Julie (decadentdream) wrote,

The Gathering - Chapter Twelve

Title: The Gathering
Fandom (is so, include details) or Non Fandom?: Non Fandom (ie. Original)
Chapter Number: Twelve
Word Count: 2,554 Words
Rating: M (due to language & adult content... not entirely sure where this thing is going)
Summary: In 1692 a group of witches sacrificed their powers to prevent death. Almost 3.5 centuries later, these powers have befallen new generations. Those that would be heroes are lost. It is up to those who are left behind to save themselves & the world they're in.
Author's Notes: The action continues...

Chapter Twelve

Shae pulled up short as she came closer to the store. She had managed to put a great distance between herself and the others and was closer to the skate shop than she was to them. She paused, eyes fixed on the store window. The street was quiet. Nothing seemed out of place here. She didn’t expect anything to be out of place now that they were miles from the university, but even so everyone else seemed to be greatly concerned about Justin’s welfare. She couldn’t imagine why.

“Shae, what is it?” Ashley called, a step ahead of the other girls.

She turned as the sound of wailing sirens approached them, an ambulance speeding by. It pulled up outside the store, two men clambering out of the front. One threw open the back doors while the other rushed inside.

“Why is there an ambulance out the front?” Rain queried. She turned to look at Penny. “Are you sure he was working today?”

Penny nodded, dashing ever quicker towards the store. The sight of the ambulance perpetuated the worst kinds of thoughts in her mind. The stretcher disappeared inside, all but indicating there was an injured party in there. She saw the bed being wheeled back out and crashed into the figure at the back as he exited the door. He grabbed her shoulders, steadying her. She hadn’t even taken the time to look.

“Hey, girl, slow down. Where’s the fire?” Justin asked.

She bit her lip then threw her arms around his waist. Sliding his hands around to her back, he held her against him and looked questioningly at the rest of the party over her shoulder.

“Who’s got the one way trip to the ER?” Rain asked.

“Customer,” Justin replied. He pulled Penny away from him, indicating towards his forehead. “It’s not serious, just a bump to the head.”

“Damn. So much for hitching a ride to see the cute medco types,” Rain said.

Shae moved away from the group, more interested in the action than the actual conversation. Hands in her back pockets, she peered into the back of the ambulance.

“Sorry, miss, can you give me some room please?” Jay asked.

Her gaze shifted to the paramedic standing beside her. He wasn’t much older than the rest of them and had a kind and caring face. His dark blonde was cut in a short, neat style and his hazel eyes were soft – more asking than demanding her to follow his request. She stepped to one side, giving him enough elbow space as he lifted a light to the young boy’s eyes, opening his lids a little wider to ensure he didn’t have any further symptoms of head trauma.

“Looks like he’ll be okay,” Jay concluded. “Cut’s not deep enough for stitches. Just keep those clips on, okay? The ice pack should help the swelling to go down.”

“Would that help a burn too?” Shae inquired.

“Sometimes. Depends on the severity,” Jay responded. “Why are you asking?”

“My boyfriend got burnt. Someone was trying to set University Hall on fire.”

Jay looked from the blonde girl to the people she had accompanied, his eyes finally fixing on Ashley. He could see the slight opening in the sleeve of his long shirt.

“Mate, come here,” he called. “Let me take a look at your arm.”

“It’s nothing, really,” Ashley said, stepping towards him.

“How long ago did this happen?” Jay asked.

“Twenty minutes, maybe,” Ashley estimated.

The exposed skin was red with some slight blistering, he could see that. It wasn’t as severe as he’d first thought it would be. Moving the fabric, Jay checked that the damage didn’t stretch beyond what he could openly view.

“You really shouldn’t be wearing this shirt still,” Jay said. Ashley pulled away roughly, surprising Jay in his refusal of treatment. “The smolders sometimes stay in the lining of the fabric and it’ll irritate the skin more. Just make sure to put a cold compress on that to stop it getting worse.”

“Jay,” the second paramedic called from the front of the ambulance. “Jay, we need to move it. There’s been an accident on forty-second street.”

“Sure,” Jay answered. He helped Wheaton back down off the back of the ambulance. “You right kiddo?”

“Yeah,” Wheaton answered.

“Give his parents a call,” Jay instructed Justin as he closed the back doors. “Make sure he doesn’t pass out in the meantime.”

Jay leapt into the front of the ambulance and they watched it take off around the corner. Shae put her hands on her knees, leaning down to take a look at Wheaton’s eyes. Justin pushed open the door to the store and Rain passed inside, surveying the decks scattered across the ground.

“Wow, what happened here?” she asked.

Justin glanced back to Penny, waiting for her to move inside. She didn’t, instead frowning down at the cell phone in her hand. “He’s not answering.”

“Who?” Justin inquired.

“Uncle Michael,” Penny answered. “He should have been here by now.”

“He shouldn’t be too far away,” Ashley said.

“He’s probably forgotten where this place is,” Justin said. “We can go up to the corner and have a look if you want? Just…”

As Justin looked to Wheaton, Shae straightened. “We’ll take him in and look after him for you.”

“Get Gary to call his parents. And offer them a discount or something,” Justin said.

Shae nodded, giving Wheaton a gentle push towards the door. Ashley led them inside, picking up one of the fallen decks on the way.

“This is why you need a car,” Justin said to Penny as they walked up the street.

“I’m not getting my license,” Penny refuted. “You know what happened to my dad.”

“Well, then you need your board,” Justin said. “But you don’t have it.”

“I wasn’t expecting to be running from fire throwing demons today,” she said.

Justin turned, walking backwards as he returned her comment with a look of apology. “Bad joke I made before then, huh?”

“I’m just glad we didn’t lose anyone.”

“So you had fire balls, I had flying skateboards…” He drifted off, noting she wasn’t paying attention. She had stopped, looking directly past him.

“That’s… that’s not…” she stammered.

Justin turned as she raced by him. “Oh, hey, it’s those paramedic guys again!”

“No, miss, you can’t go through,” one of the officers said to her as he caught her mid-flight.

“Let me go!” Penny yelled, trying to shake him off.

Frantically looking back to the white utility truck currently wrapped around the telegraph pole. She saw Jay reach through the window, the other paramedic assisting him with equipment. It was a scene of horror – blood and twisted metal, broken glass. A body slumped over the steering wheel in the front seat. A man whose hair was just as light as her father’s had been, just as straight. A man who had cared for her for a good section of her life. And thought she knew it was her uncle’s vehicle by the letters on the number plate, she couldn’t help but think this was how her father had ended up. At just eight years old she had heard the news of how her father’s car had been found in pieces on the freeway, trying to take an exit too quickly as he sped upstate for some emergency that nobody else knew about. She had only heard the stories back then, but now that very image was being crafted out before her eyes with yet another family member she cared about.

Justin finally caught up to her as she tried to escape the grasp of the tall man in uniform, the officer handing Penny over into the young man’s care.

“Can you please control her?” the officer requested. “She can’t cross this line.”

“What’s the matter?” Justin asked her.

“That’s Uncle Michael!” she cried. “That’s Uncle Michael in that car!”

“Woah. Hammered,” Justin said, looking at the scene playing out before them. Penny struck his chest with her fist.

“We’ve got to help him! We need to go there. We need to help!”

“How are you going to help?” Justin asked, knowing that the only power in her arsenal would not provide any assistance to anybody on site. At his words, Penny seemed to realize the same thing.

“You do something! You help!” she demanded.

“I can’t!” Justin said, his heart breaking as he watched her crumble before him.

Her attention turned and she broke off in a different direction. Justin turned just quick enough to see that David was standing on the curbside, watching the scene play out before him, and Penny was running straight for him. Justin started after her, grabbing her by the waist and pulling her back before she made the situation worse. She pushed at his arms, trying to break free from his grip but he held fast as she yelled at her elder cousin.

“What did you do? What did you fucking do? You did this, didn’t you? You did this!” she shouted. “You took him away from me! You didn’t want me around and… how could you do this? Why are you trying to destroy our fucking lives?”

“Penny. Penny, no,” Justin said, trying to get through to her. “Don’t piss him off.”

“I don’t care. He’s a fucking monster!”

“Don’t make the same mistake Chris did,” Justin said. She went limp at his words. More pliable now in his grasp, he turned her towards him, taking her eyes away from David. She instead watched them remove the body from the vehicle, loading it onto a stretcher. Draping the dark cloth over her uncle’s face, broken, bleeding and so deformed it looked as if it had melted, they wheeled the body into the back of the ambulance.

“What’s going to happen to me?” she sniffled with uncertainty.

As the doors on the ambulance closed he felt the first of her tears fall, soaking the fabric of his dark green shirt as he held her against him. He tightened his grasp, a hand comfortingly stroking her head as he watched David leave the scene also, no sadness or remorse on the man’s face. His expression had been blank, devoid of emotion, watching the scene as if a specter independent from the tragedy of the situation. Justin decided he would not be returning to work with Penny until he had managed to console her, and that, he imagined, would take some time.

* * *

Mercy looked into the reflection of the store window, adjusting the bandana that covered the top portion of her head. She smoothed down the front, ensuring it was low enough to cover the scarring that had formed at her temples. The leather cuffs she wore around each wrist irritated her skin, but she knew she had to conceal as much of the damage from her encounter with the Phoenix leader as she could to maintain a normal appearance. She could not allow anyone to see her weakness, her misgivings, especially her mother.

The mid-afternoon sun bathed the outside of the apartment building in a cascade of warm light. Her hand on the metal handle of the glass door, Mercy pushed it open and made her way inside, climbing the four floors to her mother’s residence. She didn’t intend to knock. She had already decided she would just enter as freely as she had the previous time, whether there was a client there or not. Her mother’s anger towards her did not deter her from disturbing her once again. All she needed to do was get the Grimoire and get out of there as hassle-free as possible.

The door was open when she got there. As she walked through she felt herself collide roughly with empty air, a spark of energy knocking her onto her backside. Wincing, she pushed herself back to her feet and moved with slower intention as she reached out to the space before her. Another energy spark rippled around her fingers, jolting her hand back. It was some kind of protection field.

“Mother!” she shouted. “Mother, I know you’re in there!”

She paused, waiting for an answer. When none came, she primed her ears to listen for movement or the lull of voices in discussion inside. She obviously had to be home, the door was wide open, though Mercy did not understand why there was a force field at the door keeping people out.

“If you don’t come out right now I swear I will use everything in my power to rip this shield down,” Mercy threatened.

“As much as I’d like to see you try, I don’t think it would be worth your while,” Anna said, her hand on the corner of the wall as she stepped into view on the other side.

“Isn’t this bad for business? Are you trying to keep people out?” Mercy asked.

“No, just you,” Anna replied. Mercy adjusted her position, preparing to rush for her but quickly realizing she could not get to her. “You’ve caused a lot of trouble, dear. I’ve had to install extra security measures after you took the Grimoire.”

“You gave it to me,” Mercy corrected.

“And I told you not to use it. You didn’t listen,” Anna said. “You have to reap what you sow, Mercy. If you threaten our livelihood, then we threaten yours.”

“I wasn’t trying to upset the order; I was trying to improve it.”

“With black magic,” Anna pointed out.

“You don’t know what’s at stake here,” Mercy said. “I need that book.”

“Well you can’t have it,” Anna said.

“I know it’s here. You told me it had a return spell on it,” Mercy said. “If you don’t give me the Grimoire your world is going to end. My life if going to end.”

“I will not sacrifice myself for my daughter,” Anna said. “You cast the spell; you can correct it on your own. There are plenty of books in the library to help you.”

“You know we can’t cross spells from different tomes,” Mercy argued.

“Then God help your soul,” Anna said.

She turned, disappearing from view once more. Lifting her hand, Mercy conjured a dagger within her grip, driving it down towards the force field as she tried to plunge it through. It glanced off the edge of the invisible barrier, flipping downwards and slicing part of her forearm. With a flash of light she made the weapon disappear again, raising her left hand to cover the wound as she stared at the unreachable apartment before her. She could not access the Grimoire. She could not go to the Phoenix library and hope to discover something there. Her mission was set to fail unless she could obtain another volume of black magic. And then it dawned on her, Christian Colliver had once told them many months ago that his brother kept books on everything – including black magic. Her only chance now was to befriend David, and even if he didn’t have what she needed, she could still use him as a pawn to access her mother’s residence and obtain the Grimoire once more. Her mother’s best defences would not be able to stand up to all the powers the male witch possessed. Right now, David was Mercy’s only chance to save her own life.

Tags: fic, the gathering

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