'What do we do now?' I asked when Demitri and I were sitting at the bar in the pub, a glass of coke in my hand. I would have preferred tea, but Abril didn't have any, so I had to make do with the fizzy drink instead. 'Clay is still out there, as are 'The Twelve Zodiacs'. Shouldn't we be trying to find them?'
'No. We'd never be able to find them, any information we have on them will be useless by now. Clay will never go back to his house because we know where it is. But with their leader gone I don't think we'll hear much from them for a while.
'How's your mother?'
'Fast asleep. I think she's struggling to take in everything that's happened. I'm not sure how I'm going to explain it to her when she wakes up-'
'I'll be there to help,' Dem said, taking my hand.
'Of course, that's what friends do.'
'Is that what we are?' I asked tentatively, suddenly very aware that Demitri was still holding my hand. 'Friends?'
'I don't know. I don't want to say that's all we are, but I don't want to hope we can be more because it could get so messy. I know it's not what you want to hear but it's the truth. Chosen ones usually only live for a few years, at best, after they're called, and even if you were to live long than that, you wouldn't want to be with me. I don't age.
'After a few years you'll want to move on and find someone new but you won't be able to because I will still be around. No matter what happens the guide always has to stay with the chosen one, that's my job.'
'But surely just hiding it will make things harder,' I said. 'I don't want to have to hide what I'm feeling because I'm scared of what might happen in the future, especially if I don't have long left to live. I don't want to die knowing there could have been more.'
'But I don't want to lose you. I don't want to have these feelings only to have them crushed when you die. Because no matter what happens I will outlive you, even if you live to be one hundred. I'm not sure I could bear that.'
There was a terrible silence where all I wanted to do was give Dem a hug. He looked so sad and defeated, his shoulders hunched and his eyes had lost some of their brightness.
'I didn't think it would be this complicated.'
'It was always going to be complicated, whoever you chose to be with.'
'I just had to choose you.'
'And I had to choose you in return.'
'When I'd thought I'd lost you, when you were 'dead', I suddenly realised how much you meant to me, not just as my friend and guide, but as someone I loved with all my heart.' I finally looked up and into Demitri's eyes, trying to keep myself calm. 'Surely it's better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.'
We were both snapped out of our little bubble by the surprise entrance of Abril, who was standing at the other end of the room, a disapproving look on her face.
'Don't you two have somewhere to be?'
'I don't think so,' Demitri responded, his face now confused.
'Oh shit,' I exclaimed, the penny dropping with a loud crash. 'It's a eight o'clock on a weekday, we should be at school.' I leapt up from my chair like I'd just been electrocuted.
'Cassie, you've just taken down one of the most formidable gangs in the underworld,' Demitri said, trying to make me sit down again. 'I think it's time for you to take a break. Get some sleep.'
'You're a bad influence,' Abril said. 'I want to see you both heading out that door and towards school in the next thirty seconds or I swear I will call up the school and report you.'
'That's harsh,' Demitri said.
'Life's tough, but look on the bright side, you'll be out of school at the end of the year.'
'Oh how I dream of that day,' Dem said, walking towards the door.
'Does this mean I can have the evening off tonight then?' I asked as we left the pub.
'Evil doesn't sleep. I'm going to have to train you harder than ever to make sure we don't get caught off guard again.'
'No rest for the wicked then,' I muttered. It was going to be a long day, I could tell.