dedicate all their time to.
Dr Edward Thomas and Dr Elizabeth Owens were the creators of sanctuary, they had been there since day one, as well as few other doctors, the team growing as needed along the way. As well as looking after her general heath, feeding, clothing, washing and comforting, it was also their job to learn all they could about Poppy's abnormal tendencies. There was Dr Renee Marble who was her physiological carer, Mr Morris her teacher, Miss Parr who was in charge of physical heath, as well as chefs, hairdressers, cleaners more menial jobs like that, there was also Liam, who was essentially her friend, a sort of older brother for her, he would hang out with her, play video games, watch movies, do all the things you do with your friends.
All those people were there to cater for Poppy's every need and for a long time she had no idea why, she hadn't known any different, for her that was just how it was, how it had always been, it wasn't until she got older that she started asking questions, wondering why she had to spend so long in the lab, wondering why they were all there for her, why she was the center of attention. Most of those questions were to Clara.
Clara was like a mother to Poppy, despite only being ten years older, or perhaps an extremely protective older sister would be more likely as they looked nothing alike, Clara was ginger with bright green eyes and Poppy was black. The two of them had always had the strongest bond, they were closer than any of the others, hence why she was more or less in charge. Clara didn't necessarily have all the knowledge, she didn't know how to help Poppy when she felt overwhelmed or when occasionally she would feel trapped, days when all she wanted was to leave, to go outside, to be what she had discovered was normal, but that wasn't important, still, Clara was the only one that could ever get Poppy to see rationally, the only one that could get her to calm down, to accept things are they were. That was something that Dr Thomas and Dr Owens noticed very quickly between the two of them, it was never intended in the hiring of her, she had no qualification, no degree as the others did, even Liam had one, but what the two of them had together was important, they had full trust of each other, even love which was something even the doctors saw necessary.
The only thing that the word sanctuary and the building had in common was that it was a safe place, which is the main definition of sanctuary: refuge or safety from pursuit, persecution, or other danger, but it wasn't what you'd picture,the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of the word is a cozy place, somewhere colorful and bright, full of the people you love, a place you'd never want to leave because it had everything you could ever wish for, this sanctuary couldn't have been further for that, but it was in fact safe, something that Poppy never quite knew the value of at the time.
One thing that always helped were her flowers, she would spend a lot of time caring for them, it was her hobby, that was what she loved to do, her whole bedroom was full of them. Her favorite were her roses as they have a long span, most of her collection was made up from them, it all started when she read one day about a 35 million year old rose fossil that had been found in Colorado. Poppy was fascinated by flowers, not by their beauty but by how fragile they are, how little they needed, just a dash of water and a shine of sunlight and they're good to go, without those things they die. Poppy was fascinated by their death, you cut them from their root, you deny them of their needs and they fade away.
Poppy wasn't like that, she wasn't fragile, she didn't need anything, she didn't need to drink, to eat, or even go out in the sunlight, she never needed to leave the building, yet she was just as alive as they were. Just like the flowers, Poppy was stuck in the room, rarely to go out, rarely to feel the full extent of the sunshine on her skin, the most she felt was through that small window that only let enough light in for the flowers to survive, the window Poppy would spend so many hours gazing from, all she could see was grass, grass that was rarely walked upon, only occasionally trimmed for the sun to access.
The one very special thing that made Poppy so different from those flowers, wasn't her being human, it was that, unlike them, she couldn't die, Poppy Mason was a plastic flower.
Everyday was spent exactly the same in there, that day wasn't an exception. At exactly 6am Poppy would wake up to the sound of her alarm, the chipping birds option was her favorite, she'd eat some breakfast up at the table in the always empty, very clinical, all white canteen, porridge was her only option, then she'd head to the lab for her routine check up, Dr Owens would check her blood pressure, her weight, check her body for any abnormalities... check her recovery from any injuries acquired if needed, as well a weekly blood test.
If Poppy was in perfect health the next step would occur, although at sanctuary they were always very good with Poppy, they genuinely cared about her, which sadly couldn't be said for other potential places she could have likely ended up, there was still a purpose to her being there, there was still work that had to be carried out, not all pleasant.
The next step was the tests, throughout Poppy's time at sanctuary, ever since the doctors deemed her old enough the trials began, they started when she was just eight years old, since then she has been infected with thousands of deadly diseases, illnesses, most of which would easily kill any ordinary person. Although it was extremely apparent, especially by that point that Poppy couldn't be killed by any of that, there were still many untested methods, such as knifes, guns or any other unnatural deaths which of course were never tried out despite the awareness of her impossibly fast recovery and healing powers. It was a fact, Poppy could not be killed by disease, that did not mean to say that she didn't suffer, it wasn't that the illnesses spread through her blood, her body without an effect, they effected her just how they would the average person but without the end result, she felt every agonizing aspect of it all, everything any one else would feel had they been infected too, potentially even worse than they did as she was never given medicine or anything to help and it all happened so quickly, for what the average person would maybe go through in a couple, of months, a year, maybe longer Poppy endured over the course of a week, two, at most a months. That's what the trials were for, not only to test her survival, that wouldn't have been much of a test, the answer was almost always clear, but the rate of it, all that was kept in the doctors notes.
That particular day Poppy had successfully come to the end of her latest trial, therefore was at full health once again, how she'd usually stay for at least a couple for weeks. To always be in pain, always tired, always fighting an illness was no way to live so there were breaks, time off, just like with any other job, free days when Poppy could function normally. Times like those, the holidays things would run a lot smoother, perfectly to schedule, most of the time it did just that anywhere, the timing would run off slightly as it was life was far less unpredictable, but straight after the checkups Poppy's daily therapy session was always penciled in.
As they were was daily sessions there of course were times when there was nothing to say at all, especially on the free days when her brain was stable, but the Doctors always did insist that she was to spend a full hour in there with Dr Marble anyway. Her mental well being was of course a very important part to the whole program could be possibly corrupted, if there was something wrong, if Poppy wasn't in full heath while the trials took place there was no knowing what could have happened, as well as that they needed her to be happy there, they couldn't risk an escape. Often Poppy would talk Dr Mable through her day, no matter how boring, every detail, she'd tell the Dr about what filmed she watched, what she thought of that, she'd tell her about any discussions she had had throughout the day... anything to give the Dr Owens a insight to her brain, as well as games and other more fun methods. It wasn't so much what she was saying that mattered, it was how she said it, the words she used and any abnormalities in her tone, little things like that that people rarely notice, but things that can say more than you'd think about someone's well being.
Then, it was time for her exercise, for two hours every day, again that was mandatory, no matter what, she had to at least try and move around, sometimes that even helped speed up the recovery. It was important for her to be in perfect shape physically, there were a variety of actives she'd do with Miss Parr, swimming, running, dancing, even various types of fighting. She'd been doing it every day since she was four, special one to one lessons on whatever she felt like doing at the time, so there were quite a few she had succeeded in and was very good at.
After the exercise, it was lunch, the same exact thing every day at the exact same time, not a minute before, not a minute after just like with breakfast, a cheese sandwich and salad. There were alarms for all of that too, it would run through the building, reaching all the rooms, running down corridors so Poppy would know exactly when to start eating, when to finish eating, even her toilet breaks were scheduled, all the alarms had custom sounds that Poppy had been allowed to pick herself, because of that most of them happened to be from the outside world, birds, bees, aeroplanes... although she had no memory of ever actually being out there she was always fascinated by it which was understandable.
Once lunch was over it was time for lessons, they were the only thing in her life that wasn't obsessively strict, the only part she really had control over, it was up to Poppy what she wanted to learn about, what subject she felt like studying that particular day and because of that, it made things more interesting for her, encouraging her to pay attention and to take in all the information.
She would spend six hours a day with Mr Morris, reading about anything she wished, things that varied spectacularly from the Victorian era, to the gestation period of a honey bee. Poppy was always very happy to admit that Mr Morris was one of her very favorite members of staff at sanctuary, he wasn't particularly fun like Liam, or easy to talk and friendly to like Clara, he wasn't a friend, he was just an old widower in his late 50s who had so many stories to share of the world and loved to tell them.
Then of course at exactly 6 dinner was served, that thankfully did change up a bit fir nutrition purposes, but still, it was never really that exciting.
It wasn't until 7 that Poppy could relax, at 7 she could do whatever she wanted as long as she was either in the lounge or her bedroom. She'd only every really stay in her bedroom when she was sick and the trials were running, resting up and sleeping, for Most of the time she'd spend the evening on the sofa with Liam and Clara in front of the TV, sometimes they'd watch films and other times they'd have series they had seen millions on times on in the background while they hung out, chatting and joking around.
That particular evening had been deemed horror night as a way to celebrate the end of Poppy's last trial as scary movies were her favorite. Those days were the only time Poppy was allowed treats so before the movie marathon had began Liam had left the room to get some popcorn, leaving the girls waiting with the title screen theme repeating over and over.
“...So, have you told him yet?” Clara asked with a large grin as she threw herself down beside Poppy, once everything had been set up, she had been waiting for Liam to leave the whole time. It was her first time seeing Poppy since the day before so she liked to take time to catch up.
Poppy just laughed shyly, hiding her eyes.
“Why not? You said you would?” Clara said looking quite disappointment.
Poppy neck disappeared as she tried to hide her head in her shoulders.
“Why not Pop? I thought you wanted to? You seemed so much more confident this time” Clara asked again sternly.
“...I chickened out, alright?” she cried out, deliberately wanting the questions to stop.
“Why?” Clara laughed, grinning in amusement. “You know he likes you...” she told her, poking her playfully.
Poppy watched her blankly for a moment.
“Do I?...” she asked changing the whole atmosphere.
Clara signed as she had a thousand times before, clearly tired of hearing what she knew was to come.
“Yes, you do, how many times do we have to go through this Pop?” she said sternly, yet still managing to give it a little twist of humor with a smirk.
“As many times as you have to tell someone before it's considered brainwashing I guess” Poppy told her snidely. It wasn't unlike her, she had always been very sarcastic, very abrupt, she would say what she thought and wouldn't hold back, it must have run in her genes because she had always been like it, even as a isolated kid.
“...You're beautiful, you most definitely have a chance with him, not even just that, you're also funny, you're confident, silly at times, ridiculously smart and talented too” Clara listed, her eyes wide and sparkling as she spoke her heart.
That was true, Poppy was very beautiful, she was petite, with very short back curly hair but had very feminine features to balance it out, big, wide brown eyes that drew you in, only made bigger by her always winged eyeliner and long deer like eye lashes, as well as her full pouty lips which were usually covered in bright red or maybe deep purple lip stick. Her face was very sweet and innocent looking, it didn't actually match her personality though.
“...Talented?” Poppy repeated, liking the sound of it for a second. “...I don't think being immortal counts as a talent” Poppy said blankly.
“That's not what I'm talking about, I mean all the skills you have, you play pretty much every instrument, I'm pretty sure you'd have a whole trophy case full if you were to ever enter any competitions in pretty much anything, dancing, karate, boxing...” Clara explained.
“...Wow, you really think a lot of me huh?” she muttered, her eyes widening as she tilted her head curiously, suppressing a grin.
“I do, I think you're great and don't pretend you don't already know that, I know you do”
“I just wanted to hear you say it” Poppy smirked cheekily. “...Hey, maybe you should date me then” she said very sarcastically after a second as the idea popped into her head, bouncing up abruptly.
“...Don't even tempt me, you know I'd swallow you up in a heart beat” Clara giggled as she pushed her much happier friend away playfully, pointing at her sternly.
“...That's just so wrong, we're practically related” Poppy cried, giving her a disgusted look until she couldn't help but laugh. “What about Liam though? Don't you fancy him?” she asked, her eyes lighting up at just the thought of him like a someone daydreaming about their celebrity crush.
Liam was just that sort of boy, he was tall and slim with curly golden locks, that he spend half of his life sweeping out of his face and baby blue twinkling, dreamy eyes, it wasn't only his looks though, he had just so happened to also have all the other makings of a teenage ideal with his ability to play guitar and sing, that's all that was needed really. Of course Poppy like him, it was like he had been designed especially for her, he was the typical best friends big brother kind of guy, very sweet and friendly.
“I'm almost thirty, believe me an nineteen year old is not something I'm looking for” she laughed.
“...Hardly, you're twenty five and he's really hot so does it really matter?”
“He's way too young for me” Clara said surely.
“No, no, don't say that, if age matters he'll never go for me... oh god, what if he sees me like a little sister too? I think I'd kill myself, like I mean him not being attracted to me is one thing but I couldn't handle that” Poppy cried with worry taking over he face before she gave up and dropped her head into Clara's lap.
“He most definitely does not, I see the way he looks at you, that is not how anyone should be looking at their sister” Clara said in a giggle as she stoked Poppy's hair, consoling her.
“...Are you sure? Maybe he likes older woman?” she lifted her face.
Clara just laughed, shaking her head.
“You're probably already in a relationship out there anyway, aren't you? like when you go and visit your 'parents' is that the real reason?” Poppy muttered sarcastically. It wasn't just Poppy who had to be locked away, as she couldn't never be left alone the staff were always there with her and few of them were actually allowed to go home, it was too much of a risk. Poppy's location had to be one hundred percent hidden, no one could no where she was so naturally the lab were very strict with the protocols, those that were allowed to leave i.e anyone that wasn't over familiar with all the official work that took place, people like Liam? Clara, Mr Morris, Miss Parr, the cleaners, care takers... in case anything were to ever happen to them, if they were to land in the wrong persons hands they would had no information to give. The operation was so top secret none of them even knew where the lab was located for their own safety. It all did seem slightly over the top but that was how it worked, how it always had, Dr Owens and Dr Thomas had decided that the day the building was built and they weren't entirely wrong to have done that. Although the rule was mostly set in place as a precaution, if news were to ever get out about Poppy and she was put in danger it had still always been needed. Poppy was lucky to have always been kept under wraps as not all that resided outside was good, even nearing the beginning she was never completely safe out there as people knew. The day Poppy's ability was discovered there were a few people involved, Poppy's guardians, a student nurse and a doctor, Dr Owens to be exact, the very doctor who started sanctuary. It was at hospital one day when Poppy was young and had fallen and broken her leg, she had had an xray and the bone damage had been verified, by the time her cast was ready to be put on Poppy was running around like nothing had ever happened, shocking everyone involved.
Years ago there had been stories of another like Poppy, a teenage boy that never grew old, it was more considered a conspiracy, an imagine gone viral of a young boy from the 50s and another more recent of a boy who looked exactly the same.
At first nobody believed it, it was photo shopped, it was fake, until an under ground group of researchers shared their thoughts on the matter in a exclusion documentary after the rumors of the ageless boy began, creating many more believers, even building fan bases. Although they never shared whether or not they believed if the photos were real or not, they did however share the possibility that there was a chance people like that existed and they had made it their lifework to find them. After the show aired the internet came alive once again with people reporting signs of the man, creating a country wide search for him but he was never found, or if he was it was never shared.
Things died down significantly and now it was rarely ever talked about anymore, but that was enough of a reason for Poppy to forever remain a secret to the world, immortality is a lot easier to prove than a slight resemblance from an old photo.
Dr Owens was not blind to the story, she would have had to have taken a permanent residence under a rock to have avoided it, it was impossible so that being the case, she knew exactly what would happen if the news ever got out about Poppy and her protective instincts set in, that day she made a very important promise, one that she has kept to this day, no one would ever know about Poppy's ability, but even with that, even safe inside sanctuary there was no telling what the future would hold. There were still researchers, still believers looking out for people that were different, that were special and although there was so little known about the people that did exist that the chances of them actually finding someone were slim, even for the researchers that were completely convinced. No one knew where to look, let alone who to look for but it was there willingness, there relentless searching and discrimination that was dangerous, although the labs and scientists at sanctuary could never find anything anyone would be able to track in Poppy, anything specific to look out for, other than hurting her, there were no obvious way to tell, but that didn't mean others hadn't found a way. As far as they were concerned, medically there was nothing different about Poppy at all, nothing ever came up odd or unnatural, that being said if someone where to know what they were looking for exactly maybe there was a way.
One especially dangerous man was Sammy Rider, Sammy, son to Samuel, a millionaire surgeon, known throughout the country for his contributions to health care, seen as a savior, a man that could fix anything, anyone. Sadly Samuel died years ago from an untreatable illness running in his family, therefore, leaving his fortune to his son but unfortunately not the critical information needed to create the medicine to prolong life and temporarily fight the illness, slowing it down and giving the scientists the time they needed to find a permanent solution.
For a while, Sammy was able to fill his fathers shoes, but it wasn't long before the illness then presented itself in him, knowing full well what they entailed, a slow, agonizing end, Sammy became overly obsessed with not ending up the same way and finding a cure, no matter what.
His obsession, his far was understandable, anyone in his position would likely react the same, it was justified. The illness was brutal, it was slow acting, in Samuel's case the symptoms only began towards the end of his life, he was in his 60s when they began, with the medicine he had lived just six more years, unlike Sammy who was only thirty and without defenses. What it did was eliminate the bodies nature ability to heal, killing the immune system completely, ceasing the ability to regenerate skin or blood, by the end even the smallest, shallowest scratches would never heal up, causing infection that nothing could help. No regular medicines worked against it, the body would fight anything that enters the blood, the temporary treatment Samuel Rider had created to help him helped clean the blood where the illness resided but it could never completely wipe it out, just keep on top of it.
It was Sammy's attitude towards finding a cure that wasn't justified, Sammy didn't care what he had to do, who he had to do it to to get what he wanted and that wasn't right and he had made that all very clear.
The family being so well known, so in the public eye Sammy's obsession, his desperation was not kept quiet and it wasn't long before every lab in the country knew of the illness and were working overtime to fight it. So naturally the staff at sanctuary knew better than to let them get their hands on Poppy. It wasn't known what exactly would happen to her if they got hold of her but one thing was for sure, it wouldn't have been pretty.
First it was maybe more so on the not wanting to share, wanting the rarest thing for themselves for some people side of her protection but as the years had gone by everyone had learned to love her and no one there would ever purposely let harm come to her, it was for that reason that the trials had never gone further than injections. At sanctuary the goal was primary goal was to educate before anything could ever actually come of it and that took time,
“I wish...” Clara laughed awkwardly, making it quite obvious that her being in a relationship wasn't at all true, she couldn't fake the disappointment. “I don't know why you always say that, do you actually think I have enough time for a second second life when I'm stuck with you most of the time?
“Well then Liam would be perfect for you”
“You just want an excuse not to ask him don't you?”
“Maybe...” Poppy muttered after a moment, looking very guilty.
“Well, I'm not giving you one” Clara said quickly in an almost whisper as she leaned into her on her way up. “...Hey, I'm just going to the bathroom real quick” her tone of voice as she stood to her feet, looking to the door.
Poppy's eyes narrowed as she listened to what Clara was saying but hadn't moved her head yet.
“Urgh, couldn't you have gone while I was out the room, you had all that time” Liam's voice filled the room.
It didn't take Poppy long to realize what was going on, why Clara was really leaving. Her thought was only confirmed as she slowly lifted her head up to Clara and noticed the suppressed grin she was struggling to cover.
“Well, sorry, I didn't need to go then”
“...You should really have a bathroom alarm like Poppy, it would be so much more convenient” Liam muttered casually as he dropped down on the sofa right beside Poppy.
“Could we please not talk about me using the bathroom right now” Poppy squeaked as she slowly turned back and pulled herself up straight, looking very uncomfortable and awkward beside Liam as Clara fled from the room in the background.
“You can't deny it would be easier though right? It wasn't even that hard for you to train your bladder was it? From what I've been told you took to it like a duck on water” he told her blankly, seeming to be completely ignoring her request.
Poppy looked as if wanted to bury lock herself in her room, crawl into a ball and never come out again.
“...What?” Liam cried out, seeming to be finding it all quite funny. “...That's a compliment” he told her grinning.
“How is that a compliment? In what world is it a compliment?” Poppy yelled, starting to get quite upset about it. In any usual scenario Poppy could take a joke, she was usually the one making them, that was something she had always been very good at, managing to make almost anything into a joke, maybe that was one of the reasons she was able to
“...Pop” Liam muttered, throwing his head back as she went to get up. “Alright...it's not a compliment, you're right, I shouldn't have said anything, I'm sorry” he admitted, seeming to be feeling quite bad about it, holding his hand out to Poppy before she had a chance to get away.
Poppy watched him for a second, still in her getaway position before after a moment loosening up again and leaning back. She could see in his sparkling eyes that he meant it and that although he didn't quite understand the situation, her embarrassment, he still looked genuinely bad about upsetting her anyway, maybe he even regretted saying it.
“I'm sorry, I shouldn't joke about it, I know how much you hate it, I won't do it again. I really didn't mean it to upset you” he whispered sincerely.
“Thanks” Poppy muttered, pulling her eyes from him for a second, looking top the floor. “...It, it would be so much more convenient though wouldn't it?” she said, giggling nervously, her eyes glancing back at his quickly as she tried to lighten things up again.
“It really would” Liam just laughed as he relaxed a little, throwing his arm over the back of the sofa towards Poppy.
Poppy smiled secretively as she breathed in his after shave, her face turning to him after a moment with sparkling eyes, as if she was looking at a sunset for the very first time.
“...I'm sorry” she muttered after a moment of staring.
“Why?” he smirked as his eyes flicker to her, causing her to immediately look away.
“For being so childish...” she told him blankly. “I don't want you to think of me as a child, I'm, I'm not a child” she added sternly, thinking back to her previous thoughts and her conversation with Clara.
“I don't think you were being childish” Liam's eyes narrowed as he let out a little laugh. “...And I know, I know you're not a child, with everything you've been through you've experienced more than most people twice your age and you're much more mature than me” he told her sweetly after a moment.
Poppy's face beamed with light from the words he had just spoken, he had unknowingly told her all she wanted to hear, although it was still possible she heard it a little differently from how it was intended. Poppy took it as a confirmation that the age gap wasn't a problem, it told her that there was no need to worry about it at all. That worry was out the window as well as Clara's over all confidence that things would go well, giving Poppy that confidence, casing her not to worry about any of the other things holding her back, the way she looked and her personality, even if she herself wasn't insecure in that department, it wasn't a sure thing that Liam thought the same.
“...It's just, I know I'm younger than you, but only a few years and I just...” she began to say as her voice got wobblier and her heart beat got faster, reaching the point where taking in breath was proving to be a challenge. Although she had decided to tell him of her feelings, her body didn't seem to be cooperating, she was getting nervous like all the times before, she was falling apart when usually she was so confident, that's how you could tell it meant a lot to her, she was rarely like that.
“I really like you Liam, like, really” She blurted out before she completely lost her words, tunring her head slightly, hiding her bright red face from him.
Liam laughed silently to himself.
“Poppy, I know, I already know” he admitted, drawing his lips in.
Poppy was completely shocked by the news, she had no idea, it wasn't like she was doing a very good job at hiding it, most people at sanctuary knew, but some how she couldn't see how obvious she was, maybe because she was always too busy trying to hide it.
“...How?” she muttered after a second, keeping her eyes straight in front of her, at that point too busy wrapping her head around it, processing the unexpected to react any other way than just curious, maybe that was a good thing, it stopped her from feeling stupid or any more embarrassed by it all, she had gone through all of that for no reason, all of that anxiety and stress, not even just that day either for no reason.
It wasn't at all how she saw it going, she half expected him to run out or at least babble a little, unable to fathom it.
“...Did, did Clara tell you?” she then asked quickly, actually turning to him that time before he had a chance to open his mouth, quite sternly, already preparing her wrath.
“...What? No” he told her honestly, giving her a slightly awkward smirk. “Poppy... you stare at me, a lot” he laughed, watching her with wide eyes.
Poppy then froze for a second as she thought more about it and allowed herself time to process, she had spent so many hours imagining the very situation that it was almost hard to slip reality from the daydreams and pull herself out from her previous state of mind, the fact that he already knew changed a lot, it completely changed her approach.
“...You really knew, like, you were sure of it? No doubt what so ever?” she thought out loud with narrow, interrogative eyes.
Liam didn't respond, it seemed he didn't know what to say, or perhaps he didn't want to say it as his eyes seemed wide and full of answers that for some reason he wasn't sharing.
“Why, why didn't you say anything?...” Poppy muttered, her voice trembling again with fear she already knew why. There were only two reasons, it had to be one of them, because he didn't feel the same and it was easier to avoid it and not hurt her, or he did and he felt it would be wrong to act on it in the circumstances, of course she jumped to the worst, the second wasn't good enough, if he liked her as much as she liked him she believed he wouldn't have cared about that.
Liam's mouth remained firmly shut but something new had appeared in his eyes, something Poppy couldn't quite put her finger on, guilt maybe, he could barely look at her.
“...Ah, Clara, you're back, finally we can start the film” Liam cried the second he saw Clara, the way he reacted so quickly it was obvious how desperate he was for an escape.
Poppy was so upset by the play out at point that she hadn't pulled her eyes away from her lap, she hadn't noticed the worry on Clara's face, she was too busy in her own head, listening to her own thoughts to hear the heaviness of her breath and too self involved to feel the change in the atmosphere.
“...Are you alright? Did you get locked in or something?” Liam's face dropped as he picked up on Clara's aura while Poppy still remained oblivious. “Is, is everything okay?” he then muttered, sounding more serious that time, not joking anymore.
It was only then that Poppy pulled her head up and looked to Clara.
She was bent over, resting her hands on her knees watching her breath, she had only gone to the bathroom next door, it wasn't far at all so there was no reason she would be out of breath, even if she had run. As well as that, there were what looked like tears in her eyes, she couldn't speak to elaborate but her eyes flickered up to Liam and Poppy, they were full of fear, more fear than they ever had been before, whatever it was scaring her, it was serious.
Poppy immediately jumped up as soon as she saw the look in her friends eyes.
“Clara? What is it?” she asked, reaching out to her, holding onto her arm, her lips on the verge of wobbling, she rarely saw Clara upset over anything, let alone that shaken up.
Clara took another deep breath before she stood up straight, trying her best to contain herself.
“...We need to go” she said. “...We need to get out of her right now”
Poppy's face went blank before turning back to Liam in confusion.
He watched her for just a second before looking back at Clara.
“Go” he screamed, not knowing what was wrong but understanding the urgency.
Before Poppy could even do as he said she was already being pulled out of the room with Liam cluelessly following after them.
“They're in, we have to get out of here” Clara told Liam sternly, her fingers so tight around Poppy it was hurting her. Although Liam didn't feel the need to ask any questions, he knew he just had to cooperate, Poppy did not feel the same and wasn't making things any easier by screaming and wriggling, trying to escape the grip.
“Go, don't waste another second” Liam cried out practically begging.
“What about you?” Clara asked, the tears in her eyes beginning to make their way down her cheeks from all the panic and fear.
“I'll be fine, go” he yelled once again.
It was procedure, she didn't have much choice but to listen, they needed to get out, Poppy was the priory. Everyone else's job was to gather the research where as Clara's was to keep Poppy safe, that was the way it was suppose to be. As Poppy was pulled down the corridor to the back entrance even she didn't know existed, she watched Liam run the opposite way helplessly. Although Poppy had never been made aware of the plan, of course she hadn't she had to feel secure, she had to think she was safe and she couldn't know about the door she wasn't stupid she could tell Clara and Liam knew exactly how to react. There was a possibility that they would never see Liam, never see anywhere there again, it was just as hard for Clara to leave as it was for Poppy, she had known everyone there for a large part of her life as well but she couldn't afford to let it bother her, she had to move forward.
It wasn't until they reached the hidden door that Clara's grip began to loosen, just before the door open she turned to Poppy, looking her in the eyes for the first time since the panic started.
By that point Poppy was completely numb, her face was blank and her eyes were clouded.
“Poppy, Poppy” Clara muttered after a second in a whisper. “Listen to me very carefully, alright? I'm sorry, but we have no choice, we have to get out of here, I have to keep you safe, I need you to cooperate okay? Can you do that for me?” she asked with her hands on either side of Poppy's arms.
She managed a quick nod before Clara turned back to the door and began to fiddle around with the lock.
“...Ready?” she asked as she gave Poppy just a second, nothing had changed, they still had no time and it might not have seemed important or a good reason to give in at that point bat first thought but it was needed, even just a second was better than nothing, Poppy hadn't stepped foot outside since she was eight years old. Poppy had never been lied to, she had never been told anything untrue about what lay outside, she knew exactly what to expect from the books, from her lessons with Mr Morris, but that wasn't quite like seeing the real thing, it was going to be a huge adjustment for her, just the effect, the intensity of stepping out of those rose filled halls of the sanctuary couldn't be underestimated.
The sanctuary wasn't a horrible place, despite Poppy occasionally feeling trapped there, it wasn't suffocating or depressing as confined places can often be, the staff had done their best job in securing that, making it comfortable for her, helping to make her stay, so even though she'd think about leaving, especially on the hard days, she never felt desperate. Ultimately it was what she was used so, what had come accustom to, anything outside of sanctuary was odd and potentially unsettling for her, it was called sanctuary for a reason.
Her stepping out those walls was far from freeing, far from liberating, that had all very quickly become blatantly clear. It wasn't at all how Poppy had pictured that moment, it wasn't exciting or fulfilling, it was frightening and overwhelming. Poppy liked to daydream about the day she would get to leave, not because she desperately needed it, but because one days she would have liked to, there doesn't have to be anything wrong for someone to want something else. The way she had seen it was when the day would come, that would mean the experiments would be over and she could start a normal life, in these circumstances that wasn't a guarantee and what came next was unknown, very much like everything else.
She needed longer, she needed a lot longer but that wasn't possible so Clara continued, swinging open the double doors, the sun lighting up the hallway and the soft breeze blowing through as they pasted their very last second inside sanctuary, the strong smell of roses was the very last thing they smelt, a smell that would echo the halls for entirety before they prepared themselves to take a step forward.
“...There's a car around the side” Clara explained as she tightly took hold of Poppy's hand. “I'm going need you to run? Can you do that for me?” she told her clearly, clearly noticing how unprepared Poppy was.
“I can do it” Poppy muttered after a second with a little nod and a loud exhale before proceeded not to waste anymore time and rushing out into the intense sunlight.
It was the only car they had, a large black jeep that was used to pick up Liam and Clara from the train station every morning, there was need for another as the others rarely left, it was Clara who picked up all the supplies that were needed so no one else needed to leave. Although she was just as emotionally invested in what they were doing in the bunker, what they were doing with Poppy, unlike the scientists and doctors she still had a life outside and family she hadn't cut contact with, therefore making her perfect for the job, at that point she was one of the few that knew the outside world in and out.
Poppy held her breath the whole way there, it wasn't until she had climbed safely inside beside Clara that she threw herself back in the seat and was able to breath again, taking a second to fill her lungs while Clara hurried to start the engine.
“...What about Liam?” she muttered calmly after a moment as the car started to roll. “...What about Liam? Maybe he's coming, maybe if we just wait a second, I know you said we can't, but... just a second...” she asked again, her emotion beginning to show it's face again as tears filled her wild eyes.
“...I'm...” Clara whispered. “...I'm sorry, we can't, we have to go” she said with her voice cracking, her eyes puddling in the rear view mirror, desperately holding them in as she pulled out from the side an turned to face the road.
She didn't want to leave him either, she didn't want anything that was happening to be happening, but at the point she knew there was nothing she could do and now Poppy understood that too which was confirmed by the crippling silence that followed.
There was a house just on the outskirts of the nearest town that had been bought as a backup, that's where they were heading.
It wasn't ideal, not like sanctuary, it hadn't been perfectly picked out, it wasn't the first choice, it was a make do, a lot would change. Although the house wasn't right in the middle of town, it was still accessible from the outside world, something that Poppy had never known and that itself would take a lot of getting used to.
As the house was only a backup plan and an unlikely one at that, no one knew when and why it would ever be needed, if ever, therefore no further plans could ever be made. Apart from getting to the house, the rest hadn't yet been written, literally anything could have happened for the first time in Poppy's life, there really was no plan.
They waited and waited for someone to show up, for weeks, months but no one ever did, they hadn't heard so much as a word from anybody they had left behind that day, it was just the two of them left in limbo. Not much went on at all in that time, they weren't living, they were just surviving, they didn't know what was going to happen next, so much was uncertain, although it was static at that time, at any moment someone could turn up at the door and drag them away, therefore it was easier not to have much to be dragged away from.
As the circumstances were so unexpected and sudden there was no indication how things would work out, for all Clara knew there was no plan at all and soon the time came where they had to stop waiting all together. For years now the research on Poppy's condition had been at a standstill, there were only so many deadly viruses she could be injected with before they could safely say she was immortal and they had past that hundreds of injections ago, it had been more of a stall for a while now than an actually experiment. Poppy's blood had been examined so many times, her brain had been scanned, everything that had been thought to look into had been and when that's the case there are only few options left, none of them pretty. If they wanted to get to the bottom of it, if they wanted to find out what it was that made her so different the best way of doing that had always been to perform an autopsy, but of one like no other as Poppy was yet dead, there are machines, computers, all sorts of things that can gather information, but when you have no idea what you're looking for things get difficult, cutting her open could have potentially been the answer, to more than just the cause of her ability, the capabilities of it, the extent of what she could really do. The problem was, there were also so many other questions that needed to be answered before any sort of procedure: Would she survive it? Could it harm her in any way if she did wake up?
Those were all things the doctors weren't willing to risk, but things maybe they should have been, it was their emotions that got in the way of that, hence why letting her go was the best way around it, it made sense by that point to just call the whole thing off, in fact the break in could have been staged at that point for all they knew, an excuse to call things off before the next step could even happen and no reason to feel too guilty or at fault about it.
Would it be worth it? Was an impossible question to answer, a question that nobody could know the answer to, maybe nothing would have come of it if they had gone through with it and Poppy could maybe die for real that time for nothing. Who was to say if it was truly a mistake or not to not risk it anyway? Was Poppy's life more valuable than anyone she could potentially save in the future, if it had been a success whether Poppy made it through or not, the fact so many lives could be saved was more than possible, but Poppy wasn't just an ordinary person, her life was worth more, if she did live through it she could carry on helping people for a potential infinity, not enough was known about her to say, but then, on the other hand, if she did die, there would be no second chances, she'd be gone forever and the world would never get a chance like that ever again. What was safe to say is maybe it would have been worth it if the doctors knew what they were doing, at that point they couldn't even say if Poppy was able to help anyone at if, if that was known then her dying would be worth it, even if they had to loose her in the process. It was a massive sacrifice they would have to take, the scariest, most risky step into the dark already, they didn't need yet another element putting them off...their hearts and their love for Poppy.
The house they were calling home for the time being was so much different from what Poppy was used to, it was an ordinary looking house that no one else would look twice at, almost identical to all the other houses on the street. They were all 2-3 bed roomed houses with a small square of grass at the front and a slightly larger patched for the back garden, the biggest difference was the fact that their house wasn't in the very formal line that the rest of them seemed to be on that street, all attached like one very long one only separated by gates, some wooden, some metal. Poppy and Clara's houses was just slightly more tucked away, making it feel just that little bit more private and secluded from the rest which was good for Poppy, less intense.
Unlike the other houses which were essentially two long strips on either side of the short road their house was at the end and up quite a long driveway with trees either side.
They were living quite comfortably there, most of it was set up when they got there but only with the most basic things, things like a dinning table and chairs in the dinning room, beds, a sofa and TV set in the living room and a bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers in all of the three bedrooms. There was nothing that makes a home a home, no décor, no paintings or artwork on the walls, no patterned curtains, vases, plants, lamps, rugs or cushions anywhere, making the place feel and look very empty, it was almost like a set, something you'd find in a store, not somewhere you'd expect someone to live. Everything was all very plain and untouched, all the walls were either white or cream, the floors brown wood and the sofa was beige, the curtains were beige, the duvet covers were all plain white and the furniture was all brown wood, not much color or personality at all. No one would have thought anyone lived there if it weren't for the small amount of things in the cupboards, the clothes, the food and other essentials like toothpaste and hair brushes...
Despite not an awful lot going Poppy was never once bored in her new life, she was used to it after all, not being apart of the outside world or having a lot of social contact, Clara on the other hand didn't do nearly as well. Everything was so new to Poppy therefore naturally making it interesting, even simple things most people take for granted, things like the internet and day time TV were a completely new concept to her, she was never allowed those things at sanctuary, the internet was a way for her to be found and TV was a window to the outside world that could potentially lead to problems, giving her a taste of somethings he couldn't have could risk her wanting more.
In just those first weeks she must have watched more TV than most people do in months, she would just sit down in front of it soaking it all in in complete fascination whereas Clara would potter around the house, cleaning the same surface, vacuuming the same patch of floor multiply times simply as for something to do.
It wasn't until the first month had past with no news from the doctors or staff at sanctuary that Clara allowed Poppy to go out, with no information or idea what would happen next letting Poppy get comfortable in the outside world, getting used to being surrounded by people, used to socializing, having certain things in her reach like shops, cinemas, museums, things she could grow accustomed to and things she would no doubt love would only make it harder for her to go back to how it used to be. When Poppy first came to sanctuary she was only eight, although that was old enough to remember a little about the world, about all the things she enjoyed doing when she was free, it wasn't old enough to also remember the feelings that those things gave her, therefore she never really missed them. Poppy's life wasn't too good before Sanctuary, of course she had her health, she always had her health, but she was quite lonely as a child, living with her struggling single mother, in a small flat, spending most of her time with her elderly grandfather who looked after her while her mother worked long shifts at the local supermarket, to only just scrape by on the weekly shop and rent. Even when Poppy was at school she didn't have many friends so her potentially making friends would mean a lot to her and she definitely wouldn't want to leave them.
Poppy hadn't been completely cooped up inside the whole time though, but she hadn't been out as much as she could have or as much as she probably should have been. Although she was happy inside it wasn't necessarily good for her and Clara knew that, the longer they waited and the more time that past away from sanctuary without a call or anything from anyone, it was growing more and more likely that the life they now had, the life in that house was going to be forever and they were both going to have to get used to that. Poppy was already so behind on experiences and life, if she would ever blend in or come across as a normal, well adjusted, worldly person, which that time was quickly approaching, she had to properly get used to the world, understanding it and knowing what it looked like from watching TV and browsing the internet wasn't enough help her properly integrate or settle in to her new surroundings. It gave her an idea of what it would be like, but not what it would feel like and where her place in it would be.
So far since the initial journey fleeing from sanctuary Clara had only allowed Poppy into the high street in the town they now lived around five times and only ever on a Monday, which happened to be the least busiest day, Clara had worked that out beforehand. No school kids and the majority of working adults were around on a Monday, making things a little calmer and less hectic. Although Poppy didn't particularly need to take the slow and steady route, it wasn't her first time out in the world, just her first time in a while it helped Clara feel a little better about it, she had never seen Poppy out in public before, so maybe it would take a little getting used to for her as well. Despite Poppy's willingness and her excitement that didn't necessarily mean that just jumping straight in the deep end was best for her and that a slow adjustment wasn't better, it was quite likely that once reality set in all of that would wipe away, her confident, hard exterior would shatter and she would realize how much of a big step it actually was. No matter how brave or excited for something you are that doesn't mean the nerves aren't there, it doesn't matter how many times you've done something, you can still be scared, if it's something you don't do too often, stepping out in public as a teenager after 8 years is so completely different to going out at the age of eight holding onto your mothers hand, no matter how ordinary and normal it was for Poppy then, it was a long time ago and more had changed than just her in that time and she was very aware of that.
There wasn't much on the nearest, shortest, high street at all, only a small co-op where Clara and Poppy were getting their food from, it wasn't much of a variety but again, it was so much more than what Poppy was used to, a few take away places, fish and chips, a Chinese and a pizza place, an off license for alcohol, newspapers, magazines and sweets and one small charity shop where they had bought all the clothes to fill their wardrobes after leaving everything else back at Sanctuary.
That was probably one of the main reasons Clara gave in and agreed to take Poppy out to the massive shopping center called 'Root' on the longer high street ten minutes away, as appose to the ten minutes on foot to the small town, half of the clothes they owned didn't fit or abide to either of their tastes so it wasn't like they were just being greedy.
Poppy had never been able to pick her own clothes before, despite not caring even a little bit at sanctuary, why would she? No one ever saw her there and as she had been so sheltered, things like fashion, trends and style were foreign to her but all she ever wore at sanctuary were comfortable clothes, hoodies and track suit bottoms mostly, nothing very excited on able to express anything as people often like to do with clothes. A lot was like that for Poppy, the opinion of others had never been something she worried about at all, she had always done exactly what she wanted to do without even a thought about what anyone else would think, she was the least corrupted person you'd ever meet, of course she was, there was no one to corrupt her. No one at sanctuary cared about what she wore or what she looked like, not only because they were all old enough and by then most people just do what they want anyway, they are more confident, less insecure and just genuinely have learned not to care about what anyone else likes and just focus on what makes them happy, but because they knew her, they knew what she could do and something like that matters so much more. That was maybe one of the only good things that had come from Poppy's time at sanctuary.
The outing wasn't going to be something that was going to happen often, but it definitely helped Clara feel more comfortable with the idea of one day it maybe becoming just that. That way went well, Poppy didn't have much of a issue at all, it was like she had done it a thousand times before and it turned out that all Clara's worrying wasn't necessary, but it wasn't however waste of time, it was better to be safe than sorry. Although after seeing Poppy do so well helping Clara to feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of her being out, there were still other worries, such as something maybe happening to Poppy, people finding out about her or even her being captured, for all they knew there were people after Poppy. Clara was very protective over Poppy, even more so now she was fully her responsibility and it was fair to say Clara was and always had been a worrier, it was in her nature, she'd always jump to the absolute worse scenarios, but it was still early days and maybe a day would come where Clara would get over that too, or maybe she would never have if Dr Owens or Dr Thomas ever turned up.
With things all going so well and life moving forward just that little bit, the girls weren't at all prepared for how quickly that day would actually come and how big the next step would be at the time.
It was only a month later after Poppy had only been to Root a few more times and was had done a few more new things since then, been to the cinema and to a museum, when they had finally given up every ounce of hope that no one was coming and that they had to properly start their new life when a problem occurred, making it hard to carry on as before. Money began to run low, they had only been given a set amount, whatever was left from the sanctuary fund, the experiments were funded for by an unknown company, no one knew much about them at all, Elizabeth had always kept it very secret, there was a bank account and the funding money had stopped coming in since the termination of the sanctuary project. Although Clara was never sure how long it would last after they had left, how long it would take the monthly installments to stop and for who sent the money to realize what they were paying for was no longer existed, Clara always hoped that they wouldn't ever but she knew deep down that at some point that would happen, but she choice to ignore the thought, so by the time it came around she wasn't at all prepared.
Now the only way to get money, to get by was for Clara to get a job like everyone else in the world and what that also meant, was for the first time she couldn't be with Poppy every second of the day, she would actually have to be alone for the first time in her life. It doesn't matter how much you like to be by yourself, how much you enjoy your own company, if you've spent your whole life with people around you, even just in the next room, without them nothing feels right. It wasn't like she knew anyone else either, she had no friends or family that she knew of in this new world she had found herself in. Clara still being there was the only thing that had stayed completely the same, without her Poppy's new life would be official, Clara having a job was one of the last pieces of the puzzle.
Although Clara hadn't had many jobs in her life, working with two very qualified, skilled doctors, no matter what she did for them was a big help and looked very good on her CV so getting a job wasn't really a problem, only two weeks had passed before she did just that. It may not have been the perfect job but it was a source of money, it was close by and it came along so quickly she couldn't turn it down, if she had there was no guarantee she'd get accepted for another any time soon.
With Clara at work all day Poppy was left at home all alone with not much to do so after only a couple of days it was decided that she would be enrolled in the local school, it wasn't exactly avoidable, her being under eighteen and with Clara now with an official full time job there was no way of cheating the system, as far as anyone was concerned, Poppy had been home schooled her whole life right up to the enrolling. There was only one requirement, Clara wanted Poppy to use a fake name, although her name was exactly known there were still some potential loose ends. The workers at Sanctuary had done a very good job at protecting Poppy's identity and very much making sure no one knew she even existed, her being a child and her family being very much involved in her disappearances that wasn't too hard but if for some reason anyone was to get suspicious and try and dig up information there was a chance they'd find something neither Clara or Poppy wanted them to, therefore giving her a new name and identity was the best option, so Poppy Mason was now Poppy Shields, adopted daughter of Clara Shields.
School went well, despite Poppy not having been in that sort of environment for a very long time and few memories of it, she was used to schedules and timetables so although she liked living without one and learning what she liked it actually helped a little as a lot of it was familiar to her. There were even a few things she loved about, not only being around people her own age which took a little getting used to but it was going well, it was her first experience of being completely interdependent, she would walk to school by herself, get to her classes, get home and hang out with her new friends. So much had changed since she had started, she was more of less a normal person with a normal teenagers life, Clara had really backed off and calm down a lot, allowing Poppy to have more control of her life and for her to be properly free. Her new life was so much different from her life at sanctuary and it had only been six months outside of Sanctuary. Despite Clara being more confident and more laid back about Poppy, she didn't really have much choice but to be, the list of reasons for her to worry was getting longer, suddenly a paper cut or a fall down the stairs was no longer a main concern, Poppy being quite a rebellious, stubborn person already the influences of others at school really didn't help that, although she was mostly a good person, staying out past her curfew, partying, smoking and drinking, they were all normal teenager things to do and Poppy had been so held back before, Clara couldn't really complain.
It was dinner time, one of the only times Poppy and Clara would ever sat down and have a good long chat without any distractions, Poppy was home from school and seeing her friends and Clara was home from work and just like everyday Clara wanted all the gossip.
“...So tell me, did anything interesting happen today?” she asked with a big grin, eager to hear what Poppy had to say, still working her boring job at the care home, only talking to old people all day, she liked to be rejuvenated at home.
Poppy was usually very happy to help, she hadn't been the kind of person that had a day to talk about before that so it was still fun for her no matter what happened, but that particular night as they sat at the dinning table with their bowls of spaghetti she seemed slightly distant, her mind was somewhere else are as she blankly twirled her food.
“Pop” Clara yelled, trying to get her attention.
“Huh?” Poppy muttered with wide oblivious eyes.
“At school, did anything interesting happen?”
“Erm, no, not really...” she told her blankly.
“...Really? Nothing?” Clara muttered in disappointment. “...Not even with Wes? How are things going with him?”
Wes was Poppy's boyfriend, she had met him on the very first day of school and things had moved pretty quick since then despite him being Poppy's very first boyfriend, but that wasn't necessarily a surprise after having spent years drooling over Liam and not being able to have him. Wes couldn't have been any more different than Liam, not only for the fact that he liked her back. it would have made more sense to find someone like him as a sort of replacement knowing at that point she would never see the real thing again, but it wasn't necessarily surprising. Being in Sanctuary Poppy hadn't ever been exposed to a large amount of people, she had known the exact same ones for most of her life, they were people she hadn't chosen, people she may have never spoken to once in another life, she had this large amount of love for them all but the truth was maybe that was only because she had never been given a choice and Liam was included.
“....He wants me to hang out with him this weekend, he's invited me to his house...alone, without everyone else, without our little group” Poppy told her in a strange way, as if she was waiting for something, her eyes were wide and her smile was crooked, it was like she knew what Clara was going to say and she seemed happy about it.
“Oh, really? That's great, I mean... that's normal isn't it?” Clara said happily.
Poppy's face immediately dropped, that hadn't been the reaction she was expecting, she wasn't as comfortable with the idea as Clara.
“...Is it?” she muttered, expressing her demure, looking down at her feet below the table.
“...Yes, it is, I mean, that's what teenage girls do, they go to their boyfriends houses” she laughed awkwardly. “ And...His parents will be there though, won't they?” Clara stated only just beginning to read a little more into Poppy's behavior and make up a theory as to why she was acting that way.
“...What? Yes, of course they will be” Poppy's head bounced up as she turned slightly pink, catching on to Clara's train of thought.
“So don't worry about it. Poppy, he can't force you into doing anything you don't want to do and if they're there I'm sure he wouldn't try anything, you're young, you have plenty of time” Clara continued, making things so much worse.
“I know that” Poppy muttered, her pink face looking more red now. “That's not even it anyway and please never bring it up again. It doesn't even matter because I already told him I can't go so...don't go into protective mother mode or whatever”
“...What? Why?” Clara's eyes narrowed. “...Is it because of me again? Poppy, I told you, it's fine, I can occupy myself just fine” she said confidently with a encouraging grin. Poppy felt a little guilty at first, she had made a nice group of friends who seemed to really like her and wanting to spend all their time with her whilst Clara still didn't really know anyone.
“...No, that's not it” Poppy muttered gently.
“What's wrong then?” Clara asked curiously. “Did he say something to you? Were you planning on something happening, you can tell me you know?”
“No...well, it's just, he doesn't even know me Clara, although I really like him and I wouldn't mind... I wouldn't mind... you know but not like this” she told her honestly, having trouble looking her in the eyes as she felt a little awkward admitting it a felt a little silly.
“You've been together for months, you spent all your time with him and his friends...what are you talking about? Of course he knows you” Clara muttered slowly after a moment as she struggled to understand, staring cluelessly through narrow eyes.
“Clara” Poppy said sternly, locking her serious eyes onto her. “He doesn't know anything and you know it”
“He knows enough, all of that doesn't matter, your past doesn't matter, he knows who you are inside, you're a funny, caring, smart person, that's all he needs to know, you have a good personalty and he loves you for that, that's what matters, they're all the things that make you who you are, not where you lived for most of your life and what happened at the doctors, no one else talks about that sort of thing” Clara said, trying her best to seem rational and calm when it was obvious how uncomfortable she was, how much she strongly disagreed and wanted to yell to make that clear as she knew where Poppy was heading, but she knew full well that reacting like that was never going to work with Poppy, she was far too stubborn and rebellious. In the end she would have just ended up telling Wes her secret for a different reason, not to be honest, to to be open and herself like she wanted before, but simply just to spite Clara, which would have been careless, sloppy and so much worse. Clara needed Poppy to listen to her, to her reasons why it wasn't a good idea and make her see the potentially severe consequences and just hope that she would understand and make her see the reality of it herself and make up her own mind on the matter, no matter how risky, it was the better option.
“Poppy, you know exactly why you can't tell anyone” Clara told her softly.
“Yeah I know, because this weird mysterious government agency will track me down and experiment on me, guess what Clara I've already been experimented on, I'm actually used to it. Or if Wes doesn't tell anyone it will freak him out and he won't love me anymore because I'm such a freak, or if the agency doesn't actually exist, what are the chances, everyone will still know and then they'll start throwing knives at me or something and I'll have to move to a new school, to which the same thing will happen again and again until I have no choice but to run away and join the circus, to be with my own kind” Poppy said overreacting and making it all out to be a big joke.
Clara stared at her blankly for a moment, not at all impressed.
“That's not funny” she muttered.
“...But it is though isn't it? Because it's a joke, none of that is going to happen, I'm not an idiot, I wouldn't even bring up the idea if I thought anything bad would come of it” Poppy told her honestly, her tone returning to normal.
“What will happen then, tell me?” Clara asked intensely curious.
“He'll think it's cool and he'll tell me that he doesn't care and that it doesn't change anything”
Clara suppressed her smirk. “You know this isn't some romantic Disney film where you'll both sing a song together about accepting and loving people for who they are, right?” she muttered. “...You can't possibly believe that?”
“I do, I really think he won't care Clara and he won't tell anyone” Poppy said after a moment, completely honestly.
Although Clara still definitely didn't agree, it wasn't worth the risk, something changed in her eyes as she watched those words come from Poppy's mouth, there really was no doubt in her mind that things would work out. Although Poppy could be naive something and when she wanted something, she wouldn't always think it through, it was clear that this wasn't one of those times and she generally had good judgment, as skeptical as Clara was about most things, that wasn't one. Sure, it was quite likely he would tell someone, maybe not even out of spite but that wouldn't matter, just one person could be enough to ruin everything but Poppy trusted Wes not to and she knew him way better than Clara, maybe she was right and it was what she wanted.
“You should tell him, then you'll find out won't you? I mean, what do I know right?” she laughed nervously, looking quite uncomfortable with the words she was saying, but she didn't have much choice in the matter anyway, she had to accept it and at least try and be okay with it, hoping with all her heart that Poppy was right and that she knew what she was doing was all she could do at that point, it was her life and although maybe Poppy wouldn't agree, Clara was trying to step back a little, she knew Poppy wouldn't always need her and that she was doing just fine by herself. Clara had kept secrets before too, none of her family ever knew exactly what she did for a living, but it wasn't her whole life she was hiding, it wasn't what she was and as much as they tried to ignore it, Poppy was very much an immortal.
Poppy now happy with the approval happily dug into her food, swapping places with Clara who was now the one without much of an appetite.
“You know, I think maybe you should get a boyfriend too” Poppy muttered after a moment with a cheeky smirk, trying to lighten the mood and go back to normal.
Clara stared at her blankly for a second, still dwelling on the previous subject that Poppy seemed to have escaped from. “...What? Why?” she muttered laughing hesitantly.
“...Honestly, you seem just a little too interested in my love life” Poppy said with her teeth slightly clenched.
“What?” Clara cried out with an amused grin. “...I'm not interested in your love life, I'm just interested in you. Don't make me out to be some desperate woman that can't get anyone to love her so has to live through other people and read far too much erotic fiction” she laughed.
“...But, all of those things are true” Poppy joked, keeping a serious face for just long enough for Clara to buy it.
“Shut up” she yelled, giggling, swatting the air.
“So, you're okay? Really? Remember, it's not your job to look after me anymore, we look after each other and is that means sighing you up to a dating site without your consent, I will do just that Clara”
“You don't have to do that, apart from the fact I have the most boring job in the world and that I miss all of my old friends, I'm alright, it's just taking a little while to get used to things...most people don't just start dating the most popular guy at school in their first couple weeks at a new high school you know” Clara told her with a brave smile before adding some humor to cheer herself up a little more.
“You'll get there” Poppy told her confidently. “...I do get how you feel though”
“You do?” Clara's eyes narrowed, surprised by what Poppy had just said, it was quite unlike her, she rarely saw things any other way than her own and things always came so easily to her, she had a hard time understanding that that wasn't always the case with everyone else. It was possible that that had something to do with her years of isolation, she was smart but people didn't always make sense to her.
“Yeah, having to go from working with me to anyone else in the world really is always going to be bad” she joked.
“Yeah... I take back everything I said to you before, I don't know what Wes sees in you, your personalty sucks too” Clara said with an exaggerated playful glare as she snatched Poppy's empty dinner plate away from her before proceeding to carry it to the kitchen.
“So...I was thinking maybe we could have a movie night for old times sake?” Clara said as she returned to the room as a different person, with a grin on her face and a spring in her step, whether that was genuine or just an attempt to get Poppy on her side was unclear. It could have likely been a different approach, after potentially failing to make Poppy see the dangers the first time, now she could be accentuating her happiness, making it seem as if she thought she had won and that was the reason behind it. She no longer looked uncomfortable or worried, which Poppy definitely picked up on making her painfully aware that she was the primary cause behind her upset before, therefore potentially making Poppy feel bad or guilty if she were to take that away by continuing to ignore Clara's wishes.
“...Yeah, that sounds like fun” Poppy said with a slightly delayed smile before pushing back from the table and standing to her feet. “So...What are we going to watch?” Poppy as she followed Clara into the living room, where there she immediately threw herself down on the sofa.
“...I was thinking something that would remind us of the old days” Clara looked back at Poppy with a sweet smile, sitting down in front of the wooden chest beside the TV that was filled with DVD's and board games.
“...And what would that be?” Poppy asked casually, seeming to be experiencing none of Clara's desired effects, she happily played along as it was to her advantage, saying that it didn't mean it hadn't effected her in some way.
“Xmen” she smirked as she grabbed the box from the pile and presented it to Poppy.
“How is it going to remind us of the old days? Is it a horror?” Poppy's eyes narrowed as she inspected the box.
“No, but it's about a bunch of kids that have abilities, so I thought it would be fun for you to watch. I actually have kind of an embarrassing confession for you you know? I watched the whole series when I found out about my job working with you” Clara admitted with a little chuckle.
“Seriously? Well now I'm excited to see what you expected of me...” Poppy laughed, her eyes wide.
“Well, at the time I didn't even know what was different about you really, that was kept very secret but I knew that you could do things other people couldn't so it was more just for ideas of what it could be that you could do rather than what it would be like for you” she explained as she put the disk in, before crawling over to the sofa to sit with Poppy.
“...So, what did you think?” Clara turned to Poppy the second the credits started rolling, after neither of them had said a word the whole time they had been sat there.
“...Mmm, I think I must have been a massive disappointment if that's what you were expecting” Poppy told her with a smirk.
“But really? Come on, tell me...” Clara laughed halfheartedly.
“...Honestly, I liked it, I did, I'm just not really sure how it makes me feel....” Poppy admitted, giving Clara a little bit of a funny look while still smiling.
“What do you mean?”
“Just...Imagine if the world was really like that, if having abilities was more common, maybe then I wouldn't have to hide away but then again, maybe I would” Poppy explained. “You showed me this on purpose didn't you? …it's okay if you did, I get why now” she added after a second.
Clara couldn't help but feel confident, Poppy was right, it was her plan all along, although of course the film was fiction, well...maybe that's not actually so obviously anymore with Poppy in the room, it's a very good what if and maybe showed Poppy a possibility of what could happen, maybe things she hadn't really thought about, the school knowing was one thing...but the world was a whole other.
“...Do you know if there are other people out there that have abilities like me? I mean, there has to be right? How could I be the only one?” Poppy asked unsurely.
“I don't know, I've never really thought much about it...” Clara muttered honestly.
“...I heard that there was a boy years ago who could do things too and I just think, if there was more of us, maybe we could meet, I think that would be nice, don't you?”
“...Where did you hear about that?” Clara asked quite sternly, she clearly didn't like the idea as much as Poppy.
“...I saw it on the internet”
“You know that the internet isn't the most trusted resource information” Clara laughed.
“I do... so, I asked Wes about it and he'd heard it too, apparently many people have” Poppy explained.
“You've been researching people with abilities?” Clara asked, her voice slightly shaken, it seemed she wasn't sure what to think of that.
Poppy nodded, her smile crooked.
“...Is that it? Is that why you want to tell Wes, because you feel alone? Because you think him knowing will somehow normalize the idea, that if he can except you for who you are everyone else can too? Please tell me that isn't the plan?” she started to worry.
“No, no, that's not it, I told you why and I meant it” Poppy told her honestly.
“But....do you...feel alone?”
She thought for longer than Clara would have liked.
“I guess, yeah, sometimes” Poppy admitted unable to look Clara in the eyes as the words came from her mouth.
“Oh, Pop” Clara's voice wobbled, sadness filling her eyes as she wrapped her arm around her young friend, pulling Poppy tightly into her. “You're not alone. You have me, I'll be here for you, always”
“...You know I don't want any of this right? I don't want to be like this, I don't want to have to tell Wes anything because I don't want to have to have something to tell him” Poppy said as tears dropped from her face. “I wish I wasn't a freak” she cried out before burying her head into Clara's chest.
“You're not a freak Poppy, you're just different” She told her wholeheartedly, thinking deeply to herself as she comforted Poppy. All of a sudden her telling Wes didn't seem as much of a bad idea, that didn't mean that she was happy about it necessarily, really she would have preferred it not to happen, it was still a risk, it was still dangerous, it was still scary, but in that moment Clara found herself almost agreeing with the idea.
Poppy didn't see Clara that next morning, Poppy had purposely gotten up early just to avoid her after what had happened the night before, she couldn't be sure what Clara would do. Although it wasn't the best idea and Poppy was blatantly aware of that, especially now, she still felt it was somethings he had to do anyway and still had faith and trusted Wes. Her mind was set, she knew the consequences and was willing to risk them. Seeing Clara that morning wasn't going to change that, Clara had said all she could, but it could have made it just that little harder, all Clara wanted was the best for her and now she was going against that she couldn't look her in the eye.
Poppy was definitely going to tell him but now she needed to decide how exactly, she thought it through that morning in class and waited until the afternoon to take action. Her very last lesson of the day was maths, it was one of the only classes she had with Wes so she took the chance while he was there. As Wes was sighed up to so many after school sports clubs if she hadn't have told him then she would have never gotten the chance that day before the weekend. So wearing her skinny black jeans, plain white t-shirt and black hoodie, sticking to her stable style, she waited for all the students to leave so she could be alone with Wes.
Wes was very sporty, sports meant everything to him, he was the team captain of the schools rugby team, he was very muscly and build, something Poppy hadn't really encountered before, he had dark skin like her, thick frizzy hair and dark brown almond eyes, shadowed by his thick black bushy eyebrows. Where Liam was very light and friendly, Liam wasn't much like that, he was much more reserved and liked to keep his emotions a little bit more to himself. He wasn't at all a horrible person, he wasn't cold and unloving by any means, just not necessarily a cuddly, touchy feely kind of person like Liam was, maybe it was his age, teenagers aren't exactly known for their wide range of emotions.
“This has to be quick babe, everyone will be waiting for me” Wes said in haste the second the last person left the room, seeming quite distant and looking as if he didn't really want to be there, as if he already had one foot out the door. Where as Poppy was in the opposite of a rush, she seemed quite happy to drag it out, it wasn't exactly somethings he could just blurt out and walk away, she needed to explain, to go into detail about, as well as safely make sure Wes wouldn't tell anyone and to keep an eye on his reaction and his state of mind.
She didn't say anything, if she had told him the truth he would have likely left and rescheduled, Poppy had spent far too much of her day planning that very moment and gone through so many emotions to wait any longer.
“It's just that...” she began to mutter after a moment of looking to the floor psyching herself up, after a deep breath while Wes couldn't keep still.
“...Poppy, just tell me, I really have to go...” his voice wobbled, almost tunefully. “I'm sorry, but if every word is going to take you five minutes to spit out I might as well just leave now because I'm going to miss the whole game at this point”
“...It's not, I promise, I'll tell you, I'll tell you now” Poppy said almost immediately that time as she began to panic. Suddenly everything she had planned to say, how she had planned to say it went out the window. At that point she was just desperate for him to know, to get it over with.
“I am, I have, I can...” she tried to speak but the words didn't seem to be coming out, probably due to the small amount of uncertainty she did have.
Wes looked at her blankly for just a second before he turned to the door.
“No, don't, don't go” she muttered, already feeling very emotionally drained and it was only the beginning.
“Sorry” Wes cried out as he continued walking. It wasn't out of malice, he wasn't doing it to be mean at all and he genially felt bad about not being able to stay around and listen but he felt as if he had no choice, Poppy knew that. She knew how important sports were to him, she knew he'd always choose her over that and although maybe she didn't like it it was how it had always been and she couldn't complain, it had been like that from the start. Wes had no idea what it was that she wanted to say, or how much it meant to her, she had given him no reason in the past to expect anything serious or meaningful, quite the opposite, as she was never able to really open up to him,s he had never really told him anything she at least considered at worth.
“I'm immortal” she screamed out desperately as Wes was about to twist the door handle. The second she said it her whole body clenched up, her eyes closed and her face screwed up, almost as a sort of defense mechanism to what she had just said.
“What?” Wes turned to her laughing, as to be expected. That didn't mean he automatically believed it but e was definitely surprised to hear the words come from her and intrigued enough to stick around for just a moment longer to find out what was going on with her.
“...It, it means I can't die” Poppy's voice wobbled, desperately trying to suppress her shaking limbs as she slowly opened her eyes.
It wasn't clear what exactly Wes thought as he was standing there in front of her, he was frozen still and his face was completely blank, that could have been for two reason, either he believed her and he was shocked, or he didn't believe her and he was shocked that at least she thought it was the truth. I don't think anyone would know how to react with someone telling them something like that, it definitely wasn't expected and it was so crazy to most people it could never be true, meaning the only reasonable reasons Poppy had for telling him was because either she was crazy, or it was a joke, Wes didn't seem to have made up his mind.
“...Yeah, I know what it means, Poppy” he muttered after a long moment with a smirk, at that point it was clear he in fact thought it was a joke by the way he was acting so casually about it, Poppy on the other hand was far too nervous and uncomfortable to notice that.
“...And, so, what do you think about that?” she asked, her voice still very fragile and unsure but she was already feeling slightly better by how he hadn't run off and was still very much in the room.
The smirk on Wes's face remained but something small changed in his eyes, as he he began to questions his initial conclusion. He stayed silent for just a second while he watched Poppy face, he knew there was something off about it, something off about the whole situation, that wasn't at all Poppy's sense of humor, it was far too obvious for her, her jokes were usually much more clever and witty.
The longer the silence lasted the more Poppy's confidence decreased, silence was a symptom of shock but so far there wasn't much reason for him to be shocked, he hadn't seen anything or been shown any proof. Poppy was never sure exactly what to except but she knew he wasn't stupid, she knew he wouldn't believe her that easily.
“...What, what are you doing?” he asked curiously, his smirk wiping off.
“What do you mean?” Poppy muttered in confusion. “I'm trying to tell you the truth Wes” she added after a second.
“Is that the best you could come up with? Are you working with them or something?” he asked with a grin growing on his cheeks as he looked around the room.
“This is a prank isn't it? You're stalling?” Wes cried, laughing to himself.
Poppy wasn't sure what to say, for a moment she couldn't help but question herself, it was definitely easier to go with it, but was it better? Seeing Wes's reactions so far it could still have gone either way. Was he better off not knowing? Poppy had imagined him to be excited by idea but if he wasn't the case, what would he gain from knowing? Maybe then all it would be was a burden, a secret he had to keep, although Poppy's primary concern, her determining reason had always been for the sake of their relationship, she never felt that the connection was strong enough, she felt that their was always a wedge between them in the way and she could never fully allow herself to feel anything when it could all be ruined the second he found out. Wes on the other hand either didn't seem to notice that or just didn't seem to mind, it was very one sided, Poppy told herself it was for the both of them but the truth was it bothered her, lying to him, having to hold herself back, keeping secrets, it was her that didn't like how things were between them and her that wanted things to change, it wasn't really about Wes at all.
As all of that was running through her head she began to feel quite overwhelmed and tears formed in her eyes. Unsure of what the future would hold either way, she was unhappy with how things were and that wasn't going to get any better, Wes was fine, but there was a chance he wouldn't be after he found out, she had to decide if it was worth risking his happiness, whether to remain miserable to be safe or dare to take the chance.
“Poppy?” Wes muttered with a little nervous laugh as he noticed er tears.
Poppy watched him closely as he leaned into her for just a second before running off out of the room.
Wes went running after, running as fast as he could, only catching up to her once she had left the building.
There was no one around, everyone had either left to go home or were in the gym where Wes should have been, even the last stray kids, who'd hang around a little longer with their friends had gone, Wes and Poppy were completely alone.
Just as Poppy was about to walk down the four steps and officially leave the school grounds Wes managed to grab a hold of her arm. Catching her off balance with her heavy bag over her shoulder she fell straight to the ground below.
Wes of course went into immediate panic despite all he had heard previously, feeling terrible and at fault, rushed down to her.
“Omg, are you okay? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to do that, I'm so sorry...”
Poppy laid there on the floor for a second, looking at her arm, all she had done was scrape her elbow, it was nothing bad at all, something like that would heal in a matter of minutes, that wasn't the reason she lay there, it was more so the fact that she knew what was coming next and she couldn't help but think that laying on the cold, hard floor was more appealing. Sure she could have stayed there until there was nothing to be seen and carry on as before, as normal as she could, but it would have just been another lie, even if Wes didn't know it was happening didn't make it right. The fall showed her that eventually he would find out the truth, she couldn't hide it forever and surely it was better for her to tell him and soften the blow; As well as that it was also a very good way of getting him to believe her, it was proof that he couldn't deny or conger up any other theories, things that he couldn't help but make up, it was his way of coping, he couldn't wrap his head around what he was hearing so he came up with something he could.
“It's okay, it will heal” Poppy told him with a smirk as she pushed up off of the ground, twisted around and sat up.
“No it's not, you're bleeding babe, here let me take a look” Wes cried as he crouched down beside her.
Poppy took a deep breath before hesitantly moving her arm towards him.
He carefully took it in his hands and looked at the cut closely.
“I think you need to clean it, it has dirt in” he muttered after a moment. “...Come on, I'll take you” he said as the grip he had around her grew a little tighter, apply a little force as he carefully tried to pull her up.
“I don't need to clean it, Wes” she told him blankly, looking him straight in the eyes as she pulled down, resisting his slight pressure. “I'll heal” she said again more sternly that time, hoping to prompt something inside him.
He watched her eyes for a good few seconds without a single blink, something had changed in him, he knew what she was insinuating but he still wasn't quite ready to believe her, to make up his mind on the matter.
“We have to get this dirt out” he muttered, his lips wobbling as if they were trying to form words but no sound was coming out. “Come on, we have to, it will stop infections and will make it feel a bit better...” he cried again, pulling her arm much harder that time.
“Wes, Wes...Please, I don't, I don't need...” Poppy whispered gently.
“No. No” he said under his breathe, almost inaudible, that time not looking nearly as sure, it was almost as if he already believed what she was saying, what she telling him but just didn't want to. In that case believing her was actually the best option, it being true would mean she wasn't crazy, that she hadn't lost her mind, but it also meant that she was different, in some people's eyes, a freak and for some people that's worse.
“...It's not a prank, it's not a joke, it's not a lie, Wes, it's the truth, it's the truth” she yelled out, her eyes sparkling, full of tears as her face drooped.
Wes remained silent, alone with his thoughts for what felt like forever, with only the sound of his slight, under breath mumbles and groans.
Before he had a chance to speak again, before he could tell himself how impossible, how crazy it all was and come up with any other theory that would shield him from the truth and from whatever other changes would be on his life, knowing what actually was out there in the world, what had been hidden from him, the one thing that he couldn't deny began. Just like that, right under his nose Poppy's cut began to heal, very slowly the new skin began to peel across the wound thin layer by thin layer, until eventually the red was no longer viable, the dirt had fallen to the ground and the gauge had disappeared, just like magic.
Wes didn't take his bewildered eyes off of it for a second, he watched every second as attentively as the last as it healed up in front of his very eyes, then a few minutes after that too.
Poppy kept a close eye on him while he did that, there was no telling what would happen, it was one thing being told something would happen and it actually happening in front of you. Even if after Wes had been told and maybe convinced enough to fully believe her he still didn't know everything, he knew she would heal but there were so many other things he didn't know, like quite how that would happen and how quickly it would, both equally as fascinating and shocking as the ability itself.
Poppy didn't know how to feel as she watched him, she was only wary and alert, there were no other emotions inside her in that moment, no fear, no relief, no delight. There was no way she could have figured out what to feel at that stage, Wes hadn't given her much to go off, his face was blank and he seemed to be having trouble processing it all.
“...Wes” Poppy whispered gently after a moment when things started to drag on, although she still couldn't be sure if things were going badly, well or just somewhere in the middle what he was doing couldn't have been good for him, he was borderline obsessing.
His lifeless eyes flickered up to hers.
“You don't have to do this now, you don't have to decide, feel or say anything at all about what you've just seen, it's okay for you to just go home and forget about it, maybe it's better like that, it's too much to process all at once. It's possible you just need a little more time for it to sink in but if not, that's okay too” She told him honestly, despite how disappointed it was for her to say. She didn't like it, of course she didn't she didn't want it to go like that, she had convinced herself that he'd be okay and that it would all go well, desperately suppressing the other strong voice that deeply disagreed but it had always been there and wasn't too hard to except after the preferred root had failed.
“...It's-it's gone” Wes muttered blankly as he pulled his eyes back to the clear skinned arm, slowly reaching out to it with one finger, almost robotically, but before he could touch it he stumbled backwards, losing balance and falling down on the steps behind him.
“Wes, are you okay?” Poppy cried out as she leaned over him, her hands on his face as she impatiently waited for an answer.
He watched her for a second without a reply before all of a sudden he began to chuckle quietly under his breath and a slightly askew smile grew on his lips.
It was likely another coping mechanism but unlike the other Poppy didn't at all expect the laughter to come from him but maybe it was a good thing, maybe it was him coming around this this time instead of trying to convince himself of anything else.
“...What? Why are you laughing?” she asked after a moment with a dead pan face before hesitantly smiling.
“It's impossible, it's so impossible” he cried through his laughter which had only gotten louder and stronger.
“Well...clearly not, you saw it for yourself” Poppy muttered, giving him a funny look as her smile couldn't help but grow more confident.
Wes didn't reply for another minute or two as his laughter faded out, almost like the tide coming in and wiping the slate clean.
“How? How?” he asked with his hand to his mouth and a little smirk, seeming to have gotten over his shock.
“I don't know, I have no idea, it's, I've just always been like that...for as long as I can remember” Poppy told him as held her hand out him, pulling him up. To her delight he happily took her hand without a second thought, it was something so small and in most situations insignificant, but that meant so much to her in that moment, more than I think he realized, only then could she begin to feel completely relieved, he wasn't scared of her, he wasn't uncomfortable around her and from the moment he had stopped laughter, he was acting completely himself, the way he always had.
“And you don't know anything else? That's all you know? Do you know what it is that makes you like that?” Wes asked curiously.
“That's all I know, I was born like it and there's nothing I can do about that” Poppy said as she began to wander from the school and further down the road, creating an excuse to break eye contact.
“What about others? Do you know if there are others like you?”
“No, as far as I'm aware, I'm the only one” Poppy admitted. Just saying that, anytime she would ever say or think that she'd feel an almost cold breeze inside her, a deep pit in her stomach, a feeling of almost loneliness and isolation.
Wes seemed to have caught onto that and proceeded to gently take her hand in his, giving her a comforting smile as soon as she looked up from their intertwined fingers.
Just him knowing as little as he did then, just being able to crack the door meant that some light could get in and although it wasn't the full capacity, it still helped make things just that little more brighter, being able to see his faint silhouette shinning through, breaking the darkness helped Poppy to feel a little less alone, even though he wasn't quite under the same roof it was a window, a way for him fully get in if and when the moment felt right.
“...Wes” Poppy cried out after a moment of thought, stopping in her tracks and holding Wes back with her. Her face was pale, her eyes wide and her lips drawn in.
“...I'm sorry for not telling you sooner, Wes. It wasn't because I didn't trust you, it really has nothing to do with you, it's me. I was being selfish and unfair and I just, I couldn't keep it from you anymore. You deserve to be with someone you actually know, I'm practically a stranger to you” She told him honestly, feeling quite guilty after how he way he had reacted.
Wes gave her a judgy look before flashing her a quick admirable smile.
“Don't be silly” he muttered gently.
“I'm not, I'm not being silly Wes, please, I just want you to know this, I want you to know that you can leave if you want to. I don't want you to feel like you have to stay with me now, either because you think that I won't trust you with my secret if we're not together anymore, or you think it will upset me if the only reason you break up with me is because of what you've seen, it won't, I would completely understand” Poppy told him bravely, looking to the floor to hide the tears in her eyes, it hurt her to say that, she didn't want that to happen at all but she honestly meant it, she had done what made her happy, it was time to put him first now, completely.
“Poppy, I'm not going anywhere, alright?” Wes said leaning down to her, his spare hand reaching up to her face stoking her cheek as she looked up to his sparkling eyes.
“Why?” Poppy asked, her voice cracking as a single tear made it's way down her face.
“Why would I?” he asked after a moment of thought with a sweet smirk.
Poppy didn't say anything, she knew exactly why, because now she was different, now she was weird and no longer the person she knew Wes liked already, but instead, she shrugged her shoulders.
“Listen to me, alright, this changes nothing, you're still Poppy Rose Shields, just...better maybe, I mean no one elses girlfriend has superpowers do they? I have to admit, that's pretty cool...?” he giggled. “Aye?” he pushed her gently with a wide grin on his face.
Still Poppy didn't say anything but Wes could see how much what he said really meant to her as her face lit up, although the tears were still falling the sun had come up and a rainbow was forming. She threw herself into his arms holding him tightly, smiling to herself over his shoulder as she pressed her face against him, before bursting into tears again.
“You can stop crying now, it's all okay, you have nothing to worry about” Wes told her with a reassuring smile as he pulled away from the hug, looking her deep in the eyes again.
“...How, how are you doing so well?”Poppy muttered after a moment, taking a deep breath as she wiped her eyes and sniveled with a grateful smirk.
“Am I? I'm not sure I'd say that” Wes laughed. “I'm okay with it, that's true but it's still completely crazy to me and I'm not quite sure I've fully processed it yet, or ever will”
“Well you haven't screamed, you haven't ran off, so I'd say so...” she laughed.
“You know...I'm not really sure why I didn't do either of those things though” Wes joked, grinning as he wrapped his arm around her and continued to wander down the street to the bus stop. “It's still so weird though and seeing it happen kind of freaked me out... I would have never guessed”
Poppy just laughed.
“I don't blame you, it would have freaked me out too”
“Actually, do you know why I didn't do that? Why I didn't run off?” Wes asked after a moment.
“Why?” Poppy's eyes narrowed.
“It's because I really like you” he told her nervously, stopping again but that time because they had reached the bus stop. “Poppy. I like you more than anyone else I've ever met, I've never met anymore quite like you, I've always felt like that, I guess now I know why and although I was scared, surprised, whatever, I was never going to let that effect what we have, what I feel for you” Wes admitted shyly. It wasn't like him at all, even if that was what he felt he would have never admitted it, never said it out loud in fear of sounding soft or unmanly, it seemed maybe Poppy's honesty, her opening up had helped him too, maybe made him feel closer to her.
Although of course hearing that meant a lot to Poppy, it didn't only feel good because what he was saying was nice, because it was everything everyone wants to hear the person they love say, it felt good because she was right about him, he had proven that what she thought about him was right. It wasn't arrogance or gloating, proving Clara wrong, it was that now they were on the same level, that they understood each other after all and that one thing she was right about meant she could possibly be right about everything else too.
“What if I told you I had tentacles though? Would that effect it?” Poppy joked, knowing full well what it took for him to admit that and just how embarrassed he was to do so, trying to help him feel a little more at ease.
Wes laughed, shaking his head after a second with his lips drawn in.
As they waited for the bus home they talked some more, not about anything specific, just joking and laughing around, Wes telling Poppy what superpower he wished he had and the two of them making up silly scenarios together.
Everything was so natural and comfortable between them, maybe more than it was before and as Poppy listened to him laughing around and watched him smiling and joking, her confidence began to creep up in strides, although she but she wasn't quite at the point where she was ready to give him a history lesson, for the first time she could see it happening some time soon.
Before the bus could interrupt the fun a text came through to Wes's phone doing just that instead.
“That's not the government agency coming to collect me is it?” Poppy joked as she glanced at the glow.
“...What?” Wes cried in a panic after her words had sunk in.
“Nothing” Poppy laughed to herself. “...Just something Clara said...”
“...It's- it's my coach” Wes told her after a second once he had been put at ease. “But that's not a thing is it?” he added to make sure before he could return fully back to normal.
“No, don't worry” Poppy smirked. “But that doesn't mean you can tell anyone still...yeah?”
Wes nodded in agreement.
“...It's coach Christensen, he wants me to come and see him, quite badly by the looks of the caps...” Wes laughed hesitantly. “...he's probably mad that I missed rugby practice. I'm sorry I can't stay any longer, it will only make things worse” he said as he stood up from the bench, taking hold of his bag strap.
“...It's okay, I'm sorry I made you miss it, but thank you, for sticking around” Poppy told him with a sweet smile as she happily stood up beside him to see him off.
“...Well, I definitely think this was a good reason to skip, it's not like it's the sort of thing someone tells you everyday” he laughed awkwardly with a humble smile as he went to give her a quick hug before turning back to the school, not wanting to waste anymore time and make thing any worse with his coach. “...Oh...and Poppy, thank you” he then looked back at the last minute, just before he was about to take his first step.
“...For what?” she smirked, giving him a funny look.
“For trusting me with this, I know it couldn't have been easy” Wes smiled sweetly, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek before eventually rushing off, leaving Poppy with a smile.
After that long awaited discussion and that heavy weight lifted off Poppy went home to Clara feeling the best she had in quite a while, although it hadn't gone perfectly, it was far from the worst outcome. Of course at that time Clara still knew nothing and had been sat anxiously all day after their discussion the night before, unsure if Poppy had even said anything to Wes, let alone how well it had or hadn't gone, but as soon as Poppy walked through the front door with the biggest grin on her face and the lost sparkle in her eyes, it didn't take long for Clara to join her in her happiness, despite still preferring to have kept it a secret.
With Clara now more of less back on Poppy's side she could tell her everything that had happened that afternoon with Wes and all her plans for the future without having to worry about Clara would react.
Clara even actually surprised Poppy with how relaxed she actually was, to the extent where it was almost creepy how unlike herself she was. Although it had all gone so well and as far as either of them knew, everything was okay, Wes had kept the promise and things between them were better than ever, there was still room for doubt, something Clara would usually seek out. It was still very early days, the first day in fact, there was no telling what could happen next, it was more than possible that Wes could accidentally let it slip out, that someone could have over heard their discussion or even heard something but for once Clara was too caught up in the relief that Wes had reacted well to even give that a thought at the time.
It wasn't until Sunday night when that changed, Poppy had spent the whole weekend with Wes at his house with his mum and dad, as she no longer had anything holding her back and had no need for excuses, she had told him everything after waking up with him Sunday morning, all about Dr Thomas and Dr Owens and her time at sanctuary, they spoke about it for hours that day and once again, things had gone well, so naturally was Poppy was more than happy to share her delight with Clara when she got home, that was when things took a turn.
One of the things that Poppy had told her set alarms off in her head, while messing about on Saturday Poppy mentioned something about social media, how now her and Wes were closer than ever she was happy to make things a little more official, that of course meaning couple photos on Facebook. It was all so harmless and there wouldn't have been a problem at all if Wes hadn't have accidentally used Poppy's real name, one of the things Poppy had told him that weekend. Naturally after Clara hearing about them wanting to see them and there it was above the photo Wes had captioned 'my girlfriend Poppy Mason and I'. Clara of course went into a complete panic over that and although it didn't mean much at the time, it was likely that nothing would come of it, it was enough.
Despite Poppy being so incredibly calm and carefree about it, telling Clara how nothing would ever come of it, to stop worrying and that everything would be okay even she couldn't help but question that come Monday. The first bad sign was Wes not showing up, Poppy had seen him just the day before and he was completely fine and it wasn't at all like him to miss a day. The second was about a hundred times worse and completely unavoidable.
After leaving school at the end of that day to catch the bus as normal, an unknown, blacked out window, untraceable car picked Poppy up instead.
It seemed the name Poppy Mason was all that was needed to stir up trouble, the reason behind that wasn't yet clear but that definitely was.
There was no sign of Clara, no sign of escape and no clues as to what to do.
It had all happened so fast, one minute Poppy was making her way to the bus stop, the next a large man dressed all in white stood in front of her and then, black.
The next thing Poppy saw was a woman standing in front of her as she sat strapped down in a wheel chair in a strange glass building, in what looked like an office waiting room, a large partly empty, echoy space, with a collection of chairs to the right and an empty desk to the left, everything so white and shining.
“...Hello, Poppy, my names Katie” a thin petite blond woman greeted her at the door, holding her hand out to Poppy, smiling sweetly as if she was a teacher welcoming a little five year old on their first day of school. It wasn't clear if it was an act, it was hard to tell if she was genuine or not, although she was little and pretty with a fancy short red dress with bright red lips and shiny shoes with her long hair pulled back so neat in the perfect high ponytail, pristine from the outside, there was something about her that came across very self righteous and superior like nasty popular girl at school.
It was almost unbelievable, as if she was an angel at the gates of heaven when everything else felt like hell.
“Where am I?” Poppy cried, looking like a feral animal compared to her, her hair a mess from the journey, tears running down her cheeks and fear plastered all over her face.
“Did no one tell you?” Katie asked giving the two white men standing behind her a funny look. “You're at Ira industries” she added with a giggle.
“...Ira, what?” Poppy's voice wobbled.
“It's one of the world most renowned hospitals, known for it's vast medical knowledge and many contributes to the world of science” Katie told her with her head held high, clearly very proud of the facts spilling from her lips, despite it seeming she hadn't much to do with that at all by the looks of her.
“...Oh, cool” Poppy muttered, giving her the blankest most unimpressed look. “So...why am I here?” she laughed trying her best to be brave.
Katie gave her a slight glare as she quite awkwardly looked back at the men behind her again. It was hard to tell exactly what was wrong with her, either she was surprised to hear Poppy's ignorance and genuinely taken back as it wasn't what she expected to hear, or she was simply appreciating the dumb act she believed Poppy to be putting on.
“...You know exactly why you're here” she said confidently with a reluctant smile. “Take her restrains off, she doesn't need them and get help her get settled in to her room” Clara told the men before walking off.
Poppy hadn't the faintest idea what she was doing there, although of course she could guess, she didn't know where exactly Ira industries was so it wasn't like she could just run away, the high security was also a problem, she didn't know what they were going to do with her there, what they knew about her, or most importantly if Clara knew where she was.
Poppy had been helpless for most of her life, she was used to it, she had grown up never knowing where she was, not being able to go anywhere or ever get away, but what Poppy wasn't used to, was being alone and so much so in the dark and so completely clueless that anything waiting around the corner would be a surprise, that was the problem and the one thing she did know wasn't the slightest bit comforting, she knew that something was definitely coming and she would soon find out just what that would be and somehow that was more terrifying than anything.
Poppy had been locked up in that room all night and most, most of the next day, alone and clueless; it wasn't until the late afternoon that she saw even saw another person, when at around 4pm Katie visited her.
It felt like days had gone by in there, alone as there were no clocks or windows, or anything to in there at all, the room was extremely minimal and mostly empty, even more so than what Poppy was used to, with only a bed, table and chairs in there with her, it wasn't even like there was anything interesting to look at, the walls were just plain white and blank, the most she had to entertain her in there was the shiny, white, titled floor, she must have counted the titles a hundred times that day. Other than that she only had herself, her thoughts to listen to and her imagination, which wasn't too varied, it could only come up with the same questions and the same answers, over and over again, trying to make up an explanation, any explanation as to what she was doing there. Of course there was only one obvious answer to that question but that was only the stump, the branches had yet to grow. Although Poppy knew what had most likely gotten her there, her name, but why that was and what exactly that told was still unclear. All that time at Sanctuary Poppy had always been told that no one outside knew her identity or what she could do, she had always fully believed that the whole time she had stayed there. There had always been a sort of awkwardness whenever the subject came up, whenever she'd ask what would happen if she ever left or questions about others like her, they'd always change the topic or they'd seem off as they told her whatever response they had been forced to recruit, but Poppy had always trusted everyone at Sanctuary enough not to dwell too much about it and talked herself into believing it and eventually she just stopped wondering all together.
The only time she ever heard anything different was once she was out, it was then that she found out about the investors, the people who payed in money to Sanctuary to keep the research going, those people had known of her existence the entire time and she had had no idea, so the likelihood of others knowing as well was high.
The longer Poppy spent in that room with all that time to think, the more she began to question everything, everything she had ever been told, all the potential lies she had believed, she began to question her trust for everyone she knew, even Clara... but after a while, afters hours on end of the same things going round and round with no end in sight, no real evidence or answers for anything Poppy gave up, there was no way she could figure anything out from just that room, just by herself. She had began to go a little stir crazy, everything had turned into incoherent rambles and speculation, the only good that came from it is that it had worn her brain out and she was actually able to sleep that night, a break from the nightmare but the problem was it wasn't a permanent solution.
There wasn't much to do in there but think, there was nothing to look at, no entertainment what so ever, everything was white, the metal bed frame, the empty table, the chairs and the bedding, making the room not only boring but cold and lonely.
Poppy had been completely alone for an entire twenty four hours at that point so despite Katie not exactly being Poppy's favorite person even she was a sight to see at that point, just someone, something new to look at.
As before she was dressed perfectly in a figure hugging navy blue dress, black shiny heels, her hair was still neatly tied back and again she had a full face of makeup, the complete opposite to Poppy who hadn't had the chance to shower or brush her hair or teeth in days and just to make things even worse she no longer had her old clothes, she had been forced to wear a long white shapeless gown shapeless.
There was a small bathroom leading off from her room but all that was inside was a toilet and a tiny sink that let out no more than a dribble.
Contrary to the first time, Katie didn't seem as if she wanted to chat at all, surprising because before she didn't seem to want to ever stop talking, maybe that was part of it, the whole process, the confinement, the boredom, loneliness, the complete lock down, on any ordinary person a few days at most of that would have been enough for them to crack, but Poppy was no ordinary person and they'd soon see just how strong she really was, she wouldn't break that easily, so Katie could wipe the smug look right off of her face.
Something that possibly unintentionally gave something away though was what Katie had in her hands, a plate of food, the first food Poppy had seen since she arrived. What that told her is they didn't know as much about her as they would have liked her to believe, if they had seen her files, if they had known about anything that went on at Sanctuary, they would have known how easily she could live without food. It wasn't an accurate experiment, of course at sanctuary they would never let it get far enough to see the real end results, but as far as they could tell, as long as they were willing to go to test the theory, it still very much effected her in the same ways, it was just a much slower process and obviously would never end the same way. Poppy would be weak and nothing but bones, but she would still be alive, her heart would continue to beat and she would bounce back quickly after being given all her body needed.
The question was, if they knew that at Ira industries would they have bothered feeding her at all? Surely her being weak would mean they could get her to speak faster and they'd get whatever they wanted from her without any major consequences, whatever that might have been. Clearly they still needed something and maybe weren't too sure how to get it, otherwise they would have it already. The again, in the grand scheme of things Poppy didn't have much to worry about so it would it have even counted as torture? There was no bad ending, there was no reason for her to be scared. Although of course the process would be long painful and quite possibly never ending, it was potentially still better that what would happen if sh ever told them what they wanted to know or gave them what they seemed to crave.
At that point in time though Poppy continued on as if they still knew nothing, she couldn't say for certain but she was fairly sure, there were a couple of reasons for that, the way everyone reacted to her when she first walked in, unsure and slightly fearful of her and the most obvious tell was the fact she had been in there for so long without anyone even testing her or their understanding of what she could do.
If they didn't know that she wouldn't die, they could have gone quite a while longer without any problems, or effect from the hunger, so they clearly very much still seemed to want to keep her relatively happy and therefore more cooperative when the time came, they clearly didn't know Poppy at all.
“...Eat” Katie told Poppy blankly as she placed the plate down on the table before spinning around quickly towards the door again.
“...I'm not eating that” Poppy cried out stubbornly the second Katie was about to pull the door handle down, looking up from the bed with just one eye. She wasn't about to waste a second, she knew exactly what she was doing, she wasn't stupid, in fact that kind of thing had always come very naturally to her, she knew how to work around things, how to get her way and what she wanted, to manipulate and twist a situation to her favor, without them even knowing she was doing it.
As Poppy had suspected, Katie immediately stopped in her tracks, turning back to her, for just a second that ice cold blank look morphed into brief frustration. From just that one sentence Poppy had gotten to her, it shattered the illusion, Katie was an easy victim, that was obvious from the start, Poppy could see right through it from a mile away. Katie's whole superior act was just that, an act, she was trying too hard to be someone she wasn't, she liked her rules to be followed, she liked to be in control, she liked things to go her way, but the truth was, she had none of that. As much as Katie liked to pretend, she was never really in charge, in reality she was just as powerless as Poppy, she was simply the pretty face of the company, she had no real say in what went on, no matter how much she liked to play make believe that she did, she had no power underneath the act. She knew Poppy had seen through it, that Poppy wasn't scared of her, her shield had been taken and she was left vulnerable and defenseless.
“I refuse to eat until I see my friends, until I know they're okay” Poppy told her boldly, knowing full well she had the advance in the situation.
Katie seemed so out of her depths, she hadn't even tried and already looked defeated, but she took one quick breath and walked back towards the table with her head held high, trying her best to do as she had been told and give Poppy her dinner, pulling out the chair and it down firmly stepping to the side and looking back to Poppy with her back straight and her hands hung intertwined at her thighs.
“...Stand there for as long as you want Katie, I'm staying right here”
Poppy just laughed to herself as she rolled over onto her stomach, facing the wall away from the table.
After a while the sound of high heels tapping on the floor filled the room, before it was then followed by the unlocking of the door. Only when Poppy was certain Katie had fully left the room did she turn back again, waiting a good few minutes to make sure.
When she sat up again she was meet with a surprise, the sound of the door unlocking wasn't Katie leaving at all, it was her letting someone in. Standing there above the bed was a man, a man Poppy hadn't seen before, while Katie stood at the door with a smug smile on her face.
“Poppy, this is Mr Ira...” She told her as she leaned back against the door, making herself comfortable, getting ready for the show.
He was nothing like Poppy had expected, not at all, if Katie hadn't have introduced him she would have never guessed. He wasn't old, he wasn't dressed particularly well, or like a professional, he seemed very laid back and carefree... he looked like any other normal young man that had just finished school, unprepared for what the world would throw at him, not a company owning millionaire. Poppy wasn't even sure if she could believe it it at first, he looked as if he could have just walked in from the street, an actor they had payed, but there was no reasonable reason they would have done that, so, he must have been who they claimed. The way Katie reacted around him also helped sell it, there was such a change in her, she was a different person, that silver spoon had fallen straight from her mouth and the look of superiority had been wiped clean off, the way she looked at Ira was like he was a king and she would do anything to please him and whatever he said, she might as well of been on her knees, kissing his shoes, she seemed desperate for his approval.
Although strangely, he wasn't intimidating or scary looking at all, he looked quite friendly and approachable, meaning it wasn't at all fear that drove Katie, it was love and appreciation.
He was a very attractive man, with soft, pushed back, straight brown hair, with matching stubble, huge pale green eyes, very faint freckles across his slightly upturned nose and pale pink full lips. He was quite tall, maybe a whole head and neck taller than poppy and he was slim, but had some muscle to him and was in very good shape, something that maybe wasn't as obvious through a shirt but he was wearing a well fitted, short sleeved gray t-shirt, a pair of skinny jeans and black converse on his feet.
Poppy couldn't be sure if he dressed that way all the time as he was the boss and he could, or he hadn't expected to be there tonight and had shown up on his day off, despite the whole not judging a book by it's cover thing, that could tell her a lot about him. Unlike with Katie, Ira was a blank page, sure there were noticeable personalty traits, friendly, laid back, but nothing deeper than that first impression and first impressions can be deceiving. He looked at Poppy far differently from anyone else she had encountered in the brief time spent outside of her room at the company, they all looked at her as if all they saw when they looked at her was someone who was different, someone who could give them something no one else could, like she was some sort of prize, some sort of puzzle that needed to be solved. Ira looked at her more like the staff at Sanctuary which Poppy couldn't help but find strangely comforting, like all he wanted was to know her, all he wanted was for her to be comfortable around him, for her to almost, be his friend, like if she were to fall asleep in her presence he'd tuck her in, silently tip toe out and turn the lights off, instead of harvest her organs and pull her apart. Although it was very possible that it was all part of the plan, a sort of good cop, bad cop, he was doing a very good job at it, I seemed completely sincere, even his eyes told her the same. Despite that, Poppy knew better than to trust him, he was still the boss there,s he couldn't forget that he was most likely the reason she was there, by the way Katie looked at him, it didn't look as if she would ever go against his orders so he must have organized it. Ira's true motives, his desires were well hidden, that was for sure and Poppy had to be careful, to stay vigilant and not let his spell work on her.
“I'm so sorry I haven't come and visited you any sooner, it was all quite sudden as you probably know, but it's very nice to finally meet you and see how everyone's been treating you” Ira stepped forward, placing his hands on the end of the bed with a charming smile on his lips. Even his voice sounded friendly, it was very gentle, almost whispery, the sort of soft, cheerful tone a father reads his child a bed stories in.
Poppy didn't reply, she just watched him closely, looking up from the bed as she tried her best to read him.
“She doesn't talk much...” Katie butted in from the doorway, looking quite desperate to be a part of the so far non existent conversation.
“Katie, love, sorry, but could you please leave me and Poppy here to have a chat in private?... thanks” Ira turned back to her quickly, almost like a reflex, his voice completely changing, it becoming more flat and harder.
Katie's eyes beamed like an animal in the headlights, her eyes practically perking up as Ira spoke to her, before immediately spinning around and leaving the room as quickly as she could, so quickly in fact it was like magic, one minute she was there, the next she was gone.
Ira watched Poppy blankly for a moment, barely even blinking until Katie had left and yet another minute after that, before a quick smile formed on his face and he took one step back from the bed.
“So...What have you been doing in here all day?” he asked, looking around the room.
He seemed like a impressively patient man, not at all someone with a quick temper, he was as cool as a cucumber, it was obvious from just the way he asked that he would happily stay all day to get an answer if he had to, he wouldn't give up easily and he knew Poppy wouldn't either, if anything eh was dedicated. Unlike the others, he actually seemed like he knew what he was doing, which was probably why he was the boss.
Of course, once again Poppy didn't reply, she continued the silent treatment angle she had started before, there wasn't much else she could do, but this time she wasn't nearly as confident.
“I've actually had a really good day you know? I've had a little time off recently you see, I've actually just got back from holiday, just came here from the airport” he continued, completely unfazed by the lack of Poppy's response, though he did still seem to be keeping his eyes locked closely on her.
“You know what actually though, I haven't eaten much at all today, I've been so busy traveling, I should probably eat something, need to keep my strength up don't I?” Ira said as he turned slightly in the direction of the dining table. “...You're not going to eat this are you?” he asked as he approached the plate of spaghetti. “Oh good, saves me from having to go anywhere” he cried with a proud grin on his face after a moment of watching her with no reaction.
Poppy hadn't quite thought that through, she hadn't expected it to be that difficult before, she had been quite naive, she was confident enough before that Katie would crumble, that she would let something slip in her frustration and Poppy would at least get a little out of her, then she could eat. Al of a sudden now Ira was in the picture she began to worry. She hadn't eaten anything since Friday lunchtime at school, her stomach had been rumbling all day and she was so hungry and now watching Ira sit down at that table she hadn't never wanted to eat that food more, to make it worse she didn't know when she would be able to eat again and it all just felt very pointless.
“Mmm... my favorite. Well I guess I had nothing to worry about, huh? You must already be so full from all the rest of the food you have eaten today if you didn't want to eat this... there I was thinking you were being neglected in here and no one was looking after you” Ira said, laughing to himself as he filled his mouth.
It was clear if it was a joke or not, the way he said it sounded too enthusiastic to be real but it was hard to be sure about anything from someone you had known for under a week, let alone under an hour.
“Hey Poppy, why don't you come sit at the table with me? That was I can look at you while I talk to you?” Ira asked after a minute of silence as Poppy just watched him. If it wasn't a genuine invite he was doing his best to make it seem so, his smile was so convincing, but maybe that was because he enjoyed Poppy's suffering, he enjoyed manipulating her.
Although Poppy was stubborn enough not to eat the food to get what she wanted, no matter what, she was also usually very honest and expressive, her poker face was non existent, if she felt something, she would feel it so strongly it would effect the ambiance of the room and soon enough everyone would know.
It was no big surprise that for a moment she lost hold of herself, she showed weakness, her true feelings, worry, pessimism, fear of the unknown had risen to the surface and Ira had no doubt caught it, that was obvious by the slight turn up of one side of his lip, it appeared he wasn't very good at hiding his emotions either.
“...This isn't going to work you know” Poppy cried out as she dropped down in the seat opposite him. She couldn't help it, it was a reflex from her distress, she had panicked and done what she always did when she felt threatened, fight back.
It wasn't as if she could make it any worse, by that point she had come to the conclusion that her silence was doing nothing. All she wanted was to get out of that place but she had been fooling herself before, it was unlikely that would ever happen, not if they never found out what she could do, or if they did. She was scared, upset and feeling hopeless and was no longer sure what to do, she couldn't help but question it, if she should just tell them what they wanted to know, at least that way she would be going somewhere, instead of just wandering around in a endless maze with no signs of escape.
“...Sorry? What was that? What's not going to work?” he asked obliviously as he looked up from his plate, wiping the slight smile he had acquired away.
“I know what you're doing” she muttered with a little grin, after a moment of thought.
Out of nowhere as she watched Ira's confident smug smirk her fight took over, her competitive spirit grew and she had decided there was no way she would let them win, she wasn't going to give them anything. It had only been one day, she had spent much longer in a much worse condition, she at least had to wait a little to see how things would play out, even if they would end badly, at least she got to watch Ira and everyone else involved struggle.
“Do you?” Ira asked, laughing his breath.
“Yeah and it's not going to work, nothing is going to work, you're wasting your time...”
“....Well, it's a very good thing that isn't a problem for us then... time, you'll be here for as long as we need you, as long it takes for us to get what we want, so you might as well get things over with, maybe then you can leave faster” he told her, still very calm and collective about it all.
“You're never going to let me leave” Poppy laughed, shaking her head.
Something changed in that moment, the look on Ira's face, like a switch deep inside his flipped and his whole outlook changed, he no longer looked smug and confident, he looked guilty, maybe even a little upset.
He watched her closely for a moment, his face blank as he assessed the situation.
Poppy's eyes flickered between both of his as she tried to read them.
“...You're not going to be in here forever Poppy?” he told her honestly, she could tell.
Poppy's eyes narrowed as his words echoed in her head, she didn't know what to say, for the first time he seemed completely genuine, as if in that moment he had just decided to drop all the walls he had been holding up since he arrived in the room and be his true self with no motives or reason behind it, simply because he was tired of pretending.
There was something that changed in him in that moment, it wasn't something that was put on, it was something that had left. It wasn't a brief moment of humanity shinning through his robot shell, his conscious rebooting, it wasn't just a quick glimpse of softness, it was more than that, he was comfortable with it, not ashamed or angry at himself, it was natural for him, what he used to, he seemed less burdened.
All of that before was an act, that was clear now, Ira wasn't nearly as cold and careless as he was making out to be, in fact he seemed to actually be on Poppy's side. So now the question was, why had he been acing that way before? Was it a tactic? To get Poppy angry and emotional, causing her to be more careless with her words and maybe blurt something out? Or had Ira been told to act that way? It was possible, especially seeing how much more comfortable eh already seemed, being himself again.
Ira noticed Poppy staring at him, closely inspecting him and almost started to panic, all of a sudden he lost his cool and became more fidgety and awkward in his mannerisms.
“...Here, you should probably eat the rest of this, I'm full..” Ira muttered, pushing the plate across the table, towards her with a blank look on his face.
It was hard to see quite how he felt about the situation, despite that look in his eyes disappearing, he still seemed unsure and confused even.
That time Poppy didn't over analyze it, she just smiled to herself and took it as it came, it was the first time someone had been nice to her since she had arrived at Ira industries, the first time she had felt even a slight glimmer of friendliness and she wasn't about to ruin it for herself, despite still keeping her cautious, alert mindset, she allowed the moment to happen, pretending for just a moment that not everything was so terrible.
“Tell me about your friends?” Ira muttered after a moment, seeming genuinely interested, actually trying to start a conversation with her, instead of just scrapping the barrel for any information he could get his hands on like before. “...The one's you mentioned before, Katie told me about them”
“What do you want to know?” Poppy asked blankly as she wiped her mouth after her first mouthful.
“Their names... who they are to you?”
“...Why?” she asked with a hesitant smile.
“Because they're the only thing you want to talk about right? The only thing you have talked about...” he explained. “They must mean a lot to you, you must really care about them”
Poppy watched him for a moment, letting herself get lost in his twinkly eyes, for just a moment seeing him as something other than what she had seen before, just a man, a kind, smoothly spoken, charming, good looking man, but she soon snapped out of it, breaking the spell. It was one thing going along with it for herself, but there was no way she was about to drop her friends in it just for a nice chat. It wasn't that she no longer believed in what she had decided before, that Ira wasn't actually a bad person and that it was an act he putting on, but she still had to keep in mind that he still wanted the same thing everyone else did, even if he was going at it in a different way, she still didn't want him knowing, she still didn't want to give him what he wanted from her.
She soon began to laugh as she push the food away, shaking her head.
“You're good, you know that? You're really good” she told him, acting confident and sure of herself, he wasn't the only one who could play games, when in fact she was far from that, she just wanted to see his reaction to it, hoping it could maybe help determine the situation she was so lost in, he was so complex and full of mystery.
“...What are you talking about?” Ira asked in confusion, laughing nervously.
“I just mean you probably already know about them, don't you? Don't pretend you don't” she said still laughing.
“...I don't know anything, Poppy, you haven't told me anything” he said blankly. There wasn't so much as a minuscule twitch or change in his eyes that indicated he was lying but that didn't mean a thing. “I know very little about you Poppy, about as much as you know about me” he told her.
Poppy watched him closely through narrow, investigating eyes. Ira was the most frustrating person Poppy had ever met, she couldn't get anything from him, she had no idea if he could trust him or not, his signals were all over the place. It was like one day being able to read minds and then suddenly having it taken away from you, it made things so much harder, Poppy had never been in a position quite like that before.
Ira could definitely tell something was up with her, that she was struggling with something but he just put it down to her being stubborn, rebellious and refusing to let him in due to fear.
“At least tell me their names?” he said after a minute, calmly and in a noninvasive manner, with a slight smirk, seeming to find Poppy quite amusing. “...I want to find them for you, Poppy” he added, once again sounded sincere.
“Why?” she asked after a moment after an almost sigh, finally deciding to give up on her investigation, the only way she would ever figure him out is by giving him a chance, it was a big risk to take, potentially putting her friends in danger but it could quite well have been worth it if he was in fact telling her the truth.
“Because we need you here Poppy, we want you to be here and that would be so much easier if you wanted that too. We need your help and your cooperation and if that means giving you what you want, checking up on your friends then we will do that... we're, I'm not your enemy Poppy, I want you to be happy here, comfortable” Ira explained.
“...And, what will you do with them, when you find them?”
“Do with them? Nothing. I just want to find out how they are so you will know if they're doing okay” he said blankly, as if nothing else had crossed his mind.
“But...you're not going to let me see them are you? So, how do you expect me to believe you?” Poppy asked, giving him a funny look, piercing holes in his idea.
Ira's face dropped.
“...Well, I guess you would, just have to trust me” he muttered, looking as if he had only just heard the answer when it came from his lips, when Poppy did.
“You want me to trust you?” Poppy cried out, smirking to herself. “...When you don't trust me enough to let me out to see them, or for them to come here because they'll what? Try and steal me away from you?” she said, finding it very hypocritical.
Ira clearly saw that too and froze for a moment, thinking about it.
“...Look... all I wanted was to help you in some small way, make things, I don't know, a little better, do you want to hear from your friends or not? I thought you'd appreciate that, but I see maybe it's too early, you clearly still don't see the importance of you being here like we do, let me know when you're willing to work with us, show us that you're worth trusting and maybe we'll return the favor” he pushed his chair away from the table before standing to his feet and straightening himself out.
“Why don't you explain it to me then?” Poppy cried out as too she stood up.
Ira just smiled to himself, giving nothing away.
“You're not ready” he said gently before turning around with a clearing of his throat.
Poppy wasn't quite sure how to react, but somehow things had cleared up a little, she was beginning to at least understand what Ira wanted from her and what he expected from her. As far as she could tell, Ira had no intention of hurting her, that all he wanted was good to come of the whole situation, it was possible that Poppy had been tricked into believing that and lowered into a false sense of security, but she highly doubted it. Despite Ira being hard to read, he was impossible to read and Poppy was quite sure she had gotten to the bottom of it and she was rarely wrong.
Trusting Ira was no longer the problem, it was the rest of the uncertianies, Poppy couldn't be sure that Ira was even the one in charge, he seemed quite unaware of all that had been going on before he turned up and didn't seem to agree with the way things had been handled, that would also have explained the mood swing he had before and why he was so hard to read, he was putting on an act, he wasn't displaying any of his own emotions for Poppy to pick up on.
In that moment, watching Ira walk away, despite the unknown, she decided that she did trust him, enough to keep it just between the two of them anyway, as he seemed to be the only one that actually cared about her and it was most definitely his idea in the first place. Poppy was fairly sure of herself at that point, she had seen what Ira's game face looked like, she recognized the change in him when he wasn't being himself.
Poppy took a deep breath, then closing her eyes, she opened her mouth again, taking the risk. “Clara Shields and Wes Payne. They are the two people who mean most to me...I need- I need to know if they're okay” she gave in.
“...I'll see what I can do” Ira told her softly, keeping his eyes on the door before swiping his key card and leaving the room for the night.
She didn't expect a fast response, it was late by then so she knew Ira probably wouldn't do anything about it at least until morning, but she hadn't expected it to take as long as it did. Poppy didn't see Ira for the whole of the next day, it wasn't until around 5 o'clock in the evening that she heard from him again.
That was more than enough time to talk herself out of it all, she had run out of hope and had only being left with the worst case scenarios, she regretting telling him, she regretting trusted him and at that point had completely thrown away everything she had decided before. She had spent the whole day worrying, beating herself up, feeling guilty for getting her friends in trouble as she now believed she had; Although she had of course considered the dangers of speaking those names before she did, she wasn't particularly in a right mind to be consider such an important decision, she missed her friends and was so worried about there well being she couldn't see much past that. Clara and Wes just knowing about Poppy put them in danger, Poppy already knew what they had done with her and there was no reason they wouldn't do the same with her friends, they could get exactly the same out of them, the information they needed and unlike with her, they didn't have to show nearly as much care.
There was no alternative route, no way of escaping those scary possibilities because even if she had been right about Ira, it took her while to even admit she was wrong and was too stubborn to allow herself to believe that was even a option, she had no idea what was going on outside that room and if Ira really was at the very top of the food chain. It was possible Ira hadn't cleared the idea with anyone and when they found out about it he could no longer carry it out.
When he eventually returned to the room Poppy half expected to see the Ira she had first met when he had first walked through that door, even now he was dressed properly in the proper uniform that time, dressed in white scrubs as all the nurses did with a white lab coat. She had expected to see the manipulative, selfish, egotistical man, leading her to find out that she had been fooled into believing the nice guy act and that she had gotten it the completely wrong way around, that the only reason Ira even flashed her a smile was to get her to trust him and to get information about her, the information she had given him; causing her to feel angry, not only at him but for the most part, at herself.
She wasn't entirely sure where her head was at, it was very mixed, just like it had been since she met Ira, but everything seemed to change the second he came in. Just seeing him back in the room instantly calmed her and her loud head went quiet, he was the only one that managed that, it was as whenever he came into connect, time just stopped. Poppy couldn't help but feel hopeful again at the sight of him, she wasn't sure she'd see him at all, that had to be a good sign, she wanted so desperately to believe that, for her instincts to right, to be right about it all.
“...Sorry I took so long” Ira said blankly, pulling a smile up onto his cheeks for a millisecond as he walked further into the room, before dropping his eyes to the floor.
“...Yeah, what the hell was that about? You better have good excuse” Poppy cried, hiding her feelings, she had to hear what eh had to say before completely making up her mind.
“...I've had things to do and, things didn't turn out quite- quite how I expected, them, to...” he told her with a strange tone of voice, he sounded upset, or at the very least unsure about something.
“What do you mean? How did they turn out?” Poppy asked curiously, leaning forward a little with narrow eyes.
Ira took a moment to string his words together. “Well firstly, it was harder than I thought, some people got in the way, then, once I finally managed to get what I needed, it wasn't quite the information I expected” he muttered.
“What do you man? Are they okay? What did you find out?” Poppy cried, jumping off of the bed, filled with an overwhelming sense of worry, she couldn't stand to be in the fact a second longer, she needed to know, even if it hurt her, even if it wasn't what she wanted to hear, she needed to know, if there was one thing she needed then, it was that. She had spent the whole day with her head full of anything and everything that could have possibly happened to them, she had seen the worse case scenario played out in her head a hundred times over and by that point she just needed a solid platform, she needed a place to stand still.
“Poppy. Your friend. Wes...he's” Ira began to tell her, unable to look her in the eyes.
Her stomach immediately dropped and the largest lump formed in her throat, she could barely breathe, whatever it was he wasn't about to say wasn't good, the extent of it didn't matter, either way she would never see him again, it was guilt that she couldn't bare, guilt she would feel no matter what had happened to Wes.
“He's dead” Ira said quickly that time, getting it out with the least amount of suspense he could, getting it over with, not only for Poppy but himself too. The sorrow, the fear in his voice settled everything, I was clear he genuinely cared about Poppy from that moment on, she would never question it again, the pain he felt for having to tell her spoke volumes.
Poppy's reaction wasn't instantaneous, nothing could have prepared her for the reality of it, imagination was nothing compared. She watched Ira blankly for a minute in complete shock, unable to fully take it in as he warily watched on, his hands hesitantly reaching out to her and pulling back on an almost loop, not only unsure of what he was suppose to do, but also what he should be doing. Although his approach had changed and he had thrown the original plan out the window, it seemed he still wasn't entirely sure what the relationship dynamic was between them and where exactly he wanted his place to be in her life, for now, he just wanted to be in it and that meant building bridges.
“I'm so sorry Poppy” he mumbled, his eyes closed and his jaw clenched.
Poppy looked up to him slowly with a slight smirk, she couldn't pretend she didn't know it would happen and why it had happened, all she knew is that it had and there was nothing more she could do. If she were to even think about that the guilt would consume her, she couldn't cope with that as well as the sadness of it all, as well as everything else in her life.
“...Why, why is the world against me?” she cried out as the smirk slowly disintegrated and she was left with a frown and swelling eyes. “What did I do to deserve this?” she asked in a broken, shaky voice.
“...The world isn't against you Poppy” Ira muttered with a loud exhale, unsure of where to look.
“...Really? And how exactly do you believe that? In just two days the worst things that could ever happen to me have happened? I have been taken away from my home, taken from my friends, locked up in a strange room and treated like a prisoner. What exactly makes you think I'm so lucky?” Poppy yelled as she allowed the tears to flood her face.
Ira had no immediate answer for that, which only confirmed the fact he agreed, his face dropped and the look he had fooled his face into forming, a look of confidence and influence, as if he was some how able to make things better or help in any way had faded.
Poppy watched him closely before her smirk returned for just a second, it wasn't so much a smirk of amusement, more like a hopeless, not much else to do smirk.
“...I'm not against you Poppy” he then whispered sincerely. Seeming to have decided where his place was in her life at exactly the right time, just, beside her.
Poppy kept her eyes locked on his as the words echoed.
Ira gave her a comforting smile, trying his very best.
“What can I do to help? What can I get you?” he muttered with tilted, sorrow filled eyes.
She went silent again as she watched him through her wide wet eyes before running into him, burying her face into his chest as her fingers gripped the back of his shirt.
Ira wrapped his arms tightly around her, holder her tightly as his eyes frantically wandered the room. He didn't necessarily look uncomfortable or awkward, just, like something was wrong, like he was on edge, panicked even, like he wanted to run away, before after just a moment he settled down a little, giving into the comfort and warmth of it. Until once again that washed away and the look from before resurfaced as his eyes beamed open.
“I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry,.I have to go” Ira cried, abruptly pulling away, turning around and rushing out the door as fast as he could.
Poppy was left standing there, she wasn't sure exactly what was wrong bu she had ideas, she figured Ira must have been blaming himself.
She wasn't quite sure what to do, she just stood there, sniffling and wiping the never ending tears from her face one by one.
Before she could fully give into the intense emotions flooding her heart, her down spiral was stopped as she was pulled into curiously. She could hear faint voices through the door.
She pulled her head up and slowed her breath as she moved closer to listen more carefully. She still couldn't quite hear what they were saying but one thing was for sure, one of the two voices was Ira and it sounded like he was arguing with someone. He probably had no idea she could still hear him so it was a perfect time to maybe find out more.
The words were still difficult to make out but a large part of it was audible and the distraction was welcomed, the fact she had to really concentrate to hear took her mind off of her sadness.
It wasn't just Ira voice she could hear, meaning that whoever he was talking to was yelling as well, only encouraged her theory before that maybe Ira wasn't as in charge as he would have liked her to believe.
“Tell me, what were you doing in there?” the foreign voice asked.
Ira seemed reluctant to answer, whoever he spoke to clearly didn't want him in there.
“It doesn't matter” he muttered.
“What?” the unknown man cried, unimpressed.
It was obvious he was Ira's superior, or equal, but either way it meant that Ira wasn't fully in charge, that it wasn't all completely up to him, causing his wishes for Poppy, his game plan to not mean nearly as much.
“You were told not to go in there, you were told to stay away, you know that. So, you must have had a really good reason to go in there again, mustn't you? ...Well go on then...tell me? What is it? I'd really like to know”
“I thought it was the right thing to do” Ira said boldly. “I made a judgment call”
“I don't care, she could have been screaming at the top of her lungs, crying for help, it doesn't matter, you weren't suppose to go in there” he said sternly with not a single sense of sympathy or understanding.
“...Look, this is my job, alright? Not yours, I know what I'm doing, I have those very important letters at the beginning of my name, I know more than you do about all of this, more than anyone. This is my building, I found her, I brought her here, without me she wouldn't be anywhere near you right now. So you can go scurrying away to tell your little boss that I went in there, that I disobeyed your orders or whatever, I don't care, I thought it was the right thing to do and I'd go in there right now if I thought it was needed. If you want me to help you with this, with her, just let me do my job, alright?” he fought back, standing up for himself.
“Okay, alright, I'm just doing my job too you know? I'm just here to make sure things are running smoothly, just try not to go in there again or I'll have to tell Mr Rider, I don't make up the rules” the man muttered, Ira seemed to have quieted him.
The voices then stopped and were replaced by the sound of footsteps along the hallway as the two of them walked away.
Something about it didn't seem right, Ira didn't seem sincere at all so Poppy had no doubt that Ira had only been so possessive, so self righteous was to protect her, as well as his job, he sounded so uneasy and jittery, not at all himself. It only that he wasn't suppose to be in the room that was the problem though, sure he could have made that sound a little more convincing as he had made the decision to go through hat door long before, it must have been something that had happened a little more recently, the hug perhaps, as if he wasn't suppose to even enter the room, he certainly shouldn't have been so familiar with her.
It made sense though, Ira didn't come across at all like someone that was happy to follow orders, he liked to be in charge and to handle things his way and surely the fact he did actually own the building and as he said knew most about Poppy than anyone. It seemed he was very much only a pawn in the grant scheme of things, but like pawns, he was very necessarily and Ira had the potential to do much more than he was being allowed. He didn't like the way things were being done so had taken things into his own hands, Poppy didn't know who Mr Rider was and definitely didn't like the sound of him but one thing she did know, one thing she had now realized was that she felt safe with him and that was exactly what she needed.
She had no idea what to expect now, she couldn't be sure if that was the reason Ira hadn't visited her until late, she wasn't sure if he even would again, if this Mr Rider person was as powerful as it seemed, his power even trumping that of Ira industries.
Luckily she wasn't in the dark for long, it must have been around an few hours later when Ira returned, she hadn't seen anyone since, she hadn't even had dinner, she had just been left alone in her grief, at least she wasn't bored, she didn't feel much at all.
Poppy didn't even hear Ira come in, she wasn't asleep but she was laying still in bed when Ira appeared in front of her, crouched down beside her bed, nudging her to get her attention.
“...Come with me” he whispered as Poppy laid there blankly staring.
She gave him a funny look, her face moving for the first time in a while.
“Come on” he whispered again with a little more enthusiasm.
“Where are we going?” Poppy whispered back.
“Away from here” Ira told her, flashing her a quick smile before quickly jumping up.
She didn't need much more convincing than that so she immediately pulled herself up out of bed.
If it wasn't already obvious enough that Ira most definitely shouldn't have been doing that I would have been by the way he was tiptoeing about.
“Where are we going?” Poppy whispered as she watch Ira listen through the door.
“Somewhere that will make you feel better...” he told her as he took a hold of her arm and pulled her into the wall beside him, out of sight as he slowly opened the door.
“...But” Poppy muttered as she tried to understand.
She didn't exactly know what was happening and it didn't seem Ira had thought it through much either by the way he had rushed in so fast with no explanation, it wasn't even much of a stretch to think that maybe the only reason he was even doing it at all was because he wasn't suppose to.
“...You're not a prisoner here Poppy” Ira said a millisecond before pulling her through the door and taking her hand in his as they both ran down the corridor.
They didn't stop until the had reached the bottom floor. There were a few people wondering the building but Ira made sure to avoid them all and get to the fire door, the only door that had no security as whenever it was opened the alarm would go off. It was only then that Poppy discovered it had all been a little more planned out than she had first thought when Ira knocked on the a woman standing the other side.
She was wearing the same suit as the security guards that had picked Poppy up and was in front of the very same black jeep in the underground car park.
“Don't worry, she's my driver, she works for me only, not the company” Ira told Poppy as he turned to her, noticing the confused look on her face.
Poppy froze there, feeling quite uncomfortable with it all, she had no idea what she was getting herself into.
“Where are we going?” she asked one more time.
“We're going for a drink” Ira told her with a smirk.
“...A drink?” Poppy repeated blankly. “Why?”
“Because you've had a time and I think you need a drink” he said so casually.
It hadn't really helped much at all, the confusion was still there, Ira had broken her out of her room, gone against the rules just for, a drink, it made no sense but Poppy couldn't help but laugh at the whole situation. “And you think that will magically solve all of my problems?”
“...Well, no, but it has to help right?” Ira smirked before making his way to the car.
“Are you coming or not?” he asked, again, so casually.
There was no way she was going to say no.
“A drink where?” Poppy asked as she threw herself down next to Ira in the backseat, slamming the door shut
Despite Ira turning his head a way Poppy couldn't help but notice a sweet half smile he shared with himself.
“The best place in the city, you'll love it” he told her as he made himself a little more comfortable.
It was such a big risk he was taking, stupid even, he was taking her exactly where she wanted to go, away from Ira industries, there was so much that could go wrong, Poppy could easily escape him, but for some reason he trusted her, or was at least willing to give it a try; Either way he seemed to have convinced himself it was a good thing to do, maybe it was his guilty conscience talking, but it didn't matter what the reason was, Poppy didn't say a word about it. She loved how Ira seemed to be trusting her, how once again he was showing that he genuinely cared for her and wanted to keep her happy, but still she couldn't help but wonder if he was right to trust her.
“...What about Clara?” Poppy muttered curiously as the thought popped into her head, she had been so preoccupied with Wes that she hadn't even asked. “You never told me about her?”
“She's alive” he said after a clearing of his throat.
“...Where?” Poppy asked casually.
“She knows where you are Poppy, you don't need to know where she is, it's better if you don't” he told her seriously.
“What does that mean...?”
“It means, nobody you need to worry about knows where she is and it's better that way. You don't need to worry, I made sure no one else can find out where she is” he explained.
“...If she knows where I am why hasn't she come to find me?” Poppy asked, her eyes narrowing as she struggled to put it together.
“Because there's no need for her to, you don't need rescuing, she knows you're okay, she knows you're with me and she knows it's too late to change things now”
Poppy thought about it for a moment but she couldn't focus, there was too much going on, her head just kept repeating the same questions over and over on a loop, filling with more by the second with no time to concentrate on answering just one. As far as she could understand, what Ira was making it seem was that him and Clara were working together, that they had been in contact for far more than just that one time Poppy was aware of.
“...What aren't you telling me? What are you keeping from me? Why does no one tell me anything?” Poppy cried, letting her emotions get the better of her, the questions erupting.
“Look, Poppy, you need to trust me okay? I know what I'm doing and if you stick with me, it'll be fine, but we can't trust anyone else, no one, you understand? You don't know what they're capable of. Clara is better off staying away, she knows that and it would be better if you did too” Ira spoke clearly.
Poppy couldn't argue with him, what he was saying was logical, although she couldn't completely understand it and wasn't fully aware of the reasoning, Ira was so passionate about it, so compelling that she couldn't help but give in. All she could do was hope that he would eventually explain and let her in but she understood that for now he was uncomfortable with it and if Clara's safety wasn't enough of a reason to let it go, his reassurance was. It wasn't like Poppy could complain, she hadn't fully opened up to him either, I wasn't that she couldn't, she just needed a little more time and understood that he did too.
Poppy was willing to give him a chance, to let him prove himself and the situation they were in was perfect.
At that moment as she found herself at peace for the time being anyway, the car stopped, they had arrived at Ira's chosen destination and Poppy was curious as to where they were.
“...So, which way?” she asked with wide eyes as she climbed out of the car, looking over to Ira with a large grin.
Ira took a moment to process it, he hadn't expected it after the minutes before but never the less, he was happy about it, portrayed by the sweet smile on his face and the spark in his eyes as he pulled his eyes from her and pointed the way.
They were on a busy road just off of the city, light up with shops and restaurants.
They walked down the street, away from the car pack they had pulled up in and made their way to a large building tucked in between a restaurant and a chain shop.
“Is this, a club?” Poppy laughed, looking up at the building they stood in front of with wide eyes and a slightly gawped mouth. Her friends would often sneak into clubs but she was never allowed in the city without Clara, a reason she now understood.
“Yeah, I go here every weekend after a long week at work, the dancing and music help to take my mind of everything, I'm hoping it will do the same for you” he told her with an excited grin.
“I've never been to a club before” she smirked. “...You're really pushing it aren't you?” she muttered after a moment, thinking out loud.
“...What?” Ira asked, giving her a funny look.
“...You're not allowed to be in my room, to talk to me, be in any contact with me, I'm not allowed out of my room, let alone out of the building, let alone in a club” Poppy explained.
Ira's face dropped, his expression completely changing in just a second.
“What is it?” she asked as she watched him closely, before thinking a little more. “That's why isn't it? You don't think I'll get the chance again so you want me to make the most of it? What- what will happen to you if they find out you took me out?” she started to worry.
“They're not going to find out” he told her blankly before taking a step forward to cross the street. He seemed confident but there was no way he could possibly know for sure.
Poppy quickly grabbed a hold of his arm, holding him back. “...What if they do?”
“Well, it doesn't matter now does it? We're already gone, it's not like we'll be in any less trouble because at least we weren't gone for long” he said in the way he always did, so calmly and relaxed that it was hard not to get swept up along with him. He didn't seem to care about much, he really just did what he wanted, not paying any attention to what was around him or any sort of consequences, he seemed to live very much in the moment which was actually good for Poppy to be around someone like that. “...Please, just enjoy it, make it worth it” he told her wholeheartedly.
Poppy barely gave it much thought at all before a smile appeared on her face and she found herself tentatively nodding, he was sacrificing so much to help her, she couldn't make it all for no reason.
Ira held his hand out to her and the two of them crossed the street, skipping the line outside as of course Ira was a vip and made their way inside, met with thumping music and vibrant lights of all colours.
They didn't waste a second, heading straight to the bar and right after tot he dance floor.
Although there was one massive flaw in the whole idea, something that cut the night very short, Poppy couldn't hold her alcohol, meaning she literally couldn't digest it, her body would completely reject it, it was seen as an attack, just like disease, so after just a few drink and a little dancing, it needed to come out the very same way large amounts of alcohol usually do.
They hadn't even been there for an hour before Ira had o take Poppy back, she really wasn't doing so well, she was ghostly white and in a lot of pain, she could barely keep herself upright.
Yet that in no way ruined their time, the time she had been okay had completely made up for it and it was a night she wouldn't forget for a while, the night someone risk their job to make her smile and Poppy deeply appreciated it, in fact, she had never liked Ira more, she had seen a completely new side to him, normality.
Ira was so gentle with her, the way he rested her down in the car, the way he spoke to her, whispering reassurance, he genuinely cared about her and Poppy's eyes reacted to that, sparkling despite the state of the rest of her.
Once they got back to the company Ira proved that eh was right before, that no one would know they were gone, it appeared everyone there was in on it, apart from Mr Riders employees of course, but they were all on Poppy's floor, outside the door none the wiser.
Ira had planned it all out perfectly, he even had a way to get Poppy back in her room without them knowing, the perks of owning the building, he knew all the secret doorways, places Mr Riders men didn't even know to look out for. Little Poppy know there was more than one door to her room, on the left hand wall, it lead to another room just like hers, the whole hallway was full of empty rooms just like that, all with connecting doors, the only doors in the whole building that there were so codes needed, only a key and even then only if it had actually been locked. All Ira had to do was take Poppy in that way and Mr Rider's guards would have been none the wiser.
So without them knowing Ira got her safely back in bed to recover.
Again, he was so gentle, laying her down slowly and tucking her under the white duvet cover.
“...Told you it would be okay, that no one would notice” he said with a sweet smile looking down at her, pushing her hair back before stepping back..
“...Ira?” Poppy muttered before he got too far, of course he immediately stopped. “Thank you, for that. It really did help and I know how much you risked, just, just to make me smile, I want you to know I appreciate it” she admitted, of course nothing that had happened was the ideal situation but as bad things go, that wasn't close. If Poppy had any say in the matter she'd be at home with Clara, doing something normal like watching a movie, but she had accepted that that wasn't going to happen and she was completely certain if there was the smallest chance there was, Ira would make it. He would do anything for her, she had full, undeniable faith in that and that, just that made everything a little less bad and that was the most she could wish for despite it all.
“...It was worth it” he said with a sweet smirk.
“Wait” she called out before he moved again. Despite the state she was in, she had never seen it all as clearly as she did in that moment so although it seemed a strange time, in her mind, it was perfect. “Ira...you know what I can do right?” she asked him with a slightly stiff grin.
“...What?” he muttered, giving her an unconvincing look, of course he knew, he had been conspiring with Clara, he knew everything, he had the entire time, it had take Poppy a while to figure that out. “...Why don't you tell me?” he quickly asked, seeming to have forgotten about his need to leave.
Poppy just laughed, holding her stomach as she did as it was still feeling quite delicate.
“...I'm a plastic flower” she whispered with a sparkling eyes.
Ira smirked. “And, what does that mean?” he asked with a clearing of his throat.
“Do I really have to say it?”
“You really do” he said, raising his eyebrows.
“It means I live forever” she told him, so hushed it was almost as if she were whispering it into his ears but he was a good few feet away.
It was immediately obvious how much it meant to him, it was what he had been waiting for, it was the moment he had been aiming towards, the moment where he would gain her full trust, everything he had done since he strayed away from the Rider plan.
“...Goodnight Poppy, feel better” he said gently before turning away back to the well blended door on the shiny, large white titled walls, his smile sticking, his work had payed off and he had what he wanted. “I'll be next door if you want me”
“Next door?” Poppy cried.
“Shh” Ira hushed, looking back at her for just a moment once he had opened the door. “You didn't think I was going to leave you all alone did you? I'll see you in the morning” he told her before turning back.
Poppy smirked to herself.
“Good night” she whispered as she snuggled into the bed.
Her third day at Ira industries hadn't been nearly as bad as the others, despite the tragic lose of Wes, things seemed to be getting better and Poppy could only hope that would continue, but still, she couldn't shake the feeling things were only going to get worse. She knew very little about this Mr Rider man, but all she did know, was bad, he was the reason she was there after all, she was his captive and he was very protective and very likely going to cause a scarily serious problem.