I hear the door open, but I don’t have the energy to be startled. Dark clouds have gathered, but not outside. I’ve managed to unconsciously reflect my emotions in an indoor weather phenomenon. I lay spread eagle on the queen sized bed, hair splayed around me like some sort of octopus, I suspect. My eyes stare at the ceiling, unseeing.
I hear footsteps coming closer and I sigh as the door swings open slowly. I blink and look at the door when nothing is said. I gasp in surprise.
“Hey…” he says sheepishly. “Long time no see,” he tries to grin but it looks so uncertain and stupid, it’s cute.
“Kae, is it really you?” I ask, sitting up on the bed.
“I… I think so,” he says with a smile, prodding his body with his finger.
I almost giggle, except for the circumstances.
He drops his hand from the doorknob and gingerly approaches the bed. “I get the feeling something’s off, what with the … storm,” he says, pointing at the clouds above the bed.
“Sorry, it’s a mood setter. I’m happy to see you though,” I choke on the words and feel tears in my eyes. I crawl across the bed towards him and wrap my arms around him tightly. “I’m just glad you’re home safe. I was so worried and angry and I had so much to say but you were gone… and … and I didn’t know when you’d come back, or if or -”
He cuts me off as he pushes me out of the hug and kisses me firmly. My thoughts calm down as I take it in, the touch of his hands on my skin, the tastes of his lips, the scent of his… oh god. What is that?
I pull away with a disgusted look on my face. I pinch my nose, cringing at the lingering smell. “Why do you smell so bad?” I ask through my nose.
“Ha … ha, about that. I might not have showered in like five days? There were no showers where we went.” Kaede laughs.
“Where’d you go?”
“Romania, World War Two.”
“World War – Are you nuts? You could’ve been killed!” I shout, forgetting my nose.
“Yea, we almost were too! Andrei got shot and I had to pull the bullet out!” he says with pride. Boys, they don’t change! They think everything’s a joke!
“Are you both ok? Is there anything else you should probably tell me before I flip out?” I ask on the brim of hysterics.
“Well, there was that, Andrei got a concussion from a girls suitcase, who just happened to be his great grandma, and that’s why we couldn’t get back right away. Something about his head still hurting, so jumping was like, next to impossible. In the end, he forced it and we got back, but I think it hurt him a lot to do it. We got what we came for though,” I look at him, dumbfounded. That’s a lot to process, but I can’t say otherwise. For only such a small time, we also had quite a lot happen.
“I see. Well, I’m glad you’re ok. Is Andrei getting his head looked at?” I ask worriedly.
“Oh, Selene fixed that. She was in the library for some reason, healed his head and then like ordered me up here to see you. I don’t know why. How have you been?”
“Well, to be honest, things were horrible. Are horrible,” I correct. “Where do I begin…”
“I can tell it’s been rough, with the clouds and all. Would it be more comfortable if I showered first?” he asks. Ever the thoughtful one. “You could tell me while I shower if you want.”
“Sure, sounds good.”
He heads off to the washroom and when the water starts I slip in, sitting on the toilet seat, watching his shadow on the other side of the shower curtain.
“You can start anytime,” he prompts.
“So, first, I wanted to apologize to you about before, like that fight we had… I get how it was scary and all. I’m sorry.”
“Wow,” he interrupts.” No, no, no. You don’t have to apologize for that. That was me being a stick. It wasn’t your fault at all, and Andrei made me see that. I should be the one to say sorry. I should have thanked you. You saved me,” he says through the rush of water.
I feel tears brimming in my eyes again. It feels so good to hear that, I had no idea. “Thanks, Kae. That means a lot to me, to hear that.”
“I mean it. Please, don’t apologize for that. You were saying?”
“Oh, right. So, yea,” I try to restart. “I was thinking about that a lot and then Selene and Kat said they discovered something.” I don’t really know how to explain this. I feel suddenly awkward and at a loss for words.
“Discovered? Like what?” he asks.
“Well, they said I was a Guardian, or rather potential Guardian. I needed to do this ritual thing, they said.”
“Wait, what? You’re a Guardian?! That’s -”
“I know, it means I can’t -”
“Awesome! I can’t believe my girlfriends a Guardian!! So, did you do it? This ritual?”
I stop, frozen on the seat, eyes wide with shock. He… likes that? He’s happy?
“Oh, uhhh… yes. I did,” I say hesitantly. “But I wanted to talk to you about it first and all, cuz it means I would have to study more and probably stay here, and I didn’t know if you’d like that,” I trail off.
“Are you kidding? That’s amazing! I love it! I don’t mind at all, in fact, I’m happy you choose without me around. That’s awesome Car.” He sounds so happy, and I don’t know why it’s such a surprise. I mean, it’s what I wanted, it just seems strange. I guess I didn’t expect it.
“Thanks, Kaede. So I want you to know, you can leave any time, if you want. I could take you or something.”
“Don’t kid with me Car,” he says, poking his head out from behind the curtain. His hair is lathered in bubbles and one eye is shut as it runs down his face. “You can’t get rid of me that easy,” he smirks.
My heart thumps in my chest like a drum. I don’t understand this feeling, but I have the sudden urge to touch him. Why is that? I shake my head as he slips back behind the curtain.
“So, the ritual went well, you survived and all?” he continues.
“Right, yes. I mean, this crystal-eyed guy said I might lose my soul or something if I failed, but I passed so everything’s good.”
His image in the curtain stops moving and I know what he’s thinking. I watch intensely for his response.
“I imagine that was terrifying. You were ok with it?”
“I didn’t have much of a choice,” I respond. “Once I was in, I don’t think there was any going back.”
“I’m so glad you made it out alive then. You’ll have to tell me all about that crystal guy later, ‘kay?”
“Sure,” the mood suddenly turns very sober and I find it difficult to say the next part.
“How about after that?” he prompts me again.
“Yea… this is the horrible part. We went after Kat, after… Ryan… found out she was sneaking away. Turns out she was going after Logan again,” I find it hard to say her name aloud now.
“She what? I thought that freak traumatized her? Why would she go anywhere near him? What happened?” he raises his voice, eager to hear the explanation.
“Well… we found them and we were going to help take him out and all… but there was an accident…” I trail off.
“What kind of accident?” he says seriously.
“See, Logan made this poison dart, something that could combat Kaitlyn’s magic since she’s so strong, but … Ryan tried to protect her and got hit with it instead and it turns outLoganmadeitapoisionthatwasleathaltonormalhumansandnow-”
“Car. Slow down! I can hardly make out what you’re saying!” he stops me.
I take a gasping breath, realizing I was not breathing at all. “Sorry. The poison was lethal to anyone with powers less than a Guardian, but Ryan got hit. There was… nothing…” my voice hitches, “nothing we could do. Kae, Ryan’s dead.”
I burst into tears sitting on the toilet as he turns off the water. Neither of us moves, unable to comfort each other. After a while, he reaches from behind the curtain for the towel to dry off. He pulls back the curtain, towel around his waist, face drawn down into a sad expression.
“I… see. She was… a great friend. I liked her. I’m going to miss her… a lot. I’m… sorry to hear the Car. I… wish there was something I could have done. I wish I could have been here for you. I’m sorry.”
“Oh, Kaede. I’m just glad you’re here now,” I leap up and grab him around the shoulders in a hug. I don’t care anymore that he’s standing there, practically naked except for the towel. I feel him hesitate before wrapping his arms around me in return. My tears pour off my face and onto his shoulder. It seems like forever before we pull apart and the distance seems very awkward and uncomfortable.
“How’s everyone holding up?” he asks in a dull tone.
“Well, Cliff is off keeping busy, Selene was with Kaitlyn until she decided to run off. Now I have no idea where she is, but I know she’s not here. And then the new girl, she – ”
“Wait, there’s a new girl?” he asks, raising an eyebrow at my mention of her.
“Yea, sorry. When we were fighting Logan, or rather, talking to him, this new girl showed up after Ryan got hit. She shot and killed Logan on the spot and it turns out she has magic and she is getting a tour of the Guild now. She told me she wants to stay.”
I see the confusion on his face and wish I could explain better.
“Is it a problem that we have another magician?”
“Well, not really. She’s older and seems very capable. I don’t know what her magic is yet. Her name is Samantha.
Kae’s face takes on an expression of thoughtfulness as he mulls over my words.
“Samantha? Like Andrei’s ex? Haa, he’ll like that now won’t he,” he jests.
“Yeah, I doubt he’ll be pleased about that. But she seems nice. She didn’t even know who we were and yet she helped us take out Logan. But, it all happened so fast. I don’t think any of us have had any time to really thank her, especially Kat. And now she’s gone, so…” I trail off. “We didn’t have time to talk really. Just an introduction. With everything that’s happened, I was thinking, it’s great to have another person around.”
“Do you know what Andrei’s ex looked like? Did Andrei ever mention things like that to you?” I ask him, out of curiosity.
“No. Like I’ve said before, I didn’t even know why they broke up. I’d only heard good things about her. I tried looking her up on Facebook when they were dating, but I couldn’t find her. No profile, like Andrei. No digital footprint.”
“Hmm, Ok. I hope we can find Kat soon and just get everyone back to normal. I miss normal.”
“Well, as normal as things can be with all these magicians around,” he chuckles.
The door suddenly bursts open and Cliff, a hulking, panting mass of sweaty man, stands in the doorway to the bathroom, facing Kaede, in a towel, and I. I feel a blush come to my cheeks and prepare to step away.
“It’s Andrei. He’s passed out. I can’t get him to wake. You better come quick,” he pants heavily.
Kaede and I share a wide-eyed glance, forgetting our previous conversation.
Great. Things will never be normal here, will they…
By Kayla West