'So our date tonight didn't go as planned, did it?' I mumbled. Jester's arm around me tightened and I shifted slightly to look at him. His head was propped up against the pillow, a little redness showed around his closed eyes and his neck had been partially bandaged up to cover the damage Adder had done.
'Don't apologize, it wasn't your fault at all! It was Adder's. He's gone psycho.'
'Do you ever think he'll return to normal?'
'I don't know,' I sighed. 'Maybe he's too far gone to turn back now.'
There was silence for a few moments. Jester's chest moved beneath my arm with every shaky breath he took.
'I need to sleep, I'm sorry.'
'Will you quit apologizing? Just get some rest, please.' I gave him a soft kiss on the forehead before leaving the room, shutting the door behind me.
Another thing that completely baffled me were how Adder had become immune to my powers. They had affected him every other time I'd used them, so what was different now? Unless someone had protected him. I sighed inwardly. How on Earth was I supposed to defend us now? How was I supposed to protect Jester? I felt completely useless now, like a burden.
The hallway was immersed in shadows, and I was so lost in thought that I nearly collapsed in horror when my name was spoken. I instantly whirled round, looking for crimson eyes, back for revenge. However, as my vision became clearer, I saw it was Demrin.
'Oh,' I breathed a sigh of relief. 'You scared me.'
'Sorry,' he murmured. 'I just thought we should do some more training. Seeing as tonight was, well, a bit of a close call really.'
'Yeah, thanks for that. Saving our lives and all,' I rubbed my arm, embarrassed. My fingers brushed the bracelet Jester had given me earlier and I bit my lip to force the tears back down. Jester was going to be fine.
'You don't need to thank me, Ana. Come on.'
I started to follow him through the darkness, when something struck me. It came with such force, that I wasn't sure if it was physical or if I was imagining it, deja vu perhaps. But I knew it was much deeper than that. I faltered in my tracks, frowning.
'Ana?' Demrin called. 'Are you okay?'
'I'm not sure,' I whispered.
Everything faded to grey.
* * * *
Upon entering the room, I discovered someone sat in the usually empty seat beside mine. He was completely unfamiliar, and I remembered we were expecting a new student today.
'Thank you for joining us Ana,' the teacher remarked dryly.
The boy's eyes flickered up to meet mine briefly. They looked black, I could see from here that they stood out against his pale skin. Short, jet black hair looking slightly tousled and disheveled matched the black stretchers he wore in each ear. He was wearing a mask of complete indifference, his eyes remained unreadable and apathetic. I swallowed my unjustified fear and took my seat beside him.
Apparently, looks were deceiving as he turned to smile at me. Up close I could see that his eyes were not black, but in fact a very dark brown, just a shade lighter from his pupil.
'My name's Lukah.'
* * * *
We were on the bed, he was laying down, propped up on one elbow and I was sat crossed legged beside him. The curtains were drawn shut, only a simple bedside lamp provided sufficient light. The ambience was slightly surreal, quiet and a little romantic. I wondered if Lukah noticed the way I couldn't meet his eyes directly. My heart was a hummingbird in my chest, butterflies filled my stomach. It was a new exciting feeling, one I was completely ready to explore.
'How do you feel about everything I've just told you?' he murmured.
'A little, strange,' I sighed. 'It's completely changed the way I'm going to view the world now.'
'I'm sorry to burden you with all of this. But you should no that you've had it since you were born. It just needed to be, brought to life I guess.'
'And you did that.'
He nodded, sitting up.
'Well, what happens now? What do I do with them?'
'You're gonna need help, taming them. I would't like to think what would happen if they weren't dealt with safely. It's dangerous having that amount of power and not knowing what to do with it.'
'Great,' I exhaled slowly.
His mouth tilted up in a smile. His eyes flickered down to my lips, and my heart thumped nervously and erratically in my chest. When he kissed me, it was everything I could have imagined, and more. His lips were so soft, his touch was so gentle. His fingertips lightly grazed my cheek, brushing through my hair.
When he pulled away, I couldn't help the small sigh that escaped my lips, the contented smile that settled on my features.
'You don't know how long I've waited to do that,' he told me.
* * * *
To my relief, my mother and step father weren't home when Reuben pulled up into the driveway. He stalled the engine, and just as I was about to leave, he grabbed my wrist.
'Ana,' he began. 'We need to talk.'
'About what?' I questioned, confused.
'I know about Lukah,' he sighed. 'About your powers.'
A million thoughts ran through my mind at that. How did he know? Who told him? Was he going to say anything to anyone else? Was he going to be mad at me? I tried to keep it cool, to try for a poker face, but my shaky voice gave me away.
'Don't play dumb Ana. I know about Lukah too. What do you think you're playing at? Getting involved in stuff like that?'
'What do you mean "stuff like that"? Is there something you're not telling me? Wait a second. How long have you known about this?'
He pursed his lips.
'Tell me Reuben. What are you hiding?'
'I've known there's another world out there. I've known since you were little, I just hoped that you'd never...discover it. Lukah helped me, a while ago. There was an incident. Someone was killed. I nearly was.'
'What are you talking about?' my voice was barely above a whisper.
'Some people, who liked to call themselves The Collectors, got a hold of me and this other lad. He was no older than me, but he had powers. Like yours. They must have mistaken me for someone else, but because they saw that he was "guilty" as they said, they thought I must be too. When I told them I had no idea what they were on about, they killed the guy. Right in front of me. Blew his bloody brains out. Said that might motivate me to tell the truth.'
'Oh my god...'
'But then Lukah appeared. He saved me that night. Told me that the person The Collectors were looking for was you Ana. You were the one with the powers. But you were so young. Only ten years old.'
'Wait, this happened when you were twelve? That boy died when he was twelve?'
'Yes,' he said. 'They were serious people Ana. They said Lukah falling in love with you was a threat to their existence. And they had to get rid of you. Lukah wouldn't allow it. He said the only way he would only go back with them was if they kept you alive. He offered an alternative. He said on your seventeenth birthday, he would...' Reuben swallowed.
'He would what?!' I demanded urgently.
'He has to wipe your memory Ana. Of him ever being there. Of you ever discovering your powers. Of everything.'
'But... he can't... Why would he tell me all of this, only to have it all taken away a few months later?'
'He was planning on fighting back. To prove to The Collectors that you were worthy. But I'm sorry Ana. It has to happen. You can't remember him,' he told me sadly.
'NO!' I screamed, running out of the car.
* * * *
'Ana?' someone called my name.
My eyes fluttered open to see Demrin staring at me. I was back in the hallway.
'You just blacked out. Is everything okay?'
What I could not have counted on, was Jester listening in to every word that was being said. So when I whispered Lukah's name, my voice not bothering to hide the regret and pain, the only thing that alerted to me to Jester's presence was a sharp intake of breath and the broken No that fell from his lips.