“Since the Clepsydra started, families have been helping to train their children to carry out the ideals of the Clepsydra category they belong to. My family has been Fatalists since some of the original Clepsydra started out, so we’re educated in most fighting styles and weapons and have amassed a large amount of knowledge on the history of the Clepsydra and parts they’ve played. That’s how I managed to hold my own against our mystery guy back there. I knew that he was coming after us because as I told you last night, I’m able to sense Alterates, and he just reeked of it. I can’t believe I didn’t notice it, I just got so distracted. If I had paid attention like I was supposed to then you wouldn’t have gotten hurt and I could have prevented any of this from happening and-”
I put my hand up to stop him, and he loosens the death grip he has attained while holding the steering wheel and pauses. “Aidan, stop blaming yourself. I was a fool like you said in the first place for thinking it was smart to try and get in the way of someone who threw you on a car like a bag of flour”.
“It is my fault and I’m probably going to get an earful from my dad about it when we get to my house so you should prepare yourself.”
I sit up further in my seat, turning my head to look at him. “Um, sorry? We’re going to your house! Won’t your parents be miffed at me rocking up uninvited, covered in blood and gravel when they don’t even know me!?”
He laughs to himself, and I smack him on the knees before he says “You really think you’re going to manage getting home while your ankle is healing? My mom will have my head if I turned someone away whom I put in harm’s way through my lapse in concentration when I’m supposed to be vigilant at all times.”
“What do you mean ‘while my ankle is healing’? If I fractured my ankle as you’ve proposed it’s going to take six to eight weeks to heal, which means I’m out for half the waterpolo season.” I sigh, rubbing my head with my fingertips, imagining attending matches to support whatever team I’m put in on crutches.
“Nope, that’s where you’re wrong. Since you’ve started using the Crossover you’re evolving, picking up the traits which make the Clepsydra unique. That fracture should take between four to six hours to heal, eight hours tops. We heal quickly in order to adapt to difficult situations, like being stuck in a trench with soldiers when health care basically sucked back in the day. I’ve been evolving for a bit longer than you, since I started my Crossovers from the age of fourteen so I heal a lot faster. That's the answer to your questions about being ‘ok’ when I have just injured my shoulder. It still hurt like hell when I dislocated it, but now it just feels like I’ve been working out too much. By the time we arrive at my house I won’t feel anything at all.”
I tense up again, feeling a jolt in the road go right through my foot. If this thing does heal as quickly as he said, today might actually show some promise to be improving from the crap I’ve experienced since waking up in the middle of last night.
Aidan stops at a traffic light, using the opportunity to glance around and check at how his makeshift ankle brace is holding up on me. I do my best to look like it doesn’t hurt at all but the closest I come is a grimace...the brace is helping immensely but my foot feels like it’s been crushed in a vice. Aidan sees right through my sucky attempt at covering it up and asks “It hurts a lot still though, doesn’t it?”
I nod, knowing he’ll just be able to see right through it if I lie to him with that accurate mental emotions detector of his. “It will feel bad for a while, since it's your first time recovering from an intense injury as an evolving Clepsydra.”
“How do you know I’m still new at this, still evolving?”
I watch him carefully, interested at how the sunlight seems to shine through his hair and highlight all the different shades of blue and green in his eyes.
“The fact that you were at Christopher Columbus’ landing in your pajamas was a huge indication...as you get more experienced your Crossovers become more advanced and you’re able to blend in with the people of the time you have stepped in to. You pull off the ‘just rolled out of bed’ look quite well though”
I laugh at this and his eyes crinkle in the corners too as he pulls off when the traffic light goes green. “Aidan, how did you know where I was last night, when I was hiding in the trees?” I say, looking out of my window. Last night seems to be a sore subject for him, as if me bringing up the fact that he came within inches of killing me chills him to his bones. I know he tries to hide it through the joking, but I can see he’s uncomfortable talking about it.
He swallows, his eyes losing their clarity as he clears his throat.
“You really have no idea of how strongly you make yourself appear to us, Elena. When you looked at me and recognized me for who I was I felt it in my core like a stone had been dropped in my stomach...not just a stone but rather a large boulder. It’s as if you were a magnet I was being inexplicably drawn to, like my internal compass couldn’t waver from anywhere but pointing in your direction. I’ve never experienced anything like it when hunting other Alterates. Never. It made it harder to kill you in a way, I would have been able to cut you down while you were running from me but something made me wait. If I hadn’t, you would probably be dead by now and I would be cowering in a dark hole somewhere for what I had done.”