The GatheringFandom (is so, include details) or Non Fandom?:
Non Fandom (ie. Original)Chapter Number:
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:
Drama dramaChapter Thirteen
The sweet strains of guitar strings echoed from Penny’s pocket. For the past few hours Justin had heard it ring the same way, and each time Penny would shut it off without answering it. Making the slow venture back to her house for the most part in silence, Justin wondered if this time she would answer the call. Again she seemed to ignore it.
“Are you going to pick that up?” he asked.
“No,” she replied, slapping her pocket. The phone grew quiet.
“It could be important,” Justin pressed.
“I don’t want to hear about it,” she said.
“It’s rung like fifteen times. They might be trying to find you.”
“They can find me when I get home.”
He could see the Colliver house partway up the street. One of the local neighbours jogged past, offering a cheery wave in passing. Penny did not greet him back, and all Justin could offer was a half-smile. He followed her up the stairs, taking the keys from her hand as he unlocked the door. Opening it just enough to slide the top half of his body through, he looked around the interior before stepping in. Penny walked in behind him as he lay the keys down on the side table. They both glanced to the right hearing voices drift out from the living room.
“Official diagnosis from the M.E. was a stroke. Best presumption they could make was that he lost control of the left side of his body then lost control of the vehicle,” Stephen said. “They discovered some pressure on the brain. It would have caused limited view, a lack of muscle co-ordination and balance, headaches, confusion…”
“Are they not also symptoms of aging?” David returned.
“True,” Stephen agreed. “Stress is also another factor, although it hasn’t yet been proven as a direct cause of the condition. Your brother’s disappearance took its toll on him.”
David looked to the adjoining archway, Stephen following his gaze. Penny stood in the open area with folded arms; Justin behind her, his hands braced on her shoulders in case she attempted another altercation with her cousin. Stephen stood, offering a hand towards her. She didn’t move.
“Penny, I’ve been trying to call you all afternoon,” Stephen said.
“She was with me,” Justin offered by way of explanation.
“I know,” she said quietly. “I was there.”
“We need to work out some arrangements,” Stephen continued.
Pulling from Justin’s loosened hold, she turned and fled up the stairs, unable to deal with the situation. Justin looked at the two men before following her.
“I think we’d prefer to remain here,” David said, speaking for the both of them. “I trust you have some paperwork that I’ll need to fill out.”
“Just the immediate things,” Stephen said. “The rest we can work out later.”
Their voices dimmed as Justin reached the top of the stairs, turning right and then directly left into Penny’s room. She had a china doll in her hands, one that sat on top of her dresser by the door. As soon as he entered she put it down, climbing onto her bed and taking a red cushion into her arms. Sitting cross-legged, she looked up to him. He ran a hand behind his neck, feeling all the more uncomfortable about being alone with her in her room. Even though she was grieving, he knew that only made her more susceptible to vulnerability. And vulnerability led to bad choices.
“This is like my parents all over again,” she remarked. “Where do you want to go? Who do you want to live with? Choose a side.”
“At least you got a choice,” Justin said, trying to remain positive.
“I got a say, not a choice. If eight year olds got a choice we’d be eating ice cream for dinner, watching cartoons all day, and learning new tactical moves for Fighter Wars Three instead of going to school.”
Justin smiled. “I prefer V Racer Four myself.”
“I’d probably have a better chance of beating you in that one,” Penny said.
“That’s if you don’t drive off the track and crash…” He stopped, realizing what he’d just said. “I’m not helping, am I? I should just go.”
He stepped back to head out the door. Penny discarded the pillow from her arms, shifting forward on the bed. Despite her heartache, she didn’t want to be alone. Especially not when the only person who would be sharing the house with her was David.
“Justin,” she called. He stopped, looking back into the room. “Stay. Please?”
“I’ve gotta go get Chase and… my parents…” he said. All the reasoning in the world could not match the sorrow in her eyes as she lowered her head and he knew that whatever he should be doing there was no way he could let it take priority over her at this moment. “Okay.”
He stepped back into the room, taking a seat in the chair at her desk as he pulled his cell phone from his pocket and sent one text to Seb, and another to his parents to explain his absence. When he looked up she was still watching him. She had shifted back to the headboard but with her knees curled up to her chest as she sat towards the top of the bed and he at the other end of the room it felt as if there were a vast distance between them.
“Do you ever feel like you’re alone? I mean really alone? Even if you’re not?” Penny asked.
Justin shrugged. “Can’t say I have. I’ve got my parents and my dog and my friends.”
“Right,” Penny said dishearteningly.
“But I don’t have someone,” he confided, his eyes fixed to the phone in his hand as he absently ran his thumb over the buttons. Though he often acted with his heart, Justin rarely spoke what was in it. He was happy to go through life playing the sidekick, the second in command, the supporting role. Rarely did he have enough courage or bravery to step into the leading light.
Glancing up, Penny beckoned for him to come closer. “Come here. I want to show you something.”
Pushing himself out of the chair, he walked around the edge of the bed, taking a seat beside her as she moved over. Reaching into a bowl behind her, she produced a number of polished stones and set them out on the bed. Each one had a different word inscribed on them and they were all shades of different colours.
“My mother brought these back from Japan when I was little. They’re zen stones. Each one represents something like faith, trust, hope.” She pushed them towards him. “They all remind me of you.” He moved one stone with his index finger, circling it around the next and placing it between two stones. Then he took the next one and moved it also. “What are you thinking?”
“They’re kinda pretty,” he said. She turned her head slightly, eyes narrowed as she focused on him, delving into his mind. Like you, she heard his thoughts finish. Wiping a palm across the ridge between her cheek and her eye, she gathered the stones with her other hand and put them back in the bowl.
“You know, I can hear what you’re really thinking,” she said.
“What’s that?” he asked, passing the last stone back into her hand.
“You know,” she said open-endingly, motioning from her head to his own and back. His face flushed red with embarrassment and he shied away from her. “You don’t need to hide from me.”
“You have an unfair advantage,” Justin said.
“You can’t do that?” she inquired.
“Then what can you do?”
“I can sense where you are from your powers, but I can’t tell you what they are. It’s like looking at a beautiful wave and seeing the breaks, but not being able to tell which way they’ll go or how high they’ll be. I can feel whether they’re there or whether they’re not. If I take your hand and I focus,” he said, taking her fingers beneath his, “I can see right inside them, an explosion of colour and light like nothing you’ve ever seen before. And if they’re asleep, I can wake them up… but that’s usually a problem.”
He let go of her hand. It fell limp to her lap as she continued to stare into his bright green eyes which had shone with such delight during all but the last few words of his exposition. She wanted to see the light go back on in them, to see some kind of happiness on a day filled with such great sadness and pain.
“It’s not a problem if we need them,” she said.
“Or if I need to find someone.”
“Can you find Chris?” she asked hopefully. “He should be here. He should know.”
“I don’t think it’ll be that easy. There’s not just one signature per person. It’s like… a smear.”
“That shine-out thing is unique. Only he and David have it. Couldn’t you use that as a marker?”
“I can try.” Getting himself comfortable, Justin closed his eyes and tried to concentrate. His power detection abilities, however, were not long-range and he was unable to pick anything up outside of Penny, David and a dimming figure he deemed to be Stephen. As he was about to break from his focus, however, he felt a fleeting grey figure rush down the hall outside Penny’s room. Startled, he opened his eyes quickly, glancing around for a few seconds before switching to another power which could relocate him faster than he could move. Using astral projection he sent an image of himself out into the hall, turning as he inspected the surrounds. There was nothing out there. Faintly he recognized that Penny was calling his name and deactivated the power to return back to his body. He knew he was finally settled when he felt Penny’s warm hands on his arms, shaking him with panic as she repeated his name.
“Justin!” she cried. He opened his eyes, letting out a breath as he looked around. “You scared me! What were you doing?”
“Switching powers,” he explained. “I thought I saw something. But it was nothing. I couldn’t find him.”
“Don’t do that without warning me. You went all cold and unresponsive. I don’t need to lose anyone else today,” she said.
Tentatively he reached towards her and brushed the hair from her face, his fingers grazing over her cheek.
“Girl, don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
She let go of his arms and curled up against him. Lifting an arm and putting it over hers, he adjusted his position to lean against the headboard, looking up to the roof above them. A minute later his gaze shifted to the door, waiting to see if the grey specter would pass once again.* * *
“Hey, Pipsqueak, pour me another one.”
Wiping her hands on the thin plaid toweling, Rain threaded it through her back belt loop and made her way over to David, her hand positioned on the edge of the bar as she leant towards him.
“Are you going for a record here?” Rain asked. “If I give you any more you’re going to pass out.”
“That’s the idea,” David replied.
“Well I don’t serve people who call me names. Sorry,” she said, turning her back on him. She began to cross to the other side of the bar where more customers crowded waiting to be served when she felt herself stop, her top half lurching forward as the bottom froze. It felt as is something invisible had been lassoed around her waist, her feet now involuntarily skidding backwards towards the blonde man. She spun wildly, seeing his elbow leaning on the bar, two of his fingers curved back towards him, the smirk on his face an obvious sign that he was using his own magic to bring her back. Yanking the towel from her belt, she slapped it down on the counter just inches from his glass. He did not move, just watched her with interest. “I don’t care who you think you are, you are not doing that in here.”
“I can do whatever I like. That’s why I was given these powers,” David returned.
“Shh!” Rain hissed, looking around frantically to see if anyone else had overheard. “This is why you’re not having anymore.”
Turning his head to one side, David fixed his gaze on his intended alcoholic drink, lifting the bottle into the air. Rain grabbed it by the neck, pulling the floating object beneath the counter and out of view.
“Stop it!” she demanded. “You’ll get us into trouble.”
“I hear you’re quite good at doing that on your own,” David said. “You don’t need my assistance.”
“That’s right. When you were here you could be a fucking Tom Cruise superstar but you’re on the other side of the bar. Like you have been for the past six months. We don’t need you.”
“Show some pity for someone who just lost his father today,” David said, cupping his empty glass with both hands.
Sighing she took his glass, filling it with the bottle in her hand. She held onto it as she handed it back, unwilling to release the glass until he met her eyes. “This is your last drink. Then you leave. No more stunts.”
He didn’t agree nor disagree, nor did he raise the glass to his lips, only watching Rain disappear as she slipped between two of the other bartenders to assist someone else with their nightly consumption.
Mercy crossed the room towards him, her footsteps landing to the beat of the much slower song. Nightclubs were the easiest place for a kill, the noise and number of people distracted all from what was happening only a short distance away from where they stood. The current owner of Valhalla had only increased his otherworldly clientele now that the bar had all but become a loud, gaudy and obnoxious monstrosity whose patrons promised to be either drunk or high. In fact they could conduct a cosmos worth of shady business within these walls now without being noticed.
She had known David would be in Valhalla tonight. She had been watching him for some time, at Danny’s request of course, and found him to be a creature of habit – despite no longer working at the club he still attended as a patron every second night at seventeen minutes past ten, sat on the stool fourth from the left, drank three scotch whiskeys, and then headed back home. Familiarity was a curse and to follow the same routine over an extended period of time was dangerous, especially for people like him. It made it easier for his life to be in peril. He needed to protect himself if he didn’t want to endanger his life, especially from people like her. Tonight, however, she witnessed there was a change to his routine. As she took a seat beside him, she discovered tonight he was drinking bourbon whiskey – a much stronger choice.
“Let me guess… rough day?” she observed.
“One that won’t be easily forgotten,” he returned.
She waved at one of the bartenders, indicating for him to get her the same kind of drink. “Looks like you’re trying to.”
“Bloodshed and the scorn of misfortune do little to dull the dark memories in my mind.”
“Sounds poetic,” she said, turning to take her glass and lifting it to her lips as she swallowed the vile liquid. “You like to remain a mystery, don’t you?”
For the first time he turned to look at her, his eyes unwelcoming. “I don’t come here to entertain others.”
“Well you certainly don’t come because you like the place,” she returned. “You watch everything with contempt in your eyes.”
“How observant of you,” he remarked.
“Very. I can tell you more of what you do not know,” she said. Sliding off the seat, she trailed a hand over the edge as she stepped away, glancing back towards him. “If you’d care to join me in the lounge. You can bring your poison.”
David studied the glass before him. She had piqued his interest and now the glass he had been drowning his sorrows in seemed unimportant. Leaving it behind, he followed her to the other side of the club, crossing neon flooring which spread like an infection up the walls, casting a sickening green glow over the faces of the people on the dance floor and surrounds. On the furthermost edge of the club was on a slightly raised platform, decorated with tropical fish and dull blue lights that faded away into a dim dark corner where two lounges and three booths stood. She slipped down the stairs into the darkness and into one of the booths. David dropped onto the plush cushioning on the ulterior side. He had not realized before but from this positioning they could witness the action within the open area of the club. Like viewers of a movie they remained unseen whilst watching everything that happened before them.
“Tell me, are you an enchantress?” he asked.
“Of sorts,” she replied, closing the gap between them.
“And what do you suppose you know of me?” he questioned further.
“I know you’re strong. And powerful,” she said, sliding a hand onto his thigh. Adjusting her position to lean further into him, she lifted his chin with her other hand, allowing his eyes to meet hers. “I know you could have the whole world if you wanted to. You could have anything you wanted to.”
“Enticing,” he said.
“Very,” she whispered.
She lowered her face to his, just enough for her breathe to hit his skin. He gave into her wiles, his lips seeking out hers. She felt his hand slide up her waist, supporting her and pulling her in as he kissed her. She dared to go further, lips parting, tongues delving. He was drunk enough to comply. Hands threading through her hair, he found the back of the bandanna and pulled it back. She flinched as it scraped across her temples, the movement breaking their kiss. He pulled back.
“What?” he queried.
“Nothing,” she replied, leaning forward again.
He stopped her, lifting his hand and taking hold of her face as he turned it to the side. There was no light to his left, but to the right he was able to use the glow of the pale blue lights to take a closer look at her.
“Who gave you that wound?” he asked.
She paused for a moment, wondering if sympathy would provide a better tactical move. “My leader.”
“And did he send you here to beguile me, Siren, while he crafted my destruction?” he questioned, pushing her back.
“No! I came for your help,” she said.
“I don’t help, Siren.” He practically spat the words out as he slid from the chair, disgusted with himself for falling for such a trick.
“I’m not a Siren. I’m a Phoenix,” she said. “A witch. Like you.”
“Phoenix?” he repeated with a slight shake of his head.
“We’re assassins,” she explained. He turned at the words, his fingers flexing with the knowledge that the situation could be about to turn very ugly. After all, it was just like an assassin to show up on a day which felt as if it couldn’t get any worse. “No, wait! I need you to help me! I know where your brother is.”
It was the last card she had to deal. And she’d thrown it on the table. David stopped in his tracks, turning as her last few words sunk in.
“Where is he?” he growled.