Chapter Twenty-FourMature

'Fight back?'  Demitri nodded.  'How on earth can I fight back against an enemy I can't see, who is holding my mother and threatening to kill her if I do anything.'

'You have to take a risk,' he said, moving to sit with us at the kitchen table.  'It's like Mark said, there is a chance that even if you rebel and stop following their orders, they will keep your mother safe.  They aren't going to get rid of their only bargaining tool.'

'But can you guarantee that is what they'll do?'  Demitri hesitated and I didn't need to wait for his answer.  'Then I'm not doing it.  I might not get on with my mother, and she can be a stroppy cow at times, but I'm not going to lose her because she's all the family I've got.'  I stood up and started to leave, thanking Mark for the tea.

'What if I could promise that she wouldn't be harmed?'  I stopped walking and looked at the back of Demitri's head, wondering what expression was on his face.

'But you can't promise that.'  I could feel the emotion building up in my chest and tears threatening to gather in the corners of my eyes.  'You have just said that there isn't a definite answer and whoever it is that's manipulating us can do whatever they want.  I just don't understand you Dem.  I get that you're going to live forever so taking risks doesn't matter as much to you, but the rest of us can die.  I just don't like the way you are treating my mother's life, like it doesn't matter.'  I was starting to get angry now, hot tears falling down my face.  'I can't kill her just so you can get even with whoever it is after us.'  

There was a tense silence as I turned again to leave the house.  I heard a chair scrape backwards as I reached the front door and Demitri's voice calling after me.

'If you agree to what they want, then you're showing a sign of weakness and they'll know they can put pressure on you whenever they want.'  I stopped again, turning back to meet Demitri's gaze.  His face was determined now.  'If you care so much about your mother then they'll never give her back.  Why give back an effective hostage?  But if you stand up to them, show them you're not going to back down just because they're bullying you and maybe you'll be able to beat them.'

The room was silent as I began to process what Demitri had just said.  There was still a little anger bubbling inside me, but I forced it down.  I wasn't going to end this badly, for both our sakes.

'I'm really sorry Dem, I know you want to get rid of these guys but I can't help you, not when my mother's life is at stake.'  I turned once more to leave, but when I felt a hand gripping my shoulder hard, the reflexes Demitri had honed over our few sessions together kicked in and I retaliated.  Twisting away from Demitri, I made him lose his grip, then swung around, landing a punch on his jaw and knocking him back against the wall.  He had a calm but smug look on his face.

'Do you see what I'm trying to say?  You're the chosen one Cassandra.  Your natural reflex is to fight back.'

'Well maybe it shouldn't be,' I replied sharply, wanting to leave before I lost my temper.

'I disagree.'  He moved so he was standing very close to me, blocking my exit and placing his hands on my shoulders.  'Listen to what your instinct is telling you, it's usually right.'

I couldn't look at him but at the same time couldn't take my eyes away from his face.  I snapped my eyelids shut and tried to listen, needing something to tell me what to do.  I reached deep inside myself, searching for what my instincts were telling me.

Annoyingly, Demitri had been right.  My instincts were telling me to fight.

'OK then,' I said firmly after I'd opened my eyes.  'Teach me everything you know.'

'Seriously?'  Demitri's face as I nodded couldn't have looked more shell-shocked.  'What made you change your mind?'

'My instincts.  Now let's get on with it, I don't think we're going to have a lot of time.'

'Are you sure?'  Suddenly he seemed very cautious.  'I mean, what about your mother?'

'There is no point sitting around waiting for things to happen, so I have to be pro-active.  Besides, life's boring without you,' I winked jokily at him and he smiled back.  'Now let's hurry up.  If my mum dies then it's going to be all your fault.'  I said this as a joke, but deep down I was just hiding my fear and looking back, I probably shouldn't have said it.

The End

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