Twenty - Linkin

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Desmond wasn't able to give me any answers. Stuart was polite enough at first, before he was casually able to pull Desmond away. They strolled away together in uneasy tension until they were out of earshot. By their body language I could tell they were arguing and it lasted for a couple of minutes.

I groaned and leaned back into the lounge chair, curling up a bit more as I closed my eyes. I mentally cursed Stuart for interrupting Desmond and my conversation just when he had started to open up.

"Linkin, sorry about that," Stuart said as he jogged back, slightly out of breath and his cheeks were flushed. I doubt the ten-second jog did that to him; things must have gotten tense with Desmond.

Glancing back to where they were before, I noticed Desmond walking off and I sighed. "What do you want?" I didn't want to play games anymore.

"May I?" His voice softened a bit as he motioned to the bottom half of the seat I was on. I nodded and curled up more, giving him room as I sat up a bit straighter. "Thank you," he said politely as he sat down across from me.

Once again I started to suck on my split lip, my eyes focusing on the ground. I adjusted the blanket tighter around me and Stuart finally reached a hand out towards me. He was moving slowly, like he was worried to frighten an animal, but I didn't flinch back. I watched his grasp reach out and gently take my hand. He eased my hand closer to him. 

"What happened here?" He glanced to my wrist, careful not to touch it. "This one looks older than the one on your face."

"Very observant, Stewie," I spat slightly coldly as I pulled my wrist back from him, holding it against my chest as if I was hiding it. "What do you want?" I repeated myself.

"Right now? To find out what happened to you," he started off with a huff. "Desmond told me his side, but I want to hear what you have to say."

I shrugged it off. "He probably told you everything."

Adjusting his glasses once again, he slowly nodded. "So, you fell then? Along the way you also somehow managed to get older grab marks on your wrist? Interesting." He hummed and leaned back onto the palm of his hands.

Emotional pain was all I could feel now, and yet it still felt like Desmond stabbed me in the back. He had told Stuart that I had fell? I swallowed the lump in my throat and slowly nodded. "Like I said, he told you everything." I whispered, my words a lot less convincing.

"Linkin, if something happened, you can tell me."

It was obvious that I was lying, but I knew I couldn't trust him. "Nothing happened," I said, a bit firmer this time.

Stuart sighed. "You don't have to be with him. I can get you help."

"Help?" I scoffed and shook my head, "And how long would it be before either Desmond or I disappear just like Jaysen?" I objected, my comment taking him back a bit. "I may not agree with what he did, but he's my only friend on this island and the only person who is willing to tell me the truth."

Sitting up straighter, he let out a slow breath and I knew I had said too much. "We're all here to help you, Linkin, some more than others." Stuart stood up and reached into his jacket pocket to pull out a letter. "Here, Jaysen hasn't disappeared, he's in the hospital. He wrote this to you."

I quickly ripped open the envelope and I didn't get read the first word before I saw the problem. Tears quickly filled my eyes and I kept my head down as I tried to hide my emotions. "Th-Thank you for this, Doctor Neville," I breathed and I watched as he shifted from foot to foot.

He picked up on my tone changing as tears clouded my vision. It wasn't there like there was a point to me reading the letter anyways; it wasn't real. 

"Is everything alright, Valentina?" He reached a hand out, carefully resting it on my shoulder.

My body tensed and I quickly jerked back from his touch, but not fast enough. Something had happened when he touched me, a single word popped into my head - Ira. I didn't know what it mean, but my mind remembered the first letter I had seen in this handwriting. "Pardon?" I mumbled as I used the back of my head to wipe the tears from my eyes.

"I asked if everything was okay?" His brow furrowed in concern.

I forced a smile, nodding. "Of course. Sorry, I'm just so glad to hear he is okay." I didn't even know if the letter said that, but I did remember being warned not to trust anyone. I may not have noticed the cameras yet, but if someone was watching I was going to be careful. "Thank you so much for this, Doctor Neville. I do appreciate it. I appreciate everything you've done for me."

"You do?" It was hard for him to hold back his surprise.

"Of course!" I said, maybe laying my faked-enthusiasm on too thick. "I know you just want to help, especially with Desmond..." I trailed off for a second. "I know you care for me and what happens to me. Maybe one day I'll be ready to talk about all of this, but right now it's just too fresh. I'll figure it out and when I need someone to talk to, I'll come find you."

I didn't know how much of this he was believing, but he was smiling faintly. "Yes, of course. My door's always open to you," he paused as he looked down at me. "Is there anything else I can do to help right now?"

"No, thank you, I don't want to keep you from your important job. I'm sure Ira needs you again," the sentence flowed naturally, but I had no idea where it came from.

"What did you just say?"

His eyes narrowed and my heart started to race against my chest; I certainly could still feel anxiety. "I said that I-I'm sure I'll need you again," that wasn't remotely plausible, but he didn't question me.

"Right..." he said slowly and took a few steps back. "Like I said, my door's always open. Come see me soon, won't you? Ask at the hospital."

"Of course," I was quick to respond, feeling like he gave me no other option. His head bowed and he turned to leave. I let out the breath I had been holding as I collapsed back into my chair. "Shit," I cursed under my breath as I finally started to read Jaysen's note. It was fluff, nothing at like the first note. There were no more warnings, no more explanations on what was going on. I would have to start hunting down answers for myself.

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