The flames were climbing higher almost as clumsy as Chris when he climbs up the rope ladder and there was no way Tia could reach Alex without roasting first and that would do Alex no good. Her pale blue eyes scanned the entire area searching something… anything that could help her in getting Alex out of the tree house. She was still holding the walkie talkie.
“Alex… it’s going to be okay.” Tia said, she kept her panic out of her voice, she had found a way to help Alex get out of the tree house… mostly unharmed. “I want you to climb out on a limp that goes near your bedroom window.”
“Okay.” Alex said “But I’m going to have to leave the walkie talkie behind… can’t climb with only one hand.”
Alex had spent hours in that tree, over the last eight or so years and he could climb like a monkey… blind folded. He knew which of the branches could take his weight and which one’s couldn’t. Falling had never been one of his fears, in fact, until the Peterson’s moved in, it would have been a blessing if he did fall, because it would have hurt a lot less than what his ‘dad’ or ‘Antonio’ had done to him, both mental or physically. The height never made his head spin, like it did Chris, Tia or Scarlet when they looked down for even a second and he was glad they weren’t with them, because they would have been cooked; Tia and Scarlet wouldn’t follow him out and most of the branches would just snap under Chris’ weight.
On the ground Tia was searching the brushes near the back door to Alex’s old house, trying to locate the key that he kept there, so he could enter the house after school hours.
“We don’t even live far from the fire department.’ Tia muttered under her breath as she tried to find the right key into the lock with trembling fingers “They should be here already.”
Her parents and Chris stood in the yard just staring at the flames ridden tree, wondering what was taking the fire department so long to arrive as they swiped tears from their eyes. They did notice Tia’s absence or the broken body of a man at the base of the tree, partly covered in smoke.
Tia was finally able to find the right lock, spiriting up the stairs and into Alex’s empty room. She tried in vain to open the window, but it was painted shut.
“Why would Alex have a window painted shut?” Tia yelled in pure frustration “That’s so stupid with his dad around. Always have an escape plan Alex!”
Looking around the room for something that could break the window, only to find a desk chair; throwing the chair through the window, effectively removing the unwanted barrio between her and her loved one, with a loud crash. The chair and glass alike clattered to the ground below, but the sound was muffled by the snap, crackle and pop sounds of the fire in the backyard.
“Okay Alex… I need you to jump!” Tia yelled, leaning out of the window with her arms outstretched.
“It’s too far!” Alex screamed holding onto the branch for dear life as the smoke surrounded him like a whimsical hug. “I won’t be able to make it.”
“It’ll catch you… I promise.” Tia assured him glancing at the fire behind him; it was a lot closer than she first thought, which meant she had less time to convince him “Please Alex, you have to jump.”
“I can’t.” Alex sobbed his check against the rough bark “I don’t want to die Tia.”
“I don’t want to scare you, but the fire is eating at the branch you’re on.” Tia yelled her voice urgent as the limb started to give out “I need you to jump now. I’ll catch you… I promise Alex”
“I know, I know… but you have to believe in me. I’ll never let you fall… now let prove that to you, please Alex, just jump.”
With a scream Alex launched himself from the branch to Tia, the wind seemed to help get there. Alex’s icy red eyes were wide with panic, his hands stretching, reaching and trying to grab the pale hands that were his best chance of surviving and his only hope of coming out this mostly unhurt.
Hope… that’s a funny word. Alex thought as everything around him seem to slow down, like when a basketball player jumping up to shot and having to spin around an opponent before releasing the shot all on the same jump. Hope… by definition us to expect confidence or trust, but I’ve never had them? Come to think of it when have I ever had those things? Nothing… I have experience nothing. I should have stayed out of the tree; I shouldn’t have dragged Tia into my mess… now because of me she’s going to blame herself if I don’t make it. I hope she doesn’t. There’s that word again… hope. But what do you have to hope for when you have nothing? I guess you hope for anything because anything is better than nothing… you hope for hope.
Tia managed to grab Alex’s hands and Alex… well he slammed into the side of the house, but he guessed it was better than the ground, which was quite the drop of the ground. With a heave Tia was trying to drag a seventeen year old boy, skinny as he was, with only her arms, she was able to pull him through the window, where they fall into an undignified heap. Alex was coughing and slightly bleeding from various scraps, sobbing into Tia’s shirt as the older girl just hugged him, happy to have him safe with her for the moment. She rubbed his back and kissed Alex’s face the same why her mum would have if she was here and not outside waiting for the fire-fighters to arrive.
“I’ve got you.” Tia soothingly whispered, rocking a bit too calm Alex down, who was still sobbing, putting her forehead on his “You’re safe, you’re okay. I’ve got you.”
“You caught me.” Alex finally managed to chock out, his icy red eyes looking into her pale ones with wonder and amazement.
“I promised I’d always be there of you.” Tia gently whispered, before putting her lips on his, Alex tensed up for a second before shyly kissing her back, both finding out that the other loved them, because they both knew that the perfect base for all relationships is friendship.
“Can we go home now?” Alex asked as they pulled out of the kiss, he was still shaking about what had happened and he knew he would go into shock soon.
“Of course.” Tia told him, standing up and pulling a trembling Alex with her, one of her arms wrapped firmly around her love or boyfriend, they needed to talk about that later, taking most of his weight before heading out of the house and across the drive to their home, away from Alex’s old house, just because you live somewhere doesn’t make it a home, because
Home was where the heart was.