When I wake up Kat’s still sleeping. I sit up, feeling much better from the tea’s effects having kicked in. I slide off the bed slowly, careful to not disturb Kat and slip out of the room. I head to Caroline’s room, knocking softly on the door.
Nik answers and I give him a weak smile. “Kat’s sleeping, but I came to talk to Kaede. Would you mind?”
Nik pats my shoulder. “Not a problem. Take your time. He’s in there,” He nods with his thumb to the bedroom. He slips out passed me as I move into the room.
It seems stuffy, like they’ve left the heat on and haven’t opened the windows. I slowly enter the bedroom and feel my heart skip when my eyes fall on Caroline. She lays there, what skin that is exposed covered in small, black, spiderweb-like lines. She’s as pale as snow and she looks frail. Her lips are dry and cracked. I wonder if she’s actually alive until I see the faint movement of the sheets on her chest.
I swallow nervously and notice Kaede laying next to her, arms tucked in front of him, hands clasped over his chest. He lays on his side, face turned to her, eyes watching. Has he even slept? It’s hard to tell, but I think I notice the faint dark circles under his eyes.
Gwen sits in a chair beside the bed. She stands when I look at her. “I’m glad to see you’re up and moving. How is Kaitlyn?”
“Still sleeping.” Kaede stirs a little at my voice. “Nik went to watch her for me.”
“Good. I’ll leave you two alone for a bit. I’ll be in the hall. I need a good stretch,” She heaves a sigh as she leaves the room. I wait for the door to click shut before I say anything. Kaede hasn’t turned to look at me once.
“Hey, Kae,” I start, moving to where Gwen was sitting. I notice a few other chairs moved in from the living room along the wall. It looks like a few people have been here. Kaede doesn’t answer.
“Look, I …” This feels awkward. “Kat didn’t mean what she said. She’s just having a hard time ‘cause of me.”
“Save it,” Kaede croaks. “I deserved what she said. She’s absolutely right.”
“What?” His words surprise me
“That’s what you came to tell me right?” He says, eyes finally moving to look at me. They look flat, almost dead-like. “I don’t want to argue in front of Caroline.”
“Then let’s not argue. Since when could you read minds?” I say sarcastically.
“Can’t. I don’t have magic. Don’t kid with me, man.”
“I’m serious though. If you don’t know what I’m going to say, don’t say shit like that,” I huff.
“Whatever,” He brushes me off.
“No, don’t be like that. It’s not like you. I get that this is tough. You think I don’t care? Caroline is my friend too. I’m worried sick, dude. But that doesn’t give you a right to go and say shit to people that has nothing to do with them,” I start, pointing with my finger. He doesn’t respond but I can tell he’s listening.
“You know I’ll always be there for you if you need me. Caroline’s always been there for us. It’s crazy what she can do and she only learned about this stuff six months ago. When have you ever been someone to give up hope?” I ask.
“When magic and science gave up on her,” He sighs.
“We haven’t given up. Gwen’s been here every day hasn’t she? It even looks like she’s moved in out there,” I thumb towards the living room full of plants. “Don’t let me hear you say we’ve given up on her. And have you forgotten about Selene?” I question him.
“Selene? What about her?” He asks.
I sigh, rolling my eyes. “I died, sort of, a month ago and she brought me back. There’s always a chance she would help. If nothing else works, and if you’re nice about things, perhaps she’ll help.”
“If… I haven’t seen her around. Does she even care about Caroline?”
“Don’t give me this, Kae. You’re not acting like you.”
“Then tell me, how am I supposed to act?” He sits up at last. He glares hard at me from over Caroline’s deathly body. “She’s dying, Andi. She’s dying and… I have to watch it…” He hiccups.
“You don’t have to,” I mutter.
“I can’t leave her! Even if I could, I wouldn’t. I just wish I could do something. She’s cold, so I turn the heat on. I pull the sheets up. I keep her clean… And she hasn’t woken since she passed out in the greenhouse. She hid it from us. She was feeling sick and passed it off as the dumb flu. All this time she was carrying it around and didn’t say anything. She even claimed before she passed out she didn’t know!” He looks down at her, a longing in his eyes. I see a tear slide down his nose.
“This isn’t healthy for you. Staying here without taking care of yourself. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be here and take care of her, but you should do something with your time.”
“I don’t have the motivation to do anything,” He croaks.
“I can tell. Have you eaten?” I ask. He shakes his head no. “Well, maybe you should do that. Just because she can’t, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.”
“We couldn’t put an I.V. in her. The webs blocked it, somehow,” He says absently.
That’s strange. “That sounds almost like it has a consciousness,” I frown as I think about what he’s said. This is Sam’s doing. Selene, Kat and Car have all been injured by her Void magic before, in Africa, but Gwen was able to heal it then. So, what’s different about it now I wonder.
I look back toward Caroline, feeling a rock in my stomach. I decide to offer Kaede a meal in the hopes that it will give him energy and bring more sense to his logic. He’s the type that gets hangry. After I’ve watched him eat and take the dishes away I tell him to get some real sleep. I doubt he will, but maybe he’ll think about what I’ve said.
I reiterate that we’re all there for him, but going around and blaming others when you’re upset isn’t going to keep your friends. It only burns bridges. I hope he can get through this okay. As I turn to leave he leans over Caroline and grabs my arm.
“Hey, I have something for you. It’ll help me get in contact with you easier. Just take it. It’s not ready for time jumps yet, but I think it can handle what you do in the present,” He points to a black box on the dresser. I pick it up. It’s a cellphone.
“Thanks, I guess.”
“It’s already set up. I was waiting for you to get back to give it to you.”
He knows so well I don’t do cellphones. I appreciate the effort he’s gone through to get me one though. I pocket the box as he falls back against the pillows. It’s time I got back to Kat.
I head out as Gwen passes by and smiles encouragingly as she heads back in. I’m thankful for her efforts to try and heal her. I know she’s trying. I can’t imagine how hard it must be.
I head back to Kat’s room. Voices sound inside and when I walk in I feel my anger boil and my feet freeze to the floor. Heath stands beside the bed, Nik sits on the edge and Kat’s sitting up. I barely pay attention to them as I jump forward, cheating and using my speed to bring me closer before Heath realises what’s happening. I ball my right hand into a fist and hit him square in the nose. I feel it crunch under my impact and he stumbles back, blood dripping from his face.
I shake my hand out as I growl. “That’s for touching my girl behind my back. Be glad it’s not a sword through your heart.”
I sit on the edge of the bed, watching Kat intently. Seeing Heath gets me riled up. I don’t understand how Kat can be so forgiving after what happened. I already told her… it will take me a while to see Heath in a new light. He’ll need to prove to me. Till then, I intend to be overprotective.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” She frowns, shifting uncomfortably.
“Because… You’re too easy on him,” I say firmly.
“You’re being hard enough for the both of us,” She pouts. “The Lava isn’t even there right now. He said Selene repressed it.”
“Really?” I ask skeptically. “And how do we know he’s telling the truth? I didn’t even know she could do such a thing,” I argue.
Kat looks down at her hands, “His hands looked normal. No black marks.”
I think back, realising she’s right. I hum thoughtfully, narrowing my eyes. “Fine, I’ll be… nicer, but I still don’t trust him yet. I said I’d move you out as soon as I have strength. Maybe now is a good time. What do you think?” I say, hopeful that she’ll say yes.
“Oh, yea. If you think you’re well enough. You don’t have to push yourself,” She hesitates, “How will Gwen come to visit? That’s far to go if she’s still looking after Caroline… and Kaede. Shouldn’t you be close by, to help him?”
“Gwen’s tea gave me enough strength for at least a few space skips. There are no worries there. I’m much more concerned for your… comfort and peace of mind. Gwen said you needed rest and I wonder if we can actually find it here.” I think back to my conversation with Kaede.
“I think Kaede will be fine… eventually. He’s given me a cellphone to text him with while I’m in this time. He’s still working on the time jumping one apparently. If he needs us, he can text me now,” I pat my pocket where the little black phone is now. I won’t be jumping anytime soon so it should be safe there for now.
“As for Gwen, I could always space skip to get her, no?” I have to be careful not to push myself too hard, as Kat mentioned. I’m still recovering too.
“Yea, I guess,” Kat purses her lips. “If you think it’s a good time, then we can go.”
“I honestly do. I think you’ll get more rest there,” I smile, patting her hand with mine.
“Okay,” She nods slowly, looking around the room. “Maybe we should just grab essential things for now?”
I stand up, looking around, “Good idea.” The first thing I go for are my abandoned jeans from a week ago, next to the dresser. I rummage through the pockets ’till I find my sword and clip it to my current jeans.
Kat hums, pushing herself to sit up. She glances at the edge of the bed, one hand resting on her stomach.
I quickly return to the bed and gently push her back down. “Nope. You’re resting. I’ll grab whatever it is you want,” I give her a stern but gentle look.
She bites the inside of her lip, reluctantly relaxing against the pillows. “Um… some comfortable clothes, I guess. My phone, and…” She frowns. “What about Scoria? Heath is looking after her for a little while.”
I nod at her list until she brings up the dragon. “He can manage her for a while, can’t he? If he needs a break he can text you too. You could use the vacation,” I smile over my shoulder as I take a gander through the closet.
“Yeah, but… are you going to come back and get her then?” She asks skeptically.
“If we need to, sure. I’ll make sure to save up my time energy for such a trip, or I’ll walk it. Whichever is best,” I say as I pull a few items and hang them on my arm. When I’ve pulled enough for a few outfit sets, I move to the bed and set them on the foot. I’ll need that duffle bag to carry it all.
“Does this look good?” I ask her as I fold the clothes I’ve chosen.
“Sure,” She laughs. “I don’t exactly expect to have visitors, other than maybe your family.”
“Hopefully, once you’re well again, you can come back to the Guild and do what you need to do.” I stop folding, hanging my head and feeling a little guilty. It’s my fault in the first place that she needs the rest. It’s far too early in her pregnancy to be needing to rest already. Have I been pushing her too hard?
“I’m not in a rush,” Kat shrugs. “I’m going to tell Ambrosse to have Nik take over any training for Heath.”
I feel my arms tense as she brings him up. “Yeah, that’s a good idea,” I say a little flatley, returning to the folding. When I’m done, I root through the closet for the duffle bag and start filling it.
“She never should have made me a professor,” Kat hums quietly.
I stop again, looking at her this time. “Why do you say that? You’re a good teacher.” Maybe a little too good… in my opinion.
“Obviously not,” She scoffs. “I’m oh for two. She’d be crazy to assign me anyone else.”
I put the sweater down with a sigh. “Kat… You’re a good teacher. I may have a personal bias because of what Heath-” I pause as she gives me a look. “Okay, because of what Lava did, but you have a wealth of experience and knowledge that is useful to the Guild. Sure, you don’t know a lot about movies and the outside world, but you have other knowledge. That’s why working in a team is good for us. I bring historical knowledge and you have combat skills and Caroline is a great healer… despite what’s happening…” I stop there, needing to change the topic. “My point is, you’re a good teacher. You can go back to teaching once you’re feeling better. We just have to make sure you play it safe -er with the baby,” I try to give her an encouraging smile.
“I don’t want to,” She pouts. “What’s the point?”
I frown, sliding between her and the duffle bag, taking a seat. I rest a hand on her leg. “What do you mean, what’s the point? There’s a war, you keep saying, and not all of us have the skills we need. Are you really okay?” I ask, worried. I mean, sure, maybe she never wanted to be a teacher but she’s always been about getting us to train. I wonder what’s got her thinking there’s no point.
“Is there?” She challenges. “Where? Where is this war we keep talking about?”
“The war with Mortecai. Kat, what’s wrong?” I feel a ball of worry growing in my stomach. She’s always insisted there was a war. Why is she doubting it now, after all the things Mortecai has done to her?
“I don’t know,” She slides down on the bed, pulling the covers up.
I feel bad. She looks upset about it but I don’t know what to do to comfort her. I pat her leg, hoping she’ll let me know. She continues to mope.
I stand slowly and go back to the closet, pulling out some of my own clothes. I fold them in silence and load them into the bag.
“Um… should we… tell them we’re coming?” Kat asks suddenly, sounding anxious.
“My mom said we could come anytime, and she gave us the key. That’s pretty much saying we don’t need to tell them.” I’m fairly certain… Would normal people call before they show up?
She chews her lip, “I’m just thinking… It might be weird if they don’t know, and… Your sisters might get excited.” I glance back to see her twisting the ring nervously.
Seeing her play with it makes me smile. I get the feeling she likes my sisters. “Alright. Do you have their number? I… don’t really have it ‘cause I’ve never had a phone before,” I admit with embarrassment.
“I don’t think so,” She bites her lower lip. “I guess you’ll have to just… tell them when we get there, but you’ll have to tell Ylenia not to jump up on me.”
“Right, she can be crazy…” I smile. Why is she so cute when she does that? I move to the desk, grabbing a few of my journals and pens. “Is there anything else you want? Maybe from the bathroom?” I don’t know how well my parents furnished the place. Maybe Kat has a favourite soap or something. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever asked.
“Not really,” She shrugs. “I don’t really care about the brand or product. Ambrosse usually takes care of that sort of thing…”
“She really was like a mother to you,” I mutter quietly.
Kat blushes, “Yea, I guess she is. I never thought about how much she does.”
I chuckle. “Sounds just like my mom when I lived at home. If you wanted to see her, you could invite her over maybe, once we’re settled,” I suggest. I put the last of the items I want in the bag and zip it up, slinging it over my shoulder. “Alright. Are you ready to rumble?” I grin.
She nods slowly, her face scrunches up as she starts to sit up again. I frown, that face has become familiar to me these past few days. “Are you still hurting, Kat? Are you sure you’re up to moving?” Maybe I should carry her instead…
Her eyes grow wide, like a deer caught in headlights. “I- I’m okay. I can manage.”
“You always tell me not to overdo it and here you are… lying about how you feel. Maybe you aren’t such a good teacher after all,” I wink. I march over to the bed and slip my arm under her knees and around her shoulders. “Hold still. I’ll carry you.”
She looks torn as she wraps her arms around my neck. “But you’re not completely better either. I think I’d be okay…” She says that, but she doesn’t sound very convincing.
“Nonsense. I’m already in the habit of sacrificing myself to take care of you. Don’t you join me.” I grip her firmly and lift her, spreading my feet to keep balanced. “It’s probably best if I jump. You don’t look like you can handle the walk,” I hold her close, leaning back on my heels. It’s kind of fun… carrying her like this. She’s pretty light too.
“It’s up to you,” She sighs. “I can’t really do anything either way. Whichever is easier on you, Andrei. I’m sorry…”
“Don’t be sorry, M’lady.” I lean my head down and rub my nose against hers. She stares up at me with pained amber eyes. So cute!
“Alright. Hold on tight!” I take a step and we arrive just outside my parents house. We both blink with the sudden brightness of the midday sun. After our eyes adjust, I stare at the door, my arms are full and I’m reluctant to put her down. What a pickle…
“I can stand,” Kat pouts.
I look down at her… “What if I don’t want to put you down?” I look at her with my brow raised.
“At least so you can open the door…” She sighs.
“Or… You could reach into my pocket for me,” I wink.
Her cheeks flush and she glances around the street behind me. “If you’re really that determined…” I sigh, setting her down, maybe not in public.
I fish the key from my pocket and slide it into the lock, unlocking the door with a satisfying click. I feel excitement rise in my chest as we open the door to our very own apartment. It sort of has a different feel to it than the dorms in the Guild, and despite it being attached to my parent’s new home, it still feels like our own.
“Want to go in together?” I ask Kat with a smile. I’m definitely up for carrying her in again. Kind of like a knight in shining armour carrying his lady into their humble abode. Who am I kidding, I’m already living the dream, I don’t need to picture it. I swoop in and catch her, lifting her back into my arms and walk over the threshold. I kick the door shut behind me and go further in.
I set her down on the couch in the living room and flop down beside her. Now that I’m sitting, I don’t really want to go and tell mom we’re here… But I guess I should. I stand up, leaving Kat to look around the room. “I’ll be right back,” I say as I head down a hallway that leads to the door between our houses. It looks like it locks from our side, so they would need a key to get in. That’s courteous.
I unlock it and peer through, not sure if I should be knocking. They did say I was welcome anytime. I step through.
“Hello? Anyone there?” I hear nothing. I take a few steps further into the living room, look about when I’m suddenly tackled to the ground by the little dog-sized green dragon. My feet feel cold and a blinding light flashes before my eyes. I fall with a cry to the ground, groaning.
“He’s down! We got him!” Someone yells with glee.
“Stick your hands up where we can see ‘em,” Another voice says, followed by a gurgling dragon noise.
“Okay, okay!” I hold my hands up, keeping my face to the ground. “You got me.”
Ylenia sneak around the wall that leads upstairs, a huge smile plastered on her face. “Andi!!” She yells, running over to me.
“Good job, team!” Kira smiles, the cold receding from my feet. Did they just use magic on me? Jeez. “You’re not very good at sneaking in, are you?” Kira states more than asks.
“I wasn’t trying to sneak in. I came to tell Mom, Kat and I were moving in,” I say, getting to my knees. The dragon protests though, trying to push me back down.
“You’re moving in! Hooray!! Now I can see Kitty every day!!” Ylenia shouts.
“No, she needs some rest! She made me promise to ask you not to jump on her. I kind of… hurt her by accident and Gwen told her to rest,” I admit.
“You hurt kitty?” Ylenia’s eyes grow big as her face turns sad. “How could you?” She pouts.
“It was an accident, Lini. I told you. I kind of… maybe did something I shouldn’t have in the past and she paid the price,” I say scratching my head. Kiri gives me a rye look. God, she looks like mom when she’s angry.
“Is Kitty okay?” She asks, her little face filled with worry.
“Yeah, I think she will be. Don’t worry. You can still come and visit, you just have to be gentle, okay?” She nods with a determined look in her eyes.
I finally stand up, pushing the little dragon off my lap. “Where’s mom and dad? Are they here?” I ask.
“No,” Kira answers. “They went shopping.”
“Shopping?” Where could they have gone shopping? Does this island actually have stores on it? I blink, confused.
“Yes. They should be back before dinner. Did you want to eat with us?” Kira asks.
“Sure, that sounds good,” I say, a bit distractedly. “Well, if you want, Kat and I are just moving in. Would you like to help us?” Ylenia jumps up and down excitedly, her dragon watching her, then mimicking her actions. It’s actually quite cute.
“Alright,” Kira smiles. I turn back to our door and my sisters follow behind.
As I walk back into our living room I find the couch empty. My eyes grow wide and I feel my heart skip. Where’d she go? “Kat?” I call out, feeling my voice catch in my throat. I look around the room wildly.
“I’m right here,” Her voice comes from the right, where I notice the fridge open. I move into the kitchen area, following the sound of her voice. I stop when I see her leaning against the counter, on one hand, the other holding her tummy.
I frown as I notice a few open cabinets. “Kat… You need to rest! Why are you in here?” The girls stand behind me, quiet as mice.
“I wanted to see what’s there,” She shrugs, avoiding my gaze as she looks up at the cabinets.
I form a flat line with my lips, trying to look unimpressed. I walk over and take her gently by the shoulders. “You need rest. What don’t you understand about that? That’s why your tummy hurts…” I steer her back toward the couch and the girls crawl up beside her as I gently push her to sit.
“Can you make sure she stays here?” I ask them. They nod with giddy smiles.
“No problem, Andi!” Ylenia grins. Kat slumps back into the couch, looking quite dejected.
“If you want something to eat, I’ll make you something, but we came here to rest and until you’re feeling better, I want you to take it easy.” I know the idea of exploring a new place is strong, I get that feeling too, but rest is her priority.
“I’m not hungry,” She mumbles, pulling her feet up onto the couch and folding them under her as she leans against the arm.
“Then what’s wrong?” I ask her. What could she possibly want? I haven’t a clue.
She shakes her head and shrugs, staring off ahead blankly.
I sigh, at a loss for what to do. Maybe Gwen’s advice isn’t helpful, but I still think whatever it was that hurt Kat in the first place, because of me, is still affecting her. “I know… You hate not doing anything, but honestly, I don’t want you to get worse because of me. I suppose you know your own limits. If you promise to listen to your body then I’ll let you off the couch.”
“It’s fine,” She sighs. “Gwen was very specific. I can survive a few days, I guess.”
“Don’t worry, Kitty! We’ll keep you company!” Ylenia looks at her excitedly with big eyes. “We’ll have lots of fun!”
Kat’s gaze shifts and her lips twitch slightly in an attempt to smile. “That’s right.”
I hope, with my sisters around, she can get rest and not feel constrained to the bed. I need to make up for my… rash time rule-breaking.
By Kayla West