The bed is cold again as I roll over. It seems to have become a routine occurrence this past week. I wish she’d take me with her like she did the first day, but I guess with my recent headaches she wants to make sure I’m getting enough rest, that and Heath makes the room too hot. I feel a little jealous…
I lay there, staring at the ceiling. A strange sense of loneliness hangs over me when she’s not here. Is she ok? She can be so insecure about herself sometimes, and yet, she’s also headstrong, though that’s what I love about her. Sometimes I forget she’s three years my senior… heck, who am I kidding, I always forget. Since we’ve been together, I don’t think she’s ever acted older than me.
I let out a breath, feeling moppy. I want her here. I want to cuddle her, to hold her. I want to kiss her again. Always, she makes me feel this way and I can do nothing to satiate it. I always want more. I wonder why this is… Is it normal? Is it because we’re spending too much time together? But, this week I’ve hardly had her to myself. We were watching movies ’till one in the morning pretty much.
I scratch my chest absently, feeling the rough puckered skin of a scar long since healed over. I thought about asking Caroline to erase these scars, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it as they remind me of all the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done. Unlike Kat, my scars bear good memories, for the most part. Sure, they made me self conscious about myself, but with Kat, I don’t have to be anymore. I suppose if I did erase them, I might be less awkward walking around shirtless, but then, maybe that’s something I only want Kat to see. Is that so wrong?
I’m not sure what to do with my morning without Kat around, so I decide to get dressed and go out to the village to visit my parents. I haven’t gone down to see their new place yet and I’m sure my sisters will be thrilled to see me.
I think I’ve found the right door and I give it a firm knock. I hear the thumping steps of little monsters running around at the sound of my knock and the reptilian shriek of a dragon from within before the door swings open.
“Andi!! Ylenia shouts excitedly, her eyes growing as wide as her smile as she holds the door open! “Mommy, Daddy! Andi’s come home!” she shouts over her shoulder. I spy her little dragon pet hiding behind her heels, and a way behind him, Kira, standing straight and still.
“Hey Lini, I came to say hi!” I grin, moving into the house. Ylenia leans around me, looking outside, left and right. “Where’s your Princess? Where’s Kitty?” she asks disappointed.
“She’s in the castle, training a new student,” I tell her.
“You didn’t go with her? Why?” she asks. Oh, how innocent she is.
“Because they both have fire magic. It’s dangerous for me. I can get burnt while they cannot.”
“Ohhh. That’s sad. Can I be burned too?” she asks, holding out her hand and smiling as a few sparks pop between us.
I lean down, looking at her tiny magic. “I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask Kat,” I smile.
Kira steps forward, a small smile on her face. “Andi, I’m happy to see you,” she says timidly. “Will you stay for a bit?” she asks.
“Yea, I think I might. I have nothing else to do,” I find it a little sad that my excuse to come is because I have nothing better to do. Maybe I should rethink some of my priorities.
Kira’s smile widens and she runs off into the house. I tilt my head curiously as I feel Ylenia tug on my sleeve and drag me into a large room that looks like the living space. I recognize some of the furniture. I presume mom and dad have been able to go back to Toronto and move their belongings. I can’t believe it’s really happening; they’re moving here. It still surprises me.
The room looks quite modern with a glass coffee table, the box like sofa and chairs, a black mantle hanging over a gas burning fireplace which I assume can’t often be used with the temperatures we get here, but the aesthetic is nice. Mom’s hung some oil paintings on the walls and the lamps fixtures are sleek and barely noticeable against the brightly lit interior. Along one wall is a floor to ceiling bookshelf, laden with thick tombs and newer hardcovers. Some of dad’s law books are housed here too and I recognize a few volumes from my moms business on another shelf.
I’m startled out of my observation as a dragon bounces up on top of the sofa back and stars me in the eyes, a soft purring-like rumble in its chest. “Hey there. Do you have a name yet?” I ask the dragon, not expecting an answer.
“Yeah! Her name is Shimi because when she sparks like me she shimmers!! Isn’t it cute?” Lini boasts.
I laugh, I guess as far as dragons go, it could count as cute. “Yeah, it suits her. Nice to see you, Shimi,” I chuckle to myself at the rhyming of their names; Lini and Shimi. That’s what I think is cute.
Kira runs in holding a book that looks like a sketchbook. I smirk as she seems to blush. “Umm, I drew some pictures. Would you like to see?” she asks.
“Sure!” I reach out for the book and she folds her hands in front of her as I flip through the pages. I feel my eyes widen as I wonder over the sketches. Her work with the pencil is so detailed, I’m surprised. “Where did you learn this?” I ask, amazed at what I’m seeing.
“Just, by myself,” she whispers, blushing.
“This is really good! Wow!” I pass her the book back when I’m finished. She has a talent. I’m shocked. “Thank you for showing me,” I smile, resting my hand on her head. She stands about as tall as my shoulder, now. It can’t believe how much my sisters have changed since I left. It’s been years.
“Andrei? When did you get here?” Mom’s voice comes from the hallway.
I turn and wave. “Hey, mom. I came to visit,” I smile.
“He’s been here for five whole minutes!” Ylenia giggles.
“Oh, well, are you hungry? We have bagels on the counter,” she offers.
“Sure, sounds good,” I tap my stomach as it growls.
“Petre made them this morning, so they’re fresh,” she grins.
“The best!” I feel an excitement at having Dad’s bagels freshly baked. I follow her into the kitchen, Lini, and Kira tagging along at my heels. “I see you brought some of the furniture.”
“Yes. We were able to get a gate back to bring the rest of our belongings this week. It makes it feel a lot more like home. So far, your father and I have been able to set up an internet connection thanks to your techy friend, Kaede. I’ve already had a few meetings making arrangements with my business to work most of the time from home,” she explains as she cuts open the bagels and slathers some butter on them.
“That’s great!” I say.
“I want cheese please!” Lini calls, raising her hand.
“Ok, Ok. Cheese it is. Where’s Kaitlyn?” she asks, looking up without moving her head.
When she looks at me like that I get nervous. “She’s training a student,” I say.
“Shouldn’t she be resting? Or you should be with her, in case she needs you,” she says with a hint of suggestion.
“No, she’s strong. She can manage the training. Besides, she promised she wouldn’t do the hitting or being hit part. She took our friend, Nik, with her, and I can’t go, because they’re using fire. I can’t take the heat,” I chuckle at my unintended pun.
“Well, rest and special care at the beginning of a pregnancy are important. These are things you should keep in mind, as a couple,” she says, passing out the bagels. I cringe at her comment. Kaitlyn isn’t exactly one to listen to advice about rest. What with the new student and the stress of everything that’s been happening lately, I can see a million things we’re doing wrong. I shift in my seat at the counter, picking at the thread of my jeans. I told Kat I’d make a terrible father. I’ll probably make a worse husband.
“Oh, also. While we were moving out, I found a package for you at the house. Must have been dropped off while we were here, after the attack,” she reaches to the left of the counter, moving some newspapers and pulling out a thick brown package as large as a book.
I turn the package over in my hands, examining the envelope. My name is written across the front in curving handwriting. It somehow looks… familiar, but I can’t place it.
“You can look at it later. Eat up while it’s still hot,” mom smiles knowingly.
I turn back into the room, staring at the package, turning it over in my hands as I take a seat at the desk. I wonder what it could be?
I rip the side open and reach my hand inside, feeling a tied up bundle of pages. As I pull the pages out I see there is a dried rose tied to the top with a lace ribbon. I set the envelope aside and examine the stack of pages. Who could this be from? There’s no letter or note mentioning a name. I only see the rose.
As I wonder at its colour in preservation I feel a slight pain behind my left eye. I guess I don’t have enough light on. I switch on the desk lamp, hoping to make it better. I untie the bundle and set the rose aside. As soon as I see the first sheet, I freeze. I recognize this handwriting. It’s my own.
I quickly flip through the pages, confirming that they are all written in my own hand. What the heck? Why would… I take the first page again and begin reading.
I set the eighth page down careful to keep them in order. I feel like I need a break, even though I haven’t been reading for all that long. So far, I’m perplexed at what I’m reading. Mixed in with my own pages of writing are letters, written in the same curvy handwriting that wrote my name on the envelope. I read these too, and see they correlate timewise with my own missing notes. The letters and entries so far, all come from the missing pages of my trip to France.
I lean back, rubbing my forehead with my fingers. A dull ache has formed behind my eyes and I feel the sudden need for fresh air. I gather the papers back together and slip them into a drawer. I don’t want Kaitlyn to worry about this, so I lock the draw, pocketing the key. It doesn’t concern her anyway.
Taking Ceph’s advice, I decide to walk instead of space skip. The halls are cluttered with people milling about, talking about nonsense or classes or some new spell they learned. It feels like the University campus again, back before Kaede, Caroline and I really knew how much magic there really was in the world. It seems like ages ago.
Lost in my thoughts about the past, I hardly notice as I walk into a tall, stiff figure of a man in a trench coat. I stumble back, apologizing as I realize who it is.
“Ceph?” I ask, shocked to still see him here.
“Yes, It is I. Where’s your counterpart? Kaitlyn?” he asks, looking down at me through his round spectacles.
“Oh, she’s off training Heath with Nik again. She’s busy these days,” I wave my hand, passing it off as a common occurrence.
“I see. Well-”
“Where’s Eli?” I ask, cutting him off unintentionally.
“Oh, he’s… Somewhere, burning energy I think,” he says, his gaze shifting to the floor as he speaks.
“Oh,” that reminds me. I wanted to ask Ceph about jumping forward before he left. “Remember how you explained how jumping forward works? I was wondering, if you could show me, you know, before you go,” I say, scratching at my ribs.
“Oh, I guess. Do you have enough time energy for a jump?” he asks.
“Yes, I have loads, actually. I haven’t jumped is like… forever. I think maybe that’s why I got this headache,” I explain, tapping my temple.
“Ahh, I know the feeling. I too get headaches when I don’t jump for too long. Shall we… find a less crowded space?” he asks.
Somehow, we end up back in my room. Ceph pulls out his watch, checking the time before he repockets it. “We should be mindful of the time. I don’t want the others to think we’ve gone off on our own.”
“But… that’s exactly what we’re doing,” I point out.
“Yes, well… For an educational sake. It’s a bit different,” I see his arm alight with a spark and I induce my own time jump with him. We both stand in the timescape, ribbons of time dangling around us from the unseen ceiling. Man, it’s been a while.
“Do you remember what I said about switching the space around?” Ceph asks, a hand in his pocket.
“Yes, you said to look at the bottom and flip the space,” he nods as we both look down. I’ve never noticed before how the ribbons sort of thin out to a single thread that seems to connect to an unknown source. I reach for the thread as Ceph stops me with a gesture.
“Wait. Do you remember anything else?” he presses.
I recall the Time master saying the future was undecided, but that I had to have a vague idea of where I wanted to go.
“I’ll observe, I just want to remind you of the steps. It can be tricky,” he says kindly.
“Right,” I try it Ceph’s way, flipping the space. I feel a slight motion sickness as the ground becomes the ceiling and the ceiling becomes the floor and it looks as if the ribbons are all standing on their end, drifting into the sky. I imagine a time in… say future France, since it’s on my mind. I select a ribbon, Ceph following my movements as I move about. He takes my hand as I reach for the ribbon, making sure to come with me.
It’s strange, holding his hand, rather than Kat’s. It’s so big and firm. The space shifts and we find ourselves standing outside in a paved street. The lights rest on poles and the road, well, it hardly looks like a road. It’s made of some holographic material that lights up as vehicles – that hardly touch them, glide by. I can hardly keep my mouth from going slack as I stare out at the futuristic France.
“Wow… I… I actually did it! I jumped forward!” I say softly, not wanting to attract attention.
“You did well. Can you gauge the year?” Ceph asks me.
I pucker my lips as I think, looking around. I see a board with scrawling neon lights zipping past. I feel the clock within me, trying to read the year. “Maybe… 2087,” I say.
“Hmm, I too have a similar reading. The mechanics of this time look fascinating. I wonder how they work,” Ceph leans down, crouching by the road to examine the holographic material.
“Man, now I wish we could stay longer. I want a look around!” I hum excitedly, watching as a couple of people walk by in strange clothing. Their heads turn to look at us, a look of disgust crosses their faces as they hurry past. I guess we don’t fit the times.
“I agree,” he says, pulling out his pocket watch as he stands. “We could hazard maybe half an hour. Perhaps you can come again, with Kaitlyn,” he smiles.
“Yes, I bet she’d like this.” We spend the next half an hour wandering around, gazing at the wonders and attracting strange looks from the local residents. When our time is up, I return us to the timescape, flipping the space back around and zeroing on my own time. We stumble back into Kaitlyn’s and my room and I find myself laughing with giddy excitement.
“That was… Awesome!” I smile widely. Ceph has an amused look on his face.
“Yes, it was-” he’s interrupted by a knock at the door. We both spin around, looking at it curiously. “Kaitlyn?” he asks. I shrug, stepping over to answer it.
“Yess?” I ask as Nik’s towering figure comes into view.
“Hey, is Kat with you?” he asks, peering around me into the room.
“No, I thought she was with you and Heath,” I say, a small bud of worry blossoming in my stomach.
“Well, she was, but then she up and vanished. I thought maybe you’d come and did that step thing,” he acts it out with his hands and I stare at him, confused by his demonstration.
I frown. “I call it space skipping.”
“Whatever, that’s not important. If it wasn’t you then…” he trails off.
“How do you just lose a person you’re walking with!?” my voice feels strained as it rises in pitch.
Ceph comes up behind me, putting a firm hand on my shoulder. “Nik, can you show us where she disappeared from, exactly?” he asks it so calmly.
“Yea, sure.” We follow him down to the training rooms and he stops just outside the passage to them. He points to the hallway leading toward the dorms. “It was about here.”
Ceph walks past me, adjusting his spectacles as he peers at the space Nik is pointing to. “Andrei, do you remember how to detect a space connection?”
“Of course. There should be a faint line, like an aura in the spot where two spaces were drawn together,” I say, looking frantically for such a line, but I don’t see it.
“Here it is. It’s not like your magic though. See here,” Ceph points to a space, large enough to fit a person. I see a faint afterglow, like a hovering blob where there was a doorway or portal. “This kind of teleportation spell is untraceable. I may have seen this before. It looks… familiar. There’s no way to even say where she ended up, but it looks like it was placed precisely to catch Kaitlyn and no one else. This is… worrisome.”
“No kidding! She’s just been kidnapped out of the Guild with no way to get her back! I don’t even know if she has her cell phone!” I yell, my stomach twisting with worry. “I could have Caroline or Kaede call and see if she answers, or, let’s see… Maybe Kaede could track her signal down again, as long as she still has it. If she doesn’t, I don’t know where I’d begin looking. She could be anywhere!”
“Andrei. Calm down,” Ceph interrupts my frantic muttering by placing a firm hand on my shoulder. “It doesn’t help to panic. Kaitlyn is strong, remember. If she is in danger, I’m sure she’ll find a way to communicate that to you.”
I look at him with desperate eyes. “You don’t know that! What if… what if they hurt her? I can’t let them do that. They want our baby. I should have never left her side. This is all my fault!” I growl under my breath, balling my fists in frustration.
“You can’t blame yourself, Andrei. There’s no way to know if you could have stopped it,” Nik tries to reassure me.
I turn and shoot him a glare. “Not stop it but at least go with her! You know as well as I do, she’s not rational without me. Shell provoke whoever took her into hurting her without a care and brush it off like it was the only option.”
Nik grimaces. “You make a good point… I would have gone, but I didn’t even see it happen. It was like I blinked and she was gone.”
“So what do we do? Just sit around and wait for her?! There’s gotta be something! Some way! We have to tell Markus!” I burst suddenly. He’d know what to do. If it has something to do with his brother, he’d have to know something. Or maybe… Selene?
“Hold up, we haven’t even tried your first plan. Let’s find Kaede,” Nik pulls out a phone from his pocket, taps it a few times, then holds it up to his ear. “Hey, we have a problem. Where are you? Okay, don’t move.”
“Where is he?” I ask, an edge to my voice. “I can skip us there,” I hazard a glance at Ceph, but he just nods. I guess this warrants magic as it is an emergency.
“The water hall,” Nik replies, holding out his hand to me.
I grab his and Ceph’s hand and tell Nik to take a step. When we do, we arrive just outside the water hall. I let go of their hands and step up to the door just as it opens. Nik and Ceph follow me in.
“Hey, guys! Andrei! Ceph too? Wow. So what’s the problem?” Kaede asks from the wall, laptop in his lap. Caroline is nowhere to be seen, so I assume she’s underwater.
“Kaitlyn’s gone!” I shout. I catch Ceph rolling his eyes beside me.
“Wait, what?” Kaede’s eyes grow wide.
“We were leaving the training hall, and she just vanished. These guys said there was some trace of magic, but we can’t follow it. So, we thought, maybe you can try tracking her digitally.”
“Ahh, so the great Guardian of Technology is needed again! I told you I was important,” Kaede smirks.
“This is no time for jokes, Kae. We need to find her, fast! What if it was Sam!? Or Morticai!?” I feel the panic rising with each minute it takes to explain this all. I wish I was as good as Kaede with technology. Maybe it would go faster if I did it myself…
“Ok, ok, I get it. Hold on. When I gave her a new phone, I set her up on my friends list so I could track her more easily. This way, if it’s on, we don’t have to call her to find her last triangulated location. Lemme just pull up her device code… and… Bingo. I have a rough location within a block radius. Looks like she’s in New York?” He asks questioningly. Hold on,” he taps on his computer, a weird look on his face.
“What? What is it? New York… why is everything in New York?” I ask, recalling the trip to Logan’s workplace in our first month here.
“That’s what I was thinking. His block radius puts that building we found Logan in within the possible location. This is strange. I’ll have to look into this,” Kaede hums, thumbing his chin as he types away with one hand.
I look to Nik and Ceph, my worry increasing tenfold with this information. “New York. We’ve been there before when we were tracking Logan. Logan claimed to be working for a Communications company, but we suspected it as a front,” I explain.
Ceph tilts his chin down, humming as he thinks. “Perhaps it is not a coincidence then that he was working there. Maybe, this company as a whole is a front for something else,” Sometimes I am surprised at how perceptive Ceph can be. I also forget that he’s like a century old, so maybe it’s just from a long life.
“That’s what I was thinking,” Kaede pipes up from the wall.
“We can’t just waltz into this building if that’s where she is. Last time we had to get ID’s and sneak our way in. They run a tight security,” I add.
“That makes sense. Selene said this Master guy is the paranoid sort. Seems a little weird that he’d take Kaitlyn though if she’s supposed to be the one who can destroy him. It doesn’t make sense,” Nik crosses his arms. “Perhaps we should talk to Markus, while Kaede is doing… whatever he’s doing. Maybe he has some insight.”
“Good idea. Let’s pay Markus a visit,” Ceph agrees.
I turn to Kaede.” If you find anything important, call Nik and let me know, ok?” I ask him. He nods, a serious look on his face. With that, we leave the hall.
We make our way to the older wing of the Guild, where Markus’ apartments are. Climbing all the stairs seems tedious to be, seeing as I could just skip to the top, but Ceph said we should walk. I chew the inside of my lip impatiently as we walk, begrudging his recommendation.
When we finally arrive, I step up to the door and knock.
“Come in,” a deep voice calls from inside.
I push the door open and we all file in. Markus sits at an old wooden desk wearing a pair of thin framed wire glasses. Heath stands next to him as they look over a set of Castle blueprints, fingers on the paper, pointing to various structures.
“Sorry to interrupt you, but, we have a small emergency,” I start, trying to be calm.
Markus looks up, mild concern in his bright blue eyes. “What sort of emergency?”
“Well, Kaitlyn’s been kidnapped and we think it was your brother,” I state firmly. “We can’t trace the spell used to take her, and we’ve got a cell signal in New York.”
Markus leans back in his chair, thick brows creased. “I’m not sure I would call that a small emergency. This is quite a problem.”
“No kidding Sherlock. I was trying to stay calm,” I growl. “We think she’s at the same building we’ve visited before, the one where Logan worked at, but we’re still not sure why.”
“Perhaps Mortecai is involved with the company in some way,” Ceph takes over. “We weren’t sure what we should do concerning this matter, so we thought it best to come to you.”
“I see,” Markus scratches his beard. “This does seem out of character for my brother.”
“Taking Kaitlyn is a gamble on a good day,” The familiar voice of Rhoan chimes in. “I can’t imagine it would go well for him, given the mood she was in earlier. I’d watch the news for a fire in that area of the city.”
“No offense, but you’ve been gone for centuries. Perhaps his character has changed in all this time,” I fume. I’m tired of hearing them say this. It’s happened, so what does it matter that it doesn’t fit his character. We just need to get her back!
“Perhaps,” Markus nods. “Though if that’s the case, I’m afraid I can’t predict what he may be up to. What I do suspect, is that if your previous intel is correct, he will not harm her.”
“Why wouldn’t he? She’s the only one who can destroy him, and he blocked her magic once before when Logan kidnapped us four months ago. What’s to say he won’t block her again, now that he’s got that locked away power back from bringing you out of the Veil?!” I grip my hair in frustration.
Markus looks at me sadly. “The child, Andrei. You said it yourself. His underling said they want it alive. The potential of the child would be worth the risk of keeping her alive.”
My breathing feels short and I can’t get over how calm everyone seems to be about all this. Don’t they understand? Kaitlyn’s gone! And there’s no knowing if, when, and how she might come back. What’s worse, my headache seems to have returned with all this worrying. Ceph directs me to a chair where I crumple, muttering to myself. “Please be safe, Kat, please be safe… be safe…”
By Kayla West