'We can't just carry on,' I exclaimed, pushing my chair away from the table. 'Demitri is dead, surely that must mean something to you.' I looked around at the faces, none of them able to look at me and no one saying a word. 'What are we meant to do? Demitri was immortal, he shouldn't be dead.'
'We never knew exactly what Demitri was,' Abril said quietly. 'It could be that it was just his time to go, no one is meant to live forever.'
'But this is Demitri we're talking about,' I said, slamming my fist down on the table, trying to get people to understand what I was saying. 'He's been alive for thousands of years, one knock to the head can't have killed him. It can't.'
'He's showing no signs of life so we should assume that he is dead,' Savannah retorted, clearly bored of this situation. 'I don't understand why you are so bothered about this Cassie,' she said, standing up so we were standing nose to nose. 'He's just some guy you knew. Why all the fuss?'
'He was my mentor and my friend,' I said back, holding my own against Savannah. 'You might not care about anyone other than yourself, but some of us actually have hearts and feelings, so you might want to take that into consideration.' I had stunned Savannah into silence and she retreated back to her chair, sitting down in silence.
'To an extent Savannah was right,' Abril said reluctantly. 'Demitri was only one man and our cause is a lot bigger than that.'
'Don't talk about him like he's gone,' I said warningly. 'Because he isn't, I know he isn't. He wouldn't just leave us like this. I know he wouldn't.'
'I'm sorry but he has Cassandra,' Abril said, putting a hand on my arm to calm me down. 'Whether he wanted to or not, he has gone and we are going to have to move on without him.'
I forced back the tears that were beginning to well up in my eyes. First Mark and now Demitri. Was no one around me safe? Even Kel had left my life because she thought she would get hurt. Maybe she had been right, I was in way above my head.
'Cassandra?' Abril was looking at me intently, waiting for orders. I was in charge now. 'What now?'
'Question Clay Marshall, try and get everything you can out of him and if that doesn't work we can hold him for ransom, his safe return for that of my mother.'
'That doesn't end the war,' Savannah protested. 'It's just swapping one prisoner for another.'
'Yes but it means they won't have any leverage to make me do what they want. I'll be able to act without worrying about the consequences on other people. Now I'm leaving you to talk to Clay. I'll be back in an hour or so.' I took my jacket off the back of my chair and strode towards the door.
'Where are you going?' Savannah asked indignantly. 'Why should you escape when there is work to be done?'
'I have to go see Mark. He won't have heard about Demitri yet and I would rather he heard it from me than from someone else.'
The hospital smelt as strongly of disinfectant as I remembered it. My shoes squeaked loudly on the polished floor as I made my way to the ward where Mark was being kept. A kind nurse directed me to the right bed.
He was looking a lot better than when I had last seen him; sitting up in bed and smiling as I approached.
‘Hello Cassie,’ he said brightly. ‘What brings you here?’ I didn’t know how to answer that question, and it obviously showed on my face because Mark immediately looked concerned. ‘What’s happened?’
‘I don’t know how to tell you about this,’ I said, sitting in the chair next to the bed. ‘How long have you known Demitri?’
‘Almost my whole life. Why? What’s he done this time?’
‘Nothing,’ I said, trying to make this as painless as possible for Mark. ‘I just want to know one thing. Has he ever died before? I mean, has he ever stopped breathing, or his heart stopped beating?’
‘Cassie is there something you want to tell me?’
‘Has he ever died and then come back to life?’ I was getting desperate now, willing Mark to give me some sort of reassurance that Demitri would come back. ‘Tell me he’s going to come back!’
‘Tell me what happened Cassie. I need to know what happened.’
‘I don’t know,’ I said, grabbing fistfuls of my hair and pulling at it. ‘We were out following this guy and we got the chance to catch him, but it was only the two of us and we had no time to wait for backup so we went in. There was a fight and I think Demitri hit his head. Everything happened so fast, but when I saw him next he was on the floor and he wasn’t moving. He didn’t get up again.’ Mark was staring off into the distance, his face expressionless. ‘Tell me he’s going to be OK.’
‘I don’t know,’ Mark said, his voice flat. ‘This has never happened before. Demitri has been alive for forever; he’s never got any older or changed at all. I can’t help you.’
‘But he has to come back,’ I breathed. ‘I can’t do this without him. They’re all looking to me for guidance and I don’t know what to tell them. I have no idea how to catch who ever it is that’s got my mother. I’m useless.’
‘I don’t want to hear you say that,’ Mark said, taking hold of my hand. ‘Demitri taught you well. I’ve seen you grow, even over the short time you’ve been with us you have learnt so much. You can lead this team. Demitri thought so, and so do I.’