The Guild – Chapter 9 – Kaitlyn

Welcome to another chapter of Kaitlyn!!

 

The sun hits directly on my face, stirring me from my dreamless slumber. The sound of birds outside the window erase any hope of slipping back into unconsciousness. I can’t remember the last time I slept so well. I didn’t have a single nightmare. Maybe it was his stories?

I reach for the journal, where I think it should be. I only feel the sheets. Confused, I sit up and look at the space beside me. I lift the pillow, but it’s gone. I check the floor, but a book is not what I find.

There, sprawled across the hardwood floor, dressed in strange leather clothes is the very boy I’ve been waiting for. I gasp, despite myself, and immediately cover my mouth. I look again for the book, panic building in my throat. It’s nowhere on the bed, or on the floor. I glance at the desk, only to see it back on the shelf with the others.

Mortified is putting it mildly. The reality of what I’ve done hits me. Not only did I invade his privacy without permission, but he found out. How am I supposed to face him now? Maybe I can sneak out before he wakes up. I carefully scoot to the edge, and the bed creaks. I freeze, holding my breath. His face scrunches and his eyes start to flutter.

Shit. Shit. Shit. I jump off the bed and make a break for the door.

“Kat, wait!” His voice sends a shiver down my back. I stop with my hand on the doorknob. “Where are you going?”

I turn my head to get a look at him through my peripheral. He’s sitting up on the floor, rubbing his eye and yawning. I turn, “Nowhere.”

“Good, I… I was worried about you.” He pauses, looking a little confused for a second. “I was worried about everyone.” I hush the voice in the back of my mind when he corrects himself, trying to control my expression. “What happened to your arm?”

I look down at my left arm, the bandage still in place. The three-quarter length sleeves on this shirt doesn’t cover it. I silently curse the stupid shirt. “Oh, um…” I look to the sigil on the window. I’m not sure how to explain that.

He looks up over his shoulder, “What the hell is that? Why is…” He turns back to me, “Your blood on my window?” He jumps to his feet, eyes bulging. “Did Logan come back?”

I shake my head, “No, not that I know of.” His shoulders relax, “It’s a warding spell, I put them on all the windows.”

He shifts his eyes to the desk. I feel my heart jump into my throat. “Um, how’ve you been?”

“Um, I’m okay… You’re probably tired. I should let you get some rest. I’ll let the others know you’re back.” I feel blindly for the doorknob.

“No, I’m fine, really. You… look tired. Did I worry you?” He asks. His face is scruffy, and dirty, but he looks so sincere.

“Of course you did.” I pout, “You disappeared, not even fully dressed. I was starting to think you weren’t coming back…”

“I’m sorry, that must’ve been scary for you.” He frowns. I shrug. Probably wasn’t half as bad as what he went through.

“I’m just glad you’re okay.”

“Do you want to know where I ended up?” He smirks.

I glance up at him, and take a second look at what he’s wearing. “I bet I could venture a guess.”

He looks down and chuckles, “I’m a dead giveaway.”

I look at the journals; I can’t help it.  “I’d like to hear what happened, if you want.” I try to sound casual.

“At first it was dreadful! There was this storm, and it was night, and I wandered around for hours before…” He plops down on the bed, racing through his explanation as fast as the words can leave his mouth. His arms flail in wild gestures, accentuating the tale. I wander over, entranced, until I find myself sitting just a foot away.

“… So, I focused my energy and thought hard about getting back here… There were all these lights, different times passing by in this dark tunnel, until I finally landed back here.” He grins, breathless.

“That’s incredible.” I whisper, “I wish I could have seen it. I can’t imagine how it would feel.”

“Well…” He gulps, his face flushes pink suddenly as he looks down at me, “It would be cool if I didn’t have to go alone.”

“Maybe you don’t?” I ask.

“I have no idea if someone could jump with me. I’m not ready for that kind of risk yet.” He scratches at the beginning of a beard on his cheek.

I nod, “I understand. It’s hard to live with that, if someone gets hurt because of your magic.”

A moment passes in silence, until his stomach growls. “So… Have you guys been eating junk food while I’ve been gone? Are you hungry?” He jumps up.

I laugh, “I’m told Kaede can’t cook, and Caroline has been too busy. There wasn’t much of an alternative.”

“Oh god, is there even any food in the house?” Andrei grimaces.

I blink, “Um… maybe? We haven’t left the house since you’ve been gone.”

“Well that won’t do… What have you been doing? Is Caroline doing okay, with the water and all?” He moves toward the door. I swallow back the feelings that swell in my stomach.

“She’s learning, slowly. She hasn’t tried taking off the gloves yet though.” I get up to follow him. “Magic is a hard concept for her to swallow, but she’s doing her best.”

“That’s good then,” He turns back to me with a breathtaking smile, “You’re a good teacher. If you know anything about Caroline, she loves studying, but when it comes to relaxing, she doesn’t learn fast. If she’s gotten anywhere with it, that’s your doing.”

I clench my jaw to keep my lip steady as I force myself to smile. The way he talks about her, it seems that perhaps he’d rather she was dating him instead of his friend. It’s not my place, either way. I just need to get them to the Guild… I nod in response to his musings.

“So, when do you think we should leave? I mean, there’s no point in waiting if we’re all ready, right?” He tips his head slightly.

“Right.” I agree. “We should leave today.” The sooner this is over with, the less it will hurt.

He grabs the door handle. “Um…” He hesitates. I hold my breath. He turns slowly, his expression torn. I bite the inside of my lip, hands trembling. Please don’t say what I think you’re going to say… “What do you want to eat? I’ll buy you whatever you want.” He winks, his demeanor shifting drastically.

I almost faint. I let out the breath I’d been holding and cover my face with one hand. “I don’t care.” I reply weakly. This is way too stressful. I don’t even have Rhoan to break the tension…

The door opens and he heads down the hall. The other door opens at the same time, and the boys nearly walk into one another. Kaede does a double take.

“You’re back! That’s like, the shortest jump you’ve ever had! Where’d you go?!”

“What? Andrei’s back?” Caroline shouts from the other room.

“What are you wearing?” Kaede raises an eyebrow.

They’re too loud. My heart is racing so hard it hurts. I need some air. They’re blocking my only way out, but I can’t risk losing control, without the gloves.

“Sorry, excuse me…” I mumble, sliding between the pair. I try to ignore the fact that I’m forced to brush past Andrei on the way. I grab my cigarettes off the side table, and put on my boots. I can’t get outside fast enough. I don’t even bother trying to find where I put my jacket.

Once outside, I pull out one of the white sticks and place it between my lips. The end ignites on its own, and I inhale. I drop the pack by the door and start to pace. I flick my arms, sparks fling onto the ground and fizzle. I need to calm down.

I was doing so well the past few days. I don’t know what happened. All of a sudden my heart is pounding and all these strange things run through my mind. I can’t let my emotions get the better of me, not while Caroline has the gloves. I shouldn’t even need to rely on them. I’m so pathetic…

Breathe. Don’t think about the way he winks at you. Oops. Shit. Think about happy things. Puppies? He kind of looks like a puppy… No, bad brain! Ugh, this isn’t working. I grab another cigarette and return to my pacing, desperately trying to focus on anything else.

“Oh my god, Kaitlyn, are you alright? What happened?” Caroline gasps. I spin toward the voice. She stands just outside the door, my jacket over her arm, a backpack slung over her shoulder.

What happened…. That’s a good question.

“Um… I’m okay. Thanks.” I mumble, taking my jacket. I slip it on, grab the pack from the ground and stuff it into my pocket.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” She frowns. I notice the boys coming up the stairs and nod quickly. Andrei glances between us, and blinks curiously. I stuff my fists in my jacket pocket and turn away.

“So, Kat, where to?” Andrei asks, smiling.

I flinch, and brush it off. “I thought you were hungry?” I look up at the sky. I reach out to Rhoan with magic, telling him to come back.

“We are, but… What direction are we headed in? That’ll kind of determine where we go.”

“Oh… Um…” I think about it, “Downtown. Museum station.”

“Oh! I know a really nice breakfast place just off the subway next to the ROM!” Caroline jumps up eagerly. Seeing her excited is new. I raise an eyebrow.

“Sure, I guess. If that’s what you want.” I start toward the street. A little bird lands on my shoulder, shifts, and crawls under my hair.

“Here, you’ll need this.” Andrei jogs up next to me, holding out a bus token. I take it, avoiding touching his hand.

“Yay! It’s been so long since I’ve been there. I’m so glad it’s the last place I…” Caroline pauses, “The last place I’ll go… before I leave.”

I glance back at her. I wonder if taking them is the right thing to do. She seems to recover quickly, as Kaede distracts her with idle chatter. Andrei keeps pace beside me. I let my hair serve as a barrier to block my view of him and focus on the road ahead.

“So, this Guild place, what’s it like? Do you like it?” Andrei asks innocently.

“It’s home.” I answer, a little too fast. “I… don’t think there’s anything to compare it to, that you might know of.” At least, nothing I read about…

“Don’t you have a family? Or friends there?”

“No.”

“I don’t see how anyone couldn’t like you.” He hums, “You’re… talented.”

What the heck is that supposed to mean. I glance over at him. He’s staring ahead. His face is flushed, but that’s probably from the cold. “Thanks, I think…”

“Um… So, how long have you been studying there?”

“Since I was a kid. Maybe four or five.” I answer simply.

“What? That’s… crazy! Your family didn’t come with you?” He looks back at the pair trailing behind us.

I barely flinch, “They’re dead.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” His face falls, “That’s… That’s awful.”

“It was a long time ago.” I say, hoping to reassure him. I don’t like seeing him sad.

“Long ago or not, you’re not that old.” He insists, “Can I ask what happened?”

I drop my gaze, curtain of hair covering my face. I take a ragged breath as the memories come surging back. “A fire broke out, in the middle of the night. They say they died in their sleep, from the smoke, before…” I take a deep breath and push back the tears that threaten to fall.

“I’m sorry.” He whispers, “When I first jumped, I was seven. I found myself in a small village that was being raided by vikings. It was pretty scary.” He’s trying to cheer me up, I think, “But I hope you know that you can’t blame yourself for something that happened beyond your control.”

I smile bitterly, “Maybe, but… If you want to know why I don’t have friends, that’s your answer. If you’re smart, you’ll keep your distance too.”

He looks hurt, “I… I thought we were friends…”

“Even more reason to stay away.” I mumble. “I’ve hurt enough people already.” I skip down the steps into the subway, putting some distance between us so he won’t see the liquid as it leaves a trail on my cheeks. I wipe it away quickly, before they can catch up.

Andrei falls back, trailing behind the others. I’m not sure if I’m more relieved, or disappointed. I guess it’s better this way. The rest of the trip is quiet, and we make it to the restaurant without incident.

Caroline chatters away happily, listing off her opinion of every item on the menu before we even sit down. We’re led to a booth, where Caroline and Kaede slide into the one side. I hesitate, risking a glance at Andrei. This is going to be awkward… He gestures for me to sit first. I reluctantly oblige, moving in to sit across from Caroline, who’s still talking. I am electrically aware of how close he is as he slides in next to me.

The waitress comes over, and Caroline lists off her order, followed by Kaede. Andrei glances at the menu briefly, and orders. All eyes fall on me. “Just a coffee, please.” I smile.

Andrei’s head snaps in my direction, “You haven’t eaten in who knows, days! Kaitlyn, you need to eat something.” He glares at me, “As your friend, I’m telling you!” He emphasizes the word ‘friend’.

I feel like a deer in headlights, staring back at him. He doesn’t back down. I drop my gaze, “I’m sorry…” I have no idea what to eat, and now they’re all waiting. I turn to Caroline, “Um… What do you suggest?”

“Well, the pancakes are nice here. They come with fruit and cream.” Caroline offers, looking quite puzzled at the sudden outburst.

“Okay.” I nod at the waitress. She scribbles on her pad and hurries away. Andrei rests his head in his hand, leaning away from me.

“Did something happen between you two?” Kaede asks when we’re alone. I peek over at Andrei, wondering what he’ll say.

Andrei shoots a look across the table, “Nothing, man. Just… nothing.” He mumbles, picking at the napkin in front of him. Kaede and Caroline share a skeptical look. The silence stretches until Andrei finally cracks, “She doesn’t think we’re good enough to be her friends!”

I gawk at him. How did he get to that conclusion?

“What? But, Kaitlyn, we all really like you, especially…” She trails off as Andrei shoots her a look, “… me! You helped me a lot! Please, let’s be friends!” She begs. Kaede nods.

I hold my hands up and lean back, “That’s not what I said… He asked why I don’t have friends at the Guild…” I try to explain, “It’s just… safer that way, for you… I don’t know what I’d do if I hurt any of you.”

“Oh, Kaitlyn, you don’t have to worry about us getting hurt!” Caroline smiles, “That’s what friends are for! They’re there for each other. Poor Andrei only has us, and it would mean the world to him if you’d let him be your friend.” She grins at him as he shrinks in his seat, “Besides, if I got water magic, like you said, I could combat anything you do by accident. Think of it like a friend who’s insurance!”

I can hardly comprehend what she’s saying. “But…”

“She’s right, Kaitlyn.” Kaede nods, “And if you can’t tell, Andrei’s been uncharacteristically mopey lately. Could be why.” He winks at his friend.

I frown, “Why… what?” I look at Andrei for an explanation.

“I’m gonna go to the bathroom. Kae, move.” Caroline pipes up suddenly. The pair shuffle out of the seat, and both of them wander off to the back of the restaurant.

I watch them go, totally lost. What was that about? I don’t understand why they went together. On top of that, they don’t come back.

Andrei fidgets, glancing up in the direction they disappeared. The napkin is in pieces now. He then switches from looking there, to glancing over at me. Was it something I said? Is that why they aren’t coming back?

“So…” Andrei speaks up. I turn on instinct, hoping he’ll clear up what’s going on.

His face is alarmingly close. His eyes fall closed and his lips press against mine. I blink, and he’s already moved away. Did I… imagine that? It felt real… I touch my lips, and try to remember how to breathe.

“I’m sorry,” He mutters, his face bright red. Okay, maybe I didn’t hallucinate. “But, I can’t stay away. I think I like you too much.” He looks over from the corner of his eye, “If you don’t feel the same way, I’ll understand, and we can just be friends… Please don’t push me away.”

I blink repeatedly, as my eyes start to sting from bulging for so long. A thousand things run through my mind. I’m not sure where my voice went.

“She likes you too.” Rhoan says, impatiently. Andrei jumps in surprise.  If I could blush more, I would.

“Really?” He asks, turning to face me.

I nod once, picking at my nails, “But… I thought…” I glance at the empty seat across from me, “I didn’t think I was your type.”

“My type? Kat, I don’t have a type. No girl stays with me long enough, because of the time jumps. I miss dates all the time, and they get mad…” He pauses, “You practically read my life story… waiting for me to come back.”

I cover my face with both hands. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to! I was curious and then I couldn’t help it…”

“I haven’t even shared some of those stories with Kae, but the weird thing is… I don’t mind that you know. I don’t know why. Don’t get me wrong, I feel super exposed, but… I don’t seem to mind, I think.” He explains, though I’m not sure which of us he’s trying to reassure.

I lower my hands so I can see his expression. He seems calm. “Um… If it makes you feel better, you can ask me anything.”

He opens his mouth to speak, but Caroline and Kaede reappear and climb into the booth. The waitress follows behind with some of the food. She comes back with the rest in a moment. I focus on putting sugar and cream in my coffee, avoiding eye contact.

“So, friends! Time to dig in!” Caroline chirps eagerly.

 

By Krystyna Yates

Kiki's Tales

    The sun hits directly on my face, stirring me from my dreamless slumber. The sound of birds outside the window erase any hope of slipping back into unconsciousness. I can’t remember the last time I slept so well. I didn’t have a single nightmare. Maybe it was his stories?

    I reach for the journal, where I think it should be. I only feel the sheets. Confused, I sit up and look at the space beside me. I lift the pillow, but it’s gone. I check the floor, but a book is not what I find.

    There, sprawled across the hardwood floor, dressed in strange leather clothes is the very boy I’ve been waiting for. I gasp, despite myself, and immediately cover my mouth. I look again for the book, panic building in my throat. It’s nowhere on the bed, or on the floor. I…

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