Chapter Thirty-SevenMature

My thoughts were muddled, nothing was making sense.  Then one thought became clear in my mind and I turned to face the receptionist.  'Do you have his address in his file?  It's really important I see him.'

'I'm sorry, we can't give out that sort of information.  Security, you understand.  I can take a message for him if you like.'

'No thanks, I'll try and catch him tomorrow.'  In my head I knew Clay would be calling in sick tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that and every day until either he or I was dead.  I turned to walk out, looking apologetically at Demitri, but he put his hand firmly on my shoulder, stopping me.

'Hang on a minute.  I think I may have something that will work.'  He approached the desk, a smile plastered onto his face.  I couldn't hear what he was saying and his body language was giving nothing away, but a few moments later the receptionist had handed him a piece of paper and Dem was walking towards me with a satisfied look on his face.  'Look what I've got.'

'How on earth did you do that?'  I was doing everything I could to stop from jumping for joy as we left the building and went back into the rain.

'Magic,' he said cooly.

'Come on Dem, don't mess around.  How did you do it?  Charm?  Bribery?'

'No I really used magic,' he winked.  'A little trick you can use that makes people do whatever you want them to.'  I stared at him, eyes wide in amazement.

'You have got to teach me that sometime.'

'If we survive long enough to get back to proper training, then I will,' he said, studying the address on the letter.  'I know where this is.  Come on.  We've got a spy to catch.'

***

I felt so nervous waiting in the darkness outside Clay's house.  I wasn't in a part of town I was very familiar with and I was comfortable sitting in the dark, so exposed to any attackers.  We'd called Abril for her team but they were taking their time getting here.

'Do you think they're going to show?'  I whispered softly in Demitri's ear, not wanting to be spotted.

'Of course they will.'  Demitri seemed shocked at the thought of Abril letting us down.  'Abril promised to send us back up.'

'I know she did, but she wasn't exactly enthusiastic about the idea, and I wouldn't blame her if she didn't want to lose valuable supporters to bring in a man she doesn't believe will help us.'

'Don't speak about Abril like that.'  Although it was dark I could still see Demitri's face twisted in anger.  'She has more experience than most when it comes to our world and I will not have you disrespecting her.'

'I'm sorry,' I whispered, immediately ashamed of myself for saying those things.

'It's OK,' Dem said, his voice softening and his arm going round my shoulders.  'We're all on edge at the moment.  You're right to be worried.  It's your mother's life at stake after all.'  That was one of the things I loved about Demitri.  He could be so understanding, even when you'd been acting like an idiot.

'Look.'  I nodded to Clay's house, where a light had gone on behind the front door and I could see his figure behind the glass.  We ducked down fully behind the wall, not wanting to be spotted.  I heard a click as the door opened and the roll of wheels.  Clay was making a run for it.

I looked to Demitri, wanting him to tell me what to do next, but he remained silent and as still as a statue.  I didn't know if he could see my eyes pleading with him to take some action but I was praying he could.

Fortunately, the decision was made for us.  Clay locked the door behind him and walked down the path.  I could hear the clunk of heavy boots and the rolling of the wheels of his suitcase.  He must have thought he was safe or he wouldn't have packed so much.  This gave us the advantage.  But when he reached the road he turned to check it was clear and his eyes fell on the two figures crouching behind his garden wall.  The world froze as our eyes met and we recognised each other.  Then he began to run.

'Come on Dem.'  I jumped to my feet, pulling Dem up with me.  I wasn't going to let him escape us for a third time.  The blood was pumping hard in my ears as I ran after Clay.  He was fast, even with the heavy suitcase, which he had picked up, holding him back.

'Cassie, wait!'  I ignored Dem's shouts from beside me.  'You can't take him alone.'

'Then you'll just have to help me won't you,' I responded as I pushed on, reaching inside for the strength I knew was there.

I had almost caught up with Clay as he turned the corner.  He lost his balance, the suitcase making him unstable, and he stumbled to the right.  I was on him as fast as lightning, shoving him so he fell.  His suitcase went flying and Clay landed face first on the concrete.

I put my knee down the middle of his back and tried to pin him to the ground, using all my weight to keep him there.  Clay was too strong.  Rolling to the right, he threw me off, towards a parked car.  My back made contact and I groaned, sparks of pain shooting all over my body.  I thought he would run, it's what I would have done, but he advanced on me, kicking me in the stomach as I lay on the ground.

Remembering what I'd been taught, I curled into a ball, protecting my head with my arms and my lower torso by pulling my legs up as high as they would go.

When the blows stopped I looked out from behind my arms and saw Demitri and Clay, locked in combat.  Neither of them had the upper-hand, each one blocking the other's blows and fighting back with equal skill.  I moved to help Dem by taking Clay from behind but Demitri saw me.

'Stay back!'  I took a step back at the force of his voice, not knowing what to do with myself.

But Clay had seen the opening.  He feinted left, then swung his fist round in an arc, hitting Dem on the side of his face.  He took a step back and Clay took the opportunity to knock Dem over by a kick to the chest.  Dem went flying, his path only stopped by the wall of the house behind him.  There was a horrid cracking sound and he fell into a crumpled pile on the floor.  When he didn't move my heart almost stopped.  I felt a wave of anger, pain and sadness flood through me, and I threw myself at Clay.

He wasn't expecting such a fierce attack, and I managed to gain the upper-hand before he knew what was happening.  My moves were flawless and I didn't have to think as I rained down blows on my opponent.  One good punch to his jaw and a kick in the ribs and he was on the floor.  I pulled out the gun I'd concealed in my jacket and pointed it at his head.

'Move and I will shoot.'  My chest heaved and I was still burning with rage as I stared down at my enemy, lying crumpled on the ground.  Clay obviously understood I meant business as he raised his hands in surrender.

There was a squeal of tyres and a van came thundering towards us.  Ash was the first out of the van, a gun in his hand.

'We're late aren't we,' he said, stating the obvious.

'Better late than never,' I replied, not taking my eyes off Clay.  'Get him in the van.  I need to see Demitri.'  Ash did as I said, pulling Clay to his feet and dragging him roughly towards the van.

'Is Dem OK?'

'I don't know,' I said as I ran towards the wall where Demitri fell.  I could see his body, still where it had fallen and my heart skipped a beat.  'You can't be dead, you can't be dead.'  I knelt beside him, pressing my hand against his face.  He was ice cold.  Trying not to panic, I felt his neck for a pulse.  Nothing.

'Cassie?'  Ash's voice was a distant whisper as I stared at Dem's frozen face.

'No,' I breathed, the tears falling freely.  'No!  It's not possible.  Wake up Dem.  Please.  Stop messing around, I know you can't be dead.'  I rocked next to his body staring at his face, waiting for his eyes to open.  There was no response.

The End

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