Chapter Twenty-Nine: Order
The holidays ended just as they began, with little concern and Alex tossing me over his shoulder as my back hit the training mat with a hard thud. Jonathon and Vivian sat on the sideline watching, making little sounds and adding their input as I attempted to get up and knock Alex’s legs out from under him. Since New Year’s I had spent every single day at the Teagues’ getting my ass handing to me over and over again. I stared up at the ceiling for a moment, trying to get my bearings but was too slow and Alex was hoisting me up off the mat in to an upright, standing position.
Jonathon was crouched at the edge of the mat while Alex squared off against me again. I rolled my eyes and tossed up my hands, I had other things that were more important than learning how to fly through the air and land without getting winded. I had exams in a week and my Mother had begun watching me as I sat upstairs and studied on the nights I didn’t work. The stress of exams, training, and learning about the Hunters and their ways was starting to get to me.
I stood up and grabbed a towel off a stand in the corner of the room, and shoved my face in to it while I tried to breath. My shoulders sagged even as my chest heaved with my increased heart rate. I turned to find that Jonathon and Alex had begun an altercation of their own, Jonathon threw a punch while Alex deflected it. Vivian had come to stand by me in her own workout clothes which was a tight pair of yoga pants and a neon green sports bra. Her hair was pulled back tightly from her face, leaving her face looking fierce and serious. “If they continue to argue over your training schedule like that, I’m going to pop one of them in the face.”
“Trust me, if you don’t do it soon I will. I’m getting sick of those two exchanging blows just to see who is more capable of throwing me across the basement the furthest. How about a study break?” I glanced at Vivian out of the corner of my eye, giving her a hopeful look. She sighed heavily before spinning on her heels and signaled for me to follow her to the changing area.
“Are you ready for your exams? I probably should have entered the school in your year, considering I’m supposed to be graduating while you have another year to go.” Vivian pulled the elastic band from her hair and it fell around her, cascading over her shoulders as he appraised herself in the mirror.
“Why? Alex is in my year so what should it matter if you aren’t here? I mean, you are a year older than the two of us, so it makes more sense.” I shucked off my cropped sweater and turned on the shower in the corner of the room.
“That boy, here alone with you and Kat, will not survive without me. Once I graduate from here I’ll have to go home back to Ireland to continue my assignments from there. If we don’t have a proper cover then we shouldn’t be here.”
“You could always get a job as a waitress or something to stay around here. I’m sure a lot of students are planning to run away to University the day after graduation. You could stay if you really wanted to and besides, Kat would probably go insane if she had to stay here all alone with Alex.” I snorted as the hot water dropped over my skin.
I heard Vivian bark out a laugh through the curtain of the shower. “Not at all. Kat and Alex are closer than she and I are.”
“How is that possible? Haven’t you an Alex been around each other longer than he and Kat?” I poked my head around the white curtain.
“Yes.” Vivian glanced at me in the mirror where she stood in nothing but a white towel that was wound around her lean frame. “However, Alex and I have been together longer, but Kat has been around me too long. Sisters have an unconditional love for one another, or some bullshit like that, but Nymphs and 'were beings' do not. It’s just the natural order of things and some fey even have a dislike for each other, so Kat and I only get along when our sisterly bond is necessary.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that was how things worked.” I turned the water off and grabbed a towel around the edge of the shower and wound myself up in it. The air outside the shower was cool and clung to my skin.
“What about vampires?” I ran my hands through my wet hair.
“Vampires?” Vivian strode past me and dropped her towel at the mouth of the shower, giving me a smug grin as she stood there in the nude. “What do you mean?”
“What kind of relationship do were beings and fey have with vampires?”
“Ah. Well I’m sure you know all about the whole feud between vampires and lycanthrope or whatever, but truly its because werewolves feed off of living creatures and the stench of vampires makes them ill, same goes for vampires and the smell of werewolves. Their blood isn’t human so it smells wrong and turns them off. Fey on the other hand are almost intrigued by vampires, they live forever frozen in one age and are gifted with these abilities that no mortal could ever posses.” The sound of the water hitting the shower walls echoed in the room as she took a pause. “In more ways than mortals see, the fey are so very closely related to vampires in their beauty and strength that some people once considered that the Unseelie fey were vampires.”
I pulled on my skinny jeans and a lavender t-shirt with a black and white rainbow over the chest. For a moment there was only the sound of the shower that filled the changing room, even Vivian was silent. I braided my hair away from my face before apply a light dose of makeup to my all-too-pale face. Winter wreaked havoc on the fair, making them look more and more like ghosts as the sun stayed hidden behind an overcast sky. I had lost myself in the thoughts of vampires and creamy white skin that I never heard the shower turn off or had seen Vivian walked up beside me still in the nude.
“Could you move? I would really like to get my hair done so I can leave the house without being shooed off the street.” Her bark-colored hair hung heavily over one shoulder in a long twisted braid. Her eyes were glowing with a vibrancy that I had never seen before, but it was the little vines that covered her back and hips that drew my eyes to her. She was standing completely still at my side before the mirror but the vines tattooed over her body moved with an eerie grace.
“You really are fey, aren’t you?” I pulled my eyes to her face, but she was more concerned with applying make up than me checking her out.
However she did crack a smile as she ran a styling product through her twisted hair. “It’s a nymph trait – the vines on the skin – I’ve never once had them anywhere but on my hips and thighs. Truthfully I have never been in the company of many other nymphs to know if its normal enough, but I truly don’t care. The less ivy on my skin, the easier it is to blend.”
“What about glamour?”
“You never know if the mortal you run in to in the hall is going to have the sight.” Vivian shrugged before pulling on pair of rouge tights and a blue-jean skirt.
Monday morning came with a hard slap to the face as I rolled up to the school in Jonathon’s car. We walked through the school, hand-in-hand, ignoring the odd looks and evil glares as we made our way to my locker. Jonathon kissed my temple as I opened my locker and pulled my textbook in to my arms.
“School again. How is the study for exams going? I haven’t seen you a whole lot lately besides at training.”
“My Mother is going crazy with the studying. I’m actually starting to get a headache from reading over my English notes a thousand times a day. If I could just get her to relax a bit, it might not be so bad.” I shrugged, adjusting the strap of my bag over my shoulder
“I could help with studying, I have lived over a century and do know a thing or too about high school classes.”
“Inviting you to my house to help me study, is a really bad idea.”
“It wouldn’t be that bad. How much can Marley honestly hate me?” Jonathon looked at me curiously.
I laughed, a laugh that came out my nose unintentionally. “Oh believe me, between her and Sabrine, you have your own personal hate club.”
“Fantastic. They can join the others.”
There was a rustle beside me and I turned to find Skylar pressed up against the lockers, her eyes wild and bright, burning in to the back of my skull as she stared me down. “Allo Olivia.”
“Skylar. How goes it?” I brushed a newly re-dyed red, curl behind my ear.
“Not too bad. I haven’t seen you in a very long time, considering at the beginning of December we were supposed to go to MCR.” Skylar folded her arms over her chest.
“Sorry about that. I guess things are just getting a little crazy lately, hm?” I closed my locker and made a pass to go up to my English class.
“I would say.” Skylar’s eyes flicked back and forth between Jonathon and I as she licked her lips and then her eyes rolled away to look through empty air.
“Are you alright, Skylar? You’re acting a little strange.” I cast a glance at Jonathon and then back at Skylar but she was already walking away down the hall
We walked upstairs to my English classroom and the two of us paused in the doorway. He gave me a quick kiss before he walked away down the hall towards his own class. I wandered in to my classroom and took up my usual seat, not too concerned about if Michael had any intention of sitting next to me. I let my head fall down to the table as I usually did and closed my eyes as the coolness soaked in to my forehead.
The chair beside me pulled out and my whole body jerked to life as I whipped my head around to see whom it was. Obviously I had failed at masking the amount of surprise that filtered through me and displayed effectively on my face. Michael plopped down in his usual spot, nearly missing my face as he swung his backpack up on to the desk.
“Um … hello.” I gaped at him, trying to erase the amount of disbelief in my tone. His response was silence as he removed books and a pen from his pack and then dropped it noisily to the ground beside him. “Alright, the silent treatment works much better for me anyway.”
“Silent treatment?” He scoffed. “You don’t even deserve my presence. I just have no where else to sit but at least there’s only a week left of this class to endure.”
“If you’re going to be an ass, I will go sit with Courtney and Ashley and listen to them talk about how hot my boyfriend is.”
“Mm, right. Jonathon. How is he? Still evil?”
“What is your issue? I have never seen you act jealous in the –almost – three years we have known each other, this being our Junior year and all, I figured guys were supposed to be maturing.”
“Bite me, Olivia. You have no idea how mature of a word I want to use right now, but I guarantee you it isn’t pleasant.” He snarled, such an uncharacteristic expression for him – so much so that I sucked in a calming breath and watched him very carefully for the rest of the class. So many things about him were off, his expression was cold and angry, his eyes were hard and the color wasn’t the same, but the strangest part was the new muscles forming over his shoulders that were visible through his tight t-shirt.
As the bell rung I stopped and took hold of his wrist before he could run away from me again. “I’m sorry.” I couldn’t get out the questions I wanted to ask once I got a good look at his face. My stomach twisted and knotted and I took off running – at a Hunter’s pace – down the hall and through the school to my art class. There was no point of skipping so close to the end.
Ms. Riley was standing at the front of the class writing down names and assignments that were due on the whiteboard. Several students were already pulling on projects and mediums to work with while I took my seat and tried to settle my heart. His face was contorted with the kind of anger and pain I had never once met face-to-face before, and the only thing I could think of was: I did that to him. I, Olivia Jade Sommerland – broke a boys heart into a million tiny, jagged pieces.
“Please continue to work on your self portraits. They’re due on the 20th.” Ms. Riley’s voice broke through my thoughts and I glanced around to see what was going on. She wrote out the assignment on the board and began marking up other assignments and helping out students whom were still having issues finding their inspiration. Skylar was already sitting across from me as well as Alex who was pulling out his thumbnails and an already finished – but poorly done – self-portrait.
I stood up and set up my easel, intermittently collecting all the art supplies I would be needing to continue work on my project, as did most of the other students in the class. I could feel Alex’s eyes on me and a similar vibe slid over my skin, just like the one that was surrounding Skylar earlier in the day. There was something severely wrong with the people in my inner circle, even if one of those people happened to be the only human I made contact with these days. I turned to look at Alex who had his head down and was working over a large canvas, lines cast back and forth over the stretched hide creating an image but my mind was focused on his hands. The knuckles were bloody and bruised from training with me on Sunday, but the dark line under his chin from where my foot had connected had vanished overnight.
“Looks good, Olivia.” Ms. Riley said in passing.
“Thanks.” I muttered back, still watching Alex.
Alex looked up at me as Ms. Riley passed him and paused for a moment to appraise his work before continuing on to the other students. “Are you okay?” He made a gesture to stand but I waved my hands and turned back to my own work. Just relax and calm down. You’re just a little stressed out and things seems to be getting only weirder by the moment.
As the days progressed, getting closer to exams, I found myself engrossed in strange events and more over – complete character changes in the people around me. Vivian was actually nice to me, spending time over my house helping me with studying when Jonathon was unable to. Even on occasion she would tag along with Kat on her nightly watch duty just to have some ‘girl talk’ with the girl she had hated in the first few weeks of her being here. It confused me to no end but then there was A.J.’s sudden interest in keeping Skylar at home and avoiding everyone like they had the plague. I had only talked to her once after gym class only to find that Eme was planning a trip to Venice and was taking the girls with her. It was enough to spike my interest but A.J. was less concerned with giving me details and clamped up.
I was walking home from my first exam with Vivian at my side, her eyes were glued to the trees that shot up around us, their dead branches creating eerie patterns against the white sky. The walk – for the most part – had been completely and comfortably silent. It would seem that the less I saw Alex, the more Vivian decided she would take over my guard duty.
“How did your exam go?” Vivian finally asked, slowing her gait so we could talk. I gave her a strange look but shrugged off the odd feeling that welled up inside me and decided to engage her.
“It was super easy actually. I was a little shocked, but I guess Marley breathing down my neck for the pass month actually worked.”
“I guess.” Vivian glanced over her shoulder for a moment and then her pace slowed to a grinding half. “Are you and Jonathon serious?”
“Excuse me?” I turned on her, pulling the strap of my bag across my chest.
“Are you and … Jonathon … a serious thing?” Vivian glared at me, her almond eyes narrowing in an all-too-familiar way.
“Not that I know of. It’s high school, and I’m leaving in a few months for Ireland. As far as I know, demons aren’t exactly welcome in the Society’s little cabinet.”
We stood there in silence on the sidewalk, cars and other students passed by but none gave us more than a second glance. It was obvious that we were now invisible to them and Vivian had taken my idea of glamour to heart. I was a little nervous as I waited for her to reply, considering she was an unpredictable nymph who had just asked me about my relationship with a demon. “It needs to end.”
My jaw dropped. It was one thing for my Mother or Michael to have issues with Jonathon and I dating but to have Vivian standing there before me and telling me point blank that I needed to end it was a whole nothing pile of steaming shit. I wanted to wind up and deck her in the face but I chose for the less conflicting route and turned and walked away. I felt the barrier of her glamour as I pressed through it and then I felt her foot connect with the back of my head. For a second all I could hear was a high pitched ringing and then I saw her standing over me in the middle of the street.
“I am not playing games, Olivia. It needs to end between you two. Something around here is seriously wrong and I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but it all started when you and Jonathon got together.”
For a moment I just relaxed against the frozen blacktop thinking about what she had said and then I spun my legs and jumped into a standing position in front of her. “Did you just round house me?” I glared. “Because that is seriously uncool.”
“I did. You have to listen to me Olivia. Alex is acting beyond wrong, Skylar had bloodlust in her eyes and Michael – well he cornered me in the hall on Friday to ask me how to make him forget about …us. Leaving is the right idea, but you need to cut the ties you have here now first.”
I shook my head, trying to make sense of the statement she had just made and the fact that Michael had cornered her. “He cornered you?”
“He did. I’ve already been disciplined for punching that guy my first week here and I didn’t need my – the Teagues’ to have another reason to force me home or I would have knocked him out. You understand, right? You can see it too? How wrong everything is?”
I nodded. “I thought it was just the stress of exams and training getting to me. I didn’t realize that someone else could see it too.”
“Okay. So … will you? Can you end it? Will you go to Ireland with us?” Vivian’s eyes darted around and then her arm shot out and we were running. “Move quickly.”
“No problem.” My feet slapped against the ground as I kept pace with her, we were moving so quickly that houses and people seemed to stand frozen in time. “What’s wro-”
Standing in front of us at the end of my block – where there were only vacant lots waiting for houses – was Lexie. Her gold hair was swung over her shoulder in a thick braid and her crimson eyes were startling against the white sky. Vivian’s grip on my arm tightened to a vice. I couldn’t feel the blood flowing to my hand any longer, but I still searched through my back carefully for the dagger Jonathon had given me. The blade was black and wound in the same velvet cloth I had first seen it in, but I still had no true idea of how to use it.
“Running from me? Oh Vivian, don’t you know that demons, much like the fey, always give chase.” Lexie’s cool voice slid over my skin mimicking the feeling of a million tiny bugs crawling beneath the surface
“Actually, I was trying to beat the snow. You know how nymphs don’t really care for winter.” Vivian’s grip vanished on my arm and instead she was holding up a bone blade longer than my leg.
Where did that come from?
“Oh no. Well I’ll make this quick so you don’t get caught in it then. Hand me Olivia and I’ll be on my way.”
“In what demonic universe would I ever had over anything willingly … to you. I know who you are and I’m not dumb enough to play your games, so you’ll have to kill me to get to her.”
“Gladly. Now Olivia, if you wouldn’t mind stepping aside for a moment, my pet will take good care of you.” Lexie’s eyes sweetened to a strange pink hue and I spun around to find a large black shadow stretching up behind me. It’s arms wound around me sending millions of tiny daggers dragging across my skin. I screamed in agony and whipped my head around to find Viivan locked in blows with Lexie. I had the dagger gripped in my hand still, but the shadow demon’s grip was too tight to use it.
“Vivian!” I screamed. My voice cracked and thundered across the open space between us, but her eyes never left Lexie.
I heard a car door slam and then the heavy footfall of someone running up behind the shadow demon. There was the sound of a blade being removed from its sheath as the shadow demon dropped me, but the pain didn’t subside. I turned back to see who had saved me to find Jonathon and Alex. The two of them wielded brilliant broad swords but they weren’t standing still or alone. There were other demons converging on us now, thousands of slimy creatures surrounded the three of us.
I pushed myself up off the pavement and made a dash for Vivian, the dagger gripped firmly in my hand. I ran up behind Lexie with the dagger raised and let out a war cry that surprised me and made Lexie freeze for a moment. Her reactions were quicker than mine though and she swung and her elbow rammed in to my ribs. I heard and felt them crack as I rolled back on to the pavement, lifting my head to see as Lexie returned her focus to Vivian. Vivian already had the signs of battle on her skin: long, angry gashes were sliced down her arm and across her cheeks. Ivy vines crawled up over her skin and little tendrils of it had broken away from her and were wound around Lexie’s throat.
Once again I peeled myself up off the ground, feeling little rocks embedded in my hands and face. My feet couldn’t get enough grip on the ice and gravel beneath me but I kept trying and then suddenly I was being lifted from the ground. I spun to see Kat in a large cat form pulling me up off the blacktop. Her eyes were narrowed and angry looking.
“Thank you, Kat.” I relaxed.
She nudged me and I took off running towards the fight again with Kat bounded at my side in the form of a large panther. She had a sword strapped over her back and I pulled it from the sheath and swung it down on the first demon that stepped in my path. I mowed down a few other slimy creatures as I tried to get back to Vivian or Jonathon and Alex. Vivian was holding her own now, her vines that had once crawled over her thighs and lower back now skittered across the ground and whipped out to assault other demons and Lexie.
I shoved the blackened dagger in my belt and used my Hunter speed to charge through the herd of falling demons. Their bodies dissipated as they were slain, Alex and Jonathon were making progress while demons retreated from the fight but Lexie was still surrounded while she tried to kill Vivian. I broke through in to the circle and Lexie spun on me while she fought off the ivy. She pulled the dagger from my belt just as Vivian charged forward and her bone blade drove through her stomach. Lexie glared down at the blade and pulled it out and turned on Vivian as the hilt of her sword slammed in to Lexie’s face.
This isn’t going to turn out right. I need to get her alone. Blood spurted like black acid out of the wound Lexie had suffered and she staggered towards Vivian who was caught up by another shadow demon. I pulled the blade up over my head and brought it down on Lexie but she moved too quickly and Jonathon’s dagger was aimed for my head. In a matter of a few seconds the world shook and rumbled as someone jumped in front of me and blocked Lexie’s blow. When my eyes focused enough I could make out Jonathon’s shape in front of me, crumpled on the pavement at my feet while Vivan’s bone blade slid through Lexie’s ribs and pierced her heart. Her eyes were no longer red but dull and black as the life faded from her and her body began to burn up.
I could see Vivian and her ivy vines standing before me as I dropped to my knees beside Jonathon’s lifeless body. The dagger he had once had hidden in his glove compartment protruded from his chest and I felt hot tears drag lines of dirt down my cheeks. “Jonathon? Jonathon?” I traced my hands over his face and brushed his hair out of his face before I dropped my head to his chest.
“Olivia …” Vivian’s voice sounded too far away even if she was only sitting across from me over Jonathon’s body.
I heard Alex drop down beside me and push me out of the way, I was in so much shock that it took very little effort, and pulled the dagger from Jonathon’s chest and it clanked to the ground. I scrambled for it as Kat wandered over to us, her fur coat covered in little droplets of blood, hers and black splatter from the demons she had killed. The dagger was warm in my hands as I pulled it to my chest and then dropped it in to my messenger bag Kat had brought back to me and I watched as Alex lifted Jonathon from the street.
“What …” My voice cracked. “What are you going to do with him?”
Alex gave me a sad look as he swung the large, lifeless demon over his shoulder and picked up the silver sword Jonathon had been holding. “Back to our house. If he was dead Olivia, he wouldn’t still be here right now.”
I glanced up at Kat and then back at Vivian and they all seemed to be in agreement of the subject. I brushed my curls from my face and let Vivian help me up off the ground and turn back to where Alex’s car was parked, all the doors were open and there were claw marks along the passenger side. Kat nuzzled against me in the backseat as we drove to the Teagues’ residence with Jonathon lain across my lap while Vivian sat in the front seat, her eyes straight ahead. I ran my fingers through his soft hair and over his cheeks, fighting back the urge to cry and bury my face in his shoulder. Having a comrade die was one thing, but having him die trying to save me was something I would never get over. The ride took forever, but I barely noticed that the car had come to a stop once we were back and Alex helped me bring Jonathon inside to his room.
Celone came flying around the corner and dropped herself at Jonathon’s bedside, tears already streaming down her cheeks. “He’s not dead! What did you do to him you stupid girl!?” Celone screamed, her voice had never been higher than a loud whisper, but now it roared around us.
“I … I …”
“It was Lexie.” Alex spun on her, grasping her by the shoulders. “And no, he isn’t dead. Celone, do you know what that dagger does?”
Her eyes left Alex’s face in a hurry and then found mine and instinctively I recoiled and my back slammed against the wall as I tried to make an escape. Vivian and Kat had left us to change out of their clothing and Kat to wash off the blood from her fur. I was alone by the doorway but I had no sense to run or go home at that moment.
“I do. It strips immortal powers. Demons. Fey. Hunters. Angels.” She glared back at me. “Is that what she used?” She looked back at Alex curiously.
He nodded. “Yes. What does that mean to strip the power of a demon?”
“In some cases,” her voice broke, “in some cases it kills the host of the powers but in others it turns them mortal, but it is just as bad. The poison of the blade slowly returns time to the host, aging them to their true time and then killing them slowly. If Jonathon is lucky, he has a year.” Celone’s voice retreated into silence and she fell at Jonathon’s bedside once again, her head resting on the mattress.
I couldn’t speak or move anymore, the thought of him dying slowly in agony was worse than thinking Lexie had killed him. Alex removed himself from Celone’s side and came to mine, his arms wound around me and he helped me down the hall to his room. With a gentle hand he sat me on one of the chairs in his seating area and left me to my own thoughts. He wanted to die. He wanted to be mortal. Why would he want to take away Celone’s only form of defense? I let my head fall in to my hands as a sob shook my body and consumed my thoughts. Even if he isn’t dead now … he will be. I guess Vivian had nothing to worry about. A sinister laugh crackled through my sobs and I found myself half laughing and crying at the same time, it was loud enough that Alex came running back in to the room and pulled me to him in an embrace I wasn’t familiar with.
“It’ll be okay. It will. I promise.”
If you can read my mind … tell me one thing. Are angels real?
Alex laughed. It was a depressing sound but it was a laugh even as he rocked me against his chest. “You can ask Gabriel that when you see him.”
I started at the fact that he had answered my question, a question I had never asked aloud. It was the proof I needed though, that he had always been listening, and I let him hold me as the tears dried up.