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:
Standing on the edge and I'm about to breakChapter Sixteen
Justin woke in the same crammed position. His muscles ached, his face was wet, and as he felt the soft tongue course over his face again he realized that Chase was trying to lick him awake. Lifting his hand, he pushed the dog away and wiped his face, groaning as he tried to raise himself up from the couch. The arm that had been caught beneath him had just about lost all feeling. Eyes searching for the phone as he sat, he found it on the floor and looked at the screen as if it would tell him what had happened. The time blinked eight a.m. back at him. Shit, I missed training.
Then he remembered Penny. He began dialing the house but hung up as soon as he realized that from everything that had occurred the previous night, if the worst had happened no-one would be picking the other end up.
Grabbing a handful of dog biscuits and distributing them in Chase’s bowl, Justin ruffled the Labrador’s fur and double checked he had enough water. He didn’t know how long he’d be gone for, but he knew he had to get to the Colliver residence as soon as he could. His skateboard still sat by the door where he had left it. It was his only mode of transport and was all he had to travel there. Closing the front door, he lay the black and green Coyote board down and sailed down the driveway.
His path was slow-going – the Collivers lived north of his new house and it was uphill for most of the way – but he managed to get there under the hour. Kicking the board up as he stopped outside on the pathway, he jogged up the front stairs and knocked on the door. No answer. Backing up a little to see over the broken shingles on the porch roof, he glanced up to the second floor. The curtain fluttered from Penny’s window. Lifting his skateboard into his hands and tilting it sideways, he ran up the stairs towards the French doors and drew his arms back, intending to shatter the panes to let himself in.
“Hey!” the neighbour yelled. He was an old man, quite harmless physically, but he had seen Justin come and go many times over the years and would have been able to recognized him on sight. Justin froze. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I… there was no answer,” Justin said feebly.
“That’s cause no-one’s home. Ambulance was here early this morning. They’re probably still at the hospital.”
“Oh,” Justin said, lowering the board again. “Didn’t realize my call got through. Thanks.”
There was no way Justin would have been able to skate all the way to the other side of Woodcroft where the hospital was located. It lay south of the city, not far from the down-and-out areas of town where people couldn’t afford doctors let alone their rent. Ashley’s tiny two bedroom apartment that he shared with his mother was only a few blocks from the hospital, but he couldn’t risk contacting Ashley if Shae were around. His other option was his parents – he was only about five blocks east of their house and he could be there in a matter of minutes.
He didn’t need to knock when he arrived. Still retaining the keys from when he had lived there two months earlier, Justin pushed the metal into the lock and allowed himself inside. He could smell breakfast being made in the kitchen and his stomach rumbled. He had not eaten since sometime the previous day and he was starved.
“I hope you made some extra,” he called.
“Justin!” his mother cried, recognizing his voice. “What are you doing here?”
“Didn’t think we’d be seeing you for a while,” his father concurred, looking up at his son as he walked through the kitchen doorway. “Based on the text you sent me last night.”
“Don’t make him feel unwanted, Max,” Alisha chastised. She took the plate of toast sitting before him and offered it to her son instead. “Here, honey, have some toast. You’ve probably been so busy looking after everyone else that you haven’t eaten yourself.”
“Thanks, mom,” he said, taking the plate into his hands and instantly taking a bite out of the bread, chewing and swallowing it as quick as he could. “Did you decide to predict the present too?”
“I don’t have to be psychic to know what my son is like,” she said with a smile.
“Did you forget about your husband? He’s hungry too. You just gave his breakfast away,” Max jibed, leaning back over his chair to look at her.
“Your eggs are still coming, don’t worry,” she said.
His father returned to mulling over the newspaper in front of him and Justin took a seat beside him, trying to see what his father looked so concerned over. There was a half page article in black and white with a large photo of a foreboding building he recognized taking up most of the room. Two horrendously large dark angels stood guard by the stairs.
“What’s that?” Justin inquired.
“They’ve finished that building on Forsythe Street. It would seem Aston Slate are moving in. They’re opening their doors tomorrow.”
“Who’s Aston Slate?” Justin asked.
“More what,” Max corrected.
“They’re your father’s worst nightmare,” Alisha commented with a hint of amusement, pointing her empty spatula towards them.
“They’re the largest financial institution in the country. They’ve decided Woodcroft would be a nice little home to faction their conglomerate empire,” Max explained bitterly.
“That’s not going to help you, is it?” Justin said.
“No. They’ll offer cheaper rates and take all the corporate giants away from the smaller businesses in town until there’s no clients left, and once we’ve all been assassinated they’re free to treat everyone however they want. It’s dirty business play,” Max grimaced. At the mention of the word, Justin thought briefly of the two assassins Christian and he had met before his disappearance and realized that the building in the photo looked familiar because it was the one they had taken him to during the accidental kidnapping.
“It’ll be alright, baby,” Alisha said, running a hand down the back of her husband’s head as she leant over his shoulder with a new plate of eggs, bacon and toast for him. She kissed his temple as she withdrew. “Even if you do fold, you’ve still got the brains to go elsewhere.”
“But I like helping people reach their dreams,” Max complained.
“Yes, and these new people are going to be uncaring, unfeeling robots, I know,” she said. “This will only test your clients, not you. It’s up to them whether loyalty or money is more prevalent.”
“I guess that’s how it’ll go,” Max said absently as he lifted the cup of coffee to his lips, his gaze returning to the page.
“Justin?” Alisha inquired, rounding the table.
“What?” he returned.
“You’ve hardly said a word since you’ve been here,” Alisha said, frowning.
He held up a piece of toast. “Eating.”
Alisha took a seat by him, turning his face towards her. “No, something’s wrong. What is it?”
“I think Penny’s in hospital,” he said slowly. “And I can’t get there.”
“How on earth did she end up in hospital?” Max asked. “Didn’t you say last night you were with her?”
“Yeah I was, but something happened after I left,” Justin said. “I thought it was alright to go! She was asleep. David wasn’t home. I couldn’t do anything.”
Alisha placed her hand over his. “It’s okay. I can drop you off before class. Do you want to go now?”
He was thankful his mother had come to the rescue. Throughout her life she had always seemed to have a good knack for it – from rescuing her father to helping her son get to a girl that he cared quite a lot about.
The hospital was not far from the primary school where Alisha Bell worked as a teacher. It was a little beyond where she needed to go, but it didn’t bother her. The six storey flat building loomed into view and she turned into the driveway, the curved and fully glassed entryway bending out towards them as she applied her foot to the brake, allowing Justin to climb out.
“Call your father if you need a lift back into town,” she instructed.
Racing his way inside, Justin hammered against the glass when he found no-one was attending the emergency desk. A woman soon appeared, planning to quell his shouting.
“Hi, I’m going to be a pain but I need to get in there. My girlfriend came in this morning, she had a deep gash on her arm,” Justin said, lifting his own to illustrate where the cut was. “Her name’s Penelope Foerster. I called it in but I couldn’t get here. I need to see she’s alright. Please.”
“How long ago was this, sir?” the nurse asked.
“I dunno. A few hours. If she’s not here, can you tell me where they are?”
The nurse flicked through the paperwork on the desk. “She’s still here. Just go through those doors to your right and I’ll let you through. Follow the hall on your left and take another right. She’ll be in the second trauma room on the right.”
“Thank you. Thank you,” he said. He pulled away from the desk. “Thank you!”
Pushing through the doors and following her directions he found Penny sitting on a bed with her uncle standing beside her, talking quietly. Penny’s eyes widened as she saw Justin walk into the room.
“Oh, geez, you’re alive,” he said with a huge sense of relief. Rushing over to her, he threw his arms around her shoulders. She lifted one hand to his back, the other still beside her, a bandage tightly woven around it from her wrist down to her forearm.
“How did you get in?” she asked incredulously.
“I told them I…” he looked down, blushing slightly before returning his gaze to her. “I was your boyfriend.”
“Are you?” she asked. He didn’t answer. “Because I know you’re my hero.”
“You didn’t lose too much blood, did you?” he asked, glancing down to her bandaged arm.
“Thankfully it was only one arm,” Stephen said. “If it had been both wrists or anywhere else with a vital organ she might not have been so lucky. Were you the one who put that call in?”
“Yeah, I just… I couldn’t do anything! And David…” Justin tried to explain.
“Penny told me what happened,” Stephen said. “At least what she can remember.”
“He blocked me off and he was going to mutilate her and… argh!” Justin pushed himself angrily against the bed. Penny caught hold of his hand and squeezed it reassuringly.
“He told me a completely different story when I was there. Did either of you see another girl with him?” Stephen queried. Penny and Justin exchanged confused glances. “So I’m guessing that’s a no. This really doesn’t make any sense to me; I can only think that he’s lashing out again. He’s picking up those old bad habits – the drinking, the lying, the violence, the women. He’s lost everyone in his direct family so he’s got no-one to rein him in. I don’t want to make excuses for him, but I don’t think the two of you should be around him while he’s in this state of mind. At least until I talk to him. Will you stay with Penny? I want to see if I can find him.”
“Yeah,” Justin said. They both watched as Stephen left. Justin dropped into the chair behind him. “We need Chris back.”
“Why?” Penny asked.
“Because I don’t know what to do.”
“You heard Uncle Stephen – we just avoid him.”
“Are you going to be able to do that at the funeral?” Justin asked. Penny grew uncomfortably silent. “See what I mean. And what the heck is Chris doing anyway? Six months without a word. I thought he would have fixed this by now!”
“Maybe he really is gone,” Penny said. “Maybe it’s up to us to fix this now?”
“But look what he did to you – he nearly killed you!” Justin protested, gesturing towards her.
“Nearly. And he could have used any one of his powers to do it, but he didn’t. I don’t think he wanted me dead, Justin.”
“Then what does he want?” Justin asked, not willing to believe her.
“Family,” she replied. * * *
The Glasshouse café sat on the corner of one of the hippest streets in Woodcroft’s city centre. One sole ornately shaped light fixture sat on the very bend of the road, framed by traffic lights on either side. The café had easy access for patrons, one large glass door situated on the very curve of the building. Six glass panel strips ran down each wall, allowing views to the street outside. There were more windows than walls in the place which was covered outside by layers of soft yellow overhangs, the reflecting lights giving it a somewhat friendly, homely feel. Although there were plenty of chairs and tables outside, David had chosen a secluded booth inside that provided visible sighting of the front door. He signaled to Mercy as she entered with a soft blue flare, picking up his coffee cup and taking a sip ignorantly as if he had not noticed the small piece of magic that he’d just caused. She crossed to the table as he exchanged the white cup within his hands for a piece of cinnamon toast, tearing a small section within his hands as she took a seat.
“I hope you don’t mind that I ordered for you. I opted for the blueberry bagel. It’s quite delicious here,” he said.
She looked uncertainly at the round piece of bread before her, spotted with blue berries and horizontally sliced through the middle. She ran her finger along the edge, lifting it to her lips to taste what was spilling over from the inside.
“It’s cream cheese,” he said. He nodded towards the bagel. “Eat.”
She took the bagel into her hands. “What is this, a breakfast date?”
“The morning after,” he said, shoving the last piece of toast into his mouth and dusting his hands.
“After what? A night of black magic?” she asked. She took a small bite out of the bagel. It wasn’t as bad as she had anticipated it would be.
“You expect me to tell my family that?” he asked. “I led them to believe otherwise. In fact, my uncle thinks you’re some cheap whore I picked up to fuck my troubles away.”
Mercy choked at his bluntness. She reached for the now cooling coffee to her right and devoured the liquid in the hopes to dislodge the piece of bagel that had become stuck in her throat.
“I am not ‘some whore’,” she argued, offended.
“You were a radiant woman in a short black dress and strappy heels spending the early hours of a new day in my bedroom. Alone. With me. There is no better conclusion,” he said.
“And I suppose this is a regular occurrence for you?” Mercy questioned. David tilted his head.
“I don’t think we’re far enough along in our relationship to be discussing that.”
“Well what about getting your brother back? You saw the image last night. You know I’m telling you the truth.”
“I’m not certain he wants to come back. He seemed to be enjoying his frivolity there. What better way to run from your troubles and responsibilities than to escape them completely? To be honest I’m a little jealous I didn’t think of doing what he has done.”
“Why don’t you try?” she asked. He pushed the plates to one side, eyeing the waitress as she retrieved them before returning his gaze to Mercy. Her heart sank at his silence. “You don’t have a spell for that, do you?”
“Anything that was viable I tried. And then some. There was no way I could get my mother back, but I managed to tear the door open wide enough to let a plethora of demons through to acknowledge my presence so that I infinitely would never feel safe again.”
“That’s why you don’t trust me,” Mercy realized.
“Assassins are generally at the top of the list,” he concurred.
“What if I knew of a way to go back?” she suggested. “What if I had access to a spell that you could use?”
“Then I would ask ‘where is it?’” he returned. “Because you are trying my time holding back my family.”
“The only way to your family is through mine. And you’ll be the one who will have to get it.”