Leyla shook her head, glancing at Isaac. "Why don't you go get some sleep," she sighed, sending him off to rest. She could call him if it turned out he was necessary. Then, she turned to Eli again. "Right," she started. "Let's start out with who cursed you and why." She would at least have something to go off of, then.
"An old beggar woman I met on the road." Elijah sighed as he sat down in his usual seat. He ran his fingers through his silvery hair, cursing how much more white it had become. He'd been like this for too long. "She asked if I could help her out and take her to the next town, but I wasn't headed anywhere near where she wanted to go, and it was out of my way. I told her there was a girl I needed to pick up." Eli gestured to Leyla.
"She must have thought you were my honey, for she accused me of being superficial in not helping an old, wrinkly woman over a beautiful young girl. So she cursed me to this."
Leyla drummed her fingers on the back of a chair, pulling it around and taking a seat. "A random old woman," she sighed, resting her forehead on a desk. That wasn't helpful. She could see why he hadn't mentioned it earlier, it seemed almost irrelevant. "...She cursed you right there?" Thoughtful, hopeful, she lifted her head. "What did she say?" Surely he would remember.
"Some ridiculous riddle." Elijah sighed. It made his head hurt just thinking about it. He didn't like riddles so much. He'd rather have all the answers lain out for him to utilize. "Something about me feeling what it was like to be old and helpless, never taken seriously. To appreciate what's really beautiful and important in life. I don't know, it was irrelevant to my purpose." Crazy old witch. He hadn't been able to find her after that day.
"I was only in a rush to come pick you up so your father could go on a mission. Instead I had to deal with that s**t."
Leyla dropped her forehead to the desk again. She didn't quite see how he had gotten the idea that he needed her out of that, but she was at his beck and call until they figured this out. "I can't think in here," she finally muttered, standing up to pace the room. Her dark hair was still tangling in loose waves down her back from her sleep that night, and she grabbed a lock of it to work at unknotting, something for her fingers to do.
"I'm not familiar with this city," she said finally. "What have you been working on here?" In her own city, although that was leveled now, they had been investigating the virus, working at tracing it to its source, or trying to.
"I've been figuring out the riddle, and donating blood to help patients who have contracted the virus. Apparently I have a natural immunity to it, and my blood's been helping, if only a little." Elijah blew some smoke through his nose before he leaned back in his chair. "My doctor's here, so I like to be near her. She's been investigating my condition, making sure I haven't gotten worse."
He glanced at Leyla. "Go take a walk outside if you can't stand it here. Learn the city."
Leyla didn't hesitate at the chance to get out of this cage. Eli was acting a lot differently, today. She suspected that was because she was playing his ridiculous game. Without pausing, she turned to go back to her room, grabbing her shoes and tugging them onto her feet, jerking her long hair up into a knot at the back of her neck again, out of her way. As an afterthought, she reached for a wide scarf, looping it around her neck. If she needed to go anywhere and not be recognized afterwards, it would help.
After Leyla left, Eli found himself alone in the control room. His men were already out patroling and doing whatever the hell else they did when he didn't have them on a mission. Since he had some peace, he idly opened up his private files with a quick tap of his fingers on the control panel. Many photographs, old, that he'd had scanned into this system popped up. Most of them were of his and Leyla's father's team that they'd worked hard on forming before everything went wrong.
Then there were many of Leyla, most of them her father had given to Eli. Some of them had both him and Leyla together. A few were of her mother, damn that snarky woman. Eli couldn't stand Leyla's mother.
Surprised that Eli hadn't followed her, Leyla took an opportunity outside the building to run her hands over herself from the nape of her neck down, searching for tracking devices. When she found nothing, she stretched quickly before setting out to run the alleys. It was the best way to get a feel for the under-workings of the place, she would go through the main streets later. The alleys were also the best place to lose any men Eli might have set to keep an eye on her.
After hours and hours drilling with her father, Leyla knew that not very many people could keep up with her. Flexibility, speed, and agility were all favorable strong points of hers, even if she wasn't particularly muscular.
Eli sighed and leaned back in his chair as he looked at the photographs. Leyla had been such a good kid. He wondered if all of this s**t had really changed her so much...or if she'd just been her mother deep down all along. Perhaps he shouldn't have disappeared out of her life so soon, especially when her father would die not too long after. She'd been so young.
He looked at the smoke stick in his aged fingers. He'd been like this for over 15 years. It didn't get better, no matter how much time passed. He was just running out of it quickly.
Halfway through the city, Leyla halted, staring at the large group of homeless people in front of her. In her own city, she'd had a very good relationship with the less fortunate. They were her eyes and ears, and in exchange she let them take shelter in the upper levels of her base, fed them, kept them healthy.
These men and women were not so lucky in their friends, and Leyla took a step back, then another, backtracking quickly to the base, where she halted outside, panting. Even at full speed, it had taken her several hours to get that far and then back. Now, she stared up at the security camera, knowing Eli was watching. He saw everything. When he unlocked the door, she let herself in quickly, exhaling.
"There's virus everywhere in your city," she murmured, still disturbed. In her home, it was less common, and those who were ill were quickly sent to the sick houses. Here, the homeless just wandered with it- she knew the signs, had seen enough people die that awful way.
"I wish you'd warned me." Her family was susceptible to the virus, both of her parents had died from it, and she had just wandered out into the middle of a breeding pool for the stuff. She should have been more careful, of course, it wasn't entirely Eli's fault.
Elijah was already prepared before Leyla had walked in. "Hold still." Before she could stop him, he took out a small cylinder that would inject some medicine that would help keep her from contracting the virus. He pushed it to her neck and pressed the button. It would sting for a moment, but only a moment.
"I told you I donated blood here frequently. That would mean there must be sick people around here."
Leyla didn't as much as wince, though she did raise a hand to rub at the spot on her neck lightly. "I guess I didn't think they would be on the street." Quarantined sick houses were strictly enforced back in her home neighborhoods, and some more desperate homeless souls sometimes decided it was better to be infected and in a sick house than healthy and starving on the streets. "I don't suppose I can get some of those to carry with me," she continued, glancing at the needle he had used on her neck.
She would feel more comfortable if she could take care of herself.
"Help yourself." Elijah touched a panel on the nearest desk. A drawer opened up to show dozens of cases of the vials of medicine. "I don't have much use for them, but Kyle keeps me stocked up." Since he had the rare immunity, he didn't worry about contracting the virus. He tapped on the control panel and locked his system again.
Leyla picked up a small case of the medicine, marking the location of the drugs in her mind. She would have to keep some on person, just to be safe. "I'll do my best," she answered, settling into a chair and opening the case to study the vials curiously, wondering what Kyle had concocted. She'd not heard of a vaccine just yet, but this seemed like the start of one.