Warning: PG-13, visual gore
Ok so I’m officially out of backup chapters guys! Which means next chapter’s ETA is unknown XD
Had a little trouble with this chapter, let’s hope it turned out okay 🙂
No one’s POV
Edmund had flashed what he hoped was his most honest to god charming smile with the idea that he couldn’t really look more ridiculous than Xenia and Erin had obviously thought he looked.
Looking up at Xavier with his ridiculously hopeful smile, the flowers he’d gotten out in the open along with his feelings, he’d expected – no hoped for something different.
To his credit, Xavier’s initial expression had been one of a pleasant surprise.
But, much to Edmund’s worry, the witch’s face had grown a little sad, apologetic…regretful even?
“Yeah, maybe the flowers are a little overboard…” Edmund mumbled. Xavier licked his lips and opened his mouth, clearly about to say something Edmund didn’t want to hear.
“I just picked them up on the way here, it was a last minute thought, pretty stupid now that I think about it,” Edmund rambled on, his cheeks starting to burn again. “Let’s just forget they exist, okay?”
Xavier didn’t respond looking even sadder than when Edmund had brought out the flowers. Edmund was starting to panic a little: What exactly was he doing wrong now?
Maybe it was that…
“Sorry I kind of disappeared for a few months, but to be honest I didn’t see much of anyone at all then. I’ve…I’ve started my career as a writer. I don’t work for my father anymore. I have my own place and…” Edmund said, the pride he felt slipping through his words.
Xavier smiled, looking genuinely happy for Edmund, and that gave him the strength to continue.
“I’m not the same man anymore Xavier. I think you might like this one better.” Edmund admitted, his heart waiting in anticipation of Xavier’s response.
Xavier glanced at the flowers he was still holding in his hand.
“It’s sweet…but you’re right. I can see that you’re a different man Edmund, and so am I. We just aren’t the same people anymore. We can’t just pick up where we left off.” Xavier said, carefully weighing his words.
“I know that-” Edmund began to say.
“It’s great that you’ve finally gotten a hold of your life! But…this is a great opportunity to meet other people?” Xavier said.
“Xavier, I don’t want-”
“It’s better off okay?”
And with a small awkward nod Xavier turned around to head back inside.
“Not even a try?” Edmund asked, the flowers feeling heavy in his hand.
Xavier seemed to hesitate, giving Edmund a little bit of hope.
“It’s too late.” He replied. If he didn’t have his back facing him Edmund could’ve sworn Xavier was fighting back a smile.
For a moment, Edmund believed it. He believed it was too late, that Xavier wouldn’t be able to trust him ever again.
But then he thought about it, but really thought about it. They hadn’t become that different, had they?
And after all, he’d managed to betray Xavier’s trust on more than one occasion, a different attitude and a bouquet of flowers wasn’t going to change that fact. If he was serious about this, Edmund needed to win that trust back, to show him the man he was now.
The more he thought about it the more it made sense, the more Xavier’s reaction made sense.
He still had a chance.
And either way he didn’t have anything to lose at this point.
Xavier took in a deep breath, only to realize his three friends were staring at him with curious looks.
“You two are really mean.” He said, gesturing at Erin and Xenia. They rolled their eyes.
A few days later…
“Well hello to you too!” Erin called out as Maxwell sped off running after what looked like a small hamster scurrying in the snow. They’d just picked him up from school and he’d barely cast them a second glance, clearly thinking chasing small animals was more entertaining.
“He’s as polite as Oliver was.” Xavier chuckled.
“Yeah tell me about it.”
“And while you’re at it…” Erin continued with a devious smile. “You can tell me what made you so happy today. You don’t usually have that type of grin when you come back from work.”
Xavier smirked, having expected this question from his friend. “Well, if you must know, I have a date on Saturday.”
Erin suddenly grabbed Xavier’s arm, stopping him from walking any further.
“Pretty sure I don’t need to repeat.”
“You? A date?” Erin asked.
“Now I’m just getting insulted.”
“Not my goal. I’m just surprised.” Erin admitted. “Well now you have to spill everything. And most importantly who and how!?”
Xavier never got to respond when Maxwell suddenly let out an exclamation of surprise.
“Mom!” He called out.
“Maxwell? What’s wrong?” Erin asked, quickly making her way over.
“Mom! Mom look! There’s someone in the alley! I think I can see blood!” Maxwell said, motioning for Erin and Xavier to quickly make their way over.
At the word ‘blood’ they quickened their pace.
“Don’t get too close Max.” Xavier said as Erin carefully walked over to see who it was.
Her mouth drew open in surprise as she recognized the person on the ground. With his sixth sense and that, Xavier didn’t need much else to figure out who it was.
It was that decidedly unlucky sniper.
Erin turned back to Maxwell. “Let’s go home and from there we’ll call the ambulance.” Erin stated firmly.
“No!” Maxwell countered. “WE need to be the ones to help him!”
“Maxwell! This man should go to the hospital.” Erin affirmed, surprised by her son’s reaction.
“Dad says that we can’t! That WE have to bring him home and help him.” Maxwell insisted angrily.
Erin stiffened at the mention of Oliver.
“If that were true, your father is being stupid.” She snapped. Xavier cast a glance at the sniper. Apart from the obvious facial wounds and bruises, Xavier couldn’t sense anything life threatening.
“I knew you didn’t believe me! But it’s true! Dad says we can’t bring him to a hospital! Only WE can help him.” Maxwell insisted, standing his ground stubbornly.
“I think we should.” Xavier cut in. Erin whirled around.
“Erin calm down. It’s true that his…profession might not make it wise to bring him to a hospital. He doesn’t seem that bad off. I think he just needs some rest and a little cleaning up.” Xavier said.
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this. You do know what he’s done don’t you!?”
Maxwell moved around as if he was trying to see the beat up man, but something was blocking his view.
“Yes. Something he was hired to do. And even with that, when his employers weren’t dead yet, he willingly gave us the antidote to save my dad.” Xavier pressed on.
“Xavier tell me you’re not seriously suggesting this. You told me yourself you were happy the last few months hadn’t been too eventful. Hell, just the fact that this guy shot you should be enough to convince you!” Erin insisted, inhaling sharply through her nose.
“Why are you so against this?”
“Moooommm! We’re the only ones who can help him! We have to be the heroes!” Maxwell insisted, tugging onto his mother’s coat.
“Fine.” She eventually snapped. Xavier and Max exchanged a smirk.
Erin and Xavier were lucky enough to not have an audience as they dragged the sniper up the elevator and into their apartment. They dropped him on the couch.
“Do you think he’ll be okay? What do we do first? Do we clean the blood? Or check for broken bones?” Maxwell started rapidly asking. Erin stopped him.
“You’re going in your room.” She stated.
“Eh? But mom-”
“In. Your. Room.” Erin insisted, and her glare was enough for Max not to dare push any further. He scurried off.
Erin took one look at the sniper before wringing her hands nervously. Xavier waited, and eventually Erin voiced her worries. “How does he do it Xav? He’s never met Oliver, but sometimes Max talks about him and it sounds like the sort of stupid thing he’d say or do.”
Xavier looked away, beginning to doubt something he had established as true for…several reasons.
“Erin…there’s something I haven’t told you yet…”
“I’m not liking the sound of that.” Erin said, eyeing her best friend suspiciously.
“You know that day? When a whole lot of events led to me falling off a building?” Xavier asked.
“Hard to forget.”
“Well, I didn’t free myself from the control of those vampires on my own…First off, understand that my memories of that are pretty fuzzy. Most of everything I remember is of desperately wanted to gain back control of my own body, so when all was said and done I wasn’t sure if I’d even seen right!”
“Just get to the point Xav…”
“When Assaria and Velor made me cast the spell that made us invisible…it sent us into the spirit world. And we saw a ghost there, and that ghost was the one to knock Assaria and Velor out and help me gain back control. I’m pretty sure it was Oliver.” Xavier admitted, watching Erin’s reaction closely.
Her silent stare was the worst response she could’ve given him. Xavier decided to add on anyway.
“I think I remember the spell well enough to send us into the spirit world to see if-”
“So you’re saying Maxwell can see into the spirit world?” Erin cut in.
“Oh uh…yeah I guess I am. We could confirm it you know. If what Max says is true, Oliver’s ghost might be here right now.” Xavier said. “If you want…”
Erin tried to keep a straight face on for as long as she could, but eventually it cracked.
“If you’re not ready that’s okay.” Xavier immediately cut in. He didn’t want to see Erin so conflicted.
“No I’m…I don’t want to hope.” She confessed. “It still feels fresh, but at the same time old…I’m afraid…” Erin was obviously struggling with her words, unsure of what she should be feeling just then.
“Erin it’s okay, forget I said anything.”
“No. Let’s do it. I’m good. I want to see for myself.” Erin almost snapped.
“Yes really. Do it.” Erin insisted.
“Ok.” Xavier said with a small smile. He walked over to the counter and put out the incense, before walking back to Erin.
He flexed his fingers, spoke the incantation, released his magic, and was surprised to find he got it on the first try.
He wasn’t surprised however, to find his magic almost felt slippery between his fingers, and he had to concentrate twice as hard to make sure he didn’t lose control of any fraction of his magic.
Erin’s eyes widened a little as her view of the world changed. Not a lot, but just enough to let her know Xavier’s spell had worked. She had expected something else from the spirit world…and that something else wasn’t feeling like a blob of water held together by an imaginary force.
“So…this is it?”
“Yeah.” Xavier nodded. He could already feel the spell chipping away at his magic. “I probably won’t be able to hold the spell for more than a few minutes.”
“Where is he?” Erin asked, a lump threatening to form in her throat.
“I assumed he’d be around here…” Xavier replied rubbing the back of his neck and casting a look around the ghostless apartment.
A few moments passed and Erin’s patience wore thin. “And here you actually had me believing.”
“Maybe I did imagine it…”
But then, a muffled voice came to them from the inside of Erin and Maxwell’s bedroom.
“….seriously buddy, I’ll be right back…” The ghost said as he walked out of the bedroom through the wall. “…the answer to that question is 45…are you sure? Sometimes the answer sheets are wrong you know…”
Xavier and Erin watched speechless as their old friend finally came out of the wall.
Taking in a deep breath, Oliver flashed them a bright smile. “…hi…” He exclaimed happily, his voice only sounding like a whispery breath.
Erin’s hands moved to her mouth to stifle a cry, believing everything her son had said. Xavier gave a weak smile, feeling happy, sad, and weak all at the same time. The last part mostly because he could feel his magic straining under the spell already.
Erin’s hand reached out like she wanted to touch Oliver, just to really make sure, but she hesitated, her fingers hanging in thin air. Oliver smirked.
“…come here you…” He said, grabbing her outstretched hand and pulling her towards him.
She crumbled in his arms.
“…geez It’s not that bad. It’s not like I give him all the answers…” Oliver chuckled. Erin punched his side lightly before hugging him even tighter. He winced, but smiled and whispered into her hair. “…wish things could’ve gone differently…”
Erin pulled back reluctantly. “You’ve been here all along?”
“…of course! And that’s entirely your fault. Bad Erin…” Oliver teased.
“…I shouldn’t be here. I don’t want to be here. I love seeing you and Max, but it physically hurts being stuck here. And I’ve only Max to talk to…”
“But now with Xav’s spell-”
Oliver cupped her face in his hands. “…Erin, you didn’t listen…”
She bit her lip. “Why is it my fault then?”
“…you’re holding me here…”
“…I’m flattered you care so much, but…”
“Of course I do, you idiot!” She snapped, her eyes pricking with tears. Not again…
“…I died Erin. You need to let me go. You need to move on, for both of us…” Oliver said.
“Well I don’t want to.” Erin stubbornly said. Oliver chuckled.
“…you know…” He began to say as he made his way over to the sofa.
“…I didn’t insist on having this man brought here because I wanted to see you angry. Even though that’s always a plus…” Oliver said with a teasing smirk.
“Oh no you don’t! You don’t get to do this!” Erin almost growled, which only made Oliver’s smile grow wider.
“…it’s not like I chose just anybody obviously, and he’s not perfect but he fits most of my requirements, and the fact that he already knows what happened to your parents helps avoid an awkward conversation later on…”
“…and he could use some guidance as much as you could I’m sure, sure you’re angry at him but isn’t that how it starts with you? I’m just kidding, if get angry you might actually hurt me even if though I’m technically dead…”
“…this is me trying to say I really don’t care, I want you to be happy so move on, find someone else, and even though you’re seeing me now, I’m not actually me, I’m just a really strong imprint that can’t seem to go away! But I think you two could be a compatible match, I made sure to look into his background to make sure…”
“Oliver! You don’t get to choose for me.”
“…I know, just consider this a suggestion then…”
“It’s your fault Max isn’t doing so well on his homework isn’t it?”
“…I suppose my advice may not be the best considering my own grades I admit…” Oliver said with a chuckle. A small smile formed on Erin’s lips.
“I missed you.”
“…yeah I know…”
“I need to ask, about Max-”
But Erin never had the chance to ask her parenting question as Oliver suddenly vanished from her sight, and she was thrust out of the spirit world along with Xavier. She turned around to ask Xavier what had gone wrong, only to find him on the ground.
He was panting heavily, looking pale and sick, and with an apologetic smile on his face.
“Sorry Erin, I tried to hold it as long as I could.” He wheezed out.
“Oh my god you idiot.” Erin exclaimed, heading to Xavier’s side. “You should’ve told me it was this demanding!”
“Well to be fair, I did say I could only hold it for a few minutes.” Xavier replied, color slowly returning to his cheeks. “Hey, we could always ask Maxwell to be an owl if you still have things to ask Oliver.”
Erin shook her head. “No. I don’t want to ask him something like that. It wouldn’t be right. Now come on, let’s get you to your bed.”
“There now, you’re all nice and comfy-” Erin said, almost pushing Xavier onto his bed.
“Really Erin, I’m feeling better already, good enough to even cast the spell again! I don’t think I need to nap-” Xavier tried to protest, but Erin shushed him.
“Shut up, you’re comfortable yes? Okay you have ten minutes to continue that conversation we started earlier.”
“You know, the one about your date?” Erin said.
“Are you serious?” Xavier felt the need to facepalm.
“Yes.” Erin said with a serious expression.
“After what just happened? The fact that Maxwell is waiting in the other room, or that there’s a wounded guy on the couch, or that we just saw Oliver’s ghost doesn’t seem more…I don’t know, prioritary?” Xavier asked.
“Please, Maxwell is doing his homework, that sniper is passed out, and we’ve just dealt with Oliver. Now we can move on to you. Chop chop, what’s his name?” Erin said, an excited smile spreading on her face.
“Geez, alright!” Xavier chuckled and nodded. He had a feeling Erin was more searching for a way to get her mind off things than anything else. “I just know you aren’t going to like it, but well here’s how it went…”
Earlier that day…
Xavier had just finished a rather demanding day. Him and his colleagues hadn’t managed to meet the predetermined deadline, and they’d suffered the consequences of it. Though, to be fair, there weren’t a lot of people who would’ve been able to meet that deadline. But the company had suffered a significant employee loss in the last month or so. The Pallen corp. had suffered a blow, and the outer divisions were receiving the brunt of it.
Xavier was lost in his thoughts, already daydreaming about the hot cocoa he’d make once he and Erin had gone to pick Maxwell up from school, when out of nowhere, someone ran into him.
“I’m so sorry! Are you alright?” The man asked, reaching out to help steady Xavier so he didn’t fall face first in the snow.
“Yeah! It’s okay, you just caught me by surprise…” Xavier’s words trailed off as he recognized the voice, and as he looked up, the face as well.
“I still feel really bad, can I make it up to you over dinner?” The red headed man asked, trying to fight a grin. He extended his hand. “I’m Edmund.”
Xavier couldn’t help, but smile.
The hand was an offer. Let’s start over.
He grasped Edmund’s hand and shook it. “Xavier.”