Shadow of the Templar: Escape

On timeline: during The Morning Star, CONFLICT
Spoilers for: enormous spoilers for The Morning Star
Warnings: none to speak of

This is actually a segment of The Morning Star that I didn't end up using. For some reason, in the outline, I had it switching to Jeremy's point of view long enough to get him out of the hospital, and I wrote it that way before realizing that that was just dumb. None of the rest of the book was done from Jeremy's point of view, after all. Plus, if I wrote that part from Simon's point of view, it would actually be better.

And so I rewrote it. I was right. It was better from Simon's point of view, and that's what's in The Morning Star right now. However, I kept the discarded bit, because I liked parts of it.

Please note that the events are in a slightly different order than they are in The Morning Star, but that does not make them any less true.



      Jeremy's eyes slowly drifted open to the sound of beeping machines and snoring.

      For a long moment he lay there, perfectly still, blinking at the anonymous white ceiling and the late afternoon sun slanting across it. His right hand lifted stealthily and touched the heavy layer of bandages over his side, then rose enough that he could see the IV line running into the back of it.

      By the time his hand relaxed again he was fully awake. Jeremy licked his dry lips and let his head fall to one side, carefully not looking in the direction of the snoring, not at first. The hospital room he was in was tiny, his the only bed in it. To his left there was a window, a tiny bathroom, and an even tinier clothes closet, and his eyes narrowed as he contemplated the closet, not five feet away.

      Jeremy closed his eyes briefly, then let his head roll in the other direction, looking towards the snoring.

      Simon was sprawled out asleep in the room's sole chair, his legs stuck straight out in front of him, his chin resting on his chest. He'd gotten a change of clothes from somewhere, new jeans and a shirt, and clean white bandages showed from under the shirt's rolled-up sleeves and its unbuttoned front. He was snoring prodigiously, and the regular, even sound didn't falter once.

      Jeremy reached up with his other hand, touching the banded neckline of his hospital gown. He stared at the ceiling and listened to Simon's regular, deep snoring, and he thought. His lips moved, ever so slightly, and he tapped his chest a couple of times, and then closed his eyes in some sort of weary assent.

      It took him almost ten minutes to get himself out of the bed without making any noise. Just easing down the gate on the side took three of that, and he bared his teeth in a grimace while pulling himself upright, clutching at the pole of his IV with white-knuckled fingers, grimly balancing the need for silence with the limits of what he could do.

      Finally, when he was on his feet and more or less steady, he eased the IV needle from the back of his hand and jabbed it deep into the mattress. He held his breath; the machine didn't seem to be alarmed by the change, and continued to serenely feed glucose to the mattress. Pressing one hand to the sensor discs adhering to his chest Jeremy eased slowly towards the clothes closet, gritting his teeth.

      The beeping machine that was monitoring his heartbeat sped up slightly, becoming more irregular. Jeremy halted and forced himself to breathe as calmly as he could. His heartbeat eased again. The beeping fell back into its rhythm. Simon's next snore was delayed by half a heartbeat, and Jeremy stood frozen until Simon's breathing became even again.

      Jeremy's clothes, including his slightly singed jacket, hung neatly in the tiny closet. Jeremy closed his eyes and sighed out a relieved breath, then groped for one of the jacket's sleeves, eventually sliding a squat metal tube free of the material. Jeremy closed the closet door and eased back towards the bed, gingerly unscrewing the little cylinder. A tiny glass ampoule slid out and fell neatly into the palm of his hand.

      Silent on his bare feet Jeremy drifted around the foot of the bed, one hand still holding the sensor discs in place, the other gingerly shaking the ampoule. Simon's snoring didn't falter, even when Jeremy did, but soon Jeremy was standing by Simon's side, looking down at him.

      Jeremy nodded to Simon, then brought the ampoule up under Simon's nose and snapped the thin glass neck with a press of his thumb. Something like smoke curled out of the broken neck, and Simon snorted once and sagged forward, his normal sleep transformed into something much deeper.

      Jeremy's breath exploded out of him and he sagged back against the bed, no longer caring that it creaked under his weight. "Oh God that hurts," he said all in a rush, trying not to clutch at his side. "Terribly sorry, Simon..." Leaning forward, he put one hand on Simon's shoulder to steady himself and counted to three, then swiftly transferred the sensor discs to Simon's chest, instead, tucking them neatly into the bandages.

      The heartbeat on the monitors only faltered for a moment before picking up Simon's heartbeat in place of Jeremy's, and Jeremy straightened again, moving like an old man but free.

      He dropped the bits of the broken ampoule back into the cylinder and slid it back into his sleeve, then dug his cellphone—a thin and futuristic-looking thing, only slightly melted—from its pocket, jabbing at the buttons with his thumb.

      "It's me, love," he said a moment later, and then winced and held the phone away from his ear as it shrieked tinnily. "Yes, yes, I'm quite alive," he said, when he could get in a word. "Not quite tops, you understand, but I should survive. Sorry to worry you—" He grabbed woozily at the rail on the end of his bed and his voice firmed. "Let's continue this conversation later, shall we, Annabelle? Turn on the GPS monitor, please."

      The tinny voice made a sound of assent and fell silent. Jeremy pulled the phone away from his ear and jabbed at a couple of buttons. "There," he said. "Do you have that? It's a hospital of some sort. I've a suspicion I'm in Reno."

      The little voice made another assenting noise. "Good," Jeremy said, groping behind himself and untying the hospital gown. "I'll handle my own extraction, love, but I need a ride waiting close by, a place to go, and medical supervision. A little matter of a bullet, you understand." He paused, but the voice on the other end of the phone didn't shriek. "You've half an hour," he told her, closing his eyes and letting the gown fall to the floor. "The ride first." He hung up without waiting for an answer.

      Actually dressing took him almost the entirety of that half an hour, even without the need to be quiet. His t-shirt had been washed, which hadn't done much for the silk but had at least gotten the worst of the blood out of the fabric; Jeremy stuck the tip of his finger through the bullet hole and scowled at it. "That was an expensive shirt, Conrad," he muttered, before he began the laborious process of inching into it without pulling on his wound.

      By the time he was fully dressed he was also completely out of breath, his face grayish and sweaty with pain. Jeremy sagged back onto the bed and spent five minutes just catching his breath and willing the pain to lessen. The leather blazer, buttoned, covered the bullet hole in his t-shirt. Sweeping his hands back over his hair Jeremy stood, visibly pulling himself together. He'd pass, as long as no one looked too closely.

      From the chair Simon snorted in his sleep before lapsing back into deep unconsciousness. Jeremy watched him warily, then leaned forward. "I should have charged you more, Simon," he breathed, lightly kissing the tips of his fingers and touching them to Simon's lips.

      Pulling his cellphone back out of his pocket Jeremy put on his careless smile with an effort and drifted casually out of the room, letting the door close on Simon, now sleeping alone.


Annabelle's first appearance, more or less! And, in case you've forgotten, 'Conrad' is Conrad Rupp, Jeremy's former employer and the man who shot him—shot him right through an expensive t-shirt, the unforgiveable bastard.