Chapter Thirty: Explode
Going back to school to finish my exams like nothing had happened was painful, but I had managed and even as Valentine’s Day came to pass, I found myself wandering through the school like a zombie. The only thing on my mind for the past month was Jonathon, lying on his bed unconscious, his cheeks becoming hallowed and the veins beneath his skin more visible every day.
It was almost the second last week of March by the time he had woken up - to Celone’s pleasure - and he and his charge had talked for a moment while Alex waited on the other side of the door. Jonathon was indeed mortal, no heat to keep him warm and no means of healing himself any longer. He asked for me on a daily basis, but I had yet to summon the courage to go to him. Vivian had stayed very far away from me for the past two months, giving me my space and her own to free herself from her own guilty expression.
It wasn’t her fault what had happened to him, he had jumped in front of me to save my sorry ass. I knew it was pointless, it was a battle and we won, Lexie was dead and the threat against me here had evaporated for a little while. I was wandering through the halls to my Biology class when two sets of hands pulled me in to the boys’ bathroom. I spun to find Jake and David with their backs pressed against the bright orange door.
“You got to help us.” David said, his eyes were too big for his face in that moment.
“Um… I don’t really understand. Why am I in the boys’ bathroom? And what do you two want?” I folded my arms over my chest, feeling as the leather of Jonathon’s jacket stretched and gave as I moved.
“Michael. He’s gone crazy or something. It’s like he was abducted by aliens.” Jake’s voice and expression were beyond hysteria, but I had to admit he wasn’t wrong about Michael.
“And you want me to do … what exactly?”
“Something. The guy has been losing it ever since Sarah died. He picks fights on the ice and with his friends. He forgets practice and game nights. Not to mention he snapped at Carman the other day and didn’t even bother to apologize.” Jake tossed his hands in the air, obviously holding back the urge to punch something or someone.
“I’m not the person to talk to about this. He barely speaks to me, and I’m sure it is the last thing he actually wants me to do. We broke up, remember? The boy just needs a reality check in the worst way.”
“Tried that.” David’s tone was defensive now as he leaned back against the wall. “His exact words were ‘in this reality, everything you guys know, is wrong. Ask Olivia, she seems to have all the answers to the mysteries of the world’. So now we’re asking you.”
“He … said that?” I’m going to kill him. “Fine. I will talk to him, but if you make me late for Biology I will come back at you two with a vengeance unknown to teenage boys everywhere.”
“Fine.” Jake spun on his heels and stopped a few inches from me. “He isn’t stable, so please be careful. Carman would murder us if she knew we were letting you go up against him while he’s like this.”
“Carman thinks he’s gone nuts too?” I stared at the two of them.
“She does. We’re all very, very worried about him. He has never, in his life, been this big of a jackass. Please Olivia. Help?” David slumped a little against the wall.
“Fine. I will go have a word with him – or a scream fest – and find out what his issue is. Honestly, I think you’re going to find that I’m the problem and it might just be better if I’m not around.” I shrugged and brushed by them, forcing them to move away from the neon orange door that would lead me back to the hallway. I stopped as Jake dropped his hand to my shoulder
“It’s not you, Olivia. He hasn’t mentioned you once in all his ramblings.”
I shrugged off his touch. “I’ll see for myself whether that’s the truth or not.” With that, I escorted myself out of the boys’ washroom, gaining me only a few odd stares, and made my way to Biology.
Class took forever to finally let out, and I made my way out in to the hallway on a mission to track down Michael and ask him what his deal was. If they were so positive that it wasn’t me, then why had he not only been avoiding me but almost beat up Jonathon. My heart jumped at his name, and I thought of him lying at home on his bed waiting for me. Maybe I should just go and get it over with.
I wound my way around students who were coming and going from classroom to classroom and eventually found the computer lab Michael was hiding in. I dropped myself in to a chair next to him and he instantly turned to face me, his expression cold and calculated.
“So, what has you picking fights, yelling at your friends and missing practice? I thought hockey was your life?” I leaned closer to him, cutting the conversation off to anyone who might be listening.
He groaned. “Why do you care about what I’m doing with my life? I thought you wanted to keep my life completely separate from yours … to protect me or some bull like that.” Michael was going to take the defensive, and obviously expecting me to give up and just walk away, but I was at the end of my rope as far as giving up went.
“It is my damn business when your friends corner me in the bathroom to tell me to talk to you about attitude. Honestly, I would really rather not be having this conversation at all with you, considering the way you’ve been acting towards me – even if I get it – just Jake and David are really worried.”
A bemused smile touched his eyes. “Worried? About me? Oh how stupid are they?”
Shock took over in my limbs and all over my face. “Stupid? You think they’re stupid for caring about you? Who the hell are you!” I slammed my fist down on the table the computers were lined up on. A few students jumped at my outburst and made their way out of the room as quickly as their legs would take them.
Michael leaned in very close to me, our noses were about an inch apart and I felt every nerve end in my body zap and sizzle as that familiar surge of electricity jumped between us. I forced myself to stay in my seat as still as I could be as he stared further in to my eyes. “They were never I my friends, Olivia. Are you still that blind to the world that doesn’t directly revolve around you?”
That was the last straw, my hand that wasn’t resting on the table whistled through the air and connected with his cheek. It made a loud crack as it connected and echoed all around the classroom, the sound itself gave me the power to stand and step away from him. I bent down to his ear with the most terrifying expression I could muster. “Jonathon died. Right now, the world is revolving around me whether you like it or not, and you are in that world and if you don’t like it you better prepare for one hell of an ass whipping.”
Michael jumped back, his eyes filled his face and he shook his head back and forth as I turned on my toes and left the lab with tears burning behind my eyes. I forced them back with the anger that seethed beneath my skin and fueled me with the heat Jonathon’s body had once created. If there was any humane part left in that boy, I would be the one to knock it back in to place if it came to that.
I squeezed by Jake and David who had been standing outside of the computer lab, they both gave me horrified looks. I could have cared less if they had been demons hissing at me as I made my way downstairs to my drama class where Vivian was already seated in the joint class. She was pressed up against the far wall with two other girls, but they are seemed very disinterested with the rest of the student body. I must have still been wearing my scary face when I came in to the room because Vivian jumped to her feet and came barreling to my side.
“Are you alright? Is everything okay?” Vivian looked me over very discretely.
“Oh I’m fine, but Michael will not be if he keeps up this bull shit.” I snarled.
“This is a Michael thing?” Vivian relaxed.
“Unfortunately for him, it sure as hell is. I think I’m going to skip the rest of the day and go see Jonathon. May I borrow your house key?” I held my hand out to her, knowing full well her guilt trip wasn’t over yet and she would do almost anything I asked. As I suspected, she dropped her house key in to the palm of my hand and I stormed out of the room and left school on my own terms this time.
It was a longer walk to the Teagues’ residence than I remembered it being, and after the sidewalk vanished I found that walking in the middle of the street was easier and less slushy to navigate. I walk into the roundabout and straight towards the eerie house with the blue door and shutters next to a house that resembled more of a cottage from Snow White than a house that belonged in town. The Audi was parked in the driveway next to Jonathon’s Mercedes. I swallowed the lump in my throat and walked up the little steps to the front door. It took a moment for me to summon the courage to knock, but Kat opened the door on her way out before I had time.
“Olivia? You actually came.” Kat hugged my waist. There were little bags under her eyes and she had obviously been crying at some point during the day.
“I sure did. Are you heading out?” I patted her head, running my fingers through her tangled hair.
“Alex is taking me to school. Celone is finally sleeping, so please be quiet. Jonathon is eating in his room.” Kat moved away from the door as Alex came down the stairs and shot me a pleased smile.
“It’s good you’re here. If he throws one more bowl at my head, I think I’ll put him out of his misery on my own.” Alex joked and then looked as if he regretted it.
“I’ll just go up.” I stopped and patted Kat’s head again. It was hard to believe how tall she was not. “Have fun at school.”
Kat beamed. “Will do.” She and Alex waved as the car pulled out of the driveway and I closed the door behind me. The ascent to Jonathon’s room was nerve wracking, but it was a necessary weariness as I finally opened his door and paused. He was looking directly at me and as his eyes focused on the light in the hall behind me, he smiled and tossed his arms out.
“Olivia!” Jonathon signaled for me to come join him on the bed, but the closest I got was far enough in to the room to shut the door.
“Why don’t you come sit here? I need to talk to you.” Jonathon patted the empty patch of sheets next to him.
“I’m better over here.” I shrugged.
“Don’t make the dying man beg, Olivia.” Jonathon shook his head as he teased me.
I gave in and slowly walked over to him and sat down on the mattress next to him. “Better?” I gave him a lopsided smile.
“Now, what do you need to tell me?”
“So many things. First off, I had never wanted it to be you who killed me, that wasn’t what I intended the blade for. I just wanted to be … human.”
“Being human blows.” I sulked.
“Not really. I’m seeing things a little differently these days. It’s almost refreshing.” Jonathon relaxed against me. “For instance, I need to tell you something. I told you the story about how my sister joined Lucien, right?”
I nodded in acknowledgment.
“Lexie was my sister. I just wanted you to know that.”
I took a step back from the bed but his hand reached out and took mine. It felt so fragile in my grip, so unlike the broad shouldered demon I had run around Vancouver with three months ago. “You … you’re sister? She wanted you dead! How can siblings just turn on each other like that?”
“Lexie was evil, all of her. She was born of hatred and other horrible things. Lucien just twisted it to his favor, once he had actually offered me her position, but I was so fond of his daughter and her humanity that I couldn’t do all the nasty things he expected from me.”
“It’s still horrid. She’s dead now though, right?” I gave him a sideways glance.
He nodded in response. “And I’m not sorry about it. I thought I might feel some sort of grief over it, but I feel nothing of the sort for her.” Jonathon pulled me on the bed tight against his side.
“What are you feeling?” I left my hand fall on his chest where a thick bandage had been applied.
“I feel, peaceful actually. I don’t feel like I’m dying or anything. I know I am, my legs aren’t working the way they should and some days I’m almost blind, but I’m not in any pain.”
“No pain at all?” I cast a glance down at his legs that were hidden beneath his blankets.
“None. I feel ever better now that you’re here. I thought I wouldn’t get to explain things to you.” He leaned his head against my shoulder. “I don’t want you to feel guilty for the choices I’ve made. I have lived long over a century and in my own opinion, it really is time for me to die. At least I’m dying as a mortal so I won’t end up back in hell for the next cycle.”
“There really is a hell?” I looked down at him, absently running my fingers through his brittle hair. Little strands broke off under my touch so I stopped.
“There is. But now that I’m mortal, there might be a chance I’ll get to rest in your afterworld. That would be nice. To have an eternity of beautiful women and good music.”
I laughed at the prospect of a perfect world beyond this one. “I’m going to miss you.” A few tears dropped down my cheeks.
“This isn’t a Disney movie, Olivia. You’re tears have no magical properties to heal me back to my former self.” He smirked. “I will miss you too. It was fun getting to be with you for a while, I really only every wanted a few things in life and getting to kiss a beautiful girl – who was also forbidden to me – was pretty high on that list. I mean, even if she cries way too much and has far too many boyfriends for my liking.”
“You’re a tool.” I giggled against him.
“Thank you. That was high on my list too.” Jonathon smirked and then cast his eyes away from my face as his face contorted in a grimace.
"Jonathon? Are you alright?” I gently pulled his eyes back to mine.
“I am. I just … I don’t want to say goodbye. Not to you.”
“We’ll see each other again.” That was what all the girls in the movies said, that one day she would die and they would be together on the other side. It was supposed to be romantic or something. For this moment, it was wrong and made the tears fall harder down my cheeks and glance off his face. “Not any time soon I hope. You were an amazing person to get to know though.”
“I love you too, Olivia.” Jonathon smiled up at me, his eyes were heavy lidded and sad. “Do you mind if I just close my eyes for a bit, Alex keeps dropping sleeping pills in to all my food. Would you yell at him for me?”
“I will do that once he gets home. I’ll be right here when you wake up, okay?” I curled up next to him and the two of us closed our eyes, the only difference was that when I woke up, Jonathon was dead. His eyes never opened again and when Alex found us, I was sitting on the floor under the window just staring at the vacant body.
“Did he go peacefully?” Alex sat down next to me, slinging an arm around my shoulders.
“He did. He just went to sleep.” I felt like I was talking about an old family dog I had just put to sleep.
I leaned against Alex, welcoming his comforting touch as the two of us sat and stared across the room at the body that used to be Jonathon. I was all cried out, there was no more pain to erase, and no one to avenge. Lexie was dead but there were still demons loose in the town and a half-demon down the hall that would need consoling once we told her Jonathon was gone forever.
“I’ll tell Celone.” Alex ran his fingers through my curls, straightening them with each pass.
“That would be best. I don’t think she’ll want to hear it from me.”
“I’ll tell her once she wakes up. Right now though, would you like something to eat?”
I shivered and shook my head. “I should go home. Marley will be waiting.”
“Okay.” Alex stood up and grabbed a piece of paper and the keys to Jonathon’s car off the dresser in the room. “Here.”
I took the letter from his hands and read it, it was short and explain that Jonathon was leaving me his car and informed me that he had made Celone promise to stay in Morden and not return home. She was in my charge now, with no one else in the world to keep her safe, and the car was my gift for a promise to keep her from Lucien. I will keep her safe Jonathon, thank you.
Alex’s hand was still extended and I took it with a smile as he helped me off the ground and escorted me downstairs and outside where I stopped by the car. “Text me once you’ve told her. I will want to talk to her tomorrow once she knows.”
“I’ll do that. Get some sleep. You look exhausted.” Alex pulled me to him in an embrace that made me blush and finished by kissing my forehead and turned to leave.
Thank you, Alex. For some strange reason you keep surprising me.
I saw him smirk out of the corner of his eye and watched him go back inside while I drove home.
I was comfortable in front of the TV after a long night of tossing and turning with no sleep. The daylight was more comforting as I was settled, perfectly still watching Saturday cartoons. I could hear Kat scratching at my window so I disturbed the calm in the den and pushed it open and she jumped through it, her fur puffed up around her. “Hey Kat.”
She nodded but didn’t transform and walked over to the TV and turned it off as she changed in to a larger cat. Her head was angled towards the door and it was her cue for me to stay quiet.
“What’s wrong?” I whispered, feeling almost stupid the second I had asked the question. Kat usually couldn’t speak while she was in her animal form. I just followed her up the stairs to the front door where she continued to scratch.
I opened the door and found Michael pacing on the step outside, but he stopped the second the door opened. “Hello.” My voice spiked with surprise.
He glanced down at the white kitten form Kat had taken and sneered. “I forgot about you.”
The wards around the house prevented uninvited demons from entering the premises, so at least I could cross possession off my list of reasons why he was such a jerk. He started pacing again up and down the steps while I stood in the doorway watching and waiting for him to say something. “I’m sorry.” He turned.
“About?” I eyed him suspiciously.
“Jonathon. Vivian confirmed what you told me.”
“You really have to stop cornering her in the hallway, she will hit you if you don’t.” I smiled as I imagined it.
“I didn’t corner her this time, instead she came up to me and started yelling at me for pissing you off. Something about you taking her house keys or something. I really didn’t … I don’t know why I’m here.” He laughed uncomfortably. His eyes flashed to my face and for the first time I realized what was irritating me about them, behind the sea-foam green color there were little bolts of lightning and the color was so blue it rivaled a clear day sky.
“Tell me who you are.” I squared myself against him. The sky was darkening very quickly as a storm moved in, but he was just as still as I was.
“You aren’t Michael though. I have looked into Michael’s eyes for years now, and never once have they been that blue or have lightning bolts behind the irises. You aren’t human.” I stepped further out of the house, Kat growing into a larger cat size behind me.
A silver Audi pulled up in front of my house just as the person who pretended to be Michael made an advance towards me. Alex was yelling something but I couldn’t hear him over the thunder and rumbled overhead. There was a large crack and something exploded behind me somewhere and I spun to find a demon with white eyes bulging from its head resting on my roof. A scream choked me and Marley came running from the house to see where the noise had come from.
With a speed only of a Hunter, she ran by me and grabbed my hands as we fled towards Alex. Without Lexie or Jonathon around, the demons were free to attack at any time and place, and somehow they had broken through the wards around the house. I stumbled over loose rocks and grass, we were just barely fast enough. Alex was beside us in a second rushing us in to the car, Michael included.
Michael’s skin rippled as he sat next to me in the backseat and the car took off down the road. I watched him, fear plain in my eyes and then out the back window where a dark cloud was moving like a snake over the town.
“Hurry.” Non-Michael snapped at Alex who slipped the car into fifth on the main stretch of road leading east out of town.
We weren’t going to make it very far, the cloud was faster than a car any day and it wasn’t until we turned over on to highway three did the shadow jump a head of us and drop down like a wall over the road. My breath caught and the Non-Michael squirmed besides me as Alex nearly turned into the ditch as he pulled into the Bible Camp.
“Out of the car.” Alex cursed. “They killed my engine. My weapons are in the trunk.”
For a split second I had to laugh, if I had brought the Mercedes we would have had twice the weaponry. I tumbled out of the back seat after Michael and we scrambled for the trunk. We pulled out cross bows and swords, guns and daggers, but there were only four of us and Kat who was her lioness form by our feet, it was worse that we were without fighting gear or Vivian. She had no idea where we were, and Celone was home with her all-alone. My mind raced over every possible avenue of escape, but it only rested on one. If I give myself to them, they will take me to Lucien and leave the others alone.
“Hell no!” Alex jerked me towards him. “You will not give yourself to them! Do you hear me?”
“I’m with Alex on this one.” Marley glared, strapping on a quiver.
“It is our best option.” I let my eyes trace over Alex, his forearms and cheeks glittered with recent perspiration as the sun reflected off of him from high in the sky. The light tan color of his skin gave off a warm glow and the muscles in his hands and arms seemed to move as he stood there, very still. He wore only a black, sleeveless shirt covering his torso and a pair of jeans on his legs, but he stood there completely exposed to me and to the threat hanging over us.
Glancing up to his face, a gasp escaped me as I met his eyes, the color of a forest long after midnight; they seemed to almost glow as if the sun were behind them. It startled me to find him looking at her with a passion she had never seen before from him. It felt cold, like summer had suddenly been replaced by the harsh climate of winter and had taken over my body. I shuddered and went to turn, but there he was again, standing only inches from my face with a wry smile spreading thickly across his lips. This wasn’t Alex though, this was non-Michael who had been standing behind me, his skin rippling and moving. I stepped back from him, fear choking me as he approached at the speed of light and brushed the loose curls from my face and leaned into me and stopped at my ear.
“Run.” He whispered. Déjà vu hit me so hard it nearly winded me as his body exploded, leaving a crater the size of a lake where he once stood. Alex caught me as I flew backwards against him, his arms locking around my waist and cradled me against his chest. Once the dust settled we stared across the field to see a creature that was likely seven feet tall with wings that were pure silver. His skin was bronze and his hair was a light blonde swept up in a hurricane, but his eyes were the color of a summer sky.
He walked towards Alex and I, my head swung around to see Marley and Kat crouched behind an overturned car. The cloud of demons paused as the world slowed and there was only this creature, Alex and myself. We both hurried to our feet and backed away as he approached, his too long arm and fingers extended towards us. “I am Auriel. I will take the princess somewhere safe and the demons will follow.”
Alex’s grip tightened around me and we moved further away from him, there was no dust beneath our feet as time stayed frozen. I managed to pull free from him, and then he too was frozen in time and it was justAurieland myself standing alone beneath the April sun.
“Will you come with me? I promise you will be safe.” His hand extended towards me and I caught sight of the little silver tattoos that covered his skin.
“I will. On the condition that they,” I gestured towards my Mother, Kat and Alex, “will be safe as well.”
“We shall lead the demons far from here and them. They will return to their home, and you and I shall return you to your rightful home.”
“Home?” My eyes grew in size.
I jumped. “You’re taking me –home?”
“I am.” He nodded. His eyes were the wrong shape to be human eyes and his face was too long and alien, but he was handsome and beautiful.
“I will come with you.” I took his hand and he pulled me tight in to his arms and we took off in to the air high above the world, and he was right. The black cloud followed us away from Morden and over the ocean. I squeezed my eyes shut and kept them closed until my feet hit solid ground once again.
I took a quick look around and found a tree amongst a meadow, its branches reached so far that they seemed to touch the edges of the Earth. I could hear the sound of waves crashing against rocks and the sweet sound of songbirds playing in the meadow. The strangest part of this scene was that I had been here once before in a dream, the only difference was now I could see I cottage beyond the tree and meadow. There was a woman standing about ten feet from us, her silver hair was wound into a loose braid that hung over her shoulder.
She waved at Auriel and I before she approached us with such grace and elegance that I couldn’t remove my eyes from her. Once she was within earshot she paused and gave me a warm smile, her blue eyes fell happily on me. “I’m glad Auriel brought you home safely, Olivia.”
I tried my voice and it wavered so I tried again. “Who … who are you?”
With a little dip of a curtsy, Auriel left me standing there alone and joined her across the meadow from me. “I am Diedre, Olivia.”
“D – D – Diedre?” The world spun and I sank into the little wild flowers the painted the Earth below me and settled in to the darkness.